Celebration Cupcakes Recipe – Because We Hit 2 Million Views!

celebration cupcakes

“Children take joy in their work and sometimes as adults we forget that’s something we should continue doing.”
~ Ashley Ormon

 

Sometime last Friday Cauldrons and Cupcakes hit two million views.

Two million views is cause for celebration. And we did. With cupcakes, of course!

Dear Readers, thank you so much for all of the love, support and community that you’ve blessed us with since my very first blog post. It’s true to say that often the reason I have hauled myself out of bed on my less-than-best lyme days was to spend some time with you. <3

This cupcake recipe is easy to make, moist, and can be endlessly varied. It was given to me many years ago by the mother of a boy I dated at high school. Because they were his favourite, so she thought I should know how to make them! I’ve given two of my favourite variations below. One is a Strawberries and Cream Cupcake, and one is for a Choc-Caramel Deluxe Cupcake. So easy. So yum. So party!

Let the celebration begin!!!

Bert, hopeful for cupcakes!

Bert, hopeful for cupcakes!

Cupcake Ingredients (Makes 12 large cupcakes):

3 eggs, 1/2 cup (125g) softened butter (Trust me, this recipe works so much better if the butter is soft), 3/4 cup castor sugar (superfine sugar), 1/2 cup whole milk, 1 and 1/2 cups self-raising flour (self rising), 1/2 cup custard powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. 2 tablespoons cocoa and 1 extra tablespoon of milk put aside.

*Note – this mixture doubles easily to make 24 cupcakes. The cupcakes will also freeze well, uniced.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). Place twelve paper cupcake liners into a cupcake or muffin tin. (This helps them to hold their shape.)

Sift flour and custard powder together. Dump all ingredients except cocoa and extra milk into a large mixing bowl. Beat on low speed until combined and then  on medium speed for four minutes or until the mixture changes colour and becomes thick and creamy.

Spoon 1/2 of the mixture into the first 6 papers. Now add the cocoa and extra milk to the cake batter, mix well and then add to final six cupcake papers.

Bake in oven for twelve to fifteen minutes, depending on speed of oven. Cupcake will spring back when lightly pressed in centre. Do not overbake or they will become dry.

Cool cakes and remove paper liners.

batter

choc batter

batter

Strawberry and Cream Cupcakes:

Ingredients – one cup of slightly sweetened whipped cream, strawberry jam, fresh strawberries.

*Note: I used 1 cup of thickened cream, a teaspoon of vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons of icing sugar to make 2 cups of slightly sweetened whipped cream. If you’re a cream nut feel free to use a little more.

Method – Using a sharp knife cut a circular piece from the top of each cake. Then remove some of the core of the cake to make a well, being careful not to go too close to the edge or to break the cake.

jam

Dice two or three strawberries (more if very small) and add to half a cup of cream. Mix well. Add a small spoonful of jam to the bottom of each cupcake well. Then fill to just above the top each cake with the strawberry cream filling.

cream

Finish each cake by adding the remaining whipped cream. Cut the small circular piece of cake into two wings, press into cream and add a few slices of strawberry to garnish.

cakes

Choc-Caramel Deluxe Cupcakes:

Ingredients – one cup of slightly sweetened whipped cream, one can of Top ‘n’ Fill Caramel, one to two tablespoons of soft brown sugar, fresh raspberries

Method – Prepare cupcakes as above, by slicing off tops and making well. Fill well with caramel. Add brown sugar to whipped cream and beat well until combined. Top cakes with whipped cream, the cupcake lid cut into ‘wings’ and a fresh raspberry. If inclined, sprinkle a little extra brown sugar on cream.

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A Lovely Afternoon!

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“It is easy to decide on what is wrong to wear to a party, such as deep-sea diving equipment or a pair of large pillows, but deciding what is right is much trickier.”
~ Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope

 

I thought I’d give you a little snapshot of yesterday’s successful afternoon tea, which was, in fact, a very non-traditional baby shower…

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There were all sorts of lovely treats. Finger sandwiches, tiny macarons and cupcakes, fruit platters and cheese plates.

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The steampunk baby cake was a work of art. Inside all of that clever fondant was a scrumptiously moist caramel mud cake for the bottom layer, and chocolate mud for the top.

