Battleshots Drinking Game!

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I know it’s only Sunday, but I’m definitely doing that thing where you’re already thinking about the following weekend. Not least because… NEXT WEEKEND IT’S MY BIRTHDAY…WOOOOOOOOH. So, getting into the party mood groove as I am, I saw a version of this game being shared on Facebook and decided to make a Battleshots board.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Battleshots, it’s basically the adult version of that childhood favourite game Battleships. I can’t think of anything more awesome. And the great news is, you can make this so easily with some stuff you probably have somewhere, or can easily get hold of. Sold? Let’s make a Battleshots board.

You will need….

  •  A large, thick cardboard box
  • A black marker pen
  • A pen/pencil
  • A ruler or measuring tape
  • Large scissors (use decent ones- they need to be able to cut through the thick cardboard quite easily!)
  • Sellotape
  • Blu/white tack
  • 2 sheets of A4 paper
  • Paint in whatever colour you want the ships to be- I’ve gone for a light grey all-ourpose paint I found in a craft store for £1.99, but you can get poster paints or similar in places like WHSmith and large supermarkets too.
  • A paintbrush
  • Blue wrapping paper (I wanted dark blue but couldn’t find any, so I’m just pretending that my ‘battle’ is taking place somewhere tropical with an aqua blue sea)
  • 34 shot glasses- you can get packs 40 of these for £1 in Poundland if you don’t already have enough, or in supermarkets.
  • Your drink of choice! (I wouldn’t recommend using hard spirits if you’re playing this as a 2 person game…. you’re going to have to drink 17 shots of whatever you choose! A good alternative is to use a spirit & mixer combo)

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How to make the Battleshots board

Step 1: Start by taking the large cardboard box and unfolding it at the top and bottom so that it lies flat. Cut off the flaps which formed the top and bottom of the box and put them to one side (these are going to make the boats.) Now, cut along the crease of one of the long sides of the box, so that it opens out into a large rectangle split by the creases into 4 sections.
Step 2: Gently push the two outer sections towards each other so that the box lies in the shape below. It should stay like this when you let it go (this is why it’s important to use a box made of quite thick cardboard.) If it’s slipping down, use sellotape to reinforce the edges at the base of the triangle shape by taping over the crease on both sides of the cardboard.

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Step 3: Starting at the outermost edge of the cardboard, roll the wrapping paper up and over the top of the triangle and over to the opposite edge, leaving about 1 inch extra at each side to fold over the edge. Although it’s a little bit awkward, it’s best to do this while the cardboard is in the shape of the final board- if you measure and secure the paper onto the box while it’s flat, it will rip when you try to put it back into this shape. Once you’re happy that you’ve got the right amount of paper measured to cover the face of the board, cut it to size.
Step 4: Starting at one flat edge of the board, fold the excess paper over and tape it to the back. Use your hand to smooth out the paper and create folds at the base of the triangle (both sides) and the top to match the edges of the cardboard. Tape the excess paper at the opposite edge to the back, as you did with the first side. Be careful not to pull the paper too taut- leave a little slack to stop it from ripping.
Step 5: Use the scissors to cut from the edge of the paper to the outer edge of the cardboard at the 3 points of the triangle as shown below, so that it forms separate flaps of paper at each edge. Fold each of these under the cardboard in turn and tape them to the back to create a neat edge on the board. Repeat this on the other side. Don’t worry if you accidentally make a rip in the paper- you can cut out an extra rectangle of paper to make a patch and cover up the rip.

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Step 6:  Use the ruler/tape measure to measure the height and length of the flat edge of the board- this is going to become the play surface. Ideally, you want to make squares which are 2 inches in height and length- remember you need to be able to comfortably fit a shot glass within each square. So, based on the length and height of the cardboard, work out how many rows of  2 inches you can make across the bottom and the side of the board, remembering to leave a border of at least an inch across all edges. Battleships the board game tends to have 10 X 10 squares, but you don’t have to make yours like that! Mine ended up with 9 rows along the bottom and 7 at the side because of the shape of the box I used! Once you’ve worked it out, use a pen or pencil and the ruler/tape measure to make small, faint marks 2 inches apart along the vertical and horizontal sides as a guideline for the squares.
Step 7: Once you’re happy with the estimated square size, use the black marker and ruler or something with a flat edge to draw the rows, starting with the 4 borders and using your marks to help you. Once the grid is finished, write a consecutive letter against each row on the left hand vertical side (mine was A- G) and a number against each one along the bottom (mine was 1-9.) Spin the board round to the other play surface and repeat steps 6 and 7 using the same measurements, so that you have two grids which match.

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Step 8: Use the same technique which you used to make the playing grid to draw a miniature version of the grid with the same number of squares on the 2 sheets of A4 paper. The easiest way to do this is to scale the size of the squares from inches to centimetres e.g 2cm squares. Use the blu/white tack to stick these to the sloping face of the board at each side- this is what each player of Battleshots uses to mark their guesses!

