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Pheathers & Photo – Say, “Ah…”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Motion.”
“This week, share your photographs that have captured motion, and tell us the stories behind the images” ~ WordPress Photo Challenge

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I’ve blogged a few times about my family’s encounter with a very tame Blue Jay Here’s a captured image of the Blue Jay, “in motion,” pecking my camera.

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Phlowers – Friday Flower – Dandelions

The Dandelions are back…

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…I’ve missed their sunshine faces.

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Perspective & Prayer- Search Me O God

I love this beautiful Samoan hymn. Take a moment and listen to the timeless words and melody. This song is a wonderful reminder that the world is filled with those who love the Lord. They are all our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

I try to take a moment or two daily to write down what I call a “Hallelujah” prayer to the Lord. I don’t think the Lord would mind me sharing here what spilled out of me yesterday in the face of the escalating evil against Christians and others who don’t follow the plans of radical ideologies and governments.

“The times we are living in are deteriorating into a horror show…and no one seems to know how to turn away from the spectacle of what is unfolding and do something about it. But what is to be done?”

We all need to pray DAILY for what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ. I keep asking my husband, ‘Why aren’t those in leadership calling on all of us for prayer every day?’ If, like me, you feel a sense of futility in regards to the current condition of our world, reach out to the Lord Jesus in your need. Your need is a bridge that will bring you to Him. People everywhere, we all must PRAY about what is happening to these innocents.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
~ Psalm 139:1-3

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Produce & Pots and Pans – Beets!

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I have eaten beets throughout my life, but in my time as a cook, I don’t recall using beets fresh from the farm market. If I have attempted at some point in my life to prepare them for a meal,  they must’ve been such a disaster, I blocked it from my memory. :)

•Beets are high in many vitamins and minerals. Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. …
•Beets cleanse the body. …
•Beets help your mental health. …
•Beets are used as a stomach acid tester. …
•Beets are a high source of energy.
~ Fullcircle.com

This week, when I saw a bundled bunch of beets in the farm market for a good price, I thought, ‘Why not?’ Beets are full of vitamins and minerals, and are something different to serve with meals…at least in our house. I often make RED BEET EGGS as a side dish, but use canned beets for that recipe.

Because I am sensitive to red food coloring, I wanted to try a red velvet cake recipe of some kind using the beets as the coloring agent. I found a link for a good Red Velvet Beet Cupcake. Yummy, Healthy Easy’s Blog – Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes. This recipe turns out well and has great directions for roasting the beets in the oven.

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I roasted an extra beet and devoured it when it was cool. Delicious! I will be roasting beets for our dinners in the near future.

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Roasted beets processed according to the cupcake recipe directions. What a yummy pink the beets created.

I modified the recipe a bit to suit what I had on hand, substituting cake flour, apple cider vinegar for white vinegar, sugar in place of stevia, and dark chocolate cocoa powder in place of regular. The use of the dark chocolate is probably why there is no trace of the red beet color in my cupcakes. I also did not use food coloring as this was the point in me using the red beets.

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Simple Cream Cheese/Sour Cream Frosting

  • One 8-ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese, such as Neufchatel
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

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Blend together with beaters until smooth. I like to refrigerate these cupcakes to keep the frosting fresh.

Delicious…give this recipe a try, easy and healthier than boxed cake mix.

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Prose – Novel Interiors

novel interiors

NOVEL INTERIORS: LIVING IN ENCHANTED ROOMS INSPIRED BY LITERATURE ~Lisa Borgnes Giramonti

“For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.” ~GoodReads

By the time I read twelve pages of this beautiful book I had one project idea to file away and try at a later date…

novel interiors quote
…A wall poster created and tacked to my Art Room wall, and two ideas for blog posts. As I read further I found even more inspiration. Since I have always loved to read fiction, I am familiar with many of the authors and novels represented in this terrific read. If you have a chance take a look at the wonderful prose and amazing photographs. I found the copy I am reading now at the public library.

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Plants – Updates/A Bit of This and That

Several of my past projects are thriving, or at least still growing.  The Meyer Lemon Seed sprouts are deep green and perky in appearance, but growing very slowly.

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Growing a Meyer Lemon Tree from Seed

One of my Carambola seeds finally sprouted after many weeks sown in potting soil. I was about to give up on this planting attempt, but saw green just in time.

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How to Sprout a Carambola Seed

In a day or two after sprouting the seed fell away and tiny fronds emerged.

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My Coleus seeds, sown in January, are showing many colors, but in sync with the carambola and lemon sprouts, growing slowly. This week I will take the seedlings outside to the screened in porch and let them begin the hardening off process. If there is a forecasted frost I will keep them in the garage overnight. Coleus are extremely susceptible to cold temperatures.
How to Grow Small Seeds/Coleus

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Are my Morning Glories blue or pink? The stray pink Morning Glory was a fluke, most of the flowers are blue. Unfortunately, in their quest to face the sun, the plants and flowers grew toward the window. I decided they would create a better display outdoors.

