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Prompt – Childhood Revisited and Skywatch Friday

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Childhood Revisited.”
“Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?”

Sky through table, cup, chandelier and crabapple tree.

Sky through table, cup, chandelier and crabapple tree.

I took this photo today, early morning, from the vantage point of lying flat on the ground beneath the table. The photo could be a self-portrait of who I am: I am quite willing to lay on the ground to capture the perfect photograph. I drink four cups of coffee every morning before nine. I love to trash-pick and bargain hunt treasures and redo them, just redid the chandelier in the photo for a second time. In this metamorphosis I sprayed it white. I love to look at the sky every day.

I’ve looked up at the sky all my life, in fact, I am one of those people who are often photographed looking up. In church I find myself studying ceilings. (I recently noticed my son does the same, could this be genetic?) I think I had an early fascination with looking up. My mother told me that when I was quite small I came in from outdoors and told her, “I said hello to God.” She answered, “What did he say back?” I told her he said, ‘Hello.’

This leads me to my response to the Childhood Revisited Prompt from WordPress. If I could do go back and change something about my childhood, I would continue to look toward the sky and say, “Hello,” to God every day. It might have kept me from some poor decisions and some bad years. I talk to God every day now…if not while looking at the sky, I greet him when I have my morning devotions.

What would I wish for my kids to do differently if they could go back and relive their childhoods. Well, I would have us all outside more, lying on the grass, studying the sky and talking to God out loud. I wonder how the world would change if everyone looked toward the heavens and said from the heart, “HELLO GOD!” Oh my! Just the thought of it gives me a HALLELUJAH” moment. What would God say back if you said hello to Him today? Why not find out?

I can’t wait to have my grandkids over again…we are going to be looking at the sky and talking to God for sure. :)

SKYWATCH FRIDAY

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Phairy – Enchanted/Fairy House 2015

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We had a family picnic to celebrate our mother’s May birthdays on Memorial Day. The young cousins were thrilled to see each other and created a new fairy house together.

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Each year the fairy house is built with natural items I’ve collected throughout the year, and also with what the grandkids and cousins can find in the yard. I love to see what they come up with…crabapples for food, a clam shell water dish, feathers for decorating.

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You don’t have to be a child to build a fairy house. On your next walk through a park or woods, leave a little something behind for a “fairy” to find. Create a chair, a little bed, a dish of fairy food; it only will take a moment of your time. You never know who might need a little “enchantment” to smile over.

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Plants – Wordless Wednesday/Climbing Rose

Climbing Rose Against Chimney

Climbing Rose Against Chimney

Climbing Rose Cascade

Climbing Rose Cascade

Climbing Rose Close

Climbing Rose Close-Up

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Praise – Wana Baraka (Kenyan Folk Song)

I am physically dragging. Preparations for a family Memorial Day picnic stretched out over most of the past few days, and will take a good portion of today to clean up. It was a great picnic…a wonderful gathering to honor two mothers who had birthdays in May, spend time with family, and remember our father who served in World War II.

I had no blog post scheduled, and God in his goodness led me to this beautiful song, an instant uplift for my spirit. I hope it does the same for you. Here is a loose translation I found on the web.

“They have blessings; those who pray.
Jesus himself said so, Alleluia.
They have peace.
They have joy.
They have well-being. Alleluia.”
Wana Baraka (Kenyan Folk Song)

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Pride – In Honor of…

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Prayer & Praise – Macro Iris Photographs

The inside of an Iris always reminds me of a cathedral with stained glass ceilings and windows. How can I not praise the Creator when I gaze upon his wonders? This is my Father’s World.

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“Every time we pray our horizon is altered,

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our attitude to things is altered

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 not sometimes but every time,

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and the amazing thing is

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that we don’t pray more.”

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 ~ Oswald Chambers

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Photograph & Perspective – Broken/Little Pencils and Good Ideas

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“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.” ~ Francis Bacon

The WordPress Photo Challenge for today is titled, “Broken. This week, capture something broken.”

Some things must be broken to be used, an egg must be cracked to be eaten, a tree must be felled to be cut into lumber, a horse must be broken before it can be rode.

A “broken” pencil showed up in my junk drawer recently. I think the small stub of graphite and wood has probably spent about two decades in this shortened condition. Why? Well, because boys will be boys, and most likely one of my sons sharpened this pencil down to a nub while in middle school. This same scenario held true when I was a young student. Preteen boys delighted in reducing their pencils into nubs just like the “broken” one in my photograph. The sight of tiny pencils always curls my lips upward in a nostalgic smile.

