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DIY hot chocolate stirrers spoons
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Make Your Own Hot Chocolate Stirrers – spoons

Hot chocolate stirrers make wonderful gifts for a class at Christmas, or as favours for a winter wedding! If we are honest they can get expensive if you are buying ready made ones! hot chocolate stirrers spoons ready made Even though they look sumptuous they are also often wrapped in single use plastics.

We want an affordable luxury gift!

These, 25 Muffin Forms , Reusable, high-Quality Silicone, Environmentally Friendly, BPA-Free – Cupcake Forms, Baking Forms, Cupcake Muffin Forms are a real saving grace. mainly because they are reusable and eco-friendly. Hot chocolate stirrers need bendy cases that can be removed

We used the Lakeland Silicone 20 Hole Mini Muffin & Cake Baking Mould as we wanted to keep them all together and push them out. The worry is you can have too much chocolate on each spoon and the drink becomes a bit yuck. The sides are rigid which really helps hold it all together.

Then you are also going to need some Wooden Teaspoons these ones are fully biodegradable and will go straight on the compost after use. the basis for hot chocolate stirrers are spoons All very in keeping with an Eco-Friendly Christmas or wedding, party any excuse really! The basis of hot chocolate stirrers are wooden spoons!

Making the Chocolate Stirrers

This is a good family activity and will be lovely as a gift for class mates at the end of year. However there is a lot of heat when we melt the chocolate, so depending on skill levels adults may be in charge of pouring.

broken chocolate ready to melt

To melt the chocolate we used a saucepan with a pyrex dish on it. The saucepan has water in it and the dish sits on top without touching the water at all. Break the chocolate down into small pieces. One bar of cooking chocolate will make around 4 spoons of very full chocolate. It has to be cooking chocolate as we want the stirrers to work in hot milk. The chocolate just needs to melt and not cook at all.

a spoonful of chocolate melted and ready

Keep stirring and when it has all melted take it from the heat. Then you can pour into the silicon cupcakes.

stand the spoons up in the chocolate

Watch our wonderfully awful video showing how easy it is to get the sticks to stand up! It is an epic fail but we did enjoy it and got them to stand tall eventually, but that is why we now use wooden spoons not sticks! Our epic fail is your triumph!

Now to make them unique…

Make your hot chocolate spoons unique!

The beauty of DIY hot chocolate stirrers is that you can load those spoons with all of their favourite things. Marshmallows, hundreds and thousands, lace it with alcohol anything you like.

If you are melting the chocolate over the hob it is the ideal time to add small amounts of alcohol at a time. This will not split the cooking chocolate and will depend on how you want it to turn out. We love Baileys in ours as it goes so well in hot chocolate.

milk chocolate stirrers with spoons and marshmallows

If you are adding marshmallows use some patience! Wait until it is cooler. Then sprinkle on top. We use the mini marshmallows to hold the spoons in place as well!

Other Low Cost Ideas

needle felted baubles

fat quarters
The perfect accessory for a cosy night in front of the fire

 

beginners needle felted baubles
crafts

Easy Needle Felted Baubles

Needle felted baubles are a fun way to create unique Christmas tree decorations. There is a comparatively small initial cost involved and it is easy to decide if you enjoy it before any big expenses. You can be completely creative and try any colour combination that you like.

For these needle felted baubles you will need

Felt Needle Tool Felting Starter Kit – this one includes finger guards. I didn’t need them but I am aware that as an electrician I am sort of used to a little pain in between the fun stuff. If you want a super cheap alternative try 
40 colour pack of Merino Wool Tops for Needle/Wet Felting approx 120 gms I have chosen the multi pack as it is so full of colour and I think this gives the beginner the best chance of fun needle felted baubles. needle felted baubles 

For our needle felted baubles we used mixed colours and then carded them together. So go for a pack like these 50 Colours Felting Wool Roving Hand Spinning Wool Fiber Yarn for Needle Felting DIY Materials and you can make your own creations! We love the variety so much! 

10 x Christmas Decoration Modelling Craft Polystyrene Foam Ball Sphere 10cm---White you will need these. Now this brand come without any hangers so if we want to create a needle felted bauble wreath we have scope. I will show you how later on!

