Do Scarecrows Really Scare Crows?

16 10 2015

scarecrowUsing scarecrows to protect agriculture from scavengers finds its roots anchored in ancient cultures around the globe. These fearsome figures acquired various looks and names throughout history but retained one common goal: To scare away predators from seeds and maturing crops from spring through fall. Scarecrows crudely designed into human likenesses confronted any thieves threatening from ground and air. These decoys guarded large fields and loomed inside small gardens. So why did the scarecrow receive its name when many other creatures stalk fields? Crows forage in flocks, return fearlessly, and cause more damage than other animals.

Egyptians constructed wood frames covered in nets to capture trespassers. Romans copied the Greeks’ more-elaborate carved wooden figure design—maybe something more to admire than to flee. German scarecrows resembled witches that were certain to chase away anything and anybody. Japanese adopted the warrior appearance, donning coats and straw hats complete with bows and arrows. Americans borrowed from these ideas and fashioned their own traditional scarecrows with cross-shaped bodies covered in tattered clothing and stuffed with hay. Their heads consisted of animal skulls or round produce topped with hats. Early German immigrants to the United States tied red handkerchiefs around scarecrows’ necks.

Scarecrow use peaked during the Great Depression but dropped dramatically after World War II when crop-dusting pesticides such as DDT covered our farmlands instead. These chemicals destroyed wildlife and any need for the humble scarecrow. Technological mechanisms such as noise guns, windmills, wind turbines, and fans replaced scarecrows almost entirely in modern society. Even CD’s and ribbons fluttering through the air discourage birds and mammals on personal and global levels.

Although scarecrows suffered popularity as an effective means of protection, they never vanished from our hearts. Many countries host scarecrow festivals and millions of homes display scarecrows as decoration during the harvest season. Find your perfect scarecrow at stores and farm stands, or craft your own!

How To Make A Traditional Scarecrow

Start by stuffing a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt with straw or anything that fills the space. Tuck the shirt into the pants waist and tuck the pants hem into boots, shoes, or socks. Slip shirt cuffs into front pants pockets to resemble hands, or fill gloves and tie them onto the shirt cuffs. Stuff a plain t-shirt into a round shape for the head. Decorate the face with pen, paint, or craft supplies. For the neck, run a stick up into the middle of the head and the other end of the stick down into the body. Tie a fun bandana around the neck. Top the head with more straw or a wig, and a hat. Be creative with your own scarecrow by making it any size, any species, and either gender!

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Canning Jar Creativity

2 05 2014

IMG_4914I am sold out to canning jars, also called Mason jars. I employ canning jars in so many ways that they hold a place on an entire kitchen cabinet shelf. I began using these glass jars as food storage containers to get away from harmful plastics and for my family to identify our food easily. I discover creative uses by trial and anticipate many more discoveries. I’ll share some practical ways to use Mason jars beyond their intended use. The two most common brands in the United States are Ball and Kerr. I like that they have lids, can withstand heat and cold, are safe for food, are affordable and accessible, come in several sizes, and exude a shabby chic vibe.

 Canning Jar Uses (so far!)

  •  Transporting and serving dips, salsa, dressings, and saucesIMG_4917
  • Drinking cups
  • Taking and microwaving food at work
  • Storing food in the refrigerator or pantry
  • Individual dessert cups
  • Butter dishes, especially for homemade varieties
  • Condiment bowls
  • Mixing bowls and jars for homemade salad dressing
  • Containers for crafts or toiletries
  • Flower vases
  • Candleholders

 

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Spring Gleaming

6 03 2014

IMG_4022With the emerging buds outside my window and a flip of the calendar comes another change of seasons indoors. I fully enjoy each season in the Pacific Northwest, so when one nears its end, I get antsy for the next. This celebration of seasons displays its evidence most in my home. Before you imagine kitschy dustibles littering my cave, I’ll admit I’m a minimalist on the subject of décor. Or, possibly I might just be a lazy duster–fewer things to lift.

Many years ago, I heard a quote from English designer Jasper Conran that planted a seed in me. Conran said, “A house should change. It should never stay static. If it does, it’s symbolic of your life.” I’m not afraid of change, and in fact, crave it sometimes. I do, however, love stability and predictability. I marry these seemingly opposing desires by changing up my environment with familiar objects. I do buy something new once in awhile, but the familiarity of heirlooms, gifts, and children’s crafts awaking from storage puts a song in my heart and a spring in my step. (Couldn’t resist that last comment!)

Right now, it’s all about spring in my home with light colors, flora, and eggs. I say goodbye to the beloved stark branches outdoors and inwardly cheer on their emerging buds.

