This is what life looks Leighland...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Silver Fingerprints

I've always loved finger print jewellery and have a gorgeous foot print necklace from when Lola was a baby. I've always wanted to buy more but they're really, really expensive!

Thanks to Tiny Trinkets YouTube video, I was able to figure out how to make them myself!

I've slowly bought the materials over the last few months and while it hasn't been cheap to buy, it still works out cheaper than having them made professionally!! I plan on making 2 key rings,  each with 4 finger prints spread over 2 charms and have spent £70 on buying all of the required tools and materials. If we bare in mind, a 1 charm keyring typically costs £60 and now that I have the tools, I'll only need to buy silver clay when making these in future, I think it's a pretty good price!

So first things first, I need finger prints!!  I mixed equal amounts of Silly Gum Silicone Putty that I bought on ebay to make my moulds then squished a small ball of putty onto the index fingers of my daughter and her 3 cousins. I very quickly marked their initials on the top of each mould so I knew which print was from which kid and 5 mins later they were done!!

I repeated the process again, this time squishing the silly gum in to the finger moulds to make the actual finger print.

Using Badger Balm, I greased up a teflon sheet, opened the pack of silver clay and began rolling it to the required thickness. I took a really small heart shaped cookie cutter and cut my shape out. The clay can dry out quickly so it's important to wrap up the excess and seal it in a zip lock bag as quickly as you can, pushing as much air out as you possibly can.

Sing pushed 3 of the 4 finger prints into the heart, then I rolled out a little more clay, cut a smaller heart and pushed Lola's finger print into it - I now have 2 hearts, my big brothers 3 kids' finger prints on 1 and my kids finger print on the other.

I followed the instructions in the kit (bought from Amazon) to fire the charms and they now need to cool for 20 mins.

I have to say, I'm a little concerned as to what they'll look like when the process is fully finished as at the moment they just look like white clay rather than silver charms!!!

I'll post pictures once they've been polished and set with the keyring findings!

Teacher's gifts

Wow, it's been a while huh?! I kind of lost my mojo for a while after having a few medical problems, but I've been starting to get inspired again lately and have been starting to make things again.

Today is a big craft day for me as I have a number of Christmas gifts to get on with before its too late!! I thought I'd start with the teachers gifts as they're the ones I need to hand out first.

Personalised mugs

I love, love, love taking my Lil Monster to ceramic painting places but wow are they expensive!!! Money is really hard at this time of year so I really needed a cheaper alternative!! Pintrest is full to the brim of Sharpie crafts so I thought I'd put them to the test!!

What you need:
1 Plain mug
1 Sharpie pen
1 Oven

It's that simple!!!

You can use the sharpie to make any design you want, I'm terrible when it comes to drawing so I decided to fold a sheet of paper in half and cut out a heart shape.  I then held the heart securely over the mug (you could use blue-tac or tape to hold it in place) then made lots of small dots around the heart.

As you can see, this makes a negative heart design on the mug which I then added to with more dots to make it a little prettier.

I went for plain white mugs (£2 each from Asda) and a metallic gold sharpie pen. Before you start your design, pre-heat your oven to 180°. Once your design is finished, bake for 30 mins then allow to fully cool. These mugs will be finished when my Lil Monster gets home from school and writes 'Love from Lola' on the back of them!!

I also bought a few chocolatey bits to put inside the mugs, a sachet of hot chocolate, mini marshmallows and a Lindt bear.

I really wanted some little sachets of marshmallows but I couldn't find any anywhere, so I bought a big pack and some paper cups. I then cut the lip off then cut down in straight lines to make tabs all around, if you fold each tab inwards, your paper cup will magically transform into a pretty little favour box!!

Put 1 marshmallow filled favour box, 1 hot choc sachet and 1 choccy bear into each mug then pop into a gift bag with some tissue paper on top et voila!!! I've made 4 of these 3 for the teachers at school and 1 for my Secret Santa gift for work!! 

Friday, 2 August 2013

And the cupcakes continue

My Corona cupcakes went down so well that I was experimenting in the kitchen again within a week!