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Step 9: Now for the ships! Take the cardboard flaps you discarded from the box earlier and use the ruler/measuring tape to cut rectangular strips of cardboard in the sizes and quantities below (NB: this is based on a playing board of 2X2 inch squares):
        – 2 strips measuring 4 inches (or 2 squares worth) in length and 2 inches in height
       - 4 strips measuring 6 inches (3 squares worth) in length and 2 inches in height
       - 2 strips measuring 8 inches (4 squares worth) in length and 2 inches in height
      – 2 strips measuring 10 inches (5 squares worth) in length and 2 inches in height
Step 10: Depending on whether you want your ships to have 2 ‘noses’ or one, use your pen or pencil to mark triangular shapes at the end of each strip and cut these bits out to make your ships. Once you have all 10 ships in ship-shape (heh,) paint them in your chosen colour and leave them to dry.

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Once that’s done, you’re ready to play Battleshots!

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How to play Battleshots

You can play Battleshots as a one-on-one game, or play it in teams, taking it in turns to guess and take the shots!
Fill 34 shot glasses with the drink of choice, and divide them equally between the 2 players (or 2 teams.) Divide the ships between the two players/teams as well- you should each have one 5 square ship, one 4 square ship, two 3 square ships, and a 2 square ships (I’m pretty sure they all have real battleship names but whatever, they’re all boats amirite?!)
Place your ships on the grid in front of you wherever you like (you can’t place them diagonally) and sit the shot glasses on top of the ships, one representing each square. Flip a coin to see who goes first. On your turn, make a guess on where your opponent has placed one of their ships by saying the co-ordinates of that square, e.g “A-2.” If you guess a square where part of their ship is sitting, your opponent says “HIT!” and drinks the shot from that square. You then mark an X on the corresponding square of the mini grid facing you. If you guess wrong, your opponent says “MISS!” and you mark that square with a different symbol to rule it out (a dot works well.) Once you’ve guessed all the squares of a ship, the ship sinks and is moved aside. The goal is to keep doing this until you sink all your opponent’s ships to win the game!
Optional: If you’re feeling pretty hardcore, you could also have a large glass of your drink to hand and take a gulp as a forfeit for each incorrect guess.
As always, drink responsibly ;)

 

I totally can’t wait to play this next weekend…. are you going to give Battleshots a go too? Let me know in the comments! You can follow Miss Makealot to keep up to date with new posts by entering your email address to the left, or following me on bloglovin or Twitter @talabyrne.

 

Delicious Rolo Cookies!

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This recipe for rolo cookies is sort of like a twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie… but so much better. There’s no chocolate chips, but there IS delicious melted caramel when you bite into that soft and chewy cookie!
As an added bonus, I actually think these are easier to make (and make well) than chocolate chip cookies. Cookies can be tough to get right and stay soft… when I used to make them I would end up with cookies that tasted good, but had more of a biscuit-like texture. Then I figured out the key to soft cookies- cook them for less time, and take them out of the oven whilst they are still a little gooey.
This rolo cookie recipe is great for trying out this technique, because the dough is thick enough that it doesn’t collapse when you take it out of the oven a little early and the caramel in the rolos help to keep  the cookie nice and soft! Get ready to become a cookie-making expert….

 

You will need…

Makes around 20 cookies, depending on how large you make them.

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 215g caster sugar
  • 215g light brown sugar (you could use dark brown sugar, but light brown has a sweeter taste)
  • 215g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • A bag of rolos (or 2-3 tubes)
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • A wooden spoon
  • 2 large baking trays (if you only have one that’s ok, you can make the cookies in the oven one tray at a time)
  • Grease proof paper

 

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How to make the rolo cookies…

 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or gas mark 5. In one mixing bowl, gently mix together the flour, coco powder and bicarbonate of soda. Put it to one side.
Step 2In the other mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter together with the wooden spoon until blended. It’s best to start off slowly, otherwise the sugar will go everywhere. Once the sugar has started to stick to the butter, you can start mixing with a bit of elbow grease!
Step 3: Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until smooth and creamy.

 

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Step 4: Combine this mixture with the flour/cocoa/bicarbonate of soda and mix well.
Step 5: Line your baking trays with grease proof paper. Use your fingers to shape the cookie dough into balls (I went for balls around the size of a golf ball, which made nice big cookies. If you want smaller ones, make smaller balls!)
Step 6: Placing your ball of dough on the grease proof paper, gently push a rolo into the centre of the ball and use your fingers to cover the top of the rolo completely with the mixture.

 

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Step 7: Repeat this for all your cookie dough balls, spacing them well away from each other on the baking trays (this is super important… if you put them too close together you’ll end up with one giant cookie!) For an idea of how far apart to space the dough balls see the picture below.

 

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Step 8: Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the dough looks solid but still feels springy to the touch. Honestly, this is all the time they need! It’s really tempting to leave them in there for longer because they don’t look completely cooked, but they will continue to cook while cooling, I promise!

 

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Step 9: Leave to cool on the baking trays for about 20 minutes, then gently transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. And now, there’s only one step left…. enjoy the cookies!

 

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You can follow Miss Makealot to keep up to date with new posts by entering your email address to the left, or following me on bloglovin or Twitter @talabyrne. Are you going to try out the rolo cookies, or have you made them before and want to share some tips? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

 

5 funky phone cover designs you can make with nail polish!

