Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night......

Okay, so it wasn't stormy....but, it was a dark night....and you always know when you read that phrase that things aren't going to bode well for those involved...which is precisely why it came to mind.  Precisely.

The "incident" occurred on Friday, February 12, 2011.  This date is seared into my memory.  It still sends little shivers down my spine and makes my toes curl..  (and not in a good way, mind you)

The beginning of that week, my children went through a particularly nasty round of illness.  Well, mainly the youngest and the oldest.  The youngest ran a fever for months...no, it was days...but, I was awake every night all night and it felt like months...not that I mind being up with my little loves... because I don't mind.  Really.  I have cappuccino and Cherry Dr. Pepper to pull me through the days... the long, endless days ...when I am stumbling over my words...  and my feet....and the laundry pile....and the dust on the floor that is so high it's making dust dunes.... which accent perfectly the water standing on the bathroom floor from someone's bath...  Wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, sleepless nights and the subsequent day-after, zombie stage.  Anyway, the youngest ran a fever off and on for three or four nights....and then it seemed the sun broke through the clouds and I heard angels singing "alleluia" until they were cut off by the sound of the thermometer beeping at 104 degrees from the armpit of my oldest.  Poor babies.  And so after  running a fever of 104 on Thursday and Friday and noticing that his tonsils were wearing little fuzzy white trench coats, I decided to take the oldest to the doctor on Friday.   Darren decided to drop us off at the doctor and go pick up a couple of planters and then come back for us.

This is where the "dark and stormy night" comes in.  Well, the sickness wasn't exactly a walk in a spring garden, but that is neither here nor there.

He came to pick us up and we stopped at a gas station.  As he's pumping gas and I'm looking around at all the lights and sights and thinking I really would like to have a soda and some chips...or a burger and fries ...or something...  All healthy choices, mind you...  So, as I'm sitting there, I notice this flurry of movement...a rapid scurrying across the car door (where it meets the window).  To my utter horror, its beady little eyes and tiny little wriggling tail registered it in my mind as a MOUSE.  IN MY CAR.  IN THE DARK.  Ewwwww...

Don't get me wrong....I'm not afraid of mice.  Really.  I'm not.  Not the "jump up on the counter screaming" kind of afraid..  Actually, I caught a mouse once.  In a pint jar.  But, just between you and me, I think it was a couple steps shy of a complete waltz, if you know what I mean.  (It was kind of slow)  So, I caught it in a pint jar.  But, then I couldn't just brutally murder it because how would I do it?  Hit it with something?  That's just wrong ....and gross.  And I didn't want to let it go outside because it was familiar with how to get in.  So, I poked holes in the lid and fed it cheese and water all day till I could take up the road and release it into a field.  So, I am not afraid of mice.  My main beef with mice is that they want to come inside the house. I don't like it.  I particularly don't like finding "evidence" of one.  I feel the need to bleach everything in a quarter mile radius and throw out anything edible when that happens.  Plus, if you must know, I hate that scurrying thing.

Anyway, so, there was the mouse, scurrying, across the door...down the side of the driver's seat... under the seat....and out of sight.  {{{shiver}}} The youngest children were not happy...  well, the three year old was fine until I turned around and noticed the mouse running down the side of his carseat right beside his head....and that was when I might have freaked just a bit.  So, then his brother behind him is leaning over and trying to make sure the mouse didn't get in his carseat, my daughter is getting quite hysterical, and the youngest is crying his eyes out because he thinks the mouse is in his seat.  It was getting pretty late, so we decided to stop somewhere and get that burger and fries I had been craving...only my craving seemed to have waned somewhat for some reason.  The youngest two and I decided to go inside and order the food while everyone else tried to rouse the mouse from its hiding spot and force it outside the vehicle.  The great thing about 3 year olds is that they like to talk....so, as we're standing in line, he decides to share with everyone that we have a mouse in our car..  nice.  Anyway, we get outside with the food, and everybody's in the car and I'm thinking, "Yes!!  They were successful!"..  only to find out that they weren't.  So, now we have food...in the car...with a mouse.  Yuck.  And then I look over and the mouse is running down Darren's seat... it's everywhere!!!  And the fun wasn't over...instead of getting to go home, we still had to go to the pharmacy and get Malachi's prescription filled ...  The entire time, I kept moving my feet just so the mouse would know that up my jeans was not a good place to scurry. Nasty little thing....

