A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

Interview: Jen Lindsey-Clark of She Bakes, Chocolate Benedict Cumberbatch creator

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It was hard to miss the She Bakes Chocolate Benedict Cumberbatch Sculpture, lovingly nicked named ‘Chocobatch’ over the Easter weekend. It was created By Jen Lindsey-Clark of She Bakes  and Tim Simpson and the team at Plunge Productions for UKTV Drama.

 

I managed to track Jen down to tell us all about it. She’s a busy lady, apart from being able to make Benedict out of chocolate, Jen also runs a wedding and event cake company, She Bakes, and sings with vintage harmony group, The Close Shaves.

 

When I contacted Jen during the course of this interview, one day she was busy tidying up ‘Chocobatch’ for his Westfield shopping centre appearance,  another day she was making one of her signature Croquembouche for a wedding, the next she was dancing Lindy hop, and then catering for a tea dance. Jen is stylish, incredibly multi-talented, and such a lovely, warm and witty person to chat to.

 

The Close Shaves

The Close Shaves – Jen seated, far right.

 

How did you get into baking?

I have fond memories of sitting cross-legged on the lawn as a child making scrumptious mud cup cakes to feed to my teddies and, if they were lucky, my family. Reassuringly my taste in ingredients has changed somewhat but my passion for creating delicious treats certainly hasn’t.

 

How did you become a chocolatier, how long does it take to train?

I originally trained as a pastry chef in my twenties. I worked in fine dining in restaurants and hotels for a decade with some very talented pastry chefs and learnt from them and also went to Slatteries school of chocolate in Manchester to do various courses. That is where is fell in love with chocolate as a medium to create with.

It is very tricky at times, lots of science involved, it can be bad tempered and uncooperative rather like a small child. However when it is understood properly and you are patient and thoughtful with it wonderful results can be achieved. Also there is generally no waste. If it all goes wrong you can melt it all down and start again and there are always many enthusatic assistants on hand to volunteer as taste testers.

I set up She Bakes in 2010, providing elegant and delicious celebraton cakes to Sussex and surrounding counties. I specialise in chocolate cakes and croquembouche…

 

Croquembouche by She Bakes

Croquembouche by She Bakes

 

Can you tell us about the process of making Benedict out of chocolate?

Rather like making a large decorative celebration cake which is my usual line of work at She Bakes, I had to prepare all the components of the Cumberbatch separately before assembling him on site at the Westfield Shopping centre on Good Friday 2015.

The head was cast using a silicone mould created by Plunge productions’ lead sculptor and M.D Tim Simpson. The Body and legs were then sculpted and feet finished at the last stage. Buttons, collar, bow-tie were all individually made and then attached, the hands were also cast from silicone moulds made by the team and fitted with screws so they could be reattached easily on site.

 

Jen of She Bakes working on Chocobatch

Jen of She Bakes working on Chocobatch

 

Why did you choose Benedict?

Benedict Cumberbatch was chosen by UKTV Drama Channel the client that Plunge productions and She Bakes made it for. They did a poll with their viewers on the UK’s dishiest actor and Benedict won. Of course this meant that he needed to be made out of chocolate immediately!

 

How much chocolate did it take to make him?

It took around 40kg of chocolate to make Benedict. 40 kg of 35% cocoa solid Belgium Milk Chocolate .

 

She Bakes Benedict Chocolate Cumberbatch

She Bakes Benedict Chocolate Cumberbatch

 

How much would it cost to buy?

It would cost around £15,000 to have a replica made. The original would cost a lot more to buy now, as it has become a sought after piece of art. To some Cumber fans I think you could say it is priceless.

 

What do you plan to do with it now?

It was made for Taylor Herring, PR Company for UKTV. They have him in their offices. After he starred in their promotional film,  they took him back to their offices to devour the rest I suppose?

 

Which part did you enjoy sculpting?

I enjoyed sculpting his hands and shoes. The head was expertly carved from clay by Tim Simpson of Plunge Productions, we then made a food safe silicone mould from the clay head and it was incredible to finally be able to fill it will melted luscious milk chocolate to reveal the chocobatch head once set. The finish was superb and the likeness amazing! We used the actor’s measurements and assessed images from red carpet appearances to help perfect Benedict’s look and create an accurate model even down to the smallest detail.

 

Which bit will you eat first?