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Do you remember when everyone used to paint straight onto the back of their mobile phones with nail polish and/or Tip Ex back in high school?! Well, these tutorials are sort of inspired by that, except they don’t involve damaging your phone and the designs are a bit more sophisticated than just drawing a Tip Ex love heart on some black casing.
Sometimes I get so bored of looking at my phone, maybe because I carry it everywhere and look at it a lot. Anyway, I often find myself itching for a re-vamped look for my phone, and after doing a bit of research (looking at Pinterest) I found some simple ways to jazz up your phone using all those random nail polishes you have lying around the house.
I’ve made 5 different designs to give you an idea of the kinds of things you can achieve here, but they are all pretty easy to do and I’d definitely recommend making a few so that you can change them around as much as you like!

You will need…

  • A large pair of scissors
  • A small pair of scissors (nail scissors are good)
  • Cocktail sticks
  • A few pieces of sponge- I’ve used the non-rough side of a kitchen sponge and cut it into small wedges
  • A couple of sheets of card- I’ve used white and black, but you could really use any colour you want!
  • A clear phone case- you can get these online from sites like Amazon for pretty much any phone and they are pretty cheap too! Mine was around £4.99
  • A stencil of the inside of the phone case- most of the clear cases come with a stencil in the pack, but if yours doesn’t, just lie the case flat side down on a piece of paper and draw the outline to make your own (don’t forget to cut a hole in the stencil for the phone camera!)
  • Nail polishes in assorted colours. Make sure you check that they’re not too dried out- if you’re going to make the marbled phone cases you’ll need very runny nail polishes, but if you’re making any of the other cases it’s fine to use some which have gone a bit clumpy.
  • Optional: (for the galaxy/space effect design) a silver metallic pen
  • Optional: (for the striped flower print design) some washi tape or patterned tape of your choice- you can get this in any craft store for £3 or less per roll
  • Optional: (for both the marbled designs) bottled water- the reason you should use bottled water is that the water from your tap may be ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ depending on where you live, and you need ‘soft’ water for the nail polish to marble properly in the water. If you’re not sure whether your tap water is hard or soft, its best to use bottled.
  • Optional: (for both the marbled designs) a disposable tub or tray- DON’T use something that you want to use again to store food etc… remember how strong the smell of nail polish can be! The best things to use are empty ice cream tubs or disposable roasting trays.

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Ok, got everything? The instructions below are in the order that the covers are displayed in the picture at the head of this post, from left to right. So if you already know which of the designs you want to try, you can skip ahead!

How to make the starburst marbled phone case

Step 1: Cut a piece of your chosen card at least twice as large as you want the phone cover to be- this means you can cut your cover out from the part where you like the starburst pattern the most!
Step 2: Take your roasting tray/tub and fill it with about 1.5- 2 inches of bottled water, you don’t need any more than this really. Choose the colours you’re going to use, making sure that they’re all still quite runny. It’s important to have the colours to hand with the lids loosened before you start, as you’ll need to work quickly to get the pattern right before the polish starts to dry!
Step 3: Starting with the colour you want to appear at the outer edges of your starburst, carefully add a drop of polish to the water from no higher than a couple of inches above the surface. Wait a second for the polish to spread out into a circle, as shown below.

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Step 4: Working quickly to stop the polish from starting to dry, take your next colour and add a drop of this to the middle of the circle, Repeat for all the colours you’re using until you get a pattern like the one shown below.

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Step 5: Take a cocktail stick, and carefully use the end to draw a line from the middle of the pattern outwards, as shown below. Repeat this at several points around the circle to make the starburst pattern, being careful to lift the cocktail stick out gently so that the polish doesn’t cling to it.

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Step 6: Once you’ve got the starburst shape, lower the card straight down flat onto the surface of the water and submerge it, pushing straight down so that it is evenly covered.

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Step 7: Using your fingertips, lift the card out by the edges, and leave it somewhere warm to dry. Once dry, use your phone cover stencil to decide which part of the pattern you’d like to see in the case… I went for a quarter of the whole starburst to get all the colours in! Use the stencil to cut out the shape of the cover, and the small scissors to carefully cut out the camera hole shape. Add it to your clear phone case, and you’re done!

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How to make the striped flower print phone case

Step 1: Start by selecting two nail polish colours which tone in with the patterned tape you’ll be using… mine had orange flowers on a turquoise background so I’ve picked nail polishes which match that as close as possible. Once you’ve got the colours, take the lighter of the two and use some sponge to start dabbing it onto a piece of card slightly bigger than your phone cover will be. Keep building up the colour until it gets to a shade you’re happy with.

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Step 2: Taking a new piece of sponge with the darker colour on it, gently dab it onto the card, overlapping the lighter colour so that they blend into each other as much as possible. Tip- don’t make the border between the two colours a straight line, you want it to look as if one is fading into the other, so don’t be afraid to dab a bit above and below where the lighter colour stops!

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Step 3: Keep building up the darker colour downwards until you’ve covered the card at roughly the length your phone cover needs to be. Leave it to dry somewhere warm. Once dry, start laying strips of your patterned tape across the design about 1.5cm apart until you’ve got the length of the design looking nice and stripy! Using the scissors and phone cover stencil, cut out the phone cover shape from the design, using the small scissors to carefully cut out the hole for the camera. Insert the card into your clear phone cover et voila.