We did eventually get home with no further mishap...  A mousetrap in the vehicle with peanut butter proved to be too much to resist and so he met his fate.

And thus ends the tale of the dark and storm(less) night......

Monday, February 14, 2011

Can You Solve This Riddle?

Of honey-laden bees I first was born,   
     But in the forest grew my outer coat;   
     My shoes from tough hides came.  An iron point    
     In artful windings cuts a fair design,  
     And leaves long, twisted furrows, like a plow....  
                    (Riddle 32:  Pitman 18-19)

This riddle poem was written in Latin in the 7th century AD by Bishop Adhelm.  Any ideas?

When I read it, I already knew to what it was referring and found it absolutely delightful!  And for it to be 7the century to boot... very cool...  I love old writings...

Have you guessed it by now?

The answer is a wax tablet!  Now reread it and you'll see it become crystal clear before your eyes.
Born of honey bees would be the wax writing surface... the outer coat being the wooden tablet itself.
They were often carried in leather bags - that being the shoes from hide.  An iron point would be the tip of the stylus, which brings me to the most visually stimulating part of the riddle "in artful windings cuts a fair design, and leaves long, twisted furrows, like a plow"... dang!  I love that...  I've read that when writing in the wax with the stylus, it can pull of curls of wax as it goes...  like the furrows left from plowing the earth.  Cool, huh?

With that in mind, I'm pleased to announce that we're making real bona fide (as close to bona fide as we can) ancient wax tablets!  I'm so excited....truly.  I am..  I love history.  I love old things....and I love being able to put something in the kids' hands that they've read about people in Ancient Rome using.  I am seriously happy about doing this.

So, Darren cut out the tablets....  they are about 5" x 8 1/4"

And then marked off the margins for the inner recessed area for the beeswax:  he left a one inch margin on the left side to put the holes for tying the sides together....

 And then actually recessed the area which is about 3 1/2" x 7 1/2"....

I went to Hobby Lobby and found two blocks of natural colored beeswax and some concentrated candle dye.

I'm not really sure the candle dye will work.  The directions on several sites that I've read say to use a dry pigment...like yellow ocher or lampblack... neither of which I saw while shopping.  You can make your own lampblack to tint the wax by letting a candle smoke on the underside of a cookie sheet or similar surface and then scraping that off ...the resulting scrapings are lampblack.  However, I read that you need about a tablespoon for each two sided tablet....and I have one two-sided tablet for each of my four children...that seems to be a lot of smoking and scraping.  The only thing that worries me with using the candle dye is that the wax consistency has to be conducive to actual writing.  I think what I'm going to do is try a very small amount in some wax... put the melted wax on wax paper and do the trial and error technique till I get it figured out.
If you want to read more on the history of wax tablets, I enjoyed what I found here...  (this is also the source of the riddle I shared ...)

This is an example of a Roman wax tablet and stylus.  How cool is that??

A Roman girl with her tablet and stylus thinking, "Hmmmmmm.... should I begin today's blog post with a riddle??"   :D

Monday, February 7, 2011


Persuant to a rousing moment of early morning scientific discovery, a waffle with butter and syrup does - like it's lesser, more unassuming cousin, toast - land butter side down..on the carpet. I'll just have some cappuccino. Thanks.

But, I Didn't Inhale....

At least I don't think I did.... 

I'm talking about my inhaler...not Bill Clinton politics. If you want politics, you'll have to go to another blog.

Anyway, I got my new inhaler....for when my goats make me feel breathless, or something like that.  It has occurred to me that I must be extremely uncoordinated in order to get confused trying to use an inhaler.  The thing is, I declined talking to the pharmacist regarding the proper use.  The cashier said that the directions were on the box..and being that I am a homeschooling mom, surely to goodness, that's all I need.  Right?  How hard can it be?

