Thursday, June 21, 2018 I'm saving money...

These days, everyone wants a Pinterest and Instagram worthy life.
I have a feeling that much of todays Café Culture, relies upon this.
I cannot believe how many people take a photo of their food when out and about. I don't see the point. If it's 'I made this', then I'm suitable impressed. But if it's 'I went out, ordered this, and someone brought it for me to photograph before I eat it', then it seems a bit pointless. It's like stealing the chefs thunder.
So here's how to have an Insta-worthy life without stealing someone elses thunder.
Above, dried spray roses. These will be used for embellishing cakes, gifts, and the home. Nobody's thunder being stolen there. And up to $100 saved on swanky gift toppers, cake decorations, and homewares.
Now I DID make these mason jar coconut yogurt parfaits. I did not make the jars. I did not grow the berries. BUT I made the granola, I made the coconut yoghurt, and I certainly assembled them on my own kitchen bench. Insta-worthy AND money saved in the region of about $150. That includes the savings on the coconut yoghurt ($6 vs $36 for the same quantity of home made vs store bought), home made gluten free vanilla, almond, cinnamon granola for $4 instead of $18, and a pinch of cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips for about .20c.
That puts my generous mason jar parfaits at a value of about $1 each overall, as opposed to upwards of $6 each. Savings in a week total 3 parfaits consumed daily for seven days....$21 for mine over $126 for store bought. And yes...Insta-worthy I think...

Gimme a home grown manicure over an expensive salon one any day. I understand the need for 'me' time. Boy, do I. But I choose to get me time other ways. I respect your decision to do otherwise. For me? A salon mani, at around $35, pales into no mans land when I can do a Jamberry one for $6.
Savings of $58 a month on a $70 salon spend.

Banana bread? Don't get me started. Why pay $6 a slice for something that takes $2 to make?
Three banana breads, each yielding 10 slices this month. That would cost us $180. Just for banana bread. No thanks. Delectable home made means we spent just $6 for three.
That saved $174.

Cooking ahead? Shepherds Pie, four of them. Cost to me? $10 for 4. Cost to buy 4? $48. Savings of $38.
Don't talk to me about posh wrapped soaps. They're up to $30 in the high end boutiques.
I print my own paper (on pink A4 sheets), and wrap and embellish them with diamante buckles gifted by my friend Annabel from The Bluebirds are Nesting.

San Choy Bau anyone? This batch cost just $4 for 4 people thanks to a bargain on the turkey mince AND the gem lettuces.
That saved $40 in a restaurant San Choy Bau if we'd been the type.

Anniversaries. Significant ones. They cost.
I DIY-ed and saved a bomb.
Husband was thrilled.

A heartfelt letter rolled into a cylinder tied with baby blue velvet ribbon, and a classy black box filled with beautiful china, as befits a 20th anniversary.
I saved around $1000 on what he wanted (Moorcroft china), by scouring the internet and buying wisely.

A thankyou gift of honeycomb in a recycled pretty box as a thankyou gift, saved us $35 on a similarly packaged confectionery gift.
Cost $3.

And while we were there, we magic-ed up some fruit and nut clusters for mere cents, saving $10 on bought yummies.

Pinterest worthy campervan restoration coming right up...
Daisy print fabric at just $3 a metre for curtains...


Oversized cushions with fabric enough for 2 Euro pillow case sized cushion covers for $2 from the remnant bin....
...A third remnant of rust panne velvet for a throw for another $4....

...and yet another remnant, repurposed into a bolster cushion by wrapping it around a spare blanket, sausage style, and tying bon-bon style with chiffon scraps.

How utterly fabulous is this Dolce & Gabbana inspired print for those cushions...

Hand made tassels take just minutes made from crochet cotton if you please...

Snazzy, yes?

And of course, there's plating up a nice Ploughmans Platter at just $4 a piece for six hard working gardener friends, over $24 a piece at the local...

...and Petit Fours, little morsels of yum, and very pretty they are. I made 24 at a total investment of around $10. They are $6.50 a piece to buy.

Well...let's say we're easily looking at around the $1500 mark this month. And that's conservative.
Find your own Insta-worthy life.
Don't let someone else steal your thunder.
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Monday, June 11, 2018

Homespun Things...Home made Honeycomb for gifting....

