I am the first to admit that I am no Betty Crocker. At times, I try to harness my inner Martha Stewart, but…well, let’s just say that doesn’t quite work out either. This fact of life has never really bothered me. We’ve gotta know what our strengths are, right? And after all, that’s what restuarants and bakeries are for. At least that’s what I tell myself!
When we had our first son, we started a holiday tradition; making homemade ornaments for our loved ones. This Christmas, while muddling my way through the making of homemade salt dough ornaments, I learned a few lessons.
They are things I already knew deep down, but it took going through this entire process and many slow, deep breaths (and maybe a time out or two…on my part) to come to the realization that even though things may not turn out perfectly (in the words of Pete the Cat) it’s all good.
If you are anything like me and you ease your way (very carefully) through making things in the kitchen, this is for you!
Lesson #1- It’s okay for the kids to
mess everything up help out
My five year old wanted to do everything. And by everything, I mean all. the. things. Given my track record in the kitchen I figured it couldn’t hurt. And it didn’t. We may have had to roll…and re-roll… and re-roll the dough for a plethora of reasons, but hey, he was willing and it eventually worked out (although I did have my doubts for a minute). We may have even had to make several extra batches because he couldn’t control the gigantic bag of flour and my hands were wrist deep in goo. But we had fun. It may have been messy (we won’t talk about the state of the kitchen during this entire process), but the end product was worth it. He mixed the ingredients, rolled the dough and spread the flour and no mater what it looked like, it was the process itself that we both grew from. It wasn’t made with blood, sweat and tears. Instead it was excitement, patience and lots and lots of repetition.
Do the creators even follow their own recipes It’s okay to not follow the exact directions
I either had too much water or too much flour and had to make adjustments to just about every single batch, but my five year old loved waiting there watching to see what he would need to add. The ‘glass’ I was supposed to use to cut out the circles wasn’t even big enough for my two year olds hands, so we improvised. The ornaments did not come up off of the cookie sheet. Instead they stuck to the bottom (oh and had to be baked again the next day as they were not even actually done). But hey, we just threw them back in the oven the next day and presto, they were done! All of this provided an opportunity for my oldest to help out, offer solutions and feel like he was important, needed and valued. All much more important than some ornaments.
Lesson #3- Things
may won’t turn out like they’re supposed to and that’s okay
This whole ornament making process started several years ago with my other half (who is very good in the kitchen, by the way) easily making the dough and rolling it out all nice and even. Then our son would punch out Christmas themed cookie cutter shapes and they would come up effortlessly off the counter ready for the cookie sheet. When they were done baking, they would come out of the oven all golden brown and peel off of the cookie sheet with ease.
So this year I thought, I’ve got this. I even attempted to do something more extravagent than simply creating cookie cutter ornaments. After all, I am a teacher and this cutesy, creative stuff is supposed to be second nature for us. Am I right? This was going to be easy!…I thought.
Let’s see what went wrong. Well, everything. Except the scooping of the ingredients. There were no mishaps with putting a measuring cup inside of a bag and filling it with an ingredient. There’s always a positive. Always.
You already know what happened with the mixing and making of the dough. Once the dough was finally mixed, it stuck to any and everything possible. Flour became our best friend and we worked through it. Literally. I worked that dough tirelessly.
The dough stuck to their hands (even coated in flour) and the handprints turned out less than stellar. The ornaments stuck to the bottom of the cookie sheet and the backs of many of them looked like the surface of a gravel road. So much for having my oldest write his name legibly on the back.
Despite all of this, we made it work! We had fun and with a fresh coat of paint and lots of glitter, you almost couldn’t tell they weren’t exactly how I had planned. Plus, it gave my five year old some practice writing in small spaces!
Lesson #4- All the recipients see is effortless, flawless beauty (unless they read this post)
In the end, all of our loved ones received a beautiful, sparkling ornament that was made with love that they can look at and cherish year after year. My boys had the time of their lives being ‘big’ and ‘baking’ in the kitchen. Only I see the flaws (and know the pain) that went into making them. Everyone loves them and at the end of the day that is what matters.