So often as I go about my day I will have the flash of a good idea, but later on, find myself completely unable to remember it. I’ve tried carrying around a pen and paper in pants or shirt pockets to write down these good thoughts, but invariably get stabbed in the thigh, or have ink leak out and spoil a good shirt. When I saw this small pencil I realized it solved the problem of being too long, but what to do about that sharp point…Yikes!

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The problem was easily solved by placing an old ink pen cap over the sharpened end.

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A piece of paper folded into a tiny square was the perfect addition. I’m ready now to record all the good ideas that I am blessed with today and in the future. Do you have any tiny pencils to carry around in your pocket? If not, break a pencil  in two and sharpen, sharpen, sharpen. Good ideas are priceless!

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Painting – Celebration Art

Copyright - Amy E. Davis

Copyright © 2015 by A.E. Davis – 12 x 14 on Canvas

My sister teaches high school and middle school art. I love her most recent mixed media artwork. Her painting is the perfect choice to use as a blog post for starting off the Memorial Day Weekend. The colors, the energy within the painting…Beautiful!

I emailed my sister, and asked what mediums she used for her painting.

“The mixed media project was done with Acrylic paint, paper, and one of my favorite substances-MODPODGE.”

Her artwork inspires me to get out my own supplies and attempt some exciting art myself. Isn’t that what good teachers do for us? For me, creating art is a celebration of life. When I am painting or crafting I always have a feeling of peace and gratitude in my heart. Give creating a try today. Any type of art will do, from doodling to sculpting, and everything in between. Take a few moments to create a celebration of spirit today.

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Plants – Mid-Spring Garden Update

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden: planting, weeding, watering and tidying up. Likewise, the garden has been the subject of quite a few recent posts. Here are a few quick updates on some past posts, and then I’ll try to turn my blogging intentions elsewhere, at least for a few days. :D

Birdie, birdie in the tree

Sparrows made use of my birdhouse and the tree has been a-twitter with the chirping of baby birds for over a week.

Koi in Pond

I’ve been enjoying the pond, it is on the small size, but the koi are huge. They don’t seem to mind the small confines. Two have grown to twelve inches from three/four inch sized babies.

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A coleus grown from my own gathered seed has finally, after years of pampering, become a beauty. I love the finely edged leaves and vivid pink color. I named it Raspberry Twizzle. It has the characteristics of other coleus I have grown, but I have never seen such a brilliant pink in other coleus. I love it.

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I love my potted pansies and dahlia near the front porch.

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I found an old favorite, Mimulus, or monkey flower at a local nursery. The plant is heat intolerant, so I am growing it in pots on the porch.

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My Meyer Lemon and  Carambola sprouts are also vacationing on the porch for the summer. At some point I am going to have to decide which to keep and which to give away or discard.

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I replaced a rose that didn’t make it through our long winter with one of the Hasslefree Roses variety. I love this beautiful apricot beauty called: About Face.

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The Tomato Transplants in the Straw Bales are doing very well, so are a crop of mushrooms. The mushrooms sprout up overnight and succumb to the heat of the afternoon sun. They don’t seem to be doing the tomatoes any harm. This new technique of growing tomatoes has been a lot of fun.

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The Square Foot Gardens are up and doing well.

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Our Iris plants in this area are blooming weeks later than usual. Here is my favorite. I can’t remember the name, but oh the joy I feel when it unfurls its amazing pink petals. The blooming of this beauty prompted me to go on my yearly “Iris Hunt.” My “hunt ” is a long, circular bike ride through all the surrounding neighborhoods to find and photograph as many gorgeous Iris as possible. More on this at a later date. Thanks for looking, and thanks to those who have been asking me for this garden update. Blessings on your day!

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Quote – Isaac Watts

Busy Bee

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Pleasures – Tadpoles

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If you look closely, you may be able to discern a few large tadpoles nestled in the strands of my pond plant. I’ve always found tadpoles to be interesting, and every year we try to find a few to put into our pond. They are available at local garden centers too. These whoppers will turn into frogs in a month or two. I love to go outdoors on a hot summer afternoon and find them basking in the sun on a piece of water lettuce.

