My boys cake

Recently we attended a bit of a  celebration for the Queens birthday held in the small village my sister lives in.

There were the usual bouncy castle, face painting and games for the kids and there were  a couple of bands playing for the evening.  In true British spirit we all turned out to picnic complete with gazebo, wellies and big umbrellas because of course when you plan an outdoor even in July it will rain!

One of the events on the day was a baking competition judged by the village WI ladies.  I was babysitting for my nieces the night before and at 9pm the eldest decided she had to bake for the competition, we left the decorating to the next day!

The day of the ‘picnic’ my son decided he also had to bake, if his cousin could enter then so could he!  My son is 8 and he wanted to do it himself.  We went to my chuck it all in chocolate cake recipe and went for it.

I assisted with the weighing, he mixed, I baked, we decorated, and we he won!

 

The winning recipe was a basic sponge :

6oz sugar, 6oz butter, 6oz flour and 3 eggs beaten together.  Then the different bit (but how gran did it) mix 4 tbsp hot water to 1 & 1/2 oz cocoa powder and mix that in to the rest.

Bake gas 4

This usually takes about 30 mins but my son chose a ring and for some reason it took 50 mins, so I can only say bake until skewer comes out clean.

A quick drizzle with patriotic icing and he was done, I’m guessing it was the chocolatey, fudgy taste rather than the decoration that got him the prize.

Whatever, he was very proud of himself and he won a box full of baking goodies and we had a good night despite the weather!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve finally learn to crochet..kind of

Well apologies first, I’ve been absent from my little blog for far to long but I’m back and I’ve learnt a new skill.

Wherever I look people seem to be crocheting, from hats to blankets, granny squares to amigurum it seems to be everywhere.  Its something I’ve attempted to teach myself many times but it never quite looked like the pictures, I just couldn’t get the hang of it, so I gave up.

But on one of my many trawls through the online craft tutorial sites I kept seeing claims of a ‘one hour infinity scarf’, well if it only takes an hour to make one how hard can it be!

After looking at several tutorials, some that explained better than others I was finally having a go and although my hook was not the same size or my yarn the same thickness (I worked with what I had to hand) I think my first attempt wasn’t a bad attempt, a bit uneven but definitely a scarf and very colourful.

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It does look better in real life than this picture…honest, its got a bit stretched with wearing.  However they lied, it did not take an hour, or even two but I got there in the end.

But I didn’t stop there, if I could make a scarf, surely I could do a hat, another scarf an ear warmer thingy?

 

These are just mine and my sons, I’m getting neater, not so many holes or wonky bits.

Celebrating my new found ‘talent’my sister received a hat and scarf for Christmas, my friends daughter also got a scarf and I’ve now received requests for two ear warmers from my nieces.

I just need to progress from the two stitches I know and there will be no stopping me, it’s kind of addictive, and I’m getting quicker…

 

Cath

 

 

My boy turned 7 and I made a cake

This weekend my son turned 7, I have no idea where the time went!

Knowing I bake, he ordered a cake.  This year he was having an animal party, he has a bit of a thing about reptiles at the moment, so we had a visit from a chameleon, a skink a few snakes a bearded dragon and the cutest pygmy hedgehog to name a few.  So with all these visitors it could have been worse, but the cake he ordered was a snake…..easy I thought!

I can bake and do a mean sponge but decorating…and in fondant, is not my strong point, however I’m quite pleased with the result, even though it does look rather ‘homemade’, the kids loved it.

Snake Cake!

Snake Cake!

So technically its a short snake but I realised that I hadn’t got a long board and no time to make one (I only got around to decorating it 2hrs before the party)

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I started off with 2 ring cakes, a vanilla and a chocolate, to try and please everyone, I chopped them up a bit, tried to fashion a tail and the head was kind of made up of the leftovers.  I then ‘glued’ it all together with butter-cream, again I made chocolate and vanilla and covered each cake with them.

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I used one of those bags you get fruit in and put it over the fondant when I rolled it out to get a snakeskin look to it, a little tip I picked up on Pinterest.  Now the hard bit… getting the fondant on the cake.

I did the head first and then layered a large piece over the rest and kind of tucked it in.  I had to blend the edges together, apparently the way to do this is with vodka, the theory being water makes it soggy but vodka evaporates.  Now I know this is a kids cake but I’m told its perfectly safe, any how it worked lovely I didn’t use to much (I saved most of it, after all I was about to host a party for 16 7 year olds, I may have needed it later!)

And there it was a snake cake that my boy was very pleased with.

