When I began this blog, I said that I wouldn’t do tutorials. Then, I made birdseed ornaments with my kids and I thought I would share them with you.
Here’s why I want to share these: I tried to make them last year. They were cute but crumbly. I don’t remember what kind of fat I used, but it may have been coconut oil. Whatever I used didn’t keep the ornaments together. Then, a couple months ago, I saw a picture of birdseed ornaments that were left inside of metal cookie cutters and hung on trees just like that. Genius, right? I was inspired to try once again.
Without much preparation, I’ve simply had this thought floating around in my head. This happens a lot with me– does this happen with you?– where I just think about doing something for a while until BAM! It’s time, and I go for it. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) this ends in failure because I either don’t have the supplies I need, or somewhere in the process I just decide against it.
Last week in our homeschool, the day arrived. It began with a couple of psalms and some watercolor painting. It continued with a penmanship lesson and a math lesson. Then, I just knew it was time to get outside, and I know making birdseed ornaments would get us there because we’d have to go outside to hang them. I told one kid to get the birdseed, another kid to scrape the lard out of a jar, and still another child to cut apart our paper towel rolls.
–Why, yes, I do have a cabinet full of paper towel rolls. Do you need one?–
I had previously looked through our stash of cookie cutters only to find one rusty metal ornament. I thought we’d spread lard and birdseed on the outside of paper towel rolls, and I was preparing for this adventure when I had an idea.
–Are you ready for this?!–
We would cut the toilet paper rolls even narrower and fill them, as if they were the cookie cutters we had wanted all along.
The afternoon was a raging success, so here I am to tell you how we did this. Please let me know if you’ve ever made these. Or, let me know if you try my technique. I am fascinated!
1 Cup of lard, melted
2 Cups of filling (birdseed, and add in seeds and dried fruits as you like)
Paper towel or toilet paper rolls, cut into 2-3 inch wide pieces.
A cookie sheet or other portable hard surface
Natural hemp cord
Simple, right? Well, yes. Read on for some secrets I discovered while making these cuties.
The lard I used was homemade. My husband made it a few months ago out of really good, local beef parts and it’s been sitting in our refrigerator since. I don’t really know what he used or how he made this lard, but I’m sure recipes exist somewhere. Else, you could hop on over to your local grocer and purchase some for cheap.
SO, we melted the lard and then I measured it to make sure that we had the amount we needed.
We made the filling: as much birdseed as we had, then added some raisins and sunflower seeds from our pantry.
I lined a cookie sheet with an old cereal bag (my grandma always saved these because they are the perfect surface for rolling out pie crusts, so I save mine too.) You could use wax paper or parchment paper, or you could just do this right on your cookie sheet. I just didn’t want a big lard mess to clean up, so I lined my cookie sheet with a cereal bag before beginning.
My three-year old scooped the birdseed into our paper towel roll ornaments.
Here’s where ingenuity kicked in and surprised me.
I cut straws to make holes in the ornaments, so we could string some hemp cord through them later.
**This part is important! I kept the straws in place and strung the cord through the straws. This made it much easier to get the cord through the ornament because straws are smooth and birdseed is not!
For the most part, the cord went through easily, but on a few of these, I had to first remove the straw and use a nearby stick to poke a hole all the way through the last end-piece of hardened lard-birdseed.
Along the way, I found that lard is sticky and gross, but thankfully it washes off of hands and cookie sheets when you use hot water. I also found that when my hemp cord frayed at the ends, excess lard was useful for acting like a glue to keep the frays together.
One thing I’ve learned over the past year of birdseed ornament fascination is that there are many different ways to make these. Simply, I was excited to finally find one that worked for me without becoming a crumbled mess.
My daughter was really excited today when she saw birds munching on these ornaments. Though I couldn’t get a photo of that scene, if you make these ornaments you’ll likely have something far better than a photo to watch.