Friday, 30 December 2011

Choc Banana Loaf

Choc Banana Bread

I have never been able to figure out the difference between banana cake and banana bread. I think one is baked in a round cake tin and the other in a loaf tin, otherwise they're pretty much the same. I've found a loophole by being non-committal and I'm calling this choc banana loaf.

For me, the addition of the dark choc chips makes this 10 times more amazing than a regular banana cake. It doesn't last more than 2 days in our house and there's only the two of us eating it.

This will cook up nicely in a 13 x 23cm (standard) loaf tin, or as separate cup cakes. I have also divided the mixture over 2 small foil loaf tins (9 x 18cm) so that I could give it as gifts.

If you have bananas that are ripe and ready for a cake, but don't have time to cook, you can freeze the bananas. I like to peel them first and put them into a ziploc bag. They are weird and floppy when you defrost them, but they cook up fine. You can also freeze them in the skins. The skins will turn black in the freezer, but that's fine.

Chocolate Banana Loaf

300g (2 cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
190g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
100g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas
200g (1 heaped cup) dark chocolate chips 

Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease a loaf tin. You can line it with baking paper to make it easier to get the loaf out, but you don't need it. 

Mash the bananas. I like to push them through my potato ricer, but you can do it with a fork. 

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and mix in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, eggs, vanilla and banana and stir to combine. Gently stir through the choc chips. 

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 1 hr - 1 hr 15 minutes or until the loaf is cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Stock from leftover Roast

Duck Stock

We enjoyed some delicious roast duck on Christmas day. I always make stock with the bones leftover from a roast because it's basically free and not to mention, yum! The duck made a lovely dark and rich stock, which I think I will use in a risotto. The stock is also nice as a soup base with some tiny pasta and a few diced veggies.

If you're feeling frugal you can collect the ends from your onions and the tops from your spring onions in a ziploc bag in the freezer. When it's time to make stock, just dump them all in the pot.

You can do this with chicken bones, duck, beef and I'm sure lamb would work too. I've been pretty vague with amounts because it really depends on how many bones you have, but it's easy to work with whatever you've got.

Basic Stock

Cooked bones from your roast (I used 2 duck carcasses and necks)
A handful of vegetable pieces for flavour (I used a carrot, my onion scraps and a celery stick)*

Put bones into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add the vegetables and some salt to season. Bring to the boil and simmer over very low heat for a few hours (the longer the better). You want to simmer it as low as you can, so the water is just shimmering. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. If I'm going to use the stock for a risotto, I go easy on the salt because I don't like super salty risotto. Strain out the bones and your stock is pretty much ready to use. 

If you want to remove the fat, I find it easiest to chill the stock in the fridge so that the fat solidifies. It's then easy to scoop off with a spoon 

*You could also use leek, parsley, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! My 12 Days of Christmas may be over, but there's actually another 2 weeks of festivities here in our house. Hubby's family is Russian Orthodox, so we celebrate Christmas twice; Aussie Christmas on 25th December and Russian Christmas on 7th January. Yes, that's right... I get to eat two Christmas lunches. Pretty cool huh?

I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas and holiday and have a safe and happy New Year. We will now be back to regular old thingforboys posts. Thank you all for reading my blog this past 6 months and I hope you keep stopping by.

- Love Abby

Friday, 23 December 2011

Spinach and Cranberry Salad

Spinach Cranberry Salad

Well here's my twelfth, and therefore last day of Christmas. It's been lots of fun putting together all these Christmas posts and I hope you've enjoyed reading them.

This salad is a staple in our house during the Summer. I get requested to make it every Easter and we often have it at home for a light dinner. What I love about this salad is that it's a great way to to use up leftover meat from Christmas. Take your leftover roast turkey, chicken or even ham and add it to the salad for a light Boxing Day lunch. To make it into more of a meal, you can add some cooked pasta or croutons.

