My daughters and I recently made a variety of homemade feeders and seed mix for the birds. We have enjoyed watching a variety of birds eat at the feeders: nuthatches, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, gray catbirds, house sparrows, and purple finches.
These recipes are easy and fun to make; and watching the birds provides entertainment, enjoyment, and educational value for people of all ages…especially children.
2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (use whole wheat if possible)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 cup unsalted nuts
4-5 chopped apples
1 cup raisins
1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
1 cup bird seed
1 c. suet
Mix ingredients well. If necessary you can add additional suet or even bacon drippings if it is too crumbly. Shape into balls. Freeze.
These can be placed in a mesh bag and hung outside on a tree limb for the birds to enjoy. Otherwise, do as we did: place them on top of birdseed in an open feeder.
7 cups popcorn (no salt or butter)
Blanched peanuts, Craisens, raisins, and/or dried blueberries
Black oil sunflower seed
Mix all together and put in a mesh bag. Hang in the tree for the birds to enjoy.
Log – about 2 feet long that is dry
Drill with various size drill bits
Dried meal worms
Twine or heavy yarn
Place eye screw in one end of the log. Using a drill and various size drill bits, place many holes in the log that are about 1/2 deep.
Fill with suet and dried meal worms.
Put twine or heavy yarn through the eye screw and hang onto a tree branch. Make sure the branch is thick enough to support the feeder.
As a side note, within one minute of coming indoors from hanging the log feeder in the tree, a black-capped chickadee found it. From that point on, there were many bird visitors of different types (mostly chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers).
Ann Rinkenberger is the owner of Harvest Moon by Hand that offers natural, hand-embroidered and needle-felted toys; Waldorf-inspired window stars; and homeschool supplies.
To see other hands-on projects, tutorials, recipes, and homeschool ideas, please visit Harvest Moon by Hand’s blog. Harvest Moon by Hand also can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
After Jess’ account earlier this week of thrifting the American way, here’s a brief update on the Kenyan way.
Living in Kenya provides a whole different perspective on the consumption society. Recycling and reinvention of items are the matter of the day especially since new goods are generally very expensive.
The solution for the average person here is to shop for used goods. From toys, to shoes, to furniture, clothing, etc., basically everything you can find in a thrift shop in the Western World. It is that world where most of the items here come from. Kenya is among the largest recipients of used goods, especially clothing and cars. I am sure that we all have seen containers placed in certain parts of large cities in Europe and the USA inviting us to throw in our unwanted clothes, shoes and even other items. Most of what we would throw into these containers finds its way to Africa – and most often to Kenya. The charities, who collect clothes in the containers sell the goods (=funds raised for the charity) to an intermediary, who then sorts and sells the goods to vendors here in East Africa. The goods are packed in large bundles, which then find their way to the Mitumba (which literally translates into Bundle) markets across Kenya. At a Mitumba market, the average person can pick up a nice outfit for a decent price. Depending on the quality of the item, you can get a shirt for 10 Kenyan Shillings (US$ 0,11), or spend as much as 1000 Kenyan Shillings (US$ 11). The latter items would be rather upmarket and brands of high recognition.
As a crafter the Mitumba market is ideal place for me to find nice fabrics and materials to upcycle and use in my creations. For those who know my Etsy shop, you can immediately find a combination of traditional East African materials with upcycled materials. The yoga mat carriers as well as the pencil rolls are a perfect example. My personal love for jeans as well as colourful kikoy is reflected in those items.
The ziezo Designs bunting baby dolls were born on the Mitumba Market by seeing a pile of wonderful wool jumpers, some felted, others not. The felted wool was the perfect material to make lovely soft baby dolls children across the world would enjoy.
On my most recent trip to the market I picked up some lovely flower fabrics in the form of a skirt, some pillow cases and a dress. I have plans to create a fabric bunting with these great fabrics, a different take on my traditional bandanna buntings like these:
Keep your eyes on the ziezo Etsy shop! Soon there will be more upcycled products made with the donations that started in the Western world, which were then commercially passed on to those shopping at the Mitumba markets. It might actually be made out of something that you donated!
Interested in learning a little more about living in Kenya? Visit my personal blog “ziezo – Crafting and Living in Kenya“
Easter egg dying is a fun Easter tradition! The weeks leading up to Easter are pretty hectic around our home with getting Armadillo Dreams orders shipped in time for Easter delivery. We always make sure we still have time to enjoy some fun activities with our kids on Easter weekend. This past weekend we did some egg dying and had a great time!