2015-03-07 13.45.38We played all sorts of fun games, including ‘Guess the Girth’ of our mother-to-be, by placing our name on a wide ribbon to mark what we estimated to be the size of our friend’s tummy. We also guessed the number of jelly beans in a jar, and had a blind taste-test of four different jars of baby food, to see if we could correctly identify the flavours.

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The afternoon finished with a gifting ceremony, excellent cups of tea and coffee, slices of cake, and more marvellous chocolate steampunk cupcakes and salted caramel and chocolate macarons.

All in all it was a wonderful afternoon of kindness, laughter, friendship, much chatter, and just a few little tears.

A perfectly nourishing dose of soul medicine for each of us!

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2014 – My Blogging Year in Review

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe

 

At the end of each year, WordPress offers you an informative little review to celebrate the progress of your blog.

Click on a button on your stats page (a page on the WordPress dashboard that all bloggers can access) and this appears:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 690,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 30 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Well, seeing the progress of my blog broken down into sections, statistics and accomplishments really helps me to appreciate what is working, what isn’t, who to thank, and what I might like to do more of, or better, in 2015.

Yay for my most popular post in 2014 being Magic – Byron Bay Style

Hooray for old staples like my Nana’s Curried Sausages Recipe which I wrote back in August 2013 and which is still going strong.

And hugs and cupcakes all round to my top five comment posters for 2014: Joanne Rambling, Paula, Sara, chelharris and pamelaredhead. Thank you SO much for being such an important part of my community! Love you!!!

These gorgeous cupcakes by littledelightscupcakes.blogspot.com

These gorgeous cupcakes by littledelightscupcakes.blogspot.com

Whether you are a blogger or not, WordPress’s Year In Review concept will work for you!

This process of review is so important to me that I spent the last week of 2014 looking at the year that was – creating an overview of my psychic business, my health, my writing and my personal life. Doing that review gave me a very clear picture of where I am right now, and how far I’ve come over the past twelve months.

Based on that review, and on my 2015 Power Word, which is BUILD, I am now going into a 5 Day ‘Planning Summit’ here at my farm. This week I’ll be planning my year ahead so that I can make the most of these energies of 2015.

Sounds so impressive, doesn’t it – a whole week of planning?

Tools at the ready. Plus tea, of course!

Tools at the ready. Plus tea, of course!

LOL! In truth it will be me, the kitchen table, a mad amount of coloured pens and butcher’s paper, notebooks, endless tea, and brainstorming – overseen by the ever-patient Ben, Cafe Dog and Nurse Bert. Dana, my awesome PA, will be joining me for part of the summit, and I’ll also be skyping some of my key people (*waves to Bek, Anna and Milene*) who’ll be helping me get things done this year.

All of our hard work will be punctuated by naps, swims in the pool or the ocean, long walks down to the river, and time sitting under the big trees, contemplating life.

There may also be cupcakes.

I urge you to do a Year In Review for yourself for 2014, and then to create space for your own little 2015 Planning Summit for this bright new year ahead.

I’ll be blogging more over the next little while about some useful techniques and resources for making your plans, and then (and most importantly!) turning them into action.

Goodness, I’m so grateful for all of your friendship and support over the past year.

I do hope you stick around – I’ve got all sorts of lovely things planned for us in 2015.

And I’d love to support you in reaching some of your own goals, and sharing this glorious and expansive journey called life.

Big hugs and love, Nicole xx

Why This Psychic Blogs About Cooking!

Raspberry Tiramisu

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
~ Laurie Colwin

“If you are careful,’ Garp wrote, ‘if you use good ingredients, and you don’t take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.”
~ John Irving, The World According to Garp

 

Someone sent me an email yesterday. I present an excerpt here for your interest;

Nicole, I’m really puzzled over your blog. You are a psychic. What the *#@^ are you writing about cooking for? Also, enough with the photos of your garden and your dogs. Anyone can write about that so leave it to them. More how-to’s about being a psychic and your psychic stories. That’s what I want.

Hmmm…

I made myself a pot of tea, went and hosed my vegetable garden, and thought about how to respond.

It’s true. I am psychic. And that is a very big part of my life. But it’s not ALL of my life.

