I wasn’t sure what on earth to get for Monkey’s Teacher and Teaching Assistants for Christmas this year. It’s our first foray into presents for teachers and to be honest I didn’t want to spend too much money or time on them, but I still wanted to give them something nice. Having seen lots of seemingly simple recipes around for homemade fudge, I decided to give it ago. I’ve typed it up below as mine are a bit of a variation on some others I saw, and ooh they are scrummy.
I made two, a white chocolate and cranberry fudge and a minty white chocolate fudge. The first part of the recipe is identical then you add flavours later.
Chocolate Fudge ingredients
397g Tin of Condensed Milk
550g White chocolate, broken into small pieces
40g Icing Sugar (sieved)
For the minty version
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Handful milk chocolate chips (to sprinkle on top)
For the cranberry version
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
Line a baking tray (deep ones work best) with greaseproof paper.
Melt the chocolate and condensed milk. I did this on the hob in a Pyrex dish over boiling water, but you can do it in a microwave, if you do it in 10-20s bursts. With both methods stir well throughout.
Once melted take off the hob and add the sieved icing sugar. Mix well (you can use an electric mixer).
Add other ingredients of your choosing (peppermint extract, or cranberries, or nuts etc) and again stir well.
Pour the mixture into your lined tray and spread evenly. For the minty version this is where I added chocolate chips and gently pressed them in for the topping.
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours at least.
Take out and cut as desired. Our tray was quite long which meant the fudge wasn’t very deep but I got at least 30 bite sized chunks from each, though it would depend on the size of baking tray you use and how big you cut them up!
Friends and family have been very generous since Little Miss’s arrival and she has been given some very lovely presents. One of which was this cute little fairy princess Peppa Pig toy. Monkey helped me open the parcel and he took quite a shine to it himself and particularly liked her crown and magic wand, so I decided maybe we could make a crown and magic wand for Monkey to wear!
Last weekend, we did something very grown up. We *gasp* bought some garden furniture! The set we had previously hubby had inherited from a friend and it was very weather beaten and wobbly. It didn’t really match our lovely new garden. We have had in mind we wanted some for a while but they have all been so expensive. On a trip to our local garden centre however we found a lovely set, heavily reduced in the sale and, well, we snapped it up!
It took a couple of trips to get it home in the car, and hubby had to tie the table in on the last leg as it didn’t quite fit, but we managed and it is now set up and looking lovely in the back garden. I’m not sure why, I mean we have a house, a toddler and a baby on the way, but for some weird reason, buying garden furniture feels like a very grown up thing to do. And I really don’t feel like a grown up!
I think Thank you cards are so important, especially when kids are little. Friends and relatives can be so generous with their gifts but very often don’t really get to see how much the little ones enjoy them. So a few little words to express how much they like the toy or present are often gratefully received. Obviously Monkey can’t yet write the words, or even tell me what he would say as a thank you, but by making the cards together I hope we can build a good habit together of thanking people for their kindness and generosity.
Monkey’s crafting abilities are still quite limited though. We have made some lovely birthday cards using his finger paints, but I honestly think I have done that one to death now! We have tried glueing and sticking things but the glue gets everywhere and honestly, I find it all a bit stressful!
It’s Mummy’s birthday today, and because I’ve been off with the Monkey and Mummy over Easter, and have a couple of extra days off as well, I thought it was time I put my creative juices to the test, and make Mummy a birthday card, with Monkey’s help of course.
Now, my day job is very much office-based. There’s more management in my day than there used to be, but essentially I am a keyboard warrior, and pretty much always have been.
I do love doing crafty things, and love gardening and making things, and cooking, but I really have never been that creative, so the Creative Challenge really is for me!
I always have an idea in my head of what I want things to look like, but it’s normally quite vague at the same time, and translating it into something actually in front of me is where I really struggle.
I can look at something and say whether its good or bad, the problem is that I rarely look at anything I have made and think it looks good!
So, onto the card making. Mummy and Monkey have been doing a lot of card making recently, and I decided to go with the “Monkey Random Painting Generator” technique. As you bloggers and blog-readers have probably already seen, Monkey loves to paint, and he loves to mix the colours – a LOT.
He just can’t let those paints sit all nice and neat together.
It starts like above, and then very quickly gets to this (check out the Monkey-Eye-View below).
But it does make for some really interesting patterns which can be great for card making.
Check out those colour combos!
So Monkey has made all the ingredients for the card, it’s now up to me to make it. I’ve decided to make this a card from Monkey to Mummy, and the only thing I have had in my head is to try and make something with a birthday cake on it.
Throughout the day, as I have been waiting for the paintings to dry, I wondered if I could make a shape that looked enough like a cake, and tried to think about how to do some candles for it.
