Thursday, 30 January 2014

Zombie Brains

So, we had Zombie Brains last Sunday for tea.  The recipe was from Save with Jamie and involved roasting a celeriac with thyme, garlic, seasoning and bay leaves and serving with pearl barley and a creamy mushroom sauce.

As I mentioned here, the Husband and myself are not keen on celeriac and consequently have never given it to the kids before.  The Husband would also prefer not to eat pearl barley, ever.  You can imagine how much he had been looking forward to this meal!

My son was quite looking forward to the idea of eating Zombie Brains (all in the name I think). Every time I mentioned it to my daughter she just made a face, although said she was willing to try it even if it sounded gross!  Normally when trying new things with the kids I include something in the meal that I know they will like, so in this instance I would normally have served the roasted celeriac with rice, potatoes, pasta, basically anything else. As I was pretty sure that I would never get the opportunity to try this again I just went for it.  I did however have some leftover pancakes from lunchtime and some leftover fresh pasta (not home made) in the fridge on stand by.  I was hoping their love of all things Minecraft (ie the Zombies) might see them through the tastes they were unfamiliar with or didn't actually like.

My son's reaction to the dish was  "Mummy this is definitely.  Disgusting".  So after that praise for the meal I asked my daughter.  "The best part is the celeriac, which I didn't think I would like, so I said it was horrible when I first tried it".  Mmm, so not a total hit there either then, especially when coupled with "and the mushrooms are terrible".  I did know she didn't like mushrooms, so no surprise there.  In the end both standbys were used.  I'm pleased the kids tried it and both made sure they didn't like it by having a second bite of everything.

The Husband's response was actually pretty positive "It isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be", but "we're never having this again!"

I actually quite liked it, though I think I would have preferred the Zombie Brain element as more the main part of a vegetarian roast meal.  It looked like you were carving a joint (only a lot easier).  We've been trying to work out what the roasted celeriac tasted like, and suddenly I realised it tasted a bit like Jerusalem Artichokes.

I feel bad giving a bad review for this, because we have tried a lot of Jamie Oliver's recipes and normally they are a hit with us all, which I think is why I went for it.  Our favourite being his Yorkshire Pudding recipe, which is a total hit with the kids and pretty much every friend they've had over for tea!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Heart Art

We have done some heart artwork over the years, some stuff I thought I would share.

I loved these layered cardboard hearts from A Little Learning For Two, and I thought we would have a go.  I traced around my heart cookie cutters, the inside and the outside to make 6 hearts.  Though I'm sure most people would just be able to create their own.  I also cut the hearts out of thick cardboard, as the kids were a couple of years younger.  However, if we re-do this project the kids will be tracing and cutting their own hearts onto thinner cardboard.

They picked their own colours.  My daughter wanted pink, so we used various shades between red and white.  It is slightly more obvious in real life than in this photo (but only just, I was a bit liberal with the red paint when we started!)

My son basically picked all the colours we had at the time!  I do love it though.

We also tried printing with toilet roll insides. My daughter wanted to create hearts, so we simply bent the toilet roll inside to look heart shaped.  I don't know how she managed to pick up enough paint to fill some of the hearts, but I like it.

This isn't our art I'll admit (how amazing would that be!), but pretty nonetheless.  It is the Red Arrows performing their heart formation.  You can just see them completing it at the bottom of the picture. 

I think this is one of my favourite crafts we have ever done.  DIY air drying clay , we have done it a couple of times, I like using the little cutters we have to create toppers for cards.  Here I just used the clay as it came, but it can be painted too.  If it is rolled thin it dries pretty quick, in about 24hrs.  Thicker stuff takes a while.  It is quite brittle, so I don't think I could make it into jewellery, but it is fine for cards.  

Here is another heart related card.  I still haven't sent this one, everytime I look at it I think of the Beatles.  I guess it is the colours.

So these were some of the heart projects we have done in the past.  I'll share some of things we've been doing recently soon.

