Thursday, 28 April 2011

We've Had A Cracking Easter!

I've been neglecting you, sorry, Mr Right has been off since Good Friday so I've been a busy bee having fun with him (and eating LOTS of chocolate!).

The Easter egg hunt was a lot of fun and this year was even better as Missy joined in for some of it, although I usually try and make each clue as far away from the last as possible to produce maximum exhaustion in order to burn off all that excited energy that's been building from the moment Buster wakes but Missy found the constant up and down stairs a little tiring so she only helped with the downstairs clues.
Our Easter egg hunts always culminate with locating the entire Easter egg hoard, in past years they have been in the loft or even in a locker at the gym, this year they were in the shed along with a little gift for each of the kids, Buster got a DS game and Missy got a little high chair for her dolly.

Buster made some mini Easter eggs for the grandparents but he also made a large egg for himself and we spent a little time on Easter Sunday filling and 'joining' the two halves together with some melted chocolate, we weren't particularly neat about it but we got the job done and here it is in all its glory deformity 
only to be smashed open a few minutes later
Well that's Easter over for another year, I suppose I will have to start thinking of next year's Easter egg hunt clues before long.

Monday, 25 April 2011

This Week's Junk Shop Jewels

Second week of the Easter hols and my finds seem to have been all about the children.

Whilst caravaning in Norfolk with my parents last week Buster, who has been harbouring a desire to become a pirate for some years, spotted this in the window of a Sue Ryder shop (this charity shopping lark is obviously rubbing off on him), so Nanny went in and purchased it for him for £4.50  
Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that he has been on the look-out for a ship in a bottle for a while now and now that he finally has one, guess what, he found two more in one shop   
It seems that ships in bottles are like buses, you wait for ages for one, then three come along at the same time.  He decided that he liked the larger of the two best and made a purchase for £4. 
The woman behind the counter asked him if he was a collector and he said that he was, I think he was a little bit chuffed that he could now call himself a collector, although I hope he doesn't turn out like that child antiques expert from the 80s!
Buster has not been the only one on the look-out for ships in bottles, the kindly Mr B (who volunteers in the local hospice shop, god love him) tweeted me to inform me that they had had a ship in a bottle in, it turned out to be the one on the right in picture of the two together, but I just wanted to give a little shout out to him to say thanks for thinking of us!

Missy wasn't left out this week.  I've been on the hunt for a little muffin tray for her play kitchen and thought I was going to have to part with one of my metal mini muffin trays until I found this little blue plastic one for £1 and it's the perfect size for her little wooden cupcakes too
All the time spent on searching out items for the kids has meant that I only managed one purchase for myself, which is fine as I'm saving my pennies for a vintage sale with Mrs D next weekend.  I bought this old butter knife for 25p.
This post links up with Magpie Monday over at Me And My Shadow, hop on over and take a look at the other Easter bunnies and their bargains

Me and My Shadow

Friday, 22 April 2011

Clucking Hell It's Easter

It's Good Friday and boy has it been a good Friday, the children have been having fun at their Grandmother's and Mr Right and I have been busy getting lots of little jobs done that just never seem to get completed when there are children to be entertained.  

I have spent the day finishing off a couple of little niggling hand sewing jobs, backing up the photos from my camera and phone, printing off a couple of recipes and lots of decoupage sheets for an upcoming project (details to follow I'm sure) and a bit of blogging, not to mention (of course) some baking.

I usually make Easter Nests or egg shaped sponge cakes
2010's Easter offerings
but this year I thought, having never tried, that I would go all traditional on Easter's ass and make a Simnel Cake, although I didn't make one big cake, I made some cupcakes.  

really don't know why I haven't made this before now as it's delicious.  It's basically a fruity sponge flavoured with mixed spice, orange and marzipan and is a refreshing change from all the chocolate that's doing the rounds at this time of year.
My Simnel cupcakes complete with bunny and chick cake toppers
I also took time out to prepare the clues for Buster's Easter Egg Hunt, an annual Right family tradition since 2006 and bag up the chocolate eggs that Buster and I made yesterday for the Grandparents.
Breaking up the chocolate to be melted
Carefully pouring it into the moulds
Coating a large egg mould with chocolate
Some of Buster's finished eggs
I just need to put the Easter Tree up, dish out the last of our eggs to our friend's kiddie winks and hide the plastic eggs filled with clues (in the correct order!) and slip into my Easter Bunny ears and pom-pom tail a la Bridget Jones (minus the french maid's outfit of course!).  

