Thursday, September 26, 2013


I was born in Liverpool and lived there until I was 10 when my parents decided to move to a 'new town' that had been developed partly to rehome a growing Liverpool population that had outgrown it's pre-war housing stock. Part of their decision was based on my ever worsening asthma, they thought that moving to the 'green' new town would be a benefit.

It’s actually a very old town, the castle is believed to have been here since the 1070s. There is also a lovely priory that has become the largest archaeological dig in Europe.

And that's the problem - it's a small, old town, which had to suddenly take in 1,000s of new comers. 40 years on there is still resentment here. I joined a 'local' group on Facebook and quickly had to leave again as it regularly had posts bemoaning the 'incomers' and likening them to locusts. There is a fairly strict divide here. The 'Locals' tend to live in the Old Town and the incomers in the 'New Town'. Just to be contrary, I've mostly lived in the Old Town.

When we originally moved here with my parents, we lived on the divide between the two halves of the town, there was literally a six foot high, concrete fence segregating us from the Old Town. In the summer holidays and at weekends, at pre-arranged times, gangs of boys from the Old Town would meet gangs of boys from the New Town on the field next to our house and kick seven shades of crap out of each other - before going home, to meet again the following week.

My father used to have a market stall in the Old Town, which I helped out on at weekends and school holidays. We had regular customers from the Old Town, who were so insular they'd never even crossed the bridge that would take them to the next town over. They had everything they wanted, right where they were.

My parents were Irish, so my brother and I didn't really have strong Liverpudlian accents when we moved here, we were able to go to a local school, without too much bother. We know people who were bullied or beaten up for being 'scousers' (similarly, locals will tell you that they know people who were bullied or beaten up for being local) - it was a weird situation.

As for my parents' idea that New Town was a better place for asthmatic Tilly - yes, New Town has lots of green spaces, but it is also heavily industrialised. Local people suffer from permanently drippy noses, probably caused by the many chemical plants about.

Our town centre is a ghost town. There are lots of terraced houses, all crammed in on top of each other. It is full of charity shops and fast food outlets. There is a shopping mall type of set up in the new town, but while it used to have the big names, it too is now becoming a bit of a white elephant, with lots of empty units. There is high unemployment here, and the shopping centre is often full with groups of young men or women, with really thick 'plastic scouse' accents. They've never lived in Liverpool, but have tried to hang on to this bit of 'heritage' by talking the way their parents did, resulting in a weird hybrid accent that bears no resemblance to the real Liverpool accent.

A growing number of people are choosing to do their shopping out of the area, and then moan that there is 'nothing' in their own town - instead of spending their money locally and helping to develop their own environment.

The New Town that was built over 40 years ago is now showing its age, and is being redeveloped - money is being spent here, but I fear it's not enough. I don't know what's going to be here for Mini Mint when he leaves school.

I was tagged by the lovely Clara, you can read her original post here:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


This week, a friend on twitter asked "what advice would you give to new parents?"  I actually had three pieces of advice to offer.

Trust Your Instincts
It's really easy as a new parent to doubt yourself, to wonder if you're doing the right thing - you may ask for advice from various people, and be given conflicting responses.  And this can leave you wracked with self doubt, you want to do the best for your new child, but there are other people telling you you're wrong, or 'that's not the way I would do it'. 

Give yourself some credit. 

You may be new at parenting, but already you'll probably be in tune with your baby, and know when something is 'not right'. 

We had various health problems with Mini Mint, he never latched on for me to feed him myself, and I allowed myself to be bullied by my mid-wife (see point 3) into not giving him a bottle, but feeding him via a small medicine cup, so as not to give him 'nipple confusion'.  He ended up developing kidney problems at 11 days where he was admitted to hospital severely dehydrated.  Then, again at 25 days old because he was pooing blood (that is quite exciting in an 'OH MY GOD' kind of way).  We were admitted on a Friday afternoon, and were seen by a registrar at around tea-time who told me that it wasn't blood - but mucus (bright red mucus, really?) and to take him home and 'keep my eye on him'.  When I asked him what 'keep my eye' on him meant, I was told that if 'it happens again, bring him back in'. 

