Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Apple Book for Preschool

For the most part, this post doesn't really fit the overall theme of the blog; there's nothing little, brown, mushroom-related in it.  But the part that does fit is that I've always intended this blog to be a place where I could share some of my creative pursuits (which are usually related to little, brown, mushroomy things).
In my job as a naturalists, I work with a lot of pre-k groups that visit the nature center I work at.  I've found that there aren't a lot of books that can be used with the topics we teach that are effective with a large group of 3 to 5 year olds.  They are either in a format that is too small and/or the story line isn't quite right for what we're teaching at the nature center.
So I've had in mind for awhile now to create to some simple picture books, printed in a large format, that address some of the subjects commonly taught to preschool groups at a nature center.  Hence "An Apple Book" - many nature centers in MN do an apple cider program of some sort.  It's not really a story, but twelve images with simple captions that I hope can be used to facilitate a presentation about apples to a preschool group.  It's about 15" x 20", unbound, and hand printed from images cut into linoleum.
My intention is to eventually make these available on Etsy for around $20.00 a piece (not including shipping), mostly just to cover the cost of materials  At this point, I've made an initial printing of five copies, partly to see how the whole process would work.  They've all been claimed, which is very exciting, and I'm about to do a second larger run.
If this is something you'd be interested in, let me know!  Leave a message in the comment section below, and I will keep people updated as to when they are available.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moss and Lichen Watching at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve

Recently I met a couple of friends at Quarry Park and Nature Reserve in Waite Park, near St Cloud, MN for some leisurely hiking.  It's a beautiful place for the casual observer, with big piles of quarried granite next to water-filled quarry pits, set amongst oak woods.  But it also offers a lot to one who is willing to stop and look more closely.

Trumpet Lichen or Pixie Cup- Cladonia sp

The Trumpet Lichen and Pixie Cup are two species of lichens that are very similar to one another.  The cup-shaped structures aid dispersal; when rain drops hit the cup, the water splashes out, carrying asexually reproducing fragments of the lichen, or spores.  

Unknown moss species


I'm not too familiar with this group of plants or what they are about.  They are their own group (I think taxonomically at the division level).  Perhaps a topic for future posts.

Assorted mosses and lichens

For your viewing pleasure.
A dream of mine is to someday learn how to decorate fancy cakes, like frosting flowers and stuff.  And than I'd turn my skills over to the production of giant cakes decorated to look like the assemblages pictured above, with the mosses and lichens made out of frosting.  This dream may someday become a reality since my mom is an expert at cake decorating . . .

 Sunbright - Phemeranthus parviflorus

This is a new plant for me.  A number of them were growing amongst a pile of quarried granite in a sunny location.  It stood out to me because of its resemblance to succulents, which is an unusual look for a Minnesota plant.  It's a member of the Purslane family, Portulacaceae.  It's not a moss, or a lichen, but sometimes the Portulacaceae goes by the name Moss Rose family, so it still kind of fits the overall theme.

Crustose Lichens

Crustose is a generic term for any lichen that grows with its lower surface completely attached to the surface that it grows on.