How to Make Beautiful Glass Pebble Magnets – An Easy Craft Activity for the Whole Family

I recently had a wonderful subscription box called the Sunshine Box (see my review HERE) and part of that was a little craft activity, making glass pebble magnets. I had never heard of or seen these before, but my son and I had so much fun making them! The supplies in The Sunshine Box were enough to make 20 magnets, and one was included ready made as an example. As soon as we had made the 20, Luke asked if it would be easy to find the supplies to make more. Luckily it is very easy and very cheap, so now we make them whenever we have free time.

These were the ones we made from the supplies in The Sunshine Box:

Photographing them clearly is a bit tricky with reflections, but you can see how lovely they are. The beauty of these is you can make them in any design you fancy. They would make gorgeous wedding favours if you used the same colour and design as is being used on the wedding invitations and save-the-date cards. We love geocaching, and part of the fun of that is swapping little treasures. These are perfect for geocaches as they fit in most sized containers. They also make beautiful token gifts as you can choose the design to suit the individual person. They are perfect for rainy days to keep your children occupied, or as an activity for childminders (as long as young children are supervised so they don’t put them in their mouths). It is also such a therapeutic activity for yourself, just to unwind and feel creative.

Here is a list of what you need:

  • a selection of magazines, old cards, brochures, catalogues, wrapping paper, or anything with a design you like the look of,
  • PVA glue,
  • a small paintbrush,
  • a pen,
  • a pair of scissors,
  • self-adhesive small round magnets/magnetic dots (I bought 132 which were 12.5mm across from Amazon for £3.49)
  • clear round decorative glass pebbles/stones (I bought 100 which were 18mm across from Amazon for £3.99)

Look through the brochures or whatever paper materials you have and find a small design you like. It doesn’t matter if it is tiny, the glass magnifies things slightly. Place a pebble on top of it to check it fits, and if it does draw around the pebble. We found lovely designs on a letter from Morrisons:

and a Lakeland brochure:

as well as book brochures and magazines:

When you have drawn around your pebble, cut the design out just inside the circle you have drawn so it fits perfectly. Brush a thin layer of PVA glue on the back of the pebble (the flat side) and press it down on to the cut out design. Make sure it is perfectly positioned – you might need to trim a tiny bit more off from around the edge. Brush another thin layer of PVA over the back of the design and leave the pebble face down to let it dry.

When it is dry, simply peel the backing off one of the magnets and press it on to the back of the pebble. Polish the front with a cloth to make sure there are no glue smudges or marks, and there you have your beautiful personally chosen pebble magnet! It really is that easy! If you prefer you can paint the back of the design before you stick the magnet on so that you can’t see any other print if you turn it over, but we didn’t bother with that.

Here are a selection of ones we have made so far:

I also had the idea to maybe try using some pressed flowers we had to see if they would work. I hadn’t got many small enough but I did have a few:

For these, I drew around a pebble on to plain paper and cut out the shape. I brushed a thin layer of glue on to the paper and carefully placed the flower on to it, then brushed a layer on to the pebble and pressed it down on to the flower. Finally I brushed another layer on the back and let it dry, before sticking a magnet on. I absolutely loved how these came out:

These would be perfect wedding favours too if the bride’s bouquet has small flowers like gypsophilia included. You could buy some well in advance, press them and make up some magnets using them as lovely keepsakes. Or use bits of confetti instead of flowers. The possibilities are endless!

Have fun and happy crafting!

 

How to Make Sugarcraft Roses with the FMM Easiest Rose Ever Cutter

I absolutely love cake decorating, and I particularly love anything that makes the process quicker and easier. Cakes with flowers on always look so beautiful but they can take soooooooooooooooo long to make, especially if there are lots of flowers on them. I’ve tried many methods of making roses before. The wired method looks amazing but I just don’t have the patience for wired flowers. I’ve tried the 5 petal rose cutters before… absolute disaster! I just can’t make those things work! I’ve tried the method of making individual petals, smoothing their edges in a ziplock bag before sticking them on the rose… too much faffing around and inconsistent results for me. When I heard there was a cutter from FMM called The Easiest Rose Ever, I had to have it! Now it is all I use and I love it. One rose literally takes minutes to make and I love the look of them. I used this cutter for the roses on the cake in the main image. A few people have told me though that they are struggling to use this cutter, so I thought I would show you how I do it.

I watched this YouTube video before my first attempt. Have a look at it before you read on, or go back to it if my instructions aren’t clear enough. It helped me brilliantly.

