Tag Archives: gifts

Christmas doesn’t have to end yet- Chocolate bark

So I couldn’t fit this post in before Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy chocolate any time of year (amiright?). Obviously. I made these for colleagues for Christmas- my boss can only enjoy Gluten Free goodies and it’s easier to make something that’s gluten free for everybody. Last year I made fudge.

This was surprisingly easy to make. I got a bit nervous about working with chocolate, but it was not difficult at all. I found that a glass bowl helped (I bought one for the occasion but have been meaning to for years). If you want this to be GOOD, use the best possible chocolate you can afford. I used some cheaper white and dark chocolate, and thought it shows. The milk chocolate was divine and make the almond bark great.

It really is simple: Melt chocolate, spread into a pan lined with baking/grease proof paper (no oil or spraying needed). Press goodies on of your choice into the chocolate (I had one with almonds and the other with candy canes) and let set in the fridge. When firm (doesn’t take long at all) melt a second (different) chocolate and spread this over the top. Put back in the fridge.¬†When set, break into large chunks.

Naturally, if you use vegan chocolate, it will be vegan and if you check your candy canes or other mix-ins are gluten free, then your bark will be gluten free.

I made a dark chocolate, almond and milk chocolate bark (definitely the best- the quality of the milk chocolate shone through) and a dark chocolate, candy cane and blogs of white chocolate “snow” one. I also made one serious “block” of chocolate, broke it in half and gave it to good friends at work. I gave these in little noodle boxes wrapped with curling ribbon. I would also try some different mix-ins. You could add mini marshmallows, coconut and glace cherries/turkish delight and make rocky road style bark, or lolly bananas and peanuts (yum!), or dried fruit if you want to be Christmas festive. Don’t you just think you could throw a chunk or two of this into hot milk?! Maybe when it’s colder!

I was hoping to make this for family as well as colleagues, but here’s the thing: it’s too bloody hot to make chocolate gifts in Australia if you’re not sure about refrigeration! Baking something is much easier.

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, luckily it’s still nice and cold and this will keep out of the fridge if you wish.

Enjoy!

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All wrapped up- Quick and easy gift tags

So I prefer to create home made presents for Christmas. Ben has a lot of family and buying up to two dozen presents on one wage can be difficult. In the past we’ve made roasted garlic in olive oil, chutney, breakfast hampers with nice mugs, homemade preserves, homemade muesli and teas, and all sorts of things.

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Mum, Dad and my sister’s gifts just asking to be tagged (and some of my summer reading behind it).

This year, we ran out of time and energy and bought most of our gifts. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t have homespun wrapping. As well as salt dough ornaments, our gifts this year are wrapped with easy peasy gift tags.

There was no template or fuss, just chopping paper into slips and then trimming the edges to look like old fashioned tags and punching a hole in the narrow end. I used the same stamps as the salt dough ornaments to put some pretty on them. Yellow paper for Ben’s family tags and brown for mine.

I think they turned out nicely.

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What do you think?

Do you make any gifts from scratch?

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Nailed it- Salt Dough Ornaments

So this year I jumped on the Salt Dough trend train that I saw all over Pinterest. It was super easy and although my attempts were a bit clumsy (see zombie gingerbread boy below), I had fun and made a cute decoration to go next to people’s gift tag.

 

YOU WILL NEED:

2 cups white flour

1 cup salt

1 cup water

(optional: food dye, cinnamon, etc.)

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Add your ingredients together and knead. I should have done this for longer, because the dough wasn’t as smooth after it had cooked as I would have liked.

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Roll out thinly. I used my super duper marble rolling pin that was a gift from Ben a couple of years back, but even a wine bottle with work (and did for me for many years).

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The thinner you roll it, the better it works out. Our better ones were the ones that were quite thin.

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We stamped patterns into them using a standard ink and stamp set. Holes were made by pressing then end of a drinking straw into the dough. I used all the dough that wasn’t stamped to roll out another layer and make even more ornaments. The second batch I remembered to flour the bench!

We baked them in the oven at 100C for 3 hours. We ended up baking them for closer to 4.5 because some were a bit thick.

TIPS: I sprayed the baking paper on my trays very lightly, but found that my ornaments stuck to the bench and didn’t want to move without stretching, so I had to be very careful. The trade off, however, is if you flour the bench you end up with dusty ornaments. I’d probably spray the bench next time. Also, keep the oven temperature down- you’re drying out the dough, not cooking it! If your oven is too high, your dough with brown and your ornaments won’t be white/off-white.

Everybody has an ornament on their present. Except this little guy, who will be leading the zombie apocalypse:

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I’ll be posting one or two more restaurant reviews and using the same stamps that I used for salt dough ornaments to make some gift tags for presents. Gift tags are much safe than dough!

If you’re not online much over the holiday period, I hope they’re everything you want them to be.

Stay safe. Avoid zombies.

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Homespun gifts

So I love thinking of gifts! I try not to let the birthday ball drop just because Christmas is all over the place. I’m sure that you’ve been caught out buying someone a present because you just had to get them something and the “what” you got them took second place. I know I have. So for a friend’s birthday recently who loves natural skin care (we have actually covered our faces in green clay in the name of fun and skincare even though I came out in a rash) I wanted to get her something she would like:

  • A bamboo scrubber mitt
  • Coconut and brown sugar scrub
  • Oatmeal and honey soap
  • Rosewater spray

She assures me the coconut scrub left her face baby smooth. It’s so nice discovering your friends have yet another thing in common with you- reminds you why you’re destined to help each other bury bodies together one day. This isn’t really homemade but it’s homespun. Is that close enough?

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In a noodle box to look extra cute! (And maybe because all my wrapping paper has Christmas pictures on it).

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DIY Lavender Eye Pillows. Anyone could make them!

So I love making gifts.

If only my lavender plant still looked like this. Brown thumb!

If only my lavender plant still looked like this. Brown thumb!

I made several lavender eye pillows because I had lot of birthdays and found good quality loose lavender from Handmade Naturals on Gladstone Road in Highgate Hill.

I started by figuring out how big I wanted the pillows by using my own eye pillow (the purple one) to measure the size. You might recognise the fabric from my maxi skirt post.

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I made the first one by hand until Ben took pity on my and used the sewing machine to help me. I married the right man.

It’s as simple as it looks: folded the wrong way, sew two sides. Turn the right way out, fill with lavender, then fold edges in and sew last side (or hand sew using backstitch, which I did for the one you see above).

About five eye pillows (one super big one is not shown here) for less than half an hour's work. The blue ones have a plain blue fabric on the other side.

About five eye pillows (one super big one is not shown here) for less than half an hour’s work. The blue ones have a plain blue fabric on the other side.

One of the great things about this gift is that you can use up pretty fabric scraps you have, as you can see I did here. The black and white fabric was used for a skirt, the Morrocan white and blue is destined to be a table cloth.

I tied these up with a spray bottle of rosewater with a piece of raffia (and when I had run out, brown string) but of course these could be part of a much larger gift, or a simple “just because” gift. Ben has also made much larger versions of these using old denim and beans/rice as heat packs. These were the coziest things in winter (and lived inside our clothes and blankets!).

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Cute and easy. A great last-minute Christmas gift.

Do you make any gifts at Christmas? What sorts?

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