25.12.11

MERRY CHRISTMAS

In the words of my gorgeous eldest daughter...
"Merry Christmas Everyone!  And a Happy New Year!"


I thought I'd leave you on this lovely Christmas morning with some images of some Christmas creativity...


This gorgeous gingerbread house was constructed by my children and their Granny while Mr FGB and I had our weekend away


Mum has been making a gingerbread houses every year since I was a child.  It was always one of my favourite traditions.
  

As there were 3 of us we would each get either the roof, the front/back or the sides of the house to decorate.  Granny did the same with my three.  
Can you tell who did which parts?


I'll be taking a little bloggy break for a couple of weeks as we go camping along the SA coast.  I'll be back sometime in January with some posts about Goose's 8th birthday party which is coming around in a few short weeks!  

See you next year, my friends!

24.12.11

Last minute Gifts...

Goose decided yesterday that she would like to give some gifts on Christmas day.  In the past we have always done a kriskringle amongst the adults and all adults give gifts to the children.  So we had a little look in the kitchen cupboard to see what we could do.  We thought of Christmas cookies in a jar, which are easy, perfect for last minute gifts and always popular, but Granny no longer eats chocolate...


 so she made her Aunt's and Grandmothers some homemade bath bomb cupcakes!


We raided the kitchen cupboard for bicarb soda, citric acid, corn flour & orange essence. Then raided the orange tree to grate some orange zest.  Mixed with a little water and popped them into some silicone muffin trays.


Wrapped, like all of our pressies this year, with brown paper, pine leaves and the clay decos that Goose and I made a few weeks ago.


This year she made her cousins reindeer noses just like she gave her school mates and her uncles some chocolate bark made with dark chocolate melts, dried cranberries and pistachios.  


She enjoyed making this one!  
And her little sister enjoyed attempting to steal one while her mother was distracted taking a photo!  Great last minute 'plate' to bring on Christmas or Boxing Day as it literally takes 10 minutes to make from start to finish and tastes fantastic!


How do you do the gift thing on Christmas Day?  
Do your kids give pressies?  Or just receive?

If you are looking for some last minute handmade gift ideas for girls, you might like to check these out...




For the bath bomb recipe - check out this post.

23.12.11

DIY CHRISTMAS WREATH

As Goose and I snuck down the street to pinch some pine leaves* to embelish our pressies, she asked if we could make a wreath for our door.


I had been secretly wanting one myself, and had never made one before, so we set to work and in about 5 mins we had ourselves a wreath.  


We grabbed a wire coat hanger from the cupboard and pulled it out to make a circle shape.  You can probably just make out the hook of the coat hanger in the photo above.  Then we tied some pine branches on with some string and covered the string with some little red baubles (which are attached to wire) leftover from last years bon bons.


We added a little clay bird decoration that we nabbed from the Christmas tree.


  
Then posed for photos!


Maybe a little late with Christmas only being 2 more sleeps away, but it's pretty gorgeous (both the wreath and the child;) if I do say so myself!  In the above photo, Goose is holding some secret pressies that we made for her aunt's and uncles today.  I will post them tomorrow afternoon, as they are great last minute gift ideas, as I know that my family all read my blog!

Linking this post with Skip to my Lou's Made by you Mondays.



*  Just in case you were wondering... the trees are on the street, not in someone's yard.

THIS YEAR'S CRACKERS

Homemade bon bons, or Christmas Crackers as they are known in other parts of the world, have been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember.  I have enjoyed taking on the role of bon bon making for quite a few years now.  You can see last year's bon bons here.


These bon bons were for a Christmas party that I attended last weekend.  Such a beautiful setting.  19 of us gathered outside on a long trestle table, covered in a white linen tablecloth, with branches of holly and red baubles, the 'good glasses' and the 'good silver', fabulous food and company...I digress...


I wrapped these bon bons with old sheet music for something different and this was what was inside...


Each year there is a snap and a hat* inside the bon bon, but everything else varies each year.  It depends on the group who I make them for really.



Instead of jokes this year, I used 'conversation starters' and after we'd opened the bon bons we went around the table completing sentences such as "my earliest Christmas memory is...", "Christmas Carols make me...", "My favourite Christmas tradition is...", etc.


