Saturday, December 31, 2011

Handmade gift wrap up...

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!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 gold rings

Christmas this year was all a bit overwhelming.  We went back up to Melbourne to spend time with our extended families, and while it was lovely we were all left feeling quite exhausted. I haven't had a chance to sort through my photos, our washing, or my head yet, but hopefully I'll be back in this space in the next few days with a full wrap up.  In the mean time, I hope you're all having a merry festive season!

Friday, December 23, 2011

In which Minty is a reindeer and Turi is bitten by a duck...

We went into Cowes for carols and fireworks a couple of nights ago.  The council puts on free face painting, rides and an animal farm for the kids.  Everyone had so much fun (apart from when Turi got bitten by a duck).  It's such a nice atmosphere, since it's midweek before the school holidays start it's mostly local families.  We had a picnic on the foreshore, sang carols and let the kids stay up late to watch the fireworks.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread play dough and hot chocolate...

This is the only handmade gift I've managed to photograph so far!  My camera is away with the Mr for the next few days so you're all just going to have to use your imaginations and visualise the big pile of gifts I'm in the process of wrapping!  While you're at it, can you also visualise that my house is spotlessly clean and I'm packed ready for family Christmas in Melbourne?  Right, excellent!  I suspect it may be poor form to ask people to let you photograph their gift after they've opened it but I'll give it a try, for you my lovely readers!

Minty and I made gingerbread play dough for some of the special little people in her life.  I think it's nice to involve her in the process of giving and not just receiving at Christmas time.  We used this recipe (though I used two tablespoons of cream of tartar when they only specify two teaspoons - I think it might be a typo?).  Minty helped me package them up in old jars (I spray painted the lids) and we added a cookie cutter.

I realise I've been pretty slack at posting our advent calendar activities.  I've struggled a bit to keep up with everything this year, so the blog has been a bit neglected.  

Here are the kids drinking hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows and edible gold stars.  Drinking hot chocolate was one of Minty's only requests for advent.  We watched this sweet little video at the beginning of December and Minty felt inspired to try and recreate it.  The two little girls in the video are in the process of being adopted out of the foster care system, and this is their first Christmas with their new family.

I've got another post scheduled for tomorrow but after that I'll be taking a little break until after Christmas.  I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Because everything looks better gold!

I just discovered edible gold spray paint!! Am I the only one who wants to paint their Christmas turkey gold??

Monday, December 19, 2011

House update

We have a roof and most of the windows!  The big windows will be glazed on site on Wednesday.  Not exactly 'lock up' but still a good effort by Christmas.

These internal shots are taken from the door of our study, looking back towards the kitchen and the raised up lounge room.

And for those of you who don't care about the house, here are some conversations with Minty…  Let's just say coal is on her mind.

After singing 'santa claus is coming to town' at bedtime

Minty [concerned]: I don't think Turi will be living with us soon
Me: how come?
Minty: because he's been a bit naughty
Me: Santa doesn't take the naughty children away, he just gives them a lump of coal instead of a present
Minty: I think daddy will be getting lumps of coal


Me [reading]: Where is the Christmas fairy?  Is she behind the Christmas tree?  Peekaboo! She's making wishes come true!  What's your Christmas wish?
Minty [musing]: it's about presents, and toys and coal
Me: do you even know what coal is?
Minty: what?
Me: it's a dirty black rock.  Believe me, you don't want one!
Minty [perplexed]: why not?  I like rocks!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Possibly the most disturbing gift ever...

Whilst attempting to finish off my Christmas shopping I came across this… a piggy bank made from a taxidermy piglet.  Only $4000 found here.  I'd like to see the look on the face of the unsuspecting gift recipient who unwrapped this on Christmas morning.  Here's hoping google suggests some more appropriate gift ideas soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent: Day whatever

This post is a bit of a random mishmash from last week while I was sick.

Minty has been working on some Christmas cards.  Since she doesn't cope very well with craft that is too prescriptive I just gathered a bunch of colour coordinated paper, ribbon, doilies, washi tape, glitter and twine and let her go crazy collaging the cards.  After she was finished I helped her put Christmas words on the cards using letter stickers, which I picked up for about $1 at the newsagents.  The Mr. thinks the cards aren't 'christmassy' enough.  Whatever.  They're vaguely attractive.

Then we attempted to take a Christmas picture to put in the card… let's just say it wasn't particularly successful.

Meanwhile... the house is coming along nicely.  The roof should start going on this week.

And because it's been a while, here are a few conversations with Minty…

discussing gifts she'd like to make

Minty: I'll need sparkly christmas jewels and bells
Me [stalling] : well we don't have any of those, so we'd have to go shopping first
Minty: OK where's a christmas shop?
Me: I don't know…
Minty [excited] : I know… in Bethlehem!


Minty: I love you
Mr: will you love me forever?
Minty: no, only while I'm small

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dreaming of a white Christmas...

I've been sick again… hence the lack of posting.  I'm having a bunch of tests done blah blah boring.  Moving on to more festive subjects…

Our advent activities have been ticking along…

We let the kids stay up last night to watch 'White Christmas' on the big screen.  Minty and I loved it.  I was in costume heaven.  Turi was really a bit overtired and too little to sit through a whole movie.  But when he woke up in the morning he ran into the lounge and said, 'Movie turned off?  Again!  I lub it!'.  The Mr. on the other hand was not at all impressed pronouncing the movie 'slow'.  I am yet to convert him to a musical lover.  Who doesn't love a bit of snow?