Spinach and Cranberry Salad
serves 4 as a light lunch, probably 10 as a side

300g baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 large carrots, grated
3 handfuls cashews
3 handfuls dried cranberries (craisins)
leftover roast meat or ham, cut into pieces (optional)

1 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp lightly flavoured olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp grainy mustard

To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a jar and put on the lid and shake. Test it for balance and adjust to your taste. I personally like the dressing sweet and sour, so I don't add any salt.

Toast the cashews by cooking them in a dry frying pan and stir over gentle heat. Don't take your eyes off them because they take seconds to go from golden and toasted to burnt. Transfer to a chopping board and leave to cool. Chop coarsely.

To serve, toss spinach, carrot, meat if using and dressing together in a bowl. Sprinkle cashews and craisins on top. If you toss it all together, the cashews and craisins all end up at the bottom of the bowl.

I'm all about working with what you've got, so feel free to use any mustard in the dressing that you have on hand. The cashew nuts can also be substituted for almonds, walnuts or pine nuts.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Gingerbread Ice Cream

Gingerbread Ice Cream

What could be better for a Southern Hemisphere Christmas dessert than gingerbread ice cream? This tastes just like gingerbread and you don't need to turn the oven on to make it. Christmas Day is forecast to be quite hot here in Melbourne, so we will be having this as a light and cooling dessert.

Gingerbread Ice Cream
makes 1.5 litres*

2 eggs
2/3 cup (150g) packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp dark rum (optional)
1 1/4 cups (300ml) cream
2 cups milk

Whisk eggs and sugar until foamy and well mixed. Add remaining ingredients and whisk gently until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ready, transfer to a container and freeze for a few hours to firm up.

*When I transfered the finished ice cream to a container, it filled it up to the 1.5L mark. My ice cream maker is only a 1L machine though.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Peppermint Schnapps

Peppermint Schnapps

Day 10 of my 12 days of Christmas...and time for a drink! Peppermint Schnapps is a lovely and refreshing aperitif and makes a nice, home made Christmas gift. I can't figure out if there is a difference between Peppermint Schnapps and Creme de Menthe, but I don't think it matters.

This recipe is made using grain spirit. It's also known as Polish spirit or Everclear. You can also find recipes to make schnapps using vodka.

A shot is lovely in your coffee, hot chocolate, eggnog or over ice cream. I've also got a few cocktail recipes down the bottom that use Peppermint Schnapps.

Peppermint Schnapps
makes about 1 litre

2.5 cups sugar
2.5 cups water
2/3 cup 96% grain spirit
3 tsp peppermint extract
green colouring (optional)

Heat sugar and water over gentle heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature. Stir in alcohol and peppermint extract. Add green food colouring if desired. Add a little at a time, until you reach the colour you're after. I like to separate the schnapps into two batches and leave one white, and colour one green.

It tastes best when left to mature for about 2 weeks (so I've been told, I never wait that long)

Mint Chip
1/2 shot Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 Kahlua
Coke (optional)

Pour Schnapps and Kahlua over ice and stir. Top up with Coke if desired.

Peppermint Kiss
1/2 shot Peppermint Schnapps

Pour Schnapps into a champagne flute. Fill with champagne or sparkling wine. Garnish with a small candy cane.

Icy Apple Martini
1 part  Vodka
1/2 part Sour Apple Schnapps
1/2 part Peppermint Schnapps

Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of apple.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Stocking - Tutorial

Santa Stocking

I'm really picky with the shape of Christmas Stockings, and I think I've finally settled on a shape I love. These stockings are quick and easy to make up and there is no end to the options for decorating these. They can be made from felt, burlap, Christmas fabric, velvet, old felted wool sweaters...the list goes on.

