A primitive Christmas

Busy, busy, busy! I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted our upstairs to be decorated with just less. More hand-made decorations and less lights, I guess. So far, it's working out pretty well. I have dried oranges and made gingerbread ornaments for a small prim tree by the door as well as using things from nature to spice up the place. Last year, I dried oranges by slicing them thing and putting them in a 200 degree oven for about six hours. Since we use propane to cook with, it wasn't really cost efficient. This year, my mom found an article in her local paper about how to dry them quicker but still in the oven. Here's my first try with this way (with pictures of course!)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. My oven has a convection setting, so I did use that. Kind of makes sense that circulating hot air would dry the slices faster.

Slice the oranges as thin as you can get them.

Then line a microwave plate with a paper towel, line up the orange slices and cover them with another paper towel. Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high and transfer them to a cookie sheet lined with foil.

Put them in the oven for one hour, flipping them about halfway through. My slices are a little too thick, so next time, I'll try for even thinner. Then you wait with your trusty assistant until they look done.

Meet Ranger, my trusty assistant.

Here's how they look right out of the oven.

I let them cool on the sheets for about half an hour just to make it easier to handle. Once you can handle them, I add a few cloves, some gingerbread ornament stars and one whole orange studded with cloves into a small wooden bowl underneath my prim Christmas tree. Here's a few pictures to get the effect.

It's a little dark, but you get the idea. Here's a couple of pictures of my tree.

You can see some of the gingerbread men I made last weekend as well as homespun stockings that are stuffed with fiberfill, then topped with cinnamon sticks and a little dough star. I think I'm going to make a few more of the stars as well as hearts and small gingerbread men to put in mason jars along with dried orange slices for little take home gifts.

I have been doing some rug hooking as well as cross-stitching, but can't show the cross-stitch. It's a present for the daughter and fiancee of my absolute best, best friend. Her daughter is getting married in August of 2010, and I'm hoping to be there for the celebration along with a beautiful handmade present.

Work tomorrow, so I'm off for now. I'll post pictures of my current project as well as a couple of vintage hooked rugs that I'm going to attempt to restore.