Plantings – Garden Growings-On

Seedlings, Seedlings, Seedlings! They are EVERYWHERE! Last night I had to bring them into the house instead of overnighting in the garage…it is going to be very cold during the next twelve hours or so. I also covered the spinach and the kale I planted Sunday with overturned terracotta pots. They would probably be fine without the protection, but why risk it?

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My dining room table

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Coleus galore! I have more in other rooms, and I started another batch a few weeks later for those bare spots left by poppies, bleeding heart, spring bulbs and other plants that die away near the end of June.

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Gorgeous tomato seedlings…I tried many varieties this year.

Peace – Two on Tuesday/Starting Today

Pressed Flower – Tissue Paper Easter Egg Card

I blogged on February 24th of this year about pressing an early season crocus. This week I created an Easter greeting card with the flower and leaves, and also created a few cards with buttercups and a four leaf clover. The cards were quick and easy and turned out very pretty.

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* Tip for finding four leaf clovers at bottom of post.

To begin, I found an egg-shape on the web in Google Images and traced it with tracing paper. An egg-shape seems easy to draw free-hand until you attempt to have both sides perfectly even…not easy! After I found and traced an egg-shape, I cut it out and then traced the shape onto cardboard. I traced the shape onto a piece of Coverseal, a very clear type of contact paper, made four outlines on plain white computer paper, and then traced yet again onto robin’s egg blue tissue paper. I cut the tissue paper eggs out around the outline.

I removed the backing from the Coverseal and placed it, tacky side up over the computer paper outline. I placed each of these onto a cork bulletin board and tacked the outer edges down with push pins to hold it steady.

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Now you can wing it and compose your card without a pattern, or you can sketch out a quick little design to follow. Be aware, your finished design will reverse itself when you place the Coverseal onto the card.

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Place the flowers  onto the Coverseal within the egg shape. BE VERY CAREFUL TO PLACE THEM FRONT SIDE DOWN. Start with the flowers first, the foliage second, unless your foliage takes center stage as the four leaf clover does in one of the card designs.

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When you are finished designing, place the tissue paper egg over the design, and cut out the excess Coverseal directly around the outer edges of the tissue paper. You will now have a beautiful pressed flower egg in your hand.

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Turn the egg over and cover most of it, especially the edges, with glue stick. I use a glue stick that goes on purple and turns clear. The purple makes it very easy to make sure you have all the edges covered. Place egg on waiting greeting card and let dry. Voila`…a beautiful handcrafted Easter greeting card.

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I was very happy with my finished eggs. Happy crafting!

*Press Flower Tip – Finding four leaf clovers. It is easier to find a four leaf clover if you stand and scan a patch of clover with your eyes. The human eye will spot differences in patterns. If you see something that looks different in the patch, take a closer look and perhaps you will spot a four leaf clover. If you find one four leaf clover look for more. The mutation that caused one will most likely have created a whole patch of four leaf clovers. Here’s a terrific article on how to find four leaf clovers: How to find a Four Leaf Clover

Planting – The Scraggly Ones Reborn

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Every year, at summer’s end, I take cuttings from outdoor plants I hope to save over the winter. They usually root for me, but never seem to thrive. They stay alive, but only put out minimal new growth. I do realize that winter is the dormant season for many plants. Combine that with how cold we keep our home at night, and my cuttings don’t have much of a chance to really take hold and grow quickly. A week or so ago I gathered all these “scraggly ones” together on my kitchen table. Along with several pots of houseplants I had rooted from cuttings, I had about eighteen plants in total. I decided that it was going to come down to “Survival of the Fittest,” and put six each of the plants/cuttings into hanging basket pots. I was pretty pleased with the resulting mix of shapes, sizes and textures. I think they will be rather unique as they grow on outdoors. For now I’ll put them outside on their hooks when the days are warm, and in a few weeks post an update.

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It will be interesting to watch how they develop over the next few months.

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Photograph & Quote – Ranunculus/John 8:12

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People – Sisters

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I don’t know if I was aware of it in past years, but April 10th was National Siblings Day. I am blessed with two sisters…here is an old photograph of us together on the front lawn of our home in 1972 or ’73. I am the one on the left. I might be a couple days late, but anyway…”Happy Siblings Day…Sisters.”

You can read more about National Siblings Day here: National Siblings Day

Phlowers & A Quote – Phlowery Friday

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“Behold, how independent of outward circumstances the Holy Ghost can make the Christian! What a bright light may shine within us when it is all dark without! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be, when the world shakes to and fro, and the pillars of the earth are removed!” C.H. Spurgeon

Peculiarities – Verbing Anyone?

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Does the photograph above have anything to do with the title of this post. Well, yes, it does. The next photograph might be explanation enough of my moment of “Verbing.

