21 September 2016

National Cupcake Week: Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

This week is officially National Cupcake week, the 8th annual one organised by British Baker magazine, absolute geniuses. It is from the 19th-25th September, so you have plenty of time to stuff your face still. It has been a hashtag on Twitter this week and quite frankly I think it should be on the news. So I wanted to share a recipe with you for Chocolate Rose Cupcakes that I made a while ago.
The recipe is from the Home Sweet Home recipe book by The Hummingbird Bakery, which contains some great recipe inspiration. These cupcakes are full of flowery fabulousness and has a gorgeous chocolatey taste with a surprise custard inside. What more could a cake lover ask for?
This recipe has several components which can seem overwhelming at first, but you don't need to do them all in one day. The cake contains a Rose water custard which can be made the day before, just remember to put it in the fridge and not leave it out in a warm kitchen, salmonella isn't much fun.
You can also make the cakes the day before you put them all together, as well as the buttercream. I decided to add some crystalised rose petals as decoration, which are super easy to make and can be a good excuse to either treat yourself ,or demand ask that special man or woman in your life to buy you some. Just call me the cake Cupid.
When I make a sponge I usually use my Mum's tried and tested recipe of using the same number of oz for each ingredient and half the number of eggs. E.g. 6oz of butter, self raising flour, sugar, 3 eggs and 1tsp of baking powder for a 6 inch cake, which equates to around 12-14 cupcakes. I then bung it all in (that's a technical term by the way) the food processor and go back to raiding the biscuit tin and dreaming of Bradley Cooper. However this recipe requires a little more attention, you can still consume an obscene amount of biscuits while making it though.
1. First you need to preheat your oven to 170C which is 325F or gas mark 3 and pick yourself out some gorgeous muffin cases.
2. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in an electric mixer to form a crumb-like consistency. You can use a bowl and a non eletric whisk, but if you are able to it is best to use an electric whisk, otherwise you are going to need some serious Popeye muscle. You also need to sift the cocoa & flour to get some air into the mixture, but if you're letting electricity do the hardwork you don't need to bother.
3.In a jug mix together the milk, eggs and rosewater by hand.
4. This part may seem a bit laborious, but it forms a great batter, so be patient with it and try not to get distracted by thoughts of Daniel Craig smothered in cake batter, yummy or what.
Pour half the milky mixture into the crumb mixture on a slow speed until it's all combined.
Then speed it up and beat the batter until it's smooth, thick and lump free. No one wants clumps of flour in their sponge.
5. Turn the speed back down and gradually add the rest of the milky mixture.
Remember to scrape the sides down regularly when you are mixing the batter.
Don't worry if your mixture is different to any that you've made before. No need to panic that it's pretty watery, it's meant to be. If yours isn't you need to keep mixing until it is.
6. A good way to get the mixture into your beautiful cases is with an ice cream scoop, it helps you bake even cakes so there isn't a fight over the biggest cakes. It depends how big your scoop and cases our, but mine work out around 2 scoops per cake.
7. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes which is a perfect amount of time to check out the new Oasis collection. Make sure the sponge is bouncy to the touch and you can use a skewer to know they are cooked inside, as it will come out clean when you dip it in the sponge.
8. Leave them to cool for a while in the tin, as this will make sure the cases stay tight around the cake.

1. Place the milk and the rosewater in a saucepan and bring it to the boil.

2.In a bowl mix together the egg yolks (keep the whites for the roses), sugar, flour and cornflour to form a paste. If it needs a little oomph to unstiffen it you can add 1 tablespoon of the hot milk.

3.When the milk has boiled remove the pan from the heat and mix 4-5 tablespoons with the paste.

4.Pour it back into the pan with the rest of the milk and return it to the heat.

5.Put those arm muscles to good use and whisk it as fast as you can for 3-4 minutes to make sure the flour and cornflour are fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook your custard, otherwise the eggs may begin to scramble.
L6. Remove from the heat and pour the custard into a baking tray, cover with cling film and set aside until it's completly cool.
1.Mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter on a low speed until it's all combined.
2.Before you give into temptation and eat it all, add the milk and rosewater while mixing on a slow speed.
3.Put the speed on turbo power and beat the buttercream until it's light and fluffy.
Crystallised Rose petals:

These taste exactly how roses smell and are great for when you'd rather get on with eating your cakes, instead of spending hours decorating them.

You will need around two roses depending on how many petals you want to crystalise and how big your roses are. I originally wanted to only crystallise around 25 petals and estimated that there were 12-14 petals on each rose. It turned out that there were 29 on one rose and 23 on another.
So I suggest before you say bye bye to the stem, take apart one rose at a time and you may be surprised how many petals are on one rose. There are lots of flowers that are edible which you can crystalise if you don't fancy buying any roses or cutting them out of the garden (yeah, sorry about that Mum.)
If you have the luxury of a garden you maybe surprised how many of your beautifully grown creations you can actually eat. Here is a great guide on what flowers you can add to your dishes.

1.Paint your petals with egg white both sides to make sure the sugar sticks. You should only need one egg white, so you can freeze the rest or put them in something else.

