The Week In My Kitchen

It started out okay I s’pose.

Monday was spent drawing design ideas for cupcake toppers and a couple of other things I have in mind, catching up on groceries and admin, and returning a cupcake stand, and then I actually got to read a few blogs! It was pretty cool. I think I even managed to squeeze in a bit of a nap!

On Tuesday however, the wheels came off!

I had a cupcake order that was going to be collected on Tuesday afternoon, so I baked it on Tuesday morning. Killing my third hand mixer, and dropping 3 eggs and a coffee cup in the process. Eventually I was done and dusted. All 36 cupcakes. Or so I thought.

My normal work process is that I print out the invoice I send to my customers to use whilst I bake- the details of the order are on the invoice- cup colour, icing flavour, secret centres- everything is detailed very carefully and I use it as a check list whilst I bake. I didn’t do that this time. And no, I don’t know why. So the cupcakes are boxed and awaiting collection, so I pop out to Pick n Pay and the post office quickly. In Pick n Pay I spot the home made fudge that some stores sell at the tills and I suddenly realise that the order I had completed was supposed to have fudge secret centres! I quickly checked my Gmail on my BB to make sure, and then I called my customer. She was literally walking out of her office door to come to me to fetch her order! I apologised profusely and told her I would deliver them before she left for home. This was at 2pm. I raced home and redid the order, with the correct secret centres, and as they came out of the oven I stuck them in the fridge to chill faster than they would normally do. As I grab the cooling rack with the last batch of 12 very hot cupcakes to put it into the fridge, two of the cupcakes slide off and fall on the floor!!

Major bad language attack! I am so glad I’m alone in my kitchen!

Anyhoodle, the customer is someone who orders fairly often so thankfully, when I called to tell her I was going to have to replace 2 secret centre cupcakes with 4 regular cupcakes she was fine with the trade-off, and by 3:30PM I was on my way to deliver the cupcakes to her.

My Glugster’s staff were very happy to score on the cupcakes I sent to work with him the next day!

On Wednesday morning I went to my icing class, as usual, having mixed a batch of flower paste that morning with which I was going to try my hand at making an orchid. While I was mixing the icing I wasn’t terribly happy with the colour- it wasn’t nice and white- and the texture and consistency weren’t quite right. I wasn’t really worried about it because there are a few tricks to “fixing” problems like that so I thought I’d ask my teacher when I got to class. We tried everything to fix it but to no avail! More than halfway through the class I had not yet managed to do half an orchid the paste was so bad! I eventually got a little flower paste from a classmate and attempted the orchid again. After 3 attempts to do the cut outs and such I gave up! I should have stayed at home!

I didn’t bake anything the rest of Wednesday but I did deliver an order I had baked the previous day. I didn’t bake on Thursday either, and by Thursday night I was having withdrawal symptoms!!

On Friday all was back to normal! I baked for a couple of cupcake orders and I baked a birthday cake for my daddy darling! Four layers of chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched with chocolate cream cheese icing, caramel and strawberry jam, covered in chocolate butter icing and then topped with chocolate ganache and a ring of glace cherries!! We’re celebrating my dad’s birthday with a braai tomorrow at his house and I am taking the dessert! It looks fabulous!

A Bit Of A Shopping History

When you remember your parents doing grocery shopping when you were a kid, where did they go? Was it a big monthly shop? Did they shop weekly? Did you go along?

For my family, it was a big pay day event, but because there were four of us children we very seldom got to tag along. My folks would leave us at home and do the shopping, sometimes coming home with the makings for Dagwood sarnies that we would make sitting together around the dining room table! Cold meats, mayonnaise, chutney, bread rolls, mustard, Picalilli, tomato sauce, cheese, pickles, tomatoes, onions… It was a payday treat that we all looked forward to!

Thinking about it, some of my earliest memories stem from a time when we lived in a suburb that didn’t have a supermarket! I’m talking 27+ years ago (yes, I’m that old). This was before the time of 24 hour petrol stations with Woolies Food Shops inside. Hell, the shops weren’t even open on Sundays back then! At the time, my folks would drive about 15km to get to the nearest PicknPay Supermarket. They would do our monthly groceries in one fell swoop, often filling two trolleys in order to cater for our family of 6 and the live-in maid.

In 1987 we moved, and the new house was less than a kilometre from the very same PicknPay! It was cool to be in familiar territory, and it meant that my sisters and my brother and I would be sent to the supermarket on our bicycles for milk and bread. And my parents continued to shop there. I’ll never forget the first time my mother spent more than R1000 on groceries! She and I had gone to the shop together and we were doing the monthly groceries! It caused quite a stir at the till, let me tell you! The cashier asked us to please wait and disappeared- leaving us to think the worst- before the manager of the store appeared and actually gave my mom a box of chocolates for spending so much money! After our nerves had settled we giggled all the way home. We hadn’t even bought meat yet!

