A Celiac Friendly Christmas Craft

By Rachel Sircy

I think I mentioned last year that I make Christmas ornaments for our friends and family every year. I have wanted to make homemade clay ornaments for some time, but I haven’t done it because most homemade clay recipes use wheat flour as a base for the clay. I try to keep my home and especially my kitchen as free as possible from contaminants and so I don’t bring wheat flour into my house at all. Once, I had the idea that I could use gluten free all-purpose flour to do the same job, but let’s face it, at more than $4 a pound, it would be cheaper to go out and buy ornaments than to make them out of gluten free flour.

But, I’ve found more and more lately that Pinterest has the answers to most of life’s problems. It was there that I came across pictures of lovely white ornaments made from cornstarch clay. In cornstarch clay, cornstarch and baking soda take the place of flour as the base of the clay. So, I had the answer to my homemade clay problem. Here is the recipe that I followed from a blog called, Kleinworth & Co.:

1 Cup Cornstarch

2 Cups Baking Soda

1 ½ cups Water

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. It takes a while, but the ingredients will eventually start to resemble mashed potatoes. Once you get to the mashed potato phase, scrape the mixture out into a glass bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

This is what it looks like cooking:

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And this is what it looks like in its mashed potatoes phase:

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At this point, you can roll out the clay and cut out shapes with a cookie or biscuit cutter. I also used a clay stamp and a metal button, to stamp the image of a crown and the words “Peace” and “Joy” into each ornament. Now, the point where I differ with Kleinworth & Co. is after the ornaments are made. Their recipe calls for the ornaments to be baked at 175 degrees for 30 minutes and then air-dried for another 24 hours. I found that this baking process actually dried out my ornaments too quickly and they ended up cracking. So, I actually threw out the first batch of ornaments that I had made and made a second batch, which I allowed to air-dry overnight on the plastic table cloth where I’d rolled them out, After that, I transferred them to cookie cooling racks and allowed them to dry out for about a week. This seems like a long time, but it kept my ornaments from cracking. If you need them to dry out sooner, I might recommend drying them for a shorter time in the oven and then allowing them to air-dry overnight.

Here is the finished product:

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And my daughter even got in on the ornament making fun.

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If your children are celiac, this is the perfect clay to allow them to make hand prints. There’s no risk of contamination with this clay. Although, of course, I wouldn’t exactly recommend letting them eat any!

Have fun and have a Merry Gluten Free Christmas!

For Want of a Nail…

By: Stacy Thompson

To those who know me well, I am fairly multi-faceted–I’m a lawyer, a hiker (when my mom takes me along), a former college athlete, a creator of superb tailgates, a world traveler and a lover of all God’s furry creatures. But it comes as a surprise to many of my friends that I’m also quite crafty, a pseudo-Martha Stewart without the penchant for perfection and the unfortunate Federal incarceration. My grandma Betty was the ultimate Craft Queen–I have the best memories of any time we spent together, days filled with awesome knittinghandmade teacher gifts, unusual crafts for my parents and even the odd limerick about cherished family pets (‘there once was a beagle named Luke, whose curly tail wasn’t a fluke…he got spooked by a fly, and jumped up to the sky…and everyone thought he was kook!’–my favorite, by far).  

I decided about two years ago to learn how to knit…no reason…just, because (and it was New Years Eve, so you gotta make a resolution, right?!?). I bought an app and more yarn than any person could knit in a lifetime, and here I am now creating very basic, very mundane, but gorgeous (thanks to cool yarn) scarves that I enjoy to no end. (Only with the knit-stitch and an occasional purl– my next New Years Resolution is to learn to knit in the round.) Despite this accomplishment, many of my Facebook friends were shocked at a recent reference to my ‘sewing table.’ Unabashedly and, in fact, with great pride, I gave them the following explanation–

Some of you think it out of character that I have a sewing table–before you believe I’ve lost my mind, here is the progression:

1) Your parents decide to downsize after 39 years in your childhood home.

2) Said parents tell you to come get all of your stuff (or it will be thrown into the dumpster they rented), which includes boxes of Duran Duran keepsakes (don’t worry my childhood friends, I’m keeping them) and boxes of T-shirts and sports uniforms from your youth.

3) “T-shirt quilt” immediately springs to mind, as you have inherited your father’s penchant for holding on to anything remotely resembling a keepsake and being physically unable to throw said items away.

4) Google search of ‘T-shirt quilt’ reveals that those things are way too expensive and heck yeah, I can do that myself. (I should have also Googled ‘Pinterest-fail’ at this point.)

5) You take advantage of Amazon Prime and order a sewing machine and every appurtenance known to man (including so much fabric that Michaels has asked to keep you on standby should they run low).

6) You realize soon after delivery that despite YouTube videos and a capacity to complete law school and pass the Bar Exam, no, you can’t figure out this complexity on your own.

7) A course schedule for Midlands Tech magically appears in your mailbox the following week and you sign up for Sewing I. Hilarity and utter creativity ensues…

**mike drop**

My sewing table provides peace, serenity and one kick-butt quilt. (Once I finish Sewing I, Sewing II and get as much help as possible from the fine ladies at JoAnn’s–OK, maybe not even then, but I will have fun trying!!) And yes, I’ll post pictures once I have something remotely resembling a finished quilt.

To all my friends and those reading this blog…step out of your comfort zone and into something you never thought possible–win or lose, you will not be disappointed!!

Finding Your Happy Place?

By: Roshanda Pratt

Here is a question, Do you know what brings you joy? You know the thing that brings you the greatest peace, allows you to breathe and fills a place of purpose in your life.  Since 7 years old I have had a great interest in anything involving creativity.  As a young child my mother purchased me a sewing machine.  I remember her coming home one day with a box of scraps from her friend who worked in a fabric factory.  Needless to say my Barbie was the most well dressed doll in the neighborhood.  I loved working with crafts.  The creative process helps me to say “Ahh!!!”

Then life happened…I grew up, started a professional career and left behind my “happy” place.  I finally returned when I realized once again my busy lifestyle and hectic job was sucking the life out of me.  I needed to say “Ahh” again in a major way.  After leaving my “professional” career I started designing jewelry, however, I missed my hot glue gun, foam paint brushes and glitter.  Most recently, I got my mojo back and it has been a glorious experience.  For the past month, I have been working on giving new life to an old dresser my mother-in-law gave me.  I have really enjoyed the process of sanding, buffing, priming and painting this little beauty.  I am not finished yet, but so far it is really starting to look great.  What do you think?

This is the dresser given to me by my mother-in-law which will become a buffet.  This little beauty will be one of the features in our living room adorned with pictures of my husband and I Grandmothers.

This month as we finish the first month in the next year I want to highly encourage you to find the thing that brings you great joy?  As I affectionately like to call it, find your “happy place.”  Like many of you, I wear many hats and have made it my mission to crave out crafting time in my daily schedule.   It makes me such a happy camper, but most importantly it helps me to step back and take a moment to say, “Ahh” I know we could all use a moment to take a deep breath.  I would recommend crafting, but maybe that’s not your thing, but you’ve got to find your thing and find it quickly – it very well may save your life or at least your sanity!

Enjoying My Happy Place!