Friday, 27 December 2013

Ngaia's Pigs in Mud Cake

Pigs in Mud Cake 2013
This was such a fun and cute cake to make for a friend in Dec. Fondant pigs, ganache "mud" and a rich and dark chocolate cake with kit kats.

Christmas 2013

This year we decided that most people didn't even like traditional Christmas cake so I did a rich dark chocolate cake with ganache. The sweets on top are chocolate coated almonds with a crispy shell. Yummy! These Christmas coloured sweets are available from Crazy Candies on Trade Me or their website. I managed to get the Kit-Kat's on special (thankfully)!. But then I realised they were made by Nestle (who we boycott), oops. I bought nearly a whole box as I had to do a birthday cake on Boxing Day that was similar.It was really enjoyed!
My 6 year old daughter loves sugar craft and was so delighted when I told her she had free rein over the traditional Christmas cake. She did this all herself with only needing technical advice on how to make things stick on and I also rolled out the fondant for her. She did a great job!
 I made a bunch of cards this year and was so caught up in the rush of visitors arriving that I forgot to photograph all of them. Here are two I did for hubby and daughter.
I did a paper-cut for inside my daughter's card.
I made her a birthday dress for Christmas. She has a lot of parties this time of the year, including her own. This is from the Simplicity 2377 pattern. I got the fabric from Spotlight but it was a long time ago.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Amanda's 40th Birthday Cake

Dec 2013

I made this cake yesterday for a friend who I go walking with weekly. She was very grateful, so despite the dramas I had with it, it was all worthwhile when I saw the look on her face. She likes citrus cakes, so I did the lower tier a lemon cake. HERE is the recipe for the zesty lemon yoghurt cake. I used a lemon cream cheese icing, but to be honest, as yummo as it was, it was not suitable as a crumb coating or filling as it didn't set enough and made the fondant bulge a bit around the filling layer.

The top tier was an Orange Cake which was perfectly fine but not as good as the lemon one. I did the nice orange butter icing, again, it didn't set enough as a filling for fondant.

My oven is not up to making good cakes, so I'm pleased I don't sell many of my creations. It seems to burn the outsides and leaves the inside uncooked. I must get a thermometer to test this. I made 6 cakes for this and used 4!

I wanted to share the tutorial I used for the flowers. It was super easy to do and THIS blogger gives good, clear instructions with pictures. Additionally, I used a sugar water painted over the white edible pearls, to hold them in extra well.  I used THIS blog to learn how to do the quilting on the cake. It was relatively easy with a quilting tool (you can even just use a kids playdough tool) but you do need to measure you're cake, once iced, to work out how far you will place your toothpicks around the top of the cake to mark out where to quilt down from. You have to adjust your triangle card marker too, to fit the size of your cake. For the top tier, I spaced the gaps at 1 inch, but for the lower cakes, they needed to be slightly bigger. No one noticed I didn't quite get the ratio right as I started it at the back which hid it a lot.

When placing the blue cashous, you need to make sure they looked lined up right. Otherwise it shoots your quilting out a bit. Most important for the top row of them, so they're all even. I used royal icing which sets hard in 10 minutes to keep the cashous on and the flowers too.For the top flower, I insert a toothpick in to the back, a little, to stick it in to the cake (as well as royal icing).

Monday, 14 October 2013

Dinosaur and Trees Cake

I made this for my niece at the end of Sept. It was such a hit and was completely devoured! I used the Edmonds Moist Chocolate Cake recipe with ganache filling. it's such a good cake for decorating without compromising flavour and texture. It has entire tub of sour cream - yummo! I got the idea for this cake on Pinterest and I think the original was by Sweet Love.
Sept 2013

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Green Pea Earrings

It's been ages since I made some jewellery. I needed something green to match a coat and I came up with these. They remind me of peas in a pod.
Made with miracle beads - Sept 2013

Monday, 2 September 2013

A Daffodil for Daffodil Day

It was Daffodil Day recently and my daughters school has a fundraiser for the Cancer Society. They were to wear something yellow, but given I detest the colour (too many years working as a florist and everyone wanting yellow), she had nothing suitable. So I knitted this and it's been quite popular.

