Pizza dough Christmas Tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me… TWELVE PIZZA DOUGH BALLS!

We have made it to the twelfth day! SUCCESS!

Pizza dough treeWho doesn’t love pizza dough and Christmas…if they exist they certainly are no friend of mine! I have been trying some festive baking using all sorts of season ingredients and encompassing many traditions, eggnog and cranberry muffins just the tip of the iceberg! When I saw a picture of this I fell in love just normal party food turned into a CHRISTMAS wonder!

I normally make pizza dough the cheat way (3 ingredients!) but I thought that in the spirit of Christmas and this challenge I would give making a proper yeast filled, proven pizza delight! The dough really is the time consuming element her so if you use the cheat way or even cheater way (buy from the shops) it shouldn’t take long at all! Mind you make sure you give yourself enough time to make and stuff all the balls.

Once the dough is made and proven and all that faff I pinched pieces off, all roughly the same size. I pulled them to stretch the dough out and then stuffed with all those naughty delicious things like cheese and pepperoni. I wanted to have variety some had pepperoni and cream cheese AND mozzarella and other balls had a variation of these fillings. I pinched the bottoms shut the best I could but honestly I still had a lot of leakage! I scooped it back into the main dough so nothing was lost in the end.

Layout in a triangle or “tree” shape. I addtreeee doughed an extra 2 balls to the top to attempt to make a star like thing. You can be the judge to whether that worked at all. So I would recommend 12 balls and then a couple extra to let you add a bit of decoration (stump/star etc). After cooking by covering in freshly chopped parsley and a few cranberries really made it start to look like a tree!! Super excited – nothing like what I have initially seen but still pretty smashing! I did have seepage issues but no one seemed to notice or care and it was a great party food.

 

And there we have it, my twelve days of Christmas challenge is over! I’m pretty darn tired but I am going to miss it. Thanks to everyone who has been following the posts and commenting on Facebook – that made it much easier when I really couldn’t be bothered. If you have any suggestions for challenges in the future pleeeease let me know because I would love to try them!

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Ways to wrap your present to make them stand out

We are almost there! Only 2 more days of Christmas to go for the challenge to be a success and I cannot wait! It’s Christmas eve tomorrow and man am I ready to celebrate!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me… ELEVEN WRAPPED PRESENTS!

I have always liked wrapping presents, but this year I really tried to do something a little special for each. It does take time but when I see people’s faces I am sure that it will be worth every minute. I’m pretty chuffed at the way they all turned out too!

I am going to start with my couple fun and colourful ones. There may even be a couple really silly ones (REINDEER!!) which are great for a younger audience, or those young at heart! Christmas is all about laughter remember.

Patterned paper

Pretty colourful patterned wrapping paper spruced up with a homemade colourful label and some yarn.

Santa belly wrapping

Santa’s BELLY! Some red paper with a simple belt made from black and yellow card.

Big box? Turn it into a reindeer!! Just crumple up some brown paper, paint on Rudolfs nose and add some ears.

Big box? Turn it into a reindeer!! Just crumple up some brown paper, Paint on a Rudolph nose and add some ears. (And a tail!)

Little box? Turn it into a reindeer head of course! A massive red pompom is all you really need to give this fella a personality

Little box? Turn it into a reindeer head of course! A massive red pompom is all you really need to give this fella a personality

Get some pretty paper and stick some yummies on top. I love the candy cane with matching ribbon. Wrapping a couple things together can be tricky so why not place them in an interesting way.

Get some pretty paper and stick some yummies on top. I love the candy cane with matching ribbon. Wrapping a couple things together can be tricky so why not place them in an interesting way.

Now to move onto my more artsy and pretty ones too. I tried to tie the themes into the people the presents were for, since it is about what they like not me! I hope you enjoy the photo’s and get a little inspiration too.

Chalkboard effect

Chalk board effect using black paper and a white colouring pencil. I cellotaped 2 A4 pieces together and then went freehand. You can have so much fun with this idea!

clay labels

Simple brown paper with ribbon. The special thing here is the clay name tag/label. Simple using air dry clay, cookie cutter and a paint/permanent marker.

washi Collage

Brown paper though mine’s a little on the grey side 😦 with washi tape to jazz it up and hold it all together! Also featuring a clay label.

Brown paper once again. Grab some pens and decorate it yourself - these hand drawn branches are a doddle. Add some sparkle with ribbon or coins and hot glue some pinecones to finish it all off.

Plain paper is great as you can grab some pens and decorate it yourself – these hand drawn branches are a doddle. Add some sparkle with ribbon or coins and hot glue some pinecones to finish it all off.

Wrap it like a cracker - doesn't really take much more explaining than that.

