A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Tag: Nature

The Buzz on Cicadas

I walked outside this morning and heard birds singing.  So cliche, right?   If you had the surge of Cicadas 2021 in your yard, you understand.  It’s truly the first time I have heard several birds sing at once this month.  While I am happy to have the birds and bees back in our yard, I honestly have learned a lot about cicads this time around.  Follow along for the buzz on cicadas ….and maybe some really goofy videos!

The first thing you hear anyone say about the cicadas is, “Gross!”  They are such an annoyance as well as being so very ugly…and THOSE CREEPY EYES!

Put those thoughts aside and what you actually have is a pretty cool phenomena!  Think about it!  These little critters are underground for 17 years!  Contrary to popular belief, they are not hibernating.  Cicadas keep busy feeding off the sap of trees, digging tunnels and aerating the soil while we cannot see them.  Isn’t it intersting that just as we are emerging from our homes after COVID, they too are emerging from their homes?

Nutrition for Nature ~

Aside from the noise, one of the biggest things I have noticed is my bird feeders have been empty.  Not empty of birdseed, but empty of birds.  It took me a couple of days to realize that my seed isn’t quite the delicacy that the cicadas are.  I’m assuming that after they fill up on that special appetizer they just don’t want dinner at the feeder anymore.  Now we know why parents always tell us not to ruin our appetite on chips and snacks before dinner! 😏

Basically almost every wildlife creature you can think of feasts on cicadas.  Heck, even while they are underground, “rodents” like moles eat them as well.  Afterall, while moles may be considered a rodent to many, they are actually insectivores (thus eating insects!)  As you can see, cicadas are a postive benefit to society right there just as food alone!

Slug feeding on dead cicada

Nutrition for Humans ~

Seriously?  People eat those nasty things?  The astounding answer is yes!  In this Keto diet loving world, cicadas appeared just at the right time.  They are high in protein and low in fats and carbs.  Did you create any fun cicada recipes this year?  While I think these little guys are pretty awesome, I will admit that my family had NO interest in chomping on them!

Cicada Life Cycle ~

  • Rice shaped eggs are deposited in small grooves of tree limbs
  • Young cicadas feed on tree fluids of those grooves they are in
  • Cicadas crawl from groove and fall to ground
  • 17 year cicadas are active underground for the whole amount of time
  • Cicadas emerge by digging up through ground and creating small holes

  • The outer shell of the cicada is shed

  • Wings of the cicada are inflated with fluid

  • They live their very short lifespan above ground
  • Wash, Rinse, Repeat as the saying goes!

Can you even imagine working for 17 years with no credit?  No awards, no pay raise, no pat on the back with a “good job!”  When I think of it that way, I start realizing that cicadas are pretty awesome creatures!  Keep in mind that this is the 2021 Brood X cicadas I am talking about.  There are other cicada broods, some come out every summer and some every 13 years.

90 Decibels ~

The buzz on cicada sound is that they reach up to 90 decibels.  If you did not get to experience it, let me tell you, with a yard full of cicadas, it is LOUD!

The following video was taken a week before they got to their loudest.  You will notice you can hear one or two birds in the background.  Our backyard is usually filled with the melody of many birds.  TURN YOUR VOLUME UP and listen to the video ➡➡Cicada music at 90 decibels.

So what makes that sound?  These guys are pretty big as far as insects go, but how are they SO LOUD?  I was surprised to hear that only the males make the sound.  Obviously, this is a mating call.  They flex organs in their abdomens, just under their wings.  Pretty cool!

Cicada Attack ~

What is not cool, is if you make a loud sound similar to their mating call, they will FLOCK to you!  Seriously!  I figured that out by accident.  I am a gardener and yard person by nature so I am outdoors a lot.  While cutting the grass I would have to swat away a crazy flying cicada every once in awhile.  However, when I started the leaf blower to clean up the grass clippings, I was SWARMED!  Kid you not!

I have to assume now that it was all females coming at me since I have learned that only males make the noise.  Mind you, they do not sting, but when there are bunches of them flying at you at once, you get a little stinging feeling as they all hit you at the same time.  I truly felt like I was in a new version of the Alfred Hitchhock movie, The Birds.  If only someone had been home to video me.

