Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Clay Ornament Recipe and Mommyhood Failings

Let's be honest, it's sometimes fun to read about the failings of others. Not horrific failings but, you know, that the bloggers we follow don't live in a world of perfectly iced cookies, seams that aren't always perfectly mitered, and children who don't happily occupy themselves for hours on end so they can finish whatever project they are working on.

Frankly, I don't know how other bloggers do it. Do they have help with the housework? With the cooking? Do they just order take out every night? Do they trip over trains in their living rooms their entire houses? 'Cause that happens over here (sadly not the help with the housework or the cooking). That's how things get done.

Unfortunately, even under the most perfect circumstances, things can go horribly awry over here. I'd like to tell you about it.

On top of all the stuff that has to get done at Christmas time, I received the notice my kindergartner needs to bring 18 gifts for each of the kids in her class. Of course, being me, we have to hand make them. I can't go out and buy 18 tiny tubs of Play Dough, or 18 pencils with cute Christmas-themed erasers. That would be way too easy. No, like a dummy, we have to make something. From scratch. Big mistake.

I decided that we should make ornaments. It's no harder than making cookies, right? I thought about the cinnamon ornaments you see everywhere but the dough is so finicky and my arms break out in a rash from mixing all that cinnamon and applesauce together. Plus, they take forever to dry out and harden. I didn't want to make salt dough ornaments but I did find this recipe for clay-like ornaments (see below).

So pretty! So easy!

They were really easy to put together and I added silver glitter right to the dough to give them a little pop.  I used both regular sized cookie cutters and these little mini cookie cutters in the shapes of snowflakes and gingerbread women/men. I diligently poked a hole at the top of each ornament before baking them but what I didn't do was make the hole big enough in the mini ornaments to thread anything through-not ribbon, not dental or sewing floss, nothing. Even though we had made them a week before they were due, I didn't notice the hole situation until 9PM the night before she was supposed to bring them to class and we didn't have enough of the big ornaments for everyone.

So cute! So useless!

Cue the mild cursing to myself.

I came up with a (lame) alternative and was done in less than hour but still.....

So Boring. 

Learn from my mistakes People! Poke big enough holes in your ornaments!

Recipe for Ornament Clay

1/2 c cornstarch
1 c baking soda
3/4 c water

Mix all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. As the mixture warms it will get thicker and thicker. When it looks kind of like mashed potatoes, take it off the heat, cover with a damp cloth and let it cool. It doesn't take that long to cool but I couldn't get to mine until about four hours later and it was still perfectly workable.

Once cool, knead it together using extra cornstarch if it is too sticky.

I used two 1/4" square dowels as a guide to make the dough an even 1/4" consistency while rolling it out and then used cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.

Lay out all your creations on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Using a straw, poke a hole at the top of each ornament. From experience, a toothpick is not big enough. Bake at 175 degrees (F) for 30 minutes, than rotate the cookie sheets and bake for another 30 minutes. Let cool.

Once cool, you can paint them to your heart's desire or just leave them white.

A few add-ins:
When kneading the dough, I added in silver glitter and kept on kneading the dough to distribute it evenly. I probably used about 1 cup of glitter but I just kept on adding more until I thought there was enough. In hindsight, I would either add more, or use a finer glitter; the stuff I used was pretty big.

You can also try adding food coloring to the water before you mix everything together.

(Slightly adapted from Tips from a Typical Mom Blog )

Whatever you do, have fun! And poke big enough holes!


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