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Peculiarities – The Mantis Whisperer

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I spotted him first atop the vitex tree.

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He let me get close…closer…closest…

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…and even seemed to strike a few interesting poses.

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When I offered him my thumb, he climbed aboard…

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…and seemed quite amused when I placed him on a bright zinnia as a backdrop for a photograph. Did I say I love praying mantis? I do. :D

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Pleasure – Apples

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September is here…school begins…the bliss of summer ends. Happily, Autumn has its own joys…and apples are tops on my list of seasonal favorites.

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I bought a small basket of Gala apples at the local farm market. Galas are one of my favorite apple varieties. I enjoy using them to make a delicious side dish of baked apples. (With whipped cream on top, baked apples can also be a delicious dessert.)

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Core and slice the apples thin. No special measurements, slice up as many as you think you will eat in one sitting, or cut a few extra for leftovers.

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I like to cook baked apples in glass bakeware. Place apples in baking dish, dot freely with butter, sprinkle top with brown sugar, and add a sprinkling of cinnamon. I sometimes also add a pinch of salt. Bake at 350, covered with foil or a lid for about forty-five minutes. Enjoy!

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Photograph – Gazebo, Gazebo and Gazebo

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “From Every Angle.” “This week, photograph a stationary subject from three different angles.”

The Gazebo overlooking Glen Lake, Pitman, New Jersey.

Gazebo Collage

Gazebo Collage

Gazebo overlooking Glen Lake

Gazebo overlooking Glen Lake

Gazebo looking up

Gazebo looking up

Gazebo - View across the lake.

Gazebo – View across the lake.

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Praise – The Moon and Moonflowers

“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?”
~ Psalm 8:3-4

the shadowed moon

The Moon was beautiful last night. “The full moon of August 29, 2015 is the first of this year’s three full Supermoons. It’s a full moon near perigee, or near its closest point to Earth for the month.” ~Earth Sky.Org

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My Moonflower Vine, earthbound, unfurled one of it’s large buds and mirrored the beauty of the moon under the nighttime sky.

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Pareidolia – What do you see?

While walking the beach at Fortescue, New Jersey, on the Delaware Bay, I spotted this shell. It looked just like a fish to me. I saved it and hope to create a pendant with it one day.

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Phlashback Phriday – Patsy Cline & Willie Nelson

I love the way technology can bring us old songs in a new way. This duet by the classic Patsy Cline, a favorite of mine, and the timeless Willie Nelson is a perfect example.

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Plants – Final Update/Straw Bale Gardens

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I have enjoyed reaping the benefits of my experiment in Straw Bale Gardening this year. Even though I made a mistake and placed the bales on pallets, the tomato plants adapted. As the hay decomposed and fell between the spaces, the tomato plant roots followed the trail of soil. In the photograph, you can see the plants grew to a terrific size. Their growth rate was so fast, I had to change my mind about letting them grow on the straw as vines, and used standard wire tomato cages instead. The fruit the plants produced was large and flavorful. They are beginning to decline now, but so are the tomatoes in the gardens of friends and family. If you have the space, consider giving this unique way of growing vegetables a try next year.

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Pleasure – Sunrise on Elk Neck River, MD

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Pots and Pans – Cream Cheese Ranch Dip

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Summer vegetables are plentiful at this time. Instead of ordinary tossed salads, try a veggie plate instead for your next dinner or gathering. At our last family get-together I served vegetables with a delicious dip I concocted with ingredients I had on hand in my fridge and pantry. Everyone loved it, and even though it was savory, it worked with the cantaloupe too.

CREAM CHEESE RANCH DIP

4 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/8 tsp sugar

I added a few sprigs of fresh dill and thyme. You can use a few pinches of any herb you prefer.

Put everything in a food processor and blend. Chill and serve.

I refrigerated the leftovers overnight and they did not separate at all.

I am going to try and change it up to a sweet dip for fruits by omitting the herbs, adding honey or brown sugar instead, and perhaps some cinnamon. Experiment, and see what deliciousness you can think up.

