This year Christmas is looking a little different to us a family. With the cafe launch in January we are not able to visit any of our family (Joni parents are in Devon and mine are in Lithuania). This means for the first time it is only going to be just four of us at the Christmas dinner (five if you include the cat). I am feeling hopeful as I heard lots of good stuff about celebrating Christmas without big family involved therefore I am planning to make the best out of it!
Christmas preparation is looking also very different this year. Although we don’t always have Christmas tree in, I tend to finish decorating before December. Obviously this is not the case this year! Which is why I decided to make the advent calendar part of our Christmas prep.
Besides that, our advent calendar have to be less wasteful. Last year when I did my origami advent calendar, we had a good chunk of paper wasted . So you can imagine that going with the advent calendar design that can be reused again and again was a big reason why I chose Ikea Moppe solution. After doing some research on different examples I decided to go with something very simple as this can be updated every year. In worst case scenario this can be repainted and used as a craft supply storage!
What took most of my time in preparation was not an actual making of the advent calendar but filling the drawers.
To glue 4 Moppe drawers together all I used PVA and clamps.
I used black marker and white chalk marker to draw windows and doors to imitate a building.
To imitate the roof I decided to go with the cardboard. Making out of wood would have taken me much longer! I lined it with polyester filling which essentially looks like artificial snow.
To attach the roof was a little tricky. I tried duck tape as well as hot glue gun. None of that worked. Eventually I resorted to staple gun (it works every time). Although I expect it made some damage, I think it will be easy to fix with some fillers and sanding. I will definitely try making roof out of wood next year!!
At the end of the day, I am happy with the result! It took me to make in about an hour while filling draws with activities took me more like 3h (oops).
I usually take great pleasure in baking birthday cakes for my kids. However I made Lukas birthday a little differently this year as it was made entirely out of ice-cream! This might be odd for some, but in my childhood ice-cream cake was normal. Besides, don’t you find that kids tend to eat the icing of the cake first? With ice-cream cake the whole cake gets eaten by your little party guests. Trust me! Ice-cream cake is the best! You can thank me later 😉
This ice-cream is super easy to make. I chose this recipe as it does not need churning therefore it can just be frozen in a dome shaped dish. I used a metal mixing bowl, but I would recommend a silicone dome shaped baking mould.
MOON ICE-CREAM CAKE
1l whipping or double cream
2 cans condensed milk (784g)
1 tbsp vanilla essence (optional)
black food colouring (as needed)
1. Whip the cream and add the rest of ingredients into the bowl.
2. Mix to combine, add more of food colouring if necessary.
3. Transfer the mix into the mould if using. Otherwise freeze it in the bowl overnight.
4. To remove the cake out of silicone mould should be easy. But if you froze it in a metal bowl there is a trick you can use for safe removal. Put the bowl upside down and place damp hot cloths on top. Keep swapping cloths for freshly heated ones till ice-cream comes out. With this method the cake came out not in the best shape, but considering it is meant to be a moon like I decided the wobbly lines give an authentic character to it.
Once tidied up, decorated with some authentic craters 😉 , and with space themed candles I think it turned out pretty well!
Another good reason why this cake is good to make for birthdays is because it can be prepped weeks before and decorated with very little to be impressive.
Last month we have celebrated Lukas 4th birthday and we decided to host his party at our home. I always dreamed to host kids parties so I was quite excited about it! The only problem we came across was the lack of space. But then we thought to rely on doing some activities in our back garden. And this is when we learned the lesson, never rely on British weather! Seriously! What were we thinking. All 14 kids and their parents got stranded indoors, because it was pouring all day! That of course would not have happened if we hired a venue. And if you are local to us, we will certainly be hosting kids parties at the cafe once it opens!
I began planning the party two months in advance and because I am very visual I started with a theme. Prior to deciding on the theme I asked Lukas what he would like to have, it was instantly clear that we were having a space themed party (he loves rockets!). It was easy for me then to create the invites as this is an area where I thrive. As usual with my design I made it as visually interactive as I could.
Next up is the cake, I wanted something unusual but certainly moon shaped ;-). I will be sharing how I made this ice-cream cake very soon!
