Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Christmas treasure map

For the school Christmas Fair, I have made two games for the children to play. The first is a treasure map, which took a bit of thinking about. I decided to make the islands on the map look like a reindeer outline, to make it a bit Christmassy, but making the map took a bit of trial and error.
I ended up using thick off-white card and drawing the details on with coloured Sharpies. I then made up washes of colour using transparent inks so the details showed through. I wasn't completely happy with the way the water had overlays of the ink which caused darker patches, but it was difficult to keep the colour flowing around my wobbly coastlines.

To make the grid, I bought a cheap acetate fronted picture frame in Hobbycraft and drew the grid on the acetate. I drew the letters and numbers on backwards so that the grid and writing would be on the side of the acetate that the map was on, so if people touched the acetate they didn't rub any of the ink off - I used a Sharpie again to draw on the acetate. If we decide to do another treasure hunt the map can be taken out and a new one placed under the grid.

The second game is not quite finished, but I will post a picture when it's done.

Back to the blog

I've been away for nearly 18 months, time for a bit of a catch up now I have some time to myself.

I'll start with the most recent makes - the Frozen dresses. Both my girls wanted dresses to be just like the girls from the film. I refused to pay £65 for the official ones and decided it was time to get making again.

I went back to my roots and made the patterns from scratch, which fascinated the children, who had never seen dot and cross paper or a pattern master before. The dress patterns were relatively simple to design and the cape for Anna was based on a jacket from their wardrobe. I bought the fabrics from Ebay and got to work, two weeks later, here they are (with their heads photoshopped, obviously!)

ps. that Elsa fabric was the worst fabric I have ever worked with - never again!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Royal baby cakes

The school cake sale this month was themed around the Royal baby. I was inspired by a colleague who had bought a Krispy Kreme donut that you bite to reveal blue or pink filling, and made some little fairy cakes on the same theme.


I made a 2 egg batch of my 5:4:4:2 cake mix and put 2 tbsp of the mixture in each of 2 small bowls. I coloured one bowl pink and one bowl blue using colour pastes. I think I put a little too much colouring in them, but was conscious that it needed to be obvious when you bit into it.

I spread a heaped teaspoon of mix across the bottom of each cake case and then a blob of the coloured mix on top.
Finally, I used a heaped teaspoon of mix to cover up the colour and baked the cakes for about 12 minutes at 180c.

I made some vanilla buttercream icing using pure soya spread and smeared each cooled cake with enough to cover any imperfections where the colour showed. I added a few sprinkles and they were finished. They looked just like normal little cakes and were a great little guessing game for the children.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Big Mirror

We had our bedroom decorated 16 months ago and I have finally finished the mirror frame for my big leaner mirror to go in the room. I bought a (quite frankly nasty) cheap fake leather framed mirror off eBay which I naively thought would finish off the room perfectly. Not only was it nasty and cheap looking, the bits of vinyl started peeling off the frame almost immediately and it wasn't long before I got angry and ripped them all off.

A friend of mine has been using comics to rejuvenate pieces of furniture and this gave me an idea.  Last November, I sold the smaller version of my big plan at the school Christmas Fair, when I covered 6x4 photo frames in comics and also salt dough tree decorations. I bought the comics off eBay for 99p each and they are original 1950's Marvel comics.

So, back to the mirror, which needed a lot of tlc because it was looking very sad. I stripped it down, taking off the layers of padding and sticky strips of glue encrusted vinyl to leave a bare, moulded fibreboard frame.

I took the mirror out of the frame and covered the whole thing in a layer of brown paper and pva glue to give a smooth layer to stick the comics to. Once that was all dry, I started methodically tearing the best images from each page of my comic selection (Fantastic 4, X-men, Hulk and Avengers) and mixed them all up before starting to glue the pieces down. All the less interesting ripped pieces were used to fill small gaps so nothing was wasted.

Each time I glued a piece on, I coated it with another layer of glue, so the whole thing is sealed in and has a slight sheen to it but the colour of the comics is not affected by any addition of varnish.

The mirror is now proudly in it's place in the bedroom and I am so in love with it!

Bunny shaped Yorkshire puds

My children love Yorkshire puddings (maybe as much as I do, if that's possible) and although they love sausages, they don't like toad-in-the-hole. Strange, huh? I have worked out how to make pretty good dairy-free puddings after much experimentation, and the recipe is:

75g plain flour
1 egg
85ml rice milk (soya doen't seem to rise)
ground black pepper and salt (a couple of twists of each)

I mix the ingredients with a hand whisk and heat a 12 hole pan in the oven at 220c with a little pool of sunflower oil in each well, when the pan is hot I quickly pour the mix into the 12 holes and slam it back in the oven. I leave the oven door firmly shut for 20 minutes or so while they rise and brown, then we scoff them while they are still nice and hot. They don't rise in the magnificent way that they do when made the traditional way, but they are still very good.

Today, as an experiment, I used a 6 hole bunny pan to make the puddings and they came out pretty well, look:

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Painted table

Like a lot of parents with young children, I bought the £17 Ikea table and chairs for my children. It's wooden and cheap, so I was happy for the children to draw on it to their hearts' content and leave all the other furniture and walls alone. It got to a point where I was a a bit embarrassed by the state of it, and it was relegated to under the stairs until I could clean it up.

Today was the day that the poor little table was given a new lease of life. I finally managed to paint it and it looks so much better! I took it apart and used an ivory spray enamel paint to cover the scratched and chipped top. I used 3 coats of red acrylic paint on the legs and sides, then put it all back together again. Now to start on the chairs.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Bowser Suit

It was my daughter's 5th birthday last week and she requested a Super Mario party. She wanted to dress up as Mario, which was simple, and we bought an outfit for her. She wanted daddy to dress up as Bowser for the party. Not so simple. Daddy agreed, and spent the best part of 6 weeks making his outfit from scratch. When he got to the body, hands and feet, my skills as seamstress were put to the test as I not only made all the patterns for the pieces, I also taught daddy how to help with the sewing. After 3 weeks of doing a bit at a time, and with a couple of hours to spare before the party started we finished it. Here is the result.

Sorry the picture is taken in the middle of a messy room, so the costume does not stand out so much, but all the pictures at the party had other people's children in them and I didn't want to post them on here without consent.