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How to make the swirled marbled phone case

Tip: The first few steps for this case are the same as the starburst design above, so it’s definitely worth trying these two at the same time! I’ve copied and pasted the steps which are the same here to save you scrolling up and down.
Step 1: Cut a piece of your chosen card at least twice as large as you want the phone cover to be- this means you can cut your cover out from the part where you like pattern the most!
Step 2: Take your roasting tray/tub and fill it with about 1.5- 2 inches of bottled water, you don’t need any more than this really. Choose the colours you’re going to use, making sure that they’re all still quite runny. I personally think this design looks nicest when the colours tone in with each other and blend together, which is why I’ve used mostly pinks/reds and then just one dark colour, a grey. As with the starburst design, it’s important to have the colours to hand before you start.
Step 3: There’s no real method to the pattern for this one- it’s about being creative and seeing how it turns out! Simply start adding drops of the different colours from no higher than a few inches from the water’s surface. To create the swirls, use a cocktail stick to drag the colours in a circle until you start to get some lovely colour mixes and patterns! Remember to work quite quickly to stop the polish from starting to dry!
Step 4: Once you’re happy, lower the card flat onto the surface of the water and push downwards, making sure that the card is covered evenly by the water all over.
Step 5: Using your fingertips, lift the card out by the edges, and leave it somewhere warm to dry. Once dry, use your phone cover stencil to decide which part of the pattern you’d like to see in the case. Use the stencil to cut out the shape of the cover, and the small scissors to carefully cut out the camera hole shape. Add it to your clear phone case, and there’s your storm-like marbled design!

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How to make the galaxy effect phone case

Step 1: This design needs a black background, so either use some black card like I have here, or use black nail polish to completely cover a piece of white card slightly larger than the size of your phone cover and leave to try before taking the next step.
Step 2: Choose your colours. To get this effect, I used a very dark glittery navy, a purple, a dark green, and a silvery purple. Once you’ve picked your space-y colour scheme, use a sponge to start dabbing the colours onto the card in rough patches- no neat circles or shapes!

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Step 3: Keep building up the colours, letting them overlap with each other until you start to get that galaxy effect, as shown below. Remember to vary the size of the patches of colour you’re dabbing, so that it doesn’t look too uniform! Once you’re happy, leave it to dry somewhere warm.

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Step 4: Once dry, use your metallic pen to make little stars. For smaller stars, you can just do a dot, and for larger ones, try starting with a cross shape and then filling in the gaps with a few extra star points. Once you’ve got a few larger stars and lots of smaller ones, you should have a space-y looking pattern! When you’re happy, use the stencil to cut out the shape of the cover, and the small scissors to carefully cut out the camera hole shape. Add it to your clear phone case, and you’ll have a new phone which looks out of this world! (heh.)

How to make the ombre effect phone case

Tip: Just like with the two marbled designs, this ombre design is made using similar steps as the striped flower-print design above. Give both of them a try by using different colours and adding tape to one- voila! The repeated steps are copied and pasted below to save you going back to the striped flower-print how-to above.
Step 1: Start by selecting two nail polish colours which are similar in tone- one should be a few shades darker than the other. Once you’ve got the colours, take the lighter of the two and use some sponge to start dabbing it onto a piece of card slightly bigger than your phone cover will be. Keep building up the colour until it gets to a shade you’re happy with and covers about 2/3 of the length of the phone cover size.
Step 2: Taking a new piece of sponge with the darker colour on it, gently dab it onto the card, overlapping the lighter colour so that they blend into each other as much as possible. Tip- don’t make the border between the two colours a straight line, you want it to look as if one is fading into the other, so don’t be afraid to dab a bit above and below where the lighter colour stops! Keep dabbing the darker colour down towards the bottom of the phone cover shape, adding more polish towards the bottom to give it a darker hue.
Step 3: Once you’ve got your ombre looking design, use the stencil to cut out the shape of your phone cover. Use the little scissors to help you cut out the camera shape. Once you’ve done that, insert it into your clear phone cover and hey presto!

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I’ve been rocking the swirled marble design on my phone for the past few days and I’m loving it… think I might swap it for the galaxy one next! Have you got any other ideas for decorating your phone, or a new way of using these techniques? Let me know in the comments!
You can follow Miss Makealot to keep up to date with new posts by entering your email address to the left, or follow me on Twitter @talabyrne. Next post coming up is a recipe and method for rolo cookies…. stay tuned!

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Homemade oven baked crisps with chilli hummus

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I’ve always been a bit intrigued by the idea of making my own crisps. I thought it was a little bit of a myth, like occasionally someone would say ‘you can make your own’ and I’d be like ‘pfft,’ assuming that to do it you’d need to have a deep fat fryer. I love crisps, but I wanted to figure out a way to make them a little healthier than the ones you’d buy in the shop which are- usually- fried. To my pleasant surprise, a 5 minute Google left me with a bunch of ideas and tips on how to go about it!
After a couple of tries, I’ve come up with a method which works and is pretty easy to do. I’ve made a couple of different varieties- the crisps in this post are salt & pepper flavoured and paprika flavoured, along with a chilli hummus for dippingbut you can really experiment with these and use almost anything. Try re-creating your favourite crisp flavours and see how they turn out! These would be especially great as simple party snacks, or even something to have on the table if you’ve got family/friends coming over for dinner to nibble on. Or just for you on the sofa in front of the latest episode of [insert name of important TV show,] no judgement!

