Small paper bag advent calendar.

 

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For Munchkin’s first Advent (we didn’t do one last year) I wanted something she could have a great time opening and, most likely, destroying in the process. So I came up with the concept of making up 24 little paper bags. Each a different design. We then filled them with little toys, Duplo and a couple of chocolates on surprise days.
 

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I modified my Pretty Patterned Paper Bag template and print them out on 30 pieces of A4 printer paper. The larger bags need to be printed over two pieces and glued together. I then cut them out using an x-acto knife and glued them together using a Pritt stick (paper glue stick).
 

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They’re quite easy and only took me a few hours in front of the television to put them together one evening. I’ve made the template available below in PDF form for you to print out and make up yourself! I hope your little ones have as much fun with this as Munchkin is having. She’s just demolished bag number one.
 

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Advent Calendar Inspiration

I had intended to put my bee themed invitations and thank you cards up for this weeks blog post, and to have a baking post for you! But this week has been chaotic!

DM has been away at a conference in Dublin so I’ve been looking after Munchkin full-time. This isn’t a problem, but it does mean I don’t sleep as well, so I’m not as on the ball as usual.

I’ve also been busy making cute little modelling chocolate cake decorations for a first birthday party in my spare time. They’re for a cake to match these sweet party decorations from Meri Meri.  I’ve also been trying to make a Christmas/ Birthday present for another little lady who is about to turn one too!

And this morning the lady who gives me a couple of hours help once a week cancelled, meaning I have to clean my house instead of blogging and baking. Again, just a first world problem and not a big one at that! But it does mean I’m going to have to take a rain check and post this weeks post next week.

I’ve also been thinking about advent calendars for this year. These are my previous ones, they’re both now available on my store.
 

Robot Advent 2012
Advent Calendar 2012 craft gawker

 
I’d like to make something for Munchkin that is a bit easier to get into. And that doesn’t take endless hours to put together as my daughter appears to have a love of packaging (just like her mother!) but they often don’t survive said loving. It also needs to be big enough to hold something other than lollies as I really don’t want to give her sugar every day.
I’ve been wracking my brain and as yet haven’t come up with anything fabulous. I really like these ideas (click on images to go to photo websites).
 

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Zenzi Adventswolke
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Modern-Advent-Calendar 4
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What do you think? What kind of Advent calendar are you making this year? I’d love to see them! Post a link in the comments and show me?
 

A little robot advent

It’s coming round to that time of year wherein I look at the calendar and panic. I’ve not even started to think about Christmas presents for friends and family, let alone creating an advent calendar. And this year is particularly difficult as I’m trying to do it all whilst sleep deprived and often with a Munchkin who won’t let me put her down. So this year, I’m remaking some of the advents I created last year and thought you might want to do so too.

So here’s a slightly revised Little Mr Robot advent blog post:

A friend of mine dropped into conversation that she thought that I sketch I’d done years ago would look rather cute as an advent calendar. So I spent a little time this week playing with it to see if I could get it to work. Et voilà!! Here is the result!

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A cheesy NYE

NYE

 
How was your New Years? Our was rather quiet as seems to be the norm in Switzerland. There are no big fireworks displays or outdoor festivals in Switzerland to celebrate the arrival of a new year.

Most years we’ve been in Switzerland we’ve had a quiet night in and have opened a bottle of champagne to toast the new year in. But we decided to do something a little different this year. We had a few of our friends around for dinner and games. Read more

Gluten free gingerbread

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas? Mine was fabulous and included a decadent seafood lunch at La Brasserie du Grand Chêne, more champagne and dessert with gorgeous friends, followed by an early night. All that eating and socialising is exhausting! Our planned morning Skype call with our family in Australia was postponed by a day due to a boomerang accident on the beach that resulted in a brief hospital visit (seriously… can you get any more stereotypically Australian?!). Note: both the boomerang and the person it hit are ok.

Whilst we were a little sad not to be spending this Christmas in Australia surrounded by family, it’s been lovely to spend some time at home and we’re feeling wonderfully relaxed. We head back to Australia every two years for Christmas and have commenced counting down to next years!

I was spoiled unbelievably by Santa aka DM who gifted me with a new Celine wallet and a medium Wacom Intuos 5 tablet. I played Santa to DM and provided him with a new dressing gown as well as a Google Nexus 7 tablet and a matching Hard Graft Tab iPad Mini Case (it also fits the Nexus 7). So it was rather a luxurious and gadgety Christmas! Was Santa nice to you?

 

Gluten free gingerbread cookies

 
In the days leading up to Christmas I had an insatiable desire to make the house smell Christmassy and decided we needed Gingerbread! But I’d never made gluten free gingerbread before. Sasha (aka Liberty London Girl) had posted her recipe for Gingerbread tree decorations and I decided to adapt it so it was gluten free and used ingredients I had on hand and am able to get a hold of in Switzerland. I also increased the quantity so it made 150% of the original recipe. This would give you enough dough to make a good sized Gingerbread house if you wanted to make one (I ran out of time to make one this time).

The cookies came out fabulously, just the right combination of crunchy and a little soft in the middle. With the result that the batch I made is diminishing rapidly. Here’s my adjusted recipe.
 

Gluten free gingerbread cookies

 

Ingredients
  • 115g Muscovado sugar (brown sugar being near impossible to get hold of in Switzerland)
  • 3 tablespoons of golden syrup (with copious thanks to Meriel who provided me some from her stash)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey (I didn’t have access to molasses or treacle)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 145 grams of butter cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • grated rind from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 335 grams of sifted gluten free flour of your choice
  • 3 grams of guar gum

 

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

In a large saucepan combine the sugar, zest, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, water, honey and golden syrup. Over a medium / high heat, bring the mixture to the boil.

When boiling remove from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda and cubed butter, stirring until well combined.

Add the combined flour and guar gum in 4 batches, stirring well after each addition. It should come together into a dough at this point, but it will still be very soft.

Wrap it in cling wrap and refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour.

Roll out the dough on baking paper using a lightly floured rolling pin to about 5 mm thick. And using your cutters, cut into desired shapes. Place onto a baking paper lined baking sheet. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Allow to cool on a baking rack.