Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: No-Cook Playdough

The special smell of home-made playdough still brings back fond childhood memories for me. Although you can now purchase Playdough in a rainbow of colours, part of the fun of homemade playdough is the anticipation and process of making it, as well as deciding what colour to make it. 

This playdough recipe is quick, inexpensive, and easy to make with the kids (especially on a rainy day when you're looking for an indoor activity). 

This would also be a fun thing to include in a party bag (instead of heaps of lollies). Just seal a ball of it up in a zip-lock bag for the kids to take home and play with later. You could also include some cookie cutter shapes with it. 


Photo by Alex Bruda


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Half a cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • Approx. 1.5 cups of hot water
  • Food colouring

Photo by Alex Bruda


Method:

1. Mix the flour, salt, vegetable oil and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. 
2. Mix the flood colouring and hot water together and add the water to the flour mixture
3. Stir until the mixture comes together and forms a dough
4. Let the dough cool slightly before kneading it well. You can add more flour if required.  

This recipe was kindly shared with us by Cooinda Cottage Child Care, ACT

Check out more handmade gifts here...

What's your favourite indoor activity to do with your kids on  rainy days?

We'd love your thoughts - please share your comments below...


Monday, 30 March 2015

PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: Eggling



Here's why we love Egglings:
  • They're a great alternative to chocolate this Easter
  • They're easy to grow - simply crack the top of the egg, water and place in a light position
  • Plant will grow in the Eggling for 5 months before you need to replant
  • They make a great gift for gardeners, children and people who have everything
  • They look great on a kitchen windowsill and are a fun talking piece
  • The smart gift box they come in presents beautifully as a gift. 
Get one here...

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Where to get the best gift ideas...

If you need some gift inspiration, be sure to subscribe to the Mr Gift newsletter. You'll be the first to know about sales, special offers and discounts, as well as:

  • Top gift tips and ideas
  • Gift advice
  • Inspiring stories
  • 'How To' tips
  • Recipes and much more. 

SUBSCRIBE HERE for your fortnightly dose of gift inspiration...






Friday, 27 March 2015

The best handmade gifts...

Mr Gift office gift ideas
March is Mr Gift's Handmade Gift Month. To celebrate, we've included five of our favourite handmade gifts below, plus links to some of our favourite handmade gift ideas on our blog.

Here's why we love handmade gifts:

1. They're unique - handmade gifts will make the fussiest gift recipients smile. 
2. They support artisans and small businesses - most handmade gifts are made by individuals and small businesses who are passionate about what they do and are trying to make a difference in the world through their practice.
3. They have an environmental conscience - many of these handmade products repurpose existing products that would otherwise be sent to landfill.
4. They are made with love - the artisans that make these products aren't purely focused on making a profit from these items - often they are a labour of love. Choosing these items for a recipient shares this love.
 
We're also offering FREE DELIVERY on all orders from now until midnight Friday 3/4/15.  

Use Coupon Code HANDMADE in the Coupon Code field when you place your order.  

This offer can't be used in conjunction with other offers, or redeemed for cash. But please feel free to share with family and friends:)

Here are five of our favourite handmade gifts - share the love...
Bicycle Leather Wine Rack
1. Bicycle Leather Wine Rack $49.95
Love cycling? Love wine?
Now you can combine your love for both with this bicycle leather wine rack. No romantic bike ride would be complete without one of these! Also available in black
 
It's About Time Elegant Cufflinks
2. It's About Time Elegant Cufflinks $249.95
Each of these unique cufflinks are handmade from vintage watches (from 1920-1960) by US jewellery designer, Robin Frances. Cufflinks are presented in a lacquered gift box with a certificate of authenticity.
 
Wine Bottle Glasses, small
3. Wine Bottle Glasses (set of 4) $29.95
Empty wine bottles sourced from bars and events have been repurposed to create these unique glasses. Check outBottleHood's range of repurposed glasses here...
 
