30 November 2013

3936 Meters of Colour

 
Even though it is weekend, today was full of work - this time not teaching, but crafting! Our school organizes a day of various workshops every year and I chose to do a friendship bracelet workshop. My surprise was huge, when I learned that seventy kids signed up for it. Oh wow. Each of them paid a little fee (about 80p), so we had quite a lot of money and I went slightly nuts with yarn shopping - and here they are - thirty-two balls of 100% cotton yarn in twenty-one different colours. I had four busiest crafty hours of my life (and I thought crafting was relaxing!!!), but it was definitely worth it. However, I do look forward to doing some very calm and slow crafting over a cup of hot tea, followed by spontaneous and long nap somewhere at home :))

22 November 2013

Jedi's Unsurprising Reproductive Failure and Surprisingly Good Video

My darling Archachatina marginata suturalis has laid a HUGE egg a few months ago, it was almost one and half centimetre long (0.6 inch) and yellow in colour. I read somewhere that these snails lay a few "testing" and usually unfertilised eggs before they lay a proper fertilised batch that they bury in the soil. This single egg was on the surface of the substrate. I took care of it, kept it in a special box, maintained humidity and took care that no harm happened to it, waited one week, two, a month, month and a half... And after two months a hole appeared in the egg and the insides were all liquid and smelly. It is not very surprising since Jedi is the only A. m. suturalis that I keep, since his/her partner died as a little one, but maybe I was just hoping for some miraculous self-fertilisation...

Anyway, here's the picture of an egg and a snail, both on my hands, picture taken by my dear man.

 
However, in spite of this reproductive unsuccess (if we don't wat to use the harsh f-word from the title), he is still as charming as always and even starred in one of my youtube videos, made during his autumn walk outside. You can view it here. Let me know what you think!!
 

21 November 2013

Beetle Pupa


Yesterday, I found out that one of my Zophobas morio larvae has pupated, which was a great opportunity to show my pupils some examples of life cycles and life stages of various animals. 

We already worked with the larvae, so most of the students have had them in their hand and were not scared of them any more (they even named the biggest larva). 

They also saw the adult beetles, as I demonstrated their ways of defending themselves by secreting a smelling substance when disturbed (although it is not very easy to make them feel disturbed or threatened, I had to work very hard on that). 

The only stage that I did not see were the eggs. The tiny larvae just seem to suddenly appear in the tank with adults, so I willbe happy if someone could give me some advice on how to look for them or what they look like.

When I was working on my thesis for teaching certificate, I got critisized by som people for picking this beetle, because of its smell and so on.However, they do have a very positive response in students and are a great source of various information - about life cycle, defence mechanisms, even can be shown as an example of potential food source (I am planning on trying to cook some at the end of the schoolyear and am getting a lot of inspiration from the Girl Meets Bug blog). They are relatively long lived and you can keep them very comfortably in a plastic box and feed them whatever food or veggie leftovers you have. And you can observe the larvae, pupae and adults at the same time.

I definitely need to get some more larvae :)

19 November 2013

Mini Harvest

It has already been over a month since I received this cute photo in an e-mail from my boyfriend, saying that this is all that he grew this year and that if groceries were up to him, we would starve... He also mentioned that he wanted to take a picture of his hand holding it, but it looked "far too sad".


I think that - for a beginner - he did quite nicely. We will definitely try to grow some more next summer and maybe with a bit of supervision, he can become a really awesome gardener :)

By the way, I am thinking about growing lentils (not sure whether in out mid-European climate or on some adopted piece of garden on the British Isles yet), so if anyone has any advice, ideas or useful links about lentils, please do let me know, I will be very thankful.

13 November 2013

I Made Snow!

 
You see, I was at home for too long - nine days - and I got SO lazy!!! Out of boredom, I started making snow!!
 
 
I planned to do some lesson plans and read extensively on the subject of teaching and dealing with problems in class while I am ill and all I did was, well, some lesson planning, lots of reading of my Czech copy of Les Miserables, baking biscuits and watching about bazillion Family Guy episodes and similar amount of Ellen show. And yesterday, out of boredom, I started on a snowflake decoration that I wanted to do for ages, but thought it to be too difficult to make. And yet here we have it, and not only one. Three are for sale now in my Etsy shop.


I am really proud of me for making these - I did not use any pattern, I made them as I imagined the snowflakes when I was a kid and they look extremely old-fashioned to me. It is possible that someone somewhere made one that is very similar to this, or even that I saw something like that and unconsciously started thinking this is what a snowflake should look like, or that someone will see this photo and will make ones that look exactly like these, but for now, I am enjoying the thrill of having made something unique and one of a kind.

12 November 2013

I Decorated

 
I probably didn't mention that I moved about a week ago. It wasn't a big move, only to a different room in the apartment, so it was all done comfortably in slippers and with a cup of tea. The room is smaller, but brighter. It gets more sunshine and will definitely benefit the plants and my winter mood. Yesterday, I felt the need to decorate, so I scavenged some business-themed newspaper from our "recycling" box of paper and cut out hearts of different sizes. Then I put them on a string and hung on the wall. It didn't cost me anything and it looks pretty.
 

And because Christmas will be here in a month and a bit, I also decorated. While the old room was facing west (and offering nice sunny evenings in summer), this one faces south-east, thanks to which I get to enjoy pink morning skies daily.

Have you already done some winter-themed decorating? Do not hesitate and let me know in a comment. Blog links are welcome!

06 November 2013

Repotting Elephant's Feet

Three years ago, I bought a pack of Beaucarnea recurvata seeds, also known as ponytail palm or elephant's foot. The seeds nicely sprouted and grew and grew. Out of about eight seeds, I got five plants. One went to my friend and the remaining four were growing happily on my windowsil.
 

Now that I am ill, there's not much I can do at home, so I started repotting the plants that need it. Here they are:

 
The smallest and most irregularly shaped one has four buds on its stem and I can't wait to see them grow and see how the shape of the plant will change in the following years.
 
 
 

There's also one plant that isn't mine. I got it from a friend, when I was looking for plants to put in the classroom. It looks poorly, it is somehow shrunk, in a really hard soil and barely has any roots. I repotted it as well and hope to make it look and grow a bit better.

 

05 November 2013

Voicelessness

After my lovely autumn break, I woke up to find out that my voice is kind of funny... Over the weekend, it got better and then suddenly I could only whisper. On Monday, I had to be very creative during my lessons, so I brought some signs and my pupils worked individually a lot, so that I didn't have to speak.
 

I have tried everything - inhaling steam, drinking lots of warm drinks and water, no caffeine, gargling salty water... Nothing really helped. It seemed that this is more than just "new teachers' November vocal crisis". Eventually, because my boss told me so, I went to see a doctor. Result? Vocal chords infection, antibiotics and rest of the week at home.

I really didn't expect this, especially when I always got praised for my strong voice during my teacher's training and those who know me also know that I am very loud and talkative at all times. So now I am at home - making lesson plans, cooking, tidying up and daydreaming about keeping chickens, eating mealworms and other girly stuff ;-)

02 November 2013

Snailwalking

As the weather was so nice last week during my autumn break, I couldn't resist the idea of seeing my snail on all those lovely yellow leaves. I took Jedi out for a "walk" and now I am the weird lady who walks snails, but it's all right, because I always enjoyed being a bit geeky.  And the pictures that came out that day are just wonderful. Jedi is a star. : )

Jedi is exploring the garden on a warm autumn day.

Sun snail and leaves, yellow and brown ...
 
Everybody likes tea! Even the snail was interested in it.
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