 

For the  homemade crisps, you will need…

  • A large bowl or tub
  • Large baking trays (the more the better, so that you can bake more than one tray at once.)
  • Baking paper or greaseproof paper to line the trays
  • Either a mandolin slicer or a food processor which has a special attachment for slicing things thinly… I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to make the crisp shapes using just a knife- you’ll be there an AGE.
  • Potatoes- I’ve used maris piper potatoes for this. How many you use will depend on how many crisps you want to make- one medium to large potato makes the equivalent to an individual packet of crisps (30g.) I wanted to make enough crisps to share so I’ve used 4 large potatoes, 2 of which were made into salt & pepper crisps and the other 2 into paprika crisps.
  • Optional- low- cal spray olive oil, such as the Fry Light one I used. You can get this in your local supermarket, and it just makes the crisps a little more golden.
  • Flavouring or seasoning for your crisps- in my case that’s sea salt, pepper and paprika, but I would encourage you to rummage through your kitchen and spice cupboards to see what you could use here!

 

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For the hummus you will need… 

(NB: this makes a small bowl’s worth of hummus, if you want more or less just multiply or divide the ingredients)
  • A food processor or blender of some kind
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas in water
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 5-6 tbsp lemon juice- it doesn’t need to be fresh from a lemon, bottled lemon juice like I’ve used will be totally fine!
  • Flavouring- as I’ve gone for a chilli hummus, I’ve used 2 tbsp of the paprika also used in the crisps, 1 clove garlic (or 1 tsb garlic paste,) and 2/3 a large red chilli.

 

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How to make the homemade oven baked crisps…

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to around 120 degrees. Scrub the potatoes to make sure they’re clean. Using your mandolin or food processor attachment, carefully cut the potatoes into very thin slices about 1-2mm thick (as shown below.)

 

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Step 2: Spread the slices in the large bowl and add enough water to just cover the surface of the slices. (NB: If you wanted to make salt  & vinegar flavoured crisps, you could replace some of the water with vinegar here!) Leave the slices to soak in the water for around 30 minutes.

 

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Step 3: Cover the surface of your baking trays with greaseproof paper. Once your slices have finished soaking, drain them and then gently dab the extra moisture from them using kitchen towels or something similar. This part is REALLY important- if the slices are too wet when they go in the oven they won’t get nice and crispy. Spread the slices out evenly on your baking trays and season with your chosen flavouring- I had one tray of salt & pepper and another tray of paprika baking at a time. Add a few spritzes of the low cal oil if you’re using it.

 

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Step 4: Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes. You need to keep an eye on these- I found that the crisps cooking times varied quite a lot for the crisps baking in the top and middle shelves of my oven. To combat this, I swapped the shelves every 15 minutes to make sure the crisps were browning evenly.

 

Step 5: Once golden-brown and crispy, remove them from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Voila! Mmmm, delicious!

 

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How to make the chilli hummus….

Step 1: Open the can of chickpeas and drain them off- I find that they taste much nicer in fresh water than if you just shove them in the blender with the water from the can! Then in the following order, put the chickpeas, water, sesame seeds, oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika and chilli into your blender or food processor.

 

Step 2: Blitz the mixture at a high speed until smooth. Use a teaspoon to taste it, and add more flavouring if you need to. I usually like to season the hummus with salt and pepper as well and then blitz it again for another few seconds. Now your hummus is ready too… serve it with the crisps and you’re good to go!

 

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So there you have it! Once you get the crisps right they are so quick and easy to make, and are a lot more impressive if you have people coming over than just opening a bag of Kettle Chips and a tub of hummus! If you have a go at these and come up with some interesting flavours, let me know in the comments- the possibilities are endless!
You can follow Miss Makealot to keep up to date with new posts by entering your email address to the left, or follow me on Twitter @talabyrne. For my next post I’m hoping to make some refreshing face masks… don’t miss it!

Simple braided scarf tutorials- an embellished boho scarf and a cowl neck snood

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Every year, I buy a bunch of new clothes in the January sales. This unfortunately means that I have to part with some old clothes to make room (crying bitterly as I do.) Sometimes when you’re clearing out clothes you come across something which has got a hole or a stain somewhere, and can’t really be given to your local charity shop.
So what do you do with these clothes? Well, I’ve got an idea: give them a new lease of life as a simple to make yet stylish scarf!
This will also cost you very little- a great idea if you’re strapped for cash at the moment but fancy a new accessory! I’ve gone for two quite different styles…. one embellished boho style scarf and one cowl neck snood. Depending on what your personal preference and style is, you might want to try making just one of these or adapting one of them slightly to suit your taste- this is a tutorial which allows you to play around with the fabric and be creative in your decorations and colours!

