WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A HOMEMADE LETTERBOX GIFT SET FOR FRIENDS OR FAMILY…

I love making gifts for my friends and family and nowadays you get get gift box subscriptions from a number of companies but actually making your own homemade letterbox gift set is a bit more unique and very very special.

With lockdown slowly but surely coming to an end I thought it might be a nice idea to put together a letterbox gift for some of your special friends and family who you have not seen for a while.

So, here are my ideas and how to go about making a letterbox gift. The first thing I did was to go and look on websites like Etsy and Not on the High Street. I wanted to make a note of the size of box I would need. There are lots of websites that sell letterbox size boxes but the minimum I could find was for 25. Amazon is your best bet where I found 10 for £5.60 and the size was perfect at 200x100x20mm. This is a large box but the bigger the better I think. You then need to think about weight and postage price which you can find online at The Post Office.

Making it a bit special means thinking about a lining and tissue paper seems to be the post popular and can easily picked up from The Post Office or local Supermarket. Now it’s time to decide what you want to put in your box.

Making it personal is what will make this a very special gift so start with your own handmade card with some plain card which again you could buy from The Post Office or, you could do like I do. I keep all my Birthday and Christmas cards and cut them up so that I can use them for friends and family cards. To make it personal you can use ladybug clipart. Clipart can make it look so professional and you can even make your own envelope and use them on that. Making your own envelopes is also easy with plain or patterned paper and you can find lots of images and videos on how to make your own envelope on Pinterest.

So, you have your box, your tissue paper to wrap it in and your personalised card to put inside the box. Now its time to think about what you want to put in your box. The best way to start this is to have a blank page for each person you are making these boxes for and start listing the special things you remember about them by using the alphabet. Here is a list of ideas to get you started. Write the list by asking yourself if they like any of the ones I am listing.

A. Art, Animals, Aunt – you could add a piece of art in it or an image of their favourite dog and is this for your Aunt so ask your Mum if she has idea of things she loves.

B. Birthday, Books, Baking, Biscuits, Birds – you could time it for their birthday, add a book if they love reading books, maybe a baking book if they like baking and their favourite biscuits or the latest bird food for their favourite outside animals.

C. Cooking, Card, Chocolates, Country, Coffee, Cat, Candles, Clip-art – you could find something different and very small that could help with cooking, make a few handmade cards for them, put in their favourite chocolates, or their favourite coffee which you can now buy in ‘bags’, a tiny fluffy cat, some candles and some bumblebee clipart so they can have a go at it themselves.

D. Dog, Daddy – you could put in a personalised doggy gift (handmade by yourself of course) anything personalised with Daddy on will melt any Dads heart.

E. Essential Oils – I use these for soooo many things as there has to be one that every one likes.

F. Flowers, Food, Friend, Feminine – you could put a small bunch of dried flowers in the box, little sample food items, if its your special friend then anything with special friend on, and if he/she loves smelly things then you can go to Boots Travel Size products and buy some to pop into the box.

G. Gardening, Golf, Grandma, Grandad – you could buy some seeds for that gardener you know or golf pegs for the golf lover and if its for Grandma or Grandad then you should start with a photo book and let it grow from there.

H. Hobbies, Hair Products – I have mentioned a few hobbies but there are so many your friend or family member may love something unusual but you are sure to be able to buy something for it. Hair Products is useful to all of us and again you can buy travel or sachet size to pop into your box.

I. Initial, make something yourself or look on lovely sites like Etsy and Not On The High Street.

J. Jigsaw, Jewellery – you could buy or have a jigsaw made through a photo shop company, or buy this lovely collectable work of art for their wrists.

K. Knitting, KeepFit, – you could buy them a knitting pattern and some wool and put it into the box and for a KeepFit fanatic then how about a video or some sweat bands or fun item that relates to being fit.

L. Logo or Lego – you could get a Logo designed online for someone just starting up in business or for a bit of fun to put in your box and I included Lego as what man doesn’t like a bit of Lego to play with. The adult stuff I mean. You can buy small ones with sooooo many pieces.

M. Memories, Magazines, Mum – you could put some memories together with a photo book. I absolutely love them and make them on a regular basis. You just cannot beat putting all your memories together. Magazines is an easy one as I am sure most family or friends would love a magazine to read, and there are a few companies online which will let you purchase a single magazine rather than a subscription. Finally Mum, well where do you start. You would probably need a bigger box with Mum but maybe start with a photo book and a few bits and give her a bigger one next time around.

N. Nails, Newspaper – nail polish and accessories is a great one and even the guys need nail clippers. Newspapers are a lovely thought for the elderly as you could find a really old one to pop into the box. It will bring back lots of memories.

O. Organised – this is to think of how organised are they. Could they do with a lovely A-Z or a book on decluttering. There is plenty out now to help people become more organised.

