Posted on 2 Comments

Great Sunflower Project for Your Homeschool

What is the Great Sunflower Project? This is a citizen science activity that you can participate in with your children. If you can grow a sunflower (or selected other flowers), you can join the project with just a few minutes invested later this summer.

The Great Sunflower Project is a citizen science activity that you can participate in with your children this summer.

Great Sunflower Project for Your Homeschool

Is the Great Sunflower Project difficult?

The basic idea for this activity is to sit quietly and observe any bees that visit your sunflower. This is a perfect summer nature study project for families with children of all ages.

What is the Sunflower Nature Study time commitment?

Participants are asked to make three observations of at least 5 minutes each. That’s it! Of course, you can participate more than that if your kids enjoy counting bees.

The Great Sunflower Project is a citizen science activity that you can participate in with your children this summer.

Why we count bees as part of the Great Sunflower Project

The decline in bees affects everyone! This project helps collect data for scientists to use to track the bee population. If you would like to read more, click over to the website: Great Sunflower Project.

Interested in more information?

Here’s a sunflower nature study video on YouTube to go with your sunflower time.

I just planted my sunflower seeds for my summer garden. I purchased my Lemon Queen sunflowers from Renee’s Garden. Lemon Queen is the variety of flower preferred by the Great Sunflower Project. These are beautiful yellow sunflowers with lots of pollen.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in a comment or in an email.

Combine your sunflower nature study with this citizen science project. There are several great nature study ideas in Homeschool Nature Study membership.

homeschool nature study membership

More Resources For Homeschool Nature Study

For even more homeschool nature study ideas, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool!

Find Out More About Homeschool Nature Study Membership HERE

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get Outdoors!

Posted on Leave a comment

Renee’s Garden Seeds: Summer 2021 Results

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Summer 2021 Results

Link to her website: Renee’s Garden Seeds

What a fantastic year for the garden! We have so many success stories to share and positive results as the season is in full swing. Renee’s Garden seeds were a huge part of the colorful and vibrant garden our family and friends have enjoyed as they visited this past month.

Read below for the specific seeds we planted and the results we achieved.

 Renee’s Garden Seeds List

Renees garden seeds 2021 (3)

4th of July Heirloom Cornflowers

Wow! These have really produced an abundance of flowers in the garden. I love the shades of blue and red and so do the bees!

Renees garden seeds 2021 (2)

Lace Mantle Sweet Williams

I get more compliments about this particular flower in my garden than any other flower. Their striking colors are so pretty! I count these as a huge success.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (1)

Rainbow of California Poppies

We had more blooms last year but there are still quite a few of the rainbow-colored poppies for us to enjoy. For some reason, they are leaning and reaching outside the garden box. I really need to figure out what’s going on there.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (10)

Lemon Queen Sunflowers

As always, we’ve had a bumper crop from the Lemon Queen Sunflowers. They’re not only a favorite of the bees, but they’re also a favorite of mine! The soft yellow is such a happy color.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (8)

Classic Slenderette Bush Beans

We planted these beans in pots at the beginning of May. I started with 3 plants when we transplanted them but ended up with only one healthy plant that produces blossoms and beans. I must be honest. These were an experiment to see if they can grow in our climate. The success of this one plant made me realize that I can grow beans in my garden and I have a great plan to be sure to have more plants thrive next year. As of today, the plants are withering from a couple of nights where the temperatures dropped to near freezing. Not sure I can justify the effort to grow these in my Central Oregon garden with such a small window of productivity. I did look back in my records though and we harvested lots of this variety of green bean from our garden in California. So, the failure here is a matter of habitat and climate and not the seeds.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (7)

Astia Container Zucchini

We had plenty of success with these seeds sprouting and growing, putting on blossoms, but no fruit at all. I think it may have to do with the cooler nights we have which make it hard for these to thrive. I wouldn’t count this as a failure of the seeds, just our garden zone.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (6)

Cinnamon Sun Sunflowers

I love these sunflowers so much! They add such a deep burgundy pop to the otherwise very yellow sunflower bed. Another thing I love about them? They make awesome cut flowers. I’ve had a vase continually filled with their happy, vibrant flowers.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (9)

Scarlet Runner Beans

These were started in May in pots and transplanted to the garden in June. We eagerly watched as the plants grew up the twine, put on flowers, and then produced pods that you allow to dry on the vine.  Many mornings I look out the window and see the hummingbirds visiting the scarlet red blossoms.  What a perfect addition to my garden!

