Friday, 21 June 2013

Summer is Here!

Now that the long anticipated summer has finally arrived, I can't wait to do all those things that make great family memories; picnics in meadows, building sand castles, family get togethers, bbqs and more but one of my all time favourite things is homemade elderflower cordial, bottled in gorgeous vintage lemonade bottles. I love using chilled sparkling water to make a wonderfully refreshing summer drink to enjoy whilst whiling away the summer days.

Here's my recipe for homemade elderflower cordial and the beauty of it is it literally uses 4 ingredients!

6 elderflower bunches (approximately)
3 lemons
900g granulated sugar
600ml water

~ By hand, clean the elderflower heads removing any unwanted bits that may be in amongst the flowers and put them in a large bowl.
~ Peel and slice the lemons and put the rind of the lemon and the slices in the bowl with the elderflower, squeezing the juice from all of the slices of one of the lemons onto the elderflower.
~ In a heavy based pan pour the 600ml of water and 900g of sugar and bring to the boil to create a syrup. Once the mixture has reached boiling point, turn it down to simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the mixture is clear and has developed a syrup like texture
~ Once the syrup is ready, pour it directly into the bowl with the elderflower and lemons, stir gently and leave to cool. Once the mixture is cool, cover the bowl and leave for 24 hours

~ Once the 24 hours is up strain the syrup mixture through a muslin into a clean jug.
~ Sterilise the bottle and lid for your cordial by pouring boiling water into it and leave for about 2 minutes then empty. Once sterilised, pour the elderflower cordial into the bottle and replace the lid.

Dilute the cordial using still or sparkling water to your own taste

It really is that simple, a gloriously easy drink for those glorious summer days!

M xx

Kilner Jars

Just a quick post from me.

If like me you seem to open your cupboards and hundreds of jars, bottles and canisters fall out that you have bought  for preserving jams, herb infused oils, homemade cordials etc but haven't quite got round to using yet then you'll love this(although your other half may not!)

My partner Sam recently went on a late night shopping trip to our Sainsburys, whilst there I received texts and video messages. How happy was I when I opened them up?! Sainsburys are currently having a sale on all their Kilner jars. Without even having to ask, Sam returned home with a bag full of bottles and jars for me at a fraction of what they should have cost.

So if your like me and love your Kilner jars or just want some for a project you have coming up, pop into your local Sainsburys and stock up!

M xx

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Labour of Love Continues

Following on from a previous post And so the Labour of Love Begins here is the update and finale of the project that my daughter and I took on.

After having a few heated discussions about the best way to sew the bag together and what colour thread would work best (amongst other discussions!) we finally got around to cutting the fabric out and pinning it together.

As this would be Mikhayla's first attempt at using a sewing machine I was a little(well a lot actually) apprehensive as to how this would pan out so I dug out the user manual and before I would even let her plug it in she was made to read the entire manual.  What I wasn't prepared for were the questions that my daughter would ask after reading some of the guide, particularly as I am yet to read the manual myself...ooops! 

I have to admit that we did have a giggle at some of the terminology and examples shown in the book as neither of us had a clue as to what was going on! We quickly decided that we would work everything out ourselves and got on with the practical side of it all.

What really surprised me throughout the entire process was unexpected bond that we shared. We realise that although we clash at times, we are in fact a lot more alike than we'd both like to admit. She's confided in me her fears and ambitions, what makes her happy and how she is really feeling about starting secondary school in September.
Although we do talk quite openly, it was nice to be able to spend time alone together doing something that we both enjoyed and creating something usable at the end which will hopefully provide us both with long lasting memories.

So here it is, our bag of love and memories

Mikhayla really surprised me with just how well she knew her way around the sewing machine, so off she went with some scraps and thread one afternoon and lo and behold here are her very own creations, made 100% by herself.

She really doesn't realise just how proud she makes me on a daily basis.

M xx

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Fanciful Idea!

I have always found baking to be therapeutic and satisfying and finding new recipes or trying out new ideas has always pleased the entire family.

I have recently been trying to catalogue and organise all of my cooking and baking books when I stumbled across a recipe for French Fancies. As much as I love a French Fancy the thought of actually attempting to make them filled me with terror. I had a look at a few different online tutorials and written recipes and mustered up the courage to have a go.

Whilst the finished product isn't exactly a French Fancy that the infamous Mr Kipling would be trying to pass off as his own, they were totally scrumptious.

Below is my own tweaked recipe for our take on the classic  French Fancy - 'The Not So French Fancy!'

