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Holiday Crafts

By Lindsay Hutton

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Not all birds fly south when the cold weather comes, so why not make them feel welcome in your backyard with a fun craft? Sure, you could go to a store and buy a bird feeder if you enjoy hearing their tweeting, but this is a craft based on something we find outside that our parents usually rake up and compost – pine cones!

Pine cones, found on “coniferous” trees (like pine and spruce trees, for example), are an interesting way trees developed over time to spread their seeds. During the summer the cones grow on the branches, and then drop to the ground in the fall and early winter. Then, mixed with all of the moisture from the snow, they try to “germinate” (create new seedlings) in the ground with the seeds hidden within the cone come springtime.

Pine cones are used in all kinds of crafts, including wreaths and candleholders. This one is especially fun, as not only is it fun to make, but it makes for a tasty, nutritious snack for our feathered friends. This is also a wonderful gift to share with your friends and family during the holidays. As a bonus, they don’t cost a lot of money to create, and you can most likely use what you have around the house to make them.

What you need:

  1. 4-6 pine cones
  2. 2 cups of peanut butter (“smooth” is preferred, but “crunchy” is okay, too!)
  3. 1 cup of margarine
  4. 2-3 cups of birdseed (you can find this in any pet store and most grocery stores)
  5. Coloured yarn or sturdy ribbon (15-25 centimetres for each pine cone)

Directions:

  1. To have a place where your pine cones can set, ready a plate covered with waxed paper or tin foil and set aside. Put the birdseed into a mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In another mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and margarine. With a wooden spoon, mix both together until well blended and smooth.
  3. Have a butter knife handy. With your thumb and forefinger, grab the top of the pine cone. Dip the outside edges of the cone into your peanut butter mixture.
  4. With your knife, scrape off the little extra blobs of the peanut butter – but not too much!
  5. Dip the cone into the birdseed, and press in as much seed as you can.
  6. After you’ve dipped and seeded all your pine cones, place them in the freezer until they are firm.
  7. To finish, attach the ribbon or yarn to the pine cone, and hang outside on a tree branch.

 

Snowman Sugar Cookies

Snowman Sugar Cookies

One of the best parts of winter isn’t just about the holidays, but the delicious treats that seem to come from everyone and everywhere. Why not join in on some of the fun? This is an easy recipe for a cookie that not only tastes wonderful, but also makes for some fun when it’s time to decorate them.

What you need for the Cookie dough:

  1. 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  2. 2 cups white sugar
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 5 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon salt

For the decorations:

  1. ½ cup shredded coconut
  2. One tube of white icing, two tubes of different colours
  3. Chocolate chips
  4. Rope licorice (for the scarf)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Make the dough into a ball, and wrap with plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge for one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface until it’s approximately between ½ centimetre and 1 centimetre thick. Make sure you add some flour to the rolling pin and the countertop before you roll out the dough.
  4. Cut into different size circles using a cookie cutter or the rims of drinking cups.
  5. On an ungreased cookie sheet, place the cookies into snowman shapes, and with your finger press the edges of the circles of dough together. Make sure each snowman is about 2 centimetres apart.
  6. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, and then allow to cool completely.
  7. After the cookies have cooled, spread some icing over the “body” of the snowman, and lightly press in the shredded coconut. Use the chocolate chips for eyes and buttons. Use the coloured icing to add other features on the face, or for a hat. Use the licorice to make the scarf.