Anyway, I hope you have a cracking good Easter and I'll see you on the other side when I suspect we'll all be egg-shaped and feeling rather sick. 
Me, on Monday

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Cupcapers - Hummingbird Bakery Rose Cupcakes

Back in January I blogged about a baking experiment in which I tried to substitute the cocoa powder in a chocolate cake for some Turkish Delight flavoured hot chocolate powder and it being a Turkish Disaster, well I was leafing through slathering over the new book and came across a recipe for Rose Cupcakes and thought to myself that those Hummingbird experts should be able to help me get it right so I decided to have a bash.

Unlike my experiment abomination these cupcakes were not chocolate but they contained rose water, the main flavouring in Turkish Delight, so I made the batter according to the recipe and stuck them in the oven, the aroma was subtly pleasant, unlike the stench of my previous attempt and once cooked I left them to cool.

I didn't have any icing sugar and was just about to go out and get some in order to make the required rosewater flavoured icing when curiosity got the better of me and I just had to have a little nibble to see what the cakes tasted like, the short answer is bleugh and needless to say I didn't bother to go out and get the icing sugar.

The cupcakes tasted as bad as the fabric conditioner version I'd invented four months ago.  Now most people would be disappointed by a baking disaster like this, not me, if Hummingbird's cupcakes tasted a shit as mine then I'm in bloody good company, the only disappointment as far as I'm concerned was the waste and the lack of cake in the house for a couple of days.
Oh well, lesson learned and onto the next cake!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

You'd be MAD not to vote

Well after reading a load of tweets on the subject I've checked the MAD Awards nominations list this week and I've discovered that I have not only been nominated in the Best New Blog category but also in seven others!

  • Best Craft Blog
  • Best Family Life Blog
  • Best Food Blog
  • Best Writer
  • Blogger Of The Year
  • Most Innovative Blog
  • Most Inspiring Blog

I've not got a snowball in hell's chance of winning any of them as the nomination list is a veritable who's-who of awe-inspiring bloggers (some of whom I'm now pleased to call friends) but just to be nominated amongst them is the highlight of my first year in blogging and I want to say a BIG thank you to everyone that's taken the time to vote for me and if you're intending to vote then you can still do so until this Friday (22nd April) here

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Monday, 18 April 2011

This Week's Junk Shop Jewels

Well I've had the children at home this week and understandably they're not very conducive to charity shopping so make of my various finds what you will.

First up this glass lemon juicer for 60p, I already own a metal equivalent but I think I might ditch it in favour of this, it's so much nicer to look at and as such I don't need to give it cupboard space as it can stay out on display
I saw this little old champagne glass for 10p
Then I spotted this for £1.50 but I couldn't put the 10p one back so I bought both home
The Babycham one is now home to my bunny girl ornament now posing in the style of a 1950s burlesque dancer
Then there's this sturdy chunk of glass, it's an old desk ink well and pen stand, I spotted it last week but the £10 price tag made me think twice, I was passing the shop again later in the week and decided if it was still there then it was coming home with me, although I can't decide whether to use it in my bureau or on my dressing table but I love the way it's stamped 'BRITISH MADE' from a time when things were actually manufactured in this country
I found these 8 children's coat hangers for 99p, Missy has desperately needed some more for a while now and the lovely sorbet colours caught my eye 
With Easter on the horizon I happened upon these chocolate moulds produced by the cake topping company KAKE, I now have the ability to make not only a chocolate squirrel but also a chocolate acorn, jealous?  I especially liked them because the set came complete with loads of brightly coloured foils to wrap your home made chocolates, £3 for the lot
This pretty cake stand was in the window of the same shop as the chocolate moulds and it was what lured me inside in the first place, £10 and apart from being a thing of beauty it more importantly dismantles for storage!
The following are not strictly charity shop finds but bargains I had to share.  

