About Kate


I blog at www.katescreativespace.com

Posts by Kate :

Friends for dinner: time for kitchen experimentation!

How is your Monday going, are you surviving?  We managed a lovely weekend with friends and sunshine (the best combination), so the afterglow has seen me through a manic day at work.  We threw a small dinner party on Friday night.  The kind where everyone arrives, slightly giddy with a mix of exhaustion, anticipation, and the rush of adrenalin that comes after shutting your laptop, settling the babysitter in, examining yourself from every angle in your outfit, sucking everything in and racing, slightly late, to your destination.  Friday night fever.

If you’re braced for a picture-heavy post, here are a few touches from the night, like dessert (but more on that later!)…

Lemon tart with edible nasturtium flowers and macarons

Earlier in the week I made place-names for everyone to go on the table.  I began by printing out the names of all our guests onto watercolour paper (I used this calligraphy font; a favourite of mine), before taking a heavily loaded brush and spattering on watercolour paint in different shades of green.  I swirled the brush around a little to pool the colours and left to dry…

Watercolour gift tags step 1

Before slicing the paper into strips to create individual tags;

DIY place cards or gift tags

Which I then clipped to the plates at each setting, adding a spring of rosemary….

DIY Watercolour place names

Watercolour place settings

With dinners like these it’s always good to work out where to spend the effort and where to make life easy for yourself so that you can kick back and enjoy the evening; I opted for a huge caprese salad to start, and then a side of salmon, baked with lemon, feta, black pepper and capers and served up with sharing bowls of roasted new potatoes; one of those combination that you can place in the oven and forget about for 40mins whilst catching up on everyone’s news.  You’ll have to excuse the lack of photos; we were having way too much fun to stop and try to capture the food…

After a couple of easy courses, I wanted to go to town on the dessert and experiment with using the edible flowers I’ve been growing.  I decided to make individual lemon tarts in advance (these, which are my go-to reliable pudding for nights like these!).  To try to truly over-stretch myself, I also decided it would be a really great idea to make caramelised hazelnuts to garnish the plate, following what looked like a foolproof tutorial from Martha.  WELL.  Let me tell you that it’s quite an expensive garnish if you factor in the saucepan which became irretrievably welded with cooling molten caramel, and the burn cream I had to invest in after a minor slip up with the pan.  Oh, and you could lose 8hrs of your life attempting to skin the hazlenuts, unless  - as I did – you decide from the outset that life is too short and that a rather more slapdash approach is called for.   They look mighty pretty, but I can tell you it was a one-off venture into nut caramelisation for me…

caramelised hazelnuts

Still, I would like to be awarded an inventiveness prize for my creative repurposing of an old floral foam wreath…

caramelised nuts in florists foam

After that, the rest of the dessert was remarkably easy.  I had a dry-run at putting it together before everyone arrived, and took the photos below.  I’m pleased to report that even 4hrs and a number of glasses of wine later, it was manageable – here’s the step by step guide if you fancy giving it a whirl!

Take a plate (yes, ok – that’s the easiest step).


Using a brand new  - washed! – paintbrush, add a stripe of raspberry coulis (from a jar; this is no time for domestic goddessery; no-one will ever know).

Plate with coulis

Add your homemade lemon tart in the centre of the coulis.  Squash together any crumbly bits; dust with icing sugar if necessary to disguise any imperfections.

Coulis and lemon tart

Add a couple of fresh blackberries and some carefully washed and pesticide-free edible flowers.  Mine are nasturtiums; you can grow your own or buy them in high-end supermarkets.

Step by step dessert with edible flowers

A couple of (shop-bought!) macarons add a further splash of colour.  I once tried making my own during a weekend break in Paris; it was amazing to learn but another of those once-in-a-lifetime things for me.