Further to that, this person also wrote:

“It must be wonderful to be psychic. How glamorous and exciting.”

That made me laugh. Glamorous? Not much, my friend. Exciting? Not really the word I would have chosen.

It has been a big week for me – as well as dealing with my horror Lyme meds I’ve been reaching out to support a friend as she suffers a major health crisis, holding the space for others coming through grief and trauma, and guiding a student experiencing a major spiritual breakthrough. I also advised authorities over a difficult matter, comforted a client who had received a positive cancer diagnosis after finally going to the doctor at my insistence, and guided others through life’s major crossroads.

That’s a normal week for me.

I cannot speak for others who are psychic, but I can speak of what this life is like for me.

I adore what I do, but it is also a great responsibility.  Being psychic, being aware of the thoughts and feelings of others, having knowledge of situations and possibilities, being compelled to come to the aid of people – it’s exhausting.  I can’t turn off seeing auras and energy all around me.  I am constantly aware of things others cannot see, some of which, at times, I would rather not know.

And I am always, always on duty.

I’m not talking about the times when I am working with clients, or running workshops or retreats.  I’m expecting to do psychic work then, and I’m prepared and ready for that.

The truth is I cannot plan my days with any certitude. It doesn’t matter whether I am healthy or unwell, busy or on a day off.  It does not matter what time of the day or night.  If I am called to serve, I must heed that call.

I might wake from a dream, or emerge from a meditation with the need to contact someone, provide information and then support them. Perhaps I will need to try and prevent a suicide.  I might spend time helping a lost soul cross over, comforting a child and guiding them with their own spiritual and psychic connections, or helping an unborn twin save their sibling. My holidays get interrupted, even when I’m in the middle of the ocean, or I might be suddenly called to intervene with healing a past life trauma for a complete stranger.

The images, information and emotions are like constant background noise.  And then sometimes that volume gets cranked way up.

My main method of coping – besides tapping into nature, community and the grounded joys of everyday life – is meditation. Meditation clears the energetic debris at the end of the day, and I can reach out and send love and healing so that others feel supported. Meditation also starts my day.  I can set my intent, tune in and open myself to what most needs focus or support, and direct my energies to that end.  Meditation makes room in my mind, and it uplifts my soul. It’s one of the reasons why I include so many meditations in my blog.

Here's a particularly annoying photo of the blossoms on my lemonade tree. It's shame this isn't a scratch and sniff blog - these blossoms smell so good!  :)

Here’s a particularly annoying photo of the blossoms on my lemonade tree. It’s a shame this isn’t a scratch and sniff blog – these blossoms smell so good! 🙂

But that’s not cooking, is it? Meditation is still kind of psychic…

Here’s the thing. Every day I see humanity in all its glorious wonder, frailty, beauty, brutality and ugliness. I taste and feel life as viscerally as if it is all happening to me, and through me.

At times I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, and at other times I feel uproariously free, grateful and alive. I am privileged to see and feel with this weird kind of subtlety and sensitivity.  It is an honour to peer into the fabric of the Universe and glimpse some of its magic.

It’s a path I take very seriously.

But it’s not glamorous, or particularly exciting. Instead I find it humbling, hard work and at times extraordinarily rewarding.

So why blog recipes?

Cooking is actually very important to me. Sorry, that may sound a bit trite. Let me explain. It’s where I feel my grandmothers’ hands guiding mine – although they are now passed over. And I really miss my grandmothers! Cooking helps me feel them in the kitchen with me. Preparing food is one of the ways I can show care for my family, friends and community, and it’s the thing I do to stay sane in my often crazy world.

Cooking is often my lifeline, and the thing that normalises me when life feels so very strange. It connects me to my ordinary self. It’s a way to unwind, a form of moving meditation. It’s a way to nurture me and others. Plus… yum!

Also my Nana’s Curried Sausages Recipe beats Jamie Oliver’s and the Women’s Weekly’s in Google rankings. 🙂

Anyway, I digress…

Getting my hands into the dirt in my garden or rambling around my farm talking to the cows keeps me grounded too.

Nurse Bert!

Nurse Bert!

My dogs? They are sometimes the rodeo clowns who prevent me being trampled, sometimes my nurses, sometimes the ones who understand best what I need, and who give me love, comfort and reason to laugh after a hard day.