Wrap it like a cracker – doesn’t really take much more explaining than that.

Sticky Toffe Pudding gift basket. I'll be sure to dedicate a post to this beauty in the new year!

Sticky Toffee Pudding gift basket. I’ll be sure to dedicate a post to this beauty in the new year!

Cranberry and Cream Cheese muffins

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me….TEN CRANBERRY AND CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS!

I seem to be all about the food this weekend! I was wondering the isles of the supermarket and saw some fresh Cranberries. And I brought them. On a whim. Because well they are Christmassy and it is fun to try and cook with new things! I then proceeded to trawl BBC Good Food for recipes to use said cranberries and these gorgeous muffins are what I came across. I was sold after reading the title!

cranberry muffins

 

As mentioned I used this recipe from BBC Good Food. The only adjustment I made was using 200g sugar instead of 250g. I found this worked quite well but if you have a real sweet tooth use full amount the recipe states. I also made up a little more cream cheese mixture because it delicious! Can’t have too much of a good thing!Coking cranberries

I was little apprehensive about cooking the cranberries because listening out for pop can actually be a little difficult. I am not sure whether I cooked them a little too long but they seemed to combine well into the mixture none the less. They have a really distinct flavour so wouldn’t advise trying to swap them for other berries – but you are your own master.

I brought them out with my Mulled Cider at a Christmas gathering and they also went down a treat (phew). They all got gobbled up and good results (trust me that means something, my friends can be harsh) so would recommend. It is a great quick recipe for something a little different to your bog standard muffins.

muffins

Mulled cider

Mulled apple ciderOn the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me….NINE MUGS OF MULLED CIDER!

Mmmmm nothing beats some warm mulled cider now that the winter has set in. Whenever I go to a Christmas market I always have to get some. I’m not that into wine, so it is a great alternative to mulled wine and still has the same christmasy flavour. I never really thought of making it myself but turned out that it is so easy to make and a real crowd please too (as long as you don’t drop the lid off the cinnamon).

Mulling Cider

The first batch I did I tried to keep well to the recipe here though I didn’t have any pomegranate. When I made more I just winged it a little more as I was busy entertaining and it also turned out fab so as long as you have the basic ingredients don’t worry to much about it. There are loads of variations out there and I’m sure I will try making another batch on boxing day!

Mulled cider

Enjoy!

Homemade DIY confetti

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me … EIGHT-TY PIECES OF CONFETTI!

Confetti – I LOVE IT. Hiding it in presents and seeing the joy of the person opening them getting the surprise and the not so joy from the person who has to try and clean it all up. Priceless. You can buy pretty shinny confetti from, well, almost everywhere and it cost so little BUT why not make it yourself anyway.

Christmas Confetti

The cost can be zero if you already have some stamp cutters and are a bit sneaky and acquire some paint swatches from your local DIY store. There is nothing stopping you using actual card which is more likely to be double sided in colour (the only downside to using swatches). Then just stamp away. Eighty doesn’t actually mean that many – you do need to stamp A LOT if you want to use them in any substantial way but my eighty will do just fine to throw into a few envelopes.

Christmas tree confetti

Snowflake confetti

CONFETTI

Hand decorated baubles

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me… SEVEN BAUABLES-A-PAINTED!

This year was the first time I have EVER been real Christmas tree shopping – it was magical. No tree is quite complete unless it is covered in baubles. Colour coordinated and refined is not my decorating style at all! I love putting everything in tree, and my family has accumulated quite a lot over the years. Saying that doesn’t stop us making more to add to the collection.

These do take some time to do, mostly because there is paint drying time in the middle of the process so don’t start at 8 o’clock and expect to hang on the tree that night. I used a clip hanging dryer that you usually use to dry your underwear to hang up the baubles when drying.

Snowman finger print

snomen finger print2Snowmen handprint. This can be done on any colour bauble though I really like the dark green. Just take some white paint and small persons hand (cue 7 year old!). They hold the bottom with their fingers coming up – the trick is not to get it too smudged. Now comes that irritating drying time I mentioned. Best to leave all drying over night just so you can be confident that all is good to go. Grab a pen and make those fingers into snowmen! The additional of googly eyes is most definitely recommended! It’s also a nice idea to date/name the bottom (the palm of the print) for future reference if you are in the habit of making lots of decorations.Trees

Winter tree silhouette. A break from the silliness to this rather elegant bauble. Again use whatever you like a base. I was originally going to use a green but forgot and by the time I went to this one they were all gone. I think that was a blessing in disguise because I absolutely love the glittery background. It did take more paint than I was expecting and would suggest you do a couple coates if you have the time.