The pattern is available HERE for FREE. I used random weight yarns that I wanted to use up (great stash buster for those scraps). I didn't insert a wire for the stem, instead my daughter wore it tried around her ponytail. It got lots of mention. it's fiddly but worth it.

A scarf for Miss 6

My daughter decided her new favourite colour is blue (by the way, that lasted approx 2 months and now it's something else!) and she needed a new scarf. She's unfortunately taken an aversion wearing wool or being near it, (not good news for a knitter!) so I used up some acrylic I inherited from dear Nana when she passed away. She just loves it and feels very grown up (given the looks upon her sweet face when she wears it). I used the Lacy Scarf with Scalloped Purl Trim pattern from Cleckheaton. It's from This Book

There is an error on Row 2 (an every alt row). It should read K2, P3 at the end (NOT P2, K3)! Annnnd, don’t cut the tail after you’ve cast off, you’ll need it for the scalloping part. An easy knit with a little interest. Make sure you block it to get stitch definition, especially if you have issues with scalloping the edge.

DIY Giraffe Scooter Decoration

Recently my daughters school had a bike and scooter parade. There's not a lot of inspiration out there in google-land, so I thought I'd put my own idea here, in case it's helpful for others. If I'd had more time, I would've sewn the head of the giraffe, but alas, I was flying by the seat of pants and this is what I came up with...

This was SO easy to do! The base for the neck is a tube from newsprint or architect paper. I made a base for the head from thin card and stuck the felt over the top. If I were to make any other animals in future, I'd use the card (or paper) as a pattern for the felt and stitch up the head with my sewing machine (or by hand). Anyway, it did the job nicely and just stood through torrential rain!

Here's what I did:

I cut the cardboard tube lengthwise and placed around the scooter pole. I then made incisions all the way down the dark brown felted fabric and splayed them out, one tab on one side, one on the other, all the way down and I glued in place with PVA. This will be the mane. I have 2 pieces of felt as mine wasn't long enough to do one piece, you won't notice it later.
Cut out a length of light brown felted fabric (see below) and paper clip to the top of the tube. Grab a pencil and mark out where you're going to trim the excess fabric off (most scooters have an adjustment lever midway down the pole which means the fabric won't have a straight edge).
Cut the felt and use PVA to glue it on to the cardboard tube. If you want to sew on your giraffe spots (instead of gluing) then do this before you glue this piece and stick on the tube. I just glued mine, but they're not the best in wet weather.
Use paper clips to hold it on at the top while it dries and you do the next step.
Use a running stitch right through both sides of the light brown felt and dark brown felt, to hold it all together (glue won't be enough).
Cut the mane (if you have more than one length of felt for the mane, like I did, ensure you line up the incisions for the mane).
Cut out dark brown felt spots for the neck and stick on with PVA (unless you've sewn them on already).
As I mentioned above, I cut out the head from card and taped it all together then stuck felt over it with PVA glue. In rain, it really needs sewing, but if you're time poor (like I was), this works just fine. The sides are the shape you want to cut 2 of. Then cut a long straight rectangular piece for the front of the head (to join up to the 2 side pieces). You can hand sew over the sides if you want extra stability and longevity. I cut out 4 ears and shaded them in and 4 ossicones (horn thingies), and stuck 2 together as my cardboard was thin.
I separated the 2 stuck together pieces a little at the bottom and splayed them outwards. After making a slit with craft knife in the head, I poked the ears/ ossicones through and used PVA to glue to the inside of the head, then taped over the top for extra hold, attaching with a peg until they dried.
Because I had no time to sew, I used PVA to glue across the top of all edges (it dries clear). I cut out 2 eyes and added 2 nostrils.
I filled it with newspaper once it was dry and cut a little out of the bottom of the head so it would sit flatter against the pole (neck).
I punched holes in the head (as shown) with scissors, and got matching ribbon I wanted to recycle to attach to the scooter securely.
Secured at top AND sides.
Don't forget to draw a mouth!
This was a real hit, you should've seen my daughter's face!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Kit Kat Cake

I really love this idea that I found on Pinterest recently. My niece is turning 11 soon, so I might try and make something similar. This picture unfortunately has no link back to the original cake designer.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pixie Slippers!

