Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Gift bags

Today I wanted to share a folded gift bag with you that does not require any cutting making it a really quick and easy project to have a go at.   

Once created the bag would make a super place name for a special meal with a little table gift inside and the recipients name on the outside.  It would also make a great party bag, a favour bag for a wedding, a trick or treat bag, an advent calender (if you make 24 of them - but they are quick to make - honestly!) or just a simple little gift bag of course to add a little homemade style for your Christmas pressies this year. 

Here are the basic folds for the bag which you can then decorate as you wish;

Take a piece of thick 12 x 12 double sided paper.  Fold the sheet of paper in half - REMEMBER TO CUT OFF THE TITLE HEADER IF YOU HAVE ONE ON YOUR PIECE OF PAPER. 

Open the paper out and score 2 lines approximately 1" (2.5cm) either side of the middle crease. 

Once you have the 3 score lines - push the middle score line up to create a 'v' shape (sometimes called a mountain fold) - SEE THE PICTURE ABOVE AND BELOW

Keeping the folded edges close to you - Lay the folded paper on the table and bring the 2 outside edges so that they meet in the middle - SEE PICTURE ABOVE AND BELOW. Give the folded lines a good press down to make sure that they are as crisp as you can get them.

Open out the sheet of paper.  You will notice that parallel to 2 of the sides are 2 creases which change direction along the line (these are the 2 creases that you have just created).  Fold these so that the crease now runs the same way all the way along the crease line SEE PICTURE BELOW.

Open the paper out again and this time turn it over.  In every corner of the sheet of paper is a long crease and a short crease that meet each other if you follow the lines.  Pinch these lines and bring them together as shown below.  This will start to shape the bag.

Once you have pinched the long and short edge and brought them together (keeping the edges of the bag neat and together) fold the loop that forms on the back of the join (inside the bag) flat. SEE BELOW.

Repeat this for all 4 corners and you will have something that looks like the picture below.

Taking one corner at a time.  Place double sided tape on the small triangle area. Join the sides of the bag together as before so that the corner is now stuck.


Repeat for all 4 corners.  This will leave you with 4 flaps inside the bag as can be seen in the picture below.  Take double sided tape and stick these so that they are flat to the longest sides of the bag.

Finally flatten the bag to create the 'v' shape that you would find on the sides of a shop bought bag.

And there you have your bag ready to decorate however you want to.

I hope that you have found this little tutorial interesting - have fun and let me know if you need any more help!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Homespun Good Life ...

As a family we love to live as much of the 'good life' as possible and even the girls get involved.  We're always dreaming up little 'homespun' projects for the future like soap, cheese or ginger beer making and we all love cooking in the kitchen as a family.

This weekend after visiting our local poultry farm and reserving 2 new little rare breed chickens to join little 'Summer' later in the year we had a huge cooking adventure in the kitchen which included 32 jars of jam, 3 fish pies, cookies, stuffed veggies, homemade pasta, pavlova and a cake.  This week I thought I would share a couple of our favourite recipes.

Mr P. loves to make bread and every morning we sit down at breakfast to the wonderful aroma of bread wafting around the kitchen.  We 3 girls are so lucky that this is his hobby and his way of relaxing as we do get spoilt with all sorts of lovely goodies from the kitchen.

He follows the same plan of action every day and the photograph above is a picture of just one of the lovely loaves that he produces for breakfast each morning. 

Delicious seed loaf - Just in time for Breakfast:


500g Extra Strong White Bread flour (we use Waitrose organic flour)
6g salt (usually recipes say 9g for this size loaf - so you could use more if you think it needs it!)
15g demerara sugar
30g olive oil
6g yeast
1tbsp malt extract
315ml water
handful sesame, sunflower, linseed & pumpkin seeds (anything that you fancy really!)

Method (using a bread maker to prove & an oven to cook the bread)

If you have a dough setting for the bread maker then use this.  Our bread maker is quite old and does not have a dough setting for bread, only pizza and so this is how Mr P. creates the bread.

Put the ingredients into the bread maker just before you go to bed the night before (try not to let the yeast touch the wet ingredients or the proving process will start and you don't want that at this stage.

Set the timer on the bread maker to start the process early morning (about 5.30am for us - but you will need to play with your own machine - Our machine takes about 1.30 hours to mix & prove the dough before it starts to cook it). 

Set the oven timer to come on about 6.30am at 200 degrees Celsius to make sure that it has warmed up in time to cook the loaf when you are ready.  At about 7am when the dough is nice and large inside the bread maker take the dough and shape it (with a little flour) before placing it on a floured baking sheet.  Sprinkle a little flour over the top and make a deep cut in the top with a large knife.

Cook in the oven for about 25 - 35 minutes (until it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom). 
25 minutes will give you a softer crust and 35 minutes will produce a super loaf with a chewy crust.

I know that this might sound like a lot of work but really it isn't and cooking the loaf in the oven instead of the bread maker produces a really tasty loaf which will rival anything that you could buy in an artisan bakery.

(Of course it would be even easier if your bread maker can automatically stop after the proving stage but if not you just need to remove the dough before the cooking in the bread maker starts just as we do!)

Hope you enjoy!