I immediately turned the blower on the little buggers to get them away from me.  Have you seen how long the attachments on most leaf blowers are?  They are pretty darn long, thus making it hard to get at the cicadas that are already all over me.  I turned the blower off thinking I was insane (and secretly hoping none of my neighbors were watching me!)  They all flew away.

Next, I did what everyone laughs about when watching scary movies.  You know what I ‘m talking about.  The lady walks by herself down the long dark hallway where she knows someone is hiding out to kill her.  Everyone watching the movie is saying, “You idiot, don’t go down the hallway…run!”  Well, I turned that lovely blower back on…yes I did!  Guess what happened?

The Buzz on Cicada Aftermath ~

Ok, I will tell you what happened.  Yes, they returned.  I was the idiot we all scream at and I paid the price.  However, I promptly turned it back off and the grass clippings remained on my driveway until a storm hit.

June 2021 is coming to a close and the cicadas have almost disappeared from our area.  I have to admit I actually kind of miss the little creepy guys.  Afterall, it is truly a a pretty miraculous lifecycle that is fun to learn about and teach to your children and grandchildren.   We can use their story to teach children about “coming out of their shell.”  Maybe even, “make noise when you need to be noticed.”

Some of the houses around me that got hit pretty hard may not miss them quite as much as me though.  Some of my neighbors were literally using snow shovels to clean off their driveways.   And the smell of rotting cicada carcasses leaves something to be desired.

 

So yes, they are creepy and loud, but they are really pretty amazing, regardless of the downside.  Besides, haven’t we always learned to look at the glass half full?  Find the beauty in all of God’s amazing creations!

The Promised Goofy Video ~

I’m letting you all in on the goofy side of Mimi….well those of you who know me know I’m usally always pretty goofy.  I decided we needed a little update to The Birds movie with my version of The Cicadas 2021…click the link and enjoy! Cicadas attacking

And if you want to have a little memento from this special time, Check out these cool cicada earrings!💚

Hugs~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Outside!

Well hello weekend….and what a beautiful weekend it is!  What is on your agenda?  Laundry, housework, cleaning the garage, paying bills?  Put all of these chores aside, if only for a while, and get outside!!!

It’s Good For Your Health!

Everyone “knows” it’s good for your health to get outside.   Why is it that so often we simply “forget” just how good it actually is for us?

  • Vitamin D boosts your mood AND your immune system
  • Nature helps lower cortisol levels and reduce stress
  • Natural environments improve mood
  • Nature helps improve memory and attention
  • Fresh air increases your energy level

It’s Good For Your Family!

Whether you plan a day trip or a weekend getaway, hiking creates wonderful family memories for years to come.  It’s just a bonus that it also provides so many health benefits.  Sit and think for a moment…how long has it been since you decided to do an impromptu family fun day?   The unplanned activities are many times some of the best!

Do you find yourself always going to the same one or two parks?  I am sad to admit that we have not taken advantage of all of the amazing places available to us, some less than a half hour away!  I don’t know if I would call it a bucket list, but I decided that our family needs to branch out and try some new spots.  Included below is a small list of some of the parks of various sizes that have hiking trails as well as other amenities.

  1. Broad Ripple Park
  2. Brookside Park
  3. Brown County State Park
  4. Clifty Falls
  5. Eagle Creek
  6. Fort Harrison State Park
  7. Holliday Park
  8. Indiana Dunes State Park
  9. McCormick’s Creek
  10. Mounds State Park
  11. Pokagon State Park
  12. Shades Park
  13. Spring Mills Sate Park
  14. Turkey Run State Park

Let’s Talk Food!

I absolutely love the ideas that sweetcharli.com shares here…Creative picnic lunch ideas….CLICK HERE!

  Sandwich kebobs, apple sandwiches and banana rollups…sounds delish!

Lilluna.com also has some fun and healthy ideas…Check out these easy picnic lunch ideas!

Lots of protein and veggies!

Extra Activities For When You Get Outside!