Man Cave Rules Dictionary Print
4. Vintage Dictionary Print (framed) $24.95
A passion for “making old things new and worth-while again” was what inspired The Salvaged Sparrow designer, Kerrie Lightfoot to create this striking range of prints on the pages of vintage dictionaries.
View more prints here...
Troika Magic Card Case
5. Crumbz Butchers Apron $29.95
A stylish gift for men who know their way around a kitchen.
Handmade in Australia (Healesville, Victoria).
Check out the Crumbz range here...

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Why I do what I do: Dianne Brinsmead-Ward from The Sassy Cook

Where do you source new recipes from when you get bored of your regular mid-week recipe repertoire?

Although I have quite a few recipe books I often refer back to, I have recently found myself scouring the web for interesting food websites and blogs. There is a plethora of helpful and unhelpful information out there, so when I find a website with consistently useful information, I stick with it. The Sassy Cook is my latest favourite recipe website - here's why I love it:
  • It's easy to navigate - you can search recipes by meal or ingredient
  • It's real - The Sassy Cook founder, Dianne's food manta is "how to be fast and fabulous in the kitchen". She's a busy mum to two young children and gets the need for speed when preparing meals for the family. However, speedy meals don't mean compromising on quality ingredients that nourish our bodies.
  • Delicious recipes - I'm tempted by every single recipe on here. Best Ever Brownies, Salted Caramel and Banana Cookies, Lamb and Veggie Sausage Rolls, Sticky Spicy Drumsticks are just a few of The Sassy Cook's tempting recipes.
  • Simple recipes - Recipes are simple to follow and contain common ingredients found in most household pantries/fridges.
  • It's inspiring - don't look at this website when you're hungry! The stunning photographs of food featured on here are 'food porn' at its best!

"The Sassy Cook is all about being fast and fabulous in the kitchen,"
Dianne Brinsmead-Ward, Founder of The Sassy Cook


Founder of The Sassy Cook, Dianne Brinsmead-Ward kindly shares more about The Sassy Cook, her background, and life philosophy in our below interview...

1. Tell us a bit about your job and how you got to where you are now?
My blog, The Sassy Cook is all about being fast and fabulous in the kitchen. I have a background in food and my blog allows me to draw my experience together into a wonderful hub of recipes that help busy people have fun in the kitchen.

I got to where I am now through a lifetime of studying food, spending time with chefs, cooking on cooking shows, researching food and lots of recipe book reading. I have thousands of recipe books and read them like novels. I am also a freelance journalist.
About a year ago I woke up one morning and decided it was time to combine my passion of writing and cooking into one blogging juggernaut – The Sassy Cook was born. I didn’t fuss over the name – it took me all of 10 mins to come up with the name, as that’s what the blog is all about – being fast, sassy and fabulous. Food is such an integral part of our lives and I wanted to provide a way to make cooking quick, functional and enjoyable.

Since starting my blog, my food tips and home organisation skills have been featured on many news and lifestyle TV shows, blogs and magazines.

http://www.thesassycook.com/?p=3130
The Sassy Cook Chocolate Brownies


2. What do you love most about your job?
Cooking and food is a way of life for me. It provides me a creative outlet and a way to reach out to people. I can lose myself for hours creating recipes and writing up posts. In essence, I love being a source of assistance to my readers, making one of the major components of their life - eating! - fun and stress free.

Food testing and road-testing new kitchen gadgets is also very cool!

http://www.thesassycook.com/?p=3086


3. What’s your life mantra?
Work hard, play hard, eat well and love your family and yourself like no other.

4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I would be a chef.

http://www.thesassycook.com/?p=3064


5.What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My Renault Clio from my husband this week.

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone?
The Nutribullet for my mother in law (and myself). By far the most valuable kitchen gadget one could own.
 
