Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feed the Birds... Take 4

During the summer we have lots of little winged visitors in our yard when flowers create a natural buffet, however we have not had much success drawing them in during the winter months when food is scarcer for them. With the arrival of heavy snows we have felt the desire to feed them once again.   So here is attempt #4.  

I have wondered if we lacked eye catching curb appeal.  Our previous attempts have lacked color, so this became our focus this time around.  I had some oranges that were a little past their prime, but not rotten.  We cut them in half, juiced them, found some wire and made hangers.  Nate was able to help me poke the wire through the orange and turn it up, although I had to do the twisting to lock it into place and form a hook for hanging.
Our slightly sketchy oranges
We then set about making a filling which included peanut butter, shortening, and of course bird seed.  Elli enjoyed spooning this into our orange cups.   We have have four happy orange food cups waiting for the arrival of the birds.  We'll see!

Orange Bird Cups

You'll need:
2 oranges
A juicer is helpful, but not necessary.
Wire -  #19 gauge or any other light to medium gauge 
Wire cutters
1 Tablespoon shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups bird seed

Begin by halving and juicing your oranges.  Remove most of the pulp while keeping the peels intact.  Cut 12 8" lengths of wire.  Carefully use the wire to poke three equally spaced holes around the edge of the orange.  Thread one piece of wire through each leaving about and inch to twist and secure wire in place.  At this point you should have three wires around the edge of the orange pointing up.  Twist these together and create a hook.  A hook can easily slip over a tree branch and then be squeezed together to make it secure.  You now have a nifty hanging cups to fill.

Combine the peanut butter and shortening.  Stir in the bird seed.  Pack mixture into the orange cups.  Bring outside and hang for the birds to enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Too Much Creativity?

Hello, it's been awhile since I've posted. I've been working to creatively catch up from Christmas.  :-)

Today's question:  What are the downsides of creativity?  This is something that I've been pondering recently.  In the long run I don't really see any, but I have to be honest sometimes creativity is an inconvenience.  Having Nate in my face enthusiastically wanting to make a one wheeled race car (later figured out he wanted to make a wheelbarrow), painted with flames, and handles, that Clifford could ride in, right now! while prying my sleepy eyes open and stumbling downstairs was probably not one of my best moments of encouraging creativity!  

After my brain woke up, about two minutes after getting downstairs, we looked at his project.  He had re-purposed a square box, and wanted a wheel in the front.  When I explained that we didn't have any wheels, he ran over and grabbed a sturdy plastic wrap tube.  With a confident, "This will work," he handed it to me.  By now I was getting into this.  I went and grabbed some yarn from the art case and poked two holes in the box, ran the yarn through one hole, the tube, up through the other hole and tied it off.  Nate was delighted, although it still doesn't roll quite to his satisfaction.  Next he was off thinking about handles!  Another tube appeared.  This one was very thick and pretty strong.  When I commented that I didn't know if I could cut it because it was so strong he reminded me, "Mama, you're pretty strong too!"  I have to admit this comment melted my heart and made it a little easier to work on this project less than 10 minutes out of my cozy bed.  As soon as this was done he was ready to start painting.  I had to put the brakes on here as he needed to leave for school, but I'm sure that we'll be painting this afternoon.  

So why do I share this dizzying, slam of early morning creativity?  

First to show the power of books and the importance of reading in opening up creativity.  He had been reading The Dragons' Book of Make-Believe, a PBS Dragon Tales book.  In it they pretended a wheelbarrow was a ... drum-roll please.... race car!  Books inform our play and foster creativity.  They challenge us to dream, to think outside our everyday.  Through this process Nate was learning to overcome obstacles and think creatively.  My "but we don't have any wheels," didn't stop him.  This is a skill that will serve him well in life.

Second, to encourage any parents or future parents reading this to set the inconvenient aside. It would have been incredibly easy to brush off Nate's project as trivial, a mess in the making, or too time consuming.  By eventually embracing it I was blessed to see his creative mind in action.  My thinking was challenged and that too increases creativity.  

Well, I need to go pull together some painting things and then go pick Nate up from school.  I'm thinking that we might need to make a stop at the hardware store and pick up some nuts, bolts, and washers on the way home...