Christmas is for the birds…

Christmas is for the birds…. too!  LOL!  It’s cold outside and the birds and animals could use a holiday treat as much as the rest of us.  Here is a great DIY project you can do as a family and enjoy the birds as they come to eat.  

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2.5 cups Birdseed 
  • 2 Packages Unflavoured Gelatin (2 Tablespoons total)
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
  • 1 cup Water
  • Cookie Cutters (about 12 small ones are perfect.  Using larger ones will cause the ornament to break from the weight)
  • Drinking Straws, cut into 2″ long pieces (Enough to have one in each ornament)
  • Twine

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. First, follow the instructions on the packet of Gelatin. If you are going to use two packets of gelatin, add 1/2 cup of cold water into a bowl, then pour the two packets of gelatin on top of the water.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the mixture and stirred it until it was dissolved. (Making sure the gelatin is completely dissolved is important.  Use the microwave if needed.
  3. Once the gelatin is dissolved, add the corn syrup and stirred until it is dissolved as well.  
  4. Finally, add the birdseed to the gelatin mixture.
  5. It will be a little watery at first.  Place place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or so, or until it firms up enough that the liquid won’t seep out from under the cookie cutters.
  6. Set your cookie cutters out onto a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Spoon the mixture into each of the cookie cutters, and press it down firmly so that the cookie cutter is completely filled.  Fill the cookie cutters to the very top and press into the shape to ensure a complete fill with no gaps. 
  8. Next, cut your drinking straws into 2″ long pieces. Press a straw into the birdseed (before it’s set) so that you have a nice neat hole for the twine to go through afterwards.  Be sure to place the straw a good distance from the edge to make sure the twine doesn’t break thru from the weight of the ornament.  
  9. Once you’ve added the straws, place the ornaments in the refrigerator overnight to solidify. The next day, gently pull the edges of the cookie cutter away from the shape to help separate things, then gently push out the shape.
  10. Remove the straws, thread some twine through the holes and tie a knot.

When your ornament is complete, hang them in your trees outside and watch the birds gather.  Be sure to hang your ornaments close to other branches so the birds can perch while eating.  

You can refrigerate them or freeze them if not using right away. They last up to 1 years in freezer.  You can also do this fun DIY project at other times of the year.  Instead of Christmas cookie cutter ornaments, use a shamrock for St. Patrick’s day, egg shaped for Easter, Hearts for valentine’s day.  The possibilities are endless! 

A few notes about this a project so you are not disappointed in the outcome:

  1. let the mold dry for at least a day before attempting to hang on the twine.
  2. Be sure to hang these in cooler weather, as the Florida heat will cause the gelatin to melt and your ornament to fall.
  3. If you are doing this project throughout the year, try substituting or adding peanut butter to your recipe.  
  4. Be sure to place the hole for the twine far enough away from the edge so it better disperses the weight and doesn’t break through the edge of the ornament.  
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The days and weeks after Halloween… pumpkins remain!

We all had tons of fun carving pumpkins with our family and friends and then of course roasting the seeds, but now Halloween has come and gone and we are left with a giant “squash” on our front porch!  Not to worry my dear friends.  There are tons of options available to put your amazing pumpkin to good use following such a fun and frightful eve.  Read through the options below and see which best fits your family and home and then get a little create.  This is a great way to help the Halloween festivities fade into fall and then to Thanksgiving.  And as always, have a happy day!

  1. Feed the birds – Remove the topper of your pumpkin and fill it with a great blend of bird seed. It can be store bought or you can make your own.  Set the pumpkin in the yard away from your house (buried a bit into the ground for stability) and watch the birds enjoy their treat.  NOTE: The pumpkin will eventually turn to fertilizer for the area you place it in so if you do not want the area to absorb the pumpkin.
  2. Fertilize your garden – This brings us to returning the pumpkin back to the ground. Make great use of it by making an all-natural fertilizer out of it.  When your pumpkin begins to look soft and a bit on the rotten side, it’s time to smash it (or chop it) and mix it into small pieces for your garden.  NOTE: before you do this make sure there are NO seeds inside your pumpkin are you will have pumpkins growing in your garden as well by next year.  Also, be sure to remove any melted candle wax as this will not biodegrade and is not healthy for your garden.
  3. Plant some flowers – This is fun way to move your pumpkin to your garden and bring Halloween to your patio (and still have an opportunity to pack up the spooky décor). Simply clean out the inside of the pumpkin and plant some flowers inside. Bury the pumpkin with only about an inch or two of the top showing through to bring the orange color to your garden area.  The pumpkin with break down in the soil and naturally fertilizer your garden and your flowers should love it!  NOTE:  Don’t forget to remove the candle wax and any seeds for fear of adding a new pumpkin sprout to your pretty garden.
  4. Create Potpourri – This is a fun idea if you have just recently carved your pumpkin and are not ready to let it go to waste. Also, if you have smaller pumpkins, this is a great way to add décor to your dinner table and a great conversation piece!  (a fun DIY).  Lightly dust the inside of your pumpkin with cinnamon and poke cloves and star anise into the inside (the fleshy part).  Light a candle and a wonderful autumn scent will fill the room.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds – the best snack!