I was in my local fabric and soft furnishings store purchasing some items for another textile project.  I've been on the look out for some curtains for Buster's room for some time (he has a slatted blind but the morning sun and lighter nights are keeping him awake) and these pewter coloured ring-top curtains caught my eye.  £26.99 down to £6.99 for the pair!  I don't like ring-tops as a rule so I'm going to turn them into traditional pencil pleat curtains.
In the same shop I was getting some header tape cut to size for the curtain revamp when I noticed a couple of bags of random reels of cotton priced up at 99p each so I grabbed those too.
Mr Right was dragged round a few shops over the weekend, I didn't find anything but he managed to find this book for £1.50, although I don't think it's much easier to fathom than the film
This post links up with Magpie Monday over on Me And My Shadow, take a snoop at all the other thrifty bloggers
Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cupcapers - Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Well the Hummingbird Bakery Caramel Cupcakes disappeared just about as fast as they appeared so with a few oranges knocking about the fruit bowl I decided to make some Chocolate Orange Cupcakes.

As usual there was far too much batter but the sponge was a lovely dark mahogany and everything had the aroma of warm oranges (my hands included).  

I didn't have any cream cheese so I made my own version of a chocolate orange butter cream and piped it onto the cooled cakes, I dropped on some orange sprinkles and here's the end result...Terry eat your heart out!
Too sickly to enjoy more than one at a sitting which is a very good thing indeed!

Friday, 15 April 2011

I'm Just A Dome Broad - Part II

I got a couple of new cake domes this week, first up this pretty floral glass one from Ikea and at only £14 it was a bargain.
And this plastic one for cakes al fresco from British Home Stores (not going to call them BHS as I'm old skool), £16 but it had 20% off
Looks like the Eden project won't be the only ones with a plastic dome in their garden this summer!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tea In The Park

Missy and I returned from the school run via the park the other morning and we stopped off for a quick bit of fun in the play area.
I love the mini roundabout as it's in the shape of a cup and saucer, Missy enjoyed it too.  I wish I was small enough to squeeze inside that giant teacup, imagine the size of the cupcake that would go with it!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Cupcapers - Hummingbird Caramel Cupcakes

So Mr Right thoughtfully gifted me the new Hummingbird Bakery recipe book the other day and I've be slathering over it like some perv since then deciding what to bake first.  

Whilst shopping a while back I spotted that Carnation now make a tinned caramel (Dulce de Leche) and I wanted to try cooking with it, I thought I would probably just make some millionaire's shortbread or a banoffie pie but when I saw that the Hummingbird Caramel Cupcakes called for this ingredient my virgin bake from this book was decided for me.

I must confess that as usual I balked at the sheer amount of ingredients required to make 12-16 cupcakes so I decided to half the recipe and still managed to get 12 perfect sized cakes out of it.

Despite the sloppy nature of the cake batter the cupcakes were light and fluffy and the caramel icing is to die for.  I loved the little decorative touch of piping some of the caramel on top in heart shapes.  Here's my attempt.

Can't wait to decide what to bake next, although I think the next book should come with wipe clean pages for slathering cake pervs like me!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Sew Much Easier

Sunday presented the first proper project that required me to use my sewing machine since I retrieved it from the loft and had it serviced, until now any sewing projects I have undertaken have all been labourious hand-stitch affairs.

One such item was the Matryoshka doll duvet cover I made for Missy.  Well the felt applique isn't faring too well with machine washing so I'm thinking of turning it into a quilt in order to give it a chance of survival and there haven't been any reasonably priced cot duvet covers around so I decided to butcher a cheap pink cotton single duvet cover and make two little duvet covers for the price of one.

I made the first one problem-free and thought I was on a roll so I attempted the second but I experienced the dreaded 'bobbin expiration', it was getting late and I was tired and wasn't concentrating and kept trying to put the refilled bobbin casing in upside down and wondering why I'd ever got cocky and moved onto the second cover.

I slept on it and came back fresh yesterday afternoon and after consulting some photos I took of the machine in the state it was in when it was returned to me I realised my mistake, got the machine whizzing along within seconds and had the second cover finished in a couple of minutes.