2.You can either just dip the petals in the sugar or use a spoon and tap off any remaining sugar on the sides of the bowl. Your hands may get pretty sticky so have some wet kitchen paper or a flannel handy.

3.Leave them to dry for a minimum of two hours in a warm room on a sheet of greaseproof paper. An airing cupboard can also help speed up the process and you will know they are dry when they feel hard and brittle.
Don't feel you have to use them all as decoration now because they will keep for several months, maybe even a year if you store them in an airtight container with kitchen or greaseproof paper in between layers.
Putting the custard in the cake:
1. After you've let your cake and custard cool, take a knife and carve a small hole in the middle of the cake. I use a cake hole maker Father Christmas gave me, who I believe bought it off eBay. He's pretty thrifty these days.
2. Spoon lots of custard into the centre of the cake and place the piece of sponge you cut out back in the hole. Don't worry if your custard seems thicker then you'd expect it to be, it's ok and will still taste great.
You can trim the cake you've put back if you want to, but the buttercream will cover it.
I had quite a lot of custard left over, even though I squashed as much as I could into my cakes. If this happens you can put it in the freezer and use it in another batch of cakes. Any excuse to make some more spongey goodness.

Finishing touches:
For a simple way to apply your buttercream use an ice cream scoop. Dollop (another technical term) some on the top of a cake and use a knife or pallette knife of you have one to smooth it out while turning the cake. This will help the buttercream form a swirly shape.
Finally place a petal on the top and enjoy one of your creations, or two or three or even four, let's make it half a dozen.
I hope my explanation doesn't seem like a load of gobbledygook (Delia I'm not) and you don't end up tearing your hair out and crying into your rose water. Using rose as a flavour may seem a little daunting to use and I was ominous to try it. It really does taste good, goes well with the chocolate sponge and the taste or smell isn't overpowering. I really hope you've enjoyed this recipe and I wish you lots of luck with making these beauties. Oh and if you have any leftover buttercream, I'll happily eat it for you.
A giant lemon cupcake I made with lemon buttercream swirl roses and fondant flowers, decorated with pearls and encased in a purple chocolate case.
Second Hand Rose

22 August 2016

High Street Vintage Inspired Swimwear: 1960s-1990s

In my last post I wrote about swimwear from the 1920s-1950s and how you could get the updated look on the high street. This post contains swimwear from the 1960s-1990s with ruffles, Moroccan prints, string bikinis, racer backs and high leg swimwear. Get ready to show off some skin and pull off some groovy tan lines.

The 60s surfing, surf music, and beach party movies were everywhere, so everyone wanted to recreate the looks they saw on screen. Bikinis became a lot more popular and the belly button was properly exposed for the first time, shock horror!
By the late sixties swimsuits had revealing side mesh net panels, ruffles or cut out midriffs, filled in with see through plastic rings. Sorry ladies, its time to do some leg lifts.

 Fabrics were mainly Nylon or Lycra, so zips were no longer needed and they were able to easily stretch and be pulled on like a pair of knickers. No one wants to spend half an hour jumping up and down trying to squeeze into a bikini do they.

These bikinis with the ruffles and bright 60s style prints are perfect. I love the bikini tops that have cut outs on them, which show off some skin.  If you want to cover up more, the light pink cut out printed outfit is perfect. The gorgeous bikinis with holes on the side remind me of the plastic ring aspect of swimsuits in the 60s, just modernised. I've found some great bikinis with mesh panels, including halter styles and skimpier bikinis. I absolutely adore the dark blue bikini with the mesh top, it's so sexy and the white and black bikinis with the ruffles combine two 60s swimwear trends. Plus they have a little diamond finish along the top of the ruffles which add some sparkle to your swimwear.

The bikinis with the cut out panels help turn the 60s trend into a modern look with both tops and bottoms having cut out sides. The bottom row of bikinis continues on the mesh theme, but is a hole cut out type of mesh, so shows off more skin. If you'd rather cover up a little more, you can go with the more supportive ones and the less skimpier ones. Wearing all these bikinis, especially the ones with holes, cut-outs and mesh and hole mesh detailing, you'll get some seriously unique tan lines.

With the 70s being full of free love and hippies, swimwear got on the bandwagon becoming more revealing with triangle cups and fashion designers bringing in string bikinis, with bottoms fitting on the hips. It was all about showing your assets off and being oh so sexy was the aim. Some women even wore sheer swimsuits, now that takes some serious confidence, that or too many Martini's.

Women wearing string bikinis were shown in popular magazines, such as Sports Illustrated making them even more lusted after due to the sexual revolution of the late 60s. There were no hiding those extra Custard Creams now.

If you don't fancy the Playboy bunny sheer costume look you can work these bikini's and costumes I've found here.
 Prints were big in the 70s, particularly moroccan style prints, aztec ones and tie dye, so give these a tribute with these superb pieces. I love the first bikini top which has fringing on the ties, as fringing was another big trend of the decade, there are also some bottoms with fringing ties I've added. The two printed bikinis with frill tops and the pink floral one with a ruffle trim are beautiful and unique.
The halter neck style ones are gorgeous, the white paisley one with a ruffle trim just screams this decade. I love the mustard coloured ones, the one with the floral pattern and the tie dyed one. Mustard colour was everywhere in this decade.