How cute are these?! This was a FREE pattern from the generous Flint Knits. I gave these 4 hot cycles in my top loader machine to felt them. I used some 100% 12 ply wool from Skeinz. It doesn't matter if you gauge 100% as you just make them fit while they're drying after felting. Miss 6 loves these - they're fit for a fairy!!

Shabby Chic Bunting Cake

I have wanted to try something like this for a long time, but getting edible ink rice paper in the right designs is impossible in this country. Thankfully Jo from Sweet Whimsy came to my rescue and printed out some beautiful designs for me to use - she really is such a honey and I highly recommend her. It's easy to cut out the triangles, you just get a template off the internet to use and cut out with sharp, clean scissors. I made this cake for a friend who wanted it for a 50th birthday party. My first paid job - unfortunately after a few dramas, I think I got paid $10 for 8 hrs work!

I used sugar water to paste the images on to thin triangles of fondant. Her recommendation is clear piping gel and I think that would be better, as the paper kind of warped a little and became brittle - very easy to break corners off if they hang over the edge of the fondant triangle.

I used Annabel Langbein's ultimate chocolate cake recipe and made the 2 smaller cakes, and her chocolate ganache (although I halved the ingredients of the ganache and still had leftovers). The ganache needs to be chilled for 1 1/2 hrs with the occasional stir, so that it sets firmer to use as a filling. You can heat it up in the microwave a little to use for the crumb coating. You have to be quite careful with this cake though as it's easy to knock edges off! I wished I'd used a white choc ganache instead for the crumb coating, some got on the fondant and looked terrible until I covered it over with the bunting flags.

To attach the flags, you use royal icing as glue. Before gluing down I used a piece of string and pinned them to the cake how I wanted them to fall with clean pins. This is where the icing string then goes afterwards. So I stuck all the bunting flags around the string, removed the string and used royal icing to pipe the edible string. I wished so much for a fondant extractor gun (not cheap) as I really am not happy with the royal icing, it was so difficult to make it look straight and nice.

Last of all, I attached a ribbon around the base with a pin at the back to fix it, then cut a small round of wax paper and placed camellia's from my friends garden on top. Camellia's will only last the night, but that's fine. I also attached blue ribbon around the cake board with double sided tape.

I wanted to cover the cake board with fondant but I'd run out by the end. I had so many dramas with it and wasted 2 packs of it as it kept cracking. I just cannot figure out how to prevent this occurring.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Embellished Wooden Alphabet Letter

I bought a wooden "C" for my daughter years ago and have finally got around to doing something with it for her bedroom door! Her fave colour is blue at present, so I chose some co-ordinating papers from my stash. It was super easy to do. I just painted the edges brown, then once dry, painted on PVA to stick the papers to. To get the papers the right size, you just place the letter over the top and trace around the outside. I tore roughly the places I wanted the papers to meet together, to make it look more home-made and vintage. I also used brown ink on a sponge to dab around the edges of the papers to get an aged look. Once stuck down, I painted (thinly) PVA glue over the top of the whole thing, to seal it. I got a triangle template online and used it to cut the bunting pieces and stuck on sticky letters for her name and attached them at the back to some embroidery thread with sellotape. In hindsight, I wish I'd used a template where you fold over the back and glue down, it would last longer. I used PVA to glue it down and attached some black rhinestones over the bows. I wish I'd had a good stamp for the black swirly bit over the blue and white spotty paper, but I used a stick on instead. I wrote some lovely things about my daughter on a tag and attached.

