Nature Studies, Backyard, Gardening, Vacations


NOTE: Michelle shared this post a couple of years ago. We have a project to share this week, but before we do, we wanted to repost this story on Letterboxing. If you haven't discovered this past time with your children, you are in for a treat :) 

This summer we have discovered a fun new hobby... Letterboxing or as my kids call it... Treasure Hunting.

What is Letterboxing? It is a fun hobby that combines hiking, clues/maps and stamp collecting. You follow the clue to find a box. Inside the box you will find a special stamp and a notebook in a waterproof container. You stamp your notebook with the found stamp and the Letterbox notebook with your signature stamp, then you re-hide the box. This is a great way to encourage kids to hike! The first time out my little ones did a 3 mile hike and wanted to keep going for the next box.

What do you need to get started... just a journal for collecting stamps, a signature stamp to leave your mark (homemade or store bought), an ink pad and pen, possibly a compass and a clue map. I also keep sunblock, bug spray and a water bottle in our pack.

To find lettingboxing hunts in your area log on to Atlas Quest. Choose a hunt that is active (been found recently) and has in fact been found before. Some letterboxes are not maintained well and it is very discouraging if you can't find the box, especially the first time out.

I have printed out a bunch of hunts in our area and we leave our letterboxing kit in the car. It has become a fun spur of the moment, afternoon activity for us. We have not created our own signature stamps... yet. We will sometime soon but I was anxious to get started so we grabbed what we already had and set off on an adventure.

Have any of you tried letterboxing yet? Our favorite find so far was found in a small, old cemetery. It was a very cool fairy stamp.

Postcards from Vermont

We just got back from our annual trip to Vermont. Just thought I would share a few of our 'Moments in Time' with everyone. We had a wonderful time and the kids are already plotting our adventures for next year. I hope everyone else is having a wonderful summer as well.

I must admit we ate a lot of ice cream (truly a lot of ice cream). It is impossible not to when the Ben and Jerry's factory is just down the road. We tried lots of different flavors... some old time favs like Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia and Phish Food and added a few new must haves to our list including Americone Dreams and Peanut Brittle. YUM! I think Peanut Brittle might be my current fav. Out of curiosity what's your favorite B&J?

BTW - You might be asking yourself... do those cows look familiar? Ben and Jerry's factory was indeed the inspiration for Gammy's playroom.

Mason Jar Cover

You've just made of quart of lemonade, and you are headed outside to garden. It's hot, and those first few drinks of lemonade are so refreshing. But because of the heat, before long, the ice is melted, and your ice cold lemonade is now a tepid liquid. What you need is an insulated jar to keep your cold drink, well... colder... longer! Making a thermal cover for your jar is easy peasy with some wool roving or batting and a bit of embroidery thread. Not only will this cover keep your drink cold longer, but the lid will keep bugs and flying garden debris out of your glass.

But why stop there? Not only does this make a great insulator for a beverage, it also makes a beautiful jar for storing buttons and beads. It can also be used as a vase. Or... have a friend with a summer birthday? Craft one of these Mason Jar Covers, drop a lemon inside, print off the directions for lemonade, and Wah Lah... a perfect and unique gift! 

I covered a quart sized Mason jar because I get mighty thirsty working in the garden, but obviously you can cover any size jar. If the wool gets dirty, simply rinse it off, roll it tightly in a towel to absorb extra moisture, and allow to air dry. Kids will definitely want to get in on the fun. Enjoy!

Mason jar (I used a quart size)
Wool roving or batting
Embroidery floss
cheese cloth

Gather your supplies together.

Cover you Mason jar in a crisscross fashion. Bring the batting up and tuck the edges into the jar's neck. Add more roving around the jar. Make sure that the roving has the same depth all over the jar.

Add pieces of colored roving or wool yarns in a pleasing pattern. Because the roving will shrink, and the felting process may shift the design, it works the best with free form abstract designs. (If you want a more detailed design, wait until after the jar has been felted, then apply design by needle felting.)

Cut a piece of cheese cloth the height of your jar, and wrap around the jar, being careful not to overlap the roving beneath the cheese cloth. As the roving begins to shrink and felt, remove the cheese cloth and rewrap tighter. You may need to rewrap the jar several times. NOTE: I use cheese cloth because it holds the roving together while it is being agitated. You can rub the jar without free of loosening the roving... especially the small embellishments.

