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citrus

How to Make Herbal Bird Feeders

When we lived in southern California, we had a neighbor who absolutely loved bird feeders. He had several dozen of them hanging in the trees just outside the boundary of his patio and he would sit on his porch and watch the birds flit between them. We would pass by his apartment each day during our evening walk and the trees in that part of the community were always filled with birds. When we moved to the PNW, I began to miss having that large colony of birds nearby and started looking into bird feeders. My husband, Jon, made me a wooden one that I just love, but I also wanted to experiment with some handmade, herbal versions. This one has become my favorite.

This tutorial was first published in the July Issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • either Orange slices or halved Orange peels
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • bird seed mix
  • dried, bird-safe herbs (I'm using Calendula petals, Cornflower petals, and German Chamomile flowers. The birds here also like my Lavender after the flowers have dried.)
  • string
  • bamboo skewer

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Choose whether you'd like to work with Orange halves or slices. If you want to work with slices, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay out the Orange slices on it. Dry the slices in the oven at a low temperature until they hold their shape. If working with Orange halves, scoop out the fruit and dry the Orange peel in the oven as you would dry the slices.
     
  2. Use a bamboo skewer to poke a hole in the top of each dried Orange slice (or 2-3 holes per Orange half) and thread your string through the hole(s) so you'll be able to hang your bird feeder when you're finished with it.
     
  3. Dip the Orange slice in Sunflower seed butter, then dip the slice in a bowl of bird seed mixed with your herbs of choice. For this project, I chose to work with Calendula petals, Cornflower petals, and German Chamomile flowers. You could also use Lavender buds,  Coriander, or a variety of other culinary, bird-safe herbs.

    Tip: Don't use too much Sunflower seed butter or it will drip off the Orange slice. Use just enough to get your seeds to stick to the feeder.
     
  4. If using Orange halves, mix a little bit of Sunflower seed butter with your bird seed/herb mix and fill the Orange half with this blend.
     
  5. Hang the bird feeder in your garden near a place where the birds will be able to perch while they enjoy the goodies you've left them.

Enjoy! Much love,
Erin

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How to Make An All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

When we first started to transition to a chemical-free, sustainable lifestyle [circa 2010/11 or so], I had a hard time finding cleaning products that really were natural and organic. Even the 'natural' brands that were available at the time had ingredients that I didn't want to use in my environment. I wanted something that would better align with our values, so I started making my own cleaning products. This all-purpose cleaning spray fast become one of my favorite recipes and it's so easy to make (and less expensive than the most popular grocery store brands)!

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • distilled white vinegar (less than $2.00 per gallon at Target or just about anywhere else)
  • citrus peels (I used Lemons and Limes this time)
  • citrus, conifer, or Lavender essential oil (optional)
  • a mason jar
  • a clean spray bottle

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. After you've enjoyed your herbal lemonade, pop, or limeade from this months' issue of AC Magazine (or any other homemade, citrusy drink; or even just a piece of citrus fruit), pop your citrus peels into a clean mason jar.
  2. Pour distilled white vinegar over the peels until they are completely covered.
  3. Set in a cool place and allow the citrus to infuse in the vinegar for 2-4 weeks.
  4. Use a fine mesh strainer and a piece of clean muslin or cheesecloth to separate the peels and pulp from the vinegar and pour the clean vinegar into your spray bottle.
  5. Optional: Add a few drops of citrus, conifer, or Lavender essential oil. If you do choose to add essential oil, shake the bottle well before each use and avoid using on hard wood floors or around babies or pets.

Enjoy! Much love,
Erin

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Teaching Children About Herbs + Essential Oils - A Sneak Peek Inside Our New Summer Fun Kids Pack!

The July issue of AromaCulture Magazine was just released this morning and I'm so excited about it that I wanted to take a moment to tell you a little bit more about something new we included in this month's issue. School is out for the summer here in the US and a lot of our readers are mommas (and Grans and dads and aunties...) who now have some extra time to spend with their kiddos while they are home all day, so I wanted to include something extra special for them in this citrusy, summery issue. At the end of the magazine, after all of the grown up articles, you'll find our new Summer Fun Kids Pack!

I've put together a fun, colorful Kids Pack that corresponds with the citrus theme of this month's issue of AromaCulture Magazine. It includes an exciting, kid-friendly lesson about citrus fruits and their essential oils, some activity sheets that will help to reinforce what the kids learn throughout the lesson, and some coloring sheets that feature the fruits and plant parts discussed in the lesson. (It was fun to put some of my artwork to use in the magazine!) Everything is laid out so you can easily print out the Kids Pack pages and go through the lesson and activities with your kids (or grandkids). There's also a quick, kid-friendly blending activity that you can do together during the lesson if you'd like!

I also wanted to make sure that all of the recipes I wrote for this issue of the magazine were kid-friendly so that you can make and enjoy them with your kids while they're home for the summer. I didn't want you to feel like you couldn't carve out any time to make yourself a fancy face cream instead of treasuring this extra time with your littles. It's way more fun to be able to spend time making recipes that the whole family can enjoy! =) Here's a little preview of some of the recipes included in this month's issue:

To learn more about this month's issue of the magazine or to pick up your own copy, click here.

I hope you enjoy this month's issue! If you have a chance to go through the Fun Pack with your kids or grandkids this month, I would love to hear what you think about. Feel free to let me know in the comments section below or to send me an email. If you want to share your finished coloring sheets with me, share them on social media with the hashtag #aromaculturemagazine. I may repost some of my favorites!

Much love,
Erin