And finally, the caramelised hazelnuts, a sprinkling of dried edible rose petals (from Waitrose, for those in the UK), and a shaving of lemon zest, and ta-da! – dessert on a plate.   Just don’t drop the tray of these on the way to the table or your poor heart will never recover from the ruined labour of love…

Lemon tart with edible nasturtium flowers and macarons

The evening went on into the wee small hours; plates were scraped clean and the weekend was truly christened and launched.  I love Friday nights…

p.s . Now I need a new show-stopper dessert; do you have any favourite recommendations that you can share? Or other courses?  Preferably high on the aesthetics and low on the culinary skill required, which regular readers will know is my modus-operandi by now…

Have a great week, wherever you are and whatever you’re upto;  and thank you for stopping by… particularly those who come week after week and say hello; it’s a very wonderful thing :-)

handbag logo

Silvered Pebbles; a DIY Garden Game for Summer

DIY Painted Rocks

We’re in the throes of an unexpectedly lovely May holiday weekend, and have been living outdoors, sorting out sheds and pottering in the garden.  I uncovered a stash of old tiles, leftover from bathroom and kitchen projects both here and at our last house.  They looked too pretty to throw away, so I’ve repurposed them to make an outsized, organic version of Noughts and Crosses (or Tic Tac Toe).  I used river pebbles which are smooth and tactile and call out to be stroked and handled, and the set can live outside in all weathers.  If you have a couple of old tiles and a supply of pebbles (mine were from our local garden centre; £5/bag), then this is a very gratifying afternoon project…

DIY Garden noughts and crosses

Playing garden games in summer

Garden games for families

You’ll need:

  • A large tile for the board; slate, granite or marble are ideal.
  • Felt pads to back the tile (optional, but avoids scratching surfaces)
  • Silver paint; I used Liquid Leaf.  Varnish is optional.
  • Masking tape and stencils
  • Pebbles; choose similar sizes, as flat as possible to aid painting and reduce wobble on the board!

First, wash and dry the pebbles and decide on your design.  I decided on stripes and a flower motif instead of noughts and crosses; I used masking tape freehand to mark the stripes on half of the stones, and then simply peeled it away again after brushing on the liquid silver…

step 1

Step 2Step 3

DIY Silvered pebbles

For the ‘noughts’, I used mini cupcake stencils from a local baking shop, and lightly sprayed them with repositionable glue to hold them in place whilst I brushed the paint on.  If you get any small runs or smudges, wait till the paint dries and then simply scratch away the excess with a knife blade; it’s gratifyingly easy to correct.  You can varnish your stones to make them even more hardy; gloss varnish will change the colour of the stone, so have a practice on a spare stone to check that you like the effect first.

Stencilled pebbles step 1


Stencilled pebbles step 2

DIY Silver motif pebbles

For the main board I chose a large grey floor tile and measured the gride for nine squares, and marked this in pencil.  I used my masking tape to mark very thin grid lines and then simply painted these in the same way as the striped stones.  You could make them thicker if you like (or even engrave them if you are a master with a Dremel tool (and thus far handier than I…).

DIY Tic Tac Toe for the gardne

Add felt pads to the back of your board (I used these felt coasters for ease, gluing them near the four corners), and place on a contrasting tile if you wish, or simply on a table top or patio.

I used two plank tiles to make platters for the sets of stones; these were wood-effect tiles leftover from the bathroom in our guestroom.  Again, I added felt coasters underneath and then laid out the stones on each; they look rather beautiful..

Decorated silver pebbles Striped silver pebbles

And there you have it… a stylish and fun game to entertain the little people in your life, or simply to look good as the seasons finally turn and al fresco living becomes a reality.  Roll on summer….

Garden tic tac toe

Garden perspective

A Horticultural Miscellany

Spring tulips

Life is full of injustices, big and small.  My mother was the recipient of one of these this week when the tulips we had each carefully brought back from Amsterdam last year burst into bloom in my garden and remained resolutely absent in hers, despite her attentive efforts and track record of green-fingered magic.

So this post must begin with an apology to Mum as I revel in their glory after nine solid months of neglect in a few forgotton pots in a corner of our overgrown garden.  It must be Karma, though for what I cannot guess…. aren’t they beautiful? :-)

feathered tulips

They are so plentiful in fact, that I even sacrificed a few to a vase by my computer so I can enjoy them all the time (but I’ll stop going on about the tulips now before I am disowned)

tulips in a vase

Instead, lets talk about the turn of the seasons; we still have winter Hellebores parading thei final glories as the  Magnolia trees which line our border burst into bloom; I continued around the garden with my shears and snipped a few of each, to arrange in a pre-soaked florist’s foam wreath tucked inside one of my old Easter faux nests…it took just a few minutes but has made a lovely table centre which has lasted a surprisingly long time…


wreath with willow

Spring floral nest

Winter hellebore arrangement

magnolia wreath nest

Magnolia wreath

And finally for my last act of green-fingeredness, I’ve planted up a couple of pots of edible flowers (below) ready for the summer, inspired by the array of beautiful dishes and recipes which are appearing in gourmet magazines and food programmes the world over… here’s to fantasies of long hot days and gorgeous plates of food with splashes of floral colour.  If nothing else, it can mask all my usual burned bits and distract from the taste – the art of aesthetic illusion!