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I had to be ruthless and cut the vines and flowers off at the top of the pot, leaving many inches of vine to wither on the venetian blinds. The Morning Glory plants will be better for the harsh pruning. Each cut vine will branch out in many directions.

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This weekend I gridded and planted a few squares in my Square Foot Gardens. I forgot to take a picture afterwards, so the only image I have is from this morning, taken from my upstairs window in pouring rain.

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Happy Gardening my friends!

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Quote – Spring

spring buds for blog

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

 

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Photograph – Skunks, Daffodils and a Birdbath

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Early Bird.”
“For this week’s photo challenge, get up early and explore the morning light.”

Skunk Cabbage

“Symplocarpus foetidus, commonly known as skunk cabbage or eastern skunk cabbage (also swamp cabbage, clumpfoot cabbage, or meadow cabbage, foetid pothos or polecat weed), is a low growing, foul-smelling plant that grows in wetlands of eastern North America.” ~ Wikipedia

I love this photo I captured of an unfurling skunk cabbage growing beside a creek bed. The early morning light highlights the intense green of the leaves and reveals the texture of the plant in the soft shadows.

Skunk Cabbage in Morning Light

Skunk cabbage does have a bit of an odor, but only if you get close enough to break or step on it. I always enjoy seeing its early awakening, a sure sign of Spring.

Daffodils in Morning Light

Sunlight slants through my back windows in the mid-morning hours. This is a favored spot for displaying a vase of flowers. I enjoy the silhouette of the arrangement as much as the actual flower.

Granny's Birdbath

In this photo you see a birdbath that is a part of my earliest memories. It was my grandmother’s, and I remember standing beside it, so small that my eyes were level with the rim, trying to resist the temptation to swirl my fingers in the water. My mother had the birdbath in her yard for many years, then my sister had a turn using it. Last night, my sister and I exchanged birdbaths. The smooth sides of the mirrored interior were causing the bees from her hives to slide into the water and drown; there is no rough foothold for them to stand upon as they drink. The concrete birdbath I had in my yard will do a better job as a water source for the bees. Joy filled my heart early this morning, as I peered down from my back window and saw not only the treasured birdbath, but the pastel rays of sunrise reflecting in it’s surface. I couldn’t have planned a more perfect photograph for the weekly challenge.

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Planting – Straw Bales

This week, in hopes of purchasing some straw bales, my sister and I drove in her flatbed truck to a local feed store. The price was right, about six dollars a bale; I bought four. I plan to grow tomatoes in the bales.

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Please excuse the quality of this photograph. I realized before I published this blog post I had forgotten to take an accompanying photograph…so…long story short…ran outside in the dawn hours, tried not to slip on the rain-soaked grass, and took this photo. :)

Instead of placing the bales on newspaper, we opted to use wooden palettes to keep them off of the ground. The palettes add a little extra height. I’m thinking of growing the tomatoes without support, letting them cascade instead over the straw.

Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales

I would love to hear from anyone who is trying this gardening technique. We can compare notes!

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Plant & Painting – Dahlias/Update & WetCanvas April Plant Parade

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My Dahlia Experiment is succeeding at an astonishing rate. One of the tubers has grown into an eighteen inch plant with many of the others following close behind.

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All six tubers have sprouted. It’s time to repot one more time into individual containers. I will grow the dahlias on in these containers until there is no danger of frost. At that point I will transfer them into my garden beds.

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As I stated in an earlier post, my reason for starting the tubers indoors is the dahlia in the photograph below. I purchased this plant from a nursery several years ago. I’ve never had a better blooming dahlia, and I’m hoping for the same success with the tubers I started early.

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The WetCanvas plant parade flower for April is the Dahlia. Here is a link to the thread and the information.

WetCanvas Plant Parade – April 2015/Dahlias

GUIDELINES FOR POSTING IN THE WETCANVAS PLANT PARADE

 

“Please don’t post your paintings until 25th April, which is “reveal day”. It’s much more fun if we all post our paintings on more or less the same day. So when the 25th rolls around wherever you are…post your painting/drawing of Dahlias then.

You can draw, paint, sketch etc, use any medium you wish and change the photos as much as you like. You can zoom in add 2 photos together etc but make sure your flower is this months’ subject THE DAHLIA

You can ask any questions, discuss anything to do with this Plant Parade and generally enjoy talking to other members about it BUT please don’t post your artwork until 25th April.”

Here are two of the reference dahlias for the April Plant Parade courtesy of Vivian Maloney.