You can buy The Easiest Rose Cutter from most cake decorating stores or direct from FMM, who make it. It is also available in a Smaller set which has 2 smaller cutters… perfect for cupcake toppers or small cakes. The original sized one though makes different sized roses too. I’ll put links up at the end for you to buy the cutters.

To make a rose you will need the cutter, flower paste in whichever colour you prefer (or I use normal sugarpaste with a little bit of tylo powder added), a small rolling pin, edible glue, a workboard or mat, a foam pad, and a cornflour pouch or large soft brush to use to dust a bit of cornflour. In the YouTube video it says to use the end of your small rolling pin to thin the petal edges. I actually find it much easier to use a large ball tool, but either method is fine. Just see which works best for you.

Dust your board or mat with a light dusting of cornflour and roll out your flower paste to about 1mm thickness. Press your cutter firmly down on to the paste and give it a little shiggle around to make sure it has cut through cleanly.

Gently press the shape out from the cutter and cut out another 2 shapes. These 3 shapes will make one full rose. Place them on to the foam pad. This bit is vital…. leave the shapes to dry slightly for 5 to 10 minutes. They hold their shape much better if the paste is left for a few minutes. Ignore the glue in the picture below, you don’t need that yet.

After this time has passed, we can thin the edges of the petals. Very lightly dust the shapes with cornflour. Position the ball tool or tip of the rolling pin so that it is half on the edge of the paste and half on the foam pad. Go all around the edge of the petals pressing down very firmly. As you follow the shape around you will see that the edges start to go really thin and curl into gentle waves. This is exactly what you want it to do. If you hadn’t let it dry for a few minutes after cutting out the shapes, these waves would just flop back down. As you let it dry slightly though, they will stay. Repeat for all 3 shapes.

Brush a line of edible glue across the middle of each cutout shape. You can just see the glue on the picture below so you know where I mean.

Carefully fold the shape in half lengthways so that the bottom petals lie alongside the top petals. Keep the folded edge nice and straight. Repeat for all 3.

Now for the fun bit… making the rose. Brush a line of glue just above the folded edge, making sure you don’t go on to the rounded parts of the petals. You can see my glue line in the picture below. Keeping the petals lying down, start rolling from one side as tightly as you can. When you are about a quarter of the way along, carefully stand it up and continue rolling in an upright position until you reach the end. You might need a tiny bit of glue to secure the last petal on to the roll.

You have now made a small rose.

I now use a dry soft brush to gently tease the petals slightly apart. If that is the size of rose you want, leave it to dry, preferably overnight, and then dust with lustre dusts if you want.

If you want a bigger rose, brush a line of glue just above the folded edge of the 2nd set of petals you have waiting. Look on the small rose to see where the last petal finished. That is where you will start wrapping the 2nd set of petals from, just slightly overlapping it. Keep the rose upright and turn it at the same time as gently pressing the 2nd set of petals on. I like to let these petals fall open a bit so it doesn’t all look crammed and squashed.

That is the next size of rose. Again, tease the petals apart slightly with a dry brush. At this point I gently pinch the sides of each individual petal to shape them into a more realistic shape. A gentle pinch in the middle of each petal edge is all that is needed. You can now either leave that to one side to dry, or make it even bigger for a full bloom.

For a rose in full bloom, you just need to add the final set of petals. As before, brush a line of glue just above the folded edge, look for the last petal on the rose, and start wrapping the final set of petals from that point, overlapping it slightly. You now have a full rose.

Use a dry brush to separate any petals that are too crammed up, and to lift any that are too floppy. This is where I spend the most time, shaping the petals. Look at a real rose and you will see that they do tend to look like they have been pinched slightly in the middle edges of the petals. They often look like the sides of each petal are curling underneath too. Pinching the petals helps to achieve that look better.

Another thing I do to mine is to hold them from the bottom, not touching the actual petals, and give it a gentle squeeze. This pushes the centre up a bit and in my opinion, makes a more natural shape. Not much of a squeeze though, only enough to slightly lift the centre.

Leave this to dry overnight.

It is now ready to dust with colour or you can use it just as it is. I like to add a bit of colour to mine.

If adding colour dusts, make the centre of the rose a shade darker for a more realistic effect. And there you have it! Believe me when I say if I can make one, you can too. I’m not claiming mine are brilliant but I am pleased with how they come out. To use them on a cake, just apply a bit of edible glue or royal icing underneath them and position them wherever you want them.

If you would like to buy this fantastic cutter to try it yourself, or the Smaller set, here are the links:

The original large one which I used in this tutorial is The Easiest Rose Ever

or this is The Smaller Easiest Rose Ever set.