Crochet was a massive trend in the 70s and these two halter neck bikinis include two trends, one with tie dye and the other with denim, which was also everywhere.
 There's more crochet with the mustard bikini in the top row, which also comes in a rose colour and a stunning cream crochet swimsuit. I love the swimming costumes I've found if you want to cover up a little more, but still rock the trend. These floral swimsuits are beautiful and the scarf print twisted wrap bandeau swimsuit is gorgeous.

The 70s is going to continue to be a huge trend this summer, so one of these pieces is bound to be perfect for you.

In the 1980s, the thong bikini was introduced mainly due to Playboy bunnies, thanks very much Hugh Hefner, no more second helpings of pudding for us.
With supermodels like the beautiful Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford appearing everywhere looking gorgeous and aerobics and other exercise becoming a popular hobby, the athletic build became a body type that was sought after by women.

Bandeau bikini tops were worn a lot, along with racer T backs styles, to show off toned arms and backs, with shoulders and backs being the focus. For some women it was all muscles and abs.

In contrast to the athletic look, a low cut bodice was often worn and bikinis and swimsuits with a high leg, showing off a women's sex appeal. Due to Pamela Anderson running along the Baywatch beach with her assets in a sexy red swimsuit, they got revitalised with the use of neoprene. Gone were the days of your Grandma doing knit one pearl two to make you a woollen swimsuit.

You can get the athletic look with these array of racer T back bikini's, whether you fancy going for a pattern, contrasting colours or just going for a plain colour, there are some great ones here. If you want to still work the athletic look in a bikini, yet still be a little sexy these two neon racer back bikini's with mesh inserts and the black and nude mesh bikini are perfect.
I've found two great sporty style swimsuits, one that is stereotypically sporty with a racer back and another one that has a graphic print with a high neck and low back, but still great for the sporty look.

These gorgeous strapless bandeau bikinis with bold colour blocking and the bikini with a bright print, will show off those abs you've been working on and gorgeous strong shoulders. If you haven't been hitting the gym, don't worry you will still sparkle in these.

For the low cut bodice, high leg look, there's this gorgeous black bikini and some fabulous swimsuits to choose from, including an olive coloured one and a Pamela Anderson style red one, so start practising running along the beach with your hair flowing in the wind.

There is also this seductive black one showing off a hint massive amount of side boob which also has a tantalising open back, hey if you've got it flaunt it girl.
I love the pink one with a print and the gorgeous blue one that has a lace up front, which is bound to get you noticed, oh so sexy.
I included both of these silver metallic high leg ones, as it reminds me of the real party vibe that was going on in the 80s, so you can continue that at the beach or at the pool. One of these 80s style pieces  is definitely perfect for lusting over the hotel waiter in.

In the 1990s there were lots of small string tops and criss-cross halter necks showing off cleavage, this meant that boob jobs became pretty popular in this decade.
There were lots of stripes, prints and bright and bold colours. The one piece stayed popular with high leg lines like the 80's and zipped fronts. They also contained lots of cut outs, criss crosses and halter necks like the bikini's. Bikini's also had high V-cut bottoms too, so there was still no hiding from the dreaded bikini wax, sorry ladies.

Since the 90s has become such a popular trend the past few seasons, there are some great swimsuits out there to re-create it. I've found some fab bright and bold bikinis with a criss-cross style, some string tops and also some halter necks to give you some more support such as the black Boohoo criss cross halter neck bikini. I love the pink and black swimsuits with the criss cross detail across the tummy and the straps and the other swimsuits with criss-crossing on the side, or just a small amount on the tummy area, like this gorgeous blue one. The two black criss cross wrap around style swimsuits with neon colours are great, as well as the two neon coloured swimsuits with mesh inserts.

I've included some high leg low cut bodice swimsuits with a zip, as well as a gorgeous periwinkle keyhole cutout halter neck design. I simply love the beauty of the low cut bodice high leg blue swimsuit with the gorgeous detailing around the bodice, Liz Taylor would be jealous of it.

Swimwear has evolved a lot over the past hundred years and now we can cover up any wobbly bits we have or flaunt our curves as much as we want. From bandeau bra bikinis and high waiters to high V-cut bottoms and intricate criss cross designs, we can conquer any style we like and pull off any swimwear trend.

I really hope I have helped you find something. Whether it's at the beach or at your local swimming pool, with these and the swimwear from my 1920s-1950s post , you are bound to feel like you've just walked off a catwalk, just without the 7 inch stiletto heels you can barely walk in.