Christmas Stocking

You'll need:
Main fabric - approx 40 x 60 cm  (15.5 x 24 inches)
Fabric for cuff - 40 x 15 cm (15.5 x 6 inches)
Ribbon for hanger - 25 cm (10 inches)
Sewing supplies

First, download and print out the pattern. Stick the 2 pieces together, matching up the lines and cut it out.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

Fold your main fabric right sides together, and trace around the stocking template. Cut out the 2 pieces at the same time. If you want to cut the pieces out separately, then use the template right side up for one piece, and back side up for the other.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

With right sides together, sew around the edge of the stocking, leaving the top open. Turn right side out and press flat. I have used my overlocker for this, simply because it was already out on the table. However, you do not need an overlocker for this project, a regular sewing machine is just fine.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

Fold the cuff fabric in half down the length, and press. Open it out with the crease up, and line up the folded ribbon on one end, so it is to one side of the centre crease.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

Fold the other end over it, with the ribbon inside. To mark where to sew the ends together, line up the folded side of the cuff with the left edge off the stocking. You will need to sew the cuff just larger than the stocking, so mark where the right edge of the stocking is on the cuff and sew the ends of the cuff together just past that line. It is hard to tell this from my picture because the cuff is not flat. Turn right side out and fold in half along the crease.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

Put the cuff over the stocking, matching up the raw edges. The ribbon should be on the inside part of the cuff and on the heel side of the stocking.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

Sew around the edge. Turn the cuff up and press.

Santa Stocking

To add a name to the stocking, I printed out the name using the font 'HaloHandLetter', size 140pt. I put the paper behind the cuff and held it up on the window to trace the name with a tailors pencil. I then used glitter fabric paint to go over the name. You could also embroider the name on with some thread.

Santa Stocking Santa Stocking

Thursday, 15 December 2011

White Chocolate Christmas Cake

White Chocolate Cake

I first saw this recipe in the Sunbeam Christmas Recipe book and just reading the ingredients had my mouth watering. Hubby prefers light Christmas cake, so I thought this would be right up his alley. I've tweaked the ingredients a bit from the original, but it certainly does not disappoint.

I also did some more testing with the Fresh Express and grated the chocolate up before I melted it. You can see from the picture below that it worked quite well. I also tried making almond meal, which did work, but it was a bit uneven, and I also grated an apple which worked fine. Here's my first impressions of the Fresh Express.

Tefal Fresh Express

White Chocolate Christmas Cake

180g butter, softened
60g 1⁄4 cup caster sugar
160g 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
150g white chocolate, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
500g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, raisins, apricots and glace cherries)
100g Macadamia nuts, chopped
3/4 cup self raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup custard powder
1⁄3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Grease a 12 cup capacity bundt tin*.

Sift flours and custard powder into a large bowl. Stir to evenly combine.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually pour in the condensed milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. While still beating, gradually pour in cooled chocolate in a thin stream. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in mixed fruit and macadamia nuts.

Gently add the flour and buttermilk, alternating, in batches, until just combined. Spoon into prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 1hr 45 - 2 hours (I cooked mine a little too long), until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool before turning out.

*You can also use a 13cm x 27cm loaf tin, just double line the base and sides with baking paper.

Cake will keep well wrapped in an airtight container.

White Chocolate Cake

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Glitter Letters

Glitter Letters

Well, I'm now past the half way mark and pretty surprised I've managed to keep up all the Christmas posts. Roman has a cold and a new crop of teeth coming through this week :( He likes to get them in batches, which means we don't get a lot of sleep during the weeks he gets new teeth. I'm being very productive in my down time though, and these festive crafts are lots of fun. Here's the 7th day of Christmas.

I found these cardboard letters at a discount store for a few dollars each and though they were pretty cool, so picked a few up for this project.

These letters aren't limited to Christmas either, I think they'd be great done up in a little girls' favourite colour for her bedroom.

Glitter Letters

You'll need:
Paper mache letters - mine are about 25cm (10") tall
Acrylic paint
Découpage Glue (Mod Podge)* - see below to make your own
Clear gloss spray paint

First, give your letters a couple of coats of the acrylic paint. Mine needed 2 coats.

Glitter Letters

When they are totally dry, you can add the glitter. Lay out a large sheet of paper to catch your glitter. I used an opened out cereal box, but newspaper would also work. Using the découpage glue, paint the sides of the letters. I left it for a minute to go tacky, then went over it again with an unloaded brush to make the layer nice and even. Shake the glitter onto the glue.

