Prompt & Place – Hope/Creamy Acres Part I

I love birds. The songs they sing as the sun rises fill my heart with joy. Watching them fly from feeder to feeder in my yard is one of my greatest pleasures. Birds often give my spirit an instant uplift of hope.

hope perches

Recently, while visiting Creamy Acres, a farm and garden center located near my home, I expected to see the normal barnyard animals. While we walked among the goats, rabbits, chickens and calves, a piercing cry suddenly alerted us to the presence of the exotic. When we located  the source of the sound coming from the top of the farmhouse porch roof, we were astonished to see the magnificent plumage of a peacock. Sometimes small surprises and pleasures can fill a whole day, and even beyond, with joy. In my own life, unexpected  blessings, like the sighting of a peacock on a porch roof, bring a sense of hope, even if many of my circumstances at the moment are dark.

“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—”
~ Emily Dickinson

The first stanza of this poem by Emily Dickinson is a favorite of mine. The rooftop peacock (the ‘thing with feathers’) is still perched in my soul, the remembrance giving me a bit of wind beneath the wings of my spirit.

I also cherish the multitude of  hope-filled verses within the pages of the Bible, and  use as an example this verse in Isaiah that compares hope with the image of an eagle. God bless your day with hope.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

Plants – Iris

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My favorite iris plants are blooming. Because my area of the country is swamped in daily rain showers at this time, I decided to bring these beauties inside to enjoy in a vase. The colors, frills and fragrance of iris plants make them a good choice for indoor bouquets. Be prepared for complete enchantment when their fragrance fills the air. I can’t remember the name of this variety, but the scent is a mixture of grape-notes and soft florals.

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A vase with weight on the bottom is the best choice for displaying iris.

Planting – Sprinkle and Step Wildflower Garden

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In the Spring of 2015 I sowed several packets of wildflowers in my garden beds. They performed well, and I enjoyed the surprise of seeing well-known and less common varieties of flowers grow and blossom. The biggest surprise are the biennials and perennials that returned this year. Oh the joy of seeing an unknown plant grow, bud and blossom into this lovely cantaloupe-hued flower. Even better, the scent of these Wallflowers (Erysimum cheiri) is sublime.

Wildflower packets run the gamut of price points, from 25 cents in dollar stores, to near $10.00 for a large box with shreds of colorful mulch included for easy and even sowing. I’m enchanted by my wildflower garden and bought a few more packets to add to it this year.

My method of sowing wildflowers starts with roughing up the garden soil with a trowel. If needed, I work in a bit of fresh soil, then I SPRINKLE the seed and STEP gently over the entire area. A light spray of water helps the seed stay in place. In a few weeks new wildflower plants will be my reward.

Plants – Yellow-Greens

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.” ~Virgil

Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola has been a blog challenge I’ve enjoyed. I’ve participated through the 120 days at least a dozen or more times, and am very grateful to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her great idea. My last entry for this challenge will end on what I consider one of the prettiest colors in the world…yellow-green.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

Yellow-green is the a color of renewal for me. It is the color of Springtime and new growth. Yellow-green blends harmoniously with almost every other color in the rainbow. It is a favorite of mine to use in my pressed flower greeting cards. Here are a few instances of yellow-green growing in my garden.

Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny

“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.”~Christopher Morley

New growth on pine trees
New growth on pine trees

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~Virgil A. Kraft

Pheathers – Color My World in Goldfinches

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An American Goldfinch changes colors with the seasons. In autumn the male molts from summer’s gold to winter’s tan. In the spring, another change begins and the male goldfinch becomes bright yellow.

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Today was the first day I noticed the goldfinches sporting their summer feathers. I had two pairs visiting my yard and photographed this sweet couple having a snack at my feeder. These beautiful birds are the perfect choice for today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola Challenge – Yellow.

Pots & Pans – Blondies

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My grandsons visited this weekend, and I had no treat to offer them. These blonde brownies were easy to make and brought forth questions of, “Can I have another one?”

BLONDE BROWNIES

3/4 cup brown sugar (I used light)
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt

Combine sugar and butter, beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beat until combined.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Stir into wet ingredients and mix with spoon until combined.

