Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A little something warm for little hands

I wanted to share something I found and embellished for some of our good friends in Chicago. Little Miss M has a birthday coming soon and I found a great little gift in Zurich to send her. Of course, I had to get coordinating ones for her big brother and new baby sister too :-) because it just wouldn't be fair for only one of them to have this. Chicago can be brutally cold in the winter and what better than to have a little hand warmer to keep in their pocket! They have little hot water bottles inside each one with a small metal tag to "click" to start the strange process to warm the water. I have no idea if they will really work, but they sure look cute, especially with the little hearts on them for Valentine's Day! This is what they looked like after stitching their initials onto the heart so the kids know whose is whose.

And here they are in their boxes with a handmade tag for each one. They were wrapped up with some other birthday goodies and shipped out today - and if I am lucky, they will arrive EARLY. This is something absolutely shocking given my recent track record (ummm...last minute email wishes or perhaps an email a week or two late.....)! The year is starting off on a good note!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Flavored sugars - something sweet for the new year

Happy New Year everyone! It is hard to believe that another year has passed in what seems to be the blink of an eye... I hope it has started off well for you!

With the new year comes new projects...and a lot more time!!! One of my goals (or resolutions if you want to call it that) this year is to give more handmade gifts to my friends and family. I love receiving unique little gifts that someone has handmade and think it is a great way to tell someone how special they are. I received a book last Christmas called "Selbst gemacht & mitgebracht" or "handmade & brought" if you translate directly to English. It has all kinds of tasty things you can make and give as gifts for dinner parties, housewarming parties, birthdays, etc. I've been wanting to make things from it for ages but just haven't had the time to do so - until now!

My friend had a birthday this week and she loves to bake and decorate, so I made her the vanilla and citrus sugars and put them in little jars with ribbon and a hand-stamped tag to go around it. The sugars were SO simple to make (especially the vanilla sugar) - the kids loved to help and enjoyed tasting and smelling the sugar afterwards.

Here's the finished product along with the other goodies I put in the gift bag:

Flavored sugars, patterned cupcake papers and a cupcake ornament
 Here are the recipes for the sugars if you want to try it for yourself!

Citrus Sugar

500 grams white sugar
peels from 3 oranges and 2 lemons

Peel the oranges and lemons being careful not to get too much of the white pithy part. Let air dry for a few days or if you are impatient like me, put on a baking tray and bake on low heat (50 degrees C/125 degrees F) for a couple of hours or until peel is hard to the touch. Place peel in food processor and grind until finely chopped. Stir into sugar. This makes a very pretty colored sugar and can be used to flavor teas, baked goods or sprinkled on cakes or cookies.

Vanilla Sugar

500 grams white sugar
2 vanilla pods

Cut open vanilla pods and scrape seeds into sugar. Mix thoroughly. Let pods air dry for 1-2 days and then add to sugar mixture to add more flavor. You could also process the mixture with the dry pods in a food processor so it is more of a fine powder but I left mine as is and use the pods to infuse more flavor into the sugar in a ziplock bag. Mr Z loved this sugar sprinkled on some frothy milk. You could also use it to flavor tea, coffee and baked goods.

Both sugars should last for a couple of months at room temperature.

See you again soon :-)!