Food? I went with a simple menu! I have been very fortunate to work at a kids cafe in the past and I quickly realised that kids are very simple, they prefer their party food fun and uncomplicated.
Snacks, star shaped sandwiches, pizza, and astronaut food pouches (aka fruit puree baby pouches) were our favourites! We had a separate food platter laid out for adults too.
Besides the food we had party activities! In fact we had a whole party program planned out, which of course was messed up by the bad weather we had on the day. We ended up taking most of messy craft activities indoors.
Luckily kids painted their rockets, but not the walls (phew!).
The moral of our story? Unless you have a mansion or want to host a small party we recommend to hire a venue. At our cafe we will help you to come up with the best decorations for your chosen theme, simple or more experimental menu, activities and more. Check out our shop for more details ;-).
Just because I have not been blogging much about this 2019 goal, that does not mean I have not made progress. Truth to be told I have not been blogging much in general this year, but I detoxed my wardrobe quite a few times in preparation to finding my style and I am very close to completing my goal. I did not have much time to make any clothes however as planned, but I will get into that once our cafe project is under control.
Today I am going to share what I do with clothes that I love, but which either don’t look right or they look too boring. If it is only small fix I don’t rush to throw it away.
By quick fix, I mean like shortening the length or inserting extra pockets for practicality. I will however show you how I do shorten my clothes. I had quite a few tops and dresses that were too long for my liking.
I simply used iron-on adhesive tape to do the hems. Was super quick! However I must warn you! The hems done this way are slightly heavier and not good with clothes that are constantly getting washed. I mean everything needs to be washed sometimes. But I think this method of hemming suits best something like formalwear (where you don’t want to see stitched hem) or coats (that does not get washed that often).
If you still want to try using iron-on adhesive tape then please be aware that I used HeatnBond one. I cut each garment to the length I wanted (plus 3cm extra for the hem folding). Then I simply folded hem once, iron press, folded second time, inserted the tape, and final iron press.
If you are more interested in doing hems the traditional way. By all means, Google it! There are lots of tutorials out there.
Now a little bit about what I do with clothes that need a bit of spicing up ;-). I often use either some sort of embellishment or embroidery. In the past I blogged about how I inserted lace into a neckline and recently I did embroidery on this t-shirt that had a pocket.
To do this embroidery I positioned the pocket in the embroidery hook and then sketched a design on it using pencil. You can use any sort of pencil, but don’t use anything inky or a biro as you may not be able to wash it out. To get you started on embroidery here are a few of my favourite stitches styles I learned over the years.
I often get asked how I am getting on with our current cafe project. “You must be very busy!” they add. I then simply answer that I am just getting on with it. People seem to expect me to be stressed and panicked. But the truth is that I don’t believe panicking is useful or a sign of productiveness (Joni would agree with me on this). I learned to manage my life a different way.
Now if you met any of my old friends they would tell that I never been an organised person. I actually struggle to manage my constantly wandering mind! But in return I have been very passionate about goals and productivity. Over time I learned how to be focused. I tried many methods: I tried filofax, google calendar, and wall calendar. You name it, I tried it! But I came to a conclusion, strict routines never work and tight schedule is a recipe for a disaster.
What really works is writing things down! I am currently reading “Big Dreams Daily Joys” by Elise Blaha Cripe and the way she describes the benefits of writing things down, could not be better said. Elise in her book explains how writing down to do list temporarily clears your mind from thinking about uncompleted tasks. Tasks that are written down are more visual, it creates a bigger picture and makes it easier to see when and how they are going to be completed (basically stops the chaos in your head). Lists also make it easier to collaborate as you can have a shared record of what has been done and what is left to do. Finally, lists saves time! When you find some time you can quickly refer to your to do list and jump to the task without much thinking about what needs to be done to begin with. Another good book on this topic is “The checklist manifesto” by Atul Gawande.
Now about organisational tools. Different types of tools fit different types of people of course. Some people use apps, some love bullet journaling (I tried that!) and then there are some that use wall planners (that is me!). It took me a while to realise, but once I did I started creating wall planners myself. Why? That’s because I could not find a wall planner that fitted my organisational process (in fact there is not much choice out there at all). I will explain later my pros and cons for using a wall planner, but if you are interested to get one for yourself that really works for me then visit our etsy shop.