I’m glad you are keen to develop your psychic skills. But how’s your cooking? How’s your compassion? What are your coping skills? How’s your humanity?

How will you handle being psychic, and all that entails, especially looking after and guiding other people with wisdom and kindness, if you cannot also be rounded and grounded as a person?

Sorry, but I’m going to keep blogging my life – ALL of it – I hope you understand.

All the best,

Nicole

PS – I couldn’t help myself. I guess you mightn’t be reading my blog again after this, so I thought I’d better include one last photo of my awesomely magical dogs…unicorn dogs

Where did my day go?

“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

 

I lost a whole day.

I lost yesterday.

One moment I was about to go to bed, ready to wake up in the morning and do, well… stuff, I guess.

The next thing I know an entire day had slipped past and I missed it.

It’s a little weird and disorienting to wake up and have no idea what time it is, what day it is, or what’s been going on. It’s ever weirder to learn that you’ve lost a day in the way that other people might casually misplace their sunglasses or house keys.

Where was I, while yesterday was passing by?

I know one thing. There were dragons. Friendly, with a preference for iced cakes and watermelon. That’s really all I remember…

Image from Orange Marmalade

Image from Orange Marmalade

Bittersweet cupcake celebrations…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

This should be a post about birthdays and love, and it is all of those things.  But it’s also a post about love and loss, and the way grief can affect us.

The Fourth of July has long been a special day for birthdays in our household; a date shared by our niece, our beautiful old dog Charlie, and a treasured friend, Kate.

It’s a day for kisses and candles, hugs and birthday wishes. A day for cupcakes and celebration for humans and dogs alike.

This year it’s also been a sad day. My friend Kate passed away unexpectedly on 26 October, 2010. At forty she was just too young. Death snuck up and snatched her away in the form of a brain aneurysm. She’d laugh I’m sure, and say that she was one of the ones who died young, leaving a good-looking corpse.

It’s my second year celebrating the Fourth of July Birthday Cupcake Fiesta without her.

At this point I must disclose our secret Motto for Life:

I thought it would have been easier this year. I happily still ate a cupcake in her honour. I smiled at the things we’ve shared, and some of the crazy things she’s done in her life.

But I find myself missing her more than words can say, even though it hurts a little less somehow.

I’m not uncomfortable about death, and I know that all of us are here in the most temporary of ways. At first I was sad when Kate died because she would never get to do any more of the things she’d dreamed about. After a hard life things were finally working out for her, and it’s true to say that she died at a very good place in her life, but with so much more to come, that will now forever remain unfinished.

That’s how it is for all of us.  We die as works in progress.

But this year I realised something different. I’m sad for the loss of the physicality of our friendship. I can’t just get on the phone anymore.  There isn’t someone to go on driving adventures with, or to celebrate cupcake feasts, or to share those special or hard moments in life. I can’t get a hug, or a song, or a crazy dance routine to cheer me up and make me laugh til my face hurts.

I’m sure those of you who’ve lost loved ones will know what I mean.

There is something wonderful about having someone to share life’s ups and downs with, about having a person who knows you well and holds your secrets and is there for you when you need them. Many people find these relationships with lovers and soul mates, or family members, but occasionally we are also blessed to find them in the form of friends.

Kate always loved an excuse for tasty treats and a party.

So this is for her.

Happy Birthday, Kate.

 

And this, because Kate adored Eva Cassidy, and because time really does help us heal…

 

If I have one wish for you today? That you hug the ones you love, that you phone a friend and have a good old chat, that you eat a cupcake, and smile for no particular reason except that it’s good to be alive.

A Cup of Tea and Comfort…

Living and working as a psychic can be quite draining, although I love what I do. It’s not dissimilar to any other ‘caring’ profession, where you are totally focused on the needs of others, in a way that leaves little time for yourself.

I’ve learned that the best way to avoid burnout for me is to work for a few intense days in a row and then have a complete break from clients for a time. And one of the ways I often celebrate finishing my work week is with a visit to Queenies Teahouse, at Nundah Village in Brisbane.

It’s the perfect place for nurture and soul food. From the moment you push open the door with its tinkling bell you can feel yourself begin to unwind. Smiling staff greet you and usher you to crisp linen’d tables, and soon you’ll find yourself cradling a small tasting cup of one of their delightful teas as you peruse the menu.

