Friday, September 25, 2015

Red Ladybug on Golden Milkweed

Ladybug climbs golden milkweed leaf hunting yellow aphids

Ladybugs or Lady Beetles can be a gardener’s best friend, especially if there are an abundance of soft bodied insects in residence. Aphids, white flies, scale, and mites all love to attack garden plants, sucking the life right out them. Ladybugs will hunt these plant pests down and gobble them up like a human eating a chocolate candy. Yum, yum, yum.

climbing tallest stems
searching for soft body meals
Ladybug strikes gold

Now as shown in this photo, the lady bug that showed up on my golden milkweed plant was all red. The most common one to most of us is the red lady beetle with black spots. Now this lady bug didn’t lose its spots gambling, or due to age – it was just another variety.
It turns out there are about 500 different varieties of lady bugs just in the U.S.A. If you talk about the world there are almost 5,000 known varieties scattered across mother earth. With this many varieties you get a rainbow of colors. They can be colored orange, yellow, black, brown, white and even pink with or without the spots.

voracious eater
devours pests, protects garden

beetle armada

Ladybugs (Amazon link) are also known as lady beetles. Well they are definitely beetles and almost all are beneficial to the garden. So if you see some hanging around your plants re-consider using that insecticide and give them a chance to take care of your infestation. They will hunt down the pests and gobble them up as quickly as they can. Watch out for their larva as they also will join in the feasting and bring the pests down to a less harmful level.

So what are male ladybugs called? Can they be called sir bugs, lordly bugs, or how about king beetles? Nope, they are also called ladybugs or lady beetles. Talk about a blow to the male ego. Then again they only care about two things: food and procreation.

Ladybug visits
Golden milkweed plant
Aphids shake in dread

Procreation (or species survival) depends on two ladybugs of the right sex – one male and one female – meeting up and having beetle sex. The male climbs onto the female’s back, and holds her wings closed so she can’t fly away then mates with her. Afterwards they separate, each of them hunting for their survival and needs. He’s looking for food and another female to mate with. She is looking for food and a good place to lay her eggs.

Infested milkweed
perfect ladybug larder
yellow aphid meals

The female will lay her eggs on the plant, in this case golden milkweed (article link) I planted for Monarch butterflies, then go on about her business – hunting and eating from the abundant yellow aphids. When her eggs hatch the larva will join the hunt, gorging themselves on the aphids. Eventually they enter metamorphosis and become Ladybugs which can fly to search for better hunting grounds and mates.

If you enjoyed this mixture of haiku, and writing – with a few facts about the Ladybugs thrown in leave a comment and share it forward.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Halloween Gnomes

Party Gnomes

Gnomes are mysterious beings which are 7 times stronger than your normal human man, have a keen sense of smell and can travel at the speed of light (ok, a bit of an exaggeration but it is said they can move quickly – quicker than the average human sprinter at least). They live far and wide across the world. Many are loners but sometimes they can be found in family groups. This is especially true of Gnomes  that hang out in gardens, or Garden Gnomes (amazon link).

One thing that all can agree on is that Gnomes like to throw a party. Gnomes from far and wide will converge in a garden or a secret place in the woods and have themselves a rip roaring party. Dancing, drinking and eating will go on into the wee hours of the night. Musicians will play their instruments with wildly energetic music being the choice. The Gnomes will smoke their pipes full of nature’s herbs, dance a few jigs and pass around the honey mead.

Halloween, when the fabric between reality and the fairy world is stretched to its thinnest, is one of their favorite nights to throw a party. They will leave their daytime shells behind and scamper off to one of thousands of meeting places across the world to enjoy a night of festivities not only with other gnomes but with other fairy folk too. (Very rarely, will a human actually see a Gnome party – almost always by accident.)

Improve your chances of seeing the Gnomes in action. Have a Good Gnome Party on Halloween eve and after your party has wound down and things are quiet you may get a chance to see the Gnomes having a good time. It is after all a magical night.

Throw a Gnome Party

What can you do to help your Gnomes have a good time on Halloween night?

One way is to throw your own Gnome Halloween party. Invite all your friends and their families to join you in celebrating Halloween night. Get out your Gnome costumes (amazon link) and ask everyone that is coming to help by dressing up as Gnomes. Be sure to get the children, even the little kids, into the spirit of the night by dressing them up as Gnomes too.
The most important accessory is the hat. All real Gnomes wear pointed hats. Now some human folks claim that only the males wear red hats, and that may be true, but all the other colors are also worn.  Each Gnome has their favorite color and that is what he or she will wear to the party. So deck out your family in cone shaped hats in the color of their choice.

