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Archive for the ‘flowers’ Category

This month the Unique Women in Business team is doing a Blog Hop focused on Summer Fun.  With temperatures in the 90s (some close to 100 degrees) and dew points in the 70s it feels like it’s quite tropical here in Minnesota.

For me, having fun during the summer means having some flexibility to do things I enjoy doing since the homeschooling schedule is a bit more relaxed compared to the September-May time period. 

During June and July, I’ve been able to make new window star patterns. Here’s a design that I created recently:

Window star in summer colors.
Window stars are available in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand.

The window star that is pictured above reminds me of sunsets and sunrises in colors I typically see in the summer. There have been some spectacular ones that have colored the entire sky in shades of these colors.  I am always in awe of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds me.

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Today, I was teaching a friend of my daughters how to sew since she wants to learn how to make her own clothes. The first project I had her do was a little bag with an attached tie.

There were no measurements for this pattern – it was simply an idea presented in a book.  So I showed her how to estimate and create the dimensions for each of the pieces.  By the time she was done sewing her first bag, she had learned some fundamental sewing skills…and felt very happy with what she made.

After seeing the bag (and trying out the pattern I’ve wanted to do for some time now), I made a couple of bags after she left and changed the proportions slightly. 

Two bags that I made.
The bags are a great way to use fabric and ribbon scraps. I’ve made re-usable gift bags using only one color of fabric for birthdays and Christmas.
As I made these bags, I thought they would be good to use for the girls in their backpacks or when traveling. By making the bags in a variety of different sizes and patterns, one’s suitcase, purse, or backpack could be much more organized.
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Last, having fun during the summer means being able to enjoy nature up close. Today I enjoyed watching a bird take a bath in the birdbath in the backyard. For several minutes, it cleaned its feathers…tossing the water in the air and under its wings.
That, in itself, would have made me happy today. But…I woke up this morning and found that two of the butterflies we’ve been raising since they were caterpillars had emerged from their cocoons.
Around 11:25 a.m., the third butterfly was born and we were able to watch its wings unfold, dry, and be strong enough to fly. What an amazing process!
The girls (and Eenie) watching two of the
newly-born butterflies.

After lunch, we released the butterflies in the backyard. The black tiger swallowtails flew off immediately. One flew right to the purple flowers in the butterfly garden in the backyard where it visited lots of flowers while its wings beat quickly.

The butterfly was flapping its top wings so quickly
(thus, the picture is blurry on the top).
It was such a joy to be able to watch them
change from caterpillars to butterflies during July.

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Summer is a time of flowers and this month, the Unique Women in Business team is hosting a Flower Garden theme blog hop.

In June, my daughters, a friend from college visiting from Arizona, and I visited a conservatory that had a beautiful display of summer flowers. The flowers’ fragrance could be smelled even before entering the room where they were located.

One of the flowers at the conservatory.

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This week I made a new bunting that uses floral prints in every color of the rainbow.

Each flag on the bunting uses floral fabric.

The bunting is 8 1/2 feet long and uses a variety of fabic that I had on hand. Making buntings has been a wonderful way to use fabric and create something useful.

Buntings are available in my shop –

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I’ve begun planning for the upcoming homeschool year. One of the things I’m going to have Sophia begin this year is a “Book of Mottoes.” This idea came from Simply Charlotte Mason, a great resource for homeschooling following the Charlotte Mason method.

According to the Simply Charlotte Mason website, “Charlotte Mason encouraged that very activity for our children. ‘In the reading of the Bible, of poetry, of the best prose, the culling of mottoes is a delightful and most stimulating occupation, especially if a motto book be kept, perhaps under headings, perhaps not’ (Vol. 3, p. 135).”

Sophia could practice her best handwriting as she carefully copies sayings that are meaningful to her from the books she is reading and from a collection of quotes and poems I’ve found.

