Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Supermum Who?

So often I get comments from people on how amazed they are at what I achieve in my day baking and sewing and that I am a supermum.  But often its such a different picture 'behind the scenes'!  I sometimes gently remind people that I am only showcasing my acheivements and not my failings (of which on a normal day there are many!).  I think you need to be careful when looking at other peoples Facebook pages and blogs that you do not start to feel inadequate and compare yourself to them.  Especially as you look from the computer to around your house at the morning breakfast dishes piled on the bench, 3 days worth of washing to fold on the floor in the corner, the dirty nappy your toddler just removed and left on the floor as he went running naked outside into the rain and the empty baking containers sitting in the cupboard that are gathering dust...... and then look back at your computer at their pictures of beautiful baking, sewing and clean children.  And you wonder how do they do it?

So I thought I would take a minute to share with you a bit of what happens behind the scenes on a normal day in my house.

My boys went on a frenzy late this afternoon.  They started in their bedroom as I was beginning to prepare dinner.  They caused alot of destruction as I was busy in the kitchen.  I screamed at them (yes, I lost my rag totally) and told them they had to clean up their mess.  I would like to add here that its not only children who crack it during the witching hours (5pm till bedtime) - its mummies too.  10 minutes later I was very surprised that I could see their bedroom floor.  That was until I looked into the cot ...

My darlings had just scooped everything up like mini-diggers and dumped it all into Samuels cot.  When I asked Jack where Sam was to sleep that night he suggested in his bed with him.  I noticed that Sam had even done some lovely chalk drawings in the bedroom and cleaned his hands on the side of the cot.

Deciding I would tackle that one later, as I just didn't have time to do it then, I made the boys move into the family room to play.  I had cleaned the place spotless ready for the hubby to come home.  I was rather involved in cooking dinner and trying to stop the baby from crying and wasn't keeping a close enough eye on the boys as I should of been.  This is what happened in the half an hour before my hubby came home.

Sam managed to get himself naked in this time also.  Ada has been placed in the middle as I was carrying her and had to put her down to dash off and mediate the mexican standoff that was happening over a Lightening McQueen toy.

Also as I write this all my dirty nappies are in a pile, unwashed in the laundry sink, I haven't emptied the kittens kitty litter tray today, I have a massive pile of accounts to sort for the business which I promised myself I'd do today and I haven't, the rubbish has fallen over outside and I need to pick it up, the dinner dishes are still on the bench and there is a wet towel on the floor in the middle of the family room.

Supermum I am not.  Normal mummy of 3 children under 5 I am.  So next time you find yourself starting to feel a bit inadequate while looking at someones blog or Facebook photos just remember that they are only showcasing their best and behind those photos a little bit of destruction is sure to be lurking!

Ginger Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

These cupcakes were made on Good Morning last week, and I loved the thought of a nice ginger cupcake.  These are really good.  The ginger is not too overpowering and is really set off by the lemon icing.  I love them!

300g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
150g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
4 eggs
7ml vanilla essence
100g finely chopped crystalised ginger
160ml sour cream

Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line two 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and mixed spice.

In a seperate bowl (big bowl), cream the butter for a few minutes.  Add the suger one third at a time, beating for at least 2 minutes after each addition.  Beat until mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has disolved.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix in.  Add to this half the sifted dry ingredients, chopped ginger and half the sour cream.  Stir in gently and repeat with remaining ingredients.

Divide mixture between the cupcake papers and bake for 20 minutes or until cakes are cooked.

200g butter
600g icing sugar
Grated rind and juice of one lemon

Cream the butter.  Add icing sugar and lemon juice and rind in alternative batches.  If mixture is really stuff add a TBS milk - mix until light and fluffy.

I added some little gingerbread garnishes which were made from the Gingerbread recipe I posted earlier.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gingerbread Men

After trying many different Gingerbread Men recipes, two years ago I came across one that is amazing, and has never failed on me yet.  I ripped it out of a magazine (so have no idea on who to credit for it) and will not use any other recipe now!  It creates a good sized batch and the kids just love them.

125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
1 TBS ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

Put butter, softened, into a food processor with the brown sugar and process until pale and creamy.  Add the golden syrup.  Seperate the egg and add the yolk (save the white for the icing) and process until well mixed.

