Thursday, 13 September 2012


Here's something for a fun snack - maybe even get the kids to do them.  Great for a party as well I should imagine

Take a packet of breadsticks (the thinner ones work best), melt some chocolate in a bowl, cover about three-quarters of the breadsticks in the melted chocolate and then lay them down on a baking tray covered with baking paper, sprinkle with hundreds and thousands, allow to cool and then allow hoards of children to decimate them in the manner of a swarm of locusts.

Here's a pic

And whilst I would like to claim credit for this idea, it must go to my sis-in-law H who had purchased one single breadstick prepared in this style for 50p from a soft play centre!  By my reckoning if you prepare them yourself you'll save a packet :)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Clothing rescue

I have this nice top

That I managed to put a hole in - oops!

Thankfully the hole wasn't in too awkward a place so I decided that I could probably patch it.  I remembered that Jo had posted about embellishing her cardi here.  I mentioned this to her over tea (at playgroup naturally) and she offered the use of her Cath Kidston "Make" book - note to self: must now return book.

Having had a browse through I decided that one patch might look a bit odd but there was a t-shirt in the book embellished with stars.  So I purchased these items

Some white felt, fusible web and some grey embroidery thread.

I then traced some of the stars onto the fusible web

And then cut them out, pinned them to the felt and cut the felt stars out

I cut out one large star (to cover the hole), two medium stars and four small stars - I do like things to be even, random is definitely not my forte!  I then pinned them onto my top to make sure I got the layout right

Ironed them in place (about 10 seconds with a steam iron), having placed a tea towel on the top of the stars to make sure the felt didn't distort with the heat.  To make sure they stayed in place (although the fusible web did a great job) I then blanket stitched round each star

If you're not sure how to do a blanket stitch then it's worth searching Youtube, as there's bound to be a video showing you how to do it - I learnt how to ladder stitch the same way.

So here's the finished article

One top rescued from the rubbish bin :)

Fruit Kebabs

I am always trying to get Max to eat more fruit and veg, Penelope on the other hand can't get enough of the stuff - to the extent that she will happily eat the peel along with the orange....

It isn't an easy task persuading Max that fruit is nice so when Penelope made some fruit kebabs at nursery I decided to try it at home.  I assembled these ingredients

You can use any fruit you like, but obviously fruits like banana and apple will need eating quickly before they go brown. I also used some mini marshmallows as an added enticement for Max.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave - do it in small short bursts and stir in between otherwise you risk burning the chocolate and making it unusable. Then put the fruit etc on the wooden sticks

Then drizzle with the melted chocolate.  Children will need to be supervised as the chocolate and bowl will be hot.

Put in the fridge to set the chocolate and you're all done.

You will note that Max doesn't appear in these photos as he wasn't feeling well when we did this but he did at least eat the results - that's a success in my book!!

Try it - it's fun and healthy- if you ignore the chocolate part :)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Olympic/Lego Fever

I don't know about you but the Olympics have been a fixture in our lives for the last two weeks.  Even if we've not been watching it, it's been on in the background.  Max has witnessed me shouting at the rowers, swimmers, cyclists and athletes.  He was very disappointed when we only won silver in one of the rowing events and I had to spend some time telling him about "taking part" and "trying your best" and the fact that silver meant you were the second best in the whole world!!  Somehow though I don't think he was quite convinced.

Of course for Max no event would be complete without some Lego and we have been collecting the Team GB Lego minifigures.  After some loitering in two well known supermarkets feeling all the packets for giveaway parts ("Ooo Max that's a tennis racket, we need the tennis player"), we completed the set.  To be honest I think I was more excited about completing the set than Max was....

Here are the little fellas (and the girls) in all their glory

I'm hoping that in 20 years time a full set will be worth something (!) and this got me to thinking about how we could keep them safe from the children display them and I remembered this from Pinterest so I got to work and got this frame from Ikea

And assembled these items and some superglue

As I didn't actually read the blog post before commencing on my project (as opposed to now when I am writing this post - oops!), I opted to take the glass out (although this is possibly a safer option for the kids) and painted the backing board white, although you could paint it whatever colour you wanted to fit in with your theme.

