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Lavender Fields Forever

Last fall, we took a trip to a local U-Pick lavender farm. It was their last weekend before closing for the season so we could pick an entire basket for $5. They also grow rows of flowers & we could mix & match our basket.

It was a lovely time. We enjoyed watching the bees buzz-ily gathering supplies for the cooler weather.

We also took a lot of lovely photos & got this recipe for Lavender Lemonade.

Lavender1

lavender2

Lavender Lemonade
A refreshing lavender lemonade, perfect for a hot summer day, or as a unique potluck contribution.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 cups water, divided
  2. 1 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
  4. 1 cup lemon juice
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water and sugar to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat; add lavender blossoms.
  3. Let stand at least one hour.
  4. Strain to remove lavender blossoms.
  5. Stir in remaining water and lemon juice, adding more water depending on taste.
  6. Serve over ice.
Notes
  1. Make sure your lavender flowers have not been sprayed with pesticides.
When The Bee Stings http://whenthebeestings.com/

Ladybug Metamorphosis Photo Essay

We were so lucky to have a large ladybug hatch in our yard. I spotted their larva munching on some weeds we were about to pull & we watched them like a hawk for weeks.

Would you recognize this as a ladybug larva? It looks quite alien, no? 

ladybug larva

After they get their fill, the larvae find something to attach themselves to & enter the pupal stage. In this photo, you can see the larval legs up top & the newly forming leg buds of the ladybird beetles final shape. The segments on the very bottom are actually going to form the beetles’ face. The ladybug pupa completely turns around inside in its metamorphosis! 

Ladybug Pupa 1

Here, you can see the ladybug pupa’s permanent legs growing & darkening. Also notice what was the larval skin is shriveling.

Ladybug Pupa 3

The pupa’s face gets darker as it changes.

Ladybug Pupa 2

Happy birthday, ladybug! The ladybug emerges from its shed pupal skin. There’s some neat metamorphosis vocabulary about this stage. The adult ladybug still in its pupal case is called a “pharate”. The shed pupal case (the larva’s skin!) is called the “exuvia”. The verb for coming out of the pupal case is “eclose”.

Ladybug Metamorphosis 2

Ladybug Metamorphosis 3

Ladybug Metamorphosis

Shortly after the pharate adult has eclosed (using those new words!), its elytra (fore wings) are soft & light yellow. And no spots!

Ladybug Soft Wings

Ladybug Newly Emerged

Like the majority of beetles, adult ladybugs have two sets of wings. They do not fly with the wings that we can see. The elytra are hard wing-coverings for their delicate true wings (hind wings). Now the ladybug has to stretch out its hind wings until the blood in the veins dry & harden permanently.

Did you know ladybugs had these hidden wings? You rarely see them unless they’re in flight!

Ladybug Drying Wings

The ladybug is getting harder & darker & spots are appearing.

Ladybug Spots Forming

Almost done! The ladybird beetle is now dark orange, and on its way to turning dark red as the elytra continue to harden. We took this ladybug outside & it flew away, off to eat over 5,000 aphids in its life!

Ladybug Turning Red

Dabbling in Watercolors

I’ve started playing with watercolor paints.

For this first one, I gathered fall leaves & traced them directly onto 8″x8″ watercolor paper. The small size really appeals to me just starting out, because it isn’t a huge commitment. I actually used Roseart watercolor paints for this. I enjoyed how easy they were to blend.

Watercolor Leaves

 

For this one, I used a photo of poppies as a reference. Poppies are great for beginners, because their shapes are so fluid & forgive a lot of mistakes.

Watercolor Poppies

 

I used a different set of water color paints for this one & was frustrated the entire time. I bought them at Joann Fabrics & Crafts & they were so terrible. The didn’t dissolve at all & there were chunks of filler in the pigment. It was very frustrating, considering I thought I was moving up a notch by buying something other than RoseArt. I have since been given some nicer watercolors!

Identifying Feathers

It’s spring again, so I wanted to remind everyone of the Feather Atlas, our favorite resource for identifying birds by feathers found on the ground. The Feather Atlas is a searchable database of scans of feathers belonging to North American birds, run by the US Department of Fish & Wildlife.

ID birds by feather

It’s a great place to learn about bird anatomy, feather function & about our birds here in North America.

Just a reminder that it’s actually illegal in the US to collect feathers, nests, eggs, or parts of birds, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. I’ve never known a person who wasn’t willfully harming protected species to be prosecuted for collecting feathers, but as people are always shocked to learn this, I do pass on this info since people like to share about their collections online, never realizing they’re broadcasting what’s technically a crime.