Monday, September 26, 2011

Cinnamon Salt Dough ROCKS!!!

Oh, I love the Fall. I really do! The coolness of the mornings, the sunshine at midday, the greenery giving way to hues of orange and red. Just love it!

All of this lovely cool weather had me craving some warm decorations to go with it.  Ta Da!! 

I've always wanted to make Cinnamon Ornaments, but the only recipe I'd ever seen used applesauce to bind the cinnamon, or maybe a bit of glue and applesauce. Here in the South, applesauce just attracts ants and bugs.  So, I never actually made the ornaments, although I did discover I had purchased 4 containers of cinnamon !!

When I found the recipe from Colleen at her blog, And Baby Makes Five, I knew I had to give it a try.  I figured the worst thing that could happen is that the ornaments would turn out horribly, they'd fall apart, and the children / table / floor would be covered in gooey dough and cinnamon.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out!!  The kids had fun and didn't fight for a whole 15 minutes!!  Sure, there was a mess on the table and floor.  My son lost interest quickly in creating actual ornaments, but he had fun playing with the dough and creating space creatures which attacked the table.  He also discovered that the dough doesn't taste as good as it smells.  My daughter made some really fun little pumpkins, and even made a Jack O'Lantern Wreath and a Pirate Pumpkin.  ha.

The best part is the SMELL. Honestly. It still smells so goooooood in here!

Here's the original post from Colleen:

I altered her recipe just a bit:

2 C flour
3/4 C cinnamon
1 C salt
1 1/2 C lukewarm water

I think I ended up adding just a tablespoon or two of extra flour to keep the dough from being too sticky.  I used my Kitchenaid with the dough hook to mix it all up.

Use cinnamon on the table and your hands instead of flour when you roll it out.  Pinch off a ball, cover it in cinnamon, then roll it or press it flat with your hands.  I had a 7 oz jar of cinnamon (Dollar Store!) and there was still about a half cup of cinnamon in the jar after using it for the recipe and for dusting the dough.  Guess we'll be making more of these, since I still have 3 full containers of cinnamon.
It's probably a good idea to use this shortly after making it.  We put ours in the fridge, wrapped in plastic.  When we took it out, moisture condensed on the surface of the dough, so we had to use extra cinnamon to keep it from being so sticky.

The ornaments that were thinner (about 1/4" or so) came out the best.  The thicker ornaments puffed up when they baked and were hollow inside.  Still a neat look.

We made about 2 dozen pumpkin ornaments, some "bones" and some witch hats.

Put the ornies on parchment or foil to bake.  Ours did stick a little bit, but the foil peeled off easily enough once they were cooled.

Colleen covered hers in wax or said to use poly spray.  I haven't covered ours in anything, we like the cinnamon smell.  If they disintegrate after the holiday, that's fine.  Christmas is right around the corner, we'll just make some more!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting There.....

Life moves slowly sometimes.  Sometimes it moves toooooo fast!  I'm still plugging away at getting everything in my craft room back in order.  The dining room is almost craft-free, except for a few small baskets of embroidery supplies.  Oh, and 3 grocery bags of VINTAGE FABRIC.  More on that later.

The kids are back in school.  In a way I'm quite sad that they've gotten to be old enough to go to school full-time, it's like they don't need me anymore.  But, in a way I'm OVERJOYED.  Seriously!!  It's so nice to sit and have a cup of coffee without breaking up a battle or to be able to shower without having one (or both) children yelling for me because they can't find something. 

I've been spending part of my child-free days cleaning and organizing; and the other part I've either been shopping (alone!) or helping out at school, or just being ALONE.  I got my hair cut.  I had lunch with friends.  I had lunch with my husband - without having to cut up food for someone else.  I went bike riding.  I went into the craft store without having someone whiiiiiiine that they were bored or whiiiiiiiiine that they wanted soooooooomethiiiiiiiiiiiiing.  You get the picture, right?  I feel like I'm becoming myself again.  Feels nice!

The downside of this self-indulgent pleasure is that at 3:15, I never know what kind of kids will be stepping off the bus.  My son is generally good-natured and easy to please.  He's quite happy having a glass of chocolate milk and a snack while he plays with his marble maze.  Most days.  My daughter, who is older, just doesn't transition well.  She steps off the bus in a fair to moderately snitty mood, then it proceeds to worsen while she sits down to do homework. 

