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~ Kathy M.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The trials and tribulations of handcrafting gifts:

See this little gal? I thought her up and I made her. I also made the fishing pole and the fish. They are not all done yet, but you can get a good idea of how what the final project will look like. Just to assure you, and myself, that I am not really normally a failure at handmade projects

I am not having as much luck with things made from the kitchen though. This has been my guidebook so far. I devoured this book when I found it. I was so excited! Look at all this stuff I can make for Christmas presents, I thought. I have folded down page corners, made lists and generously used post-its to mark the things I wanted to make.

I am not really trying to be mean here. I appreciate all of the work the author put into writing her book. It is just that my rock candy didn't turn out they way I wanted it to. It is still sitting in the muffin pans, trying to crystallize. Slowly it is, but I don't know how it will taste, since I had to spray the pans with buttered flavor Pam. The rock candy is no longer in these jars:

So, yesterday, as the snow fell outside, I decided to make the orange/spice balls on page 281 to use for closet fresheners. I had purchased some really nice oranges (9 of them) at Ray's, for $2.50. A few weeks ago, I got a killer deal on bottles of cloves at our local canned foods store. They were only .49 a bottle. This total project cost me about $7.00, if you count the cost of the other spices I used to roll these around in.

When I made my first 4 orange-spice balls, I posted a picture of them on Facebook. That generated ooohs and aaahs and you are so cool to be making such a thing. Until last night, when Carly got on and noticed my efforts. She told me that these were going to rot, because I didn't put enough cloves on them. She gave me some helpful hints on how to use nails for poking and a thimble for my finger so it would not get so sore. And how to make cool designs and use felt pens to help with patterns. All useful and great information that "I could have used YESTERDAY" (as in Adam Sandler as the Wedding Singer so nicely put it). I wish the lady in the book could have said, "Important: Make sure and completely cover the orange in cloves or else it will rot."

I told Cary what Carly had said, and he said, well, I know oranges, and she's right. They are going to rot. He suggested that I write a story about not to believe everything you read. That is kind of what I am doing here, I guess, taking his blog post suggestion. Thanks, honey, good idea.

Well, this morning, I put the bowl of oranges next to the forced air heater vent. Cary said, that will just make them rot faster, I know oranges. (He grew up in Fillmore surrounded by orange groves, so I kind of have to trust his expertise on the subject of oranges. I grew up in Eugene, where oranges are one thing that you cannot grow.) Then, I thought, hey, what about my new convection oven from the garage sale? So, I put 5 of them in there, on 150* and on the convection setting. I'll just keep my eye on them and see how it goes.

Then I remembered about my food dehydrator. The oranges are too tall for the trays, but I got creative and put the part that really matters over the bowl with the remaining 4 oranges. I'll keep my eye on them too.

I swear, the things you have time to do and think about when you are not working are amazing. Also, I have decided that when I find a great idea in the book, I will go online and search for the ways other people do the same things. Research is always a good idea.

Man, this house smells great!

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