Renees garden seeds 2021 (13)

Early Blooming Beekeeper’s Garden

This was a winner from last year’s garden. We added another packet of seeds to the box and once again they are a spectacular display of colors and shapes. I did make the mistake of allowing some volunteer sunflowers to grow in with the seeds. These have overshadowed the flower mix and I think perhaps the flowering of some of the varieties. Nonetheless, there have been plenty of bees and butterflies visiting the rainbow of flowers.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (4)

Knee High White Cosmos

These are some of my daughter’s favorite flowers in my garden. I love the vintage feel of this variety of cosmos.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (11)

Valentine Lemon Sunflower

This is one of the sunflowers that I sprouted and gave to friends. We’ve all had success growing them in our gardens and their slightly smaller flower head and multiple heads on one stem make them a great cut flower.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (12)

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppies

This is a favorite from the last few years here in Central Oregon. I now can’t imagine a flower garden without these poppies! I saved seed from last year’s crop and scattered it early in the spring to see how many would grow. Well, I’m happy to report that I have quite a few of this variety of poppy in several areas of my yard. The bees can be found daily buzzing and sipping from the red blossoms. If you would like a showy display, give these seeds a try.

Renee’s Garden seeds are the foundation of our flower garden. I’ve already made a list of new things to add next year to promote a wider range of colors, shapes, and heights to my flower beds.

I highly recommend purchasing from Renee’s and seeing the gorgeous results for yourself. I do receive a small amount of seed from Renee’s Garden as a promotional gift. In addition to her gift, I purchase many of the seeds myself. I know they’re always of the highest quality.

I also recommend following her on Instagram to see all of the new products available as they are released. #reneesgardenseeds

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Are you interested in using the Handbook of Nature Study for a study of garden flowers? I’ve compiled a list of the topics from the book and coordinated them with the Outdoor Hour Challenges. I hope this is helpful for your family!

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Posted on Leave a comment

Garden Flower Nature Study Planning

Garden Flower Nature Study Planning

This is the season for planning your garden whether it’s a flower garden or a vegetable garden. Anticipating the colorful flowers, the delicious tasting fruits, and the many hours of happily tending the garden is more than half the fun in my opinion. Paging through seed catalogs or scrolling your favorite gardening sites online can fill your cold winter days with pleasant thoughts of things to come.

I’ve already started my garden planning for the year and put in my seed order to Renee’s Garden Seeds. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you already know that I love this seed company. I always have great results from their products and they are my go to place to purchase seeds for the garden.

Because of our short growing season here in Central Oregon (less than 60 days), our garden is mostly flowers now and not veggies. But, I have decided to try a green bean and broccoli raab crop this year as an experiment. I will keep you posted on our results.

Renees Seed Packets

Want to know my list of seeds?

4th of July Heirloom Cornflowers

Lace Perfume Fragrant Dianthus

Lace Mantle Sweet Williams

Rainbow of California Poppies – We grew these last year in our garden and they are gorgeous!

Lemon Queen Sunflowers – These are the sunflowers suggested to grow as part of the Great Sunflower (bee counting) Project.

Classic Slenderette Green Beans – We’re going to try this variety because of its short growing to harvest time.

Early Rapini Heirloom Broccoli Raab – This is another crop we hope we can grow here in our cooler climate.

Astia Container Zucchini – I grew this in California in a big pot on my back deck. I’m hoping to have some success with it here in Oregon.

Sweet Greens and Reds lettuce mix – This is another variety of a lettuce we grew last year from Renee’s.

Garden Babies Butterhead container lettuce – This is a new lettuce for us and I’m hoping it produces a few heads for us to enjoy.

Cinnamon Sun Sunflowers – I’m excited to try a new color of sunflowers in this year’s garden.

Chocolate Daisy – This is an old favorite that I want to try this year in our new garden box. (It does have the fragrance of chocolate!)

I am eagerly awaiting their arrival! It will be a while before I can actually plant them, but I can dream about the warm summer afternoons in the garden while I wait.

