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Ponderous Pomanders

I’ve been making Christmas decorations. Like some sort of Christmas fanatic. Like a woman possessed. Like a woman laid off during a pandemic but–by golly–she’s excited about Christmas!

Genuinely, I am super excited about the holiday, and the insatiable need to craft this year I think is resultant of a few things: allowing myself to spend time doing pleasurable but possibly meaningless/non-monetised activities, allowing myself to celebrate (life), and loving making my new home (that I love) beautiful (theoretically).

So, December 1st hit, and while J was shopping for sensible groceries to feed us, I was on a jute and fruit mission. There was a “buy 5 of these oranges!” kinda deal and I thought….. pomanders! I had a vague outline in my head of making them as a kid, and they seemed easy and beautiful enough.

The in-my-head version consisted of an orange entirely covered in cloves. And also sticking the cloves in the orange without a prep hole. Well, lemme tell you that those little suckers are sharp and also it would take ages to cover the whole orange.

I think a toothpick would work nicely to prep your holes (get your mind outta the gutter). I didn’t have one, so I used a crewel couching needle because it had a nice girth (honestly, head up). It was semi-fun designing patterns for the cloves (would be complete-fun if you didn’t care about being perfect).

Between work and other crafts, it took me a few days (at least) to finish all five oranges. In the meantime, they looked so beautiful mingled with the other fruit on our buffet. And smelled so nice.

I was feeling so festive! Then whilst keeping me company as I strung up some cranberries, very supportively but slightly concerned, J questioned: will all this fruit rot by Christmas?

Good. Point.

I Googled Pomander lifespan. 3-5 days. Really??? Unless you dry them out. Okay, so how do I do that? Some “hide them in a paper bag for three weeks” methods came up in my search. Well, no, I want my pomanders loud and proud and out for the month of December! So I opted for the “dry them in the oven” method.

Ah, all my beauties lined up on the tray! Clearllllly that one in the middle is already molding, but the hopeful mother in me thought that a little drying out might do him good! So, in I popped all five at 250F. The internet said to check them every couple of hours to make sure they were “drying” and not “cooking”. Conveniently, the internet didn’t tell me what “drying” vs “cooking” looked like. It did not indicate that their colour would change as they merrily went on their way. Nevertheless, I keep checking on them (being like, “Well, looks f*cked? Idk? Supposed to look like that? Not orange? That’s cool?”).

I guess I was really just making sure they weren’t catching on fire.

Several hours in and Rotty McGee was looking pretty bad (like, kinda a black puddle)… so I made the very difficult decision of just letting him go.

The rest of my pomander offspring cooked their way to the seven hour mark, at which point I really needed to go to bed and hoped that they were done.

Out of the oven, I could not escape the notion that they now looked like a model of the corona virus.

Are they hideous without that vibrant orange colour? And after all that effort, will they last?

I foraged some bits from the backyard and arranged them in the fruit bowl and… you know what? I think they’re pretty beautiful.

Also, during the drying process in the oven, the house smelled AMAZING. Like, amazing. Like, I went to get a sandwich from the deli down the street, and as I was walking back up to our house, I could smell them. Additionally, they are still acting like potpourri on the table. Every time I sit down to enjoy a meal, I get a little whiff of delicious orangey clove.

I’m not positive how long they will last after all this effort, but I’m hoping it will be for a good while.

They were neither the easiest nor the most successful of my Christmas crafts, but I feel like they are the forefathers. The heavyweights. The potential centrepieces for the big day.

In summation: pomanders are fantastic, just prepare for them to be brown.


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