At which point I finally developed my mummy roar and refused to go home until we had seen a consultant.  We spent a long weekend in a cubicle on the children's ward, with no doctors coming in to us at all, until the wonderful consultant came in on the Monday, took one look at Mini Mint and diagnosed a milk protein intolerance.  We were given a modified formula, and within a week Mini Mint was a completely different baby.  Alert, full of life, gaining weight and just perfect.

I knew that something wasn't right, I stayed my ground, and we got the help and advice that was needed to help Mini Mint get better.  As a sidebar, it turned out the IBS I'd been diagnosed with myself when younger, was actually a dairy intolerance too, and it was hereditary.

LISTEN to all the advice you are given and USE what is right for you and your family.
When you're a new parent EVERYONE wants to give you advice, or tell you how THEY would manage X,Y,Z.  You may become overwhelmed with advice.  You sometimes get to the point where you want to snap at people to mind their own business, but... just listen. 

You don't have to follow through everything that you are told, if you think it's a load of rubbish, just nod, smile and say 'oh, that sounds interesting'.

Don't get into an argument about it.  Just choose not to follow that particular piece of advice.  Trust me, your life will be sooo much easier.

Don't Be Bullied
Parenting seems to unleash a barrage of 'know it alls' (me included, look at me giving out advice!), people will out and out tell you that they think you are doing it wrong, that you're a bad parent, that you are harming your baby, purely for making a decision that works for you and your family. 

In my case I would have loved to breast feed Mini Mint, but he was actually born in a diabetic coma, and was in SCBU for the first three days of his life. We never got to have that all important skin on skin contact in the first hour, he had to be fed via a tube for three days.  When I was allowed to have him on the ward with me, he just wouldn't latch on, it was almost like he was fighting me every time I tried to feed him.  I asked the staff for a bottle and said I would express milk and feed him that way.  They out and out refused and said he would get 'nipple confusion' if I started to feed him with a bottle.  They insisted that I feed him using a tiny medicine measuring cup, which I did, but actually ended up spilling most of it down his chin. 

When we got home I voiced my concerns to my midwife, and she backed up what the hospital said, and made me feel awful for even considering giving him a bottle, even though he would still be getting breast milk, as I was expressing. And I let them make that decision for me.  We ended up with a very poorly baby, who had to have regular check ups at the hospital for two years to ensure that his kidneys were not permanently damaged by the dehydration this caused.  After he was hospitalised I decided enough was enough and sent 'im indoors out to buy bottles and a steriliser, and Mini Mint improved dramatically.  Until my breast milk dried up at around 20 days due to the stress of being in and out of hospital, which led to the situation in the first point above. 

I let someone who had no connection to me or my family, bully me into making decisions I wasn't happy with, which caused distress to me, Mini Mint and 'im indoors.  But it also taught me a valuable lesson.  This is MY family, and the only people who should be making decisions that affect my family are me, or 'im indoors.  We will listen to your advice, and decide if it is going to work for us.  We will not let anyone brow beat us into making a decision we are not comfortable with.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


My mother in law came round earlier today, for her regular manicure, and obviously to dote on Mini Mint while she was here.

She coyly asked me if I still had my sewing machine (I do), and if I didn't mind, could I please alter two dresses for her the next time I'm using it.  Coincidentally she just happened to have the two dresses in her bag. :)

I needed an excuse to get the machine out anyway, I've been threatening for weeks to make a new cover for my point and shoot digital camera ('im indoors lost the original cover).

So, I rooted out my favourite Alexander Henry fabric (Baddanna) and some fleece, from my stash and ran up a quick little lined pouch.

Would anyone be interested in a tutorial for this?

Friday, September 13, 2013

OPI Under the Mistletoe and 18k Gold Top Coat

I had a client this evening who wanted something a bit more 'glam' than her usual manicure, as she has a 'bit of a do' this weekend.

We decided to go for OPI Under The Mistletoe (my new favourite) and last year's 18k Gold Top Coat (also from OPI).

Just the right amount of dazzle without being too over the top. (click for bigger).

Roo Beauty Storage

I showed you earlier this week, how I store my polish and nail art supplies at home.  The majority of my nail clients come to my home for treatments, but occasionally I am happy to go to their home instead - some of my clients are older or have mobility issues so it makes sense that I go out to them.