I didn’t get to eat any of it…it was for a paying client! I do of course have to taste a few bits in the process and make sure it is setting well. The real chocolate buttons were very nice to make and tasted delicious.

 

Which would you rather lick ChocoBatch, or Benedict?

Neither…Chocobatch has been licked by a few too many already and the real deal is not really my type. He’s a great actor though , even if he can’t say penguins properly…Sweet.

 

Chocolate Benedict Cumberbatch Westfield

 

How do you stop yourself eating as you make?

Now, tasting is totally necessary of course when cooking and creating for others to enjoy, just to make sure it is still delicious. I tend to try and think of the chocolate that is staring up at me ..melty..shiney, sexy, unctuous, as money…money that should be in my bank account as profit not in my tummy as naughty nibbles. Nigella has already done the dribberly, seductive, chocolate scoffing thing so it’s not part of my business plan for She Bakes. It does of course take a lot of will power and sometimes the chocolate wins, but everything in moderation and all that.

 

Did anything go wrong?

It was a bit stressful at times…when I had to put his chocolate head on in front of 300 shoppers at Westfield shopping centre…that was a little nerve racking to say the least! I am however used to working under this kind of pressure, creating and personally delivering wedding cakes is possibly one of the most nerve racking jobs you can have. No emergency braking please!
Thankfully everything went to plan and we got him there in one piece and looking gorgeous.

The only panic we had was when the crowds descended on Benedict and started to eat him! But by this time it was over to UKTV and associates to protect him. The security team worked tirelessly to protect ChocoBen and his bits and by the time it came for me to say goodbye to my special Ben I felt confident that the british public had had their fill and even the real Mr Cumberbatch would be happy with our efforts.

 

Why choose Westfield Shopping Centre to display him and not your home town Brighton?

The TV and PR companies chose where it would be displayed. I guess they wanted as many people to see it as possible and they thought somewhere near London would be good. However, Chocobatch is not my first choco sculpture, my previous creations have been Brighton landmarks, and were created with cake inside too!

 

Chocolate Carousel by SheBakes.com

Brighton Chocolate Carousel by SheBakes.co.uk

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Brighton Pier Helter Skelter by SheBakes.co.uk

 

What next?

I have weddings and birthdays to provide yummy sweet treats for, but chocolate sculpting ideas are brewing and it would be great to tackle another celebrity…maybe in dark or white chocolate this time or a combination of all three. Any suggestions would be welcomed…who would you like to see/smell in chocolate??

 


 

Thanks to Jen for taking time to have a a chat, it’s been fascinating to hear all about She Bakes. Get in touch with Jen via the contacts on her website if you are looking to commission a unique cake for an event.

Thanks to Older Single Mum, Kiddycharts, Mummy from the Heart, Bug Bird And Bee, Kids’ Days Out Reviews for suggesting some of the questions for Jen.

I Love England, Let me Count the Ways…

English Garden, Dartmoor

English Garden, Dartmoor

St George’s Day is a funny old day. Whereas the Irish and Scottish make a big deal of their Saint’s Day, we shirk away from ours,  whereas perhaps we should be embracing the positives in our culture and heritage and pushing for it to be a national holiday.  I’ve spent a lot of time exploring England’s green and pleasant land recently, the ‘garden of England’ Kent, the myths and legends of Nottinghamshire, and the coast of North Norfolk. It really got me thinking – we have so much to be proud of in England.

Here is my list, what would you add?

 

Beach huts

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Summer Beach huts by Heidi Langridge Wall Art Art-Group at WayfairUK

The Great British seaside. Bunting decked beach huts, willingly dispensing buckets and spades, cups of tea, sandwiches, deckchairs and shelter from the unpredictable British weather. North Norfolk has beautiful beach huts, I love their colour, charm and well, I think we do the seaside in a very special way in England. Rock, crabbing, fish and chips, penny slot machines, kiss me quick. I know where I would love to spend St George’s Day. Check out Beach Hut Cook, one  of my favourite instagrammers, for lots of lovely ideas!

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Wells Beach Huts, North Norfolk

 

Fish and Chips

George's Fish and Chip Kitchen Nottingham

As a veggie I don’t eat fish, but I love the idea of chips at the seaside, with some mushy peas. You can’t beat it. Or failing that, as I live in land-locked Nottingham, in the incredible George’s Fish and Chip in Nottingham, which even has beach huts. Now this is a restaurant that knows how to love England, from buckets and spades to candy floss to gin cocktails, its an amazing place. Much more on that to come though!

