Finally, here is a look at some of the handmade gifts I put together. I realise it is way too late to inspire you for Christmas gifts this year but it's not as though we all die after boxing day right? There's still plenty of other gifting occasions coming up: birthdays, mother's day, father's day, or even (god forbid) Christmas next year. So I hope some of you can find a little bit of inspiration here.
Home made vanilla extract. Split open the vanilla beans (I used two per bottle but you really can't have too many), place in a small glass bottle (I sourced mine here), and fill with vodka. Allow the extract to brew for at least 4 weeks, shaking a few times a week. Extraction will continue for up to 6 months - so keep shaking every so often. A few notes: You can find vanilla beans in bulk on ebay. If you are using larger bottles you'll need to chop the beans into smaller pieces as they have a tendency to float to the top after shaking, and although they won't look as pretty, the greater surface area will help extract more flavour from the beans. After 6 months you can remove the beans as a precaution against spoilage. The extract will continue to mature over time (much like wine), you can add more vanilla beans or top up with more vodka to continue to develop the flavour.
Hot chocolate packs - filled with homemade heart shaped marshmallows (recipe here), hot chocolate on a stick (recipe here) and shortbread hearts (recipe here) all in an origami box made with newspaper (in the interests of being eco friendly). I learnt to make the boxes back when I was studying architecture, and we had an assignment to design a gallery space to display (of all things) paper boxes. Weird right? If you haven't had such a checkered design eduction as mine, you can find a great video tutorial for these here. It really is a great skill to have up your sleeve since you can make them in any size, or paper you like and they are so much cheaper than buying gift boxes. You can even make them with a little window in the top for packaging baked goods.
A soft ball made with loads of different pink fabric pentagons patches with a bell inside for my sweet little niece. You can find a great tutorial for these here (machine stitched not hand pieced in case you're lazy like me!!)
I also made more homemade soap (see previous posts) and some special Christmas pyjamas for the kids to wear on Christmas eve. I'll try and post some photos of the PJs tomorrow.
Here are a few photos of Christmas day with my family…
And as 2011 comes to a close I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for stopping by to read and share in our life through this blog. I've loved all your comments and emails, even if I haven't had time to respond to them all personally. I hope you'll all join me back here for more adventures in 2012. Happy New Year!