First, you have to prime the inhaler.  Meaning, you shake it and spray it in the air one, two, three times.  But, you only prime it if it has been 14 days since you used it, or if it has been dropped.
Proceed to take an actual dose....which entails breathing out through your mouth and pushing as much air as possible out of your lungs.  Now, put your mouth on the mouthpiece and...wait... did it say prime it if you haven't used it in 14 *days* or 14 *hours*???  Now, while I've pushed all the air from my lungs I have to go back to number one on the box and see for sure what it said.  Dang it...I had to breathe.  It said 14 *days*...okay, I'm good...and, I have to start all over.
Back to pushing all the air out of my lungs.....  gotta hurry and read the next direction again to make sure I get it right....I'm dying for air...there must be a medical term for it but I can't allow myself to get distracted on WebMD right now...
Inhale slowly and deeply while pushing down the canister...and quit pushing it down right after the spray comes out...   Which means I am so busy focusing on making sure I stop pushing when the spray stops, that I can't remember if I inhaled deeply.  I mean, I know I breathed.  But, I don't know if I inhaled deeply enough to help.  My tongue is really cold though.  Dang...maybe I just sprayed my tongue and nothing got to my lungs after all.
While it's all fresh in my mind...I'd really like to try it again.  But the warning on the side of the box says it's supposed to last up to 4 to 6 hours and therefore should not be used more frequently...  DANG!  Guess what I'm wondering now???  Exactly *what* time did I just do that???

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chevre and Mozzarella

I just finished making the first batch of Chevre since beginning to milk Annie this season.  I love the process.  I truly do.  I think it is the most amazing thing to be able to have a milk producing goat in my backyard, milk her myself, bring the milk in, and make cheese from it.

I know I've told you all about this process in a prior post, http://homeschoolinghomesteadinginthepresent.blogspot.com/2010/02/making-goat-cheese.html but I thought I'd post Thursday's picture here of the excess whey draining off the curds in the molds.... 

This is the finished product....  mmmm...it is so tasty...  the kids love it, too.

I am really interested in expanding my cheese making knowledge.  I'd like to add some different herbs to the cheese...in order to do this, I'll have to find some good quality dried herbs locally.  I plan to grow my own  this summer (I do have thyme and rosemary), but until then I'll have to find them elsewhere.  If you google goat cheese, oh my gosh, the feast for your eyes.  Love the way some of them have pansies pressed into the top... or lavender....or pink peppercorns.  The creativity you can put into the taste variations and presentations really appeals to me....

On another note, I made mozzarella for the first time today.  It actually turned out like mozzarella!  I was/am fascinated.  :)  It took quite a bit of babysitting and I still don't have it exactly like I want it, but wow!  Mozzarella!  From *my* kitchen! 

As I was getting a picture, one of my dear children was trying to pull a piece off.  :)  It was so exciting to see the milk turn to curds and whey and then to curds and finally to stretching out as mozzarella.  I can't wait to try it on a homemade pizza or something similar and see how it melts as compared to store bought mozzarella.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Goat Allergy?? Are You Serious??

If you do not care about my personal drama, please....do not continue reading.  If you have no interest in the fact that I am a milk maid and it has come to my attention that I have a goat allergy, read a different post.  Seriously.  Because in this post, I intend to rant.  And scream.  And maybe even stomp my feet.  And cross my arms.  Heck, I might even do something crazy...  like, go to bed without washing my face and putting on moisturizer.....or mismatch all the socks when I fold laundry...

You're still here.   I tried to tell you....but, since you won't listen...well, it serves you right.

It all started about three and a half weeks ago.  Well, no...that's not quite right.  Thing is, it began way back in the year ------  dang it, I don't know the year.  I hate it when that happens.  You see?  I'm already ranting and I have not yet hit on the thing that has my knickers in a knot.  That just goes to show you how irritated I am.  By the way, there is still time to turn back.  You really don't have to get sucked into my drama...

Okay, about five or six years ago, we bought our first goat.  A Nigerian Dwarf.  (Because we wanted a small milk goat and had heard that these were good, small milkers... can I just say if you can't milk a straw, don't try to milk a Nigerian Dwarf...I'm done now...) I noticed when I held her that I got these welts on my skin that itched.  Curious.  Okay...I shrugged it off as simply the hair irritating my skin a little.  This has continued to happen since that time with different goats.  But, it's been minor.  Mostly on my arms or hands.  Never anything major.  And truly, I don't think it happened with every single goat.

