Category Archives: homemade gifts

activities homemade gifts nature tutorial

DIY suet feeders

We have bird feeders all over our yard during the cold winter months. We have birds feasting on the front porch feeders and you’re sure to find birds feasting on the feeders placed in the trees outside my kitchen window, so I can watch them while doing the dishes. We have found black oil sunflower brings the most songbirds and woodpeckers; this seed brings titmice, wrens, sparrows, nuthatch, chickadees, juncos, flickers, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, and towhees. We love providing suet feeders this time of year too, the birds need the added fat. Suet cakes can be expensive to buy and I have found that making them can be a little messy, but very easy and cheap. After Yule, we always have cranberries and dried orange slices left over from decorating the tree, a lot of birds like fruit, so waste not, I cut up bits and add it to the suet feeders.

suet diy 6

To make feeders you need: a mold, heavy yarn, vegetable shortening or lard, black sunflower seeds, raw sunflower seeds, and bits of fruit (apples, cranberries, oranges, blueberries). I would have added raw peanuts too if I would have had them on hand.

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To make the suet cakes: 1. Chop up the fruit into small pieces then mix into a bowl with the seeds.

suet diy 2

suet cake

2. Fill the molds with your seed fruit mixture, leaving the knotted yarn at the bottom of the mold. Knot the ends of yarn into a big knot, the bigger the knot the better.

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3. Using the double broiler method, melt the shortening/lard on a medium heat.

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4. Add large spoonfuls (or pour, if not too hot) of the melted shortening into each mold covering the seed mix. Place the suet in the freezer for 6-24 hours to ensure it sets. 5. To remove the suet, place the frozen mold in a pan of HOT water for a few seconds, but not too long or the suet cake will melt and have to set again. Pop them out.

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6. Now to place them in your trees, do not dangle them from random branches, it will be hard for the birds to get to them this way. Place them up against the trunk or thick branches, this way the birds will have a surface to hold onto while eating.

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Note- I only make these in the cold months, the shortening will melt and spoil quickly in the hot summer months. Store any extras in the freezer and replace as needed. To learn more about feeding birds visit here- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

“That’s all,”
Lisa

herbs homemade gifts yule

luna dream pillow

Merry Solstice blessings friends!

luna dream pillow

I made herbal luna dream pillows for Winter Solstice gifts this year. The little ladies loved them.

“That’s all,”
Lisa

activities herbs homemade gifts tutorial yule

applesauce cinnamon spice pomanders and acorns- diy

I LOVE cinnamon applesauce dough and use it for both Winter and Summer Solstice. This year, we made a spicier dough to make acorns and pomanders.

acorn pomander 2

 You need:
1 cup cinnamon
1 tablespoon cloves
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons white glue
acorn caps
whole cloves
thin paintbrush
large bowl and small bowl

*If you don’t have the cloves, nutmeg, and allspice you can use THIS cinnamon applesauce recipe.

acorn pomander 6

1. Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in a small bowl. 2. In a large bowl combine and stir together the glue and applesauce. 3. Add spices to the applesauce-glue mixture. 4. Stir and use hands to make a “cookie dough” consistency (add more applesauce if too dry, cinnamon if too wet). Form the dough into a large ball.

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5. Pinch off enough dough to form into small balls, use a paintbrush to form a hole through the center, add the cloves while on the paintbrush, this helps keep the ball’s form.

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6. Again, pinch small amounts of dough to form acorn shapes, shape them into their chosen caps.

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7. Put pomanders and acorns (with their caps on so you know which acorn goes to which cap) in a dehydrator at 215 degrees for about 2 hours. I haven’t put them in the oven to dry but I’m sure this is possible at a low temperature. 8. When completely dry, glue the cap onto the spiced acorn.