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“I just “smithereened” that plastic egg,” I mumbled as my shoe encountered and “smithereened” yet another Easter Egg. The grandchildren and I have had a good time with plastic Easter Eggs. Usually they are scattered all over the floor. The little ones like to open and shut them. The older boys enjoy using them for an egg toss game. Next week I will gather up every Easter Egg, take them outdoors, and with the grandchildren “bomb” the front yard with a rainbow of eggs. Flinging the eggs and letting them stay where they land creates a random and dare I say, “natural” look to the arrangement of eggs on the lawn. In the meantime I will try to tread softly and not “smithereen” anymore eggs to bits.

Here is a terrific explanation on the ins and outs of verbing: What is Verbing?

Plants – Crocus

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Crocus are still blooming in my gardens. This larger variety blooms later in the season, but is well worth the wait. I love the way the blooms glow when the sunlight touches the petals.

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Photograph – Mourning Dove

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Today was gorgeous here in New Jersey. I took a long walk around the park at Alcyon Lake. As I strolled, a shiny gleam caught my attention. A beautiful dove was intently watching me. She was still…not moving at all, blending into the drab foliage and bark around her. Only her beautiful eyes gave her away. I was thrilled to see her, but also sad, she has built her nest too close to the walking path. Many people pass by every day, many of them with their dogs on a leash. When her babies hatch and begin to peep, she won’t find it easy to blend in and keep her nest a secret. Below is the same birdie with the zoom lens in place.

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Stay safe Mama Bird.

Praise – Matthew 10:29

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This sweet little vignette composed itself in my side garden. God provided the sunlight and flowers, my mother bought me the statue years ago. All I had to do was take the photograph, add the perfect verse and publish as today’s post. Please feel free to copy and use on Social Media, Desktops, Wallpaper, or as a reference for painting. Please “share” the message of God’s love. Have a Blessed Sabbath Day!

Painting – WetCanvas April Challenges

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I am hoping to take part in two WetCanvas Challenges this month.  Sharron, in the Floral and Botanical Forum has chosen Anemones (Windflowers) as the subject this month. There are several lovely reference photographs to choose from in the forum along with many others in the WetCanvas Reference Library.

Any artist may participate, any medium, any approach…….2D, 3D, mixed and collaged if you wish.

I’m hoping to paint at least one anemone, maybe even two this time. I think it would be fun to try a technique completely new to me that would stretch my creativity a bit.

You can find the thread and several reference photographs here: April 2014 Plant Parade

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Yorky (Doug) has chosen a floral border from his own garden as the subject for this month’s Watercolor Studio Challenge.

You can find the thread here: Watercolor Studio April Challenge – Floral Border

I definitely see a cat appearing somewhere in my painting. I am hoping to have the time to take part in both of these challenges. Give either or both a try if the thought of capturing the essence of the photos in artwork wraps your brain in a state of creative euphoria. Happy Creating!

Posies – Tulips Part 2/Arrangement

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Beautiful bunches of tulips are available at this season of the year. It is a perfect time to make a stunning arrangement with these seasonal flowers. Start with a tall vase, a bunch of tulips and some river rocks to add height to the stems.

You want your tulips to stand at least as many inches above the vase as the vase is tall. If the stems are shorter than this measurement, add a couple of inches of river rocks to the bottom of the vase.

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Cut your stems at an angle. If left flat the stem tends to lay flush against the vase or rocks making it harder for water to rise up to the flower. I also remove the lowest large leaves. These are often damaged by cutting and packaging and will sit below the water line, eventually decaying and spoiling the water.

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Add your first flower, the tulip will have a curve, you want the stem to curve outward, but also to look as if the tulip is seeking the sun, not pointing at the ground.

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Work your way around the vase in a series of four. Second stem, opposite the first, third in between the first and second, fourth opposite the third. Begin the second four stems the same way, but this time place stem five between stem one and two. You will have nicely spaced tulips when you have completed inserting these eight stems. Your vase will also have aesthetic appeal as the stems nicely criss-cross in a pattern instead of looking shoved in willy-nilly.

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Eight stems in the vase…

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Criss-Cross pattern

At this point you have created a “grid” of stems inside the vase. You can gently place the final two tulip stems directly in the center of this grid and the stems will stand tall and upright in the middle of your arrangement.

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Happy Arranging!

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Quick tip: Don’t be tempted to add daffodils to a spring arrangement. Daffodil stems infuse a toxin in the water that will kill all the other flowers. Daffodils must be arranged alone.

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Problem-Solving – Spider Mites

Spider Mites, they are a pest I hate to see indoors or out. They are microscopic in size, and usually, they have caused quite a bit of damage before you are even aware they are on your house or garden plants. Here is some good information on what a spider mite can do to your foliage. Spider Mites

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This week I noticed some yellowing leaves on my Mandevilla Vine. Because I have had problems with spider mites in this area of the basement in the past, they were tops on my list of possible pests. Instead of peering at each stem individually, I used my quick and easy solution. I sprayed the entire plant with a mister. Sure enough, the webbing the spider mites leave behind on the leaves caught the droplets of water and glowed in the sunlight. Since I want to keep all my pest control organic, I have found that the best approach to controlling spider mites is to spray the plant with water every day. This keeps the spider mites under control until it is warm enough for me to take the plant outside and really douse it with a hard spray of the hose. Daily sprays of the hose for a week or two will obliterate the spider mite colony. This technique also works on aphids. The only other solution is to spray with dangerous chemicals or toss the plant in the garbage heap.