P. Pictures/Photosbook/Poster/Painting – back to the pictures again. Happy pictures bring back happy memories and at the moment we all have time to look through our suitcases of old pictures. Pop a few in the box to bring a memory back to life. Photobooks as I am talked about before are very easy to do online now. Posters can again be done using clip-art. Painting I have really only taken up over the last year when I was given an adult paint by numbers but I absolutely love it.

Q. Quotes – think of little quotes that are appropriate to the box received and pop them into a little box or envelope for them to open when they are feeling a bit low.

R. Reading – if they love reading you can easily pop a couple of books into your box but before you buy them check how thick they are so you will know if they will fit in the box.

S. Scrapbook, Spa, Sewing, Sweets, Sachets, Shed – you could start a scrapbook to put into the box of a family member and ask them to add to it the send it onto another member of the family to add to it. Spa was just to trigger off what you could put in the box for someone to enjoy a spa at home. Sewing has become very popular again but you can buy some really fab vintage sewing patterns online for someone who is a keep sewer. Sweets is very popular in boxes and easy to get or miniature packets. Sachets are also available now in supermarkets and online and could be facial products, hand or body products and very easy and light to put in your box. Shed was for the keen gardener but these man sheds are full of all sorts now.

T. Tea- there are so many types of tea you can buy now and can make a lovely box with just a book and some biscuits or chocolate.

U. Uncles – is this for your Uncle, maybe ask your Aunt for a few hints.

V. View – do they love a view, do they overlook a view. You could make a lovely poster or image from a picture you have taken of the country side or seaside and a very personal item.

W. Writing – do they love writing or like having notebooks around. I do, I have them everywhere and have one friend who always buys me some for Christmas. You can buy some stunning ones online and a lovely addition to the box with maybe a biro thrown in as well.

My A-Z is just my ideas but it could help you to put yours together and get started with your box. When its all finished and packed ready to go you could even finish with a touch of clipart. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Enjoy making your box, it will definitely put a smile on someone’s face.

HOW TO ENJOY OLD RECIPES FROM SOME OLD RECIPE BOOKS…

I don’t know about you but I have been baking lots more during lockdown, but it has given me the chance to be quite choosy and really study recipes. I had boxes of old recipe books so I decided I would go through them all and try out some of my old recipes. But then you end up with a load of books around you and some recipes that need the weights changing.

So, I bought this lovely new recipe book to put my new found recipes in (see below) which is a great size. You can write down any recipes you love in it. Prompts will also help you do that easier – areas for ingredients, directions, times for preparation and cook, and it is only £6.97 from Amazon so what’s not to like about it.

As I was going through all my books I found my original GCSE Cookery Book, which fascinated me as one of my courses was a salad !!!! I guess it was all about the timing back then as you had to do a starter, main course and a sweet. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a GCSE in cooking but it definitely put me in good stead for the future. One section that made me smile was about the storage of milk – It is important to store milk carefully to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria and to prevent scouring so never leave your milk in the sunlight, keep in cool dark place, always use clean jugs, keep it covered, and boil suspected milk!

If old cookbooks once belonged to family, then the connection is particularly strong, as I remember my grandmother and mother using the same books for special meals and I have a few written out that are falling apart that were my Mums. I have stuck that together and popped it into the recipe book. I think it’s going to take me a while to sort through them all and I am sure I will need another recipe book to put them in.

I guess I have really loved baking more than anything else and I have been doing quite a bit of that for my family recently. My son and his wife only moved down to where we live in January and with Covid-19 we have not even seen the inside of the house yet. So, I decided I would bake a few things for them then at least we can see them outside there house for a few minutes standing at a safe distance of course. I have also been baking for my 18 month old granddaughter who is going through that faze of not liking many things that are put in front of her but she will always eat my muffins and my fishcakes. I know she loves cheese so I just make sure there is a lot in both of them and make her vegetable muffins and the fishcakes have sweet potato and broccoli in so she is getting her vegetables down her.

I also bought Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes : Easy Bakes in Minutes, it’s a fantastic baking book with lots of recipes that only need one bowl to work with. Mary has incorporated her ‘all-in-one’ method of preparation into as many recipes as possible, so her recipes are faster to make than ever. Nearly 100 of the bakes take only 10 minutes to make and Mary has included small bake variations for fruit cakes, which traditionally take a long time in the oven, so you can make one even when you are pushed for time.

There are scones, buns and biscuits that you can whip up for tea, traybakes and fruit loaves perfect for a school or village fete and of course foolproof cakes for every occasion from everyday recipes such as a Honey and Almond Cake to Mary’s First-Rate Chocolate Cake. Not forgetting recipes you can make with your kids from Happy Face Biscuits to Traffic Lights and Jammy Buns. Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes is available from Amazon and other good book shops from £17.39 for the Hardcover or the Kindle Edition which is the one I bought is just £7.99 and worth every penny.

