One Small Thing You Can Do For Mother Earth.

As we transition from summer into fall, many of us plant bulbs, flowers, and tidy up our gardens. How about adding a tree seedling as well?

Trees are the “lungs” of the planet. If we want to breathe cleaner air, reduce global warming, and decrease our carbon footprint, the easiest and one of the most planet-friendly things you can do is PLANT TREES. If you are in an area where there is no space for trees, consider supporting organizations that plant trees around the globe.

Check out the search engine ECOSIA: 80% of their advertising revenue goes to tree planting all over the world.  They’ve already planted more than 100 Million trees worldwide.

https://www.ecosia.org

You can also visit: http://www.TreeSisters.org 

This organization is a major INTERNATIONAL tree planting charity that has already planted more than 19 million trees in tropical areas of the world.

Image result for Treescapes. Size: 151 x 160. Source: www.pinterest.com

Here’s an interesting statistic regarding Global Warming:

If worldwide we plant 3 billion trees in areas such as open fields, backyards, schoolyards, empty lots, etc, not touching agricultural areas used for food production, we would END Global Warming.

Three Billion might seem like a lot, but that’s less than one tree per person. Every tree counts and helps make our air cleaner and our environment healthier.

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Is there a place in your yard, neighborhood, community that could be home to a tree?

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International Day of Peace: What You Can Do.

Tomorrow, September 21, 2022 is the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE. If there is one things our planet needs more of, it is peace. Setting aside a day to recognize, reflect, and honor the idea and concept of PEACE may seem futile in our violent and contentious world. But I believe that focusing on peace and recognizing ways to live a more peaceful life can have a ripple effect.

This year’s theme is Anti-racism. To learn more about how to incorporate this theme into lessons and how to foster PEACEFUL solutions to conflicts, check out the official website:

https://www.boldsky.com/insync/pulse/international-day-of-peace-2022-date-theme-history-and-significance-141283.html?story=4

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How can we observe International Day of Peace? (ideas and suggestions are taken from the National Day Calendar website: https://nationaltoday.com/international-day-of-peace/

 

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  1. Observe the global “Minute of Silence”

In 1984, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Pathways to Peace inaugurated the Minute of Silence. At noon in each time zone, this observance of silence creates a “Peace Wave” around the world. Individuals, organizations, communities, and nations are invited to participate in this shared and practical act of peace-building.

  1. Host a global peace feast

Bring people together with a ‘global’ potluck, encouraging your friends and neighbors to share a unique dish from various countries or cultures. Breaking bread together is one of the oldest yet most effective ways to bring peace into your life. Interfaith and intercultural discussions can make the evening even richer.

  1. Foster peace through education

Let peace begin at home with you and your family. Teach your children key concepts that promote peace such as conflict-resolution, peaceful dialogue, consensus-building, and the choice of non-violence.

5 Factors That Promote A Culture Of Peace

  1. ​Seek to understand

Around the world, we are more alike than different; seek common ground, understand and value the differences you find in the people you meet and cultures you experience different from your own.

  1. ​Promote economic and social stability

Eliminating poverty, food insecurity, and social injustice leads to a stronger culture of peace because it removes common causes of unrest and violence.

  1. ​Respect all human rights

​At the core of peaceful relations is the belief that all humans are valuable – no one group being better than another; see how you can contribute to this understanding in your sphere of influence.

  1. ​Advocate for equality

Support the advancement of women in society through political and economic initiatives; actively oppose violence against women and girls in your community and promote the elimination of discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Choose democratic principles

​Encourage the democratic participation of all peoples in your community so that every voice is heard in civic decision-making and corruption in political leadership and operations is eliminated.

 DID YOU KNOW?   The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901 “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

In the words of JOHN LENNON, GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.   PEACE

 

Save Seeds…Save Life…Spread Some Beauty

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the critical importance of SEEDS.  It’s not something we think much about, but our very lives depend on seeds.  Without them, we have no food.  And we all know how important food is.  If you hold seeds in your hand…you hold life.  Monsanto and other companies hold patents on seeds.  Think about this: THEY CAN CONTROL THE WORLD’S FOOD.  If we want to ensure biodiversity and ample food for future generations, we need to preserve seeds and all the abundant varieties of foods they represent.  How can we do it?

