Tuesday 26 March 2013

Ta-dah! Tuesday - Angry Birds Cake

Hello! Everything needs to be packed up by tomorrow, so this is another scheduled post. Please do link up as usual though, and I'll read all your posts and comments when I can. Remember that the second I'd finished Boy1's birthday cake I had to start thinking about Boy2's? I was really pleased with how it came out in the end, even if it was held  together with cocktail sticks and royal icing 'cement'.

The fudge 'bricks' are hiding a multitude of fondant icing sins. I really must find out how you cover a round cake with roll-out icing without getting tablecloth-like wrinkles. Still, was robust enough to make it intact to the bowling alley party we had on Sunday morning. [Twelve children between 4 and 8 years old, extremely excited, at a time of day when you can still taste toothpaste. Moving all our worldly goods 60 miles round the M25 should be easy by comparison]

I've been asked recently about the 'rules' for Ta-dah! Tuesday. Just to say again that there really aren't any - anything you've been doing and are pleased with is fine, from outfits to art, makes to bakes, second hand finds to garden growth. I'd appreciate a comment rather than a link and run, and it's nice if you can visit some other participants, but anything goes really. 

Lakota x

Friday 22 March 2013

More stuff to painstakingly pack in a box and then not open for months when we get there...

Despite all my protestations about not buying anything else, as I'll only have to pack it and then find a place for it, I did succumb to the charms of this coffee set recently. Well, it was only £3 for the pot, 3 cups and saucers, 3 side plates, sugar bowl and milk jug. It would have been rude not to, don't you think?

I love the retro pattern and colour, although I haven't been able to find out what it's called. I also realised when I got it home that it reminded me of a print we have by Sally Elford - you can see more of her screen-prints here.

I'm off to see a new school for Boy2 in a minute. Sadly they don't have a place for Boy1 yet, but he's so sweet and eager that it won't be a problem to have him at home for a while. I told him we'd have to do a bit of work together, and he immediately said "I'll make a schedule!". He came back 5 minutes later with a timetable, saying "I've given myself a fun day on Fridays - art and Spanish!". Sadly all I can currently teach him in Spanish is rude words and how to order beer and tapas, but I can't fault his enthusiasm...

Lakota x

Linking up to Magpie Monday

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Ta-dah! Tuesday - 8th birthday Cake

Boy1 has been into cars forever. He spent hours looking out of the window of our flat as a 18month old announcing 'car, car, car, bus, car, four-four (4x4), van, car...'. His first word was 'cah' - with pointing. He became addicted to Formula 1 at the age of three, when Lewis Hamilton won the championship. So I've been wanting to make him an F1 themed cake for a while, but it seemed a shame not to make use of a number shaped 'track'. But he finally turned eight the other week, so I got to make the cake I'd had in my head for a while. 


As you can probably tell, I'm not a professional cake maker or icing modeller - but they generally look fun and taste good, so the kids are happy with that. I just made two sponge cakes, cut a section off each and pushed them together, used roll out grey fondant for the road, coconut buttercream for the grass, and liquorice allsorts for the finishing line and road markings. A couple of cars stolen from his bedroom and two little cocktail stick flags and it was done. And it was pretty stress free for once - I usually get myself and the kitchen in a right state.

Boy2 turns five next week - just a few days before our big house move - so I'm not sure I'll be similarly zen when it comes to making the requested Angry Birds cake. I'm going to try and schedule a few posts for the next couple of weeks, but we have a ton to do and won't have broadband when we move in, so apologies if I don't get a chance to comment for a while. I will read on my phone though.

What have you achieved this week? Link up your best outfits, finds, makes and bakes below.

Lakota x

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Freebie Round-up (UK)

Hiya, I said yesterday that I'd do a quick post on various freebies and offers I've come across recently - there are all sorts of websites out there which will round these up, but some are clearly just out there to harvest your details so I've only included the ones I personally think are worth it. [Apologies if you're not in the UK.].

Magazine Free Gifts
These have come a long way since my magazine buying heyday  when all that was ever given away on the front cover seemed to be some plasticy smelling perma-creased tote bag, but one would hope so, given that the average glossy mag seems to cost the best part of a fiver these days. And I do not count a John Lewis catalogue as a 'free gift' - you know who you are, certain interiors magazines! On the stands at the moment is a particularly good selection of beauty products, so worth buying even if you wouldn't normally fork out for the magazine.

