CRAFTY

Jul 22

Every day is cake day…

3 comments

by LifeLoveLaura on July 22, 2013

…or it should be.

Yesterday was the last day of my maternity leave (sob) so by the time you read this I’ll be on my very first shift back at work. I’m not going to dwell on it too much, I’ve done that enough over the past few weeks! Instead I’m going to talk about CAKE.

Gone are the days of going out on the piss and staying out until 7am, on Saturday night I spent my night baking. I’ve never really baked properly before. I’m a dab hand at knocking together a Betty Crocker chocolate and vanilla swirl cake but there isn’t really much skill involved in cracking a few eggs and adding a bit of oil to a pre-made mixture. Over the past couple of weeks though, I’ve realised that Little T’s first birthday (scary!) is creeping up on us and being fully aware of how much nice cakes cost to buy, I have decided to try to make his first birthday cake myself.

After taking to Twitter for hints and tips on where to start, I’m THAT clueless, I had a go at a plain Vicky sponge last week to test out the mixture technique and surprisingly it turned out ok! Lovely and moist with just a tiny bit of a burnt bottom, ooh er!

My first go

My first go

Plain victoria sponge cake

Slightly burnt bottom but apart from that, all good.

It was moist, tasty and between Big T and I we managed to polish off the whole cake within 24 hours. If it’s there it gets eaten in this house!

We were going to go with nautical for Little T’s birthday but just before I plodded off to Hobbycraft to stock up on decoration supplies we decided to go rainbow themed instead. “Isn’t that a bit gay?” my brother asked. No brother, he’s a baby. Anyway… stupid big brothers aside, a rainbow themed birthday party can only mean one thing – a rainbow cake! As I’m one of those impatient people that can’t stand to wait for things and after realising that it’s not actually as difficult to bake a simple cake, I thought I’d have a go at one on Saturday night. There was bugger all on TV to miss.

Come 8pm, once Little T was well away in the land of nod, I cracked on.

Rainbow cake ingredients

Betty crocker cream cheese style icing

Equipment:

Scales

One cake tin

Greaseproof paper to line the bottom of the cake tin

Electric hand held whisk (I’m not messing about with hand one!)

Silicone spatula

6 bowls

Ingredients:

6 eggs

338 grams of sugar

338 grams of self raising flour

338 grams of unsalted butter

dash of vanilla extract (although I don’t think this made much difference to the taste)

1 tbsp of baking powder

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple Dr Oetker gel colourings

1 tub of Betty Crocker cream cheese icing (you could make your own but my skills aren’t that advanced just yet)

What I did:

Please note: although my cake turned out all right, this is not a fool proof method – next time I will be tweaking it a bit.

Plain victoria sponge mix

Umm, I never realised the disgusting amount of butter and sugar in a cake!

- Mix the sugar and butter with a bit of added elbow grease, until it is soft and silky. This time I didn’t mix it enough, next time I’ll mix until it goes whiter. 

- Add the eggs. I added them all at once and straight out of the fridge which caused them to curdle. Next time I will be adding them one by one and have them at room temperature. 

- Add the baking powder and then the flour, gradually. After I had done this I had to thin the mixture a little bit by adding some whole milk. It reminded me of making Yorkshire puds.

- Split the mixture equally into 6 bowls. There is no need to measure it, if it looks equal to the eye then it probably will be. Next time I won’t be making the mixture all at once. I will make it in 6 separate batches so it’s not just sitting there for hours. 

How to make a rainbow cake

- Add a full tube of the Dr Oetker colouring to each bowl. Next time I will be using Sugarflair food colouring as the ones I used weren’t quite bright enough for the look I was going for.

How to make a rainbow cake

- Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper to line the bottom of the cake tin. Add one bowl of mixture to the tin and spread evenly. Put it into the oven, preheated to 170 degrees (I have no idea what gas mark that is but I’m sure it can be googled.)

- Repeat the greaseproof paper and cake mixture to tin method until all 6 cakes are cooked. Each takes around 20-30 mins. Next time I will be using at least one other tin. One tin is ridiculous as the cake took 5 and a half hours from mixing until finished!

- Remove the greaseproof paper from the bottom of each layer. It got a little bit stuck but was easy enough to remove without breaking the cakes. In between each layer, spread a thin layer of the icing, kind of like buttering a sandwich.

how to make a rainbow cake

how to make a rainbow cake

how to make a rainbow cake

- Et voila! As this was purely a practise I didn’t ice the outside of the cake too but the Betty Crocker icing is perfect for this, as well as using it in between layers.

how to make a rainbow cake

how to make a rainbow cake

The moment of truth

The finished article!