Saving seeds was common practice for our ancestors, to ensure that there would be food even during lean times.  As mechanization and hybridization took over farming in the 20th Century, the practice was lost….but thankfully, not forgotten.

SEED BANKS are popping up in an unusual place…your local library.  There are more than 600 seed libraries in North America.  These collections will provide a free packet of seeds, information on gardening and seed saving techniques.  SEED SAVERS is responsible for much of today’s seed library stock.  It has 25,000 varieties – many of them rare or exclusive – dating before WWII. These seeds belong in the public domain and cannot be patented. The goal is to get these seeds into as many people’s hands as possible.  Why not visit your local library and plant some seeds?

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For more information on this important program visit: http://www.seedsavers.org

http://www.libraryseedbank.info

You can spread some beauty in your own backyard by making some wildflower SEED BOMBS. 

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Seed-Bomb

For more garden crafts visit:  http://www.redtedart.com/garden-crafts-challenge-get-crafty/

Let’s Go Camping!

Summer is a time of year where we usually enjoy spending more time outdoors. Hiking in parks and forests, visiting wildlife sanctuaries, swimming in lakes and beaches…so many great things to do on lazy summer days.  If the idea of CAMPING in the great outdoors sends a cold shiver down your spine, maybe you just haven’t found the right way to enjoy the camping experience.  Camping is WAY MORE than using port-o-potties, giving up showers and running water, and sleeping in a muggy, bug-infested tent in the middle of nowhere.

camping

RV parks and campgrounds offer lots of amenities and are a budget friendly way for families to experience the natural world. Here are a few to consider when planning a family camping trip:

HERSHEY PARK CAMPING RESORT, HUMMELSTOWN, PA: Offers 300 campsites for RV hookups, log cabin rentals, pools, movie nights, and discounted admission to Hershey Park.  http://www.hersheyparkcampingresort.com

NORMANDY FARMS FAMILY CAMPING RESORT, FOXBORO, MA: If you don’t have your own RV, you can rent a YURT, pop-up trailer, or safari tent. Located between Boston and Cape Cod, this resort offers yoga classes, mountain bike tours, and a dog park.  http://www.normandyfarms.com

LAKESHORE RV RESORT & CAMPGROUND, OELWEIN, IA:  Located on the shores of Lake Oelwein, this resort offers swimming, canoeing, Frisbee golf, beach volleyball, and a day trip to the FIELD OF DREAMS movie site.  Every year some baseball legend emerges from the corn fields to have a game with fans.  http://www.lakeshoreiowa.com

AMERICAN HERITAGE RV PARK, WILLIAMSBURG, VA: For history fans you might want to try this resort where you can stay in a cabin or cottage as you enjoy nature trails, pool, volleyball and basketball courts and discounted tickets to COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG: http://www.americanheritagervpark.com

Be sure to check out state parks and campgrounds in your state for more opportunities to enjoy the camping experience this summer.

To get you kids in the mood, try reading some of these camping-themed books:

  a rustic camping journal to record all the moments and memories of the camping experience.

Goodnight, Campsite: A children's Book on Camping Featuring RVs, Travel Trailers, Fifth-Wheels, Pop-UPs and Other Camper Options. by [Sponsler, Loretta]  “Goodnight, Campsite” is an award-winning children’s book on camping, featuring more than tents. Our book highlights RVs – Travel Trailers, Fifth-Wheels, Pop-Ups, Class A, Class C, and other camper options.” (description is taken from internet page)

https://i0.wp.com/maddogmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/smores-from-audrey.jpg  A camping alphabet book.

For more camping-themed book for kids of all ages, check out this link:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=camping+themed+books+for+kids&id=63353A9A8FD071C4C79134DD4B1B2A74D25F3C82&FORM=IQFRBA

Starry, Starry Night: Stargazing 101

For a unique and fun-filled family evening, pack up a thermos of your favorite beverage, some cookies or other snacks, flashlights, and a few blankets.  Then head out to an open field or playground where you can view the stars.  The best viewing sites are those where there is little interference from ground lighting.

