Tag Archives: crafts

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Okay, they’re probably more likely to be squirrel feeders. But we don’t care much!

Anna gathering

We have been so happy to be feeding the wildlife around our house. Between the hummingbird feeder and the popcorn & cranberry garlands, we’ve been having a lot of crafty wildlife fun. The pine cone bird feeders were a natural next step!

Fortunately, we live in a part of the world that has a lot of evergreens with cones, so it was easy to find friends with beautiful and plentiful pine cones for us to collect. It helped us with our project, and saved them from picking up cones for a while!


Pine cones (fir cones could work, but they tend to be smaller). If the cones are closed up or moist, put them in the oven at 200 for a while until they are dry and/or open. TIP: put foil under them, so if any sap drips out it doesn’t get on your pan!

I quickly realized that foil would save me a giant sap mess later, so I pulled them out and slipped a sheet of foil between them and the pan

• Peanut butter or lard. Make sure the peanut butter is all natural, no sense giving the woodland creatures a bunch of sugar or corn syrup. We don’t buy that crap artificial stuff anyway, so we used the Adams all natural that we had on hand. We used more than I expected, and I started feeling cheap about the peanut butter, so I went to Winco and bought some lard. It was much less expensive than peanut butter, and according to my handy bird expert (the zoo director!), lard & peanut butter are both great for the birds.

• Bird seed. I bought a 10 lb. bag at Fred Meyer for $9. I got a general mix that would appeal to widest variety of North American birds. Make sure it includes some black sunflowers, as those have really good protein.*

• String or ribbon to hang them.


1. Tie the string around whichever end of the cone you want to be the top. Don’t do what I did at first and start with the peanut butter – it only took one super-messy peanut butter string situation to teach me that the string should go first.

2. Use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter or lard all over the cone, tucking it into the spaces. I like mine to still look like pine cones and not just big blobs, but I’m sure the birds didn’t care.

3. Roll the coated cones in a bowl of seeds, and gently press the seeds into the lard/butter.

4. Hang it in a tree, and wait for the wildlife!

Happy birding!


*You can get specific seed blends for your area, so be sure to check. Cornell Ornithology Lab or your local Audubon Society are good places to check. I’ve also found a lot of good information on the Oregon State Extension Service website, so check your state.

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The Advent of Anna’s Birthday, and also… Advent.

My poor little Anna has been obsessing about her birthday since September.

When will it be my birthday?
Why is my brother’s birthday before mine, but I’m older than him?
I can’t wait for it to be my birthday!

I was worried that she would spend so much energy worrying about this one day, that it would come and go and then she’d be disappointed.

I made a 3-month calendar for her to check off the days, and that kind of worked for a while, but I wanted something more special. Not that I want to indulge her every five-year-old whim, but I see value in helping her enjoy the anticipation of the whole experience, not just the day itself.

I’ve been looking at a lot of different Advent calendars, with the plan of making the first 11 days of December be all about Anna’s birthday. I saw a lot that were adorable and many that were complicated, and some that seem to take over a whole room. Since I’m trying to simplify, not complicate my life and living space, I rejected most of them.

My cousin Jackie, proprietress of Brow Betty – check it out, you’ll be glad you did! – posted this pic on Facebook, and I was hooked. How cute and simple!

Each one is a matchbook, filled with a message promising family activities or treats. Love it!

So we copied Jackie to a certain extent, and made Anna boxes to lead up to December 11:

December 1-11, ready to be lined up on the piano

And then made Christmas boxes for December 12-25:

We lined the Advent of Christmas boxes along the mirror on the mantel. I’ve filled some of them with activities or treats, but I need to get the others filled quickly! The advent of Anna’s birthday boxes were lined up on the piano, and the completed days went back in to the silver snowflake bowl.

It's easy to count down the days, because the kids can clearly see how many boxes are left!

I bought the matches at Winco in packs of 10 for only 50¢ each, and now we have a ton of matches…

That’s alright, I like to light candles.

Most of the papers we already had on hand. I bought a few sheets of number stickers at Michael’s for $3 each, and a few extra sheets of paper at 4/$1. I think we spent a grand total of $9.50 on this activity. Of course we already had tape, glue and fancy scissors.

What do you think? I’m kind of loving it!

Happy holidays,

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Better Than a Piggy Bank

We’ve been talking a lot about saving money lately, and my mother-in-law Judy even wrote a guest post about it. We are setting some easily-attainable goals for the kids, and encouraging them to earn money by helping around the house.

We have a few different piggy banks, a zebra bank, and a really awesome bank that my mother in law made for Anna when she was a baby. But I wanted a way for the kids to see how their pile of change was adding up, so I combined our love of making a mess doing craft projects with our need for new money vessels.

I jabbed a slit into the tops of two canning jars, and we started gluing things on! The key is to keep the lid free and clear enough to be able to open it up whenever we need to count it or when it's finally time to buy something.

We also made sure to leave a clear space on each jar so we could see the money adding up.

I tied the bow for Anna, otherwise she did it all herself. Eric wanted Lightening McQeen on his, since he's saving up to buy a specific toy car. Anna still is fixated on Disney World, so I'm trying to help her identify something more immediately-attainable to save for that she can take to Disney World!

What do you think? I’m really loving these jars. It seems more exciting to put the money in when the kids have decorated the jars themselves!



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flower planting/painting

We had big plans to plant a bunch of pretty flowers in the garden today. Anna and I have been a little obsessed with bleeding hearts lately, and we finally found the kind and color we sought. Both kids and I got a little carried away at the nursery yesterday. The forecast called for rain, but I optimistically hoped for a break long enough to put all our flowers in the ground today.

No breaks yet, so we brought some of the flowers inside and got out the watercolors.

Here’s hoping for sun soon… or the fortitude to go dig in the dirt in the rain!



Filed under Family, Nature