Second Hand Rose

05 August 2016

High Street Vintage Inspired Swimwear: Great looks to get your hands on: 1920s-1950s

Us ladies pack so much for our holiday, we apparently squeeze over 44 items into a suitcase and only wear half of them. Personally that majority of those 44 items for me would be shoes. Six bikini's are packed for a fortnight and only three are used.
We obsess about having the perfect summer body with the TOWIE lot encouraging us to do 'No Carbs before Marbs', but who wants to deny themselves a Krispy Kreme, I know I can't.
Getty Images

Wearing a bikini on the beach is our own version of having a catwalk, we can't all model for Dior. We imagine ourselves strutting our stuff in a gorgeous bikini making us look like Kate Moss with 4 inch wedges on and impeccable hair. The reality is that we stumble on the sand with our heels on doing a Naomi Campbell  style fall and our hair gets blown about by the sea wind making us look more like a windswept Sheepdog then Miranda Kerr.

These days there are so many things you can wear on the beach, bikinis, tankinis, monokinis hey, even a mankini if you want, there's so many varieties. But women haven't always had so much of a choice.

Before 1915-1920 women wore black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dresses worn over bloomers or drawers trimmed with ribbons and bows. Not great for getting a tan in. Thankfully heavy fabric swimsuits were reduced and became more athletic and androgynous looking, due to women swimming more. So I'm starting my how to get the look post at the 1920s.

*PLEASE NOTE* If you are not on a mobile or tablet and can hover over the pictures some may say sold out, but if you click through you will see the item is still available in other sizes. I don't know why it's doing that, but please click through anyway if you find one you love!

In the early 1920s women’s bathing suits finally changed into a one piece garment with a long top that covered shorts. Though matching stockings were still worn, swimwear began to shrink and more flesh was exposed from the bottom of the trunks to the tops of the stockings, let the squats and leg lifts begin. As women became more liberated due to the Chanel wave in fashion, they put their long skirts at the back of the cupboard and the athletic look was well suited to this era.
They were made of wool jersey, so became pretty heavy when you got out of the water and often small shoes were worn with this look, while women posed on the beach.
The fashion was to have a striped, spots or an abstract pattern, even then women knew how to use patterns to hide those lumps and bumps.

I've found these gorgeous swimsuits for you to try and achieve the look. Get the trend with boy type shorts, but modernise it by showing off more of your lovely assets as well with slightly skirted swimsuits that became more popular as the decade went on & into the 30s. I love the nautical style La Redoute one, as it was a trend that was popular in the 20s. The patterned ones are super cute and can help hide any wobbly bits you may have.

Catching the sun and having gorgeous tanned skin became a hobby in the 30s. Swimsuits changed from being made of wool jersey to Lastex stretchy cotton. Prints became even more popular along with ribbons or belts around the waist.
The one piece was made shorter with boy shorts still around and little over skirts becoming popular, along with an exposed v-neck. No more brown face and white bodies for these ladies.

Hollywood stars began to pose in swimsuits and having the latest fashion became top on the list of a woman's priorities, that and building their shoe collection.

I found these beautiful pieces, some with little skirts to help hide your thighs. I love all the belted ones as well as the floral swimsuit (when you hover over it, it says sold out but it's not completely, so still have a look if you're interested & fingers crossed it will come back in more sizes.) It's tied with a wrap belt to help clinch the waist in and make you have a waist to rival Dita von Teese. The ones that don't have a belt but have great colour contouring to give the smaller waist illusion like a belt are fabulous. I love the V cut swimsuit with the striped V, it reminds me of the nautical theme that's popularity continued on from the 20s. The zig zag and floral swimsuit are a fabulous mix of colours and also help give the colour illusion slimming effect. Wearing one of these you'll definitely blag yourself your very own Clark Gable.

Due to the devastating war along with meat, vegetables and all the important things in life such as chocolate, there was a shortage of fabric. Skirts were shortened and women had to make do and mend. This resulted in women and factories having to make smaller swimsuits with cutout midriffs. The tankini was born and women had a lot more options in styles, with halter, bandeau bras, skirted bottoms and shorts available. Bottoms were high waisted and covered the tummy button and were low on the hips showing off all those leg lifts they'd done since March, don't worry no thongs just yet ladies, so relax. They were worn with wrap shirts, button through dresses or simple towelling dresses hiding any wobbly bits.

This was the decade when you were able to mix and match colours, patterns and styles. Two pieces became extremely popular by the end of the decade and pin ups such as Rita Hayworth were seen flaunting their curves in them. I mean who doesn't want to look like the lovely Rita?

The first bikinis appeared just after World War II. Early styles were not much different from tankinis, except that they had a gap below the breast line allowing for a section of bare midriff. They were named after Bikini Atoll, the site of several nuclear weapons tests, for their supposed explosive effect on the viewer. Then, any man would go weak at the knees at the sight of flesh so the name is pretty appropriate.

The looks I've found reflect the 1940s style, but with a modern twist. I love the halter neck style ones and the tankinis around at the moment which are great for covering up, but still getting a tan. They include high waisted bottoms and I love all the ones that you can mix and match with that I've found. I particularly love the ASOS black floral one with the peplum frill. The peplum was a big style statement in the 40s on clothes, so it combines that style with the high waisted style as well as being great at helping to hide any wobbly bits you're conscious of. I know in your head you may not automatically think high waisted means sexy but don't worry, you won't look like you've got granny pants on with these beauties.