Kids will enjoy using binoculars as well or a portable telescope if you have one.  Leave electronic devices in the car.  All you really need is your eyes and  a willingness to relax, lie down on the blanket and watch the sky.  Play a game of “connect the stars” to make figures like ancient astronomers did with the constellations.

milky-way-071015-1

For serious star gazers, the best spots to view them around the country can be found here:

https://www.timeout.com/usa/things-to-do/best-places-to-stargaze-in-us

https://koa.com/blog/the-12-best-places-to-stargaze-in-america/

How about this view of the Milky Way?

milky way

Do you have a favorite spot ideal for stargazing? Care to share?

Good Fortune Lurks Inside Tasty Treats by Marilyn Ostermiller

         

Fortune cookies are the anticipated treat at the end of a dinner in an Asian restaurant. It’s fun to slip out the slim strip of paper and read what the future holds.

fortune-cookie-pile

          Traditionally, the fortunes were based on sayings by Chinese philosopher Confucius, These days, the fortunes are crafted by writers who have a flair for brevity with a twist. The fortunes range in tone from profound to bits of common sense and even riddles. For example:

          — A feather in the hand is better than a bird in the air.

          — A friend is a present you give yourself.

          — A golden egg of opportunity falls into your lap this afternoon.

          National Fortune Day is celebrated on July 20 to recognize these crisp, folded cookies with a hint of sweetness.

          Sources say the distinctively folded cookie originated in Japan, where elaborate desserts and folding techniques are enjoyed. The cookie migrated to the United States in the late 1800s. It became increasingly popular during World War II.

          What better way to celebrate the cookie’s big day than to bake a batch at home? A recipe with photos and an instructional video can be found at the food blog, http://www.fifteenspatulas.com. The ingredients are staples in most well-stocked kitchens — eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and almond extract, water and flour.

          Before embarking on this baking venture, it’s best to have the fortunes printed on slender paper strips. Need some ideas to get started? Visit fortunecookiemessage.com where the messages range from cryptic to optimistic

          —Your shoes will make you happy today

          — The greatest risk is not taking one.

          — Wealth awaits you.

          An alternative to baked cookies are paper fortune cookies that incorporate origami, the ancient Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. The specifics can be found at unsophisticook.com.

Children are fascinated with fortune cookies as well. The book, “Fortune Cookie Fortunes,” written by Grace Lin, is an engaging story about two sisters who want to know if their cookie fortune will come true. It’s suitable for kids from five to eight years old.

 

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.

 

 

How to “BEE” Kind to Bees.

For thousands of years, honeybees have transformed flower nectar into that wonderful sweetness called honey.  Not only is honey a delicious treat in recipes or to sweeten a cup of tea, it has many medicinal properties as well.  Due to its sterile qualities, doctors used it as wound dressings during the civil war.

honey bee

Honeybees are important in another crucial way – as pollinators of our food supply.  The USDA estimates that “about one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination”.  Some crops, such as almonds, rely completely upon honeybees for propagation.

So what, you might ask?  Honeybee populations are dwindling worldwide from a combination of factors that contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder. This happens when worker bees leave behind a colony with only a queen and a few immature bees, resulting in death of the colony. Currently the main factors are thought to be: viruses, parasites, management stressors, migratory stress and pesticides.  To view a film on CCD: http://www.vanishingbees.com

Honeybees are one of many indicators of a healthy environment.  A disturbance in their life cycle, could be a symptom of larger issues.           

HOW CAN WE HELP?

  1. Buy organic to help reduce pesticide use.  Refrain from use of pesticides in your own yard and garden.
  2. Plant pollinator-friendly plants such as bee balm and red clover.
  3. Buy local and single producer honey to support small scale bee keepers in your own community.
  4. Enjoy the wonderful taste of local honey in your own recipes.
  5. Give bees a place to stay. You can find “bee hive kits” like the one pictured below in any garden center. Mason bees will use the cavities to lay their eggs and emerging bees will visit your garden.

bee hive

BEE KIND TO BEES…Our Food Supply Depends on it!

Want Clean Beaches? How You Can Help.

