Lesson 14: Christmas Boxes

Lesson 14: Making Christmas Treat Boxes

Art Travels with Rain topper

Art Travels with Rain topper

 

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

This last week here in Colorado we were hit with a massive blizzard that seemed like it was trying to make up for  the lack of November snow all in one go!  I lost my internet so here is last week’s blog post, then on to this week’s.

Every holiday season I make lots of sweet and savory treat gifts and decorate tins and boxes for festive packaging.  Tangie’s December Art Journal Caravan Collection Scandinavia is filled with fabulous holiday motifs.

(http://shop.scrapbookgraphics.com/Art-Journal-Caravan-2013-The-December-13-Collection.html)

I made some “collage” sheets of various bits from the Scandinavia collection in an 8.5 X 11 format so I could print the sheets at home.  I printed on matte photo paper, adhesive backed canvas, and adhesive backed cardstock to make a stash of holiday items to make the boxes and tins.

Here is a photo of Santa Rain’s work table:

Art Travels with RainI tend to make a grand mess, make lots of projects over some days, then do a big clean-up all at once…I think this is pretty common to all artists this time of year!  If you have a better system, please share!  I wish I would find the time to have all my holidays lined up by December 1st, so I guess that stays on my “probably never in this lifetime” list.

Here are a few examples of my collage sheets, from various holiday Tangie Baxter kits, including the “Favorite Things: Baking”, “Winter Wonderland”, and the “AJC 13 December Collection Scandinavia”:

Art Travels with Rain

Some of the collage sheets are one element, copied and pasted onto an 8.5 X 11 Photoshop canvas, then I selected one row, and continued to copy and past.  I re-sized  the flowers and some of the cards to fit nicely onto the canvas, knowing I would be cutting each element out.  Once I had the roses or other items onto the canvas, I used “Control + New Layer”  (Mac:  Command + New Layer) so the new layer was below the elements.  Then I added a background paper to make it easy to cut without a lot of fuss for the elements that had uneven edges.  Having said that, I spent a lot of time fussy cutting flowers!

For the hexagons, I started in the center of the canvas, and kept adding to the edges, lining each up like a quilt.  On the edges, I placed a hexagon in the space, then selected the excess with the marquee tool, and deleted, repeating with the same hexagon motif on the opposite side.

The borders sheet I kept lining up each one with a bit of overlap, and then printed the sheet onto paper-backed fabric as well as paper so I could cut the strips and use as ribbons on some of my packages.

 

Art Travels with Rain

 

Art Travels with Rain

 

Art Travels with Rain

Here is an image of of a tin front and top:

Art Travels with Rain

Art Travels with Rain

 

And a box:

Art Travels with Rain

Art Travels with Rain

 

What to put into your box?  Cards, clips to hang cards, and FOOD, of course!   I love to wrap up treats in printed tissue paper with a decorated box, as the box can be used again or for some other purpose by the recipient.

take care and stay warm,

Rain

So here are a couple of recipes that are my favorites to box up for family, friends, and neighbors:

Parmesan or Sheep’s Milk Pecorino Crisps

*I am horribly allergic to cow dairy except for butter, so I make these with the sheep’s milk equivalent to Parmesan, known as “pecorino”, available at CostCo, or any healthy box store.

If I am making a lot of these, I use a grater blade on my food processor, otherwise it is the hand grater and some elbow grease.

PreHeat the Oven to 375 degrees

Line cookie sheets, or baking trays with either silpat type matting or parchment paper.

Drop 2 or 3 tablespoons of grated cheese roughly into a circle shape.  Leave at least 3 inches between each circle of cheese.

Bake for 5 or 6 minutes, but stay close!  These can turn into “burnt to a crisp” very quickly.

Slide the pan liner onto a cooling rack and leave for at least 20 minutes to completely cool.  Using a spatula, slide each crisp off the liner and layer with parchment or waxed paper between in a tin or in a plastic bag.

*After cooling for a few minutes so the cheese starts to adhere to itself but before it stiffens, the crisps can be shaped by gently placing into a muffin tin or clean egg carton to cool completely.  The crisp will form a “nest” type pocket.

I often give this gift with my rather famous mushroom/onion soup to float on top with some crusty bread.

 

Nut Brittle

This is my go-to sweet gift using pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or other nuts than peanut.  I love peanut brittle, however I don’t always know if someone has a peanut allergy in the family of my intended gift recipient.  I love this toffee style of brittle as it does not contain heavy cream or other milk product except butter.

Note!  This is not meant as a “health food”!  Loaded with sugar!!  Remember to brush your teeth after eating!!  I buy organic corn syrup that is non-gmo, made by Wholesome Sweeteners and granulated sugar from CostCo, organic Succanat also by Wholesome Sweeteners company.

Line a 10 X 15 rimmed baking sheet with oil if it is not non-stick.

*Combine in a minimum 4 quart saucepan:

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup (one stick) of butter, cut into 1 teaspoon pieces (8)  This is a rough estimate, just generally follow the lines on the butter wrapper

2/3 cup of water

*Stir all of the above ingredients in the saucepan over medium high heat until all of the sugar looks wet.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan with the base into the mixture of ingredients and continue cooking WITHOUT STIRRING until the thermometer reads 310 degrees F.  It will be foamy, and tan colored around the edges, and will take at least 15 minutes depending on your elevation.  At high elevation like my home, it take around 13 minutes, again, don’t walk away!

*Remove from the heat and take the thermometer out of the pan.  Whisk in 1 teaspoon baking soda, remembering that it will be very foamy, then 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

* Add either 1 1/2 cups nuts and seeds (pecan, peanut, almond, pumpkin, etc)   OR  2 teaspoons of spice such as red pepper flakes, ground cardamon, or black pepper.

Whisk in your choice of nuts, seeds or spices.

*Pour the entire mix onto the prepared baking sheet, tilting it around to spread the “goop” as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle a few of the nuts or seeds on the top of the mixture.

*Cool absolutely completely and totally on the baking sheet, which will commonly take at least 1-2 hours.  Don’t shortcut this step!

*Invert the sheet over a parchment sheet on the countertop or large cutting board.  Gently break up the brittle into small to medium sized pieces.

*Package as desired and enjoy!  The brittle can be stored in the refrigerator or an airtight container without refrigeration for up to one month.

 

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