Glamour - only £2, and you get a full size Percy & Reed shampoo, conditioner, volumising oil (whatever that is) or shine stuff. I got the shampoo, I like to change what I use occasionally.

Cosmopolitan - Not full size, but probably luxury sample size. Elemis is pricey, and I needed moisturiser. They have a regular one, a mattifying one or a lip treatment on offer. Cosmo costs £3.50.

Marie Claire - Full size Neal's Yard handcream worth £10. Well worth getting. Bargain.

Also offering hand cream is Good Housekeeping, this time by Balance Me and again worth £10. The magazine costs £3.90

Mollie Makes has a free 'make it yourself' cover-mount every issue, and costs £4.99. This month the gift is an oilcloth coin purse. If you like the cross-stitch I showed yesterday, that kit is still available on the current issue of Cross Stitcher, which costs £3.99.

I quite like a read of Ideal Home occasionally - especially now our move is confirmed, hurrah - so although I wouldn't buy the magazine just for the silicon spatula, it's a better read than a lot of the interiors mags so worth picking up if you need an extra dose of house porn. And those spatulas are the best at making sure all your cake mix goes into the tin. £3.50.

I also spotted this Let's Grow Veg magazine - which costs £7.99 but claims to have your 'complete start-up kit for 2013 worth £72'. I don't know about that, but it does contain 10 packets of seed, so even assuming they're as little as 99p each, you'd still get two packets free, plus the magazine. The seeds are Courgette, Beetroot, Radish, Chilli, Tomato, Salad, Rocket, Leek, Carrot and Kale.
Edit: I've just checked here and the seeds are worth £17.62. The other offers are 'free item but pay postage' where you can claim strawberry plants, potatoes, bird feeders etc.

Free Copy of InStyle Magazine
Don't want to fork out for a magazine at all? Get a free copy of InStyle by entering your details at this link. They'll ring you back to get your address, and probably offer you a further 3 issues for £1. You can take this up or not, as you prefer. I think it's usually £3.80 an issue.

Free H&M Voucher
If you fancy an high street shopping splurge, why not assuage your guilt by dropping off a carrier bag of second hand clothes at H&M? You can donate garments for adults or kids, and they don't even have to be wearable quality - ripped or stained (washed though) is fine as it will be sorted for rags. In return you get a £5 voucher off a £30 spend for each bag you donate - valid til the end of June. [Yes, these are new jeans, ahem]

Free Cat and a Cup of Tea 
OK, not really a free cat. But the furry devils cost a fortune don't they? All that feeding and de-fleaing and outrageous vet bills. Purina Go-Cat are giving away 185,000 samples of their latest Crunchy and Tender cat food if you fill in your details here. You're a blogger, you're bound to either have a cat or want a cat. If not, hand over your ipad now. On the same note, Twinings are giving away free samples of their tea - you can choose any two from a choice of eight by going to their Facebook app here and filling in your address. 


Hope some of these are useful to you - have you got any good freebies to add? I haven't listed competitions as you are obviously not guaranteed to win those - even if they have a ton of prizes - but if you want some tips you might want to see my posts from a couple of years ago here and here.

Lakota x

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Ta-dah! Tuesday - And then I played the harpsichord and ordered new ribbons for my bonnet...

Ok, I didn't really, but I have been cross-stitching, which is basically a really good way to feel like you live in a Jane Austen novel. It's also a good method of developing a squint and an arthritic claw, but don't let that put you off. For some reason I have had the fear of counted cross-stitch charts and haven't done any since the age of about 10, when I would make my Mum and other female relatives bookmarks and dressing table mats using that binca fabric designed for kids.  Anyway, aside from the distinct possibility of becoming cross-eyed, I quite enjoyed my latest foray into ladylike pursuits.

The kit came free* on the imaginatively named Cross Stitcher magazine, and everything was included, although I did change the colour of her dress from lurid turquoise - which clashed with the pink - to purple, using my own thread. It claimed stitching time was 4 hours. Ha! I reckon it must have taken me twice that, which is a sobering reminder that perhaps I'm not quite ready to attempt their larger cushion charts, for which they give times of 40 and 62 hours respectively. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice some of the projects were - there was the inevitable cupcakery nonsense, but also a Mad Men inspired retro phone design, some Scandinavian style birds and sweet designs for little girls.