She just loves it. I attached to the door with those velcro removable 3M thingies, it makes it sit flatter and will hopefully stand up to those door slamming years! ;-)

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Garden Theme Bunting Cake

My poor husband was away on business for 2 weeks over his birthday. I'm not sure who had it worse, him alone on his birthday, or me alone with the waking-in-the-night 6 year old! Anyway, I made him a cake on return to make up for it. It was quite quick and easy. I made Annabel Langbein's Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe for this and it's AWESOME. It makes 2 cakes if you use a 20cm or smaller cake tin. I halved the ganache ingredients and we still have some left over. Trick with using ganache as a filling, is that you pop it in the fridge and give it the odd stir every now and then for a couple of hours while it sets a bit. Otherwise it seeps in to the cake and runs everywhere.

I got this idea from CocoCakeLand but changed it up a bit.
I used a "grass" nozzle for doing the green grass - the trick here is that you have to make sure the buttercream is the right consistency or it all turns to sludge. I used Milo for dirt around the carrots. The carrots are made of fondant, along with the name plaque and flowers. The bunting is just attached to wooden skewers with bakers twine. The bunting was a free printable from YellowBlissRoad

The cake was much enjoyed by all!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Last Page!

I've finally finished the 1st year scrapbook for my daughter! Amazing. Should we have another kid now? ;-)
I've since filled in the little tags under the buttons with "cute", "clever", "kind", "lovely". Inspiration online somewhere, I can't recall who.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Flora Hat

This is such a sweet hat. And a free pattern from tentenknits, it does need some tweaking to make it work out, but the colour chart is very easy to use.

Here are my notes for this hat if you decide to knit it:

Whatever you do, DO NOT cast on 120sts unless your head is the size of a basket ball! If you CO 120sts you will have to do 4 repeats of the pattern. CO 90sts then you get the 3 repeats. I used the larger needle size for the whole hat to get the right gauge on my yarn (which was Malabrigo Silky Merino). The only problem though is that now it’s quite tight on my head and the green yarn woven in behind now shows through and looks a little ugly. But 120sts was WAY to large. I think with 90sts, this would perfectly fit a 10 yr old. My 6 year old daughter loves it, the yarn is so soft, it’s a little big for her (especially in length), so we’ll share it. I have a small head. If I knit this again, I’d attempt it in 4ply or sport weight yarn and cast on 120sts.
I did garter st starting with a PURL round otherwise it looked all weird and I only did 5 rounds of garter st otherwise it doesn’t look like the hat picture from the designer.
Be careful doing the chart, the colours can be confusing if you’re doing white leaves.
If you’ve cast on 90sts instead, you need to start the decreases at the top of the hat at Round 5 instead of Rnd 1, (you won’t have enough sts otherwise). To make up for this, you’ll need to add some more knitting 'even' where it says to work 5 rounds even. I knitted 8 rows 'even' and it was just right for length. If you don’t add in extra decreases between rounds 7 and 11, you’ll end up with your decreases looking like a dog’s breakfast, (this goes for 90sts CO or 120Sts CO). So it should go like this:
Rnd 5: K8, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 6: (and every other round): Knit
Rnd 7: K7, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 9: K6, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 11: K5, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 13: K4, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 15: K3, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 17: K2, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 19: K1, k2tog, repeat to end of round
Rnd 21: K2tog around (10 stitches left)

I hope that helps someone. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Caught Being Cool - a positive chart for children

I wanted to share these basic 'charts', to give ideas to parents who would like to balance out the discipline in their relationships with their child. You can easily make your own, we have one on A5 paper so it's big enough for me to write on. The following PDF's are printable and you can print them to a size you would like. Our child likes to colour the chart in so we often just do the outline of her name ourselves and she decorates it. Some parents may not have time, so charts for printing yourself, follow below.

I need to point out these are NOT REWARD CHARTS!! We don't do reward charts in this house anymore and I'll explain why, in a bit. This chart was made because one night I realised I was feeling sad about all the times I felt I was on my daughter's case to do stuff or stop doing stuff. I could tell she was getting down about it too and all that negative responding was becoming a self fulfilling prophecy - she was starting to believe she was 'bad'.

