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Backyard Nature Notes: Planting a Healing Backyard Garden

*This post may contain affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend items that I’ve personally used and recommend.

 

This year, I improved my garden and expanded from not just an anti-anxiety garden from last year to more of a more generalized healing garden.

So full disclosure, the lavender and chamomile I planted last year died off. I had to replant them this year. Since I’m home every day now, I don’t intend to let that happen again. I am able to be much more attentive with the watering and weeding.

I usually take a walk around the yard every day, and that will trigger me to care for them for sure. So far, they seem to be flourishing, which makes me so proud.

Let’s start with the book that made this all come to life.

I found this little gem at a work book sale last year. What I did was page through to figure out what ingredients were pretty prominent and in the recipes I really wanted to make.

 

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I found that chamomile, lavender, and violets were in the bulk of the recipes. Sold!

So, those went on the list.

 

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Then, I wanted a small herb garden for some of my favorite flavors. We were going to replant some of the chives from our old house, but someone dug them up, so I added those to the list.

So, that’s basically how I put my list together. I wrote down the herbs and flowers I intend on actually using for homemade beauty products and cooking.

 

 

Plant a simple healing backyard garden with herbs and medicinal plants

 

So, here’s what we planted for our healing garden this year:

 

Chamomile and lavender: both are calming and aromatic. Chamomile and lavender also have a myriad of medicinal properties (just click those links to read more). I’ll probably make lots of chamomile tea this summer and hopefully some fun lavender-scented natural products. I’ve never grown either of these successfully from seed. So, I would suggest buying them from a nursery and tending to (i.e. watering) them every day.

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Asparagus: This superfood was already growing wild in a random patch in our yard. It just makes my heart so happy to have such a great healthy vegetable randomly popping up in your yard. It’s like my lawn leaves me little surprises;)

Lemon balm: This is one herb touted most for its anti-anxiety properties, but it has many other uses too. My plant came back nicely from last year. I still have some of the lemon balm tincture I made to last me through until harvest time.

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Violets: I just had to get these because they’re edible and they make a great addition to handmade lotions and potions, like the ones in the book above. They also have many health benefits. You can do so many things with violets!

Elderberry: We were just about to leave the greenhouse when I saw an elderberry plant inside the store. I keep seeing elderberry come up in the Insta feeds of some of my favorite herbalists, so I was like “why not?” Once I start getting berries, I will research more about how to use them and what they’re good for. I know they’re very powerful for cold and flu season.

 

Backyard herb garden (all perennials):

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Chives: we had chives at our old house, but someone dug them up. So, I was excited to find some at the greenhouse. We use these for everything. Scrambled eggs, loaded baked potatoes, potato salads, all the things.

Rosemary: I love how you can use the stalks as skewers for kabobs. We’ll be using this for cooking a lot.

Basil: Basil is another herb for everything. We’ll add it to soups, salads, everything.

Mint: I can’t wait to put some mint in my water! And I’ll probably make some refreshing homemade products with this too. Mint is great to have around and it’s so easy to grow. We also had mint at the old house, but one deep frost we had a few years ago choked it off.

 

So, this is where I’m starting this year. I don’t have a vegetable garden because I just don’t wanna. Haha. I’ve done all of that before and I just have no desire this year. There are plenty of farmer’s markets around here, so I have plenty of access to fresh homegrown food.

The herbs and medicinal plants, however, are harder to find. Which stumps me. Because they’re so miraculous and enchanting! Nature is just so freaking amazing! How come everyone isn’t growing them? Hehe.

Let me just tell you that I am not a professional gardener or herbalist. Far from it! I simply enjoy these green delights and try to keep them alive as best as I can. I just wanted you to know that so you know this is completely accessible to you too!

I’m not some guru.

These are not out of reach.

We could all use a little more green miracles in our lives.

So tell me, why isn’t everyone growing herbs and medicinal plants in their backyard? Because why not?

Backyard Nature Notes: Collecting and Studying Caterpillars

*This post may contain affiliate links, at no additional cost to you.

Studying caterpillars

 

Caterpillars are one of those childhood pleasures that still make us giddy as adults.

Just me?

