Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Healthy Grown Up Choccies

'Ah rats!' I said on reading Sarah Wilson's Choc Chilli Truffles.
'Who has a chocolate mould? Where on earth would I find one on Christmas Eve. I am not heading to the sho... oh!'

So you'll need:
200g 74% dark chocolate
Melt over boiling water
Add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
And 1 tsp cinnamon
Mix and pour into your advent calender
Sprinkle with sea salt
Chill...






Joyful AND triumphant!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

December Birthdays

Well it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

But spare a thought for those poor people who have birthdays in December, when everyone's spare cash is spread thinner than the skin on top of your hot chocolate!

Well in times like this, we need to get creative with gifts, and you know I loves me a Christmas star!

So I've gone for a new twist (or should I say fold). Check out these beauties I'm giving to my December-born buddies...

This one doubled as a birthday card with message on the back...




These ones are good year round!




And I have forced myself to give this one away as I love it most of all!




I'm working on a new story and it's very exciting! It turns out that origami is the perfect compliment to writing, gives the mind a nice shift of focus.

Thanks to www.origami-instructions.com

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Belt Weave Quiver

I know - a must-have for every boy's toy box - a belt weave quiver, but bare with...

I'd got a bit irked with random sucker arrows and Nerf bullets all over the place. 

"You need a quiver" says the Mother in law. 

"A what?" I hear you cry. 

"A pouch, for your ammo". 

Yes, in fact I do! Not my ammo. But yes.

So I had all these belts, and you know I like to re-purpose / upcycle / can't bare to throw things away.


Well... I taught Swift to weave...


And, then just a little...


And before you know it... (six -ish months later...)


Quiver me timbers!

P.S. Sorry for my absence, I have of course been quietly crafting, got a bit distracted with forging a revolution =) 




Saturday, 2 August 2014

A Rocking Swing

We've recently been doing some renovations in the back yard. Where once there was an outside loo...

... we have created a rather spiffing terrace. But as with all good stories, there were a couple of hitches. The first was that the beautiful swing chair that I had tracked down, was sold out. So I spent a while browsing Google images of "swing chairs", trying to find a solution for the small space, when I found this - using a normal, household chair as a swing.

I liked it, it was cheap and you know I loves me a bit of recycling! It needed a sturdy chair and the sturdiest chair we've got is the old rocker. 


We used it a lot when the kids were babies so I've not wanted to get rid of it but has been sort of gathering clothes for a while. It seemed the perfect idea to extend its life into their childhood too.

So I took off the rocker and put the kids to work with some sand paper...


Drilled four holes in the base of the chair.

Gave it a slinky new coat of Weathershield Exterior Bay Tree Green



Ordered 12 meters of rope and cut them into four equal lengths.

Huffed and puffed and tied the chair up using a running bowline. And it promptly... fell over.

It hadn't occurred to me that the rope needed to support the back of the chair (I've got an A in CDT you know). So I made the appropriate adjustments et voila! 


After a tentative first ride out, I can officially say I am off my rocker! 

Loving the gorgeous new terrace...





Sunday, 13 July 2014

Cheeky Choccy Cupcakes

This week was the pre-school summer fair and as always I made a batch of my Cheeky Choccy Cupcakes. Everyone always marvels that they're made with veggies as they're so deliciously scrumptious but if I can squeeze a credible vegetable into my kids diet, I'm gonna!

Unfortunately I can't take responsibility, they're adapted from my baking bible - Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood. So let's see how cake and courgettes are clever companions...

vegetable cake, chocolate cupcake

It says it makes 12 but I can always squeeze another few into a second batch

Ingredients:

2 medium free range eggs
160g sugar
200 g topped, tailed, peeled and finely grated courgette
90 g plain flour (or white rice flour if gluten free)
100 g ground almonds (beware these cakes contain nuts!)
2 tsp of quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder (you can opt for gluten free variety)
1/4 tsp salt
100g chocolate chips

For the icing
50g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
50g marscapone cheese
2 tsp quality cocoa powder
Smarties

You will need:
12 hole muffin tray
Cupcake cases

Oven temp 180C/350F/gas mark 4

Whisk the eggs together with the sugar in a big bowl for 5 minutes. Pop in the courgette and mix again. Then add flour, almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and mix again. Add chocolate chips and disperse with a spatula.

Vegetables


Fill the cupcake cases by 4/5ths.

Pop in the oven for 20 mins. They will stay flat rather than dome, like a traditional cupcake.

For the icing, whisk the butter till smooth, add 100g of icing sugar to create a paste. Add the marscapone and cocoa powder and refrigerate for 15 mins.

Take the Cheeky Choccy Cupcakes out of the oven, cool for 15 mins and ice, adorn with smarties and geronimo!

Yummy Scrummy, Delumptious, Cheeky Choccy Cupcakes!


Vegetables

Adapted from Mint Choc Chip Cupcakes, p148






Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The London Book Fair - Kid's Highlights

This week sees me at my second London Book Fair. As you know I'm a bit keen on kid's books so an opportunity to spend whole days pondering them, studying them, chatting about them is a little slice of heaven for me.

Yesterday was my first day and straight away I met Chris and John from What On Earth Publishing. Their product is totally new to me. It is a book which concertinas out into a wall mural depicting the journey or timeline of a subject. I checked out the The History of the World one. It really is very clever as it depicts it in the context of a 24 hour clock. Did you know humans have only been around for just one second - comparatively speaking!