Put out lots of natural foods. Try putting out some nuts and fruits (sliced, diced or whole).  Different crackers, types and flavors, and cheese cut into bite size pieces are always welcome. There are a multitude of chips that would go well with a Gnome party: potato chips, cheese curls and corn chips are just a few. Drop a couple of containers of dip near them for snacking pleasure.
For the kids, consider having little goodie bags. Give the goody bags to the kids when they and their parents start to leave. They will have a bit of goodness to remind them the next day of the Gnome party they attended.

Once all the humans have left and things look they are quiet, try to take a sneak look at your garden. If you are real lucky, you will catch a glimpse of your Gnomes having a good old time at their own party. Since you just had a Gnome party, they may feel a bit more disposed toward you and let you catch that little peek into their own festivities before they hide their party from prying eyes once more.

Gnome "Facts": These facts require verification. Can you provide it?

Their life-span is measured in hundreds of years - around 400 years on average.

Males indulge in pipe-smoking. Herbs and natural plants leaves are their favorite.

Males start thinking of marriage and off-spring at about age 200.

Gnome women deck themselves out with blossoms or berry-bearing twigs for the celebrations and in trying to lure some of those bachelor gnomes into marriage.

Gnomes kiss by rubbings noses, and may also use nose rubbing as a greeting equivalent to human handshaking.

Gnomes love practical jokes and are notable pranksters, like many another fairy folk.

They can stand perfectly still for long periods of time, giving them the appearance of not being real.

Like humans they like to remodel their surroundings, so do not be surprised if the garden looks a little different every now and then. Flowers moved, stones moved, gnomes moved – uncanny!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Candle Jar, Seashells, Sand Seashell Craft

Finished Candle Jar Craft with a lit Tea light inside

Seashell crafts can be pretty awesome. Add in some clean candle jars and you can make some very nice decorative jars for your home or to use as gifts. These crafts require just a few basic items:

1. a clean candle jar (see this article for dyi)
    I clean candle jars after they burn down and the wicks stop working and save them to use in crafts and for storage.

2. an assortment of seashells (Amazon affiliate link)
    The seashells shown here are from the beach. I live in Florida and not too far from the beach. Once in a while a get an itch to go beach combing and see what the Atlantic has kicked up on the sand.

3. sand (Amazon affiliate link)
    The beach combing trick works for sand too. That's why the jars shown here have a yellowish glow when a candle is lit inside them.

4. white glue (I use Elmer's Glue All)
     Use standard glue, not the washable kind made for school. You want the glue to be one with the glass and sand once it dries.

5. paint brush
    I use a cheap hobby paint brush like the kind that come in those paint by number sets. It's all plastic, even the bristles which means it cleans up real easy under water.

Front Side of the Candle Jar
After you gather the materials, sit down and give a little bit of thought how you want to apply the seashells. Do you want a particular design or do you want to just place the seashells at random. Either way works, it all depends on you - the crafting genius.

I happen to like patterns, even if it may look random at times. So I decide ahead of time how I want to place the seashells on the glass.

Back Side of the Candle Jar
OK, let's get started.

First lay the jar on its side. This is to keep the seashells from sliding off the glass when you go to glue them on.

Hint: use a prop to keep it from rolling. Try a couple of larger seashells. An old towel can help to keep it in place also.

Applying the Seashells

1. Apply glue to the edges of the seashell and place it on the glass. See how many you can glue on before they start the slide. Larger jars allow you to glue more of them at the same time.

2. Wait for the glue to dry. This may take up to an hour. Depends on humidity levels.

3. Move the jar so you can apply more seashells.

4. Repeat until you're done.


 Applying the Sand

You can apply the sand to the jar all at once or in sections. For me it depends on the size of the jar and how much sand needs to be applied.

1. Apply glue to the glass (not the seashells) and use the paint brush to spread it around. Just think of it as painting the jar white, except of course it's with glue not paint. Cover all the exposed glass except the bottom (where the jar eventually will sit on the table) and the area around the top of the jar if you plan on using the lid (this depends on the lid type).

2. Sprinkle sand over the wet glue. Set the candle jar aside and allow the glue to dry.

Hint: use newspaper to catch the sand. It also makes it easier to collect the sand that doesn't stick to the jar so you can use it on future projects.

3. If you don't like sand on the seashells you can scrape it off once the glue dries. That's assuming you got any on the seashells. Much as I try not to, somehow I manage to get glue on the some of  the seashells where it's not wanted and therefore sand. I use tweezers to scrape the sand off.

The finishing touch

You can use the jar like it is once it is completely dry (I'd wait 24 hours). However, I would recommend that you give the seashells and sand a coating of high-gloss polyurethane paint. Once dry the poly will protect the sand and seashells from the environment and give everything a pretty shine.