I didn’t think so.

So, when Hubster brought this fine fuzzy fellow to me, I had a gut reaction to say “can we keep him?”

 

Ctenucha Virginica caterpillar

 

We love keeping and learning about critters in this household. I always feel like the more we learn about nature, the more alive it becomes.

The more we understand nature, the more magical it seems.

We live in the country, so we’re surrounded by more natural wonders than we ever have before. In fact, we’re actively trying to cultivate a magical backyard. But with caterpillars, there’s not much we have to do. They’re just always around.

So, we try to learn about whatever we can. We’ve bought books to study bits and pieces of nature. And I don’t mean dry textbook types of study. I mean the “everything is coming alive” types of study.

 

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A few of our recent favorites from Amazon:

This really brings nature to life with the most beautiful pictures and page spreads.

Since we live in the Midwest, this book is helping us tune in to our own environment, identifying animal tracks, trees, wildflowers and butterflies.

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My Field Guide didn’t seem to show the caterpillar we found though.

So, whenever we come across something we don’t know about, we turn to our friend, Google. Like you do.

So, we used our good friend to figure out that this is the Ctenucha Virginica. I searched something like “fuzzy yellow and black caterpillar WI” and figured it out from there.

Then, we did some digging to learn more about the caterpillar. What does it eat? Where does it live? What does it look like when it changes into a moth?

Well, to answer those questions: grass, grasses and sedges, a black hornet with an iridescent underbelly.

Since the Ctenucha Virginica caterpillar has a yellow and black fuzzy pattern like a bee and will turn into a hornet-looking moth, we named him Sting.

We decided to give Sting a home in our house. We used a Chinese egg drop soup take-out container for him with holes in the lid.

 

simple caterpillar home

 

After three days of not eating, we considered sending Sting back off into the great outdoors to do his own thing. I started to question our competence in keeping him.

But then…

He created a cocoon! Out of his own freaking fuzzy hairs!

Ctenucha Virginica Cocoon

Ctenucha Virginica caterpillar cocoon

And now, I can see the black moth he’ll turn into through the fuzzy hairs!

And our home has now become his temporary home! The place his transformation will take place!

I feel like a proud momma!

Well, to turn this entire thing into a learning experience for my kids (and pretty much anyone who walks in our door–or clicks on my site–that I can show), I made a journal page for Sting and everything we could find about him. Because I love a good visual as a visual person.

 

Ctenucha Virginica journal page

Ctenucha Virginica nature journal page

 

So, using our own experience as a guide, here is a simple caterpillar study guide you can use with your own kids:

kids caterpillar study guide

 

This.

This is exactly what brings me alive!

To play in, learn about, nurture, get involved in, get excited about, study, touch, appreciate…nature!

Does it do that for you too?

Or haven’t you explored it yet?

Today I encourage you to get outside, study something, and then look it up and journal about it.

Then, report back here or tag me on Instagram (@Jess_Flashfit) with your pictures!

Backyard Nature Notes: How to Create a Magical Backyard Environment

How to create a magical backyard

 

Our backyard, in the spring, is a magical land. We have lighting bugs, butterflies, hummingbirds, all manner of bird, and deer.

Sometimes we see a bald eagle soaring over our house. And the field behind our house must house all species of creature because the sounds coming from it at night? Are worthy of a meditation recording.

I like to keep our windows open because that is the kind “white noise” that makes me feel secure in this world.

 

[View from our bedroom]

 

Before we moved to the country, I had seen hummingbirds maybe three times in my entire life.

Now I see them every three minutes in the summer.

The novelty has not worn off. I still get excited when I see one or hear one. They make a little buzzing purr noise when they fly in. (But they’re really hard to capture on camera).

Our backyard is the epitome of abundance.

 

 

It’s just full of life and rarity. I just want to bottle it up. But alas, instead of bottling it up (impossible!), I just keep inviting it in (way possible!). And I want to show you how to invite these beauties into your yard too, possibly even in the city.

