All-Natural Hanging Birdseed DIY

These photos are actually from a the winter before last, my Dad and I always love making these all natural bird treats for all of our flying friends who stick around for the cooler months. I shared this as a DIY once upon a time at my old blog, Tiny Painter, but I love this project so much and it brings back such great memories that I wanted to share it again!

I figured with Valentine’s Day, this seemed like a perfect time to share my love for the birds with all of you. Growing up, my Grandpa was always passionate about taking care of the birds in his garden. He passed the passion onto my father, who then shared it with me. Whenever I am out in the yard, gardening, watching the birds, or just admiring the beauty all around me, I always feel so connected with both of them. It feels like a magical gift they gave me somehow.

Here are the instructions I originally shared:

Materials:

  • Birdseed
  • Coconut Oil
  • Cookie Cutters {whatever shape you please!}
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Stick/Pencil/Skewer
  • String

Directions:

In a microwave safe bowl, first warm up some coconut oil, it doesn’t take long because coconut oil liquifies pretty quickly! Place your cookie cutter(s) on foil and wrap edges to make sure the oil won’t spill out. Next, stir birdseed into your warm coconut oil. You can eyeball the amount, the oil is there to hold the seeds together without causing harm to the birds {Note: coconut oil is much healthier for birds than Crisco – which I have seen some people suggest, but please don’t – that is bad enough for humans, let alone the animals!}

Fill the cookie cutter with the oil and seed mixture. Insert your skewer in the mixture where you would like to thread your string for it to hang from. Place in freezer or outside for at least an hour for it to solidify. When the time comes to take your birdseed out of the cookie cutter, just place your hands around the edges of the cookie cutter, that will warm the oil up enough that they will slip out easily without losing their shape. The stick will also come out easily!

Thread a string through the hole and hang it on a tree that the birds like visiting!

What do you think? Is this a project you could see yourself enjoying with your family? You’ve got a little time before it gets too warm!

love & light,

Lena

Hygge Your Home This Autumn

Will and I have been big fans of the “hygge” trend these past few years. If you aren’t sure what hygge is, it is a Danish philosophy about happiness and enjoying the cozy comforts in life. According to The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, the word hygge comes from a Norwegian word for “well-being” and has transformed into a cultural movement embracing comfort and coziness.

I’ve never been a big fan of the colder months here in Michigan, but after Will and I started planning hygge nights and creating a more cozy atmosphere at home,  I have learned to love this time of year a little more. Whenever I think about hygge, autumn and winter are what come to mind immediately.

If you think you could use a little more coziness at home but aren’t sure where to start, here are 10 of our favorite {affordable} ways to create more hygge at home:

  1. candles & soft lighting: candles are a quick way to create that warm cozy feeling. We like to use all natural soy candles made without artificial fragrances, and we’ve even made our own with essential oils before! tip: if you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow open flame, twinkle lights can do wonders.
  2. warm sweaters and socks: it is hard not to think about soft warm knits as fall approaches. Embrace the season and cuddle up in your softest sweater. Bonus points if you can knit them!
  3. hot drinks: it is hard to think of hygge and not think of those warm fall and winter beverages, think hot cocoa, tea, hot toddies, or our favorite, mulled wine.
  4. get outside: the more time we spend outdoors, the more we appreciate getting hygge inside afterward. Take a nice long nature walk to enjoy the colors and then come home and get cozy.
  5. play board games: boardgames are a nice way to spend and evening with family and friends without getting distracted by technology. I think Scrabble is the most hygge board game of all!
  6. cuddle with your pets: we always jokingly call our cat Amelia “hygge cat” because she is so warm and fluffy and loves to snuggle with her humans. She is the cat embodiment of hygge, we’re pretty certain.
  7. make homemade soup or stew: comfort food at its finest.
  8. pillows and blankets: get comfy on the couch, or our favorite thing to do is to build a fort out of pillows and blankets and watch some of our favorite old films.
  9. read your favorite book: we love to read Harry Potter books aloud to each other, but you could enjoy this activity solo too!
  10. baking: we just baked a homemade apple pie and it makes the whole house smell wonderful. Treat yourself to one of your favorites!

I think the thing I love most about getting hygge at home is that it encourages me to be very mindful of my surroundings and appreciate all of the wonderful comforts we have here. Take time to cultivate gratitude for the simple joy of being cozy and enjoy.

love and light,

Lena

12 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment Today

Did you know that the first week in September is International Zero Waste Week? We love practicing zero waste routines at home, every little bit counts! We are not a zero-waste household (absolutely NO garbage) yet, but we’ve made lots of small changes over the past couple years to move in that direction!

If you are looking for some easy ways to reduce your waste and help the environment here are some easy tips you could start following this week!

