Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer So Far.

Hello and good morning! 

It's day 4 of the school summer break here and there hasn't been an awful lot of time for crafts as I now have all 3 children at home with me. 
I thought I'd show you what we've been up to so far anyway.

We've been growing.

We've had fresh french bread for lunch.

My daughter decorated our garden gate.

On a hot day with no shade we used a blanket and chairs. 
It was a pool tent! Or so they told me...

We wore silly goggles.

We blew bubbles.

The kids popped up at my kitchen window!

We picnicked in the garden.

We paddled.

We baked.

We relaxed and cooled off in the paddling pool.

I worked outside whilst the kids played behind me. 
And splashed me!

We played. (Find how to make this game by clicking here.)

I love Summer, despite it not being my favourite season. I love to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, I love being able to work outside. The kids love being able to play outside.

We get so few days of sunshine lately in England that you've really got to seize them and enjoy them when they do happen!
Strangely enough we haven't had a single barbecue, maybe another day!

It would have been just perfect to be able to take the kids to the beach but as I have no car anymore it just wasn't an option - we have enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

How are you enjoying the nice weather? 

Thanks for reading today.
Kaye xx

Friday, 20 July 2012

An Exciting Opportunity. Mindful Mum.

I mentioned in my post earlier today that I had some great news.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I'd like to write for an online magazine, it's called Mindful Mum and can be found by clicking here.

At first I didn't want to believe it as I thought it was a hoax. Exciting things like this don't happen to me....ever! 
But I am THRILLED to say it's completely real and happening and I am SO happy about it!!

Mindful Mum is an online magazine for mums who demand more. 
There is bucketloads of information about everything to do with family life - from pre-conception to safe family cars. 

Please do have a look, add it to your bookmarks as it makes a great reference point if you have a problem or just fancy a read. 

Up to today I have completed 2 posts for Mindful Mum, neither of which have been featured on here. 

Please do have a read, if you click here it will take you to my profile page at Mindful Mum. From there you can click on the posts you wish to take a look at. 

So there you have it, another 2-post day. I waited to share my good news with you until I had something to show you, if that makes sense. It's so reassuring that there are people out there who enjoy reading what I have to say. I cannot thank everyone enough for this opportunity. 

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, whether you visit once or everyday. Thank you!! I'd like to hug each and every one of you.

Lots of love,
Kaye xx

Teachers Fairy Cakes.

Good morning and welcome to today! Today being the last day of school for my children. 
I have sent them in today bearing gifts for their awesome teachers. 

The have taken the jars, which I showed you a couple of days ago. Instead of filling them with flowers as I intended, the kids decided they would much rather fill them with sweets! So we did. 
I also baked some vanilla fairy cakes yesterday and iced them with pink vanilla buttercream. I didn't do a photo step-by-step but I do have the recipe to give you.

You'll need:
175g butter/margarine
175g sugar
175g self raising flour
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract/flavouring.

For the Buttercream:
500g icing sugar
170g butter/margarine
few drops food colouring
1tsp vanilla extract flavouring.

** Preheat your oven to 170*C and line a bun tray with paper cases.**
Step 1: In your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in texture/appearance.

Add your eggs and flour in an egg, flour, egg, flour pattern. Keep your mixer on a slow to medium speed otherwise you risk disappearing under a cloud of flour dust!
Finally add your teaspoon of vanilla, mix well and divide into paper cases. Bake for 15 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

While your fairy cakes are baking, you can start mixing up the butter cream.
In a clean bowl cream the butter a little to soften it then slowly start adding your icing sugar. As with the flour, make sure you do this slowly as it's messy if you don't!
Also add in a few drops of your chosen colour and your vanilla extract/flavouring. 
Beat it all together on a medium speed, your aim is to get the icing to softly hold it's shape when you remove the beater. 

When your fairy cakes are baked and cooled, prepare your piping bag. I always use a Wilton 1M nozzle but a wide star tip would be just as effective. Scoop your buttercream into your bag and pipe lovely spirally swirls on your cupcakes. 
With fairly soft icing I find it's easier to start in the middle of your cupcake and cover it in a flat spiral to form a platform for your 'peaked' spiral. 
I hope that makes sense, I wish I'd taken pictures...
Decorate with whatever you fancy, or not at all! These cupcakes looked equally lovely with no sugar butterflies on them.