I'm a machine stitching convert, it's 'sew' much easier than hand stitching, why didn't I dig out my machine sooner?  Think of all the projects I have avoided because of the labour involved!  I'm already planning my next textile task.
I slept on it and now Missy can sleep under it

Monday, 11 April 2011

Do You Have A MAD Nomi-notion?

This afternoon I was in receipt of a wonderful surprise tweet from a fellow blogger informing me that she had nominated me for a MAD Blog Award and that as such I might want to pop a badge on my blog to show off about it.  

I had no idea what this meant but after a wee bit of research I discovered that the MAD Blog Awards celebrate British bloggers and their families and I am honoured to have been nominated in the Best New MAD Blog category.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

As wonderful as a nomination is, sadly I realise it's not enough to actually win me the award, so if you like my blog I'd be on cloud nine if you could take a moment to nominate me in the Best New MAD Blog category (or any other that takes your fancy) here

Anyone can nominate, you don't need to be a blogger to do so.  The closing date for nominations is April 22nd. 

Thanks, not just for your possible nomination but for reading my blog. x

This Week's Junk Shop Jewels

This week's tat-fest looks something like this...

Rose print tea set £3.50 for the set

People keep asking me why I buy so many tea sets, this particular set illustrates just why as sadly I broke the handle off one of the cups washing them up.  I'm heavy-handed like that, it's an occupational hazard when you're a sturdy girl like me.  It's ironic that some of these sets make it through decades with no damage and yet a couple of hours in my care and I become the proverbial bull in a china shop, lucky they're so cheap!

Pressed glass jar £3.00, I'm currently using it to store sugar cubes
Six cake forks £1.00
Cheese knife 20p
Pretty tray, lace doily between glass 50p
Large glass jelly mould £1.50
Mary Quant-esque glass flower bowl to match two others that I picked up a couple of months ago, FREE!
A toy ironing board for Missy, in perfect condition but I have since revamped it £2.50
And finally this diddy little display unit, that was sold to me by the ever-charming Mr B for £1.50.  I've been looking for something like this for a while but they can be quite pricey, so I was glad of this real bargain.  I'm going to decoupage it (watch this space) and use it to display all the little gifts and keepsakes that Buster (and eventually Missy) make out of lego and scraps of paper etc for me that are piled precariously on top of my full-length mirror or taking up space in my bureau
This post is part of Magpie Monday over on Me And My Shadow, mooch on over and take a butchers at the other entries

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Ironing Irony

Whilst in a charity shop the other day I noticed a sad little toy ironing board for £2.50 just willing me to give it a make-over and a new home.

It was in top notch condition, I just thought it could do with nip and a tuck in order to discover its full potential as a play thing (gosh I sound like a pushy glamour model agent!)
I had a couple of metres of some fabric that I'm hoping to use on a project for Missy this summer (I'm sure there'll be a blog post when it finally comes to fruition) that I was itching to air so five minutes with a staple gun later and here's the finished product 
I think it looks heaps better but I'm not sure that Missy will actually know what to do with it as, 'iron'ically (I'm not going to apologise for the pun as it's great), I don't actually iron anything!

It's true, I don't iron.  If something requires ironing then I don't purchase it.  Advances in materials have given rise to non-iron items, Buster's school uniform trousers are just such an item.  I minimize creases by not leaving items in the washing machine or tumble dryer when the cycle has finished or I hang things flat or on hangers when they're drying.  

Nobody has ever commented on the creased nature of my clothes (maybe they're just too polite) but quite frankly I don't care enough about other people's opinions to stand for hours on end ironing items that will probably be creased in drawers and cupboards or by unthinking family members within minutes of my doing so.

I know that ironed clothes look and feel better for about 30 seconds and if something is particularly creased and it's a special occasion then I will drag the ironing board out, but on a day to day basis the only things that get ironed are Mr Right's work shirts (although most of those are of the non-iron variety now anyway) and he does those as he's quite particular about how they're done and with my lack of ironing experience I wouldn't want him to wear something he wasn't completely happy with would I?
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