There are currently 3 other flowers available in this Easiest Ever range and I shall be putting up tutorials for these soon. They will be the Carnation, Peony, and Ranunculus cutters.

I hope you have found this tutorial useful 🙂

 

 

 

 

Rocky Road Brownies – July’s BakedIn Baking Club Box

July’s BakedIn Baking Club box was a HUUUUUUUUUUUGE hit in my house! Everyone’s faces lit up when they saw the recipe card. Rocky Road… love. Brownies… love. Put them both together and you get what can only be described as heaven. Beautiful chocolate brownies baked until they are still soft and a bit gooey inside but with a delicious crunchy top, with a rocky road style topping. What’s not to love???

As always, BakedIn sent all the dry ingredients needed to make this scrummilicious treat already weighed out, plus baking paper, a testing skewer, butter guide, and the wonderful recipe card.

The only extra ingredients I needed to use were butter, eggs and double cream. Although I didn’t have to buy them as I always have those in anyway. The dry ingredients which BakedIn provide are top quality ingredients. No cheap or inferior products in their boxes! For example, the flour comes from the Great Taste Award winning flour millers at WESSEX MILL, and they only use the best chocolate and cocoa powder. You can taste the quality!

For the rocky road topping we had to make caramel. I love making caramel. There’s something slightly therapeutic about watching the sugar melt and turn into a lovely amber colour. This recipe made plenty, and BakedIn wrote a tip on the recipe card to use any leftover caramel poured over ice cream. We did that and it was beautiful. I love how these boxes include some more technical steps, such as making caramel, from time to time. It is a great way for anyone to learn some new techniques which they might have previously been daunted about trying.

This brings me on to another wonderful thing about being a BakedIn Baking Club subscriber. A few months ago they set up a Facebook group which is just for subscribers. The support and encouragement that the members give to each other is a joy to see. There are members who have hardly ever baked before, along with ones who have baked lots, but you’d never know. I have been in baking groups on Facebook before and some can get very catty to say the least, with people thinking they are better than anyone else. The BakedIn Baking Club group is a million miles away from those types of groups thankfully. It genuinely is a friendly supportive group and the people are amazing. I feel proud to be in such a lovely group. If you join the Baking Club you’ll see what I mean. As well as the people in the group, it is also good to join because you get access to great deals and discounts on some of BakedIn’s other kits.

Back to the recipe. The brownies came out exactly as I like them. I could very easily have eaten them just as they were with a scoop of ice cream. The smell of chocolate filling the house as they came out of the oven made me drool! I added the caramel, marshmallows and chocolate malt balls (like Maltesers) and was so excited to cut it into pieces to enjoy! The recipe card said to cut into 9 to 12 pieces. As you can see from the main photo though, greedy pig me cut it into 9. The bigger the better. I was contemplating cutting it into less pieces so that they would be even bigger it looked so tempting! (The only reason I didn’t was because of Michel Roux. He works with BakedIn to create these wonderful recipes and I thought just in case he ever happens to look at the pictures of subscribers bakes, I didn’t want him thinking bad of me 🙂 You never know!) Needless to say they didn’t last long in my house! And it is yet another recipe to make again and again. Good job the recipe cards tell you how much of each of the dry ingredients you need!

BakedIn Baking Club costs just £8 a month with free delivery. It costs even less if you sign up to 3 or 6 months at a time. You can also buy gift subscriptions for other people. Perfect for any occasion but I’d say ideal as a house-warming present. You can’t beat the smell of baking to give any house an extra homely feel to it.

If you would like to find out more or to join, just click HERE to go to their website. I’ll look forward to seeing you and your bakes in the Facebook group!

 

 

 

Bring Me Sunshine – With a Sunshine Box!

In my LAST POST I told you about the wonderful subscription box for book-lovers, Wise Reads, which is run by Pebblewise. I told you I would tell you about their other subscription box, The Sunshine Box. So today I will 🙂

I had seen posts from Pebblewise on Twitter about this box. It was set up to send to people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, as a way of lifting spirits. I thought that was such a lovely idea. It was a Twitter friend’s birthday recently and she writes about mental health issues, being an anxiety sufferer herself. I decided to send her a Sunshine Box as a birthday present. Her reaction upon receiving it told me that this was a very special box indeed! I decided I wanted to experience the joy it brought her myself, so I placed my order for August’s box.

On average you receive 5 items: 2 beautiful practical items, one luxurious self-care item, and 2 tasty treats. This may change from time to time though. We so often spend so much time looking after other people that we forget to look after ourselves, so this box is ideal to treat yourself. It also makes a beautiful gift to let someone know you are thinking of them.