Every year this is the best treat after carving your pumpkins and getting the inside guts all over you!  As you are carving your spooky or funny face into your pumpkin, remember to separate the seeds into a bowl apart from the gross guts of your pumpkin.  These are a great and easy snack to have late in the day and can keep for weeks in an air tight container!

Here are the easy steps to follow…

  1. Separate the pumpkin seeds as you carve your pumpkin doing your best to keep the gunk out of the seed bowl. The less guts the better.
  2. Once you’ve finished carving and cleaned up your carving station. Be sure to take a moment to read the blog about keeping your pumpkin from molding. Then come back to how to Roast your seeds.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  4. Dump the seeds into a colander and rinse them trying one last time to separate the pumpkin guts from your seeds.
  5. Take a medium sized pot and fill with about 4 cups of water. Add the seeds and 3 Tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and drain.
  7. Pat dry with paper towels, this just gets them slightly dry, but not completely. Its ok, they will still bake just fine.
  8. Decide the flavor you want for your seeds. Some great options are as follows: Garlic Salt, Adobo, Ranch, or cinnamon and Sugar. (I prefer two flavors and this year did Ranch and then mixed Garlic Salt with Adobo. They were a hit with my family)
  9. Add the seeds to a large Ziploc baggie and add the flavor of choice. If you choose to do more than one flavor, only add half of the seeds into the baggie and do a second baggie for the second set of seeds. The amount of flavoring you add is up to you, but keep in mind that too much salt can be over powering.
  10. Take a large cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil completely.
  11. Spread the pumpkin seeds across the foiled cookie sheet. If you are doing more than one flavor, keep your flavors separated on the cookie sheet as well.
  12. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 5 – 20 minutes.
  13. Check the seeds regularly. As the seeds feel dry and crisp, they are done.   Be sure not to let them burn.

Don’t let your pumkpin mold

Lots of people know bleach can be used to help cut flowers stay beautiful longer, but may not know that the same bleach solution can also help keep that gross fuzzy mold from making a home inside your cute (or scary) Halloween pumpkin.

Items needed:
– Bleach
–1 clean 5 gallon bucket (or bucket large enough for the pumpkin)
–1 quart measuring cup and Measuring spoons
–A pumpkin
–Sharp knife, spoon, marker or pencil or stencil (for cleaning and carving)
–Paper towels

–Spray bottle

What to do…

  1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. (Remember to keep the stem to use as a handle when removing the top). Try to remove as much of the stringy fibers on the inside of the pumpkin by scraping them away with the spoon. Be sure to clean the underside of the pumpkin top, too. NOTE:  Keep thee seeds if you plan to cook them later for a great snack.
  2. Rinse the pumpkin inside and out with water.
  3. Draw a face and carve it out.
  4. Measure 3 gallons of water into the bucket.
  5. Add 3 teaspoons bleach the water in the bucket, and use the measuring spoons to stir the bleach solution. (always be careful when using bleach not to splash onto your clothing – Can’t fix a bleach stain)
  6. Immerse the pumpkin in the bleach solution. Pumpkins float, so be sure to stir it around to cover all surfaces with the bleach solution for a full two minutes. (The top too!)
  7. Remove the pumpkin, and let it air dry on a few paper towels, but save the water mixture.
  8. Easy clean-up—just fill the spray bottle with some of the water mixture for misting of your pumpkin should it dry out as the days pass on and pour the rest of the bleach solution down the drain.

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