I then reassembled the frame (minus the glass) and then glued 9 pieces of 2x2 Lego blocks to the backing board.  Obviously the Lego bricks had to be red, white and blue to keep in with the Team GB theme.

The minifigures were then placed on each of the bricks and look like this

The obvious advantage is that the minifigures can still be taken off the bricks and still played with, although if Max loses any bits there will be trouble!!

Having reviewed several posts I am wondering whether this blog should be more aptly entitled "Musings from a Lego Mum"......

Friday, 10 August 2012

I DON'T believe it

How, just HOW, is it possible that my boy has already done a whole year at school??? AND that we're already three weeks into the summer holidays???

Here he is on the last day of reception

Although the tie was his own addition....

Of course the end of his first school year meant the pressure of getting some presents for his teachers.  Thankfully the mum of one his friends, L, suggested that we all chip into a big present.  So we duly chipped in but I also wanted to give his teachers something a bit more personal from Max.  Inspired by this post from my friend's blog, we made some noteblocks

As there are two reception classes and the teachers work across the two classes, I wanted to do something not just for Max's teacher and teaching assistant but also the teachers and teaching assistants in the other class.  So inspired by something I saw somewhere on Pinterest, I made some cookies using this recipe and then put them in bags with a tag

Well done Max for such a great first year - we're so proud of you!

Monday, 30 July 2012

And lo yet more Lego appeared...

I mentioned in my last post that it was Max's birthday recently and inevitably that meant an influx of new Lego (can anyone say "spoilt child"??!!), including (but not limited to) a police station, truck, helicopter and several pieces from the new Dino range.

Now there's nothing I like more than a bit of good organising and all this Lego left me thinking how on earth we were going to store the damn stuff.  Short of using all the Lego (and trust me there's enough) to construct a shed for it in the back garden, some consideration needed to be given to the layout of Max's bedroom and the storage options available.  Max has two Ikea units in his bedroom, one being used for all his books and some random toys/dressing up stuff and the other for Lego.  The Lego unit left a lot be desired as all the Lego was housed so most of it couldn't be seen.  I had previously googled "Lego" for an image, when I was looking for inspiration for Max's birthday cake, and I came across a blog post which of course I can no longer find but this one is similar.  As one of the storage units in Max's bedroom is the Trofast one (the one with the books/random toys on) it seemed sensible to have a shift about.

So the art easel (which Max no longer uses but Penelope is obsessed with) was moved into Penelope's room.  Then the books all moved across to the other storage unit, after the younger books were weeded out and moved onto Penelope's bookcase.  Penelope got as much out of this as Max did.

At this point a trip to Ikea was required to acquire some storage bags and some more of the drawers that fit in the Trofast system.  And, as is inevitable with a trip to Ikea, several other non-essential items also acquired - seriously how do they do it??

After bringing home all the essential and non-essential (but seemed it at the time) items, I moved all his dressing up stuff into a storage bag under his bed and redistributed the random toys to other storage units about the house, the loft and some charity bags.

At this point I needed to name the drawers so after using a bit of WordArt on the computer, and shading the WordArt the appropriate colour some drawer names were created and then laminated using my bargain laminator from Tesco.  How can they sell a laminator for only £12??  After a bit lot of sorting out individual Lego bricks Max's Trofast system now looks like this

The larger bottom drawers have a colour theme whereas the two smaller top drawers contain mini-figures and also the tinier more technical bits which would never be found again if they went in the colour coded drawers.

I have even arranged all the instruction booklets in some lever arch files (top left of the photo above) but do confess to having got slightly carried away by laminating an index of the booklets and putting it on the front of the files.....

Max was very pleased with this turn of events

The brilliant thing about this is that it has made the Lego much more accessible to Max and he has already built lots more things just because he can see all the bits.  I had suggested to him that we could break up all the built pieces but that was a step too far for a five year old.  Instead he has satisfied himself with taking apart a piece at a time and then immediately rebuilding it.  Lego - the toy that keeps on giving!!