 

Storytelling

I’m biased, but I think Robin Hood might be one of England’s greatest folk stories. Whoever you speak to in the world, they’ve often heard of him. We love it when the underdog wins.

Robin Hood and Little John Fight on the Bridge Statue

Robin Hood and Little John Fight on the Bridge Statue, Major Oak, Nottingham

 

Pimm’s O’Clock

Pimm's o'clock!

Pimm’s o’clock!

James Pimm was a farmer’s son from Kent, who introduced the ‘No1 Cup’ to the Oyster bar he ended up owning, in London. This gin based drink, with a mix of secret herbs and spices, was a digestive aid, now it is the standard drink at Wimbledon, Chelsea Flower Show, Polo events and weddings and garden parties across the land. Hurrah for Mr Pimm! Find your perfect pitcher, then bottom’s up!

History

The Major Oak is an incredible oak tree in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, it is thought to be around 800 years old, and said to be Robin’s hiding place. When you stop and feel the echoes of our past it really is incredible. We have so much history to delve into, so much heritage to explore. The English countryside is absolutely stunning.

The Major Oak, Nottingham

The Major Oak, Nottingham

Afternoon Tea

A time honoured tradition, and one that I think should be made part of every St George’s Day.

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Tetley Tea Folk Cake Stand in Hat Box

 

Tea

And what can’t be solved with a cup of tea and sympathy?

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Fallen Fruits Farm Folklore Dinner Tray

Picnics

The slightest hint of a warm day and we are buttering sandwiches, packing up lashings of lemonade, a packet of jammie dodgers. Well perhaps its more likely to be a French baguette and hummus, Greek olives and Spanish tapas from the supermarket deli counter. But still, the tradition is engrained – we really love to picnic. Making a pack up and a thermos is part of any great adventure.

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Ulster Weavers Maisie Lunch Bag

Roast Dinner

St George’s Day rounded off with a roast dinner, what could be better? Well, mine would be veggie for starters.

Vegetarian Roast, by Emily Leary

Vegetarian Roast, by Emily Leary

Deckchairs

You cant beat half an hour in a deckchair, they really do force you to sit still and watch the world go by. Last summer we enjoyed the deckchairs in Hyde Park, and I always love the deckchairs on Brighton beach.

Deck Chairs

Deck Chairs, Brighton

Morris Dancing

An age old ritual, which I hope is preserved for many more, the first mentions date back to 1448. I joined some dancers at Camp bestival and it was the most joyful fun.  Along with maypole dancing, morris dancing should be part of every child’s education.

Morris dancers

Morris Dancers

London Gin

London Gin

Mother’s ruin, or England’s finest export, you decide. It was actually invented by a Dutch man, and given to soldiers before battle, hence the term Dutch courage. But unlicensed gin production became so widely spread and problematic in 17th Century London that there were ‘Gin Acts’.  In British colonies gin was used to mask the bitter quinine, which was the only effective anti-malarial measure. Quinine was dissolved in carbonated water to form tonic water, and so that magic combination of gin and tonic arose. Today London gin is legally recognised by the EU as a type of gin, and is much more sophisticated drink, to be enjoyed with ice, and a slice.

English Gardens

Are absolutely beautiful…we spent last weekend exploring Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron’s home in Nottinghamshire, and it was hopelessly romantic, with a large dash of gothic. I love how our gardens translate to our fabrics, fashion and homewares. Cath Kidston, Kirstie Allsopp are just a couple of designers making the most of the English Rose – did you know they are cousins?

How do you love England?

Which quote describes your home?

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I Like This Place… wall art by Bookishly at WayfairUK.

I like to think that home inspiration can come from all kinds of places, books, films, clothes, nature and travel, I think a house becomes a home when it has things that tell the story of its inhabitants. But I also know feeling at home is a very personal thing and that for some, having a space free of clutter and belongings is what makes you feel at home.

Since I started to blog more about homes, I started looking for quotes about homes and homemaking as inspiration. The same ones seem to crop up over and again, and they can be a bit didactic, so it was refreshing to find this one.

Good old William Shakespeare. I wonder what he would have made of my house? The quote is from As you Like It, a title which in itself arguably sums up exactly how a home should be. I love that it is down to earth and practical, but has wit, fun and frivolity. That’s exactly how I picture my home.

