Lee Valley Treasure Trove
Last year, my annual ritual to decorate a Christmas tree with ceramic bird ornaments took a different twist. I decided to recycle my tree outdoors and string it with homemade, edible decorations to provide healthy winter food for my feathered friends. The idea of giving the Christmas tree back to Mother Nature just seemed to make sense as my back yard is always a hive of activity for birds and other wildlife. In winter, woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals and black-capped chickadees are constant visitors.
3 10-ounce packages of suet,
1 bag of black sunflower seeds
1 large bag high-quality, mixed blend of shelled sunflower seeds, millet and peanuts
Gather a few fallen pine cones and twigs on your next walk.
Coat Pine Cones
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine one package of suet with equal portions of natural peanut butter and the mixed blend.
2. Tie jute twine around each pine-cone and knot it to make a loop.
3. Spread the pine cones with the gooey mixture, placed them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put them in the freezer.
Make Suet Cupcakes
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the last package of suet with two cups of the mixed blend, using a fork.
2. Fill a cupcake tin with the mixture and add a short, sturdy twig to each one to use when hanging it.
String and Stuff Orange Halves
1. Create four holes in a few orange halves through which twine can be knotted at the base and tied together
at the top for hanging.
2. Stuff and freeze the orange halves with the remaining sunflower seed and suet mixture.
Decorate Your Outdoor Tree
I pulled out all the suet seed decorations from the freezer, tied them with red burlap ribbon or twine and attached them to the tree. The final step was to head back inside to cut slices of fresh oranges and chunks of apple to hang with twine. I pulled out an old darning needle and butcher’s cotton thread to string leftover cranberries into garlands.
The final step was to tie a sheaf of wheat from the top of the tree. It’s an old Scandinavian tradition for Nordic families to feed wild birds with sheaves of wheat, nuts or bread as an omen of good luck on Christmas Day.