Twirly Chocolate Fridge Cake

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Given the chance Boo would bake something most days.  She likes to crack the eggs, weigh the flour… but she loves to mix.  She’ll mix stones in a bucket, raisins in a pot, ice cream in a bowl.  She pretends to hold a big bowl in the air and mixes up food for imaginary horses or pups.  Sometimes I try to make our creations at least a little healthy (carrot or corguette cupcakes, beetroot cake) but this week she wanted “Chocolate Mummy!”  And however hard I try to shun the pink, this girl does still like the ballet and the jewels and the twirly dancing, so we made pretty, twirly chocolate cake.

Twirly chocolate fridge cake, to be precise.  A really child friendly recipe with no oven, but lots of mixing, naughty ingredients to be taste tested, and art to top it off. I usually make this with lots of glacé cherries (yum,) but my husband is not a fan so we added mini marshmallows from the store cupboard and they add that rocky road chew to balance the biscuit crunch.  There must be loads of recipes like this, but here is mine.  I really recommend trying it, the posh twirly topping is so satisfying to look at (especially as it was artfully created by a 3 year old)!
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Ingredients:
4oz (110g) butter
2tbsp (25g) caster sugar
2 tbsp (30ml) golden syrup
4 tsp cocoa powder
8oz (225g) digestive biscuits
3 1/2oz (100g) raisins
Cup or large handful of mini marshmallows
4oz (110g)dark cooking chocolate
4oz (110g)milk cooking chocolate
3 1/2oz (100g) white cooking chocolate

First melt the butter, sugar, syrup and cocoa either in a saucepan or (carefully, checking every 30 seconds) in a microwave. I used the microwave and we counted together.

Put the biscuits in a bag with no holes and bash them into little pieces. A few larger pieces add texture, but don’t leave lots of big lumps.

Mix the biscuits, raisins and marshmallows into the butter mix until it starts to stick together.

Line a 1 inch high baking tray, or a flan dish with baking paper. Add the mix to the tray and push it down hard with the back of a spoon.

Now melt the dark and milk chocolate together. I know lots of people do this on the stove, but I find the microwave much easier. Just keep checking on it so it doesn’t burn. Tip the melted chocolate over the cake and spread to cover it.

Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the cake. Take a toothpick (or something similar, end of a chopstick, knitting needle!) and start to twirl in and out of the white chocolate, creating your arty pattern.

Place in the fridge to harden (or if you can’t wait that long, make space in the freezer for an hour).

Take out and take it out of tray easily using baking paper to lift it.

Marvel at the twirly beauty, then chop it with a sharp knife… and try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting!
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She’s Back! … With a Funky Pigeon Pinafore.

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Wow! Am I really here? Is this the right place? I can’t believe that I am posting again after such a long, long time! It has been over six months since my last post and I had nearly given up on blogging, just because life (as it does) seems to have taken over and my sewing and making mojo seemed to have disappeared. But recently I’ve been taking tentative steps back into the world of crafts, and I’m feeling hopeful that the signs of spring outside will help me to restore my enthusiasm and creativity. I’d apologise for my absence, but expect it is of little consequence to you, I’m just glad if you are here, giving me another chance (or, in fact, if you are here for the first time).
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The last few months have been a roller coaster for me, with my eldest starting school, adjusting to life with one at home most of the time, birthdays to plan and, more notably, the last few months with, and passing away of my wonderful daddy. I’m not going to dwell on things here and I’m not making excuses, just explaining.
Anyway, I’m going to jump in with a new dress I made a few weeks ago for Little Boo – the funky pigeon pinafore.
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If you have had a browse here at all you’ll know about my love for the geranium dress (thank you Made by Rae!). However I have decided to create a new silhouette for my recently 3 year old, especially now that she is slimming down and growing up. I will definitely return to the geranium, but it’s fun to mix in a new style. This dress was actually based on the bodice from the geranium, but you could use any bodice pattern you have to hand.

I simply drew around the bodice pattern, then extended down at a slight A-line, basing the length of the skirt on a current dress. Simple! I do like simple.
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The overlap at the back extends down the length of the dress, making a nice detail. I managed to find some buttons that match this fabric perfectly, and used contrasting thread to sew them on. I used a contrast button at the top too as a feature.
This could be made just as easily with poppers down the back, or a zip, but it is great practice for sewing button holes!
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I made this dress with no sleeves, which is perfect for spring as it can be layered with a top underneath, and a cardi on top. Come summer it will work fine on it’s own.
You could even make this dress fully reversible if you wanted to… Using the bodice and adding a lining cut exactly the same means all seams are covered, and buttons can be used on each side. I simply kept a plain lining as I always end up preferring one side of a reversible item.
There we go, short, sweet, simple. My first new (returning!) post. I hope to be back again soon (much sooner)!