When my knucklehead and I moved out of my parents’ house, we moved into a flat across the road from the very same Pick ‘n Pay supermarket, and we did our grocery shopping there too. The first time I ever sent the knucklehead to buy bread and milk on his own- I think he was about seven years old- I sent him to PicknPay! I even have a picture of him coming home from the shop with the packets in his hands (I’ll see if I can find it and scan it)!

I have seen that shop grow and change SO many times! I remember when they used to have these massive, full colour, see-thru plastic “sculptures” on the walls showing where things were in the store, like a giant cheese wedge where the fridges were. And there was a lobster one too! I saw them so many times they are etched into my brain! Now its prolly twice the size that it was when we first shopped there and a small mall has grown up around it. And the plastic wall-mounted sculptures are long gone. I shopped in a few other places,  mostly to try and save a few bucks, but I always find myself coming back to PicknPay.

And my parents still shop there!

Just a disclaimer- I wasn’t asked, paid, bribed, invited, or otherwise coerced into writing this blog post, nor did I receive anything in exchange for writing this blog post.

Southern Sun Rocks!

I was wined and dined at Sandton City Garden Court when Southern Sun launched their programme allowing people to book a stay with them- wait for it- VIA THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE!

Yup. You heard me bunnies.

This is a first among SA’s large hotel chains!

Southern Sun is no stranger to social media- being active on Facebook and on Twitter– and they want to embrace their potential guests in a space where they already feel comfortable.

Facebook’s constantly increasing popularity means that most people log into their Facebook profile before they do anything else, and now they can check availability and reserve rooms without leaving Facebook! And there are some pretty cool deals for Southern Sun’s Facebook page fans. If you make a booking before the end of July 2011 you could win a 2-night getaway, and booking via the social media site immediately gets you 5% off the regular rates! Register as a Frequent Guest and you can get as much as 20% off the normal rates.

So on Thursday night, we met up with a group of bloggers and journalists and made our bookings using the Facebook page- with help from the Southern Sun staff. It’s a pretty cool little set up and if you’ve ever shopped online or booked airplane tickets online then you will easily navigate the menus!

As much as I love gallivanting and spending time with friends and family and such, there are few things I like more than being able to do my business online, from the comfort of my own bed!

This new option from Southern Sun is a winner, IMHO!

We then had dinner at Café Maude and WHAT a dinner!! OMW!! The starter platters consisted of mini tartlet thingies (camembert in phyllo pastry with a smidgeon of cranberry jelly, chicken liver vol au vents, snails in phyllo pastry) mini sirloin kebabs and little Café Maude salads! I could have eaten a whole platter of the camembert things on my own! The main course was Osso Bucco, “a classic winter dish of braised beef shin in a white wine and tomato sauce served on a bed of smooth mashed potato and seasonal vegetables”. Fabulous! The dessert platters had mimiature coffee flavoured crème brulees, profiteroles and miniature malva puddings! Talk about mouth-watering! Heavenly cappuccinos ended our meal whilst we chatted to each other by candlelight.

And then, when we arrived in our room, we found a bottle of bubbly on ice with 2 glasses and a special happy anniversary message from Southern Sun! It seems someone had been paying attention to our dinner conversation and picked up on the fact that our anniversary was a couple of days away!

Now that’s service!

It really is the little things isn’t it.

Friday morning started with a fantastic buffet breakfast before I headed home again- after the traffic rush and after a fabulous nights’ sleep.

Do People Still Fall For Spam Emails?

I have received several emails from “Absa” lately telling me I need to upgrade or update my internet banking service, and the mail includes a link. Although each one is slightly different, this is pretty much what it looks like:

Account Update Notice

Dear Valued Clients,

Absa has initiated a protective procedure to secure
all online banking accounts against theft and identity
forgery.As a result of this Security Program,
we require you to bear with us online for some minutes
and follow the instructions as we will be sending you some
sms for this verification purpose in other to finish the
Security Program Activation.We would suspend your access for
safety reasons until you upgrade. follow the link below

Please go to: I didn’t include the link for obvious reasons

First of all, banks in South Africa almost never communicate with their clients via email except to send statements, and any correspondence is usually addressed to a specific person- not “clients” or “sir”.

Secondly, banks make use of spelling and grammar checks before they send you something, so an email with incorrect capitalisation, spelling and grammar errors, misalignment of paragraphs and such is almost guaranteed to be spam! Read the email I received above. There are glaring errors that official letters simply would not complain!

Here’s what Absa says on their website (and there are actual samples of spam emails on their site):

Be aware of phishing scams

“Often, the content of the email makes reference to your account being suspended, and the only way you can stop this suspension is to click on the link supplied and update your personal details. Although this link does not link to the real Absa website, these websites are usually designed to look exactly like the Absa site, and it becomes difficult to differentiate between this site and the real site.”