We really wanted our egg dying to be a little more natural and safe this year. We were excited when we found Eco-Eggs egg dying kits! They are made using natural plant, fruit and vegetable extracts. The kit comes with three dyes that can be mixed to achieve 6 different colors, a color/time chart, a wire egg dipper and a piece of wax. The kit is also packaged in super cute and recyclable packaging.
Knowing that the eggs would be safe to eat even if any dye seeped in through the pores in the eggs was a great feeling. Did you know that a single egg shell is covered with as many as 17,000 microscopic pores? Egg shells are a “semipermeable membrane”, which means that air and moisture can pass through its pores.
First we hard boiled 2 dozen eggs. Then we put the dyes into three cups filled with just enough water to fully submerge an egg. Next we used the piece of wax that was included in the kit to write/draw some fun things on the eggs. Next we dyed all of the eggs six different colors. To get the different colors some eggs had to be in the cups for up to fifteen minutes, some for just a few seconds. A few of the colors required putting an egg in one cup and then a second cup to mix the colors. The eggs turned out really neat and looked a lot more earthy than a lot of the very brightly colored eggs I remembered as a kid. They looked a lot more appetizing since they weren’t all screaming in neon! The wax writing on the eggs really showed well.
Lucy and Lincoln had a lot of fun hunting for the Eggs…
We hope everyone had a great Easter! We had a wonderful Easter and we will be doing natural egg dying again next year for sure! Has anyone else ever used natural egg dyes before? We would love to hear about your experiences with them!
– The Cowell Family (Dustin, Amanda, Lucy and Lincoln)
You can also read more about our family on our blog, Wild Armadillos.
What is more fun than pretend play? Running around? Here’s a tutorial for you to create an easy toy for your little ones that combines the two. An easy horse rein!
- A cord of about 2.5 meters / 8.5 feet in length (we used a cord that my little one knitted with a knitting fork/lucet using our hand dyed rainbow wool)
- Some fabric (we used part of an old pair of jeans) or a piece of felt (if you hand sew)
- Sewing thread
1) Cut two rectangles of 17 x 25 cm (approx. 6.8 x 10 inches) out of the fabric and lay them together with the right sides facing each other. Note – if you use felt, one piece of felt will do and you can skip steps 2 and 3.
2) Sew the two rectangles together with a 1cm (1/3 inch) seam and leaving a 6 cm (2.5 inch) opening on one side. When finished, cut the corners.
3) Turn the fabric so that the right side is facing out and push out the corners. Stitch along the edges, resulting in a rectangle.
4) Tie the ends of the cords together. I used a simple knot here that will be where the kids will hold the rein.
5) Find the top middle of the cord (using the knot as the bottom) and measure 23cm (9 inches) down on each side. Pin those points to the top of the fabric rectangle, leading the cord down on the sides.
6) Sew along the sides over the cord. Sew slowly as the cord might get caught in the machine foot.
7) Re-enforce the cord by sewing the cord parallel at the bottom and top
Finished! Get your little ones ready for some running around as horses and riders!
Anything unclear or do you have questions? Feel free to contact me.
With so many stories to tell and much imagination to express, making wee folk come to life is a rewarding and delightful work. This tutorial is designed to pass along my own creative ideas as the simplest way to make pose-able needle felted figures for stories and gnome play.
The possibilities are pretty limitless. You can use scraps of things you already have at home, I always encourage using “found” materials, and things you might have to buy, like covered florist wire, are not expensive. The size of the figures in the tutorial are 4″ to 5″, but this can be changed to anything you like. Your main tool for the frame are wire nippers(called “diagonals” and needle nose pliers. You want to be sure that in making the frame there are no pointy ends that might poke through anywhere. Also, I do not hesitate the add a drop of glue where I need to starting winding some wool and definitely use this for attaching hair and hats. I like using acorns for hats, but there are many other approaches to the this part of the clothing. Please do not hesitate to write if you have questions.
At this time of the year, my lips crack like crazy. It’s very painful, and certainly not beautiful. After buying some fancy homemade balm, and getting them eaten by my kids, I decided to make it myself a try. I’ve looked around on the internet for recipes and made up my own based on those and on what I had on hand.
What you will need:
1½oz of beewax, grated
10z of coconut oil
1 Tsp of Lanolin
1 Tsp of sweet almond oil
10 drops of peppermint oil
A sauce pan
A glass/metal cup
Wooden or metal stick
2 oz jar
What you need to do:
1. Put all ingrediants into glass cup except the essential oil. Put water in sauce pan and put the cup in them, making you a bain-marie.