Bookishly has a huge range of wonderful quotes about home and much more, their wall art is inspired by literature, from The Great Gatsby, to Sherlock Holmes, to The Wizard of Oz, to Little Women, there are lots of beautifully presented quotes to choose from.

This is a classic, so much so I had forgotten it was a quote from The Wizard of Oz.

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There’s No Place Like Home, from The Wizard of Oz

I love this wall art featuring William Morris, and I try to abide by it, but generally fail, so I am not sure I want it on my wall, but maybe I need it!

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Have Nothing in your Home, wall art by Bookishly at WayfairUK

Alice in Wonderland might be more fitting, depending on your household’s sense of humour.

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We’re All Mad Here, from Alice in Wonderland

But for the ultimate in romantic homefelt sentiment, you can’t beat this quote from Jane Eyre. Sadly I remember reading Jane Eyre in my summer holiday to Tunisia, with an ex boyfriend, while preparing for my second year doing English at University – funny how memories stick to things – so I am going to stick with Shakespeare’s wise words for my home.

Jane Eyre

Whereever you are is my home, wall art from Jane Eyre

There’s a lovely story behind the production of Bookishly wall art too, each piece is unique as the background page is randomly picked from Shakespeare’s Complete Works. The team at Bookishly hunt down lovely old yellow papered books in second hand book dealers and charity shops. The frame is handmade in England by a local family business and has no glass so you can feel the lovely old page. The frame hangs flush to the wall or can stand on its own, making it perfect for a bookshelf.

Which quote best sums up your home? Do you have a mantra for your house?

I’ve gathered a few more I like over on Pinterest too.

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Home Quotes on Pinterest.

Hello Garden! Seven Garden Ideas for Time Poor Gardeners.

Something for all you time poor gardeners today! I’m finally admitting I am a time poor gardener.  I have been looking for plants and garden projects that fit in with my lifestyle and time, so I thought I would share a few here, I also have a gorgeous giveaway, perfect, if like me, you need a little gentle encouragement to get gardening.

I’ve also enlisted the help of an expert, Catherine over at Growing Family blog. Do check it out for really accessible and inspiring ideas.

Each year I hope to find a little more time for the garden, but I don’t. So I am also trying to be realistic, we travel and go exploring a lot at weekends, and so keeping on top of high maintenance plants isn’t going to work.

However, after what seems like forever, we have been out in the garden again. Mother’s Day I spent digging the veg patch and borders with my daughter, the Easter holidays gave me time to mow the lawn. I’m just about reaching the stage where I might plant some stuff.

 

1. Wild Flowers

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Just go for it, and quickly, wild flowers really do quickly cover up for a multitude of gardening sins.

Everyone says wild flowers need poor soil. There is debate among gardeners about whether wild flowers actually do thrive in poor soil. It may just be that they do better in soil where they don’t have to compete with grass to grow. I’ve had packets that did nothing, and packets that did everything while I did nothing. Now I wish I had written down what worked! I have also read that cheap garden centre packets are to be avoided, but I can tell you now, i am pretty sure it was the cheap packet that grew and the expensive one that failed. So really it is a case of buying to suit your soil, or a bit of luck.

 

2. Succulents

These can thrive in poor soil and can cope with erratic watering, and can be great fun to arrange. My Dad always has a fantastic collection, and they are very easy to take cuttings from. One of my greatest regrets is losing the money tree houseplant I took a cutting from my cousin, who took it from our grandmother. Grandma knew my green fingers came and went though, while my brother diligently dug and weeded the veg patch she would let me grow quick and easy flowers that sustained my attention. I think she would understand.

Succulents are small and contained in pots, troughs etc. They are a lovely small project that brings a lot of joy and quick satisfaction.

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3. Child Labour

If you have kids, and get them invested, there is more chance you will remember to water things. Planting with friends, a partner or grandchildren can give you the added motivation and likelihood of keeping things alive.

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I asked Catherine over at Growing Family for some tips on what to grow with kids, do check out her post on this. She also suggested magic personalised courgettes…now this would make me water things!

For real wow factor with kids, get them to do some magic with courgettes.  These plants grow very easily from seed and once they start to produce courgettes, kids can lightly scratch their name onto a small one.  It will grow pretty quickly into a giant name; leave it long enough and they’ll have a huge marrow with their name on.  My kids never tire of this one!