Dahlia - Courtesy of WetCanvas and Vivian Maloney

Dahlia – Courtesy of WetCanvas and Vivian Maloney

Dahlia - Courtesy of WetCanvas and Vivian Maloney

Dahlia – Courtesy of WetCanvas and Vivian Maloney

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Project – Flower Pounding/Geranium Notecard

Over the years I have often used vibrant flowers and leaves for flower pounding. Flower Pounding is the art of transferring the color of flowers and foliage by pounding with a hammer or other heavy object. How to Pound Flowers

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Yesterday in my post I included a quick tip about the staining power of geranium petals. This fact reminded me of flower pounding, and it seemed the perfect opportunity to make use of the brilliant flowers and “pound” some blossoms.

Now pounding with a hammer is fine if you are using fabric. When my grandsons and I pounded flowers onto paper with a hammer, dents and dings from the blows marred the surface. I decided to try a gentler approach this time, and using steady pressure, rolled the flowers onto the paper with a small rolling pin. (The larger variety will work fine too)

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I found using a rolling pin was a much better choice for transferring the flower color to paper.
(Warning: Please don’t use a rolling pin you use in cooking and baking. If you don’t have an extra for crafting, use a brayer, a glass, anything round that can be rolled over a surface. Some plants are poisonous and using a rolling pin that is used in food preparation could allow toxins to contaminate the wood.)

LIST OF POISONOUS FLOWERS

ROLLING FLOWERS
1. Place flowers in chosen design on paper face down, add foliage if desired, white or pastel paper works best.
2. Cover flowers with a thin piece of paper, taking care not to move flowers.
3. Applying steady pressure, roll the pin over the flowers, up and down, several times. Don’t be surprised if you see color bleeding through the top sheet.
4. Separate sheets of paper. Bits of flower will cling to both sides. Pick away what you can without marring the pattern. Allow anything stuck fast to dry, and then try to gently remove with a small soft brush.
(Sometimes bits of flowers or foliage will be stuck like glue, no worries, it adds a bit of texture and interest to the card)

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I substituted asparagus fern for the geranium leaves.

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I added a few lines with a gold-tipped pen and threaded a wire-edged ribbon through the top.

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“Voila'” A unique and inexpensive tag for a gift bag.

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Perspective, Plants & Quick Tip – Delightful Dilemma/Geraniums

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I have a delightful dilemma for this coming gardening year. Do I keep my geraniums indoors or let them have a grand vacation outdoors? This would not be a question in past years. Previously, I have stored my geraniums in the winter with bare roots boxed and in a cool place. They often live in this dormant state, but they don’t thrive as they have done this year.

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In the summer of 2014 I grew all my geraniums in pots and decided against pulling them out of the soil for storing. I saved the plants by growing them over the winter in my sunniest window.

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One of the geraniums has reached amazing heights, and I don’t want to cut it back, but I know if placed outdoors the summer winds and storms will certainly knock it over. And there you have my delightful dilemma, do I take all of the plants outdoors, or do I keep the best ones inside and maintain their pristine condition? Hmmmmm….maybe I will split them up and take note of the results for next year. Updates will follow.

Quick Tip: When your geraniums bloom indoors they will eventually lose all their flower petals. Be very careful not to vacuum these with the vacuum flush to the floor. The geraniums will stain your carpet and the color is hard to remove. I know this from experience of course! :( Walking on one accidentally will have the same effect.

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Quote & Perspective – Busy as a Bee

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The weather has turned warm in my area of New Jersey…perfect for an early Spring Walk. I took advantage of the warmth and strolled the paths of a local park. I love pussy willows, and as I gazed upward at the fuzzy catkins, awash in pollen, I made my first bumble bee sighting of 2015.

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He was “Busy as a Bee,” butting and bumbling amongst the golden strands of pollen. On arriving home I followed his example and busied myself making a list of Springtime garden chores. The list looks daunting, but contrary to other to-do lists, this one fills me with JOY! Sunshine, birdsong and muddy fingers await me when I put this list into practice. Yes, I will be busy as that bumblebee this week.

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As I was composing this post my husband walked by the room and said, “There’s an orange sky behind you.”

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The sight of the brilliant morning sky reminded me that while I can choose to be as busy as a bee, I also need set aside time to cherish the splendor of the springtime and guard against being so completely immersed in the seasonal tasks that I fail to enjoy the glory surrounding me.


ORIGIN OF “BUSY AS A BEE.”

“Ey! Goddes mercy!” sayd our Hoste tho,
Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro.
Lo, suche sleightes and subtilitees
In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees.”
~ Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Squire’s Tale

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Photograph & Quote – Treasure Beach Hotel, Jamaica

The Staircase to Treasure Beach Hotel Lobby, Treasure Beach, Jamaica

The Staircase to Treasure Beach Hotel Lobby, Treasure Beach, Jamaica

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Photograph – Afloat

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Afloat.”

