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.

10 TIPS ON BREAD MAKING FOR “REAL BREAD WEEK “…

Following on from my post on Real Bread Week 20th – 28th February, here are ten tips on making bread.

  1. When baking bread, put the empty baking tin upside down in the oven beforehand to heat up. Then when you drop the dough in it, it puffs up and creates a lighter bread.
  2. Always use the right yeast, the easiest type to use in home baking is the fast acting/easy-blend dried yeast which most bread machines use.
  3. Warm up your utensils before starting the process.
  4. Always warm your milk, only slightly but just enough so that the yeast isn’t slowed down by the fat in the milk.
  5. Make sure you check and double check your salt quantity.
  6. Store your yeast at the correct temperature. Dried can be kept for a few months. Fresh yeast can be kept in the fridge for a week or two or could be frozen for up to 3 months.
  7. Make sure you measure everything correctly. Use digital scales. The smallest difference in just the amount of water or yeast can make a big difference to your bread.
  8. There are a number of different flours out there so try different ones.
  9. Throughout the process the dough should be kept warm ie at approximately blood heat, but it must NOT be overheated.
  10. Check rising time with each recipes as they can vary quite a bit and do not leave dough to just rise. Make a note of the time you left it and set an alarm to check it at the correct time.

And, enjoy with lashings of butter on…

Source : BHF

REAL BREAD WEEK FEBRUARY 20th-28th…

What is Real Bread Week?
Launched by the Real Bread Campaign in 2009*, this is the annual, international celebration of Real Bread and people who make it.

Each year, the Campaign encourages bakeries and baking schools in its supporter network around the world to organise hold classes, feasts and other events and activities.

Meanwhile, everyone else is encouraged to get along to a local, independent Real Bread bakery and support a business that helps to create more jobs per loaf at the heart of your local community and to keep your high street alive.
Doughy digits
One of the two main aims of the week has always been to encourage more people to bake their own Real Bread. We’re particularly keen to see more children learning to bake it, whether at home, in a bakery, baking school or in the classroom.

Not only is this great fun, but it’s a way helping them to avoid all of the artificial additives that turn up in industrial loaves. It can also be a way of steering them towards healthier food – you’d be amazed at the number of children who ‘don’t like wholemeal’ but love it when it was lovingly made by their own mitts.

Home baking
Recipes
Real Bread classes/courses
Discounts on ingredients, equipment, classes

NB loaves raised with baking powder / soda fall outside our definition of Real Bread
Bigging up little bakeries
It’s time to kick the additive-laden industrial loaf habit and support YOUR local Real Bread baker!

Small, independent, locally-owned bakeries help to:

support more jobs per loaf for people in your local community – skilled jobs at that
keep more money circulating in your local economy, helping to keep your high street alive

They may also offer social benefits, from being a place where older people at risk of isolation can see a friendly face and stop for a chat, to those that are set up to offer training and employment opportunities for people facing one of a range of challenges.

Don’t be fooled by so-called ‘artisan’ loaves turning up on supermarket shelves: insist on the real deal.

Look for The Real Bread Loaf Mark
Discover a local Real Bread bakery
Why support a local Real Bread bakery

Get involved!
How are YOU celebrating Real Bread Week this year?

Whether you’re a teacher, professional or amateur baker (or even a non-baker), there are plenty of ways to help people in your local community enjoy Real Bread…and maybe even raise dough for the Campaign at the same time.

Even better if you team up with local good food organisations and/or other small-batch food and drink producers to make a real party of it.

Here are a few more ideas of events and activities. You could organise a Real Bread:

beginners‚baking workshop
tasting dinner or pizza night perhaps in association with a local pub or eatery
lunchbox masterclass to share all the great Real Bread alternatives to soggy factory loaf sarnies with parents at a local school
club event to bring friends colleagues and neighbours together to bake
networking event for fellow breadheads

The more the merrier
Perhaps you could involve a community group such as your local:

School
Youth club
Scouts, Guides or other local youth organisation
WI group
Farmers’ market
Country Market
Slow Food group

Support the Charity

he best way to support our charity’s work is to join the Real Bread Campaign

You don’t have to be a baker to join us – in fact, the majority of our supporters aren’t.

Rates (unchanged since 2009) start from £22.50 a year, the equivalent of LESS THAN £2 A MONTH. 

Supporter benefits you’ll get to enjoy include our exclusive True Loaf magazine; and special offers on Real Bread ingredients, equipment, baking classes and more. Read more about why and how to join us.

Make a doughnation

If you’d like to make a one-off doughnation as well as / instead of joining us, you can do so here.

Help us to raise dough

Can your business make a special donation, or collect from your customers, during the week? Maybe you could send a percentage of your total sales, or just from a Real Bread Week loaf/class.

You can send what you raise to us by debit/credit card or PayPal payment via our doughnations page

Source: Awareness Days, Real Bread Campaign

BAKE YOURSELF CALM BY BAKING BREAD…

In an article in Prima Magazine Pauline Beaumont, counsellor and author of Bread Therapy: The Mindful Art of Bread Making she says, ” By mindfully making a loaf of nutritious bread, you will give yourself the satisfaction of creating something lovely, from scratch, with your own hands, something which has huge benefits for your mental wellbeing.

It’s an opportunity to give yourself some time: to slow you down, soothe and ground you, and create a moment of quiet calmness. From kneading dough, to taking a delicious-smelling freshly baked loaf out of a hot oven, bread-making can be a mindful experience and a therapeutic craft that can nurture and nourish us. As yeast transforms flour and water, so making bread can transform us and our lives.

As we seek ‘slow skills’ to free us from the digital world we are inhabiting more and more, and mindful activity to help us manage our mental wellbeing, so bread-making is experiencing a renaissance. This book will guide you through the art of bread making, with insight into the benefits of this ancient craft which will nourish mind and body. It celebrates bread making as a way of understanding ourselves better, learning important life lessons and making positive changes to our mental and physical wellbeing. It features eight simple bread recipes to get you started on your bread-making journey.

Pauline Beaumont is a passionate bread baker, mother of six and counsellor who believes fervently in the power of bread-making to aid our emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Amazon ReviewWe love this book as it sums up exactly how we feel about bread. Bread is like a small animal; it needs feeding, resting and quite a lot of love to get it to feel right. Caring for it gives you a huge buzz. Bread also has the ability to care for you and making bread is such a simple and pure way of boosting mental wellbeing. Pauline’s book captures the magic of this equation beautifully. — Alex and Kitty Tait, founders of The Orange Bakery

BAKING TIPS MONDAY – REMOVING YOUR CAKE SAFELY…

On Baking Tips Monday this week I am writing about how to remove your cake without any problems.

To easily remove your cake from a loose-bottomed tin, place on a tin can or jar and press the side of the tin downwards.

To remove a cake from a solid tin, run a knife around the outside of the cake then place a plate over the tin and invert it.

If your cake is particularly rounded or uneven, then level it off with a sharp knife before decorating.

To prevent your cake from sticking to a plate or board, dust the surface with icing sugar.

When the cake is loose, turn the pan upside down and gently ease the cake out and onto the cooling rack or plate. The best type of knife to use is a non-serrated or palette knife. Or use a thin nylon spatula.

If the cake still won’t come out then when the cake is cool, preheat the oven again to about 250. Put the cake back into the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the pan over to rest on a cooling rack. The cake should slide nicely out of the pan.