The finished article!

I am SO happy with how it turned out. I tasted it yesterday morning and although it was reeeaaally sweet, it didn’t kill me. Like I said in the method, next time I’ll be using darker colours and more tins to save time but apart from that it’s pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself!  That might sound a bit big headed but considering a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t even make a plain Victoria sponge, I’m doing pretty well in the baking department. Roll on 1st September for Little T’s rainbow birthday party!

Laura x

READ MORE

May 12

Sunday catch up

0 comments

by LifeLoveLaura on May 12, 2013

It’s that time again… I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are passing! If you’ve missed anything this week, here goes:

It's not just any breakfast, it's a Drewton's breakfast.

It’s not just any breakfast, it’s a Drewton’s breakfast.

Monday was a quick Happy Bank Holiday wish. Did you get up to anything fun?

First ever daytime cot nap

First ever daytime cot nap

Tuesday chatted about starting a new daytime nap routine with Little T. It went to plan but there’s still time for it to go tits up! How are you getting on with your little ones’ day time naps?

Book of Mormon, London

Wednesday was a little review of The Book of Mormon. All in all, it was AMAZING! Read all about it here.

Liebster Award

Friday shared my Liebster Award nomination. I was so so happy to become part of it and I hope my nominees are too. Getting praise from your peers makes all of this worthwhile!

A summer Daisy walk

A summer Daisy walk

Now the summer is on its merry way, Saturday discussed the pros and cons of the sun! Have I missed anything?

And there we have it for another week. This year is passing by way too quickly for my liking!

Laura x

READ MORE

May 5

Sunday catch up

0 comments

by LifeLoveLaura on May 5, 2013

It’s time again for a round up of this week’s posts and what a week it’s been!

My pom poms on the big day!

DIY paper pom poms

Monday saw the return of my mum’s birthday party pom poms. A DIY step by step how to for all your paper pom pom needs! Give them a try, they’re easy peasy and look fab!

Trainers on!

Trainers on!

Tuesday shared my life and death situation on my first NHS Couch to 5K run. This girl isn’t made for exercise but it’s about time something was done. Drastic measures needed!

DIY Crystal iphone cover

Wednesday shared a DIY crystal phone cover. Hideously tacky but oh so amazing, don’t you think? If you’d like to make your own, look no further, here my friend Laura H-T shows you how!

Hello London, we meet again

On Friday I shared our ace trip to London. We ate, drank, saw The Book of Mormon and poked fun a hipsters. Since our gorgeous little boy came along, naturally Big T and I haven’t had much time together so our quick trip away was great. Read all about it here!

Burger Me

Yesterday saw a post all about the grub we had in London. It was all so good it deserved its very own post! Mmmmmm burgers.

And there we have it for another week. It’s scary how quickly these weeks are passing! Have you been up to anything fun?

Laura x

READ MORE

May 1

Crafty: Magpie phone tutorial

3 comments

by LifeLoveLaura on May 1, 2013

We’re away watching The Book of Mormon and eating burgers in London (YESSS!) so I’m handing you over to Mrs Laura H-T once again to share with you a fab gem phone cover tutorial. As you will see, her creations are ace!

Hello again, I’m back for with another post while Judith Chalmers, sorry I mean, Pops is on holiday. Don’t worry, I’m not going to demand you tell us your weird crushes again, unless of course you’ve suddenly remembered one (Joe Perry from Aerosmith was one I forgot about), this time I’m here to share something crafty with you.

Have you seen those jewel encrusted phone cases you can buy? EBay and Etsy are littered with them. They’re hideously tacky, weigh a tonne and I bloody love them. In fact I love them so much I made my own because the ones I found online weren’t quite right for me.

Ok so, this is how to do it…

You will need:

A phone case – I used a clear one from eBay

Lots of jewels – search eBay for “flat back gems” buy whatever you like the look of

Some jewellery you don’t mind pulling apart (optional)

A metal file (you may not need this)

Two part epoxy resin glue and something to spread the glue with if it’s not included

Tweezers

Patience

Here’s what you do:

- First off, draw around your phone case on some paper so that you can have a play around with the placement of all the gems, etc.