Clean Beaches Week is the “Earth Day” for beaches. 

Held annually from July 1-7, it is a celebration of the clean beaches lifestyle.  Founded in 2003, the week has drawn enormous public support: over 150 coastal governors, mayors, and county commissions have now issued proclamations in support of the week.  In 2007, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions enacting the week by unanimous consent.

Beaches, provide recreation, supply us with a variety of delicious and nutritious food. They need our protection. You can celebrate CLEAN BEACHES WEEK by

Show beaches the love they deserve. beach

While you get ready for a day at the beach, here are some books to get kids excited about the day.

Beach Day cover jpeg

Folk Hero Paul Bunyan Lives On in Tall Tales by Marilyn Ostermiller

Legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan emerged as a folk hero during the late 1800s. To commemorate his storied exploits, June 28 has been designated National Paul Bunyan Day.

Akeley, Minnesota, which claims to be the birthplace of this mythical fellow, will present its 73rd Annual Paul Bunyan Days June 24-26. Festivities include dancing, a pancake breakfast, cake walk and horseshoe tournament. The centerpiece is a statue of the gentle giant kneeling with a shovel (akeleymn.com)

bunyan 2

The legend began in the late 1800s, as French-Canadian lumberjacks told imaginative stories of Paul’s prowess around the evening campfire. Those tall tales traveled south into the forests of Washington, Oregon, and other northern border states.With each retelling, they grew more outlandish.

Some historians believe the legend of Paul Bunyan was based on a real person — a French Canadian logger named Fabian Fournier, who moved to Michigan after the Civil War, attracted by high-paying logging jobs. Fournier was said to stand head and shoulders above the average American male and was brawny.

Those tales credit Paul Bunyan, along with his outsized companion, Babe the Blue Ox, with creating the Grand Canyon by dragging his hefty axe through Arizona for more than 200 miles. It also has been said his footprints filled with rain to create Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. It is even postulated he single-handedly created Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak, by piling rocks to extinguish a campfire.

Several children’s books recount Paul’s exploits including “Paul Bunyan, A Very Tall Tale,” written by Jo Weaver and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski. It is appropriate for kindergarten through second grade students.

Several statues may be the reason Paul Bunyan continues to be popular.

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Paul and Babe have stood on the shore of Lake Bemidji, in Minnesota ever since their statues were erected there during Bemidji’s 1937 Winter Carnival. He stands 18 feet tall, wearing a red and blue checked shirt, and blue jeans. Babe is 10-feet tall.

Other places to see statues of Paul and Babe include:

— Brainerd, Minnesota

— Klamath, California along the Pacific Coast Road Trip

— Bangor, Maine (part of the Great Northern route)

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.

Become a Naturalist

Ah Summer! There is so much about this time of year that brings out poetry, curiosity and a sense that anything is possible. When the kids get restless and itchy, take a break from video games and household routines and explore the natural world. To make it a more interesting adventure, become Naturalists and record the days observations and sightings. You can do this and still be faithful to social distancing and keeping one another safe. All you need is the following, all of which will fit in a backpack:

1. A pair of binoculars for zooming in on birds or other elusive wildlife. A magnifying glass for closeups of insects and plant life.

2. A Field Guide of insects and birds of North America.  There are many excellent ones you can borrow from a local library or download onto your Kindle or iphone. You can track and input what birds you see on Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.   http://www.birds.cornell.edu  or by downloading the eBird app. 

3. A journal or notebook will help you record sights, sounds, names of animals and plants you discover, and details to use in writing a story or drawing a picture when you get back home.

4. A camera.

5. Comfortable shoes, water, snacks.

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Try an outing at different times of day. What is awake in the early morning hours may be totally different from what is active mid day or at sunset. If you’re having difficulty finding “critters”, be still and listen to the sounds of nature. This stillness often leads to amazing discoveries. It will definitely bring you peace and calm your stress. If you’re near water, turn over some rocks at the water’s edge. There are many hatching insects under them to marvel at.

And, like every good naturalist, remember to leave only footprints, and take only pictures and memories, and bring back any trash left behind by the human animal, so we can enjoy the natural world for years to come. footprints