Me and the Samsung Omnia 7 Windows Phone

For the last week or so I got to play with one of the first Windows 7 Phones in the country! I was sent a Samsung Omnia 7, and my being a self-proclaimed BB slut you can imagine that using the Windows Phone was, erm… interesting.

😛

I LOVE the big screen and the “pinch to enlarge/ shrink” functionality.

I LOVE how websites are displayed.

I LOVE how the majority of the screens flip when your rotate the phone.

I LOVE the “Live Tiles” functionality.

I LOVE how I could put my VIP profiles onto my home screen.

I LOVE how the screen is properly visible even outside in the sun.

I LOVE the weight and the look of the phone. Its a sexy phone.

The Samsung Omnia 7 is a pretty cool phone in and of itself, but I was a little disappointed with the functionality I didn’t have. For one thing, I was expecting the Windows 7 functionality of the phone to be far more compatible with my Windows 7 laptop than it is. I couldn’t plug it into my laptop and share files or back it up, which is a concern for me.

The first thing you have to do- if you don’t already have one- is set up a Windows Live ID for yourself. You will need one when you switch the phone on the first time. Just one thing- which Windows and  Samsung aren’t allowed to tell you– is you cannot tell Windows Live that you’re in South Africa, ‘coz then you won’t be able to access the marketplace where all the apps are hiding! When you create your ID online make sure to select the United Kingdom as your country, and if you already have an ID, I suggest you log in and change the country!

😛

When you switch the phone on for the first time you select the time zone, set the language, time and date, then log in with your Windows Live ID. Then from the Settings menu option you go to Accounts and log into your Facebook and Gmail accounts. Once I had logged into Facebook and Gmail, I had a looong list of contacts because it fetched all the contacts on my Gmail account and linked them to their Facebook profiles! That was pretty cool as it even tells you what a contacts’ latest Facebook update is. Unfortunately a lot of these don’t have cellphone numbers included. And I couldn’t delete any of them off the phone because they would be deleted off my Gmail as well!

I battled with the phone- really battled- for several hours before I found @Zoddies on Twitter via the prescribed #WP7Experience hash-tag, and she suggested I reset the phone. This meant erasing everything I had managed to do and starting again. I gathered later that I wasn’t the only person who resorted to these measures.

😉

The touchscreen thing was new to me for sure, I’ve been anti-touchscreen for years and whilst this one wasn’t bad, I am still leery of whether it will work properly for the full 2 years that I have to have a phone before I can upgrade. And I found that the keypad that you use to type messages on is really small, and I don’t have big fingers! I regularly hit the wrong letter or the backspace key and had to retype something. It does prompt you with words whilst you type which is cool, but you often have just about finished typing a word before it suggests it.

I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t transfer all the contacts from my BB to the Samsung- name, number, website, Twitter handle, birthday, address, email, etc- because I could only copy numbers from the SIM. And even though I can back up my contacts from the BB to Windows 7 Contacts on my laptop, the Samsung can’’t be “linked” to Windows 7 Contacts.

🙁

When you plug the phone into your laptop it will download “Zune”- not a small download- and the downloaded “Zune” is pretty much only for entertainment and music, and copying the pictures & videos off the phone.

There are tons of free apps for Facebook and Twitter available, there are games, and apps for playing with photos- all in the “Marketplace”. The music is not free though, and even if you buy music, you can’t use it as a ringtone. You can use Wi-Fi to get music onto the phone though, purely for your listening pleasure.

You can share photos taken with the Samsung Omnia’s 5MB camera using Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, MySpace, Photobucket and Picasa- and all these options are already loaded, you need just switch them on and log into them.

Sharing to Twitter is not an option though, and the phone doesn’t “recognise” Twitter handles either. Once you’re in a Twitter app you can select pictures to share, but the various Twitter apps I tried didn’t notify me of messages and mentions which is annoying considering I spend all day on Twitter.

I also had to log into Facebook repeatedly when using various apps and functions, rather than the phone remembering the log in I did when I set up the phone initially!

I couldn’t download Whatsapp (which I don’t normally use but thought I’d try it since I didn’t have BBM) because the phone can’t download the .aspx file, and Windows Phone can’t tell you when Whatsapp will be available. I also couldn’t view a few websites that use Flash (yes, I know, I hate it too, but people still use it) because the phone can’t download .exe files either!

Yes, it has Windows 7 Mobile- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook- and they work really well which is fabulous for a business meeting, but I’m afraid this is not the phone for me.

I need my Twitter notifications.

I need to be able to hold in a button on my keypad and automatically dial my Glugster.

I need my just-about-free internet.

I need to be able to set my current favourite song as a ringtone.

If you have the Samsung Omnia 7 and you have any technical support issues or hardware queries you can contact the Samsung Call Centre.

  • Dial 0860 (SAMSUNG) 726 7864
  • Select 1, and speak to the operator

OR

Take it to the nearest Samsung Service Centre

OR

Visit the www.windowsphone7.co.za for how-tos and tips…

I’ll be sticking with my BB for now.