Dip your jar into warm water. Add some liquid soap. Begin rolling the jar on a rack or bamboo placemat. You are looking for a surface that will agitate the fibers. You can roll the jar between your hands, slide your hands up and down the jar, turn the jar over and rub the bottom. As the roving begins to shrink and the fibers felt, take the cheese cloth off and reroll, tightening the cloth. When the felting is near complete, remove the cheese cloth, and do the final felting until the fibers are dense and tight. 

Rinse in cool water, removing all the soap, and roll tightly in a towel to remove excess moisture. Allow to dry completely.

If you want to be able to screw on a lid or use the jar for drinking, you will need to cut away the extra roving at the neck. You want to cut it just below the threads on the jar at the thinnest part of the neck. If you cut it too far down, the jar can slide out of the insulator when you go to drink.

Using 6 strands of embroidery floss, blanket stitch around the cut edge. Make the blanket stitch tight. The idea is to make the top edge snug around the jar. NOTE: To start and the thread, I begin by inserting my needle an inch or 2 away from the area where I will begin stitching. I slide the needle under the roving, and bring it up to the desired area. I make a very small tack stitch to hold it in place, then I begin stitching. I do the same thing to finish stitching. I then cut the loose tails off.

If you would like, you can use 6 strands of embroidery floss to add other embellishments. I found areas on the jar where the roving had not felted well, and I embroidered over them using a stem stitch and lazy daisies. I free handed the design as I went along. 

Now, fill your jar up with lemonade, take it in the garden, and enjoy your refreshing drink as you go along. HINT: If you keep your jar in the shade, your beverage will stay cold even longer. Yum!
Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2010. All rights reserved.
All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.


Garden Lemonade

Whenever we go out to eat, and the waitress takes our drink order, I ALWAYS ask for water with "obscene amounts" of lemon. I've noticed there is a direct correlation between the amount of lemon a waitress brings me and the size of a tip I leave her. I LOVE LEMON! And in my water, the more lemon the better. I realize not everyone would appreciate the tartness, but with a meal, or for quenching my thirst, nothing is finer!

This is not true when I garden, however. I think the hot weather and physical exertion makes me yearn for something sweeter. While gardening, I want lemonade with PLENTY of sugar. And since I need to continually replenish liquids on hot days, I usually take a quarter Mason jar full of lemonade out to the garden with me. Besides holding lots of lemonade, it also has a handy, dandy lid in case you knock it over or to prevent bugs from partaking of your beverage. Below is my recipe for yummy and refreshing lemonade. Definitely have the kids make their own!

Garden Lemonade

1 quart Mason jar with lid
1 lemon
0 - 2 tablespoons sugar (I use 2 T for garden lemonade)
1 quart cold water
ice cubes

Fill 1/3 of the jar with ice cubes.

Roll a lemon back and forth until soft. You can actually hear it swishing. Kids LOVE this part!

Cut the lemon in half.

If you have a juicer, use it. I don't so I squeeze both lemon halves over a strainer into the jar to remove seeds.

Remove the rest of the seeds from the lemons, cut into eighths, and put in jar.

Add sugar to taste. I use 2 tablespoons for my garden lemonade.

Add cold water to the neck of the jar.

Screw on the lid and shake well to mix.

Now you are ready to take your lemonade in the garden. While there, why not add a sprig of fresh mint? Double yum!

I ask you... what could be better than a tall glass of lemonade in the garden? The answer... keeping it cold longer! Here is a sneak peek of a project I'll be sharing in a couple days. Enjoy!
Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2010. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.


Terracotta Plant Markers

Last year I discovered some lovely plant markers made by Kelly over at Purple Lemon Designs. She had a great tutorial on how to make them so check it out HERE. I must admit we broke a couple new terracotta pots, but I've also used a number of cracked, old pots, too. I also did something different than she did for printing names on the markers. I couldn't bring myself to buy rub on letters. So, what I did was find a font I liked in Word. I used Bradley Hand ITC and sized it at 45 - 55 depending on the length of the plant. I printed a list of the plants, then cut out the individual words. I rubbed pencil lead on the back of the words, positioned the word where I wanted it on the pot, and traced the word from the front side. This worked like carbon paper transferring the word to the pot. I then used a paint marker to go over the word I traced. You could also use a permanent Sharpie. By doing this I did not have the expense of rub on letters, which you can buy at local craft stores, and I could size them to fit. The markers are a little bit time consuming, but fun. Instead of trying to make 50 at one time, I made them throughout the summer, and now they grace my garden with almost as much color and beauty as the flowers themself. A perfect project for a long summer weekend, don't you think?

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