Sift the dry ingredients into the processor and process in short bursts (mixture should come to resemble small crumbs that can be pressed into a dough).  Press together to form a disc shape, cover in clingwrap and refrigerate for 20 - 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Halve the dough and on a lightly floured surface, roll the first half out until its 5mm thick.  Cut it into shapes and arrange 2cm apart on a lined baking tray.

Bake for 7 - 10 minutes.  While these are baking, roll and cut out the second batch of dough.

Cool on a cooling rack.  When cool ice. 

To make icing, whisk the reserved egg white till foamy.  Sift in 1/2 cup of icing sugar, stir, then repeat until the icing holds it shape when piped (this shouldn't take more than 1 1/2 cups).

Transfer icing to a bag and ice your men and decorate how you please.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell Costumes

We recently went to a Tinkerbell Party.  I made the effort to dress up the children in costumes which of course I made.  The boys went as Peter Pan and Ada as a fairy.  It was so much fun and I can't wait till the next excuse to make and dress up my children in costumes!

The headband I made at the last minute!

Hooded Sweater Attempt One - Fail....

For a long time now I have been wanting to make my boys some Hooded Pull-Over Sweaters.  They look so cute and serve a purpose for Mr 2 Year Old - he can't pull them off as easy as he can zip front's.  Problem I have come across is that I haven't been able to find a pattern for them.  You would think they would be a pattern 'staple', but no - its been near impossible.

So I took the leap and attempted to create my own pattern.  Which was brave of me considering my extremely limited experience with patterns and sewing.  I had a few sweater patterns (minus hoodie) in larger sizes and a much loved hoodie to copy from.

It went OK, but I majorly failed on the hood.  It was smaller than the neckline, so doesn't reach together at the front as it should.  It does look a bit funny, as you can probably tell in the photo above.  Jack wouldn't let me take a decent photo of him wearing it, unfortunately the above is the best of a bad bunch!  Apart from that, the rest of the sweater is OK.  Jack of course loves it, as I have appliqued it with Lightening McQueen, and even went to sleep in it the first night I finished it.  That alone is worth the fustration of stuffing up the hood!

I have now finally managed to source a 'vintage' pattern off Trade Me in sizes 4 - 7 which I am waiting for to turn up in the post.  Hopefully the next sweater creation I post will have a hood that fits, and, as my kindly, patient husband called it "doesn't look weird or abnormal".  Watch this space...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make a Mermaid Dress Up Tail

It is my niece's 4th birthday coming up this weekend, and she loves to dress up.  A while back I saw some great dress up mermaid tails for sale and instantly thought of her - but of course now when I want to buy one I can't find them.  So I made my own and I am so happy with how it turned out!

First I measured my 4 year old son to get measurements - he and his cousin are around the same size.  He was 22" from waist to floor and I figured if the tail was around 7" across the back it'd fit well.  I wanted the tail to sweep behind her, so aimed to make the finished tail around 36" long.

Then I drew my pattern out on newspaper.  This took a bit of tweaking to get it right - I included a 1.5cm (sorry for jumping between inches and centimetres) hem allowance.  Note - when drawing the bottom of the tail it pays to fold the paper in half so you can mirror the tail fins exactly.

Then I folded my material in half, right sides facing and pinned and cut out the tail.

 I wanted the tail to have some body to it, so I then cut out two pieces of quilt batting to add to the inside.

So now I have four pieces (2 x material and 2 x wadding).  I put the wadding together and on top of that placed the material pieces, with right sides together, as shown:

And pinned around the whole tail.  Then I sewed it all together with a 1.5cm hem allowance, leaving the top of the tail open to allow it to be turned inside out.

Once sewn, I trimmed off the excess batting and the corners so it wasn't bulky when turning inside out.

Right, so now I turned it inside out.  Looking good but it still didn't look finished, so I decided to sew a 'spine' down the middle of the tail.  I measured and pinned a centre line to follow.

 And then sewed down the centre, and branched off at the bottom to sew towards each corner of the fins.

Here I got a bit carried away in wanting to get it finished and sewed in my elastic without photo recording, so will explain it here step by step.