Check out www.thesassycook.com or The Sassy Cook facebook page for more delicious recipes and clever cooking tips.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

How to run a fast 10km race: Ali Cavill's top tips

The Australian Running Festival (Canberra) is just over three weeks away. I have registered to do the 10km race and am feeling pretty excited. Apart from a head-cold, training has been going pretty well. Having run a few 10km races before, I am familiar with the distance, but I've plateaued. I'm at the point where I keep running the same time and not improving my time as much as I would like.

So my big question is: How do I run a faster 10km race?

I went on the hunt for some expert advice, and Ali Cavill (Head Trainer and Owner of Fit Fantastic) kindly shared some of her wisdom below...

"My two favourite exercises to boost your strength and running skills, for myself as well as a Personal Trainer, are the squat and plyometric exercises. I use these exercises to train my clients for better running fitness and ability and they are an ideal exercise to add to your preparation and training schedule for any upcoming obstacle style running races, such as Greatest Athlete race!" says Ali.

Ali Cavill from Fit Fantastic


1) Leg press or squat
Attempt to lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner. A heavy weight used should be used, and only 2 sets of each exercise should be completed, with a long rest between each. The number of reps should not exceed 12, and like the strength endurance training, single leg exercises are advised where possible.

2) Plyomterics (lunges)
Explosive power improving endurance performance. For runners, explosive power developed primarily through plyometric exercises (jumps) and sprints, can help reduce ground contact time. Alternate leg lunges, jumping from one to the other with back knee close to the ground. Propulsion using front heel. Running arms to maintain stability and power.

The exercises should be added to your training regime in sets of 8-10 and repeated 2 or 3 times. 3 times a week in any athlete’s regime will see you adding explosion and spring in your step!
 
These running tips were kindly shared with us by Ali Cavill, Health & Wellness Expert and Owner, Fit Fantastic. Ali is Head Trainer and Owner of Fit Fantastic, a leading health and fitness company, and is a renowned “face'' of health and fitness. She is a Fitness Ambassador for Centre for Health Brain Ageing (CHeBA) UNSW and Australian Sports Nutrition (ASN), Brand Ambassador for Rockwear Gym Clothing and a Warrior for Australian Institute of Fitness. Connect with Ali via her Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram: alifitfantastic

How do you prepare for a fun run or improve your running time?
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...



Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Sew Wanderlust embroideries by Teresa Lim

Do you have a favourite holiday photo you'd like to do something special with?

Teresa Lim has taken her gorgeous holiday snaps to a new level, by immortalizing them in needlework.

These intricate embroidery works were inspired by her travels around the world, and we reckon they would make a sensational handmade gift - especially for someone special that you shared your travels with. Here are some of our favourites...

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam


Big Ben, London
 
 
Serpentine Falls, Perth
 
Charles Bridge, Prague
 
Tokyo


View more of Teresa's embroideries here, and check out more handmade gifts here...

What's your favourite holiday snap?

We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...



Monday, 16 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Knitted Wine Sleeve

A bottle of wine makes a fantastic gift, and this handmade Knitted Wine Sleeve makes it even more special.

Knitted Wine Sleeve from Etsy store, paperandparcel


Why we love it:
  • They are a great way to reuse an old jumper that may be damaged, have holes in it, etc. If you don't have an old jumper, check out op shops and charity stores for different options.
  • They can be personalized depending on what type of ribbon you use.
  • You can add a gift tag with a personalized message
  • I don't know many people who don't love a bottle of wine, but you could also gift a bottle of whisky, spirits, or something non-alcoholic. 
  • The knit stretches to accommodate most sized bottles, and the length of the sleeve can be adjusted to match the height of the bottle for the perfect fit.
Check out our other handmade gift ideas here...

What's your favourite type of wine to give as a gift?

We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Painted Oven Mitts

These cute oven mitts are a delightful gift idea for the kids to make for dad, mum, grandma, grandad, or family friends. They are perfect for any occasion as a birthday gift, Christmas gift, Mother's Day/Father's Day gift, or even a Thank You gift.