Mothers' Day Card

[I'm not sure my Mum is really a pink polka dots kinda gal, any more than I am, but I didn't have any aperture cards, and this one came with it. I guess with a kokeshi doll design you need to embrace the kawaii factor anyway.]

I have some more aida, graph paper and a book of motifs and alphabets, so I quite fancy working out my own design or slogan. Did you see this on HuffPost? I thought 13,000 stitches was what was required to create Joan Rivers, but apparently you can end up with Bruce Willis too.

A Good D'aida Die Hard
[photo and work by BriocheBun]

Amazing huh?
What have you been making? Link up any makes, bakes, finds and fripperies below.

Lakota x

*Speaking of freebies, I will have a post on those tomorrow.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Catherine Zeta Jones, another baby, Disney jewellery and other shit I don't want for Mothers' Day

Hey. It's Mothering Sunday here in the UK. I wrote this yesterday, cos right now I'm probably busy drinking a cup of coffee in bed and admiring my cards - no doubt glitter, pritt-stick and felt-tip heavy. There might even be some over-buttered toast and a macaroni necklace. It will be lovely.

I'm pretty certain there will be none of the items I mentioned in the post title. But I do feel I have to share this website, just in case you don't like your mother/MIL. And forewarned is forearmed. It may be an idea to set parental controls on the computer now - I know my mum was happier the year I bought her a Fry's Turkish Delight with my pocket money than the time I purchased a hideous mock ivory figurine of a cartoon housewife clutching a trophy, engraved with the legend 'World's Greatest Mum'. [It was the 80s, I bought it from the corner shop. Possibly only beaten by the occasion I bought my dad a 'Male Chauvinist' pig shaped soap for Fathers' Day. I didn't know what it meant, it just occupied a vague 'male' space in my mind, along with things like cricket boxes and that weird springy chest expander thing that he kept at the back of the wardrobe.] One day your children will have spending power and the internet.

Anyway, if like me you take perverse pleasure in reading those adverts at the back of Sunday supplement magazines - send no money now, simply enjoy displaying this limited edition Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge plate, with regal gold accents - then you should be in your element when browsing The Bradford Exchange. "Forty years of innovation, artistry and design" - plus they've kindly added a 'Mothers' Day Gifts' section to their site, so it's all there for me in three convenient pages.


Apparently the 'flower of Wales' is Catherine Zeta Jones dressed as Eliza Doolittle, lovingly cast in 'artist's resin'. Personally my choice would be Ruth Jones dressed as Rizzo from Grease - that really would be "a marvellous display from any angle!", but until a designer of granny-beloved knick-nacks shares my vision, then I'll have to settle for CZJ.  After all, "it goes without saying that you are deeply proud of your heritage! Now you can honour your great country and commemorate its courage, beauty, proud identity and history with an exceptional first-of-a-kind treasure".

Oddly enough, they seem to have used CZJ as their model for the English Rose, Wild Irish Rose, and Flower of Scotland figurines too, but only the Welsh version is deemed a suitable Mothers Day gift. I'm off to stick a daffodil in my hair.


It has swarovski crystals and faux jewels! It plays the 'heartfelt melody' of 'You are the Wind Beaneath my Wings'! It can be expertly personalised with the names of up to six loved ones! It looks like a funeral urn!

It also comes with a certificate of authenticity. Just in case you were worried that someone might ask you to prove that it really is a hideous music box? 


I would love this from one of my boys, and wear it proudly. If they'd won it for me on the pier at Brighton. If on the other hand they'd paid five instalments of £29.99 for this 'charming masterpiece' with 'lavish 24 carat gold plating', I'd think I'd failed in my duty as a mother. [£149.99. Are they serious?!]


Ok, so this kind of overly sentimental design isn't to my taste. I appreciate others might like the idea though. And what mum doesn't think of her children as precious gems? Oh, except the 'free personalised birthstones' are all cubic zirconia and it still costs a hundred quid!

I'm not sure The Bradford Exchange has an exact grasp of what Mothers' Day actually entails. Why would you give your mother a bracelet engraved with 'Always my daughter, now too my friend'? Or a 'My Daughter, I love you' music box? Still, either of these would be preferable to ANOTHER BLOODY BABY. Are they insane? If you are a mother, you've had/are having these precious moments. With an actual real child. That one that destroyed your peace of mind/ability to wear crop tops forever.