Friday, 24 January 2014

My Mixed Stitch Cushion Cover

I mentioned in this post that I had so much fun doing the mixed stitch blanket pattern by Little Woollie that I had started another one.  And here she is:

This is what she looks like from the back, slightly messy still, I'll admit, but who looks at the back, hey?:

And here they are together on the playroom sofa.  I am so pleased with them, and I can't believe that it has taken me this long to start crocheting cushion covers...

I'm sure the Husband is delighted, I'll have to think of something that will make him happy too, if I wish to add more cushions into the house, hmmm, maybe a minecraft cushion cover would work?  I'm really pleased with how the colours work, on each of the cushions individually and when they are together.  I tend to include white in the majority of my projects, especially when I'm picking the colours, so I'm pleased that they fit so well into the room.

For those of you who want all the details, I've listed what I actually did below.   I'm using UK terms, and I used a 4.5mm Hook with DK acrylic yarn for this project.  I picked the colours as I went, trying to use them in equal amounts as they include both my daughter's (various pinks and purples) and son's (various red and oranges) favourite colours.

The stitches and the order I used them in: 

I started by creating a chain long enough to go round the top of my cushion. Guys, if you're doing this at home, remember the top of the cushion is smaller than the middle, always measure round the middle, not the top.  Learn from my mistakes!

Next were 3 rows of half treble crochet.

3 rows of the Crossover Stitch (my name, I'm sure it has a real name somewhere, but this is just something I was playing about with).  You start with a treble, then *skip one stitch, 1 treble crochet in the next three stitches, go back and do one more treble crochet in your skipped stitch*, repeat between the *'s until the end.

2 rows of half treble crochet

5 rows of this stitch which is 1 double crochet, one double treble crochet all the way along.  It gives a lovely textured stitch.

2 rows of half treble crochet

1 row of this flower stitch which incorporates the flowers into the row, without having to sew them on - amazing!  I'm not sure I did exactly as instructed, but it works.  This is how I did it.  I started with 7 treble crochets.

Then 1 treble crochet, chain 1, one half treble crochet in the next stitch.

(Right Side only)Next the petals form out of these 2 stitches, you complete 5 in total.  I started with 2 on the half treble crochet, 1 on the stitch below (the one that I had completed the 1tr, ch 1, 1htr into) and then one on the stem of the treble crochet, finally one more back at the top.

Each petal  consisted of (1 double crochet, chain 3, 3 double treble crochets).  Once you have done this 5 times in the places explained above slip stitch into the middle of the flower, skip one stitch and carry on with treble crochet across.  I did another 7 treble crochets and completed the flower pattern again.

I found I twisted the flower a lot and needed to move the piece of crochet around while I was crocheting the flowers so this didn't happen.  For the next row I used half treble crochets until I came to the flower, and then chain 1 behind the flower and repeat until the end.

I did another 2 rows of half treble crochets.

Next I completed 3 rows of outlined clusters, details for which are on the Little Woollie's crochet along.

1 row of half treble crochet and one row of bullion stitch (twice).  Bullion stitch is wrapping (loosely) your yarn round your hook 6 to 12 times and then through the stitch, yarn over and through all at once. I wrapped my yarn around 7 times.  The information I found suggested that Bullion stitch is just for use on the right side and I did use the right side, but actually I like both.

5 more rows of this stitch which is 1 double crochet, one double treble crochet all the way along, still loving the lovely textured stitch it gives.

2 half treble crochet rows

1 more flower stitch row, followed by the row of half treble crochets until behind the flower, and then chain 1 and repeat until end.

Next I did another 2 rows of half treble crochets.

3 rows of the Crossover Stitch again.

2 half treble crochet rows.

To finish I folded the rectangle into the middle and slipped stitched into the middle on both sides, top and bottom.  I then completed 7 rows of half treble crochet (more so it would fit round the cushion than for design purposes, remember how I measured round the cushion incorrectly?).  I added some button holes on one side at regular-ish intervals (yep, should have measured them more accurately too), using chain 5 over 3 skipped stitches and then making them bigger with 7 half treble crochets into the button hole space.  I found 3 buttons in my stash that I liked with the cover and added those on the other side. I also slipped stitched the bottom and top 1/4 of the opening of the cushion cover together.  And that was it!  All done.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Skulduggery Pleasant

We have been through many phases in our house, there has been Thomas the Tank Engine, Octonauts, Deadly 360, Hello Kitty, Super Heroes, Harry Potter, Moshi Monsters to name just a few.  The current obsessions are Minecraft (which I already wrote about here) and Skulduggery Pleasant.

