Monday, 30 April 2012

Olympic Rings T-shirt

This is a nice, simple T-shirt design that kids can do for themselves.  Granted, as you need 5 different pots of fabric paint, it is a bit pricey to just do the one, but it would be a fun activity for an Olympic themed party, or use the technique to decorate table linen, flags and bunting for your own Olympic celebrations.  A little bit of fabric paint goes a long way, so you'll have plenty left for future projects.

You will need:

  • A white T-shirt or other fabric item
  • DYLON fabric paint in Yellow; Black; Green; Red and Blue
  • A circular stamper - we used a cookie cutter, but you could try the rim of a cup; a plastic bottle lid or jam jar depending on the size circle you want
  • Some plates or saucers
  • Scrap card

Begin by placing a piece of cardboard under your fabric - if you're doing a T-shirt, place it inside the shirt to prevent colour bleeding from the front to the back.

You might want to print out a copy of the Olympic rings to make sure they copy the right colours in the right places.

Pour a little paint into a saucer and start stamping your circles.  You may want to do the 3 circles on the top row first then allow to dry before doing the over-lapping lower row.

Our T-shirt was looking all nice and neat and orderly, until Ruby decided she'd like to do some splatter painting too.  So here's what we ended up with!  Unique huh?

Once fully dry, cover with a clean cloth and iron with a hot iron for a few minutes to seal the paint, and ensure it will be fully washable.

Check out the awesome collection of Olympic crafts on Red Ted Art's round-up.


Inspire Me Beautiful

 Disclosure: Please see my Disclosure page for more information.

Gold Medal Cookies - Olympic Celebrations

The craft-tastic Maggy over at Red Ted Art asked us to get out thinking caps on for some Olympic inspired crafts, so I've come up with these medal cookies.

They'd be great for a celebration tea party, perhaps you could make one for the 'World's No 1 Dad' for Father's Day, or just to mark an achievement or milestone.

As well as your basic gingerbread (or other cookie) recipe, you will need:

A round cutter
A straw
Some ribbon
Decorations - we used Silver Spoon orange chocolate buttons and Dr Oetker Soft Gold Pearls

1. Make your cookie recipe and cut out circles.  We also used a smaller cutter to make a mark inside which helps with decorating later.  Punch a hole through with your straw to thread your ribbon through later.

2. Once your cookies have baked and cooled you can begin decorating.  I found the simplest way was to put my orange drops into a paper piping bag, stand it upright in a cup and then melt in the microwave.

Snip off the end of your bag and begin writing - Tip: it helps if you don't have a shaky-hand-hangover for this part!

3. Place dots at intervals around the edge and stick on your gold pearls.

4. Once your decorations have set, thread through your ribbon and present to your winners.  National Anthems and podiums are optional.

Going for Gold...

Check out the awesome collection of Olympic crafts on Red Ted Art's round-up.


Magpie Monday - Make and Do

There's something a little crafty about my thrifting this week.

Firstly there was this stool which I got for a steal and did a little number on.  Take a peek - it's come up pretty neat I think.

Then, after dropping Ruby off at nursery this morning, I took my customary stroll down to the charity shop.  The lady who works on a Monday had very kindly brought in a load of information and contacts for me for local craft fairs - we'd been chatting the previous week.

Browsing the book shelves, I spotted some great crafting books for Ruby.  Being stuck in watching the torrential rain for the past fortnight, I'm running pretty dry on ideas and inspiration, so these are very welcome.

Firstly, this great book on T-Shirt design, which will be perfect for future DYLON projects.

It covers all kinds of methods from potato printing to using templates.

Then I spotted a couple more Usbourne Activities books.

Fairy Cooking and Fairy Things to Make and Do.

Tell me, what girl wouldn't want to try some Fairy Fudge or Pink Swirly Biscuits?

The other book is full of tutorials on how to make essential fairy accessories- wand; tiara and wings, as well as loads of ideas for paintings, decorations and garlands.

Finally, I found this totally unused Marbling Craft Kit.

I can't wait to have a go with this.  As well as all the ink and equipment, it comes with card blanks and blank pillow boxes.  This kit costs around £15, but I got it for £2.49. Yay!

Plenty to keep us busy for a while.