Principles of needle felting

If we were needle felting animals or statues we would need a mat to work on. Usual just a lap sized square of upholsters block. It is robust enough to take the occasional needle through it and fat enough to protect your lap! In this instance we have the bauble itself.  Just don’t go too far into it! 

Using a medium sized needle you can see that it is graduated to get wider, therefore the thing to remember is that the deeper you push the fatter the needle is. So if we want to create gentle joins with not much disturbance to the surface we go gently and don’t go too deep. If we want to make the wool more condensed we can stab it deeply.

Remember we cannot undo what we have done in needle felting but if we make it too compact, we can always add extra fleece to make it a larger size.

Getting started with your needle felted baubles

No scissors is the rule! You want the natural fibres to knot together and by cutting it you limit that ability. So gently pull the wool apart keeping your hands a good distance apart. gently pull the wool apart before we start to needle feltIt is possible to break the wool sideways as well. This gives us freedom to make small scraps useful.  never use scissors to cut the wool you intend to use for needle felting

YouTube Tutorial for Needle Felted Baubles

 

needle felted baubles needle felted baubles getting started You can see from these images that I have twisted the wool together loosely. Then I hold firmly to the bauble. This then creates a surface to poke through. So bare in mind that the needle is barbed and the deeper you insert it the thicker the needle. This gives you freedom to mix it up a bit. Change the angle that you poke from and you will have a lovely firm connection. 

Just work a small area at a time and keep moving around the bauble. You want it to be completely covered with no polystyrene showing. I like the swirls of this wool so I am keeping the direction of my wool. finishing touches of needle felted baubles I also mix the colours as well. So once it is covered with my base wool I then add a top wool. Felting sideways as I go to keep them all together as one entangled piece. 

We are 100% aware that these are not perfect, but they our beginners needle felting projects so are therefore perfect to us! 

Other Handmade Christmas Decorations

  

 

What does needle felted mean?

The needles that you use for needle felting are barbed and designed to mesh the fibres together. The wool is naturally prone to entanglement so the needle just encourages that process. The more you work the wool the more dense it becomes. So you can make it more compact and rigid, but you can’t undo that process.

Can you felt without a felting needle?

No, because it is barbed and graduated to entangle the wool it wouldn’t work with smoother needles. Normal needles have the opposite design feature as they are intended to glide through without snagging. With the barbs your carded or loose wool becomes more dense and meshed together, making it ideal for modelling and shaping.

Is needle felting hard to learn?

If you want to get creative then it is an ideal beginners craft, but if you want to get some of those amazingly accurate animal sculptures then it is hard! So far I have made a few dozen needle felted baubles and it has massively helped my skills with the needle, but I am not in the same league as some of these super neat etsy stars! But give it a go, I have popped a few beginners kits together which are really affordable so you can try and not carry on afterwards.

How do I get started?

Start with a basic project. We have gone for baubles because I wanted some stocking fillers that were unique. If I am honest I think ours look better because they are not perfect, but very satisfying. We put a pack together that you can buy to get started. That way you will have everything you need with a smaller initial cost. We think that each bauble has cost us around £1. So not expensive but fun, so why wouldn’t you give it a go?beginners needle felted baubles project

crafts

Make a Magnetic Blackboard in your Kitchen

This is a cheats guide to making your own magnetic blackboard for your kitchen. Perfect for all sizes of kitchen! The cost will come in at under a tenner as well! Something to make everyone happy about! Low budget and wont take more than an evening or two to complete.

DIY magnetic chalkboard blackboard
This is our secondhand fridge that we have hidden behind countless magnets and papers

You will need:

You are going to paint directly to your fridge freezer. This is the scary bit. Ours was secondhand and really chipped and horrible. Like most people we covered it with magnets and paperwork. Mainly it was an effort to hide the very tired look of it. If you have just spent a few hundred on a new fridge freezer, you may not wish to use blackboard paint on it at all! The DIY blackboard paint project works as an upcycling project. It helped us to avoid taking the fridge freezer to landfill.

By not doing this is would have meant spending a lot more money on a new item for our kitchen! If you have already subscribed you will know about our No Spend Year and how we are looking to stop any new purchases. Perfect for a Zero Waste No Spend Kitchen Win!