Strawberry Creams

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I thought I would share these oh so simple strawberry creams as they are perfect to make when you have a really sweet tooth AND are so easy to make with toddlers too.  We made these on the spur of the moment today following a mammoth play dough session, most of which my daughter spent making heart shaped biscuits to bake in her toy oven.  When I asked if she would like like to make some real strawberry sweets, I think I got the fastest EVER response from both children – “Yes!” (No time to add please!). 

The great thing with these is that little ones can join in with the whole recipe, though I sadly didn’t get any pictures of mine making these as I only decided to post this when I searched on Pinterest and didn’t find a pin on these already (crazy I know). 

So, to make these you will need:

25g melted butter

225g icing sugar (confectioners)

1 teaspoon milk

1 teaspoon strawberry essence (I use silver spoon)

A little red food colouring

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This is so simple you can simply sift the icing sugar (I don’t even bother to sift!) into a bowl with all the other ingredients. Add colouring a little at a time and mix until you get a ball that you can then knead to spread  the colouring evenly and to smooth it out. The children love to see the colour emerge and the smell of the strawberry.  If it won’t ball up, add a little extra milk, if it is too sticky add extra sugar.

Now all you (or your little helpers) need to do is roll out onto a board dusted with icing sugar (so it doesn’t stick), grab your cutter (mine used play dough cutters- which we thoroughly cleaned first) and place your hearts onto a bit of grease proof paper or tin foil on a board in the fridge for 20 mins to cool and harden.  You can see these aren’t perfect versions… they really ARE child made, but if you take a little time yourself they can look very pretty.

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Finally, remove from fridge, pass to your child, and watch them devour in one go.  Beware, these are sugartastic fun fun fun but, hey, you are only a child once (and I like to relive my favourite childhood memories myself once the little ones are in bed)!

If you have followed carefully you’ll have noticed these are spookily similar to peppermint creams! You can be as creative as you like, change the flavour (vanilla, coffee, orange…) change your shapes (ghosts, snowflakes, dinosaurs). Let your children have fun with them.  We made some of these last valentines for Big Boo to take to pre school.  I’d love to see some of your own creations if you make some – let me know If you do.

 

Blanket fit for a horse!

ImageWe interrupt this sewing with an important news flash – a horse has been spotted in the Suffolk area with neither blanket nor eye mask to protect him from the sunshine in the current balmy weather. Cue Super Sewing Mummy – to the rescue!

Poor Maximus! If any of you have little girls and know the film Tangled (Disney’s take on Rapunzel) you may recognise this fine beast, if you can manage to spot him under his disguise!

ImageLittle Boo helped me (watched me) measure up Maximus, cut the curve around his neckline, attach the fluffy fleecy lining and add Velcro straps.  She did manage to poke out the corners once the blanket was turned.

ImageAnd once it was carefully placed on his back did she squeal in delight? Yes… but this was quickly followed with an impatient “Cover his eyes, Mummy!”.

Cue a tiny eye mask, fastened with elastic. Now look at that stallion – doesn’t he look fine!?

ImageBoo had to put on her matching skirt and get Maximus ready for a walk in the pushchair to get him to have a sleep in all his new cosy gear. Worked a treat for her too… which left me with a little quiet time to work on my real sewing project in preparation for Autumn.  I’ll be posting soon.  Yee-ha!

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Lazy Lavender Cupcakes

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Lazy days, lazy sunshine, lazy fun and lazy cooking – what a great way to spend your summer!   With their subtle aroma of lavender, these cupcakes manage to relax you with their delicate flavour, and are so simple to bake that you could make up a batch right now to enjoy with your afternoon tea.

