Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Lightning McQueen Cake...

Here is a pic of a cake I made for a friends' three year old.  It was the first time I have "built" a 3D form out of pieces of cake, and the first time I have used fondant in such a detailed way.

Altogether it took me about 3 nights to make, and a great deal of planning.

I have taken step-by-step pics of how I made the cake so will be doing a how-to post in the next couple of weeks.
Update:  Part 1 of the how-to is now posted.  Click here to see it.

4/11/10... and now part 2 is online.  Click here to see it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mr Owl Collage Greeting Card...

This morning I was watching a kid's TV show with Miss S when I saw a gorgeous applique owl cushion and I thought to myself "I'd love to make one of those".   Unfortunately I have no time for such involved projects at the moment so I decided to make a card instead.

Mr Owl is a bit crinkly and needs to spend the night under some heavy books...

Mr Owl is inspired by the illustrations of children's book author Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).  I don't know how Carle did his illustrations exactly but they look to me as though he painted blocks of colour, then cut and collaged them to make the pictures.  So that's what I've done here.  I just think it's nice sometimes to make something that doesn't require expensive card stock and craft punches, don't you?

Furthermore, this is a craft you can do with your kids.  Get them to paint the blocks of colour and help do the cutting & sticking.  That's what I Miss S & I did, and we had a "hoot" doing it too.

To make one you will need:

A blank card
3 pieces of white A4 printer paper (this will give you enough painted paper to make 3 or 4 Mr Owls).
Glue stick
Watercolour paints (or acrylics would be fine too)
Range of small bowls/ other round objects to draw around.

First cut your 3 pieces of A4 roughly in half.  Paint each piece in your chosen colours.

I chose these nice Autumn colours, but you could choose whatever scheme you like.

Use 5 or 6 colours.  Do an undercoat and then come back over with a bit of dry-brushing to get a nice texture.  Leave to dry.  Iron your pieces of paper to get them flat.

Cut out a piece of the medium brown to the same size as the face of your card and stick it down.

Using a small bowl cut two semi circles from the dark brown for wings as shown, but don't stick them down yet.

Start cutting small triangles from your orange, pinky-red, dark brown and purple papers, for the feathers.

Cut about 8-10 triangles from each colour.

Make your first row.   Try and randomise the colours a bit.

Build up the triangles as shown.  You don't need to put them right to the edge on all the rows as the wings will cover them anyway.

Cut out a larger triangle from the orange for the beak, and two large circles from the purple.  Cut out two small circles for the inside of the eyes, and two triangles for the ears out of the dark brown.  Don't try to be get the shapes too perfect - I think they look better if they look cut by hand.

Arrange them on the card to get the layout right and then stick them down.  Lay the card under some heavy books for a few hours to flatten it off.

I think a set of three of these made with slightly different colours would look amazing framed-up in a baby nursery or kid's bedroom.  Just a thought, but one I might have to revisit at some point.

Anyway, see you in a few days - I'm off to Prague for three days with a girlfriend - a very well-deserved break!

LM xx

Super-quick Conical Goody Bags...

So here was today's challenge.  To make some goody bags for my play group's fancy dress party on Tuesday.

They need to be...

... super fast and easy to make - I need 15-20 of them
... made of things I have lying around (the only money I have for the project is below :)
... in the colour theme of orange, black and white
... just a little bit adorable.

The filling:  Over here chocolate money is Swiss chocolate, and Swiss Francs...

So I rummaged through my cupboards, and pilfered some orange light card from Miss S's art supplies, some ribbon from mine, and found everything else I needed in the walls of the apartment (you say "hoarder" like it's a bad thing...)

To make your own, you will need:

Coloured A4 card
A pencil
Sticky tape and double sided tape
Ribbon - paper or fabric
A hole punch
Tissue paper or a serviette

First make a half-circle template.  I used the template from my previous post on wine glass lanterns.

Draw around it and cut it out.  If you want to decorate it, now's the best time!

Fold in half but only pinch the bottom (on the straight edge).

Bring the edges around to form the cone.  You could adjust the size of the cone here if you have a little or a lot planned for the filling.

On the inside, tape the edge down with a little bit of sticky tape.

Cut a length of double-sided tape and tape the outside flap down.  You could use normal sticky tape for this if you don't have double-sided.

Punch two holes on either side of the cone.

Thread through your ribbon.  For instructions on how to do this so that the "tails" are on the outside, please take a look at my post on the .05c party favour bag.

Sit the cone in a cup to fill it.  Stuff a little tissue down the bottom of the cone and then line it with a square of tissue paper.  I cut a 3-ply black Ikea paper serviette into quarters and then peeled apart the layers giving me 12 squares.