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Maybe you would like to start dreaming and planning for your summer flower garden nature studies. I have completely updated my chart of garden flower topics from the Handbook of Nature Study. Each flower has an Outdoor Hour Challenge associated with it on the website and an ebook with notebook pages to use for your study. Use the links in the chart to decide on which flowers you will study this summer!

Download a copy here: Handbook of Nature Study List of Garden Flowers with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Ultimate Naturalist Library members have access to all the ebooks required. If you’d like to purchase an annual membership, click the link above and then use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your membership.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

All memberships are valid for one year after your purchase. The library of ebooks, the newsletters, and all the printables will be only a few clicks away.

Ambleside Online Approved @handbookofnaturestudy

For those of you following the Ambleside Online nature schedule, the spring topic is garden flowers and weeds. Please feel free to combine your nature study with the Outdoor Hour Challenges found in the archives.




Posted on 2 Comments

Renee’s Garden Seeds Update – End of Summer 2020

Renee’s Garden Seeds Update – End of Summer 2020

Our spring was spent building a new section of garden that would be attractive to birds, bees, and butterflies. Renee’s Garden seeds played a big part in filling our new garden beds with color, variety, and beautiful flowers. (See our start to the garden in this entry: Renee’s Garden 2020.)

Renees garden seeds update 2020

Because of our harsh climate zone, we’ve struggled with finding garden plants that will survive through the cold, long winter we have in Central Oregon. Our solution is to plant both a mix of annual and perennial flowers, as well as native wildflowers and shrubs. This strategy has worked in our front yard and now we’re continuing that mix in our back garden.

renees garden seeds 2020 (2)

Earlier this year, we rototilled and cleared about 1,200 square feet of scruffy grass and then proceeded to build two long, narrow garden boxes. Our aim was to make it not only more beautiful, but to have a more attractive garden space for bees, birds, and butterflies. A bonus side benefit is that we now have a peaceful spot to sit in the garden to enjoy all of the creatures that visit.  The birds love the bird bath for drinking and bathing and they will often come even with us sitting close by.

Here are some of the Renee’s Garden seeds we chose:

Rainbow of California Poppies: This variety of poppies is now my absolute favorite! I love the pastel colors that are in this mix and I go out every day to see which ones are blooming. They are thriving in our climate which is surprising but very much appreciated. I will be planting more of these in years to come.

renees garden seeds 2020 (4)

Early Blooming Beekeeper’s Mix: We enjoyed this mix so much last year that we added it to the list again this year. The sweetly colored flowers are hardy enough to last through our very cool summer nights.

renees garden seeds 2020 (8)

Seeds for a Butterfly Garden: I think I planted too many seeds in our box but the sunflowers and cosmos don’t seem to mind. The zinnias are growing up under the cosmos and need to lean way out to reach for the sun. If I did this combination again, I would plant far fewer cosmos. Still, I’m anxious to see how the sunflowers do once they start blooming.

renees garden seeds 2020 (7)

Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers: LOVE this sunflower! It’s an all time favorite of ours that we grew in California and it thrives here in Central Oregon as well.

renees garden seeds 2020 (5)

Van Gogh Sunflowers: This sunflower with the quintessential shape and color is attracting bees and various other insects to the new garden. The finches are stopping by to nibble on the leaves too!

renees garden seeds 2020 (7)

Heirloom Blue Delphiniums: These seeds have sprouted and are growing….slowly. I’m not sure what to think and I will have to update you later in the season as to whether they actually bloom or not.

renees garden poppy sunflower 2020 (2)

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppies:  This is our second year growing these magnificent poppies in our back yard. There are a variety of colors and shapes in the packet, producing gorgeous blooms that the bees buzz around all summer long. I highly recommend these poppies.

Renees garden seeds update 2020

Please note that I receive some of the seeds as a promotional thank you from Renee’s Garden. I’ve purchased and used her seeds for many years now and I’m never disappointed.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

Click over to my garden resources and see if you find some inspiration to get you going.


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

I post lots of images of the garden on my Instagram account. Click over and follow if you’re on Instagram. Also, if you tag your photos with #outdoorhourchallenge, I’ll stop by and see what you are up to in your nature study.




Posted on Leave a comment

Renee’s Garden: Building that Butterfly, Bee, and Bird Friendly Garden!

I received my Renee’s Garden order not too long ago and I’m getting ready to put those seeds in the ground…or in pots to transfer once the weather warms.