One quote I’m adding to the collection comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (a poet she learned about in fourth grade) who mentions flowers in his poem:

Kind hearts are the gardens
Kind thoughts are the roots
Kind words are the flowers
Kind deeds are the fruits
Take care of your garden
And keep out the weeds
Fill it with sunshine
Kind words and kind deeds

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Also with planning the homeschool year, I’m always looking for recipes that the girls and I can try that tie into something we’re learning. During the summer, we planted nasturiums so they could try edible flowers. The first flower bloomed the other day and more flowers should be following soon.

One of the things we’ll be trying this year is a nasturium salad with lettuce, green onions, and nasturiums from the garden. This is what inspired us to plant nasturiums:

Nasturium Salad

If you have pictures of flowers, art work that you’ve created with a floral theme, or a recipe that uses edible flowers…or any other item you’ve made that includes flowers, please add your link below.

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FOR TODAY

Outside my window…there’s a clear blue sky.  The pine trees are still after swaying back and forth last night during the thunderstorm.

I am thinking…about how nice the cool air felt this morning when I let the dogs out. After a heat index of over 100 degrees over the past couple of days, this is a welcome relief.

I am thankful…to have been able to spend part of my birthday with my sister.  We enjoyed a morning of strawberry picking with Sophia and Olivia, and then visiting a buffalo farm where we all enjoyed a nice lunch together. 

From the learning rooms…the girls and I had a fun week focusing doing the “Smart Summer Challenge.” This week’s theme was “Me on the Map” – so everything we did we looked at from a geography angle – whether it was embroidery, paper cutting, 4-H projects and demonstrations, or visiting different farms. 

In the kitchen…I have two flats of strawberries that will are being eaten fresh.  Later today, I’m going to try some new recipes – for strawberry-lemonade; a salad with strawberries, asparagus, and walnuts; and a strawberry pie.

I am wearing…a hooded sweatshirt and pajama pants.  It’s still early morning and no one is awake yet…except some of the cats.  The dogs went back to bed after going outside.

I am creating…items for The Summer of Color. I just found out about this ten-week blog party this morning, and am excited about it.  I’ve been doing more writing and less creating than last year, and want to get back into doing more of the visual arts/crafts again.  Having a weekly challenge focused on a particular color will be a good motivator to start creating again. 

I want to catch up and do the first three weeks (the colors for each week are blue, green, and pink); while working on the fourth week (July 4th-11th). Yellow is the focus for the fourth week.

I am going…to visit my mom and dad this morning.  Sophia, Olivia, and I will be going out to breakfast with them (they are both home-bound so it’s going out to eat is something they enjoy). We’re going to help weed their vegetable garden, clean the carpets in two rooms, and replace the batting in a quilt I made for my dad many years ago.

I am wondering…when I’m going to sit down and figure out the schedule for next year for homeschooling.  I want to use many of the books and resources I have on hand this year rather than buying as much new curricula as I have done in the past. 

As much as I like Sonlight (which I’ve used for the past few years), it is quite expensive. Perhaps picking and choosing from Sonlight and supplementing it with what I already have will be the best route to go during the 2011-12 school year.

I am readingTwisted Tree by Kent Meyers but didn’t like it. After 92 pages, I just couldn’t get into the book. I found it to be a rather grim book.  There was a review in a book for book clubs, and it sounded intriguing as did the discussion questions.  However, from the onset, the book was more on creepy than what I wanted to read.

The next book I’m going to start reading is Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. According to O, The Oprah Magazine, “Year of Wonders is a vividly imagined and strangely consoling tale of hope in a time of despair.”

I am hoping…that the lawn mower comes back soon. It has been at the repair shop now for over a week and the grass is getting really long.     

I am looking forward to…bringing a couple of peonies and tiger lilies indoors today, and putting them in vases.  I’m going to help my dad (who has Alzheimer’s Disease) cut some flowers that are blooming at his home, and put them in vases as well. He use to cut flowers during the summer and bring them in for my mom and him to enjoy. 

I am hearing…the fan.  Not much of anything else.  It’s very quiet and peaceful at this time of the morning.