And, having posted a photo of my efforts on Facebook, a certain person at Two Owls Design also arranged some Lego in a similar fashion, albeit without the lamination - although I have offered my services.

Now if I could just work out where to put all the Lego that is currently residing on our dining table I could call all this organisation a success.....

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Birthday Cakes Again

Max turned 5 at the beginning of July and yet again I needed to make birthday cakes.  And this time I had to make three - eek!  Max and his friend P were having a joint birthday party - well they are in the same class and their birthdays are only a fortnight apart so it saved me and V half the cost!!  I made the mistake of letting Max and P look through a birthday cake book that my friend J had lent me.  It was inevitable that, as they had decided on a knight and princess party (well they are 5) that they would both choose different castle cakes.....

So here's P's cake - this one was actually fairly easy to make as it was constructed entirely of swiss roll. I adapted the decoration to make turrets etc with ice cream cones.

And here is Max's

This one wasn't very complicated but it took ages.  It was quite fiddly putting on the individual bits of icing to get the stone effect.  I think it probably took about 4-5 hours to decorate.  My best friend whilst making this cake was edible glue!  It is amazing and very useful for things like this.

Now as we had Max's birthday party almost two weeks before his birthday, Max had a friend come for tea on his birthday and of course that meant another cake.  Now as you may recall Max is more than a little obsessed with Lego so, to make life a little bit easier for me, I decided to make a Lego brick.

One rectangular cake was made and then I cut some circles out from the excess using a cookie cutter.  Funnily enough my friend Jo had the same idea for Aidan's birthday cake - great minds think alike and all that.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Inspiring Women

There are some women I know that inspire me to be more creative in my free time. Generally being a lawyer does not give me much room to express my creativity (actually scratch that, it doesn't give me any room...) so it's nice to do something completely different.  Whilst I am quite good at following instructions and copying things, coming up with my own designs floors me somewhat.

My friend Jo of Two Owls inspires me to get creative with fabric. You'll recall the bears from this post. In Dubai I bought a gorgeous new duvet cover from Pottery Barn. It turns out though that US king size is about a foot wider than UK king size - oops! Previously I would have just altered it and maybe thought about what to do with the excess material. Now however my first thought on realising I needed to alter it was that I could knock up a table runner and maybe some napkins out of the excess - yes there is that much extra material!

Whilst we were in Dubai, T was making some silver jewellery using silver clay. I was absolutely fascinated by the process and how you get from something which just looks like clay to a (hopefully!) beautiful piece of silver jewellery. There's something quite satisfying about the whole process of moulding, drying, sanding, firing and burnishing. T is much more creative than me but so far I have managed to make a few bits and pieces.

The first project was a necklace for a friend who has inspired me recently with her bravery in the face of a real personal struggle. I cannot imagine how A has found the strength to deal with the cards that life has dealt her recently but her humour, courage and faith are humbling.

My second project was a keying for my father-in-law with the kids' fingerprints in it as a birthday present and then I made a necklace for my sis-in-law C with her kids' fingerprints on the pendants.

Most recently I have made this necklace for me

Each small charm has the initial of either Paul or the kids and then a bead on top - a pearl for Paul's, a pink glass bead for Penelope's and a blue glass bead for Max's. I am really pleased with how it has turned out. Whilst T is trying to make a business out of this in Dubai (good luck T!) I am just doing it for a bit of fun. Everyone can expect personalised jewellery as presents from me this year!

I am lucky (and a bit envious!) to be surrounded by people who inspire me and I am looking forward to being further inspired by the new blog from T and her other crafty friends in Dubai.

Friday, 4 May 2012


Not long after we returned from Dubai my beautiful baby girl turned 2.

Turning 2 seems to have imbued Penelope with a fierce sense of independence wilfulness stroppiness which is not entirely welcome. Recent examples of this are "don't want to" swiftly followed by "don't like it" "not yours, mine" and the most recent "MY do it". It's lovely seeing her language develop......