Edible flowers for Summer

But enough of this, I must scrub the soil from my fingernails and adopt as chic a demeanour as possible because this weekend we’re off to Madrid – Madrid! – to celebrate my Mum’s 70th birthday.  If she cannot have tulips, she can at least have tapas, music and the Prado, which will do very nicely instead.  I have been to Madrid for work but never for play, so if you have any ideas or recommendations for how we should make the most of our long weekend, please do let me know – we have a map and a wide open itinerary just waiting for inspiration….

Have a great week!

handbag logo

The gift of…. Breakfast.

Sunday morning croissants

Back in January, we spent a lovely evening at my friend Anna’s house.  Twelve of us squeezed around her dining table, talking to and over each other, eating and drinking into the wee small hours.  The party continued after we all left, as Anna and her husband cranked up the stereo and threw some moves, ignoring the scene of culinary devastation in the kitchen.  A perfect night, all told; but what of the morning after?

‘I have the hangover from hell‘ texted Anna gingerly the next morning, ‘And there’s no food in the house because I didn’t think beyond dinner.  I would KILL for carbohydrates right now.’

It was a lightbulb moment for me; so now when we go to friends for dinner I generally take a bottle of wine – and breakfast.  The kind of slightly decadent, Sunday-morning breakfast that you can indulge in whilst reliving tales of the night before and revelling in your marvellous hostessery (new word, but you know what I mean..), before the realities of cleaning up and entertaining the kids with a hangover properly kick in.  I find croissants (butter, almond or chocolate; all divine), really good jam and fresh bread go down a treat, and also require no attention when you hand them over; they can be set down and forgotten, then rediscovered with joy & hunger the next day.

The gift of breakfast...

A couple of really good friends have recently had babies, and I take a similar approach on the first visit to see them too; whilst the new arrivals tend to get showered with lovely gifts, it’s easy to forget who actually did all the hard work and is finding it hard to remember unbroken nights and the phenomenon of being able to read a book from cover to cover.  For the new mums, a magazine, some simple scented flowers and a loaf of sourdough go some way to restoring peace of mind and providing the maternal equivalent of a comfort blanket;

Hostess gifts; breakfast for the morning after

Creamy white roses

p.s. Hot, buttered toast would be my last meal of choice.  No question.  Perhaps not my desert island food of choice – that would be calamari and crayfish with a chilled glass of wine as I scan the horizon looking for passing ships – but toast would be the most evocative, comforting choice. And as my last meal, I wouldn’t even have to skimp on the butter…


41 rules for how to be a great dinner party guest

..and useful tips for the host (especially ones like me who tend to have a warm-up cocktail at 7pm and only then remember to vaguely start thinking about the cooking)

and finally, for anyone feeling tortured by the gratuitous photos of carbohydrates, try the gluten-free museum

handbag logo

Happy Easter!

hatching chick cupcakes

Happy Easter!

Hope that you’re having a wonderful (and restful) weekend.

p.s. Our hatching chick cupcakes above are made with fondant icing and very little skill; find the tutorial here in one of my very first posts…I added wings this year for a little extra fun.


handbag logo


hatching chick cakes!

Last-minute Easter Crafts

Making button Easter cards

The Easter holidays have begun!  You can tell it’s the holidays, because overnight the skies opened and since Friday the rain has been lashing down, driven horizontal by the gale-force winds. We took Harry to the park to practice riding his bike on Sunday;

‘It’s like being in a HURRICANE‘ he screamed excitedly, as he was swept into a hedge.

Time to retire indoors to some more sedate, warm activities – like Easter crafting.

First we made hanging egg pendants to give to Harry’s grandparents by cutting out egg shapes from coloured cardstock and then liberally applying PVA glue before arranging a myriad of tonal blue buttons all over the shape (we get ours for £1/bag from here).