Now pros and cons. Like everything else in life, wall planners have some good points and bad points. Which is why it is best to weigh both and see what fits best for you as a person.
It is visual. You can see it all out there on a large layout all at the same time. It’s always visible (which is why I keep mine on our fridge), therefore it keeps you focused most of the time. This pro is good for people who work at one location most of the time (like me).
It’s not a distraction! Unlike technology tools on your phone or laptop, wall planners do not overload you with notifications and e-mails.
It’s good for teams (or families). Since wall planners are visible to everyone, they can simply contribute to your planning or even get few tasks done as well. I find it helpful when Joni records evening events on the planner so I know when I can’t go out and need to stay at home to look after our kids.
It won’t let you down. Nope, wall planners are not powered on batteries therefore it won’t die on you when you need to check what time is your meeting. Also it will definitely not get lost. It’s always there on the wall when you need it :-).
it is decorative! A very important pro for me, I love how it looks when it is hung on the wall!
It does not travel with you. Yes, I get it. This must be annoying to anyone who travels a lot for work. But I don’t, so it’s ok! I occasionally get asked on my availability, but then I simply reply “let me check my diary and I will let you know”. Also when I travel I record tasks and events that come up (on my phone, I use a notes app). When I am back, I simply go through the list and transfer everything on my wall planner.
It won’t be automatic. When you get an event confirmation by e-mail it won’t be able to transfer the date onto my wall planner
It won’t call/notify you. Wall planner just don’t have that ability to call you or play a ringtone when you are about to reach a deadline.
So how does my planning process work you may ask. It simply starts with writing down some goals at the beginning of each year (will write a post about this later). These are not wishy washy new years resolutions. These are realistic goals backed up by tasks. These tasks (not very strict at this stage) get transferred onto our monthly planner together with some events as well (if you have any planned).
Eventually after the year starts I start planning more detailed tasks one week ahead. This is where our weekly planner comes in useful! While still keeping an eye on the bigger picture (goals) you can clearly how things plan out through out the week. I just love to take some time on Sundays to plan the week ahead and I tend to create meal list on Mondays since this is when I find its best to do shopping (our local supermarket is almost empty on Monday evenings!)
Finally I have some tricks up my sleeve for success (Ha! You did not see that coming!)
Don’t overcrowd your planner with too many tasks! These have to be all realistically timed. All the events and other external factors need to be considered as well. Nothing is more off putting when uncompleted tasks by the end of the day!
Don’t let the unexpected to throw you out of balance. Because sh** happens! If the task is not completed by the end of the day simply move it forward or cancel it all together (if it is no longer relevant of course). Don’t feel guilty, just move on! It is better to address the task (cancel or reschedule) then get panicked over uncompleted tasks.
Give yourself some rest! If you are feeling tired, clearly you are not going to be your most productive self. Therefore it’s ok to move some tasks to the next day and it’s ok to cancel some. Just take a bath or whatever else you like to do to relax and when tomorrow come it will be much a better day.
Most importantly have fun with planning and share this with someone else who you think needs to hear this. Here are the wall planners again if you are like me and enjoy jotting down the tasks on the wall ;-).
Now when we announced our big news last week, you have wondered what this cafe is going to look/feel like?! Let me share a glimpse of it through the french cafes and patisseries we visited on our weekend away in Paris. It was quite an inspiration!
Those who have been following us here for a while may know I love anything French (or specifically Parisian). Except the smell of urine in summer of course (those who visited Paris in summer will understand what I am talking about)! But seriously how good is french pastry, it is always worth visiting Paris any day! In the past I took french pastry baking classes, I read books on how to parent the french way and went through the “Little Paris Kitchen” book in a year. So yes, Parisian lifestyle is not all about the pastry, but also the culture and their relationship with food. Food is not only for nourishment and enjoyment but also for relationship building and this is what we hope to achieve here in our cafe 🙂. While in Paris, we purposely avoided the touristy places. We stayed by Canal Saint-Martin, walked around in 3rd and 11th districts, went on bike rides, visited Musée des arts et métiers, and ate in as many cafe’s as we could.We also had to experience going for a picnic. We bought some coffees and pastries and took it to this Park (Square du Temple – Elie Wiesel) and watched people dancing tango on the bandstand ;-). And I had to include this pic, which depicts a very realistic instagram culture in Paris. This guy have spend good 15 min taking picture of this cupcake over the Canal Saint-Martin without feeling any awkwardness or public fear (or t least he did not look bothered). This really inspired me to take my sweet time when taking pictures in public. I tend to be quite nervous otherwise and want to end my photoshoot in public as soon as I got at least one ok pic. Have a lovely weekend, we are off to the wedding. Hope you a lovely last day of summer!