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Spraying the infected plant with water will allow you to see how badly infested your plant has become. It is a good idea to spray all your houseplants to see if there are any errant mites on surrounding greenery.

Phlowers – Wordless Wednesday/Longwood Conservatory Spring 2014

Phlowers – Two on Tuesday/Tulips Part I

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Tulips are available in cellophane wrapped bunches, or growing several to a pot. They are the perfect flower to celebrate April 1st. No fooling…they are one gorgeous flower. :)

Paranoia – April Phoolishness / Is Someone Spying On Me?

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This post is a little tongue in cheek, however, the small paper in the picture above is not there only for the photo opportunity. It is in place every day covering my computer camera. It is just a little stick it note, but guess what??? (I’m sounding like my grandchildren here?) it is possible to spy on someone through computer cameras and many other appliances. Oh “Gee Whiz,” I can hear you say, I thought this was a blog safe from conspiracy theories, etc. Well, and so it is, but this is not information gleaned from any of the rabid conspiracy sites on the web. This information comes from ABC news. Take a look: ABC News – Appliances that can spy on you.

Let’s not pretend to be blind fools too long. We all need to be aware of how our privacy is being invaded, and how our constitutional rights are being stripped away from us.

Now here’s where I do admit I am jumping off the deep end a bit, perhaps being a bit phoolish…and yes, this is definitely tongue in cheek. Every time I sit down near my computer this small gnat flies right in front of my face. He shows up in the picture below as the smallest black dot.

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Could he be a drone with a tiny camera glued onto his head by some mad scientist. Yes, April Fool’s for sure this time…unless…oh Gee Whiz again…this world we are living in can sure cause paranoia problems.

Take a look at this BBC article: Insect Drones

We are living in an ever-increasing world of surveillance. Prophecies and visions recorded in the Bible Book of Revelation, once so hard to envision, are now becoming reality. Let’s not be April, or anybody’s fool for that matter, let your heart, mind, and spirit be ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. No man knows when our Lord will come, it might be a hundred years from now, or it could be tomorrow.

Quick Tip – Steak Roll Substitution

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Beyond bread slices, french baguettes make an amazing substitute for steak or sandwich rolls. If there is too much bread involved for you, slice away the middle and feed it to the birds, or save for homemade bread crumbs. The baguette has much better flavor and crispy crunch than a typical steak sandwich roll.

Ounce for ounce the baguette is usually a better buy too!

People -Amy Carmichael

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So often when I search for quotes for my “Inspiring Words for Today,” sidebar, Amy Carmichael’s timeless words seem the perfect choice. In today’s post I’ve included a bit of her biography along with a link to more information about her life and work for the Lord.

“Amy Wilson Carmichael (16 December 1867 – 18 January 1951) was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for 55 years without furlough and wrote many books about the missionary work there.” Wikepedia

Read more on the life of Amy Carmichael here:   The Life of Amy Carmichael

Here are a few outstanding quotes from Amy Carmichael:
“I would rather burn out than rust out.”
― Amy Carmichael

“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”
― Amy Carmichael

“There is only one way of victory over the bitterness and rage that comes naturally to us–To will what God wills brings peace.”
― Amy Carmichael

“Do not fight the thing in detail: turn from it. Look ONLY at your Lord. Sing. Read. Work.”
― Amy Carmichael

“Satan is so much more in earnest than we are–he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.”
― Amy Carmichael

“If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
― Amy Carmichael

“The best training is to learn to accept everything as it comes, as from Him whom our soul loves. The tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings, things you are ashamed of minding one scrap”
― Amy Carmichael

Plant – Cucumber

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“Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. It is a creeping vine that bears cylindrical fruits that are used as culinary vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and burpless.” Wikipedia

The humble cucumber is available throughout the year at most grocery stores or fruit stands. Inexpensive, they are a perfect addition to a salad, or can stand on their own with only a sprinkling of salt and pepper. My favorites are the pickling variety.

A few facts I recently ran across regarding cucumbers suprised me. I knew they would remove puffiness around the eyes and were low in calories, but I did not know that they have many health benefits. A few of these are: good for the kidneys, regular consumption can dissolve kidney stones over time. Cucumbers are one of the best sources of potassium. Cucumbers help the pancreas create insulin. Cucumbers reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.

There are many other benefits of cucumbers. I’ve included a link to a great article that lists many of advantages of eating or using cucumbers for skin, hair and oral health. Cucumber Benefits

Cucumbers are easy to grow in the garden. I have started them in two ways, in pots a few weeks before the last frost date, and right in the ground. Some varieties grow on bushes, others are vines and need trellis support. In my Square Foot Garden I grow two to a square.

As always, the Pinterest site is loaded with hundreds of terrific pins concerning cucumbers. Take a look: Cucumbers on Pinterest

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