Fairy Houses, Fairy Gardens & More

Last weekend our next door neighbor (a 10-year-old) came over to play with Hazel. They decided to build a house. They started with a fairy house. They started by gathering materials--sticks, rocks, pine cones and leaves (though I had to stop them from pulling up all the lily of the valley leaves--oops!). I also brought out our collection of treasures from our nature walks. I think they did a nice job.
Fairy Houses (The Fairy Houses Series)Hazel has been getting into fairy houses a bit more since we discovered the book Fairy Houses by Tracy L. Kane. It is a wonderful book about a girl whose family takes her to an island off the coast of Maine and in the woods there is a place where people build fairy houses following the rules of the woods which are posted. At the end of the book, there are ideas for building fairy houses in all four seasons.

On our walk through the woods at Mass Audubon, we looked for fairy houses or at least good places for one. We liked this one below. A fallen tree with another tree winding around it. It looked magical to me.

Last year I saw at The Magic Onions her fairy garden contest. Hazel and I entered it. Here is my entry. Here is Hazel's entry. Then Hazel wanted to put the three little pigs in it and build their houses, so here is that one. Donni at The Magic Onion is having the contest again this year. Now I'm really going to work on getting Hazel into it. We shall see what we can come up with this year. I always like to get Hazel thinking about such magical things.

My plan this year is to take Hazel to pick out plants/flowers for it and find a good container to put it in. Then we can add the rocks and furniture, etc. We shall see where Hazel's imagination takes us this year.

How about you? Will you entertain some fairies this year?

Starting My Garden & Other Gardening Projects

You may remember I posted in April about getting my plants started for my garden. This past weekend we replanted them and planted some more seeds. Of course now that I replanted them, the weather has gotten much colder. Oh, well. I have also been doing a lot of gathering of different gardening books and in particular ones with ideas for gardening with children. I will share several of them with you here, so keep reading!! The first one I found and love is Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy. This book has some great ideas for gardens to grow with children. The idea we took from it this year is a sunflower garden that can be a fun place house/hiding space. Thus why we are growing so many sunflowers. We will be doing other ideas from it in later years. She also has wonderful ideas on what to do if you do not have much space and other issues.
Our marigolds less than a week after we planted them!

A companion to Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots is Sunflower Houses also by Sharon Lovejoy. I found this one this year at Drumlin Farms in the gift shop. This book has great ideas on things to do with items from your garden for children. She literally interviewed adults and asked them what they remember about gardening as a child and wrote down some of the most popular things in this book. Needless to say sunflower houses is one of them, but not the only one. There are also hollyhock dolls and more. I bought a few hollyhock bulbs and we are going to plant them along the driveway edge to help give a little more privacy from the street. This will also be right in front of the sunflower garden, so I'm hoping it will help keep it more private as well.
Garden Diary

Of course I also started a garden diary. I used it to plan out where we would put the sunflower garden so Steve could visualize it more and planned out where to plant the vegetables that Hazel picked out. I am also going to have Hazel look through magazines and seed catalogs to cut out pictures of gardens, flowers, plants that she likes and glue them in and any seed packages, etc. and any comments we have on how they grow for future gardens.

A book I just found at the library is Project Garden by Stacy Tornio. It goes month by month with different things to do for your garden as well as crafts, recipes, etc. Talk about some quality family time ideas. This book looks great. I think I'm going to add it to my must buy list. It has so many great ideas and is a great resource for some of the common plants people grow around here at least.

Hazel's Herb Garden Box
We took a few ideas from another great book, Green Thumbs by Laurie Carlson. This book has so many great ideas in it for activities to do with children. Another must look at book for anyone who wants to teach their child about the plant growth cycle and other need things with plants. One idea was to do a window herb garden. I planted one for Hazel for her room (she didn't want to help when it came time to plant it). I picked herbs that would be fragrant as well as tasty, so we could also use it for our senses. I used lavender, lemon basil, dill, sage, and rosemary.

Another idea we got from Green Thumbs is to make a flower press. I love pressing flowers and using them in crafts or on note cards. I usually just layer the flowers in printer paper and pile books on them, however I loved this simple flower press to make instead. (I have also eyed some at stores and refuse to pay what they ask for them when they look so easy to make. I just need to get some wood and screws to do it properly.)

I made a couple of changes, but nothing to serious. Materials I used are two pieces of cardboard (I used the bottom of my water bottle cases), a piece of contact paper, masking tape or duct tape in a pretty color, at least 2 yards of ribbon, an exacto knife and paper towels and a heavy book. I added the contact paper because I wanted to make it a bit more water proof. I first let Hazel decorate one side the cardboard and I labeled it Hazel's Flower Press. Then we put the contact paper on one side of each cardboard piece (not the decorated side). Then we used the tape to soften the edges of the cardboard. I let Hazel put it on one piece somewhat by herself, so it is not perfect. Then use the exacto knife to cut four slits in both pieces of cardboard where you will thread the ribbon through.
Thread the ribbon through so it looks like this (this is the side with contact paper--I used clear so you can't see it).  Now it is ready to use. You should be able to tie the ribbons into bows otherwise you need longer ribbons.

Now pick some flowers to press. Layer them in paper towels on the inside of the flower press (contact paper is on inside of both cardboard pieces). Close press and tie. Then put on hard surface (table, wood floor, etc.) and cover with a large book (I used a dictionary).

In a few days you will have some nicely pressed flowers when you open up your press.

Some books we have been enjoying to learn more about the seeds and the particular plants we are growing. (I shared a few here.)

 This looks like a great book really explaining the process of growing pumpkins and what a pumpkin is. We haven't read it yet.

