*rugenius - 09.20.14 , 02:23 - 0 Notes

Intoxication Season at Kew

kews.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.

Today the The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are launching a new exhibition, Intoxication Season. All about mind altering plants and fungi, the month long program offers a chance to discover how plant chemicals can be used as medicines and intoxicants, with some socially acceptable (coffee, tea, alcohol, aspirin), yet others seen as socially unacceptable “drugs” (cannabis, opium and a host of others!). These mind-altering drugs span across cultures and have shaped our lives, founding the basis of entire economies. The same plant chemicals that can be used to create medicines and save human lives can also lead to addiction and death in the wrong doses. The exhibition and series of talks and seminars throughout the season explore these seeming contradictions in our relationship. See it all on the next page.

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*notcot - 09.14.14 , 21:30 - 0 Notes

Inspiration: Glacier Water Blue…

lakes0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

This trip I may have found a new favorite color: that magical Glacier Water Blue! My first taste was the incredible Moraine Lake. And then i’ve shown you the powerful Sunwapta Falls! Well on the drive up the Icefields Parkway from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park, almost anytime we saw the word lake/creek, we tried to pull over and check it out. Sure, it made the drive a bit slower, but each and every one was worth it! No matter how many we saw, the color really doesn’t get old. The varying shades of minty turquoise of sorts… a greenish robin’s egg blue? a saturated Tiffany blue? As for what causes the unique colors, it comes from the light refracting off the rock flour suspended in the water from the melting glaciers. It varies from lake to lake, depending on the not only the rock flour, but also the lighting/weather/time of day… but the color is always spectacular. See some of the incredible Glacier Water Blues we encountered on the next page.

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*notcot - , 10:46 - 0 Notes

Animals of Jasper National Park

animal0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

As you know, we’re pretty animal obsessed over here at NOTCOT. So when we heard there we lots of critters to see in the National Parks, I was skeptical but hopeful to get to see at least a few! When at Mount Engadine Lodge we were lucky to see a few moose, deer, and a mama and baby black bear… but when we went to Jasper National Park… driving around we found Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Canadian Geese, and some monster crows. Far more than I expected, and so many of each! The one elusive creature we tried to find, but will have to come back for? Beavers! Check out the amazing animals we found on the next page…

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*notcot - , 09:19 - 0 Notes

Sunwapta Falls, Jasper, Alberta

sunwapta00.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

Sunwapta Falls - another favorite so far that I definitely need to get back to next time we’re in Jasper National Park (Notice, we haven’t even left, and i’m already planning a trip back?)… We debated whether we were losing too much sun to pull off when we saw the sign, but decided to rush over and see what we could anyhow… and WOW. So worth it, though I can’t wait to see it in bright sunshine! The glacier blue falls come down and around an island then rush into quite the drop before swooping onwards. I could have stood and stared at it all on the bridge for ages… also the tree roots that form steps down to the falls are mesmerizing in their own right. Check it out on the next page.

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*notcot - 06.24.14 , 11:50 - 0 Notes

Old Mucker: Fertilizer Tea Bags

muck0.jpg Justine reported back with so much gardening inspiration in her post about Grow London… and i have been fixatedly curious about those giant tea bags!

So it turns out the giant tea bags are Old Mucker Fertilizer Tea Bags - the hessian bags (most of which “are sourced from a coffee supplier and recycled”) are filled with various chemical free solutions to make magical muck to feed your plants. You steep the giant tea bags over night and feed your plants! There is Triple N: Nourishing Nettle Nectar - since Nettles are packed with naturally occurring nitrogen. Triple C: Classic Comfrey Cultivator - Comfrey is packed with potassium, the essential plant nutrient needed by flowers, seeds and fruit. Triple T: Trusty Tomato Tonic - Sheep muck is packed with potash, the very thing tomatoes, beans and root crops love. Triple M: Mighty Muck Marvel - Horse muck is packed with nitrogen and potassium, the very things that help roses to thrive. Yes. It’s basically manure in a bag… Manure Tea! Fun idea, lovely packaging concept, and great booth display - check out more pics on the next page!

p.s. I wish i had some to try for my avocado tree - it’s finally bearing fruit for the first time, they are nearly golf ball sized!

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*notcot - , 01:43 - 1 Notes

Grow London 2014

grow0.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.

