Monday, 30 December 2013

Planning Ahead Gift Tags

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I'm not really one to tackle the post Christmas sales, but this year I've been very tempted to mingle with the hoards of shoppers to try and pick up wrapping paper and gifts tags while they are heavily discounted.  My current supply is running very low and as I was writing out gift tags this year, it was a close run thing as to whether or not I would have enough.  It almost, but not quite,  got to the stage that I would be writing names straight onto the wrapping paper...a disaster!

Thankfully, my dislike of shopping for anything other than craft supplies, quickly kicked in come Boxing Day  and so rather than purchase gift tags, I've  made some more using the beautiful cards we've been sent this year.  Lovely messages from family members far away are received with joy in the lead up to Christmas and I'm really delighted that the cards themselves will be used again.

To start, it's a simple matter of going through the cards and checking that there is no writing on the back of the picture you want to use.  We are very lucky in this household to own a set of Smiggle scissors with interchangeable patterned blades.  This give a lovely effect, but really don't hesitate to use regular scissors if you don't own fancy ones.

After a few minutes of cutting, we've got a lovely pile of gift tags for next Christmas.  All they need is a hole punch and a little ribbon and our tags will be complete.

If you're wanting ideas on how to recycle cards, Planet Ark provide some very useful info.

Happy Crafting

Deb

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Quick Crochet Gifts for Christmas

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I know the pre-Christmas panic is starting to settle in when I gaze down at my long list of present recipients and realise there are very limited crafting days left and I'm at the stage where I need to make a gift a night.  With this in mind, we've compiled a list of quick and easy gifts that can be done in a day, or two at the most.


Perfect for Lego loving kids, our free crochet pattern utilises bobble stitch to great effect.  It's a brilliant way to use up brightly coloured yarn and it may even encourage kids to keep clean...it's a win-win.



 
This is a beautiful gift for anyone who travels, from Aunts to neighbours, this lovely crochet bag is as useful as it is pretty.





Flip Flops (or thongs if you live in Australia) are cheap and a bit of crochet can add that little bit of zing to transform them from plain to personalised.


We love Crochet Roses and while we've used them for a brooch in this instance, don't hesitate to find other uses for them.  We've been splashing them around on tea cosiesdoor stops and even wine cosies, each making a wonderful gift for a special person in your life.






We hope your Christmas list includes lots of lovely crochet items.
Merry Christmas

Deb and Louise

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Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too. - See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.SKtgXQS1.dpuf

Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas High Tea

Pin It It's beginning to look a lot like christmas .. 

Everywhere I go at the moment this song seems to be playing - whether sung by Bing Crosby or a barely recognisable accordion version.  Either way, there is no choice but to turn your thoughts to Christmas.

It's a time to catch up with friends and family but not always for the extravagant Christmas lunch.  Why not for a bit of afternoon tea?

Our lovely Gingerbread recipe is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of Christmas tea or coffee.










No need to stop there though .. what about an Australian Christmas Classic - Rocky Road?  A bit of chocolate at Christmas never goes astray.



Of course we'll be needing a suitable tea cosy for the occasion .. We have 2 perfect cosies to choose from.  Our Santa Christmas Cosy and our Nordic tea cosy are both delightful and the patterns are free.




















 If you are after something a little stronger, a Christmas tipple is a sure fire way to get the conversation flowing.  Whilst we don't have any recipes for wine making, we do have a free pattern for some wine cosies which will add a festive flair to any table.

Our list of very simple, hand made Christmas Decorations  will also help ensure that your Christmas is not only delicious, but crafty as well.

However you entertain this Christmas, we hope it's a fabulous affair filled with lots of love and laughter.

Merry Christmas,
Louise & Deb

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Monday, 9 December 2013

Woven Christmas Cutlery Pouches

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There's been a lot of talk about weaving in my family lately.  My father has been restoring an old table top loom and I was very excited a little while ago when Dad took his laptop into his shed and we skyped while he showed me how it all came together.  I'm itching to start weaving on it, but alas it won't be here for a while yet.  It's got a long cross country journey to undertake when Louise and her fiance Peter drive from Perth to Melbourne the week prior to Christmas.

In the meantime, I've been playing around on my daughter's toy loom in the hope of learning a little bit about weaving before my long awaited table top loom arrives.  Now I'm not one to go all out at Christmas, I prefer a quiet and relaxed day filled with large amounts of family, food and laughter (and if I can sneak an afternoon nap in that's even better).  This year though, people are making a journey of pretty close to 3500km to spend the day with us, so I thought I'd better make a little bit of an effort to dress the dining room table.

I've gone for traditional Christmas colours this year and purchased a couple of balls of "Esther" brand yarn from my local Lincraft store and decided to add some glitter silver wool I had picked up for a bargain at a nearby charity shop.

The process of weaving, even if it is only on a toy loom, is rather relaxing and so I've spent my evenings in a  peaceful state as I've made the fabric for each little pouch.  I threaded the entire width of the little loom using crochet cotton and rather than counting rows, I've used a rough estimate of width so the each pouch is slightly different.


I've been using different combinations of colours to add even more variety and then I've simply sewn up each pouch adding a little silver trim around the top and a silver Christmas ornament to finish.

