Monday, 9 December 2013

Decorating with Dried Orange Slices

I've decided not to put up a Christmas tree this year. Instead, I'm creating lots of pretty displays around the flat. A few weeks ago I made a huge batch of oven dried orange slices, which I've been dying to use. So with holly and other greenery from my mum's garden, last years deccies, cranberries, chestnuts and my favourite Christmas spices, I can begin to get all creative and festive, filling my home with lots of Christmassy goodness! 

Link to making your own 'Dried Orange Slices' ---->>>

Link to making your own 'Dried Orange Slices' ---->>>

Have a great week!
 Barrina xx

Monday, 11 November 2013

the ultimate guide to oven dried orange slices

 I've spent the past few weeks perfecting my oven dried orange slices and hope this will encourage you to try it out at home. Doesn't the words "I made them" sound so much better than "I paid x amount of cash for these".  Making dried orange slices is one of the easiest decorations you can ever make.

Here are a few ideas for using your dried orange slices -

I use different methods (plain, icing sugar and gelatine powder), which all give beautiful results.

You will need
 oranges (very important ), any size will do.
sharp knife & chopping board
tea towel or kitchen paper
wire rack
most importantly, an oven, preheated to 225F, 110C  or Gas 1/4
(even lower if your oven allows)
My oven is gas. Other appliances may vary
Drying time in oven, approx 2-3 hours (possibly longer)
Placing finished slices on a radiator will also help to complete the dying process.
optional - fork, icing sugar, powdered gelatine, whole cloves

 Let's start with the basic 'plain' method.

Oven Dried Orange Slices
Using your sharpest knife, cut oranges into thin slices, but no more than 1cm thick. 
The thinner the slice, the quicker it will dry and the more opaque it will become. 
I usually insert a fork at one end of the orange, because I love my fingers very much.
  Place orange slices between two tea towels or kitchen paper to blot out excess juice.
The more juice you remove, the better they will dry! 
Place directly onto a wire rack (add any orange scraps as these can be used for potpourri) and leave to dry out in the oven for around 2-3 hours. Timing will depend on your oven and thickness of the slices.
I tried placing slices onto greaseproof paper, but they took much longer to dry out.
Turn often to prevent slices sticking to the rack and enjoy the aroma every time you open the oven.
Slices will shrink and darken in colour. When ready, remove from oven, cool and use to decorate your home.

 Please note: Slices may still be slightly sticky, but they are usable and should not go mouldy.

Oven Dried Orange Slices with Cloves
 If your slices are thick enough, make small holes in the skin with a cocktail stick and insert whole cloves. Do this before you put them into the oven. This can be a little fiddly, but the end result is so pretty. As the slices are thicker it will take longer to dry out.
Any scraps of oranges can also be dried and used as potpourri, add cloves to any thick pieces.
Oven Dried Orange Slices using Icing Sugar 
Generously sprinkle icing sugar onto both sides of the slices. The thinner the slice, the better. 
The sugar gives a shiny candied effect as the slices dry.
The slices may stick (mine didn't), so do turn every now and then, just in case.

 Frosty Oven Dried Orange Slices
Generously sprinkle gelatine powder onto both sides of the slices. 
This gives them a very pretty frosty effect when dry.
These will need to be turned often as they are likely to stick. 
I turned mine every twenty minutes or so, gently prising them off the rack with a spatula, but it' really worth it. When ready, remove from oven, cool on the rack and use to decorate your home.
The orange slices may still be moist or sticky, but will eventually dry out. I recommend trying a small batch first, to see how you go. Remember gelatin powder is not vegetarian. 
  Leave on a tea towel (not a fluffy one) or on the radiator.
Aging Dried Orange Slices
Going clockwise you can see how the slices continue to dry out and darken over time. The lightest coloured slices (top right) are fresh from the oven, bottom right are a week old, bottom left, around three weeks old and top left were made last year. I love the mix up of shades!
Please note: Slices may still be slightly sticky, but they are usable and should not go mouldy.

 Useful Tips
 I stored last years decorations in a sealed food bag and they were fine. Other sources have recommended storing in paper bags or a towel. This year I will store mine in different ways to find the best method for storage.
 Update: November 2014
I stored some slices in a paper bag and some in a plastic bag, both with cinnamon and cloves.
Some still had a slight stickiness to them, but ALL were mould free! 

Dry scrap pieces of oranges, including peelings, to use in Potpourri.
add clove, dried cranberries and cinnamon sticks to the mix.
 Here are a few more ideas for using you orange slices -

The 'Plain' and 'Icing Sugar' methods are both edible, so don't worry too much if the children try to bite into those.