Along with some red & green m&m's and some Christmas sequins (leftover from last year) I made up little 'alfalfa sprout kits' with some tulle, some alfalfa seeds, a rubber brand and printed instructions from here (with slight variation).  


There are thousands of things you could put inside, but to match the sheet music, these homemade paper decos would have gone well inside. Some other creative ideas, a little outside the box, that would work are these homemade 'mini pick up sticks', fabric covered hairties or magnets, marshmallows & toothpick activity, Christmas themed activity sheet for people to complete then give out prize for winner, small puzzle pieces for everyone to combine & complete ... 


Do you make your own bon bons?  What do you put inside?


* I make the hat using tissue paper, but you could use Christmas wrapping paper for something different.  

20.12.11

REINDEERS & CHRISTMAS CRAFT

Now that the gifts for teachers, classmates & neighbours, kriskringles & 'plates' for 1001 Christmas parties, breakups & end of year celebrations are (almost) done and dusted and kinder, playgroup, swimming lessons, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. are all over for the year, I can finally start doing the Christmas shopping...we've still got another 5 days haven't we?!


I love all of the craft at Christmas - there are so many reasons to get crafty!


Along with many in blogland, reindeer food for kinder friends and Reindeer noses for school friends are all made and delivered.  Head here for last year's reindeer food.  This year, I used this free printable for the reindeer food (there's other cute ones here & here) and this printable for the reindeer noses.  You could use some gorgeous free ones here & here.  


Now I'm off to make cupcakes for Goose's class Christmas party tomorrow.  Don't you love it when the teacher sends a note home with all of the food they would like at the party with it already allocated.  Everyone else gets the 'packet of chips', 'popcorn', 'dip & biscuits' and I get 'small cakes'.  Actually, I do love it!  Any excuse. I'd much rather be making cupcakes than folding the ever rotating gigantic pile of washing!


Do you go crazy with Christmas craft, like me? 

19.12.11

SIMPLE HANDMADE GIFTS FOR GIRLS...part fifteen {guest post}

There are so many fabulous and simple handmade gifts for girls out there that I thought I'd ask a few of my clever & creative blogging friends to share with you some of their ideas...

Amy from Giggleberry has a very successful business making gorgeous, gorgeous bunting and is a party Mumma after my own heart! Just like me, she just can't help herself when it comes to adding those extra touches to making any occasion that little bit more special!  Her blog is full of bunting and fun ideas and I'd highly recommend a visit!  I saw this brilliant idea a little while ago on her blog and she has kindly agreed to share it with you all here on FGB.

DIY Icecream Sundae Kit

Need a cute hostess gift? How about a gift for a teenager (seriously how tricky can those ones be!) or maybe a house warming present or even a 'just because' gift?

This idea has all of those covered - An Ice Cream Sundae Kit!!

I saw THIS one from Family Bites on Pinterest and knew I would be using it!  With a selection of sprinkles, some chocolate sauce (homemade or store bought), cones, tissue paper, small glass jar, ribbon and a gift box you're ready to put your kit together... these are just the items I chose to put in the box but you could include any sundae toppings you wish!

I re-packaged the sprinkles into resealable cello bags and the chocolate sauce into the glass jar then added a scrap of fabric and a ribbon to the lid of the jar. To make these extra cute you can make up some labels for everything (my printer is not playing at the moment so I went without labels). 

Then all you have to do is arrange your selection of goodies into a tissue paper lined gift box.

This box of goodies is for a couple so I added a set of 'My Ice Cream, Your Ice Cream' spoons I bought from Beach House Living to the box and was ready to pop the lid on then tie a final ribbon around the whole thing.

Include a little card to let the recipient know they just need to add their favourite ice cream and you've got yourself one truly cute little gift that I know I would love to receive!!

What a fun idea!  I imagine at this time of year, you could add a bit of Christmas fun to this package with green & red sprinkles, green & red M&M's or edible glitter.  You could even add a touch of science by giving them the ingredients for them to make their very own icecream (some UHT cream, some sugar & ziplock bag along with the recipe) in the box also.  You could even add another step and dip the tops, or insides, of the cones in chocolate & sprinkles, like these ones.


