Tuesday, May 10, 2016
I love the opportunity to learn things first hand. Hands-on and right before your eyes is one of my favorite ways to absorb information. Don't get me wrong, I love books. Books spark ideas and spread information but sometimes you need to be right in it. So as we were learning about lifecycles, we looked for opportunities to watch them before our very eyes. Sprouting seeds, raising chicks and now butterflies.
Together with some local homeschoolers, we ordered Painted Lady larvae. We received 6 each. When they arrived they were so small; no bigger than a sunflower seed. For about 2 weeks they lived in a container with their own food (a soy type cake). They grew so rapidly. We checked day after day to see if they were ready to pupate. They would hang in the shape of a J then overnight the chrysalis would form around them. We then moved them to the cage we made for them so the children could watch them change. They had a metallic sheen to them which was so unexpected.
There was so much anticipation in waiting for the butterflies to emerge. We watched over the chrysalis carefully. Finally we saw spindly legs emerge from one of the chrysalis. Overnight the rest of the butterflies emerged. They sat on the side drying their wings, looking very brown. The next day we got a glimpse of the beautiful colors on the back of our Painted Ladies.
We decided to release them in our backyard near a large bush covered in orange flowers. I knew the honeybees and the hummingbirds love that bush and I was sure the butterflies would love it too. We gently lifted them from the cage and lowered them to the flowers. We watched them sip nectar with long tongues. Finally, they flew off to explore our yard and find a new home. It was nothing short of magic.
Friday, May 6, 2016
I was not prepared for A to start losing teeth this early. When she came to me to show off her wiggly tooth I was in denial. But sure enough, two weeks later out it came. I wish I was more prepared though. I wanted to make it so much more magical for her. I had plans to make a special Tooth Fairy box but A told me her tooth didn't need a box, it only goes under her pillow. So that's where the Tooth Fairy found it. A was thrilled with her special surprise from her fairy friend.
Friday, April 22, 2016
I have a special kind of love with that time of day between dusk and dark. We've had a few hot days here and the coolness of twilight is the relief we need to settle into sleep. The weather shouts summer but nature is hanging on to spring. We like to take the time in that twilight hour to wander our neighbourhood. Cool down and drink in the beauty around us. The world is fragrant and lush. Walking home as the sky turns dark and the stars peek out is the perfect way to end the day.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
I am always interested in new craft processes. Some I just can`t figure out (crochet still eludes me!) but I will always try. I love the look of indigo dyed fabric. It reminds me of water and sky. It`s gorgeous. So of course the more I researched it, the more I wanted to try it. I was luck enough to find an indigo dye kit at an art shop in town so I dove right it!
It`s actually a really interesting process and A enjoyed watching the dye oxides from green to blue. It was rather tough to imagine how they would look when they were all tied up but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I think I love them all! I`m imagining all the things I can dye! And I want to try other dyes. And other fibers. I definitely feel a new obsession coming on.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Our second round of chicks are here. I'm so excited for these guys. I love the heritage breeds and these ones came from a farm a good hour from us. We got a few blue laced red Wynadottes and a couple Silver Sussex. We got them when they were just 24 hours old. They are probably the smallest chicks we've ever had. Both kids were instantly obsessed. They were constantly checking on them, asking to feed them, hold them and name them (we don't name any of our chickens. They are difficult to tell apart and it makes it hard to say goodbye when it's their time). They aren't old enough for us to sex them, we aren't sure if we have any roosters in the bunch yet. We are just so excited to have them here.
Round one chickens are getting big! They are big enough now to go outside during the day. I can't wait until they are bit enough to go in their coop. They are getting smelly and are starting to dig around in their cage. These two are supposed to be females but I'm noticing differences in their head feathers so I'm wondering if we might have a male. Only time will tell.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
When we decided to raise some Painted Ladies in our home, I knew we need a good house from them. I was really set on ordering online but when that didn't work out, I figured I needed to make one of my own. It didn't turn out pretty but it is certainly functional and only cost me $10. Hopefully this tutorial can give you a starting point for your own butterfly house.
:: two hoops (I used 19in dreamcatcher hoops)
:: ballet tulle (I needed a 38x34in piece)
:: a sewing machine
:: sharp scissors
:: rope, cord or ribbon
:: straight pins
:: one diaper pin
Start by laying your tulle out, measure and cut to your desired dimensions. Fold in half and pin along the opposite side (leaving the bottom and top open). I used a tight zig zag to hold the tulle tight. You will have a tulle tube.
Gather one end with about an inch of tulle at top. Make sure you've gathered it evenly. Here you can tie tightly with twine, tie a knot or stitch the end closed. I went back and forth with a straight stitch several times to close the end.
This part was tricky for me so be patient and butterflies won't mind the odd mistake. Put one of the hoops in your tulle tube. Push it evenly into the bottom with the knot in the center. Pin in place. You can machine stitch or hand stitch the tulle to the hoop.
At this point, I skipped the second hoop and focused on the top edge. I folded over a 1in hem. Stitch this hem leaving an opening at opposite sides for the cord to pull through. Once I had completed that, I put the second hoop in. I pinned the top with a diaper pin and then got the second hoop in place (I put mine about 13in above the first hoop). Follow the previous step to secure the second hoop (I liked to hold it up as I was getting the second hoop in place to make sure it wasn't crooked).
Pin the diaper pin to the end of your cord and feed it through the hem at the top and knot. Pull evenly through both openings. Now you are ready to hang it!
Mine ended up a little bit crooked but I don't mind a bit. I didn't add any tubing along the sides because I wanted it to be collapsible so we could store it for use year after year.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
The weather has been nothing short of perfect for planting. The sun keeps the soil warm but it's not so hot that I want to pass out after 20 minutes. We still have a lot of work to finish up the big garden overhaul. All the raised beds are built and most have soil. I've been waiting since October for this!
The radishes are planted and sprouting. So are the cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, swiss chard and lettuce. I've been having really excellent luck so far with my indoor seedlings. I decided to use a small heat mat to keep the roots warm this year. My celery, jalapenos and tomatoes are all very happy.
I'm very excited about my herb bed. I've transplanted several of my perennial herbs and started many from seed. I used stones and driftwood to separate everything until they are fully grown. I'm looking forward to making my own tinctures, salves and teas. I decided though not to plant my mint and oregano in the bed since they are so vigorous (they tend to take over). They are very happy in their pots, even this early in the growing season.
I had really hoped we would have a new colony of bees by the time our fruit trees bloomed but we haven't had any luck finding bees yet. So we got a small box of mason bee cocoons. The sun and warmth has hatched them all and it's wonderful to watch them work. They are such hard workers and actually quite beautiful. It's easy to appreciate these bees for all they do for us.
We spend most of our days outside planting, weeding, watering and playing but even when we are inside, we are talking about seeds, plants and flowers. We recently got a beautiful painting of an Linnaeus clock that we often look to for flower inspiration. I avoid cutting flowers because I believe bees and other insects need them outside but from time to time we bring in a few flowers. They are such a joyful thing for us all, it's hard to resist when A asks for some.