Glitter Letters

If you missed a spot, just carefully add some more glue and then sprinkle on more glitter. Let it dry.

Using a dry paintbrush, wipe off any glitter that is hanging around on the fronts of the letters (the un-glittered sides). Now, take to the outdoors and give the letters a couple of coats of clear gloss spray paint to make them nice and shiny, but most importantly to seal the glitter so that it doesn't all fall off every time you touch it.

*To make your own Mod Podge, put some pva (white glue) into a jar and add half that amount of water. Put the lid on and shake to mix it evenly. The consistency should be like cream. It will keep in the jar for quite a while.

Glitter Letters

Tefal Fresh Express Winner - Take 2!

Well, after 3 days the first winner did not get back to me, so sadly for Amelia, but excitingly for everyone else, I have selected a new winner.

The winner of the Tefal Fresh Express giveaway is:

Karen McNeil!! Congratulations!

Karen said: My favourite kitchen gadget is the coffee machine... No explanation required I am sure!

Karen, I have sent you a message on Facebook requesting your details so please keep a look out. If I don't hear from you by the 16/12, a new winner will be drawn. Please, please get back to me. This will be the worst competition in history if I have another ghost winner.

Have fun grating and slicing!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tasty Treats for Furry Friends - Dog Biscuit Recipe

Doggie Treats

There are a few dogs in our extended family, and I always like to give them something for Christmas too. That way, I don't feel so bad when they're begging for the meat off my plate..I'm definitely not going to share that!

These home made dog biscuits are flavoured with peanut butter and smell pretty good when they're cooking. Last time I baked these at my Mother in law's, Eddie (the dog) sat in front of the oven watching them cooking and he didn't even know they were for him! If you dare to try one, do so at your own risk. They're pretty crunchy and I don't want you chipping a tooth.

Doggie Treats
makes about 60

160g (1 1/2 cups) rolled oats (quick cooking or regular)
50g (1/3 cup) margarine or butter*
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 beef or chicken stock cube
185g (1 cup) peanut butter
1 egg
300g (2 cups) whole meal/whole wheat flour

Doggie Treats

Preheat oven to 165ºC (330°F) and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, margarine, stock cube and boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes. Thoroughly stir in peanut butter and egg. Mix in flour, until a stiff dough has formed.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface. You may need to add a little more flour as needed until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll or pat out dough to 5 mm thickness. I find the dough is a bit rubbery, so I don't need to roll it between sheets of baking paper, it goes fine straight on the bench. Cut with cookie cutter or a knife and place 1 cm apart onto the prepared baking trays.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Cool before serving. Once dry, they should be crisp and hard.

The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container in the pantry for at least 12 months. They can also be stored in the freezer for at least 12 months. Simply put into a freezer container or wrap in foil. Can be served frozen for a cool summer treat or left to thaw before serving.

*I haven't tried it, but if you're worried about giving your dog butter or margarine, you could substitute with olive oil.

If you like this recipe then please take a moment to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with thingsforboys.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Salt Dough Decorations

Salt dough decorations

Making decorations with salt dough is a fun way to get the kids involved in the Christmas festivities. If your kids are too young to make decorations themselves, like Roman is, then you can press their hands or feet into the dough and cut them out. These make good keepsakes or gifts to give to the grandparents.

This recipe made enough for me to make 8 footprint ornaments and a pile of little Christmas trees. I would guess that you'd get about 11 of the footprint ornaments if that's all you were making. Mine are 12cm wide.

Salt Dough

2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of table salt
About 1 cup lukewarm warm water

Salt dough decorations

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mix and pour in about 1/2 of the water. Use a knife to mix it all together.

Add the remaining water a spoon at a time until the dough comes together and is just pliable enough to knead. It should not be sticky. There may be some dry pieces in the bowl, but you can knead them into the ball.

Now knead the dough on a smooth surface. Dust with a little flour if needed. Knead for about 10 minutes. You really do need to knead it for 10 minutes so that is nice and soft and you remove any air bubbles. 