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Dust Off Your Sled and Pull It Indoors

25 01 2014

IMG_3691Pacific Northwesterners do not sit on the fence regarding snow and passionately stand behind personal opinions. Those who live here either bemoan a wintry forecast and hope “snow stays in the mountains where it belongs,” or anticipate weather that delivers a fairytale snowfall. I join the snow lovers who desire a frozen wonderland. You see, even though the Pacific Ocean along our Northwest coastline is ghastly frigid even in the middle of summer, it rarely ushers in the winning combination for a winter storm. We all have closets and storage bins stuffed with neglected winter clothes and accessories ready for a freak snow or ice storm, or for a trip to the mountains. So while I wait, I pull out those winter accessories, display them in my home throughout the season, and free up storage space. And, if by chance, we get a surprise storm or plan a last-minute trip to the Cascades, I’ll be ready to head out.

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Winter Trees Card Craft

18 01 2014

IMG_3715-2I assisted my youngest child’s classroom with making a wintry picture of bare trees and snow, and my other two liked the outcome enough to try the craft at home. They designed their own wintry scenes on blank cards and sent them to friends and family as thank you notes for Christmas gifts that year. Each child’s scene was unique with variously colored backgrounds that resembled blizzards, dusk, and sunsets. I am not crafty and do not store many supplies, so any craft I attempt certainly can be tackled by anyone. If I can help over 30 second graders complete this fun and easy craft in an hour, imagine what you can create! Go ahead and think beyond bare trees to unlimited sceneries.

Supplies Needed:

  • Blank note cards or paper in neutral colors
  • Painter’s masking tape (peels off easily)
  • Watercolors
  • Small paintbrush
  • Salt

Step One: Rip strips of tape to the desired sizes of tree trunks and tree branches. The frayed edges mimic rough bark. Adhere tips to the edge of a table or any object that allows them to hang freely while you’re working.

IMG_3694-2Step Two: Arrange tree trunks across the paper. Trees can be few or numerous, evenly spaced or random, depending on your preference and your sizes of paper and trunks.

Step Three: Add branches to the trunks, varying sizes and directions. Criss-crossing branches creates a forest. When you’ve finished placing all trunks and branches, press tape one last time onto paper so edges seal.

Step Four: Choose a background of one or more watercolors, and paint the whole paper, including the tape.

IMG_3699-2Step Five: While the paint is still wet, sprinkle salt over the entire paper. Set the craft aside to dry.

Step Six: Once the paper is dry, gently tap off excess salt and remove the tape. Your craft is complete!

Note: If you want the neutral part beneath the tape a different color, carefully brush or dab on damp watercolor.

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Making a Pinecone Birdfeeder

31 12 2013

IMG_3585Holiday celebrations are over, yet the children have a few more days before they’re back in school. Chances are they’re getting a bit restless in the house and looking for activities to fill their free time. A pinecone birdfeeder makes a fun craft that entertains them, costs little money, and feeds local birds in a season when food is most scarce. Pinecones litter the ground all over the Pacific Northwest. If you can’t find any in your neighborhood, you’ll certainly find some in a nearby park or nature area. Just be sure it’s okay to take pinecones from someone’s property or public grounds. It doesn’t matter what size or shape of pinecone you use, but forego a fir cone. You need those spaces between the pinecone’s individual scales to fill with peanut butter and birdseed.IMG_8220-2

You need:

  • One or more pinecones
  • Creamy peanut butter spread
  • Birdseed of your choice
  • Twine

To make your birdfeeder, place your pinecone on a paper towel, newspaper, or plate. Spoon some peanut butter into a dish, and then spread it onto each scale with a spreader or with fingers if the kids like to get messy. IMG_3581Pour birdseed onto a plate, then either roll the pinecone into the birdseed or sprinkle birdseed over the pinecone until it sticks to and covers up all the peanut butter. Tie twine at the top of the pinecone and hang it outside where the birds easily and safely can access your birdfeeder. A sheltered spot best protects it from rain, wind, and snow. Everyone’s happy, inside and out!

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Candy Cane Cardholder

22 12 2013

IMG_8197Most of us have an abundance of candy canes hanging around the house during the Christmas season. I love their history, significance, festive colors, and flavors. This includes all types of candy canes. I’m not picky. I have an easy idea on how to use and display them as cardholders, and still eat them when you’re done with the season or a particular event.

IMG_8191

You need:

3 candy canes in wrapper, preferably regular-sized

1 rubber band, twisty tie, ribbon, or chenille stem

Hold the three candy canes upside down and back-to-back so their hooks are at the bottom and facing outward in a circle. Secure them together near the top. Set them on a flat surface and rest greeting cards or name cards across two of the hooks. The third candy cane hook will be in the back for balance. Since they’re not glued together or unwrapped, they remain edible. IMG_8202If they’re used as placecard holders, your guests can consume them at the party or take them home as favors. Stick leftover candy canes into coffee and cocoa for extra flavor. Blend traditional candy cane bits into ice cream for peppermint shakes. Crush candy canes and sprinkle over various desserts. My favorite reason to use candy canes as cardholders is to share them afterward!

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