 

String baubleHollow yarn bauble. Getting a bit more crafty now we are. Blow up a little balloon, I would say so it could fit into your hand but do it according to how big you want your end product to be. Dillute some PVA in bowl (not too much!) and then put your string/yarn into it. Slowly start to wrap the yarn around the balloon ensuring that you are getting lots of crisscross motions in there and the string is always really gluey. Keep building it up until you are satisfied then leave to dry. I just left ours sitting on/in a glass. It took a really long time to dry completely so I put it over the radiator and left it for a couple days. You don’t want your hard work to be ruined because you didn’t wait enough. When you feel the result it should be dry and hard. Pop the balloon and pull it out through one of the gaps. I finished miSnowman facene off with a little glitter glue.

Snowman face. Now this is very typical of my mother. He is rather cute though. Again stuffed with fake snow glittery stuff (the benefit of hoarding is all the wonderfully random things you have) then those all important googly eyes and the rest of his face. Use pompoms to make some awesome ear warmers – because you know snowmen get cold ears too!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Only managed to stretch to one, and of course that would be Leonardo. Use a green based bauble and simply draw/paint on the turtles features. I was disappointed in my Sharpie marker and when trying to do the outline of the eye mask the pen kept drying out and I gave up and used a permanent marker in the end. The pictures don’t do his justice!TMNT3

Melted snowman

 

Melted snowman. This is no new idea! In Hobbycraft we found baubles that split in half. I really wanted to find some that you could just take the top off but unfortunately couldn’t see any about. Simply stuffed with our fake snow and common snowman attributes.

 

 

Clay noel2Clay ornament. Now this isn’t a bauble – don’t call me out on it! I simply rolled out some DAS air dry clay and used cookie cutter to get the shape. I struggled to get nice clean lines but I put that down to old and blunt cookie cutters. Again wait for the clay to dry completely. And once again my sharpie let me down and died a disgraceful death because apparently sharpies that write almost anything do not write on paint AND CLAY. I think the best would be to use paint pens but they are pretty pricey so I just went though quite a few pens. I would have made more clay ornaments if I hadn’t had such problems. If you know of anything please let me know.

Handmade Christmas Cards – monkey nuts and buttons ahoy!

Candy cane card - heartOn the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me... SIX HANDMADE CARDS!

I bet you didn’t see that coming with the whole 5 envelopes post yesterday! Unless you are planning to give a person an empty envelope for Christmas I think you better read on, I’m only trying to ensure that you keep your friends!

Like my posts before these are all dead simple and easy to make! You don’t need any fancy tools or a special set of skills or obscure materials to make these bad boys. I totally don’t have any favourites -REINDEER!!!

Homemade Christmas cards

We have reindeer who are made out of halved monkey nut shells (no waste – the nuts go to the squirells in the garden) then PVA’d onto the card and my wonderful artistic skills to decorate. I gave that one jumping reindeer knees and the other feet type things – I feel that was a mistake, oh well! I like them! Rudoulf even made a famous apperance so they must be pretty top notch for that guy to get involved. Monkey nut Reindeer cards

I am also rather fond of the sensible button bauble cards. I made a couple last year and everyone really seemed to like them. Don’t fix what’s not broken! So they have made a second appereance this year. I found a couple more “odd” buttons this year which I think spices them up nicely. Who knew I had a stash of yellow triangle buttons! These are also just PVA’d into place and the lines drawn on. I find it easier to draw the lines and details first otherwise the button gets in the way and you can’t get a close line.Christmas bauble card

5 ways to decorate envelopes and how to make your own from scratch

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me … FIVE DECORATED ENVELOPES!

Why feel as though your creativity has to be limited to making wonderful cards – envelopes are plain and boring too! Perfect canvas if you ask me. This also gives you a hint for what is coming on the sixth day. The first four are shop brought envelopes which have some simple pen work on them to make something a little special. The fifth I though I would give a tutorial on making your own envelopes. I find this really helpful if you have/make slightly odd sized cards as it is impossible to find envelopes that fit, I have wasted plenty of time trying in the past so believe me.

Envelope decorations4

Simple brown card with wreath circle on front and back.

Snowy Christmas Tree with NAME bunting. Might get a little tricking with those double barrelled names mind!

Snowy Christmas Tree with NAME bunting. Might get a little tricking with those double barrelled names mind!

Drawn on label and ribbon. I like taking the detail over to the back.

Drawn on label and ribbon. I like taking the detail over to the back.

Chritmas light border. Just draw 2 wiggly lines and have a bit of fun.

Chritmas light border. Just draw 2 wiggly lines and have a bit of fun.

