Nature Studies, Backyard, Gardening, Vacations

When the Snow is on the Ground (When, indeed!)


The Little Robin Grieves - Nursery Rhyme

The little robin grieves
When the snow is on the ground,
For the trees have no leaves,
And no berries can be found.


The air is cold, the worms are hid;
For robin here what can be done?
Let's throw around some crumbs of bread,
And then he'll live till snow is gone.


The other day I came upon a stack of large flip charts. Do they even use those any more? Anyway... opening them brought on a ton of delightful memories.


I didn't homeschool my children. To be honest, at the time, I only knew of 1 family that homeschooled, and the thought never even crossed by mind. Instead, I surrounded our children with enrichment learning, and I think my family would all agree, that some of their best learning, certainly the most enjoyable and memorable, occurred within the family. One of the things I always did, was to print poems on flip charts, which were displayed in our family room, which I then surrounded with picture books and resource books on the topic. We kept a poem up until everyone had a chance to mostly memorize it... at least become intimately familiar with it... and we had enjoyed crafts and outings that corresponded with it.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the poems that the wee ones haven't learned yet.  The nursery rhyme, The Little Robin Grieves, has long been one of our favorites. I think I like the poem so much because it speaks of the seasons and encourages us to help these lovely creatures :)   


Although we haven't gotten any noteworthy snow yet, the above picture was taken last year, our feathered friends still appreciate the food and heated water we provide for them. 

Above is this year's winter picture, sans snow or sun!!!

If you've never looked at Michelle's Winter Wonderland Curriculum, you are in for a treat. Although it is geared to preschool/kindergarten, many of the activities will be enjoyable for children of all ages and it has a list of some wonderful winter books. One of the crafts we will be doing this week is to make the ever popular pinecone feeders. The tutorial is available in the Winter Wonderland Curriculum. We will doing other activities, which we will be sharing, too.

BTW... we have many books on winter, birds and animals in winter, but I just read a review on the book, A Bird in Winter by Hélène Kérillis and Stéphane Gire , and thought it would be perfect. It was inspired by Pieter Breugel's painting, Hunters in the Snow, and is about an eight year old peasant girl named Mayken who finds an injured bird in the snow. She nurses the bird back to health. Not only is the book's water colors suppose to be lovely, but I'm hoping it demonstrates the joy in helping all creatures, great and small :)


Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1565)

The book is due in on Tuesday. I'll do a review on it them :) And, fingers crossed... Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Peg Flowers and Fairies

A few days ago I shared a little Black Eyed Susan flower that I made with felt and a wooden peg. When you pushed the petals down, you discovered a little flower fairy. I began thinking about other flowers, focusing on the petal shapes. I came up with 4 different shapes, keeping the necks the same size on all of them. I'll share some of the flowers I made, but the sky is the limit! Look at your favorite flowers, pick the petal that comes the closest, and before you know it, you'll have a bed of your "bestest" favorites :) Or, throw caution to the wind, get wild and crazy, and mix and match petals and colors, to create unique fantasy flowers. The choice is yours. For now, let's get started and learn the basics.

wooden pegs - 7/8"x 2 3/8"

Make a copy of the pattern found HERE.

Begin by painting the body of the peg green. MAKE SURE TO USE CHILD SAFE PAINTS.

Paint the heads the color to match the flower you are making.

Pick your petal shape and cut out 8 petals in the desired color. You can make the petals all the same colors, or multiple colors for variations. You can even cut out 1 or 2 petals in green to represent leaves.

Many flowers have ridges or scallops on the outer edge of their petals. You can cut saw teeth or scallops at the edge of the petals.

Using quilting thread or 2 strands of matching floss, starting at the edge of the first petal, sew a running stitch to the middle of the neck.

Take the next petal, and overlap the first, and continue the running stitch sewing the two together. Stop at the middle of the second neck.

Continue adding petals in this overlapping fashion until all 8 petals have been adding, stopping in the middle of the 8th petal. IMPORTANT: when making your running stitch, make sure you do not overlap the stitches. You will need to pull the thread to gather around the wooden peg's neck.

To join the petals to the wooden peg, wrap your petals around the neck of the peg, overlapping the 1st petal over the 8th. Sew a couple more running stitches connecting the petals.

Pull firmly on the thread until it is tight around the neck. Tie off.

Work the thread in and out of the petals a couple of times to hide the end of the thread, and clip the thread close to the petals.

Using a fine tipped, permanent marker, add a face and some "seeding looking" designs to represent both hair and seeds. Using paint, add a touch of pink for checks.

Here are the flowers I made... loosely based on real flowers :)

Petal A - Black Eyed Susan. Might also be used for dahlias, cone flowers, chrysanthemums, leaves etc.

Petal B - Poinsettia. Might also be used for irises, ruffled tulips, leaves, etc.

Petal C - Poppy. Might also be used for tulips, peonies, violets (scallop the edge), etc.

Petal D - Chicory - Might also be used for daisies, asters, coreopsis, etc.

