Easy Peasy Mint sauce

Copious amounts of mint have been dried, frozen and made into tea already but still there is an abundance to be used. So mint sauce is today’s kitchen craft.

Chop leaves finely (don’t blend or it will be a purée) and steep in boiling water for a couple of minutes to tenderise them. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon of malt vinegar with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and a pinch of salt, scale up this mix so you have enough to cover the leaves.

Drain the leaves and rinse in cold water to stop them ‘cooking’ then put them in the jar/ saucer before pouring over the vinegar mix. Ready to use in half an hour, will keep in clean jar for weeks.

Liven up peas, potatoes, carrots, chicken and of course goes well with lamb.

Custom laminated pouches

Need to protect those crucial documents…

No need to buy protective pouches. If you have access to a laminator you will just need two laminating pouches to make your own, custom sized pouch,

Cut one pouch, ie both sheets, to the size of pouch you want. In my case this was a tad bigger than my folded letter (which was weirdly folded when posted out).

Separate the trimmed sheets and flip them so the inside faces out.

Place the trimmed sheets neatly inside the other pouch. Position them centrally as you will trace excess plastic off later. (With smaller projects you will get skilled at reducing wastage).

Laminate the pouch as you would usually. When it emerges, trim around the inner pocket leaving a narrow margin. Cut one short end off to access the inside of your pouch.

I used a hole punch to create a tab but this isn’t necessary. Some people re-laminate the finished pouched to seal the cut edges but I don’t find this necessary.

Easy Elderflowers

A generous bag of elderflowers transformed using the easiest syrup recipe with the spare flowers soaked in gin and a little sugar overnight to flavour and lift a simple gin up a level.

Use for cordial, over ice cream, in yoghurt, on fruit tarts or to lift a white wine or cava up a notch (if it lasts that long).

Diy gift wrap, when a bag isn’t big enough

A roll of white paper, neglected stamps and ink. You could also diy wrapping paper by stencilling, splattering, writing or adding stickers. No need to buy and much more personal.

I assembled the stamps on the biggest acrylic block I own ( not that big but am in a no buy mode) and rotated them irregularly.

I think monochrome looks classier and will also use blue washi tape to secure. A coordinating gift tag to finish!

Christmas time!

Have empathy with our Australian friends and try to imagine a hot, summer Christmas by upcycling old Christmas cards on a hot day in June!

No, not getting the Christmas sparkle at all but I have tackled an overdue ‘to-do’ with 30+ cards remade. Simple cropping, matting and embellishing makes this a satisfying to reduce the stockpile of card and sparkly things. I even used up some googly eyes and red glitter glue!

Herb harvest

I went into the sea

Up to my knees

Started to freeze

So came home and made mint syrup…

Two handfuls of mint stick-blended with half a cup of sugar. Three cups of water with another cup of sugar brought to the boil. Mint mix added to water and simmered for 10 minutes. Left to stand then double filtered before bottling.

Great in cocktails, with sparkling water, in herb tea, over ice cream or yoghurt.

My favourite gift bags, no equipment needed!

These days I use patterned paper to make striking gift bags very quickly with a simple formula.

With a blunt pen and ruler score a vertical line from top to bottom about 1/4” in from right side of the sheet. Then fold the rest (in this case 11 3/4”) into four long, equal panels (for me a shade under 3”). Unfold your sheet.

Rotate the paper round 90 degrees and score a line a few inches from the new top to bottom (for me, about 2 1/2”) from the right side, this will be the bottom of the pouch. Turn the paper back to the start orientation.

Get your scissors out. Cut up the four folds from the bottom to the last score you made. Snip out the tiny piece on the bottom right hand side. Put scissors away.

Get glue or tape out. Glue the 1/4” panel to the opposite side of the sheet to make a tube. When dry, lightly finger press the other score lines so you have a rough box shape. Turn the four bottom flaps inside in turn and stick closed the bottom of your pouch.

Stuff gift inside, pad with shredded or tissue paper. To close you can staple, peg or stick the top from east to west. I have also hole punched and threaded ribbon or yarn to tie things up.

This gives you a box bottom for stability and a flat front for labelling or sticking a card to.

If your gift is weighty make sure the glue is strong and maybe add a piece of cardboard inside the bottom just before packing.

Upcycle jars – using die cuts

Inspired by a sizzix promotion, I upcycled a plain jar into a rustic summer vase.

Assorted die cuts were glued on the clean jar with mod podge. I then used an old tester pot of emulsion paint to cover the jar. A light touch of metallic finish – gold finger by daler rowney – and a sealing coat of mod podge made it a useable vase.

What I learnt: (1) Three coats of paint were needed for an opaque finish. (2) Impatient as ever, I used a heat gun to dry the paint which lifted a couple of the die cuts a little. Actually a happy accident as it added to the rustic effect. (3) less is more with the metallic finish and you can’t take it away if you put too much on.