Why we love them:
  • They are simple to make - just grab a plain oven mitt and some fabric paint.
  • You can pick up oven mitts pretty cheaply in any discount department store.
  • You can pick your colours to suit your recipient or occasion, i.e. blue or red for a man, pink or purple for a woman and red and green for Christmas.
  • The handprints are a great design - they are personalized and capture a moment in time when the kids are a certain age. We also love date-stamping them too.
  • Tip - use contrasting coloured paint on a plain mitt to ensure your design stands out.

Check out our other handmade gift ideas here...

What is the best handmade gift you've ever received?
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Favourite Six St Patrick's Day Gifts

It's St Patrick's Day on Tuesday 17th March, so we thought we'd share some of our favourite handmade gift ideas. It's amazing how much gift inspiration you can draw from green, gold, rainbows and all things Irish...

1. Paper Shamrocks
These would be great fun for a party or a kid's bedroom. They're pretty easy to make, so the kids could have fun making these too.  

They would also look great in other colours - tonal or contrasting bright colours as a simple mobile to decorate a bedroom.  

Image from www.sugarbeecrafts.com


2. Fresh flowers in green jars
Either paint your own jars, or look for green jars in op shops or discount stores. 
You could also decorate a clear glass jar with a green ribbon. Flowers with large green leaves (like these tulips) complement the 'green' look. 

Image from www.yesterdayontuesday.com


3. Green gift hamper
This would make a great Thank You gift or a fun present for someone whose birthday falls on St Patrick's Day. You could also take a larger version of this hamper to work to share with your work colleagues. 

Image from www.thetoddanderinfavoritefive.com


4. Horseshoe with green ribbon
Horseshoes are considered to be lucky (just make sure they are turned this way up - so the luck stays in them!). Add some green ribbon and a personal message and they make a beautiful gift to adorn a front door. 

Image from www.theinteriorevolution.com


5. Pot of Gold
This is a classy gift for a classy recipient. The gifts you put in here obviously don't have to be real gold, and you could have some fun being a 'magpie' and finding gold trinkets to pop in here. A can of gold spray paint could also be your best friend here! We LOVE the gold pegs :-)

Image from www.persialou.com

6. Rainbow Lolly Bags
A few bags of coloured lollies, some gold coins, a glass (a clear plastic cup is better for kiddies), some cellophane, and ribbon is all that's required to make these fun little lolly pots. These would be great fun for kids to make with/for their friends - just expect a few lollies to go missing before they make it into the glass!

Image from www.icanteachmychild.com



Which St Patrick's Day gift idea do you like best? 
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Today is...Check your Batteries Day

If you can't remember the last time you checked the batteries in your smoke alarm, then today is the day! It only takes a few seconds and could save the lives of you and your family.



While you're at it, it's also a good idea to:

1. Check batteries in other appliances such as clocks, toys, remote controls, torches, etc.
2. Stock up on more batteries in the sizes you use the most.
3. Set a reminder with an alert in your phone to check your smoke alarm next time.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Spice Jars with Blackboard Paint Lids

Writing the contents on the lids of my spice jars has been life-changing.

I didn't realize how much time I used to waste lifting up each individual jar to inspect what was inside (or read the label on the front) when I was looking for a specific ingredient.

Image from www.catsresume.blogspot.com.au

Why we love them:
  • They are easy to make - simple paint the lid with chalkboard paint and label with a chalk pen
  • You can use any size or shape of jar, depending on what you like the look of and what fits in your cupboard best. 
  • They are reusable - when an ingredient runs out, simply wash the jar and lid and refill/label with another ingredient. 
  • They're a great way to reuse old jars that would otherwise be thrown out. 
  • You could use them anywhere in the house - not just in your pantry. Think bathroom, office, workshop, or sewing room for haberdashery supplies. 
  • You could fill them with homemade produce or homegrown herbs for as a thoughtful, cost-effective gift. 

What would you use these jars for?
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...


Friday, 6 March 2015

Favourite Cheesecake Recipes: Bulla Thickened Cream Baked White Chocolate Cheesecake

Friday 6 March is White Chocolate Cheesecake day, so here is a delicious White Chocolate Cheesecake recipe from Bulla...