Around the house…I’m getting projects done that I’ve wanted to get done for some time now. I went through a basket of “to do” projects and did them as I went through the basket. No putting them aside to work on later. I either did them, helped the girls do their projects, or put them in the donation bag.

Yesterday, I did mending, sewing, and needlefelting. I helped Olivia with another embroidery project; and Sophia with sewing a dress and an embroidery project. 

I am pondering…how nice it was to see several friends during the past couple of weeks, and how I need to make time to stay connected with people. It’s so easy to get wrapped up with caregiving that other aspects of my life are put on hold.

One of my favorite things…seeing all the baby toads that the girls have been finding, observing, and then releasing.  It’s also been so nice to hear the wren singing every day, and watching the parents bring food to their babies.  There are three wren families here this year which is great. I saw a monarch yesterday in the butterfly garden yesterday (it always makes me happy to see butterflies).

A few plans for the rest of the week…visit my parents (today), celebrate the Fourth of July (Monday), take Sophia to harp lessons (Tuesday), take my dad to his quarterly doctor appointment for Alzheimer’s Disease (Thursday), do fun/educational activities related to the theme of “government” with the girls, and start some creative projects this week focused on different colors (most likely doing quilting and embroidery).

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…this is an eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly that Sophia, Olivia, and I saw on Thursday morning. We stopped for a bit at a lake before Sophia’s harp lesson.  As we were walking back from the lake, this butterfly was drinking some water from the road and then was flying around us at eye level. It spent quite a while flying and landing around us.

It was a beautiful butterfly, and the photograph below doesn’t do it justice.  Nonetheless, it captures a few moments in time that were memorable to us.

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly that was
flying and landing right by the girls and me.

To see other people who are participating in the Simple Woman’s Daybook during June, please click HERE.

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I was looking at the Handbook of Nature Study website, and came across Outdoor Hour Challenge #10 –
Picnic.

Throughout this post, three different typefaces are used:
– Bold – are words from the Handbook of Nature Study website.
– Italics – are words from the book titled Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.
– Regular – are my own words.

The website said, “Picnics don’t need to be fancy. Wrap up a sandwich in a cloth napkin, grab a piece of fruit, and some water and you are set. Venture outside even if it is only to your own yard to sit on a blanket and enjoy your lunch. Afterwards you can make time for a short period of nature study.”

So, that’s what we did today…on my 45th birthday. 

1. The challenge is to have a picnic. No need to go far or to even have a picnic table. Food always tastes better outside and if you don’t want to commit to a whole lunch, why not just a snack?

“…When the weather is warm, why not eat breakfast and lunch outside?
…Besides the benefit of an added hour or two of fresh air,
meals eaten outside are often delightful, and
there’s nothing like happiness to convert food and drink
into healthy blood and bodies.”
~~ Charlotte Mason, Outdoor Life, page 43

We ended up having a light dinner and dessert outside on the little deck.  The girls brought out pillows and blankets to sit on. 

Olivia and Sophia having dinner on the deck.

After dinner, we enjoyed French silk pie.  Sophia wanted to put candles on the pie.  They were lit in the home and mudroom, but slowly went out one by one by the time the pie got to me.  “You can still make a wish, and pretend to blow out the candles!”

Sophia bringing out the French silk pie.

Pretending to blow out the candles I said, “Oh, wow!  Look at that!  I got them all out! The best I’ve ever done!”
After you eat, sit and listen to the sounds of nature.

“Given the power of nature to calm and soothe us in our hurried lives,
it also would be interesting to study how a family’s connection to nature
influences the general quality of family relationships.
Speaking from personal experience,
my own family’s relationships have been nourished over the years
through shared experiences in nature-
from sharing our toddler’s wonder upon turning over a rock and
discovering a magnificent bug the size of a mouse,
to paddling our old canoe down a nearby creek
during the children’s school years,
to hiking the mountains.”
~~Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
We listened to nature before we ate and at times while we were eating.  The birds were singing (especially the wrens who have a nest near the deck), the swallows were flying around the backyard and then under the eaves of the barn, and the wind was blowing lightly.  It was a beautiful night to have a picnic.