Some friends started reading this Derek Landy series, and I thought there was no way that my daughter would like to read them, but I showed her one of the books in the library and she was quite keen.  Over the Christmas holidays we managed to acquire books 1 to 7, and I am so pleased we did.

The blurb on the back of the first book is:

"Meet Skulduggery Pleasant; detective, magician, warrior.  Oh yes, and dead."

How cool does that sound.

My daughter started reading it, and my son was interested so I started reading it out loud to him.  Currently my son and I have just started book 2, my daughter is coming to the end of book 6 and the Husband is just about to start book 3.  We are really, really  enjoying the series.

Now, normally, when the kids discover some new craze I go find some games/word searches/crafty ideas on Pinterest/the internet and we work through them.  This time it has been different, I really couldn't find that much out there.  Although, there is some very cool artwork here, and the official website here also has some things to do on it.  Oh and I also found this, which gives you step by step instructions on how to draw Skulduggery Pleasant.

So this time we've had to come up with our own crafts and printables.  My daughter owns a fashion designer book and she created her own Stephanie using the stencils in the book.  I created a word search inspired by Skulduggery Pleasant.  Here it is.  I hope you have fun with it.  I have an answers sheet, please leave a comment if you need it, and I'll try to put that up too.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Lion Keyrings

My daughter wanted a lion/safari themed party for last year.  As one of the party prizes I created some keyrings.  I looked for an appropriate pattern, but couldn't find one that was easy and quick enough.  So I ended up making up my own.

And here it is.  It is in American terms. I used a 3.5mm hook for the head and a 3mm hook for the ears.

Lion's Head: (make 2)
Begin with a magic circle.

Row 1: Chain 1, and work 6 single crochet into the ring, pull tight and slip stitch into the 1st chain.

Row 2: Chain 1, and work 2 single crochet into every stitch, slip stitch into the 1st chain.

Row 3: Chain 1, *Work 2 single crochet into the 1st stitch, and 1 single crochet into the next stitch*, repeat between the *s to end and slip stitch into the chain.

Row 4: Chain 1, *Work  a 2 single crochet into the 1st stitch, and 1 single crochet into the next 2 stitches*, repeat * section until end and slip stitch into chain and finish off, leave a longish tail on one to sew the two parts together

On one of the circles with the smaller tail CHANGE COLOUR

Row 5: Chain 1 in new colour and single crochet into every stitch, then slip stitch into the chain.

Row 6: Chain 3, 2 double crochet into the 1st stitch *slip stitch into the next stitch, 3 double crochet into the next stitch*, repeat * section to end and slip stitch into 3rd chain at the end.  Finish off.

Cast on to part of R5, Chain 3, and then 4 double crochet into the same stitch, slip stitch and cast off.  Do the same again a bit further along for the other ear.  I did this by eye, rather than counting stitches, slightly less then a third of the circle apart.

Finishing Off
Sew on the face using beads for eyes or french knots. As I explained before I'm not great at sewing, so the faces took a long time, and I just tried to make them look like lions! Then sew the back onto the front and stuff with whatever stuffing you want to use (I used the inside of an old pillow - washed), and add a keyring near the top.

I made every lion keyring slightly different, so everyone had their own unique lion.  They won these as part of a treasure hunt they created for each other using the compasses they had won completing the Big Cat Coded treasure hunt I had made for them.

Six months on and I still see little lions attached to my daughter's friends' bags, and that always makes me feel happy!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Making Bracelets

I started beading a while ago, beads are pretty and sparkly, what's not to like?

The first type of bracelets I made were with memory wire.  Great stuff, it is already in a bracelet (or ring or necklace) shape and it holds that shape as you bead onto it. You start by bending the wire round on one side so the beads don't slide off and then just start adding them.  Once you get to the end, you bend the wire back in on itself and the beads all stay put.

