Friday, 27 November 2015

*Freebie* Christmas Gift Box Decoration Tutorial

For the last 3 or 4 years I have enjoyed making Christmas decorations to give to various friends and family. There have been baubles, mushrooms and Christmas trees... and this year... little gift boxes!

I so enjoy the process of trial and error, refinement and ultimately... Success! It's (almost!) Christmas so I thought I'd share my pattern with you here... now you can make your own wee mountain of gifts : )

Gift Box Decoration Tutorial

You will need:
3.75mm crochet hook (or similar size)
Yarn (I just used what was around... mostly 8 ply)
Contrasting or Glitter/Metallic Yarn
Large Wool Needle

You are basically creating 6 continuous box faces, of a similar size, that should meet and join together nicely.  To start, chain 6.

Starting in the second chain from the hook, single crochet (sc) 5 to the end. Chain 1 and turn.
Complete 5 more rows (5sc across each).

In the next row, only sc into the back v's of the previous row.  This will create a line, like the edge of a box!

Continue working 5 more normal sc rows.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Tie off your work.

Your first piece should look similar to this.  One continuous piece that has three sections marked by the wee lines (they can be a bit hard to spot).

If you want, you can create another piece exactly like this one and simply join the two by hand.

Leaving a long tail, attach and start working a row of sc into the side of the middle section of your first piece.  (I've tried to indicate what I mean with the 5 pins in the picture above.)

Start with the right/lined side facing away from you.  This will ensure all the lines created will be on the same side of the work.  (The star on the picture below indicates where to start the attachment.)

After the initial row, continue to work 5 more normal sc rows.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Tie off your work.  It would be prudent to leave another longish tail.

This picture shows you where all your lines should show and the star indicates where the joining starts.

Grab your large wool needle and, using the long "corner" tail you left, start joining the sides together.   Line up the edge of the short side with the first line of the long side to guide the positioning.

Continue working around the sides to create the box shape.  Before you sew up the last face, you will need to pop a wee box inside to help it keep shape.

To make the box:  Draw a shape (as shown below) on a piece of card.  The sides of each face measures 2cm.
Cut your shape out and stick the sides together to form a box with cellotape.

Once you've popped your little box inside the cover, continue stitching up the edges to join all sides.

Now, if you like, you can just tie some string around it, decorate, add a loop for hanging... whatever takes your fancy.

Or alternatively...
Measure out some contrasting/metallic yarn.  For this stitch I "measured" a piece by wrapping it around the box three or four times and left a long long tail.  See the picture below.

Then proceed to make a chain stitch all the way around, then cross and go all the way the other way around.  I know, I have a way with words but... basically we are simulating ribbon around the four sides ;p

When you get back to the beginning, tie it off but leave the long tail and create a loop for hanging.  Make sure to fasten off and "hide" your ends when you are done.

Hopefully that mostly made sense.  If something isn't clear or you get stuck - please just sing out and I will try my best to help!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Bread Recipe - the UK edition

3 years ago I shared with you our bread recipe. To this day we still bake it almost daily. However, after landing in the UK we went through a period of trial and error as the yeast and flour was different. And so, I give you our UK version if anyone from around these parts is keen to give it a go!

In a bowl thoroughly mix together (just with a wooden spoon):
1.5 cups of water
2 tsps of Easy Bake Bread Yeast
3 cups of strong bread flour
1.5 tsps of salt

No kneading!  Cover with clearwrap and let it rise.   We usually mix the dough first thing in the morning and bake at night, or the night before bed to bake first thing in the morning.  You can easily let it rise for 12 - 18 hours if you wish.  Or if it's a hot day/warm room/you're in a hurry... it can be ready in as little as 2-3 hours or so.

Set the oven to 220'C.  Place an enamel covered cast iron pot (or anything with a lid that can take the heat) in the oven, to pre-heat at the same time as the oven is, until the oven is up to temperature.

Now turn the risen dough out onto a heavily floured surface.  This dough is super sticky so it pays to flour your hands too.  Shape it into a ball/oblong/whatever shape you like(!) and then pop it into the hot pot.  Be careful of that hot pot!

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.  After this time remove the lid and bake for a further 5 minutes or so without it, if it needs further browning.

It should come out smelling and looking delicious!  Place the bread on a wire rack to cool.

Points of note: 
- If you are using the same easy bake yeast as pictured below, I would not recommend adding it to the water first as it tends to clump up.  We stir all the dry ingredients together and then add the water before mixing the whole lot up.  Works a treat.
- We usually mix up the types of bread flour we use and use different combinations.  This is a very versatile recipe and you can add nuts, grains, make it a savoury loaf with bacon and cheese or sweet with cinnamon and chocolate!  Just experiment with what works.  We don't really measure any additions and haven't had a dodgy loaf yet!
-  Also, if you need a smaller loaf just reduce the ingredients by a third or half and bake for the same amount of time.  Everything still works just as well.  We have even used this mixture to make buns by splitting the dough and rolling flat round balls before baking them in the pot.
- Lastly.  Not all bread flour is equal.  Here we buy the Sainsbury's bread flour as we have found it delivers the best results and is no more expensive than other homebrands.

If you have any questions just send me a note. I'll try my best to answer/help! Enjoy :)
L xx

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Forty Six/52

It's cooled down significantly this week but the leaves continue to be fun. Our brisk walks to and from school are still a great time for some interesting conversations. Hearing about the details from your days at school is such fun. You've made me laugh so much this week... I just wish I can remember even half of the things you three have come out with!

Friday, 13 November 2015

We are diamonds taking shape

Haven't done one of these for a long time. Am absolutely loving this new track.
Happy weekend! xx

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Forty Five/52

Bonfire week. Our street had a get together on Friday night and let off lots of fireworks. How you enjoyed it being dark enough to experience this! The delight of sparklers :) H went on a school trip to a transport museum at the beginning of the week and buzzed about it every day since. And on Saturday L and mum went to the open stitching day. You were absolutely determined to do back-stitching like your sisters even though many of the other ladies thought you would be better off with something simpler :) But you know your mind and you did beautiful back-stitching.

L xx

Monday, 2 November 2015

9 Months in October

October was a beautiful autumnal month. Golden leaves everywhere. The sun started getting lower and daylight savings ended. Those beautiful sunbeams cast such a glow upon it all. It brought about more apple baking. And lots of baking in general. The oven seemed to be on more than it was off!

At school we had our first parent interviews, a reading workshop with L's year and made a hilarious times tables rap video with A as a homework assignment. Then mid-term break came along in the last week of October and we enjoyed slower mornings and a bit of a rest.

There were quite a few playdates and fun with the children of the neighbourhood too. And we had our first visitors come to stay! A real treat for us and a lovely opportunity to see our new city, not as tourists, but as hosts!

At the start of the month H and I set off to the open stitching session in town. Loved seeing my girl hone her skills. Christmas makes finally gained a bit of momentum too, in between pattern testing and custom order making.

Life continued to be full and busy but good. We are soooo looking forward to our first winter Christmas!
L xx

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Forty Four/52

A great mid-term break. A playdate, reading, chilling, the odd movie, baking. And a lot of playing! We had great fun also working on a rap video for a homework project for A - we laughed and laughed and laughed. A backyard filled with gorgeous autumn leaves and light - made for some wonderful play and lots of laughter.

I often feel a bit gushie when it comes to you three - but my goodness... I look at those faces and I watch you going about your day-to-day's... pieces of my heart walking around outside my body, and it is full and bursting with love and joy.
L xx