We arrived home in the early evening yesterday, worn from travel, and sick from whatever it was that The Boy was throwing up earlier in the week. Ours is the kind of neighborhood where people are ON TOP of the holidays, and as the light grew dim yesterday, we could see that the residents of our street had already decked their porches and trees with twinkly lights and stars. Even our neighbors next door, who didn't return from their Thanksgiving trip for a few hours after we did, had managed to emblazon the behemoth of a tree in their front yard. Not sure how that happened, exactly. But I'm sure it required a certain dedication to the season. And a willingness to pay other people to do things for them. At any rate, I was impressed.
So, between the shame at not having prepped the house for the upcoming holidays, and having spent a week of relative un-craftiness in the Colorado wilderness (suburbia, wilderness, same diff), I was amply inspired to get in some seasonal making.
Step 1: Rustle up salt dough recipe
It may have looked like autumn out there today, what with the overcast sky and occasional shower, but at 77° (what gives, Houston Weather In November?) there's no way I'm turning on the oven, so I made sure my recipe was an air-dry one. I added the appropriate spices to give it a gingerbread-y aroma. I also tossed in some molasses to try to darken the dough a tad, but it didn't really work out that way. Oh well.
Step 2: Gather materials
We were given these fun little cookie cutters a few years back, but we seldom make roll-out cookies. So, we had long ago given them over to The Boy for his play dough fun. First things first, they needed to be reclaimed. Then I decided, for extra adornment, I'd make a little stamp of sorts out of my beloved metal type. I just clamped the letters together with a mini binder clip and called it good. (It's kind of nice having a name that's also a word. Makes it a little less narcissistic to put our name on things. Just a little.) Brought the toy rolling pin down from the top of the bookcase, where we'd banished it after The Boy used it as a whacking device one time too many.
Step 3: Reach really freakin' deep for my inner reserve of patience
Once the dough was mixed and kneaded into submission, I called The Boy over and we got down to business. I let him roll out small batches of the dough, as much as he had the attention span for, which is to say not much. He'd give the dough a couple passes with the rolling pin and run off to the other room where he was working on some lacing cards. Fine by me. I finished the rolling and called him back for the cookie cutter stage. Then, his favorite part — stamping the dough with the metal type. Then I added the hole that we will later string yarn through to make it an ornament. Actually, very little patience was needed, as The Boy was, for once, happy enough to take instruction. All in all, 'twas a nice, relaxing way to inaugurate the crafting season.
So, I went through the trouble to find an air-dry recipe, but several hours later the dough is pretty much still as soft as it was at inception, so I may just have to pop them in the oven. Maybe I'll wait for tomorrow, when the temperature will approach a sane level for this time of year. We'll keep some here for the tree we'll eventually get. Some will go out in Christmas packages. Maybe we'll make up another batch for teachers. I remember my childhood tree being adorned with one of these, brought home from a hard half-day spent at pre-school. I also remember licking it for the saline hit. Because that's the kind of kid I was. Hopefully, The Boy's memories of these ornaments will be so rich.