Button egg hanging charms for Easter

Once Harry had glued all the buttons on, we left the shapes to dry (the weight of the buttons helpfully holds them flat and stops them curling).  Then I carefully poked a hole through one of the buttons using a craft needle and threaded thin ribbon through to create a hanging loop.  Ta-da..!

DIY Button Egg Cards

These look lovely taped to a window, or we’ve strung a couple up on the peg rail in our guest room, and adorned the bare branches of our indoor fig tree to add a splash of unseasonal colour.  To mail these to our families, I used trifold cards and glued a picture of the small craftsman to the inside, to give a flavour of the work in progress.  Use the kind of  hardboard-backed envelopes designed for photographs to ensure that they don’t bend or crack in the post.

Handmade Easter Pendants DIY Button Egg Cards for Easter

Once we’d removed the excess glue from all the surfaces, including surfaces of hands, face and hair, we set about our second project; hatching chicks!

Winged Hatching Chick Decoration Hatching Chick Easter Decoration

To make these, I drew around Harry’s hands onto some fun paper, then we each had a go at cutting round the shapes (great for developing coordination, this one).  We used a small heart-shaped punch to make a beak and crest, then stuck on googly-eyes and used paper-fasteners to attach the wings, which flap up and down with a little bit of encouragement.  I traced around the egg shape onto some white card to make a half-egg for the chick to hatch from; just glue it on top and you’re done.

DIY Easter Chick Decoration

We got quite carried away with the handprint-making, so used the same technique for Harry’s entry into his class competition to decorate a hard-boiled egg for Easter; this time he covered the handprints with tiny yellow pom-poms and we glued them to an egg I’d dyed yellow for him (by simply adding yellow food dye to a pan, popping the egg in and leaving it to boil (actually, forgetting about it until it almost boiled dry, which did give it a lovely depth of colour..).  So here you have it, a newly-hatched baby chick with possibly the largest wings you’ll ever see (when DID Harry’s hands grow so big?), but a labour of love and much 5yr old pride.

The Easter Hatchery


Happy Easter, and have a wonderful long weekend when it comes!

(We have 10 children coming for an egg hunt on Friday, to coincide with what the Met Office describes as ‘an unprecedented Atlantic storm of hailstones and high winds’.  I can’t wait).

handbag logo

Spring Fever again…

I feel fizzy and buzzy today with the onset of Spring; it’s been a weekend of brilliant sunshine – and yes, chills; but sunshine nonetheless – and we’ve been flung into a happy frenzy of sorting and organising, relegating winter firmly to the loft as we coax the seasons into changing.  The kitchen door has stood open for hours, with Harry racing in and out and the pleasure of taking cups of tea to just stand, faces to the sun, breathing in the Springtime.

It was time to give The Fir Lady a new set of clothes…

Our lady of the Springtime

I dressed the mannequin in a roll of chicken wire and then draped a length of green fabric around to create a backdrop, and then simply walked around the garden, snipping stems and gathering fallen branches and the bark shed from an old tree.  A few faux flowers and a bunch of twisted willow and pussy willow from the local garden centre completed her skirts.

I created a kind of corset by tucking lengths of bark into an elastic shoelace tied tightly round her waist, like this…

A spring dress and a bark corset!

…and then covered it with feathers to disguise it a little.  I tucked tiny nests and a couple of birds (leftover from Christmas!) into her dress, to create the illusion of a hedgerow, with all the business and new life to be found there.  Also, so that when friends are propped up on our kitchen bar stools nursing a glass of wine there is always something new to see when you look closely at her.

Springtime skirt detail faux bird in a living greenery skirt

Bark corset with garden bird

Our Lady of the Springtime will be a work in process, whose skirts grow and fill as Spring unfolds; when our magnolia tree comes into bloom I will tuck a budding branch into the tableau, and as the apple and cherry blossoms wither they can be replenished with new cuttings.  It’s here I offer thanks for a husband who cheerily tolerates the endless traipsing in and out of armfuls of flora and fauna, and the weary army of ants and other insects who labour a well-trodden path back out towards the garden, having found themselves unwittingly relocated.

For now she lives in the kitchen, where she looks almost as if she has glided in through the door one misty morning (you can see below in the un-cropped shot with the temporary backdrop).  If Easter is as sunny and dry as we’re promised though, I think I’ll leave her outdoors for her final fling, so that she can mark the start of our annual egg-hunt and provide a decorative, watchful eye on proceedings..