With stars like Marilyn Monroe becoming famous in the 50's with their beautiful bodies, swimsuits became more curvaceous and fitting. Corset manufacturers who were drastically losing business due to changing fashions saw a gap in the market, with making swimsuits to hide a woman's faults, with stretch tummy control panels to hold in the stomach, padded cone shaped bra cups and boning to give bust support. A wide range of fabrics including lined cotton, stretch Lastex and elastic ruched nylon were used. Bandeau and strapless low cut styles became very popular. Zips were used in the centre back of swimsuits to create a corset like appearance. Thankfully Marks and Spencer amongst others have taken over this role now, so it's ok if you have another biscuit, or two or three.

Hair was really important to a fifties woman and they didn't want to get their hair wet and all frizzy whilst swimming. Lavish bathing caps covered in flowers, petals and rubber spikes became essential beach accessories. Just like iPods and plenty of Pringles are these days.

Yes ladies, you can now show off some proper cleavage now, with so many top styles to choose from. I adore the red Figleaves swimsuit with the Bridget Bardot style neckline, so gorgeous. I adore the lower cut swimsuits, deeper V's and moulded cup swimsuits that make a one piece look oh so hot. The tankini's that are now more structured, lower necklines and some with tummy control will help you look super lean. I love the House of Fraser spotted bikini top which I have shown the swimsuit version of in my 40s section. It shows how far swimwear had come after the war.

The high waisted bikini's with a zip, most with strapless tops take the zip from the 1950s and give it a modern twist, by having the zip in the front. I love all the prints, especially the ASOS bandeau style top bikini in the bottom row as it is such a bright celebratory multi-coloured geometric print and that's what the 50s was all about, celebration after the war. Even though the belly button wasn't seen until the 60s in swimwear, I think we can make an exception for this gorgeous bikini and some of the high waisters which sit just slightly below the belly button.

Getty Images

I hope you've enjoyed this post and found something that you can rock on the beach, a lot of these are in the sale so you can easily blag yourself a bargain. I will be doing the 60s-90s in my next post. I want to say thank you so much to all the lovely people who took the time to read my last post about my beautiful Jasper which you can read here.  I'm especially thankful for all the amazing comments, they really mean a lot to me and my family. I've read them many times, so thank you so much for leaving them.

I hope I've helped you find the perfect swimwear for your holiday, this summer we are meant to be having, or even one in the sale for next year's holiday. If you are a regular at the swimming pool, I hope I've helped you find a new outfit that is sure to get that hunky lifeguard's attention. Watch out for my next post, that's when swimwear will start to get tinier and brighter! You better start doing those squats!

Second Hand Rose

18 July 2016

A letter from the heart to my darling Jasper

My 21st
Hi everyone, this has been a very difficult post for me to write and has taken a few days to do as it's still very upsetting to me, I hoped to post it last week. I thought it was time to explain an aspect of what has been going on in my life and one of the reasons I've been on a blogging break. I never ever wanted to have to write this post, but sadly I've had to, life can be so harsh and I'm sure to non pet owners I seem completely crazy! So get ready for a letter (essay) to my beautiful bow tied wearing cat, hopefully some laughs and an awful lot of photos.
To my darling Jasper (our lubbly boy),
Last Thursday (the 14th July) marked a year since we had to say goodbye to you. A day I was dreading and one I thought would never come. I knew logically you couldn't last forever, but in my heart I didn't think such a cat full of character and life would be beaten by something so every day as death.
When he decided to sit on my lap for 90 minutes
I'm so sorry we had to say goodbye to you, it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, it was for all of us. I hope that when the time came and when you drifted off to sleep you were dreaming about prawns and sardines and laying by the fire. I hope that having us all around you stroking you, kissing you and telling you how much we love you for the hundredth time that day was some comfort to you.
It was so hard to watch your breathing get slower and your eyes glaze over and seeing those horrible yet normal reflexes and breathing noises your body was making for a while. It made it seem like you were still with us, a cruel twist I wasn't expecting. Even though the vet said you wouldn't have felt them it felt like you were clinging on to life and yet we were ending it. Watching my beautiful baby slip away was heartbreaking and still haunts me, but there was no way I wouldn't have been there for you, after all we'd been through so much together I wasn't going to leave you now.
When I realised you were really gone out of our lives the grief was overwhelming, it was so hard to go home without you. I realised I would never be able to look into those beautiful eyes again or hear you purr. What gave me some comfort was that you looked so peaceful in your big fluffy bed, all wrapped up in your blanket and just like you were asleep. Beforehand when we were all giving you cuddles, crying and handing you around, you must have wondered what on earth was going on.
No wonder the printer broke!
It was so difficult on the drive to the vets when you were acting like my furry friend all interested in what was going on outside and being your usual nosey self. We did everything we could for you, but we didn't want to wait to say goodbye to you when there was no Jasper left in you and you were just a shell of yourself. You still obviously had so much zest for life, but your age was catching up with you.
I read a quote online on one of the many sleepless nights that I had worrying about you and questioning whether us keeping you alive was right.

