Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Saturday, October 11, 2014

a paper cone wreath tutorial for Autumn...

You've seen them, right?  Those lovely paper cone wreaths all over Pinterest?  We even made them at our church's Advent Workshop last year using old, damaged hymnals.

Recently I was tidying up in the art room and unearthed an unopened package of heavy, double-sided, Autumn-colored printed paper.  It screamed, "Create a wreath with me!"  So I did!

I first cut the 12"x12" papers into 6"x6" squares.  With a long-practiced move, I shaped each square into a cone, securing the cone with dabs of hot glue.  If you do this, do be careful not to burn your tender fingertips.  (I should add that I have adhesive issues... Hi, my name is Donna Rae, and I have adhesive issues... so I, of course, added some thick tacky glue along with the hot glue to ensure a 'stuck-till-Jesus-returns' bond.)

I laid the paper cones out, sorted by color, in the order I wanted to add them to the wreath form.

Speaking of the wreath form... it's a very high-tech, complicated contraption: a circle cut from cardboard that was destined for the compost bin or my husband's next lasagna gardening adventure.  I used a salad plate to trace the circle, cut it out, and penciled a smaller circle in the center. 

I was ready!  I added swaths of thick tacky glue to a portion of the wreath form, applying it between the edge of the inner penciled circle and the cut edge of the wreath form.  As I added each paper cone, I would apply a couple of dots of hot glue to the wreath form in the place where the cone would be laid.  (Again, I have adhesive issues.  But really, the hot glue gives you that immediate hold, keeping the cone in place while the thick tacky glue dries over time.  I find that items held with just hot glue can 'pop off' over time, especially if an item is in the sun, like, say, between a front door and a storm door.)  The paper cone was laid in place quickly, glued seam to the back, with the tip touching the edge of the inner penciled circle, not all the way to the center of the wreath form.  This allows the 'give' for the paper cones to line up nicely around the circle.  I continued, adding the cones around the circle in color-order to give even color distribution around the wreath.  (I didn't want 5 green cones on one side and no green cones on the other side.)

I then added a second layer of cones on top of the first layer to add volume and to cover any gaps.  I arranged the tips of these second-layer cones closer to the center as I added them, allowing the flares of the first-layer cones to be visible behind them.

Now for that hideously blank center... I took some burlap ribbon, ran a running stitch along one of the long edges, and gathered it into a circle.  I double-glued (hot and tacky) a lovely metal "Autumn" sign atop the burlap (I found it at a local craft store on sale, less than $2.)  The burlap/sign combo was then double glued to the center of the paper cone wreath.

But how to hang it?  Simple!  I turned the wreath over, glued on a strip of gingham ribbon, and a deckle-edged circle of printed paper over that, to the cardboard wreath form.  Yay!  A wreath!

It's a colorful and welcoming addition to our front door for Autumn!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

oatmeal for a busy October...

It's here!  October, truly Autumn, my very favorite time of year!

There's one catch... our calendar overfloweth.  Each square (or digital sliver) on our calendar is filled, some with letters and numbers treading dangerously onto the already filled square nextdoor.  Meals must be planned lest they be forgotten until the last minute, leading to poor and expensive choices and very often a bad tummyache.  So today I did a little prep for breakfasts this month.  I have home-baked healthy muffins in the freezer, waiting to be pulled out as needed.  I have eggs-a-plenty on hand.  And I made up lots of those very handy Oatmeal Packets seen all over the interwebs (you've seen them: a few ingredients in a little baggie to be dumped in a bowl.  Just add water, heat, and PRESTO!  Healthy hot breakfast!  An oft-pinned tutorial on this subject by The Yummy Life can be found HERE.)

Top: dehydrated cranberries and orange zest strips; bottom left: Apple Cinnamon oatmeal packet, bottom right: Christmas Cranberry Orange oatmeal packet

I whipped up several reusable containers (so much nicer than baggies with no waste!) with our favorite Apple Cinnamon variety, using the apple rings I preserved in the dehydrator, nuts, and cinnamon.  Then I did a little taste-testing and LOVE our newest flavor:  Christmas Cranberry Orange.  It truly smells and tastes like Christmas to me!  The cranberries were purchased fresh, pulsed in a food processor until fairly finely chopped, then dried on the fruit leather tray of the dehydrator until crispy.  I like these much better than the dried cranberries from the store that are chewy and can have added sugars.  The orange flavor comes from 2 slivers, finely chopped in each container, of dehydrated orange zest.  (Orange peels were saved, cut into strips, and all of the bitter white removed before dehydrating.  If you don't have dried orange zest, you could add some fresh orange zest to the oatmeal when you are ready to serve.)  We don't like things overly sweet, so we often add no sweetener at all or just a 1/4 tsp per packet; you may sweeten to your taste, of course.  I also like to stir in a teaspoon of freshly ground flax or other seed to the oatmeal just before serving.  Many recipes online call for nonfat dry milk powder but we leave it out making our packets free of dairy and gluten.

When ready to enjoy our oatmeal packet, we dump it into a good sized bowl (the oatmeal can bubble over in the microwave, trust me!), add 3/4 - 1 cup water, and heat in the microwave for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes (quick oats and instant oats take less time).  No time in the mornings?  No problem... prepare overnight oatmeal: add oatmeal packet to a pint jar with a tight fitting lid, pour in 3/4 cup cold water OR 1/2 cup cold water and 1/4 cup yogurt, shake until well mixed and refrigerate overnight.  Refrigerator oatmeal can be enjoyed cold or we might heat it up.  Here are the ingredients per packet for the two flavors I mentioned...

Apple Cinnamon (Almost Instant) Oatmeal
per packet:
1/3 cup gluten-free old-fashioned or rolled oats
2 dehydrated apple rings, chopped or torn into small pieces
1 - 2 T. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatever you like)
1/4 t. dry sweetener (I like turbinado cane sugar)
1/4 t. cinnamon

Christmas Cranberry Orange (Almost Instant) Oatmeal
per packet:
1/3 cup gluten-free old-fashioned or rolled oats
1 T. chopped, dried cranberries
1/2 t. dried orange zest, chopped fine
1 - 2 T. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatever you like)
1/4 - 1/2 t. dry sweetener (I like turbinado cane sugar)
1/4 t. cinnamon