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Place acorns and pomanders in a pretty wooden bowl with small cones for a lovely dry potpourri or string them to hang on the Yule tree.

spice acorns and pomanders

String them with orange slices or pinecones to make a lovely garland for hanging.

acorn pomander 3

acorn pomander 1

“That’s all,”
Lisa

activities homemade gifts nature play tutorial yule

nature’s tiny ornaments- DIY

 This is the perfect time of year to go foraging for little tidings to create that special Yule-tide magic.

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Needed: Little tidbits and whatnots from the great outdoors, glue gun or tacky glue, small wood beads, herbs, acorns, acorn caps, rosehips, and leaves.

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Add the beads to the cones, then the caps, then get creative, break the rules, and create! If you want to hang them on your Yule tree, add some thread and hang.

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nature critters 1

A little pup floating in a milkweed boat.

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A little sage-winged pixie sprite.

reindeer and santa

A pinecone reindeer and sleigh for Santa.

nature critters 4

“That’s all,”
Lisa

herbs homemade gifts tutorial

Rosemary wellness simmer- DIY for upper respiratory

Mmmmmmm, the scent of rosemary and citrus put me in an uplifting can do anything mood!

rosemary wellness simmer

Not only is rosemary a lovely way to scent your home but it is antibacterial, which helps clear phlegm from the head and chest. It’s great to simmer on the stove when there are upper-respiratory ailments or headaches going through your house. Rosemary citrus simmer is also a wonderful uplifting nerve tonic and can help clear the mind. I always had a rosemary plant in my classroom for children to go rub their hands through when anxiety was about, it always seemed to help them.

rosemary wellness 1

In a shallow pan of water, I put a few sprigs of rosemary (or 10-15 drops rosemary essential oil), a handful of citrus peel (lemon and orange), sometimes a drop of lavender or eucalyptus depending on my mood, and let it simmer all day. When members of my little family are under the weather or in an anxious state, this simmer always make them feel better.

“That’s all,”
Lisa

 

gardening homemade gifts tutorial

Marimo Moss Ball Water Terrarium- DIY

Last Winter my little ladies and I were wandering through the pet store looking at the fish and we came across a floating ball of green. We learned that it was called a Marimo ball (Cladophora aegagropila), or a Japanese moss ball. The Marimo ball is considered a National Treasure in Japan, can bring good luck, and make all your wishes come true if you care for it well.  We instantly became intrigued, brought one home, and put it in a pickle jar with a couple of rocks; for the past year it has been growing really well but we thought it deserved a prettier home, we do want those wishes to come true for goodness sakes.

original moss ball

Our original Marimo ball in the pickle jar home.

Supplies needed: Marimo moss ball (found in pet stores in the aquarium section), a clean jar, sand, rocks, shells, little figurines, other aquatic plants, really anything you want to pretty up the place for your moss ball

To make the terrarium: 1. In a clean jar add the sand. 2. Place any other aquatic plant in the sand so the roots are covered. 3. Place shells, rocks, and figurines in the sand. 4. Fill the jar with room temperature tap water. We have a well so our water is not the same as city water but I really don’t think it matters, the moss balls are pretty hardy plants so they can take it.

marimo moss balls 5 marimo moss ball 3

The care of the terrarium: Change the water every week to 2 weeks (in all honesty, Fauna has let hers go a month without a water change and “Tribbles” was fine). When changing the water, take out the moss ball, tap it, and gently shape to help the moss ball keep its spherical shape. Keep in a well lit area out of direct sunlight. marimo moss ball 7

Marimo balls are photosynthetic and display unique behaviors according to habitat change due to water temperature and columns of light by floating or rolling in the water. They grow about 5mm a year and can live a long time, the longest living Marimo ball lived over 100 years! Marimo balls are currently protected in Japan to keep them from going extinct, the moss balls we find for sale here in the USA are a “domesticated” type.

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 Really, you can’t get an easier houseplant than a Marimo moss ball and it can live a lifetime with you! It’s funny, I feel like these moss balls will be to my girls what pet rocks were to me in the 70′s.

“That’s all,”
Lisa