Where can your imagination take these flowers? Have fun creating your own flower bed.
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Black Eyed Susans

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with Black Eyed Susans. They weren't flowers in my mother's garden, but rather they grew wild in the park by our house. I was intrigued by how alike and how different they were from daisies, another favorite. Once I had a garden of my own, I filled it with Black Eyed Susans. Who knew I would spend the next 3 decades in a love/hate relationship with the flower! I still love them, but I'm always battling them to keep them under control (They can be so pushy :)

Anyway... this year, like all of my plants, my poor Black Eyed Susans are looking a bit frumpy from the heat. It got me to thinking, and before long, I decided to make some playful Black Eyed Susans for inside. I have visions of surrounding the gnome house with flowers!
Of course, who wants flowers around your gnome house unless they have personality? So, you simply push the petals down and...

tah dah... meet our newest little flower fairy. We will be sharing the pattern later in the week, hopefully with some variations to chose from!

What flower is a "must have" in your garden?

Postcards from Vermont 2011

My mom shared some pictures of her latest trip to visit the Little Lady so I needed to share some of ours. We went in the other direction. We just got back from our annual trip to Vermont (here are last year's pics). This is something we've been doing since I was 11 years old and it is so wonderful to share this experience with my children now. We have been going to the same place for so long, when we get there it feels like we've come home to this magical place where time seems to stand still. We love the boundless outdoor activities and are always on the go from dawn to dusk. We come back feeling both refreshed and exhausted. LOL.



Time Began In A Garden

This was first p
osted on April 27, 2009, on my now retired blog One Generation to Another. I hope you enjoy :)

I love gardening. But who can blame me? Time began in a garden, at least biblically speaking. God did not plop Adam and Eve down in the desert.  Nor did he choose a mountain side or a quaint cove along United States’ eastern seaboard. Nope. He created the Garden of Eden. Granted, this wasn’t a working garden. Adam and Eve did not need to toil from dawn to dusk tilling the soil or performing tasks as seemingly mundane as weeding, but, he knew when he fashioned the first humans, a garden would prove to be good for their soul.

Years ago I was given a garden sign that said, “I’m closest to God in my garden. ” Truer words have never been uttered. I like church just as much as the next guy, and I’ve humbled myself before God in the wee hours of the night, safely tucked in my bed, BUT, I have my best conversations with God while I’m in my gardens. Sometimes our conversations are purely philosophical. “Okay, God. What’s up with mosquitoes? I don’t get them. Was that a faux pas on your part, or did you intentionally put them on this earth just to remind us that we aren’t in Heaven yet?” Sometimes my gardens become an outdoor counseling session with me just jabbering away about my latest woes, and God just sitting back jotting down notes. But my favorite time in the garden with God is when we work side by side, without speaking, simply aware of each other’s presence.

My first experiences with gardening weren’t as cathartic. As memory serves me, when growing up our gardens were quite lovely. Couple an engineering father who NEVER did anything unless he had a blueprint, and a mother who could have been the editor of Better Homes and Gardens, our gardens, like our house, belonged in magazines. I remember pristine beds filled with roses and alyssums. A porch flower box always held geraniums exploding with vibrant reds. And, seemingly an afterthought, although nothing ever was, the side of the house was a dense planting of my mother’s favorite flower, the zinnia.

The problem with the gardens was they were not interactive; at least not for us children. My parents planned and planted our gardens. We were not included in the creative side of gardening. Our only true interaction with them did not instill love of the gardens. Perhaps coincidentally, although I wonder, my parents would always wait until the hottest days of summer… certainly only days over 90 degrees, (there is the slightest possibility that I'm exaggerating) when the soil was parched and hard as a rock, then they would say the 2 words that instilled undiluted horror, “Go weed.” We were given spoons and instructed to dig up the weeds. If this seems like a scene out of “Mommy, Dearest” I can assure you, that’s exactly how it felt at the time! I think I probably started talking to God in the gardens back then. It’s probably a very good thing he never answered any of those prayers!

But, there must have been some recessive gene that lay dormant, until I had a house of my own. I was shocked and nearly giddy, when I discovered the creative side of gardening. The pure, unadulterated joy of pouring over seed catalogs in the dead of winter. Hey, it might be -20 degrees outside, but I knew… nay, I felt it in my heart, that under the heaps and mounds of snow, my friends the plants were sound asleep, dreaming flora dreams, just waiting for the first kiss of spring to awaken them. I began to see my yard as a canvas and plants as my artist’s pallet. Colors and textures comingled in any way I fancied. Pulling weeds and removing sod were a small price to pay for this ecstasy.

Sometimes I spend hushed time in my garden. Sometimes I play in it. But mostly, according to Tim, I full body garden! It’s become a housekeeping imperative that if I wish to maintain any standards of cleanliness in our home during gardening season, that I strip down to my birthday suit at the back door, leaving behind mud and assorted insects, as I run naked through the house free as a child, praying no one catches me in the act! There are few sensations that can compare to showering after a day in the garden, when the hot water beats against your aching back, and the smell of lavender soap reminds you of your garden’s promise.

So, I often spend the last moments of daylight in my garden… my cathedral. As Tim and I listen for the birds to depart, and the bats and lightning bugs to make their entrance, my garden, no our garden, fades into the shadows. But I know, when I awake tomorrow, and find myself being drawn to my garden, that God is waiting, in the place it all began.

What type of relationship do you have with your garden? Is it mystical, a means to an end, or something you avoid like the plague? (BTW... some of my best friends fall into the last category... it is not a personality flaw :)

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