(Actually, you can bottle some of it😉

Hummingbirds

To attract hummingbirds, all you need to do is set up a simple $2 hummingbird feeder. And don’t bother buying the red colored food they sell. That is completely unnecessary and can, in fact, burn their tiny little fragile beaks. Some might argue that the red color of the food is required to attract the hummingbirds. Hogwash! All you need is the red on the feeder itself to attract the little fairy birds.

Our abundance of hummingbirds is proof.

As for the food? Everything you need is in your kitchen.

Just boil 4 parts water and then dissolve 1 part sugar in it. So, you could boil 4 cups of water and dissolve 1 cup of sugar in it. Oh, and make sure you use purified water. Again, they’re tiny fragile birds. Try not to poison them.

We also happen to have a bush in our yard that the hummingbirds particularly love. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s their favorite. You could easily do a little searching online if you want to plant any hummingbird-friendly flora.

Butterflies

We get butterflies in our backyard simply by having dandelions, it’s that easy. Pretty much any flower will do. But there are some things you can do to make butterflies love your yard even more. One thing we did was add a sugar bowl. A really pretty one. I put the same mixture in here, on a sponge, as I use for the hummingbirds.

You can also plant butterfly flowers and other butterfly-friendly blooms. The field behind our house happens to be full of milkweed, which is a Monarch caterpillar’s favorite food.

 

[My pretty glass sugar bowl]

[Milkweed galore!]

[Milkweed and butterflies!]

 

The butterflies are probably my favorite. Last year we found so many butterfly wings (Monarchs only live 2-6 weeks). We recycled the wings into beautiful necklaces (DIY them!) so their magic could live on.

 

Birds

All you have to do to enjoy a rainbow of beautiful birds is put up a bird feeder.

I would suggest you find one that makes you happy to look at and putting it up in a window you like to look out. Then, I would suggest keeping a camera nearby.

 

These bird feeders were a bit more expensive than the basic plastic ones, but they make me happy to look at. I also found a really whimsical one for the front yard that just makes my heart skip a beat.

 

I had seen this bird feeder once before at a sale we had at work. I put it back but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so much so that I added it to my personal little “wishlist” in the back of my notebook. When the sale came back months later, they had one again! I bought it without even thinking. That’s one of those purchases that you just know is right.

I couldn’t wait for spring to be able to put this up. It sparkles in the light and gives our front tree that bit of whimsy that is enough to uplift the spirits. When I saw the first bird sitting inside, I actually giggled.

Then, simply go to almost any regular store and choose bird seed for songbirds. Or whatever type of bird you prefer. We chose songbirds, because why wouldn’t we? If we can be serenaded by those melodies every day?

Deer

Living in the country, it’s not very hard to see deer every day just by default. But in order to entice them into our own yard even more, we put out corn (it brings in more birds too). There’s a DNR rule out here about how much you can put out (because of baiting deer for hunting), so we keep it around a gallon.

Lightning Bugs

This one is just left to chance. We have a lot of marshy area around our house that seems to be the perfect environment for them. In the spring, it’s like a dream out there in our backyard. They blink and twinkle all through the field behind our house and it’s just mesmerizing. We all feel like kids with wide eyes and dropped jaws.

Also, shooting stars

Being far away from the city lights makes the expanse of sky much more accessible to us. The sky looks like a navy blue blanket with a bunch of bright dots on it. It’s velvet and expansive and beautiful!

Shooting stars aren’t an everyday thing, for sure. But you can be intentional about finding them. First, I would suggest looking up the dates for the annual meteor showers, the Perseids and the Leonids. Then, write them in your calendar and make sure to get outside on those nights. The Perseids happen in about mid-August, and I’ve created a tradition with my kids to have an annual Perseid picnic which I’ve posted about a few times here, here and here.

Since it’s warm and summer vacation in August, it’s the perfect time to stay up really late and lie in the grass watching the sky. The excitement you hear in a child’s voice when they see their first shooting star will fill your magic stores for awhile.

Medicinal Plants

When you grow plants that can actually heal ailments? You feel boss.

I’m not really much of an herbalist, but I do grow a few. Lemon balm is easy to grow and prolific! I used it to make a lemon balm tincture for anxiety. In fact, my entire plan for planting last year was for anxiety. Check out my anti-anxiety garden post. Then find out how to make your own lemon balm tincture.

