Tag Archive - make stuff

31.03.14 Panda Party with beads!

panda cake

A panda party. She likes pandas. I like black and white. A panda cake is easy to make! She likes jewellery and making stuff. I like have 3 lovely ladies in my house from Artful Splodgers showing her friends who were unbelievably quiet and focused how to make 5 pieces of jewellery.

birthday party

panda balloon

bead bar

I mean who could not swoon a little over a bead bar in your kitchen?

panda cupcake

Yep. It’s the cutest cupcake in the history of the world. Thanks Louise!


22.12.13 Seriously Last minute Christmas Gifts: Our guide!

So for all you last minute shoppers sometimes the last minute scramble is not quite so fun. If you are looking for a few extra gifts you haven’t quite found, or looking to do your whole entire shop in one go, check these ideas out.

last minute gifts

Time poor/ Cash Rich

If you don’t actually want to go out shopping or don’t have the time, for this you have a few options. Think vouchers or last minute delivery shops.

Vouchers. These are often downloadable and with a printer you can print out your voucher and put it in an envelope to hand deliver literally seconds before meeting your giftee!

Mr and Mrs Smith offer a ‘Get a Room e voucher for selected amounts and can be used on booking their luxury hotels, many of which are fabulous for children. Babington House anyone?

For the kids, there is an array of cool and kitch downloadable games and ideas to entertain them such as these paper dolls. Just print at home to keep them amused over Christmas. (The Paper Dolls above can be downloaded from Etsy at the Black Apple) or these printable paper fox dolls with outfits from The Marimakes are just gorgeous too.  At Etsy,  you can find lots of ideas for downloadable handmade gifts such as the dog silhouette print by Linen Workshop you can frame, to designs to print out and make yourself at home. (See below – make it!)

Charity Vouchers giving everything from chickens, mosquito nets or providing water for a whole community can be bought on behalf of someone you love from a selection of organisations such as Oxfam and Actionaid. You can also donate online on behalf of someone else, directly to charities such as a personal favourite of mine, The Small Things Orphanage in Tanzania. Your money here can sponsor a child to go to school for a specific amount, but they are always grateful for any amount. You receive a personal response and can view images and videos of the children through their site. (One year I sent actual gifts and saw pictures of the children with the gifts I had sent. It was wonderful, especially for the kids to see what we had sent being played with.)

If you want to support your local area, why not organise a voucher from your local hairdressers, spa or favourite restaurant for the adults on your list.  By calling them up, they will often email you a voucher or email you can print out at home. For the kiddies, how about some cinema vouchers or a season ticket to their favourite zoo or farm park? For tweens and teens try a subscription to a cool magazine they would be interested in? Most of these things you should be able to do online and print out the voucher or confirmation.

Physical presents to wrap up…

If you are happy to go out and buy your gifts, but don’t know where to start with all the queues and mayhem,  then head to a bookshop for some really inspirational and crowd pleasing presents for kids and parents alike. Great books don’t need batteries and don’t take up too much space. They are educational and inspiring for imaginative little minds. Some of my favourite for gifts are Maps, Mamoko and Nina’s Book of Little Things.

At Amazon, you have until 9am on 23rd December to choose your gifts you want personally delivered to you for Christmas. John Lewis offers a late ‘click and collect’ service if all you want to do is drive in and collect your items without stepping foot in the chaos of the shops. These are my favourite crowd pleaser’s still available.

Wooden pullalong dog  £16.99,   lego friends set £28.99 and the Bear and Hare back pack  £15.00 all available from John Lewis.

Alex and Alexa is perfect for your designer trendsetter and offer a same day courier service to people living in Greater London. So you lucky Londoners can still bag your favourite girl these Rio Candy Retro Roller Skates in time for an extra fee.

For the skint but creative last minute Larry’s…Make it!!

Adults love brownies. Especially these ones! Erm…and so do the kids!

How about Tibbles the Elephant from Jennifer Carson? Only £2.20 for the pattern.

Or choose to make some animal pom poms for a speedy fun gift for some littlies! The Very clever Mr Printables blog will tell you how for absolutely nada…= free! :0)

Failing that. There’s always cool hard cash. But ALWAYS wrap your envelope in beautiful paper or add a few secret chocs on the front for fun. Everyone wants a beautifully decorated package or one covered in chocolate snowmen. It’s the rules.