Gem phone cover

 - If you’re using old jewellery now’s the time to pull it apart. For mine I used an old necklace (the big leopard heart) and two old earrings (the round pink zebra and the little Jesus one). With earrings, if they’re the sort of questionable quality that mine were a bit of gentle bending back and forth should snap the stems off, if you’re left with anything on the back, file it down to get it as smooth as possible.

- Next you need to mix the glue, I used a two part epoxy resin because apparently it’s super strong, but take my advice here, only mix a little at a time, it sets rock hard incredibly quickly and if you mix it all at once you’ll be left with a half finished case.

- Spread the glue on a small area of the case, I put enough on to cover up to where the giant heart was going at first. If you’re using different sized pieces make sure you have your smaller gems out ready to fill in the gaps so that the glue won’t set while you’re trying to sort through them.

Crystal iphone cover

- Press each piece firmly for a couple of seconds to make sure it’s secure.

- Repeat the steps above until you can’t possibly fit any more on there. It is quite time consuming and you will more than likely need tweezers for the fiddly bits, you don’t want to accidentally glue your fingers to the phone.

- Leave overnight to allow everything to set properly.

Here’s mine once I’d finished:

Laura H-T's finished cover - ace isn't it?

Laura H-T’s finished cover – ace isn’t it?

As you can see, I also stuck some bits and pieces to the front of my phone case because it just wasn’t quite gaudy enough for my liking.

One important thing to remember, don’t put anything too large and sparkly near the lens or the flash, you’ll end up with a weird glare on your Instagram pics of your cats and what you had for dinner, or in my case, your new shoes / nail varnish.

What do you think? Do you fancy making your own case, or do you think they’re revolting?

Love Laura H-T x

 

READ MORE

Apr 29

Crafty: pretty paper pom poms

5 comments

by LifeLoveLaura on April 29, 2013

For my mum’s 60th birthday party I made some fab paper pom poms. I’m not going to lie, they’re not really my kind of thing but when I told my mum I’d take care of the decorations for the party I knew these would look perfect in her chosen venue – a traditional tea room. I came across plenty of paper pom pom sellers online but then realised that they would be really easy and a lot cheaper to make myself. I say easy, they are, but they were also quite time consuming so I maybe shouldn’t have left them until 11pm the night before the party… cue a not very impressed husband being roped in to help at around 1am when I was nowhere near finished but feeling the effects of extreme tiredness…

An unhappy husand

An unhappy hubsand

I have to admit, they did look ace and they went down a storm with mum’s guests although my husband would be the first to admit that you could tell the difference between his and mine. I should’ve written this post before the party so I could direct family and friends to it – I’d be rich if I got a quid every time somebody asked how we made them. So here we go, a quick paper pom pom how to:

You will need…

8 sheets of tissue paper per pom pom (I used 50cm x 75cm sheets but you can use any size depending on how big you want your pom poms to be)

One pipe cleaner per pom pom

A sturdy pair of scissors

Invisible thread for hanging the pom poms (although I used gold glitter bakers twine)

Plenty of time

Now you’re ready to get cracking…

- Place the eight sheets of tissue paper on top of each other into a pile that is as neat as possible. (I used pink and gold paper and alternated the sheets for a pretty effect but you can do it any way you wish.)

Alternate pink and gold tissue paper

Alternate pink and gold tissue paper

- Fold the sheets in a concertina (fan), backwards and forwards until you have one long strip. Fold it in widths of around 5 or 6cm.

How to make paper pom poms

- Once you have a long strip of folded paper, secure it all together with a pipe cleaner as tight as possible but make sure the paper stays flat and doesn’t fold up at the edges. Twist the pipe cleaner around a few times so it won’t come undone and then snip off the excess.

How to make paper pom poms

- Next, take a small piece of wool or string and tie it around the pipe cleaner so you have a loop to hang the pom pom from once it’s finished. This will make more sense later but it is important to do this at this stage or it will be quite fiddly to do later on.

- Cut both ends of the paper strip into either a curve (photographed) or a U shape. it doesn’t matter which you choose, both look good. It doesn’t have to be overly precise either, it just gives the pom poms a better shape when they’re ‘poofed’ out.

How to make paper pom poms

- Turn the strip onto its side and fan it out as much as possible so it look like a big bow then carefully take each sheet separately and lift it up. Be really careful as the paper tears really easily at this stage. Once you have poofed out each sheet you can arrange them better so the pom pom is more of a ball shape.