I don't really like the terms "bad" or "good". I guess because the definition is in the eye of the beholder really, and I like to discipline the behaviour, not the child (if that makes sense). But alas, those labels are hard to avoid sometimes and they quickly pin these labels to behaviour when teachers and peers use the words in certain contexts. Anyway, one day Miss 6 announced she hated herself because she's bad all the time. I felt so sad, I had to do something! A friend suggested writing things down that we thought were good, to help balance it out, (more about that soon). We all know that pointing out things we like about others gives them a boost - in the same instance, when we point out negative stuff, it tends to make the person believe it after enough time. I think this idea would be great for adults in our lives too (although notes would be better or a chart might feel a little patronising)!!

In regards to reward charts, we don't do them because the flipside of them is that kids can begin to believe that your love is dependent on certain behaviour, it's why we don't use time out's either. We do use the bedroom (or elsewhere) for violent outbursts, but we don't label it "time out", we just remind the child we are removing them for our safety and they're welcome to join us when they're calm and ready to talk about it without yelling. Sometimes this involves having to lock the door to protect ourselves if they can't help coming back out before they're ready. So, things like sweets, rewards of special time spent with a parent, toys, stickers, etc, are all telling the child that they're not worth these things unless they are behaving a certain way. We believe that pocket money is given to teach good money skills and the child is worthy of it despite chore compliance. It also helps with those times you get asked 50 times a day for toys when out shopping. "Did you bring your own money dear?" We believe kids are worth treats and time spent with their parents despite non compliance. Of course, this doesn't mean you give pocket money or treats right after they've thrown cereal all over the floor - let's be sensible!

We now just ask Miss 6 to help out with a task. This is SO important in teaching kids that they are competent individuals who are an integral part of the family. They are valued and needed, and yes, they can achieve stuff. It helps them learn that when they help ease the load, parents often have some time to be able to spend with them (this needs to be pointed out) ie "could you please help unload the dishwasher so I can get dinner started, then when it's in the oven you could choose a quick game for us to play together". If they refuse, I find just pointing out your disappointment and clarifying that you won't have time to play or perhaps read that bedtime story later on, because of their choice, is enough to help them change their mind. Sometimes, when you ditch the rewards charts, it takes some time to help them recover from the desire to 'get' something every time. Sometimes we had to tell Miss 6 that she couldn't do xyz until the task was completed. She quickly learnt that doing said task meant time with Mummy later, or else life could get pretty boring for her.

Her confidence, maturity and empathy have all increased A LOT from using these techniques. I can't recommend highly enough, the book by Amy McCready entitled "If I Have To Tell You One More Time". She has great advice on how to stop the yelling, nagging etc, whilst getting what you need from your kids and keeping the bond intact.

The below charts don't have to be used forever. The charts are to help you show your kid that they can be awesome, when it's required. Over praising can result in kids who NEED validation for everything they do or say, you need to NOT use this chart for getting kids to do stuff. It's purely for balancing out the negative. So try and refrain from saying "if you don't do xyz, I won't be able to write it on the chart" or "what can you do to get on the chart". It turns it in to a reward system again. When they spontaneously do or say something awesome, you tell them how awesome it is and write it on the given day. Some days we have to write B.I.G so it looks like the day got filled up! Sometimes it's basic stuff like "remembered to wash hands", "washed hands when asked", "said sorry after doing xyz" or "ate politely". You really have to go looking for stuff as you want to BUILD ON IT. And build you will. It doesn't take long before kids like to sit in front of the chart and read all their awesomeness and just WANT to keep being awesome. It also takes the sting out of reprimanding when they don't make the best choices. I remind Miss 6 that she's awesome 90% of the time and that even adults get it wrong some times, I point her to the chart, which usually evokes an apology and some more awesome behaviour. Life is just getting better in this house now. Whatever you do, don't forget to fill in at least 5 things each day or your kid will be crushed! It's not hard to find 5 things, even if you're really pushing the boat out some days!

At the end of the week, we have a family night (we end the week on a night we can all be at home) and have a 10 minute hot chocolate and marshmallow session while we read out the COOL behaviour. Miss 6 LOVES it and it fuels her to keep it up. I think this is something that should be kept going, even as kids get older. The chart won't last forever, eventually we will use notes instead and bring them up at family meeting time (as well as continuing appropriate praise when said behaviour occurs).

