Category Archives: nature

Outdoor learning just in the garden

Tommy and LJ love our garden, they love Mamma’s greenhouse (Tommy has been calling me that since he began talking and couldn’t say grandma). We are learning so much by playing outdoors just in this small space.

I wanted to share some free and inexpensive  ideas for developing your garden and using it for fun learning

  1. I’ve left a patch of grass ‘wild’ to encourage butterflies and bees. It looks very wild now and the grasses are almost waist height for Tommy and LJ. They love walking through this and feeling the different textures as well as looking for butterflies.
    IMG_5173
  2. Seeds – I saved seeds from poppies, sweet peas and foxgloves last year and we planted these earlier this year. They understand the sequence of plant pot, soil, seeds, more soil, water and writing a label and can now plant seeds with very little help.
    IMG_4734
  3. We won a book on Toppsta called ‘Bee and me’ this is a stunning book all about the friendship between a little girl and a bee. It arrived with a packet of beautifully illustrated seeds. Obviously we planted theses and nurtured them ( toppsta is a site where you can look at book reviews and recommendations but can also win ‘ giveaways- well worth a look)
  4. As a result of the above we now spend a lot of time looking for ‘buzzy bees’ and talking about pollen and flowers.
    IMG_4748
  5. I caught Tommy outside with his camera taking ‘photos of flowers like mamma’
    IMG_5165
  6. We allow the kids to fill up the bird feeders and that’s one of the things they ask to do now.
    IMG_5284
  7. Tommy has a digger with a bucket on the front and we collect small items to fit in, leaves, feathers, stones all the while talking about big and little
    IMG_5551
  8. We listen for sounds – I could have cried when Tommy said ‘listen to the birds singing’ -Tommy particularly likes aeroplane spotting.
  9. We have picked tomatoes from the green house and eaten them outside ( I have stressed he must always ask me first before eating anything!! Paranoid grandma.)
  10. Tommy uses the hosepipe to water the tubs and we are gradually learning what is the correct amount of water – we’ve had weeks of too much water to get to this stage!


None of this is rocket science I know but I’ve really started to learn about the joys of outdoor learning as I have been privileged to work with Juliet Robertson ( take a look at her blog there are so many ideas on there!)  on two of her books Dirty Teaching and Messy Maths ( both by Crown House ). I now think about the language I use and can see joy in the kids faces when we lay on the floor to look at a green caterpillar or Tommy asks what the berries are on the tree. I love it when they are excited to see starlings feeding their young or when LJ makes piles of pebbles. Yes they get dirty and my hosepipe is Tommy’s favourite toy but they are outside playing and learning to love nature which has got to be a good thing 

We did buy some items, a magnifying glass which meant we could look closely for caterpillars and bugs, children’s gardening gloves – they were £1 a pair at a local hardware store, smaller watering cans and the children’s first book of birds from The RSPB.

Free Motion Embroidery Part 2

I really do think you can teach yourself most things with the help of you tube videos and a pinterest board. The last few weeks have seen my interest in free motion embroidery grow. I created more flower images based on my photos such as this one here.

1930534_10154064751042384_512265294315690050_n
Vase of flowers – free motion embroidery

I based the flowers and poppy seeds on photos and it seemed to work quite well. I decided to see if the same worked with photos of people. As I’m a beginner I’m working on images taken from behind to avoid having to sew faces!  Obviously my first subject was Tommy. My first attempt didn’t work as I forgot to flip the image and his little arm was then on the wrong side.However, undeterred, I tried again!

12439389_10154110785892384_4266858185621395501_n

I love this as this is often my view of him running ahead whilst I try to keep up. My daughter in law loved it and asked if we could do a family portrait. Trying to keep Tommy in the right position was hard but I loved playing with this.

12799015_10154106058452384_7109067123459163540_n

It’s now finished a framed! A real sense of achievement from a non sewer.

This is my latest attempt – a picture for my friend of her two granddaughters which has real significance for her.