You will need…

  • Material- Jersey or cotton works best as it’s comfy, drapes nicely, and won’t fray at the edges once you’ve cut it. Bear in mind that the size of material you use will depend on how you want the scarf to look- try measuring it around your neck to make sure you’re happy before you start making the scarf. For the scarves I made, here are the measurements I used:

 - Cowl neck snood scarf in red and navy blue: 50X15 inches red material, 65X15 inches in the blue material.

  –  Embellished boho scarf in green and flower pattern: 45X20 inches green material (plus an extra 10X5  inch piece and 60X 15 inches in the flower patterned material)
  • Scissors- fabric scissors are best, but good kitchen scissors will also do
  • Tape measure
  • Needle + thread 
  • Pins or safety pins
  • Fabric adhesive- I’ve used UHU creative because it dries clear and will survive a washing machine, but there are lots of fabric glues and iron-on adhesives which you can get online, in craft shops or even large supermarkets. If you have a sewing machine (or are patient enough to stitch it all by hand) this is another option!
  • Decorations- if you want to keep the recycled vibe going, broken jewellery is great for decorating your scarf. I’ve used a snapped chain, and I’ve also picked up a few charms from my local craft shop (these are really cheap at about 30p each!)

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1. How to make the embellished boho scarf…

Step 1Use the scissors to cut along the seams of the material you’re using as the base of your scarf, to give yourself the largest starting area of material you can. The green material I used was a long sleeved t- shirt, so I cut off the sleeves and then down the sides to make two large bits of material (the front and back of the t-shirt.) If one of the bits of material isn’t long enough (mine wasn’t!) use the fabric adhesive to attach the pieces together as shown here. Don’t worry if the material isn’t the perfect rectangle!
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Step 2: Use a mirror to drape the material all the way around your neck and adjust it at the front until you get a length and style you’re happy with (remember it needs to be loose enough to get back over your head easily!) Once you’re happy, use a few pins or safety pins to attach the free end to the rest of the material so that it forms a large circle. Take the scarf off, and glue the fabric together along the line of pins you just made, removing them carefully as you go.
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Step 3: Cut along the seams of the second material you’ll be using as you did in Step 1. Once you have a large rectangle of material, cut it into strips. The width of the strips will depend on how thick you want the braids to look- the thicker your strips, the thicker the braids. Tie 3 strips together at the top and braid them, securing the other end with a knot. Try the braid around your neck to check the length, then cut a second set of strips 5-10 inches shorter than the first set- this will give you the tiered look in the final scarf. If you don’t want to braid the strips of material (or if you don’t have enough material left over to braid) you could also just measure the length you want and then loosely twist it to create a more casual look. In my boho scarf, I have one rope braided and one twisted.

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Step 4: Arrange the braids on top of your scarf base, lining up the knots at the ends with where you’d like the back of the scarf to be. Make sure you’re happy with the length of the different ropes- try it on again in the mirror if you’re not sure. Once you’re satisfied, tie the ends of the braided/twisted ropes together to make circular loops.

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Step 5:  Take the extra rectangular strip of material and use it to tie the braided ropes and the base of the scarf together at the back. Don’t tie it too tight- you might mess up the way you’ve arranged the material! Once you’ve tied it together, adjust the material so that the knots are facing the inside and covered.

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Step 6Decorate the scarf! This is the fun part of the final boho look. Arrange the decorations on the scarf where you’d like them to sit, then use the needle and thread to attach them one by one with a few small stitches. The charms I used for this scarf had little loops at the top which made it easy to stitch them on- if you’re using broken jewellery, pendants and earrings should have similar loops which you can use to attach them to the fabric. Once all your decorations are secured, you’re done!

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2. How to make the cowl neck snood scarf…

Step 1The first step is the same as with the embellished boho scarf (see Step 1 above.) You’ll want to open out both the colours of material you’re using to make two large rectangle-ish shapes (again, don’t worry if it’s not exact!)
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Step 2Fold each of your rectangles in half along the longest side. Once you’ve done this, arrange both pieces of material in a U-shape, with one colour overlapping the other. The colour which sits on the top (in my case, the red) will be the colour which makes the braided knot part in the final scarf, so if you have a preference on which colour this is, choose now!
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Step 3Taking one side of the top colour material at a time (red for me,)  tuck the end underneath the second colour into the middle of the U, and wrap it round loosely twice as shown below. Do the same on the other side, then adjust the loops so that you have gaps with the second colour showing through.

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Step 4Take the loose ends of the material you have just made loops with and gently pull them downwards so that the loops tighten to make a braided knot. You don’t want this too tight- adjust the material a bit until you’re happy with how the knotted part looks.

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Step 5: Starting at one end, find the inside edge of the material and use the fabric adhesive to carefully glue the two inside edges together. Do the same at the other end of the scarf with the second colour.

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Step 6Before you attach the two colours together at the ends, check the length of the scarf around your neck in the mirror. I wanted mine to be able to double up around my neck so I left the scarf as long as possible, but if you’d like it to be a bit shorter, trim the ends to the length you want if necessary. Once you’ve done this, use the fabric adhesive to attach the two colours together to form your snood shape.