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Friday, 27 April 2012

Stool Drool

After seeing Karen's lovely make-over, I had serious stool envy!

But the thrifty gods were smiling on me, as two days later I spotted an ugly duckling for myself, in desperate need of some love.  For just £2 I gleefully carried this home (well, to be accurate my unconvinced Mum carried it home for me as my arms were full with other tat goodies I'd picked up).

I struggle to bring any 'new' furniture into the house without having to first fully justify it's existence / purpose/ location to the Old Man first - we do have rather a lot of furniture.

But given that we have very tall wardrobes and I currently reach the top shelves by balancing precariously on the foot board of our bed, I had my answer ready!  I haven't carried out a full-blown risk assessment of this current method of jumper retrieval, but lets just say there have been a few near-misses.

A stool makeover like this is lovely.  There's no fiddly-faffy upholstery, just some straight-forward stapling.  Given the size of the seat pad, you should be able to get away with a Fat Quarter of fabric to re-cover, which means your choice of design is pretty endless, and you can afford to splash out on a 'pricier' print.

Doesn't a mid-week makeover gladden the heart?

Paint: Craig & Rose 1829 chalky emulsion in 'Smalt'
Fabric: Echo by Lotta Jansdotter 'Ruta Indigo'

What do you think?  An improvement no?

Linking up with

Monday, 23 April 2012

Dandelion Cookies for Tea

Tea Set from The White Approach

As my new-found passion for foraging consumes me, I thought I'd better nip out into the garden quick-smart before the Old Man got his mower out and annihilated everything in his path.

There is something strangely twisted about me that I should choose to start consuming dandelions on the same week as we attempt 'dry-night' training with Ruby - they are known as pissenlit after all. 

The diuretic effects of this plant are well known, but did you also know that the white sappy liquid you get from the stalks is supposed to cure warts.  The plant is also good for liver and bladder disorders, gallstones, and due to it's high iron content, is beneficial to anaemics.

Drinking dandelion tea is said to be good for eczema and other skin complaints.  Dandelion root is even reputed to help sufferers of PCOS.*

*I am NOT a qualified homoeopathist, so please do not take my advice before you go self-medicating on weeds.  Do your homework first folks.

With all that good stuff going for it, I thought it was only right to whip up a batch of cookies.  All the recipes I found for them were much of a muchness, except they all called for honey which I detest.  I know, I wish I could like it, I've tried honestly, but it's just vile.  I substituted honey for agave syrup, but the cookies still tasted a little bitter, so next time I think I'll add some golden syrup too.

You will need:

half cup of vegetable oil
half cup of agave nectar/golden syrup or honey if you like the freaky taste - or a combo of these
2 large free range eggs
few drops of vanilla extract
1 cup of plain flour
1 cup porridge oats
half cup of dandelion petals

Pick the flowers when they are in full bloom and the sun is shining.  Wash well, then remove the petals (the green base of the flower is very bitter).  Hold the green part pinched between thumb and forefinger and twist the petals off with the other hand.

Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius/gas mark 5.

Add all your ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir together until combined.

Drop a tablespoon of the mixture onto greaseproof paper on a baking sheet to form each cookie.  They will spread a little so leave space between each one.  This recipe will make approximately 20 cookies.

Bake in the oven for around 12 minutes, until the outer edges start to turn brown.

Best eaten warm!

These make soft cookies, rather than crunchy, crumbley biscuits.  The taste is a little unusual but they are very moreish and we all loved them.

Buoyed up by this success, I decided that they would be perfect served with dandelion tea.  To make this, you need dried, fresh young leaves.  Now, I don't have a fancy-pants de-humidifier, so I laid them out on a tray and popped them in the oven for a few hours on the lowest setting.

Pour over freshly boiled water and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.

Sit back and sip, remembering all the good things it's doing for your body...

I'm not gonna lie to you, it tasted disgusting.  I'd imagined it would taste kind of grassy (that's the lawn variety, people) but in actual fact it taste like warm seaweed to me.  The Other Half commented that it tasted vaguely fishy.  Whatever, there was certainly something of the ocean about it, which is odd because we're about as far away from the coast as you could possibly get.  I had to give in and sweeten mine before I could drink it.  It's safe to say it won't be replacing my cup of builder's tea any time soon, but I will be making the biscuits again.