I'm really loving the idea of boozy flavours so to continue with that theme and on raiding my drinks cabinet (ok so the fridge and a box at the back of the cupboard under the stairs!!) I decided to try Baileys this time and boy am I glad I did!!

Makes 12 large cupcakes                           
250g flour, sifted
1/2 tbsp baking powder                                 
100g room temperature olive spread
1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
100g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
120mls chilled Baileys
2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl and put to one side
Beat olive spread and sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in eggs one at a time
Add 1/3 flour mix then 1/2 chilled Baileys, 1/3 flour mix, 1/2 chilled Baileys, oil and milk then last 1/3 flour mix and mix until fully combined
Spoon into your cupcake cases and bake in the middle of the oven for aprox 18-20 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean
Allow to cool completely before frosting

100g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
1/2 tsp coffee essence
2 tsp chilled Bailieys

Dice the butter, add the Bailieys and coffee essence then combine with a spatula
Add icing sugar a bit at a time

I only took 6 of these cupcakes into work and gave some to friends when they called in for coffee, they went down so well that every one who got a taste commented that I should leave work and start making cupcakes for a living...if only it were that easy, LOL!!!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Delightfully light boozy summer cupcakes

Boozy summer cupcakes...??  Nom nom nom yes please!

We're really not very big drinkers here, but there is nothing better than cracking open an ice cold Corona on a hot summers day!

Like most days, I was feeling cupcakey but I wanted something other than my now signature caramel flavour (I can't remember the last time I made a different one!!).  So I went scouring through my cupboards and fridge and spotted a few bottles of Corona and remembered a Cinco de Mayo cupcake recipe I'd pinned a while ago which used Corona as a flavouring!!

As usual, it was nearly midnight by the time I'd decided I was going to start baking so rather than working with a new recipe I decided to adapt my favorite cupcake recipe to incorporate the Corona and combine it with a light lime frosting...this is what I did:

Makes 16 large cupcakes                          
250g flour, sifted
1/2 tbsp baking powder                                
100g room temperature olive spread
1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
200g caster sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
240mls chilled Corona
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp lime zest

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
Mix flour, baking powder and lime zest in a bowl and put to one side
Beat olive spread and sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in eggs one at a time
Add 1/3 flour mix then 1/2 chilled Corona, 1/3 flour mix, 1/2 chilled Corona, oil and milk then last 1/3 flour mix and mix until fully combined
Spoon into your cupcake cases and bake in the middle of the oven for aprox 18-20 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean
Cool completely before frosting

70g unsalted butter
190g icing sugar
1 tsp lime zest
2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2-3 drops green food colouring (I only wanted a hint of green)

Dice the butter and soften with a spatula
Add food colouring, lime juice and zest and beat into butter until fully combined
Add icing sugar a bit at a time

When the cakes are ready, I usually turn the oven off and leave the cakes for a further 3 mins or so to make sure they don't drop - especially if it's a particularly wet recipe like this one!

Well goodness me they are simply delish!!  Using olive spread instead of butter and a really good drizzle of oil really seems to give a moister crumb - I used sunflower oil as it's what I had in my cupboard but any oil will do as long as it doesn't have a strong flavour.  As for the lime frosting...OMG it tastes like green Starburst so I've already found inspiration for my next new flavour!!!!!

I hope you guys enjoy making and eating these as much as I did!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Best Teacher gifts the Leighland way

I've been working loads of overtime (still trying to pay my credit card bill off from Egpyt!!) and have had a very poorly lil Monster to take care of so time has been pretty restricted recently to say the least!

There's light at the end of the tunnel though, there's been no more vomiting since 8am this morning (It's now nearly 2am - oh the joys of working a late shift!!) so if she can make it through another 6 hours she'll be allowed back to nursery school!  She's desperate to get back, especially because not only is she leaving nursery to move on to reception class but her nursery teacher is leaving the school so she's desperate to see her teacher before she goes!

With only a matter of days left, it means some serious last minute gift what do you do when you need to 2 last minute gifts and are already over your monthly budget?!  Well I'm pretty sure I got the idea from this Pintrest pin but couldn't really think of anything to write (and didn't really have time either if I'm honest) so I googled how to make a shape with words and found this amazing website!