Good luck! x



20.11.13 Is it a bird? Is it a toy? No it’s a shoe: Skribbies


Recently we got sent a pair of Skribbies for the kids to check out. They are kind of like a fun toy that you can wear. A never ending colouring pad, well until the pens wear out and the stickers fall off.

Hence. The kids went wild fighting for a turn. Luckily there are two sneakers in a pair. Who said matching was cool anyway?


In a box you get high top sneakers, pens and stickers and the slogan is “draw, wipe, draw.” And so we did.


We drew, wiped, stuck on stickers and created masterpieces. Ahem. I say we as in ‘the Royal WE’…ie. The kids.

scribbies stickers



NOT matching.


But someone liked their design.


Hmm…boys?! Really. She’s 6.

Is it a toy or is it a shoe? Well they are fun and entertaining and probably more creative way to avoid boredom in the doctors office/waiting room/dinner table than playing on an iphone. And if you don’t mind some dodgy art on display they look kind of funky.

They are more for fun than fashion but I think you need to like them without any art too though as the pictures do wipe away easily. Mine would have loved a permanent marker to keep their favourite drawings on the shoes! They make quite a good second pair as Seb wanted to take them into school to show his friends for PE. They definitely beat the humble plimsoll on that score!

Check out the full Skribbies range here.

*I did not get paid to write this review but they didn’t want the shoes returned…I wonder why ever not?!







12.07.13 Lola’s Summer Bunting Birthday Cake

horse birthday cake

There’s something special about a birthday where the sun shines. A proper Summer birthday. Celebrations are easy and yet so stylish with just a little effort.

A white tablecloth, some pretty garden ‘weeds’ thrown into shot glasses, some white bunting, pom poms, a few random animals for fun and a cake. Perfect for a 2 year old.

Horse birthday cake

weeds as flowers in shot glasses

shire horse

Summer birthday party

birthday candles

I love the simplicity of this cake. I always make a cake for my kid’s birthdays. It means I commit to making at least 3 cakes per year. Not bad, except if you’re busy the week of the birthday, fitting in ‘cake making’ can be tricky.

I find the key is to make the cake one evening…takes maximum of 2 hours, and decorate it the next day or evening. If you are pushed for time I always think simple (like this cake) is best.

I loved this cake and thought it would be easy to decorate. I iced my cake with my best ‘work out how much i need as I go along’ buttercream method, which I stained pink.

For the Buttercream:

Roughly 250g – 500g of good quality unsalted butter

Icing Sugar…this is up to you how much and depends on how firm you like it to be. Roughly 250-750g.

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

A few tsp of milk or water to balance the consistency.

Beat the butter til smooth and whippy. Sieve in your icing sugar. As much as you like until the consistency and taste is how you prefer. Add a tsp of vanilla extract. Add a few tsp of milk or water until you have the perfect spreading consistency. Colour if required. (I recommend pastes over liquid colour.)

I made the bunting by cutting triangles out of a large width piece of ribbon and glued it to 2 kebab wooden skewers. I stabbed them into the cake, added an horse with wings for fun and made an age word template for my edible glitter. Glitter is key. It takes an average ‘meh’ cake to show stopping extravaganza…well something like that anyway.


P.S. For the record I always make my sponge cakes according to Nigella’s Victoria Sponge ‘bung it all in the food processor and whizz’ recipe. Rocket science it is not and it always tastes Amazeballs!


23.01.13 Party: Superhero Party for girls

It’s birthday season coming up for me with two parties in the next month or so and I just can’t resist a good party. It doesn’t matter how small the party is, or how little money is spent but I just love the little details which make all the difference. Here is Kitty’s from last year. We invited her whole class and family friends as it was her first year in school. The first year there’s always that awkward…’who do I invite?’ before they have made any strong groups of friends.  It was manic and crazy but totally fun.

The Theme.

I always plan a theme to my parties, even if it’s just colours, as then it makes it easier to shop and you can be focused on buying the right items. I thought it would be cool to do a Superhero party for Kitty without any traditional superhero characters or logos. We set colours (pink, purple and yellow) to make it more of a girls party but with a nod to the classic figures. (Yellow for Superman/Batman, purple for Batman and pink for the pink power ranger she had seen on TV once?!)