Renees Seed Packets

We’ve been in our current location for 3 years and I’m just now starting to grasp how to create a wildlife friendly habitat and garden in a Zone 2/3 climate. Originally I did the research on my Central Oregon gardening zone and the charts showed it was 5A. No way can I go by that designation! The old-timers here with successful gardens say that a more accurate designation is probably a Zone 3 but sometimes a Zone 2. This is because we have many summer nights that dip down to near or below freezing. I now make sure any plants I grow will have a fighting chance, which means looking at the plant tag to make sure it can survive at -20 or -40 degrees F.

>>>>>If you aren’t sure what gardening climate zones are, you can read more here: USDA Hardiness Zones.

It’s important to purchase plants, trees, and seeds that will thrive in your climate zone or you’ll be wasting your time (and money). I’m sharing all of that to help you see that I live where I won’t be able to grow a vegetable garden without the help of a greenhouse. So, I am focusing more on growing a colorful flower garden that will grow and bloom within our very short growing season.

garden build oregon may 2020

This year I chose my Renee’s Garden seeds with a new purpose. My husband and I are rototilling about 1,200 square feet of grass area to create large garden box plots for flowers that will be attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds.

Renees Garden seed packets may 2020 (2)

Here are the Renee’s Garden seeds we chose:

  • Early Blooming Beekeeper’s Mix: We grew these in our garden box last year and although it took awhile to get the seeds going, we had a beautiful display of this colorful mix of flowers.
  • Seeds for a Hummingbird Garden: I’m excited to give this mix a try even though I’m not sure about the results. I will share the results later this summer.
  • Seeds for a Butterfly Garden: This mix is going to be so colorful and pretty!
  • Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers: We successfully grew these gorgeous burgundy colored sunflowers last year, so they are already tucked into some pots in an attempt to get some growth before they need to go in the ground.  We have them on a table that we bring into the garage at night and then drag out into the sunshine every day.
  • Van Gogh Sunflowers: These are my absolute favorite sunflowers and we had them in the garden last year (and many summers in the past when we lived back in California).
  • Heirloom Blue Delphiniums: I have these in pots and I’m hoping they grow and will find their way into the new garden boxes.
  • Butterfly Monarda: This is a new selection for our garden and I’m anxious to see if they are successful in our climate zone.
  • Heirloom Poppies – Lauren’s Dark Grape: We had such a huge display of poppies last year that we decided to try another variety.
  • Swallowtail Fennel: We had this fennel in our garden last year and its beautiful golden color was so attractive. I want to increase the number of plants this year.
  • Forget-Me-Nots Azure Bluebirds: We loved these little blue beauties in our shady flower bed last summer and I’m going to expand the area again this year.

Please note that I receive some of the seeds as a promotional thank you from Renee’s Garden. I have purchased and used her seeds for many years now and I’m never disappointed.

Renees Garden seed packets may 2020 (1)

Gardening is such a therapeutic activity during this pandemic. As our planting deadline approaches, we are working furiously to get the beds ready to give all these amazing plants a good shot at growing and thriving in our crazy short growing season.

Are you dreaming of a flower garden this year? I highly recommend clicking over to Renee’s Garden to look for your seeds. It’s not too late to order and get them going in your yard. See if your children want to pick a few seeds for their own little flower garden or even just a container garden on your porch, deck, or balcony. The magical experience of planting a seed and seeing it spring to life is something powerful to children.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

Click over to my garden resources and see if you find some inspiration to get you going.




Posted on Leave a comment

Renee’s Garden Seeds 2017


Renees Garden Seeds @handbookofnaturestudy

Renee’s Garden Seeds

When the package arrives each spring from Renee’s Garden, I get a little thrill! Seeing that envelope in my mailbox reminds me that garden time is just around the corner. I ordered my seeds before I knew we would sell our house so a few of the selections may not grow so well in my new climate zone.

Renees Seed Packets

I will be sharing my seeds with friends instead. This way I can still see how they perform and I won’t be sad that the seeds are going to waste.

Renees Garden Seeds 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy


Here is what I ordered this year (free from Renee’s in return for my sharing our results).

