Produce – Asian Pear

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Asian Pears are inexpensive and come wrapped in a lacy jacket. To me, they appear to be more like an odd apple than a pear. The taste, a mild pear flavor with the crispy, juicy texture of an apple, made for an enjoyable snack. The hardest part of eating the fruit was knowing for sure it was ripe. It never softened up like a Bartlett pear, nor put out a tantalizing scent. I finally searched for some information and found this little blurb: “Check the pear for a springy texture.” This advice proved to be reliable and the pear I chose to eat was indeed ripe. More information on Asian Pears can be found on: EHow – How to tell if an Asian Pear is ripe.

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My husband and I wondered if Asian Pears are the type used in fruit cocktail; the cubed pears in the canned fruit mix are usually very firm. Will I buy one again? Probably not. The flavor was not as nice as a perfectly ripe Bartlett, and the taste of an apple is also much better. I’ll stick to those two favorites and leave the Asian Pears in the grocer’s bin.

Preparedness & Pheathers – Self-Reliance and Feeding the Birds

Country Wisdom & Know-How

Country Wisdom & Know-How

Every household needs to have a book on how to live off the land, either by choice, or in an emergency situation. Country Wisdom & Know-How is just such a guidebook. There are many other fine publications that also give terrific tips, numerous how-to blogs, and other resources easily available through a search on any search engine.

Country Wisdom & Know-How is an oversized, no-frills guide on ANIMALS of all kinds through HEALTH AND WELL-BEING and the HOME. In between these headings are: Cooking, Crafts and Gardening, with dozens of sub-topics in each one.

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On page ten, under the topic of “Seasonal Feeding of Birds,” a tip is given on how to build up calcium in songbirds for better reproduction capability in the Spring. Starting right about now add some crushed eggshells to your birdseed to provide additional calcium. This little boost for your “pheathered” friends is very easy to do. Save your broken eggshells, wash in hot water, let dry, grind up in a food processor or shatter in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Mix these small pieces of eggshell into your birdseed and feed regularly through the Springtime months.

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I love the songbirds that fill my yard with music throughout the year. Not only do they sing me a symphony, they also keep the bug situation in check. Going to a bit of trouble to provide them a little extra calcium is my pleasure. Happy Bird-watching!

People & Place – Mark Hirsch and “That Tree,” An Update

In January of 2014 I wrote a post on Mark Hirsch and “That Tree.” Imagine my delight and surprise yesterday when the subject of my post, Mark Hirsch, commented on the post. He gave me a few updates about his project.

“I am tickled that your sister shared my project with you. Thank you for sharing it on your blog. My book That Tree was published in October of 2013 and can be found at independent book sellers throughout the midwest. It is also available through my website at “THAT TREE” Shop.
I am still finding time to document and experience life in and around my magical bur oak tree. You can see and follow my ongoing posts at That Tree on Facebook.

Here is the original post and video:

My sister recently sent me a terrific link. I had mentioned to her that I was photographing a pathway into a nearby woods once a week. *** I thought it would be fun to post it in a blog page (The link to “The Path” can be found in the top left sidebar of this blog) I love the link she sent me in return of “That Tree,” the oak that Mark Hirsch photographed with a smart phone for 365 days in 2012.

*** I photographed my “pathway” for several weeks, and then due to a vacation and bad weather let the project end. This has re-inspired me, perhaps in April, when this terrible winter weather clears up a bit, I can once again find a path or special spot to photograph weekly. Why don’t you give it a try too?

Phlowers & Phun – Tweaking The Tulips

Andy Warhol Effect in LunaPic

Andy Warhol Effect in LunaPic

The focus of yesterday’s post was a stand-alone photograph of yellow tulips. The flowers are beautiful on their own, but today I’m in a “tweaking” mood. I’m going to go to LunaPic and tweak the photograph a bit.

Tweaking – to change (something) slightly in order to improve it : to make small adjustments to (something) ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

To start: Upload your photograph to LunaPic. I have found if the upload in the center of the page does not work, it’s best to go to the “File” drop down box, click on “Upload Multiple Images,” and get your photo loaded with that command.

Here are a few samples of LunaPics Free Effects. Remember to “SAVE” your tweaked photograph before you exit the site. Anything not saved will be lost.

Draw Drop Down Menu - Cut Out Shape Oval

Draw – Cut Out Shape Oval

Effect - Lego Style

Lego Effect

Kaleidoscope Effect

Kaleidoscope Effect

Needlepoint Effect

Needlepoint Effect

3D Effect

3D Effect

Animation - Fire Effect

Animation – Fire Effect

Animation - Zoom Effect

Animation – Zoom Effect

Animation - Groovy Color Effect

Animation – Groovy Color Effect

Yikes! The animated effects can make me a little dizzy. There are so many effects and combinations to have “phun” with on the LunaPic Site. I’ve only shown a few. Give LunaPic a try…Happy Tweaking!

