Friday, February 01, 2019

Last Week in January :: First Snow!

Happy February!

We had our first snowfall this week. We woke to a winter wonderland on Wednesday morning, I'm so SO glad to be back in the north. This is what I missed when we lived in Devon. 

I love that weird grey/blue colour that the world seems to turn when it's snowing.

...and watching the snow gently fall to the ground. I will never tire of watching it fall from the heavens, there is something quite peaceful and mesmerizing about it.

As the snow clouds move away you are left with a pastel world. Everything is muted and soft. Wednesday remained bright and cold then the temperatures dropped overnight to -6 degrees, nothing like the polar vortex America is experiencing but the next morning...

Hoar frost had formed on the previous days' snowfall. Like tiny little crystal trees, so pretty!

I can't quite believe we have reached the end of January already. I usually struggle during this month with the short days but this month has been ok. There has been much to enjoy and appreciate. February brings with it a whole lot more to appreciate and unique celebrations that belong to just this month. We have Candlemas on Saturday, Valentines Day and in our family, we have birthdays and of course lengthening days! Wishing you all a lovely weekend...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

This Week :: Nature Journal

I seem to find less and less time to spend here these days. I have the best of intentions but since starting my degree a lot of my time is taken up with that. This week I have assignments due, so a lot of time has been taken up with that. 

Although my days are busy with academics of all types, my daughters and my own, I do try to find time to do the things that I love such as rambling in the countryside and of course, working in my nature journal. 

Above is my Big Garden Birdwatch page. Each year I create a page to mark this event, it's become a bit of a journal tradition. I hadn't done the bird count at this point in time but I have since added to the page on the right. I had a really good count this year.

On Monday we went for a walk across fields, down country lanes and alongside hedgerow paths. It was so cold but look at that sky and that cloud formation! So beautiful.

We found some hazel catkins on our walk so we brought them home to draw into our nature journals. I adore how they all blow about in the wind. Another name for them is 'lambs tails' which is quite sweet. They do indeed look like lambs tails all hung up to dry blowing about in the cold January breeze. Nothing like a good country walk to clear away the cobwebs and refresh the mind! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Big Garden Birdwatch :: A Citizen Science Project

The Big Garden Birdwatch is happening this weekend and we are all set! We've been participating since 2014 and it is something we look forward to doing in our homeschool. 

It is a great citizen science project after we have spent an hour counting the birds that visit our feeder we log into the RSPB website and submit our results. This helps them keep an eye on the various species of birds, monitoring the health of their numbers.

This year is a little different because we are now on a farm. We get lots of starlings picking about in the horse's field in the morning and for the first time since we moved to the UK, I've spotted numerous red wings picking about the field with them.

I'm contemplating my nature journal entry for this years bird count. My most favourite entry was the one from 2014. Every time I look at it I am taken right back to that day for some reason. I think it has something to do with sketching not only the birds but the setting as well. I think I'm going to do something similar in my journal this year.

If you are in the U.S then why not participate in a similar project called the Great Backyard Bird Count? This year it is running from the 15th to 19th of February, so lots of time to get organised and plan it into your nature studies. In the past, we have made some tasty bird nibbles for the occasion. Pinterest holds a goldmine of ideas.

Right, I'm off to prep my journal page...wishing you all a blessed weekend.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Nature Sketching

One of my goals for this year was to be more purposeful in making entries in my nature journal. So far it's been a fairly good month...

I started off by finishing the phenology wheel I kept the whole of last year. I was disappointed at the beginning of the month as I paged through my journal and realised that I had only made one or two entries for the whole year but at least I kept my phenology wheel. I'm wondering if I should do it again this year. I haven't decided yet.

Our first nature walk was focused on squirrels. We are taking our nature walk study opportunities to explore the different parks and woodlands near us. This particular park had loads of squirrels, all grey as the red squirrel in this country has largely been driven far north by this little bully.

Bully or not, we enjoyed watching their antics and find them rather sweet. In the winter months, they are far more brazen as they run up to you hoping that you have a tasty morsel or two for them. In summer they mostly keep to the branches above.

While I contemplate on keeping another phenology wheel of the seasons this year, I thought that to create one to track the growing daylight hours in the month of January would be a good exercise. It is very interesting to see how our daylight grows every day. It starts off slow and slight and by this time we are gaining almost two minutes of daylight each day. By the time we reach the end of January we should be seeing the sunrise before 8am!

My latest entry is of Decembers Full moon and the blood moon that I observed on the 22nd and 24th of December. The reason why I used the photographs I took of the moon over those two days as opposed to the Super Blood Moon that appeared over the UK in the early hours of  Monday morning is because we had too much cloud cover to observe the super blood moon this month. But I had captured some fab pictures in December of the partial lunar eclipse and of course that beautiful full Cold moon.

Full 'Cold' Moon 22 December 2018
I'm thinking that I may keep a photo record of all the Full moons (at least those that I can see) for this year. If you want to take moon photographs all you need is a good bridge camera. If you have a DSLR all the better but I took these photographs with my little bridge camera.

Partial Lunar Eclipse 24 December 2018 gives us a Blood Moon
Did you know that the moons all have names? The Native American names differ from the names as set out in the old English Almanacs. According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the Native Americans' full moon names were created to help the different tribes track the seasons.

I find folklore and the old ways so fascinating. It was all very in tune to the seasons, weather and farming life which I love. Well, that wraps up today's post. It's the Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend so I'll be back before then with a post. Until then, have a lovely day.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

January Days

Hello lovelies! Can it be the 20th of January already? How has your month been so far? Mine has been great. Hubby has been on two weeks leave so we've all been spending some lovely quality time together. It's been good. Of course, only the bare basics of homeschooling has been going on but hey-ho, that's the beauty of homeschooling.

January has brought some lovely winter weather. We've had frosty mornings that has offered up some treasures. The heather is offering up the only bit of colour in my garden at the moment but that is not saying much as I have a skeleton of a garden at best. I have a lot of work cut out for me this year.

This month has offered some lovely winter walks and nature study opportunities. My daughter found a whole lot of galls which I've brought home. I'm hoping to find more and try dying some yarn with them. I haven't used botanicals yet to dye yarn but I'm really keen to try. 

And speaking of yarn, I've had a fairly good month in my Etsy Shop and yarn stock is running low, it's time to get the dye pots out again. With spring approaching I'm thinking of dying up some spring inspired favourites such as 'Daffodil' and 'Bluebell Woods'. I haven't dyed these colourways up for a while. A new colourway that I've just added is 'Days End'. 

My yarns are always inspired by the English countryside and culture, this one is reminiscent of a winters sunset. We've had some lovely clear days and although the temps have been cold some of the winter sunsets have been beautiful. Gentle pinks, blues, yellows and violets have painted the skies. 'Days End' is an ode to an English winter sunset.

I was in the store this week and - delight of delights - I noticed that the Daffodils were in store. In the rhythm of my year, I always look forward to the time when the hot-house daffs arrive in store. It is perfect timing as January can be a bit of a ho-hum month and these bright, cheerful flowers are a great reminder that spring is only a few months away. Of course in my garden, the daffodils are only just starting to peek through the soil but I relish in the hot-house daffs every year. They smell fab too. Their sweet scent fills the air as I was the dishes...*sigh* love the simple things. 

Anyhoo lovelies, I hope you are all having an awesome 2019 thus far. See you back here very soon.