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Summer Blowout Sale – Nature Study Kits


Summer Blowout Sale Nature and Art Kits @handbookofnaturestudy

Are you looking for a pre-planned summer nature study idea? My daughter and I designed two kits for families to use to easily include nature study and art appreciation in their homes. These kits have been such a hit, we are offering them again this summer.

We have prepared a limited number of kits – first come, first serve.

US addresses only

Kits are $10 each or $16 for two kits, shipping included. This is a really good deal and we hope to sell out of these kits fast. If you want to buy a kit, click over to the Hearts and Trees website and look on the left sidebar for the appropriate Paypal buttons. It is possible to purchase one of each kit by clicking the option on the sidebar.

All kit purchases will be made on the Hearts and Trees website.

Hearts and Trees Handicraft Kits

Click the links below to see what comes in each kit and how to order yours.


 Bubbles and Lavender Kit Image

Lavender and Bubbles Kit

In all there in this kit there are:

  • Felt bracelet sewing project (felt, needle, thread, buttons, and instructions)
  • Foil pendant project (foam pieces, foil, yarn, and instructions)
  • Bubble painting (watercolor paper, straw, and instructions)
  • Bubble letter notebook page
  • Bubble wand project (pipe cleaner, 5 beads, and instructions)
  • Lavender sachet sewing project (fabric, thread, needle, yarn, dried lavender, and instructions)
  • Lavender nature journal (cover, journal pages, length of twine, 2 rubberbands, waxed paper, and lavender sample)
  • Lavender nature study written in the style of the Handbook of Nature Study
  • Jean Simeon Chardin artist study (Soap Bubbles art print and 2 notebooking pages)


Garden Seed Kit Hearts and Trees

Garden Seeds Kit

In all this kit includes:

· Sticky Garden Fun Window Project (instructions and contact paper)
· Stiff Felt Magnet Project (instructions, 4 pieces of felt, magnet)
· Foam Stamp Project (instructions and foam)
· Easy Tissue Paper Mache Vase Project (instructions and tissue paper)
· Botanical Solar Print (instructions and 2 sheets of paper)
· Sidewalk Garden Scavenger Hunt (instructions and sidewalk chalk)
· Renoir print: Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil
· Renoir art print notebooking page and index card for viewfinder
· Garden Journal (instructions, construction paper for the cover)
· 3 Garden-related notebooking pages/activity pages  (2 lima beans, 3 kidney beans, 3 pinto beans, 1 sunflower seed, 1 corn seed, paper towel and baggie)
· Garden Scavenger Hunt laminated card


 Hearts and Trees Handicraft Kits

These kits include everything you need to complete the art and nature study activities. All types of learning will take place and these kits are appropriate and designed for children ages 6-12 years. Summertime is the perfect time to add in some meaningful activities without a lot of fussing from the parent.

I know you will love both kits…so much fun and learning to fill your summer hours!

Be Inspired! Be Encouraged! Get Outdoors!


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Lovely Lavender Days and Lavender Nature Study

I love all things lavender! It is the predominant plant and the predominant color in my front yard. Just about everyone who visits my house comments on the lovely fragrance of lavender as they walk up the front walk.

Lavender #1 (which we always call English lavender): Fragrant light lavender with silvery-green stem that is stiff and woody. This is the lavender I harvest and make potpourri for sachets from because it smells just like perfume.The large plants have grown over part of the walkway so when you brush by them you are treated to a perfumy delight.

I have missed the prime time for harvesting this summer because of travel but I will still go out early in the morning in the next few days and cut the blossoms to dry for a big batch of fragrant potpourri to have on hand.

Lavender along the walkway (sage in the background)

Lavender #2 (which we always call Spanish lavender): Spicy lavender scent with feathery soft leaves and petals that look like wings on the top. The leaves when rubbed are just as fragrant as the actual flower. We learned to prune this lavender last fall and it came back with a growth spurt I couldn’t believe was possible. I am pruning it way back again this year.

Lavender with “wings” on top and fern-like leaves

Are you interested in learning more about lavender? My daughter and I created a Hearts and Trees Kit that features lavender nature study and a lavender sachet sewing project. The lavender nature study is in the form of an Outdoor Hour Challenge and I wrote a narrative that mimics the style of Anna Botsford Comstock in the Handbook of Nature Study. You will really enjoy this study and your children will learn a lot about lavender.

