Thursday, 27 June 2013

Birthday DIY / 04

Almost a month after his birthday, I've finally got around to taking photos in order to share the last of B's handmade gifts. This was the big one and once we'd finished it, even Mr Biddle declared it 'blogtastic'!
B's play kitchen started life as a vintage telephone table. Having looked at a load of DIY play kitchens on Pinterest, we knew we wanted to find something double width so that it could include a sink, storage, oven, hob and work surface. On a mooch around the awesome Shepton Mallet Flea, this little piece of furniture was spotted at a bargain price and we felt it was perfect for adaptation.
Here's what we did ... We ordered a metal mixing bowl and some taps from Amazon, and bought some little handles and knobs to become dials and a more 'oven' like door handle. We also bought a little tester pot of matt black paint. Mr Biddle jigsawed out a hole for the bowl to sit in, and drilled two large holes for the taps. The existing drawer was glued in, had it's handle chopped off and poly filler closed up the hole. When we took off the telephone table seat pad, we needed to buy a small piece of wood to replace it as a work surface. The new knobs and handle were drilled in. The whole thing was painted with some Farrow and Ball Dix Blue which we had left over from painting the bathroom. And finally, the black paint went on to create the look of hobs and oven doors.
This really was a pretty simple DIY and once we'd bought all the elements, it came together really quickly. Luckily Mr B had a jigsaw and a large drill bit from building our wardrobes so these didn't prove to be obstacles. And the whole thing cost considerably less than the Ikea, Brio and Janod ones we'd been eyeing up as alternatives.
I also sewed up a little tea towel and matching oven glove (although don't look too closely at the oven glove binding as it's terrible!).
The other lovely thing about building a play kitchen for B was that so many of our friends bought little additions for it. Saucepans, utensils, boxes of wooden eggs and even an adorable mini-Kenwood chef from my sister have all added to B's enjoyment of cooking.
And finally, really deserving a whole blog post of it's own, is this incredible sign made by my amazing sister. We all almost exploded with excitement when she arrived with this. How blooming cool is she?
And what's more - it lights up. AWESOME. B is one lucky boy to have her as his Aunt.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Summer Food

Okay, so the weather hasn't been that summery so far. But nonetheless, we've been embracing a slightly more summery menu in the Biddle household. Alongside fitting in a fair few picnics (come rain or shine), we've been shucking fresh peas to add to risottos, eating lots of British strawberries (often dipped in chocolate and left to set in the fridge), and B has discovered the delights of ice cream which is now his favourite food thanks to homemade 99s.
One of our absolute favourite summer feasting additions is this salad, dreamt up by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I think it originally comes from his Veg Everyday book, but you can find the recipe here too. Having tried it a few times, I would recommend popping the fennel and garlic in at the same time as the butternut squash as otherwise it's a bit too tough, at least for our taste. This really is a fantastic dish - full of flavour, wholesome and yummy, and lasts well so that you can have it for a lunch or picnic the day after too. We often eat it with a mix of Italian charcuterie, fresh bread, houmous, cheeses and olives. You won't be disappointed.
In a bid to add a little fruit into B's ice cream consumption, I've been playing around with a couple of frozen dessert ideas which I'd pinned. First up are yoghurt and berry ice lollies. I whizzed up one cup of yoghurt with one cup of berries/banana, then added a little honey to taste, before pouring into molds to freeze.
As I had far too much for my molds, I also used a few old baby food pots and mini yogurt pots as molds too, popping in ice lolly sticks, and using foil to cover and hold the lolly sticks upright. I love the taste of these - and keep raiding the freezer late at night to pinch from the stash!
Finally, with a glut of uneaten bananas in the house, I chopped them all in half, popped them on grease proof paper with lolly sticks stuck in, froze them over night, dipped them in melted chocolate and sprinkles, then re-froze. Yum. The frozen banana tastes like amazing banana ice cream. Just leave them out of the freezer for five minutes or so before consuming so they have a chance to soften slightly. I've also tried the same thing with think slices of kiwi fruit too.
Happy summer feasting one and all x

Monday, 24 June 2013

Crafternoons / 06

This Crafternoons post is a Father's Day special, two weeks late. I blame three weeks of travelling here there and everywhere with freelance work for this tardy post. But I thought I'd share the little crafty things I got up to with the boy as I think they're all applicable to other non-dad celebrations too.
First up is B's personalised wrapping for his Daddy. Whenever B draws or paints, we chop a big chunk of white paper off a roll from Ikea so he has a nice big canvas to work on. Recently, I've been using these big pieces of experimental art to become wrapping paper. I also covered an old shoe box in more of the white paper (with the sticky help of spray mount) and let B go wild colouring, sticking and glueing to his heart's content. The box was filled with goodies ... socks, PJ bottoms, a DVD, and proudly presented to his Poppa along with this home made card.
We created a Father's Day card, plus three cards for all B's Grandads, using the same combination of watercolour painting, photographs and gold ink pen as we used here.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Birthday DIY / 03

The third of our four handmade presents for B's 2nd birthday last week was a miniature rucksack made with stripey fabric from Ikea. I used the rucksack pattern from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew, and as ever, I found Liesel Gibson's patterns and instructions clear and easy to follow, resulting in a product with a really professional finish. Sewing up the rucksack surprised me with how tricky it was - getting the zip piece just right and completing the lining especially. But I learned lots whilst making this bag and I'd definitely have another go. B looks so darn cute with it on his back!