Saturday, December 14, 2013

Salt Dough Ornaments

I doubt I'm surprising anyone when I say I'm not crafty.

Go ahead and gasp if needed. "How can such an incredible mother not spend her free time tearing through her pins while her children sit by in amazement?" Alas, it's true. I've dabbled here and there {with the help of one artistic husband} when it comes to decorations for parties and showers, but crafts just for crafts' sakes? Nope, not here.

Not until last night, that is...

I took my first sick day in a long time this week and the days I drug myself to work I was just not feeling it. Needless to say, fun has not been abundant in my household. I decided we needed some Christmas cheer, so we made ornaments, y'all! I had seen several pins and blog articles regarding salt dough ornaments and anything made with three ingredients that doesn't have to be tasty is right up my alley. I was very surprised when both Nathan and Owen sat down to help me measure said ingredients, mix them together, roll them flat, and cut the shapes. There was minimal fighting and only one episode of crying. Move over, June Cleaver.

It wasn't until my decorations were in the oven that I started reading the actual comments on the pins and blog articles I mentioned. The ones that said this seemingly easy project was actually not all it was cracked up to be. Either the dough was too wet or too thin or too thick or the ornaments burnt or bubbled or crumbled.

Uh oh. There was no way I did this right.

I paced the kitchen and checked my work every half-hour and about six oven checks later, the ornaments were no longer pliable, they were still white, and they looked like the ones on the Internet. I made things! I even took a cue from one of my pins and turned a hand-formed evergreen into a Bauer Family Ornament. We each pressed a finger into the tree before baking with the intent to decorate them as Christmas lights. Because my method was successful, I thought I'd share my recipe for anyone who wants to try it. Look at me, blogging a recipe!

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Salt
1/2 Cup Warm Water
Cookie Cutters
Acrylic Paints

{I now see that step-by-step pictures would help, but I just have one. Sorry, I'm new at this.}

  1. Set that oven to 250. Important step, don't forget it.

  2. Combine the salt, flour, and water together with a mixing spoon. Some crafters said their dough was ruined because they did not pour the water ever-so slowly. I'm pretty sure I just dumped mine in and it was fine. I may have been standing just right, though. You might not want to test your luck.

  3. Once it's all one homogeneous mixture, start kneading it with your fingers. If you let your kids help, they'll probably eat some. Everything in it is food, so it isn't dangerous; however, they won't be pleased. This may be when the crying starts, but you press on. Knead it until it looks like dough {five minutes-ish?}. If it's too sticky, add a little flour. If it's too crumbly, add a little water. You want it to stretch like sugar cookie dough. {I'm making that part up, but that's what mine looked like.}

  4. Throw some flour on the counter, let your kids play in it, then roll the dough to a quarter of an inch. Exactly. Use a ruler. Use whatever cookie cutters you have on hand, then get those shapes on the cookie sheet. We got four out of this amount, but we could have done at least two more. We're lazy. PRO TIP: Covering your cookie sheet with aluminum foil would be a good idea. There was breath holding and knife wiggling once mine were done.

  5. Use a straw or a toothpick or whatever to make a hole completely through the top to loop string or ribbon for hanging purposes. I would guess this is hard to do once the ornaments are baked. PRO TIP: Go ahead and trim and smooth your edges if you're a perfectionist. There's no going back once these hit the oven.

  6. Bake for somewhere in the ballpark of three hours. THREE HOURS. I'm not even kidding. Some instructions say two, some say six, but mine needed a little under three. Apparently you can't burn them on such a low setting, and your intent is to dry the moisture out of them. You will know they are done when they are hard. Let them cool first before you touch them, though. My husband learned this the hard way.

  7. Once hardened and completely cool, paint and glitter the heck out of them. We used acrylic paints because we had some on hand. You have permission to use your own judgement.

Voila. A CRAFT!

If I can do it, you better believe you can, too. Your kids will love it and it's easy, even for those non-crafty types I hear so much about. Be sure to come back and tell me all about it {as long as they're not better than mine}. Happy Weekend!

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