Fill with whatever you like!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scone in 60 seconds....

Maybe it's the English side of my upbringing (my dad is a Brit), but I just love scones. And yes, as a good little Kiwi/ Brit mix I do pronounce them "Skons", not "Skoans" - after all, the title of this post would make no sense the other way :).

Savoury, sweet, pinwheel, iced, plain, with cream & jam, without - doesn't matter to me.  As a bonus scones really are one of the most easy and quick things you can whip up in the kitchen.

So, as a homage to this amazing baking staple, I announce my "Scone-a-month" project.  Here I will take one basic plain scone recipe and tweak it twelve ways for the next twelve months.  I will try to use seasonal ingredients, a good balance of savoury and sweet, and I hope there will be something for everyone.

So today we start with the basic recipe.  I love this one as it contains no butter and so there is no cutting in required - this means no tired fingers or food processor bowl and blade to be cleaned.

Basic Scones
(These are neither sweet nor savoury, it just depends on what you put on them at serving time).
Makes 12 - 18, depending on the size you cut them into.

4 cups self-raising flour  (or 4 cups plain/cake flour with 4 tsps baking powder added if you don't have any SR flour)
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbs white sugar
1 cup (250ml) un-whipped cream
1 cup (250ml) milk

Preheat the oven to 220Âșc.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.

Measure the cream and milk and pour over the dry ingredients.

Mix gently into a dough with your fingers until the liquid is absorbed into the flour, but don't mix any further.  Overworking the dough means it won't rise as well.

Turn out onto a floured surface and press down gently until the dough is about 3.5cm thick (no thinner). You can use a rolling pin to smooth the surface off if you like, if presentation is particularly important.

Dip a round cookie cutter, or small glass, in flour and cut dough into circles.  Try to press the cutter directly down and not twist it.

Place on a lightly floured baking tray and brush the tops with milk or beaten egg.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Eat straight away if possible!  Let's dress this one up, shall we?  How about a little strawberry and rhubarb jam...

And then a dollop of whipped cream:

Oh what the heck, let's sandwich this baby together...

The science of scones:

Simple they may be, but there are a few tricks to ensure that they turn out just right.  Use fresh self-raising flour and baking powder (raising agents do age and lose their effectiveness over time).

Always sift the dry ingredients and never overwork the dough or roll it out too thin. Avoiding these things should give your raising agents a good opportunity to do their thing.

Some purists believe that plain scones shouldn't contain any sugar however I have found that just one tbs doesn't alter the sweetness as such, but helps to take the edge off the flour taste.

Everyone makes them differently so if you have a favourite recipe that always works, stick to it!  Oh, and please send it to me, I love to try new things!

Do you love scones?  What are your favourite toppings and most importantly, are they "skons" or "skoans"?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kids' Craft: Autumnal Table Lanterns...

Here is an idea I got from a similar little craft project that Miss S bought home from her Kinderkrippe.   They are an ideal craft for pre-schoolers (in fact, kids of any age) and the end result is rather pretty when illuminated at night.

An enjoyable craft for both adults and children, making these lanterns is a great way to spend a cold afternoon indoors together.

You will need:

Large clear plastic cups
Tissue paper in 6 or so colours (I chose autumnal colours, but you could go with whatever you like)
PVA glue
A paintbrush
A tea light

Cut your tissue paper into small rectangles and squares around 2cm square (don't be too neat - I think the irregularity of the shapes makes them more interesting.)

Make a gluey mixture by mixing a little water in with some PVA glue.

Start around the top of the cup, gluing the tissue paper bits down, overlapping each other.  Use plenty of glue and brush over them with more glue once they're stuck down.

Miss S starts her first row..

Make sure to overlap the pieces and not to leave any uncovered areas as these will show up when the candle is lit.

Keep layering up rows all the way to the bottom of the cup.

Finish with a row that tucks in neatly behind the bottom lip.  Make sure the whole thing is covered in a generous coating of your gluey mixture.

Proudly showing off her handy work...

Is it weird that these remind me of Elmer the Elephant?

Leave to dry.

Light a candle and gently lower it into the bottom of the lantern by turning the lantern on its side then bringing it slowly up into a standing position.

Bask in the glow whilst enjoying the cosiness of these chilly nights.  Or, if you're down on the bottom half of the planet and enjoying longer spring days, you could make a bunch of these to scatter around outside during a BBQ or party.

LM x

PS - If you love lanterns, check out my previous post on how to make gorgeous wine glass lanterns.
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