Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fireman hooded towel - 2

I have made another fireman hooded towel for the little boy of one of my friends. I have finally finished it and here are some piccies

Here is the finished towel from the front

and from the back. I've added a white stripe to the base as most fire uniforms now seem to have them.

The hood - I attempted to make a vague recreation of the fire brigade emblem of the county my friend lives in...

The buttons - I originally made the buttons from circles of grey flannel, but after the first wash through, discovered that I had not sewn them on properly! They frayed tremendously and were too damages to sew back on. Leigh's suggestions was to crochet buttons, and here are the results. They survived the wash too!

And my favourite addition from the original blog instructions - button and clasp.

2 gripes

First - today we went somewhere new, following directions printed from an appropriate internet vehicle! However when following the directions, there is no distinction between the terms they use meaning "turn at a junction," and "continue to follow the road as it bends." The directions just use "turn left" or "turn right," which lead to some confusion on my part as navigator when we reached a series of turns into roads that did not have names or numbers. How do I know when the directions mean wait til the next junction and then "turn left," or "that last bend in the road was the turn left." Aaaargh!

Second - opened a new bottle of clothes washing liquid this evening. On the back is a helpful grid showing how much liquid should be used depending on how soiled the clothes are and whether you have hard or soft water. Note - all the measurements were in divisions of 25ml - so, 50ml, 100ml, 125ml. And what's the volume of the cap in which you can measure out the liquid? 35ml. How is that in any way helpful?!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My son, master of the socially inappropriate statement

Zachary came out with 2 fab ones today. In the Westfield centre, we were sitting behind a man who, let's say had a bit of a builder's bum thing going. Zachary says to me in a loud voice "that man's got a red sore bum Mummy." When I tried to get him to talk in slightly less than a shout he just said "well he has." Nice.

In Asda, our checkout assistant had a slightly discoloured tooth. Zachary spots this, points to her and says "you've got a blue tooth." Nice again. Need to start on the social niceties lessons!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Postcrossing revisited

I am a hoarder. Having 2 children and limited space for knick knacks and memorabilia is controlling my urges somewhat but when I was still living with my mum I basically saved anything that had even a slightly sentimental meaning for me.

This meant that when a couple of years ago my mum moved out of what had been my family home since the age of 9, I had a lot of sorting and clearing to do. A lot. I thought it had all been done, but still when I visit her now, the odd bag or 2 can still be produced for me to sort out! Last time it was a bag full of photo albums (a very cobwebby, dead spidery bag) and this time a box of postcards. There must have been at least 100 there spanning the period between high school and that start of my relationship with Leigh at the end of university.

It has been very interesting and exciting to go back and read a lot of those old cards and to remember the people I was in touch with and what was going on in my life at those times. Some of them speak very much of my age at that time, let us say!!!

There were also a large number of blank cards in the box, ones I had bought on holidays or trips, acquired in shops just because I liked them and I think there are a good few from the Showcase cinema in Nottingham too. So I was wondering what to do with the blank cards (most of them are still in good condition as I thoughtfully stored them in photo albums...) and this reminded me that one of my friends has been Postcrossing recently.

I took up Postcrossing shortly after Zachary was born in 2008, but left it alone after 7 or 8 months because it was getting a bit unmanageable. But I have reactivated my account and plan to see how many of the old postcards I can use.

So of the box of postcards, some I will be Postcrossing with, some I will still be keeping because I really can't bring myself to throw them away just yet and the rest I have no idea what to do with! I am going to scan in some of the more interesting stamps for my Flickr account (although if I then get rid of the cards, I'm starting to wonder why I need to keep a picture of the stamp...still it's not taking up physical room in my house!), but then have a pile of cards.

If I were more arty, there's probably some wonderful collage I could make from them, but I've got other crafty irons in the fire at the moment. I did see that one of my Postcrossing sendees collects stamps so I'm hoping I might be able to offload them on him for his stamp collection - or there might be someone else on Postcrossing who would just like the cards. I don't think there's anything too personal on them....!!

Okay Go

I've posted some Okay Go videos in the past, and here is their most recent one together with another I think I missed off before. The first one is the older and then the Muppet one is the most recent. A bit strange, but cool.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemon Meringue cupcakes

115g softened butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
grated rind of 2 lemons
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/(I used 175C fan)/375F/gas 5. Arrange 18 paper cases in muffin tins (pans).

