We've got 6 toddlers, plus their keepers(!), to entertain on Sunday. It's our annual NCT group Christmas get together. A chance for the littlies to play with balloons and steal mince pies from their parents' plates while the grown-ups catch up on news, bemoan their lack of sleep and drink vats of mulled wine.
We're not planning on getting a tree or putting up other decorations for a few weeks yet, but I feel the need to make the house look vaguely festive before the weekend. I dug out a big bag of pine cones we'd collected last year, and decided to make some more dried slices of orange to string up along the mantelpiece. (I have two mantels to decorate this Christmas - rather worryingly, this is very exciting to me!)
I cut the oranges into roughly 1cm wide slices and put them onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray. (I wanted to put them on the wire cooling rack in the oven, but our oven is tiny and it wouldn't fit!) The greaseproof paper made sure that the oranges weren't going to stick to the tray and also meant that the washing up was reduced, woop! From searching online, times and oven temperatures varied wildly for drying the orange slices. So I decided to just stick the oven on Gas Mark 1, and leave the oranges to do their thing. I checked in on them every half hour or so, turning them as they started to dry out. In all, I think the oranges were in the oven for about 6 hours - and even then, they probably could have stayed in longer, were it not for needing to whack the heat up and get our jacket potatoes baking!
A needle, a length of string and a few strips of washi tape to stick it to the mantel later, and we're ready. It's beginning to look a little like Christmas...
*Apologies for the mega grainy photos - these evenings are so dark now!