Monday, December 24, 2012

To the sprinkling of readers I have....

Merry Christmas. Let your heart be light. May your troubles be miles away, if only for tonight. Tell your faithful friends and people who are dear to you how much they mean to you. And, if the fates allow, you'll gather together again next year. 

Most of all, may the spirit of Christmas stay with you all year long.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Craft - White Clay Ornaments

I saw the idea for these on Pintrest. The recipe I pinned was actually not very good so I had to find another one. I pieced together 3 different recipes and thankfully was able to salvage the mixture I started with because I barely had enough cornstarch to make it come together. Phew! The clay is really a dough....kind of. If you made salt dough ornaments back in the 70's, this is kind of like that. The difference is salt dough is a cookie color and this dough is white. And it will stay white after baking if you do things correctly. I'll get to that.

These are the ornaments I made...lightbulbs. I got the cutter many years ago from Gooseberry Patch. The dough rolled out nicely and was very smooth to the touch. I'm pleased with how good they turned out. Not hard to make at all. Note, this is a second batch of cutouts. I had enough dough to bake 2 cookie sheets full of ornaments.

The problem I ran into with the first batch was the thickness vs. cook time. None of the recipes I found addressed how long to bake them or how thick to roll them out to. I rolled the dough out to about 1/4 inch because I didn't want them to be to too delicate. After 1 hour in the oven, the tops where perfect but the bottoms were still slightly soft. I put them in for another hour and that helped a little but they didn't dry out completely. I took them out and let them cool and checked them an hour later. I still wasn't happy that the bottoms were just soft enough for me to leave an impression when I pressed the tip of my nail into it. I put them back in the oven and this is what happened:

They started to brown in the center and were no longer stark white. The extra time in the oven did dry them out completely, but I wasn't happy with the color change. The correct thing to do would have been to let them fully dry out in the oven during the first bake without letting them cool off. The key is, if your cutouts are 1/4 or more thick, it's going to take about 2 1/2 hours or more to bake.

There's good news in my case. The discoloration was mostly in the middle and I'd planned on decorating them so most of that would be covered. My test ornament is below. It looks pretty good for being the guinea pig! The surface was all messed up and lumpy but I'm the only one who knows how bad it looked prior to decorating it.

I used a product called Glossy Accents as glue. You don't have to use this, I think regular glue would work ok, too. Since it was my test ornament, I used some really old chunky glitter. I didn't think this test ornament would be something I'd keep, but I think I'll put it on my tree!

White Clay Dough

1 cup cornstarch

2 cups baking soda

1 1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 175 degrees.

Combine ingredients in large sauce pan and stir until dough is thick and can no longer be stirred (takes 5-10 minutes). Dump onto parchment paper and cool completely. I left mine on the counter but you can also put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling.

Knead until smooth and roll out to desired thickness. Cut shapes out with cookie cutters.

Bake for 1 hour and check to see if they are completely dried out. If not, continue to bake at 30 minute increments until they are dry. Mine were 1/4 inch thick and it took them about 2 1/2 hours to dry out completely in the oven. Letting them cool and then putting them back in the oven will result in discoloration.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Life As A Musical

The last time I did this was in 2010.  I answer questions with songs titles from my iTunes list.

Are you female or male:
My Maria - B.W. Stevenson

Describe yourself:
Better Days - Goo Goo Dolls

How do some people feel about you: 
Look What You've Done - Jet

How do you feel about yourself: 
F**kin' Perfect - Pink (chuckles)

Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: 
Shattered - OAR

Describe your current girlfriend/boyfriend:
Superman - Five For Fighting

Describe where you want to be: 
Rocky Mountain High - John Denver

Describe what you want to be: 
Be Yourself - Audioslave

Describe how you live: 
Never Gonna Leave This Bed - Maroon 5

Describe how you love: 
Talk Dirty to Me - Poison

Share a few words of wisdom: 
Make A Memory - Bon Jovi a bakery!

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