Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Ready for the Holidays, Part 3

It's been a flurry of activity here lately (oooooh, don't say that word 'flurry' too early in the season!).  It's time to make all of the preparations for the holiday season that kicks off later this week.  It's lots of hard work, and lots of planning.....but always worth it in the end.
I've been making some of my items and selling at other shops this year.  With our Main Street shut down most of the year, it really put a damper on the amount of traffic we got through town.  I am really sorry to say that it closed a couple of businesses and it really hurt the pocketbook of all of the others.  So here's hoping that we get our traffic back now that Main Street is open again.  We sure had lots of people out last weekend with our "Christmas on Main Street" and I hope it continues!
So I've been making potpourri for the holidays and a couple of my favorites are Orange 'N Clove and Gingerbread.  I make the potpourri with whole rosehips, and then a combination of other spices and botanicals.  The Orange 'N Clove has cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel, star anise, some little tiny hemlock pinecones, and some uva ursi leaves for a touch of green color.  My Gingerbread potpourri also has whole rosehips as well as cinnamon sticks, dried gingerroot, some cassurina pods, and my little gingerbread men.  Then they are both scented with fragrance oils and sold by the bag or by the scoop.
I make the gingerbread men out of a sort-of salt dough that I found a recipe for years ago.  It combines flour, salt, and lots of cinnamon with some water into a crumbly dough.  I improvise and use a combination of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger for the spices in the dough.  My whole house smells good when I'm baking the little guys.
Cutting out my little gingerbread men.
The dough is rather crumbly, so I've found I have better luck taking a small amount at a time and kneading it together in my hands and then just pressing it out on the countertop instead of using a rolling pin.  I only use a mini cookie cutter, it is less than 1 inch tall.  You could use something a little larger, but anything very big would be difficult to transfer to a baking sheet without it breaking.  You can poke little holes in the top of the cookies if you want to make them for ornaments and use the hole to string some ribbon on them for hanging.  I've also made little wire loops and inserted them in the top of the cookie before baking.  Use some thin florist wire and shape it into little loops, insert it into the top of the cookie, and then bake as usual.  You will then have an ornament loop mounted in the top and can easily string some ribbon through it for hanging.
Rows of my little g-men waiting to go into the oven.
Once baked, these little guys are hard as a rock and can even be painted, if you wish.  I just like them because they add a little whimsy and uniqueness to my potpourri.  If you want the recipe, just email me.  I'll be happy to forward it to you.
So it's back to work for now.  Today I'm beefing up my inventory on herbal eye pillows and lavender sachets.  Then I'm back home this evening to continue to clean the house for the Thanksgiving crew to arrive on Thursday!  I LOVE all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays!!!

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