I am pleased to announce that for the next ten days you can purchase a Hearts and Trees Kit featuring lavender nature study and a lavender sachet craft and receive FREE SHIPPING.

You must use the buttons below to receive the special discount.
For the lavender focused part of this kit, your child will create a dried lavender sachet. The fabric, thread, needle yarn and dried lavender and instructions are included. ***PLEASE NOTE: If you or your child is allergic to lavender just let us know and we will not send the dried lavender!***
There is also an eight page nature journal focusing on lavender. Your child will assemble the nature journal using the cover, pages and a length of twine. A sample lavender flower is provided for you to study. The cardboard, rubber bands and link to instructions are provided so that you can make a flower press. Waxed paper and instructions are also included to make a waxed paper pouch to mount the pressed lavender into the nature journal.

There is more to the kit! Each one includes:
  • 2 sewing projects
  • 2 handicraft projects
  • 1 painting project
  • 1 drawing project
  • 1 nature study collection of projects focusing on lavender
  • 1 artist study collection of notebooking pages with art print

These kits were gathered with children ages 6-12 in mind. Parents may need to help their students, especially younger children, with some aspects of this kit. (Please note you will need to supply some common art supplies to complete these projects such as scissors, paintbrush and markers. A list of common supplies you will need is included with the kit.)

Hearts and Trees Lavender and Bubbles Kit 

Hearts and Trees Bubbles and Lavender Kit–FREE SHIPPING

 If you have any questions,  email me or my daughter (

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Garden Flowers Close to Home – And More

This month our Outdoor Hour Challenge focus is on garden flowers and crop plants. There will be no lack of subjects to study this month right outside our front and back doors. As the spring weather warms up and we have abundant sunshine, I am eager to get out and start digging in the dirt. It was easy to check off a few of the Garden Grid Study ideas as went worked in the yard this weekend.

So I will give you a tour of some of the interesting garden flowers, crops, grasses, and bushes we have in our yard right now. Enjoy!

Heart shaped leaves…

My latest garden acquisition is this lovely, lovely lilac bush. If only you could smell the delicate fragrance of the flowers! I am hoping this is a winner in my sunny backyard. We planted it where it will have plenty of sunshine and room to grow.

We had this spot already prepared from last summer when it was part of my experimental veggie garden expansion…we weren’t all that successful so I decided that my beloved lilac would find a home here.

More heart-shaped leaves…

Here is my latest experiment….hydrangeas on the shady side of my house. I decided to leave them in pots to see if they survive and if they look like they are liking it here then I will plant them in the ground. The birdfeeder has now been moved to the other part of the garden where the squirrels might not find it for a bit.

Watched the bees in the flowers…

The backyard lavender is blooming now and the bees are busy already. You can never have too much lavender….or at least I think so.

Disneyland Rose

This is definitely the year of the rose in our area. All my roses are blooming and this one is my favorite…the Disneyland Rose. It has a spicy perfume fragrance and the blooms are peachy-pink. I cut this all the way to the ground last fall because it was an odd shape. I wasn’t sure if it would bloom well this spring but I have to say that I may just cut it all the way down every fall if this is the results. Awesome!

Look at those leaves!

This is another new arrival in the back garden. We have a super sunny hot spot up next to my backyard retreat. Nothing has been very successful here except the Jerusalem Sage. I am taking a chance with the Moonshine Yarrow and it has probably doubled in size since we planted it. I am hopeful that it will do well here.

These leaves are fuzzy and soft.

This is our Jerusalem Sage…I looked it up and it grows to be about 48″ wide. It needs very little water and it blooms long into the autumn season. I watered it three times a week last summer (the first summer) but now I am going to be only watering it twice a week and see how it goes. It looks like it is pretty well established. Where I live in Northern California, we get very little rain from June to November. Our first significant rain last fall was November 27th. Now you know why I use lots of drought tolerant plants in my yard.

So here is my surprise squash plant that is growing in the cutting flower garden box. I am not sure where it came from but I am going to let it grow since it seems so happy where it is. I did not have squash growing anywhere near this box last year so we will be surprised when it matures to see what it is exactly.

