The English class for which I tutor will be having a Christmas party next week, and we always exchange gifts. The teachers and volunteers give handmade gifts, and the students pool their money and give us each something like chocolate or a mug. Last year, I think they gave me a mug filled with chocolate, actually, and it was very nice.
The main teacher always makes miniature loaves of banana nut bread because she's good at that sort of thing, and last year I made cookies for everyone. But this year, I thought I'd try something different. My friend Kyle, who writes for a weekly paper and is a wealth of information about gardening and art and cooking, included a recipe for applesauce cinnamon ornaments in her article last week, so I thought I'd give those a shot. I've never made them before but have always wanted to know how.
In this recipe, you mix applesauce, cinnamon and white glue, roll, cut out with cookie cutters and bake all day long at 175˚on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. I made pine trees and stars, and everything was going great until about an hour before they were ready to come out of the oven. I couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to turn the ornaments just to make sure they would be dry on both sides. All that did was stain the fronts of the ornaments with spots of the non-stick spray, like I had stuck them in a bag of greasy potato chips. They looked hideous, and so an entire day's work was wasted.
But I refused to give up. I painted them with glitter paint (as my daughter says, anything can be salvaged with glitter paint), which turns an otherwise homey and primitive looking craft into a sparkly and potentially gaudy one, but I still sort of like the results. After I finally got something I wouldn't mind giving to someone else, I realized my ornaments made pathetic little gifts, so I put together a gift bag. I love gift bags.
This one includes a simplified recipe (equal amounts of applesauce and cinnamon but no glue, rolled, cut to shape and allowed to dry for 24 hours with no baking), the painted ornament and two cookie cutters. I would have given the students the recipe I used, but I thought the simpler one would be easier for them to translate in case they had trouble with the English.
At first, I was a little ashamed of my gifts, but now I can't wait to give them out. The students all have small children, and they are always looking for easy and inexpensive activities to do with them. Last week, I showed them how to make paper snow flakes by cutting folded paper, and next week we're going to make origami wreaths. Now, maybe they can make cinnamon ornaments at home, too, without the grease spots.