How to make Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

When I was a kid, a friend of mine gave me a cinnamon heart, and I remember keeping it as one of my special treasures for quite some time. I think I kept it in one of my dresser drawers, and I remember that it smelled good for ages.

I’d kind of forgotten about that until recently, when I saw a couple of cinnamon ornament recipes circulating around the web. So, I though it would be fun to make a batch of them with my kids.

Fortunately, they’re really simple and they require only a few inexpensive ingredients: applesauce, cinnamon, and glue.

I used cheap unsweetened commercial applesauce because heaven knows I’m not going to waste my precious homemade applesauce on inedible ornaments.

And you can get cinnamon for $1 or less…it’s $0.99 at Aldi, and I think you can sometimes get it for $0.50 a bottle at dollar stores.

The glue showed up in some recipes I saw and not in others, so we made a batch with glue and a batch without, and I have to say, there was no appreciable difference. So, I’d label that as an optional ingredient.

To make the dough for these, just mix 2 cups of applesauce and two cups of cinnamon (and a tablespoon of glue if you like.)

The dough should be fairly stiff, or it’ll be too sticky to roll out. So if it seems too wet, just mix in a bit more cinnamon.

Dust your countertop with cinnamon, and roll the dough out, just like you would if you were making real cookies.

Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes. I wouldn’t choose anything too large because the possibility of breakage is higher with a large ornament.

Incidentally, I’m so used to snitching small bits of cookie dough, I very nearly ate this dough several times because it looks like a delicious sort of ginger cookie. Fortunately, I caught myself in time.

Place the ornaments on a cookie sheet, and reroll the scraps to make more ornaments.

Use a toothpick to make a hole at the top of the ornaments. Make the hole bigger than you think it should be, since the ornaments will shrink some as they dry. I just wiggled the toothpick around until the hole was large enough.

Now, several of the recipes I came across suggested baking these at 200° F for 2.5 hours, but on the day we made these, we didn’t have time for that.

So, we just left ours on the baking sheets to dry at room temperature (which does take longer, but you don’t have to actually be involved in the process!)

This took a few days, but of course, that can vary a lot depending on how dry the air in your house is. I didn’t find it necessary to put ours on racks, and I didn’t turn them until the very end, when they were quite firm and there was just a small wet spot on the bottom.

If the edges of your ornaments are a little ragged (ours were!), you can use a small piece of sandpaper to clean them up, and then they’ll look all lovely and neat.

Sanded on the left, not sanded on the right:

You can use a variety of things to make the hanger for these ornaments. I just rummaged around in my jar of spare ribbons and came up these.

Hey, did you know that if your ribbon is polyester, you can melt the ends so that they don’t fray? I just light a match, and hold the ribbon above it until the ends melt.

(Please do be careful since matches are fire and all. ;) )

Hang your ornaments on your tree. Or attach them to a package. Or make a garland with them (I think stars would be perfect for that!)

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

2 cups applesauce
2 cups cinnamon

Mix applesauce and cinnamon together, adding more cinnamon if dough seems too wet, and more applesauce if dough is too dry.

Sprinkle countertop with cinnamon, and then roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters, and place ornaments on a baking sheet. Reroll scraps to make more ornaments.

Let ornaments dry on baking sheets for several days, or until completely dry. Alternatively, bake in a 200° F oven for 2.5 hours.

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(comments on this post are not giveaway entries-gotta click on these links to enter.)

Dandelion Dream T-shirt and Tote Bag giveaway

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Homemade Finger Paint

This post is part of our 2012 series of easy, frugal, green crafts for kids. So far, we’ve made fancy paper snowflakes, glitter playdough, and art with lentils, peas and other such dried foods.

This was actually supposed to be our May craft. But I am really terribly not good at getting around to crafty projects with my kids (that’s why I started this series!), so we made these paints yesterday.

Heh.

The lovely thing, though, is that I did get it done, and that probably wouldn’t have happened without this blog series commitment.

Since we’re done with school, I do have some hope of getting another craft done in June, though, to catch up. We’ll see.

Anyway!

I printed this paint recipe online back in January but I cannot for the life of me find the original site (if you know, please let me share in the comments so I can give proper attribution).

It requires only a few very basic ingredients, so a batch costs mere pennies.

To start, whisk water, cornstarch, and sugar together in a saucepan.

Over medium heat, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, about 10 minutes. The recipe said this should be stirred constantly, but since I like to live life on the edge (remember the last wild and crazy thing I did??), I whisked my paint only occasionally.

And it was ok.

You just don’t want to let it go too long without stirring because the cornstarch will turn into a gelatinous lump that’s hard to, um, de-lump.

Here’s what it should look like when it’s all thickened.

Next, stir in 1/2 cup of clear dish soap. I used this:

But I’d sorta recommend a non-scented soap if you can find it, because our paint was quite odoriferous.

(I know. The bottle says, “no heavy fragrances” but I beg to differ.)

The paint got kind of sudsy at this point, but by the time we used it, the suds weren’t an issue.

Why do we add dish soap to finger paint?

I have no idea.

But the recipe said to add it, so add it I did.

I’m a recipe-follower.

Except when the recipe says to stir something for 10 minutes straight. Then I get all rebellious-like.

Where were we?

Oh. You need to let the paint cool for at least 30 minutes.

Then you get to the fun part…adding food coloring.

The paint doesn’t seem to need nearly as much food coloring as frosting does. But I’m used to coloring frosting, and that’s why our purple paint is realllllly dark (it did look more purple than black in real life, though.)

Since finger paint is pretty wet, we used some heavy-duty paper (this is some old matte photo paper that Mr. FG brought home when he used to work in a warehouse.)

I seem to remember using some kind of glossy paper when I was a kid, but this worked fine.

Doesn’t the orange look like baby food?

Lisey and Sonia started by making a yellow sun towards the corner of their papers, and that reminded me of Georgia O’Keefe’s Evening Star painting.

So I pulled it up on the laptop and several of the kids made fingerpaint renditions of it.

It’s a little harder to do with fingerpaint than with watercolors.

They had so much fun with the Evening Star, they wanted to copy another Georgia O’Keefe piece, so we poked around and found that we had the right colors for her Sunrise painting.

We put our paintings outside to dry in the sun.

The paint took on a crackly look as it dried, which is actually sort of neat. I don’t know if all finger paints do that because it’s been a really long time since I used any.

My girls thought this was super-duper fun, and the mess really wasn’t that bad. The paint is totally water-soluble, so it wipes right up.

So, I’d give this a high rating…it was easy, cheap, my kids really liked it, and it produced a craft that can be recycled or composted (plus the paint containers were re-used cream cheese containers, and we can use them again for our next batch).

Homemade Finger Paint

1 cup cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar
4 cups cold water
1/2 cup clear liquid dish soap
food coloring
plastic containers with lids

In a saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and cold water. Over medium low heat, cook and stir until thickened and slightly bubbly.

Remove from heat and stir in dish soap.

Let cool 30 minutes.

Divide paint into plastic containers and add food coloring to each container as desired.

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Do you ever make homemade finger paint? If you have a recipe you love, do share…it would be interesting to try another one next time we make paint.

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Today’s 365 post: Coming soon…

Joshua’s 365 post: Fantasy