Saturday, 28 April 2012

Love Letter #3

It's time for another collection of my current obsessions, hope you enjoy!

SO I saw The Avengers yesterday and it was fantastic, in my head it basically looked like this drawing by Scott Campbell except with more Loki being sassy and then getting beaten up.

These are the most adorable business cards, I love the colours and the shape, as well the cute motto!

I loved this featured home on Design*Sponge, it has the perfect combination of midcentury and contemporary design.  I especially like the sconces and that orange chair!

The modern retro theme continues with this pretty atomic-style poster for The Shins, designed by Benjamin Garner.

These are my absolute favourite Modcloth dresses right now.  The first two would be super cute for a summer prom and the third one reminds me of picnics in the park, I can't wait till it's warm enough to wear dresses like this without a jacket and tights!

I'm currently reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and I'm pretty obsessed, despite the fact I know that every character I love is probably destined to be killed off... However, looking at this adorable picture of Arya and Nymeria by Eva Eskelinen helps me to momentarily remember that some nice things happen in the books too!

Continuing last week's tradition of ending with a picture of an attractive man doing something ridiculous, I give you this picture of Benedict Cumberbatch with a sheep.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend, I'm excited for boot sale Sunday tomorrow!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Avengers Party

My boyfriend Tetley is a big Marvel Comics fan, so in celebration of the new Avengers movie, we decided to host an Avengers movie viewing party.  We watched all the films that lead up to The Avengers in the order they were released, and our friends could pop in and out depending on what movies they wanted to watch.

I decided to create some themed snacks for the occasion, and the obvious choice in this area seemed to be Captain America-themed cupcakes.  I'm sharing the recipe here in case you want to have an Avengers movie night of your own, they would also be great for children's parties!

My recipe was adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's recipe for chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes, although I replaced the hazelnut topping with little Captain America shields.

The ingredients you'll need are
  • 100g plain flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 40g butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 packet of fondant
  • Red and blue food colouring.
The recipe, like most of my baking, is pretty simple, it's the decoration that's the tricky part!  To make the cakes, simply beat together the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and cocoa powder until they reach a sandy consistency.  Then slowly add the milk and then the egg, beating constantly until everything is combined.  Spoon into paper cases and bake for 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 170 degrees.  The recipe makes 12 cakes, but I decided that we should probably have a few more to last us through 10 hours of movies (is it obvious we're students yet?) so I doubled the quantities.

Here are the cakes fresh out of the oven.  I'm very proud with how even they turned out, normally I'm a bit more slapdash with putting the cake batter into the cases meaning that my cakes are rarely this uniform!

For the shields, I measured the width of the top of one of the cakes and used a compass to draw a circle template on card.  I measured out smaller circles for the inner rings, as well as a star shape for the centre, and cut them all out.  Then, I rolled out the fondant and cut around my circle and star stencils with a sharp knife.  This would be a far quicker process with cookie cutters if you have any the right size, if not, investing in some may be wise as trying to cut out 24 tiny stars by hand requires a lot more patience than I possess!

For totally authentic Cap shields, you'll need to dye some of your fondant red for the first and third rings, keep some white for the second ring and the star, and dye a small amount blue for your central circle.

All 24 of the cakes were eaten, so I'm calling this recipe a success!  They were sadly quite significantly more popular than Tetley's 'Hulk cookies,' that tasted ominously like soap and looked like this:

Eating a whole one of these was like the initiation process for the party, not many people managed it!  Also note Ruaridh's 'Hulk drink' - delicious!

I will leave you with a terrifying picture of Tetley dying some cookies red, probably don't look at this if you're not a fan of gory stuff:

Just casually holding a bleeding heart.

We're off to see the actual Avengers movie this afternoon and I'm so excited, I'm hoping for lots of bromance and many dapper Loki scenes!


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Thrifted Finds: Deer Collection

As all my friends and probably anyone who follows me on Facebook could tell you, I really love owls, so much so that my friend Bradley often refers to me as a 'crazy owl lady' (not quite sure how I feel about that...) and threatens to get me a real live owl for my birthday (yes please!)

However, while I enjoy adding to my collection of owl-related memorabilia, I have a few other more accidental collections that I also love.  I'm going to share my deer collection with you today, and while it's not as impressive as some I've seen on other blogs such as this insane collection from Kaylah of The Dainty Squid, I always enjoy looking out for new members for my little deer family.

These were the first deer I ever bought, years and years ago at an antiques street fair in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh.  This was way back before I knew anything whatsoever about vintage items, but my sister Mairi persuaded me that they were a good purchase - thanks Mairi!  The deer are promotional items for the very 60s drink Babycham. Babycham was the only alcohol I was ever allowed as a child and drinking it made me feel like quite the badass which in retrospect is really embarassing!

I bought this ceramic cutie at a boot sale last year for only 50p!  I'm not sure if he has a brand but my Mum collects green ceramic animals so I'm pretty fond of them, also I love his big ears!

This teeny little Bambi came home with me from the same bootsale as the green deer.  He's part of the Disney collectibles range from Wade Whimsies.  The seller had lots of others, including Peg from Lady and the Tramp who I really wanted to buy, but Bambi was a pound while the others were around the £20 mark which is a bit out of my price range!