Behind the scenes

If you want to have a go at making faux birds-nests, my original notes can be found here… they are also a beautiful (and simple!) way of gifting easter eggs – I’ve just used up some cardboard packaging I’d saved from from Ikea by painting it with some paint samples I had, fitting a simple hand-curled bunch of sisal into the bottom and adding some enticing, freshly-laid praline eggs in the nest; if you’re a crafty type, it’s definitely worth having a look at any leftover boxes you may have and seeing what could be given a simple makeover for Easter..

Repurposing cardboard boxes for cute Easter nests

And now the light is fading and Sunday evening beckons; we have a couple of great films lined up and the wood burner stacked and ready to be lit; small pleasures are the best ones.  Enjoy the last few hours of the weekend, and have a great week ahead.

handbag logo

cherry blossom in a window

p.s. cherry blossom from the garden adding a spark of colour to the family bathroom

Cake! (And solar eclipses, and the pursuit of happiness..)

Rose ombre 5 layer cake

Did you have a lovely weekend? I hope so… it was Mothers Day here in the UK so I was woken around dawn by a breathless Harry, bursting with excitement and clutching a pot of daffodils he had secretly grown at school, a carefully drawn portrait of me (dressed in black, curiously, with forked hands rather like Satan – but then I’m sure that some of Lucian Freud’s subjects were equally touchy about how they were portrayed), and ready to recite a poem called ‘My Mummy’ about the wonderful things that mothers do.

And yes, I cried. (‘I know you were crying’ said Harry, at the end of the poem ‘Because I could see the drips’.)

To treat ourselves, we made cake; a rather splendid layer cake in the brightest colours we could find.  I got to choose, so I chose pink…

Rose ombre cake

We used a basic sponge cake recipe and a set of  layer cake pans which produce small but perfectly formed sponge layers (try these or this link if you’re in North America – both have recipe links too), and simply divided the cake batter into five pudding bowls and stirred in tiny amounts of pink food colouring, adding more with each bowl…

Ombre cake mixture in bowls

Ombre cake mixture! To get equal amounts of cake batter, by the way, you need a spot of elementary maths (great for mini-chef assistants!); weigh your mixing bowl before you begin and again when the batter is mixed; deduct the original bowl weight and then divide the remaining weight by five; that’s the amount you need to spoon out each time. When the cakes are baked, they look interesting and somewhat planetary; Ombre sponge cakes Once cooled, we stacked and layered ours with vanilla buttercream and then covered the cake with (whisper it) Betty Crocker Strawberry Frosting.  Because if you can’t take a culinary shortcut on Mothers Day, when can you? It was delicious; both the first slice and the second.. Rose ombre layer cake
This was our second attempt at layer-cake-making; we made a neon rainbow cake for Harry’s wonderful Godparents a couple of weeks ago using the same principles but a rather more lairy set of colours, chosen entirely by Harry, who made a cute rainbow decoration to adorn the top;

Rainbow cake!

See what I mean about the colours? ;-)  It had the same effect on our teeth that those old-fashioned disclosing tablets used to do… but it was worth it.

Vibrant rainbow cake

Enough about cake, particularly for those who are trying to exercise restraint in such matters as the thought of summer and swimwear starts to focus the mind, and the appearance of beguiling layer cake photos is far from helpful.  Instead, let’s talk about..

The solar eclipse which will occur across Scandinavia and the UK on Friday and which is already causing feverish excitement in our household.  We need to make a pinhole camera to view it, which requires us to eat a whole can of Pringles before then in order to use the tube for our camera.  It’s a tough job but I’m making good progress (on the crisps that is; I haven’t started the camera).  Will you be watching, are you ready?  If you won’t be able to see it from where you are, you can follow it here instead.  Fingers crossed for clear skies.

And finally have you seen this documentary?  I’m sure that I’m  late to the party on this one but I loved it; a feel-good analysis of what makes us happy – a great antidote for those Sunday-evening blues as we transition from the weekend back to work.  It’s up there with Finding Vivian Maier on my list of great word-of-mouth Netflix discoveries; if you have any more recommendations of things you’ve watched and loved do please share in the comments below – I need to build up a little store of things I can look forward to watching!