 

4. Alpine Strawberries

One thing that seems to go mad whatever we do is alpine strawberry plants, they seem more robust than actual strawberries. They never make it to the table, just get picked while the kids are playing out, but for that very reason, they are a magical addition to our garden.

 

5. Contain yourself

Starting small can be a really good way to focus your efforts. Our first year growing veg we had a small raised bed, right near the back door and it made it so much easier to keep an eye on. Last year we decided to pot some herbs on the decking. Catherine has some great ideas for vegetables to grow in containers, including herbs, great to have by the kitchen door.

Garden Containers from WayfairUK

Garden Containers from WayfairUK

 

6. Low Maintenance

I looked to desert and drought loving plants favoured by Pinterest pinners in the driest parts of the US. If it can survive in Nevada, surely it can manage in suburban Nottingham? Ok, I know it isn’t quite that simple, but I am building a collection of low maintenance plants that don’t need me to water them daily. Watch this space!

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Low Maintenance Garden on Pinterest.

 

7. Plant a tree

Don’t waste time over this, do it sooner rather than later! The time spent deciding what apple tree to plant, digging the hole, and watering in the first year was quickly repaid. We have two apple trees and again, the fruit rarely makes it past the garden, but the bounty is so worth it! Apple trees don’t need much love to become self sufficient, watering the first year, some pruning yearly.

 

A Little Garden Giveaway

I have this gorgeous and useful Fallen Fruits Botanicae Tool Stool, plus these pretty and practical gardening gloves to give away. I love the Fallen Fruits garden range at Wayfair UK – it is a great mix of stuff you need and stuff you want. I also love their welly racks and gorgeous garden shelves. The tool bag unclips from the stool so you can use it as a tool bag, a stool or a stool and tool bag in one. The tools aren’t included, but these fab gloves are.

Fallen Fruits Garden Kit  

To enter

1.  Visit the WayfairUK garden department, and as part of your blog post comment, let me know what you have spotted as your find of the week.

2. Follow the rafflecopter instructions to claim as many entries as you can. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of Fallen Fruits Tool Stool and Gardening Gloves. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence
Closing date for entries is 30/4/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address
This is a joint promotion between WayfairUK and A Residence Blog.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

Find of the Week: Alessi Pet Bowls

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Tigriti Cat Bowl in Yellow, Black, Grey or Light Blue from Alessi at WayfairUK

 

Since we had most the house painted white, I have been drawn to pops of colour. Everyday practical things we have to have on show all the time can be fun too. At the moment I have an obsession with stylish or colourful bread bins, compost caddies and washing powder boxes. Everyday things can add colour to everyday living and put a smile on your face, and that includes the dog’s dinner.

 

 

Of course your cat or dog might not know any different, but if it makes you smile it’s a win! I like the idea of being able to cover up the bowl too, in between meals. Although I love the bone and the playful kitten design too, apart from looking great the bone and tail make picking them up easier too.

 

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Lupita Dog Bowl in Blue, Black or Orange, by Alessi at WayfairUK

 

 

Giveaway

I have one pet bowl to giveaway. To win your choice of Alessi cat bowl (Mio or Tigriti) or Alessi dog bowl (Lupita or Lula) in your choice of colour (where available),

1.  Wayfair have a whole host of pet supplies, from beds, to pet carriers and crates, to toys and food, clothes, leads and accessories. Visit the site and leave a comment to let me know one item you like the look of.

2. Follow the rafflecopter instructions to claim as many entries as you can.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out my other giveaways here.

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of an Alessi cat bowl (Mio or Tigriti) or Alessi dog bowl (Lupita or Lula) in your choice of colour (where available). The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence
Closing date for entries is 30/4/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address
This is a joint promotion between WayfairUK and A Residence Blog.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

My Kitchen

The Kitchen  - 04

So my new home resolutions are going well, I suspect I am a little behind in sharing them, but after lots of work over the bank holiday you can expect a sudden flurry. With the hallway completed, my next mission was to make the kitchen more comfortable. All this really needed was some new seating and a lot of paint, a really thrifty way to get a new kitchen.

Most of downstairs has now been painted white and I love it. It makes everything stand out and everything matches, and it takes the hassle out of paint choices.

The Kitchen  - 08

Case in point, what colour to paint the kitchen cabinets. They were cream, but I was tired of the country kitchen look, and after lots of messing on Pinterest, which I confess I am learning to love – you just need to find a topic that means something to you. (Like the Northern Lights, fisherman’s cottages or dream kitchens). Anyway after looking at some pics, I decided a change might be fun.

