Nature in Your Neighborhood

Nature In Your Neighborhood is a feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). Send us an email at kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com if you are interested in sharing your neighborhood nature here!

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We have noticed the fall flowers blooming, a few leaves changing, and the nights have finally cooled; the transition to fall is slowly beginning here in Nova Scotia.

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Asters busy with bug traffic

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Canada thistle along the trail

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Common evening primrose

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Jewelweed

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Jewelweed is also called touch-me-not.

When you touch the seedpods they pop, shooting the seeds out, then curl up in a fun little bundle.

You can learn more about jewelweed in our “What’s That?” Wednesday: Jewelweed post.

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The bumblebees were busy working this roadside patch of jewelweed.

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It was very interesting to see this fly hover overhead as we walked down the trail.

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The Queen Anne’s Lace sees lots of insect visitors, and this spider is perfectly positioned to greet them. Do you see it?

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It was neat to see the Queen Anne’s Lace as it transitions into a seed head. The seeds are surprisingly spiky.

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These purple ones were particularly beautiful.

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The young maples are usually the first to change but this serviceberry leaf was putting on a show (the only one on the whole tree to start changing).

If you would like to share what is happening in your neighborhood you can leave a link to a post in the comments here, or pop on over to the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook group and share a little bit of your world.

Not a member of the FB group yet? No worries. Just request to join and I will add you ASAP!

~ Dawn

P.S. Everyday Nature for Families e-course starts Sept. 14th and you can bring a friend for free until the 7th! Learn more here.

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Nature Around the Net

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While the return to school often marks the end of summer the calendar tells us otherwise. We still technically have a month of summer left and we are taking full advantage of the warm days still filled with life!

Here are a few links to inspire you to get out (and do some nature art), even for just a short time after the school day ends!

Get out to watch the supermoon!

– Make Chlorophyll Collage Prints.

– Create Gelatin Prints!

– Press some summer leaves before they change and Make Leaf Rubbing Plates.

Project Noah is filled with inspiration to get out there and see what interesting things you might find!

Have you found anything on the net you would like to share? Leave a link in the comments or head over to the Mud Puddles FB group to share. (If you are not a member request to join and we will add you ASAP!)

Happy Exploring,

Dawn

P.S. My Everyday Nature for Families E-workshop starts Sept. 14th. Learn more about it here!

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“Whatever the Weather” News

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There are times in the process of writing a book when things get a bit surreal: when the manuscript is finally finished and on the way to your editor, when those first proofs come in and you get to see the how the book is taking shape, and when you see your book listed for pre-order on the websites of all the major booksellers!

Yes, that’s right! “Whatever the Weather” is available for pre-order!

You can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Chapters. Oh, my!

We are very excited to get this book into your hands come springtime.

Thank you all for your wonderful support!

~ Dawn & Annie

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On the Shelf: 20 Ways to Draw a Tree

There has been a lot of discussion of nature journaling in the Facebook group lately, and as someone who doesn’t consider herself an amazing natural artist, I have to admit that I sometimes feel little twinges of intimidation when I see the beautiful drawings some folks are doing in their journals. If you are likewise a bit timid when it comes to putting pencil to paper and sketching nature finds and the like, you might want to check out 20 Ways to Draw a Tree by Eloise Renouf.

20 Ways to Draw a Tree is essentially a collection of sketches of different natural objects, organized according to category. There is a page for birds, for mushrooms, for feathers, for flowers… you get the idea. Each spread shows a variety of ways that a person might go about drawing a pictures of a given item, and makes a lovely point of showing that there is really no right way to draw anything. You can make your drawings as accurate as possible if you like. But you can also, if such ability seems lacking for you, draw quirky, unusual, and imperfect versions of the things that you see and that works just fine too.

Though I wouldn’t exactly label myself a reluctant artist, I certainly lack a certain confidence when it comes to even the most casual of sketches. 20 Ways to Draw a Tree is an excellent reminder that nature makes a very forgiving subject, and that when it comes down to it, you can enjoy sketching a snail just for snail’s sake. It really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than you make it.

Oh, and this book is part of a great series that you can use to try drawing all sorts of things from jellyfish to mustaches. Yes.

— Annie

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Project: Pressed Seaweed

The other day at the beach we found some beautiful bits of seaweed floating in the water. We decided to collect some for pressing and started the process right there on shore. Seaweed has been pressed for both scientific study and artful display since the 17th century and reached a high in popularity during the Victorian era. So, this activity not only has the potential to bring some beauty to your home, it can also be a way to delve into history!