Thanks so much Amy for letting me share this fun & simple, yet very clever idea!
I love the idea of repackaging something to make it look even more exciting and adding the personal touch.  Amy has another similar idea (great for teacher gifts) on her blog at the moment over here.


I also came across another repackaging idea here which even has a link (via the comments section) to the cool free labels that they used.


This is the last in the series of simple handmade gifts for girls.  Thanks so much to those of you who guest posted and contributed their own ideas along the way!  I have just added a page on the top of my blog, collating all of the wonderful ideas!  Hopefully you've all got some ideas for Christmas and beyond!  If you have made anything from these tutorials - please let me know, I'd love to hear from you!  





18.12.11

PRINTABLE CHRISTMAS... nativity style!

Sometimes I find it easy to loose sight of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Here is a list of printables that I have come across that highlight the very first Christmas.  I think it's great for the kids to know the history and significance of why we do things and how traditions come about.  



Cute little printable nativity dolls (above)
you can print on magnetic paper and use on fridge or as a car activity on a metal tray


Anna's cute printable angels
to use as bookmarks, gift tags or Christmas tree decos


Nativity Christmas Tree Decos


'Silent Night' Printable Collection 
inc. menu, gift tags, invites, table decor, gift boxes & more


Print & build a Nativity Scene hereherehere & here


Nativity Scene Kids Activity
with Paddle Pop Sticks & free printable


Nativity Finger Puppets


Not a printable, but check out this edible baby Jesus you could make with your kids or this edible nativity scene!

For the Printable Christmas List that I compiled last year (not just nativity), which will still be relevant, head over here. They're perfect for a last minute spruce up of a gift or a table or a tree without having to head to the shops.

17.12.11

EASY PEASY CHOCOLATE DESSERT (with chocolate melting tip!)

I seem to have melted lots of chocolate lately.  I have melted it to make fairy wands & marshmallow teacups for birthday parties, chocolate christmas puddings, christmas bark and the odd bowl of chocolate fondue....


To make simple & basic chocolate fondue you just
 melt 250g of milk chocolate (using the method below)and then stir in 1/3 cup of cream.  

You don't need a special fondue set, any old bowl will work perfectly well.  Using forks you can dip anything you like in the chocolate.  Grissini bread sticks work beautifully, as does fruit or marshmallows.

So decadent and soooo yummy.  Lots of fun for kids too!


Now, here is the promised chocolate melting tip....

In the past I have often found melting chocolate a bit of 'hit & miss'.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.  More often than not it went lumpy.  I could never get it right in the microwave even when others swore by that method.  But, with a bit of trial and error, I have found a foolproof way of melting chocolate perfectly every time.  A method no doubt well known by others, but new to me.


I like to use a double saucepan, but you could use a metal bowl on top of a saucepan.  
It looks like lots of writing, but really it's 5 quick steps written in bold print.

1. boil water in kettle (or saucepan on stove).
2. pour boiling water from kettle into saucepan until approx. one third full.
(or remove saucepan from heat if you have boiled water on stove) 
3. place top saucepan (or metal bowl) onto bottom saucepan 
(making sure it is no longer on the stove - this is the key people!).
4. Place chocolate into top saucepan (or bowl).
 I like to use melts especially designed for melting.
5. Wait for chocolate to melt.  It will happen slowly....quite a few minutes, but be patient and stir as you go if you like.  You'll think it is not working, but it is!  

What dishes do you melt chocolate for?


For more easy peasy recipes head over to the FGB easy recipes page here.

16.12.11

DIY FABRIC CHRISTMAS CARDS

Christmas cards finally written & sent.  


This year, I used the same card making method as last year.  Ironing fabric onto card.  Simple, yet stylish I think.  Do you do Christmas cards?  


This year I did a big run and made 50.  I sold most of them at a fundraising market at my friends kids school, which left just enough for me to use myself.  I tend to only send to those who I don't see regularly and live interstate & overseas and then use a few more to add to a Christmas gift or two.


If you'd like to give this method a try, this is what I do...

FABRIC COVERED CHRISTMAS CARDS

1.  Fold a piece of card* in half.  

2.  Round the corners with the corner punch if you’d like, or just leave it.  Up to you.

3.  Trace around your card using a pen onto Vliesofix giving a border of less than half a cm.  You'll only need to cover the front of the card, with a few cm overhang on the back of the card.

