DIY Peppa Pig cupcakes

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Like most children her age, my daughter loves Peppa Pig. So for her birthday, I decided to bake chocolate cupcakes at home and decorate them with Peppa Pig toppers.

I have no baking experience whatsoever but imagining the delight on my little one’s face on seeing Peppa pig cupcakes was enough to get me going.

I first ordered the edible rice paper toppers from Harold’s Bakeware on Amazon. The 48 decoration toppers included Peppa pig herself, her friends Suzy sheep, Zoe zebra, Danny dog, Candy cat, Emily Elephant, Rebecca rabbit, George and also three pieces of the Peppa Pig’s family. It cost me less than £2 and they arrived within 3 days.

I made chocolate cupcakes using Sanjeev Kapoor’s (a famous indian chef) method:

We basically need to add together 3 different mixtures: Egg+ sugar whisked; melted chocolate+melted butter and flour + baking powder+cocoa powder.

1) Mixture 1 – Beat 3 eggs and whisk them in a bowl for about 3-5 minute. Add sugar, I used my own estimate, and keep whisking

2) Mixture 2 – Melt chocolate in microwave. I used dark Belgian chocolate and it took about a minute to melt. Some chocolates melt quickly and one has to be careful about not overheating the chocolate in microwave. Melt butter by placing it in a bowl for about half a minute in the microwave. Mix melted chocolate and butter.

3) Mixture 3 – In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking soda, I also added some cocoa powder.

4) To mixture 3, add the chocolate-butter mixture (keep some of the mixture aside for using in icing later), and the egg-sugar mixture slowly.

5) Add milk to get the right consistency and a few drops of vanilla essence to taste

6) Grease moulds or paper cups and fill the mixture only till half as the cupcakes swell up while baking

7) Place in a preheated over at 180degree Celsius and the cupcakes are ready in about 10-15 minutes

8) For icing, add icing sugar to the butter-chocolate mixture, the belgian chocolate was really bitter so I had to use a LOT of icing sugar, add till you get the right consistency and taste

9) with a knife, I covered the baked cupcakes with icing, and placed them in the fridge for the icing to set

My husband cut out the cupcake toppers and as my icing had somewhat set, he simply placed them vertically on each cupcake. We could also paste them on the cupcake surface with a bit of icing but the toppers looked nice standing up as well.

Though it might seem like a long list of steps, the actual time in preparing these cakes was less than 45 minutes.

My daughter was super excited on seeing her favourite characters come alive on her “chocate cake” as she calls it.

If I could make these Peppa Pig cupcakes at home, anyone can!

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Twinkle twinkle little star

IMG_9581 Firework displays have a way of making one feel festive. I absolutely love the bright designs painted against the dark sky and the sounds that go with it.

Over the last few weeks, there were numerous firework shows across London and its suburbs. It started towards the end of October and culminated with planned displays to celebrate Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night last weekend. Guy Fawkes night is annually celebrated in this country on November 5 to mark the capture of a person named Guido Fawkes who participated in a plot to attack the English parliament. This year there were prolonged firework displays to celebrate this day as November 5 fell on a Wednesday.

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I had the absolute joy of watching numerous fireworks right through the windows of my home. It helps that I live in a high rise and that there are no other tall buildings around to block my view. Every evening there were numerous fireworks across the horizon. At a given time, I could see 7-10 different displays bringing alive the dark and clear winter sky in a magical way. My camera couldn’t capture a 180 degree view of the fireworks as most of these were happening really far away.

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My toddler thinks these are actually stars twinkling in the sky, fireworks in the sky surely weave some magic!

Home is where you feel at home

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I spent the first 26 years of my life living at one place with my parents. Over the last 5 years, I have moved 2 countries and 4 houses, moving to the 5th one soon. Although the journey has been exciting, I often given in to nostalgia about the people and places I left behind with each move.

In a way, you never really leave people behind in today’s super connected world where most people are just a skype call away. But narrating daily events over skype or phone is not the same as living experiences together. Inevitably, interactions with close friends and family (at one point in time) become casual (over time). So while today I have some very good friends and close family members across the world, we all can ‘happily’ live without each other.

For someone like me, who was used to seeing the same neighbours everyday, same family members every weekend and the same set of school and college friends every once in a while, such a transition has been tough. For a long time I missed the home I left behind where things were similar each day and so predictable that living without them was unimaginable.

Recently something has changed. My 2 year old who thrives on a routine expects me to do similar things everyday. She is happy to meet familiar people, repeat her antics endless times and shrieks in excitement when we go to previously visited places. Her happiness to a large extent depends on us and she does not hold back her crocodile tears, smiles and kisses to hide that from us.

I think I finally feel at home, at least at this point in time!

Immigration Detention in the UK

This briefing provides an overview of immigration detention in the UK. It discusses the size of the UK’s detention facilities, the number of detainees, the average duration of detention, and the detention of children.

Full briefing can be found here:
http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/migobs/Immigration%20Detention%20Briefing.pdfImmigration Detention Briefing