Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hand Carved Stamps

 I couldn't be more tickled!  I've always wanted to try to hand carve stamps. 

 I love the organic look of them.  And handmade items really make my heart sing.   Recently, I picked up the supplies and today I tried my hand at a few.  

 This dragonfly was modeled after this dragonfly that I had doodled into a Moleskine journal over spring break.

The funky sun is based on the UnStrungSisters logo on our jewelry boxes.

I'm pretty happy with the results.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Transformations - A Look Back

My final installment in our adventure of raising caterpillars to butterflies.  This is a look back to a post on my old blog.  See the first post here.  The second installment is here.


It really is incredible to think that after two short weeks in a chrysalis a caterpillar transforms itself into a butterfly! Amazing really- think how handy that skill might be for us mere humans....

 My Swallowtail adventures are coming to a close. My many chrysalides have dwindled in numbers as day after day butterflies emerge. Our first gal showed up on Wednesday morning two weeks ago. I promptly named her Tuesday (clearly I did not had enough coffee and was confused). Tuesday was followed by a butterfly a day until Sunday, when three emerged. We named them Sunday, Sunday and Sunday.

Since then we have had butterflies everyday, except two. They almost always emerge in the morning, although we did have one tardy fellow come out after dark. He was our sixth butterfly that day. He was named Saturday just like his siblings Saturday, Saturday Saturday... well you get the picture.

As the transformation nears completion the chrysalides start to turn from an opaque green or brown to a translucent covering. You can see the wing pattern through the sides. Keeping my camera handy I was able to get a few shots of this guy just as he started crawling out.

They look a bit scary when they first emerge as their wings are all scrunched up. If you ever raise caterpillar or take care of a chrysalis it is important for the newly emerged butterfly to have something vertical to climb on. They like the underside of inclined sticks the best. This position helps them as they pump fluid from their swollen thoraxes to their wings to help them unfurl. The fluid and gravity do the trick in about 2 short minutes. Sadly, we had a couple of tragedies. Without gravity their wings become a floppy mess and they start to shred as they try to crawl around. I had read somewhere that the kindest way to put a butterfly out of it's misery was to put it in the freezer. That was a sad task I performed twice:(

While their wings are unfurling and drying they amuse themselves with their proboscis. They uncurl it and recurl it, over and over. It's really pretty cute and I can just imagine what they are thinking. "Wow, this butterfly thing is pretty cool but what in the world is stuck to my face?!"


 These butterflies are all my babies. They are Eastern Swallowtails and I captured their photos with my new digital SLR:).


 With about 10 chrysalides left, I have to say I'm about over it for this year. 

I have one monarch butterfly caterpillar that I brought inside and he should be about ready to form his chrysalis soon and then my caterpillar days will be over this year. Every time I see a Swallowtail in the yard I know it's Monday or some other day of the week saying hello to me!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

What is the plural of Chysalis? - A Look Back

Oops, I blew it.  This post was supposed to show up on Tuesday.  Nevertheless, here it is!
A look back to a post on my old blog about raising caterpillar to butterflies.  See the first post here.
Chrysalises is grammatically correct but I can't say that without feeling like I'm lisping! Chrysalides is also correct and makes me sound much more like a nature geek~ which, lately, I kind of like. Here is a shot of my numerous Swallowtail chrysalides (all of those green things that look like curled up leaves).

Okay, I realize there is something inherently creepy about the sheer number of butterfly chrysalides here (they even wiggle sometimes!). But I choose to just see the butterfly potential here.

It is kind of cool when they are ready to shed their caterpillar skin for the last time and show off their chrysalis. They make themselves a little strap to keep from falling off the stick. Below are before and after shots.

Finally, my last baby caterpillar is almost ready to form his chysalis~ sniff. I must say that I am kind of relieved though. You wouldn't believe how much these little guys eat! I have almost picked my herb pot clean of parsley. The dill and fennel are long gone. And, as much as I love my creepy critters I'm not heading to the grocery store to buy parsley, dill or fennel!

Then... while aimlessly wandering my yard the other day I found more babies! This time I found monarch butterfly "1st instar" caterpillars on my milk weed! I just know they are grandchildren of my very first monarch, Tootsie Roll!


One more caterpillar tale. Okay, really, this is the last part. I found my dog trying to eat this strange looking guy! (BTW- Dogs will eat anything- that's why you should never let them lick your face!) At first, I thought he was a different variety of swallowtail but after close inspection (the little pointy thing on his butt gave him away) I determined he is a sphinx moth caterpillar. Even though he is really cool I set him free. It seems I've become a butterfly caterpillar snob!

~Amy- the nature geek~ 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Summertime Science- a Look Back

Last summer we relocated from Virginia to Florida. Being nature lovers we immediately found so much to love about the wildlife around our house. But... we still miss Virginia and, of late, I have been thinking of all of the caterpillars that will soon be showing up at our old house in Virginia. We had planted plenty of parsley to attract swallowtail butterflies (they lay their eggs on certain herbs) and ornamental milk weed to attract monarch butterflies.   So, I thought I would share some old blog posts. Three posts were on the UnStrungSisters blog a few years ago. Here's one below and tomorrow and Wednesday I'll share the other two.

Summertime Science 

My kids think I've brought caterpillars into their lives over many summers because I'm trying to give them a science lesson. The truth is that I just think they are cool. We are constantly pulling out our Audubon Field Guides trying to identify cool beetles or freaky skinks.

Early in the summer, a large mixed herb planter that I picked up at a garden center held many (and I mean many) surprises for us. One day we noticed some caterpillars eating the fennel. The next day there were no less than 10. The planter was on my deck and, sadly, a bird could not believe it's luck and picked them all off one day. After a few more days we had more caterpillars though (and they kept coming). I decided to save these from the fate of their earlier siblings (cousins?) and brought them inside in a large plastic jar. In the photo below there are probably about 15-20 cater pillars in the jar.


 After they hatch the are teeny tiny.

Having raised Painted Lady's and Monarch caterpillars we knew it was pretty easy to keep caterpillars alive. All they want is food. They eat and sleep for about 2 weeks until they get to about the size of the 'pillar in the photo at the top of the page.


After a bit of research we determined that we had Anise Swallowtail caterpillars. They are somewhat picky eaters liking fennel, parsley, dill and anise (and a couple of other plants I can't seem to find around here.

More caterpillar craziness to come!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Drive-by Blogging- Be True

 This piece was started with one thing in mind and ended up as another.  A happy accident.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Calendar Journal Pages

Another month and here is my monthly journal page for April.   You can read more about the inspiration here.  I really liked the colors of my Mind's Eye piece so I went with greens and blues this month.  Expect to see many beach days mentioned here at the end of April!

Below is my completed March page; you can see the before photo of it here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 2, 2012

More on Spring Break

These last few months I have been spending at least an hour per day working on something in my craft room.  I used to do this making jewelry.  During my busy seasons I would make jewelry all day.  Lately, as I have mentioned before, the jewelry tools haven't been pulling me in.  Rather, paint and ink and paper have influenced their magnetic force on me.  


We spent a few days of our spring break away from home and a few more at home enjoying the beach.  I was worried that I might start getting anxious if I couldn't do anything with my hands so I packed up a Moleskine and some pens. 

While my kids were enjoying the resort pool or exploring the beach I sat and practiced my pen work.

I have always hated my hand writing.  Now I can see the value in practicing. 

These drawings (doodles, zentangles) were very relaxing to make.  

After a few days I began to believe that I might be able to like my pen work.... 

Have a great week!