The pine tree next to the deck and back of the house.
It is now taller than the house.

We spent some time looking at the vegetable/herb garden, flower garden, strawberries, and clover – all of which are subjects of other nature studies that we have done/are in the process of doing during the upcoming day or so.

The first tiger lily of the season bloomed on the 29th of June…my birthday.

2. After your picnic, spend 10-15 minutes observing your surroundings. Add anything new to your list of items observed in your focus area that you are keeping in your nature journal. Make note of any additional research that needs to be done for things your child is interested in. Make a journal entry if you wish.

We didn’t spend time after the picnic outside because the mosquitos were getting progressively worse.  The girls get rather significant reactions to mosquito bites, so it was better to go inside at that point.

The girls are interested in the tiny toads that they have been finding.  At 1/4″ long, they are very small; in fact, the smallest we’ve ever seen here.

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FOR TODAY

Outside my window…it’s still dark.  However, the first hint of morning is showing to the east where the sky is a lighter shade of indigo.

I am thinking…about the male goldfinch who kept trying to get into the house yesterday.  He kept flying to and grabbing onto the ledges by the living room and kitchen, and visited the family room and dining room windows as well.  The cats were fascinated by this bird who seemed equally as interested in them.  Wonder if he’ll be back today.

I am thankful…that a respite worker is coming today for three hours. I need to have a few hours to get some things done; and I like knowing that Sophia and Olivia are having fun with Mary.  She’s taught them how to play croquet; and they enjoy playing board games and being outside with her.

From the learning rooms…the girls are getting ready for the county fair and showing some projects they’ve been doing for 4-H.  They’re also practicing their demonstrations (this will be the first year for both of them). Went to the zoo the other day and learned a lot about different animals and Japanese gardens/tea ceremonies (the zoo has a conseratory and Japanese garden which are both beautiful).

In the kitchen…we’re going to be making fresh strawberry pie on Saturday which we’re excited about.  Fresh strawberries are finally ready to be picked.  Making a few salads this week using lettuce and herbs from the garden; and trying some more beverages using fresh seasonal fruit (rhubarb and strawberries) combined with homemade lemonade.

I am wearing…a hooded sweatshirt and pajama shorts.  It’s still early morning and no one is awake yet…except some of the cats.  The dogs went back to bed after going outside and having breakfast.

I am creating…a window star for a customer later on today.  Have been helping Sophia and Olivia with embroidery projects.  This year I haven’t done as much embroidery and quilting as I did last year.  I want to start doing that again.

I am going…to the grocery store today to get some ingredients for food I’ll be making for friends and family who will be visiting during the upcoming week.  Have 3 visits scheduled for the next week – two of which are with people I haven’t seen for a long time.  Saw a friend who I’ve known since the late-1980s on Monday.  It’s been nice re-connecting with people again.  Seems like a lot of time has been focused on caregiving and homeschooling recently.

I am wondering…how I’m going to get the yard and gardens looking more presentable before Saturday’s guests and Monday’s 4-H club tour (with one of the stops here).  Between cleaning the house and the rain, I haven’t had as much time as I’d hoped to work on the gardens. 

I am readingAnother Place at the TableA Story of Shattered Childhoods Redeemed by Love by Kathy Harrison which is an incredibly good book about a woman who was a foster parent to more than one hundred children.  Read 14 chapters yesterday morning…couldn’t put the book down.  Will be starting another book this morning – All That Matters by Jan Goldstein.

I am hoping…that my back pain goes away today…or at least diminishes a bit.   

I am looking forward to…looking at pictures I took earlier this week.  I enjoy looking at pictures and remembering what I saw or experienced. 

I am hearing…Gretel (the dog) taking a deep breath. The fan. Quiet. Complete peacefulness. Birds singing outside…the wren already singing away at 5:20 a.m.

Around the house…everything is off the carpeted floors since I spent the majority of yesterday vacuuming all the floors and then deep-cleaning them with the carpet cleaner.  They look so much better this morning.  Almost don’t want to put anything back down.