The meltdown begins when she can't find any snacks that she wants to eat.  Believe me, I've bought plenty of variety, it's just that there's no way to tell what she'll WANT from one day to the next.  She invariably wants what we don't have.  If I were a nice Mommy, I'd just buy a case of Reese's cups and call it a day.  BUT, with my luck, she'd eat 1 of them, then want something else the next day, that we don't have!

Her class eats a very late lunch - their lunchtime is at 1:15.  So, the teacher has a snack time scheduled at 10:30 or so.  The kids only get about 10 minutes for snack, however, which is just enough time to eat something quickly and move on.  My daughter doesn't do ANYTHING quickly.  She ends up bringing the remainder of her snack outside at recess, around 11:30.  So, by lunchtime, she's not hungry.  She snacks again, picking at her lunch.  Then she comes home 2 hours later, and is hungry again.  No wonder the kid is having a hard time.  Not sure what to do about it, but I think she should be eating a better lunch rather than snacking all day.  I really wish she wasn't so picky about food. 

She sits down to work on her homework, and the moaning begins.  Literally.  She MOANS.  I allowed her to work on her homework in her room a few times, and then I discovered she wasn't doing it.  She was playing instead.  So - she has to sit downstairs and do her papers either on the dining room table or in the sitting area.  I even bought her a little lap desk.  She still MOANS about the amount of homework she has.  In all honesty, I don't think a 4th grader should have an hour or more of work to do once they get home.  She's been in school for 7 hours already.  She leaves at 7:30 am and gets home at 3:15 - 3:30.   Why can't they do the work they need to during those 7 hours??  But, that's the way it is.  So, she has an hour or so of homework to do.  I suspect the reason she's moaning is for my attention.  Sometimes she gets it, but not in a very pleasant way. 

The other issue is that the homework is BORING.  It's either a repeat of things she's already mastered (busywork) or it's writing sentences and spelling words over and over.  BUSYWORK.  Part of me wishes I had the patience to homeschool her.  It would be great to spend time with her studying subjects of interest to her in ways that she can engage in.  Instead, we're stuck writing basic spelling words OVER and OVER.  Ugh.  I don't blame her for not wanting to do the work, but it still needs to be done. 

The result of all this drama is that by 5pm, I'm exhausted from trying to head off the inevitable meltdown and crying jags.  I'm frustrated and angry, and I still have dinner to make.  And, she's just as finicky about what she wants to eat for dinner as she is for what she wants to eat for snack.  There's no pleasing The Princess, and at this point, I refuse to cater to her.  We have whatever is on the menu already, and she can either eat it or go without.  

I think next week I might try having her spend some "down" time before she starts her homework.    I don't know if it will be better to have a bit of a reprieve from schoolwork, or to just move on and get it over with.  We'll see.

Fondue tonight!  I found a beautiful little electric fondue pot from the 70's at the 50% off sale our local thrift store was having yesterday.  It was marked $4, so with the sale price, it was only $2 bucks!  SCORE!!  I also found 2 pewter goblets that will become pretty pincushion bases.  It was a good day.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend the morning at the flea market (with hubby and kids in tow).  They found the kettle corn guy and the fruit stands.  I found a basket full of fabric scraps from the 1930's.  The basket was priced at $25 on the tag.  When I got closer, I read the fine print, "or $30 with contents."  Hmm.  I asked the seller if she'd be willing to part with just the fabric.  She told me I could take all of the fabric for $5.  BONUS!!!!!  I ended up with 3 grocery bags full of pieces.  I thought they might be reproduction prints, but they're definitely not.  In total, over 50 different prints, about a fat quarter's worth or more of each.  Yay!  Now, my task is to make them smell better.  They spent the past 60+ years in a home with people who cooked and smoked around them, so they're quite fragrant.  I bought some Dryel, so we'll try that fix first.  I also found a beautiful apron and a little girl's dress from the 20's or 30's.  They washed up well, and the dress fits my Suntan baby quite nicely.