Considering some pressed specimens are over 100 years old, they are a wonderful resource for scientists, and they have used old specimens of pressed seaweed to examine DNA and study how marine environments have changed over time. For our purposes, we simply wanted to make some nature art, and take a closer look at the amazing specimens we found.

What you need:

– seaweed specimens (if a trip to the shore is not in the works, simply purchase dried seaweed at the store and soak it before pressing)

– a shallow tray filled with about an inch or so of water (a cookie sheet works great).

– heavy paper (watercolor paper holds up well)

– cheesecloth, muslin or wax paper to cover the pages

– newsprint or other “blotting” paper for soaking up water and dividing specimens

– corrugated cardboard

– a press or weights to put pressure on the specimens

 

What to do:

Gather your specimens and clean them making sure they are free of other creatures, sand, etc… If you are going to bring the specimens home to press later place them in a container with sea water. Press them as soon as possible, but if you need to wait a day or so the best advice is to keep them in their container of seawater and place them in the refrigerator.

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Place your paper in the tray of water.

Add your seaweed specimens, arranging them so they are fanned out for display. Some of the more delicate specimens will cling together. You can use your fingers, or a paintbrush to gently tease them out.

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Gently lift the paper up out of the water at an angle to let the water drain off without disturbing the seaweed too much.

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After removing it from the water you can gently push the seaweed into position (depending on the type of seaweed). Some seaweeds are easier to move around than others.

When working with many different specimens the water can get filled with debris, especially when working alongside little eager fingers that may not be as particular about cleaning specimens. If this happens simply change out the water before moving on to the next specimen (or leave it as part of the process and the fun)!

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notice all of the debris from other specimens

When working with more delicate specimens and if you simply want to examine them, you can just set them out to dry at this stage. They will naturally stick to the paper!

We even did some of these right at the beach with a bug box filled with sea water and pages we had ripped out of our nature journal. Then laid them out on rocks to dry. They were not super clean, but they turned out really fun and it was a great way to examine them while at the beach! 

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If you would like to actually press your specimens, go on to the next steps.

Cover your specimens with the cheesecloth or nylon so the seaweed does not stick to the blotting papers.

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Place the specimen sheet on blotting paper and cover that with more paper, followed by cardboard, and your next specimens to make a seaweed sandwich.

Using your press or heavy weights, press them for a few days, checking on the thicker, wetter ones to change out damp papers to prevent mold.

We also read the recommendation to place the seaweed sandwich in front of a fan to increase air flower and speed up drying time, but this is not required.

We are in the pressing phase right now. I will keep you posted about how they come out!

 

What should you do with them once they are pressed? 

I made up Pressed Seaweed Labels in small and large sizes to help you catalog and share more information about your specimen. (The larger ones might be easier for some writers to fill out and can be placed on the back of a specimen.)

After they are pressed they can be displayed in frames, or make cards or other crafts.

These pressed pieces would also be fantastic to use for plant scanned gift wrap!

I also made a Pressed Seaweed Pinterest board for inspiration and ideas.

 

More Resources:

What is seaweed?  is a great resource to learn more about seaweed.

Preserving the Forest of the Sea has a wonderful video about how pressed seaweed is helping scientist learn more about our changing world. (It shows lots of beautiful specimens for inspiration!)

The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections has a very detailed PDF about preservation of seaweed!

If you REALLY want to get serious, the cryptogamic botany company has a wonderful Guide to Pressing Seaweed which can be purchased or viewed online here.

 

Be sure to let us know if you try it!

You can share a link to your blog here in the comments or share on our Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group! (Not a member of the group? No problem! Just request to join and we will add you ASAP!)

Happy Pressing!

~ Dawn

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Nature Around the Net

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The kids found a dead fish, so they caught a crab to see if it wanted a free lunch. It did!

 

This space has been quiet lately. It would seem that summer is getting away from us and we want to soak up as much as possible before the beauty of fall ushers in the cool days of winter! Of course, with the abundance of summer comes lots of discoveries, so we will make some time to share some of our summer nature finds this week!

During our investigations we have come across a few links you might like!

This page has some great info on how to tell the difference between a male and female crab!

Vacation Art: From Farm to Palette! Great nature journal inspiration!