Next in innovation was a Korean company called English Egg. Their interplay of traditional books, sound, vision and a very clever egg pen makes learning English - or in our case - learning to talk - a natural and fun experience. It very cleverly draws children through technology and into play while learning experientially. Genius.


A brand new kids magazine is being launched: The World's Most Amazing Children's Educational Magazine. With "Hilarious jokes, fantastic stories, aliens superheroes and monsters, strangest facts, riddles and activities for all" this is an inclusive and engaging read based on the National Curriculum. You can subscribe for £39 for 12 issues. A great resource for kids when they're travelling or eating out.




So that was day one. I wanted to put some structure to my exhibition experience so I am on a mission to seek out as many awards short-listed titles as I can and see what I can learn (myself having recently been short-listed don't you know!). Stay tuned!

Friday, 28 February 2014

A Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Adorn the footpath with rabbit footprints left over from Easter...



Recreate the rabbit hole with a Mathmos projector light and play tunnel


Pin the (cotton wool) tail on the white rabbit


Scoff some Upulkuchen cake - biscuit cutters from e-bay


Play mini-croquet - ebay again


If you don't have a Mad Hatter, just get a mad hat! (erm ebay- sadly not the Hatter, just the hat)


Purchase whimsy vintage crockerage to add to the atmos - £15 local charity shoppe


Acquire vaguely Alicey dress for 99p from... you guessed it!

We also played "Slay the Jabberwoky" with a toy crossbow and "Off with the Gingerbread Man's Head"

A good time was had by all and with food done for £50 it was nice and cheaply cheapish! Zeeeeeee!



Thursday, 20 February 2014

Loo roll aeroplanes

Swift Goes Splat!


Once upon a time, a week last Tuesday, terrible trouble found its way to Storify Terrace.

Its name is Fritzzzzzzzzzzz.

Fritz is a batty tabby cat - he's bronze and he's bonkers!

He prowls, he leaps, he scowls - sometimes he even hisses! It's really no wonder he used to give Swift the willies!

On that terrible day, a week last Tuesday, Swift was minding his own business, eating his crunchy nuts, when who should skulk by but Fritzzzz. Swift  forgot his brekkie and soon a high speed chase was on.

Swift fluttered up the drainpipe, hovered in a panic over Minnow doing laps of the water butt, and did a frankly un-macho yelp, before diving behind the coal bunker. Fritz's claws had missed him by a feather. Swift gathered speed and flew ZOOOOOOOmish through the yard before he SPLAT! crashed into the kitchen window... (no laughing, be nice).

He was so dazed, even he had small dicky birds twittering round his head as he bounced, bruised and befuddled around the back yard.

As luck would have it, Officer Godmother returned from The Beat at that very moment, scaring Fritz away. Officer looked at the mess, Swift had tears in his eyes as he tried to be brave.

"I see what's happened here" Officer said in the voice he uses when he wants to sound serious and clever "you've broken your flappy... thing."

"Wing?" said Swift.

"You could call it that."

Fritz prowled along the top of the wall while Minnow explained everything.

Finally Swift said "But how will I reach my feeder now? Or get into my bunk nest? And how will I stay away from Fritz?" Fritz picked at a gleaming sharp tooth.

"Wait here, I'll be right back" said Officer Godmother disappearing into his cave of secretive wonders. He came back with some rubbish.

"I really don't think this is the time for recycling" said Swift.

"Just wait" said the Officer Godmother "I am going to bandage the injured... flapity flap and from this junk I will magic a make-shift wizzing aerofly"

"But!" Swift said to the Officer "How will you do that with a loo roll, a tea bag box, a chocolate wrapper and a cardboard cake stand?"

Officer said "You know Fairy Godmother didn't have this trouble with Cinderella!" and he got out his scissors.

"But you need a wand? And don't you have to say "Bibbidy, bobbidy, boo"?" squarked Swift.

"Well I'm not that sort of Godmother" he said "and this kind of magic doesn't need a wand or sparkly stars, just the magic of craftly cleverness."

With a few shakes of a dicky bird's tale, The Officer Godmother had turned this...


into these...



and...


...chocks away!!!


A few days later, Swift was dozing on his tra-perch, when he was awoken by a soft stroke on his cheek. "Gaaah!" he blared when he realised it was the bronze tail of that bonkers cat, Fritz. 

"Pleasssssssssssse don't be ssssssssscared!" Fritz hissed "I jusssssssst want to be friendsssssssss".

"But you chased me!" said Swift

"Yessssssssss it wasssssss a fun game" said Fritz, "sssssssssorry about your wing".

"And you hissed at me!" said Swift, still unsure.

"I know," said Fritz, "it's my lisssssssssp, I don't mean to be sssssssssssso ssssssssssscary".

In the flap of a wing, Swift and Fritz became friends. It turned out Fritz was a funny, kind and quite lovely tabby cat... even if a little bit bonkers.





Saturday, 25 January 2014

Paper Pom Poms

A Magical Pond Pom Pom Spell


Take ten sheets of paper crafted from dragonfly wings and layer them on top of each other.

Concertina the combined sheets as if making a fan for the Countess Lillipad Delphine of Aqualtis.

Tie in the middle with a pond pirate's pulley.

Fashion each end into a pleasing curve (if there's a pirate's hook hanging around, you might want to use it as a template). 


Then with an "Azzakazam" and a bog baby's burp...


Your pond pom pom is ready to...


Gently open on four sides for a full and frilly bloom.


And repeat ad infinitum...



Bring some pond magic into your home :0)