Old Favorites:

Pixie Sunshine Container Zinnias

Astia Container Zucchini

Classic Slenderette Bush Beans

Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Baby Belle Mini Snack Peppers

Watercolor Silks Container Dahlias

Snow Sonata White Cosmos

Heirloom Chocolate Daisy

New to Me:

Bee Heaven Container Salvia

Pepperbox Poppy Heirloom Herbs

Summer Splash Marigolds

My current garden is in climate zone 8A and my new climate zone is 5A. Big difference!

“According to our data, you have a very, very short growing season.”

The National Gardening Association

Yep, 53 days for a growing season is very short! We will not be trying to grow things like tomatoes or peppers unless we create a greenhouse sometime in the future. I am told there is a very nice Farmer’s Market in our new area that I can visit to get loads of fresh veggies. I think that is a much better strategy for 2017.

garden renees sunflower august 2016 (5)

I will look at creating a new garden as a challenge. If you have any experience with growing a vegetable garden with a really short growing season, I would love to hear your comments.

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

Join us for this new series of wildflower nature study challenges. Wildflower Nature Study Set #1.




Posted on 6 Comments

Outdoor Mom’s Journal – October 2016

Outdoor Moms Journal @handbookofnaturestudy

“Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they’ll turn to ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hand russet on the bough;
It’s autumn, autumn, autumn late,
T’will soon be winter now!”

I think October is a very surprising month. It never is the same from year to year as far as weather and mood. October 2016 has been another busy outdoor month in our family because the weather has been fairly mild with some rain but all of that at once over the course of a weekend. This allowed for getting out and experiencing a little fall color in our area.

Oct 2016 sly park and caples lake (4)

During the first week of the month, a friend and I hopped in the car on a bright sunny day to take a drive up in the high country and look for some pretty trees. There were some aspens with golden yellow color but not as many as usual. I think our “normal” is changing along with our weather patterns. Still, it was a wonderful outing and we were able to fit in a nice day hike up at Lake Tahoe.


Then, mid-October, we took off in our truck and trailer to visit Oregon again. We had some places to check out and friends to meet up with so although the weather wasn’t ideal for being outdoors the whole time we were in Oregon, we did manage to sneak in a few hikes along the various rivers. Our first few nights we stayed in the Eugene, Oregon area along the McKenzie River.

Deschutes RiverWe camped at Tumalo State Park in Bend, Oregon...a new favorite spot! The camping was so enjoyable even with sprinkles from time time. The hiking along the Deschutes River was peaceful and we went in both directions along the river’s edge starting from the bridge at the campground. There is a wonderful day use area at this state park too and I imagine in the summer it is a busy place! But in October it was empty and quiet.

IMG_5948We also strolled along the Deschutes River right in the town of Bend at Drake Park and Mirror Pond. This particular autumn day was colorful with storybook houses along the riverbank and the snow capped mountains in the distance. Just perfect.

IMG_5866The high point of our trip was a hike to Tumalo Falls outside Bend. It was a misty morning but we still wanted to take advantage of our time in Bend by experiencing this popular hike to the top of the waterfall. The parking lot was empty when we arrived and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We extended our hike up the trail paralleling Tumalo Creek. Amazing!

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

We were also able to squeeze in a visit to Newberry National Volcanic Monument. More about this in a future post!

Back at the homefront, our garden was starting to show signs of fading for the season. We did a big clean up before our Oregon trip and left just the few things that might produce a bit more (being hopeful).


Now begins the slow slide into winter here in my neck of the woods. This is the time of great activity in my yard, the leaf raking kind of work that just always seems to be calling me. Thank goodness I have two grown men in my house to help gather and dispose of the great heaps of leaf death. Sigh.

I miss the long autumn walks with my kids but they send me images of their autumns for me to enjoy.

Hudson Valley Hiking
Hudson Valley hiking October 2016-from my daughter

So what have you been up to this month? Join me here by commenting or leaving me a link to your blog entry.


Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…


Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can use the free monthly newsletter along with the Handbook of Nature Study book for your nature study. Adding a membership gives you access to the Ultimate Naturalist Library’s ebooks and printablse which provides members with even more in-depth studies each month.

Read more about it!