FORAGING NEAR THE COAST…

Foraging –

forage/ˈfɒrɪdʒ/Learn to pronounceverbgerund or present participle: foraging

  1. (of a person or animal) search widely for food or provisions.”the birds forage for aquatic invertebrates, insects, and seeds”
    • obtain (food or provisions) by searching.”a girl foraging grass for oxen”
    • search (a place) so as to obtain food.”units that were foraging a particular area”

Foraging has become quite a popular word or late and no more than by the coast and countryside. In fact, you can go on numerous Foraging Courses where with this particular one Bushcraft and Celtic folklore specialist, Jonathon Huet, will take you on a guided walk to forage for wild food and impart his knowledge on different native trees in each season. The walk ends with a primitive fire-lighting demonstration and you will experience a Celtic Fire Ceremony around the glowing embers of the fire and learn the folklore of native trees.

There are short breaks when life gets back to normal or study your local district coastal foraging information. The UK coastline is one of the largest in Europe and is host to a wide range of habitats. From machair to cliffs to salt marsh, providing homes for everything from plants to birds.

Low Impact write how coastal foraging covers a wide variety of wild food available at the coast – plants, seaweeds, shellfish and crustaceans etc. Coastal foraging can be done everywhere from sea cliffs and dunes, out to the low tide point in the rocks, gullies and pools, as well as mudflats and estuaries. Coastlines offer a particularly abundant and one of the most dependable habitats for foragers. For these reasons, throughout our history humans have often chosen to live by the sea. Midden piles of discarded shells from ancient coastal foragers are the evidence that remains, and attest to the importance of the seashore as a plentiful food resource.

Some coastal food remains common in our diets today, such as prawns and crabs, and even carragheen seaweed hidden as a thickener in anything from toothpaste to desserts; whilst others, still delicious and nutritious, like winkles have fallen off the radar somewhat.

Coastal foraging can provide you with an abundance of truly nutritious food. In particular, shellfish offer a very high energy return with little input, and other than some low-cost (or even home made) equipment, it is free! Seaweed can be easily harvested and is high in vitamins and minerals.

Some coastal areas are now protected, either because of birds, flowers, insects, grasses and even due to the importance of the marine ecology under the waves, so its worth browsing your local councils website for more details of the type of areas you can forage.

You can find some great recipes from cookery books like The Seaweed Cookbook : A guide to edible seaweeds and how to cook by by Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel (Author), The Cornish Seaweed Company

 There are 100 deliciously creative recipes from simple and wholesome dishes to chef-inspired specials. Often overlooked during rock pool scrambles and beach walks, seaweed is one of the most nutritious, versatile, sustainable and intriguing natural products.

Another brilliant book is Eat The Beach : A Guide to Edible Seashore by Fraser Christian (Author)

Eat the Beach is a uniquely informative, practical guide to coastal foraging, essential for anyone interested in survival skills or just wanting to get more out of messing about in rock pools. Fraser Christian runs the UK’s only specialist Coastal Survival School. This book teaches anyone how to collect it, catch it, prepare it, cook it and enjoy it.

The website Low Impact go on to remind you that it’s worth taking the sea, and it’s changeable weather seriously, but don’t let it put you off. Check the weather before you go and particularly avoid disorientating sea mists or storms. It’s very important to be aware of the tide times, and the speed of the incoming tide. Because of the risks, it’s generally best to go with someone, and take a phone. It’s good practice to tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back.

USE YOUR LOAF AND BUY HEALTHY BREADS…

Did you know that bread contributes 17-21% of dietary fiber, and 15-17% of the population’s dietary intake of iron across all age groups ! Who doesn’t love bread, especially home made bread but do you know which ones are the healthiest?

According to an article in Woman and Home there are four top wellness loaves, which include Sourdough at 100 calories per slice and made from the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in flour. Sourdough is naturally leavened bread, which means it doesn’t use commercial yeast to rise. Instead, it uses a ‘starter’ – a fermented flour and water mixture that contains wild yeast and good bacteria – to rise. This also produces the tangy flavour and slightly chewy texture you’ll find in sourdough. Wild yeast has more flavour than commercial yeast, and is natural in the sense that it doesn’t contain any additives.

Rye is another good one at only 85 calories per slice and comes as a light or dark variety. I love the darker version and get a very tasty one from Sainsbury’s. Rye flour contains enough gluten to make a yeasted loaf on its own, and tends to produce dense, dark, richly flavoured bread. It contains all the essential amino acids that make up proteins for building and repairing muscles, curbing hunger and regulating hormones. It is also rich in fibre and magnesium and helps keep our digestive systems working smoothly and regulate muscle and nerve function so Rye bread has to be an all rounder.