Then my new baby goat, Shivers, was born.  I helped him into this world.  Heck, he probably wouldn't have been born had I not gave that little tug on his head and made sure his mouth was cleaned out.  I mean, that was major...that was like ...Nevermind.  We all know his mother could've done it without me.  I guess...
When Shivers was a couple of days old, I was holding him and since he was *shivering* I held him up under my chin and was snuggling him.  He was so cute...and soft...and my sweet little goat.  Ahhhhhh....
I returned to the house and was going about my business when I started sneezing uncontrollably.  My head got all congested, my nose stopped up, and then....  **THEN** I noticed that my eyes were swelling.  OH THE HORROR!  At the corners...  my bottom lid was puffing up and meeting the likewise puffed up top lid.  Freaky.  I immediately panicked, of course.  How could I google WebMD and read about all the symptoms and possible outcomes that I was going to experience?  WebMD really comes in handy when you have a symptom.  I mean, truly...I'm relatively sure, based on my various symptoms, that I have had at least two heart attacks and a severely enlarged prostate.  (*smile*)
Anyway, my BFF, my sidekick... the one who knows so much dirt on me I'll have to be her friend forever and ever....quickly suggested that I take Benadryl. Oh.  Yeah.  Good thinking!  That's way better than amputation.  Whew...  So, I took the Benadryl and was subsequently knocked out for a bit but when I came to, I realized that contrary to free internet medical advice, I was going to live after all. 
Around this time, I got a cold....or some sinus stuff ...or something going on.  I took cold medicine, Mucinex, allergy medicine, grandma's hard liquor...  whatever I thought would work.  Only nothing did.  I was congested, my chest was tight, I was constantly coughing, and my energy level was dropping faster than bad guys in a Bruce Lee movie.  So, I got fed up, darn it.  And I went to the doctor.

She opened her mouth and said, "You have ...."

"Yes" I said, "...a respiratory infection..which is being aggravated by my goat."  (Remember, I've read WebMD....I'm practically a licensed medical professional.  I have four kids.  That's on the job training, right?)

She rolled her eyes at me.  No. You have a goat allergy. Period.

Dang it.

And then I told her about the swollen eye episode.

And that is where the allergy specialist was mentioned.  Dang again.

And then she said anaphylactic shock.  DANG.

So, I now have an inhaler...allergy meds...and a scheduled visit with an allergist near the end of the month.  Which annoys me, if you must know.  I mean, dang!  I'm a milk maid.  I milk the goat.  It's what I do.  I have goats.  How in tarnation can I be allergic to goats?  Well, I told her right then and there, that I would not be selling my milk goat.  I argued with her to give me a different diagnosis.  She was firm.

So, now you are a part of my personal drama.  You are obligated to see this thing through.  I won't let you walk away now.  If I am forced to have an allergy, well, then you're going to have to listen to me rant about it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This little beauty lives on the driveway.  I was forever intrigued and desirous to know her name.  I came across a book at the local library entitled North Carolina Wildflowers and guess who I found in it??  She goes by Hearts-a-Burstin' or Strawberry Bush....either way, what a stunning plant!

My Favorite Snow Picture of the Season

This is my brother in law...  in a perfect Kodak moment  :D

Can Eggs Be Preserved By Freezing?

Well, it certainly doesn't appear so....
I inadvertently left these eggs sitting atop the mobile chicken pen overnight, and this is egg-actly what I saw the next morning...  :)

Homemade Apple Pie

You know those apples the kids picked and we froze into ready-made pie shapes???  (This should jog your memory:  http://homeschoolinghomesteadinginthepresent.blogspot.com/2010/07/best-thing-since-sliced-breadas-it.html )
 Well, I got around to getting one out of the freezer and baking it.  I even went to the site I mentioned and made the crusts ...which was the first from-scratch crusts I've ever made.  Let me tell you, they are so bodaciously awesome... WAY better than store bought.  And you can put cute little cut outs on top ...  :D
So, here it is...  if you sniff just right, you can almost smell the baking apple and cinnamon...mmmmmm...there ya go....get a big ole whiff.....  :)
I wish I would've taken a picture of the first steaming slice I cut, but I suppose I was preoccupied... perhaps next time.....

Well, It Ain't KFC.... It's Cleaner! :D

The process of taking chicken from coop to freezer is really not all that complicated.  It takes time and energy...and some planning...but, you can do it.  You can have the knowledge that you provided the chicken with a good life... and that, in taking the chicken as nourishment for your family, your are gracing its end.