Posted on 3 Comments

Outdoor Mom’s Journal – September 2016

Outdoor Moms Journal September 2016


This Outdoor Mom had a fantastic end of the summer! This post features our second Oregon trip of the year and lots of kayaking adventures. Technically, the Oregon trip was at the very end of August but after my August Outdoor Mom’s post so I want to include it here because it was a fantastic trip.  I will be dedicating a complete post in October to the many Oregon State Parks we visited on this latest trip. It was a perfect trip!

bend oregon old mill district deschutes river 2016 (2)

We spent four days in the Bend/La Pine, Oregon area. It was a heat wave for them and most of the lakes and rivers were super busy with so many people swimming, using stand up paddleboards, rafts, and kayaks. I was really glad we had our kayak and we made the most of the time out on the water. We are in the middle of training our Labrador to ride along with us and she is quickly getting the hang of jumping in and enjoying the ride. The image above was taken in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon along the Deschutes River. It was a perfect night for a walk along the banks of the river and for sitting at an outdoor patio for dinner. We read in a brochure that Bend, Oregon is the most dog friendly town in the U.S. We believe it!

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway Oregon  (47) sharps lake kayak

I think this is first photo I have shared where you can see our awesome tandem kayak (Old Town Loon 160T). We LOVE it! Both my husband and I are tall and there is enough room for our legs and the 70 pound Labrador. The image above shows us launching at Sparks Lake on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. It is a large shallow lake within view of many of the area’s signature mountains: Mt. Bachelor, South Sister, Broken Top.

Kayaking Beaver Creek Oregon Aug 2016This collage of images is from our stay in Newport, Oregon. We found an amazing spot to kayak just south of town at Beaver Creek (Brian Booth State Park). First we paddled up the creek and saw some interesting birds: Belted kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Turkey vulture, and several different ducks. Then we paddled back down the creek and all the way to the ocean! What a day!

silver falls oregon august 2016 (67) south fallsThis is the South Falls at Silver Falls State Park near Salem, Oregon. We had three days of hiking in this amazing place! There are actually TEN waterfalls that you can hike in a loop. This one was our favorite because you could actually hike behind the waterfall…look at the image carefully and you can see the trail. You can be sure I will be sharing more about this destination in my October Oregon State Parks entry.

nature journal pages osprey and heron august 2016 (3)I did fit in some nature journaling on this trip. I learned some interesting things about the heron and I actually heard the loud sound it made as we paddled too close to one and it flew off. Loud! It surprised me. I will be sharing a bit more about my nature journals in an up-coming post.

garden renees sunflower august 2016 (5)A little closer to home, my sunflowers bloomed! I looked out the window one morning and discovered this beauty. I love the sunflower time of the year and look forward to it each summer. This is one of the sunflowers from Renees Garden Seeds. So perfectly perfect.

IMG_5148We did some hiking closer to home when my two New Yorkers were home for a visit. We camped at Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe in California. It was perfect weather and the hiking was filled with wonderful autumn air and sunshine. IMG_5246This is Fallen Leaf Lake on a crisp September morning. We all took turns taking the kayak out for a spin on the water to take in the high Sierra views.

IMG_5358The last place on our travel list this month was to Yosemite National Park. We hiked to the top of Sentinel Dome with our children and they posed at the top for this amazing photo. It captures so much of what our family is about as we adventure in the big outdoors together. It was a day of laughter, refreshing vistas, and friendship. I tried to soak in the family time since it is hard to gather us all in one place anymore. We end up outside when we do get a chance to spend time together….habit? necessity? mutual love for God’s creation? I think it is a little of all of those things.

I hope you enjoyed my entry this month and if you want to play along, there are instructions at the bottom of this post.

If you missed my August and September nature study entries, here are the links:

Our Wildflower Observations: This entry shares our August wildflowers, both in California and in Oregon.

Snail Observations at the Tidepools: We had a fantastic time hunting, observing, and learning about marine snails in response to the August newsletter topic. This is one of my favorite blog entries of the year!

Insect Nature Study -Potpourri: We had several opportunities to observe insect homes up close. We even identified something new to us!


Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…


Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can use the free monthly newsletter along with the Handbook of Nature Study book for your nature study. Adding a membership gives you access to the Ultimate Naturalist Library’s ebooks and printablse which provides members with even more in-depth studies each month.

Read more about it!


Posted on 3 Comments

Renee’s Garden Seeds – July 2016 Results

End of July Garden Update

-Renee’s Garden Seed Review for 2016

Please note that I received free seeds as part of a promotional privilege from Renee’s Garden Seeds. I am going to share my honest opinion of seeds we have used for many years.


