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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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How to Make Beeswax Candles with Essential Oils: Forest Scents

This tutorial is an excerpt from our December issue of AromaCulture Magazine. To purchase the full issue, CLICK HERE.


Pure beeswax candles are one of my absolute favorite air purifiers. They lend a cozy glow and a sweet smell to the atmosphere, but are also known for their ability to release negative ions into the air, improving air quality and lending an uplifting, sunny gleam to a space.  Their energy is pure sunshine and honeybee. Candles made of pure beeswax are also free from the chemicals and toxins found in conventional candles and burn much cleaner than do other waxes. The high melting point of beeswax helps the candles last longer as well.

I make fresh beeswax candles each year. Most of the time, I don’t scent them at all. I really enjoy the aroma of the pure beeswax on its own and don’t find that they need any additional fragrance. Once in awhile, though, I do add some of my favorite essential oils in. Who can resist a beautiful, divine-smelling candle? They make lovely, thoughtful gifts for candle lovers - perfect for this season.

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CANDLE MAKING TIPS

  1. Purchase your beeswax from a local beekeeper who raises their bees organically and truly loves beekeeping. You’ll find the energy of the beeswax to be much more vibrant and you’ll be supporting healthy honeybees. Commercialized beeswax is often unsustainably harvested and we need to be conscious of our sourcing. By supporting small scale beekeepers, you’re helping them to build and establish healthy hives that can produce more healthy honeybees!
     
  2. Use a crockpot. Beeswax is slow melting and when you heat it on the stove, you have to keep a pretty close eye on it, which means you could be sitting in the kitchen for a long time. I fill my crockpot with a few inches of water, place my giant Pyrex glass measuring jar inside and fill it up with my beeswax bars. Set the crockpot to high for 4-6 hours and leave it to melt. Don’t put the lid on the crockpot or you’ll end up with water in your wax and air bubbles in your candles that cause them to burn unevenly. Once the wax is melted, use a potholder to pull your jar out of the crockpot, wipe the bottom dry and pour your wax into your prepared jars. I use organic cotton, beeswax-coated wicks for my candles and they work beautifully.

FOREST SCENTED CANDLE

To 4 ounces of melted beeswax, add the following essential oils:

  • 25 drops of Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
  • 25 drops of Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
  • 15 drops of Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
  • 15 drops of Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

WALK IN THE WOODS SCENTED CANDLE

To 4 ounces of melted beeswax, add the following essential oils:

  • 25 drops of Norway Pine (Pinus resinosa)
  • 25 drops of Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
  • 15 drops of Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
  • 10 drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 5 drops of Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

High quality essential oils can be purchased from reputable companies here and here.

Much love,
Erin

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