In wet summers you will often small tadpoles in large puddles. I enjoy saving these and nurturing them to their final stage. These tadpoles are not frogs, instead they will develop into Tiny Toads. This is a great project to do with children. Here are a few links that give good information on how to raise small tadpoles to toads.

Tiny Tadpoles Part I
Tiny Tadpoles Part II
Tiny Tadpoles Part III
Tiny Tadpoles Part IV

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Planting – Pond Plants and the Great Tic Tac Upcycle

Creeping Jenny Groundcover with Violets

Creeping Jenny Groundcover with Violets

On a trip to a local garden nursery I noticed pond plants set aside for sale. I was surprised to see Creeping Jenny, a groundcover I grow, being sold as a pond plant. This is a great little plant. My initial purchase of one pot for about $3.99 a few years ago has spread by itself, and by my design, into several areas in my yard. I was immediately inspired to try and adapt a few sprigs of my Creeping Jenny into a pond-worthy plant.

First, I tried planting several stems in a pot with sand and rocks. No success! The fish promptly tugged the Creeping Jenny out of its moorings. I realized I needed a way to contain the roots that would be fish proof. I decided to try growing the Jenny hydroponically, not using any soil at all. The new dilemma in my pond project was how to contain the roots. I knew that if I put the Jenny in the water the fish would nibble away at the roots and the strands would separate into a scraggly mess.

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I looked around the house for inspiration and my eyes alighted on a Tic Tac container. Hmmm—if I cut the bottom of the container off would it hold the roots but still allow water to circulate and bring nutrients to the plant? Yes, it was worth a try. I cut away the bottom and also removed the white dispenser from the other end. (scissors and/or a box cutter will work)

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The next step was to wash all dirt and debris off the roots of the Creeping Jenny and twist a rubber band around them as tightly as I was able. When this was done I squeezed the sides of theTic Tac container and the top opened up into a circular shape. After I placed the roots into the container, I let go of the sides, and the Tic Tac box snapped back into shape holding the banded roots tightly within the confines of the plastic, but still enabling water to flow in and out.

I placed all of this in the pond. It worked, the Creeping Jenny floated nicely, but the bottom of the Tic Tac box was visible and allowed the plant to float on its side rather than root downwards.

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To solve this problem I found the discarded dispenser top and placed a rock in the side without the hole. I pulled away the closure tab leaving an open hole for water circulation, I put this on the bottom of the Tic Tac container and placed it in the water once again.

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Success! The plant has been in my pond for two weeks and is thriving. I’ve been saving my Tic Tac containers to use in adapting a few more water-viable plants for my pond. Updates will follow.

Plants that are poisonous to Pond Fish & Amphibians
Houseplants that do well in aquariums and ponds

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Praise – Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah in the pines

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Photograph – Faux Pearl

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Enveloped. What does Enveloped Mean to You?”

Oyster with Pearly Egg

Yesterday, while watering my flower beds I spotted a tiny glimmer beneath a bird feeder. An egg lay there, its grey-blue shell speckled with brown. I think it is most likely the egg of a finch. They are plentiful in our area, and frequently visit our birdfeeders, making their nests in the trees in our yard. I might try to save the beautiful piece of nature, and thought the perfect resting place was the ‘enveloping’ security of an oyster shell. What a strange and lovely pearl the humble oyster holds…I love this unique combination of God’s handiwork.

My best description of being enveloped cannot be captured by a photograph, but it is perfectly described in this verse from the Psalms—

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” ~Psalms 91:4

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Perspective – Excuse me Miss

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“Encouragement is awesome. It (can) actually change the course of another person’s day, week, or life.” ~ Chuck Swindoll

Years ago, my husband and I, both at this point in time forty plus years of age, were walking through a local shopping mall. As we walked by an indoor landscaping display, a young man sitting on the edge of the planter said to me with a smile, and twinkle in his eye, “Excuse me Miss, but is that periwinkle you’re wearing?”

I was startled, but still stopped, and looked down at the shirt I had on. “Why yes, it is,” I said. In the next instant, I SMILED at the unexpected question and implied compliment, and my husband mirrored the same grin. There was no other conversation, and we walked on. Neither my husband or I can say why, but the moment was magical, unrehearsed and unexpected, and it has remained for both of us…quite unforgettable. Whenever I think of the moment I feel encouraged.

“So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:11

Who can you encourage today? A co-worker, a family member…a stranger? It doesn’t take much to lift someone’s spirit. It can be as easy as,”Excuse me Miss…”

Do clothes make the woman? Or does the woman make the clothes? I love to wear periwinkle…of course!

