Monday, March 28, 2011

Night of the Polyphemus

As many of you know, we purchased cocoons from my bug dealer in Canada last fall.  They have been overwintering in my veggie crisper since October.  A couple of weeks ago, when the threat of freezing was over, I removed them from the crisper and have been patiently waiting for them to emerge.  Last week we were graced by the tiger swallowtail.  It was SO pretty and delicate and was off like a flash when we released it!  I had been told that the moths would probably take 5-8 weeks to emerge.  Looks like that was a bit of an over-estimate!  Last night while putzing around in the front room I noticed one polyphemus moth at the top of the enclosure drying its wings.  When I took a closer look, I saw the second one!  It had obviously just emerged and crawled up the enclosure as it hadn't pumped its wings up yet.  So we observed it for about a 1/2 hour until its wings were fully expanded, then we took them both upstairs to check them out!  These are seriously some of the prettiest moths on the planet!  Photo was taken on a black t-shirt!
To get an idea of its size, here it is in my 4 year-old's hand.
I was only able to get decent photos of one moth.  They were both females, which usually means they're pretty mellow, but one of them was just antsy beyond belief and I put her back in the enclosure as not to stress her out or wear her out.  I wanted to get a good shot of the underside.  You can tell it's a female due to the large abdomen and the skinny antennae.  
The last photo is my favorite, it really shows how incredibly beautiful this creature is!  She had a wing span of about 4-ish inches and she was magnificently colored!  I mean really, look at how black the black is and how vibrant the pinks are!

As always, I feel so lucky to have spent some time with these amazing moths.  After we took some photos and each of the kids got to check them out, we took them out front to the maple tree to release them.  Usually the females don't fly too much as they are so heavy with eggs, but in the time I came back inside to grab the flashlight and the camera, they had both flown off.  I guess our accommodations weren't up to their standards!  So I wished them good luck in finding handsome boys and laying healthy eggs!

Now we wait for the last 3 moths.  We're really looking forward to the cecropia as it will have at least a 6" wingspan!  We can't wait!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cardholder for little hands

If you have small children, you understand how hard it is to play a card game with them because they can NEVER hold the cards right and then they get all mad, and well, you know the rest!  So thanks to a suggestion from a family friend, I now have a solution!

You will need two plastic lids (cottage cheese or small butter dish size), a pair of scissors, a stapler and some scotch tape.

First, cut the rim off the lids.  Then staple 3 or 4 staples in a row about 1/3 of the way up from the edge.  Take a couple of strips of scotch tape to cover the back of the staples so no little fingers get cut by the staple ends.  Then... Viola!
A perfect way for little hands to hold cards!  Happy gaming!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Greens Gone Wild!!!

I had to do some much needed garden maintenance yesterday.  Everything is really out of control, in a good way!  All but the turnips.  For some reason, aphids went nutso on the turnip greens and they were wilting, and drooping and turning yellow.  Needless to say, turnip greens are not in my future!  And sadly, I had to make the executive decision to pull all of the turnips.  I needed to get them out of there so the aphids wouldn't spread to everything else!  Many of the turnips were not fully mature, BUT, they are young and tender and when mixed with some carrots, sweet potatoes and maybe parsnips they will make an awesome side dish!  This is my puny harvest!
 Aren't they pretty?  I can't wait to see how my beets and kohlrabi turn out!

I keep telling people to PLEASE come to my house and harvest some lettuce, spinach and greens and so far no one has taken me up on it?  WTH?  I mean seriously, FREE, organic greens.  Any of you reading this, the offer still stands!  As you can see, I'm not kidding.  I really do have greens coming out of my ears!

Lettuce and spinach
Beets and kohlrabi
In case you're wondering, beet greens are great wilted down with red onions and a splash of vinegar.  They also kick ass fresh in a salad.  Kohlrabi greens are very similar in taste and texture to collard greens.  I don't have a pic of the collards but they too are out of control and beautiful!

Did someone say cilantro?!?  Who knew it would turn into a BUSH!?!
So seriously people, come get some greens!  I will probably start pulling things around the first of April so I can get my summer garden in.  And by then the lettuce will be wilting and full of snails!

Monday, March 7, 2011

How to make a fairy house AND a happy girl!

"When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."   -James Matthew Barrie

And so it is that we have fairy folk that are in need of some prime real estate!  Miss Piggy has a love affair going with fairies.  And really who can blame her?  They are beautiful, little creatures with wicked smiles and mischievous ways.  Remind you of anyone in particular?  She had begged for fairy houses at Christmas.  She found some in a catalog that were made of felt and were approximately $30 a piece PLUS shipping!  And they were ridiculously small.  Then a friend of mine recently posted about a fairy house kit she had purchased to build with her daughter and it was amazingly cute with the rocks and acorn shells and moss.  I got to thinking, why couldn't I fashion one of these?  I mean hell, I've got a glue gun.  I've got sticks and rocks.  I've got some leftover silk flowers and floral moss from various projects.  So off I went for the perfect form for the main structure.  I debated using old oatmeal boxes that I've saved for projects, but really wasn't interested in painting it or gluing paper around it, so I headed to Jo-Ann fabrics to see what they had.  As it turns out, they had just what I was looking for and they were only $3 (and I had a coupon)!

I gathered all of my tools... forms, matboard, silk flowers, floral wet foam, small tree branches, moss, scissors, nippers, box cutter, glue gun and a small bit of ribbon for embellishment.
 First thing I did was cut out a door and window, then I glued the form onto the matboard.  While that was drying, I took off the lid and decorated the "roof".  I chose to use leaves and small flowers.
 I made sure that the fairy had a nice little bed of leaves to sleep on in her new home.  Luckily fairies are pretty modest when it comes to furnishings as they spend most of their time out and about playing tricks on folks!
 I took sticks, cut them down to size and glued them, as well as some silk leaves, around the house.  Then I glued some ribbon around the edge of the roof.  As it happens, I found the most perfect little bird in some of my art supplies and the Piggy LOVED it!  Now the fairy has a pet!

I thought bluebells would make the perfect doorbell!

Now it was time to make the fairy a garden.  Fairies, according to my daughter, LOVE flowers and they need to have smooth rocks to use as furniture in the garden.  So I made a path out of sticks and I glued some brown and orange leaves (that had obviously fallen from the trees in the fall).  Then I glued a small rectangle of wet foam under the window and proceeded to fill it with colorful flowers so the fairy would have a nice window box!  Piggy decided there needed to be berries there too, since fairies prefer to eat ripe berries.  Next I glued a ton of moss all over the matboard.  And the finishing touch was adding some smooth, black rocks to the garden.  Here is the finished product WITH the happy fairy!  (Feel free to click on the pics to see it in more detail!)

Now we have a happy fairy and a happy girl.  She loves it!  From what I understand there are other fairies that will come to live here soon.  So I guess I better tackle the tower next weekend so we have room for everyone!  And in case you were wondering, the cost of this lovely fairy house was just under $12.  Granted I had some of the supplies, but really you could use just about anything.  And the supplies I did buy will make MANY more fairy houses!

Once the tower is done, our next project will be to build some fairy houses in the garden.  I hear it is good luck to have them there!  Maybe they can summon some dragonflies, lacewings and ladybugs!