Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Be Careful Where You Store Your Birdseed

I'm going to start this blog out with a disclaimer.  If you are eating or are the least bit squeamish then either wait to read this or don't read it at all.

As you know, we feed the birds.  We feed them all year long.  I know that some people don't feed the birds in the summer because they feel there is plenty of natural food.  We not only feed the hummers sugar water and the orioles grape jelly, we feed the other birds a variety of seeds.  We feed them for many reasons.  Mostly to keep them close by so we can enjoy seeing them all the time.  They also depend on us because they know we have available food when they are hungry or need to feed their young.

Generally we buy large 40 pound bags of sunflower seeds.  This lasts us quite a while, but after a period of time we started noticing some cupboard moths in our garage.  Then we noticed them in the seed.  My husband thought that the seed wasn't sealed up tight enough, and the moths were getting into the seed.  So next time the sunflower seeds were on sale, we bought a bag but didn't open it.  Eventually we used up the old seeds, and then a few days ago we opened the new bag.  Guess what we found?  The moths were not getting into the seeds, they were in the seeds themselves.  Apparently there are eggs in the seeds.  If not used within a certain period of time, the eggs hatch.  Fortunately it is winter and everything had frozen.

Laying on top of the sunflower seeds was a mass of larvae.

As you can see in the photo, on top of the seeds were a mass of larvae.  They were intertwined in a heavy duty web that resembled tissue paper only it was very strong.  I scooped it up in one sheet of web and worms and put in on the platform bird feeder.

 A sheet of web embedded with worms.
Isn't this disgusting?  

The larvae are frozen and I think the good part is that all the eggs have hatched in the sunflower seeds.  What is left is probably fine to feed to the birds.  The positive part of this story is that I no sooner had put the larvae out on the feeder, and the purple finches showed up in record numbers.  They were fighting to get to them.

Not only had the finches come to feast, so did the chickadee's and the sparrows.

Chickadee with a larvae in its mouth.

They are still digging in for a few that are leftover.
He found one.

The lessons learned are that you should use the seed you buy within thirty days in the warm summer months.  It takes about 30 days for meal moths to go through their life cycle but a little longer if the weather is cool.  

Never store bird seed in your house. Heat from the house can cause the eggs to hatch and grow quickly. You don't want the larvae to hatch into moths and then get into your cupboards.  A shed or garage is the best place to store your seeds. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rosettes Are A Family Tradition

It's the holidays and there are some recipes that are tradition.  One of those is Rosettes.  Rosettes are a Scandinavian deep fried cookie type thing. They are very delicate and need to be fried individually.  My mother who was Danish made them, and almost every year I try to make them too.  My family doesn't care that much for them, but it's tradition and they look so pretty on the cookie plate.  This year my cousin Kim wanted to make them.  I had an extra rosette iron to give to her.  She is a very good cook, so I knew they would turn out.  I gave her a food network recipe as well as the recipe my mother had.  I believe she used the Food Network recipe.  They turned out great.  They were better than any I ever made.  She was so kind to share, and we really enjoyed them.  Not only that, I didn't have to make any this year.

Rosette Iron

This is mom's recipe.

Or if you prefer, the Food Network link.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Making Fabric Gift Bags

I finally have most of my Christmas shopping done.  I have a few things coming that I ordered online, but basically I have everything.  I decided to try something different this year.  Usually I pick up wrapping paper when it's 75% off for use the next year.  I didn't do that last year.  I had a plan.  All summer I looked for fabric at garage sales and thrift stores that I could use.  I found shades of red and green and some winter patterned fabric.   I decided to make fabric gift bags this year.  Any kind of fabric would work.  I think velvet bags would be pretty, but I chose a more homespun look.  It would be the ultimate recycling program.  There wouldn't be tons of wrapping paper going into the landfill, and the bags could be used year after year.

The first thing I did was cut a piece of fabric 36" by 20".  This size fit most of the gifts, but you can cut any size you need. 

A piece of fabric cut to whatever size you want.

Use whichever edge you want to be the top of the bag.   I used the 36" edge.   I folded it over 1/2 inch and then made a second fold 1 1/2 inches to make the top placket.  

Hem an edge by folding it over and stitching down.  This is the top of the bag.

Then I stitched two rows of stitching to make a space for the cording.  One where the hem would be made and another 1/2" down from the top (the folded side).  If you don't have a selvage edge, you may want to fold in the edge a little so you don't have a raw edge or use a pinking shears.  Then fold the whole piece in half putting right sides together.  Now stitch a seam on the side and bottom,  and then turn it right side out.

When finished with the sewing you have a bag with a hem on top.

Next you will need some type of cording to tie the bag shut.  I found a couple rolls of this cording that someone made.  It is the kind you make with a spool but I suspect someone made this on a cording machine.  Any type of cording would work.  If you use nylon cording you will have to melt the ends so they don't unravel.

This is the cording I found at a garage sale, but any cording will do.

Next take a safety pin and pin it to the cording.  Thread the cord through the placket.  I used a cord 4 times the width of the bag.  That way when the bag is opened all the way, you won't lose the cording inside the hem and have to redo it.

The bag is now finished, just put the gift inside the bag, pull the draw string tight and tie it with a tag to show who the gift if for.  I'm excited about doing this.  It's actually is going pretty fast.  Not quite as fast as wrapping but next year it will be so easy.  My husband is cutting the fabric pieces for me, so all I have to do sew them up.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Very Busy Sunday

This was a busy day.  We got going early this morning and headed to church.  We went to see three of our grandchildren in their church Christmas program.  Last year we missed the program because it was held in a barn in the country and the barn was too small.  It was full before we arrived, and they shut the doors before we could get in.

This year it was at the church.  Melissa read a bible passage while another girl lit the advent candles.

They had a little program about the Nativity.  They used a more modern story to tell about the birth of Jesus, but I prefer the traditional story.  They sang jazzy songs, played blowup guitars and used puppets as some of the characters.  We all sang Christmas songs.  The kids were very cute.

Jack playing a fake blowup guitar and singing.

Sam singing also.

And Melissa too.

After the program we went to our daughter's house.  She made birthday cupcakes for her dad and two kinds of soup for lunch.  Our other daughter came over with her kids.  After lunch, the kids played, and my dad, my son in law and my husband watched football.   My daughters and I made Christmas cookies.  We get together every year to bake.  We made the usual kinds and a few new ones.  We wanted to make some new varieties that were gluten free.  We made peanut butter temptations, Mexican wedding cakes, chocolate dipped pretzel rods, peppermint bark, soda cracker toffee, mint chocolate chip cookies and new kind with dried cranberries, gluten free pretzels, nuts in dark chocolate. 

Chocolate dipped pretzel rods.

Some of the cookies we made today.

I was really tired today.  I have been going to bed way too late and getting up way too early.  Some people love to sleep, but I'm not a fan of it.  I have never been a good sleeper.  I must have been a difficult baby.  We all know it is necessary and sometimes I have to give in and sleep.  So we got home, ate some dinner and I put my pajama's on.  Now the sugar has kicked in from all the cookie sampling and on top of that the Green Bay Packers beat the Cowboys in an amazing come from behind victory.  I'm not tired anymore.

It's been quite the day.