If you are vegetarian you may not wish to use gelatin. I'm not sure if you can get a vegetarian option or whether it would have the same effect. Here's your chance to experiment.

Try using lemon and grapefruit slices to jazz things up a bit. Sliced lemons look great in potpourri, especially if they still have their seeds.
dried lemon
Apparently the acid may discolour the metal rack, but mine are already discoloured so I'm not bothered, but if you're bothered then use old ones.

Always use a clean rack for each batch, you wouldn't want any brown bits on your slices.
Soak metal racks in hot water using washing powder and give them a good scrub.

Hope this guide has been useful!
Any questions, do ask and I'll try my best to answer them.

Barrina xx 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Handmade Wedding Day Keepsake

It's been a while since I've put needle to felt and I've really enjoyed creating this little Wedding Day keepsake. This is the third keepsake that I've made, and it's quite interesting because the men were all called Paul. I made a beautiful bouquet for Louisa and Paul, a church aisle decoration, for Charlotte and Paul, and now this little gift for Liz and Paul. So I'm thinking if I want to get married I need to go out there and find myself a Paul. 

Have a great weekend!
Barrina xx

Saturday, 31 August 2013

My week in pictures. Week Six!

 Busy painting more frames. It's amazing how far a sample pot of paint can stretch. I'm also going to paint a lime green feature wall, which I think will look awesome with the purple frames.
The top photo is me aged around seven.
Last Sunday night I went to bed, got out a few minutes later, sanded and painted my dining table. I'd picked it up from my local charity shop ages ago for a tenner. Makes my small space look so much bigger.
The next day I gave it a second coat. Of course I couldn't stop there. My little cupboard and coffee table where next in line. I'd picked these up for a fiver each. Forgot to take before shots, oh well! Oh yes, I also got a little bit carried away and painted the wall behind the cabinet (the whole wall).
 I love charity shops, although some can be quite expensive, but most of our local ones are really cheap. These baskets and boxes cost five pounds for the lot.
My daughter had jetted off to America to be part of Magic Week in Vegas, followed by a week in LA, visiting Disneyland and having an amazing time. I think this is the longest we've ever been apart.
photo from jazzabelle's diary
I did have a lovely time without and worried very little. She returned on Thursday laden with loads of goodies for me, I feel so spoilt.
Last night we went into Kingston to see Rizzle Kicks perform at McClusky's nightclub. They were pretty amazing!!! Drinks were dead cheap and the music was great, I might actually go back.
My Summer holidays are now over, so so sad! Back to work on Tuesday, back to reality.
I've had a wonderful six weeks.

Barrina xx

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Sunday, 25 August 2013

My week in pictures. Week Five!

Relaxing in Dorset, again, but this time in sunny Bournemouth. 
 Finding great bargains in the local charity shops. £4.80 for all these frames and 60p for three wooden bowls. Choosing sample paints in the perfect colours and spending the afternoon painting away.
Enjoying nature, sunshine and cups of tea.
Admiring the beauty of the full moon and wishing I'd had a super zoomy lens with me.
 I have one week left of my summer holiday, begging for it to crawl by.

Enjoy the now!
Barrina xx

Sunday, 18 August 2013

My week in pictures. Week Four!

Marvelling at sunsets and silhouettes on Chesil Beach, Portland.
Eating way too much food both at home and on a night out at the Cove House Inn.
Helping to organizing a surprise 'renewal of marriage vows' ceremony, for my brother and sister-in-law. 
Celebrating ten wonderful years of marriage.
Chilling, relaxing and watching time pass by.
The weather was so changeable, clear blue skies, scorching sun, overcast, light breeze, thick clouds, light rain, fog, strong winds, showers and more blue skies, sometimes all on the same day.
Taking short walks/hikes up and along the pebble beach, which was a stone's throw from our backyard.
I now have two weeks left of my school holiday, really hoping they drag by.

Enjoy the Now!
Barrina xx

Saturday, 10 August 2013

My week in pictures. Week Three!

Enjoying lunch with a lovely friend at The Ship. Their food is pretty amazing!
Watching firemen at work!
Getting all crafty with fresh lime and plum paint.
Being a photographer's assistant to Jazmine for a 'sandwich' photoshoot at The Dime Bar. So much fun!
Enjoying delicious food from their menu and drooling over Jazmine's massive hotdog.
Laughing my head off watching this wood pigeon desperately trying to get food from my window feeder.
And, now I'm looking forward to spending the next week chillaxing with some crazy people in my life.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Barrina xx