Monday, August 30, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010

Once again I will be striving for a handmade holiday season this year. I am starting earlier in hopes of creating everyone’s gifts by hand. I will be joining Plain and Joyful Living in this challenge. We can all do our part to promote a more sustainable world this is just one small step. I will be posting links and ideas for a handmade holiday throughout the coming months. If you would like to join me in this endeavor here is the Plain and Joyful Living button to share:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Butterflies

We awoke Saturday morning to a flutter of wings.  Much to our surprise and delight the butterflies had emerged overnight.  We were not expecting them to hatch for another few days. As a result we had not yet put any food in the house for them.  In order to ensure there survival we opted to release them immediately.  We watched them in rapture for a few moments, awed by their beauty.  We then traveled to the backyard and watch them swiftly escape from the enclosure into the beautiful morning of an August day.  We were only able to catch this one picture before they took off.  We had an amazing time with this butterfly study and plan on doing it every year.  We will be studying up on different types of butterflies over the winter and will plant butterfly attracting plants in the spring...come summer the caterpillar hunt is on!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Three years ago today we walked away from this head on collision without a scratch.......

Monday, August 16, 2010

Candle Crafting

For O's 4th birthday I bought her a wonderful beeswax candle craft kit from Magic Cabin. We decide that today was a great day to try our hand at candle making. The kit is designed for children 5+ but she had no problem doing this craft independently. This was an easy and highly gratifying craft. The children marveled out their handiwork and I enjoyed the simplicity of it all. The smell alone was worth it. We made both tapered and pillar candles and embellished them with designs cut with cookie cutters. We used our candles this evening and had ice cream sundaes by candlelight. We have many sheets of beeswax left and will definitely be making more candles in the near future...I'm thinking these would make excellent Christmas presents. The kit makes 12 pillar candles or 24 tapered candles, of course if you want to make smaller candles the numbers are flexible.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Pupa Time Excellent.....

Ladies and Gentleman we have pupas!  On Wednesday evening our caterpillars stopped eating and began wandering around the enclosure looking for a place to pupate.  Here is a bit of forewarning to any future caterpillar rearers. Before they wander, they poop A LOT one last time. They empty out their whole digestive tract so this last poop/frass is kind of runny and diarrhea like. Yummy!  Apparently Frass is the official word for caterpillar poop...who knew? Once Black Swallowtails  find a place to pupate, they will stay in that spot for a while without moving very much, sometimes for as long as 24 hrs. Eventually they spin silk thread to attach themselves to the object they decided to pupate on. After another 24 hours or so (depending upon the temperature) they molt one last time. After this molt they are no longer a caterpillar/larva, but a pupa that has formed a chrysalis. Black Swallowtail chrysalises can be any one of three colors. The most common is a dark brown color, that makes it look like part of a stick. This is the kind we have. Less common are a green color and a light brown. Here is an excellent slide show of a Black Swallowtails life is so COOL!  After pupating for  9-11 days our adult butterfly should emerge from their chrysalises.
We are so excited! I will post more pics when they emerge.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Forest Fairy Queen

Yesterday O was really pestering me to come up with a pipe cleaner craft.  I was in a hurry, and in the middle of my weekly baking.  I could not stop to accommodate her.  So I dug deep into my frazzled brain and came up with this simple leaf crown craft.  I sent her into the backyard to collect leaves and returned to my cakes. When she reappeared I quickly punched two holes at the bottom of each leaf and had her string them onto a pipe cleaner of her choice.  Once she had filled the whole pipe cleaner up I twisted the ends together and VIOLA instant Fairy Queen!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Summer's Bounty

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

OHC Summer Series #7 Summer Cattail Observations

OHC Summer Series #7 Summer Cattail Observations

Last week we were able to complete our first Outdoor Hour Challenge of the summer.  We have been so busy this summer we have not been able to complete any challenges.  We were very excited to return to our cattail colony and observe it's seasonal changes.  Here is a pictures from our spring visit for comparison.

Our colony had grown exponentially and was awash with  flower spikes.  We were able to find several ripe flowers on the ground.  When ripe the heads disintegrate into dense cottony fluff, from which the seeds disperse by wind.  The children had a blast playing with these billowy spikes and were amazed by the sheer quantity of seeds produced from a single spike. 
We only have one season left of our year long cattail study.  We have all enjoyed watching the amazing life cycle of this beautiful plant unfold.  Here are the links to our winter and spring studies if you would like to share this journey with us.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Constructing Caterpillar Abodes

For months now I have been planning on buying a butterfly growing kit. Today we decided to take things into our own hands and construct one.  Thanks to our gigantic butterfly bush we have a flourishing butterfly population in our backyard .  Not surprisingly we now also have a  flourishing caterpillar population in our vegetable gardens.  My flat leaf Italian parsley and carrot plants are literally overrun with black swallowtail  caterpillars.  We wanted to save both the caterpillars and the plants and decided that building a new home for the caterpillars was our only option.  I was able to search the web and locate the Bug Guide which has a detailed page on rearing caterpillars.  Apparently caterpillars are very particular about what they eat. Individual caterpillar species have a particular type of food plant (or family of plants) that it is associated with.  Moving the caterpillars onto other plants would not suffice.  So we repurposed two old Ikea storage bins into a fantastic caterpillar abode. 
Next we needed to construct a pupation site.  Butterfly caterpillars should be given stems and branches from which to suspend their pupae.   I was able to find a suitable rock in the backyard and hot glued fallen tree branches on to it.

Then we harvested some parsley from the garden, wrapped it in a moist paper towel and placed it in the caterpillar house.  The parsley will need to be replenished every 1-2 days.  Finally it was time to introduce the caterpillars to their new home.

Here they are home at last  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.  To say I am an avid breastfeeding supporter would be an understatement. I am a very passionate and proud lactivist.  I have practiced extended breastfeeding with all of my children and am currently nursing my youngest.  Here are a few links to help inspire and educate you.  Let's face it parenting is hard, breastfeeding shouldn't be.  Society as a whole needs to embrace the culture of breastfeeding. Parents and caregivers deserve to be inspired, motivated, coached and cheered on!
Le Leche League
Best for Babies
Dr. Sears
101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child