It was about three weeks before Christmas - a week before she hopped on a plane headed for Seattle to spend the holidays with us - that my second-born said to me, hey, do you want to make dried orange garlands with me when I get home?
I'm always down for a handmade Christmas.
So as soon as my cross-country Covid-free traveler settled in, we got to work.
Before assembly, the dried orange slices look a bit brown and drab. But never fear!
Supplies were very simple and so was the process.
We gathered up:
8-12 fresh oranges
wooden beads in various shades and sizes
a spool of twine
a big fat needle
First, we sliced the oranges about a quarter inch thick, laid them out in a single layer on baking sheets, and popped them into a 200° F oven. Every couple hours, we flipped the slices over and assessed their progress; after about eight hours, we called them done.
Once the orange slices were dried and cool, it was a simple matter of threading the needle with twine, loading on the beads and slices.
We cut a piece of twine twice the length of the mantle, tied a loop into one end (and eventually at the other end), and settled on a pattern of two beads between each orange slice. To keep the garland neat and tidy, we tied a simple overhand knot before and after each bead, mixing the colors and sizes of the beads to create a happy chaos. For the orange slices, we simply took a big running stitch through the diameter of the fruit, starting and ending each stitch on the front side of the fruit.
Not that there is a clear front and back to an orange slice. Both sides are adorable. We just stitched happily away and enjoyed the no-way-to-mess-this-up process.
Well. Turns out there actually is a way to complicate this project and that is to leave the dried orange slices out on the counter unattended because I happen to know of at least one large red dog who is not ashamed to jump up and eat large quantities of the crunchy morsels without batting a single long red eyelash.
At least we don't have to worry about any Vitamin C deficiencies in her current diet.
Once strung and hanging where they catch the light, the dried oranges sparkle with color and translucent charm.
The finished effect is timeless and charming, and while it may not solve world peace, I can attest that making this garland brought some joy to my world, and this year, it seems that some easy Christmas swag was exactly what I needed.