Gruffalo Biscuits (recipe)

In case you haven’t noticed, World Book day is almost upon. Here is my very easy and most favourite chocolate biscuit recipe with a little Gruffalo twist.

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You need:

225g Margarine/Butter

115g Caster Sugar

225g Self raising Flour

2 tbsp (tablespoon) Cocoa Powder

1tsp (teaspoon) Vanilla Extract

50g Flacked Almonds

Pre-heat your oven to 180oC and grease a baking tray.

  1. Cream the margarine and sugar together until well mixed. Add vanilla extract.
  2. Stir in the flour and cocoa powder. It should now be thicker than a paste but more sticky than a dough.
  3. Roll into small balls (you should be able to make 16-20) and place them spaced out on your baking tray (you may need a couple of trays depending on size). Push down gently with your fingers so they are a little less ball like and more biscuit like (you can see the ridges in the picture). These do spread in the oven so don’t completely flatten them.
  4. Now it’s time to add the claws. Take 3 flacks of almond and put them into the front of the biscuit. Repeat until you have ‘clawed’ all of the biscuits.
  5. Bake in the oven for 13-15minutes. When they come out, leave them to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack. They need time to set slightly. If you try and lift them off too early, they will crumble (if they do crumble, they make a really nice crumbly ice-cream topping, so it’s not the end of the world!).

There you have it. Your own Gruffalo Paw Biscuits!

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Summer Holiday fun

Here in the UK we’re most of the way through our Summer holidays. Any of you out there who are parents will appreciate the hard work it takes to entertain little ones who are used to being challenged and stretched every day at school. There are huge parts of the holidays that are fun and other parts that are rather mundane (real life doesn’t stop just because the children are off). Getting the right balance can be rather tricky! We’ve had indoor picnics; made sofa dens; played outside; gone to the park (many times); walked the dog; had a afternoon home cinema (watch a film with popcorn, floor cushions, their favorite blankets etc); as well as done a couple of days out type things. However, by far the best thing we’ve discovered to do (something that we’ve come back to again and again) is playing with Hama beads (I think they are called Peerler beads in the US). If you don’d know what they are, they are little plastic beads that you put together to make a picture and then iron to hold the beads in place. Not sure what I mean? Well here’s a couple that we’ve made:

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These are coasters. They make great coasters as they are heat proof and can be washed. Here’s another one (we like floral designs, can you tell?)

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Little Miss is a little young to make them but she does love to sort the beads out. It’s been a great way for her to practice her colours. Little Man is old enough to get enjoyment out of them. He’s been working hard to build up his collection of various characters.

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He likes Mario. They both like certain yellow beings that appear to have taken over……

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They are seriously Minion crazy! We haven’t made any into keyrings yet but the next ones that will inevitably be made are earmarked for keyrings. Despite all of these, the thing I’ve discovered, that I personally think is the best thing about hama beads is that they pack flat but are great little toys. They have seriously saved many a long car and take up almost no room! They are definitely a hit in this household! If you fancy having a go yourself, there’s loads of inspiration on pintrest. My Hama Bead board is here.

The difference a needle makes

I have been knitting for almost 8 years now and crocheting for about 2. Every now and again, I’m surprised by how different the two crafts are. One of these moments happened to me earlier this week.¬† I’m trying to make Little Miss a couple of cardies as she’s grown (10 month olds will do that) and I’m running out of cardigans for her. I decided that for a little variation, I would work two simultaneously; one knitted and one crocheted. They are so different!IMG_1928Here is my knitted one. What you can see is the back, sides and the first sleeve cast on. Knitting for me is a bit of a mystery. I can follow patterns but when it comes to writing patterns, I can’t get my head around it!

IMG_1914I’m making this pattern if you are interested but working it all red apart from the little hearts which are in cream.

IMG_1926Here is the second cardigan. As you can see, is the crochet one. It looks completely different. What you can see is the back and one front with half a sleeve. It’s funny because normally hubby looks blankly at whatever I’m knitting but this one, he could tell what it was meant to be!

IMG_1918This is the pattern I’m making in case you are interested. It’s from this Cute and Easy Crocheted baby clothes .

I can’t believe that starting with essentially the same ball of wool and trying to make the same type of garment, the workings could be so different! Now I know the patterns are different but when they are finished they won’t look that different, yet the way they are put together is completely different (yes I know I used the word ‘different’ a lot!). I have to say, I like how changing needles for a hook completely changes the end result. The knitted cardigan already feels softer and more fitted whereas the crocheted one feels thicker, warmer and more structured.

When I finish them, I’ll post pictures ūüôā

The Museum of Childhood

With the Summer Holidays in full swing, finding things to do with Little man has been a challenge (isn’t it always?).

Well yesterday we decided to go and visit hubby at work. He works in London so on the way home, we decided to stop off at the Museum of Childhood. It was amazing! It’s completely free and there are so many things for little ones to do (as well as having lots of toys to stir up memories of our own childhoods).¬† Here are a few of my favourite pictures from the day:

IMG_1618Soft cuddly owl from the 1960’s

IMG_1646Child’s tea set (they had a few but this was by far my favourite)

IMG_1642One for my Hubby….oh ok, and for me.

