Outdoor Mom’s Journal – February 2016

It’s time for another Outdoor Mom’s Journal from me and my world. The past few weeks have been a series of rain storms with a morning of snow thrown in for some variety. El Nino has delivered on its promise of wet weather for California which I am grateful for indeed. The creeks are filling up and the lakes too! Our world is turning green with the grasses of early spring and the sunshine is warm with promise of the spring to come.

As usual, getting outdoors is high on our list of things to do and we took advantage of some opportunities to do just that this past month.

Here are links to my entries for the January Outdoor Hour Challenges:


Yosemite Jan 2016 Mirror Lake @handbookofnaturestudy

My husband needed a mental health day a few weeks ago and to be completely honest, I did too. We are blessed to live within a shortish distance from Yosemite National Park and decided this was our destination for this particular day off. Up and out of the door early, we made it to Yosemite by mid-morning and took advantage of being one of the few people in the valley that day. It was sunny but cold which made for pleasant hiking. We took an icy hike from the shuttle bus stop up to Mirror Lake. The trail was slick so we opted to hike on the actual snow that lined the trail instead. What a workout! The reward was a picture perfect visit to a magical place. If you ever get to Yosemite, make sure to take this short hike and look up on your right as you go and you will be rewarded with a look up at Half Dome…a very unique perspective.

Yosemite Jan 2016 Tunnel View @handbookofnaturestudy

If you can visit Yosemite National Park in the “off season”, you are rewarded with a quiet landscape where you can imagine you have the place all to yourself. I have learned that the power of being outside is a strong antidote to the melancholy that can sweep in with the winter’s cold. My smile tells the whole story.

Yosemite Jan 2016 Yosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge @handbookofnaturestudy

I can’t resist sharing one last image from our day at Yosemite. This is the view from the Swinging Bridge over the Merced River as you look over the valley and up at Yosemite Falls. It was a day where you could hear the water in the falls from here. Although I have seen this view a hundred times before, I never get tired of it’s beauty. If you look carefully in the image, you will see the ice cone at the bottom of the waterfall. It is fascinating!

Guess what? I actually took some photos as part of my Nature Study Goals 2016! Finally!

Daffodils Jan 2016 @handbookofnaturestudyHere is another favorite image from the month…my daffodils coming to life. I can hardly wait to see their beautiful yellow blooms in the sunshine.

Lichen January 2016I have been taking a closer look at lichen this month in anticipation of a lichen focus next month in the newsletter. This twig has such a variety of life on it that could easily be missed if I didn’t slow down and really look at it…aided by the lens of my camera.


Outdoor Moms Journal @handbookofnaturestudy

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…

I will be posting my Outdoor Mom’s Journal entry once a month.

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Focus on Rocks

Rock Study Up Close @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Rocks Up Close

Use this challenge from the archives to take a closer look at a rock you collect this week during your outdoor hour time OR you can use a rock from your collection. Use the printable grid study in this challenge to document your week’s work.

Rock Study Using a Magnifying Lens

If you are a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, make sure to look up the January 2013 newsletter or the new Rock Big Grid printable for more rock study ideas! Both of these items are found by clicking the “members area” button at the top of the Handbook of Nature Study website.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Winter Weeds and Seeds

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Seeds

Here are a couple of weed/seed photos I took over the past few weeks. We were out on a snowy walk and I spotted this beautiful seed pod! In my mind’s eye I see the seeds all sleeping inside cozy, waiting for the right time to spring out and sprout in the springtime sunshine.

Yosemite Jan 2016 Snow (28)

We also squeezed in a sunny hike after a big week of rain and the grasses were already starting to turn green but last season’s star thistles were still standing dry, stiff and full of seeds. The birds like these invasive plants because they provide seeds in their diet…at least there is that! I recently had a discussion with a young girl about the difference between a wildflower and a weed. It was interesting to hear how she appreciates the beauty in what many deem to be weeds, things like dandelions, mustard, and wild radish. She has studied herbs a bit and understands the value of many of our so-called weeds. (She is a girl after my own heart.)

Winter Weed Jan 2016

Take advantage of your winter season to look for weeds and seeds. The landscape at this time of year has far less competing for your attention and weeds can be spotted even if you have snow or ice.

I am so looking forward to wildflower season this year! We have had a decent amount of rain and it should help make it a splendid show of color in a few weeks.

Have you looked for weeds and seeds yet?