Category Archives: tutorial

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.

suet diy 1

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.

suet diy 3

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.

suet diy 7

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

activities herbs tutorial yule

Evergreen tea party, make spruce, pine, and fir tea

We went foraging in our yard today for various evergreens to have an evergreen tea tasting party, we are lucky to have many organic evergreen trees in our yard so we know they are safe to use in teas. An evergreen tea party is such a fun way to celebrate Winter Solstice!

evergreen tea 5

We collected red pine, white pine, fir, spruce, and rosehips. Ok, technically rosehips aren’t an evergreen but they are yummy and they were calling our names!

evergreen tea 6

While the tea kettle was warming the water to a boil, we chopped up the needles and rosehips. First we were taking the needles off the stems but the spruce and fir were a little painful……

evergreen tea 2

evergreen tea 3

When the tea kettle whistled we added the boiling water to the greens and rosehips, letting them steep for 10-15 minutes.

evergreen tea 4

Finally, ready for the taste test.
We put a little tea in a tea cup, sipped each tea a couple of times, kept sipping if we loved, dumped if we didn’t.

Some of the results:
“The Blue Spruce smells like cat pee.” (I happen to agree).
“The White Pine has a very nice delicate flavor that would be delicious paired with honey.”
“The fir tastes like Yule tree, a very strong and aromatic flavor.”
“The rosehips have a sweet and sour taste.”

evergreen tea party

I encourage everyone to try this, it was a lot of fun! There are a lot of health benefits to evergreens, they are helpful to drink during cold and flu season because of the vitamin C and electrolytes they carry. They are also wonderful in ointments and astringents. I will share more ideas on how to use them in future posts throughout the winter.

“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

nature tutorial yule

solstice wreath- diy

I love a simple homemade wreath hanging in the window to welcome the seasons.

solstice decor 2

To make this wreath I started with a pre-bought grapevine wreath, tied the red ribbon onto the top, hot glued the pinecones, wired on the holly (this way I will be able to remove it after the season and add greenery next year), and hot glued the thistle down owls. To see how we made the owls go to- Thistle down owls.

solstice decor 1

“That’s all,”
lisa

nature tutorial yule

solstice garland-dried herbs and pincones DIY

Pinecones freshly fallen from the white pine, while the sap is still sticky and wet, puts off such a lovely smell, especially when mixed with past Summer’s dried herbs of lavender, sage, rosemay, and thyme.

herbal pincone garland

I thought they would look and smell lovely in garland form. I took a long piece of twine, knotted a pinecone, then a small group of herbs, then a pinecone, then an herb bunch, and kept the pattern going until I ended with a pinecone.

solstice garland 1 solstice garland 2

The pinecone herb garlands will stay up through the entire Winter season.

herbal pinecone garland 2

“That’s all,”
Lisa

herbs tutorial yule

winter potpourri- diy

I love having a pretty wooden bowl filled to the brim with a little woodland collection, tossed with some citrus, and spices.

potpourri 1

My winter potpourri includes: dried oranges, pinecones, rosehips, milkweed pods, acorns, a fir branch, a locus pod, powdered cinnamon, whole cloves, with a few drops of pine essential oil.

potpourri 2

“That’s all,”
Lisa