If you don't have a loom, you could really use any fabric you like for these, or perhaps even cut up an old jumper and sew the pouches from that!

I'm excited at the thought that by this time next year I might even be making Christmas table runners and placemats on the table top loom...

Happy Weaving

Deb

Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too.
Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too. - See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.FBoPnp5J.dpuf

Friday, 6 December 2013

Gingerbread Christmas Tree

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Gingerbread Christmas Tree

I have what I believe to be, the best gingerbread recipe in the world.  I just love it but I only
make it at Christmas time.  It's a Thermomix recipe which means that making it is an easy and relatively tidy affair.  

I was out shopping with my daughter the other day and I came across a Christmas tree baking kit for $5.  It goes without saying that I snapped it up and this years gingerbread cookies will now become a tree.  I noticed on the packaging that it said 'fun for the whole family'.  How I laughed.  Try as I might, I could never re-create those wonderfully traditional scenes about cooking with children in the kitchen.  I could never see past the mess.  This year, as we are going away, we aren't putting up a tree.  In fact, there are no decorations at all so I am really pleased that our house at least has a little something that nods in the direction of Christmas.

The Thermomix recipe can be found here.  For those of you without a Thermomix, the translated recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:
270g Icing sugar
1 Egg white
100g butter
250g honey
half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
half a teaspoon of ground cardamom
half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg
half a teaspoon of salt
500g plain flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 egg lightly beaten

Method

1.  Using a hand beater/mixer, mix 150g of the icing sugar and the eggwhite to make the icing.  Cover and set aside in a bowl.

2.  In a saucepan on low heat, gently stir together the butter, remaining icing sugar, honey and spices.  Stir until all the butter and honey have melted and all the ingredients are mixed.

3.  Remove from heat and transfer into a mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and egg and knead to form dough.

4.  Let the dough cool and rest for about 2 hours.

5.  Preheat the oven to 180C
Cut the dough ball into 4 equal pieces and roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper to a thickness of about 5mm.  Bake the gingerbread shapes in the oven for between 12-15 minutes.  The christmas tree has a number of different sized star cookies so it will take a bit of oven watching to make sure that they all cook properly.

If you are making gingerbread cookies, glaze the gingerbread with the icing whilst they are hot and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Once you have baked the stars, gently 'thread' them on the pole and offset them.  Sprinkle with icing sugar to represent snow.  Alternately, they can be made into lovely christmas tree ornaments (that's if they make it to the tree .. I can never stop at eating just one)

If you don't have a stand to make the christmas tree, use the icing to 'glue' the stars on top of each other.  

This tree would be fabulous for children to decorate with sprinkles, edible flowers and glitter and some chocolate and I know I will be making a few of these to give away to friends and family.

This recipe makes the tree which is 15 stars and 25 gingerbread cookies.  Rather a perfect amount for Christmas time.

and yes .. you are correct in noticing that there is no ginger in this gingerbread. Technically, it should be called cardamom bread I suppose. Either way, it is just delicious.


Merry Christmas,
Louise

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Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas Traditions

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I have a confession to make regarding Christmas.  You see, our Christmas doesn't look anything like those TV adverts where perfect families race downstairs on Christmas morning, children all bright eyed and shiny haired and the Christmas tree perfectly put together.  In the ads, the presents are wonderfully wrapped and excited youth  sit surrounded by mountains of expensive gifts and then a meal is served from family heirloom quality crockery and all of the happy, smiley people gaze lovingly at each other for the rest of the day.

It can be hard to put together any sort of traditional Christmas when you're first a couple and it wasn't until we spent our first Christmas in the UK, not knowing anyone and with two very young children, that our own traditions were started.  From that first Christmas by ourselves we realised how easy it was to get involved in the advertising hype, and by putting all of that aside, the best Christmases are formed.  Our first cold Christmas was a wonderful day of relaxation. Our main meal included the Supermarket delights of frozen roast potatoes and Yorkshire puds (we were in Yorkshire after all), followed by lovely phone calls to our family in Australia, who were enjoying the endless sunshine of an Australian Summer, and children who were just happy to play with their toys and enjoy their usual afternoon nap. 

Our Christmases haven't changed much since our early UK festivities.  Our morning starts with the children opening their Christmas stockings and the rule is not before 6am - we all need our beauty sleep.  We then have a lovely leisurely breakfast of a Summer fruit salad (Watermelon cubes, Strawberries and Blueberries drizzled with passionfruit), Danish pastries, coffee and juices before the main pressie opening begins. Strict budgets apply to the presents so part of the excitement is seeing what everyone managed to buy each other for next to nothing.

The rest of the morning is then spent putting the final touches to our main meal.  We're very lucky in Australia that Christmas falls in Summer.  For the last few years our meat slowly cooks in the BBQ outside while the salads are prepared and the trifle and/or pavlova is made of dessert.  Lunch is eaten, and even I confess to using paper plates on occasion, no-one wants to do all of that washing up, and then in between phone and skype calls we marvel at how easy Christmas can be...

...even if it doesn't quite feel that way when there's less than a month to go!

Hope all your Christmas plans are coming together.

Deb

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