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Step 7Decorate the scarf! I’ve used a broken chain necklace and woven it around the braided part of the scarf, then stitched it to the material at the ends with a needle and thread to secure it in place. And there you have it- a second great looking scarf!

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If you liked this tutorial, or tried something different with your scarves and want to show off your creativity, tell me about it in the comments! To keep up with future posts, follow Miss Makealot via email (there’s a link on the left there!) or @talabyrne on Twitter.

Make your own luxurious bath bombs

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January is dragging on. It’s cold, it’s miserable, you’ve got no money after spending way too much over Christmas and New Year, and you’re suffering from back to work syndrome.
You know what you need? A nice, luxurious bath with some calming scents! No pennies to head on down to Lush or the Body Shop and buy a bunch of cool bath products? No problem- you can make your own! There are a lot of recipes for these floating around the internet, so I’ve taken elements of lots of them to make a simple ingredients list, most of which you’ve probably got lying around at home!
The quantities below gave me enough mixture to make 5 palm-sized bath bombs and 9 ice cubes worth. If you want to make more to use as gifts etc, you can adjust the quantities!

You will need…

  • A large mixing bowl
  • A wooden spoon
  • A spray bottle for water (any kind of spray bottle is fine, I used an empty bottle of hair product.)
  • Moulds in the shape you’d like your bath bombs to be. Get creative with this part! I made small ones using a star-shaped ice cube tray, and larger ones using some flower-shaped muffin moulds. Anything which bends a little/is made from something like silicone makes a great mould as it’s easier to get the bath bombs out without breaking them! If you don’t have anything like that, you can buy bath bomb moulds really cheaply from craft stores and sites like Amazon.
  • 450g baking powder
  • 160g bicarbonate of soda
  • Food colouring in the shade of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons baby oil (if you don’t have this, you can substitute it for an extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil)
  • Essential oil in whichever scent you like (these are the best things to use as they have relaxing properties, you can get them in Boots or the Body Shop for £4 each. You could also use something like incense oil, aromatherapy oil, perfume oil, or even a few drops of vanilla extract!)
  • Water in a spray bottle
  • (Optional) a few flower petals/dried flowers e.g lavendar or pot pourri

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How to make your bath bombs…

Step 1: Mix the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, olive oil, baby oil and essential oil (or whatever scent you’re using.) Just get it all in there together!
Step 2: Start adding food colouring about a tablespoon at a time until you get a colour that you’re happy with. WARNING- this part takes ages. The colouring will form little droplets in the bowl because of some science-y thing about the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda…. I don’t know, I just know that you need a bit of elbow grease for this part. Don’t be afraid to keep adding in colouring if it’s not building up, you’ll use quite a bit more than you would for cakes!
Step 3: If you’re using flowers of any kind, now is the time to prepare them. Think about how this will feel in the bath- if you’re using pot pourri like I did, be sure to pick petals which are soft and which you can break up into small flakes… I whizzed mine in a mini blender for like 30 seconds. Job done. Something like lavendar is really good because it tends to be quite fine and small anyway, it’ll look and smell nice in the bathwater without jabbing you in the bum. Once you’ve prepared the flowers, add them to the bowl and mix in.
Step 4: Using the spray bottle and giving it about 3-4 sprays at a time, start adding water. It might sizzle a bit as the bicarbonate of soda reacts (ooh, excitement.) Keep mixing as you add the water and it should start to feel less powdery and a bit more like slightly damp sand. Check the consistency of the mixture at regular intervals between spraying- when you can indent the spoon into the mixture and lift it out to leave a spoon ‘shape’ without the mixture crumbling into it too much then it’s ready. It should look something like this:

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Step 5: Transfer the mixture into your moulds, pressing down hard until the surface feels solid. Leave them to dry for 1-2 days, somewhere cool and away from moisture (NOT the fridge or freezer guys.)

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Step 6: Gently remove them from the moulds- yay, you’re done! If they crack or break apart, you didn’t add enough water. No matter, crumble the mixture back into the bowl and spray with water, then you can have another go!
The ability to do this a few times until you get it right through trial and error is what’s great about making bath bombs- it’s a good thing to make if you’re not usually that crafty! You can then enjoy them yourself, or bundle them up in some tissue paper to make nice gifts. Lol jk, we all know you’re going to keep them all to yourself. No judgement.

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5 easy Christmas wrapping tips!

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It’s getting to the stage where everyone is getting The Fear about Christmas presents. Either you haven’t got them yet, you’re waiting for them to arrive in the post, or you are sobbing as you sit amongst a giant pile of presents that you can’t face wrapping.
Everyone knows that person who sucks at wrapping Christmas presents (you know, the one who uses newspaper and masking tape,) and we all love to endlessly mock their terrible wrapping efforts.
IS THAT YOU?!
If so, fear not! Below are some of my favourite Christmas wrapping tips here to save the day. You can totally impress everyone you know with some beautifully wrapped presents. Or at the very least, convince them that you hired someone to wrap them all for you.
Let’s start simple.

