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.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Blackberry pudding

I made a pie for dinner yesterday, but after egg washing the crust, I couldn't throw the rest of the beaten egg away. I decided to try the traditional sponge recipe of weighing the egg and adding equal weights of SR flour, caster sugar and margarine. The small amount of mixture was just enough to spread over the base of my 2lb loaf tin to make a small rectangular cake.
I had some blackberries on hand, which I heated up in a pan with a few spoonfuls of sugar.
Once the blackberries were sticky and the sugar had all melted I poured them (and the syrup that was formed) into the oiled loaf tin and put the cake mix on top.
I baked it for about 20 minutes at 180c and then tipped it out while it was still hot on to a plate to cool a little.
It was delicious with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Story dice

I have been busy with work, I forgot how draining it is to be in that routine. When you add to that the emotional drain of working with young children all day, I have been pretty tired! I am loving it, though, and the children are giving me even more ideas of things to make - I just need some time to actually do it.

I love the idea of story dice. In fact, I bought some of Rory's Story Cubes in Waterstones a few weeks ago, but soon realised that my children needed slightly different pictures to get their minds working. How hard could it be to make my own? Not hard at all, as it turned out. The tricky part is working out the 54 images you want on the dice. Luckily, I had two willing assistants shouting random words at me until I had enough to work with.

I bought some blank dice online, with indented faces, so the pictures were protected. I googled various images with the phrase "free ............. vector art" which generally brings up silhouette images which are perfect for this. I saved the free images and in photoshop I made each one just over 1cm square to fit on a die face, then printed them, cut them out and stuck them on the blank dice. I guess I could have drawn each image and stuck it on, which would have been more personal, but as the title of my blog shows, I do "cheat" occasionally!