This has to be one of my favorite projects I've tried all year, and it's unbelievably simple. I love, love, love the way these ornaments catch the light and their earthy, natural vibe. (Wouldn't they make amazing decorations at an outdoor fall wedding?) In our mild Tennessee weather these birdseed ice ornaments don't last long but they look really pretty before and even as they're melting.
These are nearly impossible to mess up so it's a perfect craft to do with kids. I'm planning on making a whole batch with my little cousins this weekend.
After using forests of scrapbooking paper in my life it's nice to finally find a "green" project that gives back a little. The birds will thank you this winter!
Birdseed and Cranberry Ice Ornaments
There are a few ways you can make these ice ornaments. I'm a huge fan of using silicone ice cube trays because you can pop out the ornaments without worrying about breakage. But if you want to see your ornaments from far away, then something bigger (and fancier?) might be in order. In that case, try using a bowl a bowl and small drinking glass to create a wreath shape with a hole in the middle (a silicone donut mold also works).
If you don't like either of those options, feel free to re-purpose something from the kitchen, such as an old yogurt container, the bottom of a paper milk jug, or an empty aluminum can. Depending on the mold you choose, you might find it hard to get the ornaments out. Simply let the ornament thaw for several on the counter or run it under warm water for a few seconds and it should, hopefully, pop out cleanly.
Once you've chosen your mold, you'll want to pick out your seed. You can use store-bought birdseed or a mixture of nuts and seeds from your pantry. Birds love things like sunflower seeds, millet, quinoa, unbuttered popcorn kernels, fresh berries, dried fruit, and even crushed eggshells.
-Whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
-Ice cube tray and/or bowl with flat bottom and a small glass
To make an ice ring, place the glass (I used a shot glass but you can use a drinking glass) inside the bowl. Fill the bowl with an inch or so of water then add bird seed and cranberries. Place in freezer over night. Once frozen, pop the ring out of the bowl (letting it thaw for several minutes on the kitchen counter helps) and run some twine through the center to create a loop.
For the cubes (or any other fun shaped ice cube tray you might have) begin by cutting a piece of twine and tying it into a loop.
Place fresh or frozen cranberries in each of the tray cavities.
Add the twine knot down. You don't want the twine poking out the bottom of the finished ice ornament (not that the birds will mind) so try to make sure it isn't touching the bottom of the tray. To help hold the twine in place, I like to clip a clothespin around the twine and then rest it on the edge of the ice tray. You can also just add more cranberries to help hold the twine in place.
Fill the rest of each ice cube cavities with birdseed and water (it doesn't really matter which order you do it in). I like to mix things up by using just cranberries in some ornaments, just birdseed in others, and sometimes a mix. It's up to you.
Put the ice cube tray in the freezer overnight.
In the morning, take your ornaments outside and hang them from the branches of a nearby tree. If you live in a cold climate (lucky you!) your ice ornaments should last for days or weeks without melting. If you live in a warmer climate, like me, they'll melt pretty quickly. As they do, the seeds will drop away and birds will scavenge them off the ground.