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Time With Friends & GF Gifts For The Birds

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The kids have a worn out paper back Christmas themed Barney book, sent to them from a far off family member, in which Barney and friends decorate an outside Christmas tree for all of the nearby forest animals on Christmas morning. And they all dance around the tree and life is good and yadda yadda yadda. Well the kids absolutely love it.

So I found a tutorial on how to do something similar, only- we needed to make ours gluten free in order to work with the dough. Especially since the babies like to stick everything in their mouths still (it looks like thats something that they've chosen never to outgrow).

I put a call out on a local swap meet page, to see if anybody had any spare bird seed, because I certainly wasn't about to use up all of our gas by driving all the way into town and pay for a giant bag of seed, just for this one project. It just so happened that a friend of mine responded (hooray!), saying she had some in her garage, so- well we thought that maybe her and her kids would like to get together and do the project with us??

I brought over all of the supplies to their house, as many as I could carry, at least. We covered their dining room table with cookie sheets, wax paper, bird seed, corn syrup, cookie cutters, crayons... we made a mess.

While the younger ones were away playing cars and trains, or were maybe being strapped into vintage wooden high chairs with a handful of stacking cups- the older ones sat up nice and high on their knees in their chairs, taking turns pouring and stirring the seed into goo.

The original recipe can be found here, but we kind of made ours up as we went along, praying to the winter Gods that these would hold together in the upcoming snow and wind. Yes, it snows in Texas.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup powdered peanut butter (pb2)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp. corn syrup
1-2 tbsp. of molasses
4 cups birdseed

...something like that?

After it was all mixed up, we grown ups rubbed the cookie cutters with oil, and then set them down onto the wax paper in front of the kidlets- placed the bowl of seed in the middle of the table, handed them spoons, and told them to fill 'er up! Was that lame? Because in my head I said it in my redneck voice, and it wasn't lame at all.

So while they were scooping and pressing and patting and getting bored because nothing was coming to life or singing Christmas jingles- the adults were unwrapping little paper covered colored wax bits that I had fished out of the bottom of the crayon bag a few seconds before walking out the door.

The original tutorial had called for drinking straws, but I didn't have any, so this seemed like the next best thing.

We made sure that all of the cookie cutters were good and full of our seed solution, and then told the kids to stab it somewhere near the top with a crayon (which they all had to fight over who got what color, of course- because the girls had to have pink, and the boys had to have not pink). This would eventually be the hole that we would use to string it up.

And then we had organic candy canes and played around for awhile while our ornaments dried over on the table, before it was time for us to say goodbye and go home.

And we let them dry, and we let them dry, and we let them dry.

Later that night, I carefully took a butter knife and worked at the cookie cutters until out slid our festive seed ornaments- making sure to leave the crayons in- flipped them over on the wax paper, and let the other side dry out over night.

And it worked!

So I popped out the crayons, set them aside, cut some ribbons I found in the gift wrapping tub, and strung those babies up to hang on the outside tree, Barney style.

They turned out so pretty! And really- can we all just rejoice at how another one of my gluten free mock ups didn't fall apart? Thats 2 in a row for me- I better not test my luck.

Evelyn was amazed at the wondrous new ornaments. She wanted to hold them in her grabbing hands, and bang them on things- any things and every things, and taste them with her curious mouth.

Mama said no.

Barney would have too.

And she was mad.


She did get to help hang them on the tree. As did Brother and Sister...

And they loved it- just like they love it when the dinosaurs do it in the book. Had a cold front not been knocking on our door, we would have stayed outside longer, but- we lifted our ornaments onto the tree, and ducked back into the house quick as we could, before our fingers froze to the red and green strings.

I even got a chance to hang one up (okay, but only because I was holding up the crowd with my obnoxious picture taking, and there was one left over). And ya know, it was really fun. One of those memorable things that puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step- even when its snowing flurries from the sky above you.

...now if only the birds would just realize that they're there.

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