Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Country Christmas!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI've decided that when I decorate for Christmas this year, I'm going to put a little more thought into it. Just ask Polly, she has the same idea. See every year I put up every Christmas decoration I have. There's a complete hodge-podge chaos theme in my house. And I hate that. I love Christmas so I tend to put up the same things every year, going completely overboard. Decorations that I stole from my parents, ones I bought when I moved out on my own, ones given to me as gifts and the list goes on.

I want an orderly and pretty house at Christmas this year. Tastefully displayed vignettes. Artfully designed centerpieces. All with a country feel to it. Is that too much to ask?? I get all of the magazines. I see how beautiful homes can be. My sister's home is no exception. She so tastefully displays her poinsettias. Her stockings, beautifully hung with care. But see, the major difference between me and my sister: I'm a pack rat, she's not. Now don't get me wrong, she still displays Christmas crafts Jozef and Ava have made in school. She's not heartless, just organized. Something I definitely am NOT. But this is my vow! This is my year to shine!!

I found this "recipe" and I'm doing it! I love the look of home-spun country decor. Does that make any sense? And little, by little, I'm getting there. My Christmas decor will be no exception this year. And I can't wait to try this out. I have stockpiled applesauce and cinnamon (the cheap kind you can get for a dollar/bottle) and by mid-November, I will have enough to make a good amount of garland for my tree. And just imagine how delicious my house will smell!

Cinnamon and Apple Garland

1/8 yard each of 7 different fabrics (colors of choice)
Jute twine
Raffia or 3/8-inch ribbon
3 apples
3 cups lemon juice or white vinegar
12 teaspoons salt
Paper towels
Wire cookie cooling rack
12 tablespoons applesauce
15 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Small cookie cutters of choice (gingerbread men, diamonds,
leaves, stars, hearts, etc. - use cutters to match a holiday)
Cookie sheet

To dry apples: Pour lemon juice (or mixture of vinegar/water) and salt into bowl, stir. Cut apples into 1/4-inch rings; remove seeds. Place in bowl to soak 15 minutes, turning often.

Remove from bowl and pat dry with paper towels, absorbing as much moisture as possible. Using a double layer of cheesecloth on wire rack, arrange apple slices in single layer. Lay an additional double layer of cheesecloth over top of apples. Place in cold oven; set temperature to 150 degrees F. Bake for 4 to 5 hours or until apples are soft and a pliable (no water visible when squeezed).

Make cinnamon cutouts: Blend 12 tablespoons of applesauce with 15 tablespoons cinnamon; mix. Dough will be stiff. Sprinkle work area with cinnamon. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out desired designs. Place on cookie sheet. Make a hole in "cookie" with a drinking straw. Bake at 150 degrees F for 3 to 4 hours, until dry.

Tear each fabric piece into 1 x 8-inch strips. Tape a 42-inch piece of jute twine to table; tape opposite end of twine. Beginning 4" from one end of twine, tie on one strip of each fabric. Tie one strand of raffia or ribbon onto the twine. Thread apple slice, cinnamon cutout, and another apple slice onto twine. Add raffia or ribbon and follow the "pattern" until all fabric is used.


lori said...

alright, that sounds wonderful! Really wonderful. I may copy that recipe...I have one teensy, weensy issue...I am Not a patient person...organized yes..patient no and they look like they require patience..ahhhh, perhaps something to work on huh?? like for say, advent....
The house will smell fabulous!!

I went out a few years ago and bought some 'new' decorations...I had all of my original 'wedding shower stuff' too...we needed some updating! The garland was looking a little sparse!:)

As of today, 6 AM, I am on board with the apples...don't know what tomorrow will bring, but for TODAY, I a garland maker!:)
have a great day Julie,

Kristen said...

That sounds wonderful!! Be sure to post pictures of your progress! I know what you mean about the decorations! My husband collects Santa's and we have a TON of them! I am going to work very hard to get them all set our neatly and my other decorations worked in so that they are "fighting" for attention. :)

Kimmie said...

How fun...Julie you are so creative!

My oldest (Pirate Jackie-16) and I were just discussing last night about Christmas and our "tree".

We usually go cut one as a family...then have various heirloom ornaments that we put on together (mama does the really fragile ones).

The "light" went on that we have a 6 week old two other cats (4 yrs old), and silly Bunter (1.5).

Last year in bible club, the kids made salt dough ornaments...well, guess who thought they were quite delicious (yup, Hunter).

Not sure, think he'd eat the apples (he fancies himself as a vegetarian)...I know he'd eat the applesauce cinnamon ornaments ;-)

Perhaps we will go with lights and ribbon? lol

love you Julie!

mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted

Anita said...

One year I had a tree in every room (5 trees - it was a small house!) and every room had a different theme.. I had Rick drill holes in nuts to string with dried oranges and cinnamon sticks as a garland in the kitchen, and hung my cookie cutters,cinnamon dough ornaments, apple ornaments, and red and white gingham bows on it..
We drilled holes in shells to make a garland with snowflake beads on a little white tree in the bathroom...
that was my favorite Christmas year... The way things are oging this year, just getting a tree up will be a major accomplishment!(Not to mention we have only one box of our decorations left...)

This recipe sounds wonderful... I can almost smell it already! :)

justabeachkat said...

Okay, with your music and your post today, I'm beginning to get "that" feeling about Christmas. I must start planning. Thanks for the recipe. I can't wait to see photos of yours when you've worked your magic!


ShabbyInTheCity said...

Yes, me too. I'd like to make it more organized and planned out for not so much clutter.
I like your ideas.

BittersweetPunkin said...

Julie...I'm a pack rat too!! I have already started to collect more vintage Christmas decor....I am trying to spice up what I already have by adding a few things fresh here and there! I think I may try your idea as well...thanks for sharing it!

