Tag Archives: kids 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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Deck the Trees with Boughs of Popcorn

We were feeling crafty, but wanting to enjoy a little nature on this rainy day, so we made popcorn and cranberry garlands for the birds and squirrels. We were fortunate enough to have our friend Yashi spend the weekend with us, so she showed us how to make the popcorn & cranberry garlands. She makes them every year with her mom, and I think we will be doing that now as well!

It looked more fun to drape them like this, but Yashi wisely pointed out that the animals would have an easier time eating it if it's wrapped around a branch.

I think the popcorn will quickly get soggy, but the kids are now thinking a lot more about backyard wildlife and what they need to survive the winter. This also inspired some pine cone bird feeders. More about that later!

The popcorn cranberry garlands couldn’t have been easier, and feel so festive for the holidays. We’ll see how long they last, we may have to make more garlands next week!

Biggish needle



Fresh cranberries

Popcorn, either air-popped  or popped in the pan. I don’t seem to have an air  popper any more (I know, right? What happened to that thing??) so we popped corn in the pan:
2T (ish) of peanut oil, enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan in one layer. Covered, keep shaking the pan until all the corn is popped.


Yashi and her demonstration garland

I automatically cut off lengths of thread for each kid, but Yashi pointed out that if you leave the thread attached to the spool, you can keep sliding the popcorn and cranberries down the thread to make the garland as long as you like. I think this is a really smart way to do it if you want to make long strands.

Eric quickly lost interest in the project, but Anna was fascinated with the idea of “sewing popcorn.” She had a great time practicing her needle & thread skills.

Since Anna enjoyed this “sewing” project so much, we’ll have to research other items to put on garlands for our urban wildlife.

Anna takes her "sewing" very seriously!

After we made several garlands, we added salt to the remaining popcorn and ate it while watching a movie.  You’ve got to love crafts you can snack on!

Happy holidays,


Filed under Family, Home, Nature

Holiday Inspirations: Help for Thanksgiving

I love how supermarkets are stepping up their game. It’s not enough anymore to have good products in an attractive environment, or to offer special deals. No, now they’re offering more to entice consumers, from recipes to mobile apps and Facebook pages that offer localized deals.

Safeway has really gone all out on their Holiday Inspirations micro site.

There are pages and pages of gorgeous photos to inspire you, with recipes, tips and tricks for maximizing your time, and even decorating and entertaining ideas. And wine pairings!

I’m always wanting help to not just get things done, but do them with style. You know, MomStyle. This site helps by offering ideas and inspiration.

This salad not only sounds like an awesome balance for the Thanksgiving meal, but it's SOOO PRETTY. Definitely adding it to the list!

I used to make something like this every year, but I sort of forgot about them. I think the kids would love making these!

Less time in the oven = More time for other things!

One feature on the Safeway Holiday Inspirations site is a their “exclusive” 2-Hour Turkey instructions. Two hours? I was just listening to a guy on NPR talking about a dry salt rub on a turkey, then roasting it at really high heat for a shorter amount of time. That goes against everything I’ve ever known or thought about roasting a turkey, but I’m anxious to try the high-heat/short-time method. I mean sheesh, if the oven doesn’t have to be tied up all day, that’s a good thing! Plus, I’m sure it’s more energy-efficient and you know I’m all for that.

The Safeway Chef Assistant mobile app walks you through the turkey process, complete with a timer. Unfortunately for my Android-using self, it’s only for iPhone & iPad for now, but I downloaded it on the iPad and I plan to use it in the kitchen. It has several shopping-help features that would be great on a smart phone while you’re actually at the store, I’ll just have to wait for the Android version!
Safeway has offered one of my readers a chance to win a $100 gift card! Aren’t we all so lucky?

{super easy Rafflecopter giveaway!}

Happy Thanksgiving,

Disclaimer: I received a gift in exchange for this post. No other compensation was received and the opinions here are my own.


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