Cheap and toddler safe winter ornaments! Not just for your christmastree, they could also be used for other decorations, like in wreaths or in front of the window.
The first batch went well. They were a bit moist still so I turned the heat up, and then they kind of burned. The next batch was much better.
A little bit of history I got from somewhere (I can’t remember…)
In the old days, Christmas wasn’t called christmas. It wasn’t a Christian feast then, it was a heathen feast to celebrate the end of winter. It was around the darkest time of the year, it was a celebration of light and harvest. Trees were decorated with (dried) fruit. Then somewhere, the Church added the Christian touch to it, adopting the feast (because that is easier then banishing it), like they did with so many feasts.
I only know a bit of the story, haven’t researched it a lot, but I think the 6th of January (arrival of the three kings) also was a heathen feast originally. The 3 kings were Christian marketing: See, for our holy king, kings from all over the world come! Asian, black, white, they all come to worship our king! Nations could identify with a king, and could be converted easier.
I am baptized and raised as a Catholic, but I have mixed feeling about religion. About the church, mostly. The witchhunt, surpression of women, the changes in the religion, (God was not a loving god all the time, he was feared a lot, only in the latter ages he has become a loving and forgiving God.) I do believe in helping other people, in doing good, but that should also be a goal for a person without a religious motivation. Be good because you want to, from your soul, not because God tells you or because you fear God. Be good because you know that is the right thing to do.
Every religion has it’s extremists and it’s time of holy war. I just get sad by all the wrongs that are done because of religion. I feel that, in the Western world, Christianity is the standard. Islam is viewed as different, not the standard. It’s ok to build churches, but it’s not ok to build Mosques. We celebrate all these Christian holidays, they’re national holidays, but we don’t have national holidays on other religions important days. I am in favour of separating politics and religion. And I’d like to go back to the root of things, like the root of Christmas.
I do not like the commercial Christmas. I like the thought of Christian Christmas. I understand the heathen Christmas. My Christmas is a mix of these. I try to withstand the commercial Christmas, try to withstand the “Consume!” message from companies. Commercial Christmas tags: Consume, posess, waste.. Consume lots of food, drink. Posess: it’s important to receive gifts. What you posess / get is important. Material. Not the thought. Waste: wrapping, left over food, decoration… just more and more to add to the waste pile. People are starving, we are wasting food by having extravagant dinners. We decorate and throw away the decorations after the holiday, as they’re out of fashion. Next year we need to have new ones.
Christian Christmas: The story of baby Jesus is beautifull, and I intend to share it with my kids ofcourse. There are lots of messages in the story. It’s a time to stand still and reflect on things.
Heathen Christmas: Celebrate that the dark is receding, that light is returning. Hope for a good harvest, for the spring to come. Celebrate the light, hope.
I am not sure where the family and friends part fits in (is that Christian, Consuming or Heathen, or all of it?)
My Christmas: I like decorations, but don’t buy lots of new things. I think it will be wonderfull to make decorations together with my kids. The family part, being creative, having activities together. Making it pretty with few resources. It’s about the thought. We did give gifts with Christmas, allthough I think our kids get a lot allready. They don’t need it. But we like is a lot to buy them presents. The excitement! Oh and we like Lego too, so it’s an excuse for us to buy more Lego “for the kids”.
I like to try to make home made gifts, but unfortunately, store bought is the standard. Store bought is better, is more appreciated. It’s easier too. Just check the list, pick one item and get exactly that item. But it’s not creative. The focus is on the gift, instead of on the giving. It’s on the size/value, instead of on the thought.
Anyway. Very idealistic thoughts of me, aren’t they? And I wished I could hold on to them more, but I am weak. (And a bit lazy / not much backbone, as saying “I am weak” is just a poor excuse for not caring enough/not wanting to put too much energy in it.) So, in thought I might be idealistic and all “holy” about environment and family and friends etc, when it comes to real day-to-day life I’m just a consumer who doesn’t have time to do the right thing or think about the right thing all the time. Enough philosophy and ideaology. Back to the crafting!
Orange Ornaments – How do you make it?
Get oranges (not oranges for juice, as you need to dry them so less juice is better). Slice them up, and dry them. You can dry them on the heater, but in the oven is faster. Put the slices in on a bout 100 degrees Celsius, and leave it in for a few hours / untill you think it’s ready. Mine were still a bit sticky when I got them out. I also sprinkled some casting sugar on it while drying as was suggested for a more glazier look somewhere. I didn’t mind the stickyness that much. The slices continued to dry (and shrink) more while hanging in the tree, but no rot or mould or bugs in sight. Next year I’ll probably make them again!