Have a great week ahead – oh and thank you for all the lovely comments on our bathroom; they really made me smile.

handbag logo

The Dream House Renovation: Creating a Family Bathroom

DIY Bath tray

Regular readers will know that we’ve been gradually restoring our ancient, crumbly-but-beautiful home, room by room as budget allows.  We began with the kitchen and hallway and gradually worked our way upstairs, tackling our en suite bathroom and guest bedroom last year.  One room that has never quite hit the priority list has been the family bathroom; an inoffensive but bland mishmash of linoleum flooring, pastel tiles, 70s wallpaper and a squat, kidney-shaped plastic tub.  Oh, and a shower which has not worked for the entire 3yrs we’ve lived here.  What can I say? We’ve obviously been rather busy.  Finally last month we ripped it all out…

bathroom refit old bathroom

And now it looks like this…

An understated family bathroom

I tell you, I could spend the rest of my life in this bath and die happy.


The huge roll top, ball-and-clawfoot bath was  salvaged from another bathroom in the house which we don’t use – it actually spent the last year filled with old suitcases and boxes, gathering dust.  Finally we’ve liberated it and it has pride of place as the decadent main attraction of our family bathroom.  Oh, and it’s big enough for all of us at once, which is both a good thing and a terrible thing when you just want a quiet and relaxing soak…

bathtime rituals

Classical bath taps

I painted the feet silver as a first experiment towards painting the whole of the exterior; I’m going to live with the white for now whilst I ponder colours…

Bath feet

We added tongue and groove panelling to all the walls and hand-mixed a bold charcoal colour with a blue-ish hint (achieved by combining Shaded White and Railings from the Farrow and Ball range).  I love the depth of colour and drama of it, offset by paler walls and the whiteness of the fixtures and fittings.  We found an old French street sign in a local junkyard and that now picks up the colour of the wood and is one of just a couple of decorative elements…

French street sign

Another being this ancient rowing oar, warped and weathered with verdigris clasps; I love it.

Vintage oar in the bathroom

It is, above all, a family bathroom, but one we wanted to be able to switch easily into a calm and adult zone, so Harry’s bath-time Octonaut tribe live in this old wire basket and can be easily drip-dried and contained once darkness falls.


One of my favourite, favourite elements is the bath board I made using a salvaged piece of the original floorboards; when we ripped up the lino, the underlying boards were beautiful but chopped and nailed every couple of feet after centuries of plumbing work.  We took one up and I sanded it to a smooth finish before buffing it with a waterproof white wax, and it holds all the clutter one might need for an extended soak.  This, by the way, is the carefully edited artistic shot (below); usually you will find it piled high with a glass of wine, a slightly damp novel, a random toy that Harry has helpfully supplied me with ‘in case you get bored in the bath’, my phone, razor etc – you can imagine.

dream bathroom

We added a HUGE radiator-come-towel rail, which turned out to weigh 90 kilos (a lesson in reading the small print online), but looks magnificent and keeps the room toasty warm; in a house like ours that is not to be under-estimated, and I can imagine many a winter’s night where we will all just gather in the bathroom to socialise and eat dinner, rather than shuffling around in 8 layers of clothing downstairs like usual.

Bathroom radiator

The floor is made of engineered-oak boards and is coping wonderfully well with the nightly drenching it receives.  As a bathmat, I’ve repurposed a beautiful felted pebble rug that we were given a couple of years ago, which feels lovely underfoot as you step out of the water…

Felted pebble rub

We’ve gone for an understated look elsewhere, with simple wall lights which can be used in the evenings as a softer alternative to the ceiling lights, and a concealed cistern and boxed-in pipes to continue the flow of the panelled walls.  A laundry sack hangs on the door for all the clothes that are randomly scattered in the haste to clamber into the tub, and a tree-slice stool like those we chose for the guest room stands just where you need it to hold a glass or a book when the bath board gets too full (or just plain too far away when you’re lying back and relaxing).

Bathroom makeover

The room is still gradually taking shape as we complete the snag list, neatening paintwork and considering pictures and other accents for the walls and windowsills – but that final refining is a gradual process, and one best considered from the scented depths of the tub.  Bliss.

Now, where is that towel?

Towel hook

Bathroom window

Singing in the Rain!

