Friday, 30 September 2016

Pine cone firelighters - 50 makes for Christmas 20/50

Now that the temperatures have started to drop and there is a distinct Autumnal feel in the air it is only a matter of time before we will be closing the curtains, lighting the fire and snuggling down on the sofa.  With this in mind it seems like an ideal time to share this make, I have seen these posh firelighters in the shops around Christmas time but can never bring myself to buy them as they are ridiculously expensive for what they are.  In theses circumstances of course you consult the oracle that is Pinterest and Pinterest says yes Sandra you can makes these yourself,

There seems to be two methods of making these either drip hot wax over the cone or melt a tea light in a cake case and place the pine cone in the melted wax, these were made using the second method.

Heat the oven to gas mark 4.  Take the tealight out of the metal case and stand it in a cupcake wrapper and place in a muffin tin. I used silicone cases for mine, they were brought a few years a go when I was experimenting with making my own candles but they never got used.

Pop in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, you need to keep a close eye on these as you only want the candle to melt to a liquid state.  You most use extreme caution as hot wax can burn quite badly and is highly flammable, after the falmmability is what we will be harnessing!

Remove from the oven, push the wick in the metal disc to the side of the case using handle of a spoon (or other), this will be used to light the completed firelighter.  The wicks are very short and a couple did separate from the disc, I still poked them to the side and I am hoping that won't create any issues when I use them.

Place the pine cone in the melted wax and leave to cool.  You can either leave in the paper cake case or peel it off, the removed cake cases will also be good to help start your fire, they do look very nice once "peeled" and more like the shop brought ones.

I will be bagging some up as gifts and keeping some to use myself.  You can add spices such as cinnamon to the melted wax for a Christmassy smell.  I am planning to dry some orange slices as part of my 50 makes for Christmas and I think I might quarter a couple of the slices and add them in to a future batch, they will look pretty and should smell nice too.

That is make number 20 completed from my 50 makes for Christmas challenge.

Has this inspired you to have a go or do you have your own method of creating home made fire lighters?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Paper pom-poms - 50 makes for Christmas 19/50

I have a small stack of paper cake cases that have "spread" as I didn't store them in the box they came in, I can't even remember why they were taken out in the first place!   They have been knocking round one of the kitchen cupboards for a while and I didn't want to throw them away as I was sure that they could be re-purposed.

I was inspired by this giant pom pom made with coffee filters, I think they are the same shape so I guessed that they would work in a similar way.

They were pretty easy to make, I just folded/pinched the centre and put in a couple of stitches to hold, the second one was attached to the first and then I just continued adding on until I felt that it was "full".

I tied off the the thread and will use this to hang it up.

These are going to be used at a baby shower that my daughters friends have organised for her so I introduced a few pink cake cases into one of the pom poms but I don't feel that this has worked very well as the pink cases are larger than the white ones and I am  not entirely happy with the end product.

I think the white ones look like paper snowballs and will be a great addition to my Christmas decorating stash.  I think they would look good strung together to make a garland or a few hang in the window would be quite cute.

I am pleased that I have been able to find a use for some of the squashed cake cases and I will have to try and think of some other uses for the remaining ones.  I could of course make a huge stash and start a paper pom pom snowball fight!!

That is another one ticked off the list and one step nearer to achieving my goal of 50 makes for Christmas.

Do you have something in the cupboard that you just can't bring yourself to throw away because you are waiting for the right project to come along?  or is it just me?  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Chutney - 50 makes of Christmas - 18/50

I love making chutney, especially using ingredients we have grown ourselves.  Hubby is now the tomato grower in our household and it makes me smile to see him lavishing them with love and attention.

I love this recipe for Autumn Chutney that uses both tomatoes and apples from the garden, it doesn't take ages to cook, tastes nice and light making it good to be used all year round.  I particularly like it on a cheese sandwich made with Hovis bread and a nice mature cheddar..............drool

The apple chutney recipe I used last year resulted in a very sticky, toffee like, sweet and very dark chutney, it received mixed reviews but was a surprising star with Colton Basset Blue cheese.  So this year I am interviewing new recipes as I am looking for something that is a bit more versatile and is a good all rounder.