Salt dough ornaments (and homemade play-dough)
Soooo easy to make! I intended to use this as ornaments in the tree, but they became quite heavy and weren’t finished yet. In fact, they are still lying on a cupboard for further treatment. The idea was to add pictures into the big turqoise one and in the heart one. I still plan to do that and hang it on my copper painted wall. (I love the combination of copper and that peacock/turqoise color!)
I wanted to make an impression of Tobias his hand in the salt dough, and though he’d enjoy making and playing with the dough as he did like it when we made muffins the other day. But he was only half interested and kept squeezing the dough instead of keeping his hand flat, so I gave up and continued on my own. I only have 2 cookieshapes: the handfigures (3 sizes) and the heartshape (1 size). The round shape was made with the bowl that was standing near.
A basic recipe:
- 1 cup of salt
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of flour
- optional: Add potatostarch for more elasticity (aardappelzetmeel)
- optional: add some vegetable oil
- Add food coloring for pre-coloured dough (or for colored play-dough)
- Varnish the end result after drying/baking
I found that the dough is very suitable to use as play-dough as well. Might not be able to store it as long as playdough from the recipe below, but it’s almost the same.
Variations on this (check out the sites for the full instructions, including baking temp and times and other tips!) :
From Musings From a Stay at home Mom (I didn’t try this recipe yet, but looks good and clear instructions and looots of positive comments!)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (no idea what this is)
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- food coloring
The recipe involves heating the stuff, so go over to her blog for the tutorial.
From a dutch site for bakers, bakkerwereld, about salt dough decorations:
- 1 kg of flour (1000 gram bloem)
- 5 g baking powder (5 gram bakpoeder)
- 200 g salt (200 gram zout)
- 250 g real butter (250 gram roomboter)
- 400 g water (400 gram water)
- Meng alle droge grondstoffen met de boter goed (Mix all dry ingredients very well with the butter)
- Voeg water toe en kneed tot een glad deeg (add water and knead untill it’s a smooth dough)
- Laat deeg minimaal twee uur rusten (Leave for a minimum of 2 hours)
- Breng in model naar keuze, laat even rusten en bak af tussen 160-170ºC. (Shape as you wish, leave a while and bake it between 160-170ºC.)
For kids, easy recipe on a dutch site, njam:
- 1 kg flour,
- 600g water
- 500g salt
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
- Maak een kuiltje in de bloem en giet het water erin. (make a dimple/pit (which one?) in the flower and pour water in)
- Los het zout op in het water en kneed er beetje bij beetje de bloem onder. (dissolve the salt in the water and start kneading it, adding the flour bit by bit )
- Blijf kneden tot het deeg niet meer aan je handen kleeft. (Keep kneading untill the dough doesn’t stick to your hands anymore)
- Verdeel het deeg in worstjes en kneed in de gewenste vorm of steek er figuurtjes uit met een uitsteekvormpje. (divide the dough in sausages and knead in desired shape or punch out figures with a cookiecutter)
- Vet de bakplaat in met een beetje olie. (grease the baking sheet (baking plate?) with a little oil)
- Bak de kleine figuurtjes 20 minuten en de grote 40 minuten op 170°C. (Bake the little figuers 20 minutes and the big ones 40 minutes at 170°C)
Finish / werk af:
Borstel een beetje olie over de figuurtjes zodat ze een mooie glans krijgen.)
From a belgian blog, mijn hobbyblogje, someone who makes pretty things with salt-dough. (the categories/site doesn’t function well though). (edited 21-09-2013: The site seems to have gone, so unfortunately you can’t visit it anymore for the instructions about baking it. Wished I had written that down too! That is why I have added the instructions to the rest of the recipes)
- 200 gr meel
- 200 gr zout
- water (no specific amounts, just add little bits as you go.
- To be able to make thin stuff: add 100g of potatostarch.
- For rough work: double the amount of salt.
- For tiles and plaques: use a double amount of salt as well and add 2 tablespoons wallpaperglue.
Back to my salt dough products, not as nice as the ones above, but fun to make! I added green and red foodcoloring. I only had liquid food coloring at that point.
A little bit more explanation on the last picture: I rolled the dough around the stick, and rolled the stick around with the curl of the stick off the table (so rolling on the edge). Then a few rolls on the table. Because the stick is now angled due to the curl, the inside hole of the dough is a bit bigger. Cut the beads with a sharp knife. You need some room between the beads, so you have to gently move the remaining dough aside so there is space between the beads. If you want to make pretty beads with pretty sides, move the dough much further then I did. The sides of the beads were very rough when it was finished. I did push them apart more before baking, but still some stuck together.
See my next post about Home Made Gifts – play dough ingredients in a glass-etched jar, decorated with salt-dough for the results after baking and varnishing!