What a post title this one is. Hang on to your chair, dear readers, because we are covering a lot of ground today!
First, some overdue chocolate reviews. You may recognise the wasabi block from my London shopping adventures (oh! those adventures!); it was also one of the sources of inspiration for my chocolate coated wasabi peas.
The Elizabeth Shaw blocks were picked up from an English supermarket I now forget (we visited so many), largely because I hadn't seen them before and they were cheap. They also include dairy in the ingredient list, but provide slightly more cocoa than the Lindt block - 57% in both blocks. They were smooth and glossy, with large and easily broken apart squares.
The cocoa crunch block included cocoa nibs. I like nibs in my chocolate, but am used to them being scattered on top rather than contained within the chocolate. Perhaps as a result, the block was a little too light on nibs for my tastes. I did enjoy the block, but I didn't love it.
The mint crisp block included mint flavour and honeycomb crisps, which isn't a combination I've come across before. It worked, though, and the 'bits' in this block were more detectable than the nibs in the cocoa crunch block. At the same time, I can't bring myself to rave about it. Elizabeth Shaw may be one brand I can cope without in Australia. The chocolate was okay, but not stellar.
Our second topic for today is sort of chocolate related (if you made one, you could put chocolate in yours...), but not really. It is an advent calendar. Lots of other organised bloggers posted about their advent calendars on the first of December. I admire those bloggers, but am clearly not one of them.
I have, however, made a 12 days of Christmas advent calendar. This has the advantage of being smaller to make (12 days instead of 25!) and giving you extra time to make the thing (13 extra days!). My version also has the advantage of being pretty much foolproof, even if craft isn't usually your thing.
I bought all my components from Spotlight, an Australian chain craft store. I am sure that any craft store would do. I purchased...
- A stretched canvas as the 'base' for the calendar,
- A strip of Christmas-appropriate fabric,
- Colourful Australian Christmas paper,
- Three small paper mache boxes, and
The pack of Christmas paper was a slightly excessive purchase, containing far more paper than I needed, but I liked it too much to leave behind. Why the paper at all? Because my advent calendar was made, in large part, using origami envelopes.
You see, I don't have a sewing machine and my hand sewing is more than a little messy. Glue and I are even messier. Even cutting things out is challenging when you factor in my poor scissor skills. Origami seemed like my best bet.
I followed the instructions on this page for paper envelopes, but made four small envelopes (the size recommended on the website) and three larger ones. To complement these, I glued Australian Christmas animals on the three small paper mache boxes, and managed to sew two pouches out of the green material.
The rest of the green material? It was cut to slightly larger than the stretched canvas, and simply pinned into place.
The various pouches and envelopes are also pinned on, with their surprise items hidden inside. Mr Bite gets to empty Number 1 today, so I won't reveal too much about those surprises - but suffice to say they are probably similar to what gets included in advent calendars worldwide.
Whether this will appear again in future years I can't say, but it was surprisingly fun to make!
Have you made an advent calendar this year, or in previous years?
How about wasabi chocolate - yay or nay?