A visit to Queenies is like a step back in time, where the worries of the world stop at the front door.  In the background the gentle strains of music your grandmother might have listened to – all the old jazz and blues greats, and the sounds of yesteryear – soothe and unfrazzle your senses.  Gorgeous smells waft from the kitchen.

This is no coffee shop with its clatter and noise, laptops and mobile phones. Here you find friends chatting, generations of families catching up over a pot of tea, and individuals having a moment’s respite from their daily madness – a sort of ‘tea and tasties’ meditation for one.

The teas are sublime and there are so many to choose from. There are two full menu pages devoted to the tea selection, with the sorts of descriptions usually reserved for wine lists.

The herbal tea and green tea varieties are as extensive as the black teas, and they always arrive at your table perfectly brewed, or refreshingly iced.

And have I mentioned the food…

Everything is made fresh in the Queenies kitchen – examples include the daintiest of ribbon sandwiches, creamy risotto, savoury mince (that is right up there with my late grandmother’s), exquisite cakes, coconut ice, and of course cupcakes and scones to die for…

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday a friend and I enjoyed ribbon sandwiches and a pot of Creme Brulee Tea, followed by something sweet.

For me, the most moist and delicious gluten-free orange and almond cake, with its own little shotglass of orange syrup and a perfect ball of chocolate ganache of swooning quality…

For my friend, the baked cheesecake with its spicy gingernut biscuit crust and heavenly berry topping…

The menu has all the traditional high tea favourites, and is also vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. And there are lovely treats to take home –  a sachet or two of your favourite tea, a pretty teapot or tea-towel, or perhaps a tiny tea set for the small people in your life.

My wonderful friend, the poet Carly-Jay Metcalfe was moved to poetry by yesterday’s outing.  You can read about it here.

In fact, I was so inspired that I am planning to book the place out and have a Sunday Function here one day soon, where we can combine Soul Food, Spirituality, Blessings and Poetry over a lovely lunch and a good cup of tea with like-minded souls. Stay tuned for details!

Rescue helicopters, cupcakes and caring…

Most of us expect that when we’re in trouble help will come.  And we never know what that trouble might look like – a fire, a flood, a car accident, a sudden illness, a job loss or the death of a loved one. We never think it will be us, and heaven knows I hope for each of us that it never will.

But you can never be certain…

That’s why I believe in being part of a Circle of Safety.  Each of us can play a part in making sure that help will be there for those who require it. It strengthens our communities, and it nourishes something within us – that very human desire to be able to help another in need.  Maybe it’s by working on a cake stall or a sausage sizzle.  For some of us it’s volunteering time or expertise for emergencies or longer-term challenges.  For others it’s buying a raffle ticket, sponsoring a child or making a donation.

We’re all in this together, and when we care about each other and join together as a community something magical happens.  We experience healing, bonding and understanding through that shared journey.

There’s a sound I never enjoy hearing although I am glad of it all the same. It’s the sound of the whirring blades of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter as it thunders overhead.  Every time it passes my farm I say a little prayer and wish them well. Sometimes they are attending an accident on the highway, sometimes they’re out looking for a missing surfer, other times they are rushing a patient to one of the major hospitals for life-saving surgery or dropping care parcels to farmers cut off by floods. They are an important part of our community, and they do an incredible job, often in the most difficult of conditions.

Today the Bangalow CWA, of which I am a proud member, is holding a cake stall on the main street of our tiny town, fundraising for the local Rescue Helicopter. Believe me, it takes a lot of cupcakes, scones and biscuits to keep a chopper like that in the air. The next time that chopper flies over my farm, it might be fuelled by cupcake sales… It makes me wonder how many of the things we take for granted are there because of the unseen efforts of people we will never know, but who care enough to have made help possible.

So this morning I’m up at ridiculous o’clock, baking my heart out to contribute, in a small way, seemingly unrelated to the eventual outcome – a Rescue Flight for someone who needs one.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead

Is there a way that you can become part of that Circle of Safety?  The smallest efforts can make the biggest difference, to you and to others. Be the change you want to see in the world. ♥ Nicole xx