I had to include an image of my clover since we are focusing on Garden Flowers and Crop Plants this month for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Clover is included in the Handbook of Nature Study so if you have some in your yard…take advantage of the nature study opportunity.

Our Smoke bush is so very pretty right now with its airy little blossoms that make it look like it has smoke. This has doubled in size since we planted it two years ago and I love the way it looks right now.

See the tiny little flowers? This is what makes it look like “smoke”. Later in the autumn the leaves turn a deep purple…love it!

One last image of our sage that is growing like crazy with our warmer temperatures and sunshine. This will be covered in delicate purple flowers during the summer…loads of bees visit these bushes in our front yard during the summer.

There you go… a visit to my garden, a few new things, and some close observation as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. My boys helped me finish preparing the garden boxes and we planted seeds this weekend too so there will be lots more to come as the seasons flow by.

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Garden Delights and a Living Habitat – Tuesday Garden Party

Dogwood blossom

It feels like spring now that the dogwood is blooming! Our front garden is such a source of joy right now with it colors and textures. I spend far too much time gazing out the window at the beauty and sitting out on the steps just breathing it all in deeply. The birds and insects are visiting daily as they find different things to enjoy too…the bird bath, the blossoms with pollen to collect, or the seeds in the feeders.

Whether you enjoy the fragrance or the color of lavender… would be happy sitting in this part of the garden. The bees are buzzing again, stopping by many of the purple flowers many times before flying off again. I am anticipating the summer harvest of my lavender and creating many more sachets to give away to friends and family.

So this is the view from the top of the garden looking down from the top terrace. The yarrow is huge this year and already covered in flower buds. We weren’t sure about our pruning that was done last fall because we were worried we had trimmed it too far to the ground but now look at those mounds of yarrow! The lavender is filling in after being trimmed almost all the way back as well. I love using the internet and as a reference for my gardening tasks…there is a lot of practical advice out there. The butterfly bushes are going to be amazing this year and the poppies are showing their color (middle right of the photo).

Since the front yard is so low maintenance, we can focus our thoughts and energy on our vegetable garden now that the weather is warming up.

My husband and I are so very happy with our no-mow yard and enjoy having the neighbors stop by and tell us they love driving by and seeing all the different flowers. If you are interested in removing your lawn and switching over to drought tolerant plants and natives, I highly recommend a book I am reading from Timber Press: Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Evelyn J. Hadden. It claims to have fifty lawn alternatives…most of them are spectacular but yet not too complicated.

One thing I have learned about my own no-mow yard is that there is going to be a lot of color if you plan it right. No-mow yards are much more interesting and enjoyable to all the senses. You can see how our project started here: Frontyard Remodel.

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Winter Garden For Wildlife Part 1

Now that the season has changed and we have cleaned up the yard for the coming season, I thought I would share a few of the ways we keep our yard as a wildlife habitat in winter. It is just a matter of knowing which plants to prune back and which ones can be left as they are.

We have learned by trial and error mostly.

The Heavenly bamboo along the front of our house is not only colorful this time of year with the leaves turning reddish and the berries ripening to a brilliant orange-red but it is a source of shelter for birds and insects. I have seen the Ruby-crowned kinglet gathering spiderwebs from these bushes. (Audubon website says of the kinglet’s nest, “Moss, grass, lichen, bark strips, twigs, rootlets, needles, and spider webs comprise its outer walls, and feathers, plant down, and hair form a soft lining.”)

We leaves some of the grasses and weeds for the birds and other animals to use as food and shelter.

They don’t look very appetizing but the birds think these are tasty little treats….blackberries left on the vine just behind our bird feeding station. The finches, sparrows, titmouse, and towhees all shelter on and under these vines. I also saw fox scat just by these vines last week so I think they might be gleaning a few berries as well (as evidenced in the scat).

The coneflowers are another favorite in the winter flower garden. I cut them way back but leave some of the seed heads for the birds to glean from.

We also have learned that some of the weeds in our yard are best left to over-winter. These mullein plants will shoot up a stalk next spring and then flower all summer. The hummingbirds and finches will use them as a steady part of their diet. We leave those in the garden.