Phlowers – Tulips

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March is going to come in like a lion here in the Northeast…let’s hope it goes out like a lamb. No matter what the weather might be, I know beneath the ground my tulips, grape hyacinths, crocus and daffodils are awakening from their slumber and beginning their push towards the sun. Oh the joy of it. Blessings my friends on this Sabbath Day.

“For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” ~ Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Pholklore, Phact & Phiction – Weather Lore

 

lion by wildlifeart 89
Photo courtesy of Wildlifeart89 in WetCanvas Reference Library

The month of March will arrive tomorrow all around the world. Perhaps it is already March 1st in your corner of the world. There is a popular saying…

“If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.
If March comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion.”

lamb by rhaynes
Photo courtesy of Rhaynes on Morgue File

“Weather lore is the body of informal folklore related to the prediction of the weather. It has been a human desire for millennia to make accurate weather predictions. Oral and written history is full of rhymes, anecdotes, and adages meant to guide the uncertain in determining whether the next day will bring fair or foul weather.” ~ Wikipedia

Listed below are a few weather related bits of wisdom and folly. Do you know which are which? You can find out more here: Weather Lore

When Clouds Look Like Black Smoke, a Wise Man Will Put On His Cloak.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

No weather is ill, if the wind be still.

When halo rings the moon or sun, rain’s approaching on the run.

When windows won’t open, and the salt clogs the shaker, the weather will favour the umbrella maker!

A summer fog for fair, A winter fog for rain. A fact most everywhere, In valley or on plain.

When sounds travel far and wide, A stormy day will betide.

A coming storm your shooting corns presage, And aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage.

 

Photo Challenge – Reward? A Cuppa’ Ocean or Bay Please

Reward

“What does reward mean to you?”

 
Reward to me means a day walking, beachcombing or sitting on a sandy/rocky beach beside the ocean waves. I’ve been blessed in my life to have my idea of a reward fulfilled. Here are some of those ways…a reminder of a day at the beach on a cold Friday afternoon.

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STRATHEMERE, NEW JERSEY

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CAPE MAY LIGHTHOUSE, CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY

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MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA

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TREASURE BEACH, JAMAICA

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CHESAPEAKE BAY, ELK NECK MARYLAND

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BLOCK ISLAND, RHODE ISLAND

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Plants – Garden Updates

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My houseplants are showing signs of shedding their winter slump. It’s time to top them up with an inch or two of new potting soil or repot them into a bigger pot. I’ve been adding a little time release fertilizer as I make my rounds watering this week. I’m also trimming dead leaves and leggy branching.

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The only place available to store my fuschia over the winter was a basement window well. The fuschia ia alive, but the growth it has put out is spindly and weak. I am going to cut away these thin branches and keep a few to root in potting soil. In eight weeks time, if they develop a root system, they will be able to be planted into outdoor garden pots.

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The coleus sprouts are beginning to show colors. I’m going to separate them and plant into small pots within the next week.

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I did right in cutting my vining morning glories back. The vines have sent out double and triple the shoots. Hooray! I can just imagine the lush blue flowers opening up around my windows.

I’m still winter-sowing half-hardy annuals. In Mid-march I will begin sowing some of the vegetable seeds (tomatoes, eggplant, etc.) that need more warmth. As always, I wish you Happy Gardening!

PS: Did I remember to tell you that my hoop house blew right off its moorings in the terrible winter storms we’ve had? Oh well…nothing lost but a bit of plastic. We saved the pvc pipe and will use it for another project.

Problem-Solving – Repairing Resin Figurines with Bread Dough

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I love Willow Tree Figurines . I have quite a few and display them on a living room shelf.

Willow Tree is a line of figurine sculptures created by artist “Susan Lordi in January 200. The Willow Tree line specializes in rustic faceless people and angels intended to represent feelings or life events. The figurines are made from hand-painted resin which is cast from Lordi’s hand-carved wooden sculptures.” ~ Wikipedia

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Because of their delicate nature, Willow Tree Figurines will lose a hand if dropped or knocked down. Because of my nature, I lay the loose hand aside, promising myself to glue it back on soon, and often lose the hand. I could buy craft store clay and fashion a hand, but why spend money when I have what I need at home.

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Aleene’s Glue and Bread Dough Technique is the perfect medium to sculpt and repair my broken Willow Tree figurines. This technique will also work on other resin pieces. Aleene’s directions recommend using white bread for the bread dough clay. For this project I used honey wheat bread since the Willow Tree is created from molds of hand-sculpted wood and is very textured in appearance.