Do you see the boxes the cupcakes are in?
These are cereal boxes cut to size and wrapped in gift wrap. I wanted to keep costs down for the gifts this year and this worked brilliantly. I tied some pretty yellow ribbons around it too.
The cupcake dividers you see in the boxes are actually folded napkins. 

The sweets inside the jars are just round boiled sweets - sparkling fruits I think they're called. I found them in my baking cupboard, so that was another saving.

The cupcake that's standing alone was supposed to be for the school bus driver but as we were heading out of the door it got dropped on it's head! 
Sorry Mr Bus Driver.

I have no idea whether the cupcakes made it school in one piece or not, I hope so. 

Thanks for reading, I have some exciting news to share later today!
Lots of love,
Kaye xx

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

End of Year Teacher Gifts...

Two posts in one day you lucky readers! ;)

I promised there would be a teacher gift tutorial this week and here it is. I have quite literally only just finished it, in fact I bet the glue hasn't even hardened properly yet. This is really simple to make and won't take you long at all.

For this quick project you will need:
- a clean, dry jar (a 500g sauce jar works perfect)
- 12 pencils, unsharpened (£1 for 24 from Asda)
- glue gun/glue sticks (already owned...)
- garden twine (75p in the sale at Asda)

Ok, so you've got your things together. When you're ready to begin, lay one of your pencils flat and squirt a small amount of glue at 2 points on your pencil. 

Make sure the places that you apply the glue will be touching the jar when you stick it on, otherwise the glue won't be able to bond with it.

Press your pencil carefully onto your jar, I strongly recommend doing this with jar upright and pencil base on your surface, this way you'll be able to get them exactly the same height all the way around. 
Repeat around the jar. 

The unsharpened edges at the bottom offer more stability for the jar in case little hands grab hold of it in the classroom.

 I chose to stick mine on in pairs around the jar and each pair had a matching opposite across the jar. I like symmetry at times.

I think I love this jar, it's definitely high on my favourite teacher gifts list.

To decorate it I simply wrapped some garden twine tightly around the middle and tied it in a bow. I applied a little hot glue to make sure it didn't come unstuck.

Here is all you need for a lovely but sweet teacher gift.

I know I'm biased but I'm really pleased with them, I think they look great.
On Friday morning I will fill them with flowers and send them to school with my children for their very lovely teachers.

Give them a go, it's not too late, unless your children have broken up early that is. My kids don't finish until Friday afternoon.

Thank you for reading, again, today!
Kaye xx

Get to know me...Liebster Answers from my nominator,

The questions for the nominees to answer:
1. What is your star-sign?
2.  Do you believe in the afterlife and spirits/ghosts etc?  If so, do you have any experiences you would like to share?
3.  Do you have any tattoo's? Would you say what of and where?
4.  Can you drive? If so, what car do you have?
5.  What is your favourite month of the year?
6.  Do you like burning scented candle? If so, what is your favourite scents?
7.  Are you right or left- handed?
8.  Do you have any phobias? wish to share them if so?
9.  What is your favourite alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks?
10.  What was your favourite cartoon as a child?
11.  If you were to change your name, what would you change it too? 

Above are the questions that Beckie at  Becca's Book Bug Blog set me to answer when she nominated me for the award. I didn't answer them on Monday as I didn't have the time but here I go...

1) My star-sign is Aquarius.

2) I believe there is something after we die, I hope it's something lovely and bright and colourful! I don't wish to think of my Dad (or anyone for that matter) in some horrible afterlife darkness.

3) I have one tattoo, it's between my shoulder blades and I'm not quite sure what it is. I liked it because it's pretty and different. I call it a chandelier but it's difficult for me to describe without showing you, and I don't want to show you...sorry!
For the record, I thought long and hard about getting a tattoo. It wasn't a rash decision made on the spur of the moment. I gave it much consideration because after all, it is a lifetime mark on your skin. I will not be having anymore.

