POPCORN AND CRANBERRY GARLANDS
These old-fashioned garlands never go out of style. The two secrets of success are to use stale popcorn and to thread a needle with heavy-duty thread used for buttonholes or for quilting. Simply thread one cranberry down to the end and knot the thread around it to make an anchor. Then carefully alternate popcorn and cranberries-or in any pattern-until the thread is almost full. Tie a knot around a final cranberry to finish.
COOKIE CUTTER APPLE ORNAMENTS
These simple ornaments smell wonderful. Cut a large, round apple horizontally into three-centimetre-thick slices. (The core or the star is at the centre of each.) Using sharp cookie cutters, cut each shape out so the core is at the centre. Avoid the peel, which distorts the shapes as they dry. Using a plastic straw, create a hole at the top of the ornament. Coat both sides of each ornament well with spice mixture (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and/or ginger in any combination) and place it on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake at 180°F for two to four hours, or until leathery. (It depends on how juicy the apples are.) Hang with a red ribbon.
ORANGE-SLICE STAINED GLASS ORNAMENTS
When hung on a tree in front of Christmas lights, preserved orange slices look like stained glass. Simply lay an orange sideways on a cutting board and cut it into three-centimetre thick slices. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet for two to four hours at 180° until translucent, depending on the juiciness of the orange. Using a needle, thread a gold cord through the meaty part and tie a knot to hang.
RECYCLE YOUR TREE
After Christmas-if you put up a real tree-stake it outside to a fence or pole as a feeding station, then decorate it with special treats over-wintering birds enjoy. (You can also decorate a bush for the birds.) Wrap the tree with strings of cranberries, popcorn and dried fruit. Tie on bouquets of wheat or other grains, small ears of corn or small dried sunflower heads. Hang suet in a plastic berry basket or onion bag. You can also create simple feeders by hanging empty orange halves fill with stale doughnuts, wild birdseed, apple slices or raisins.
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