Hiking and picnicking definitely make for a fun-filled day, but since we are on a roll, let’s add some extra fun.  Why not add in a little scavenger hunt for the kids?  Print out as many copies as you need of the activity sheet I created to help enjoy the day further.   Download and print outdoor scavenger hunt!

So get outside…and don’t forget to take pictures of this fun-filled day!  I would love for you to share other parks your family goes to so we can add them to the list!  Happy Weekend!!!!

Let the Crafting Begin!

Ok!  I realize that I am a little early.  Here it is September 11, and fall doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, September 22.   But seriously, aren’t you ready for some fall fun?  Let’s start enjoying the wondrous blessings of the fall season.  I have started bringing out a few items of festive decor, and those warm colors of fall just make the house seem so much cozier.  Add a bit of spicy cinnamon to the candle warmer and voila…I have entered the happy

The fun craft ideas are certainly abundant–some old favorites as well as all of the new ones that people create every year.  So before we look at some of the fun craft ideas, I want to share with you a coupon code I for some crafting supplies that you need to be sure to have on hand.

COUPON CODES BELOW…………

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Fall is Around the Corner!

We have all heard the jokes…let’s just skip through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and move on to 2021!  Everyone is officially FED UP with 2020.  However, we still have time to make this year memorable in ways other than the dreaded virus that has haunted us these last few months.  I truly believe this.  Maybe it’s because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE HALLOWEEN!  Let’s set aside the frustration and enjoy the rest of this year because YES~Fall is Around the Corner!  Ok, ok I hear you.  It’s August 14 and the official start of fall is September 22.  That means we have time to plan new activities, make new crafts and search for delicious new recipes….let’s go!

Start Collecting Pine Cones and Nuts NOW!!!

The wonderful thing about crafting with nature’s wonders is that adults and children can craft together using the same materials but with different outcomes.   Pinecone and nut crafts have evolved through the years.    I have been urging my family members to start collecting pinecones and nuts now so we will have a nice inventory when we get ready to start crafting.  I am absolutely loving some of the ideas I am seeing on Pinterest like these cute ideas:  Click here for some creative nature holiday crafts like the pics below!!

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Leaf Print Stamp Art With Kids

I have been wanting to try leaf print stamp art with my grandchildren for a while.  I have looked through so many pictures and ideas of how to do it.  Let’s just say that when Addi, Max and I did this fun craft together yesterday, our artwork did NOT turn out like the images I had in my mind.  BUT….that’s ok!  In fact, it is MORE than ok!  If there is one thing I have discovered in life with kids…nothing ever really turns out the way you plan.  It’s the fun and laughter along the way that makes it all worthwhile!

STEPS AND TIPS TO LEAF PRINT STAMP ART WITH KIDS~

  1. Set up your craft area with markers and paper.  If your children are smaller, I believe white copy paper will be best.  I considered colored construction paper, but the leaves are a bit hard to color on without ripping, thus making it more difficult to get a dark enough image for colored paper.  ***You can use paint as well, but I need to up my art supply game first…including art aprons!
  2. Be sure to have butcher block paper or kids placemats to put under their artwork to save your craft area from looking like a rainbow.
  3. Collect leaves.  I recommend that you do NOT do this ahead of time.  I know many of us like to be prepared for crafts with littles, but I guarantee you that it will be more fun if you let them pick out their own leaves.  Never underestimate a good little walk in nature with children!
  4. Have each child collect at least 5-10 leaves.  It is great to get several different types of leaves, however, the number collected is equally important as you will quickly learn.
  5. Using a small leaf, do a VERY QUICK tutorial for the kids.  Color a small leaf, instruct them to watch as you then turn the leaf over and stamp onto the paper.  I say very quick because they will be anxious to get started!
  6. Make sure you explain that they need to color gently so they do not rip their leaves.  This takes us back to #4 and why you need several leaves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .   
  7. It is fun to color with different colors, but I recommend you color with one color first until they get the hang of it.  It takes children quite a bit of time to choose colors and also get the lids on and off.  This results in the leaf colors drying before they ever get to stamp.
       