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Photograph – All Creatures Great and Small

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“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.”
~ Cecil Frances Alexander

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Praise – Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.
~ Gloria Patri

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Project – Charcoal Sticks

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When straight wind storms blew through this year, they brought down hundreds of small sticks from the trees surrounding our yard. We collected these and used them in a campfire. Forgotten, the remains lay in the fire pit and weathered for a few weeks. Oh my! Imagine my surprise when perfect sticks of charcoal for artwork caught my eye.

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A quick autograph of my initials on the surrounding fire pit bricks assured me they were art-worthy.

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I collected a good amount and brought them into the house.

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Although I haven’t created art with charcoal in years, I’m eager to give the homemade sticks a try. There might be a bit of frustration involved since the thinner sticks break easily, but hey, it’s an endeavor that won’t cost me more than a sheet of paper.

A good example of charcoal art can be viewed in the following video:

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Photograph – Creepy Self-Portrait

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Creepy.”“This week, show us something creepy — because hey, we can’t take photos of rainbows and puppies every day. Well, okay, I guess we can. But let’s branch out anyway!”

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This was definitely an accidental self-portrait…my face reflected in the windowpane as I snapped photos of a gigantic spider spinning a web outside. The species of spider is harmless, but I’m still glad the window was between us. The next morning…she was gone.

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Pressed Flowers – Creating a Greeting Card

pressed flower card

In the past I sold pressed flower greeting cards by the dozens at craft shows and even through a local hardware store. I don’t pursue this line of making a bit of money any longer, but I still like to create an occasional card for friends or family.

I have posted many tips on how to press flowers in the blog. If you use the search box in the right hand sidebar, and search for “pressed flowers,” you will find quite a bit of useful information.

I create my cards without using glue by creating a design on regular paper, and then dropping the flowers onto clear laminate backwards and right side down. I’ve included a quick video of one of my cards start to finish in 8x normal speed. You will even see me deal with a dilemma at the end of my creating. It’s a good idea to place the finished card in a book with a weight on top for a few hours before using it. Any questions…feel free to ask me in the comment section of this post. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

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Photograph – Wordless Wednesday/Monarch Butterfly

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Pots and Pans – Easy Rice Pudding

I often have quite a bit of rice left over when I include it in favorite recipes. A good way to use it up is make rice pudding.

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I don’t know where this recipe came from, so I don’t know who to credit. I think it is probably one of those very basic and timeless recipes that doesn’t have an author.

RICE PUDDING

2 – 2 1/4 cups of cooked rice
3 cups of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine first four ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and add vanilla and raisins. Simmer, stirring often, for 30 – 45 minutes, or until all the milk is absorbed. Remove from heat…stir several times as it cools. Sprinkle on cinnamon if desired. I like to eat mine warm or at room temperature. My husband prefers his cold. Refrigerate any leftover pudding. Eat within a day or two. You will have plenty to give away!

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Quick Tip – Leftover Rice can be frozen. I package one cup portions in snack-sized zip bags and store in a freezer safe container.

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Quirkiness – Sea Monkeys and Other Oddities of the Fifties

I ran across this Youtube video yesterday. The images reminded me of long ago days and products. The Sea Monkeys advertisement made me laugh. I had forgotten about those crazy monkeys. Turns out, for all of us who craved our own sea monkey pets, they were nothing more than brine shrimp. Enjoy!

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People and Quote – Martin Luther

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on the trees…

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…and in the flowers…

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…and clouds and stars.” ~ Martin Luther

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Photo – Devils & Angels Beneath Your Feet

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Beneath Your Feet.” This week, look down and capture the ground beneath your feet.

There are angels on the beach at Fortescue:

Seagull, Fortescue New Jersey

Seagull, Fortescue New Jersey

And then there are the devils:

Tentacles

Tentacles

 

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Quick Tip – Using the Heat at Hand – Part II

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I’ve posted in the past about drying herbs quickly on a tray or towel in the trunk of my car. I’ve also pressed flowers in this way…the technique works. Recently, I’ve gone an even quicker route. I place clean herbs in brown paper lunch bags, clip the top shut with a clothespin, and leave them inside the hot cab of the car for a day or two. I then shake the bag a little, and place it in the top of a dark closet. Within a week, the herbs are ready to package up and use. Give this a try. Your car might smell a little like an Italian restaurant, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

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