This tiny glass deer (who was impossible to get a decent photo of - I tried!) was a gift from Ruaridh, I think he found it in a charity shop in St. Andrews.

I can't even look at this guy without laughing, he just looks so worried!  I found him being concerned for his wellbeing in amongst a box of vintage Christmas baubles at a boot sale.  He was meant to go away with the rest of my Christmas decorations, but I felt that that would be too heartless so he's still sitting on top of my drawers (I should probably stop giving so much personality to inanimate objects...)

This is my most recent deer-related acquisition, it's part of the Hornsea Pottery range called 'Fauna Royal,' featuring cute animal planters.  I'm not sure if I should actually attempt to put a plant in here as there's no hole in the bottom, might use it for holding pens instead!

Finally, it's not vintage but I couldn't resist adding my toothbrush deer from Modcloth, the perfect bathroom accessory!

Do you have any collections of things you love?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Craft Project: Cheap Vintage Wallart

As you may already have gathered, I love to fill my home with pretty vintage things, and I am constantly looking out for ways to do this on a student budget.  The picture display on my living room wall (which I will probably share on here soon) is one of my proudest thifting achievements, being made up of 15 separate pieces of art which collectively cost about £10 - thanks, car boot sales!

At the boot sale last weekend, this colourful little book caught my eye:

Sadly, when I opened it up, I found a few of the pages had come loose and some were missing, but the pictures inside were so cute that I decided to give them a new lease of life.  If you're looking for a super cheap and easy way to get some original wallart, this is the perfect solution - just have a look around boot sales or charity shops for some cheap frames and a book with pictures that you love.

To create your fancy vintage art, first remove the pages from the book by cutting along the spine with a craft knife and then carefully separating the individual pages.  As a booklover, this did feel like a bit of a criminal act, but reminding myself that the book was falling to bits anyway made it a bit easier to cope with!

Here are some of the pages I didn't use, I'm going to save them for future projects.  I looked the book up online and discovered it was part of a rare 1970s range of Ladybird books designed for children from an Afro-Caribbean background.  I love all the vibrant colours and tropical animals in the pictures, it's much more exciting than the Ladybird books I had as a child with pictures of cats and dogs!  It was difficult to choose between them all, but I eventually settled on three images to use:

These pretty colourful birds...

These children being happy about glass bottles of Coke...

...and these lovely retro Fanta bottles.

My frames looked a bit dull so I decided to paint them orange.  I also backed the pictures with coloured card as they were slightly too small for the frames, if you decide to do this most frames come with a piece of paper inside that you can use as a template, or you could measure the inside of the frame and make your own.

Here are my completed pictures, I'm very happy with how they turned out!

It was difficult to get a good picture as it's been raining non-stop here in Dundee for the past few days meaning that natural light is pretty much non-existent...  I'll be sure to take another picture once they are hung on the walls though.  I'm thinking of using some of the leftover pictures to make a series of pictures for my baby niece Lottie, they would look great in her 70s style bedroom!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Love Letter #2

Hey guys, it's time for this week's wrap-up of awesome things from the internet!

I've always felt that pinterest can be a bit generic, with everyone seeming to pin the same stuff...  Till I discovered Kevin and Robin's account, The Atomic House.  I could probably spend days browsing though all their pretty things, but my favourite board is probably the Retro Futurism themed one which features delights like this awesome monorail!

This gorgeous midcentury dressing table is another one of the Atomic House's offerings, mmmmmm :)

In other exciting news, Doctor Who has started filming again!  It's been fun to see everyone from the US going crazy on Tumblr over Matt, Karen and Arthur being in New York. (Also, can we all have a moment of appreciation for Karen Gillan's jumper in this picture - want!)

I can't handle Orla Kiely's new SS12 line, everything is just too pretty!  My favourite pieces are tied between these three dresses though, now I just need a spare few hundred pounds...

Obviously I can't talk about pretty dresses without finding some fun accessories to match, and Frozen Peas' jewellery range is just my style, look at this leather horse!

Returning to Tumblr finds, I was possibly far too excited by this coin - it has a dinosaur plus it GLOWS IN THE DARK!  Canada is clearly the coolest place to live.

My favourite find of the week is probably this battery-powered DeLorean, found via I'm Remembering.  I'm sure my childhood (and adulthood, I'm not going to lie!) would have been significantly more badass if I'd been able to get my hands on this, wow.

Finally, what note could be better to end on than this picture of Andrew Garfield looking angry on a carousel!

I just realised that there has been quite the geeky theme running throughout most of this post, sorry about that!  Next week I'll try to have some more awesome vintage finds to display.  Until next time,


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fabulous M and Ms Cake

Every Monday, my friends and I have our weekly movie night to try and brighten up the stereotypical 'worst day of the week.'  This Monday was a little different though, as we decided to hold a surprise party for our friend Lizzie who turned 22 last week.  I was in charge of making the cake, which was a little daunting as I'm quite out of practise with my baking, but it turned out surprisingly well!  It was maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing cake in the world, but it was certainly very tasty...

