Thursday, December 18, 2014

Home-made Gingerbread Latte Syrup

After a busy morning of Christmas shopping with the little one, we took a coffee/babychino break at Costa. This is when I had my first Gingerbread Latte. I got thinking that it would be fun to make for the family on Christmas morning, so I looked up a recipe online. I found one onn
 I really liked that it could be made from ingredients I already had at home, and took only about 30 minutes to make - but the syrup will last to up to 2 months in the fridge,

The recipe I used was as follows

2 cups of water
1.5 cups sugar
2 teaspoons of ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2-3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar.

Combine all ingredients and stir continually or whisk until it boils, then on a lower heat, allow to simmer while stirring until it thickens.

Allow it to cool down and put in fridge in an air-tight container.

You need to add 1-2 teaspoons of the syrup to warm milk, add your coffee and top off with whipped cream- or not.
I also made the kiddos gingerbread milk, which was really popular!

This is what it looked like when it was finished.

I put some of the syrup in a small bottle stuck a label and made it into a gift.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Candle Making with kids

Ever since, we candles during Puritan's Day in 5th grade, I've wanted to dip candles again. When I came across a  candle making kit, I knew I had to get it. My boys were eager to help.

 A helped me calculate the amounts we needed, while S counted the number of spoons we needed.

 We melted the wax in a pyrex placed in a pan of water
 It was exciting to see the wax pellets desolve, its change of state from solid to liquid.
 We added a bit of tea tree oil to add scent.
 At the beginning we had to straighten out the wicks, to make the candles straight.

A used a toothpick to etch an elf out of the candle

S pressed small glass beads into the warm wax
There some wax left, but not enough to dip candles so we used the mould and added colouring to make some moulded candles.

Our candle collection:
I've asked for more supplies for Christmas!

Christmas jar labels

I made marmalade and candied orange peel for teachers and friends this year... again. I wanted to change things up a bit, but rather then trying a new recipe, I decided to make different labels. I found Annabelle Nielsen's blog with some great label ideas for preserves ( and saw these


I thought the top right one would be perfect for my purposes

 I used the same sort of simple paper as I usually do, and a template to make creating a larger number of labels faster.
  I drew a border and wrote the words with a fine felt tip pen. I also added a bit of holy.
 Then I colored the label with Sharpies.
After cutting out the labels I glued them on to the jars.
I cut out round shapes from a gingham fabric (old school uniform) and covered the top of the jars.
The labels kind of remind me of Alice Tait's book cover designs. 

Advent Wreath

This is the wreath I made this year, using pine branches and a box of Christmas potpouri from Sainsbury's.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ikea Hack: Ikea Moppe drawers

I bought this five drawer Ikea Moppe unit at a charity shop. As you can see below, it probably belonged to a fellow craft-enthusiast... let's just say, I hope my revamp will stand the test of time better than this...

I had purchased the drawers about six months ago but could not decide on how to revamp it or what to use it for. Then my elder son showed me a plan he had jotted down about the topics he wanted to blog about (scouting, archeology, drawing ect) He drew boxes around each of the topics, in a way compartmentalizing them. It occurred to me that he could make good use of the moppe drawers- especially as his desk is usually a bit cluttered. 
I did not want it to be too cute, as he is nearly 9 years old.After some deliberation, I decided on Victorian specimen drawers, remembering how people in the Victorian era enjoyed collecting bugs, fossils, curiosities and discovering the world around them.

I used by Black'n' Decker mouse to sand the wood and  some blue acrylic paint.

Because the Moppe drawers are a bit tight to begin with, I sanded all sides of some of the individual boxes so they would side better. I only painted the front of the drawers for the same reason.
I traced the front of the box onto

graph paper and drew the shape of the faux identification label.
I cut out the identification label while keeping the drawer shape I traced intact.
I used this as a stencil on the wooden drawers. I think using a customized stencil made positioning the label in just the right place easier.

Then I cut out the rectangle from  the middle of the identification label and traced around it at the center of the label.
This would be the white (faux paper) bit of the label.
I first painted the white bit with acrylic paint.
I then used bronze acrylic paint for the card frame.

Once dried, I also painted faux screws onto the frame, and painted words on the labels.

I used a matt finish to protect the paint.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ikea Hack: Malma Mirror for young Pirates

 I upcycled this Ikea Malma mirror for my younger son. He had been sick with the chicken pox for a few days, and we used the time we had today to work on a project together.

Because this is a more elaborate design I made a blueprint. I traced the frame:
 And I traced around the mirror bit as well, so I knew exactly how much space I had to work with,

 While I made the sketch of what I wanted S used some sand paper to sand the surface of the frame. This was both to give him a job and to help the paint stick better.

 I used acrylic paints and a matt acrylic finish.

There is even a tiny pirate peeking out of a cabin hole.