'There will come a day when you have no decision, you must let them go...that is usually one day too late'.
We all loved you so much and didn't want you to suffer at all. I'm so sorry I had to give you pain medication, use needles on your precious body and give you tablets, which even with two teeth you still managed to bite my fingers and give me some impressive looking scars! In my heart it still feels like it was just yesterday that we had to say goodbye and I miss you every single day, we all do. The house hasn't been the same since and feels so empty without you, well you did own it didn't you.
You came into our lives so unexpectedly 9 1/2 years ago and firmly made your mark within a couple of hours. To be honest since you were 15 at the time we thought we would only have you for a couple of years, but oh no not you my furry monkey. You had us wrapped around your paw for 8 1/2 years, having us all at your beck and call and bringing so much delight into our lives, even if you did eat everyone's food. You lived to the ripe old age of 23 1/2 which was 111 in cat years, not bad going for a cat that did zero exercise and had breath so smelly you could probably make someone faint if they got too close. Oh how I miss that smelly breath.
His 1st day
You settled into your new home in 2007 so easily. You came from a household with two adults and three cats (both pretty scatty) to a house where you were the only cat with five adults to become your slaves, so I think you were pretty happy to finally get all the attention. I remember the second day we had you Mummy & I went to Pets at Home to buy you some things for your new home and we came back and you were laying stretched out on the conservatory table like you owned the house. When we told you to get down you just looked at us and swished your tail, you owned this house in less then 24 hours.
Up until the last six months of your life you were still acting like the crafty Jasper we knew and dearly loved. Trying to get food out of everyone, meowing like a donkey, demanding to be groomed several times a day or just sat with, loving raspberries being blown on your stomach, going in the garden walking on Mum's precious flowers and leaving a stinky present there and then running back in the house, scooting around the table on three paws as you were scared of the wind.
There were times when you got a lot better in those months and raised our hopes but things would go downhill again, it was such a roller coaster. I have a blog post in drafts that was '10 things that make me happy' and obviously you were at the top of the list! I wrote it in May & said that you'd been ill, but were back to your normal vibrant self and I was filled with so much hope that things were under control. Just two months later we had to say goodbye, I can't bring myself to delete that damn post that I wrote with you snuggled up to me.
Doing his dinner time laps
Every dinner time you would do laps around the table, trying to get food out of us which you always managed to do. You conned me out of half my breakfast most mornings and some of my lunch when you get your paws on it. I miss you eating my macaroni cheese and licking the bowl that had baked beans or spaghetti in and you having a tomato beard afterwards, as well as your marmite beard that was a regular occurrence. I miss us having to save you custard and your Mummy making you your own piece of Marmite toast to eat.
I miss you taking up all the room wherever you decided to lay and on my bed and you sitting on my legs stopping the blood flow to them as you were so heavy. I was so happy when you were around for my 21st in 2014 and loved eating any food you could get your paws on. I don't think many people can say that at their 21st birthday party their cat is a year and a half older then them!
I miss the way you used to lie in front of the fire with your legs in the air stealing all the heat and how you would run to the fire as soon as you saw the guard being moved. You got so close, we were terrified we were going to set your whiskers on fire with the match. You had the fire on when you wanted no matter what time it was or season, we all had to sit there sweltering in June while you enjoyed it stretched back and relaxed.
In heaven by the fire
I miss how you always used to try and eat off people's plates when one of us ate in the sitting room. As soon as they put them down, you were the King of craftiness and even if you were asleep you'd start moving your nose and your whiskers would start twitching. You'd be right there waiting before any of us had taken our first bite. I miss how you made out you were unable to open a pulled to door and just used to meow and stare at it for ages until someone gave in, yet miraculously when dinner was being cooked, you managed to get out of the room and I miss seeing your paw curved around the door and you slowly sneaking in or out.
I even miss when you used to dribble when you were being groomed and when you used to use the side of my laptop and my iPad cover as your Jasper scratcher. I still have the stains from the dribble on my laptop & can't bring myself to buy a much needed new iPad case as you loved it so much.
I miss your selective arthritis that was bad when you had to go upstairs, but not bad when you could smell food, sadly that arthritis didn't become so selective and became such a problem for you. I hope you liked all the heat pads we put on your legs and massages I would give you to try and ease the pain. You seemed to like them and towards the end it was the only time I would hear you purr, that or if it was prawn time.
Trying to pinch some food-Chorizo!
When your beautiful body was letting you down, my mission in the day was to make you comfortable and try and get you to purr. That's all I wanted, to see the cat I loved so dearly happy. I believed I could get you better, I believed what the vet was saying was just ifs and maybe's, after all to me you weren't just a normal cat you were Jasper, you could beat anything.
But when I saw you not being able to jump up onto the stall to climb on the sofa anymore, or not be able to reach down for your food or just collapse in a heap, it broke my heart.
My first question in the morning to your Daddy a.k.a Chief Slave was 'How's Jasper?'. I said it with knots in my stomach hoping you were ok and had survived the night. I'm sorry you had to put up with our never ending chats before you went to sleep, when I snuggled you all up in your bed and told you how much I loved you. Selfishly I had to do that for myself because I was so scared that I wouldn't get to look into your eyes again. I held my breath every morning when I was awake early (I often was as I'd be worrying about you) when Daddy went downstairs just waiting to hear your meow when he opened the kitchen door. If I didn't hear it straight away I'd get so anxious and then when I finally heard that meow I so desperately miss, the relief was overwhelming.
Eating Custard on his own placemat!
I hope when on the nights you were really bad and I stayed downstairs with you right next to me, checking on you every hour you felt some comfort. I remember the time you got a bug and you weren't eating or drinking and I tried giving you 5ml of water every 20 minutes all night to keep you hydrated, as I knew when a cat got dehydrated they could go downhill so quickly. The vet told me I probably saved your life doing that and you lived 22 months longer, so that loss of sleep and eye bags those few nights you were with me were definitely worth it.
I could see you weren't ready to go yet, there was still a hell of a lot of fight left in you. Afterwards when you were better and yourself again with your donkey style whail back to perfect working order that we were so glad to hear again, you wanted to be with us even more, just sitting with us would make you purr. You'd come into a room and demand us to follow you, while you ran to your mat to be sat next to, be stroked and you'd be so happy.
Owning the fire
The thing is my beautiful sweetheart you weren't just a cat to me or to any of us. You helped me through some of the hardest heart breaking times of my life and your fur was used as a tissue more then Kleenex so many times, it was my comfort blanket. If I had a bad day all I needed was a Jasper cuddle and everything seemed okay.
You made our world brighter with your cunning personality and the funny things you used to do. I miss watching you sleep having a dream and moving your paws about and whiskers. I even miss your loud snoring. I miss your purr that would start before you even got a cuddle or food, because you knew what was coming and the purring for such a long time afterwards. You just wanted to be with us all the time, you would set the pace of the household and we just went with it.
You used to sit on my bed with me while I wrote my articles for Vintage Life or blog posts and I miss my furry ghost writer so dearly. I've only just been able to start blogging again as you were such a huge part of it and was often mentioned. For months I couldn't bring myself to blog or talk to certain people as I was worried they'd ask about you and I just couldn't get the words out, it just hurt too much in my heart, so silly I know.
You made such an incredible impact on my life, I don't know how I would have got through some of the hard days without you by my side, purring away at me making everything I was worried about seem so trivial, as you were made so happy by just the simplest things in life.
Helping me write
You're still the screen saver on my phone and iPad by the way (don't worry they won't change for a long time) and you have left a serious paw print on my broken heart, you have on all of ours.
When I had an Echo done recently to look at my heart, I told my Dr (who probably thinks I'm crazy) they might find a paw print on it. It must have been right deep inside as they didn't see it. We now have a bauble with pictures of you in it that goes right at the top of the tree at Christmas, so the fairy has been fired.
In memory of him
We also have a frame with a picture of you, your bow tie that you so charmingly wore, your paw print and some of your fur and your grooming brush you so dearly loved right next to the fire with your pewter cat casket. We've even put it in front of the fire a couple of times when we've had it on as we know you'd like to be laying there, yeah I know completely crazy.