Bulla White Chocolate Cheesecake decorated with chocolate squares, silver cachous and fresh raspberries


Ingredients:

Serves: 4-6

Cooking time: 1 hour and 15 mins
• 200g shortbread biscuits, crumbed
• 100g butter, melted
• 250g cream cheese, softened
• 2 x 300ml Bulla Thickened Cream
• 4 eggs
• 2 tsp vanilla bean extract
• 200g white chocolate, melted
• 30g silver cachous (decorative sugar balls)
• 100g raspberries to serve


Method:
(pre-heat oven 140c)
1. Combine the biscuit crumbs together with the melted butter and mix well.
2. Press the mixture into the base of a lined 24cm spring form tin. Refrigerate until firm.
3. Beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy.
4. Gradually beat in the Bulla thickened cream until well combined.
5. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.
6. Finally fold through the cool melted white chocolate.
7. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and bake in the pre-heated oven 150c for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool (centre may feel soft but will be firm when cool).
8. Spread the extra melted chocolate in a thin layer on to a large piece of baking paper and sprinkle evenly with the silver cachous.
9. Cut chocolate into small rectangles approx 7 -8 cm high and 5 cm wide.
10. Release the cheesecake from the tin and place onto a serving platter and arrange the chocolate squares decoratively around the edge.
11. Garnish with the fresh raspberries and serve with a dollop of Bulla Double Thickened cream.


Tips:
  • White chocolate maybe replaced with dark chocolate and vanilla maybe replaced with coffee or your favourite liqueur.


This recipe was kindly shared with us by Bulla Dairy Foods. Bulla is one of Australia’s oldest family owned dairy companies, proudly making dairy products in country Australia for six generations. The company is continually evolving its time-honoured traditions to bring families nothing but the best. Bulla is dedicated to making products with more care, craftsmanship & passion from only the freshest milk and cream. Made with care by three families since 1910. Bulla is proud to hold the Australian license to create Cadbury Marvellous Creations Ice Creams and works alongside Cadbury in creating this delicious range, among others, in frozen form.
http://www.bulla.com.au 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Crumbz Aprons

Aprons make a fantastic gift for men who like to cook.

When we tried to source aprons for men, we noticed that there weren't many men's aprons available on the market...until we discovered the Crumbz range.

http://www.mrgift.com.au/Crumbz/crumbz-butchers-apron


We have three different types of aprons to suit the chef in your house: The Barry BBQ apron, the Butcher's Apron and the Chef's Apron. Check out the Crumbz range here...

http://www.mrgift.com.au/Crumbz/Barry-BBQ-apron

 
 
http://www.mrgift.com.au/Crumbz/crumbz-chef-apron



Why we love them:
  • The Crumbz range has been lovingly handmade in Healesville in Victoria's picturesque Yarra Valley since 2009.We love supporting Australian businesses!
  • They are made from 100% Cotton fabric in stylish colours and patterns
  • The designs feature high-quality cotton straps and wrap-around waist ties
  • They are suitable for men AND women
  • They are smart and practical
  • Easy-care - simply machine wash
These aprons feature high quality cotton straps


 
The Butcher's Apron and Barry BBQ Apron have large pockets to hold utensils

The Barry BBQ Apron features a removable towel - perfect for wiping your hands on

Aprons aren't just for kids or Nanna - real men wear aprons too!

Check out our other handmade gift ideas here...

Who's the chef in your house?
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Button Bookmarks

Buttons, buttons and more buttons!

These would be the perfect little gift for people who love reading, like the girls in my bookclub. A little set of these would also make a gorgeous gift for your child's teacher.

http://www.iheartnaptime.net/button-bookmarks/


Why we love it:
  • Men, women, children - the possibilities are endless depending on what buttons and coloured paperclips you use.
  • You can buy some really fun paperclips these days - different colours, large, small, patterned. Source something different from your local stationery shop or $2 shop.
  • Cover your own buttons in fabrics you love
  • Use other trinkets such as gumnuts or semi-precious stones for a different effect.
  • They don't have to be used as bookmarks - organizing paperwork with these paperclips has never been so stylish!
  • Here's a tutorial on how to make them...




