Sunday, 29 May 2011

Save the Planet Sunday

I am trying hard to reuse, recycle or upcycle before I throw stuff away in the tip. The idea of getting more than one use of something is appealing and it is a small but hopefully important contribution in saving the planet. So I thought I would start a Save the Planet Sunday challenge to include a post about something you did that contributed to the world being a little 'greener', however small.

Here's my little contribution for this week.

I bought some tomatoes for my weekly grocery shop.

See this net that it comes covered in. I cut it out.

Bunched it up with a rubber band

And its going to work as my non-stick pan scourer before it goes in the bin.

If you check, your non-stick pan scourers are made of similar material - in fact this is softer!!! And since a lot of fruit and veg and cased in this netting, you never need to buy another non-stick pan scourer!!

This post is being linked up at:
I heart naptime
Cherished Treasures
Flamingo Toes

Friday, 27 May 2011

Bird feeder - killing time one afternoon

This was an afternoon project with little Miss J. She was very excited with the idea of creating something to eat for the birds - I swear she is obsessed with food in all forms!

You will need:

Stale bread (cut into circles) or if you're in my house, the crumpets that Mr. J bought and forgot to eat!!!!
Some bird seed (I just used a mix of seeds I had at home)
Peanut butter

If you're using bread, cut out a circle of bread. Stick a straw in to make a tiny hole and put the twine through and tie a knot. You will want to leave the bread out for a day or two so that it gets hardened.

Since my crumpets were already stale - I didn't have to leave it out to harden.

I got Little Miss J to spread the peanut butter on to the crumpet.....this took the most time and kept her busy!!!

Then she sprinkled on the seeds over the crumpet.

Give it a little knock to drop the excess seeds and ta da! You have your very own bird feeder!

Tie it somewhere the birds can perch and peck at it! We're now keeping a watch closely to see whether we actually can get any to come into our tiny garden!!!!

I'm linking this up at:
Fingerprints on the fridge
Sun Scholars
504 main Tickled Pink
Cherished treasures
Craft Envy
I am only 1 woman
I heart naptime
Flamingo Toes

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Oat & honey facial scrub

I just tried a very simple oat and honey face scrub. I love the fact that you can make it whenever you want with ingredients that are in your kitchen. It costs pennies, leaves your skin feeling fresh and you're not pumping any chemicals into your skin! Perfect! :)

I used:

2 spoons rolled oats (I didn't blitz them in a food processor but it might be a good idea to give it a quick blitz)
2 spoons honey
2 spoons yoghurt

In a bowl, place two spoons of oats.

Then add the honey

And the yoghurt

Mix it all up and you have your scrub!

It is a bit of a messy one to get on - you can't say you haven't been warned, but it leaves your skin feeling lovely and refreshed. The yoghurt will soothe your skin, the oats will gently exfoliate and the honey will moisturise.

Let me know how you like it!

This post is being linked up at:
Sugar Bee Crafts
Reasons to skip the housework
Ladybug Blessings
Funky Polka Dot Giraffe

Monday, 23 May 2011

Fantastic giveaway!

A chance to give your blog an all new look! Check out the giveaway on Mimi's blog.

Also stop in and check out Erin's work and her amazing designs!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Ginger cupcakes

So we're all lounging around watching TV and little Miss J is constantly piping up "Mummy - lets make cake".....I suspect the real reason is that she wants to lick the batter from the bowl at the end - but I can't find fault with that! So off we went, she donned her little apron and with a little help around the kitchen from my mum, we whipped up a batch of these lovely beauties which I'd never made before! And as I expected, just as we were nearing the end and the batter was being spooned into the cases - little Miss J goes "Can I lick the bowl, mummy????"....

These cupcakes are very easy and very yummy - even if I say so myself - they didn't last long in our home!!! Try it without the frosting for a more moderate version!

I find it quite hard to take pictures of the process when I'm baking with little Miss J, so apologies for just the final pics.

Try these out, share them with friends and leave me a comment - I would love to hear from you. Here is the recipe.