Well well well, this has probably been our best kept secret (ok, longest kept secret) for over a year and a half! And the secret was (some of you may have guessed it, or may have been told) that we are opening a cafe here in Shortstown where we live! I am also back to blogging (sort of) as I promised myself back in March that I will have a break from it while I prepare for this venture. I think it’s like having a new baby, nothing can really prepare you for this. As I collected the keys yesterday, I am still overwhelmed with the things we need to get done even before starting the fit out works. There is a lot that needs doing. We are taking this property on as a completely bare shell as you can see from the pictures below. No windows, floor, plumbing, or electrical wiring. Eeek, but I think it will be worth it in the end!
Our plans as you can see here are basic, there is still many things to refine, like what food to serve, what hours to open, how many staff to employ and so much more. I expect I will do quite a few surveys involving those living locally very soon. Fun stuff is coming up ;-). Obviously if you have any suggestions already then please give us a shout!
You may have plenty of questions right now, please do not hesitate to ask! For now I will answer the questions that people (who I told about the cafe already) tend to ask most.
When are you planning to open? Oh yeah! this is like the most important information I may have missed here. We are hoping to open sometime in January 2020.
What type of food will you serve? I have not figured this out yet, but I will be posting surveys to find out what the Shortstown likes to eat.(Shortbread?)
Shortstown has a lot of parents with little children, will it be kid friendly? Yes! We have young kids as well and I completely understand how hard is to have lunch with kids. We are planning on a separate area (on the upper side of the kitchen and toilet if you are looking at the floor plan above) which is going to be a kids corner with kid friendly seating.
What are the opening hours going to be? Still don’t know, will have to see what Shortstown needs. For now I am thinking to start with 8:30am-4:30pm. What do you think?
Are you still planning to continue with blogging? I think yes, but can’t promise. I imagine I will be pre occupied by cafe stuff, but for now I have few posts ideas and pictures that I would love to let out. So let’s see.
Last month when I was planning what to do for Tomas birthday I have decided we need to visit Bristol and so we did few weeks ago! I must admit this trip was little selfish of me as I wanted to check this city for myself. I was following few bloggers on IG who live in Bristol and so it got me inspired to visit at the first place. Fear not! I also included some kiddie activities in our itinerary. After all it was Tomas birthday! I planned to visit Aquarium, but we have visited We The Curious exhibition centre instead, which I recommend to everyone with kids. We mostly stayed around the wharf area, but went for lunch and breakfast to the city centre. I think you would need at least a week to explore the whole of Bristol!First stop was breakfast at Pinkmans after not so great night in Airbnb (don’t you always get really bad first night when traveling with kids and then it gets better??!!). Anyhow, heard lots of good things about this bakery and I was not disappointed with food. A little pricey and not very kids friendly, although they did have few high chairs. I loved the plants that were populating most of the place, I guess the indoor lighting is enough?! There was the whole stair covered in plants which looked like a little jungle. Quite inspiring for when I will open my own cafe one day ;-). We walked a lot! I mean we walked all around the Canon’s Marsh. Luckily the weather was very summery, although it did not feel right to be in t-shirt just yet. One of the things I really loved about Bristol are the mural art displays. Unfortunately I did not take that many photos of them.For lunch we went to Pizzarova where we stuffed our faces with the artisan type pizzas. Ours had a béchamel sauce which was lovely… hmmm. I also liked the deco! Another inspiration for my cafe one day ;-). Now more about our Airbnb, it was our first time to do it with kids. And I think I would do it again! So much more flexible than staying in a small hotel room. The only thing I would have done differently next time is not be afraid to rearrange the rooms to fit our needs. You can always put everything back when leaving. On the first night kids were sleeping in a large bedroom while me and Joni were crammed in a small one because it had more plant pots that could be knocked down by kids. On the second night we decided not to suffer and move all the plants to the bigger bedroom. We all slept so much better that night!I generally love staying in Airbnb’s (I used to host on Airbnb), not only flexibility. I like seeing different ideas on how to decorate my own house as well as wondering about the host personality (if they live in the property themselves). This time round It was a lovely host who likes to travel and I am guessing he rents the whole place when he is on holiday. What a great way travel!On our way home we saw this Clifton Suspension Bridge, which was grand!!Hope you got inspired to travel 😉
