Chapter Twenty-four: "Gifts" written and illustrated by Andrew Wales
"Where's Ma and Pa?" asked Georgie as he stumbled from his bedroom one fall morning with sleep in his eyes.
"They went for a walk to the beach," answered his sister Molly.
"No fair!" said Georgie. "They didn't take us!" he exclaimed.
"They needed some 'Alone Time'," replied Molly.
"Alone time? What do they need that for?"
"So they can be romantic and smoochie-smoochie-smooch!" answered Molly as she puckered up to give her brother a kiss on the cheek.
"Now you're just being gross!" said Georgie as he backed away. "You almost made me lose my appetite for breakfast!" he exclaimed as he started slathering thick globs of jelly on homemade bread. "What are we going to do today?"
"I thought while Ma and Pa were out we could start planning for their Christmas gifts."
"I thought I'd pick something up for them at the store," said Peter dryly as he came from his room.
"There aren't any stores on this island!" said Georgie crossly.
"I know that! I was making a joke," explained Peter impatiently.
"Okay, don't start an argument about it," interceded Molly. "Let's talk about what we're going to do."
"I'm gonna make Pa a new sling bottle holder," explained Peter. "The other one I made him is getting pretty worn."
"What can I do?" asked Georgie.
"I have an idea," answered Molly. "We are all drawing all the time, but none of our pictures are in frames. How about making some colorful picture frames to display them?" Molly began taking ingredients down from the cupboard. "Let's see--flour, salt, oil."
"You're gonna make a frame out of that stuff?" asked Peter. "Wouldn't wood be sturdier?"
"You're going to make the frames out of wood, we're going to decorate them with salt dough and paint. Now go get Started!" said Molly teasingly.
Peter saluted, "Yes sir--I mean, ma'am!" He marched out to the workroom to get a saw and wood. He stopped at the door of the workroom and called back, "As always, it takes a lot of dough to provide Christmas gifts! Ha, ha, ha!"
Molly mixed the flour, salt, oil, and water into a soft dough in the bowl. "Would you help me stir this Georgie?" she asked. "Do you want to help too, Nicole?" she asked her younger sister as she came to the kitchen.
"Maybe later," she explained. "I already have an idea for a gift I want to make." She got out her sewing kit and started work on her own project as she ate breakfast.
Molly sprinkled flour on the table. "Now we need to knead it, Georgie."
"Of course we need it, or we wouldn't be making it," he replied.
"No, we must knead it--it means we go like this," she said as she began to mold and manipulate the dough to a smooth consistency.
Peter brought the first frame in and laid it on the table. "Go to it, Rembrandts," he said as he walked back to the workroom to start more.
"That was fast," said Molly.
Molly began making flower shapes with the dough. "We're going to bake these, Georgie. Then they'll be hard and we'll glue them onto the frame and paint them. Do you think you can make some?"
"Flowers are girly. I want to make dinosaurs," replied Georgie sullenly.
"But Mom is a girl. If you're making something for her, don't you want it to be for a girl?"
"O-kay! But I want to make one for Pa with dinosaurs on it."
"I'm sure he'll love it," replied Molly as she continued to create floral designs with the salt dough.
When several of the flowers were finished she put them on a tray and put them in the oven.
"Let's see what you're doing, Nicole," said Molly.
"I'm making bookmarks for people to use to keep their place in books they're reading," explained Nicole as she sewed a fourth button on to a strip of felt. She had also stitched ribbons to the bookmark.
"Yeah, but I keep poking myself with the needle. I think I'd like to take a break and make one of those picture frames.
"Just in time," interjected Peter, as he carried in another frame and set it down. If you're done, Georgie, I could use some help out here."
"Yes!" Georgie jumped down from the table and scrambled toward the workroom.
The Buckley family continued working industriously until Nicole yelled, "Ma and Pa are coming! They're walking up the path!" The children all began to bustle about hurriedly clearing away all evidence of their activity. They hid most the presents but were still cleaning the flour and dough from the table. One of the salt dough flower designs was still on the table!
"Oh, so you did some baking," said Pa. "Mmmm ... cookies!" Crunch. "Ow! Sorry, but these cookies are hard as a rock!"
"Sorry, Pa," apologized Molly, "A baking experiment gone bad," she said as she turned and winked at her brothers and sister.
Things to do WITH THE BUCKLEY FAMILY
1. Make a colorful picture frame. Before you begin, gather the materials. You will need:
* salt dough--4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, 1-1/2 cups hot water, and bowl * plastic knife * cutter (Ask an adult to help.) * glue
* paint (Acrylic paints work best but poster or tempera paint will do.)
* corrugated cardboard (In the story, the Buckleys used wood frames, but you could use cardboard if you like.)
* oven (Ask an adult to help.)
a. Make the salt dough. Mix the salt and flour together, then gradually add the water until the dough becomes elastic. (Some recipes call for 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil at this point.) If your mixture turns out too sticky, simply add more flour. If it turns out too crumbly, simply add more water. Knead the dough until it's a good consistency.
b. Construct flowers as you would if you were making them out of clay.
c. Ask an adult to help you use the cutter to cut the frame shapes from the cardboard.
d. Put your flowers in the oven and let them bake at 350[degrees] until they become a little bit yellowish Preheat first for five minutes, then bake about 20 minutes.
e. Cool the flowers.
f. Paint the flowers in exciting colors. Try using your imagination by adding dots or stripes,
g. Let the paint dry.
h. Glue the flowers any way you want on the frame.
i. It's ready to be given as a present or to put a picture in it.
2. Make some bookmarks. Use needle, thread, buttons, ribbon, felt, and fabric to design your own.