Sunshine Boxes get posted out on the 3rd of each month. On the 5th, it arrived. The box was bigger than I was expecting. This is definitely not a box that fits through your letterbox. Luke, my son, was just as excited as I was to see what was inside. I opened the box and the packaging inside instantly made me feel happy. Each item was beautifully wrapped in bright sunshine yellow tissue paper, so it was like a birthday with presents to open! Each month a different positive-thinking poster is stuck on the inside of the box, and August’s was “look for happiness in the little things” on a background of sprinkles. Sprinkles always make me smile. They bring with them thoughts of cakes and ice cream. Ah, happy thoughts.

Luke and I decided to take it in turns opening a present from the box. His face was the perfect picture of happiness, especially with one of the items! This is what was in the box:

The part that made Luke happiest was the box of treats to make your perfect ice cream.

There was everything you could imagine for a scrumptious ice cream dessert, apart from the actual ice cream of course! That would have been a bit of a postal disaster! What was included though was gorgeous. There were 3 ice cream bowls and 3 napkins with sprinkles on, 3 spoons, 3 ice cream cones, strawberry syrup, maple syrup, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, 2 packets of sprinkles, 3 wafer rolls, and a packet of rainbow drops. Luke was really excited to make us a yummy ice cream treat, and he put a bit of everything on them!

I hadn’t had rainbow drops since I was a child, and I’d forgotten how much I used to love them. The activity of making the ice creams really made Luke happy, and this made me happy to see. He wants ice cream like this all the time now! The rainbow drops started a lovely conversation off about things from my childhood too. It all just made a wonderful evening.

Also included was a set of 3 beautiful rose shaped soaps. These are so pretty and delicate. It’s hard to believe they are soaps. Absolutely beautiful.

There was also a strawberry. But not just any strawberry! This one had a clever practical hidden secret. Open it out and it becomes a wonderful shopping bag! I shall keep this in my handbag at all times. So often I go out and buy something on a whim, but then have to buy a bag for it as I hadn’t expected to need one. Now I can just use my strawberry! It is small enough to hardly take up any space, so just perfect.

Next was a Konjac Beauty Sponge. I must admit I had never heard of these before. The packet says it is an ancient Japanese beauty secret. You just need to wet it so it expands and softens, and then massage your face with it. It is supposed to exfoliate, cleanse and moisturise your skin without the need for any soaps. It balances the PH of your skin and is said to be effective against acne-causing bacteria. Must admit, I love it and will be buying another when this one needs replacing in around 2 months.

Finally there was a wonderful little activity to do either on your own or with your family. There was a package which contained glue, magnets and glass pebbles. The idea is to look through magazines, brochures, photos, wrapping paper etc and find small pictures or a word that inspires you, and cut them out. Stick them on the back of the glass pebbles, then add the magnet. They look fantastic when they are made! Luke loved making these with me. We are keeping some and using some as token gifts and geocaching swaps.

I was hugely impressed with the Sunshine Box. Everything from the packaging to the contents just boosted my mood. It was lovely to have things I could enjoy with Luke too.

It would make a fantastic gift for a new parent who may be feeling tired and super busy all the time, or a baby shower gift so that mum-to-be can have something wonderful to help her through the exhausting preparation time for a new baby. Obviously it would be a wonderful gift for any other occasion too.

You can order a one-off box or start a monthly subscription. Either way costs just £15 a month with free postage in the UK. This one cannot be sent internationally, unlike Wise Reads.

EDIT 12/09/2018: Unfortunately, Sunshine Box has now closed down. 

 

Wise Reads – A Personal Subscription Box for Book Lovers

Recently on Twitter I discovered a lovely company called Pebblewise. They offer two subscription boxes: the Sunshine Box, which I will tell you about in my next post, and Wise Reads. I decided to try the August box of each of these and was massively impressed! Let me tell you about the wonderful box that is Wise Reads, a second-hand book subscription box.