I used to tote around a huge wheeled trolley with all my supplies in, but it was back breaking getting it in and out of the car.

Then I found Roo Beauty and their storage solutions.  I already own a number of their polish rolls, which can hold up to 12 polishes at a time, but this week I took advantage of the Roo Beauty sale and decided to try out another couple of items.

The first item I went for was the Nail Polish Storage Set in soft jade, as it was virtually half price.  This was a soft case, and another polish roll.

I also decided to go for the Double It Imperial in black, as this has room for 18 polishes and loads of my manicure tools too. 

Between the two purchases, I now have a safe way to carry 50 polishes and tools, when I'm out on mobile calls.  Both cases have padded inserts that keep the bottles upright, and stop them from smashing together.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Underneath The Mistletoe was THE stand out colour for me in the OPI Mariah Carey Holiday 2013 collection, as soon as I saw the promo literature, I knew that was the one I loved, and could picture which clients would go for it too.  In real life it is stunning, it's actually even prettier than the pictures, but is so difficult to photograph in our horrid northern light.

There is a real depth of shine to this making it very dimensional.  It applies like a jelly, looking good in one coat, but needing two for full coverage.  A coat of OPI Rapid Dry Top Coat and you've completed your look.

One of the other colours I liked the look of was You Snow You Love Me - a beautiful pearlescent white/gold shimmer - perfect for those who like a more neutral look, but also want to glam it up for the holidays.  While it's cute on its own, I decided to experiment and layer it over Underneath The Mistletoe, and was more than pleasantly surprised by the beautiful vintage gold look that showed through.  You can also see the depth of the shimmer a bit better on these photos (click photos for bigger).

Monday, September 09, 2013

Polish Addict Set Up

I have my 'nail stuff' (mostly) stored in a cupboard in our dining room.  It's ideal as we have lovely comfy chairs in there for clients, portable tables that I can pull up right next to them, it's nice and bright, and everything is in one place.

The polish is stored in colour groups, so they are easy for me to find - glitters and treatments are stored in their own separate boxes too.  Bottom right is where I store my 'take-away flip flops' for clients who book a pedicure, and then forget to bring open toed shoes with them for when they leave. (Picture below was taken this evening after a client had left, and hasn't been tidied up - messy puppy Click for bigger).

99% of the time I use OPI products, purely because they are the brand that I have found give the best longevity and shine on my own nails.  I'm usually very hardwearing on polish - I can paint my nails in the evening, and they will be peeling off in the car on the way to work the next day.  With OPI I can get upto 7 days on my own nails (depending on the polish) and have had clients say that they have had 10 days, if they were Marigolds when washing up etc.

For the perfect, long lasting manicure, I always use OPI Matte Nail Envy as a base coat.  Nail Envy is an amazing treatment in it's own right, it's helped me to grow my nails past their usual nubbins stage, but the Matte Nail Envy provides a brilliant key for polish.  After base coat, comes 2 coats of your favourite colour and then I finish off with OPI Rapid Dry Top Coat, which gives a brilliant, long lasting shine.  I always use OPI polish remover on clients, I have two types, acetone free polish remover for traditional manicures/pedicures and the brilliant OPI Expert Touch for removing enhancements or Gel Polish.

I store all of my OPI Gel Polishes in the OPI Manicure Case - firstly because it's pretty, secondly because I love the size of it, and the drawer underneath is perfect for storing the tools required for Gel Manicures (including my LED lamp) and thirdly, the case helps to protect the products from any UV light, ensuring they don't 'cure' in the bottle.

I carry out most of my nail treatments/manicures in my own home, but some clients have mobility issues and I am happy to do call outs to their home.  Keeping my products safe in transit is really important, bottles banging together can result in nasty, expensive breakages.  To that end, I've bought a number of polish rolls from Roo Beauty, these store up to 12 bottles of polish, even the larger OPI ones, and then roll up neatly to put in your carry case.  Today I also ordered one of their 'Double-It' cases and an 'Imperial Polish Holder' set.