We are still finding your fur on our clothes and everywhere else around the house and will continue to for a long time. I have so many pictures of you (around 2,000) as you well know, you were a right little poser and some videos of you. I can't bring myself to delete a photo that's blurry or has bad lighting, silly I know. I just wish I took more videos of you when you were healthier.

Head of the table
You gave us so many laughs and continue to as we recall stories of you jumping on the table to eat the Christmas turkey when no one was looking and when you used to scavenge food off of our neighbours and I walked down one of their drives once and you walked up it, just looked at me and carried on walking licking your lips so proudly. We laugh about how crazy it is that you were technically a senior cat (7+) even before the millennium, you 90s child you!

We talk about how you used to sun yourself in the garden, how much you loved the Gazebo, how you walked around the garden with Daddy when he watered the garden and when you used to wait in the driveway every night until everyone was home. We laugh about when we were going away in 2013 you sat in the suitcase meowing and then curled up in it, spending over four hours in it.

Trying to nab some Chinese takeaway
We laugh about when you had been given liver or king prawns the day before and then refused to eat your cat food the next day and just meowed all day standing next to your bowl. The longest you lasted was late afternoon or early evening at the most.

I miss having you in the car with me, as every time I would drive up the drive you would saunter along and walk all the way around the car and meow at the door, so I had to end up opening the door and letting you in.