Yey! The pancake day is here! I thought I will share one of my savoury pancake recipe for this occasion ;-). It’s a potato pancake but not how you imagine. It’s not an Eastern European type of pancake that taste a little like a hash brown (although they are very tasty too) and it’s not a vegan type of pancake either. However it is a very versatile pancake that is tasty on it’s own or with the filling. I adapted this recipe from this waffle recipe. I loved it too much, but now in the pancake form I think I can enjoy it more frequently. Yum! BASIC POTATO PANCAKES
2 medium sized potatoes, cut into small uniform pieces
2-4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
60ml olive oil
2 eggs, whisked
125g plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
1. Put potatoes and garlic in a large pot with cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cook until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork drain, reserving about 60ml of potato/garlic water. 2. While potatoes cook, puree onions with rosemary leaves if using. Heat olive oil and fry onion in a frying pan over low heat just until onion softens a bit.3. Transfer the potatoes and garlic into the bowl or large mixing jug. Mash it and mix it together with onions.
4. Gradually add garlic/potato water, oil, milk and eggs while constantly mixing so it all combines well. Eventually add flour and seasoning and give a last mix. 5. Fry pancakes in well heated pan with little oil. Pour one spoonful to the pan and immediately start swirling round the pan to get nice even layer. Lift the pancake to flip and cook the other side as well. Serve it either with a dollop of creme fraiche and parsley. Or if you like you can use these pancakes as a wrap. There are quite many fillings to experiment with. We had chicken roast the other day so that went really well with it!Enjoy!
Colour palettes are useful little things when designing, especially interior design. Colour palettes are a selection of colours kept on a board or paper as a reference, ready mixed for specific project/artwork. It helps you to keep focus on the selection of the colours that create concept consistency through the design/painting process. There are many ways you can create a colour palette. You can use different material swatches or magazine cutouts to create 3D colour palette. Computer generated swatches are quite useful too and easy to create. However today we are talking how to make a colour palette by mixing your own paint. This technique is especially useful when you need to use some colours to create wall artwork or want a specific paint colour when painting the walls or furniture (of course these swatches can be successfully scanned at the paint shop for a larger quantity paint).Recently I visited the Lithuanian seaside that I get constantly inspired by. I blogged about it many times across different seasons. This time I visited when there was still a little snow left! I used the photos I took as my inspiration.So how do I create a colour palette using paint? First step is of course to choose the paint. Any type of paint can be used for this purpose, but acrylic is probably the easiest to handle. I used a mix of acrylic paint and also some kids washable water based paint because I did not have a good selection of acrylics. It is important that you have the primary colours (yellow, green, blue and red), plus black and white. The rest of the colours can be mixed. To create the colour palette you really need to have a good understanding of a colour wheel. When you understand how to achieve secondary and intermediate colours from primary colours you unlock so many other colours. Once those colours are unlocked they can be further developed by adding adding white or black to lighten or darken them. Just remember that black and white also dull the colours as well. But first, before you begin creating the palette, you need to find an inspiration. You can either use photos like I did or pick an object (like a rug or patterned fabric) that has a colour combination you like. Mixing colours take practice, but it’s so fun when you get the right shade! Once I achieve the right shade I simply transfer them onto a clean piece of paper and let it dry. I particularly enjoy naming those colours, claiming ownership over them.Hope you found this inspiring!