All you need to do is fill in 1 of the 6 fields, chose your shape and direction for the words, pick a font and a theme then click submit and et voila!!  You can even edit the font, colours and themes before saving your final image!

Once I had my image, I opened a word document and pasted it in the middle.  I cropped the image to remove the copywrite border then added a couple of text boxes to make the document a bit more personal.  I had chosen the Duality font when creating my shape so for continuity, I downloaded the same font here for free and this is what I ended up with:

I'll nip to Ikea tomorrow and pick up 2 of their Ribba frames and there you go...a cheap personalised gift for both the teacher and her TA (and yes...I remembered to change the name on the TA's picture!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Preperation in Leighland...

So there's only a matter of weeks left before the schools close for the summer...and until the 'Lil Monster graduates from Nursery eeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk!!!!!  I can not believe my teeny tiny baby is preparing to start school!  Where have the last 4 1/2 years gone?!

While sadly, I did not marry a rich man and so need to work to help pay the bills, bills oh and er...more bills....I am lucky that my sucky job allows me to work evenings so I get to be a stay at homeish mummy (yep, only in Leighland!!)  While I can not wait to have a whole entire 6 weeks one on one time with my Monster, I'm dreading the expense of keeping her entertained for so long!! I'm also dreading the seperation anxiety that will come at the end of those 6 weeks - especially when it sinks in that she's not just going to be away from me every afternoon, but that we'll be apart all day!!

So what can I do to both keep her entertained all day and prepare her for full time school??

Well, I'm arming myself with an arsenal of mostly free summer activities and school prepping exercises.  In the run up to the holidays I'm going to get the 'Lil Monster to help me make a diary which we will use to know what activity we will be doing on which days.  As usual I've been pinning away like mad and keep coming across free printables for meal planning and monthly calanders etc so I decided to make my own A5 sized daily planning printables  - which can be downloaded here should you wish to use them - then we're going to fill each day with 1 or 2 of the activities, at least 1 school prep activity and as the 'Lil Monster is the worlds fussiest eater and going to be staying for packed lunches, I'm going to start introducing her to nice healthy snacks etc...

I've started buying bits & pieces of coloured paper, sticky letters, googly eyes etc and Key Stage 1 work books etc so we'll have quite a bit of stuff to mess about with on rainy days!

I'll be starting Halloween & Christmas preparations soon - maybe even a garden party towards the end of the summer if we get nice enough weather so watch out for my handy hints, tips and printables coming soon!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

How to make the best EVER Caramel Cupcakes!!!

Ok, so maybe second best ever....

On Wednesday, the 'Lil Monster wanted to bake cakes.  To save time and mess I usually use a boxed cake mix when baking with her and I had a Betty Crocker Caramel Cupcake box, so we whipped them up and boy were they good!!!

I'e never really experimented with flavours before, I usually stick to either chocolate or vanilla but the caramel flavour inspired me to find a way to make them from scratch and I'm soooooooo pleased that I did!

I'm not a big fan of fruit so I usually have a squeezey bottle of Sainsburys own toffee sauce in the cupboard.  Drizzle that over sliced apple and/or banana and there's not enough fruit in the tastes amazing but more importantly not too sickly, so I knew it would make a perfect substitution for vanilla in my go to cupcake recipe!

Basic cupcake recipe:

Makes 16 large cupcakes                            
250g flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder                                
100g olive spread (room temperature)
1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
200g light brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
100mls almond or hazelnut milk
3tbsp toffee/caramel sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
Mix flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl and put to one side
Beat olive spread, sugar and caramel sauce until light and fluffy
Beat in eggs one at a time
Add 1/3 flour mix then 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour mix, 1/2 milk and last 1/3 flour mix and mix until fully combined
Spoon into your cupcake cases and bake in the middle of the oven for aprox 16 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean
Completely before frosting

Once the cakes are ready, I prefer to turn the oven off and leave the cakes in for a further 3 mins to ensure they don't drop.

75g unsalted butter
175g icing sugar
2 tbsp caramel sauce

Dice the butter and soften with a spatula
Add caramel sauce and beat into butter until fully combined
Add icing sugar a bit at a time