"Few memories are as precious as the first time your baby responds to you by wrapping her tiny hand around your finger. Now this lifelike baby doll allows you to recapture this tender moment whenever you wish!"

£149.99 and they can't even throw in the two AA batteries required? Mind you, if I'd had the choice I'd probably have utilised an off-switch on my boys more than once...

I hope you all have a lovely day, whether or not you can be with your own mum. I'll leave you with my favourite royal items from The Bradford Exchange - who among us can forget the glorious day that Christine Bleakley wed Christopher Walken?

Christine Bleakley. On stilts.

Christopher Walken, Prince of the Realm

But be quick, there's just 95 casting days for the bride figurine - and the factory only churns out 10,000 a day!

Lakota x

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Ta-dah! Tuesday - Minute Make Puddings - Banana Pancakes

Hiya, here's the third in my mini-series of ultra quick puddings you can make at the last second when you've been on the internet all day. The other really good thing about it is that it's another one of those recipes that uses up that squishy banana that's been languishing in the fruit bowl since the beginning of time. Seriously, you can even use that one with fruit flies circling it like vultures. The one that's completely black and scarcely recognisable as as a food stuff. [Yeah, it's amazing I wasn't picked up to write for the Waitrose magazine isn't it?] In the interest of full disclosure, I don't even like bananas in their regular guise - and only eat them in something. For example - milk, yeeuch. Banana, bleugh. Banana milkshake?  Lovely. Yes, I know. I'm complex. Anyway:

Ingredients (makes around 8 when using a large banana)
1 banana
1 oz sugar
2 oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten

Making the batter

  • Mash the banana with a fork
  • Add the sugar, flour and baking powder and mix together.
  • Finally add the beaten egg. You'll end up with a gloopy batter.

  • Heat sufficient vegetable oil for shallow frying in a small pan, you don't need loads though.
  • Drop in two dessert spoons of batter per pancake and cook for around 30 seconds - you'll see bubbles start to form around the edges.

  • Test with the edge of a spatula and see if they're ready to flip over. They'll puff up a little and be browned on both sides when done. 
The one on the right wasn't quite cooked enough to flip and went splat. It doesn't really matter though, it'll still taste good.

  • Drain briefly on kitchen towel and then sprinkle with sugar. Try to at least return to the table before stuffing them in your mouth.

In the unlikely event you have any left over, they're also good cold for the kids' lunchboxes.

Minutes, I'm telling you.

When I have more time and baking inclination, I usually use up squishy bananas in a banana walnut loaf, but I recently saw Alex's post with the recipe for Banana Gingerbread Loaf, which also sounds delish.

What have you been up to? Link up as usual below.

Lakota x

PS. Those of you who were flummoxed as to the whereabouts of the devil in my last post - you need to look at her shawl. The fringe forms his beard and you can see his mouth in one of the creases and an eye made of blue paisley. Admittedly it looks more like Big Ears (from Noddy) than Satan to me, but hey - that's how the story goes and who am I to question it?

Friday 1 March 2013

Well you did ask for more pictures of me...

Happy St David's Day!

Here I am, aged around 4 (so 1981 or thereabouts), wearing my traditional Welsh costume and avoiding looking at the camera. Some things don't change. Look at the shelf groaning with booze behind me. [That hasn't changed either].
I was reminded of this picture by seeing photos on Facebook of my friend's little girl and her class, all dressed up back home and looking super cute. It was always fun, but a less practical outfit for primary school is hard to think of - those shawls impede your arms rather. The boys would generally just come in with a leek attached to them somewhere, which someone would invariably attempt to eat raw and then breathe all over you. Happy days...

Of course, had I not escaped Wales for London, I'd now look like this:

'Salem' by Sydney Curnow Vosper 

It's true. Just look at Sian and Lucy ;-)

Can you see Satan's face? If you spot it straight away you're supposed to have the Devil in you. A print of this painting was given away with Sunlight soap, and it hung in my neighbour's house when I was a child. I was always fascinated by it, although it's very dour, even without demonic influence.

Have a lovely weekend!

Lakota x

Welsh cakes recipe