I am pondering…the impact that Alzheimer’s has had on my dad over the past year.  I looked at some pictures yesterday from last summer and it’s amazing the effect the disease has had on him in just one year.  I am so thankful that he still knew who I was on Father’s Day…but there were some times when he looked at me with blank stares (which I’ve never seen him do until Sunday) that were quite sobering and sad.

One of my favorite things…watching the wildlife here.  Enjoyed watching the goldfinish yesterday; listening to the baby wrens chirp whenever one of the parent wrens brings in food; seeing the woodpecker at the hummingbird feeder; watching a robin take a bath in a big puddle in the driveway; and seeing a huge rabbit jump in the backyard and hop to the hostas under the apple tree.

A few plans for the rest of the week…getting ready for guests on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (each day are different people/groups of people).  Going to an event that celebrates summer at a local historical museum.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…of one of the peonies that are blooming.  These are ones that have been here for well over 15 years.  The Chinese peonies (that I planted a few years ago) just started blooming this year.  They’re a beautiful shade of red with yellow centers.

Pink Peony
To see other people who are participating in the Simple Woman’s Daybook during June, please click HERE.

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This week we focused on the Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Series #3: Spring Bird Study that is at the Handbook of Nature Study website.

Throughout this post, three different typefaces are used:
– Bold – are words from the Handbook of Nature Study website.
– Italics – are words from the book titled Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.
– Regular – are my own words.

Inside Preparation Work:


As part of our spring nature study this week, we will prepare by learning about some familiar bird songs. Read about the “Songs of Birds” in the Handbook of Nature Study on pages 42 and 43.


The following exerpts are from the Handbook of Nature Study (the book) that I found interesting and shared with the girls:

In most cases only the male bird sings, but a few exceptions are recorded…the female rose-breasted grosbeak and cardinal grosbeak, which sing under some conditions.

Birds do most of their singing in the early morning and during the spring and early summer months.

Some ornithologists have developed complicated systems of recording bird songs as musical scores.  Wilson Flagg and F.S. Mathews are well-known names in this field.  Such a method has its limitations because many variations of bird songs cannot be indicated by the characters used in writing music.

The song of the warbling flycatcher.
A Year with the Birds by Wilson Flagg
The song of the green warbler.
A Year with the Birds by Wilson Flagg

The song of a bird written as music is not usually recognizable when played on a musical instrument.

Here is a link to a page that will help you learn about to listen to and then identify birds by their calls:  Songs and Calls.  This link has wonderful examples of bird songs divided by rhythm, pitch, tone, and repetition.

It also has a spectrogram which visually illustrates bird songs.  There were a few birds of particular interest because we have quite a few that visit our yard regularly: American goldfinch, house wren, rose-breasted grosbeak, black-capped chickadee, and cardinal.  As we listened to the spectrogram for each of these birds, we read the description about the songs:

“The American goldfinch’s long, varied song lets you see how lots of different sounds look when they’re translated into a spectrogram.”

Bird banding at Warner Nature Center
American goldfinch that was being banded
at a local nature center.
Sophia, Olivia, and I were able to watch how this was done.

“The cardinal’s song is a series of sweet, slurred whistles. Watch the curving lines on the graph as you listen to the pitch changing.”

Olivia thought it was “neat” and Sophia thought it was “interesting.”

Brainstorm a list of birds you know that live in your area. Pick two or three to research on the All About Birds website. Look up each bird and listen to their bird songs. Challenge your children to imitate the bird song and to listen for it when they go outside.

The girls came up with the following list of birds that they know live in our area:

– Goldfinish
– Cardinal
– Catbird
– Brown-headed cowbird
– Red-Winged Blackbird
– Pheasant
– Nuthatch
– Blue Jay
– House Finch
– Mourning Doves
– Sparrow
– Wren

Olivia picked these birds that she was interested in hearing their songs: brown-headed cowbird and red-winged blackbird.  Initially, she thought the cowbird sounded a lot like the red-winged blackbird.  Then we she heard the blackbird she was able to distinguish it from the cowbird since it sounded more “squeaky” and “high-pitched.”