IMG_1652I was really pleased to see this cute little Rupert the Bear in the ‘handmade’ section.

IMG_1653Quirky people made out of recycled materials.

IMG_1659Lovely old wooden blocks.

If you are near Bethnal Green, I recommend you drop in, even if you don’t have little ones of your own.

Meet Charlie

Do you remember this?

IMG_1241And this?

IMG_1362Did you guess what it would become?

IMG_1364I gave you a clue……

IMG_1555Well here he is. Meet Charlie.

IMG_1557Hee hee, isn’t he fun?

IMG_1564I can’t take any credit for this lovely pattern, it is the creation of the wonderful Bustle and Sew.

Do check out her website and blog. She has a lovely way of writing and a large range of patterns (this one is in her free patterns).

IMG_1566I added these beads for the tail which I saw, loved and bought over 10 years ago (typical magpie, I’ve hoarded them thinking that I would eventually find something to use them on).

IMG_1557Overall I’m pleased with the end result. It’s the fist time I’ve tried patchwork with hexagons. In the pattern instructions it says to sew them together with a zigzag stitch but I wanted to sew it together in the more traditional way (mostly because I wanted to try the technique out). It’s a present for Little Miss for Christmas (I know it’s early but I have a few things that I’m planing to make for the little ones for Christmas so I need to start now!).

A Patchwork……?

I can’t tell you how many blog posts I’ve written in my head over the last few weeks! Unfortunately none of them have materialised (I blame it on having a 4month old and a 3 year old who is now on his summer holiday).¬† However I have been a busy little bee offline and have a few things on the go.

IMG_1241Do you remember this from my last post?

IMG_1362Well here are  some of the hexagons sewn together.

IMG_1358And some more

IMG_1364They kind of look like the thing they will eventually become (watch this space). I’m really enjoying sewing again (I tend to crochet when it’s cold and sew when its hot, not really sure why, I don’t do it deliberately!)

IMG_1305I’ve also started making this.

IMG_1307It’s a topsy turvy doll. The pattern is printed on the fabric, which is helpful. I’m working in it slowly as I’m going to add things to the doll (lace where there is printed lace, buttons where there are printed buttons etc). Again watch this space to see how I get on!

Another little dress for a certain little miss

I have finally finished a lovely little dress for Little Miss. I have to say that although I love this pattern and the end product, it has caused me no end of problems!

IMG_5359I frogged this dress at least 4 times (and only after I’ve done a few rows of the skirt, which is after hooking the top). I’m sure it’s my fault, I must have got the tension wrong and not realised it or maybe it was because I substituted one bamboo yarn for another, whatever the reason, I couldn’t get the sizing right. The first time I started making the 6-9months, got half way through, and realised that it was too small for Little Miss already (who at the time was less than 2months). In the end I ignored the sizing in the pattern, made the biggest top part and measured the skirt on little miss to make sure it was the right length. Saying all of that, it was worth it. I love this little dress.

IMG_5363What attracted me to the pattern in the first place was the detail on the skirt. I don’t know if you can see it but the stitches are twisted to create a lovely texture. Little Miss loves soft and textured things, especially on her skirts (which she pulls up and strokes her cheek with or pulls it over her eyes). The original pattern has the ribbon threaded like I have done here but I wanted to add some flowers (anyone who reads my blog regularly, knows how much I love flowers). I think they work quite well.

IMG_5365I also changed the edging around the ‘sleeve’ as I think this one looks prettier (the original pattern didn’t really have an edging).

IMG_5377Finally I finished the back off with these sweet little rose buttons. I’ve had them for ages just waiting for something I can use them on (anyone else a button magpie?).

IMG_5359Overall, I’m pleased with the end result and can’t wait to put Little Miss in her new little dress!

A Pretty Little Summer Dress

Well Summer is meant to be here (I mean we had about 5 days of nice weather didn’t we?). I am ever the optimist so I decided to make Little Miss her first ever dress. I have done loads of sewing before but I rarely use a pattern and the only clothes I have made from scratch before this are a dress for me (didn’t turn out that well) and a union jack waist coat for little man.

IMG_1171I decided to use this pattern as it has a number of different classic styles that I can easily adapt. I was impressed with how easy it was to use. I’m quite dyslexic and so struggle with patterns (I find them jumbled and complicated), so was surprised by how easily everything fitted together. Would you like to see the finished article?

IMG_1162Isn’t it summery? I’ve decided to force as many dresses on her now as I can, as, if she’s anything like I was as a girl, she’ll shun them as soon as she can!

IMG_1163I decided to use a cotton with a flower print for the skirt and a plain cotton for the bodice. I added this pretty pink lace to the bottom of the skirt. I like how it kind of looks like it’s peeping out.

IMG_1164I had a play around to see which side of the skirt the ribbon looked best on and then sewed it into place.

IMG_1166I added the purple lace to the top of the skirt to add a little more texture and pull the bodice and skirt together.