Note that at this point I have no idea what else is going to go on the card – I think I’ll wing it! For such a serious planner, there are times where I just “do it on the night”. Looks like this is one of those times.
Ok here’s what I have to work with.
Lots to choose from so as you can see I have cut out the shape for the cake, and also had what I hope will be a great idea for the candles, by taking that fiery looking bit to use the yellow for the the flames.
They don’t look bad!
Here’s the cake all stuck down.
One candle left, oh well.
Here’s where the wheels fall off the wagon.
Mummy likes hearts and stars, so I try to cut some out, and, well, they are rubbish.
After several attempts at hearts, I finally get something that does look half decent, and decide to cut out an “I heart U” style motif. Stupidly though, I write the message on the front of the card without thinking about where everything is going to go, so I have a choice of where to put the other bits.
So I haven’t cut out the star yet, and still aren’t sure which of the above designs to go with, but I’m pretty happy with both really. It will all come down to the star I cut out.
I thought the heart was difficult…
I started by reminding myself of the classic freehand, single-stroke star.
I then started cutting with scissors, and kept looking back at this star for guidance, thinking I should surely be able to do something that looks a bit like it (not that my drawing is very good).
But then, I have no idea how, but as soon as I have finished cutting it out, I realise that despite spending ages cutting carefully and looking back at the star above, I have randomly cut out a Star of David instead! WTF?
I mean how on earth do you accidentally cut out a 6 point star instead of a 5 point star? Hello?
Anyway, after several other tries later and a few swear words, I have something I’m happy enough with to go on the card.
So here it is. The finished card. Now, I know it’s not good, but I am just hoping Mummy can see that it was made with love, and see that it really took some effort (despite how random and slapdash it actually looks!).
I hope you enjoyed the first Daddy Post. I promise not to come back too often – Mummy clearly has more skills on the blogging and Creative Challenge front than me – but this has been great fun to write and to share my little attempt at creativity!
I haven’t blogged about anything crochet related for a while now. Mainly because I have been working on a big-ish project, a lovely rainbow cushion! I got the pattern from my mother-in-law ages ago but it took me a while to get round to it, as I was busy with my Granny Square Blanket and then I did some cute Christmas Crochet Creatures. Come January though it was time to get cracking.
Rather than buy the colours listed in the patterns I decided to use up what wool I could from my bag as I have lots of part used balls leftover. I am a bit OCD about colours and like them to be in spectrum order – I don’t know why particularly but we have some colourful mugs and they HAVE to be on the mug rack in spectrum order. Weird I know!
So these are the colours I got cracking with.
It started off well enough as it was quite small, I made a big mistake somewhere on the first side of the cushion but thought I had rectified it enough (turns out I hadn’t but i will come back to that later!). In the pattern the reverse of the cushion doesn’t have frilly edges like the front, but hubby and I had a chat and decided we’d quite like the cushion to be the same on both sides.
As I mentioned, it starts off quite easily but as it gets bigger, and the rounds get longer, it starts to take a lot longer to finish a row, and, well get s a bit repetitive and dull. I have now well and truly decided that I am better off with smaller projects. I just don’t have the patience to work on big things. Much as i love the way they look, I get so bored and then can’t be bothered to crochet in the evenings and it takes months for me to finish it as a result. It’s a hobby I have really been enjoying but I really don’t enjoy the big projects quite as much. Which is a shame, as I think the blankets and cushions look so lovely when they are finished.
Anyway, it has taken me a while but I got to a point where both sides of the cushion were progressing nicely… then I compared them and realised that the side which I made a mistake on earlier was actually quite a bit smaller than the second side. boooo. It’s not the end of the world, it’s only about a round smaller, but that was a little demoralising and led to the cushion being put to one side again for a couple of weeks…. honestly I can be such an ostrich, I totally bury my head in the sand and ignore problems sometimes! Which isn’t the best idea!
I eventually picked it up again, determined to actually get it finished and knew I just needed an extra row of trebles on the smaller side. I would have dine it in the same dark purple as the final rows… except for the fact that I ran out, I literally only just had enough to actually complete the final row of frills as it was (And that was doing a stitch less in some of the petals on that row) oops! So I had to use lilac for the joining row.
But you know what, I am proud that I have finally finished it and it doesn’t look toooo bad!
So that’s my creative challenge for this week (which has taken me months!) what’s yours?
I may have mentioned once or twice the challenges I have faced with making chocolate brownies with mini creme eggs. I have seen recipes for them with a big creme egg halved and sat on top of the brownie, and my friend even has a recipe for those that works. Apparently though that is too easy for me.
Is this possible??
For ages I have been seeing pictures of gorgeous brownies where they have cut through a mini creme egg and the fondant is there giving this lovely image. Here’s a picture I found on google.
