Tag Archive | Drying oranges on a radiator

A Yule Log Recipe And Homemade Hampers/Decorations

This week has been another busy week, but I have really enjoyed it.

Mr Thrift was having a ‘get together lunch’ at work and everyone needed to take something for a buffet.  A couple of people had asked him to take in another pumpkin and orange cake, so on Tuesday I made one:

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I was very pleased to say it all went very quickly.

The recipe is here if anyone is interested.

They also judged the Christmas jumper competition (the proceeds were going to the Rainbows charity) and the jumper I made my husband last week won, which made me chuckle.

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Apparently they all enjoyed the Christmas chocolates that I had sewn on the back.

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I also started to make up my hampers for my family too.  I had bought little bits and bobs for them over the year, tailoring the gifts to each family.  I also added some homemade jams and chutneys (though not as many as last year due to the builders being here).

I used tissue paper circles (cut out using a saucer) and raffier ribbon to tie the tissue paper over the jars.  I think it always looks nice this way.

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I have a big roll of cellophane that I bought last year on the internet for a bargain price and I’m sure it will last me years.  I use this to wrap the hampers, tying it with Christmas ribbons:

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Last year my sister gave me her basket back as she didn’t have room for it in the house, so this year I thought it would be a good idea to add a little note in each basket that said:

“I would really like you to find a use for this basket, however if you can’t please return it to me and I’ll refill it with goodies for you next Christmas”

I thought that this way the baskets won’t end up in the rubbish bin or charity shop if they don’t want them and it will save me money next year, as I won’t have to buy them again (which certainly helps me) and it’s better for the environment to recycle them too.

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Remember the oranges that I left on my radiator to dry for a week or two?…I’m pleased to say that the oranges dried really well on the radiator, without the need to put them in the oven.  I put a little hole in each one when they were nearly dry so I could thread some wire or ribbon through it.

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I sprayed some twigs with a cheap gold spray that I bought last year from Wilkinsons and then decorated them with holly, cones and the dried oranges and finished it with the battery lights from my husbands ‘Christmas Jumper’ and some ribbons.

I was very pleased with how it turned out (though for some reason it doesn’t look so good in the photo’s below):

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I put it in our old dinning room which we will decorate after Christmas now the old fireplace has been fitted.  It makes the room look really Christmassy.

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I also made some individual cakes for Mr Thift’s work colleagues as a gift for Christmas.  I used my muffin recipe here and piped icing on the top using this recipe.

I managed to get some single cake cases to put them in and I was very pleased with the overall result:

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Another job I did was to make some White Chocolate, Apricot and Brandy Truffles for my dad as a surprise (he really loves them).  The recipe is here.  I can’t wait to give them to him at the weekend.

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A Christmas Chocolate Yule Log

We love a Yule Log for Christmas in our family and it’s now a family tradition to argue over the end piece.  I used to buy them until my daughter became dairy intolerant.  It was then I realised how easy and cheap they are to make if you just know how.

I have searched the internet and found a couple of shop bought Yule Logs to compare the prices to mine.  The first I found was a kit to ‘make your own’ Yule Log and it costs £1.50 to buy.  To make it you need to add:  1 medium egg, 80ml cold water, 80g softened unsalted butter, 100ml double cream and some greaseproof paper.  After reading the instructions, I felt you may as well make it from scratch but I suppose that is just my opinion.

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I also found a Finest Chocolate log for £3.00:

log 2I have worked out how much the ingredients cost me for my Chocolate Yule Log and it totalled £1.45 for the ingredients plus the grease proof paper that I used.  I used ‘Pure’ margarine to make the butter icing dairy free for my daughter, but normally I would use butter or soft margarine to do this.  I think for £1.45 it is definately worth making.  This is how I make it:

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A Christmas Chocolate Yule Log Recipe:

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Greaseproof paper

Olive oil or marg for greasing

3 eggs

75g caster sugar

75g self-raising flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Icing sugar for dusting

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For the icing you will need:

300g icing sugar

150g butter or margarine

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

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Preheat your oven Gas 4 / 180C /350F.

Lightly grease a baking tray 9inch x 12 inch

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Line it with greaseproof paper, snipping the corners so the papers lies properly without creasing and then grease the paper

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Put the caster sugar and eggs into a bowl and whisk for a few minutes

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Keep whisking until the mixture turns from a yellow colour to a soft  creamy white colour and if you make a figure of eight on the top of your mixture, it will stay visable for a second or two (you can just see this on the right hand picture below)

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Sieve the flour and cocoa into the bowl

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and fold them into the egg and sugar mixture until it’s all combined

(to ‘fold in’ just keep turning the mixture over without mixing it so the air stays in)

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Pour it into your greased baking sheet and spread the mixture to the edges

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Bake for 8 minutes only

(if you over bake the sponge will crack when you try to roll it).

While it is baking, spread out a piece of greasproof paper and dust with icing sugar

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Take the sponge out of the oven and immeadiately turn it out onto the greaseproof paper and peel off the old greaseproof paper

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Sprinkle some more icing sugar over the sponge and quickly lay some more greaseproof paper over the top of the sponge.

Using the bottom piece of paper, roll up the sponge with the top piece of paper inside the sponge:

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Leave it to cool still rolled up.

When it is cool, you can freeze it at this stage and defrost and ice it later

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To Ice It:

Mix the icing sugar, marg and cocoa in a bowl until it is fully combined (this can be hard work at first)

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Fill a jug with piping hot water and add a few knifes, as this helps the butter icing spread if you keep swapping the knifes.