The cake was a simple Victoria sponge with chocolate frosting, I used M and Ms as decoration as they're Lizzie's favourite sweets, but any other sweets could be used instead - it's probably the easiest way to make a cake that's personalised to a friend's tastes!

I took the sponge recipe from a book I got for Christmas called The Baking Bible, I think the recipe was designed for a less wide cake tin than my giant one though as the cake didn't turn out as thick as i'd hoped.  Might have to invest in some smaller cake tins for next time!

The ingredients you will need are:
  • 175g unsalted butter at room temperature (microwave it for about 5 seconds if you forgot to take it out of the fridge beforehand)
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
 For the frosting, I used my old favourite recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (which I would highly recommend, everything I've made from this book has been delicious).  You'll need:
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 40 ml whole milk
The recipe is pretty simple to follow: to make the sponge, firstly cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, mixing in thoroughly each time, and then fold in the flour and vanilla extract.  To fit the M and Ms theme, I decided to colour the layers of the cake in red and yellow, so I divided the mixture between two bowls and added food dye.  My friend Laura did something like this for my birthday last year but with an awesome 6-layer rainbow cake, you should check out her blog!

Bake the cakes in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If you gently press the cake and it springs back, it's done!  While the cakes cool, make the frosting by combining the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder until they form a smooth mixture, and then add the milk a little at a time, mixing constantly.  The only bad part about the Hummingbird cookbook is that all the recipes say things like 'mix for 10 minutes in your freestanding electric mixer,' which is sadly a kitchen gadget that is beyond my budget right now, meaning that mixing can be quite an effort, especially with my zero upper-body strength...  However, with my boyfriend Tetley acting as mixing assistant, we got there eventually - don't give up!

Finally, frost the cake, covering the first layer of cake entirely and then placing the second layer on top and doing the same.  Decorate with your sweets.  (Using M and Ms here made me realise just how rare the red M and Ms are, I had to open two big packets and I still only had just enough for my pattern!)

Have a very staged-looking photo of Lizzie cutting her cake while Tetley is a creep in the background!  These last two photos were taken at night so I apologise for the poor-quality flash photography.

One last picture of the cake's red and yellow interior.  Apart from the thinness which could be fixed by using a smaller cake tin, I'm pretty pleased by how this turned out! I'll definitely give this recipe another go and try it out with different frostings and sweets.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Thrifted Finds: The Fabulous Dundee Bag

I love hunting for quirky, unique objects in charity shops and at boot sales, and I am always amazed by the awesome stuff people throw away.  When I find a fantastic kitschy ornament or a beautiful vintage dress for a couple of pounds, I get probably way too excited and I want to share my find with everyone I know, which is where this series of posts comes in!

To celebrate boot sale season starting up again, the first item I want to feature is possibly my favourite boot sale score, my Dundee bag.  Last summer, all the shops seemed to be selling tooled leather satchels that were far beyond my pathetic student budget, so I was pretty excited to see this pretty flowery bag on one of the stalls.

About 80% of my clothes have flowers on, so it seemed like me and this bag were meant to be.  However, it was only when I looked at the other side that I fell in love:

I adore objects that have a story behind them, but this one was possibly the best yet - what seemed to be an ordinary bag from the front had a crazy and inexplicable postcard-style scene on the back! (and more massive flowers, obviously, just in case the Dundee scene wasn't quite interesting enough on its own..)  I wonder where these bags were originally sold?

Here is a close-up of the Dundee scene.  The best part is that EVERY promotional picture of Dundee uses the more famous and aesthetically pleasing rail bridge, whereas on this bag someone out there obviously thought that that was just too mainstream and that the ugly road bridge would make for a much better handbag design...  The woman who I bought it from (for only £1.50!) was not very subtly judging me, but she was clearly just not cool enough to appreciate the tacky awesomeness!

I can't talk about the Dundee bag without including me and my friend Paul Hardie's dramatic 'promotional image', in which I look ridiculously intense...  Paul's response on facebook was 'it's even got flooers oan the actual bag bit' - the greatest seal of approval!


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Love Letter

On other people's blogs, I enjoy reading 'Things I love this week' posts, and I would love to make this a regular feature here on Dinosaur Circus.  So without further ado, here's my first roundup of awesome things!

I love Danielle of Thompson Family Life's series of posts about Vintage children's books, but this 1960s circus book has to be the best yet, look at these acrobats!

The 60s theme continues with this dreamy kitchen...

My style and tastes probably change too often for me to seriously consider getting a tattoo, but I love how subtle this beautiful white lace tattoo is.

this cute guy appeals to my inner English student!

i am a food blog is one of the best food blogs I've seen in a while, combining delicious-looking recipes and fancy design!

This tshirt on Tumblr made me laugh... not sure those are completely official pokemon...

Last of all, I've currently been obsessing over my discovery that Tove Jansson of Moomins fame illustrated the Swedish edition of The Hobbit.  Her drawings are so stylish and beautiful (or terrifying, regarding her depiction of Gollum), follow the link to take a look!

What are you loving this week?