Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas decorations

This year will be the first year that Micah and I are able to put up our own Christmas tree. Since this will be our first tree we don't have many decorations for it so to save us money I decided to make all our own decorations this year.

I started off by making my favorite Apple Sauce Spiced Ornaments. They are very easy to make and they look and smell beautiful around the house.

Here is the recipe for them:
1 cup cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp all spice
3/4-1 cup apple sauce

1. Combine the dry ingredients and then slowly mix in the apple sauce.

2. Stir with a wooden spoon a couple of times before mixing together with hands (I always where plastic gloves).

3. Form the mixture into a ball shape.

4. Roll the dough out 1/4 inch thickness. The dough is usually very sticky so I like to use wax paper to roll the dough out. I put one sheet on the table and one over the dough to make it easier to roll out.

5. Cut the dough out with your favorite cookie cutters. Its best to use cutters that don't have many little parts that way the dough will not stick in them. I like to do stars, ginger man, Christmas trees and snowmen.

6. Once you have the shapes pressed into the dough I find the easiest way to get them onto the cookie sheet is to lift them up one at time using a spatula.

7. You will want to make a small hole in the ornament before it bakes so you can hang it once its hard. I usually use a small straw to make a hole. Try not to get too close to the ends so the ornament won't break.

8. Bake ornaments on a single layered cookie sheet at 150-200 (depending on your oven) for 2-3 hours.

This will be the first Christmas that these ornaments will make it on a tree. In other years I have used them as gift tags for friends and when we lived in our apartment I hang them up over the windows with the Christmas lights.

The next on my ornament list was dried fruit. I had done this in our apartment the first year we had lived there as well and they turned out wonderful so I decided to try again. I did apples and oranges. The apples didn't really turn out all that well for me this year but the oranges look wonderful.

Dried Fruit

3 Apples
3 Oranges

1. Slice the apples and oranges width ways, that means you want to lay the fruit on its side so the steam is facing one way and the bottom the other. When you slice the apple like this the core makes a star shape in the center of your dried fruit and the oranges make a lovely pin wheel.

2. For the apples you will want to dip them in a little bit of water that has lemon juice added to it that way the fruit doesn't turn brown before you get them into the oven.

3. Layer the fruit on a cookie sheet. You will want to put a small hole in the fruit before you bake. For the apples you can use the straw but for the oranges I have found that just making a slice with a sharp knife in the flesh part of the orange looks great and if it doesn't take you can slice it again once the fruit is done drying. Bake at 150-200 for 4-5 hours. You may need to bake them longer depending on how juicy they still feel and look.

~ To hang the ornaments I used paper ribbon from the dollar store for the apple sauce ornaments and for the dried fruit I just used a think string like jute. Our tree will be complete with some popcorn garland and red berries. I haven't decided if I will use really cranberries or just some red painted beads. I think the popcorn garland will last longer with out the fresh berries.

Some other cheap Christmas ornaments that I made where from old light bulbs that had burnt out or that had been replaced by the energy saving bulbs. I painted them with a base color and then decorated them with paint, markers, google eyes and felt. I had seen these ornaments many times at craft fairs so I decided to make my own. I did search the internet first to see many different ideas of how other people made these before I sat down to create my own. Here are my reindeer, Grinch and snowman. These would look great on any tree or would make wonderful Christmas gifts for friends and family members.

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