Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Embroidery Bag Tag!

Hello! I packed my eldest off to her first preschool session last week with a cardboard and string name tag on her cute little bag which I had quickly made from a birthday card picture 5 minutes before we left the house as I had forgotten about naming everything and ordering nametags!!!

This set the scene then for my first mini embroidery experiment! I am not really sure what one is supposed to do when embroidering. I think it should involved some kind of ring or hoop device, although my crafting budget has been wiped out with some extra spending on cake decorating equipment for her birthday cake so this had to be a thrifty make with some bits and bobs left over from past projects!

So this is it! After cutting a small rectangle of white linen, I drew my design on with a ballpoint pen (not sure if that is a conventional or advisable method!) then stitched 'freehand' over with embroidery thread. I then cut a second piece of linen and sewed the two together inside out. Really should have done that on the sewing machine as the closer stitching would have made neater corners when turned back out I think.

Had lots of trouble closing the gap (ribbon edge) once I had turned everything the right way around but managed to patch it all together and get the ribbon attached in the end!

It may not be the most professional item ever made (!) but I like it, she likes it and I did smile when the preschool leader collected it from the cloakroom with ease this afternoon and commented "Ah, clever mummy naming the the bag nice and clearly, that helps" or something like that anyway! Also it didn't really cost anything either. All in all, a good evening's work!



Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Mum, I want a Penguin Party!

So, it is probably advisable to browse online for available party wear PRIOR to asking your soon-to-be 3 year old daughter what party theme she would like (!!) but nevertheless we certainly made the best of it!

Found a penguin story book in a cheap local store and mini penguin chocs (from partydelights.co.uk) for the passing parcel, pictures from a penguin calendar I found in a cheap bookstore with black and white balloons were used for decorations and activities included making a Pingu party hat (I’ll post details of this if anyone is interested at a later date), penguin colouring sheets and make-a-penguin play dough (black, white, orange!). Also had a very large cardboard box which I drew a penguin on for kids to colour in - this worked well as a low table for colouring and an activity in itself!

Had considerable trouble finding penguin plates, cups etc so decided to customise my own party lunch boxes (bright orange!) with penguin pictures from the internet that I printed onto photo paper and this seemed to do the job! Managed to buy some Pingu party bags and napkins online (from mypartyparcel.co.uk) to complete the theme.

Party boxes are without doubt the way forward. I cannot imagine the carnage that could have occurred with nine 2-5 year olds picking their own foods from various plates but filling the boxes with some healthy snacks ensured everyone sat down on a blanket, ate something sensible and didn't make too much mess! I am unashamedly all about surviving kids’ parties with my sanity and house in tact!!

I am happy for some cake mess and munching though of course so this is what I managed to create.....

(Note that we ended up having 2 parties – one for kids and one for family and close friends – hence two penguin cake-makes for me!! I should also say that I am very grateful to Megan from Fowl Single File - http://fowlsinglefile.blogspot.com/2011/01/theres-penguin-in-my-fridge.html and http://fowlsinglefile.blogspot.com/2011/01/penguin-schemes.html for inspiring me to make the fondant penguins! Thanks!!)


Really pleased with this, although still having some trouble with covering the cake, getting it level and making it smooth! You can see the fondant starting to sink in around the middle a bit!! Chocolate sponge inside, filled and iced with chocolate buttercream.

I used a leaf fondant cutter to make the shapes for the wings and white tummies (very similar to make a small ones, see below). I bought a rectangular block cutter to cut blocks for the igloo and edging.


I don't even eat chocolate but apparently this tasted pretty good - adapted my chocolate tart filling (used Terry's chocolate orange instead of plain chocolate) to fill and cover my classic chocolate sponge recipe.


Didn't expect my buttercream to turn out mint green colour but I guess if you add 'Ice Blue' colouring to naturally yellow buttercream then that is what you're going to get!! Love those little fondant penguins though - still got a few cheeky ones hanging around the house!

To make to small penguins:
1. Make ball of black fondant - flatten the bottom and point the top so you have a cone shape.
2. Cut out a strip of black fondant and cut into small triangles for the wings.
3. Repeat step 2 in white for the tummies.
4. Repeat step 1 but much smaller for the beaks.
5. Stick it all together with a very tiny amount of water as glue.
6. Use a cocktail stick to poke in eyes.

Gotta love the Wilton 1M Open Star Decorating Tip for icing cupcakes! I'm an addict!!
So, I am pretty proud of my amateur efforts for this year's birthday but would appreciate any tips, advice and links on how to improve further from any of you out there! Especially seen as I now have another daughter, so double the kiddie birthday fun for me next year when the littlest turns 1 and the biggest turns 4!

Have some more cakes to make for a friend's 30th next weekend - not inspired yet on that one - but the next most exciting project will be girly themed cupcakes for my sister-in-law! I am thinking lipsticks, shoes, dresses etc - can't wait!!!

Come back soon! S x



Friday, 26 August 2011

This time last year.... Hello Kitty Cake

Hello Kitty Cake - This is the cake I made last year for Jasmine's 2nd Birthday - a rather simple creation with three sponge cakes and lots of fondant! I was quite pleased with this overall although I need to know how to create a smoother surface for my carved cakes as Hello Kitty's head is too bumpy for my liking! (Please comment your ideas on fixing this problem!).

Hello Kitty Cake

I did ice with just a layer of apricot jam underneath and am suspicious that buttercream underneath instead would lead to a smoother result.

This year's theme is penguins so got to get thinking on developing my sketchy ideas into more solid plans as time is running out!

Day One!

This blog is a diary of the creative experiments of a mum of two beautiful girls. Am holding one right now and need to get back to helping the other eat her breakfast!

Challenge number one: Not enough time!