IMG_1162This was meant to be a practice dress as I wanted to make a special one for little miss’ dedication on Sunday but in the end it turned out so well that I’m going to put her in this one and save the fabric for her first birthday instead. I think what I like best is the simplicity of it.

I’m pleased I decided to take the plunge and try and make it. I will definitely be making more! In fact I may already have bought some new fabric. If you have never tried making clothes before, I encourage you to give it a go!

New Year Resolutions etc.

Yes, yes, I know, we’re a few weeks into January now and New Year Resolutions are usually made at the beginning of the year. Well I did make these at the beginning of the year, however I’ve only just round to blogging about it!

Last year I resolved to work from my stash and not buy any wool unless I needed to complete a specific project (eg. to make a present; a commission; or knit jumpers for little man and I couldn’t do this from my stash). I’m actually pretty pleased with how I did. I only bought about 6-8 balls of wool that I didn’t¬† need and some of those were to knit myself a couple of hats out of chunky wool which I didn’t have. Over all, I’d say that was a success. I wanted to do it to stop my stash getting any bigger (I hoard lovely wool). I managed to make a lot of things. Here are a few of my favourites:

IMG_0688Mittens to keep my hands warm ūüôā

IMG_0579A Granny Square a day for a month (although I haven’t finished it yet).

IMG_0389My crochet daisies.

img_0147A crochet phone case.

IMG_0432And finally, my sofa blanket (I had a lot of wool in my stash!).

Hmm I’ve just realised that my favourite projects have all been crochet. I promise you I have been doing other things too, like sewing bags and dinosaur capes:

img_7956Poppy Bag (with poppy tutorial).

IMG_0725My gingerbread men.

IMG_0859I still love my dinosaur cape!

Ok well now for this years resolutions. I’m going to try to finish my Granny Square a Day blanket that I started and was one week away from completely when I was hit by awful morning sickness, had to stop and then couldn’t look at it again without feeling awful again (weirdly I can’t see anything to do with the Olympics for the same reason!). Anyway, I want to finish it in time for little miss and as I’m mostly feeling better now, I feel the time is right!

Secondly I am going to stop buying patterns and make things from the ones that I already have. I have a lot as I’m like a magpie when it comes to sewing, crochet and sewing patterns but this means that I have a lot of wonderful patterns waiting to be made. We’ll see how I do with this one, I think I’m going to find it quite hard!

I’d love to hear what your new year resolutions are and whether you have had much success in keeping them so far!

A quick catch up and such stuff

Ok hands up who is secretly glad that normal crafting can resume now the Christmas session is over. o/ (that’s me with my hand up). I loved crafting and making Christmas bits to decorate the house and give as presents but a large part of me is relieved that I can now go back to working on whatever I fancy rather than working my way through a ‘to do’ list. Of course I do have a relaxed ‘to do’ list. It mostly involves making some cardies and dresses for Little Miss in time for her making an arrival in the Spring. I haven’t let myself indulge in this up until now as firstly I was very ill to begin with and secondly I’ve had a lot to do! Now however I am enjoying being able to sit back, relax and knit up some quick cardies (baby knits are so quick to make!). Watch this space to see how I’m getting on.

Anyway, before I get onto that a quick catch up with what’s been going on here. I said before Christmas that I had been very busy but couldn’t share anything because most of what I was making were for pressies. Well I though you might like to see one thing I had a lot of fun making (if you follow me on Twitter you would have heard a lot about this but not seen any pictures yet).

IMG_0853-001Hee hee, I made little man a dinosaur cape!

IMG_0859I had to hand sew most of it because I misplaced¬† my sewing machine but as it turned out, that was a good thing because I was able to take it to the hospital and sit and sew while I had a fasting blood test (for those who don’t know it’s to check for diabetes, which can occur during pregnancy – the test lasts about 3 hrs, so plenty of time for sewing! Thankfully the results came back saying I was fine). I think the people in the waiting room probably thought I was mad but it meant that I got it finished!

IMG_0851Now for my latest blanket. Again if you follow me on twitter you would have heard me talking about this but not seen the fruit of my labour due to the fact I’ve only just been able to take a decent picture of it! The Saturday before Christmas a large package arrived in the post. It was was full of wool, sent over from Denmark by my lovely sister in law as a birthday present. She knows me so well! Sometimes surprise wool is even better than carefully choosing it for myself. In this case it definitely was! She actually bought me some wool a few years ago which I hadn’t used yet, so I incorporated it into the blanket. The wool is a lovely chunky mohair mix. I wanted to make a blanket as I made a small one a year ago but little man has adopted it as his own, but couldn’t really justify buying more wool to make it. So yay! It was a very quick project. I started it on the Saturday (after a few false starts working out which size hook to use as the wool band was in Danish) and finished it on Boxing (with a break on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as we were visiting my parents and they have dogs which delight in playing and chewing anything they can cheekily get their paws on). It was very relaxing to do and I’ve been using it ever since!

Finally, I’d love to know what projects you’ve got planned for this year. If you are doing or thinking of doing the 1 Granny square a day check out my friends blog. She did it last year and is doing it again this year! I love her blanket from last year, and it was wonderful reading her blog about her project as she went. She also often puts up hints and tips which are always useful!