Friday, 29 October 2010

Too many projects?

To be honest, this morning I thought there was no chance I was going to finish the projects planned for this week but tonight I am quietly proud of myself!

The puppet theatre is finished, with curtains (courtesy of my mum and her sewing machine) and interchangeable scenery backdrops drawn by Sophie. I had a few issues on how to attach the backdrops and initially tried punching holes along the top and hooking the backdrops onto unfolded paperclips. Unfortunately, every time Sophie moved her hand into place in the theatre the backdrop lifted up and fell off the hooks. So I had to rethink it and today I put loops of paper along the back of the backdrops, cut a piece of garden cane to size and attached two loops of string to either side at the back to hang it through. Sophie hasn't tried it yet but I am pretty confident that this will hold the scenery in place.

Next on our list of projects was completing the Halloween treats. These turned out really well and Sophie even had a go at piping some of the skeletons onto the biscuits (top left of the photo). For a four and a half year old's first attempt at icing I was really impressed - I guess she must have inherited my creative genes. She also helped me flood the heads with icing and once this was dry I piped the eyes and mouths on. So our army of skeletons are ready for the trick or treaters and if 50+ kids don't descend on our house on Sunday night I will take some biscuits along to my cake decorating course on Monday night and feed my children the rest.

Finally, late this afternoon I set to and carved a jack o'lantern from our pumpkin. I found a great template online and created a happy chappy to cheer us up on Halloween. It's the first time I have used a template and I am really pleased with the end result. I remembered from previous years that it is too difficult to cut enough pumpkin flesh out of the small pumpkin for any sort of cooking so the pumpkin soup idea has been abandoned. But I have saved the pumpkin seeds and I need to decide what to do with them - roast them or leave them to dry for Sophie to glue onto pictures. 

Half term almost over and I am starting to think about the next few projects coming up. But perhaps I'll just have a few days off and enjoy the rest with Sophie back at school!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

More half term fun

Determined to achieve success in at least one of my two planned activities this week, last night I set to with a cardboard box, craft knife, glue and blue paper and created a small puppet theatre. Sophie was sadly unimpressed with my effort but seemed much happier once she was let loose with the stickers.

Still to do are some scenery panels to go on the angled bits and some curtains to pull across the front. We also finished the remaining two hand puppets and they are really cute.

Also today we made an army of gingerbread men and later this week I hope to transform them into skeletons. Obviously there were a few casualties and both children were more than happy to test them!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Half term fun

So it's half term and I have two craft activities planned to do with Sophie this week.

The first one is to help Sophie make some glove puppets that she has, and to create a mini theatre for her so that she can put on a show for us at the end of the week. We have managed to make two of the four puppets today and will hopefully do the other two tomorrow. That leaves us Thursday and Friday to make the theatre. I have a small box and am planning to cover it inside and out and make some sort of curtains that can be drawn across the front.

The second activity is to prepare a few things for Halloween. I have a pumpkin that I would like to carve and hopefully make something edible from the flesh (Sophie has been reading a book called Pumpkin Soup at school and has been asking me when she will get to have it so maybe that's what I'll make). I have also decided to make my own treats for the trick or treaters - I am thinking of green/red marbled mini cupcakes with gruesome icing and jelly worms coming out the top or skeleton biscuits (idea "borrowed" from a shop near us) - I have some royal icing left from last week so could use that up.

Let's see what we manage to achieve in a week ...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Lego stormtrooper cake

Last night I went to my cake decorating course and started creating my lego stormtrooper cake. I had previously cut out the shape of the cake from the nice gluten free sponge (the horrid cornflour one got fed to the ducks yesterday!) and thankfully it didn't matter that the head had fallen off the body as I just stuck it all back together and hid it under the fondant.

I opted for a 2D approach rather than trying to make the stormtrooper. I managed to cut out and position a lot of the black fondant and the tutor introduced me to the art of "extruding" to get thin rope like pieces (another thing added to my Christmas list!) At the end of the session the cake did look a bit like an odd person with a black belt wearing a rucksack and hoodie and sporting a rather grand moustache ...

Luckily I had a free morning this morning, so while Sophie was at school I set to and finished it. I added some more black and created the lego hands, then finished off with some dark grey royal icing and a little bit of white royal icing on the face.

I am really pleased with the finished cake, although the head seems a bit too small and the belt went wrong. If this had been for a proper occasion I would have covered the old cake board too - not sure what colour I would have chosen though, maybe orange? As it was, I didn't have enough fondant (or time during the session) to cover it.  I'm sure that with a star wars mad husband and an almost two years old boy I will be making this cake again in the future so all things to learn for next time!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Gluten free cakes - and how not to make them

I have been doing a cake decorating course at my local adult community college and this coming week we are going to create a mini novelty cake. So, in a brief moment of madness I decided that mine was going to be a lego stormtrooper. Okay so that's not too bad ... but this is for my husband who, being gluten and dairy intolerant, feels really left out whenever I do some baking for the kids. So I found a new cake recipe in a birthday cake book that is made from cornflour, eggs and sugar.

Somehow I don't think I did it right because the resulting cake was disgusting. The top crust totally broke into bits and the bottom of the cake was an eggy disaster. I think that I mixed the eggs at too high a speed in the mixer and it really didn't taste good at all.

I did cut it into a rough stormtrooper shape but yesterday decided I was going to abandon it and try a more conventional cake. Through trial and error, I have discovered that my husband can eat processed milk products so this time I used butter, eggs and gluten free flour as per a normal victoria sponge. The resulting cake was soooo much better.

I am going to try the cornflour cake again, mixing the eggs at a very low speed this time and see whether that makes a difference. I'll post the results when I've done.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Getting started

I am very new to the whole blogging thing. I love reading other people's blogs and can happily while away the hours finding new and exciting things to make and do, courtesy of others. I decided to give my own blog a go and over the coming weeks I hope to add some of my creations and ideas.