We also keep aloe vera on the windowsill. I love having a few things within arm’s reach to relieve burns, scratches, and nerves. I feel like a little apothecary.

Healing plants seem like magic.

Whimsy

Now, in addition to the actual creature-attracting stuff, you can also make your yard feel more magical by adding elements of whimsy. Butterfly nets, chimes, fairy gardens, ornaments, and bird feeders. Maybe some yarn bombs for your trees.

I’m starting to collect things to make something like this. Making a wind chime out of repurposed metal stuff:

Source

Also, bring some of that amazing goodness inside! We put the nest and feathers from above into a shadow box from Hobby Lobby. We also have a lot of stick and nature art in our house.

Make a pinch bouquet or bring some flowers inside.

Bring some moss inside a little terrarium. Then decorate with plastic animals. Hehe. So cute.

Know what else makes it magical?

Learning as much as you can about what’s out there in the nature world.

What I mean by that is, read, study, pick up field guides, and learn everything you can about clouds, animal tracks, ecosystems, etc.

Each time we learn more about the habits of a particular bird or what the purpose of a particular bug is or guess what’s in these underground burrows, our backyard seems to come even more to life.

Each time we learn more…our backyard seems to come even more to life!

I’ve been collecting books so I can read more about what I’m seeing. It really helps bring everything to life for me. The more you can identify and understand about nature, the more fascinating it becomes. It’s like you can see little traces of God all around you and all the miracles He put into place.

Here are a few books from my own shelf that I recommend. I just bought these from Amazon and am LOVING them!

*This part contains affiliate links, at no additional cost to you.

NATURE BOOKS

 

This is a great book to have on-hand for kids. It teaches about different facets of nature. It has really great layouts and pictures. If you click on this picture, you can “look inside” the book.

 

How fascinating is it to learn the psychology of being in nature. Every time I learn more about the effects of nature on mood and mental health, I am fascinated. I make it a point to get outside every day for this very reason.

 

Since I live in the Midwest, I decided to pick up a field guide that covers everything at once: animal tracks, birds, wildflowers, trees, everything! I’m trying to learn as much about the birds that we keep seeing on the bird feeders as possible.

 

I also printed off this poster from NASA and I keep it on my fridge so my son and I can try to guess what types of clouds we’re seeing outside.
I don’t know all the names of the birds that land on our bird feeder or the trees that surround us in this land, but I’m learning them slowly. There’s a thrill I feel when I can name a bird simply by hearing its call or seeing its coloring. We’re starting to learn cloud types and wildflowers and all manner of creature:

It’s like learning the name of someone that comes into your store regularly. There’s a deepening connection there, a friendliness, a kinship. It makes me feel closer to the Earth and all that God put into place.

 

I hope this post will help you look at your backyard a little bit differently and inspire you to cultivate an extra sprinkle of magic wherever you live. Because seriously, when you get to see butterflies, hummingbirds, blue jays, and lightning bugs all in the same day, your spirit will be lifted.

~Better Every Day

 

How about you?

What magical things have you seen in your backyard? Do you purposefully try to bring beauty into your backyard?

Backyard Nature Notes v.3

Well, it’s finally officially December in Wisconsin and it actually looks and feels like it. A complete contrast to the 60 degree weather we had throughout November, but fitting for where we live.

But the dropping temps didn’t keep us from playing outside…

Saturday, we went to get our Christmas tree, a yearly family tradition. The ground was still in decent shape (i.e. no mud or snow) which made the whole process a lot smoother. And though it was cooler, it wasn’t frigid.

 

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We like to get our tree from ANR Tree Farm in Wild Rose, WI (another reason to visit Wild Rose). The whole thing is a tradition, from the hay ride out to the field to the complementary yearly ornament, to the cider and popcorn afterward.

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And there she is. Our tree for this year!

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Where’s the little boy pulling the tree? See that hood?

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Oh, and on the way to get our tree, we actually spotted an owl!

