There is something about the simplicity of a monochromatic, under-done Christmas that really appeals to me. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the glitz and commercialism that we are surrounded by on a daily basis but I’m finding myself drawn to unfinished, natural and handmade materials and ornaments. I’m feeling a lot like Linus when he makes that wonderful speech at the end of the Charlie Brown Christmas special.
I find these simple little ornaments hung on bare branches really attractive and festive in a quiet and unassuming way.
I made them by pressing oven-bake clay from the craft store into a simple silicon mould of a leaf and then cutting it out with a small round cookie cutter.
Combined with a branch that I found in the woods while walking the dog they are the perfect simple alternative Christmas tree for a small space. These would also make sweet, little, keepsake gift tags as well.
I first saw these little trees on Pinterest made in green polymer clay. Following the link I was taken to a blog that seemed to have gotten the image off Pinterest so I can’t tell where the original idea came from. I love these little trees so much but I wanted to make mine in white polymer to make them look snow laden. Imagine how cute they would be grouped as a forest in the centre of a dinner table? Here’s how I made mine:
Starting with white polymer, oven cured clay bought at the craft store, form a small cone. Using nail scissors, which are perfect because of the curve of the blades, snip from the top all around the cone flicking up slightly as you pull the scissors out. Make sure that you are snipping in an irregular way so that your branches aren’t lined up one on top of the other.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for baking. (mine was about 20 minutes at 250 degrees) and you’re done! If you are going to make a number of trees make sure that your clay cones are different sizes for a more natural grouping.
What happened to the square? Entertaining when I was growing up meant that at a certain time in the evening coffee and a plate of sweets, usually squares, would be served. We were only allowed the edges because that was what was given to the kids until after the party. We were always stunned that there might be left overs after a party, I mean really, why would anyone leave sweets uneaten?
One place to still find a fine selection of squares is a funeral reception. Perhaps it’s a Maritime thing or just a small town thing but funeral receptions in Nova Scotia are known to have the best selection of squares, period. And don’t even get me started on the little sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
I have mentioned before the handwritten cookbook my Mother wrote out for each of her children. In it is a collection of recipes for squares that really need to be resurrected and I’m on a mission to single-handedly bring back the square. There is a reason these are old tried-and-true recipes… they’re delicious.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1/2 cup maraschino cherries cut up
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp vanilla
Mix 1 cup flour, icing sugar and butter and press into an eight inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the base is baking mix flour, baking powder and salt together. To this mixture add cherries, eggs, coconut, walnuts and vanilla. Spread over base in pan and return to oven for 15 min till browned at the edges and set. Remove and cool to room temperature. Top with a butter icing.