If you liked this post, check out my other wild food recipes:

Magpie Monday - High Street, Higher and Highest

I'm not particularly big on designer labels, or even high end High Street names, but when I manage to get something at a bargain price that I wouldn't normally splurge out full price on, it gives me a warm and smug feeling!

This week, I've managed to find a lovely item for each of us, so everyone's a winner.

For Ruby I found this pretty ditsy print blue shirt by Autograph, Marks and Sparks.  Only £1.25, and in pristine condition.  What would it have cost new? Around £15?

For myself I got a Boden denim skirt with red stitching.  Absolute bargain at £1.99 and again in beautiful condition.  I dread to think how much this would have cost new, and not something I'd have treated myself with.

Yes Cinders, you shall be a Yummy Mummy

I've saved the best til last.  I'm taking a gamble showing it here because I haven't yet given this to the Old Man.  I'm still debating whether to save it for a birthday present.  When I say I'm not a designer label freak, that doesn't mean that he isn't.  Stemming from when he worked in a swanky menswear boutique while at uni, he's always had a thing for designer labels and luxury brands.

I did a little squeal when I found this Mont Blanc leather wallet in the cabinet of a local antiques and collectibles shop.  It will complement his Mont Blanc pen perfectly.

At £15 it may sound a lot to spend on a second-hand wallet, but not when you consider that these cost hundreds.  It has a small indentation mark on the front, but doesn't look like it's ever been used. What do you think, should I surprise him now with it, or save it for his birthday?

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Friday, 20 April 2012

Wild Garlic & Goat's Cheese Quiche

I have become totally hooked on Wild Garlic.  There's acres and acres of it near us and I'm picking it every few days, and using it in just about everything I cook.

The pesto I made is a great addition to loads of dishes and it will keep a bit longer than fresh leaves, but I also like to use it as fresh as possible.

As with any foraged food, make sure you know what you are looking for, consult a good book and read up on possible side effects and who should avoid it beforehand (although I'm not sure I go along with breastfeeding mothers avoiding it - I used to eat all sorts of strong flavours when I was feeding).  Check out also the awesome health benefits of wild garlic.


Shortcrust pastry (your favourite recipe - to me this means 1/2 pack of Easi-Roll from the supermarket!)
1 leek
Handful of wild garlic leaves
Spoonful of wild garlic pesto (optional)
100ml milk
50ml single cream
2 large free-range eggs
250g log of goat's cheese
Sprinkle of grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees.

Line a loose-bottom flan dish (I use a cake tin for a nice deep filled quiche) with greaseproof paper.  Roll out your pastry and line your tin.  Using more greaseproof paper and baking beans or rice, blind bake your case for about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Slice leek and sweat in a frying pan with a little oil until translucent.  Roughly chop the wild garlic leaves and toss in with the leeks for a few minutes until wilted.

Beat together your eggs and mix with the milk and cream.  Add salt & pepper to taste (I don't add salt as I find goat's cheese quite salty anyway).  Add a spoonful of pesto if using.

Place your leeks and wild garlic mixture over the bottom of the pastry case.  Chop the goat's cheese into large chunks and spread over.  Pour on your milk & egg mix and sprinkle Parmesan on top.

Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes.

If you enjoyed this recipe, check out my other foraging posts:

Wild Garlic Pesto
Dandelion Cookies
and my guest post on Red Ted Art, Dandelion Soap - yes that's SOAP not SOUP!

Easy-peasy no-sew dress-up skirt/tutu

Much as I'm enjoying tinkering on my sewing machine, every now and then it's nice to make something super-quick and easy without having to lug it out.

This little dressing-up skirt has become an instant hit with Ruby - perfect for twirling and whirling.

Not only is there no sewing required, you can make it in minutes and it's a great 'upcycle' of something old.

You will need:

Length of lace cafe curtain style net (choose one with cotton content if you're dying it.)
Length of ribbon
DYLON fabric dye or DYLON curtain whitener

You can often pick up lengths of lace curtain second-hand in charity shops, car boots or on Ebay for a pound or two.  The length you need will depend on the girth of your child and the fullness of skirt.  For reference, my piece for my 4 year old is approximately 52 inches.