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Break off the crusts from two pieces of bread.  Tear the bread into pieces and place in a zip top sandwich bag. Next add two tablespoons of Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue and mush all this up.

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At some point you will have to take the dough out of the bag and fnish kneading it. I recommend you take off rings at this point. Knead the dough until it is smooth and has pulled all bread dough residue from your hands. This is how I know it is ready to use.

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Sculpt/Form the dough into the shape you need. I glued it to the Willow Tree figurines at this point with an additional drop of glue.

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I also created an easy rose out of the bread dough. Add a few drops of acrylic paint to a small piece of dough and mash it in until the color is uniform.

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Form small pea shaped balls.

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Flatten the first pea, twirl into a cone shape.

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Continue flattening pea shapes, add these in layers until you form the rose. I usually clip off the bottom with scissors to help the finished rose lie flat.

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Let the repaired resin dry 24 – 48 hours. Paint with acrylic paints. Remember, you might not be able to find an exact color of fleshtone, add white or black to darken or lighten. Also, acrylic paint will be a shade or two darker when dry. I didn’t need to glaze in any way as the paint matched the matte appearance of the figurines.

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Here’s a great video on how to create roses out of bread dough.

Produce, Pots and Pans & Product – Plums, Cheesecake Cupcakes & Peas in a Pod

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The choices in the supermarket were slim this week for sampling a new fruit or vegetable. There were a few novelties such as dragonfruit, but at 7.99 each, I passed on this one. I chose instead yellow plums. I’ve eaten golden plums in the past, but these were a brilliant lemon yellow when I purchased them. I set them on my windowsill to wait for them to ripen. Little did I know they would sunbathe and “tan” to a beautiful coral color. The flavor was delicious, but since plums are rather an ordinary fruit I wanted to do something different with them. I decided to stew them down until just tender, caramelize them and sprinkle with coarse salt.

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I didn’t have a recipe to follow. I peeled the plums since they were imported (possible unknown pesticides) and sliced them. I added a bit of water to the saucepan and lightly simmered the fruit until they were barely soft. At this point I added brown sugar and cooked them until the water and sugar became syrupy. I turned the heat off and sprinkled with coarse salt and let everything cool.

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I decided to make my recipe for cheesecake cupcakes and place the cooled plums on top. The recipe calls for a vanilla wafer, but I used half an oreo, minus the cream, in the bottom of the cupcake liner. The recipe for cheesecake muffins follows:

CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

6 Oreos halved, cream removed
2 8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Fruit Preserves ( I used my carmalized plums)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in 12 regular sized muffin tins. Cover bottom with Oreo half. Combine cream cheese and sugar in bowl. Beat until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat again until blended and without lumps. Scoop into muffin tins. I use an ice cream scoop. Fill about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes…a few minutes longer if they are too loose in the middle. Chill in the fridge. Top with preserves.

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I also top with chocolate chips when hot. These melt and create a chocolate disc on top.

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These are super easy, delicious, and low in sugar. I can’t say they are low in calories, but they are VERY good!

The adorable Peas in a Pod Salt and Pepper Shakers in the first photograph in post can be found at Amazon.com. I bought several of them at Christmas and everyone who received a set loved it.

Product & Pressed Flowers

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I found a new set of pearlescent watercolors this weekend. They are made by Yasutomo and available in craft stores and online. The set was less than ten dollars, and with the added benefit of a 40% off coupon, quite a bargain. I use Winsor & Newton watercolors, but am enchanted by the idea of adding a little touch of shimmer to a few of my more creative watercolor attempts.

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The first thing I did was number the paints and make a chart to see how the watercolors reacted on paper. They are very pearly and quite sheer. The permanent marker is easily seen through all the colors.

I also experimented with a scrap of torn painting. The pearlescent pink added shimmer to the petals, but still let the detail come through.

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Another plus is the watercolors perk up the faded colors of old pressed flowers. These johnny-jump-ups were very drab, but the pearlescent paint added a bit of gleam and color. I can’t wait to experiment with this effect and will probably create a few greeting cards to have on hand.

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If you like to paint give these lovely watercolors a try.

PostScript: I found these to be very hard in texture. Before using, add a bit of water to each pan. Allow the water to sit and loosen up the paint for a few minutes before you begin to paint.

Pots & Pans – Amish Piggies in a Blanket

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Once in a while I stumble upon a meal that is so yummy in appearance, I have to disengage my “Eating Healthy” rule and give into the joy of bacon or other unhealthy food. This week the food that enticed me was “Piggies in a Blanket,” purchased at the local Amish Market.