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Unroll your sponge and spread a thin layer of icing over it

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Roll the sponge up again using the greaseproof paper to help

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Spread the butter icing all over the rolled up sponge.  Leave it as it is or make log patterns with a fork or use a knife to make ‘spiky’ patterns by lifting the knife up quickly from the icing

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Decorate with whatever you have

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Sprinkle with icing sugar for ‘snow’

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.

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Christmas Decorations In The ‘Thrift’ Household

This week has been a lovely, creative week for me, but very busy.

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I started off by making my laundry liquid as I had ran out of the shop bought box that I had to buy when the builders were here.

Incidentally, I never use the amount it says to use on the box, I only ever use half the amount to make it last longer and it always washes well and this saves me money.

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I prefer to wash our laundry using my homemade laundry liquid as I know what goes into it and it is really really easy to make.  It only takes 10-15 minutes to make up a batch and it lasts for weeks.  It is great for every day washing and the last time I worked it out a few months ago, it cost me approximately £1.75 to make and I managed to get 71 washes out of it.  This works out at a staggering 2.5p per wash….the supermarkets can’t beat that!

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I’ve stored my laundry liquid in old ‘pop’ bottles as they fit nicely under my new sink.

You can find the recipe I use for my laundry liquid here.

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I nipped into the supermarket as well this week and found a lonely pack of bananas in the ‘whoopsie’ aisle for 10p.  They were all nice and yellow except a couple which had started to turn brown (which was probably why no one wanted them)… so I bought them.

After we ate the yellow ones, I made a lovely banana cake with the others.  You can find the recipe I used here.

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I’ve also finally got round to writing and sending my Christmas cards.  I bought my cards in the 2011 New Year sales, for a fraction of the price that they were before Christmas.  They don’t take up much space and it saves me a bit of money.

To save time, I have a Christmas card list that I print off from my computer every year.  The list tells me exactly who I need to send Christmas cards to and if I have any extra people to send cards to I just update the list ready for the next year.  It makes writing the cards so much easier.

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I also made some strawberry jam this week ready for my hampers.  I didn’t get chance to make it over the summer as I was packing things away ready for the building work, so all my fruit was washed and put straight into the freezer.  I am hoping to make some other things for my hampers during the next week as well.

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I started to put up the Christmas decorations this week too (except the tree, as we are still waiting for our fireplace to be installed).  Our old faithful cheap and cheerful door wreath was looking a bit sad as it had lost it cones, so I replaced them with some more and it looks much better now:

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I hung up our trusty old garland along our stairs too.  I bought this approximately fifiteen years ago from Wilkinsons and it still looks as good as new and makes the hall look lovely and Christmassy when you first come in the house:

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Also this week, I continued using my bargain charity shop material that I used to make my curtains and my kitchen Roman blind.  For those reading this that don’t know, it only cost me £16 for 10 meters (a piece four meters long and another piece that was six meters long) and it was brand new, never used…I still can’t get over what a bargain it was, I suppose one mans rubbish is another mans gold.

I have now re-covered our old (and stained) seat pads for the chairs around our table and I am really pleased with the result:

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And I have managed to make a table cloth and eight napkins out of the remainder of the material.  So I am very pleased as my kitchen looks very co-ordinated now and I don’t think anyone would know that the whole lot cost me just £26 to make (£16 for the material and heading tape and a further £10 for all the other bits,  for the Roman blind and for the cotton).

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With some of the little off-cuts I still had left, I made some bows for my Christmas table wreath.  They were really easy to make, I just followed  some instructions that I found on ‘You Tube’  here.  I think they turned out well:

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I love Christmas decorations that are made out of things that you can pick from your garden at this time of year, so I went out into mine to collect some holly, bay and conifer leaves.

While I was there I noticed there are some lovely sights in the garden at this time of the year:

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I even discovered that our Lavatera still has flowers on and my Vinca has a flush of flowers on too:

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I made a couple of ‘sprays’ with some of the bits I collected and tied them with a spare ‘off cut’ of material I had and hung them in my kitchen.  I was very pleased with the result (especially as it cost me nothing to make them):

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I then began to make my Christmas Table Wreath.

I openly admit that I’m not very good at flower arranging.  In fact, I was the only Brownie that just ‘scraped’ a flower arranging badge due to ‘Brown Owl’ stepping in and rearranging it all for me.  My arrangement was so bad.

Last year I made my first table wreath and I was very proud of it and couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. So this week I made this years wreath.

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How To Make An Easy Christmas Wreath:

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I bought an oasis ring from Wilkinson last month for approx. £4.50

I used bits of old ribbon last year and material bows as above this year

Pine cones from my local park

Shrubs from the garden

(I used conifer and bay this year and Viburnum tinus last year)

Large paper clips or florist’s wire)

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I started by soaking the oasis ring upside down in water for about 5 minutes, until the bubbles stopped coming out of it.  I have read that you should not press the oasis ring down, as this will cause air bubbles to enter the foam, creating dry spots.

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I cut the foliage in lengths of approximately 10cm and striped the leaves so there was about 4cm of stem to push into the oasis.

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I layered the shrubs into the oasis by pushing the stems in at a slight angle, starting at the bottom.

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I kept building the foliage up, so eventually the oasis couldn’t be seen.

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Use big paper clips stretched out or florists wire to secure the ribbons and the pine cones to the oasis.

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I have read that it is best to mist the wreath with water each day so it doesn’t dry out

(I’ve got to admit I didn’t do it last year and my wreath lasted ages).

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I’m very pleased with my table wreath again this year and as an extra bonus, the bows match my table cloth.

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Finally this week, I sliced some oranges to make ‘old fashioned’ Christmas decorations.  I put the slices on a piece of greaseproof paper and then put it on the top of my radiator.  I have read that they will dry this way without having to use your oven, so I thought I will give it a try.

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I’ll let you know how I get on with them and if it works.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.