Monday, November 10, 2008

Craft Idea for the kids

We were at my folks place yesterday. They have some big pine trees and B and I walked around the yard and picked up pine cones while Mark was inside doing some work.

But what to do with the pine cones? Well, when I was a kid in Connecticut, we used to make bird feeders out of pine cones. I immediately decided that that's what we'd do when we got home. You cover the pine cone with something sticky, roll it in bird seed, and then hang it from a tree for the birds to enjoy. What a great afternoon activity!

And then I stopped myself. Memories came flooding back and I remembered that the bird seed stuck on the pine cone with...

peanut butter. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board.

But then I had another thought. What's in my fridge at home that's made from something that birds love? Sunflower Butter!

Bella HATES sunflower butter. I think if I want to punish her, I could threaten her with a Sunbutter sandwich (seriously). So I've had a jar of Sunbutter sitting in my fridge for, oh I don't know, 9 months now. So no time like the present - let's use it up.

So we laid out a cutting board, tied a string (I used kitchen twine) around the top, and I smeared Sunbutter (actually a mixture of sunbutter and shortening, see below) all over the pine cones. We had a glass pie plate filled with bird seed, and after I smeared, I lowered it into the pie plate, where B proceeded to roll it around and sprinkle the seed on top until it was completely covered. I wont lie, it took her a while to get used to the idea of touching something that looked and smelled like peanut butter AND touching something with sunflower seeds (she avoids all nuts and seeds, although she only has the peanut allergy), but after I told her she wouldn't be eating it she was gung ho.

Mark looked at us like we was crazy when we were making these. He's a California boy so he hadn't ever done this. Oh well, I'm sure this isn't the last time :)

But after we were done she was so proud of herself and we had a nice little treat for the birds in our yard. As I write this, though, I can see some squirrels trying to figure out how they are going to get these down from the trees (those rascals)!

Here are some instructions I found online that include photos of the whole process (this is messy, so I wasn't about to break out my camera). We basically followed these directions, although when I was looking online for instructions, lots of folks gave a warning about using straight peanut butter (or in this case, sunflower butter), that it would choke the birds. Not wanting to explain the circle of life to B this early, or wanting to clean up dead birds, we mixed the sunbutter 1/2 and 1/2 with vegetable shortening.

All in all, it was a nice (not too long) crafty endeavor for us.


ChupieandJ'smama said...

Fun! Jason hates Sunbutter too. I have 2 jars sitting here. One I'll use for Sunbutter Buckeyes for Christmas (he does like those) and the other we'll make bird feeders with. Can you believe I've had the hardest time finding bird feed that doesn't have a wheat or a nut warning? Crazy isn't it? So we just use plain old sunflower seeds but I'm sure that will work too.

Michelle said...

My daughter hates Sunbutter, too! It took everything in me to even buy the container just because it looked so much like PB. Wouldn't you think they would find a different way to store it, so it doesn't look eerily like PB? Anyway, she took one little bite and gagged on it and secretly, I think I was glad because it was freaking me out so much to watch her eat the stuff. :)

Autumn said...

i also wanted to do this project with my oldet but then remembered it was held together with peanut butter and so thata would work. and we didnt even attempt using anything else!!

glad it worked out!!

Anonymous said...

Glad it worked out! We did this in Boy Scouts last night but with bagels. Unluckily my guy ended up having a contact reaction with the blasted bird seed (he's pn/tn allergic)... UGH. But I like the idea of sunbutter/shortening... I may suggest that for future birdfeeders projects. And I guess we'll just pour on the birdseed.

Jane Anne said...

One small warning about this- many kinds of bird seed actually contains nuts and if it doesn't, it is made at the same place where they make bird seed with nuts. I had never thought about "nut loving birds" when I thought I saving my son's cub scout project.

Gab said...

Just a note: You can always use straight shortening if you want.

Also, I found a bag that seemed safe (e.g. no warning) for us to use.

Amy said...


Thanks for posting all this fantastic information. Is there any chance you might remember what make or brand of bird seed you used without having any allergic reactions. Thanks in advance and HAPPY NEW YEAR :)

Gab said...

Gosh i cant remember the name! Ill take a look at mystore and see if they still carry it. I do remember it had abig red bird on it (i know - so does every otherbrand).