The first thing you want to do is separate the chicken(s) from food 24 hrs before killing.  This helps ensure the intestines won't be full - it's pretty self-explanatory why this is a good idea.  :)
The day of, you'll need boiling water for dipping the chicken to loosen the feathers for plucking.  We kept our water boiling on a camp stove. 
After you put the chicken in the cone and do what needs to be done, you dunk the chicken in hot water to loosen the feathers. 
Next comes the most tedious, time consuming part of all..the plucking.  Knowing this, Darren looked up some pluckers online and came up with this....

This is the back view...  looks like a sunburst... I like it.... :)
The idea is to hook it up to a drill and let this "plucker" knock the feathers off the chicken ..thus, doing the tedious part in a not so tedious way...

And here it is in action:
Wow...  allow me to distract you for a moment from the topic at hand, and just point out what a cool photo this is...  the pluckin' fingers look all ghosty... if it wasn't such a "ugh" picture, I'd frame it or something.. however, being what it is...  well, let's just get back on topic, shall we?
Okay..don't be getting your knickers all in a knot...this picture was taken BEFORE the previous one...but, this is what the plucker ended up being good for... the helm of a pirate ship.... which is precisely what Isaac thought it was anyway...  :)  The plucker just didn't work...oh, well...you can't win 'em all....

We ended up hanging the chickens upside down from a board, same as last time, and plucking by hand.
After that, we took them to a granite slab we had prepared, and proceeded to clean them out and prepare them for freezing.  Joel Salatin has this whole thing down to a science, as shown here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2sdqNaesfI&feature=related .  This video helped tremendously when we were trying to figure out the best way to do it.  Once you get a feel for it, you're pretty good to go.

I do want to show you something very cool that I found while gutting one of the chickens...
How amazing is that???  All those eggs in various stages of formation inside one chicken...  Man, I was fascinated....once again.  I just think that is the most incredible thing.  How an egg is formed is one of those miracles to which we give no thought...  Every stage, layer upon layer, is taking place inside the hen until it just shows up in the chicken coop and is gathered and eaten....and it's so amazing! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Homemade Chicken Killing Cone

We have (had) some California White chickens.  Those hens laid like mad dogs.  Every day...even in winter.  Wonderful layers.  However, one day, one hen decided maybe it might be interesting to peck the egg she just laid and see why somebody was always rushing in to get them.  And that's where the trouble began.  One hen starts pecking and then they're all pecking.  Well, I don't know that for sure because I didn't always see the offender in action.  Once it starts though, I don't think there's any going back.  There's no support group for egg peckers.  Having realized, though, that you are no longer getting any eggs because they are being demolished before you get them gathered, you know something's got to be done.  There's just not much point in feeding chickens who aren't doing anything but eating your money....and your eggs.
Knowing I had the six chickens from last spring that were laying most efficiently, I didn't mind so much knowing that the Whites were fixing to go to that big coop in the skies.  I mean, they had good lives.  They had room to roam, the two roosters enjoyed dueling with one another and waking the sun up every morning.  They were happy chickens.  But, the time had come.  Ask not, dear chickens, for whom the bell tolls...it tolls for thee.  Okay, sorry..got distracted.
The last time we had a chicken ...um, demising, we did it the ole fashioned way and chopped their heads off.  However, after watching Joel Salatin (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/story.aspx)  we decided to go another route.  It seemed cleaner and more efficient.  It was ...the Way of the Cone.
You put the chicken in, headfirst, and make a swift cut to the jugular vein.  The chicken is dead pretty quickly and bleeds out more cleanly. 
Darren found a pattern to make the cone here:  http://hrafinstaad.blogspot.com/2009/07/killing-cone-or-holding-funnel.html and proceeded to make two of them.
I'm not gong to go into specifics, (as they are provided in the link AND I am a math atheist..you don't want me giving you an fractional increments..  seriously.. ) but here is the cone coming into being:

And here is the finished product:

Nice handiwork, don't you think?  :)