Have you ever seen an owl in the wild? I have only seen one other owl in the wild in my entire life, so it’s quite the treat. But it wasn’t feasible to get it on the camera, so you’ll just have to visualize a huge bird you think is a hawk swooping out low in front of the car and landing in the trees. And as you look at its wings and face, you suddenly realize it’s an owl! OMG, pull over there’s an owl!?!

And then your hubby pulls over so you can try and get a picture and the people whose property  you’re trespassing on just a little come out to see what’s going on and the owl flies away. And everyone gets to see the elusive owl!

 

Sunday morning we woke up and our whole world had turned white. Yep, compare and contrast the photos above and below. 24 hours difference. Now we are in WI after all. It snowed most of the day (did you catch the Packer game? It was snowing during the whole game.)

We kept it pretty low key on Sunday, but the kiddos sure had fun in the snow. Kayne made a snowman and took his sister out in her puffball suit to play with the kittens a bit. This is the first time the kittens have ever seen snow! And they were very playful.

 

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Awhile later, Kayne came and asked if one of us could pull him around in his sled.

Well, you know what that kind of question does to a dad, right?

A dad thinks about how he can amplify that request times 10.

And since we don’t have any hills around…

 

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Yeah, so if you’ve ever wondered, this is what we do on Sundays, in WI, when we live the country.

The moral of this story? Don’t let the weather stop you from getting up and outside. A few layers and a warm place to return to and you’ve got an entire season to take advantage of!

How did you get outside this weekend? What’s the weather like where you live?

Backyard Nature Notes v.2

Horicon Marsh, WI

 

Last weekend was a doozy of an active weekend compared to our normal ones. We were barely home. We took a trip to the mall on Saturday for some Christmas shopping and on Sunday, we took a family trip to the Horicon Marsh.

We took a walk on what was left of the trails. They’re doing some trail renovations over the marsh, so our hike was a bit disjointed, but we weren’t ruffled in the least.

Oh the things you can see there.

Like birds of all kinds, including wild swans and many different species of ducks.

Swans at Horicon Marsh

Ducks at Horicon Marsh

And of course your standard woolly bears, squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks. Along with a little possum that was much too fast for pictures. (There is a chipmunk somewhere in this picture, I swear!)

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If there’s one thing in this entire world that I can teach my children, it’s to love, protect and take in all the blessings of nature.

Trails at Horicon Marsh

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I always find myself saying, “Kayne, do you smell that? That’s what fall smells like” or “Whoa, look at that cool-looking fungus!” I’m teaching them to observe, to appreciate, to really take it all in. I don’t know the names of everything (yet!), but we can still appreciate them.

And this girl, my little fairy nymph. Stopping to touch, point out, collect (and sometimes taste) everything. She loves looking at all the pretties that her momma points out.

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Afterward, we stopped at the McDonald’s nearby because it has toys inside. As though the trails weren’t enough to absorb all their energy, McD’s Playland did! Next door is an adorable little candy shop that we finally visited and got a little box of all.the.dark.chocolates. It was kinda symbolic of the sweet sweet day we had together, out in nature.

It’s still warm in November here in WI. We’re happily hanging onto every minute of warmth offered.

How are you getting up and out into nature this week?

Backyard Nature Notes v.1

Hey #flashers,

Today, I’d like to start a new thang here on the bloggie blog. Since we moved to the country last year, I’ve found that every week holds a bundle of backyard stories, whether that’s literally in our own backyard or “in our backyard” community.

Since our stories are unfolding here in nature, I thought it only natural to start a series about these backyard happenings, in hopes of inspiring other families to get out into their backyards and out into nature.

So, here we go…

Last weekend, Hubster dropped the kids and I off at a nature preserve on a whim while he went grocery shopping. The nature preserve was actually right across the street from the grocery store, so it was a win-win for all involved.

What we found inside was this amazing nature playground!

First, we spotted one.

A branch lean-to just a few yards off the trail. Kayne and Rayna explored it a little bit and got their pictures taken inside.

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Then, Kayne noticed another little fort just down the trail…and then another…and another!

They were everywhere around us!

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Like a little kid’s paradise!

I mean seriously, what kid doesn’t dream of a forest wonderland like this?

