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Holiday Crafting 2011 - Hot Chocolate on a Stick

I made hot chocolates last year for Christmas and they seemed to go down pretty well, so I thought I'd give them another go and up the game on them a little. 
What you will need to make about 10 chocolates;
  • 20grams chocolate - some milk and some a very rich dark chocolate. Broken into small pieces to melt. 
  • 60 grs icing sugar
  • 30 grs cocoa powder

The broken chocolate was added to a bowl for melting. In hind sight I probably should have done it in smaller batches than halving it, and maybe should have used a glass bowl! The bowl was put over boiling water until the chocolate looked like this;
Once the chocolate was melted and looked very swirly, I added the cocoa powder and icing sugar and mixed until it was all fully absorbed. Once it was mixed in I carefully spooned the mixture into silicone moulds. Once the chocolate started to harden I popped a spoon into each block as they wouldn't stand upright until then.   
At this point it was time to embellish - 1/4 of the spoons then got covered in mini marshmallows and another 1/4 had a little pipette of Baileys added to it. (I bought pipettes from ebay in 2 sizes as they were super cheap and they've come in super useful.) I filled them as full as I could with Baileys, chopped off the excess tubing and sealed the end of it by melting it on the hob and clamping it shut. The pipettes were then pushed into the hardening chocolate.
The chocolate spoons were popped in the fridge to harden fully. Once they were they just popped out of the moulds to be packaged. 
{All the red and blue labels were made using these labels as a base from Eat Drink Chic

Tomorrow I'll be showing you my cookie pots!

A little giveaway

Edit: We have a winner
Rosie @ A Rosie Outlook - Congrats Rosie. I'll get a package out to you soon! 

I know Christmas has been and gone, but I may have gone a little overboard in my estimation on what I needed to make {You never know who might pop a little gift round when you just hadn't expected it} Plus, actually measuring and working the exact quantities was never my strong point {of course I meant to make 100 hot chocolates when I only needed 88!}

So rather than these treats go to waste, I thought I'd run my first little giveaway. One lucky winner will get sent a box of belated Christmas cheer containing; 

  • Homemade Bath Bars
  • 50ml Homemade Vanilla
  • A Christmas Cookie pot
  • Some hot chocolates on spoons
  • A Mulled wine sachet. 

All you need to do is leave me a comment below and tell me what your favourite bit about Christmas 2011 was and on the twelfth night {i.e the 6th Jan} I'll pick a winner and send you all the above.  

{All the red and blue labels were made using these labels as a base from Eat Drink Chic}

Holiday Crafting 2011 - Vanilla Essence

As soon as I found out you could make your own vanilla essence it changed my life. Well, maybe thats not quite the truth, but it has saved me a fortune! I keep a bottle of the stuff in my cupboard and regularly top it up as it runs low. 

And it is the simplest recipe ever. Literally. You just need to be patient. I buy my vanilla pods in bulk from t'ebay because the supermarkets are uber expensive for them. This time I bought 100 from here as I needed them for the gift bottles too.

What you will need

  • 750ml vodka.
  • 10-15 vanilla pods.
  • A couple of months to steep. 
Tip a little bit of vodka in to a cup and add some mixer of your choice - you need to make room for the vanilla pods after all. 
Cut the vanilla pods length ways in half and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife. Add the seeds and the vodka, and then put the cut pods into the bottle. 
Once all of your vanilla pods are in the bottle, replace the cap and shake vigorously. Then leave the bottle in a dark place for about 3 months. You can use it sooner, but it won't be as vanilla-y as it could be. 
I bottled it in to 50ml bottles with a vanilla pod halved and seeded in each bottle so the flavour kept on intensifying. The labels were printed onto the same Avery labels with the writing in clear again, so that the instructions for topping up become clearer as the vanilla  gets used. 

Pop back later for a little giveaway, or tomorrow for my hot chocolates on a stick!


Holiday Crafting 2011 - Limoncello

Limoncello reminds me of ski holidays to Livigno in Italy when I was younger. On the mountain the adults would have one with lunch, and they would always be brought out for us all after dinner in restaurants. I know everyone says to serve it ice ice cold, but I am almost certain it would be served warm to us on the mountain side too. 

And I decided last Christmas I wanted to make Limoncello for my friends, but unfortunately I decided this in the middle of December of last year and pretty much every recipe I looked at called for a months steeping, so I pushed the idea to the back of my mind and really did forget about it until this summer. But luckily I did remember in the summer - early enough to get on with it.
The recipe is in two halves. The first that needs to be done at least a month before you intend to drink the liquor and the second can be done as late as the day before you want to drink it. 