  1. Carry a reusable cup with you all the time.
  2. Use cloth napkins at home instead of paper.
  3. Use rags like old t-shirts or tea towels instead of paper towel!
  4. Say no to plastic straws! Or use a reusable stainless steel or glass straw!
  5. Compost! (We are just starting to explore this and it is a fun adventure!)
  6. Avoid single-use plastic such as plastic utensils, cups, plates, sandwich baggies, etc. I always carry a bamboo fork and spoon in my bag to help with that!
  7. Wrap your food in bee’s wrap instead of plastic.
  8. Buy toilet paper that is packaged in paper instead of plastic!
  9. When shopping online, ask retailers if they can send your package plastic-free. I have had good luck with this.
  10. Always carry a container for leftovers in your car or bag so that when the time comes you don’t need to ask for a to-go box!
  11. Always check an item to see if it is recyclable before tossing it in the trash.
  12. Buy produce that does not come wrapped in plastic, or better yet – grow your own!

These are all easy changes that make a big difference! We have had a lot of luck at home with these practices and it has been fun to challenge ourselves to make more informed choices about our waste. We have a lot of room for improvement so we are doing our best to create NO garbage this week! If you want to make a pledge for Zero Waste Week too, you can do it here! They will send you tips and motivation all week long!

The most important thing when working to reduce your waste is to simply be conscious of your habits. When you are mindful about the choices you are making it becomes very easy to recognize opportunities to make zero waste choices. It all starts with awareness!

Good luck on your Zero Waste journey!

love & light

Lena

Dip-dyed napkins for our late summer wedding…

When Will and I were planning our wedding we knew we wanted to DIY as many elements we could because we love making things ourself. Over the past year we’ve been slowly phasing out paper products from our home and acquiring more reusable clothe options! Because we only use clothe napkins in our home, this seemed like a great opportunity to bulk buy napkins that we could use for years and years without any extra production waste happening due to our consumption.

I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of basic white napkins because our theme for the wedding was lots of color, so I decided to dye the napkins myself. For this project I bulk ordered white 100% cotton napkins on Amazon – I purchased around 180 napkins for under $100 and used RIT dye from the grocery store. I would love to try this project again in the future and explore more sustainable dyes or learn how to make my own natural dyes!

I was able to dye all of the napkins within 2 days, the first day my little brother helped me and the second day my good friend Abby was there to assist! I separated the napkins into sets of 20 and tried folding them in lots ofdifferent ways. After that it was time to start dyeing! Be sure to pre-wash anything you plan to dye to remove any finish that may be on it!

Here are the steps I followed to customize our colorful wedding napkins!

Materials:

  • White 100% cotton napkins
  • RIT dye
  • salt
  • water
  • large tubs or bins
  • drying rack

Instructions:

  1. Fold napkins in various patterns – this is the creative part where you can really just play because no matter what they turn out beautiful.
  2. Fill the tub halfway with very hot water (for me it was about 8 cups), I just used tap water on the hottest setting but you could heat it up in a tea kettle if you wanted it really hot.
  3. Dissolve 1 cup of salt in the dye bath.
  4. Add 1 bottle of RIT dye to dye bath. If you want softer colors, use less dye!
  5. Soak napkins in dye bath for 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Wring out napkins and rinse well to remove any extra dye.
  7. Line dry or if you are afraid of the dye bleeding, you can run them through the gentle cycle of the wash and hang them to dry.
  8. Iron and enjoy!

I did all of my soaking in the backyard to make sure I didn’t make a mess in my house – luckily we were able to complete the whole set without an spills! Now we have a huge supply of beautiful napkins that we can use daily! I love that they are a reminder of our wedding day too, that makes them even more special! In the future I would love to explore ways to do this project again but in a more sustainable way!

Any other wedding DIYers out there? What about you? Have you ever tried to create your own dyes? Or what is your favorite kind of  organic natural dye? I would love to learn more!

love & light,

Lena

DIY jasmine make-up setting spray

The past few years I have been transitioning to a more natural beauty and skincare routine. Sometimes I make my own products and other times I buy products that I know are made without the use of dangerous chemicals. I have lots of favorite all-natural beauty and skin products but sometimes I just like something I have made myself better. When I’ve made it, I love knowing exactly what has gone into the product that I am absorbing into my skin and bloodstream.

This recipe is for a make-up setting spray that I put on after applying my make-up in the morning. As a teacher I am on the go all day long and have very little time to stop and look in the mirror so I need to know that my make-up is going to stay in place without any touch-ups! This light weight spray takes care of that worry for me and gives me all the peace of mind I need while teaching my tiny humans how to paint!

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Witch Hazel
  • 1 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel (natural, not the bright green stuff)
  • 1 Tbsp Distilled Water
  • 5 drops Jasmine Essential Oil
  • 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 2 oz. glass bottle with spray nozzle

Directions:

  1. Fill 2 oz. glass bottle with 1 tablespoon natural aloe vera gel.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons witch hazel and 1 tablespoon water to fill bottle.
  3. Shake well to mix thoroughly.
  4. Add essential oils and shake again to evenly disperse.
  5. To use: Shake well and spray over freshly applied makeup.

I love using lavender and jasmine essential oils because they smell so lovely. Lavender is also great for your skin to soothe redness and irritation. I use Jasmine for its empowering and confidence-boosting aroma, as well as the fact that it is great for improving dry or dehydrated skin!

I know there are lots of different recipes out there, has anyone tried a different recipe for a DIY setting spray? How do you make yours? I love this one and I hope you to do!

love & light

Lena