Use the dough very soon after making and cover with a barely damp tea towel while you're working with other pieces. 

Roll out the dough about 4mm thick and cut out your shapes. The dough can also be rolled into sausages and shaped. To make the foot print ornaments, I cut out large circles with an old tin can and then pushed Roman's foot into the dough. For the year and name, I used some metal letter/number punches and just pushed them into the dough, but I think you could etch on them with a toothpick. To make a hole in the dough to loop some ribbon through, I used a plain icing tip, but you could also use a skewer.

For the remaining dough, I used a Christmas Tree cookie cutter.

Dry out the decorations in a preheated 120°C oven for about 2 hours. You don't want them to get any colour, you just want to dry them out. If it's too hot to turn your oven on, you can leave them to dry out naturally for about 48 hours.

Any rough edges can be tidied up with some sand paper or a nail file. You can leave them as is, or after they are totally dry, they can be painted with acrylic paints or sealed with some polyurethane or clear spray paint.

The backs on my footprints were a little ugly, so I glued a circle of felt on there to hide any lumps.

Salt dough decorations

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Tefal Fresh Express Giveaway: Winner!

The winner of the Tefal Fresh Express giveaway is:

Amelia McDermott!! Congratulations!

Amelia said: My favourite kitchen gadget (that I have - my favourite one that I don't have is a kitchenaid stand mixer! oh well, a girl can dream) is my ice cream machine. So easy to use and so delicious! I can have lovely resh home made ice cream all year round. Yum.

I love my ice cream maker (and my KitchenAid too)! I definitely need to make some ice cream this week.

I have sent you a message on Facebook requesting your details so please keep a look out. If I don't hear from you by the 12/12, a new winner will be drawn.

Have fun grating and slicing!

I also did a bit more testing of the Fresh Express this week, and will post about it next week.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Boil and Bake Fruit Cake

Boil and Bake Fruit Cake

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...four colly birds! Did you know it was 'colly' birds? I always thought it was 'calling' birds. Apparently, the word 'colly' means 'black as coal' and colly birds are actually blackbirds. Learn something new hey...

Anyway, today's post has nothing to do with birds and everything to do with of my favourite things in this world.

This cake is quick and easy to make and has a lovely gingerbread flavour, thanks to the dried ginger. The only thing I thought it was lacking was some glace cherries, but that's a personal preference, because I love them. Next time I make this, I'll chuck a handful of the cherries in too.

I used a combination of sugars because I ran out of brown sugar. The amounts in the recipe below are what I used.

Boil and Bake Fruit Cake

150g butter
300g sultanas
300g currants
130g brown sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup (250ml) water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Boil and Bake Fruit Cake

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except eggs, flour and baking powder. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

While the mixture is cooling, grease and line a 23cm cake tin. Put the oven on to preheat at 180°C (360°F).

Beat eggs into mixture until well combined. Sift flour and baking powder together, then beat into mixture until nice and even. Pour mixture into tin and spread out with a spatula to evenly fill tin. Bake for 1hr - 1hr 15 mins, until skewer comes out clean.

Cool in tin on wire rack. Turn out cake when cold.

The cake will keep for at least a few days, wrapped in cling film or stored in a cake tin. It also freezes and defrosts without a problem.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Bling your Baubles!

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

These baubles are a nice and easy project. You can write your friends' names or the year on them and tie them around a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine for a quick gift. Or you can just decorate them with pretty patterns. Boxes of plain baubles are usually pretty cheap, even before the sales.

Glitter Decorated Baubles

You'll need:
Some plain baubles
Glitter pen*

Christmas Decorations

Decorating them is pretty straight-forward. For the patterned ones, I just did the designs freehand, making them up as I went along. The names I did freehand too. If you're worried about messing it up, you could write on them with a fine whiteboard marker first and then go over that with the glitter pen.

If you're doing an all-over design, do one half, let it dry and then do the other half. That way, you have a side you can rest it on while it dries. I sit them in egg cartons while they're drying.

Hubby was telling me the blog needs more tutorials and that I should make this up into a tutorial, but really, it's just writing on a can't get much easier than that!