To see all the images and continue reading click on the link below.

Continue Reading…


21.11.12 Family Hour (make these with the kids!) : Laura Green’s Chocolate Brownies

When I say Laura’s I really mean Nigella’s with a sneaky Laura twist of course. Anyway want one? Why not make them with the kids? It’s really not that hard.

Though to be honest nothing can be too hard to make in Laura’s kitchen! See her full house tour here.

You will need:

200g soft unsalted butter

200g best quality dark chocolate

150g white chocolate buttons

3 large eggs

1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract

250g caster sugar

115g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Icing sugar to dust to the tops (for decoration)

PLUS a tin measuring approximately 33 x 23 x 5 1/2cm

How to make:

1. Preheat oven to 180*c/gas mark 4. Line your brownie pan – the sides AND the base – with foil, parchment or bake O glide.

2. Melt the butter and the dark chocolate together in a large heavy pan.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and the vanilla.

4. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

5. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit and beat in the eggs, sugar and flour and white chocolate buttons. Beat until smooth and scrape into your tin.

6. Bake for no longer than 15 minutes to ensure a gooey in the middle brownie.

7. Cut to size and sieve a little icing sugar over to make everything look pretty!

Ta da!   Lunch, dinner & pudding is served!

(Please note that this is an altered recipe to Nigella’s. To view the original (check p.193) of How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.)

Photographs by Vicky Holmes. Styling by Tracey Chalk/ Laura Green




30.10.12 family hour: halloween ghost meringues

Well if you are off school on half term today like us, this is the perfect opportunity to make something with the kids.

My friend Sarah is amazing. She loves to cook and do stuff everyday with her kids and is a real inspiration to me, so i have to share these ghost meringues she made…in July!  They can be made and the kitchen tidied in under 30 minutes!

You will need:

3 egg whites
150g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Black writing icing or melted chocolate

How to make:

1. Place egg whites and cream of tartar into a bowl (separate egg whites by placing the egg into your hand and opening your fingers until the white has dripped through into a bowl underneath TO KEEP, and you are left holding the yolk, TO BIN, or use for another recipe?!)
2. Whisk until fluffy
3. Add vanilla essence
4. Add sugar a little at a time and whisk again until soft peak stage
5. Spoon mixture into piping bag of food bag with corner cut off
6. Squeeze mixture into ghost shapes onto a greaseproof papered baking tray
7. Cook meringues at 150 degrees for 5-10 mins
8. Once cooled draw face with icing (or melted chocolate)

These are perfect served with fruit kebabs or a big bowl of strawberries!

I totally love how George has to cook naked too! Check out her blog. I love her recipe posts.

TIP: If you’ve got teenagers. They might prefer to make this instead…Ew!

Happy Halloween!



29.10.12 My Room: Nancy, 9 & Hattie, 6

Last week we showed you this beautiful modernised Victorian house. Now we’re showing you the kids colourful rooms!

When you are growing towards those tween/ teen years it’s lovely to be able to have your own room to express your personality and display your own favourite toys and style. The only thing that can beat it is having your sister right next door! Being next door to a sister you love to play with is the best of both worlds. They never feel alone but they have their own space. Both Nancy and Hattie’s rooms are a wonderful expression of their own passions.

When Gill bought the bedroom furniture in the girls rooms it was built to fit into their old house but they have managed to adapt it for this house.

“I like children’s furniture to have a childlike feel but not too twee. I like solid and well made.”

For this creative family it is wonderful to see how the children have had a creative mark on their rooms.

Click on the link below to see the rest!

Continue Reading…


22.08.12 Family Hour: Pasta Jewellery

Family Hour: Stuff to do with your kids in under an hour. Turn off the TV, shut down the computer and do something together. You know it makes sense.

So a week or so ago i found myself looking after 6 children. What on earth, i thought to myself, can i do to entertain 6 ?! Make pasta jewellery of course!

Even the boys after their initial reluctance got totally into the whole making and designing. After all surfer dudes always wear cool wristbands and necklaces.

Continue Reading…