Apart from seeing the finished result of a manicure/pedicure, the thing I love most about being a nail tech, is the deliveries.  The excitement of getting one of these in the post makes me giddy.

Pound Land

I don't shop in PoundLand very often, purely because it's out of the way for me, I went in recently to get supplies to top up Mini Mint's craft cupboard, and spotted lots of nail art bargains.

First up - I'd seen that Nails Inc had brought out one of these polish remover pots, while I liked the idea of it - ideal to keep in the drawer in work for any chipped polish disasters, I wasn't fussed on the price so gave it a miss.  And then I spotted this in PoundLand. I ended up buying two - I use one for 'normal' polish and one for glitters. 

The pot is filled with a sponge, which is saturated with polish remover (acetone based).  You stick your finger in the sponge, and  normal polish comes off with a couple of twists, and I had a go at the OPI DS Pewter this afternoon, and while it didn't take ALL of it in one go, it didn't do too bad of a job.


I also picked up some nail art supplies - again, obviously, all at £1.00 each.  The chain stickers are awesome - I'm actually on my second pack of those as I had three clients in a row that wanted denim and chain nail art.  (click picture to make it bigger). The gems come with a little buffer and orange stick to help you to position them properly, and can be stuck on with top coat - and then another coat of topcoat to seal them onto your nail.

I store my nail art in see through/PVC pouches that I also bought from PoundLand - I think there were actually 2 for £1.00.  I have one for nail tools, one for nail art and another for stamping plates.

N.B. These products were all bought by myself


Mummy Duties

Being mum to an eight year old boy, involves sitting in lots of church/village halls, with Kindle on lap, and earphones in.

Our normal week goes like this:

Monday - Karate
Tuesday - Karate
Wednesday - Swimming
Thursday - Piano Lesson and then Cubs
Friday - Homework/Craft Club.  Mini Mint will invite two or three of his friends round, we'll do outstanding homework, trawl through the craft cupboard and then run round the garden screaming and climbing over the play equipment.
Saturday - Family day.  If 'im indoors isn't working, we'll all do something together.  If he is - I let Mini Mint pick an activity, he usually chooses the cinema or a local playbarn
Sunday - Mini Mint goes to church with grandparents and I go back to bed.

Sunday, September 08, 2013


Yesterday I said that I wasn't sure about DS Pewter, I wasn't particularly impressed that it was a textured polish, as I was expecting the usual DS brilliant shine.  I also mentioned how, like most glitters/textured polishes, it was very thirsty for top coat.

Today - I decided to put another layer of OPI Rapid Dry topcoat on, and... what a transformation. This is the blingiest of the blingiest.  At one point, the sun came through the dining room, bounced off my nails and forced 'im indoors to cover his eyes.  Seriously.

I prefer this with a top coat - I do like textured polishes, and have LOTS of the OPI Liquid Sand range, I just wanted this to be a super-shiny polish.  Which it now is :)

New photos below (click for bigger):




Friday, September 06, 2013


I received my delivery of OPI goodness today and couldn't wait to get home and try them... but, I have to say, some of the ones I thought I would LOVE have left me a bit 'meh'.  (CLICK ON EACH PICTURE TO VIEW IN LARGER SIZE)

First, on my index finger is Ski Slope Sweetie (this golden pearl is everybunny's favourite) , this is actually prettier than I thought it would be, though is probably better suited to layering - the photo above is two coats, and still really sheer.

Middle finger is My Favorite Ornament (make this champagne glitter your new personal favourite) really pretty, great for the holidays, again quite sheer so would probably need three coats.  Very thirsty for top coat too.

Ring finger Warm Me Up (this spiced coffee hits all the cold spots) I've got to say, I'm not quite sure where OPI were going with this one - it doesn't scream 'holidays' at me, and the colour is a bit vague, kind of a shimmery brown, I really cannot envisage any of my clients wanting to wear this (or myself).

My pinky finger is wearing what has to be my favourite of the collection, Underneath the Mistletoe (Is my kiss as spicy-sweet as this candy apple red) - this reminds me of custom paint job on an American muscle car I saw at a show once; which I have always loved.  There are tiny little glitters which catch the light perfectly.  Look on line for some better photos, my camera was out of whack today - there are some photos out there that show how stunning this is!