How to make paper pom poms

How to make paper pom poms

- Once you have poofed out the pom poms into the desired shape you’re ready to hang them. Cut a piece of the invisible thread, twine or whatever you want to hang them with to the length you want and thread it through the loop you made inside the pom pom at the earlier stage. I hung them with bakers twine which looked just as good as invisible thread. And there you go, get ready for lots of compliments!

My pom poms on the big day!

My pom poms on the big day!

What do you think? I’d love to know if you have a go yourself!

Laura x

 

 

READ MORE

Apr 23

Crafty: fancy blinging up your shoes?

2 comments

by LifeLoveLaura on April 23, 2013

A version of this post was originally posted on Bonfire Night Bride on 1st June, 2011.

I originally wrote about DIY shoe crystalling on my wedding blog at the time of my wedding planning a couple of years ago. After trawling the web for some low heeled, tasteful but reasonably priced crystalled shoes to no avail, I decided to buy some plain ivory satin shoes from Schuh and decorate them myself. How hard could it be? My shoes were a big hit with family, friends and other bride to be readers of my blog. They were even put in the spotlight on the Schuh blog! For this reason I’m sharing them on Life, Love, Laura. I’ll apologise now for the rubbish photos, they’re just quick snaps taken with my phone as I went along. If you have an event coming up, a wedding or you just fancy adding some sparkle to your wardrobe, have a go. They look ace!

My DIY sparkly crystalled wedding shoes

My DIY sparkly crystalled wedding shoes

You can use any colour or style of shoes but the glue will show up on leather or patent so any sort of fabric or canvas is best. For wedding specific shoes Rainbow Club always stock plenty of styles. Schuh often have an alternative to the Forest Bow style that I used, they may have one available in the run up to the summer wedding season so keep an eye out if you like something a bit trendier. You could also jazz up some plain childrens shoes, I would’ve loved some sparkly shoes when I was little! You could even bling up your Converse… the list is endless!

You will need:

  • Shoes
  • Non hotfix flat backed crystals
  • Jewel setter or rhinestone picker
  • Gemtac glue
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Patience

I used 2mm, 3mm and 4mm Preciosa Viva12 non hotfix cut glass crystals in packs of 1440 from Stage Jewellery (sizes SS6, SS10 and SS12 in AB colour). I was going to cover the whole shoe but decided to only do the heel and the front of the platform so there are plenty left for blinging up some more on a rainy day! The crystals weren’t cheap and ended up being dearer than the shoes themselves. They were, however, slightly less costly than Swarovski but gave the same fab effect. As you can see from the photo they had that cartoon-like glisten in the light, giving them an expensive feel. I only went all out as they were for my wedding but you could use a cheaper acrylic alternative from Ebay such as these and they still look swanky.

What you will need

What you will need

Use a cocktail stick to spread a small section of your shoe with the Gemtac glue. Pick up a crystal with the jewel setter/rhinestone picker and place it on the glue. If you don’t like where you’ve placed the crystal use a separate cocktail stick or the end of the jewel setter to push the crystal around to where you want it before the glue sets.

DIY Shoe Customising

Some progress

Just repeat this simple process, crystal by crystal, until you have covered whichever part of the shoe you want to cover – heel or body. Alternate between the different sized crystals. There’s no real structure to it but the different sizes catch the light better.

Please note – if you have pets or little ones it’s a good idea to wait until they’ve gone to bed and shut the animals out of the room. I did my shoes before baby T was around but Daisy was and, being the nosey thing that she is, we had quite a few near spills!

Nosey Labradors can be a problem

Nosey Labradors can be a problem

And for the finished shoes…

DIY crystalled wedding shoes

DIY crystalled shoes

Finished DIY crystalled shoes

It’s best to complete the crystalling in a few separate sittings for the sake of your eyes and your sanity. It can be really time consuming but they will look great when you’ve finished. Put them somewhere safe to dry in between sittings and wait at least 48 hours to wear them when you have finished just to give the glue time to dry properly.

The crystalling itself is very easy but I’m not going to lie, it is fiddly and it made my eyes go a little bit boggly! Succumbing to wearing my glasses, something I don’t often do (said glasses have since been eaten by Daisy), I even had to wear a head torch to improve on natural light as some of the crystals were ridiculously small. Many ended up on engrained in the carpet and for weeks after I often found sparkles stuck to my feet when going to bed. Despite this, all the hard work was worth it to wear something that I had made myself on the big day.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you if you have a go!

Laura x

READ MORE