Turning 2 required birthday cakes and, as we were having two parties, this meant two cakes. The first cake was for a party with her pals and given a recent obsession with "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" (courtesy of Max's fascination with Disney Junior) Minnie Mouse was the order of the day. Thankfully my mum and dad were staying at the time and mum's knowledge of cake amounts and other helpful suggestions ("why don't you make two round cakes?") meant the actual cake making part was quite simple. Some ready-to-roll icing in various colour and a picture of Minnie Mouse were utilised for the decoration and these, along with the revelation (courtesy of T in Dubai) of edible food pens, meant that Minnie looked like this:

The second party for family on the Saturday meant another cake. Penelope loves the book "The Tiger Who Came to Tea", so cake number two had to be a tiger. Originally this was going to be a flat cake with a picture on the front a la Max's Lightning McQueen cake from this post but then my friend J loaned me a birthday cake book and I started to get a bit more confident! After adapting the recipe/method for a chick/frog cake from the book Penelope's cake looked like this:

The cakes themselves were made in two different size pyrex bowls.  Ready-to-roll icing again played a large part but I had lots of fun decorating it! When I asked Paul what he thought of it he said he thought it was a great "cat" *sigh*

Love you baby girl xx

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Ok so it's been a while since I posted anything. In my defence we have been away on holiday but that only covers a fortnight's worth of absence. I guess life has just got in the way for the rest of it.....

We went to Dubai for our hols and it was fantastic. We stay with our friends - the fantastic T and M and their lovely kids M and H. Holidaymakers could not want for better hosts. T and M moved to Dubai about 18 months or so ago and an annual visit to Dubai (we went last year too) is a great excuse to see them. I have to admit though that Dubai wouldn't have been on my list of must-go places. It just seems to conjure up images of sand and oil without a great deal to see. If we hadn't been going to see friends then I don't think it would even have registered on our radar as a holiday destination. Yes ok there is a lot of sand but there's also a surprising amount to see.

Alright if you like a lot of old stuff then Dubai isn't the place for you but if you like everything to be a bit over the top then you'll enjoy it. Everything is a bit bigger than you'd expect from the Dubai Mall with its hundreds (possibly even thousands) of shops and a massive aquarium to the Burj Khalifa - currently the world's tallest building.

Here's a few more snaps of some holiday fun

The other benefit to staying with friends (other than the great company) is the fact that if we didn't fancy doing anything then we could lounge around and let the kids watch CBeebies, without being confined to a hotel room. Sometimes doing nothing is nice and relaxing as there's no pressure to be going out and seeing stuff.

The only problem with going again next year (if T and M will have us) is that we'll have to pay for a seat for Penelope. On the other hand at least I'll have a free lap and be able to eat my in-flight meal. Same time next year T??

Monday, 12 March 2012

Painless pinning

I don't know about you but I've only just discovered the world of Pinterest.  To the uninitiated it's like a virtual scrapbook and you just post pictures (preferably with links) of anything you fancy.  Many hours can be wasted looking for interesting pictures, quotes etc to "pin" on your pinboards.  You can even follow other people's pinboards and see what is inspiring them.  Essentially though I think that in the virtual world everyone is more interesting/creative/stylish when in reality they are probably pinning dressed in PJs (just me then? oops) and can't crochet for the life of them (just me again? ah well).

It has to be said though I am getting some great ideas for Penelope's bedroom (for when she moves to a big girl bed some time later this year) and for birthday cakes.  I'm also going to save pictures for links for birthday presents, rather than buying presents 8 months ahead of time, as I did earlier this year.

What I really want to do though is be getting married again as every other person is pinning fabulous wedding ideas.  Mind you, if you remember the last post, divorce was a possibility.  Perhaps I could get Paul to agree to renew our wedding vows - after all he has a LOT of making up to do!!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Romance is dead...