– Everything you wanted to know about caterpillar legs!

Starting today we are sharing nature journals over in the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook group! Head on over to get inspired, and share if you like!

If you are not already in the group, request to join and I will add you ASAP!

Have a great weekend!

Dawn

P.S.

I do share many of our Nova Scotia explorations and discoveries on Instagram. If you are on IG find me here!

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Nature Around the Net

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We had an exciting week here filled with baby bullfrogs, dragonflies, butterflies and more. Along the way we found some links you might like to explore!

Sky Hunters, The World of the Dragonfly (full length documentary for a rainy day!)

– Great facts about the butterfly proboscis can be found here and you can see the butterfly proboscis in action here.

–  A Pluto round-up

Bullfrogs Eat Everything!

Have you come across a neat nature related post or article this week?

Feel free to share in the comments or on our Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group page. We would love to see what you have found!

Happy Exploring!

Dawn

P.S. If you missed Annie’s review of the wonderful book, Nature Anatomy, you can find it right here.

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Nature in Your Neighborhood

Nature In Your Neighborhood is a feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). Send us an email at kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com if you are interested in sharing your neighborhood nature here!

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This week was filled with flowers, color, and creatures that creep and crawl (which most of us are delighted about, but not all of us)!

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More and more ladybugs are being spotted on the alder bushes.

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It always feels like that young maples are giving us a fall preview.

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The sundews are going strong. Their flowers are almost ready to bloom.

Web -1Our foggy, misty mornings have provided lots of opportunities to study web construction, with the silk laced in droplets.

(Read this if you want to learn more about how spider webs capture water.)

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We have been seeing mama wolf spiders carrying egg sacs but this was the first spot of one carrying her babies!

(You can read more about spider egg sacs and mama wolf spiders in this post.)

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The little multiflora roses are so fragrant you can smell them from down the road.

If you would like to share what is happening in your neighborhood you can leave a link to a post in the comments here or pop on over to the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook group and share a little bit of your world.

Not a member of the FB group yet? No worries. Just request to join and we will add you ASAP!

~ Dawn

 

 

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Nature Around the Net

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Throughout the week we always find inspiration and motivation through the computer screen to get out and explore nature. It is an interesting thing how tech can connect us with knowledge of nature and feed the desire to know more!

Here are sharing a few things that might inspire you and yours:

Time Lapse of Lady Beetle Life Cycle!

– For early risers: Moon and Albebaran before dawn July 12th

Do children with ADHD benefit from nature? Study hopes to find out! What do you think?

Sharks Discovered Inside Underwater Volcano! (Cool video)

And to fuel your adventures…

… gluten free orange almond fig granola bar for the trail!

 

Have you come across a neat nature related post or article this week?

Feel free to share in the comments or on our Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group page. We would love to see what you have found!

 

Have a great weekend of exploring!

~ Dawn

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On the Shelf: Nature Anatomy

After a long period of time where our family (well, the adults mostly) was pretty well focused on minimizing our belongings as a way of making our urban apartment big enough for a family of six, I’ve been on a tiny bit of a book bender lately. I’ve been trying to adhere to my personal rule that if a new book comes in an unused one should go out, and I think I’ve done an okay job of it.

Folks, I would clear an entire shelf and cart it off to Goodwill for the sake of owning Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy. It might very well be the perfect book.

Nature Anatomy is an illustration guide to the natural world, and it is delightfully comprehensive. Rothman’s drawings are quirky and whimsical without losing their sense of being realistic and informative. And, she details everything about our world from the core to the upper atmosphere (and even beyond). It is a rare book that includes illustrations and facts about things as different from one another as lemmings, swamps, microorganisms, birds, flowers, and snowflakes. But this book does, and it is beautifully executed. I didn’t even know that I wanted to learn about the Lyme bacteria life cycle, but Rothman’s pictures easily convinced me otherwise, and now here we are. The book even includes a few projects, recipes, and tutorials thrown into the mix; each with their own set of delightfully hand drawn instructions for things like wild foraging, painting landscapes, and mixing up facial masks from seaweed.

Nature Anatomy is one of those books that I immediately took to and loved so much that I knew it would be difficult to explain my enthusiasm without feeling like I was falling short and not saying everything that I meant to. But if your family is fond of fieldguides, nature picture books, hand drawn art, or exploring information about the way the world works, this book has a place on your shelf. Promise.

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