You can of course leave it white (use curtain whitener to freshen it up), but I prefer to add a bit of colour.  I chose DYLON china blue, and also dyed a pair of white leggings at the same time.

If you've not used machine fabric dyes before, then I'd urge you to give it a go.  It's so simple.  Just wash your fabric first, check the instructions and add the required amount of salt and dye to your machine drum, place your clean wet fabric on top and run a 40 degree cycle.  Wash again and you're good to go.  The dye won't take on 100% nylon, so choose a net with some cotton content.

Once your fabric is dyed and dried, simply thread the ribbon through the curtain rod holes, tie it around the waist like an apron, fan out the ruffles an you're done.

This is only a play skirt and obviously she'd always wear leggings or tights underneath as it's see through.  For the sake of decency you could stitch the two end seams together, but personally I don't think you need to.

Disclosure: I have ongoing sponsorship with DYLON however, these concepts are my own.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Peppa Pig goes camping

We were sent one of the newest Peppa Pig play sets from Character to try out recently.

It's fair to say, it didn't start well.  For me, my biggest bug-bear is having to hunt out the tool box simply to remove something from it's packaging (why, oh why... don't get me started...)

Ruby was excited about her new toy, until she realised it only came with one figure.  ONE.  To the High Priestess of Bratishness, this is a total insult (I know, I know, she should be more grateful; lots of children don't get any toys; she doesn't realise how lucky she is; when I were a lad we had to play with coal...I did all that.)

So, before I got very cross with her, I left her with her new toy and went and did the hoovering.

Peeping round the door 10 minutes later, I discovered she'd dug out some of her other plastic Peppa Pig family characters, and they were all sitting down to a civilised al fresco lunch and chatting about the sandwich fillings.

Happily, she now concedes that it's a very nice toy, and she's pleased to have it.

Peppa and other assorted friends from her toy box can now flit off at the drop of a hat for a weekend away in the camper van, or simply enjoy a bit of outdoor fun searching out muddy puddles.

From my perspective, it's a nice sized item - not too small to lose the pieces and not too large that you can't take it out with you.  It's more robust than a lot of play sets she has too - always handy if you've got a clumsy pair of size 11s crashing about the house.

Peppa Pig's Camper Van is suitable from age 3 and retails at around £10.

Disclosure: Whilst Ruby can be a brat, I for one am grateful to Character for sending us the set to review.  All opinions expressed are my own and are honest.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Brush-Baby giveaway

It is never too early to teach your children about good oral and dental hygiene. Your child's first teeth are important for their speech development, eating habits, facial appearance and they establish the spacing for adult teeth in later life.

Milk teeth are also just as susceptible to tooth decay as adult teeth, and a study has shown that over 30% of children have some degree of tooth decay by the time they reach school age.*

Brush-Baby provide innovative dental care products for babies; toddlers and children.

Born out of frustration by a mother who battled with her daughter to brush her teeth, she discovered that whilst she wouldn't brush, she would chew her toothbrush.  So she developed and brought to market the chewable toothbrush that cleaned as it was being chewed.

Now stocked in all UK major supermarkets, brush-baby also offer an easy to follow 3-step pathway to good dental health, and are supported by dentists.

I'm pleased to be able to give away a set of brush-baby products suitable for babies.

Gentle apple mint baby & toddler toothpaste for 0-3 year olds is specially formulated to protect little teeth from decay.

The chewable brush can be used from 10months to 3 years.  The silicone brush gentle massages and soothes gums and cleans teeth with every chew.

And finally, I'm offering a couple of dental wipes, for ages 0-16 months.  Individually wrapped, these are handy for hen you are out and about, as you can use the finger sleeve wipes to gently cleanse teeth and gums after meals.

To win this bundle, simple leave a comment with a tip for children's dental health.  Remember to leave a way for me to contact you should you win (Twitter ID or an email).  The winner will be picked at random.  Open to UK only.  Closing date 12:00 Friday 27th April 2012.

Disclosure: Prize provided by brush-baby.  Prize pack consists of 1 x baby toothpaste; 1 x chewable brush and 2 x dental wipes. I received a sample of children's toothpaste and a brush.