Sophia picked the following birds that she wanted to listen to their songs: pheasant and house wren. We hear both of these birds regularly in the yard and pasture; and hear them on our nature walk for the Spring Bird Study.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Male
Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak that was at
one of our feeders.  The grosbeaks have a beautiful song.

Outdoor Hour Time:


Spend your 10-15 minutes of outdoor time this week looking and listening for birds. You might try going out several times during the week at different times of day to listen and observe.


This will be a week you can work on a few minutes of quiet time while you are in your backyard or local park. Remind your children that if they are quiet even for one minute they might hear a bird or other animal. One minute can see like a lifetime for young ones so use your good judgment on this activity.

Sophia and Olivia making marks in their nature journals
every time they hear a bird song.

We spent time outside in our backyard since there is a variety of birds that regularly visit us each day.  We walked to and then stood in different locations (e.g., deck, by the apple tree, by the pine trees in the backyard, and several places on the nature trail). 

Olivia walking out on the nature trail
to listen to birds.

One of the things Olivia mentioned was that she heard so many birds singing all at the same time.  One would start and then another and another.  “I couldn’t tell the old birds from the new birds.”  It did sound like – a constant symphony of birds singing and calling to one another. 

This bird kept singing while
we were on the nature trail

As we listened to the birds, there were some that were easily recognizable and we knew their songs and calls:  red-winged blackbird, mourning dove, house wren, American goldfinch, and pheasant.  However, for the majority of the bird songs and calls we were hearing, we couldn’t identify which bird was making the sound.

It would be nice to have someone skilled in identifying bird songs to come here and listen to the birds with us and say, “Oh…that song is from the purple finch.  That one is from the blue jay.”

Follow-Up Activity:


Take a few minutes to follow-up on any interest that came from your outdoor time even if your children were interested in something other than birds.

We were noticing that a lot of milkweed is starting to grow now throughout the nature trail area and backyard.  I flipped over a milkweed leaf and saw a tiny yellow ball.  The girls and I are hoping that it is an egg.  So, we brought the leaf in and it is in the butterfly observation holder. 

We’re hoping that this is a monarch egg
that’s on the underside of a milkweed plant.
We also were happy with the gentle rain that fell the night/early morning before our nature walk.  Temperatures had reached over 100 degrees during the week, and there had been no rain recently.  Having rain – without the thunder/lightening and hail – was a welcome sight and sound.
Rain drops on one of the irises
in the morning.

Review the bird songs you learned and practiced during your preparation work. If you saw an unfamiliar bird, try to identify it using a field guide. Learn more about identifying birds here on this page: Bird Identification SkillsIf you do not have a field guide, you can try this online bird site to help identify birds: WhatBird? And this website for additional information as well: AllAboutBirds.

We tried to identify the bird above since it was pretty far away from us and we didn’t have binoculars with us.  It had a small crest on its head which seemed more pronounced when it sang.  When we came back indoors, Sophia looked at the Minnesota bird book and found one that looked similar to what we saw:  Tufted Titmouse.  The name means “Small Bird,” and comes from Scandinavian and Old English words.

However, looking at more pictures of this bird on the internet, led us to believe it may be another bird (perhaps the feathers on the bird’s head just moved so they looked like a crest when it sang).  Looking at the picture of the bird we saw, we noticed it had a spotted chest and was more brown in color.  Looking athe Minnesota bird book again, we found the female rose-breasted grosbeak which looks just like the one we saw.


Don’t forget to look up any birds you identify in the Handbook of Nature Study and see how Anna Botsford Comstock suggests you learn more about that particular bird by reading the narrative and the accompanying lesson.


Allow time for a nature journal entry.  You can print the pages from a coloring book, complete them, and then adhere them into your nature journal or you can use the black line drawings as a guide to sketching your bird directly onto your journal page.