At the moment I like a more random approach, because I saw this, which just happens to be good for using up my stash of beads, but my first several bracelets tended to be based on a repeating pattern.

I also love the charm style of bracelet, so I bought some chain, some toggles, some head pins(these look like normal, but chunkier, bendier pins) and eye pins(these have a pre-made loop at the top).  To make a Charm style bracelets I used the chain to go round my wrist and put a toggle and toggle catch on either end.  Then I looped beaded head pins onto the chain at random intervals using random beads.  For the other type of bracelet pictured below I used the eye pins to sort of become the chain, adding the next eye pin before I looped the last eye pin round to keep the bead and next eye pin in place, the toggle and catch were attached at either end.

I also loved this cuff style bracelet and had used the instructions on the link to make it.

It looked better on (you'll have to trust me on that as I don't have pictures of it), apparently I'm not great at making the memory wire be an exact match seven times over!

Most recently though I've been wearing elasticated bracelets that have been bought for me, and I figured I would have a go at making my own.  I still love that layered type look, and my beading stash included some spacers, from a project that didn't quite go to plan (it involved a lot of sewing of beads), I came up with this:

I simply tied the elastic around the first spacer and added beads and the next spacer to the first row, then the second then the third.  All seemed to be going well with that method so I tried the same up to the next spacer and managed to drop a load of beads.  Luckily the Husband kindly assisted in the picking up of the beads from the same coloured floor.  After that I discovered the highly technical method of keeping the beads on the elastic you are not working with by simply putting a bulldog clip over them!  

I love how it turned out, the top row here is a semi precious stone called Jasper, the bottom two rows are random beads in my stash.  I wish I could say all these bracelets had decreased the size of my stash, but it doesn't really seemed to have made a dent!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Minecraft Mad

This describes our house at the moment.  If my Husband, or the kids aren't playing we are talking about it and to be honest, the only thing stopping me having a play too, is that I struggle to make the computer do as I tell it and get a little frustrated.

So it was only natural that when they have had their allotted time on minecraft that they want to do crafty minecraft things!  I found a couple of colouring pages they can do  here and here, which they quite like, but creating minecraft blocks out of hama beads has so far been the winner.  Here they are all together.  Now we need more hama beads, ideally in colours that are better for minecraft creations!

As everyone seems into Minecraft I am planning on giving something a go. I saw it in my Save With Jamie book I got for Christmas; Zombie Brain!  I am yet to make it, but something tells me that trying to feed my Husband celeriac, which he hates (and I'm not all that keen either) and therefore the kids have never had, with mushrooms which the kids dislike is probably not going to make it onto our favourite meals ever list.  Mmmm, got to be worth a try though.  I'll report back on the success/failure of Zombie Brain.

Monday, 13 January 2014

DIY Hello Kitty House

This is pretty much from my own head - scary huh?  I'll admit to a little dinosaur related inspiration, on Pinterest of course!

I wanted to make something for my nieces who were going to be on a long flight, and as they were moving countries didn't have a lot of toys available to play with.  So it needed to be small and have a lot of play value.

I found some little Hello Kitty people in Poundland and bought two packs for each girl.  Each pack came with a Hello Kitty and some furniture.  Great I thought, all I need now is a couple of little tin pencil cases  and maybe some stickers to decorate....But the Hello Kitty furniture and in fact the Hello Kittys themselves were too big for the pencil cases. I hunted around and found the CD cases.

You should know something about me - I'm rubbish at sewing.  My repairs to clothes at senior school included sticky tape and staples, despite access to needles and thread.  So what made me think I could create a little house by sewing felt over cardboard I will never know!  

I cut a cardboard house shape (measuring against the CD case) and folded and cut felt around it.  I then sewed around it with a contrasting colour leaving a hole at the top to hold the stand.  Oh and I sewed on windows and a door.

I removed the CD holders section on the CD case - I was so pleased this worked - I was worried the whole case would fall apart!  I then sewed the house to the same place.  Not entirely easy, but honestly, if I managed it anyone can!