One of the things with chutney making is that you can't be sure what it is going to be like until it comes out of the jar once it has matured.

This year I am going to try this recipe from Gemma Garner's blog post from 2013, it has no sultanas so it will be a nice contrast to the Autumn chutney I am making, it doesn't have a million ingredients which I see as a good thing, it means you don't buy something like Outer Mongolian Camel dust that you only use once then it sits in a jar in a cupboard until five years after it has gone out of date then you finally give in and throw it away.

I am hoping for a last flourish of sunshine to finish off the tomatoes so that I can get stuck in, I will try and remember to post an update once we get round to testing it at Christmas.

This will be make number 18 so just 32 more to complete the 50 makes for Christmas.

How is your harvest have you already picked all your homegrown goodies?

Friday, 16 September 2016

Rudolph gift tags - 50 makes for Christmas 17/50

These gift tags are really cute and easy to make so this is ideal to get children involved in.

In keeping with my plan to use up things I already had in, the tinsel pipe cleaners these were brought for 50p in the sale about 3 years ago, the googley eyes are from a kit I was given last year and the the red pom poms are recycled from last years Advent Adventure

I poked the pipe cleaner through the hole at the top for the string, it needed a little bit of gentle manoeuvring so small children may need a bit of help with this.

Snip about an inch to an inch and a half of the top of each side

Twist the bit that has been snipped off onto the top of the pipe cleaner to create the antlers

Work out the position of your pom pom nose and googley eyes

Or in my case work out where you want to stick them and just plonk them on wherever!

I used evo stick glue as that is what I had to hand but I think sticky fixers would be better if doing this project with children.  They have not been tested under the tree so I don't know how robust these will be.  We always seem to end up with at least a couple of presents without tags.  

We did have fun one year when my daughter carefully wrote out the gift tags to both her Grandmas with "to Grandma" they were sat side by side on the sofa and kept undoing each others presents :)

So that is make number 17 completed and I am well on my way to completing the first 20!

It looks like the sun has decided that it has done enough shining and the rain is making up for lost time.  I think that Nottingham has been quite lucky compared to other parts of the UK, over that past couple days of days I have seen some real horror pics on FB with lightening strikes, flooding and a train derailed due to a landslide!  I hope you are all safe and dry and that the weather doesn't hinder your weekend plans.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Felt flower brooch - 50 makes for Christmas 16/50

This is not especially a Christmas make, but I have included it on the list as a suitable Christmas gift.

I found the instructions for this on Pinterest a couple of years ago but I can't find the link any more so it must have been taken down,

This is a good project to use up small scraps as the petals are quite small, you just need to draw around a button, penny or 5p and then cut out the circle, It doesn't matter if it is not a perfect circle a bit of variation adds to the overall look.

I use 5 petals for each flower so you need to cut 15 circles in total.

In addition you will need to cut a couple of leaf shapes, I just cut these free hand. I would suggest cutting a template on a bit of light card if you don't feel confident to just go for it.  I also cut a small heart shape to mount the brooch back on, this is just a little touch I like to add, a small circle would do the job just as well.

Pinch the circle together and put in a couple of stitches to hold the shape.  I use yellow embroidery thread to act as the centre of the flower.

Pinch the next petal add a couple of stitches and attach to first petal, repeat until all 5 petals are attached.  Sew the final one to the first one to create a circle.

Sew a few stitches in the middle, this will help hold it altogether and create a nice yellow centre for the flower.

Sew a brooch back onto  heart shape , locate it towards the top of the shape so that it doesn't flop forward when it is being worn.

Before you sew anything down have a little play around with the position of the leaves and the flowers.  Once you are happy start by attaching the leaves to the heart shape.

Then start sewing on the flowers.

Your brooch is completed and ready to wear.

