I love making toys from stuff destined for the bin. We made this princess castle with bits and bobs of recycling last week, it made use of an old teabags box, a kitchen roll tube, a toilet roll tube, a tube from the inside of some wrapping paper (cut into 2) a pringles tube, a paper cup and the pointing bits from the inside of an egg box. Martha and I asssembled these pieces and cut some castle top shape strips out of an old cereal box to decorate the tops of a tower and the tea box. We glued these together and to help them stay together while the pva glue dried I used some masking tape. We painted the whole lot pink (of course!) and left it to dry.

The next day, I cut out some windows and arrow slits from black paper and Martha chose where to stick them on (the big window in the paper cup roof of the pringles box is the princess’s bedroom!). Then we used the frilly bit from the edge of a doily to decorate the egg box bit roofs. Martha drew some flowers and we stuck them on the sides of the towers and then decorated the whole lot with some sequins.

Martha also wanted to make a rainbow to go with her castle, so I cut a semi circle out of a bit of left over mount board, but any thick cardboard would work and made two supports for each side by cutting half a slit in the rainbow and half in the support and sliding them together. Martha drew a rainbow on the white side with crayons, and then we painted each coloured stripe with glue and covered it in different coloured glitter. To make the rainbow as sparkly as possible.

Once they were dry she has been playing with them ever since, using happyland figures. I think they look pretty good for rubbish.

Rainbow Marble Cake

November 1, 2010

It was my birthday last week so it was time for another cake. You may presume that this cake had no planning whatsoever – and you would be right! I had ordered my usual ‘Betty Crocker’s devil’s food cake mix’ that is my lazy/thrifty birthday cake staple (£1.72 for a 12 slice choccy cake!), BUT the nice man from Sainsbury’s substituted the devils food for a ‘Chocolate Swirl Cake’. Martha and Mr Peacock baked this for me in 2 loose bottom sandwich tins and Martha proved herself to be very useful eating most of the mixture before it made it to the tins. I did not hold much hope for the chocolate swirls inside the cake itself but it smelled good.

Neither Martha nor Mr Peacock were particulary confident in icing the cakes that came out of the oven so I volunteered, (even though it was my own birthday cake – I am too much of a control freak!) but Martha chose the theme, she wanted a rainbow cake with lots of colours, a quick scrootle through my baking cupboard revealed only 3 food colourings, pink, green and blue. (I do recall a recent cull of shockingly out of date food colours.) I still could not allow it to be filled with the sickly buttercream so I filled it with dark chocolate ganache. Sounds fancy but really just melted sainsbury’s basics dark chocolate mixed with whipped double cream. The buttercream is a ‘hummingbird bakery’ recipe, 500g icing sugar, 160g unsalted butter, 50ml whole milk and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, then split into 3 and coloured. I dolloped the candy colours all over the cake and then smushed them all together as I spread the icing smoothish, adding a fancy ribbon and a sprinkling of edible glitter as an attempt to make it look a bit more glamorous but made it look a bit camp instead.

I have to say I am not sure about the result, it tasted very good and looked amazing sliced, Martha was of course delighted with it. To me it looks too much like the playdoh when all the colours get smushed up together (which my inner control freak finds particularly offensive). However I am sure there is someone who can get a much better result with a similar technique and I would love to see it.