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We had a great time and after all my effort the cake disappeared in minutes, the kids had a ball and I enjoyed it too, I didn’t even need the rest of that vodka to aid my recovery after it all.

Cath. x

Useful jeans

When I do a craft fair I have one of those portable clothes rails that conveniently comes apart for ease of moving, the only problem with that is I usually end up losing a pole or dropping them when trying to carry them.

So why after struggling with it had I not thought of a solution?

The answer was so obvious,

A Bag!

A Bag!

and this bag couldn’t have been easier, I chopped the leg off a pair of jeans (luckily I’m 6 ft tall so my jeans have long legs!) and I added a strap….Voila problem solved.

I didn’t realise how much I needed a bag like this, I’ve carried several rolls of wrapping paper, my sons scooter, my clothes rail, and I’m sure I will find more uses when out and about with my son this summer, spades for the beach, his cricket set……

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chop

Add a strap

Add a strap

Sew

Sew

box corner

box corner

strap at bottom

strap at bottom

strap at top

strap at top



I’m still here….and learning.

Firstly apologies for those that read my pages, and to those that have browsed through recently, I have not been keeping things up to date!

The reason for this is that work has taken a bit of a new direction, I entered into the world of sewing and crafts as a result of being made redundant.  This turned out to be a fortunate change of events, as they say when one door closes….

I am now self-employed and am able to work my days around the school run, school holidays and events (of which there seem to be many!).  I have recently started to do freelance work as well as working at home and while still in the area of sewing, it is a learning curve.

I only have a small sewing area at home, like so many I would love to have a dedicated sewing studio but instead I make do with a converted loft room, which doesn’t have heating I might add!  This being the case I don’t make curtains as I do not have the space.  My freelance work however has taken me to a sewing room that make hand stitched curtains in a big airy room with huge tables, (unfortunately still no heating though).

My time in the last few months has been taken up with new skills of pleats, pinch pleats, goblets, roman blinds, and pattern matching.  It’s a different set up to my own (obviously) and I have found a new love for an old industrial overlocker, such fun whizzing along the edges of meters of material.

While I’m used to mending and altering other people’s clothes and cutting up fabric for upcycling projects, there’s something about making that first cut into meters of expensive fabric, but we do measure twice and cut once!

I’m now adjusting to my busier schedule and I have successfully navigated my first tax return (aren’t they fun) so now its time to get back on track.  I intend to continue with my little blog and maybe bring you a few more tutorials on clothing alterations and upcycling and I may now include a few details of curtain making!

be back soon

Cath

 

 

Little girls birthday totes

A useful gift.

My son is at infants school and at this age it seems the done thing is to invite quite a few class mates to your birthday party, which is great, but there seems to be a lot of present buying to do!  Don’t get me wrong I like that he gets invites, I think I might worry if no one wanted him at their party, but I’m never sure what to buy, as I have a boy all his friends get what he likes Lego and cars but the girls hmmm….

So this year I realised that I make things for a living..doh and every little girl likes a bag….don’t they?

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So here’s a few of them nice little tote bags, easy to make and lots of uses from carrying those essentials on a day out to storing bits and bobs in their bedrooms and these are just the right size for little ones to carry books.

Just to add to the excitement I also add note books, pens, hair bobbles or other little bits and bobs that all girls love.

I think next I need some more boy like designs maybe some drawstring bags ?

Cath

Taste of Summer

For years my Mum made Elderflower ‘Champagne’ and as kids we loved it, not knowing then that it can have up to 4% alcohol,  no wonder we liked it!

Elderflower Champagne

Elderflower Champagne

 

It was a recipe that my gran also used to make so the whole family grew up drinking it and as it only blossoms in May/June and once made it only keeps for a few weeks it’s definitely associated with summer.

I’ve been noticing the Elderflower whilst on my walks with the dog and waiting for it to blossom.

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Little green buds, become bunches of lovely white flowers and the smell is very distinctive.

Just make sure you know what Elderflower looks like and pick the right one if you have a go at making this, don’t hold me responsible if you get it wrong!!!!

If you do want to have a go here’s My Grans recipe, it is so easy and tastes so good.

2 lge heads of Elderflower

1 Lemon – rind and juice

2 tbsp. White wine or cider vinegar

1 lb Sugar

8 pints water

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Mix together, stir until sugar dissolves and leave to stand for at least 24 hours then strain into sterilised bottles and leave somewhere cool for about a week to go fizzy.

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That’s the easy bit.

 

****** WARNING ******

Keep checking the bottles you may need to keep taking the lids off as the fizz is very unpredictable.

