Nature Printing by Laura Donnelly Bethmann and have found it to be a treasure. It details the perfect art project - fast, easy, cheap, has beautiful results despite lack of skill on the "artist's" part, and has to do with nature. Yes, this is the perfect art project, and I don't mean for the kids - I mean for me! Miah and Larkin play around with it a bit, but this has become something I thoroughly enjoy and can escape to for a few minutes guilt-free. I have always wanted to know plant names and uses, especially wild flowers and herbs, but have never really done anything about it besides casual observance or the occasional reading. This gives me an enjoyable steady way of finally learning those things. Let me tell you how easy this is.
Pick a leaf or flower. If it is flatish like a leaf, press it directly on an ink pad. (Cover it with paper before pressing so you don't get ink all over your fingers.) Then transfer the leaf to a piece of paper or cardstock. Lay a clean scrap of paper over top, then carefully press down on all areas of the leaf without allowing the leaf to shift position. If the object is round or irregular like an opened flower, press it in a book or between newspaper. When it is flat and stays flat (half an hour or so), continue in the same manner. The result is a perfect impression of the object - no skill required. I like to identify the plant using a guide book and then write the name beside the print.
The tools. You don't need much. Here I have a homemade flower press, two ink pads, a sketch book, a tree guide, and a flower guide.
The book goes on to explain other methods of nature printing, which I would, in the future, love to try out. But for now, this is what I am enjoying. It does not require me to have a large block of time alone. I can do this when I take the kids to the lake or the mountains to play. I can do this while they're running around the backyard. There are plants everywhere! I can spend ten minutes on it and have a satisfying picture on the paper and another bit of knowledge tucked away in my brain. It is something I can share with my family. Perhaps they would like to join me in printing or bringing me leaves and flowers. Or maybe, next time we go on a walk, I can point out a specific flower and teach them the name.
This is one of those things that can be as little or as much as you want to make it. There are thousands of different plants out there to discover. And if I have a little more time, I can play around with watercolors or other media.
"Mothers should cultivate their souls, that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children." - Billy Graham