Stage 1
You will need;

  • 750ml vodka
  • 10-ish lemons
  • Sharp knife
  • 1 ltr container
Open the vodka and pour it into the larger container. If, like me, you're doing this in the morning, before breakfast, do not lick your fingers - not nice! 

Wash your lemons. Take the sharp knife and start to peel the lemons. Each recipe I read suggested getting as little of the white pith on the peel, and I did try, but it was uber hard to not get any on so some went in with pith, some without. Apparently the pith makes it bitter-er. 

Place the lemon rinds into the large container with the vodka. Seal and put in a dark place. After a few days you'll notice that the liquid is taking on a yellow-y tint so you know it's working. Leave for a month at least {I left mine for 3 because I could, but a month would be fine!} Shake every once in a while just to keep things moving. 

Stage 2
You will need;
  • 750 ml water
  • 700 grams caster sugar
  • A large saucepan or two.
  • bottles to decant in to.
Place the water in your large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the caster sugar. I know it seems like a lot, but you don't want it to be too tart! Once the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat and let it cool down. I did read that whether your Limoncello comes out cloudy or clear depends on the temperature of the water when you add the vodka - cold and it'll be clear, warm and it'll be cloudy!
Strain the lemon vodka in to the sugar water, making sure none of the lemon rind gets in your pan. 

Stir the mixture and then decant for drinking yourself or giving! 

Labels - I printed these labels onto Avery clear labels, with the background grey and the writing in white so that it wouldn't be printed and would show up clear. 

Check back tomorrow for my vanilla essence instructions. 

Holiday Crafting 2011.

I wanted to show you what I made for my friends for christmas - I've been making these gifts, on and off, for such a long time I feel like I ouught to have mentioned it, but the problem with having your 3d friends reading your blog is that you really can't blog about any of your Christmas crafting, or they'll know exactly what they're getting. Maybe I could find out their IP addresses and block them for a few months before Christmas and their birthdays? That seems a little extreme to me though, so I'll have to make do with not blogging about my gifts until after Christmas. 

But to cut the rambling short, this year I couldn't decide on one gift, so I made a little collection of gifts for my friends. A smorgasbord of DIY's if you will, including;

  • Limoncello
  • Vanilla Essence
  • Mulled Wine Kits
  • Lush style moistursing bath bars
  • Hot chocolates on spoons
  • Christmas cookie boxes
And even though it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too late to be used for your 2011 crafting, I thought I'd take the next few days to show you what I made and how I did it. {Unfortunately, like a dunce, I didn't take photo's of the stages, but everything was uber simple so I am sure I'll be able to explain it.}

I made two different sets of gifts - one came in the little gabled box you see above and the other was a duo of a DIY cookie box and the Hot Chocolates on spoons in a little printed bag.

I'll start with the packaging and let you know that I fully 'cheated'. What with all the other stuff I had going on over the last few months, my somewhat lacking photoshop skills and my deep rooted love of the design I decided to use these Holiday Mail Stripe tags, by one of my favourite crafty bloggers Eat Drink Chic, as my starting point and work everything around them. I la-la-love the little reindeer stamp, and the colour scheme. 
So I printed a bunch of the tags for general use, and then set about mixing up the design a little where needed in photoshop. 
For the majority of the labels, I just wrote the text straight on to them, using Scribble Box as my main font and Pea Jenny Script as my secondary font. Once I was happy with the text it was just a case of printing them, cutting them out and rounding the corners - mostly to hide my uneven cutting skills but also because I just think it looks more finished. 
For the larger labels on the cookie box and the gabled kraft box, I had to do a little cutting and shutting as when I stretched the label, it understandable looked odd, so it was a case of piecing together the reds and blues until they were even. 
The gift bags were printed from here. No modification, no nothing. Just a little bad gluing!
So there you have it - my packaging! 
Tomorrow, I'll go through my Limoncello recipe and bottling!

Another Lovely Package

So, following on from my post detailing what I received for the A Lovely Package swap, I thought I would show you what I sent.
First off, I ought to mention that we did get a whole host of likes and hobbies about each person, and I feel kind of bad as I totally ignored the list and put together this package, but in my defence, I thought it was a good idea!

