Lantern Making – Part 3

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Well, we finished making our lantern and all that was left now was to join the parade!

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We went to the New Mills Lantern parade last year, but this was the first time we had made our own lantern. It was a lovely evening, surprisingly warm for a British September, and Amelia loved getting all the compliments on our colourful lantern. Will definitely be going again next year!

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Home Gardening

A few months ago we planted some fruit and veg in the garden. We’d tried this in previous years, only to find everything devoured by slugs in a single night. (Well, everything except the radishes – it seems that slugs don’t like radishes.)

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Radishes are always a success

Anyway, this year we thought we’d outsmart them and grow everything in containers.

We didn’t just plant our crops in containers, we fortified them with copper tape, coffee grinds, broken shells and milk-bottle cloches… all the things that are supposed to keep slugs away.

Well, it’s amazing how high slugs and snails can climb, and how persistent they actually are.

We lost the whole crop of lettuce, the thyme and the coriander. However, we did have some success with the carrots and the one pot of strawberries that we’d placed several foot above the ground (the ones at ground level stood no chance!)  Most of the herbs also did well – especially the mint, rosemary and lemon balm.

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Tiny carrots

But out of everything we grew, we all agreed one thing was by far the best – our heart shaped strawberry!

If anyone has any suggestions of edible crops that slugs and snails just won’t touch please do leave us a comment, as we’re hoping for even more success next year! 🙂

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Paper Plate Nature Masks

Paper Plate Nature Masks

The weather has been glorious here this week so we’ve been out enjoying the sunshine and haven’t had much time for crafting. However, we did find one fun craft activity  that was great to do outdoors…

To make the masks, I cut eye and mouth holes in some paper plates. We painted them green and hung them on the line in the sunshine to dry.

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While they were drying, we went on a nature walk in the local park to collect our leaves and flowers. When we got home we laid them out on the garden table and started sticking.

4 year old Amelia decided to decorate her plate mask with only flowers and colourful leaves. Then she helped 16 month old Ciara with hers, saying she was giving the mask “pretty rosy cheeks” to match Ciara’s own ones! 🙂

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Once the girls were done sticking, we again left them out in the sunshine to dry. After that I punched holes in the sides of each plate and threaded through some elastic so they could be worn as masks.

Then all that remained to be done was to try them on…

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Raising Caterpillars – Update 7, Releasing the Butterflies

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Well, today was the big day! It was warm and even sunny in patches, so we knew we really needed to release our butterflies in case the weather didn’t hold out for the weekend (I live in the north of England, and getting 2 days of sunshine in a row is regarded as something in the order of a minor miracle).

At first we took the butterflies outside in their enclosure, so they could acclimatise to the weather. Soon they were fluttering and flying, so we opened the lid. Two of the butterflies wanted nothing more to do with us and flew straight off over the houses, but the other three were more hesitant to go.

Amelia was wearing a butterfly patterned top and our butterflies must have thought some friends had come to greet them as, to her delight, two of them fluttered straight onto it!

Another butterfly fluttered away fairly quickly, and we placed the remaining two onto a leafy bush to finish warming their wings in the sunshine.

It’s been such an amazing experience for all of us. I thought Amelia would have been sadder about letting the butterflies go, but in the end she was just excited about them landing on her top, so we were pretty lucky there.

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Raising Caterpillars – Update 6, Day 31

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Four of our five caterpillars have now turned into butterflies! We’re planning on giving them another couple of days to see if the last one emerges and then releasing them into the wild.

Apparently Painted Lady butterflies will naturally “migrate” from where they are released to their native habitats (at least that’s what the Insect Lore info sheet says). I don’t know whether this is actually true, or just one of those things they tell to kids to make them feel better, whereas in reality the poor things will spend the rest of their short lives weaving aimlessly through traffic in the centre of urban Manchester – but, hey, they said the chrysalids on the ground would be OK and so far they have been right, so maybe it’s time to suspend my natural skepticism and accept they know what they are talking about!

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Ready to emerge

Watching the transformation so close up has been truly amazing. I took this photo of one of our chrysalids just minutes before the butterfly emerged – and you can actually see the butterfly’s wing inside!

Our butterflies seem to be enjoying their plates of fruit salad, although I’m sure they will ultimately be happier to be released into the wild (presuming what I said above is true, anyway!)

It’s been a privilege to share our house with such a wonder of nature, and over the next couple of days we will be sure to take in every detail before saying goodbye to our fluttering friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Caterpillars – Update 5, Day 29

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What a happy day; we have our first butterfly! 🙂

It must have emerged really quickly,butterfly3 as I looked before we went out to the shop this morning and the chrysalis was intact, then we came back half an hour later and there it was sitting next to its empty chrysalis shell, airing out its new wings.

We’ve given it some buttercup stalks to climb on, sugar water to drink, and also a little plate of fruit salad (well, it might as well get off to a healthy start!)

Hopefully in another day or so it will have some new butterfly friends to flutter around with too…

Oh, and don’t worry, the red stuff under the butterfly isn’t blood, it’s meconium (metabolic waste that is expelled from the butterfly as it first emerges – a bit like a human baby when it does its first poop!)

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Stretching its wings

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Raising Caterpillars – Update 4, Day 22

Chrysalis down!

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We’ve had a bit of trouble with our caterpillars since the last update. Two of our caterpillars successfully pupated on the lid of their container, but then as the next two tried to do so the final caterpillar crawled across them and all three fell in a heap to the floor. The two that had been knocked finished pupating on the ground that day, and the last one did so that night.

Now, I’ve been reading what you are supposed to do in these circumstances and getting a bit concerned. A lot of sources say that the chrysalids will not form properly on the ground, or the butterflies will not be able to emerge, and they talk about trying to “rehang” the chrysalids with dental floss or hot glue. However, the official Insect Lore site (where I purchased the larvae) says to leave them down, placed on kitchen towel, and they should emerge safely. So, that’s the advice we’re following, and basically hoping for the best.

I’ve placed all the chrysalids in their butterfly mesh habitat, and now all we can do is wait…

(Getting kind of worried over what will happen, though. The little things are like pets to us now, plus I really don’t fancy having to explain malformed butterflies and the like to my 4 year old. She is bad enough with dead stuff right now. Yesterday she turned to me and said “mummy, you’re so old you could die right now”! Gee, thanks, do I look that bad? I’m only 35!)