Handbags and Shoes, a cake for a 60th afternoon tea birthday party

I was asked to make a cake for a handbag and shoe lover – in fact the birthday girl just loves shopping for all things!  I haven’t made a shoe for a few years so it was good to revisit the skill.  I first learnt how to make a flowerpaste shoe in the cake decorating course I completed at college.  You need flowerpaste and a template which you can draw yourself or pop it into the google search and find one to print off, and time to allow the shoe to set.

I used edible glitter to give the shoe a shine and used some edible lace as decoration which I painted silver using edible silver powder mixed with rejuvenator fluid.

The handbag was made from rice crispie marshmallows, with pipped roses covering it.  I again used some edible lace as decoration to tie it in with the shoe.  The handbag strap was made from flowerpaste which was allowed to completely set before it was glued to the bag.

Vintage handbag and shoe themed 60th birthday cake (3)

The cake was an 8″ gluten free vanilla sponge with jam and buttercream filling.  Covered with white icing and decorated with edible lace.  It was the first time I had used lace on a cake and only the second time I had made it.  I still can’t believe how simple it is to make and it looks so effective.  I left the lace white however you can colour it by either adding gel colouring to the wet mixture before you make the lace or by dusting or painting the lace once it’s set.  The top of the cake was covered with a circle of blue icing which was embossed using a patterned rolling pin.

 

Vintage handbag and shoe themed 60th birthday cake (2)

The finishing touch was Happy Birthday Jane in blue bunting using my bunting alphabet mould.

Decorating mission – new curtains

Decorating part 4

Our new colour scheme meant that most of the walls were painted with white, with teal on one wall in each room. As we had reduced the colour on the walls I was keen to get some lovely curtains to make a feature of them and to bring more colour to the rooms. As I mentioned in the last post we have unusually sized windows, so ready-made curtains always need altering to fit. I headed to the local material shops and priced up some fabric I liked, I made a note of the name of it too and when I got home I did a search on the internet to see if I could find it anywhere else for cheaper. It worked out around £10 a metre and we needed a lot! It was quickly adding up to well over £100 and this was before I even started making them and buying lining material.

Whilst I was out and about I kept an eye out for curtains and spotted some on sale in Tasker. I checked the measurements and the largest curtains would fit, they would just need taking up as they would be too long and cover the radiator. I couldn’t believe our luck as they were reduced to £20 a pair and matched our colour scheme.

Curtains before being taken up
Curtains before being taken up

 

They needed taking up about 15-20cm on both sets of windows, I even hand stitched the new hem using an invisible stitch whereas normally I would use the machine – I was feeling like I should for the best finish and I had plenty of time as I didn’t have to make them from scratch, plus my mum always says I should!

When picking out curtains it is worth checking both ready-made and material prices. Depending on what colour and material type you want, if you can find some ready-made it is always worth comparing prices.

We also needed a new pair of curtains for the middle of our rooms, as we have the option of closing the curtains in between our lounge and dining room, which then makes the lounge cosier. We needed new curtains in the right colour as I had taken the old ones down as they were red. This time it worked out cheaper to buy the material and make them as I picked up material that was perfect and was only £3 per metre and they didn’t need a lining.

Middle curtains

I did do some research into dying curtains, however with the original curtains being quite a deep red, to get them to dye teal or grey we would need to colour strip them first and then dye them. Even after that there were still warnings about colour matching and the difficulty of dying something that is already a dark colour.

 

 

Decorating mission – transforming blinds

So after an amazing Holiday and being away for a whole month, its time to pick up where we left off with –

Decorating part 3

When we moved into our house, all the front windows had matching wooden slat blinds. We need them as our house opens up straight onto the pavement, and without the blinds people would be able to see straight into our lounge and dining room. We have the same blinds upstairs and downstairs, so across all of the seven front windows the blinds give a neat and matching finish. One of the reasons for decorating downstairs was to try and make the rooms lighter, as with the blinds in place it restricts the amount of natural light we get. I explored a few different options, most of them involved the cost of new blinds in different styles which wasn’t part of our budget. The decision was made to paint them and I set to researching how to do this on the internet. All the sites I came across presented similar steps – take the blinds down, take them apart, clean them up, give them a light sand, paint them and then put them back together.