Soda Bread is another good one and only 86 calories per slice and is a traditional Irish loaf which contains no yeast but uses baking soda as the leavening agent. Soda bread is typically made with wholemeal flour which gives it a fantastically dense and doughy texture, but you could easily use a mixture of white and wholemeal flour if you’re after a lighter texture. It’s delicious simply served with lashings of butter and/or honey for breakfast, or with cheese and preserves for an easy lunchtime meal. It also contains energy-boosting B vitamins, iron and magnesium, so another good one for your health.

Finally, Flaxseed Bread which is 90 calories per slice. Flaxseed bread (linseed bread) is dense, soft, and moist. It’s free or any grains and pseudo-grains. In fact, the only ingredient in this flaxseed bread are ground flaxseeds (linseed). So, it’s a great low-carb alternative to your regular bread. It contains a source of plant based omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid which is especially important for vegans.

Source Woman & Home

VEGANUARY 1st-31st JANUARY 2021…

Join the New Years Revolution – Since 2014, Veganuary has inspired and supported more than one million people in 192 countries to try vegan for January – and beyond. They have worked with businesses to drive up vegan food provision in shops and restaurants, and have made veganism more visible and accessible through our work with national and international media.

Facts:

Over 1,000,000 participants since 2014

192 countries around the world

More than 1200 new vegan products and menus were launched for Veganuary 2020

98% would recommend Veganuary to a friend

More than 600 businesses took part in Veganuary 2020

Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try vegan for January and beyond. During the 2020 campaign, more than 400,000 people took their pledge to try a vegan diet, while more than 600 brands, restaurants, and supermarkets promoted the campaign, and launched more than 1200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone.

Throughout the year, Veganuary encourages and supports people and businesses alike to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving the health of millions of people.

The UK is now officially the world leader for vegan food launches. Mintel reports that around 16 per cent of new food products released in the UK in 2018 were vegan, which more than doubled the previous years’ output. Veganuary is cited as being behind this upswing.

Every January, retailers vie with one another to bring out more, bigger, and better vegan products and menus to capitalise on the huge popularity of Veganuary. But there work with businesses takes place year round! From the large multinational corporations, to the smaller high-street retailers – they offer support and promote their increased production of delicious animal-free items. In 2020, 600 companies promoted Veganuary and veganism, while there were more than 1200 new vegan products and menus launched during the month.

Some of the items that really got pulses racing were Gregg’s Vegan Steak Bake, Pizza Hut’s Pepperphoni Pizza, KFC’s Vegan Burger, Subway’s Meatless Meatball Marinara and Marks & Spencers’ No Chicken Kievs.

Their corporate collaborations are making plant-based foods so prevalent and so delicious that it is now easy for anyone to choose vegan options anywhere in the UK. They are now expanding this work globally!

Comedians like Romesh Ranganathan, Sara Pascoe and John Bishop have supported them; EastEnders’ Kellie Bright and Emmerdale’s James Moore are also Veganuary fans, alongside international athletes Hector Bellerin and Anthony Mullally. Paul McCartney has expressed his support for Veganuary and Brian May participated in January 2020 and plans to stay vegan. Joaquin Phoenix, Evanna Lynch, Chris Packham and Peter Egan are just a few of their incredible Ambassadors! This publicity is crucial to get veganism and, more importantly, the reasons to choose vegan, in front of a mainstream audience.

Their work with businesses doesn’t stop at product and menu collaborations, they also encourage them to run a Veganuary Workplace Challenge in January. In 2020 several large and influential businesses, including Pizza Hut Restaurants, Marks & Spencers, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Booking.com, Deliveroo and Ernst & Young took part and encouraged their staff to try vegan for January as well as providing more vegan options in staff canteens.

They also work with social media influencers, including some of the most exciting plant-based chefs, inspiring activist kids and animal campaigners with worldwide audiences.

They share their work with media around the world, and are happy to supply statements and images, statistics and case studies. As a result, Veganuary has appeared in every major UK publication and on every major UK television channel. Their message has spread worldwide – from the Los Angeles Times to the South China Morning Post.

THEIR VALUES

Impact: They are committed to a vegan world; they will utilise research to evaluate how the highest number of lives can be spared and direct resources to that end. 

Empowerment: They will optimise there outreach to support and encourage people on their vegan journey in a non-judgmental, positive, constructive, and easily accessible way. 

Collaboration: by partnering with other mission-driven organisations and working closely with corporates, they will make a bigger difference. 

Diversity and inclusion: they know that it takes people with different ideas, strengths, interests and backgrounds to achieve their vision; they appreciate the value of this and how it brings them closer to achieving their mission. 

Respect and integrity: in all internal and external relationships, they will strive for genuine, honest, and transparent communication. 

Resilience: they will continue to create a professional and sustainable (human, social, economic and environmental) organisation.

Source : Veganuary