Well it's not dead, but possibly in need of life support in this house!  Paul had forgotten that it's our 10th wedding anniversary this year and has arranged to go on his annual boys' golf weekend on the weekend of our wedding anniversary.  After much deliberation I told him he could go but that it was going to cost him.  When he asked what it was going to cost him I replied "diamonds"!!  One of his friends did suggest I could go with them and caddy for Paul.  Strangely enough I declined this "kind" suggestion.

Valentine's Day is always a bit of a non-event in our house.  I do think that having one day when you're supposed to tell someone you love them is a bit silly when you should really be doing that more frequently once a year!  Added to that is the fact that the one and only time Paul and I went out on Valentine's Day itself for a meal, we had the worst meal we've ever had.

This year though Paul managed to surpass himself by leaving the purchasing of a card until the day before. Needless to say he was in a bit of a rush and the selection of cards was less than impressive however I'm not sure that excuses this error

Oops!  It's a good job I've got a sense of humour.  Mind you I don't know why I was even surprised as the very first Valentine's Day that Paul and I were together he forgot completely.  How we've made it to our 10th wedding anniversary is a miracle!!

Right I'm off to choose some diamonds...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Project

I keep reading other people's blogs and finding that they are doing a project of one sort or another.  I like the idea of a photographic project myself - something quick and easy that can be fitted into my hectic life.  So here's my plan - to take a picture of Max and Penelope every week and put together a little slideshow at the end of the year to see how they've changed.  These photos don't have to be fancy and posed - just ones that capture them - oh and preferably in focus!

I'll keep you posted as to how I get on as I have a sneaking suspicion this may have fallen by the wayside come the second week of February....

Right off to find my camera - wish me luck!

Sunday, 15 January 2012


There are some moments which mark big stages in a baby/toddler's life.  Y'know the ones - smiling, sitting, food, teeth, walking.

And then there's the smaller ones which, whilst not so important, still mark watershed moments.  Here's a pic of Penelope having her first chocolate at about 11 months.  She wasn't putting on any weight at that stage and I swear it was all a ploy to get chocolate early!

And here she is this week with her first bunches.  Okay they're the tiniest little bunches in the world but they mean she is no longer a baby and very much a little girl

It might not be a big moment but enough to warrant pause for thought *sob*

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Plastic explosion

There has been an explosion of small plastic pieces in our house over the festive period.  Lego, it seems, was all a small boy wanted for Christmas.  He already had a considerable amount already and we have now added to his collection

If you remember this post, the icing on the cake was the Lego Fire Boat, shown on the right of this picture.  It didn't arrive until the Wednesday after Christmas as Granny and Grandad had got it for him.  Unfortunately that meant an upset little boy on Christmas morning as "I told Father Christmas I wanted the Fire Boat".   I had to keep reminding him that perhaps Father Christmas had left presents at Granny and Grandad's house.  Note to self - when a small boy keeps saying he wants something, Mummy must remember that it is required on Christmas morning and not three days later!

It seems though that all this Lego is not enough as, when we returned from a visit to my parents, the new Lego catalogue was lying in wait for us.  Cue much "I really want that" "and that" "and that"....

All I have to remember now is not to stand on any small bits that will inevitably get scattered about.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A brace of bears

I got a bit crafty before Xmas thanks to Jo's pattern and here's four of the bears waiting to meet their new owners

I made seven in total but despite my best intentions they weren't all ready at the same time.  In fact the bears for my nephews J and N were only finished on Boxing Day evening!  To personalise them a bit further I embroidered the name of the recipient round the tail

I had lots of fun doing them but, in my crafting naivety I completely over ordered the stuffing.  Note to self - 3kg of lightweight stuffing is more then enough for seven bears, do not therefore order 6kg!  I barely (if you'll pardon the pun) took the top of the first bag so either I need to make lots more bears or everyone will be getting cushions!

I do enjoy having a project but I'm not very creatively minded and I am genuinely in awe of Jo's talent to make some of the most beautiful things.  Here's the stockings she made for Max and Penelope

I can however follow instructions very well so I just need to get Jo to post some more patterns (hint hint nudge nudge) and I can then craft away.  Perhaps however I could just get Jo to teach me how to make cushions.......