Appalachian Vocabulary Test 73
Walking The Appalachian Trail

An After Christmas Decoration

Dried orange decorations

I always feel a little let down when it's time to take down the Christmas decorations. Usually I spend the days after Christmas doing really deep cleaning-like going through closets, cleaning out the bookshelves, and changing all the curtains.

Getting the house in order seems to brighten the house after the dreary chore of putting up Christmas until next year.

This year I haven't been able to fit my usual cleaning frenzy into my schedule-since we're still in the middle of the kitchen re-model. My cleansing purge will have to wait. 

I did find time to make an "after Christmas" decoration. Luckily I made the hardest part before Christmas...and before the remodel began.

How to dry oranges for decoration

I found the directions for dried citrus ornaments on this blog. They used a variety of citrus for their project-I only had oranges so I used them.

First-slice the fruit into 1/4 inch slices-and if you see any seeds discard them.

Second-lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake in a 175 - 200 degree oven. The directions said it should take 3 to 4 hours-mine took longer than that. Maybe my oranges were extra juicy? Turn the slices over each hour to ensure they dry evenly.

The option of air drying the slices was listed in the directions with the process taking about 4 days. The writer of the blog said using a food dehydrator would work as well-but drying the slices by air or by dehydrator didn't give the same result as drying them in the oven. The citrus dried in the oven seemed to retain more of their original color. 

Winter decorations

Once the slices are dry-you can use them in whatever manner you'd like. I really liked the way the bloggers showcased their orange slices. They used evergreen branches in a brown glass bottle to make sort of a mini tree shape-then hung the citrus on it.

I had some leftover spruce trimmings from the Christmas tree and I knew I had a couple of old brown bottles in the basement. I found 3 bottles-an old clorox bottle, an old beer bottle, and a much larger one that I don't have a clue what came in it.

I took the bottles upstairs to clean and realized the largest one had a lot of stuff in the bottom of it. Not remembering where I found it or who gave it to me-I figured I had put it up without trying to get the stuff out of the bottom. So I poured some water in it and set it outside to soak all the debris lose.

A couple of hours later I went out and poured the water out-noticing the stuff in the bottom was still solid. I took a long sharp stick and began poking at the mass trying to break it up so that it would fall out of the hole. After a good 15 minutes or so I had most of it out...all but one large clump that just would not break up. That's when I realized it was a petrified mouse.

After a short screaming while simultaneously gagging session I turned the glass container upside to await The Deer Hunter's return from deer camp.

On the bright side-the project turned out really well. I like the look of the brown jug, the green spruce and the orange slices-a clean fresh look that says it's still winter. 


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Whoa Nelly. I would have reacted about the same way! Some surprises just...well. Not your favorite surprise!
But I may try making this sort of decoration with a couple of clementines. I've been trying to treat the wild birds that are supposed to love citrus fruit - cardinals, I think? - but either mine prefer other grub or else the clementine halves are freezing solid before the birds even see them. Maybe something to do while I try to excavate my kitchen floor today. My whole house is an obstacle course of misplaced items while the porch is getting finished.
Stay warm!

Hi Tipper,
It's sounds to me like you were almost as "petrified" as the "petrified" mouse. Ha!
The orange slices are quite pretty hanging on the boughs. Perhaps if you cut them a little thinner, they would not only dry quicker, they may be more transparent like stained glass. I used to lay my oranges for dehydrating on a bakers cooling rack right on the rack inside my oven. It worked quite well, with a lot of different fruit, as I would store some and eat them at a later date. Nice simple project, thanks for reminding me of the ways I used to keep fruit a little longer for consumption and the decorating idea too. A few little potpourri bags (made from clean used pieces of nylons) hanging on the limbs would smell pretty. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and allspice smell really good. You get the idea, have fun. Happy New Year from New Brunswick, Canada

Beautiful idea - I'm eager to try it with an assortment of citrus.

Very pretty!!

Ornaments are lovely & do stand out with the evergreens and brown jug. In FL we have petrified lizards!

You make homeade things look so
pretty. Speaking of rodents, about
a year ago I had some huge rats
move into my shop. My dog, Whisky,
caught 16 of them boogers, big as
squirrels. Then I got two cats,
masters that rule the nights and they took care of the last two.
They're all gone now!...Ken

The dried orange slices look really pretty on the green pine branch. I love the brown bottle, I would have screamed too if I had found a surprise petrified mouse in there.

I like the look of the brown jug, green branch and oranges too. Great idea! Pretty and simple. We have our first grandchild on the way and I need to start making a list of stuff like this as future fun things to do. You really are a breath of fresh air in this world! Thanks!

Love the idea of dried citrus ornaments and will have to try making some. REALLY loved the story of the petrified mouse. I've never been a girlie girl, but I absolutely hate mice and will scream and dance if ever I see one! Developed this fear after accidentally squashing one while walking barefooted to a friend's outhouse one summer night as a kid. Yuck!

Tipper--So you had a few moments of musophobia? I'm somewhat surprised and would be interested to know if Chitter and Chatter have a similar reaction to rodents. Surely not.

The only time I can ever think of such a reaction truly meriting histrionics was when an aunt of mine had a face to fanny encounter with a wharf rat when she sat down on the commode only to discover the rat had a prior claim to occupancy of the bowl.

I'm not sure which was funnier, her subsequent outraged description of the incident or Uncle Frank's bemused reaction whenever the subject came up and he reccollected being called home from work for a household "emergency."

Anyway, while I won't be drying any orange slices, your conclusion sure did give me a chuckle for the day while reviving a hilarious memory.

Jim Casada

The arrangement is so pretty. If I made one, I think I would have to leave it outside. After sweeping up Christmas tree needles for over a week, I don't want to see any kind of evergreen with needles in my house for awhile. And I would be happy if I never saw another mouse. I haven't seen one all winter, but they ate a whole tray of Decon I put down in the cellar.

A petrified mouse! Yikes! Were you trying to see if you remembered your biology class from high school? About the reason for your message today - I think that it is a very attractive idea. Any idea of how long the smell lasts? Perhaps, it might depend upon the amount of humidity within the confines of the room/area it is placed in. Thanks for the idea!

Carol-no fragrance that I noticed-but the greenery smells lovely : )

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Oh my! Never know what you will encounter when containers have been stored in a dark and isolated space! Lucky it wasn't a live mouse or enormous spider.

Ohhhh yuk, I gagged myownself when I read about the surprise lump. I usually don't gag when reading about floating mice, maybe it was because its so early in the morning...Yes, living out here I have had my dealings with mice!
I love your ornaments and tree branches. They are very fresh and lovely. However, I fear you are going to drive the fruit loving birds crazy! Have you noticed any landing on the branches and trying to peck the oranges.

I have made a fresh sliced orange, apple garland. Also string on it some dry or leftover cranberries and popcorn. You can prop up your discarded Christmas tree and drape it around it or drape it in the branches of a small yard tree or shrub.
The birds that love berries and fruit, and most do, but especially the mockingbirds, bluebirds, small woodpeckers, and cardinals will thank you for it!
I love the fragrance of dried oranges, lemons and grapefruit!
Thanks Tipper, great post!

I had not heard or seen this way of drying citrus slices for ornaments. I like the picture of your finished product. Thanks for telling us how to do this!

And, did the Deer Hunter take care of the petrified mouse?
Yes, I noticed how nice the jug with ornaments turned out but I never got around to asking if you made it. Of course I realize that is a silly question to ask you. Of course you made it. You made all your decorations and you love doing it.

So pretty! Do the oranges have a fragrance???

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