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Make Memorable Salt Dough Ornaments This Holiday Season 

Children and adults alike enjoy seeing their artistic ability immortalized during the holiday season, especially in the form of decorations and ornaments. Creating your own ornament is a great way to make memories with friends and family, and writing a note on the ornament about the year it was made can be the start of a beautiful tradition. 

One easy way to make ornaments is the classic salt dough recipe. Simply combining water, salt, and flour creates a moldable, soft medium that allows using everything from hand carving to silicone molds to create the final product. 

To create the dough:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  • Add 4 cups of flour, to 1 cup of salt
  • Slowly add 1 cup of water to the salt and flour mixture until your preferred consistency is achieved. 
  • When the dough is close, knead it for five to ten minutes 
  • Let it rest while you gather a few ways to modify the dough, including: 
    • Sculpting tools 
    • Plastic knives
    • Stamps
    • Silicone Molds
  • You can also knead food coloring into smaller sections of the dough to have multi-colored ornaments. 
  • A plastic straw or wooden skewer is a great way to poke a hole in each ornament to thread a piece of ribbon through. 
  • If hand carving ornaments, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Silicone molds can go in the oven, or you may try to remove the ornament from the mold and place on a sheet.

When the dough is fully shaped, simply place in the oven for 2 hours at the low temperature. It will be dry and hard, so check and make sure the dough has hardened before removing the ornaments from the tray. Thread ribbons through the holes you made, and tie ornaments around the house as decorations or around tree limbs as part of a beautiful Christmas tree. Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Spider Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

20 miniature peanut butter cups

20 chocolate-covered peanuts or raisins

Black or brown writing gel icing

  • Preheat oven to 350˚ and line baking sheets with silicone baking mats

  • Beat peanut butter, shortening, butter, and both sugars together with an electric mixer, for 4-5 minutes, until combined. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until combined.

  • Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Put mixer on low speed, slowly adding flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, beat until well mixed.

  • Scoop dough and roll each portion into a ball, you should have about 20. Flatten each piece slightly and arrange 2 inches apart. Press your thumb into the center of each cookie.

  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.

  • Once cookies are out of the oven, while they are still hot carefully place 1 Mini PB cup slightly below the center of each cookie, the warm cookie wil melt the chocolate “body” into place. Then, gently press 1 chocolate-covered raisin or peanut “head” above the PB cup. Allow the cookies to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transfering to a wire rack.

  • Once cool, use gel icing to draw 8 legs from the body of each spider. Allow the icing to set and enjoy!
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Tips for Fall Outdoor Entertaining

outdoor entertaining

When most people think of outdoor entertaining, they picture summer barbecues and pool parties, but there is more to the great outdoors than hot weather and warm breezes. If you have a lovely patio or deck, there is no reason to spend all your time indoors just because summer has ended and given way to fall. The great outdoors still has plenty to offer, and there are plenty of ways to make outdoor entertaining work all autumn long.

One of the best ways to get your patio or deck ready for the rigors of outdoor entertaining is to invest in a quality heat source. Whether you add a fire pit to your patio or a gas-powered heater to your deck, there are plenty of ways to keep your guests warm and cozy on those cool autumn nights.

You can also take advantage of the same Tiki torches that made your summer pool parties so much fun. These torches can also be excellent natural bug repellents, keeping those troublesome fall insects from wrecking your party.

The great thing about outdoor entertaining in the fall is that there are so many opportunities for themed parties and get-togethers. You can host a celebration for the dawning of the autumnal equinox, put together an adults-only trick-or-treat night for Halloween and take the traditional meal outdoors when Thanksgiving rolls around. The possibilities are nearly endless, and autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

No matter what the occasion, decorating your outdoor living space will make your parties more festive. Whether you choose the natural beauty of autumn leaves, string orange lights around your deck for Halloween or festoon your patio with paper lanterns, the right decorations will make your outdoor entertaining more special.

The right food and drink can also make a big difference in your outdoor entertaining, so spend some time whipping up some specialty cocktails with an autumnal theme. From apple cider spiced with rum to concoctions with pumpkin, nutmeg, gingerbread and other fall flavors, the drinks you create will give your outdoor bar a seasonal flavor – and give your guests something great to drink.

Be sure to provide the same selection of non-alcoholic creations for the kids and abstaining adults. You can use the same fall flavors for these family-friendly drinks – just skip the alcohol.

The fall season is the perfect time to host an outdoor party. The steamy hot weather is gone, the nights are still pleasant and there are lots of fun holidays and other occasions to celebrate. The winter weather will be coming soon enough, so you do not have to hide inside your home quite yet.

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15 Tips for Going Back-to-School

Back To School | Siliconezone

Summer is almost over! The cicadas are buzzing, the sunblock is running low, and the children are groaning in anticipation of their return to school. The transition from the relaxed atmosphere of summer break to the structured environment of school can be a stressful time for adults and children. Here are fifteen suggestions to help make the switch easier.

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Reasons To Start Walking More

Most people are aware that they should include regular cardiovascular exercise as part of their workout routine if they want to enjoy good overall health. Aerobic exercise helps with weight control as well as improving bone strength and heart health. However, most people think of running or cycling rather than walking when it comes to exercising the cardiovascular system. So, why is a brisk walk a brilliant choice of aerobic exercise? 

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Natural Sunburn Relief

Ah, summer! Sandy beaches, sunbathing, picnics . . . and sunburns. With all the time that we spend outdoors during the hot months, the probability of getting at least slightly sunburned once or twice is pretty high. Children are particularly at risk since they often squirm around too much to be sure that their sunblock has been evenly applied.

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10 Unique and Fabulous Gifts for Dads

Dads and other father figures in your life can be some of the most difficult people to buy gifts for. It may seem like your dad, grandfather, husband, or brother has everything or maybe he just doesn’t seem to want anything.

Here are 10 unusual gift ideas for all kinds of men. Your gift recipient will be sure to appreciate them.

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