I harvested about thirty pounds of walnuts this year for our enjoyment. I will spend many a winter evening hour cracking nuts for our family and to share with friends. Some of those friends will have feathers and fur. I leave quite a few of the nuts for the squirrels and Scrub jays to use for their winter meals. When I note that all the nuts are up off the ground, I will regularly set some out of my store cupboard in various parts of the yard. They always disappear.

Lavender along the front wall is once place I trim but not all the way back. It looks sort of wild but it does provide shelter all winter long for birds and nectar for the hummingbirds and bees. Yes, we have bees and hummingbirds in the winter who frequent this section of the garden. It amazes me every time I see the birds hovering over those small little flowers but they must be gathering some food or they wouldn’t come back. I also love leaving this section of lavender because when the sun hits those plants it produces a sweet smell that reminds me that summer will come again.

It can’t all be about the animals, birds, and insects.

I have another post that I will share in the next few weeks showing some more sheltering spots in our yard that may inspire you to try your hand at a winter garden for wildlife.

I invite you to read Winter Garden for Wildlife Part 2 – Shelter.

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The Lavender Lover’s Handbook – A Book Review

Lavender is one of my favorite garden plants and garden scents. I love the green-gray foliage and the purple spiky flowers that sit right at the ends of the long stems. It makes me happy to watch the bees and butterflies zipping in and out as they partake of the lavender’s goodness. My husband teases me because I have so many lavender plants tucked away in almost every corner of our yard. Funny part is that I have a few more patches planned and he just doesn’t know it yet.

Now that I have read The Lavender Lover’s Handbook I feel much better equipped not only to make a good choice in varieties but I also know better how to prune and care for my lavender. It seems I have been doing a few things completely wrong as far as maintaining my lavender plants.

The book, The Lavender Lover’s Handbook from Timber Press, is a visual treat from start to finish. It really is the sort of book you could just page through and enjoy the colorful images. But, after reading and studying this book over the summer, I have found that the information shared in its pages is worth slowing down to read.

Why do I love this book and recommend it to gardeners?

  • 1. Practical value: This book will help you decide which of the over 100 varieties available would be a good fit for your climate and garden space whether that space is a border, a hedge, a container, or a rock garden. There are lists for top picks for cold weather, humid summers, strongest scents, shade of purple desired, early bloomers, and all season bloomers.
  • 2. Detailed Help for Planting, Pruning, Harvesting, and Drying: This is by far the most useful section to those of us who already have lavender in our gardens. I gleaned many tips for making better use of my lavender and making sure my plants will flourish and bloom for a long time to come. This is the section that showed me I was pruning my lavender all wrong… I know how to do it properly and I will let you know how it goes next summer.
  • 3. Exciting suggestions for using your lavender: Now that I have a huge lavender harvest each year, I am looking for ways to use this herb to its full potential. The section on lavender recipes has captured my interest with things like lavender sugar, herbal vinegar with lavender, and lavender cookies. Besides recipes, there is a section on lavender scented creations: lavender wands, lavender wreaths, lavender fire starter(!), and also learning how to use lavender in your household cleaners.

Whether you are a beginning lavender gardener or a veteran, you are going to find this book a treat to read. It has found its way onto my gardening reference shelf for easy help and fresh ideas as we go through lavender season.

You can read more about the book on Timber Press: Lavender Lover’s Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader.

I received these four books from Timber Press to review and I received no other compensation. The opinion expressed here is my own after reading and using the book in my own garden. You can read my review of Gardening Projects for Kids if you are interested in hearing how much I loved that book!

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Hearts and Trees Art, Nature, and Handicraft Kits – Bubbles and Lavender

My daughter and I have partnered to create a new edition of her Hearts and Trees Art, Nature, and Handicraft kits. The theme of the current kit is Bubbles and Lavender which was fun to work with!

With Hearts and Trees Kits you receive simple to use instructions and supplies to complete a variety of projects and activities. In this Bubbles and Lavender kit, I was able to pull together a complete nature study unit on lavender with follow up activities, including a sample of lavender from my own garden and a set of custom nature journal pages to supplement the study. Because lavender is not in the Handbook of Nature Study, I wrote up an informational page in the style of the Outdoor Hour Challenge and it is included in the kit for you to use as a reference.