Spread in 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

I don’t have this size so I use a Pyrex 7 x 11 glass pan and it works fine. An 8 inch square would probably work too, just add a minute or two to the baking time.

I add sprinkles or jimmies to the top before baking, or you can stir 1/2 cup chopped nuts into the batter. One of these days I’m going to try some hulled sunflower seeds on top.

Phlowers – Tulips

It’s tulip time at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

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Tulips come in a wide array of colors and dazzle the eye in mass plantings in the Longwood garden beds.

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This bright purple perfectly displays the “Vivid Violet” of today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola Challenge.

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My favorites are the coral-pink variety.

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They are beautiful planted in abundance, but I prefer to zoom in on a smaller group and enjoy the beauty of the sun’s rays shimmering through each petal.

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Phavorite – History Channel/Alone

Recently, while browsing the OnDemand section of my television schedule, I came upon a show titled, “Alone.” Season One of the History Channel’s “Alone” became addictive by the end of the first episode. My husband and I were hooked!

Ten men, dropped into remote locations on Vancouver Island, struggled to survive, alone, while recording their attempts themselves on video.  We watched the remaining nine episodes two or three at a time. When we finished we were pleased to see that Season Two is premiering at 9PM, April 21 – History Channel – Alone Season 2.

I learned a few good tips for surviving a wilderness situation while watching this show, I’m hoping to soon share my attempt at creating some char cloth. Check out this amazing series. This season will include some women survivalists.

Phun – Paper Airplanes

Instead of coming back with what sounds like profound wisdom after my recent hiatus, I’m sharing a way to enchant children, and even a few adults.

Nothing can alleviate a child’s boredom quicker than a terrific paper airplane. When my youngest grandson asked for an airplane, Daddy and Papa were both busy doing other things; the task was up to me. I tried to fold a rendition of what I thought a paper airplane should be…it looked good…but flew like a piece of lead. Hmmm…what to do? Search Youtube of course!

I found this sensational five-minute video, followed along, pausing when I was behind, and OH MY, created a paper airplane that really FLEW and SOARED. I impressed everyone, including myself, with this small paper aircraft. We tried it in various weights of paper, all did well. Give it a try! I guarantee not only will children be impressed, but so will adults. Happy Flying!

Pheathers & Phavorites – Barn Owl/Live Cam

I came upon this year’s nesting Barn Owl and realized it was time to repost the information for Cornell Bird Labs.

Take a look at the live-streamed “Bird Cams.” If you love birds you will love this site. To start the live cam click on the arrow. If it appears to be a still shot, look closely, you will see the soft movement of the owl’s breath. Thanks again to JaneM who shared this site with me.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cam

Praise – The Sting of Death Defeated

“”Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” ~ I Corinthians 15:55

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Yesterday, I came upon this hornet’s nest, shattered, abandoned, with all its threats defeated. It seemed appropriate that it was being overtaken by the new life of the blossoming Spring trees; a perfect visual analogy to remind me that the sting of death was defeated by the Resurrection of Christ Jesus for all eternity. Hallelujah! He has risen!

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” ~ Hebrews 2:14

Plants & Problem-Solving – Defeating Damping Off Disease

Spring-cleaning my blog has yielded a few posts that should be bumped back toward the front of the blog. Here’s a good one for this time of year, preventing/treating damp-off disease.

The fluffy white substance on the surface of the potting soil is a seed sprouter’s nightmare. Damping Off is lethal to newly sprouted seedlings. Since I am trying to be as organic as possible this year, I wanted a remedy that would not break my resolve so early in the season. I searched the web and found some odd fixes: lemon jello, ground up moss sprinkled on soil, cinnamon & sand. There were also two remedies I decided were the most logical for me to use. One idea was weak mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, and the other was a weak solution of chamomile tea. I opted for the chamomile tea.