4) I do drive, I don't have a car at the moment at it makes more financial sense for our family to only have one car. My husband has a Renault Megane '07, I used to drive a Fiat Grande Punto '08.

5) My favourite month of the year? It has to be December. It contains excitement, cosy nights, gift-making, crafts, cinnamon, hot chocolate, twinkly lights...and of course Christmas. Without a doubt my favourite.

6) I don't have any scented candles but I do have a favourite ...Yankee Candle, I don't know the official name of it but it smells like fresh laundry. I heart it!

7) I am right handed.

8) I am terrified of spiders and death. To the point of panic attacks and cold sweats.

9) I like a glass of rose wine a couple of times a month, the fruitier and sweeter the better.
Non alcoholic drink? Coffee, I can't function without several coffees throughout the day.

10) I had two cartoons as a child that I loved, they were Raggy Dolls and Fraggle Rock.

11) I love my name, I wouldn't change it for the world. 

So there we go, I hope you feel you know a little more about me. I enjoyed answering these questions!

Thank you for reading today.
Lots of love,
Kaye xx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

DIY Disney Luggage Tags

Nothing better than a Disney post on a Tuesday morning!

I wanted to show you these a while ago but I got swamped with party preparations and just never got the chance. 

I shall never underestimate how tough it is making, baking and cooking everything for a childs party. It's exhausting.

Anyway, I decided that for our special secret trip to Disneyland Paris in November the kids and us needed special tags to make our luggage easily identifiable. 

You will need:
- card, in whatever colours you want. 
- gluestick
- scissors
- holepunch
- paper trimmer (if you have it, scissors are fine if you don't)
- pencil
- black felt tip pen
- tiny heart punch (could use hole-punched card circles instead)
- craft knife
- ribbon
- laminator + pouches

Ok, first thing you need to do is settle on what shape you'd like your tag to be and draw/cut out and template. I decided on a traditional tag shape because it's fairly easy to draw and cut out. I also used my small Mickey Head template too.

I make all my templates the same way, I'd love to be able to say to you that there's a machine at my desk that does it for me but sadly there isn't. I draw mine onto card with a pencil and a ruler for straight lines and cut out either with my paper trimmer or my scissors. 
For those with a printer, you could always print off the shape you want onto card, cut it out and make that your template. If you're drawing your tag by hand, it's much easier to work from a corner of your card, there's less cutting out to do that way.

** If you're making templates it's a good idea to keep them somewhere safe so you know where they are for next time. A plastic punch pocket would do the job just fine, or even a freezer zipper bag).**

Ok so you've got your templates drawn and cut out, you now need to draw around them onto your card and cut them out. 
If you've decided to do the same shaped tag as I have and are making more than one, when drawing around them onto card make sure the sides are touching. This means less cutting and less wasted card.

Sadly we cannot apply the same method to the Mickey Heads.
When you've cut the Mickey Heads out, stick them onto your tag using your gluestick. It's completely up to you where you want to put them, just remember not to put them too close the narrow bit at the top as that gets hole-punched in a bit!

This part is entirely optional but I decided I wanted my 'Mouse' to have a 
bow. I drew a small bow shape freehand onto red card, cut it out and stuck it to my Mouse.

Using a black felt tip I drew polka dots all over it, I wish I'd had something white for this but I just didn't. I'm still happy with it though, it definitely looks like a girl mouse, even if it isn't Minnie.

There we go, the tag is starting to take shape nicely now.

Using my mini heart punch, I punched lots of little red hearts out of spare card. What I didn't use is now stored safely away for next time.
I also cut out thin strips of red card to go around 3 sides of my tag, there was no need to draw these first.

Using the glue stick, stick on the red strips and tiny hearts in whatever pattern you wish

Here's my finished tag. You will notice that it has my initial on it. If you would like letters on yours draw out your letters on black card and using your craft knife (scissors are too clumsy for this bit) carefully cut around your letter.
Stick in place with your gluestick.
Don't forget to holepunch your tag to thread your ribbon through.