Tip #1- How to do the corners on your gifts

Step 1: Get to the stage in the wrapping process where you’re about to do the corners, as shown in the image below. If you can’t even get to this stage, I’m not sure I can help you. Check how much spare paper is sticking out at either side of the present- it should be as even as possible so that the object is in the middle of the paper.
Step 2: Use your thumb to gently push the top left hand corner of the paper downwards until it lines up with the bottom of the object, carefully following the natural crease which should happen when you do this along the left side of the paper. The left side of the paper should now look like a triangle with one sloped edge.
Step 3: Now take the bottom left corner (the pointy part of the triangle) and bring it inwards towards the object until the paper forms a neat diagonal line from the corner of the gift to the edge of the paper.
Step 4: Repeat this on the other side. Once you’ve done that, carefully fold that whole section of the paper up and use clear tape to secure it. Done! Great corners.
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Tip #2- How to do snowflake gift decorations

I used to love making paper snowflakes in school, so I was instantly excited at the prospect of using them to decorate Christmas presents. Finally, I have an excuse to make them again!
Step 1: Start with a paper snowflake. If you’ve forgotten how to make them from school, this is a pretty good how-to video.
Step 2: Decide where you want it on your gift- I’ve decided to put mine overlapping the corner, but if you’re wrapping something which is smaller and more square than the one I was doing, it can look really nice on the top of the gift placed in the middle. If you’re putting any part of the snowflake over the edges, carefully stick these bits down to the sides with clear tape, holding the snowflake in place with your other hand.
Step 3: Once you’ve got the edges sorted out, use a few small bits of tape to secure the snowflake at the top of the present (using small bits of tape makes it look better as they aren’t as noticeable.) There you go, you’re ready to put ribbon and gift tags on now!
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Tip #3- How to do curly ribbon

Everyone likes a bit of curly ribbon, especially on Christmas presents- it makes them look a bit more festive. A lot of people don’t know how to do it, but it’s REALLY easy.
Step 1: Make sure that when you’re wrapping the ribbon around the gift, you don’t cut the ribbon until afterwards- you need a fair bit of excess ribbon to curl. Start off with the ribbon tied in a tight knot. Open out a pair of scissors as shown below (the danger only adds to the excitement) and place the non-shiny side of the ribbon against the blade, as close to the knot in the middle as you can.
Step 2: Place your thumb over the ribbon so that you’re holding it in place on the blade of the scissors. Using your other hand to hold the ribbon in place by pressing down on the knot, slowly slide the scissors along the length of the ribbon right to the end. On TV I often see people doing this really quickly, but in my experience you get a better curl in the ribbon if you do it slowly (and less chance of cutting yourself.)
Step 3: The ribbon should now be sitting in a tight spiral. Use your fingers to pull it out a few times and loosen it off until you’re happy with how it looks.
Step 4: Voila! I’ve added an extra few bits of ribbon to mine below because it was quite a big present. If you want to do that, you can just tie an extra bit around the knot and repeat steps 2 and 3.

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tip #4- How to make your gift tags cooler

I quite like those metallic gift tags that seem to come with like, EVERY wrapping paper from a supermarket. Usually I buy them in silver or gold, to match my curly ribbons (ha ha.)
What’s really good about them is that they are really easy to draw on/decorate- drawing the initial of the person who the gift is for on the front of the tag makes it look a bit more personalised and doesn’t require much drawing skill. If you are skilled at drawing, by all means go nuts and sketch yourself a whole miniature nativity scene- I’ll certainly be impressed by that.
Step 1: Select your tool. try not to use pens or pencils, as the ink will colour the label and ruin the engraving effect. For this one I used the head of a pin, but toothpicks or skewers are another good thing to use.
Step 2: Draw your design, being careful not to go through the label by pressing too hard. And there you have it!

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Tip #5- How to do cracker-shaped wrapping (sort of) 

This is definitely my favourite. Any time I ever buy a present which is even REMOTELY cylinder shaped, this is my go-to. It’s particularly good for making gifts which are really obvious-wine bottles and so on- look a bit more interesting and mysterious (until they pick it up, at which point they’ll totally know its a wine bottle.)
Step 1: Wrap the paper around the length of the gift as you normally would and secure with tape. Now, if you want the present to lie on its side and look like a real cracker with tail bits at both end, skip to step 2. If you want it to sit upright like mine, carefully fold the paper at one end until its flat against the object and secure with tape.
Step 2: Gently pinch the sides of the paper at the point where the loose paper starts (if you were doing this on a bottle, you’d do it where the neck of the bottle begins.) Use small bits of tape to secure the paper in the pinched position.
Step 3: Use scissors to cut small triangles around the edge of the extra paper. It’s up to you how big you want the triangles to be- if you want it to look more like a Christmas cracker I’d use bigger triangles, but if you want it to look a bit more frayed like mine below, small and thin triangles work best.
Step 4: Use your new-found expertise in ribbon curling and gift tag decorating to jazz it up a bit- if you were making it into a cracker shape you could tie ribbon at either end, or if it’s a bottle then a ribbon or piece of twine around the bottleneck creates a nice effect. They’ll NEVER know what it is now!
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Enjoy! And remember, wrapping Christmas presents is totally a lost art!
Merry Christmas all :)