Stem Ginger cupcakes – makes 12 cupcakes

120 g plain flour
140 g golden caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp mixed spice
A pinch of salt
40 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
120 ml milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
100 g stem ginger, finely chopped

50 ml stem ginger syrup

225g cream cheese
4 tsp lemon juice
40 g icing sugar
2 tsp ginger glaze
Grated lemon rind (to decorate)
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius
2. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice and butter in a bowl and mix together until you get a breadcrumb consistency. This is best done with your fingers, but you can use an electric mixer if you like.
3. Slowly pour in half the milk a little at a time until it is all incorporated.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining milk, egg and vanilla extract.
5. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and continue beating with a whisk until very well incorporated.
6. Fold in the chopped stem ginger.
7. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the top of the cupcake bounces back when touched.
8. When the cakes are baking, add 50 ml water to the stem ginger syrup in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Allow it to reduce to 1/3 the original quantity.
9. When cupcakes are ready, take them out of the oven and pour a small amount of glaze over each one while they are still slightly warm. You will be left with just a couple of teaspoons of glaze which you can use for the frosting.
10. If you are using frosting, beat together all the frosting ingredients (except the lemon rind). You may want to keep this in the refrigerator for some time as the cupcakes cool so that it is easier to spread.
11. Spoon frosting onto the cupcake and decorate with a sprinkling of lemon rind.

This post is being linked up at: -
I love naptime
Cherished Treasures
Flamingo Toes
Making the world cuter
Craft o Maniac

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sugar and spice and all things nice!

Just recently I was using varnish on one of my other craft projects and got some of it on my hands, which was a disaster. I didn't have enough nail polish remover at home to get rid of it, so i had to depend on good old google for a solution. Cooking oil & Sugar - said google - and guess what, it worked and not only did it work, but I had the smoothest hands right after! :) So I looked up handscrubs and found loads of them in blogland. This is my version made with whatever I had in the kitchen.

You will need:

White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Olive oil (You could use another cooking oil, like vegetable oil or corn oil)
Lemon zest
Essential oil (you can use whatever scent you like)
A container for the final product (I recycled a scented candle container)

First add equal amounts of white sugar and brown sugar in a bowl and whisk together till all lumps are removed.

Spoon the sugar into the container until about 3/4 full.

Gradually pour in the oil. This step needs to be done slowly. Allow the oil to seep through the sugar and keep adding oil slowly until the sugar is well covered with oil. You want just enough so that its not floating on top.

If you have poured in too much oil, you can top up the sugar now.

Add about 7-8 drops of your essential oil.

I added the zest of a lemon.

Mixed it all up together and ta da! Its ready! Try some now - you won't be disappointed. While sugar is an excellent exfoliant, it can be a bit abrasive, so if you are using on an area other than your hands, please do so carefully as your skin may redden. But you will have wonderfully soft skin after you've used this, as I found out accidentally!!!!

I dressed it up with some ribbon and a felt flower I made. Doesn't it look lovely? Perfect handmade gift.

Let me know what you think!

This post is being linked up at:
Sugar and spice
Someday Crafts
My girlish whims
Sugar and dots
Polka Dots on Parade
Sweet Peas & Bumblebees
Momnivore's Dilemma
Delightful Order
SYS blog link party
Sassy sites
I am only 1 woman
Be different act normal

Friday, 13 May 2011

Chocolate Beetroot Loaf

Its not your run of the mill combo, but if you can make carrot cake, why can't you make beetroot cake??? :). I found this recipe on Netmums and tweaked it ever so slightly. You can't really taste the beetroot, but it does give the cake a lovely moist texture.

This has a nice chocolate flavour but is not intensely sweet. If you prefer a sweeter version, I'd increase the caster sugar by an ounce.

I didn't have a skewer to hand so used my knife to test it so the top of my cake looks a bit worse for wear!!!! It had a beautiful intense colour when it came out the oven.

And perfect with a cup of tea or coffee :)

Just a word of warning - you should probably use gloves when handling the beetroot as otherwise you're going to have red everywhere!!!!

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe. Go ahead, give it a go - you won't be disappointed!


8 oz self raising flour

2 eggs

1 oz cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

2 oz caster sugar

2 oz golden caster sugar

3 oz melted dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

3 oz butter, melted

4 oz raw beetroot , grated


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/gas mark 4/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Grease & line a loaf tin

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl.

4. Stir in the sugar. Then stir in the raw beetroot and gradually add the melted chocolate, melted butter and eggs. The mixture does get quite stiff but just keep at it until it all comes together.