Last week we attended the garden party preview of Grow London, the contemporary garden fair at Hampstead Heath. While we love the tradition of Chelsea, Grow promised contemporary new solutions for urban gardeners and we were excited to see what it was all about! The preview supported the Garden Museum and offered a fun mix of installations, contemporary garden products and more unusual items like fertilising tea!

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*notcot - 06.17.14 , 13:28 - 0 Notes

Endless Species by Kathryn Fleming

endless0.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw as she visits the London graduate showcases. This post is from Show RCA 2014.

Another of my highlights from the Design Interactions program was Endless Forms/Endless Species: Explorations in an Evolutionary Development Park by Kathryn Fleming. I loved her combination of imaginary creatures alongside taxidermy and beautifully illustrated field guides. The almost Seussical creations are the charming inhabitants of a fantastical Regent’s Park. We’d love to find wild High Wire Herbivores, Ground Working Insectivores and Retro Reflective Carnivores! See it all up close on the next page.

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*rugenius - 05.20.14 , 08:45 - 0 Notes

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

chelsmain.jpg Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw!

This year we were back at the Chelsea Flower Show, which brings together stunning displays of uniformity and diversity through selective breeding, as well as showcasing some incredible design. On a hot, sunny May morning, many plants were flowering early and the displays and show gardens looked incredible. More show highlights including a barbecue-lover’s dream garden, Chelsea pensioner sheep and more on the next page.

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*notcot - 03.12.14 , 14:15 - 1 Notes

Crufts Dog Show 2014

cruft0.jpg Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw!

This year we visited Crufts on the day of the Working and Pastoral (Herding) Groups. There were no Gamekeepers present like last year’s Gun Dog day, but the day did mark the judging of some amazing dogs, including towering Great Danes, Mastiffs and St. Bernards in the working group, as well as some impressively dreadlocked Komondors and perfectly fluffed Old English Sheepdogs in the herding group. We met some fantastic dogs and dog lovers and as always, the sweetest moments were always, those little interactions between dogs and their people. More photos of Day 1 at Crufts on the next page.

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*notcot - 11.09.13 , 17:15 - 0 Notes

Baby Octopus

*notcot - 08.18.13 , 12:20 -

Knopper Galls

gall1.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.

As we move into late summer, fruits and nuts seem to be forming everywhere in all sorts of shapes and colors. While walking through London, these oddly-shaped green acorns caught my eye, with their ridges, knobs and slightly sticky appearance. On closer inspection, most of the acorns were covered with these intricate, ridged growths, called Knopper Galls. The galls result from a chemical reaction in response to the gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis), which lays its eggs on the developing acorns. The shapes and textures of the resulting galls are fascinating (and quite variable). The degree of ridging on the gall is thought to be related to the number of larvae competing within the gall and we found as many as three separate galls on a single developing acorn. Their name “Knopper Galls” comes is thought to be derived from the English word ‘knop’, meaning “a small rounded protuberance, boss, stud, button, tassel or the like” and German ‘knoppe’ meaning “a kind of felt cap or helmet worn during the 17th-century”.

Galls like the ones we found occur on the Pedunculate or Common Oak tree (Quercus robur), but the wasp also requires a second oak species, the Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) in order to complete its life cycle. Like aphids, the wasp undergoes both a sexual and asexual components of its life cycle. The knopper galls we observed are part of the agamic (female only) generation. Only adult females will emerge from the Knopper galls in the spring and these females will go on to lay their eggs on the catkins of the Turkey Oak. It is from these small conical galls that a sexual generation of male and female wasps will emerge, mate and produce further knopper galls. As a result, knopper galls are only found where both Common and Turkey Oaks grow. While galls have a negative effect on the reproduction of the trees, they don’t appear to harm other aspects of the tree’s health and in a typical biological twist, the wasps themselves are also often parasitized by a number of hyperparasites! You can find out more at ARKive, The Wildlife Trusts and Hedgerow Mobile, but for now see more pics (and my dissection) on the next page!