And so mission paint the blinds commenced and it nearly finished me off!!decoration mission 2015 (8)

Each blind had over 100 slats and both sides of the slats needed painting. We used white wood paint for the job and set up an area in the lounge using a pasting table and any other surface that was free. I painted one side of the slat, along with one edge and left it to dry. I then returned and painted the other side and edge. Each slat needed two coats. I am guessing you can already see what a lengthy process this became!!

painting slats

 

We had four blinds to do, two from the lounge and two from the dining room, which meant nearly 500 slats needed painting on both sides and with two coats. What seemed like such a good idea became a massive mission!! We also needed to replace the cord in the blinds used to raise them and open and close them. I bought cord from Dunelm Mill as they had a fab selection of colours and thicknesses.

decoration mission 2015 (5)

When the slats were all finally painted, we put the blinds back together using the new white cord we had bought and then put the blinds back up in the windows. I am glad to report that we were really happy with the finished look and it definitely helped make the room lighter.   It had been worth all the effort and had cost around £30.00 for the paint and the cord.

Finished blinds from brown to white

Would I recommend this process to anyone?…… yes I would but please be fully aware of the mission you are taking on! Helpful tips if you are venturing into the world of painting blinds.

  1. – When taking the blinds apart ensure you know exactly how they come apart and therefore how they will go back together.
  2. – Set up a good drying area when you have started painting. Ideally you need a large flat surface with a couple of raised platforms to rest the slats on.
  3. – When buying the new cord, buy extra as it can be difficult to tell how much cord you will need.
  4. – When taking the cord out, again remember how it was thread through the blind as you will need to replicate this with the new cord.
  5. – If working with more than one blind, keep the slats for each blind separate.
  6. – Allow plenty of time for this task.

This is an amazing money saving task as new blinds are not cheap, especially if like us you have unusual window sizes so any blind has to be specially made.

 

If I were to do this again I would explore the option of spray paint to see if that would give them a good coat without having to take them apart – you never know!!

Decorating mission – sprucing up a dining table and chairs

Decorating part 2

When we moved into our house we needed a dining room table and chairs. We headed to Ikea and picked up wooden table with black metals legs and four chairs to match. Our dining table is used much more for crafting on than eating on, and over the years it was been scratched, marked and faded in places. The chairs also showed signs of wear and tear. The chair seat design was made up of four pieces of wood, placed to form the seat, with gaps in between each piece. This design had often puzzled me as it was really difficult to clean in between the pieces, which meant the gaps were hoarding all sorts of dirt and crumbs.  I was keen to change this if I could.

Dining room table before photos (1) Dining room table before photos (2)

I cleaned the table top and legs with sugarsoap, rinsed them well and left it to dry. For each of the chairs, I unscrewed the four pieces that made up the seat, gave them a really good clean, rinsed them and then left them to dry. When I put the four pieces of wood back to create the seat I pushed them together and screwed them into new holes. This meant no more silly gaps between each piece and they looked really good like that too. I gave the wooden sections a light sand, and used wood filler on a few of the bigger dints on the chairs and table top. Once the wood filler was dry, I lightly sanded them again. When you have finished sanding always give them a wipe with a slightly damp cloth to remove any dust before painting or staining.

I gave the wooden table top and the wooden seats a coat of Teak Oil, applying it with a varnish brush and then buffing it a little with the lint free cloth. I left it to dry as per the instructions on the Teak Oil tin, then gave it another two coats. The difference it made was amazing. The wood had a lovely shine to it, a much smoother finish and looked like new again. I had used the same Teak Oil on the welsh dresser and on a mirror so they all matched perfectly.

dining table after (2) Dining table chairs after (1) Dining table chairs after (3)

I used Colron refined Teak Oil, for 500ml it is around £9 and one tin did our welsh dresser, table, chairs and mirror with a little left over. You don’t need much oil and you need to spread it out as evenly as you can, which is why it’s good to use a brush to spread the varnish out, then the cloth to ensure there is no excess and to give it a good buff.

I have also made a table protector out of fleece and non-slip mat. When I am crafting at the table I can put my table protector down to make sure I don’t mark our new lovely, shiny table!   I had some cushions in my craft room which matched the colour scheme so they were perfect for the chairs.  It cost us less than £20 and the table and chairs look like new.