5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for around an hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool in tin before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cherished Treasures”=

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lolly stick bracelet

Having recently gotten into crafting thanks to my friend Marisa (you can find her here), I came across these bracelets created from popsicle sticks or lolly sticks as we know them here. Now the very idea of using a lolly stick and bending it to create a bracelet was very intriguing so I just had to try it! I found the tutorial here and have finally managed to do it, although my finished product is no where near as lovely as the bracelets in the original post.

The lolly sticks can be bent by soaking them in hot water and then shaping them by warming the wood through with your fingers. Then insert them into a glass so they hold a circular shape. You will find full details in the tutorial link above.

I did use coloured lolly sticks but the colour comes off when you boil them, so you will need to paint them again.

Once mine had dried, I painted them all, but as you can see they did open out a bit due to the wetness of the paint.

So just as the paint was drying I inserted them into the glasses again and they came back to the bracelet shape quite easily.

Once they had dried overnight, I painted some designs on each one. I have not painted in a long long time so you can see the result of an unsteady hand!!

I then added some decorative shiny bits I had lying around to add a bit of sparkle and some good old silver glitter glue.

And ta da! I love how these turned out!

Now all I need to do is buy some sealant/lacquer tomorrow and seal them with a protective coat. I was so excited, I couldn't wait until I'd done that to share this with you!
Let me know what you think - I'd love to hear your comments!

This post is linked up at:
Smile Monsters
Sun Scholars
Sassy Sites
Be different act normal
Along for the ride
Cherished Treasures
Flamingo Toes
Making the world cuter
Craft O Maniac
Sew Happy Geek

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Indian Takeaway? Not quite!

Mango chutney - the very name conjures up images of an Indian takeaway with a gooey mango dip in a styrofoam cup!

Growing up in India, if we weren't eating mangoes as a fruit, we were eating them in pickles or chutneys. My mum is currently visiting us from India and mum visiting always equates to good food :).

This time, I had the opportunity to sample her version of the mango chutney (which uses more Southern Indian flavours) and I assure you, it tastes nothing like the stuff in the styrofoam cup!

I have listed the recipe below. You can adjust the level of chilli to suit your taste and this chutney can be made as hot or mild as you like.

The ingredients you require are: -

1 large raw mango peeled and cut into small pieces (approx 350 grams)
Sesame Oil - 4 tablespoons
Curry leaves - 4 to 5 leaves
Mustard seeds - a pinch
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder - to taste
Salt - to taste
Asafoetida - a pinch (can be found in world food shops and is essentially Indian in origin)
Red chillies - 2
Jaggery - 150 grams (Jaggery is the Indian version of unrefined sugar. You can possibly substitute light muscovado sugar for this if jaggery is not available. If your raw mango is particularly sour you may need to increase the jaggery slightly to balance the taste).

Oops! I forgot the Fenugreek seeds - a very small pinch


1. Heat the oil in a pan.

2. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, whole red chillies and the mango.

3. Add the red chilli powder and the fenugreek powder.

4. When the mango is slightly softened (this doesn't take long), add the jaggery . The jaggery will melt almost immediately and bring together all the ingredients. Do not cook it too much after this step.

5. Allow to cool.

This chutney will keep for a week in an airtight container. I guarantee it will be consumed long before that! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Tutu Time

I've been wanting to make little Miss J a tutu for a while now. Since sewing is not up my alley at all, I decided to scour the web for a no sew one. I used a combo of two tutorials which you can find here and here.

I bought one meter of tulle in purple, which in hindsight was too little and next time around I would buy more. So what I have is a short tutu but who cares - it looks lovely anyway :)

You need some tulle in a colour of your choice, some elastic, measuring tape, scissors and a craft mat if you have one.

Measure your child's waist and then subtract 3 inches - that is the amount of elastic you need. For e.g little Miss J's waist measured 19.5 inches and I used 16.5 inches of elastic. Sew the end of the elastic together to create a hoop.

Pull the elastic up to your thigh like a girdle. This makes it easy to loop the strips of tulle and tie knots tightly together until the whole elastic is filled up. You can refer to the tutorial links for how to make the knots....both tutorials show different knots and you can choose whichever one you prefer.

And the end result was this.

Doesn't it look lovely? Let me know what you think :)

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