What did we plant this year?

Blue Lake Heirloom Pole Beans – So far we have only lush looking plants and no beans to harvest. We planted these on 5/23 so we should have seen some beans forming. I’m not sure what is going on with these.

Renees Garden Slenderette green beans

Classic Slenderette Bush Beans – This are a winner! We have been enjoying this easy to grow and pick variety for over a month now. They are tasty, tender, and I find them super easy to pick. The plants are compact and have given us an abundance of beans.

Pandorino Italian Grape Tomato – I planted these in the wrong spot and they are shaded by the zucchini. The plants are starting to look great so maybe there is still hope that they will produce some tomatoes soon.

Renees Garden raven zucchini

Raven Dark Green Zucchini – Yum, yum! We are eating this zucchini every other day now that it is producing. The plants look great and the zucchini is easy to pick and tastes delicious!

 Renees Garden Lion Zinnia

Sundancer Sunflowers – These are growing well but no blossoms yet.

Scarlett O’Hara Heirloom Morning Glory – This is such a pretty color flower and it is just getting started blooming. I am going to enjoy it for some time to come.

Snow Sonata Knee High White Cosmos – These are something new we are trying and they look healthy…hopefully some flowers soon!

White Wonder – Heirloom Double Feverfew I can’t find any of these growing in the box…maybe I’m missing them and they will come up later.

Mighty Lion – Butterfly Zinnia Amazing flowers! This is my favorite new zinnia ever. The flowers are so large and orange that you can’t help but be happy when you see them in the garden.

Paradise Mix Echinacea – Butterfly Flowers This is another one that doesn’t seem to have grown.

White Bishop’s Lace- Butterfly Flowers Pretty flowers! This is another new flower in the garden box and you can be sure it will be grown again!

I am loving my garden this year…in the actual square foot garden boxes. The last few years with the drought we have been unable to plant a real garden so this is a delight.


If you are creating a garden journal or using your garden as your nature study subject this summer, I highly recommend the notebooking pages linked below. Please note these are my affiliate links.

Note these are affiliate links to products I love!
Wildflowers, Weeds, & Garden Flowers Notebooking PagesNature Study Notebooking Pages

Download a FREE sample of A-Z Animal Notebooking Pages from









Posted on Leave a comment

End of June Garden Update

End of June Garden Update Renees Garden @outdoorhourchallenge

Time for a little end of June garden update! Make sure to check the garden tab at the top of the website for a whole list of garden related nature study ideas. You will also find there the crop plants list that helps you study many of the common garden vegetables you may be already growing in your garden.

Here is the link for green beans: Crop Plants – Green Beans.

renees garden seed update June 29 (5)

I am enjoying the gardening season! Every morning I pop outside and take a garden tour, sometimes even before I have coffee. The progress of each box is easily seen as they grow quickly in the summer heat. These are Slenderette bush beans from Renee’s Garden.

renees garden seed update June 29 (6)

I think I may have planted a few too many beans this year but that will give me a supply to share with friends who love beans as much as I do in the summer. I tucked some marigolds in between the bean plants for some color and to attract some pollinators. The pole beans are Renee’s Garden – Blue Lake variety.
renees garden seed update June 29 (7)Is it possible to love a zucchini plant? I don’t know if it is or not but I will say it anyway. I love this zucchini from Renee’s Garden (Raven variety).


Here are the actual plants that look fantastic. I am hoping to see some produce from this soon…you know how it is with zucchini. They can sprout up to be monsters overnight practically.

renees garden seed update June 29 (8)

I have one box where I mixed four different flower seeds together and sprinkled the seeds to fill the box. This sounded like a good idea at the time but now it is hard to tell what are actual flowers and what are weeds that need to be pulled out.

Flowers Planted in this Box- All Renee’s Garden Seeds

White Wonder – Heirloom Double Feverfew

Mighty Lion – Butterfly Zinnia

Paradise Mix Echinacea – Butterfly Flowers

White Bishop’s Lace- Butterfly Flowers

I will keep you updated as the summer growing season progresses. Just so you know…I received my Renee’s Garden Seeds in exchange for my honest review of the product. I have used Renee’s Garden seeds for many years and highly recommend them. Thanks for taking a look at my garden goodness.

How is your garden coming?