Next it was just decorating.  I made a couple of rugs, one fringed rectangle shaped, and one round with blanket stitch around it.  For the garden I cut a green piece of felt and added a pond shape and a vegetable patch.  The veggies are just french knots (I say just, but really that bit took  me the longest!).  I also found some cute little erasers on sale in a stationery shop

 It all folds away into the CD case, with a little  room, in case of extra visitors!  The girls seemed to really love them and certainly played with them non-stop after they opened them.  My daughter wants me to create another one for her too, so they obviously look quite good fun!  Finally a sewing project I'm actually proud of!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Mayi Hshang Shu/ Ants Climbing a Tree.

Doesn't that sound tasty?  It may not sound very tasty, but it really is.  It is minced pork and noodles basically.  I'm posting this because the library book with the recipe has to go back.  It is called A World Of Recipes: China.  We've also used the Mexico and Italy ones from the same series.  They have been a great way to introduce the kids to some other cuisines, and they are appealing to them because they are designed for kids to cook.

Mayi Hshang Shu Recipe (Serves 2)
125g Fine Noodles
Small piece of Ginger (approx 2cm long) - grated
1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
1tbsp Vegetable Oil
225g minced pork
2tbsp soy sauce
2tsp sugar
2 spring onions - chopped

I double up on ingredients, so it feeds us all.
I cook the noodles in the vegetable stock, and while I'm doing that fry the pork.  Once the meat is browned add the ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sugar(which I forgot to include in the picture).  I also add a few handfuls of chopped curly kale (we can call it the leaves of the tree ok?).

Once the noodles are cooked, I add them and the spring onions to the meat mixture and stir and serve.

I've done this meal with Turkey mince as well and that worked brilliantly too.  We all like it, you can tell:


Friday, 10 January 2014

Blankets, blankets everywhere...

I've been crocheting for a bit now and we have a selection of blankets around the house.  I've used a variety of patterns, and (hopefully) linked to them.

Here is the first one, I made a vertical stripe blanket

Here is one I made for my daughter's bed (still Vertical Stripe Pattern):

And one I made for my son's bed(still Vertical Stripe Pattern -I liked doing this pattern):

I also made blankets using these patterns; the ripple blanket, a giant granny square, and a moss stitch blanket, and I have made a couple of blankets for other people too.

Here is the Ripple:

And here is the Moss Stitch Blanket: 

All the Blankets together:

 Have you seen this blanket by Little Woollie?  Isn't it just beautiful, I think I've pinned it about six times - everytime I see it I love it more.  So I got some yarn for Christmas, two whole full bags of brand new multi-coloured yarn.  I had to try the multi-stitch blanket, right? 

 But I didn't need a new blanket, so I decided that a cushion cover would be a great alternative.  And here it is:

I mainly followed the pattern (badly as it turns out, I can't show you the back of this project!)  Little Woollie created for her "Crochet Along", but I added a couple of stitches I'd seen elsewhere, I'll talk about those another time.  As I was doing a cushion cover, it only took a few days.  I had a lot of fun seeing it come together, so much so, I'm already working on cushion cover number two!  This time I'm using different stitches though(again, will talk about these another time), some I've wanted to try for a while.  Here's a sneak peek.  

So far so good.  My sides are a lot less wonky (notice I'm still not saying they are straight), and I've learnt how to do so many more stitches, which will definitely be used in some more projects in the future. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Made Out Of Things

I'm writing this because everyone keeps bugging me to do it!  Well ok, mainly my husband.  I discovered Pinterest a couple of years ago - a friend sent me a link to stamped cookies and suddenly I had all that inspiration in one place.  It wasn't that I didn't craft or cook before, but now I could find that really cool thing I saw on someone's blog five weeks ago.

The name for my blog came from my son.  We made some gifts for Christmas this year and one was some bath milk inspired by Julie Blanner's post here.  I showed my two kids the post, got out the ingredients and supervised, whilst they created.  They asked for stuff to make labels, and my daughter wrote one label, explaining what the gift actually was and my son I think wanted to write the ingredients.  Anyhow, there are a few if you're only 6 and only have a small label to write on - so naturally our Sweet Orange and Cinnamon Leaf Bath Milk was "Made Out Of Things".

It is still making me chuckle five weeks after he first wrote it.