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*notcot - 06.12.13 , 10:13 - 1 Notes

LA Natural History Museum Nature Lab

nhm00.jpg On the plane about to land in memphis and battery about to die, but wanted to share this with you first! More details to come soon…

On the must see when in LA list ~ or the, if you live in LA, must see list ~ the LA Natural History Museum’s newest additions the Nature Lab and Nature Gardens literally bring it all to life! Being a born and raised angeleno with a sister who ended up getting her doctorate in animal behavior, you can only imagine how many local creatures large and small i grew up (and continually am) fascinated by all around me… from the parrots, finches, hummingbirds, etc. that constantly take over the yard, to the coyotes, deer, raccoons, alligator lizards, spiders, and so much more… Well for their 100th Birthday, the NHM has brought in quite the selection of living creatures that are all around us in a beautifully designed urban/modern interactive exhibition that is not to be missed. They create such a personal awareness about the interaction and roles that our city and communities have played in the rise and urban evolution of certain species, as well as teaching us all a bit more about all the creatures we encounter (and may not even notice) regularly here in Los Angeles. It was so inspiring to see kids and adults alike completely mesmerized, engaging with the exhibits with giddy smiles as they darted from one thing to the next. I couldn’t help but constantly wonder, “where was THIS when we were kids running around trying to find all these crazy creatures?”

So, we went to the 100th birthday bash for fun, and i wasn’t thinking about it as a post, but it was so exciting, Shawn and i ended up snapping a bunch of cell phone pics to share with Justine, and while cleaning them up, realized the inspiration (both from content and design) was too awesome not to share with you too! Take a peek inside the Nature Lab on the next page!

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*notcot - , 09:02 - 1 Notes

NHM 100: Otis Booth Pavilion Unveiling

unveil0.jpg The Los Angeles Natural History 100th Birthday Bash was incredible ~ inspiring, innovative, playful, and filled with incredible energy! From the updates to the displays in their historic building to the launch of their impressive Nature Gardens surrounding the museum and Nature Lab showcasing some of the wildlife that surrounds us all… to the unveiling of the stunning new Otis Booth Pavilion! It resembles an apple store like monstrous two story glass cube with a whale skeleton suspended within, and between performances by GZA/the Genius and DEVO, they had a super heartfelt look back through the history and adventures of the NHM and a look at how LA has evolved over the last century, then the digital whales burst on to the projection… even breaching at the top! and then pretending to break through the glass, dropping the curtains and showing off the new pavilion. So many random pictures from that evening, but first, take a peek at the whale filled unveiling moments in pics and video on the next page!

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*rugenius - 05.21.13 , 14:20 - 0 Notes

Highlights from the 100th Chelsea Flower Show

garden.jpg Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw from the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show!

One of the most incredible aspects of flowers shows like RHS Chelsea is amazing range and breadth of both wild type and cultivated plants. Leaves and flowers come in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures and even closely related cultivars can look strikingly different. Yet, cultivated varieties are bred to consistency and this simultaneous diversity and uniformity are highlighted at shows like Chelsea where large stands are filled with nearly identical blooms of each variety. More photos from Chelsea on the next page.

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*notcot - 04.27.13 , 11:53 - 4 Notes

Laser Challenges #9 + 10: Bird Feeders

birdfeeder0.jpg This post is part of the NOTlabs Laser Challenge: The ground rules are: Shawn and I are alternating days with executing and sharing a Laser Cutter involved experiment! And most importantly - we’re supposed to have fun, explore ideas, and it’s less about a fully formed product/concept at the end of the day, but more about seeing where the experiment takes us!

Laser Challenges #9 and #10 are here! We’ve slipped behind a tiny bit, but the rules still hold that each project goes from idea to post in less than a day… so today we teamed up for a pair of projects that complement and grew off each other. Looking around NOTlabs, i’ve had glass bottles around that are too pretty to throw away, but we also couldn’t figure out what to do with them (other than vases and as “future projects”) ~ including these Aladdin Sake Bottles and the Sofia Coppola Bottles… we also have a yard full of birds, from finches and jays to parrots and hummingbirds and more… so we decided to try turning them into bird feeders, with just laser cut acrylic and paracord. Of course all of this turned into a fun late night experiment playing with finding the perfect curves (and my learning more rhino from shawn), mastering snap fits down to such tiny measurements, and then a late night bird feeder hanging and photoshoot! Shawn’s #9 turns the wine bottle into a beautiful feeder that plays off of the curves so nicely! My #10 plays off of his ideas and takes them one step further with the stacked sake bottles of food and water (yay for the magic of surface tension) which can also be turned into a finches and little birds on top - hummingbirds downstairs set up. Just took the picture above while sitting here waiting to see if the birds come today… but for now, see the process and details of our two bird feeders on the next page!

p.s. If you have ideas, or want some laser cutting done, or want to play with us… feel free to use the contact form or leave a comment! And if you’re curious about the laser cutter we’re using, here’s the unboxing.

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