The sweet Amish lady at the counter told me to bake the piggies at 375 degrees for one hour. I did so, and my husband and I were really pleased with the taste. Even better, they were very inexpensive. I bought the piggies in a blanket premade, but they would be easy to put together. The inner layer is loose sausage shaped into a half sausage shape. The next layer is stuffing, packed tightly around the sausage and held in place with tightly wrapped bacon. I baked the piggies uncovered for an hour. They bacon got a little dark, and dried out a tad, so next time I will cover the pan for about a half hour, and uncover for the final half hour. The bacon keeps the inside moist. Delicious!

People – Happy Birthday Mr. Washington

“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.” ~ George Washington, Prayer

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“Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” ~ Proverbs 11:14

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” ~ George Washington

Philm & Phavorites – Enchanted April and the Guttenberg Library

“To Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine. Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain. Z, Box 1000, The Times.”

This advertisement for an Italian Castle enchants me and gives me cause to dream. In a dreary, cold winter in England, two ladies, Rose and Lotty, become friends and persevere through many doubts to rent an Italian castle in April. It makes no difference that the book and movie are set in the era between the World Wars, when Lotty opens her window on the gardens of San Salvatore, I am there too.

The first time I was captivated by the story of Enchanted April was through the movie. The novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim, written in 1922, was harder to find. It is available in print again, and is also available free through the Guttenberg Library.

I’ve enjoyed browsing through the Guttenberg Library, searching out old stories and books I read as a child. If you love vintage stories, but can’t find the books you would love to read one more time, search for the title in the Guttenberg Library.

The score for Enchanted April is also beautiful, listen for a moment—

People & Prompt – Mother Teresa

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Think Global, Act Local.”

“Think global, act local.” Write a post connecting a global issue to a personal one.”

Mother Teresa
Photograph Collage courtesy of Flickr and Peter Lopez

One of the books I’m reading for my morning devotionals is a volume of wisdom by Mother Teresa. When I read today’s Daily Prompt, I immediately thought of her. If anyone personifies acting locally and reaching the whole world, it would be this tiny, but spiritually strong lady. Though her life on this earth has ended, her wisdom and witness live on.

“We need to give Christ a chance to make use of us, to be His word and His work, to share His food and His clothing in the world today. If we do not radiate the light of Christ around us, the sense of darkness that prevails in the world will increase.”“Mother Teresa/No Greater Love.”

Phun – Doodling

It’s a fact, there are many stresses in life. At this point in time it seems there are more than usual. I began to list a few and stopped myself, we all know what they are, in fact many of us are victims of the times we are living in. So, here’s a quick, easy and inexpensive escape—DOODLE a Bit.

A night or two ago I sat down with a blank journal. I chose to start small and gathered felt-tipped pens and colored pencils. I had some photographs of my grandchildren from Valentine’s Day weekend, and decided to make our celebration my first theme.

“A doodle is a drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes.
Stereotypical examples of doodling are found in school notebooks, often in the margins, drawn by students daydreaming or losing interest during class.Other common examples of doodling are produced during long telephone conversations if a pen and paper are available.” Wikipedia

My first attempt is not fine art, but it was FINE RELAXATION. I had forgotten how completely relaxing it is to do simple, easy artwork. My advice: if you are stressed, grab a piece of paper, a pencil or pen—and DOODLE away.

I found a cute blog on Doodling: Doodle Addicted

Here are two of the blog author’s doodling videos. Watching the videos is almost as soothing as doodling yourself. Enjoy!

This amazing little video shows you how to create fillers for your doodles—so much fun!

:) Thanks for Doodling on By! :)

Peace & Perspective – Triumph Over Fear

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At times in this world of trouble we need a reminder of where our focus should lie. Please pray today and every day for those enduring religious and ethnic persecution.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God's perfect love

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Robert McCheyne (1813-1843)

Let each of us remember to pray every day for our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” ~ Ephesians 6:18

Pots & Pans – Twice on Tuesday/Pumpkin Cookies

It’s a perfect day for a rerun blog post. Many people bake these delicious cookies during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I bake them whenever the craving for pumpkin grabs ahold of me. They are delicious and the pumpkin makes them very nutritious. They are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!

My Grandmother Broadwell always baked these amazing pumpkin cookies for family and friends. I can’t bite into one without thinking of her. Every year, especially around the holidays, I bake up a batch or two. They are scrumptious, and best of all pumpkin is loaded with vitamins.

Pumpkin Cookies

Sift together:

2 Cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together:

1 Cup shortening (I use butter)

1 Cup sugar

1 Cup pumpkin (canned)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:

1/2 Cup nuts, and/or 1/2 Cup raisins

Mix together. Add nuts or raisins if desired. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

While the cookies are baking make up your frosting.

3 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons milk (2% is okay)

1/2 Cup brown sugar

Heat this and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook for 2 minutes taking care not to burn. Cool. Add 1 Cup powdered sugar (add more if needed, icing should not be thick, but rather runny) Add 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla and spoon over cookies.

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