Follow Penny Alexander’s board KItchen on Pinterest.

I try to avoid paint choices at all costs, it is time consuming and complicated – what looks good on a paint chart looks so different in reality. It took me a silly amount of time and asking on facebook, to choose between grey or grey-green, admittedly many of my facebook page likers couldn’t see the difference and I don’t blame them. Others fully appreciated the subtle nuances, grey definitely feels more industrial and green more country cottages.

Here is the kitchen before, and pictures from Pinterest of the grey vs green grey colour.

My Kitchen

Turns out, after all that I needn’t have bothered choosing in the end.  I picked Farrow and Ball Light Grey which, it turns out, is both grey and grey green anyway, depending on the light. So much for making a choice. Look…

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See, looks grey in some light, but green in others…

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But I love the change and considering I liked both, I now have both.  Win! I’ve never used Farrow and Ball before, but thought I ought to invest a bit as it was the kitchen units – I am really pleased with how it looks. The tin was £40 and covered all the units, so for a job like this, it seems a good investment. I should add a professional did the work.

The best bit is it goes well with all the red bits we already have in the kitchen. So this weekend I went for it and painted the bench red too – ignore the brown paper on the floor, it still needed one more coat at this point. It took me ages to choose this red for the bench too, but it feels amazing to have some big pops of colour in the house.

Do you like how that Pringles tube I stuck the tulips in came in really handy to hold some twigs my son found and make an Easter tree?

The Kitchen  - 01

The kitchen feels really lovely and I would definitely recommend repainting the cupboards as a great option. There are so many products out there to do this with, I even saw spray paint for this in B&Q last weekend.

I like to keep it real, and as always in an old house this rambling, projects are ongoing – so apart from leaving a few drawers open when I took these shots, the brown paper lying around, I thought I would show you some more bits from my real kitchen.

How about the layers of dust on the kid’s creations on the windowsill?

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Or what my son ‘accidentally’ did to one white wall in the downstairs toilet at the end of the kitchen, after not being able to resist the lure of the shiny red paint drying on the bench? I will be following him around for many years yet, with a jam jar of white paint. Although, I actually felt quite sad when Andy the decorator had finished eradicating his little cartoons, and marks from around the house. We’ve used endurance paint by Dulux so it is washable, for everyday mucky fingerprints.

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Or what lurks in that lovely Belfast sink when I am busy taking pictures?

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Or the surface that’s most definitely out of shot?

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Behind this is the massive washing pile.

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Back to the nice bits! These ‘picture pockets’ are great for displaying the never-ending supply of kid’s art work.

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Over time, I have my eyes on a blackboard for meal plans, a grey metal vintage box to hide the washing powder in, a sideboard, a pendant light, some slate place mats, a sideboard for more storage, some vintage style crates to hide some more clutter and some new chairs. Little things that will make a big difference.  But in all honesty, a lick of paint and my favourite people make my kitchen so much more comfortable.

Next up, the kids rooms! Did you do any decorating over the bank holiday?

Fab things to do with a printer

Printers are no longer just for printing out documents, the odd photo or tickets. You can get so much more out of your printer and make some fab things for your home or children’s play or kids’ bedrooms. Ink is also cheaper than it used to be, cartridges go a lot further, and so it is okay to mess up and learn as you go.

Print onto wood

I would never have thought of doing this, but with a bit of practice you can make wax paper transfers and make signs, slogans or add pictures to crates or plaques.

This is the simplest method, and the most comprehensive instructions I have found, from The Art of Doing Stuff

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Create gift tags

There are lots of great printables out there, so when you run out of anything you can always print one off. Amanda at The Ana Mum Diary made these gorgeous blackboard effect ones, with a pattern from Cricut Design Space.

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Get Personal

Print out your name, or child’s name. I spotted this one on Alison from Not Another Mummy Blog’s instagram, they are from thelittleumbrella.com

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Get Motivated

Pinterest is full of fab and pretty slogans, sayings and inspirations. I used some travel themed sayings printed onto photo paper and framed when I gave our hall a travel themed makeover.

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Print onto Washi Tape

A Girl and A Glue Gun has a fab tutorial on this, so easy and so useful! Make gift tags, slogan posters, notebook labels, messages for cards. The possibilities are endless.