2.Still with the stick until everything looks homogenus.
3.Remove from heat and stir in your essential oil.
4.Pour into jar.
5.Wait a little for it to harden
6. Enjoy the relief!
It’s very easy to make and I’m happy that I tried. Please tell me if you try this recipe!
Growing up, my parents always gave my brother and I a craft to do for Christmas. My husband and I have taken on that tradition ourselves and this year we got our family a peg loom.
Peg looms are a very simple loom design that are often seen in Waldorf kindergartens. Comprised of a solid base with holes for removable pegs and pegs with a hole in the bottom for the warp to go through, the design really is very simple to make. The great thing about peg looms is that you only put in as many pegs as you want the width of your project to be.
We got a large loom but started off on our first project with only a few pegs. Putting the warp thread through the bottom you only have to weave in and out of the pegs back and forth.
When you are done the length you wish, you pull the pegs out slowly and pull the warp thread through carefully. Then when all the warp threads are through the weft, you tie off their ends and you have your project. We then felted our project by throwing it in our regular wash and drier and made it in to a doll pillow.
Because it is so simple to use, you can make a project in no time. My daughter, who is three, made this project in 15 minutes with minimal guidance by herself. You can make chair cushions out of roving, rugs, and coasters. We love ours and are looking forward to more creative projects to come.
My daughter loves making peg dolls and asked if we could make some Christmas ones. Here is a photo of one finished, which my 2 year old wanted to be an angel. It has a ribbon for a ‘crown’ (I think she meant halo!)
What you will need:
1. Wooden pegs or clothes pins, the kind that don’t have a spring in them.
2. Scraps of fabric
3. Ribbons, ric rac, etc
3. Sheep’s wool, wool roving, or yarn
4. Craft glue
First we took a scrap of white fabric and wrapped it around, with some glue, to be the underwear. Try and remember to position it so the ‘legs’ are facing the right way.
Next, we cut out a circle of fabric for the dress, with a diameter of 6″ (15cm) and fold it twice. Cut a very tiny bit off the top. This will be where you put the peg through the fabric so it will be on the peg like a dress.
Open it up, stick the peg through the hole, and wrap it around, with some glue on the peg. Make folds in it so it sits how you like it.
Glue and tie a ribbon around the waist, and add some hair and a face if you like!
The angel, playing with the other toys:
A new thing we have is a little collection of holiday books. They are to be saved until the first day of snow, when I take them out and read one of them. How the kids are thrilled when we take them out of the box!
Our main solstice tradition is to have a great meal together. A cipaille, potatoe candies, candy cane bark and other delightful things!
A cipaille is a slowy cook dish composed of various meats; originally woodland hunted animals such as moose, white-tailed dear, perdrix and hare, it is now more commonly made with beef, porc, calf and chicken. You would need a lot of potatoes too! As much as many different kinds of meats as you have. And a good broth of chicken or beef. Cut everything in cubes and throw into a big deep dish and add the broth with some allspice and thyme, let your meat and potato marinate in it for a while. Get it out of the fridge and cover with your favorite crust recipe. Put it oven and let it cook slowly for around 6h. My mom used to start it before going to bed and let it cook over night. We’d wake up to the wonderful smell and have some for breakfast!
The other thing we like to do on solstice night is take a walk in the brisk air. I remember walking with my mother once. It has been warm that day and actually rained, which never happens in Québec in December, and it froze in the night. The trees, all departed of their leaves, were covered in icecles and illuminated by the street lamps. It was gorgeous!
I also do a personal ritual; a very simple one. I reflect on what happened to me and my family since the Summer Solstice, how and what changed, what did not. Then I think about the half of year to come. What I’d like to achieve until Summer Solstice, little goals I set to myself. I can also write a wish on a paper and burn it to send my message to the universe.
This is a time where we will be moving a lot; we are renting and planning to buy a house to sell it some years later and move back to our original region. That much to say that I didn’t want to be bothered moving the huge plastic pine someone kindly gave to us along with us every move. I told myself I’d find something good enough for a Yule tree that is not time consuming and ecological. I came up with a construction paper evergreen that my daughter helped me with; She cut all the fringes while I was doing the gluing. Her brother was doing the “I mess around with any other craft supply on hand” part of the project. It’s way too small to put on any handmade ornaments we have… But it fit that salt dough moon that purposefully watches over the cedar bed.
I hope you like this little intrusion in our family’s custom! Please stay in tune to read what other families are doing in December!