2. Put the butter in a bowl and beat until soft. Add 115g of the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, until the mixture is smooth.

3. Sift together the flour and baking powder over the creamed mixture, add half the lemon rind, all of the juice and beat well until thoroughly combined.

4. Divide the mixture between the paper cases, filling to about two-thirds full.

5. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks. Stir in the remaining caster sugar and lemon rind.

6. Put a spoonful of the meringue mixture on top of each cake. Cook for 20-25 minutes (mine took 20) until the meringue is crisp and brown.

Leigh bought me a cupcake book recently and this is the first recipe I've tried from it. I keep meaning to actually take some time to sit down and look through it because it's got lots of information on ingredients, techniques and decorating, but I haven't managed to do that yet.

The cupcakes are delicious! Although the meringue didn't come out quite as expected. To be fair, as I was making them I was thinking that it seemed a slightly odd way to make the meringue - I would usually whisk the egg whites a bit, then add the sugar and whisk more to give it a chance to dissolve. Anyway, I persevered with this recipe, tried to pipe the meringue on (to give it a nicer shape), but the consistency would in no way allow this!!! Still, the cakes are tasty and nothing burned, so I can try it next time.

Also, I need to read the intro to the book to see if they give any indication about cake case sizes. I wish everyone would use the same terms for the same size cakes - the book describes using 'paper cases in muffin tins.' I would assume these to be muffin-size cases, but I only managed to get 11 cakes of that size, whereas the book seems to think I could make 18 cakes! Need to read on...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The World Is Your Stage

While I was mooching around Nottingham last weekend I came across Nottingham Contemporary, which I have not visited before. It's an art gallery on High Pavement, but what drew me in was the promise of Family Fun over the summer holidays. School holidays are usually a time when all our usual playgroups stop, so I'm always looking out for things which are on!

Nottingham Contemporary have a family time session every Wednesday, Sat and Sunday (all year I think) when all ages can go and do something crafty in the Studio. As well as that over the summer, there are several interactive exhibitions planned, and the one we went back to do on Saturday is "The World is Your Stage."

Here is the link where you can read the blurb, but essentially there are some props and bits of costume provided and you create a narrative of 10 still frames. There's 5 seconds between each 'photo' being taken and when you haven't got a plan as to what you're going to do, it's not very long to say, get children into the air, or even for them to process you shouting "jump!" at them!!! There are some good sessions here though and some people clearly look as though they'd planned the whole thing!

Here is our attempt -

Nottingham Contemporary 13th August 2011, 12:13:00 from Le Cadavre Exquis on Vimeo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rachel's Gooseberry and Elderflower triple sponge cake

My friend Rachel made a delicious gooseberry and elderflower cake ages ago, and I have finally managed to purloin the recipe from her - hurrah! So yesterday, in a 'trying to use up eggs' frenzy (only partly successful!) this was one of the things I made (despite now also having half a batch of cupcakes and the remains of a batch of diggers to eat up...).

I have reproduced the recipe as it was provided to me, although I'm afraid I chickened out and have only made a standard 2-layer sponge cake. I am seriously bad at cutting cakes horizontally and will leave that for a time when I need to make a fancy cake - this was really more of a try it session to see if I can make mine half as nice as Rachel's! I therefore, at the last minute, realised that as I would only be buttercreaming 1 layer of cake and not 3, 175g butter was going to be far too much. I used 75g butter and about 3 times as much icing sugar (although to be honest I didn't measure it precisely, just went by look and taste), and that still left me with some over and a fairly thick layer of cream. I reckon 50g butter should be about right and I'll try that next time.

We have a small amount of elderflower cordial left from this year's batch so that has gone in, although no gooseberry jam. I went to get some from Asda, but they had none, so I bought rhubarb & ginger instead which I hoped would be an okay substitute. However today, on visiting the Courtyard in Draycott (has a couple of very nice gifty shops - Vintage Bluebird and Avado - and a great cafe Pumpkinz) I found a selection of homemade preserves including gooseberry jam, so bought it feeling quite pleased! But when we visited Ikea this evening Leigh found some in their food section - £1 cheaper. Bah!