I also bought one of the new DS polishes (Designer Series) DS Pewter, again, I had high hopes for this but have been really disappointed.  It was GLOOPY as anything on application, and looked more like liquid sand than a DS polish.  Even though there is supposed to be diamond dust in this polish, it really struggles to find the light and sparkle.  Photo below without top coat.

Again this was a really thirsty polish and gobbled up the top coat - it could probably do with 2 or 3 coats of top coat, but it already feels too thick on my nails.  I was hoping that this was going to be my new fave, but again - disappointed OPI.

I paired this with Wonderous Star (this gold flecked shimmer has heavenly shine) which I actually wasn't that keen on originally and had bought purely for clients to have something sparkly over the holidays, but am pleasantly surprised by this.  The large black glitters make it stand out as something a bit different.
Lastly - again, thinking of the holidays, I also bought I Snow You Love Me (just like you love this disco light confetti) - guys this polish is RIDICULOUS! HUGE disco ball style glitters really make this scream fun and holidays.  I'm not usually a fan of large glitters, but this is so fun you can't help but love it.  I haven't done it justice here, just plonking it on top of Warm Me Up - but it was more to give you an idea of the size of the glitters.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Last week I showed you some new cookie cutters that I had bought from t'internet. I love Fred & Friends stuff and decided that these could be my 'pay day treat' this month.*
Mini Mint and I decided to give them a test them on Monday, given that we had a bank holiday weekend, and nothing planned.  We did a 'dry run' of the dinosaur Dig Ins, planning ahead for Mini Mint's Hallowe'en party, and the Munchstache cutters - again planning ahead for Movember, when my friend Andrea and I are going to be holding a bake sale in work.
Both sets of cutters were easy to use, though the dinosaurs were definitely the winners for usability as the embossing section was separate, meaning you didn't have to struggle to free the cut cookies from the cutter as you did with the Muchstache ones.
I had the bright idea of using lolly sticks on the Munchstache cookies, but I'm not convinced that they are strong enough, and they will probably collapse under their own weight.  I intended to coat the 'plain' cookies in white or milk chocolate, but Mini Mint and I ate them before I got the chance :)
The dinosaur cookies saw me utilising another one of my bright ideas, which would have worked if I made sure I had the right equipment before embarking on it.  I thought that instead of using white icing for the detailing, I would use melted white chocolate.  I melted down the chocolate, got my icing bags out, and then couldn't find my piping nozzles.  No worries, I'll just fill the bag up and cut a small hole.  Except, yep, I cut the hole too big and ended up with the chocolate coming out to quickly.  I wasn't too worried as this was only a test run before Hallowe'en.  As you can see from the photos - the T-Rex lost a couple of his feet, the dough was really delicate in that area.
This is the recipe I used (you'll get four times the yield I have shown here):
For the dough
  • 200g/8oz softened butter 
  • 150g/6oz caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • 400g/14oz plain flour plus extra for flouring
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
1.   Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
2.   Lightly grease 2 baking trays and line with baking paper/parchment.
3.   Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy
4.   Beat in the egg yolks
5.   Add the flour and spices and enough milk to give a fairly soft dough.
6.   Bring together to make a soft dough.
7.   Knead the mixture on a lightly floured work surface.
8.   Roll out to a thickness of around 5mm/¼in.
9.   Cut out using your chosen biscuit/cookie cutters.
10. Bake for 10-15 minutes on the prepared baking trays.
11. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
12. Decorate as you like - melted chocolate, icing sugar, royal icing...
*In an effort to get a tighter hold on household finances I have decided that instead of buying 'extra' things through the month, as they take my fancy, I will plan what I would like, and choose just one thing - and have this as a pay-day treat.  I'm encouraging Mini Mint to do the same thing, we'd fallen into the habit of having lots of little treats through the month, and then having to rein in the budget at the end of the month.  This way we're hoping that there will be money left at the end of the month for days out etc.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flashback Friday

A lot of my friends are posting old photos of themselves at the moment, for Flashback Friday - I decided to go a bit different, and look to some 'old' nail polish collections instead.

