Tag Archives: hand-made gifts

Plaster of Paris Handprints

This is another Christmas 2012 gift we made to give to both my and Gordon’s parents. I think it makes a lovely gift for grandparents, but I really want to make more to hang in our house as well because the finished handprints are so lovely!

You will need:

  • playdough or similar (branded works better as the consistency of home made dough can be tricky to get right)
  • a mould (we used a round, shallow pyrex dish)
  • cling film
  • rolling pin
  • plaster of paris
  • paint

To begin, cover your mould with cling film.  Roll the playdough out to approx 1.5cm/2cm thick and place it in the mould, making sure the playdough rises at the edges to create a “bowl.” Ensure the surface of the playdough is as smooth as possible.

Press your child’s hand into the playdough, making sure you press down each finger and their palm firmly but evenly, so as to get a good impression.

Make up the plaster of paris according to the instructions and tap the container of mixed plaster on a hard surface a few times to get rid of as many bubbles as possible. Pour into your mould. Gently agitate the plaster in the mould to remove any remaining bubbles and create a smooth, even cast. Leave to dry for a few hours.

Remove the hardened plaster from the mould, using the cling film to assist. Rub away as much playdough from the plaster as possible, then use a small brush or similar (we used an old toothbrush) scrub off the remaining playdough under a little running water until you have a clean hand print.

Leave the print to dry and harden thoroughly for a few days before painting/decorating it. We first painted the whole cast with white paint, and then painted the hands in different colours.

The only problem with the prints we made is that there is no way of hanging them up! Since making these I have discovered that you can simply press the ends of some ribbon or string into the wet plaster in the mould and this will dry in place and become a hanger.

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Lemon Curd and Lavender Bags

I have been holding off writing about the hand-made Christmas Gifts we made this year because Granny (Gordon’s mum) was away for Christmas and in our usual disorganised way we hadn’t finished most of the gifts before she went! She is back home now and we are going to visit tomorrow so finally she will get her Christmas gifts and I can write the first post! 

Lavender Bags

One of the things I really started to enjoy last year was sewing. I have never really done any needlework in the past but my Hama Bead obsession led to me trying out Cross Stitch (they are both about counting patterns and colours!) and from there I gained confidence with a needle and began making some simple items. One of the first hand-made gifts I decided to make for Christmas was lavender bags and satchets.

I began by cutting 2 pieces of fabric 18cm x 15cm. With right sides of the fabric facing, pin together. The pattern I was following said this included a 1cm seam allowance so, being a beginner, I marked a 1cm border along 2 long sides and 1 short side and used this line as a guide for the stitching. For the first bags I made I hand stitched in backstitch but I have also machine sewn a few now.

Once the 3 sides are sewn turn the bag inside out and push the corners out with a blunt pencil or similar. Hem the top opening. The pattern said to either hemstitch or blindstitch. I had to google both and found a great tutorial on YouTube for blindstitch so used this. I was surprised by how easy it actually was once I knew how!

I then filled the bag approximately 2/3rds full of lavender (purchased from Ebay) and tied it tightly shut with a 30cm length of ribbon.

I also made some lavender drawer sachets using 15cm square pieces of fabric and leaving a 2cm hole in one side to turn out and fill. Once filled I sewed the hole up and completed the gift by tying 3 together with ribbon.Lavender Bags and Sachets

Lemon Curd

One of my favourite books of 2012 was The Complete Book of Preserves & Pickles by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew. I used it a lot over the year and one of my very favourite recipes is Lemon Curd. It takes only 4 ingredients and can be made from start to finish in less then an hour. It is a perfect hand-made gift idea.

To make about 450g/1lb you need:

3 lemons
200g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Wash the lemons, the finely grate the rind and place in a large heatproof bowl. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water and add the sugar and butter. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.
Put the eggs and yolks in a bowl and beat together with a fork. Pour the eggs through a sieve into the lemon mixture and whisk well until thoroughly combined.
Stir the mixture constantly over the heat until the lemon curd thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove and pour into small warm sterilised jars. Cover, seal and label.
Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. Once opened keep in the fridge.Lemon Curd

 

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