12 Crafts of Christmas – Pine Cone Christmas fun

Yesterday Hours of Fun published the 3rd craft of Christmas, this time it was crafting fun with pine cones.

The download shows you how to make a glitter Christmas tree from a large pine cone, you can get the free download here.

At Hours of Fun we have been having more fun with pine cones, although not as much fun as I would like as I am still patiently waiting for some of the pine cones I collected a few weeks ago to dry out.

 

You could try making a pine cone reindeer.

Hours of fun free christmas downloads pine cone crafts (16)

For this you will need  – a drawing pin, a piece of ribbon, a pipe cleaner, 2 googly eyes, a piece of material or paper, a pompom and some glue.

I used the drawing pin to secure the ribbon in place, be gentle when pushing it in to the pine cone (see the picture below).

I shaped the pipe cleaner for the antlers then pushed it into the pine cone.  I rolled the material into a cone shape for the ears and placed them inside the pine cone, with a little glue to secure them in place.  I then stuck on the eyes and the nose to create this super cute reindeer.

 

Hours of fun free christmas downloads pine cone crafts (7)  Here he is hiding in our tree 🙂

 

You could also try making a more decorative pine cone, which you could design to match your decorations.  For this you will need a length of ribbon, a drawing pin, a button, a needle and thread.

Hours of fun free christmas downloads pine cone crafts (9)

I cut a piece of ribbon to hang the pine cone and again secured it in place using a drawing pin.

Hours of fun free christmas downloads pine cone crafts (10)

I then tied a bow using another length of ribbon, then placed in position with a button.  To secure the button to the bow and the bow to the hanging ribbon, I used a needle and thread and made a few stitches to hold it all in place.

Check out my Pinterst board for more ideas on pine cone Christmas crafting and dont forget to download our FREE crafts of Christmas download.

As always we would love to ssee pictures of any of your creations, share them on here,  or Facebook or Twitter or drop me an email to rachel@hoursoffun.co.uk.

Happy crafting.

12 crafts of Christmas – Santa cardboard Tube

12 Craft of Christmas download number 2 went out on Friday, this time you can download,for free, a quick and easy children’s craft to make a santa from a cardboard tube – super easy and cheap craft using a cardboard tube and some basic craft supplies.

Again I wanted to share some more ideas around this craft for those of you who may want to get creative and make some other cardboard characters.

Visit the Pinterst Board I create with more ideas for those of you wanting to try something else or challange yourself a little more!

Pinterest board – Cardboard tube Christmas crafts

Santa Cardboard Tube free download

Cardboard tube Christmas crafts santa, snowman and penguin

 

For the penguin I wrapped the tube in black crepe paper, stuck lots of cotton wool on the front for the Penguin’s belly, then cut out 2 wings and a base shaped like feet from black card.  Once these are stuck on you can again full it with some Christmas delights.

Penguin cardboard tube christmas craft download

For the snowman I wrapped the tube in white printer paper and stuck pompoms on the front for the snowman’s buttons.

I then wrapped a piece of ribbon around for the snowman’s scarf and glued it in place.  Using a pipe cleaner which I cut in half, I bent the ends to look like hands and stuck the pipe cleaners through the sides of the tube (once through the tube, give them a little bend inside to help them stay in position).

Finally I cut out a piece of black card for the base and glued the snowman in position, I then covered the black card with cotton wool to create a snow effect around the snowman’s feet.

Snowman cardboard tube christmas craft download

Happy crafting and don’t forget to share your creations by sending in photos.

12 Crafts of Christmas – Tea Light Snowmen

Hours of Fun’s first craft of Christmas went out on the 1st, a quick and easy download to make tea light snowmen.

Hope some of you have already got crafting and made some super cute snowmen to light up your tree – don’t forget to share your pictures as I would love to see your creations.

I wanted to share some more inspiration around tea light charactors for those of you who may wish to get more creative making different characters such as reindeer or Santa.

