Homemade Christmas Gifts…

This week I have been busy again.  I started the week by making another batch of laundry liquid.  It still amazes me how much I save by making my own liquid and it only takes about fifteen minutes to make approximately three months worth (and I wash a full load every day).

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I also made some more dishwasher liquid too, using soap nuts:

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And I topped up my homemade multipurpose kitchen spray too, using white vinegar and a few drops of teatree oil.  The vinegar cuts easily through grease and dirt and the teatree oil turns it into an antibacterial spray.

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All of the above things help me to save money around the home and I don’t use any nasty chemicals either.

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In the garden:

I also managed to buy another bag of woodchip to complete my the paths in the new area in my kitchen garden:

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I then brought a couple of bags of soil conditioner to spread over two of my beds (I will buy some for the other beds another day):

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I have left the soil conditioner on the top of the soil so the worms can do the hard work for me over winter.  I have also covered the two beds with weed suppressant to prevent weeds from growing and to also prevent the winter rain from leaching the nutrients out of the soil:

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I am already looking forward to growing crops in this area next Spring.

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Preparations For Christmas:

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Well Christmas is nearly here and this week I have been turning my attention to Christmas presents.

On Saturday I talked to BBC Radio Leicester about Christmas presents on a budget:

You can listen to the interview here if anyone is interested.  The interview starts 11 mins into the show.

I love chatting to Radio Leicester and they always make me feel very welcome.  I hope this comes across in the interview.

One of the things I talked about was homemade presents.  I love homemade presents as I always say they are “from the heart and not just the bank account”.  I took in three homemade presents to show (and taste) and explained that they are far cheaper to make than buy and by making them yourself you can have far nicer presents for far less money:

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The present on the right looks like a Christmas pudding and my daughter made these for all her friends and teachers last year and kindly made this one for me to take to the radio show.  It is a chocolate orange with maltesers stuck on with melted chocolate and she melted white chocolate over the top (to look like cream) and she put a little bit of plastic holly on the top.  She wrapped it in cellophane and it looked fantastic.

The box in the middle had homemade truffles in.  I love homemade truffles as they are so easy to make and look and taste really good:

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I also took in a present of which contained cubes of chocolate with cranberries and sultana’s and this is how I made it:

First I melted a bar of my favourite chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water stirring all the time…

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When the chocolate had melted I added some cranberries and sultana’s and mixed them until they were fully coated in the chocolate (you can use anything you enjoy e.g. smarties, maltesers etc)…

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I then poured the mixture into a tin / container that was lined with clingfilm (you can use silicone bakeware too if you have it)….

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I then left the chocolate mixture to set (don’t put it in the fridge).

When it was set I took it out of the mould and removed the clingfilm….

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I drizzle some melted white chocolate over the top and again left it to set…

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When it was set I chopped the chocolate into cubes and wrapped it in cellophane….

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Top chefs will tell you that the chocolate should be ‘tempered’ to keep the shine on the chocolate, but if you slowly melt the chocolate and keep it away from the fridge whilst setting, I don’t think you need to for this.

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This week, as Christmas is near I turned my attention to my Christmas hampers.  I started by covering my homemade jars of jams and chutneys with a pretty pieces of tissue paper, tied with a bow:

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And then I wrapped a few surprises (including my homemade wine) to also go into my hampers too and then I started to put them altogether:

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I am very pleased with the result, though I do still have two hampers to do.

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I also made three mini Christmas cakes this week and a full sized cake too.  The Christmas cake recipe I use is very easy and can be eaten straight away, without having to continually ‘top it up’ with brandy.  The recipe is here.

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I like to give the mini Christamas cakes to our parents, as they are just the right size for them to enjoy.

I decorated the mini cakes and wrapped them in cellophane and I think they look great and I would be very pleased to receive one….so lets hope they like them:

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Just incase you are wondering, I brought my roll of cellophane approximately three years ago on-line and I still have loads left.