To Wax or Not to Wax

A writing tablet, that is...  *grin*

We've started our Ancient Rome study and I want to make a writing tablet and a stylus for each of my kids like they used then.  I've got two choices.  I can either enlist the help of my husband to make ones from wood, with the center carved out, and wax poured in....like this:  http://www.zipworld.com.au/~zebee/tablet.htm and this:  http://www.kolumbus.fi/auroran.koulu/suomi/koulun_pito/comenius/vahatab/waxtab.html ....OR I can make some with cardboard or some other thin material and non-drying clay.  The basic use would be the same....they could write on them with the stylus and then smooth it out and write on it again.  I just have this thing....  I want to do the REAL thing.  Well, as close as I can get to it.  But, I also know how these things go...sometimes, you get so caught up in trying to do the "exact" thing that you put it off because it requires materials you don't have or time to get around to doing the technical part of it.  So, I'm thinking not to wax.  Which irritates me, because I feel like I'm settling.  And really, how much extra time will it take?  And think of how authentic and cool that would be??  To have a personal wax tablet with a stylus...man, that would ROCK!

Ok, I changed my mind to wax...definitely....I think....for sure.  *smile*

And since you're here...I have to share my latest read....
While doing History unit studies, I like to read historical fiction based on that time period.  As a result, I have totally immersed myself in Ancient Rome books.  My current read is Roma, The Novel of Ancient Rome by Steven Saylor.  I'm half way through it and it's really good.  The book follows the story of two families through the ages while providing a tremendous amount of history and legend.  I am loving it.  :)

A Whale of an Ocean Study

We just finished up our Ocean study...and when I say "just" I mean probably three weeks ago.  It was thoroughly enjoyable....  the kids did lots of art projects, we fixed crab legs one night (first time any of us had ever eaten them :), listened to a steel drums cd, watched some ocean movies, and completed a lapbook and a file folder "ocean zones" accordion.  I had really wanted to get an empty refrigerator box, stand it up vertically, cut one side off,  paint the zones inside, and add ocean life pictures to each zone.  Well, I didn't get one...but, I still wanted to do something very "visual" with the zones.  I decided to put  files together with shipping tape..one for each zone.  I added one for the Intertidal Zone even though technically, it isn't an ocean layer.  I printed off numerous graphics from the internet to put in each layer.  It ended up being a pretty cool accordion.... the kids enjoyed figuring out which layer the assorted plants and animals belonged to and pasting them in.  Here's a couple of pictures of the completed accordion:

 The completed accordion...  there is a file for each ocean layer...and one for the Intertidal Zone.

Inside the Sunlit Zone file..  the remaining files were completed in the same manner.

The lapbook completed was relatively large.  I used Great Science Adventures Oceans and also some graphics from www.homeschoolshare.com using the "Atlantic" unit.   In addition, I made some of my own graphics and art projects.
The completed lapbook:

This is the front of Sarah's....she's like her momma...she likes her stickers... :)

The inside of Malachi's..

And one more:
Having noticed the Pagoo booklet in this picture, I have to tell you that Pagoo by Holling C. Holling is one of the BEST books I have ever read with the kids...  OMGOSH!  It's like a complete study of hermit crabs (and other ocean life) all wrapped up in an interesting story. I kid you not...best book ever for an ocean unit study.  Oh, and we did some origami...a green sea turtle and a fish.  And just so you know, my oldest son loves origami...which came in handy....since as I was instructing them on how to make the green sea turtle, I totally confused them (and myself) and my son had to step in and straighten out the mess. :D

We did a few art projects that the kids truly enjoyed.  One of which was a corn syrup octopus painting... we even chopped rice in half and put them on the artwork, after learning that octopus eggs are that size.  Corn syrup painting is awesome!  You just add food coloring to light corn syrup and Voila! ...a nice shiny paint.  :)

These are the completed pictures ...aren't they all cute and shiny??  And yeah...I did get Isaac's little corn syrup handprints...because aren't a three year old's hands *always* sticky?  ;)

They painted seahorses with watercolors and added some tissue paper seagrass. 
Another fun art project was to paint a starfish yellow and sprinkle cornmeal on top while the paint was wet.  It ended up having a very nice texture and the three year old really loved playing in the cornmeal..  :D

I think I enjoyed the study as much as the kids did.  I came away feeling more amazed than ever at the handiwork of God....  in awe of the order in which all living things live .... and truly fascinated by the creativity and color of it all <3  Our animal/nature studies are definitely some of my favorites :)