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Boats afloat in Frenchman’s Bay, Jamaica

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That’s me afloat in Montego Bay.

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Rays of the sunset afloat on Montego Bay.

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The view from Treasure Beach Hotel…forever “afloat” in the recesses of my best memories.

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Pheathers – Birds of the Caribbean Part II

egret

One of the joys of our days at the Royal Decameron in Montego Bay, Jamaica, was this inquisitive Cattle Egret who visited the snack bar. He seemed to be a frequent visitor for the staff had a name for him. He was completely unafraid and had an appetite for people food. I’m so glad I had my camera with me when he visited our table. Cattle Egrets are very common in Jamaica, but that did not make the interaction with him any less divine.

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People & Praise – Christafari

I love Reggae music. This year I found a Christian Reggae group by the name of Christafari. I purchased their “Greatest Hits” CD from Amazon and absolutely love it.

“Christafari is more than a group of musical trailblazers. They consider themselves “Musicianaries” – using their unique blend of traditional roots and contemporary dancehall reggae to proclaim an uncompromising message of hope and salvation to this lost generation.” ~ Christafari

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Pheathers – Birds of the Caribbean Part I

I love birds, and was totally captivated by the birds of Jamaica. Now and again, you find yourself in a close encounter with an inquisitive bird. My family’s close encounter with a blue jay last year is a good example of this unexpected blessing.

Doctor Bird

Treasure Beach, on the southern coast of Jamaica, was the scene of my first interaction with a bird. In this case I met a  Red-Billed Streamer Tail, or as it is better known, the Doctor Bird.

Hummingbird Nest in Cactus

I was walking along the paths of the Treasure Beach Hotel and spotted a small bird nest in the spines of a cactus. I thought the nest, and another I had seen earlier, might be hummingbird nests, but on researching when I arrived home realized they were more likely the nests of one of the other small birds filling the air with birdsong.

Hummingbird Nest

The sight of the nest in the cactus filled me with such joy…an unexpected sight for someone who watches birds most often in southern New Jersey. I did what I often do when I am happy, I began to sing as I walked not caring if anyone heard me or not.

Suddenly, I had an audience. A hummingbird feeding on a flower nearby must have liked my song, he buzzed close by me, perched on a branch, and began giving me a thorough looking-over. I continued to sing, and as I sang, he seemed to listen. Lucky me that I can do two things at once. My camera, dangling on my wrist, didn’t scare him away, and I took several photos of him as I serenaded him with my chirpy hymn of praise. (In the Sweet By and By)

Dr. Bird in tree

Amazingly, I tired of singing before he tired of listening. As I walked away, I took one more photograph of him perched on his branch enjoying the view of the Caribbean sea.

Silhouette Dr. Bird

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Plants – Morning Glory Blossom

Morning Glory Flower

Morning Glory Flower

In January, I posted on “Sprouting Morning Glories.” Today the first flower burst into bloom.

MORNING GLORY BUDDING

The vines are covered with buds. The fact behind this surprising abundance is morning glories grow lush vines in good soil, and produce more blooms than foliage in poor soil. Since each pot has five plants crammed into it, root space is at a premium, consequently the plants feel their survival is in jeopardy and they bloom for seed production, rather than wasting their energy on leaves.

MORNING GLORY BUDS

The vines are using my venetian blinds as support and are happily climbing and twining up the slats, strings, and closure fixture.

MORNING GLORY VINE

I was surprised when the “Heavenly Blue” variety of morning glory bloomed pink. This could be due to growing indoors, or it might be the blossom of the one “sport” seed that grew different shaped leaves.

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Photograph – Blurred Times/Sunrise, Montego Bay, Jamaica

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Blur.”

Fishing Boat, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Fishing Boat, Montego Bay, Jamaica

I am returned home after ten days spent in one of my favorite vacation destinations: Jamaica. I’ll be blogging more about my stay and some of the unique sights, sounds and activities I took part in, but for today I’m using one of the photographs I captured as an entry in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week the challenge title is “Blur.”

“A throwaway shot, or purposefully unfocused? This week, find beauty in a blur.”

Sunrise in Montego Bay, Jamaica. A fisherman soundlessly glides past the sleeping Royal Decameron Resort.

This photograph was taken in the ‘blurred time’ between the dark and the dawn. As the fisherman rowed past me, I captured the photograph never realizing until just a few moments ago, that his boat was named, “God Bless.” A good reminder to me that so often in the busyness of the day, GOD BLESSES ME, and I am sometimes unaware of his hand of blessing upon my life. Thank you Lord for all your many blessings. GOD BLESS you all on this Easter Monday.

God Bless

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