I went to my local grocery store and picked up a box of tea with ingredients of chamomile alone. There were many other mixes, some with lemon, which probably would also work, but I was taking no chances. When I arrived home I boiled water, steeped one bag in two cups, and let it cool down. I used an old hair spray bottle to treat the affected area. These bottles produce small droplets. A bottle with a heavier spray might beat the small seedlings into the soil, killing them even quicker than the damp-off disease.

Twelve hours later there is no sign of the damp off disease on the soil. To read more check out this forum on Gardenweb. Gardenweb Damping-Off Forum Responses.

Coleus update: Almost all of my initial coleus plantings have four leaves. It’s time to begin potting them up into individual cups. I use Solo brand 3 oz cups. the seedlings are potted up in Miracle Gro organic potting soil as the growing medium. The coleus are already beginning to show amazing colors. This time of year is very exciting as I watch my sprouts and seedlings develop.

Potions – Amazing Dry Skin Cream

As I ‘Spring Clean,’ I will come upon good posts that are buried in the archives and need to be brought forward. This repost is a good one. Many of you have probably seen variations of it on the web. I love this recipe. You can make it as inexpensive ($3.00, using dollar store ingredients) or expensive as you choose, using top-notch lotions. I have just mixed up a new batch of this cream. I would say mine is a medium-priced edition. I used dollar store vaseline, Avon Intensive Care lotion, and another leftover lotion I had on hand. I wish I had begun to use it sooner. Within a few days my dry, winter-weary feet felt smooth again.

As Sandra Lee says, “Semi-Homemade.”

1. Gather Supplies: Big Mixing Bowl, Mixer, 8 oz Baby Lotion, 4 oz Vitamin E Cream, 4 oz Vaseline. (As you can see if you check out the blog recipe at bottom of post, I halved the ingredients they suggested)

2. Scoop out Vitamin E Cream and Vaseline into mixing bowl. Measure out 8 oz of baby lotion.

3. Beat until the mixture resembles light whipped cream. (This step took less than a minute)

4. Scoop into jars.

5. Slather on dry heels and hands. Even my husband liked it. I love it! Next time I will make the full batch. The hardest part was gathering up the jars and getting the cream into the narrow mouths.

Here is the original blog recipe in case you want to check out this one too. Enjoy!

Blog Site For Homemade Hand Cream

The cream makes a perfect gift!

Problem-Solving – Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Perhaps a few bloggers on WordPress have run into the problem I am facing at this time: I am close to running out of room for photo storage on this site . The solution to this dilemma is to carefully go through my blog posts of the last five years and consolidate/delete anything that has been reblogged or is merely a pretty filler post. While I do this, chores in the house and yard are also calling to me. It’s time to once again take a little hiatus for regrouping and recharging. In the meantime, anything I come across that merits reblogging will be posted. I’ll be back with new posts Mid-April. Thanks so much!

Phlowers & Pressed Phlowers – Periwinkle

I’ve begun pressing flowers again now that the weather has warmed and early wildflowers and foliage are emerging.

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Periwinkle (Vinca minor) are one of the earliest flowers to blossom. An amazing groundcover, the ground vine can also become invasive if left unattended.

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I pressed these periwinkle blossoms and stems only a few days before taking the photograph. Because I pressed in a hardback book, rubberbanded, and then microwaved, the flowers are ready to be used within a few days. The color of flower petals will usually darken a bit. The periwinkle blue of these flowers darkened to a Purple Mountain’s Majesty hue, a perfect choice for today’s Color Your World/120 Days of Crayola challenge. Always press more flowers than you think you will need to avoid disappointments, not every flower will press without blemish.

Directions for pressing flowers/foliage in a microwave.


When the flowers are dry I remove them from the book I used for heating. If I leave them too long in the original book they could become impossible to remove.

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As you can see in the photograph, the stem of the periwinkle easily lifts, but the more delicate flower is sticking to the page. I first lift the page and roll it a bit to help loosen the petals.

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If rolling the page does not totally release the flowers, use a soft bristled paintbrush and gently tease the edges of the petals away from the page.

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A pressed flower will stand on its own if it is dry enough to use in projects.

A LOT OF P'S WITH A BIT OF QUIRKINESS THROWN IN FOR GOOD MEASURE.

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