After the walk, the girls worked a bit on their nature journals.  They wrote the names of some of the birds they heard and recognized and counted the number of songs they heard.  Sophia wrote a brief description of the walk and what the day was like (e.g., cool, cloudy).

Looking to the southwest from the nature trail.

Other Activities

I ordered a book from the library that should arrive soon.  It’s called The Music of Wild Birds: An Illustrated, Annotated, and Opinionated Guide to Fifty Birds and Their Songs by: F. Schuyler Mathews and illustrated by Judy Pelikan.  Mr. Mathews was referenced in the Handbook of Nature Study.

What intrigued me about this book is that the description said, “As Mathews points out, the music of wild birds is everywhere – in poems, children’s nursery songs, as well as in the works of the great composers: the Black-billed Cuckoo’s call appears near the close of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony; the Nashville Warbler’s song is found in the opening bars of Rossini’s Carovale, and the Meadowlark’s song is remarkably like the first two bars of Alfredo’s song in La Traviata.

“He reveals how a bird’s character is reflected in its song: the Baltimore Oriole is a sharp-billed, sharp-witted character, and his remarks are as incisive and crisp as the toots of a steam whistle. And he reminds us of the words of our great poets – Wordsworth, Emerson, Sir Walter Scott – and their descriptions of the very same birds and their music.”

Black Capped Chickadee
A black-capped chickadee at the feeder.
We hear the chickadee singing almost every day.

Found this poem about a bird that’s commonly seen around here throughout the year: the black-capped chickadee.  It’s called The Snow-Bird’s Song Poem and it’s by F.C. Woodworth.  The girls both liked the poem…especially the part about the stockings, shoes, and little frock:

The ground was all covered with snow one day,
And two little sisters were busy at play,
When a snow-bird was sitting close by on a tree,
And merrily singing his chick-a-dee-dee,
Chick-a-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee,
And merrily singing his chick-a-dee-dee.
He had not been singing that tune very long,
Ere Emily heard him, so loud was his song;
“Oh, sister, look out of the window,” said she,
“Here’s a dear little bird singing chick-a-dee-dee.
Chick-a-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee,
Here’s a dear little bird singing chick-a-dee-dee.
“Oh, mother, do get him some stockings and shoes,
And a nice little frock, and a hat if you choose;
I wish he’d come into the parlor, and see
How warm we would make him, poor chick-a-dee-dee!
Chick-a-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee,
How warm we would make him, poor chick-a-dee-dee!”
“There is One, my dear child, though I cannot tell who,
Has clothed me already, and warm enough too.
Good morning! Oh, who are so happy as we?”
And away he went singing his chick-a-dee-dee.
Chick-a-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee,
And away he went singing his chick-a-dee-dee.

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We’ve been drinking a lot of water recently to stay cool on these warm days. On Tuesday, the temperature got to 102 degrees. The girls and I couldn’t believe it when we saw the reading on the car’s thermometer:

The Twin Cities had the hottest temperature
in the country on Tuesday. 

Needless to say, having some variety in the water we’re drinking is a welcome change.  When searching for recipes for herbal water on the internet, there was one that sounded intriguing from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free:  Cucumber-Basil Herbal Water.

Sophia with a glass of cucumber basil herbal water
in the backyard garden. 
The irises started blooming a few days ago.

There are only a few items needed to make this herbal water..and it takes only a few minutes to put everything together.  Here’s the recipe:

Cucumber Basil Herbal Water

1/4 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 basil leaves, freshly picked from the garden and washed
3 slices fresh ginger
4 cups filtered water

Combine all of the ingredients in a canning jar and chill in the refrigerator. Let the water steep for at least an hour or as long as overnight. When you’re ready to drink the water, pour the water into a glass and enjoy.

Basil growing in the garden. 
It was planted about a month ago.

According to the Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free website, the cucumber has a cooling effect that is perfect for the summer heat. It also balances out the spicy ginger and basil.

The longer the water steeps, the stronger the flavor becomes. You could also try mint instead of basil or add lemon, lime, or orange slices. They’re all great. Play around with the amounts and flavorings and come up with your own version.

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