I went with (l-r):
Did It On 'Em (from the Nicki Minaj collection)
Simply Smashing (from the Serena Williams collection)
Just Spotted the Lizard (from the Spiderman collection)
Shatter the Scales (Shatter polish from the Spiderman collection).

The acid green colour of Did It on 'Em is one of my favourite greens, it's a rich cream that is smooth to apply, and needs two coats for full coverage.
Simply Smashing is a vivid metallic shimmer, that is quite sheer, and needs three coats for opacity.
Just Spotted the Lizard is a luscious duochrome, showing gold and olive green, and even hits of blue if you catch the light right - this needed two coats for full opacity.
Shatter the Scales was the Shatter shade that was part of the Spiderman collection - do you guys remember how popular Shatter was when it first came out?  I thought it was a bit 'Emperor's New Clothes' myself, and didn't really get into it, particularly the one in the Nicki Minaj collection which looked like dried blood, but I digress, back to Shatter the Scales... You have to wait for your base colour to be completely dry before applying Shatter, which can be a bit of a PITA, so I always use OPI's Rapid Dry Spray, which hurries the process along, as well as applying a thin layer of silicone which the Shatter seems to like.  I apply Shatter in slightly zig-zag motion, to give more randomness to the finish.
Everything topped of with OPI's Rapid Dry Top Coat - as always.  You can see the variance in colour of Just Spotted the Lizard below, it looks olive green on my middle finger, and gold on my little finger.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


When OPI released information on their A/W 2013 San Francisco Collection, I wasn't that taken with most of it.  Previous collections I've thought 'I HAVE to have this', but with this there were really only a few that stood out.

PEACE AND LOVE AND OPI, which OPI describe as 'This holographic sage and eggplant duo-chrome is far out!'

This is a classic duochrome shimmer, which looks like pewter at first glance, and has green and deep purple tints to it.  This was practically a 'one coater' but I applied two to even out the brush strokes.

ALCATRAZ... ROCKS, which OPI describes as 'There’s no escaping this arresting textured gray.'

This is one of OPI's Liquid Sand polishes, a grainy, multi glittered matte textured polish, with purple and blue tones.  I love how this looks when it first goes on, when it's wet and shiny - and would LOVE if this was a regular glitter.  Having said that, I do love the Liquid Sand look, though not on the whole hand for me - just as an accent nail.

As always, I used OPI Matte Nail Envy for a base coat (IMHO this is THE best base coat on the market... I've tried using sticky/bonding polishes before and this outperforms them, plus, it's a protein treatment for your nails - I think I'm on my 8th bottle of this!).  Then two coats of each polish and finished off wit OPI's Rapid Dry Top Coat. 


As much as I LOVE OPI polish, and I really do, (their Gel Polish is the treatment that my clients request most often) - I've kind of fallen out of love with them over their last couple of collections.  The S/S 2013 Euro Centrale collection, I bought three of the polishes, and the same with the A/W 2013 San Francisco Collection.  They just seemed to be getting a bit 'samey'.

Today I got notification and sales info from the UK distributor Lena White for the Holiday Season 2013 Collection.  OPI have chosen to collaborate with Mariah Carey again and I have to say - I'm loving this collection.  Lots of Christmassy reds, some sparkle.  There's also a collection of OPI Liquid Sand polishes that look intriguing.  I've already mentally paired up some of my clients with the polishes that I know they will love!

Top Line, From the Left:
My Favourite Ornament
All I Want For Christmas (is OPI)
Cute Little Vixen
Underneath the Mistletoe
In My Santa Suit
Visions of Love

Bottom Line, From the Left:
Warm Me Up
Wonderous Star
All Sparkly and Gold
Sleigh Ride For Two
Ski Slope Sweetie
I Snow You Love Me

I know a lot of people are going to love the two glitters Wonderous Star and I Snow You Love Me, but I am seriously lemming for Underneath the Mistletoe, and can't wait to get my greedy little mitts on this.

If you're waiting for this collection, it's available to pros from September, and should be in your local salon for October.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Know It's Early, But...

