Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Recipe : Dairy Free Strawberry Ice Cream

This is scrummy. Don't get me wrong, I love normal ice cream too but its not massively healthy. Can mint choc chip count as part of your five a day? No? Oh well. Enter coconut milk. Although slightly high on the calorific side, it is far healthier for you and I get super excited about eating fresh ice cream straight from the ice cream maker, so I've been experimenting with flavours. This is so easy to make and tastes so fresh.

You will need just three ingredients - 15 strawberries (fresh or frozen), a can of coconut milk and a little drop of maple syrup or honey to taste. Pop all the ingredients into your ice cream maker and carry on doing your thing. Did you just make ice cream? I'm not sure. It's that quick! If you don't have an ice cream maker, simply blend the ingredients and freeze, whisking the mixture up every couple of hours. This ice cream is best served slightly defrosted. Delicious!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Crafty DIY : Wire Photo Wall

Ok, ignore the textured wallpaper again. No, we still haven't faced tearing it off yet. Yes, it will probably stay there forever. No, we're not an elderly couple who bought the house in the 60's. Yes, we have become lazy. But the last time we steamed off wallpaper, we found 6 new layers underneath  (disheartening) and my thumbs stuck together. However the new photo wall does improve the corridor quite a great deal. What with all those cheery/ridiculous  faces beaming out and spectacular memories making us smile so often as we walk by.

This project was super easy (as always). You will need some rigger gloves to do this, unless you're hardcore like me and don't mind the wire pinging back on your fingers and vastly decreasing your chances of typing again. Only kidding. It wasn't that bad. I'm still blogging right? So, anyhoo...I made this photowall between two doorways and used the door frames to screw into. If you don't have that luxury, simply secure two wood batons to your wall. I screwed in three eyelet screws and attached the wire (medium garden wire works well) by rotating it back on itself so that it could not come loose.

Down the other end of the corridor, I attached three more eyelet screws at the same heights, but not completely screwed in. I then attached the wire as tight as I could by hand at this end in the same way. But the wire is better for use in this instance when it is completely taught. So to make your photowall wire nice and tight, grab your pliers and fix the eyelet screws in completely which will increase the tension in the wire as you turn. Be careful not to turn too much so that it snaps and pings back at you (not that this happened to me, noooo).

We printed some of our favourite photos in black and white. Actually I had them printed when you could get 100 prints for 99p through Truprint - bargain. I ordered some tiny little wooden pegs from ebay and fixed the photos to the wire. I love that we can continually refresh these pictures as and when we fancy. Or as and when Truprint have their magic offer on again.

Here is a closer shot of the eyelet screw. Oh and a snapshot of one of our beloved friends Poon. He's super fun to wind up  have around. Don't worry no Poons were hurt during this photo shoot. I just realised this post may appear on some dodgy listings somewhere on the darker side of the web what with keywords like screw, wood, hardcore. Sorry Poon, you could become very popular in the near future. Who knew an innocent photowall could be so dirty?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Crafty DIY : Tray Table

Always happy to rummage, I found this old wooden tray discarded at my folks place last year, ready for the bonfire. As the other half groaned as I stuffed it into a gap in an already bursting boot, I was coming up with creative ways to reenergise this unwanted treasure, but it made its way into storage and was forgotten about. Until recently when I found a couple of drawer  handles I picked up in a sale a while back. Lightbulb moment – this could become a much needed tray table in our games room.


So I set to work cleaning off the cobwebs *shivers* and gave it a lick of varnish. Drilled holes for the handles and fixed them in tight. To finish it off, I used a bit of leftover wallpaper to line the base and hide the hole. Turns out the tray is the exact same size as our toy basket kept in the games room for smaller visitors (and larger ones with a destructive streak and feel Jenga is the healthy way to handle it). What a perfect addition to our home and it only cost £1 for the handles, this is most certainly my kind of project - cheap and cheery.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Crafty DIY : Clay Gift Tags

Whilst  out shopping with my lovely cousin (hey Mand!), we found some gorgeous metal ‘with love’ gift tags in a twee country gift shop. I bought a bunch and promptly ran out, so thought I would have a go at making my own clay versions. These were super-duper easy, provided you have the patience to let them dry. I used air drying clay, rolled it out to approx. 5mm with a rolling pin (wash the pin immediately after use – clay in cakes = bleaurgh) and simply stamped a message with a stamping set I picked up years ago – it was only £1.50 in a department store sale and a worthy investment, as they have been used hundreds of times since. Before you finish, use a straw to make a hole in the top for ribbon.


Leave them to dry on foil or plastic wrap for 24 hours. Flip over and let the other side dry for 24 hours. Flip back and leave for another 24 hours just to be sure and then thread in your choice of ribbon or sting or raffia and attach to your next present – these are perfect for hanging on a bottle of wine. Make a whole batch and you will be sorted for Christmas and for that next impromptu gift that’s needed. You can paint them too if you so wish, I like the natural finish though, but might experiment with the next batch.



Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Recipe : Mini Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love small food? I recently found out a relative was once invited to a wedding where all the food was miniature – what a brilliant idea. I bet the guests felt like giants all day! So let’s talk about cupcakes. Again. They are pretty darn awesome, let’s be honest. But since I am trying to find ways of having treats without the guilt, I thought I might make some mini cupcakes. Having purchased some mini cases from Amazon, I simply halved my usual cupcake recipe and this seemed to make about 18 of the little rascals. And it didn’t feel naughty eating one. And… I managed to stick to just one. Shocker. For that day anyway.

You won't need a mini muffin tray especially as my faithful old standard size muffin tray did the job. If making these for a party and they require travelling, it’s worth investing in a cardboard carrier. I salvaged one from work a while back and these beauties arrived looking perfect. Alternatively, I have used an old cereal box, folded it to fit a basket and then cut some holes in it. This works well for larger cupcakes, just make sure for mini cupcakes, the holes take up quite a bit of the cake so there’s not much room for a shaking around. For the butter cream, I simply used 150g butter, 300g icing sugar and 1tsp vanilla extract - you can cut a corner from a freezer bag and use that to pipe buttercream if you don't have a kit, although you can usually find them in the pound stores.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Missing the Mans

For those of you who pop by here regularly, I’m very sad to announce that just before Christmas we lost a major little part of our family. The cat, most commonly known as Mans or the Little Man Child or Jobbies or his actual name Josh, sadly decided he was too old to handle anything that interrupted his happy days of napping and shortly after a seizure in my arms (worst day ever), we found ourselves at the vets making the most horrid of decisions.


Despite his ailments (and old man groans as he closed in on twenty years), he was a well-travelled little fella, who moved several times with us, readjusting effortlessly despite being blind and enjoyed many holidays in the caravan (which he adored - not much space to explore) and on the canal boat (oh, how he loved Poon’s comfy chair in front of the fire, not so much the harness for riverside walks though). We miss him. The house is too quiet. There's nobody at our feet to chat with. There's no comforting furry cuddles as soon as you sit down. There's no small snuggling at the foot of the bed. The rabbit misses him too and has become somewhat of a recluse who has to be dragged in for cuddles. As if in dispute that it was the cat's job to do that, he soon wriggles away and goes back to sulking in the empty hallway where the two used to lay side by side.