*I use the Dimensionals glitter fabric paint because it dries without shrinking, giving a nice raised effect.They're usually for fabric, but it sticks on to the baubles well. I had the tube already from a previous project (about 10 years ago) and it's still good as new. You could also use a normal glitter pen, or even some craft glue and then shake loose glitter over the top.

Dimensionals Fabric Paint

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cookies in a Jar with Free Printable

Cookies in a jar

For the second day of Christmas, here is a quick little gift. These cookies are so good, I won a KitchenAid mixer with the recipe. The jars make great gifts, party favours, teacher's gifts and are perfect for the school fete. The cookies are so yum that this has become my 'go to' cookie recipe. 

Cookies in a Jar
mix makes about 30 cookies

You'll need:
1 jar. I bought a 1L jar for this, but measured it and it's actually 800ml. It fit the ingredients perfectly. I've also been told that the large Moccona jar is pefrect too.
Labels - download the pdf printable here

Jar ingredients
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (75g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar (or white sugar)
3/4 cup (65g) rolled oats
100g craisins (dried cranberries)*
130g white chocolate chips*

Extra ingredients for making cookies
100g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Spoon the flour mixture into a 1L (4-cup) capacity glass jar. Top with brown sugar, then caster sugar. Top with oats, then craisins, then chocolate chips. Seal jar. Give as gift.

To make cookies, preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Line baking tray with baking paper. Empty jar into a large bowl. Add butter, egg and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Shape tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on baking tray approximately 7cm apart. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Turn biscuits onto a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining mixture. Serve. 

*These cookies can be made with all sorts of different fillings. Just substitute the craisins and choc chips for equal measures of any of the following: 
- m&ms to suit your colour theme
- crushed candy canes and dark choc chips
- sultanas and cornflakes
- pecans or walnuts and milk choc chips

- pistachios and craisins
- dark choc and milk choc chips

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Felt Garland and Paper Snowflakes


What better way to kick of my 12 Days of Christmas than with some decorations to get your house looking all lovely and festive. Here's an easy felt garland and a tutorial showing you how to make those pretty paper snowflakes.

Felt Garland

My Dad is one of those guys who has a workshop full of every tool imaginable. So when I wanted to make this garland, I thought I'd see if he had a tool I could use to cut the felt. Rather than spending hours cutting circles of felt with a pair of scissors, Dad got this done in about 10 minutes without any hand cramps!

The tool he used is called a wad punch and you simply line it up over your felt and hammer on the end to cut through the felt. You can cut several sheets at once, making quick work of the task.

felt circles

I used 4 1/2 sheets of felt. 1 each of green, red, lime green and burgundy and a half sheet of white. I had all of these in my craft box. Once the circles are all cut out, simply sew them all together in a long chain. If you pull on the one you have just sewn through as you start to sew the next, it will make the gap between them a bit bigger, if you want small, even gaps, just keep feeding them through.

Using 4 1/2 sheets of felt and circles 30mm in diameter, I got 2 garlands 4m in length.

Felt garland

Paper Snowflakes

These are lots of fun and easy to make. The trick to get them looking realistic (as realistic as a paper snowflake can be) is to fold the paper into 6 sections, not 8. I love that you don't know how it's going to look until you fold it open. These are a great project for kids who can use scissors. I loved to make them in the school holidays when I was little.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

Take your piece of paper and fold it diagonally.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

Open out the fold and then fold the bottom up so that the corner meets the fold line.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

Flip it over. Now, you need to fold this into thirds. Use the fold as a guide for the centre and fold one side in and then the other.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

They should match up evenly. Now, fold this in half.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

Cut off the excess as shown above. There is a flap on the inside you can use as a guide for one end and the fold on the outside for the other.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

Now you can get creative and cut out the patterns. Here are two examples.

paper snowflakes paper snowflakes

You can always fold them back up and do some more cutting too. When you're finished, go over them with the iron to get them nice and flat. Make sure that the iron is dry (steam setting turned off).
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