Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bird Seed Neighbor Gifts

We moved into our house in August, and recently I'd been thinking we'd been here long enough without meeting all of our immediate neighbors (too long really). Of course, some neighbors we met right away. Like the woman whose dad used to live here. And the guy who's been building a HUGE retaining wall right across the creek from us the entire time we've owned the home (we've owned since April, but who knows how long before that he started). Other neighbors we've just waved to from across the street.

I wanted to find an excuse to meet the other neighbors and reach out a hand of friendship.

A neighbor Christmas gift sounded like a good idea. Not that we'll do this every year, but the first year seemed nice.

I kept seeing ideas for neighbor gifts that were food items, cookies and candy. But how do I know what our neighbors like or want to eat?

Yet I didn't want to make anything that our neighbors would feel obligated to keep around. "Oh, look at this cute Xmas tree ornament our neighbors made us! I don't remember their names . . ."

Then I found this. It was conceived of as a wedding favor, but I thought it would be perfect for our neighbor gift.

Then, I started asking around to find out what kind of bird seed people like to use, and SO MANY PEOPLE hate bird seed! It attracts squirrels and rats. It sprouts, and you get patches of grass underneath the feeder. Wow! I didn't realize feeding the birds was so controversial.

So I decided not to make these for family stocking stuffers, but I made them for neighbors with the note:

little bird seed cakes
hang them from a tree if you wish
if you don’t want to feed our local
birds or squirrels . . . regift
. . . might make a lovely valentine. (;

That covers things, right?

Onto the gift!

We have six houses that seem immediately adjacent to us, so I made six of these, with one star and one heart.

I asked my mom if she had any natural twine, and she brought over, like, four of these big skeins of twine. She was an avid macrame artist in the 70s. I think I need to wrap some brown paper packages with this stuff!!

Anyway, I made these little tags with our names and address. So glad I put our first names on because few could repeat Everett's name back to us correctly. We got Evert, and I think Everst. And we even got "Everett, makes me think of the outdoors and mountains." hmmm . . .

I regret now not putting our phone number on the tag. I didn't want to overload them with information, but what if they want to reach us?! Oh well, they'll just have to come over!

As you can see, we made "Happy New Year!!" gifts instead of Christmas gifts.  Things were just so busy at Christmas. But, I feel celebrating New Year's is much more universal. And, it was a great activity to do on New Year's Day. Going around talking to our neighbors made us feel more a part of a community on a day I feel it is important to think about the future and your role in it.

A note about the bird seed cakes. I wasn't suuuuper happy with the way they turned out. In my first batch, the flour got sort of lumpy, and those lumps showed up in the cakes (the cakes were also a little hazy from the flour). But the first batch I made with Everett, and I didn't follow the instructions in quite the right order or at a regular speed. I did a second batch. I did it in the right order. I even used the electric mixer to get out all the lumps (before putting the bird seed in). But this second batch still came out a little hazy, and some had lumps too (not as many).

I'd try a recipe I saw online that uses coconut oil, but I'm not sure how strong they would be or how fast they would set.

Mine set very quickly (I did overnight), and the final product was very sturdy.

Overall, I was happy with the project, and it was a really fun way to meet our neighbors!

Happy New Year!!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE these!! I want to make them for every one I know!! I just need a reason......