Continue reading “Make a Magnetic Blackboard in your Kitchen”

runner beans seeds for next year
Garden Progress

Harvesting Runner Beans Seeds for Next Year

We have had a bumper crop of runner beans this year and want to carry it on for the next year with no additional cost. As you know we are trying out techniques which will be useful when we move to our Smallholding. So this fits in very well with our No Spend Year and should be adopted by any aspiring gardener. Why pay for your seeds each year?

Here is our quick how to guide for you as well. dried runner beans

  1. Wait until the beans themselves have dried on the plant. We were hit hard by a massive storm and the beans we had were uprooted. This meant that I had a large crop which needed to be harvested to eat slightly prematurely, but I also made the decision to leave a few on the vine. Future planning is key to success in the garden, but so is flexibility to the British Summertime.
  2.  All you need to do then is gently press along the side to pop them out. Clear off the chaff and pieces of pod that may be stuck to them. runner beans ready to store Each one of these beans can produce a plant with dozens of runner beans, so make sure you don’t get carried away storing for next year and not eating this year!
  3.  Make sure that the beans you take are dry to the touch. This will ensure that no mould is introduced. You will need to store them for around nine months until they are ready to plant out again.

Storing Runner Beans Seeds for Next Year

We keep all of our old plastic containers from things like butter. They are relatively air tight and can be stored in a cool place. Make sure to write on the tub what the seeds are! This year I mixed my giant runners with a normal sized variety and it did me no favours when it came to harvesting. shiny beans

Once your crop has finished for the year, make sure to clean down your canes and bring in any Cane toppers that you may have used. We are then turning the area over to our ex-battery hens to clear the area.

You may also like:

galric spray alternative natural pesticide

 

upcycling ideas, easy for your garden
Why not try a few no or low cost ideas for your garden?

 

 

ex-battery hens
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Rehoming ex-battery hens – are we ready?

The time has come and our ex-battery hens will be ready for collection in a few weeks time. We are waiting patiently and have really been looking forward to this moment. However this is a massive responsibility and one we have researched thoroughly. I still feel those nerves in the pit of my stomach, but we want to have a fox proof happy home for our hens to roam around.

Do ex-battery hens lay eggs?

Yes they do, we will be collecting them when they are already around 18 months old. This means that in the world of battery chickens they have reached their usefulness and will no longer be laying consistently. We will be taking on four girls and hope to have a few eggs a day from them. Things like giving them plenty of protein in their diets will help, so a tasty example would be DRIED MEALWORMS which we will add in to their feed. In fun ways – obviously.

Once they are free roaming they will find their own sustenance and that is why we have been using natural pesticides only in our garden.

How long do battery hens live?

In the world of commerce they would be used for pet food or chicken paste at 18 months. In reality once they have arrived with you, they could live happily for many more years to come, laying for the majority of that time.

Where can I find ex-battery hens for rehoming?

By using a charity like British Hen Welfare Trust you can extend their lives and give them real happiness. Once you register you are put in contact with the hen rehoming team and it is all very much geared around their welfare and looking after them! Just the way we like it.

What do I need in terms of a chicken coop or run?

Think fox and think fox again. You need a coop of sturdy construction that will prevent Mr fox from wriggling under and attacking your rehomed hens. a palace for ex battery hens  Chicken Coop, this is the model we are going for. There is easy access to the rear to clean out and it has a bit of roaming space for the hens. Alongside this we will be allowing them to free range the rest of the garden.

How many hens should we rehome?

We have thought long and hard about this as our garden space is so big. However the hens we rehome will be our first and we want to get it right. So we have gone for four initially. Hoping that the pecking order will not push one out to be on her own. Also the above coop is big enough for up to 6 hens so it should mean plenty of space to roost and bed down each night.

What else do I need for my ex-battery hens?

I am buying these ex-battery hens 3 Litre Economy Drinker and 3kg Economy Feeder Red and White Set as we want to go to work in the day and trust that they will be okay. They may come across as being bird brained but they are intelligent animals so I will be making lots of fun toys for them to peck their way through. Not being particularly fussy eaters will help a lot with this! I can imagine that whatever has been eating my courgette will stop once the chickens are free ranging, only for the chickens to start.

We are so excited and will be finding our way throughout this journey, please do subscribe and find out more. Small steps to our bigger dream of a smallholding. I hope that we can show you how to raise battery hens in your own back garden too.

If you want to buy chickens now have a look at the article we have written with a bit more advice of your next steps.