You will need:
For the sponge - 20cm square baking tin
                           Grease proof paper
                           Self raising flour
                           Caster sugar
                           Unsalted butter
                           4 eggs

For the butter cream - Unsalted butter (softened)
                                    Icing sugar

For the icing - Apricot jam
                      Royal icing
                      Food colouring

First things first, grease and line your baking tin then make the sponge. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in  the eggs one at a time.

To keep your sponge nice and fluffy,using a metal spoon, gently fold in the flour a little at a time. Doing it this way will ensure you keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

Once all ingredients are combined pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake in the middle of the oven at gas mark// for about 40 mins or until soft but firm to the touch.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cooled put in the fridge to chill for 20 mins.

While the cake is cooling, make up the buttercream. Cream the icing sugar and softened butter together until light and fluffy then put about 1/4 of the buttercream into a piping bag and leave the rest in the bowl.

Roll out the marzipan so that it is the same size as the cake. *TOP TIP* use the base of your baking tin as a template to cut the marzipan to the right size. Melt the apricot jam so it can be brushed easily. 

Remove the cake from the fridge and cut the top horizontally so that it is level when turned over.

Brush the top of the cake with the melted apricot jam and then carefully lay the marzipan on the top trimming any excess.

Using a ruler and knife measure and gently mark out 25 4x4cm squares. Once happy with your squares cut the cake using your guide.

Using the buttercream in the bowl, cover the 4 sides of the cubes leaving the top and bottom plain. Once you have covered all of the cubes use the buttercream in the piping bag to pipe a dollop on the top of each of the cubes(on the marzipan).

Put the cubes into the fridge to chill for a further 20 minutes. While the cubes are in the fridge make the icing.

Cut the royal icing into cubes and place in a blender or mixing bowl. Add a little water and start to mix or blend. Put a couple of drops of your chosen food colouring into the bowl and continue to mix. keep adding the water and mixing until you have a fluid but thick consistency. once happy with the icing mix remove the cubes from the fridge.

Pick up the cubes, one at a time by pricking them with a fork at the base and dip them into the icing mix. Coat all of the cubes and then put them back on the wire rack and back in the fridge to set.

Once the icing has set you can either melt some chocolate and drizzle over the top of each cube or make up some white or coloured icing sugar and drizzle that over the top(that wasn't possible in our house because as soon as the icing had begun to set they were devoured!!!)

Yes this is quite a lengthy process but definitely worth it :-)

M xx

Monday, 10 June 2013

An Easy Salsa Recipe

Hey guys

Check out my super easy, super quick tutorial on how to make a 4 ingredient salsa here 

M xx

All the Fun of the Fair

Nintendo Ds, Nintendo Dsi, Wii, tablets, Virgin digital television, 2 laptops, a pc, V-Tech smile, battery operated handheld consoles, iphones, a blackberry are just some of the gadgets that reside in our house! Whilst I have no particular interest in many of these the thought of doing something that doesn't involve one of these pieces of technology is enough to send chills down the spines of most children. With this in mind I told the kids about the kind of toys that children had in previous decades and how lucky they were to have bowling alleys, theme parks, museums and more all within easy reach of our London home.

Funnily enough, 2 days later my daughter noticed a sign for Carters Steam Fair, "Great, how about I take you guys there this weekend?" "No mum, it's an old fashioned fair", "it will be sooooo boring", "I'll just stay home and watch a movie" were just some of the responses I got from all, 3 of my little 'angels'. So I resolved to spend Saturday afternoon baking instead.

Saturday afternoon arrived and it was meet by "I'm bored" and "Can we go out please?" So I agreed, on one condition...we go to the steam fair at the local park. Reluctantly the kids agreed, so with our neighbour, my sister and her little boy we headed to the steam fair.

As soon as we set foot in the park the kids were off, now considering it was an 'old fashioned fair' and 'it will be sooooo boring' I barely saw them for the entire time we were there. 
As scaredy cats, my partner Sam and myself decided to look after the youngest 2 whilst the others went off on the rides.
Reasonably priced and not too busy we all had a ball and even the originally unimpressed angels had a blast. "Oh my goodness, I didn't realise those rides would be so fast or scary", "Did you see how many times I won the grand national in the penny arcade?" "Please can we go on the helter skelter? Just once more pleaaaaaase!"
Needless to say, I left with 3 very happy children that now realise there is life beyond technology and had one more request.

"Mum, when we get home can we play some board games........" Aaaaaah, all the fun of the fair has converted them, temporarily I'm guessing!