Now making homemade envelopes is much easier than you think. I love covering them in tissuepaper for a great texture and then you can theme them like I have done with this one. The hardest bit is making your first template. The one I have made on this occasion is for a standard ¼ A4 sized card. This is great as it can be cut out from an A4 sheet. I don’t know how to make all these fancy online templates like all those shiny blogs do, if enough people want it I can give that a shot though (no promises it’ll work).How to make an envelope One. Take a piece of A4 card and draw around the card you are making an envelope for. Mark the middle points on all four side and draw a line out (should make a point in the center if you take the lines in as well as out). Measure how many cm to your middle point, add 2cm, then measure onto your outer line (top and bottom) and join up the corners to that point. To look nice you can curve the top point and flatten the bottom. Do a similar thing for the sides apart from take away the 2cm this time. I had a lot of trial and error so you might have to try a couple times before everything lines up completely right. Two. Add tabs onto each triangle – you need these to glue the whole thing together at the end. You can see on my picture what I mean (I hope). When adding the two side tabs draw them at an angle going inwards. This will make it much easier for the next stage when you are folding all the sides together. Three. Cut this template out and score the initial rectangle. At this point you can see if the template is going to work. Firstly fold in the side triangles then the bottom and see if they all line up fairly straight. Also check that if you pull the top down there are no gaps. Hopefully this all works well and can use it for ever more. Four. Copy from your template onto some card or themed paper to make the real deal. If covering in tissue paper I use card stock 230gsm. Cut and score and fold as before (don’t glue yet!) Five. Cut a slightly bigger version (just a simple square) of the tissue paper you are going to cover with. Using a watered down PVA cover the right side with glue and then press on the tissue paper. Give it a few minutes to get a little sturdy and then trim the extra paper away and the triangles in the corners. Six. Almost there now! Add some glue to the side tabs remember if nothing else to leave the curved top one. Pull in the side pieces then the bottom and press together. Place something heavy on top for a little while to ensure that it is not going to pop open and then you are done. After you have put the card in you can just tuck the top into the main section. Five decorated Christmas Envelopes

Christmas boozy Eggnog

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me ….

FOUR GLASSES OF EGGNOG!

Christmas Eggnog2

 

Now I have been dying to try Eggnog for a long time, looking at the recipe, well that put me off but I stayed true and gave it a shot. If one has low expectations the only way is up right! Plus its a boozy recipe so that should help! My mother took a bit more persuading to try it so as a wonderful negotiator I settled for an adapted recipe for the faint hearted (the old folk!) and a very raw eggy version for the brave new world (my brother and I).

Eggnog

 

I have taken the recipe directly from simple bites. I found a lot of recipes on Pinterest but I settled for Elizabeth’s since she gave so many variations and the ingredients were pretty standard. Making 2 cups of the original and then 2 cups of the cooked version given by Elizabeth seemed to please everybody. I also spiced up some milk so the 7 year old could feel included! I found that I don’t own 4 of the same glasses so please excuse the random brandy glass in all the photos!

Eggnog close up

 

My evaluation/tips?
– It is pretty delicious! I would cut down the sugar a fair amount as it is too sweet even for me.
– It is also really boozy – this isn’t a criticism just an observation.
– I switched out some of the whisky for cinnamon whisky which just gave a little more flavour.
– It really is quick and simple (especially the no cook version)
– You really have to mix it for the elements to combine keep at it.
– Don’t worry if it doesn’t look too yellow it should be a milky colour
– Good quality liquor? Nah I used Sainsbury’s basics whiskey!
– Wisk – I used an electric one for a couple of minutes who knows what you are supposed to do!
– Heavy cream = double cream

Christmas Eggnog

Felt Christmas tree decorations

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me….

THREE FELT DECORATIONS!

Felt decorationsanimals

I love using felt, none of that oh so irritating fraying business. It is such an easy material to work with and so versatile. I am slowing building up quite a collection of colours as I always buy them in A4 sheets (don’t have anywhere local to buy on the roll).

At a first glance these may not all seem Christmasy but why not make things you like to put in the tree, who knows in 10 years maybe everybody will be putting whales and seahorses in their trees too! Variety is the spice of life after all!

Felt whale

I have not made a pattern because it is just so simple. If you want to make a bunch that are identical (as much as homemade things get) then you can make a rough template on card otherwise I would suggest just free handing it or go straight on the felt with some tailors chalk. Remember to leave a couple mm so you sew up the edges. Again the wonderful thing about felt is you hand sew the wrong sides together with no worry that the decorations is going to fray away into nothingness. Leave a little gap to stuff and add a hoop with ribbon and bobs your uncle! You can look at the pictures to see how I have done the detail with beads/embroidery/sequins.

Felt snowman