  8. Once they have colored their leaf, help them turn the leaf over by the stem and press down on paper.
         
  9. Of course, praise them for their wonderful artwork!                                                                                                                         

 

 

Let’s Go Camping!

Do you have a favorite camping story?  Maybe you have a story that you would consider more of a camping nightmare?  Regardless of whether it is good or bad~ if you have ever been camping with your family, you have some wonderful memories!

My family grew up camping…every….single….weekend!  You don’t see families camping  as much these days.  Sports and other summer activities have become more popular and occupy most of the summer days.  While I love all of these options for kids today, I sure do miss the family togetherness of a good ‘ole camping trip!

Well, if you are one of those families that has a summer calendar jam packed with summer camps, sports, and family vacations, maybe you can plan a “camping day” with your kiddos like my daughter did.

How to Create Your Own Camping Site:

She set up the kid’s tent along with their camping chairs, added a couple of logs with a battery operated candle nestled in them to create the “fire” and engaged the kids in their own camping experience….right in the middle of their living room!

They enjoyed s’mores (which she toasted over a candle)  and drinking juice from their own canteens.   Their Chuckwagon meal consisted of a frozen breakfast bowl set in a tin tray for the “camping look.”

The kids also enjoyed making their own binoculars (with a little help from mom.)  These were made from toilet paper rolls, construction paper, yarn and a little glue (the glue is definitely where help from mom comes in.)

You can even have a supply of stickers and crayons so they can decorate them to their liking (this can even help with arguments of which ones belong to whom!)

So why not have a little “camping” fun with your kids or grandkids.  A camper or tent is not in your future?  No problem!   Traveling to a lake or mountain does not fit in your calendar?  No problem!   You don’t even have to buy coolers and fill them with all the camping necessities.  You can still give your children the camping experience by setting up a fun-filled day right at your own home!

Wildlife Feeders

Anyone who knows Mimi knows my love for all animals.  This is something our daughter is instilling in her kids as well.  I truly believe children who are taught to love and care for animals carry that on into how they act with their friends.

This simple craft is fun to make and you get to reap the benefits of it for quite some time as well.  It requires only 2 items:  pipe cleaners and cheerios.  What is even better is that there is not a lot of help needed from adults.  Kids can feel very proud of what they make “all by themselves!”  The benefits to wildlife is an added bonus as well.

   

Having an assortment of colors of pipe cleaners is fun for the kids.  Deciding on which color to use becomes a very big decision.  This is a great time too to talk about choosing bright colors to stand out or should you use neutral colors to camouflge.  It has now become a Biology lesson as well.

Start out by making a loop at the end of your pipe cleaner.  This may be the one part that an adult needs to step in and assist.  Addi & Max had fun trying to slide the cheerios that were stuck together in different formations onto the pipe cleaners without breaking them.  Addi also used her creative side and decided to start forming the pipe cleaners in different shapes.

Experiment with different flavors of cheerios as well.  It is fun for the kids to watch out the windows at their works of art to see if certain animals prefer one flavor over another.

Once we had several done we went out to hang them.  It’s best to hang them on branches that have others close by for birds (or other wildlife) to munch on more easily.  Birds also like to feel secure while they are gathering food.

           

Now we get to sit and anxiously wait for those birds to find them and start feasting!  Try making a journal page for the kids to write down the date and type of animal they see at their feeders.  Let them decorate by drawing the animals themselves or have wildlife stickers available for them to use.

It is important for children to learn the value of wildlife in our society.  More importantly, it is important to teach them how to care for every living thing on earth!

Have fun!

Mimi

Gardening Fun

Gardening with kids is a great way to cultivate the love of science and nature.  Let them get involved!  Whether you get a small gardening kit or allow them to have a small patch of your garden to be in charge of, you will be amazed how they take interest in it!  Add this to your summer list this year!

  • Let them help choose plants or flowers to grow.
  • Guide them to plants that will provide different colors.
  • Help them to understands that certain plants will attract specific insects such as butterflies or bumblebees.
  • Create a schedule for watering, feeding and the growth process.
  • Let them add a bird feeder or toad house in their garden so they can see how they are helping nature.

 

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