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Quick Tip – Snakes and Soap/Garden Pest Deterrents

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Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and now a gigantic groundhog visit my yard with the intent of foraging for food. I know this is the way of nature, but I wish they would stick to the clover and other “weedy” offerings within the back yard.

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My wish is never totally fulfilled. Although the bunnies munch at the clover, they also are partial to the tender new growth of emerging seedlings and transplants. Even the strap-like leaves of my lilies were bitten off this year.

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I’ve tried many solution in past years, occasionally delving into the near ridiculous by bombarding the offending critters with water balloons. Water Balloons Deterrent

This year I’m putting a few dollar store snakes back to work. Purchased originally as a visual deterrent to pests, they ended up residing in the grandchildren’s sandbox. I dug them out a few days ago and draped them over the Square Foot Gardens. Every few days, I move them to new positions, in hopes of giving them the appearance of a live, dangerous snake.

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Nothing in the square foot vegetable garden has been bitten off by the rabbits yet (they are still feeding off the tender growth of my perennials,) but oh my, the squirrels and chipmunks don’t seem to be frightened at all by the snakes. I guess they have figured out they are nothing but cheap rubber. Time to sprinkle more grated Ivory Soap around the borders. Hopefully, the smell and eye-watering power of the soap will keep those little rascals from digging out my newly planted vegetable patch.

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The worst of my dilemma: the insect variety of pest is only now beginning to emerge. What’s a gardener to do? (Sigh)
Organic Pest Control Tips for your Garden

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Perspective – I Peter 5:7

I Peter Five Seven jpg

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Phlowers, Plants and Pressing – Scented Geranium

Scented Geranium in Hanging Basket

Scented Geranium in Hanging Basket Pot

I grew a scented Geranium last year called “Grey Lady Plymouth,” a rose-scented pelargonium.

“Pelargonium graveolens ‘Grey Lady Plymouth’. A wonderful rose-scented variety whose large, sage-green leaves have a hint of white around their margins. Height is 2 to 3 feet. Lavender flowers.” ~ DeBaggio’s Herb Farm & Nursery

Because I was so in love with the plant I brought the pot indoors in the fall, and also took some cuttings. The rooting did not take, but the plant thrived all winter in a sunny window. Grey Lady Plymouth is hanging on the porch now for a summer vacation. The plant is perfectly placed for rubbing the leaves as I walk out the back door

“Scented geranium care is pretty basic. You can grow them in pots, indoors or out, or in the ground. They prefer lots of sun, but may need some protection when the sun is at its strongest. They aren’t fussy about soil type though they don’t like wet feet.

Fertilize them lightly and sparingly while they’re actively growing. Scented geranium’s biggest downside is they tend to get leggy and need to be trimmed back to promote bushiness. Over-fertilization will only increase this problem.” ~ Gardening Know-How / Additional tips on growing scented geraniums.

Scented Geranium Flowers and Buds

Scented Geranium Flowers and Buds

Scented geranium are grown for their foliage, but I love their small, nickel-sized pink flowers too. They are unique and press perfectly for pressed flower crafting. Because they bloom sparsely, each blossom is worth saving. I press these inside absorbent old books, and also use the microwave method of pressing. Microwave the flowers inside rubberbanded books for only 15 seconds. The foliage of scented geraniums does not press well for me using any method.

If you have a chance to purchase a scented geranium this growing season, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Martha Stewart’s tips on using scented geraniums.

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Perplexities – Storm Clouds on a Sunny Day

Storm Clouds on a Sunny Day, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Sunshine to Shadow, Montego Bay, Jamaica

It happens to us all…in fact it is even the subject of a well-known poem by Robert Burns that has become a cliche.

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy
~ Robert Burns

Why is it that holidays/special days can be such a “mixed bag”? (Another cliche) Yesterday I had the most precious day with my mother, mother-in-law, husband, father, sons, daughter-in-laws, and grandchildren. How blessed my life is by these wonderful people. Each one made me feel special and loved. Thank you my sweet family. You are my JOY!

There were storm clouds in the day,, but the “less said the better.” and with that, “I’ll say adieu.”

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Pleasure – Wishing You Joy

Mother's Day jpg

“We search the world for truth;
We cull the good, the pure, the beautiful,
From all old flower fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

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