Santa and reindeer lit tea light christmas crafts downloadFor the Santa I used wide red ribbon and created a hat shape with the loop to hang him with.  Cotton wool for the beard, googly eyes and a white pompom for the tip of his hat

 

For the Reindeer I used ribbon to hang him, a pipe cleaner for his antlers, a bell – just because I love to add bells where I can!  Brown card for his face and ears which I coloured in using a marker pen and googly eyes.

Tea light reindeer and santa (2)   Tea light reindeer and santa (3)

 

Check out the Pinterest board I have set up for Tea Light Christmas decorations for further inspiration, including more challenging projects for those of you who want to try something a little more advanced.

Pinterest board – Tea Light Christmas Crafts

Hours of Fun Tea Light Snowmen download

Cheap, cheerful and a lot of fun – homemade gifts

Birthday presents don’t have to cost a lot, you can do something handmade and personalised for little or no cost.

For my brothers birthday we made him a CD.  We had a blank CD already in the cupboard – winner!
 
Some of you will know us for singing happy birthday on audio messages, sometimes normal and sometimes themed.  My brother has been our biggest fan and kept saying we should make an album so here it is!!
 
We spent 2 hours of a Sunday night making this, crying with laughter with our neighbours probably thinking we had lost the plot!  The CD consists of 13 tracks with out takes and hidden track!  We printed out a front cover, back cover and words then as a finishing touch we autographed the cover for him!
Matthews birthday CD (2)
Matthews birthday CD (3)
Matthews birthday CD (1)
We recorded the songs using voice memos on our iPhone, then transferred them to the computer.  We mixed some of it together using Audacity , then made it into a track list and burnt it to CD.  Super easy to do, a lot of fun and my brother reported back that he loved it!!

Teaching others to make and decorate cakes

My friend Lou Lou’s birthday was approaching and a conversation was had with her boyfriend as to whether he wanted to make her cake, as in previous years I have made her one.  He had an idea he wanted to do but as he didn’t have much experience in baking and decorating cakes I signed up to help him out and guide him through the process.

I sent him instructions for baking the cake click here to download the recipe and instructions [purchase_link id=”9107″ style=”button” color=”yellow” text=”Purchase”]

We then got together for an evening and make his idea for the cake become reality!  I showed him how to cut the cake, buttercream it and plan the design which was a ‘t’ shaped cake.  I showed him how to colour ready roll icing and roll it out ready to cover the sponge cake filled and covered in buttercream – crumb coated.

We then got busy making the backdrop which was done using cardboard and printing out the design, we then stuck it all together and using double sided tape we attached it to the cake board to sit behind the cake.

The cake and board were then decorated with a message, some silver balls and a model of a drag queen as the cake was based around the RuPaul theme.

The backdrop idea is a perfect way to add to your design without requiring lots of cake decorating skills.  All you need is word, publisher or something similar to design it, then a printer to print it off.  You don’t need to worry about it being edible as it’s not actually part of the cake, just the design.

Phil did amazingly well with this cake and I really enjoyed showing him how to make it.  Lou Lou was extremely happy with her cake too and super proud of Phil’s achievements.  I wonder what challenge he will set himself next year!

 

 

Knitting fun – learning to knit from patterns and adjusting them to fit your need

Last year I completed a knitting course and it was my favourite course to date.  We had a fantastic group, an amazing teacher and we all enjoyed and learnt so much over the 10 weeks.  I have been trying to keep up my knitting skills since then and have found knitting for people is the best way to do it as you have motivation to make something, if you give it as a birthday present you have a deadline to work towards and I make the time to get it finished.

For Christmas my husband bought me a knitting book which contains everything you need to know and I have used it a lot when reading new patterns and trying new techniques. The book is a fair size and has a number or post it notes in pages to guide me back and forth between sections as I attempt a new stitch or embellishment.

So far I have made a few Christmas decorations and three different types of scarves, all short neck scarves with a different finish or fastening.  I have enjoyed making them and I have even been able to adjust the patterns to fit the design I want to achieve by reducing the width of the knit, adding button holes and I have also learnt how to knit a cover for a button.

My husband has asked if I can knit him a scarf and I think he would probably prefer a full length scarf rather than a mini neck scarf so I need to build myself up to start that one.  I would like to find a pattern with different stitches and techniques in so I can keep challenging myself and make him something unique, his birthday is in October so I have a while.