You can get polyurethane at your local hardware store, places like Wal-Mart, or use the Amazon links I provided and do a search for polyurethane paint. Buy the small can. A little goes a long way.

You can even decorate the candle tops in various ways. Below is one I did that features a blue crab hiding under a seashell and protecting a faux pearl. (That would be fake, as in plastic).

To get more out of your candle burning experience, try scented tea lights. You get a nice visual from the seashells and sand, and scented air to tickle you nose.

Hope you enjoyed this article. If you did leave me a comment below and consider sharing to your social networks (also below).

Thanks for the visit,


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Teddy Bear Day a September Holiday

National Teddy Bear Day


Teddy bears are the prettiest of the bear clan. They are even better looking than the lumbering Pandas or the vicious but cute Koala bears. They are the beloved bear of children. In fact all ages of kids love their Teddies and many an adult too.
Holding a Teddy bear in your arms just brings up those feelings of good. Our love for the Teddy has led to a National Teddy Bear Day, a day which has been placed aside to celebrate our relationship with the softest and cuddliest of the bears.

This day happens every September and it is set aside to help us humans commemorate the wonder of the Teddy, a Teddy which may have existed as just a bear if not for President Teddy Roosevelt. Which day is that?
September 9th

You have heard (read) it right. September 9th is the official Teddy Bear Day. Oh, there are other days out there on the calendar which claim to be Teddy Bear days – all put out by various companies trying to expand their sales – usually around the holidays.
But September 9th is the National Teddy Bear Day. It’s not Valentine Teddy Day, Mother Teddy Day, Christmas Teddy Day or Vermont Teddy Day – it’s THE TEDDY DAY.

You may have a Valentine Teddy Bear, a birthday Teddy bear, a Christmas bear or any of a number of other specialty bears who all seem to have days set aside by someone for them, but National Teddy Bear Day is the day for all of them.

What is the Teddy Bear all about?

Stuffed bears were already in existence before the Teddy bear came out of the closet. They were toys for children. The bear doll had the look of a real bear, or as close to it as a stuffed toy could be. It had small eyes and a long snout. Stuffing was sparse at best.

A change in circumstances

No matter where you look or how you read it, the Teddy bear was born when President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt went hunting back in 1902. An avid hunter he had gone out with a group of hunters and, yes even then, a group of attendants or what we would now-a-days call staff.
His staff of the day, cornered a small black bear, beat it and tied it to a tree. They then invited the President to shoot the bound animal. He refused stating that it was unsportsmanlike. The bear was killed just to put it out of its misery.

This became the news of the day. President “Teddy” had refused to kill off a bear. The founder of the Ideal Toy Company is credited with creating a little stuffed bear, after reading a political cartoon about it in the Washington Post in November of 1902. He received permission from Roosevelt to call the stuffed bear Teddy and put the little bear with a sign “Teddy’s bear” in display in his store window. The toys were a success and a toy company was born.

Celebrate the Teddy Bear Day

How can you celebrate with your Teddy? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Have a party.
Here’s the perfect reason to get together with your Teddy toting friends and have a good time. Throw a party to celebrate the life and times of the Teddy in your life. Invite the boys and girls over, making sure they bring their Teddy bears with them. No Teddy – No Party. Decorate with Teddy decorations and party favors. Put your favorite Teddy in the place of honor. Enjoy the day!

2. Have Kids? Throw a Teddy bear sleep over.
Invite the kids to a sleep over with your kids. Make the theme of the sleep over “A Night with the Teddy.” (You may want to talk it over with the parents first to make sure all the invited kids have Teddy bears.)

3. Have a Donate a Teddy Get Together
Start a charity drive for your local kid’s hospital. Include not only monetary donations for the kid’s wing at the hospital but also ask for a Teddy bear donation. Bring the Teddy bears (and any money) to the attention of the hospital and let them know that you would like to donate the collections you received during Teddy Bear Day to help out the kids.

4. Have Some Time Alone with Your Teddy
Teddy Bear day can be the day you set aside for some deep quality time with your bear. Take your Teddy for a walk. Have a cup of tea and a cookie or two. Settle down in front of your TV and just watch your favorite programs with your favorite bear cuddled in your arms (and your favorite drink nearby).

(note: If you don't have a Teddy Bear, Amazon will sell you one and ship fairly quick.
  disclaimer: I am an Amazon associate)

 September 9th is Teddy Bear Day.

A Teddy Bear is a special friend to children all over the world. He's cuddly. He makes you feel secure in an otherwise insecure world. He's lovable. Your Teddy Bear is both a companion and a comforter. And, he's not afraid of the dark. He'll keep you safe.