These tags are not difficult to make and yet they add some Disney charm to your luggage. The design options are pretty endless, you don't even have to stick to Mickey Mouse: you could do the princesses, silhouettes of the castle, characters etc. So many possibilities.
I will laminate these when I get the time, just to make them that bit more hardwearing.

 If you wanted to you could print off a special message for the children and stick it to the back - this would be so cool if they didn't know where they were going!

This one is Sophie's. She's seen the tags and loves them but she has no idea that this one will be on her suitcase for our surprise trip in November. 

In this picture here I have shown some teacher thank you tags. These are made using the same methods as the Disney tags, the only thing I did differently is I printed off the wording at my library - 15p for a whole A4 sheet of these, enough for about 20 tags altogether.

So there you go, I hope you like them. I'm sorry it's been such a long time between posts, hopefully there shouldn't be anymore problems!!

I have some teacher crafty posts lined up for you this week as the kids break up for Summer on Friday, hasn't that come around quick?

Thank you so much for reading today.
Kaye xx

Friday, 13 July 2012

Liebster Blog Award!

Look who's back!! <sings>

I got my laptop back, wahoo!  I can't even begin to explain how lost I was without it... I kept thinking of things that I needed to do and send and pictures I wanted, so frustrating! Oh I'm so glad I've got it back! I can crack on with the things that I'm way behind with.

And what good news to come back to! The Liebster Blog Award! My friend Beckie over at nominated me for this award some time ago but because I had no internet and then no laptop I haven't been able to really look at it.
I am THRILLED to receive this but a bit baffled by the rules if I'm honest. Mainly because I don't get enough time to myself to read 11 other blogs, or even 5! So I have absolutely no idea who to nominate. :(

Does that mean I'm not allowed to display the award? I don't want to break any rules so I won't display it, but I do want to show you it...

For those who aren't familiar with the award (I wasn't before this), the Liebster Blog Award is an award given to upcoming bloggers who have 200 followers or less. The word 'liebster' is German in origin and is a term on endearment and means beloved, dearest, sweet, kindest etc.

What an honour! Thank you so much to Beckie for nominating me and my blog for this. I wish I was a bit more experienced and understood what to do now! :-S

Thank you so much for your patience through this technology nightmare, if you come back tomorrow I have a very easy to make Disney tag! I can't wait to show you.

Lots of love,
Kaye xx

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I'm back soon, I promise!

I can't believe the technology problems we're having!

First our broadband router breaks and we have to buy a new one, and then our laptop broke last week!

We got it straight into the repairers and with a bit of luck and fingers crossed we should get it back at the end of the week. Well, that's what they said to me yesterday.

Thank you for your patience.

Kaye xx

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Pirate Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake

Hi there, sorry it's been so long since I last posted. The cable to my internet router broke so I had no connection at all.
But I'm back now so I'm bringing you a recipe and tutorial for the birthday cake I made for my sons birthday party. 

A lot of things have happened while my connections been down, or at least it seems like it. As you know my husband went in hospital for surgery, I'm pleased to update you that he is doing fab and his recovery has been smoother than expected! 

My baby boy turned 2 on Monday!! I can't believe he's 2 already. My other baby boy turned 6 yesterday! Crikey, it's scary to think 6 years can pass so quickly. 

My friend Sonja gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She's a little stunner - well done Sonja!! Almost makes me broody again, only almost though. :)

Last week I spent a lot of time making the last few things for the party, we have birthday bunting with a difference, cupcake toppers and baking. There was even enough time to start work on a couple of other projects which have been photographed and are waiting for an available post in the near future. You won't be surprised to learn they have a Disney twist to them.

Ok, onto the Pirate Mickey Cake. It is made up of several separate cakes - 2x2layer sandwich cakes and one larger cake, so you'll be baking 5 cakes in total. 
This can take some time, it took me 5 hours altogether but that includes the baking and cake cooling times and me playing with the fondant, I had never used it before and I kept messing up - you will see from the final picture that the cake was still far from perfect but for a first timer I was thrilled with it! They say practice makes perfect so I know what I have to do...