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  I checked this week and you can buy a 100 meter roll of clear cellophane for about £12 (incl. delivery).

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Before I finish today I wanted to show you a lovely couple of chocolate logs that my daughter made last week for her friends at school…..apparently they all enjoyed it.   The recipe is here.

Each chocolate log costs approximately £1.50 to make and tastes delicious……to buy a supermarket ‘finest’ chocolate log it costs £3 and I bet it wouldn’t be as nice!

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I also want to show you some wonderful cakes that one of my daughters friends made to take into school too this week:

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I think the cakes look wonderful and it just shows what you can do with a little bit of imagination!

“Homemade really is from the heart and not just the bank account”

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

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25 thoughts on “Homemade Christmas Gifts…

  1. Oh you have been busy! Mind you, you always are.
    All of it looks fantastic. I shall give the cubed chocolate one a try sometime. Your daughter made a good job with the chocolate orange. The cakes in the last pic are very clever too.
    Like you say, homemade is always so much nicer.

    Best wishes,
    Angela ( Devon)

  2. Wow another busy week and your hampers look amazing! I too have been busy making gifts….homemade essential oil roller balls, pretty cards and a huge batch of freezer food for a poorly friend 😊 I too love that many of my friends appreciate home spun gifts…have a good week X

      • It’s a little blue glass bottle into which you put a larger amount of carrier oil (in my case almond oil) and then drops of your chosen essential oil. So for my friend whose just come out of hospital after a difficult procedure, I used ‘calming’ oils and for myself I have a standby ‘headache, busting formula to use before I reach for the paracetamol! And you just roll the ball over temples, pulse points and base of hairline……there’s lots of info on Pinterest if you’re interested. Thanks for asking!x

  3. Wow all the homemade presents are amazing you and your daughters have worked so very hard, this year we have been decorating the last carpet is fitted Monday and after several years I can get my upstairs all straight, but I shall definately be making some hampers next year with homemade produce. Do have a brilliant week.
    Sue

    • That is great news that your decorating is complete and the carpet is being laid today….what a relief for you that it is all over as decorating is quite stressful when everything is all over the place. It will be lovely to start getting back to normal won’t it

  4. Your home made goodies look gorgeous. I listened to your interview – you came across as a lovely friendly lady who talks sense! I have a question, if you can help. I really want to make the laundry liquid but although I can find all of the ingredients for it I’m unable to find soap flakes? Where do you buy yours from? I’ve got all my empty bottles ready for the job!! I’ve nearly come to the end of a 120 wash giant persil so now’s the time.

    • Hi Mrs Hughes thanks for listening to the interview….I am really glad you said about talking sense as that’s exactly how I want to come across.

      Regarding the soapflakes….I haven’t brought any for a long while as the box lasts ages so I checked Wilkinsons / Amazon websites to send you a link, but both said it was unavailable which I thought was strange. I rang the ‘Dri-Pak’ who make it and they said they have discontinued it and they now only sell ‘liquid soap flakes’. The gentleman was really lovely and explained you use the same amount of liquid soap flakes as dry soap flakes……but I’m not sure now whether this will be more expensive or not, so I am going to have to do some research after Christmas and also see if it washes as well as the old recipe?

      In the mean time, would you like me to post a cup of my soap flakes to you?…..(I could email you to ask for your address so you don’t have to put your address on here)

      • Thank you so much for your kind offer. I think I’ll wait and see what your findings are in the New Year if you decide to go with the liquid flakes.In the meantime I’ll keep looking – you never know there might be an olde worlde hardware shop that still stocks them! (The sort of shop I love!!!)

  5. I love all your home made gifts. This year I received a home made hamper from my mum full of jams and chutneys that I love but never seem to have time to make. I am the only one who eats them in my family, so I tend to make the things that everyone else like. Her spicy pumpkin chutney is delicious, and I have been having it in my sandwiches with left over roast chicken. I can’t think of a better gift to receive 🙂

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