So, we explored as many as we could access, took lots of pictures and footage and made plans to come back again with my nephews for a secret hideout picnic. We’ll throw down our picnic blankets and pretend to “live” inside one of these branch homes for an afternoon.

I believe that this little section of woods is owned by the school system in the area, so I imagine that all these little forts were some kind of school field trip lesson. Whatever class this is, I want to be in it!

 

My little fairy daughter is a born nature girl. Both kids are really. From the moment they were born, I only had to take them outside when they were crying for instantaneous calm. But this girl…you can’t keep shoes on her. She loves to feel the real raw earth under her tootsies. I get that…

And you can’t keep the pinecones and leaves and flowers and all the things out of her hands. But really, who would actually want to take them out of her hands?

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And she loves the treasures of nature. We couldn’t get her away from this stump. It was as though she was contemplating the inner soul of what was left of the tree, wondering at its wound. All three of us started down the trail again, but before we knew it, Rayna turned around and went back to crouch beside her stump. Kayne and I had a good laugh, but I understood…

The weather in November in WI has been otherworldly warm. Near 70s last weekend. And we aren’t letting a minute go to waste. In fact, Rayna usually naps, but I kept her awake so we could just play outside all day.

And we did.

 

What did you do in your own backyard this weekend?

A Trip to The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

A few weeks ago, the kiddos and I, along with my sis and nephews, visited the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin in Appleton, WI. We only found out about the place last year when we visited and we’re huge fans now!

During Monarch migration, they always hold a butterfly release event, which is the best time to go! For your admittance, you get one butterfly for the family to tag and release out in their back butterfly garden. It’s magical.

It was raining the day we went, so it was a little bit more difficult to get the whole experience. The boys ended up having to coerce their butterflies off their fingers onto a plant to let them go. I think it made the boys feel more connected to their monarchs though, because the butterflies didn’t want to leave them.

Out behind the building is this giant butterfly garden with trails through it in the shape of a butterfly. It’s really something. And it was just full of all kinds of buzzing critters last year.

Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

 

Inside the butterfly house, which is like a screened-in greenhouse, the butterflies were a bit chilled by the rain, so they were a little more difficult to find. But with patience, we found plenty of them. The docents give you a q-tip with sugar water on it to help attract the butterflies.

Butterfly House

Monarch butterfly house

Appleton Butterfly Garden

hold Monarch butterflies

wearing monarch butterflies

Stop and smell the……………butterflies?

barefoot and butterflies

Please take note of the bare feet. This girl is a nature girl at heart, through and through. You cannot keep a pair of shoes on her, even where there’s gravel. Bless her heart.

monarch butterfly migration participant

monarch on butterfly flower

Rayna and auntie monarchs

The butterfly gardens also have some other cool displays and exhibits too. They have this cool display of various butterflies from all over.

 

butterfly display

And turtles….

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And frogs….
Butterfly Gardens of WIAnd bees…….. *shudder*

live indoor beehive
And we were lucky enough to be able to take two monarch caterpillars home to try to raise. We have milkweed everywhere by our house and a butterfly net, so we were equipped for the job.

If I would’ve written this blog post right after our trip though, I wouldn’t have to tell you that unfortunately, both of them are now resting in the ground. One died from the black virus and the other…we’re not sure.

But we are grateful for the time we had with them, because they were fascinating to watch. The tiny one grew literally before our eyes. Like, we’d go to work and come home, and he’d be bigger and there’d be huge holes in the milkweed we left for him.

We named him Eric Carle.


monarch caterpillars monarch butterfly caterpillar milkweed

RIP Eric Carle.

If you’re ever able to make the monarch butterfly release during the monarch migration, I highly recommend it. The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin is definitely something to see!

So tell me…do you find butterflies as incredibly enchanting as I do? Have you ever paid attention to the monarch migration?

If You’re Ever In Wild Rose, Wisconsin

The camping trip that was featured in my last article was in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. Since we’ve been there so many times, and Hubster practically grew up there in his family’s “second home” of sorts, I thought I would put together a little insider’s visitor guide, if you will.

Places to Visit in Wild Rose, WI

If you’re in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, make sure you pop over and visit the Fish Hatchery especially if you have kids. They did a really nice job converting their visitor’s center into an interactive play area. The little ones could’ve played in here for quite some time.