1) Measured my sons waist which was 21.5".  The tail was already 7" across, so cut a 15" length of elastic (allowing a bit for the hems and want it to be a bit tighter anyway)
2) I folded over the top hem of the tail and pinned so the rough edge was hidden (folded under)
3) I pinned the elastic into each 'side' of the hem, so it formed a loop with the top of the tail
4) I triple sewed in one end of the elastic, then continued to sew along the folded over hem to the other side, and then triple sewed the other end of elastic
5) I then went back and zig zag stitched over each sewn in bit of elastic to secure again.

And there I have it - one awesome mermaid tail which I am sure my niece will get hours of play from!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby Play Mat

I was given a set of 5 fat quarters for Christmas that I just didn't know what to do with.  Ada seems to spend a lot of time dumped on the floor on top of whatever is handy - towels, jumper, blankets etc - so it just seemed logical to make her a play mat.

I really wanted to design my own, but being rather new to quilting didn't trust my skill to get it right - so I followed the link here for the above design : http://neverenoughhours.blogspot.com/2010/08/fat-quarter-baby-quilt-tutorial.html

Really, really easy and one happy baby!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sock Monkey

I have wanted to make a cute little sock monkey for a while now, and over the weekend found these awesome socks that were just screaming sock monkeys!!

I followed the instructions at http://www.web-goddess.org/writing/tutorial/Image0.html which are brilliant and easy to understand.

Not entirely happy with my first attempt - he is a little bit wonky but still very loveable and snuggly.  I didn't use button eyes as have two under 3's at home, and he hasn't got a mouth.  Think I will put one on him eventually.  Have made a start on two more so hopefully with a bit of practice they will come out a bit better.  Still, he has pleased the kids and that is what matters!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Condensed Milk Slice

I have had this recipe knocking around for years and have never made it.  Now that I have, I don't think I can stop making it!!  Its amazing.  I tried to get decent photos of it but it seems I need some practice in food photography, but trust me when I say its divine!

I tweaked the recipe I had to suit my tin.

You need:

1 250gram packet of malt biscuits
110grams of melted butter
1 cup of dark chocolate drops
1 1/4 cups of shredded coconut
1 cup of chopped blanched peanuts
400g can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Process biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and mix well.

Press crumbs into the base of a lined slice tin (mine is 28cm x 19cm).

Sprinkle over chocolate drops and coconut, and then top with nuts.

Evenly drizzle over the sweetened condensed milk.  Bake for 25 minutes and when cool cut into slices.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taggy Blankets

I've been making these Taggy Blankets since I had Jack - 4 years ago.  There are a few new babies arriving in my family in the next few months so I decided now is a good time to stock up on taggies as they make great gifts.  They are so simple to make - here is how I do it.

You will need two x 30cm squares of fabric, 12 x 13cm lengths of ribbon, scissors, pins, thread and a sewing machine.

Choose your fabric - obviously the choices are endless but I personally like to use flannelette and polar fleece.  I recommend using soft fabrics as babies just love snuggly soft material.

Cut out two squares of your chosen fabric.  I use a 30cm x 30cm square, but you can do any size that suits you.

Then cut out your ribbons.  I put three ribbons per side of my square, and use a 13cm long ribbon piece. 

Pin your ribbon, folded in half with the open ribbon edges matching the fabric edge, to the right side of your fabric.  I pin to the flannelette as its not as stretchy as the polar fleece so easier to work with.  I never measure where I want the ribbons to go, I just pin them on.

I now sew each ribbon on as close to the edge of the fabric as possible, removing the pins as I go.

Once all the ribbons are sewn on, I pin the two fabrics with right sides facing together.  Be sure here that all ribbons are lying flat.

Then I sew around the square, using a 1.5cm hem, leaving an open gap of around 4 cms where I can turn the taggy inside out.  On sewing the corners, instead of sewing a rightangle on the corner, I sew three or four stitches across a diagonal before continuing to sew down the side.  I think this makes for a nicer finish on the corners.

Once sewn, I trim off the corners so its tidier when turned inside out.  You can see here what I mean about sewing on the diagonal.

Then I turn the taggy inside out.

And smooth it out just using my hands.  If you decide here to iron be very careful, ribbon melts!!  I pin the opening closed, and then sew around the outside again as close to the edge as possible, closing up the opening as I go.

And there you have a Taggy Blanket.  Nice and safe as the ribbons are sewn in three times and babies just love them!  Here is Ada giving her one a trial run.