12799376_10154112812132384_1140113250179499399_n

So if you want a portrait from behind, preferably wearing a hat! You know where to come x

Free motion embroidery

My knees are creaking, my back hurts and I can’t see the floor in my study but I’m so pleased with the results of my efforts today! I bought a sewing machine at the end of Oct and have been playing! I was fortunate to attend a thread stitching machine course led by Karen Hall at Oh Sew Sweet in Wombwell I loved the day and came home with a framed picture that I had made – it’s a bit wonky but it really inspired me! Today I’ve taken a photo of a vase of dead flowers (what else) in the kitchen and used it as inspiration for a picture.

Processed with MOLDIV
Free motion embroidery
IMG_1503
Vase of honesty and poppy heads

I know it’s not perfect but I feel like I have achieved something today x

Bird watching

I love the birds in my garden but also love a walk around our local RSPB site. For the first time in ages – it wasn’t raining and it was a cold sunny day. Spent a lovely hour in the garden hide at Old Moor.

There were a group of long tailed tits who are lovely but don’t stay still for very long.

The usual suspects were also there!

RZ1

RZ3

I love this Robin one as you can see the wind blowing the branches.

RZ5

I saw a magpie out of the corner of my eye – it had what looked like some orange paper in its mouth. Unfortunately when I looked it was actually the head of a bullfinch which did really upset me but I suppose nature has to take its course!

I did deliberate about uploading and I apologise if it offends anyone but it is just such a natural shot.

RZ2

 

Renewed optimism

I’ve not taken any still life shots for a while so a rainy dull day seemed ideal to stay indoors and play. I do have a beautiful bouquet of flowers from our anniversary last week but I’m much more at home with decaying plants and flowers as I love the texture. A quick dash into the garden produced some sorry looking specimens but they make for amazing macro shots.

RZ5

RZ3

RZ4

 

Teach yourself a new skill – the next steps

I’m currently working on photographs for a new book for Juliet Robertson @Creativestar (Juliet’s blog is here.)

She introduced me to the idea of Hapa Zome and I have  written about  this in an earlier blog post here. However, having spent weeks working on different materials, different plants and leaves – even different hammers! I found myself with a pile of dyed fabric and not a lot of idea what to do with it! So I decided to teach myself free hand machine embroidery. Several hours on Pinterest, loads of you tube videos, numerous mistakes and I have finally managed to create a series of (very) abstract cards. I’m very much still learning but am loving experimenting!

Hapa Zome Craft Cards

If you look at the header you can see that I have used Photoshop to turn some of my images into templates and am working on these at the minute x

Going through phases

I often find myself going through phases with my photography. Sometimes I never take my macro lens off, other times I convert everything to black and white. I’m always highly critical of my work and feel that nothing is good enough. How many of us live with ‘imposter syndrome’ and fear that we will be ‘found out’ as simply not being good enough.  I’m learning to relax and think if people don’t like my stuff that’s fine, I do, and that’s all that matters. I’ve been looking at some images of wild flowers from the summer and love the abstract feel of these. I used a zoom lens for these which meant I got that lovely dreamy background. Today’s thought for me to hold onto is that if i’m trying and if i’m slowly improving that’s ‘good enough!’

Wild flower Harlow Carr RHS Wildflower Harlow Carr RHS Poppy

Wild flower RHS Poppy

Take time to recharge

I know I keep going on about how wonderful nature is but a few days in The Lake District last week with good friends really helped to recharge batteries that were definitely running low. The colours were stunning, the weather mild and the wifi signal very poor. This meant that my phone was used as a camera and very little else. I didn’t have to worry about answering e mails or work as there was nothing I could do.

Autumn colours of the Lake District
Autumn colours of the Lake District

We sat and looked at views, chatted, ate and drank. It took us several hours to walk 4km because there was so much to see. Need to remember to recharge frequently! x

Autumn colours of the Lake District

Autumn colours of the Lake District