We sincerely hope you enjoy the chart idea and it helps build self worth and esteem in your family too. If you want to read an excellent blog post about reward systems go to parentingfromscratch No More Stickers. Alfie Kohn gives some interesting insights also.

Click HERE to download this version
Add your child's name between the stars

Click HERE to download the flower version
Add your child's name between the flowers

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Chainsaw Forester Birthday Cake

It was recently my brothers 40th birthday and I wanted to him a special cake, as he'd separated from his wife a few months ago. He's not the type for a boring old NORMAL cake, so I searched high and low for ideas surrounding his work. He owns a business that exports logs and his business clears farmer's land when needed. Although he's not so hands on these days, more of the office guy, he still has his precious Stihl chainsaw, and it's the brand he has all his crew use. I found THIS cake that this very creative lady made and switched some things around the personalise to it my brother. The expression on his face and his joy at seeing this made all the time and effort worthwhile.

My brother (in icing!) and his beloved chainsaw.
I won't go in to lengthy instructions on how I did this, as the link (above) to the original has a few steps included. However, I will add a few pics of this cake in the making, below. I made the chainsaw after the man was complete, so it had a stick to go through it and hold it on.

I used a toothpick to attach the blade of the chainsaw on to.

I used white fondant with a little tylose mixed in to harden it for the blade. I made a back and a front, left them to set a little (just for 30 mins or so) then stuck them together with sugar water oin either side of the toothpick. I used sugar water to stick it also to the chainsaw end. I carefully painted on silver colouring and black for the chain etc then left to dry overnight, whilst balancing on a little container the right height.

I wasn't that happy with the legs, but I used a toohpick in each one to stablise them to the torso (all the way down in to the boots) and left to dry overnight before adding clothing and arms/ head etc. I placed a toothpick through the torso, for the head and toothpicks for where the arms would go. And one out the front for the chainsaw to go through (which had to be placed BEFORE it set and wouldn't go on to the stick)! Ie, make the man first in full, before making the chainsaw. I used royal icing to stick the legs firmly to the boots (it sets hard over night).

The clothes were all made like this, in pieces for the front and back, then joined on to the man with sugar water glue. It took a bit of measuring to decipher the correct size/ shape. I used silver colouring to paint on the reflective stripes.
The "40" at the top was just rolled out thick fondant and cut with cookie cutters. I stuck toothpicks in each ones base (to sit them up on the cake) and allowed to dry overnight. Then I used royal icing for the orange detail, it sets within 10 mins. I used royal icing for the ribbons (to stick to the cake). The cakes were chocolate and a spicy nutmeg cake with chocolate cream cheese icing.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Measuring Up to 40!

I found a similar card floating about on Pinterest and thought it was a cool idea. Here's mine:
A card for my brother's 40th birthday

Friday, 10 May 2013

Mother's Day Card

I got this idea from Tarynne Wise's blog. What a great way to use up all those little scrappy bits you have left hanging about. A card for Mum. I used foam squares to elevate the hearts and message. Zig-zag stitch on the ribbon. I printed out the message from Word.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

April's Craftiness

A couple more things I've just completed:
A Cleckheaton aviator hat. I had to semi felt this by hand as it turned out way too big (and still is, for the recipient)!
A 'koha' card for friends marrying soon. A 'koha' is a gift or donation in Maori.

In side the card

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Pumpkin Hat

I just finished this super cute pumpkin baby beanie for friends who've just had a newbie. I was well received and a quick knit. I can envisage cute photos, in the not too distant future, of said baby donning this hat amongst a pumpkin patch.
Pattern available for free HERE

Friday, 19 April 2013

A cool technique for royal icing lavender

I got Maisie Fantaisie's cake book from the library recently and loved this lavender idea! Very cute and effective. This is from her book Sweet and Simple Party Cakes which is well worth a look, lots of great techniques and basics.