NOTE: THIS IS NOT COOKED OR TAKEN BY ME
I have now tried 4 times to get a result similar to this. I winged it first, then I followed a couple of different recipes. No matter what happened though, even when the brownie itself was sill raw, the fondant melted and all we were left with was empty shells! I was starting to think that it is actually impossible and that the images were somehow faked (I’m sure they aren’t, this was just the depth of my despair with my baking).
And then, finally, we have something resembling success.
It’s still a bit hit and miss, there are some empty shells, some nearly empty shells, but (hooray) there are some with fondant in! Wahooo!!
So here is my recipe for some, not so perfect, but ever so tasty Mini Creme Egg Brownies. Before I go any further, step 1 – the trick, it would seem, is to put your mini creme eggs IN THE FREEZER. Ours have been in the freezer for a couple of days. I have tried them in the fridge and at room temperature, and personally, only way I have got them to remotely work, was by freezing them first!
2oz Plain Chocolate (I use Bournville)
4oz Milk Chocolate
2 x 89g Bags Mini Creme Eggs – FROZEN
8oz Caster Sugar
2 large eggs
2oz Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Line the base of a well greased oblong tin with greaseproof paper, allowing the paper to come up 2 inches above the rim of the tin.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water on a low heat.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Once the chocolate and butter have melted, add to the egg/sugar and mix.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix gently but thoroughly.
Spread the mixture evenly in the tin. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the brownie is in the oven, take the mini creme eggs out of the freezer and unwrap (they are actually easier to unwrap when cold I find). Monkey had been ‘helping’ me bake and at this point I realised, he was COVERED in chocolate!
After 15 minutes is up, take the brownie out of the oven and quickly place the eggs into the brownie, evenly, or hodge podge, depending on what you prefer!
Bake for a further 13 minutes. Check the brownie is cooked by inserting a sharp knife or cocktail stick into the brownie, if it comes out clear then it is cooked! Times can vary according to ovens so it is worth checking!!
Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool, then I left it to cool on a cooling tray for a little longer and then popped the whole thing in the fridge for a bit. Not sure if that helped set the fondant again but who knows!
When it has thoroughly cooled cut and see whether the fondant has evaporated! Hopefully yours will be better than mine. One of the problems with the whole slicing into the egg is that actually the top of the egg caves in when you slice through it as it is quite brittle once it has been melted. So I really don’t know how the other recipes I have seen have managed to have these whole eggs sliced perfectly with the fondant in the exact condition as it would have been….. but then, I am no master baker!!
Give these a try though, they are very very yummy even if they aren’t 100% how I wanted them to turn out!!
I’m always on the lookout for improvements, so may try and do them in a slightly smaller tin next time, so they are deeper… and may change the timings slightly so the creme eggs are literally int here for 10 mins. I am happy with these taste wise though and I’m not really sure I have the energy to try them again for a while, so I thought I would share the recipe with you now
We first found out about Cloud Dough in the summer and Monkey had great fun playing with it outside. You can read about it here. It was fab and I have thought about making it again but I am not always fond of REALLY messy play indoors, I do it, but I have to work myself up to it and prepare myself for the clean up operation!
As I have created the Creative Challenge Linky I felt I really should challenge myself to have some indoor fun with cloud dough.
What is Cloud Dough? It is Flour mixed with Baby Oil. It’s something like 8 parts flour to 1 part baby oil but I have to say I don’t really measure it. What’s the point in it? Well it turns to the consistency of sand, though has a much silkier texture. Otherwise you can play with it like wet sand, build things with it or just have a good old play.
I got a Tuff Spot ages ago with grand plans about this kind of messy play, but so far I have been too chicken to play with anything other than Play Doh in it. I just don’t trust monkey to keep things INSIDE the tuff spot. But as I said, this is as much about challenging myself as it is Monkey having fun and learning so we went for it.
And, do you know what? It was great! He has a whale of a time, as you can see! And yes, a bit of cloud dough managed to escape the confines of the Tuff Spot but it all got hoovered up
It started off quite sedately.. and he was moving some toys around in the cloud dough.
Then it got messier…
then he had a little dance to “wind the bobbin up” in his head (a definite sign he is enjoying himself a lot).
He had a good stomp around..
and well he was covered from head to toe, but he absolutely adored it, which was great.
And it wasn’t too much of a nightmare to clean up, just pulled his clothes off and wiped his hands and feet and that was it. The cloud dough is in a tub to play with on another day, the tuff spot had a wipe and the floor a hoover and it was not too bad.
Phew! Successful Messy Play!