To make the complete cake you will need 3 lots of the following:
175g Self Raising Flour
175g Margarine/Butter
175g Sugar (granulated works just fine)
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla flavouring/extract.
Plenty of jam (flavour of your choice)
coloured fondant (I'm sorry I didn't weigh this as I just bought 2 boxes of ready coloured sugardough).
2x 20cm sandwich cake tins
1x 23cm cake tin (I used a springform)

This is my favourite cake recipe and I use it All. The. Time. As you can see from the page in the picture. 

Make sure you have everything ready that you'll need and grease/line your cake tins. Although I use non-stick tins I grease them with margarine and baking parchment anyway, it helps my cakes turn out easily.
Preheat your oven to 170*C.

I always draw around the base of my tin onto baking parchment and line the bottom of the tin with it, the last thing I want is to bake my cake perfectly and have them stick to the bottom.

Now that you've greased and lined your tins it's time to mix up the batter. First of all beat together the margarine and the sugar for about a minute on an electric mixer. It should become fluffy in appearance.

Add in your flour bit by bit and add your eggs one by one. Add in your baking powder and vanilla and whizz together for a couple of minutes. It should look smooth and silky, if you're using a stand mixer don't forget to check the bottom of the bowl as most are notorious for leaving a layer of unmixed sugar/margarine mixture there.

Divide your first lot of batter between the greased sandwich tins, once baked these cakes will become one of Mickey's ears.

Bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Allow your cakes to cool in their tins for about 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
Here are my cakes before decorating. I used 3 separate round cake boards to set my cake on as I knew I had to transport it to the party venue, this way each section of the cake could be taken separately. It made decorating much easier too.

** Repeat this process another 2 times to make the remaining cakes. 
For the 'head' on my cake I just made a single large circular cake rather than a sandwich cake only reason for this was I didn't have another tin to use and this springform one was the perfect size. **

Once your cakes have cooled, fill your layer cakes with jam by spreading jam over the top of the lower layer.

Sprinkle icing sugar over a clean work surface, keep an eye on your children or this happens! Made me smile though.

This is the sugardough/fondant I used. I've just noticed on the pack it says you get 100g of each colour. I needed 2 of each colour to complete my cake.

When you're ready to start with fondant, spread jam all over the top of the cake you will be decorating, this will help the fondant to stick.

For the first cake I kneaded 200g of green fondant together and rolled out to a rough circle shape. Loosly roll one end of your fondant around the rolling pin and then carefully try to drape it over your cake. The jam will allow some movement but not a lot so be careful, the fondant also tears easily so be extra careful about sliding it over the cake into position.

You may have some excess 'waves' of fondant at the base of the cake, use a sharp knife to trim these away.

I bet there are proper tools that you can buy to help with projects like these but I'm afraid I improvised with what I had, I imagine all those professional cake decorators are laughing at me right now. 
I'm definitely no professional haha.

To smooth the edges of the fondant icing I used a wooden spoon dipped in water, the water just helps the spoon to glide over the icing without tearing it.

You'll need to repeat this on your other cakes too.

For the face part of the cake I used 2 colours of icing, half yellow and bottom half red, you can probably guess that the bottom but represented the famous red trousers. To do this I first rolled out the yellow into a large half circle, I placed the curved side to the top of the cake and the straighter side across the middle. I'm sorry I didn't get any photographs of this step as I was covered in tiny bits of fondant.
I then rolled out a large half circle of red but I cut a straight edge with a knife as this would be slightly overlapping the rough yellow edge.

I rolled out a remnant of yellow fondant and using a small circle cutter I cut out Mickey's buttons. I stuck these to the red 'trousers' using water.

To make the patch and strap I rolled out remnants of blue and green icing and using a sharp knife and freehand I cut out a patch shape and a long thin rectangle. Again, I used water to stick them in position.

This is the final result!
I know you can see all the imperfections on the cake and around the edges but to be honest I am thrilled with how this cake turned out! 
All the kids and their parents who came to the party on Sunday loved it!

I know I have a lot to learn in the cake decorating department but I want to be able to show you my learning processes too. 

Pop back tomorrow and I'll show you some more party things.
Thanks for being patient and reading today.
Lots of Love,
Kaye xx