There are two large aquariums with live fish and a huge wall display of fish profiles. Rayna loved staring at and pointing out all the fishies.

Fish Hatchery Wild Rose, Wisconsin

They have an adorable little fishing area where you sit in a boat with your magnetic fishing pole, trying to catch fish. Imagination play.

 

Wild Rose Fish Hatchery

They had all kinds of fish plushies.

Rayna with fish in Wild Rose

Wild Rose, WI Fish Hatchery

And they had an entire section where you pretend to work at the hatchery. You start at the door and put your boots and lab coat on. Then, you make your way through the different stations. Kayne was dissecting a fish here.

Kids Discovery Center in Wild Rose Fish Hatchery

Most of the hatchery isn’t run the way it used to be of course, so a lot of it is closed off to the public, but you can still feed some of their fish in the ponds. There’s a quarter feed dispenser that you can use to get their attention.

old fish hatchery Wild Rose

Feeding fish at hatchery

Kayne feeding hatchery fish

 

We’ve been coming here for years. Even last year, we went camping there when Rayna was only 1 months old.

For a little family picnic and a dip in the lake, check out Kusel Lake County Park. One day while we were camping, we took a family hike here through the lush trails and the following day, Kayne and I came back for a run/bike ride on the trails for my daily workout.

They also have a park with some fun old-school equipment, a picnic shelter, and a sandy beach for swimming. You could spend an entire day just at this little park.

 

Kusel Lake County Park

 

Another place to visit is the Roseville Mini Golf & Shops, a mini golf range and attached ice cream shop. This little visitor-friendly site has a well-kept mini golf course, great ice cream and lots of souvenirs and treats.

Roseville Mini Golf

 

We’ve also stopped here quite a few times in the past several years.

They have a few little farm animals out back next to the golf course now too. Rayna doesn’t really “play” golf, so we let her wander around, play with her own club and ball, and explore the animals.

Wild Rose Mini Golf and Goats

There’s a carousel horse out front that’s a perfect photo opp.

Roseville Mini Golf Shop

 

Right next to Benny’s Grocery Store is a little thrift store that I sometimes pop into while Hubster grabs groceries. A few years back, it was one of those crammed, treasure-hunt-type thrift stores that I loved exploring. Now it has a more curated, pricey feel to it. But there’s one interesting thing at the back of the store, if you care to look: a real life electric chair. Yes, it’s absolutely creepy. I couldn’t even bring myself to sit all the way back in the chair or touch the sides even though I knew it was off and not working. But I thought it was worth mentioning;)

 

When Kayne was little, we went camping right during strawberry picking and got the whole experience at a local farm. I wish I could remember the name of it, but we just found the sign for it and pulled in on a whim!

There are a few other little shops in Wild Rose, if you care to stop, including a little flower/gift shop and antique store. We haven’t been in either of these, but they look like they’re worth the visit.

Places to Stay in Wild Rose, Wisconsin

While I’m not familiar with all the inns and cottages available, I can tell you that the camping in Wild Rose is so much fun. We like staying at Luwisomo Campground whenever we visit. But Evergreen is also very popular with all their various attractions. Hubster’s family used to have a trailer at that campground growing up, so he has many memories there. They’ve gotten a little too commercialized ($$$) and crammed together in the last few years, but it’s still a fun time.

Luwisomo is a nice understated place to camp that is a bit more spread out and much more tree-covered for those who like the actual outdoor experience. You can also rent a few cute little cabins there. They have a little playground, a little mini golf course and some nice trails. They also have decent bathrooms and laundry facilities in the public camping area which I appreciate.

Luwisomo also has this amazing horse stable for horseback riding.

We’ve started let Kayne go horseback riding every year. He’s still not old enough to go alone, but they do a guided tour with him and he loves it.

Camp Luwisomo Horseback Riding

They also have other horses and goats you can pet while you wait.

Camp Luwisomo Horse Stables

 

 

Places to Eat in Wild Rose, WI

We haven’t eaten at all the restaurants, but we are fans of the Pioneer Pub & Grill. It has a log cabin look from the outside, and the view on the back deck is absolutely amazing.