So I started with an idea – Annabel is at uni in Lancashire, I live in Yorkshire. All I saw was a regional divide. For those of you not familiar with this divide, it stretches back to, I imagine, Robin Hood’s era and the War of the Roses. Yorkshire has a white rose and Lancashire has a red one. People fought for their colours. That sort of stuff. More recently it is mostly football based. So any how, this was where my brain went. A war of the roses themed box. But then after a chat with one of my friends, I changed it up a little and focused on Sheffield.
 So my box was a collage {I believe the cool term is decoupage now after Kirstie’s shows} of pages torn from Sheffield magazines and spray mounted onto the box. There was, in a stroke of luck, a map on one of the pages, so that clearly was destined for the top.
Inside, above the tissue paper, we have a small white paper rose {for those of you who don’t understand. Re-read paragraph 2.} and a little note, explaining my decision.
And then, on to the goodies – I searched far and wide* for some of the best Sheffield stuff so we have; 
  • Hendersons Relish – this is my new favourite food stuff. I had always poopoo’d it as it says the word ‘spicy’ on the front. But this is not spicy at all. It is just tangy goodness that ought to be enjoyed on most foods! I also included some recipe suggestions which are tied to the bottle – that’s what the twine is.
  • Pale Rider – from the award winning Kelham Island brewery. I work just round the corn from the brewery, so this was an absolute no-brainer.
  • Sheffield Honey – these guys are at the local farmers market, and have been super helpful in helping me get one of the ingredients for my handmade Christmas gifts too. Plus the honey tastes amazing.
  • Chocolates from Cocoa – this is pretty much the cutest shop on the planet. They have a candy striped awning that shelters just the most amazing shop. Hand made chocolates were a must!
  • Sheffield Brew – not being a tea drinker, I have no idea what this will be like, but I have heard very good things about it. So Annabel you will have to let me know.
  • Pete McKee Card & Jonathan Wilkinson postcards – both of these guys are iconic Sheffield artists. Pete for his depictions of the people in the town, and Jonathan for his ‘cityscapes’. If I am honest, I think I prefer Jonathans style. The cooling towers shot is just Sheffield!
  • A guide to the local area. If you know Sheffield at all you will know that Eccy Rd and Sharowvale are laden with cool, quirky and fun places to shop, eat and drink, so I thought I would finish the box off with a little map showing Annabel, should she ever visit Sheffield, where she ought to visit!
Not a massive amount of making or crafting I know, but I was pretty pleased with my 'taste of Sheffield' box - I just hope Annabel isn't too disappointed that I veered slightly away from her likes and dislikes. 

*took a walk round my local shops - bc they sell everything that I needed. 

A Lovely Package

My A Lovely Package surprise arrived yesterday – and I feel awful as I haven’t even posted mine yet {today – I promise!}. But you have to see the amazing the little collection of gifts I received from Annabel at Fragmented Splendour -                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

She sent me a beautiful little turquoise and gold necklace from her jewellery making – I have it on right now and love it!

A uber cute little boat brooch – these old fashioned sailing boats are my favourite type to see out on the water.
Some crocheted snowflakes – how on earth she knew I’d been lusting after crochet snowflakes since Lizzy bought be a book on them {I know I should have made them myself by now, but they look uber complicated. I started one but it confused me!}
And some pom pom bunting. I think the lacey one might be my favourite. These will definitely be up in the house!

I feel a little self-conscious about the package I have sent her now as it is no where near as cute - in fact it is far from 'cute' but I was really happy with it {And I just hope it arrives in one piece. I did use bubble wrap but after wrapping I could hear some clinking – I am not sure writing fragile on things works does it?}

You would also not believe the strange looks people at work give you when you tell them you’ve done a blog gift swap. 

Crafter-evening {That's not quite got the same ring to it as Crafternoon, has it.....}

Last week I held the second of the crafting groups with my friends - we attempted a little wreath making {but this time for various reasons, I was about a thousand times less organised and took no pictures. For one we had it on a Thursday evening, so there was no time for me to prep really. It was all a bit of a rush. Two, evening lighting is bad. And three, it really didn't look as pretty - there was stuff everywhere}
There were two types of wreaths available - vine wreaths and foam ones. The foams ones - wrapped in wool proved the most popular, but there were still a few takers for the vine ones. We had a table full of holly, expertly half-inched from the bush in my parents garden, some evergreen tree, ribbons, pinecones, felt, wool, glitter, buttons and bells - not to mention the food. 
Having looked at Pinterest I knew I wanted to do a grey wreath, but i envisaged it with a whole heap of balls of wool and pinwheels and things on it - in reality it's grey, with a few glittery balls, a pinwheel and a woollen ball! I may add to it yet, but it's not a quick process wrapping that wool round foam. And it appears to have a bit of a kink in it where I might not have taped the foam tight enough, but what do you think? 

And here is a little glimpse of the type of wreath the people who did the vine wreaths created.  


Happy December

This might be the best advent calendar ever.