Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cornstarch Salt Clay Christmas Ornaments

Cornstarch Salt Clay Christmas Ornaments

This is another project I have wanted to do with my son.  I have such nice memories of creating ornaments with my family.  Since I am addicted to Pinterest, I looked there first.  I found a wonderful recipe that also uses cornstarch.  I copied it down to use the next day.   I even tagged a friend of mine, so she could see the recipe and how their creations were decorated.  My friend Martha asked me for the recipe, so I tried to tag her on Pinterest,  I now, can't find the recipe.  I can find the pictures, but the link is to something unrelated.  So I am going to give the recipe, but I can not give the credit to whom deserves it.  To the right, is the picture, but no link to the author.  When I was a kid, my mom fixed us some salt dough. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had so much fun making salt dough ornaments. In fact, the picture to the left are some of those ornaments.  Notice the round ornament in the upper left, that was my contribution.  
The next day I cooked up this recipe and it worked beautifully.  The first batch of dough turned out kind of whitish, but the second batch yellowed.  I don't know if this was because I used the same pot I used the first time, or if maybe I used too much salt?  No matter, they baked up beautifully and we had a wonderful time making these ornaments.  My friend, John, came over to help us make some very creative creations. He even made a pacman!  My son wants to make some more, he really enjoyed himself.    

Cornstarch Salt Clay:

2/3 cup salt
1/3 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch

How to: 

Mix salt and soda with 1/3 cup water and bring to boil

In a small bowl combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water stir well (use a fork)

When the salt and soda reach boiling, remove from heat 
Add the cornstarch mixture and stir vigorously for 1/2 minutes until a ball forms
Put ball of dough on wax paper to cool

Knead well once it's cool enough to handle.  DO NOT STORE USE IMMEDIATELY

I didn't try it, but you could try adding food coloring to make colored creations. 

I baked at 195 for 4 hours, 2 the night we made them, then left them in the heated oven overnight.  The next morning, the tops were hard but the bottoms were not, so I turned them over and baked the for 2 more hours. 


Strings of beads
Bedazzler crystals
Pipe Cleaners
Any left over beads, buttons, Christmas lights, screws, nuts bolts and whatever your imagination comes up with.

We used the pipe cleaner as hangers for some of the ornaments.  Press into dough before it dries
Some of our buttons came off, so I "gorilla" glued them back on.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Authentic LEBKUCHEN, Gingerbread recipe from scratch. Wonderfully simple.

Here we go, as promised, my Mom's recipe for home made gingerbread.  Mom is German and in Germany, or Deutschland, gingerbread is called Lebkuchen.  I found a recipe for Lebkuchen in an cook book called, "My Favorite Cookies from the old Country."  They called for allowing the dough to sit in a covered bowl for 10 days before using it.  That's more time than I'm willing to wait for cookies, I'd just head right back to the store and get the refrigerated kind.  Well, I really wanted to know an easy recipe for gingerbread, so I called Mom.  As always, she came through with flying colors.  I believe I will make some homemade gingerbread cookies this week.  Let me know how yours turn out, ok? (P.S. The picture is not one of Mom's gingerbread houses, it's one we did with the baby a couple years ago.)
A little note on the cookbook I was reading, they did suggest to leave the cookies out over night to harden and then bake them.  Of course, cover them up first.  I'm not sure why, but it was an interesting step to take.  Well, if you've waited 10 days to make cookies, what's one more night?  Ahhh, but there's nothing better than a house filled with the warm scents of freshly made, freshly baked and decorated, Lebkuchen cookies. 

Note: I didn't have dark corn syrup, so I used molasses. Delicious!

LEBKUCHEN (Gingerbread)

½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 egg
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt

Combine butter and brown sugar in a large bowl; beat until well blended. Add corn syrup and egg; beat until smooth. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl; stir to mix well then add to butter mixture, a third at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in foil and chill at least one hour to make rolling easier. On a well-floured surface roll out one-third of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, cut out cookie shapes, placing them on ungreased baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake at 400 deg. F, for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from baking sheet at once onto a cooling rack. While still warm brush with LEMON GLAZE.

LEMON GLAZE: In a small bowl 2 cups confectionery sugar add 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, stirring with a fork to combine. If too thick add a little at a time more lemon juice until glaze is of spreading consistency. Immediately decorate with sprinkles etc. (I use this same dough and glaze to make gingerbread houses)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Craft with Cinnamon Broom.

Christmas Reindeer Craft with Cinnamon Broom. 
 I don't usually post crafts, but this is one I've wanted to do for years.  After I got out of college, I moved to the beach.  I didn't care for living on the beach during Christmas, because there is no snow.  After growing up in the mountains, I usually had a white Christmas. To combat my homesickness, I decided to go to festivals and craft shows.  I thought that would put me in the Christmas spirit.  One stop was at an assisted living facility that had a craft and bake sale.  I found a Reindeer Broom, and had to have it.  It became a treasured Christmas decoration for years. Then it disappeared.  Every year, I would see a cinnamon broom and think, "I can make a reindeer broom."  I never did.  I've actually had these brooms for a couple of years, just waiting on me to turn them into Rudolph the Reindeer, or more appropriately, Rudolph the red nosed broom-deer.
I purchased everything I needed to make the broom-deer, but never got around to it.  I even had the googly eyes, but had misplaced them, so I purchased another pack.
 Then, misplaced them as well.  A couple of nights ago, my son and I went to the craft store and I told him we needed googly eyes.  He reminded me that we had two packs, and if I wouldn't lose them, I wouldn't have to buy new ones.  Smarty pants.  I purchased the third pack of googly eyes, thinking I should actually buy two packs instead of just one. That way, I could throw one pack in the trash, and then I'd always know where it was.  
I didn't want to lose any more googly eyes, so the brooms were brought out and I went to work.
It was a lot of fun, and not that hard.
I think they are really cute, and the craft was not very time consuming.  That's good, because I don't like to spend all day on a tedious craft, or anything for that matter.  Oh, and I found the other two missing packs of googly eyes.  Well, at least I won't have to buy anymore for a long, long, long, time.

Materials you'll need for:
Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer Broom-deer:

Cinnamon brooms
Pipe Cleaners
Red pom pom balls
Large googly eyes
Large jingle bells
String of small, colored jingle bells
Floral wire

Split the brooms in half and tie each side with a pipe cleaner.  Attach a pine bough, or bells or pom poms to the pipe cleaner.
Glue on the googly eyes and the red nose
Take floral wire and cut to length, then put a pine bough at the base of the head and decorate with bells, pine boughs, or whatever you would like to make him look festive.

Wrap a length of floral wire around the base, under the pine bough, to make a hanger. Twist it tight, then make a loop with the remaining length, to hang on a door or wall.