I’ve been noticing lots of lovely crafts and recipes popping up using lavender recently, and decided to make good use of some of the beautiful plants growing in my neighbour’s front garden at the moment.  The bees are in nectar heaven, but Big and Little Boo are not so keen on their visiting (there are ALOT of them, and Big Boo did get stung by one on holiday) so helping mummy to collect lavender was a brave task which was rewarded by helping to make these cakes, as they are so simple they are child’s play!

imageAll of the recipes I found were either biscuits (I can cook a good cupcake, but my biscuits never seem so great) or called for lavender to be infused overnight with milk. I’m sure this does develop a much stronger lavender flavour, but I am rather lazy and impatient too, so if I want to make lavender cupcakes, I want to make them NOW. With this in mind we simply made up our favourite basic cupcake recipe, and added about 2tbsp of lavender flowers.  Guess what? They worked a treat, beautiful, light and subtly flavoured and scented- enough to be noticed but not overpowering.

If you fancy a go, here is the recipe we used:

100g sugar (I used half and half but caster sugar is fine, or granulated if you don’t have caster)

100g self raising flour

100g butter

2 eggs

Good vanilla essence, just half the lid.

2 tbs lavender flowers, removed from stalk Some of mine were still fresh and some had dried but both seemed to work)

imageWe mixed the sugar, flour and 1tbsp lavender in the mixer first to pound the lavender a bit and distribute it. Then we added the softened butter and eggs (which Little Boo loves to crack) and finally mixed in the rest of the lavender, saving some of the fresher flowers to scatter on top of the cakes once the mixture had been spooned into it’s cases.

imageThey were cooked at 180 degrees for 19 minutes (that’s my oven for you), left to cool then promptly devoured – the only part of the process that wasn’t lazy!

I do warn you though- eating these cakes may bring out the superhero in you!

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Holidays and hunting for fossils.

Don’t you just love the summer?  I’ve just returned from a great holiday with my family, 16 of us, four generations, all under one roof- no arguments- just fun, relaxation, good food, sea, pool and sun. With 7 children (ranging from 2 to 11) you never know quite what is going to happen, but everything went pretty smoothly and nobody wanted to leave at the end of the week.

imageMy son was in his element as our holiday home was on the Jurassic coast, and if you read this blog you will know that he’s a real dinosaur obsessive. We visited a dinosaur museum, and with a real life palaeontologist on hand (my father) we had to try our hand at a little fossil finding.

My father brought each grandchild their own geological hammer and safety goggles and I was tasked with the job of making bags for them all.. and here they are:

image They are made with calico fabric (just like my dad’s real hammer bag!) and I used iron on transfer paper (which was really cheap from Ebay-about £2.50 for 5 sheets and I used 2) to print an ammonite design and name from the computer and then iron them onto the fabric once made.

I am super impressed at the transfer results, not only do they look quite matt, rather than shiny, but there is no obvious line around the ammonite, (I cut really close to the image as recommended on the transfer paper instructions). If you have a go, just remember to flip any text so that it is mirrored, otherwise your words will be back to front when you iron them on!

image The children were so excited when they looked inside the bags, and what child wouldn’t love to wield their very own hammer (after a health and safety talk from their grandfather of course!)? I have some resources left and am thinking of a new, bigger dinosaur bag for Big Boo’s ever expanding dino collection.  I’ll try and make a simple tutorial with more details so watch this space.

I’ll leave you with a picture of my budding palaeontologists, ready to go with their bags, and in action hunting for their own ammonites.

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Oliver and S Ice Cream tunic.

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I took the plunge and finally bought this fabulous ice cream dress pattern from Oliver and S. I have been coveting it for a while, and finally succumbed after seeing Gail’s lovely new briar rose version (see it here)- I don’t think this lady ever creates something that is less than perfect. This time I think my version is pretty good too – having a great pattern to follow does help rather a lot!

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If you haven’t tried any Oliver and S patterns yet, I really do recommend them, they are easy to follow with helpful hints and tips.  The only change I made was to use some elastic for the button loop rather than matching fabric. After my last creation for Big Boo (the cargo shorts on the previous post which I made in age 4 and he can only just squeeze into), I decided to err on the side of caution and made a size 4 for my big 2 1/2 year old. You can see there is plenty of room to feel the breeze and, when (not if!) I make my next,I may try a size 3. That said I think she can just about get away with this now, and she’s quite happy to put it on (always a bonus!).

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No scooter test run yet, but this top sure is great for flying a kite, and we have had some perfect summery breezes for that recently – what a great way to spend the summer holidays!

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And just to leave you with a final photo, I couldn’t resist this opportunity when we stopped off for some yummy Cornish whippy ice cream at the local shop today. Not the best photo ever but a perfect match for her ice cream tunic, don’t you think?

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