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Pine cones: Nature’s Gift to the Crafty
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Pine cones: Nature’s Gift to the Crafty

[caption id="attachment_23392" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Laura Strachan Laura Strachan, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Laura Strachan.  It’s holiday season! And with that comes the inevitable urge to create Christmas crafts and gifts. Every fall I coerce my son out to the park to go “pine cone hunting” for various shapes and sized cones that we can add to our Christmas decor. Pine cones are a nice natural touch to add to the common plastic fanfare that usually surrounds the season. Wire pine cones in pairs and hang them on your tree. Fill a hurricane vase or glass bowl with pine cones, acorns and Christmas balls for a fresh centrepiece. For a more ambitious project follow these steps for a one-of-a-kind wreath!

Materials you will need:

[caption id="attachment_30506" align="alignright" width="273"]Image of a Pine Cone Wreath The final product: Pine Cone Wreath by Laura Strachan.[/caption]
  • 50-100 pine cones - long pine cones (ie. Eastern White Pine), short pine cones (ie. Ponderosa or Scots Pine) and/or Small pine cones
  • 1 x wire wreath frame (18” frame used here)
  • 20-30 gauge floral wire
  • Wire snips
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Hot glue

Before you start:

If some pine cones are not dry, place them on a cookie sheet in the oven on low until the scales open. Also divide your pine cones up by size.

Directions:

Step 1 - Base Layer: Long, narrow pine cones work best for the base layer. Otherwise start your first layer using your larger pine cones. Arrange the pine cones pointing outwards on the outer ring of your frame. Using short pieces of wire, individually fasten the pine cones to the frame.Repeat this until the first outer ring of cones is secured. For extra security, weave one long length of wire in and out of the ring of cones, tightening it to the frame. Step 2 - Arrange your second row of pine cones, overlapping the base layer as shown. Secure the layer by weaving wire through the layer to the frame, or adhere the layer using hot glue. Repeat Step 2 for additional layers if necessary. Step 3 - Turn your wreath over and secure any loose or wiggling pine cones with hot glue. Step 4 - Add final touches to your wreath by filling any spaces or gaps by hot gluing bundles of small pine cones, or acorns in place. Step 5 - Decorate your wreath using a bow or ornaments, or simply hang as is for an all season decoration.Image of a pine cone wreath Let us know how this craft turns out for you by commenting below or sharing with us on Facebook or Twitter!
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Come out to Bird Day Fair in Ottawa!
Photo by Rachel Thibodeau
News

Come out to Bird Day Fair in Ottawa!

Join us for Bird Day Fair at Andrew Haydon Park, Saturday May 31st – 10am-4pm Just as our migratory birds are returning to Canada from their wintering grounds south of the border, a huge celebration is unfolding across the continent to celebrate birds – and you can be part of it! Bird Day is a celebration of migratory birds and the wild spaces they inhabit. Join Nature Canada in a celebration of the incredible migration journey of birds through a day of fun activities for the whole family. There will be nature walks, crafts and activities, a live raptor demonstration, and an opportunity to meet local groups working to protect wildlife. It's also a great opportunity to test drive our fantastic NEW app that helps you map local wildlife sightings. Several organizations like Ecology Ottawa, Wild Birds Unlimited, Nikon, Master Gardeners of Ottawa and others will be there to share information about their work. Check out our Facebook event page and our Bird Day pages on our website for more information on the day's events. We'll be giving away FREE bookmarks and Junior Birder Guidebooks in English and en Français on May 31 so be sure to come early! See below for the Bird Day Fair schedule of events. Photo by Rachel Thibodeau birdday2014 schedule of events for Bird Day Fair

Family Christmas Crafts
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Family Christmas Crafts

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] One of the real challenges during the holidays is finding fun family activities that don't include the mall, Christmas movies on TV, or eating too many cookies. Here are two easy crafts that are fun for children and adults, and are made with materials that most people have around the house come Christmas time. This year, start a new tradition. Make some Walnut Boats to float on Candle Lake, and some Mandarin Lanterns to light the dark night.

How to Make Walnut Boats

What You Need: [caption id="attachment_23565" align="alignright" width="250"]Pieces you need for your walnut boat Pieces you need for your walnut boat[/caption] [custom_table style="1"]
1. Walnuts 2. Short pieces of candle wick 3. Beeswax, an old pot
4. A tray or bowl 5. Matches or a lighter 6. Water
[/custom_table] What To Do:
  • Carefully split walnuts in half, then remove the meat.
  • Fill the half shells about 2/3 full with beeswax around a small piece of lamp wick. This is a walnut boat.
  • Repeat this step until you have as many walnuts boats as you would like.
  • Carefully float your boats in a tray or bowl of water.
Light the wicks, turn the lights out, and watch the children’s eyes light up!

How to Make Mandarin Lanterns

What You Need:
[custom_table style="1"]
1. Mandarin oranges 2. Cooking oil 3. Matches or a lighter
4. A spoon 5. A sharp knife
[/custom_table] What To Do:
  • Gently cut just the skin of the mandarin all the way around the diametre of the fruit (imagine it like the equator). Be careful not to cut the fruit inside.
  • With a spoon and your fingers, pull the fruit away from the peel, being careful not to tear the peel. It is important to conserve the stringy filaments that run up the middle of the orange so that they stay connected to the peel of the mandarin.
  • Once you remove the fruit you will be left with two halves of the mandarin peel - one half with the filaments attached, and the other without.
  • Pour oil into the mandarin half with the filaments attached to about 1/3 full.
  • Cut small holes and geometric shapes into the other half of the peel to make a decorative cap for the lantern.
  • Wait about 10 minutes to allow the filament “wick” to soak up some oil. Carefully light the wick to turn your orange into a lantern. Place the cap on top.
  • To display your mandarin lanterns, put them in the snow outside your window and watch the heat cause them to melt down into the snow, emanating a warm orange glow into the snowy winter night.

[one_half]

[caption id="attachment_23562" align="aligncenter" width="150"]Mandarin lantern without a cap Mandarin lantern without a cap[/caption]

[/one_half] [one_half_last]

[caption id="attachment_23563" align="aligncenter" width="146"]Mandarin lantern with a cap. Mandarin lantern with a cap.[/caption]

[/one_half_last]

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