Home made honeycomb? In a pretty box? Sure...why not?
We needed a small Thankyou gift for Daughter to take to a friends house.
I hadn't made honeycomb in years, but had a vague recollection of it being very simple, and an instant winner in the gratitude stakes.
My daughter, bless her, doesn't quite have my finesse in the Drizzled Chocolate department (yet!), but she acquitted herself well, in the Honeycomb making arena, turning out this crisp, golden slab of scrumptiousness in under fifteen minutes.
But first, the box.
If you're going to gift confectionery, you've got to make a bit of a fuss with the packaging. An inexpensive gift is fine, but you still want to look like you've made an effort and all.
I had this L'Occitane gift box, a leftover from a Mothers Day gift, in my stash. As soon as I saw it's fab colours, I knew it was made for honeycomb-ing.
Also in my stash, a roll of red crepe paper that I'd used to make roses a while back, and these cute as a button 'Baked with Love' stickers that Annabel Smith from The Bluebirds are Nesting, gifted me last Christmas.
I started by hot gluing the red crepe paper into a faux pleated rosette, of the type seen on medals...

...this was just a pleat/glue in a couple of places/pleat again type routine...

I went around twice to ensure I covered the L'Occitane emblem on the top of the box. I didn't worry about the ones on the sides.

I added the tails of the rosette separately, and stuck one of the Baked with Love stickers in the centre.

Cellophane sourced from Koch & Co in a batch of 100 sheets for just $6 a couple of years ago, was used as the lining. I got my moneys worth out of that lot. Note to self to buy some more.

Chocolate drizzled honeycomb was refrigerated to ensure the chocolate set, then into the box, layered with baking paper, it all went....

...three layers in all...then cellophane delicately folded over, and another sticker applied to hold it all in place...

...I know...pretty ain't it?

A final touch of a sunny golden yellow double satin ribbon, and honestly, it looks like we've spent up big on gourmet gifts....

I know you're dying for the recipe so here it is....
*Exercise care when making toffee or honeycomb. Sugar burns are excruciating and require medical attention. Don't attempt this one with small children or animals under foot*
Home Made Honeycomb
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup (I imagine you can also use Molasses or Treacle)
2 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda but NOT Baking Powder which has Cream of Tartar added)

Medium saucepan
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups
Oven tray
Baking paper
Box and lining for packing
Glass of iced water and a teaspoon
Line the baking tray and set in a convenient spot on your benchtop.
Measure all ingredients except the Bicarb Soda, directly into the saucepan.
Put the pre-measured Bicarb Soda in a small cup or bowl, ready to empty into the toffee as soon as it is ready. Timing is all.
Place the saucepan over a medium heat and start stirring.
Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high, and let the mixture bubble away, without stirring it, for about another 5-7 minutes until it reaches Hard Crack stage.
Now this is what the teaspoon and iced water are for. Get a bit of the toffee on the end of the teaspoon, and dunk it into the iced water. If it hardens smooth and glass like, it's ready. Test it carefully with your teeth if you need to.  If it remains chewy and stringy, it's at Soft Crack stage and it's not quite there. Keep it bubbling. Mind you, watch it carefully. It can go from one to the other, in the space of a minute.
Once you have the toffee at Hard Crack stage, turn off the heat source and immediately take the pan to the bench, add the premeasured Bicarb Soda, and stir with the wooden spoon till it froths.
This is actually the fun bit. When the toffee froths madly and expands like a mad scientists experiment, you get this wild feeling of satisfaction, almost as if you've engineered something far more complex than honeycomb. My bestie and I used to make it as teens, just for the froth magic.
Without delay, pour the mixture evenly onto your prepared tray. Do not be tempted to smooth it or fuss with it. Just leave it be, flowing wherever it wants on the tray. Set it aside to cool completely.
Once it's cooled, you have this great slab of  what is recognisable honeycomb. Don't try to cut it with a knife. Just break it into big and small irregular pieces. It looks fabulous.
You can leave it as is, or drizzle/dribble/coat it with melted chocolate.
This ended up being fun as there were some pieces without much choc coating and some liberally coated. It looked really effective once it was boxed.

We layered it with strips of baking paper...
...three layers in all, just enough to fill our recycled box nicely....

We tucked it in and kissed it goodbye with our cute stickers.
I believe it was very well received.
Total cost? About $3. Looks like we spent $30. Honest.
Have fun!
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