Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Zumba Cake

My zumba instructor recently held a charity zumbathon in aid of Parkinson's UK. After two hours of non-stop zumba we all deserved a cake sale afterwards (after all what else are we exercising for? I'm not giving up cake).

Jo had kindly given up her time to help us with the Team Honk Relay, leading our zumba flashmob on the terrace of the Avon Gorge Hotel, under the view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. So what better way to raise money for two very worthy charities than take part in the Great Blogger's Bake Off for Sports Relief with a zumba themed cake. The cake was raffled for Parkinson's UK and I've donated to Team Honk to enter it in the Bake Off.

It was so simple to decorate - I cut out the logo in paper and used it as a stencil when adding these Neon sugar sprinkles (very zumba-ish colours) to a cake covered in buttercream.



Mummy Mishaps

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Making a Children's Artbook

My daughter is a prolific artist. We are presented with handfuls of paper at the end of each day, usually covered in pictures of cats; cat pirates, cats having tea parties, cats in hospital, once we even got a cat in prison! I adore these pictures but I just don't have the space to file these piles of paper away, so I decided to make a photo book of them. That way I can enjoy her drawings and store them away neatly.



It was really easy to do, if you want to make one too follow these steps:

Scanning

I started off by scanning all the pictures into my computer, labelling them carefully with the date, so that once I had collected enough I'd know which order to put them in. Make sure you scan them as .jpg not .jp2 (as my scanner automatically did) or you'll spend a lot of time converting them.

cats on the Olympic podium (and a bit of Mondrian)
Remove the 'paper'

Scanning the pictures can leave the white background a bit dull and grey as you can see the paper they were drawn on and sometimes whatever was on the other side of the paper shows through. To get rid of these you will need to open each picture in some photo editing software. It doesn't have to be an expensive one, whatever you use to manage your digital photos will probably do this. I used iPhoto.

First slide the brightness settings up, until the background appears white and any blotching from the back of the paper disappears. This will lighten the drawing itself, to bring it back slide up the contrast settings.

Even if the background isn't white, it really helps to slide up the contrast a bit anyway, it just gives it a boost.

bottom left - a cat meets an elephant
Upload to Snapfish

I've tried this on a couple of sites, and I had a few problems uploading pictures on the other sites, so I would recommend Snapfish. The problem is that the sites are set up for photographs which have lots of detail and therefore a large file size. Scanned line drawings are not big, even if they are good quality and many were rejected for being poor quality on other sites. Snapfish seemed to deal with them just fine.

I included some photos of my daughter painting (in this case her face!)
Follow the simple instructions to create your book

Its pretty intuitive how to make your book on the site, and there is an instruction video you can watch. As you will be loading in pictures that aren't a standard photograph size I would remove all "page layout" boxes then drag each picture directly onto the page. That way you won't have to resize all the boxes to get the whole picture in. There are guidelines to help line up the pictures, but because they aren't going to be a standard size sometimes they just won't line up nicely. If this happens I found it helped to put the pictures in at an angle, there is a control at the top of each picture to tilt them. I found it really useful to be able to label some pictures - especially the earlier ones when its not so obvious what they are supposed to be.

Most of the pictures you can see here started out life as A4 pages and they look great shrunk down to fit several on a page. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you need to make the pictures as close to the original size to work - you'll end up spending a fortune and have a very thick book - which kinds of defeats the point of doing this!

Our book covers 3 years of selected artworks and came in at a very reasonable £34.86 (I selected an 8x8 book at £24.99, then added more pages to bring it up to 40 pages). 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this post. The opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Inevitably I was going to have to write this post at some time

With a child at school and another at preschool it wasn't going to be long before we had an infestation and the K would fall of my blog header. That's right, today I am....





The "whatever life throws at me" bit is head lice. Fortunately we've caught it early as we try to remember to check the kids hair once a week. I really don't want to catch them - my hair is so coarse and thick that it just doesn't fit through a nit comb. I caught them when I was pregnant with my son and they went mental on the pregancy hormones. Where my daughter had a few adult nits, I had hundreds! I do not want to go through that again (nits or pregnancy!). I'm so glad for the existence of products like Lyclear - ones that suffocate the lice rather than using insecticides. I can treat the kids without worry.


Headlice Infographic - An infographic by the team at Lyclear

Disclaimer: I recieved some Lyclear products to test for the purposes of this post.
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