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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Weird Notebook Giving Auntie


Hello friends. This is a short post, as I have just put the children to bed, and intend to spend the evening making some presents. But, I thought I'd share a couple of simple ideas you could use for your own home made Christmas if you're feeling in the festive mood (I have had little choice but to get in the festive mood since the girls started coming home several weeks ago singing carols they'd been practising at school).

Alison is friend of ours, and ex colleague of my husband, and she and her husband Roger make chocolate houses at Christmas. Actually, I think it's mainly Roger who is the genius behind the ever impressive structures - one year, he even wrote a how to guide, in response to all the positive comments he got about the chocolate houses (I'll ask Roger if I can share this, if you'd be interested..?).

Last week, I thought I'd make a chocolate house to give to my nieces and nephew, as they were coming up for a pre-Christmas visit. I took a few pictures, before sending it away with them still in tact (much to the noticeable disappointment of my girls, who would have dived in and helped themselves to all the raspberry bonbons, given half the chance).

The walls are made out of After Eights (well, the fake Aldi version), and the roof is Matchmakers (from Aldi, too). You melt a load of chocolate on a tray of greaseproof paper, and make your walls and roof that way, and then assemble it all once it has set. 

I found I had to carry out a few emergency building repairs during construction, but extra Matchmakers with melted chocolate do a pretty good job of sticking things back together and holding them in place long enough to set again. 

Then for the fun bit, of choosing favourite sweets and going over board on decorating the house. I got all the sweets for this one from the old fashioned sweet shop in the arcade in town (known in our house as The Saturday Sweet Shop).

Thinking of what to give my nieces and nephew - and all the other family members who I want to give something to without either bankrupting myself or plumping for dull vouchers - is a challenge. I could - and arguably should - just go for vouchers, especially now they are all getting older. It avoids just giving stuff for the sake of it, and they can have the enjoyment of some spending power in choosing something they genuinely like. But. I just didn't want to do that.

There lies the thing. It isn't just about them. It's about me feeling good about the thing I am giving them. Selfish, perhaps, I know. I didn't want to just give them another thing any one else can give them. So... I came up with these naff covered notebooks! Ha, ha. I have turned into Weird Notebook Giving Auntie. In my defense, naff as they may be, these notebooks are personal to them. I spent a happy few hours making them, and thinking about my lovely nieces and nephews in the process. A bit like the Welsh lady on this year's Sewing Bee (gosh, I have forgotten her name!), who said in the opening credits each week that making things for her grandchildren felt like she was giving them her love. That. 

All three are super stars in their own ways, and I feel immensely proud of them, even though they are not my children. One example (and this happens to have been my nephew, but it could easily have been either of the girls) is when we were at the park together, and the boy overheard some other kids swearing in front of my girls. `Watch your language, there's little girls around,' he said, in a calm and confident manner. I could have hugged him with pride. 

So that is why I have given three cool kids some notebooks. 

I am not expecting them to be excited when they open them, compared to the genuinely exciting things they will probably open on Christmas morning. It's the nephew's birthday a few days after Christmas, and for that I shall be throwing cash in his direction. He wants a BMX for doing stunts. 

So, I am going all out on the notebook giving front. I'm putting all my eggs into one basket, and not shying away from the title of Weird Notebook Giving Auntie.

I feel slightly bad now, as since making the first three notebooks, I've got hold of a free motion foot for my machine, and can do a better job of writing with my sewing.

Oh my goodness. This thing is so much fun. Okay, maybe lots of fun for me. Not necessarily my teenage nieces and nephews. But seriously, guys, get Father Christmas to buy you one of these toys.

Liberty print pin cushion, made for my tree - using this tutorial
I'll also make some more chocolate houses to give away, too. In my head, it balances out the cool stakes a bit. I'm a bit deluded, I know...


  1. I made my brother a notebook last year, and I made my niece and nephew super heroe capes, I actually feel a bit awful that I haven't made them anything this year! X

    1. I've had that guilt before - partly why I decided to curb present making to only my girls (have blatantly ignored my own rule this year for some reason!!). I bet they will love whatever you choose to give them. X

  2. I prefer ex colleague but nice job! Alison

  3. Awesome chocolate house - the girls were so good to let that leave the house - ultimate self control - I'd have HAD to break off a bon bon! The notebooks are lovely - I love the title of Weird Notebook Giving Auntie - just think of all the wonderful lists, ideas, drawings, thoughts, wishes, dreams they'll write down in them :-) FAB! XXX