4.  Cut around your pen mark giving about a centimetre border.

5. Place the Vliesofix onto the wrong side of your fabric, paper side up.  (wrong side to rough side) 

6. Glide iron evenly across the paper side of fabric for approx 10 secs. (longer for thicker fabric) so that they stick together.  Use a dry iron on a low heat setting.

7. Cut fabric to size, along the outlines of the Vliesofix.

8. Allow a bit of time to cool before peeling off paper carefully.

9. Place the folded card on top of the fabric, wrong side of fabric up.  You'll be able to see the pen marks now ironed on to your fabric so line the card up inside the pen lines.

10. Keeping your card closed, iron the fabric onto the card.  Start by lifting the small bit of fabric over the back and ironing that on first, then turning the card over and doing the front of the card.  Always iron on fabric, never on card.  Make sure it is a dry iron with a low heat setting or the card will warp.

11.  Let it cool down for about 30 secs and check that it sticks really well everywhere.  If it doesn’t – iron some more.

12.  Trim the excess fabric from around the edges with fabric scissors.  Et voila!


*The card needs to be quite thick or the heat of the iron will warp your card.  I use 300gsm and it seems to work well.  You'll also find that your fabric will adhere better if your card has some kind of texture and is not too smooth.

**Vliesofix is a double sided heat bonding material commonly used in applique.  The brand that I find the easiest to work with when making cards or notebooks is called 'easyfix' which I purchase from ebay, but I'm sure you could find it from an online or local fabric store.

Do you make your own Christmas cards?



1/12/12 - tutorial updated.

15.12.11

KIDS CHRISTMAS CRAFT: PASTA ANGELS

In unpacking the Christmas decos last week,
(or was that the week before?!  Life is flying along at a rapid rate at the moment!)
I discovered these cute pasta angels that Goose made last year with her Grandma.  My mother-in-law makes these every year and she is quite the expert, but she tells me it is very easy.  All you need is some pasta, a wooden bead and a hot glue gun! 
 Goose spray painted these with some gold glitter and it looks like some white paint on there too.  They look more gold in real life.

You'll find a well written tutorial here.  
Although they draw on the hair and face, instead of small pasta as hair.  Both look cute.


For more kids Christmas crafts, you can head over here to the FGB kids craft page.

14.12.11

SNOW GLOBES & CHARITY GIFTS

A very clever friend of mine is running a truckdrive for Christmas!  You can purchase a part of a truck to help alleviate poverty in the highlands of PNG.  Well, it's not just for Christmas, but a windscreen wiper would make a great Christmas present if you are looking for something a little different this year.  Head over to their website for details!


I'm not a big fan of shopping centres at the best of times.  As I generally have a couple of kids in tow - it's enough to send me running to the hills.  In fact, it may well be why I'm such a fan of handmade at the moment!

I'm also not a fan of all of the consumerism that comes with Christmas and the purchasing of token presents that in many cases the other person really doesn't want or need.

That's why charity gifts are ideal.  You can give a gift to someone who actually needs it on behalf of someone who might enjoy the buzz of helping someone else.

I know of a few family groups who have decided this year, instead of having the usual token kriskringle amongst the adults, to join forces and pool their resources to purchase a cow, a well or even a school!  They are great for teachers gifts also (thanks Sonia)!

This post was not written as a guilt inducer - I love Christmas and all that it entails and I love to give gifts and to receive them!!  

Sometimes it can feel a little boring just giving a charity card so sometimes we add a roll of toilet paper (with a charity gift of a toilet) or some pencils (with a charity gift of school supplies) or a plant/seeds (with a charity gift of tree seedlings).  You could give a toy truck to go with the truckdrive mentioned above. 


This year we made a few snowglobes and put inside toy chickens, lambspigs or goats (to give along with a charity gift of animals).  A fun way for the kids to get involved.  If you'd like to make some, head here for instructions. (They work well for plastic giftcards too!)


Tricia from Little Eco Footprints has written a great little post on a similar vein which also includes a list of different charities you can purchase a Christmas gift through over here.

Do you give charity gifts?  Have you ever received one and felt jibbed?





P.S. If you'd like to combine the two - a gift of a gorgeous handcrafted handbag and also donate to charity at the same time, then head over here!

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