After your lavender study, one of the sewing projects is to make a lavender sachet using the sample lavender included in the kit. There is another sewing project in the kit where your children can design and create a felt bracelet.

The other handicraft activities include making a bubble wand and a foam pendant.

For the artist study, we chose a bubble themed painting and a 4″ by 6″ print is included with the kit for your family to view and enjoy. There are follow-up notebooking pages for the artist and painting which use a link to download a pdf with additional prints or to view them on your computer. There is even watercolor paper included to make your very own bubble painting! We also included instructions and a notebook page on learning to write in bubble letters which is a fun skill for everyone.

  • For a complete list of the contents and supplies included in the Bubbles and Lavender Kit from Hearts and Trees, please click over to the entry on my daughter’s blog. You will find complete details for purchasing this edition.
  • These kits are not just for homeschoolers and there are many families that use them afterschool and on the weekends.
  • The kits are designed for children ages 6 and up and there will be some activities that require adult supervision.
  • Hearts and Trees kits include small parts so be careful when using them around younger siblings.
  • We have an ample supply of kits on hand but they go fast and then they will be gone.

We expect to release the next kit in October and we are working on the idea of featuring trains, prairie animals, and pioneer themed handicrafts.

Read a review of a previous Hearts and Trees Kit on The Curriculum Choice.
You also may like to read Heather’s post about a previous kit on her blog: Blog She Wrote.

As a promotion of our new Hearts and Trees Bubbles and Lavender Kit, we would love to give one away to a reader of the Handbook of Nature Study. Leave a comment for one chance to win and then if you share by blogging, tweeting, or sharing on Facebook, leave me another comment with the link to where you shared and you can earn a second entry. If you want to purchase the kit and then you win the giveaway, we will refund your money so don’t wait if you are going to want this kit. See the Rafflecopter gadget for details and deadlines.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Updated Wildside-New Garden Arch-Delighted Nature Mama

Arch frontyard - frame
This was a big week in the garden.

My dear sweet husband surprised me by making a new garden arch for my front yard. We had talked about adding a decorative arch, kicked around a few ideas, and then he added his creative touch. I love the way it makes a sort of  “window frame” to the lower part of the garden. He is going to fill in the bare spot with another sage. The poppies are filling in naturally and I think by next year they will be to this lowest part of the yard.

Arch frontyard closeup
He added a few of my favorite things….birds, butterflies, vines. (Maybe all this garden beauty will distract me from my neighbor’s falling down fence.)

Tilled Wildside
He didn’t stop there. He finished up the top terrace of the front yard….he eliminated much of my wildside garden but now it is going to be filled with more wonderful color. Just a note: He used the idea I found on Pinterest to spray a solution of vinegar and water on the weeds before trying to remove them. He sprayed last weekend and let it sit for a week. It was awesome how easy those weeds just hoed out of the ground. He was able to do this entire area in less than an hour! I didn’t get a “finished” shot….I will soon.

Yarrow in the Garden
We are adding more yarrow…a different color this time. The yarrow in our front yard is amazing right now…what a great performer with no water and lots of sunshine.

Yarrow Lavender and Poppies
Maybe someday this new section will be as colorful as the established part of the garden. Here is an image from the top terrace looking down onto the yarrow, lavender, butterfly bush, poppies, and dogwoods. We also added some lamb’s ear among the rock garden. I am going to see if spreads too much but it has added a new texture to the yard.

Switch gears now and head to the back butterfly garden.

Columbine red yellow beauty
The columbine is starting to bloom! This is such a wonderfully happy flower that loves my semi shady spot in the butterfly garden. Look at those colors!

Columbine red yellow
How about the shape? Isn’t it interesting to see how different the back of the flower looks from the front? I am adding this image to my nature journal…I think watercolors.

Swallowtail in the garden
Last but not least, I wanted to share another one of my swallowtail visitors to my back garden. This magnificent butterfly spent quite a bit of time yesterday fluttering among my potted plants. He seemed to like the bright pink dianthus the best.

So now you know what I am one delighted nature mama. I love this time of year!

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!