Trying to test out my baking!
We miss finding you hiding in the downstairs cupboard Jasper Potter and how when we had prawns as part of a meal, no one barely got to eat any as you would con them out of everyone. I miss not being able to leave any food alone even for just a second as you would eat it, including buttercream, you were my chief cake tester. I laugh about when I was carrying you like a baby and went to the fridge to get some Quorn Ham, put several pieces in my mouth to hold as my hands were full and you leapt up and took a massive bite out of them, making them instantly yours.
I miss being able to hold you in my arms like a baby or sitting up in my arms and dancing around the room with you. I miss telling people about my wonderful cat and seeing their shock at how old you are and hearing them laugh as I recalled your crazy antics.
His suitcase protest
I even miss sitting next to you on a two cushion sofa with you having one cushion to yourself and you pushing your legs into me to get more and more room. I miss when all five of us were all in the room & two of us sometimes three had to squash up on one cushion, while you had the other one to yourself. None of us had the heart to move you.
I miss hearing you on the landing in the morning meowing your head off and I miss our during the night snuggles when we used to stay at Grandma's when the parents went away and you slept on my bed and I'd be woken up by these whiskers brushing my face or the stench of your breath and fur in my face.
I miss when I'm anxious or at any emotionally draining appointments and not finding your fur on my clothes and feeling like you're there with me. I miss just walking past you and you doing that little trill you used to do just to say hello and how when everyone went to bed you wanted to be stroked by them all first.
I miss the times when you didn't want to go to bed and I'd put you in bed but somehow you'd escape (so much for not being able to open doors!) and I had to run after you and you'd run onto your mat and demand to be groomed, sometimes it took four escapes to get my feisty 23 year old baby to go to bed.
I miss writing your name in cards to people with a little message from you and trying to draw around your gigantic paw and I miss when you would stay on my bed all day with me, or when I was at college I would come home and you'd still be on my bed, but even more stretched out then you were at 7am when you got on it.
I miss getting your fur in my ring and all over my wool. I haven't been able to do any crochet as my wool is covered in your fur, or FairIsle knitting that you loved watching me do and playing with the balls. The only projects I've been able to start or complete are ones that don't include your fur and that's not many!
Eating his Yo! Sushi!
I miss hearing you coming on the wooden floor when you needed your claws cutting, we used to call you 'Stiletto Fred' and I miss hearing the landing creak and then hearing you come into my room, every time you did I would smile to myself. When I hear creaks on the landing now or downstairs I still automatically think it's you. When I'm in the house by myself I have to have the radio or TV on as every noise makes me think it's you for a second. I miss having you to come home to, even if I've only been out for an hour and I miss when I go to Yo! Sushi bringing you back a takeaway of Salmon home which you loved.
I could go on forever about how many things I miss about you. You had such a cheeky personality and made this house an incredibly happy one with your presence for 8 1/2 years. I will never ever forget you and when I had to say goodbye to you I cried so incredibly hard, it felt like we had lost a human family member and not just a furry one.
Licking Marmite out of the jar!
For weeks my days felt empty as before hand they had become so revolved around caring for you, looking after you and making you as comfortable as I could. I still have days and moments where I cry for you and just want to cuddle my little tiramisu so tight and never let go. I just have to tell myself you're no longer suffering and my little pumpkin, I would never ever want that.
Cuddles in the car
On Thursday we had a meal full of prawns (apart from me, but you would have loved my Quorn chorizo) dedicated to you that you would have loved.
Thank you for being with me through the hardest and most extreme times of my life and helping heal the pain that I couldn't put into words. Thank you for making me smile so wide and laugh so incredibly hard hearing about what you've been up to when I've been out and seeing you being your mischievous self.
Every day I wake up wishing it was all just a terrible nightmare, but sadly it isn't. I no longer have my furry baby snuggled up to me, who refused to grow up and still showed kitten like behaviour and a huge zest for life at such a ripe old age.
Mr Boyfriend, you know the one you use to sit on all the time and wake up if he was staying over, isn't very happy I have more photos of you in my room then him and I will be putting even more of you and me up. I don't actually have any of him in there, so you're winning in the photo contest.
He gave me a vintage locket to put photos of me and him in for our 5th anniversary, but I'm pretty tempted to put ones of me and you in it, which he surprisingly isn't too happy about! He does admit he misses you though, just not your bad breath and you being his wake up call by walking all over him.
I'm sure my heart will heal in time, but Jasper my beautiful boy we will never ever forget you. You've made a mark on our lives that will never be forgotten. The house sure does smell a little better without that awful breath of yours though.
All my eternal love,
Your youngest slave of the pack ie. The one you used to steal loads of Quorn from and use her Tangle Teezer as a grooming brush.
Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to read this, I know it was pretty long! I first properly introduced Jasper on my blog when I was just trying to get it going which you can read here. I know I may seem silly or ungrateful being so upset about a cat who lived until 23 1/2, when people lose their pets at much earlier ages. However, to us he was only 8 1/2 as we didn't have him all his life and he had so much personality,he really was the sixth member of the family, just with paws instead.
I also hope this might be able to help someone who is facing making the agonising decision we had to make. I still read the quote I included to remind myself we did the right thing. I promise my next blog won't be so long!
If you do have a pet please go and cuddle them extra tight, even if it is a snake. Make memories with them, take pictures and videos and try to cherish every single second you have with them, even if they do eat your furniture and scratch your carpet.
Second Hand Rose
Stuffing his face with prawns!