We have regular Craft Clubs after school here at Tilly Towers, usually on a Friday, sometimes homework is completed, some times we just mess about with whatever is in the craft cupboard.  Mini Mint will usually invite a couple of friends over from school.  It almost always ends in the garden climbing over the play equipment.

Each year we also have a craft day on Christmas Eve - friends will leave their children with us - either for a couple of hours or the whole day, while they make last minute preparations.  We always do some baking, and the children will make some presents for their mums, and tree ornaments.

I've been wondering what we could do this year for presents, and came up with an idea at about 03:00 a couple of nights ago when I couldn't sleep.  Mini Mint and I have tried a 'dry run' of it this afternoon, and while it's not perfect, it definitely has potential.

I drew a picture onto some shrink plastic, Mini Mint coloured it in with his favourite pencils and then we cut it out and we shrank it in the oven as per instructions (making sure that we had punched a hole in the top for later).  When it had shrank the full amount we took it out of the oven and left it to cool, before sprinkling some embossing powder on.  This is the first time I've used embossing powder, and I don't have a heat tool, so I had to improvise with the oven and guess what temp to use.  I went for 200*C for four minutes, and it seems to have worked OK.  We'll tweak a bit, and play around some more... but I think these will make cute necklaces for the children to give to their mum's at Christmas. (Again, excuse the lousy phone picture).

What do you think, and - ribbon necklace... yes or no?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Paper Wonderland: 32 Terribly Cute Toys Ready to Cut, Fold and Build

Mini Mint is currently obsessed with origami and has picked up a few books with his pocket money.  We were in a craft store recently and he spotted this gorgeous looking book of projects.  Given that (in my experience) it's mostly mummies that do crafty projects with the kids, we asked 'im indoors if he fancied having a go at this book with Mini Mint.

They have been sitting at the dining table for the last hour or so, with 'im indoors mumbling the instructions under his breath, and then exclaiming when he realises that he has gone awry.  I don't know if the instructions are particularly unclear, but he's had to unpick what he's made and start again, with the comment, 'You can't do that, it's impossible'.
Mini Mint is a happy bunny though, and although he says 'it's a bit hard', he's happy with the results that 'im indoors has created.  One hour in so far, and one little paper toaster finished.

Mini Mint Makes Cheesy Bean Burgers

Before I went to work this morning, I left a shopping list for 'im indoors (who's works shifts, and was off today), so that Mini Mint and I could make a recipe he'd spotted in a magazine.  So the 'boys' spent the day in Chester, swimming and then came to pick me up from work with all the shopping present and correct.

Mini Mint is a vegetarian, and will often spot a veggie recipe that he fancies in a magazine, paper or book, and provided the ingredients are not too expensive, we always have a go.  We adapted this recipe slightly, for some added texture and spice.

50g Carrots with the ends removed (this was one medium sized carrot)
400g can of Butter Beans
50g Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese
3 level tablespoons of Onion Chutney
2 level tablespoons of Tomato Purée
50g Wholemeal Bread (preferably a couple of days old)
1 small handful of Jalapeno Peppers
1 small handful of Pine Nuts
4 Burger Buns

1.  Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper, and a plate with kitchen paper.
2.  Grate the carrot, then squeeze in your hands to get rid of any moisture, put on the paper-lined plate.

3.  Drain and rinse the beans, pat dry with kitchen paper.
4.  Break the bread into chunks and whizz in processor or with a hand held blender.

5.  Add a small handful of Jalapeno Peppers to the bread crumbs.
6.  Gently toast a small handful of Pine Nuts and add those the breadcrumbs too.
7.  Add the beans to the breadcrumb mix and 'blitz' again.
8.  Grate 50g of Extra Mature Cheddar into a large bowl.
8.  Tip the breadcrumb/bean mixture into the bowl, along with the carrots, onion relish and tomato puree, add pepper to season and give a good mix.

9.  Preheat the over to 200*C/Gas 6.
10. Wet your hands with cold water and take handfuls of the mixture, shaping into patties on the grease-proof paper. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.

11.  When the burgers have chilled for 15 minutes, pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
12.  Serve on sliced rolls/burger buns with tomato and ketchup for dressing, and a side of French Fries.

Of course the best bit about Mini Mint cooking, is that he always want to do the washing up too.