I love reading. I love curling up in my favourite chair with a cup of coffee and a good book. More often than not though, I get so engrossed in what I’m reading that my coffee sits forgotten on the side. I love how books can do that. You can lose yourself so completely in the story that you also lose all track of time in reality. I get my love of reading from my father. He was a true bibliophile and he had literally thousands of books crammed into his house. They were everywhere! Each wall was lined with bookcases in every room except his bathroom, but that still wasn’t enough to contain the amount he had, which meant he then had piles of books everywhere too. And even though he had no room for any more, he couldn’t stop himself buying them! Before he lost the ability to walk easily, he used to love going to car boot sales and charity shops with the sole purpose of book hunting. He’d be like a child at Christmas telling me about all his latest finds. He used to tell me about the wonders of Hay-on-Wye, with its abundance of second-hand book shops. And there was a particular shop in Selly Oak in Birmingham that he used to go to time and time again. The owner, Stephen Wycherley, bought and sold rare and more unusual books, and he knew the types of books that Dad most loved, so kept them to one side for him ready for his next visit. I used to think that was such a thoughtful gesture. Every time I spoke to Dad about his new books or asked him what he was going to read next, he would always put on an excited voice and say “So many books, so little time.” Sadly, he had less time than any of us could have imagined, and so many of his books remained unread.

He would have absolutely adored Wise Reads! The people who run this subscription box also run a second hand book shop in North Wales. This helps with the individual service they offer. When you decide to sign up to Wise Reads (or order a one-off box) you are asked to fill in an online form in which you tick boxes to say what types of topics and genres you enjoy, such as crime, fantasy, satire, dystopia, coming of age, LGBT, quests, etc etc. There are so many options and you tick all that apply. You are also asked to list any favourite authors. This enables them to get more of an idea of what styles you like, but they also won’t send any books from those authors as they will assume you have most likely read them already. Finally there is a box in which you can type in any other information that might help them to find suitable books for you. I used this box to say what my very favourite types of books are, and if I’m honest, I thought my preferences would prove to be a bit too tricky for them to match. I love spiritual books, but not in a religious way. I am fascinated by past lives. I love thought provoking books with a message that stays with you long after you have finished the book. One of my all-time favourites is The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I struggle to find books that tick all the boxes for me, but I do find plenty that tick some. I thought Wise Reads would send me a book that ticks a few but not many. I greatly underestimated the care and attention that they take in finding books!!!

I knew that books get posted out on the 10th of each month so I was very curious to see what they would have chosen for me. Each book is beautifully wrapped in tissue paper with a hand-written label attached to it. I loved this detail.

I was very excited to open this beautiful parcel, and as I opened the layers of tissue paper to reveal the book, I was absolutely blown away by their choice for me. They genuinely couldn’t have picked a more perfect book. It ticks all my boxes and more. Their attention to detail and care in making their selections really goes above and beyond all expectations. The book was in brilliant condition too, with just one crease down the spine. Here is what I received:

I’ll tell you what the blurb on the back says….. Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, every time Harry dies, he always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes – until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow. 

I started reading it on the night it arrived and I am loving it! It is EXACTLY the type of book I’ve been looking for. I went on to Amazon to look it up and it gets fantastic reviews. I really am over the moon with this subscription. I had ordered a one-off box just to see what type of book I would receive. I am signing up to it as an ongoing subscription now as I am so impressed.

Apart from the fact they sent me such a perfect book, they made me feel close to my father, who I miss and think about every single day. They wouldn’t have had any idea until now. I nearly missed it, but as I was picking up the tissue paper after I had opened my book, a tiny prettily wrapped parcel fell out from it. I opened it carefully to reveal a necklace, the one that is the main picture in this blog post. I instantly heard Dad saying it in my head in his excited voice. So many books, so little time. I will treasure this necklace. And then I picked up the book to have a quick flick through it, and it naturally fell open halfway through, coinciding with the crease on the spine. And this was the page it opened at…

I do. All the time. And I thank him for passing his love of books on to me so that I could discover the gem that is Wise Reads.

Wise Reads is an absolute bargain. It costs just £5 a month including postage! And they like to send a little extra something with your book, as I discovered. You can also choose to receive 2 books at a time, and that is just £7 including postage. They send books in as good a condition as possible, but their main priority is finding the perfect book to suit you. If they find a perfect book based on your preferences but it is in less than good condition, they include an extra book at no extra cost! Bear in mind though, this is a second-hand book subscription so don’t expect brand new books. I personally don’t think you can beat a preloved book. I like to imagine someone else sitting curled up reading it before me. That person has similar interests and I like that thought.

Wise Reads is sent out on the 10th of each month. You need to place your order before the 8th to receive that month’s book. If your order is placed on or after the 8th, your book will be posted on the 10th of the next month. Payment is via PayPal only.

EDIT: Wise Reads costs £5 a month with free postage if you live in the UK. They also send this subscription box worldwide, which is fantastic. Obviously though international customers will need to pay a little bit towards postage. Pebblewise only charge £2.60 postage for 1 book or £5.40 for 2 for international orders. A truly fantastic bargain!

UPDATE 12/09/2018: Unfortunately Wise Reads has now closed down 😦