M xx

Thursday, 6 June 2013

And so the Labour of Love Begins!

So, we've been through ballet dancing, singing, street dance, swimming, drawing and more, but the latest ambition of my 11 year old daughter is to become a designer. 
Unlike most of her other ambitions, designing/making is something that I love and can help her with. Although I don't expect this phase to last, especially with her off to experience the new world that is secondary school in September, this is a skill that I really want to encourage her with.

Pre-adolescent girls aren't necessarily the easiest to bond with and establishing boundaries between friendship and parent/daughter relationships can be quite difficult at this particular stage of their lives which is why I am actually really excited about our plans to spend time together 'creating' some fabulous items.

On a recent trip into town to find some oilcloth to cover our dining table (that has probably been fed as much as the kids have fed themselves!) I stumbled across some pretty cloth that I just knew my daughter would love. At a reasonable price, I snapped up a couple of yards of the material with no particular idea in mind other than the fact that this could be a great bonding experience.
Once I showed Mikhayla the fabric she was thrilled and instantly suggested we make a bag with it. 

At this point, what you have to remember is that other than the odd project at school, my daughter has absolutely no experience or knowledge of the sewing world at all, this includes operating a sewing machine.

We had a look at different styles of bags and we discussed what she would use it for, then it became quite clear that we were going to have to create our own pattern to make her bag.
Not one to be deterred, I thought I could use this as an opportunity to show her as much as I can about the world of sewing, which I loved when my grandma taught me.

I'm guessing this phase wont last for too long so rather than spending a fortune on materials that will then find a home in the bottom of a cupboard somewhere, we have used newspaper to create our pattern but that in itself was a...'experience' shall we say.

So as we embark on what I'm going to call a labour of love, I'm looking forward to the laughs, bond, memories and bag that will be created I have to admit that I'm not looking too forward to the fallouts, impatience and disagreements that will undoubtedly ensue.

Stay tuned for updates of this labour of love!

M xx

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Confetti Cones

Hey guys

Just a super quick post to let you know that my first ever youtube video is now live!!!!! Hooray!

You can find it by following this link 
Once there you will also be able to subscribe to my youtube channel for more diy projects and tutorials.

M xxx

Brighton Beach Lamp

Despite having 3 children, 2 cats, 1 goldfish and a fiance all crammed into a flat in London I am a firm believer that there is a place for everything and everything has it's place! So on a recent trip to Brighton with our 4 year old I was a little alarmed that he had decided to collect shells from the seafront. 
Wondering where on Earth these new additions to our ever expanding household would go it struck me that other than the usual combination of shells, photo frames and tons of varnish, there must be some crafty project that we could come up with to give these shells a place in our home.

After racking my brains trying to come up with an idea for these shells in dawned on me that we could probably make some kind of a lamp. As these shells were the property of my 4 year old (which he frequently reminded me) I knew that this lamp would have to be suitable for him so straight away we knew candles were out of the question.

Sooooooo, 24 hours later the idea for the Brighton Beach Lamp was born.

I started off with a vase I had recently bought in TKMaxx, some play sand (which is non toxic and child friendly) and 2 sets of battery operated fairy lights from the Poundshop and of course not forgetting Samuel's shells from the beach!

I used all of the sand to fill about 1/4 of the vase

I then used one set of the fairy lights to put on top of the sand and around the inside of the vase.

After washing and cleaning all of the shells(and we still can't quite shake the 'fishy' smell!) I put some of them around and on top of the first set of fairy lights.

Then I placed the second set of fairy lights on top of the shells and again around the inside of the vase.

Then I used the remaining shells and arranged them on top of the fairy lights and tidied up the wires and loosely wrapped them around the base of the vase.

The only thing I think I would have done differently is allow Samuel to collect more shells to fill up the vase more.
In the evening when it's nice and dark,we snuggle down to watch a movie we switch on our Brighton Beach lamp which takes pride of place in our lounge.

M xxx

Monday, 3 June 2013


Hi all

I'm Emma, mum to 3 beautiful (and energetic) children.  For years now I have had a love for all things 'crafty' from making jewellery to soft furnishings;cupcakes to wedding crafts and for years I have said I will put all of these projects together in a book, blog, album etc but it just never happened.
Soooooo, I've decided to stop putting it off and get my act together.

Along with projects and recipes I'm sure you'll also find quite a few posts of my ramblings on life, love and children; helping you gain an insight into the crazy world that life!