It may not fizz in which case add a tiny, tiny, little, drop more vinegar and leave a while longer.

OR

It may explode and fizz all over everything!!!

 

You can use glass or plastic bottles but I recommend screw tops, my Mum used corks years ago, but one batch had so much fizz all the corks popped hitting the metal garage doors, the neighbours wondered what was happening!

Apparently, so I’m told, its the pollen on the flowers that reacts with the vinegar to create the fizz.  So the more pollen the more fizz!

Now all I need is a nice day to sit out in the sunshine, relax and enjoy….

Cath

Craft Fair

If you follow me on Twitter (@C_M_Creates) you may have seen I was selling at a craft fair recently. I don’t do as many as I’d like as I have to factor in my 6yr old and if he will be with me or if I can find a sitter for the day.  For this fair I left him with his grandparents and took my niece to assist me instead. I even made her a money belt from the waistband and back pockets of a pair of jeans.

The fair was at an antiques and craft centre in Chesterfield. If you are ever in Chesterfield check them out.  It only looks small but it is packed full.

The building itself looks fab

Olympia House

Olympia House

 

On the day however I was a bit disappointed,  I was one of 4 stalls on the entrance drive while the main event was at the back (I don’t sell there – yet, the main sellers got prime position), but at least the theory was people had to go past us.

Unfortunately the other three sellers failed to turn up! this left me on my own so not as many people stopped and looked.

But it wasn’t a failure the sun was shining and we were in the best place for that and we did have some sales, always a plus, we also got to hand out leaflets and cards which has brought in more work.

Half the battle of a new business is people knowing about you and the range of work you do.  I always like the face to face, being able to tell people what you do to drum up business, I think if people have met you hopefully it goes in your favour.

Here’s a few pics of  my stall and a few of my products on the day..

 

 

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Cath. x

 

 

 

Dinosaur Party

Hi, I know I’ve not posted for a while…..again, but I have had a busy time lately which of course is a good thing business wise.  I have some commissions to make and several repairs. But of course its Easter and therefore my son is off school and as if that didn’t keep me busy enough it was his 6th birthday and on bank holiday Monday his granddad turns 70, every thing come at once.

My son started his Easter celebration with the school Easter bonnet parade here is his ‘bonnet’… a fluffy yellow chick.

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We had his birthday party a week early as a lot of friend were away over Easter, he had a dinosaur party but I got so busy I forgot to take many pictures (doh).  I had 22 kids age 6 and under and luckily some kind friends to help out.

I started prep making dinosaur eggs, good old papier-mache.

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I decided to make them into piñatas but on the day we couldn’t break them (I’m told I used the wrong glue) but we got around it by cutting them open and showering the kids with the sweets.

My god-daughter made a dinosaur poster.

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I printed some dinosaur invites from www.coolest-kid-birthday-parties.com.  I also printed off matching templates for favour boxes and filled these with chocolate dinosaurs made by melting chocolate into some moulds I had.

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We played pin the horn on the Triceratops…

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I drew some dinosaur footprints and we played musical footprints, shouting out a colour when the music stopped, anyone stood on that colour footprint was out….

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and we ate dinosaur sandwiches cut with my sandwich cutter.

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all in all they had a good time.

 

Now to get on with a cake for my dads party.

 

Cath

Beach bag tried and tested

I was commissioned to make a beach bag.  The brief was it had to have enough pockets, be lightweight and not too girly as she hoped to persuade her husband to carry it!

So, I found a thin denim pair of trousers that had wide legs so enough material for a roomy bag, I checked Pinterest for inspiration and found that most beach bags did not have many pockets or the pockets were on the outside, this person is terrible for losing things so pockets had to be inside, and then I got to work.

And this was the result…

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Now if you follow me on Twitter you will have seen the pictures I posted of this, I was quite pleased with the result, apart from it’s the wrong way around I had intended on having it wider than it was deep but after I finished sewing the pockets in the lining I realised I had put them in wrong!

As well as being denim which would stand up to being on the sand I lined it with a shower curtain, the theory running along the lines of some kind of waterproofing for wet towels inside or in case it got wet!?

This bag has now been on the first of its jaunts abroad and has been rigorously tested (unfortunately not by me) over the last two weeks and I’m told the outside pocket between the straps was just the right size for flip-flops, when walking in the sand,

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the inside had two open pockets and a zipped pocket, all of which were used, one for sun cream one for her kindle and one for bits she didn’t want to lose.

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And I am now happy to report it passed its tests and the customer was very happy and so I was happy.

I may just have to make some more, I shall try to get it the right way round next time !

.