A quick word to the wise, if you do end up playing with it outside, like we did in the summer, make sure you sweep as much up as you can. Because our garden is a tip we left a pile of cloud dough in the corner of the patio, big mistake! It is a now a bit gunky pile of yukky stuff! It goes pretty disgusting when it has been rained on!
This is a new weekly linky for you to link up any posts (new or old) about you challenging yourself to be more creative.
Please click here if you would like to find out more, but the basic premise is that you challenge yourself to be more creative. You could be trying to be more creative with playtime ideas or messy play, or with a new hobby for yourself. Push yourself to try something a bit more creative, then come back and let me know how you’ve got on. Even if things haven’t gone quite as well as you hoped!!! We can’t all do everything right all of the time, but the important thing is to try something new and push ourselves. That’s what this is all about!
My creative challenge so far hasn’t been very successful at all!
Not to be put off though I tried again, this time with glue sticks rather than gloopy glue. Once again though Monkey was obsessed with the lid , and trying to pick the glue out of the stick, but he was not so interested in doing any sticking. (We used foam shapes and googly eyes this time.)
A couple of times I thought he was getting interested in the sticking, but no, if anything he preferred picking off the bits that I had stuck down!! Once again it did not go the way I hoped.
So we resorted back to good old fashioned stickers, which he loves sticking down. Not sure why he likes those rather than sticking with glue but hey ho!
He was quite happy so it wasn’t an all out fail I suppose, even if it didn’t go the way I hoped it would! The whole point though is that I challenged myself to be more creative – and I did even if it’s with an activity he’s not really ready for yet!!
Right, now it’s your turn to link up your posts, and tell me all about your Creative Challenge!
Here’s how this works.
Write a new post (or an old one if it fits the theme) all about your Creative Challenge.
Grab the Creative Challenge badge (by copying the code above) and pop it at the bottom of your post (in the ‘text’ version).
Link your post by clicking on the ‘Add your link’ button and filling in the form.
Linkys only work when we take the time to read each others posts and leave comments so please let’s support each other and read and comment on as many posts as you are able to.
The linky opens at 6.30am on Wednesday and will close at 11.00pm on Sunday so there is plenty of time to join in.
Hasn’t this year just been RIDICULOUSLY wet so far? Honestly! Our little part of the country is by no means the worst hit, if anything we’ve got off fairly lightly, but there has still been far too many rainy days for my liking! I make no secret of the fact that I have to get out of the house every day for the sake of my sanity. Even the prospect of an entire day at home with just Monkey and I is enough to put me in a grump. So rainy days are not good for me, far too much time spent indoors. We’ve still got out and about a lot in between all the rain but there has also been a lot of time spent playing indoors.
All this time spent indoors has led to a lot of clutching at straws for things to do, without spending a fortune on toys. He has got a lot of toys of course but there’s only so much variety and he is always looking for something new to do. So here is a little list of some of the things that have been keeping Monkey occupied without spending any money!
Since we started getting Monkey involved in cooking and baking (to help with the fussy eating) he loves it in there and wants to be stood on his little step stool at the worktop ALL the time. So we spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days, which is where many of these activities take place. This is also great as it may give you ways of keeping your little one occupied if like Monkey they tend to harass you while you’re cooking dinner!
Filling and pouring. We do this with lentils, rice, flour, pasta, anything really. We have a little funnel, an empty vanilla extract bottle, an empty spice jar as well as bigger bowls and cups etc. It goes everywhere but he loves it and it’s easily tidied up with a dustbuster! He puts things in bottles, he tips them out, he moves them from one thing to another, just a great way to learn how things work really. He plays with some chopped vegetables and potato peeling etc. too.
Spaghetti is great for them to explore – Monkey loves posting it through a Colander (great for fine motor controls) and snapping it and sorting it and putting it in the bottle or jar. We’ve also played with cooked spaghetti which is fun.
Stacking and sorting. We got some cheap ikea cups and bowls ages ago which stack really nicely and Monkey loves organising things! Tins are a great way of keeping him occupied at the moment, he loves making a tower of tins! It concerns me when the towers get tall that the heavy tins will fall on him, but so far so good.
Banging – cake tins, saucepans, bowls, spoons, so simple but so much fun. Monkey was loving this the other day and I got some of his musical instrument toys involved too and we had a fantastic impromptu music session in the kitchen. Lots of fun!
Oh and spoons make a great noise when they are dropped on the floor!
The kitchen isn’t the only place with fun to be had though, who doesn’t love a den?
Cardboard boxes are great too, we’ve had one for so long now that it’s lost all shape and doesn’t stand up unless you hold it, but Monkey still loves crawling through it as a tunnel and drawing on it.
I really hope this weather improves soon but in the meantime why not check out some of the other indoor play ideas we have had fun with in the past.