Singing in the Rain Again

It’s been raining, raining, raining here, so a few days ago we decided to bring the stormy weather indoors so that we could dance in the rain without getting wet…

Our very own raincloud has lasted for over a week now and makes us smile whenever we walk under it.  Oh, and it only takes an hour or so to make, with a bit of careful scissoring and a lot of puff (note to self; buy a balloon pump next time…). Grab an umbrella and join us!

Paper Raindrops DIY

For the raindrops, we cut shapes out of sheets of craft paper in tonal blues (I used these, but any will do).  Here’s a template I made (download via the PDF link below) if you want to have a go; I’ve coloured the shapes in blue so that you can simply print onto white cardstock as well.

Raindrop Template from KatesCreativeSpace


Lay 2-4 of the same-sized shapes on top of each other, and run through a sewing machine to stitch them together before folding them open to form a 3-d shape.  If these words strike fear in your heart, you can fold and glue them together instead.  The brilliant Kate at MiniEco has a tutorial for making paper rain without the need for sewing (she made a paper mobile). Use different coloured shapes together for the loveliest effects…

Tonal paper raindrops

If you’re sewing like we did, allow long lengths of cotton at each end, and use these to knot the raindrops together to form strands.  If you’re using the fold & glue approach, just glue or tape lengths of cotton to each drop to attach it.  I used blue thread because it’s what we had to hand on a dull and overcast day, but if I was doing this again I’d choose invisible thread for maximum aesthetic effect!

Raindrops and balloon clouds

Then, simply blow up a handful of white and grey balloons, tie them together and tape your raindrop strands to the bottom of the balloon cloud.  I strung my cloud up from our conservatory roof and it looks very beautiful and enticing; perfect for a wonderfully dry dance in the rain….

Balloon raincloud and paper raindrops


Rain Dancing

Making rain clouds is not a new idea, and there are a myriad of different ways you can try, depending on how permanent you want your art to be and how much time and patience you have (try typing ‘DIY cloud’ into Pinterest and be astonished by possibility..).  We were looking to fill a rainy half-term afternoon, and tailored our approach to fit, but if you’re prepared to invest more time, have a look at these beautiful papier-mâché library installations by Hafuboti.

And now the skies are clear, and Spring suddenly feels like it is on the horizon; our rain dance might just have brought the sun!

DIY Indoor Raincloud

Raindrop Template from KatesCreativeSpace

By the way, our gorgeous rainbow umbrella is from here; it caught my eye as we skidded through the retail area of SFO airport last October as the final call for our flight boomed around the halls – it was worth the panic; it  makes rainy day walks an absolute joy :-)


The Mysteries of Small Boys

The Mysteries of Childrens Pockets

Until very recently, if you had asked me about the mythology of what small boys keep in their pockets, I would have been inclined to dismiss it as literary cliché and nostalgia.  What modern boy, after all,  covets marbles and decrees that random kerbside junk is somehow Treasure?

This one, it seems.

Harry discovered the true magic of pockets – with their seeming infinite capacity for holding Important Things – when he was given a fleece jacket with roomy, zipped pockets on each side.  When I pulled it out of the laundry basket last week ready to wash it, it weighed a startling amount.  Careful emptying of a single pocket revealed the list of treasures above, dictated by Harry as being;

An old fruit gum: “For my snack, if I need energy”

Pebbles: “For my collection”

A golf ball, found in undergrowth the previous weekend and carried around for 5 days: “For Grandma”

Marbles, source unknown: “For a game I am planning about lions”

A single, small Lego piece: ‘I always like to have Lego in my pocket”

Stray feather: “For you, because I know you like feathers and I always collect them when I find them”

Random rubber objects with sequins attached to them: ‘Just in case I need them for something.  And because you like sparkly things”.

Squashed pine cone: “In our game it was the school bell and I was ringing it to mean the end of playtime”

I was struck not only by the sheer magnitude of stuff which he’d collected (and you can imagine the shower of dust, soil and fluff which fell out with it all…), but also the considered evaluation and justification of each item.  They’re currently carefully collated in a shoebox, waiting for the fleece to be dry so that they can be restored to their rightful place.  Or discreetly thrown away.


Boys… a wonderful, awesome mystery.

handbag logo

(p.s. What’s the strangest thing you’ve found in a pocket?  And to mothers of daughters; are girls the same?  )