I shared some good pumpkin books in October as well.

This is a counting book with seeds and then with the harvest they count by tens. Hazel loves it!

This is pretty good, but a tiny bit above Hazel's understanding level. She wasn't really interested when we read it.

We just got this one from the library. It looks like it may be above her head a bit as well, but we will see.

This is where I link up...

Banana Walnut Blueberry Pancakes & First Class

This morning Hazel wanted to make pancakes for breakfast. I played with our recipe a bit to make it healthier. Since we had some nice ripe bananas we decided to make banana pancakes. I have been reading How to Disease-Proof Your Child by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. I haven't gotten very far, but it is interesting and he really pushes the nuts and seeds as well as fruits and vegetables. In particular he talks about walnuts and flax seeds. I bought some walnuts and gave some to Hazel but she didn't like them, so I put some in the blender and added them to the pancakes.
My banana masher
We mixed together 1/2 cup of flax seed meal, 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda,  1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and about 1/2 cup of ground walnuts.

Around this time we sprayed the griddle pan with a butter cooking spray and warmed the pan. Then we beat an egg and added one cup of milk, one tablespoon olive oil and the mashed bananas (2 pretty ripe bananas).  Then we added this mixture to the dry ingredients and mixed it together. Then we stirred in one cup of frozen blueberries. Now it was time to cook.
And finally time to eat. We had them with some maple syrup!

After breakfast we needed to get ready for our first class at the Mass Audubon Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. Every time we have tried to get into their toddler class it has been full. This last time April's was full but they put us in the May one, so off we went. Hazel loved it!
Looking for frogs at the vernal pool
Today's theme was frogs. The instructor showed the kids two frogs--a leopard frog and a wood frog in the Nature Center. Then we walked to the vernal pool or the frog pond. She had found some tadpoles earlier this morning and left them to show the kids on our way. She also had some salamander eggs to show them. Unfortunately, it was cold and wet out today so the frogs were not out nor were the turtles. We will have to bring Daddy here on a sunny warm day so we can see them. (One of our goals of taking the class here was to get to know this place better so we can go as a family more.) The instructor found a pond cricket and a slug, but Hazel wanted to keep walking and not stop to look. The one rule the instructor had was whenever the kids saw a trail marker post they had to stop and wait for everyone. I stayed up with Hazel since she was often by the post. Apparently the instructor got the slug to stick out its eyes. I don't know how, but I would have loved to see it.
Could a fairy live in this old tree with the other tree winding around it?
While Hazel was getting impatient we decided to look for fairy houses or places fairies could live. We found an interesting fallen tree that had another tree wrapping around it. We decided it would be perfect for a fairy. The rest of the class was looking at a spider web except for the boy who went from one post to the next without looking at anything. Then the instructor showed the kids where the deer had been eating and one of the girls found a deer print. At this point Hazel needed a bathroom so we went ahead to use it.
Walking by the meadow
On our way to the bathroom we walked by a meadow with blue bird boxes. Then after the bathroom we went into the Nature Center to join the class for a craft. She had a frog puzzle out of paper for the kids to do. Each kid got a glue stick and puzzle. Here is Hazel's.

After class, we went out for some jumping in puddles and one of the boys showed Hazel the water bubbler. After some playing with it and experimenting and a little help from me, Hazel figured out how to drink from it.
Don't you love the look of satisfaction on her face! Her shirt is completely wet, but oh, well. Then one of the girls asked if they wanted to play hide and seek and off the kids were. Then they splashed in the puddles and then it was tag. Needless to say it was a fun morning.

This is where I link up...

May Day at Drumlin Farm

Happy May Day!! Last year I made a miniature May pole for Hazel's seasonal table. Not sure where it is now. I will have to look for it later. This morning we made this May Day Basket. I used a printable from Fantasy Jr. Hazel practiced cutting so some of the flowers ended up square and we added some flower stickers we had.
For May Day we went to Drumlin Farm. Here in Massachusetts it was a cold, rainy day. Hazel was excited to see the puddles! We really need the rain so it was good to see it, but not a lot of fun with the cold temperatures.
Puddle Jumping!!
In our class today the focus was on hearing. We got there a bit late due to the horrible traffic in the rain. The visitor was just coming out of her cage when we got there. The visitor today was an American Kestrel, because she makes lots of noise.
Things I learned today: birds have hollow bones which is why they can fly. This bird weighs about the same as the glove our instructor had on to hold her; her ears are located at the top of the thick black stripes behind her eyes. Once again she had kestrel wings for the kids and moms to feel as well as an owl wing. The owls wings are very soft on the edges to help with the silent flight. After our visitor we made a fun craft which is perfect for this week and Cinco de Mayo!! A shaker noise toy out of a toilet paper roll and rice. Staple one end of a toilet paper roll shut. Decorate the outside how you want. Put some rice (amount up to you) and then staple the other end in the other direction to make neat shape.

Then we headed to the chicken house. We timed it well because there was still a hen out for another program so we got to pet it.

Then we got to go into the Staff Only section where the chicks are. We missed the hen house last year so we didn't get to see the chicks last year. They had three chick cages with different ages in each one.

Then we went to see the newest babies on the farm.

Can you imagine having 11 babies? Oh, my!!
My piglet is piglet weight!
Then class was over so we walked over to see Midnight, the pony. Then wanted to check on the seeds we planted last week so we walked through the sheep and goat barn. All the goats and sheep were inside!

We thought this one was in the best spot in the whole farm! Eating and warm!
We checked our swiss chard, but it hadn't sprouted yet. Oh, well. It has been too cold here lately. Then we went to the gift shop to buy some bird seed and headed home.