Springwater Resort has a pizza buffet on certain days of the week (Wed and Sun, I think?). They’re situated right on Kusel Lake too. We’ve gone there several times and enjoyed the little buffet.

We generally bring our own food or stop at Benny’s to pick up what we need and go out to eat maybe one night of our stay. And we’re also mourning the loss of the restaurant inside the Ding. When Hubster and I were first dating, we stopped there to eat many many times. They had a greasy spoon vibe in their restaurant part, but the burgers were amazing! Last time we stopped in, the informed us they no longer served food.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Smalltown USA. Wild Rose is a quick little blink of a town, but it still has enough to do for a day, or several, especially if camping and nature is your thing.

Walking Barefoot in the Grass

I found out something fascinating today.

Walking barefoot in the grass is magical. Like literally and figuratively.

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I have long been drawn to taking my shoes off and walking through the grass. There’s just something so calming and gentle about it.

Turns out, there’s also something scientific about it.

So today, I found this entire article about how walking barefoot through the grass (officially called “earthing” btw) resets your entire body through electron transfer with the earth. It helps regulate our body rhythms.

Ok, even to me that might sound a little woo-woo. But there’s got to be something to this right? Because doesn’t just the suggestion of walking barefoot in the grass make you want to do it right now?

If you really think about it, shoes do insulate us from the world, don’t they? They disconnect us from the Earth one level.

And that’s before you add flooring and rugs and carpet and cars and concrete….

And if I really start to think about it, my feet barely touch the actual ground during the day and my face barely gets shone the sun. I wake up, get ready (vinyl) and go to my car, which is parked in the garage (concrete). I get a bit of sun through the windshield on my way to work.

Drop off the kids (sidewalk). Go into work (concrete). Don’t see any nature for 8 hours, except when I take a break outside (all paved). Then I go home and I might, only might, go outside. And I might, only MIGHT run my bare feet through the grass.

That’s a whole lot of disconnect between me and nature. And between me and the real actual earth in particular.

Guess what I did on my lunch break today? I totally kicked off my shoes to try and absorb a few electrons…er…run my feet through the tickle of the grass.

Whether or not this reset mIMG_1169.JPGy body, it was an enjoyable experience. Research says it may have lowered cortisol and inflammation levels. I do know that it provided gentle stimulation, it provided a dose of green, it gave me a real connection to the earth, it gave me a little stress relief, at least for a few moments.

 

I challenge you too, dear #flasher, to kick your own shoes off and allow your feet to “feel” and experience something living and be part of the flow of Earth’s electrons.

Alright, #flashme your bare feet in the grass!

 

Plant Your Own Backyard Anxiety Garden

Every year for my birthday, my mom buys me plants for my garden. Best gift ever!

At our new house though, we have deer, which does not bode well for a vegetable garden. So I wasn’t going to plant anything this year.

But then I realized we had a few garden beds that were filled with only weeds, so I did have some space to fill, with flowers at least.

We are also obsessed with butterflies and hummingbirds at our house, so the more butterfly- and hummer-friendly flowers we could find, the better.

Our backyard is becoming quite the magical fairy land.

We’ve seen at least four different hummingbirds on our feeder, we now regularly have lightning bugs and deer and caterpillars and all kinds of whimsical things.

 

I also created an anti-anxiety garden kind of by accident.

 

At the nursery, I thought, oh it would be amazing if I had lavender. So, on my quest to find it, I found a section called the “tea garden” where I also found chamomile and lemon balm. They not only sounded fabulous for fresh homemade teas, they are also all renowned for their anti-anxiety properties. I need all the nerve calmers I can get!

 

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Quick profiles of these amazing anti-anxiety herbs:

 

I love that I can go heal in my own garden!!!

I won’t stop taking my anxiety medications, but these are a great natural way to supplement my anti-anxiety regimen.

These plants were super easy to find at my local nursery, so they should be for you too.

As I gather and try out new recipes, I will share what works on here. Last night, I put a sprig of the lemon balm in my chamomile tea and it was delightful! I certainly felt relaxed afterward.

What are you favorite natural calming techniques?