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Make Nail Art

Oceanside Day Dreams has a tutorial here8e12f0cd143302631b62844fd567f20a

Make playthings

Kids love role play and when you can print out actual name badges, or signs or pictures, it can make them really feel the part. It is also much cheaper than buying costumes and merchandise, especially when kids’ character crushes can be short-lived. Years ago we found these superhero badges and pictures and used them to turn small boxes into superhero walkie talkies and printed a city skyline backdrop to a superhero play city in a box. You can also make puppets!

superhero-walkie-talkie

This weekend we took that a little further and turned an old wardrobe into a Tardis, now that my two love Dr Who. It was the printable signs that really made it! More on that soon…

There are lots more ideas here on my Pinterest board. You can even print onto candles and fabric. What have you tried?

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Printer Craft on Pinterest.

 

Buying a new printer

If you are looking for a new printer, check out the range of printers at the Post Office, and do check out Printer stands and trolleys at Wayfair, while you are here too.

Collaborative post

Find of the Week: Hounds Duvet Cover

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It’s National Pet Month and regular readers will know how much I love my hound. I always said he would never be allowed on the sofa, or the bed, but that didn’t last.  He spends his days moving from bed, to sofa, to bed, to sofa, following the sun as it travels over the top of our house.

So how about this for the dog lovers? The hounds duvet cover, by Catherine Lansfield, at £22.45 for a King Size set it is an absolute bargain. If you’re not a dog fan, instead of the hounds duvet cover, how about this stag duvet cover instead?

Are you up for a pillow fight?

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What will you be doing on Saturday? Around the world on Saturday 4th April people will join together to have some spontaneous pillow fighing fun, in some iconic locations. I thought that needed celebrating, so there may be a little giveaway today too.

In New York…

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In Canada…

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In Bologna…

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In New Zealand…

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In the UK…

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To find out where your local event is, check out Pillow Fight Day or check out #pillowfightday on Twitter. Photos are from Pillowfightday.

Maybe you will have your own Pillow Fight Day on Saturday? Just in case you use it as a chance to see out some old pillows, we have teamed up with Bedroom Athletics for a Pillow Fight Day Giveaway.

The Giveaway

Bedroom Athletics know that pyjamas are more than something you wear in bed, coming home from work and changing into something you can really relax in is so important, and a great way to signal the start of the weekend. The Pink Nina Fleece Poncho is the perfect thing to wear instead of a dressing gown when you need an extra layer.

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WayfairUK have a selection of pillows, today a pair of these Euroquilt Duck Feather and Down Pillows are up for grabs!

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I have one pillow pair set and one Nina Poncho for one lucky winner. Just follow the rafflecopter to enter. Just tell me, when did you last have a pillow fight and why? And do check out my other competitions, there are lots more at the moment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There is 1 prize of 2 pillows and a Nina Poncho. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair, A Residence and Bedroom Athletics.
Closing date for entries is 30/4/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment
Optional entry methods are to follow on twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair A Residence Blog and Bedroom Athletics
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions

Competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/2-new-pillows-and-fleece-bedroom-athletics-poncho#sthash.OcVyUfjs.dpuf

Home Spa – Soothing Bath Milks

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We don’t always have time to pamper ourselves properly, but it really is so easy and cheap to do at home, and can be just as effective as a spa. I played around with three ingredients here, honey, coconut and lavender, to make three soothing bath milks.

Warm some fluffy towels on the radiator, light some candles, and take an hour out.

Milk and Honey

Just like the Egyptians…

Simply mix a tin of coconut milk with 2 tablespoons of honey and pour into a warm bath for the ultimate in skin softening time out. Coconut milk hydrates and soothes while honey is great for dry skin and has antibacterial properties, great for both dry and combination skin.

Milk, Honey and Lavender

Unwind body and mind…

For added relaxation for the mind, add a small handful of lavender to the recipe above. You can buy dried lavender easily online, just google it. Lavender is great for relaxing and unwinding. So take the time to really let the coconut work on your skin and the lavender soothe your mind.

Homemade Bath Soak - 1

 

Lavender and Coconut

Leave to soak….

So simple, yet so effective, one tin of coconut milk and a small handful of lavender. If you are feeling indulgent use two cans and two handfuls!

Becky from Family Budgeting introduced me to these fab recipes, if you are in the home spa mood, why not check out her home made milk and honey face mask recipe too.

Enjoy!

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