Jennifer Carter said...

The smell of Cinnamon during the holidays makes me smile!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun and fragrant project. How was open house? Hope your day is going well.

From the Doghouse said...

I don't think I need a tree that will make me hungry! ;)

We're still developing traditions. Just when we got things worked out, the kids came along, so things are changing. I just want something the kids can look back on and smile when they're older.

Mary said...

Wow, sounds great -- I'll bet it smells divine. I can't see myself making it, though; I can barely get my house clean and my gifts wrapped as it is. :)

Terri and Bob said...

Neat idea. I am more like your sister, each room has a theme, etc... but I understand what you are going through. I love your plan. Sometimes just moving things around makes you feel like you have something new. Can you find themes in your collection? Snowmen, nativities, gingerbread men?

Meg said...

I think your plans sound great. I want to try something new for Christmas, too, but I'm not sure what yet. It's mostly fun just to think and plan and dream...isn't it?

Debbie said...

I am such a pack-rat too! I have so much Christmas stuff that even when I don't use it all my house is over the top! Every year I vow not to overdo but I just can't help myself. I love Christmas!

(Alison May has a neat little Christmas organizer available on her blog:

Dena ~ swaddlecottage said...

Oh I love making those ornaments and they smell so good! I still have a gingerbread man swag that I made several years ago and it still smells yummy! Have fun :)


Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Looks like a very fun project! I bet the house will smell good too as a bonus!


Meggie said...

Rhonda: I can almost smell the wonderful aroma already. Good luck with your Christmas organization.

Sandi said...

Your house is going to be so lovely this Christmas. Enjoy decorating!

Rosemary said...

Well Julie,
Aren't you in the Christmas mood.
Very good ideas.
I think I will be doing the same.
Thanks for the well wishes,

Alice said...

As weird as it sounds, my husband is the one who decorates for Christmas at our house. He's so picky and fussy that I gave up arguing with him years ago and mostly just get things out of boxes. This is the same guy who as a little kid saved his allowance and bought lights to decorate the outside of his parents' home. I'm kinda glad his decorating doesn't extend to other seasons and general interior decorating as his taste is a bit excessive.

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

My wife does the whole thing, and she too has EVERYTHING... including getting a new set of lights to add to the collection every year.

I say, return to simplicity. If it collects dust, don't use it. A tree, trimmings around the eaves of the house, a centerpeice, and anything you can do in the front way to make visitors feel at home. Otherwise, a fire under the hearth and warm drinks are all that are needed to carry this feeling of love to those whom you adore!

Sweet Remembrance said...

Sounds like a wonderful idea!
I should follow suit...
Can't wait to see all the vignettes you come up with!

JANET said...

Girl, you are gonna be busy making this! I want to know how it turns out. I like the idea of a "themed" Christmas. I'm like you...stuff that belonged to Mama and stuff I have all gets used!

FarmHouse Style said...

Oh, I am a true pack rat at heart:) I have more Christmas decor than this tiny house can hold. But each piece always reminds me of someone or something special~ so I keep it.

The garland reminds me of the one I made when my son was 1. I did not want to spend Christmas constantly telling him not to touch the tree, so I decorated it with a garland of dried apples, oranges and gingerbreadmen. By the time we took it down, many of the fruits and men were missing or were half eaten. I have a picture of him bitting one of the legs off one of the cookies. I keep it sealed up in a vintage tin, I know it is one of those items I will never part with:)

~Precious Memories~


Kari & Kijsa said...

Okay that sounds quadruply yummy....please, please take pictures of all your decorations. This is our first Christmas in Blogland and we can't wait!

smiles, kari and kijsa

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

I have slowly over the years since my children have left, started a theme...I like natural looking, white candles, real trees and wreaths, glass blown ornaments...

It is slowly evolving into something I love.

joan said...

I can tell you just love Christmas just like Kari does. I already have a Christmas banner picked out for my blog. I'll probably put it up Thanksgiving Day because I can't wait. LOL

rosemary said...

You go girl....I'll decorate vicariously thru you.

BellaColle said...

That garland sounds awesome! Hand made is best I always say. Your home always seems to be filled with loveliness...

Cris said...

Thanks for sharing this Julie... I think I had never seen a recipe to dry apples, really nice.

Counting Your Blessings said...

I was just thinking last night about finding some homemade things to make the house smell yummy. The kids love to do the cloves in the oranges. And as far as decorations.. I haven't gotten much further than "thinking" about having a pretty decor! I torn about these pink mercury glass ornaments that I got over the summer. Should I keep them and work them into the scheme this year or should I sell them? Ugh! I'm thinking of doing pink/purple/silver this year. I wonder if I can come up with enough things to make an impact. Oh, who am I kidding... I'm a shopaholic! =) Blessings... POlly

Emilie said...

Mmmm...cinnamon apple garland sounds good for decorating and eatin'. Ha ha.

I would love to see pictures when you decorate the house. I'm not Martha Stewart, so I have no idea how to do any of that stuff. I can probably bake better than her, though. :)

DebraK from ~the Bunnies Bungalow~ said...

Oh...please get your camera working before that...we all want to see & smell! It will smell heavenly.

It will be so much fun seeing all the Christmas decorations in blogland this year!
Hugs, DebraK

Michelle said...

Your garland recipe sounds wonderful. Embrace your holiday decorating.. it sounds like you have a lot of love to decorate with!


Belinda said...

Oh, your house will smell soooo fabulous with this "cinnamony" garland! I don't have children, so I think that tends to influence the fact that my decorating is more orderly...probably more boring as well. If I had kids, I do believe I would take a detour and be more spontaneous with the holiday cheeriness. :-) I've no doubt that your home will be beautiful regardless of how you go with this year's decorating. I can't wait to see pictures, Julie. :-)