 
 
 
Who would you make these Button Bookmarks for?
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Handmade gift of the day: Recipe Ring

A good, tried-and-tested recipe is worth its weight in gold.

What better gift could you give to your friends and family than a selection of your favourite recipes?



Why we love it:
  • You can personalize the recipes for your recipient - savoury, sweet, snacks, pasta, curries. In fact, you could compile a different theme for each birthday/gift occasion.
  • You could laminate each card to ensure it lasts
  • It's small and doesn't take up much space in your recipe cupboard/kitchen draw. In fact, your recipient could even hang the recipes from a hook in their kitchen.
  • You can gift the recipes with a colour-matched utensil - spatula, tongs, wooden spoon - the brighter the better!
  • It's easy to replicate - once you have the recipes typed (or scanned) you can print out multiple copies for different recipients and colour-match utensil and card to suit recipient.
  • You can be as creative as you like. Recipes in this picture have been typed up, but you can add images, play with text, etc. The world is your oyster (depending on how much time you have).
  • Why limit yourself to recipes? You could compile a ring with quotes, jokes, tips, anything that will make your recipient smile!
Check out some of our favourite recipes for inspiration, as well as more handmade gifts here...

What signature recipes would you include in this recipe ring collection?
We'd love your thoughts - please comment below...

Monday, 2 March 2015

Five gifts to help you think: Top business and office gifts

Mr Gift office gift ideas
Autumn is now upon us and summer holidays are a distant memory, but that doesn't mean we can't indulge ourselves (or others) with some nice things for our desk and office.

Why give an office gift?

1. They're practical - even if your recipient doesn't work in an office all the time, these gifts are useful at home too.
2. They will brighten your recipient's day and hopefully make the 'daily grind' a little bit more fun.
3. They help keep you organised and motivated - who wouldn't want to play with numbers on the Hubpad Calculator???
4. They're versatile - these are great gifts for men and women of any age.
5. They're easy on the wallet - all of these gifts are under $70.
 
We're also offering FREE DELIVERY on all orders from now until midnight Monday 9/3/15.  

Use Coupon Code OFFICE in the Coupon Code field when you place your order.  

This offer can't be used in conjunction with other offers, or redeemed for cash. But please feel free to share with family and friends:)

Here are five of our favourite office/business gifts to give you a bit of inspiration...
Hubpad Calculator
1. Hubpad USB Calculator and Mousepad $29.95
This mousepad-and-calculator in-one means you'll always have a calculator at your fingertips when you need one. A stylish and practical gift for the person with everything.
 
Troika A5 Leather Notebook
2. Troika A5 Leather Notebook $69.95
This high-quality leather/PU compendium has the following features:
  • Notebook
  • Money Clip (which can be engraved)
  • Five inserts for business cards
  • Elastic band closure
View the Troika range here...
Troika Black Carbon Pen
3. Troika Black Carbon Pen $59.95
An impeccably presented pen that has a subtle carbon fibre pattern and high-gloss finish. A beautiful, timeless gift for clients or colleagues.

View more pens here...
Cyber Clean High-Tech Cleaning Compound
4. Cyber Clean High-Tech Cleaning Compound $7.95
When was the last time you cleaned your computer keyboard, or your phone? This cleaning compound is a safe, effective (and fun) way of cleaning your devices...
 
Troika Magic Card Case
5. Troika Magic Card Case $36.95
I have to confess, it took me a long time to work out how this "magic" card case works. It's fun to use, a great ice-breaker at business events, and keeps your cash and cards safe. If you're looking for a unique business card holder, this is the one!

Check out our other Troika business card holders here...
 
SHOP OFFICE GIFTS