175g unsalted butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
175g self-raising flour
gooseberry jam
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp elderflower syrup
Butter icing -
175g softened butter
700g icing sugar
Topping -
6 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp elderflower syrup

Preheat oven to 170C/gas 3/325F. Grease and line 2 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins. Cream together the butter and caster sugar. Gradually add the 3 eggs, whisking all the time. Fold in the flour and baking powder, then mix in the elderflower syrup.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Make the butter icing by creaming together the butter and icing sugar. (I also added a splash of milk) When the cakes have cooled, cut each one in half horizontally. Spread each layer with butter icing and jam, then sandwich together.

For the topping, mix together 6 tbsp icing sugar with 2 tbsp elderflower syrup and drizzle over the cake.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Nottingham in Bloom

I was in Nottingham yesterday having coffee and cakes (at the lovely Divine Coffee House - yes there's a link although the website is on its way, I think there's been a recent change of ownership) with a friend who has a birthday today and spotted a couple of lovely willow sculptures with flower arrangements in the city.

I got home meaning to have a look on the net to see whether there was anything there about them and promptly forgot. However, this evening I have finally got round to tidying my desk (which was a pit) and found a leaflet describing a trail of 8 floral sculptures round Nottingham. They have been designed and created by Topiary Art Design and form part of Nottingham's entry into the East Midlands in Bloom campaign. They'll be in place until September. Clearly I picked it up thinking it might be interesting to look at with the boys - just need to find the others now!

I saw -

Dress - Victoria Street, on the edge of the Lace Market. The dress is apparently "floating in a bed of baby pinks and silvers, Ricinus, Cosmos, Begonia and Verbena."

Shoe - Bridlesmith Gate. The shoe is "hot and sexy with Begonia, Panorama Scarlet." (!)

As an aside, I had to upload these photos from my phone - what a palava! Seriously, I had trouble getting the back off my phone to get the SD card out (not an easy task unless I happen to have one of the boys around to drop my phone on the kitchen floor when magically the back springs open!),, fit the micro SD card into an adaptor, get it into the laptop only to realise the pictures are saved on my phone memory and not the card! Reverse all steps to this point, find out when on earth in my phone menus I can transfer files to my SD card (File Managed, unsurprisingly!), repeat all initial steps, then navigate the crap on my SD card to find the pictures! I really must spend some time one day just sorting out what I have on my phone, getting everything onto the SD and into some kind of order, and then transferring it all to the laptop for safe keeping. Like that's going to happen!!! Still I can dream...

My children clearly want to be in the movies...

Here we have Leo doing his best Oliver impression at breakfast this morning (look, you can even see his lips forming the word 'more' as he holds up his bowl!)

And Zachary is sporting a great Joker look after drinking some quite red fruit juice. Nice.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Cool video

One of my Facebook friends put a link to this video on their page today. It's pretty cool, but couldn't be embedded on Facebook so I've not tried here and am just including the link - http://youtu.be/EN9auBn6Jys

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

World of creepy crawlies

I have come across 2 new creepy crawlies recently. I have taken to looking out for bugs because Zachary loves them and it's a good distraction if he's not really listening or enthused about what we're doing...

So, in a bowl of damsons which we'd been given by Leigh's dad, I spotted a new spider

This is a picture of enoplpgnatha ovata which I'm pretty sure is the one we saw. Apparently it often builds webs on plants, can be lots of different colours, but the ones with the red stripes are nicknamed 'candystripe.'

Then a couple of weekends ago we went for a geocache in Bignalls Wood. We've never been into the wood before, despite it being opposite one of our occasional haunts in Staunton Harold (it's right opposite the garden centre and Ferrers Craft Centre). Had a lovely walk there and saw tons of these little fellows (well...as with the spider, I have used random searching on Google using my remembered description of the creature to locate a likely suspect...)

This is a cinnabar moth caterpillar, which feeds almost exclusively on ragwort. Zachary was so interested in these that he got very concerned to make sure that all the ones he saw on the path were picked up and put on the grass at the side. Unfortunately there seemed to be hundreds of them!!! I think the promise of chocolate or sweets or something eventually distracted him!