This is actually a replacement for one I made a couple of years ago, I wear an awful lot of blue and white stripped tops and this works a treat of them.  It looks just as good on the lapel of a coat or the handle of your bag.

I think this could be a nice gift for female sports fans as you could use the colours of the team they support.

And that completes make 16 in my 50 makes for Christmas challenge.

Do you make any Christmas gifts for your friends and family or do you feel that they won't be appreciated?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Red and White Felt Toadstools - 50 Christmas makes - 15/50

More felt work today, this was inspired by a toadstool brooch I made a couple of years ago, I am glad to say that the brooch is still going strong and I regularly receive nice comments when I wear it.  This was the original inspiration for my brooch

I made a template by drawing the toadstool shape on an old cereal box and played around with it until I got a shape that I was happy with. I then traced round the top that is going to be the red part and made a second template - this needs to be a little bit larger than the base as it sits over the top.

Cut two red heads and two white head and body.  I cut out double layer of felt so that I could be sure that both sides would be identical.

You can cut out small holes in the red heads to allow the white to show through or use very small white buttons as I have done.  These were a bit of an e-bay mistake so I love that I have found a nice way to use some of them. Check that you are sewing the second lot of buttons onto the correct side otherwise you will need to remove them and start again (cough cough ooops).

Sew in a loop of ribbon to the middle of one of the white "heads" this will be used to hang the finished item on the tree, this sewing is not visible in the finished item.

Sew the two white pieces together sandwiching the ribbon into the middle. Pop the red head over the top and sew around the sides.

I chose not to add any stuffing to this as I felt that 4 layers of fabric gave it enough body.

I was looking for a template to help you with this when  I found this (page 48/49) and it involves buttons so I was quickly sold it.  There are a raft of other ideas for Christmas makes, I wish I had found it sooner, I could have just followed some of their instructions instead of fumbling through making things up as I go along!

So another one off the list, making it 15 out of my 50 makes for Christmas.

Another "photoshoot" using the battered olive tree, I am really selling myself the idea of dressing it up for Christmas.

Good news on the weather front, it looks like we are getting another burst of sunshine before mother nature rolls over into autumn.  This is great news for us as we are off to the Goodwood Revival at the weekend, we have been for the past two years and on each occasion we have been blessed with perfect summer days, fingers crossed we are lucky again.

Have you got any outings planned for the weekend or will you be sitting at home being creative?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Something using buttons - 50 makes for Christmas 14/50

Welcome to September the first of the "ber" months and it is certainly feeling brrr here today and doing Christmas makes is feeling more in keeping with the change in the weather.

When I was brainstorming ideas for the 50 makes of Christmas one of the the things I jotted down was make something with buttons. I have plenty of them! not quite to the point where people point in the street and whisper about me behind my back more to the point where they really ought to be organised and I really ought to pass some on to new homes.

This little pile came from a charity shop in Norfolk when I was on holiday last year, I have already dipped into them a couple of times and even after making the two little wreaths it doesn't seem to have made an indentation on them. I do enjoy the ethics of buying in a charity shop, you give directly to the charity so it benefits, the stuff doesn't go to landfill (at this point), you get what you want for less money than buying new and nothing new was made so no new resources had to be used.

I threaded them onto some quite robust florist wire, I tried to keep the buttons close together but sometimes the wire decided where it wanted to bend and that was that, one of the joys of making your own is that it's imperfections are part of its beauty.

I threaded about 18 to 20 buttons then joined the two ends together and fashioned a loop for hanging.  I pushed the finished wreath over a glass to get the circle shape.  I tried to put it round one of my star shaped cutters but some of the buttons were positioned where it needed to bend and it just looked a bit malformed so I abandoned that idea.

I think their neutral colours will act as a foil against some of the more strongly coloured decorations that I  have but they look a little bit lost on the olive tree on this grey day.

That is make number 14 completed out of my 50 makes for Christmas.

What is the weather like where you are, is it grey wet and cold or are you still basking in some late summer sun?