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Phavorites – Sun Gazing/Female Portraits in Western Art

I enjoyed this quick video of some great artworks. I hope you will too.

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Peculiarities – Featherless Cardinals

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Last year, I was surprised to see a male cardinal with a patch of feathers missing atop his head. The exposed skin resembled a “flattop” haircut. This year the same bird seems to have returned, or another with the same condition, showing a head completely bare of any trace of feathers. My sister thought she saw the same bird in her yard, but it had a jaunty feather still attached like an ornery cowlick. I researched the condition and found an article on the phenomenon of cardinals losing their head feathers.

“Seasonally, a few birds are attacked by feather mites, tiny arthropods whose feeding destroys feather shafts. Normally, the birds would divest themselves of these mites by preening, but birds cannot effectively preen their own heads. Once the mites have destroyed their food source on the birds’ heads, they must either move on to a new victim or place themselves in jeopardy on another area of their host’s body.”
~Buffalo News

There is so much to see and discover in the amazing world God has created. Take a walk, sit and swing, look out a window today and enjoy the wonder of nature all around you. You might even spot a cardinal with a flattop haircut. :D

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Project – Memento Frame

Photo collage created with Pic Monkey

Photo collage created with Pic Monkey

The collage displays several of the tiny memento frames I have in my home. I’ve posted about them in the past, but today I am showing the steps I took to create one of my own.

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Why are the items in this photograph important to me? The watercolor snippet is awash with a few colors I frequently use when I paint. The colors perfectly matched the Cayman Island dollar bill my husband and I found beachcombing.

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While on the same beach my husband picked up perfectly matched mussel shells, held them over his heart, and smiled that twinkly smile that captured my heart many years ago. I had to save the shells and find a way to keep them as a remembrance. After almost thirty-eight years, I still see the same boy I married.

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The only tricky part in creating my project was gluing the shells to the collage. To do this I brushed a little glue in the interior of the shell, knowing that when I placed it right sight up on the canvas, the glue would slide down and “hopefully” adhere the shell to the collage without seeping out the sides. I used rubber cement since it is sticky rather than runny. It worked, most likely because the shells are very light and didn’t require a heavy duty adhesive.

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I’m thrilled to have followed through with my idea. So often my beachcombing finds will lay in the bottom of a storage box for years. Do you have a memento of a special day? Create a small memento frame that will remind you of the happy occasion.

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Photograph – Cicada Wasp

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A few days ago I posted a close-up photograph of a newly emerged cicada. Birds prey on cicadas, but they also have another predator to worry about in the insect realm…cicada wasps, or as they are also known, cicada hawks. These scary looking wasps don’t usually sting people, but they are deadly to cicadas. I find their appearance fascinating.

Solitary wasps (such as the eastern cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such as hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests; unlike most social wasps and bees, they do not attempt to sting unless handled roughly. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plant sap exudates. After digging a nest chamber in the burrow, female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting. After paralyzing a cicada, the female wasp holds it upside down beneath her and takes off toward her burrow; this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is often more than twice her weight. After putting one or more cicadas in her nest cell, the female deposits an egg on a cicada and closes the cell with dirt.”
~ Wikipedia

Cicada Wasps are Gentle Giants

“Close Up.”

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Plants – Dry Your Herbs the Super-Easy Way

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I love Lemon Basil. Not only does this wonderful herb have the kick of basil, it also has a lemony taste and smell. Lemon Basil thrived in my garden this summer and the time for a first harvest soon arrived.

I dried a good portion of the lemon basil in my turkey roaster, on low heat, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Experimenting with an interesting technique for drying herbs was my choice for the remainder of the basil. In an online article from Mother Earth Living, I recently read of drying herbs uncovered in the fridge. I decided to give it a try. Mother Earth Living – Dry Your Herbs in the Fridge.

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I placed the basil in a dish…

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…And wedged it in the back corner of the fridge. Within a few days the basil was completely dried out.

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The two techniques, after drying, side by side.

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When mixed together, there are no obvious differences in either basil. Both are nicely dried and ready to be stored for using at a later date. Both techniques have their pluses: drying in the turkey roaster is quick, although you run the risk of over-drying and destroying the flavor. Drying in the fridge takes a few days, but there is no danger of burning your herb. Experiment and let me know if the fridge-drying technique works for you.

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Quotes & Photograph – Yellow Swallowtail

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Yellow Swallowtail

Yellow Swallowtail

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
~ Richard Bach

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Photo Challenge – Cicada

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

The Cicadas-are-a-thrumming! One of the unmistakable sounds of summertime. I found this newly hatched cicada on my holly tree.

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The skins they shed are so interesting.

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Quirkiness – Tree Decor & Strange “Selfies”

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I have mixed feelings about “selfies.”

Definition. Selfie. “A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website.”
~ Urban Dictionary

At times “selfies” make me laugh, in other instances they seem the definition of self-absorption. Whatever the case may be they are a good way to convey your location and mood. This strange “selfie” of me was so true to who I am, I decided to post it. It is also a good way to show one of my favorite spots in my backyard. The small brass mirror, with its magical moon, is a constant draw, an inanimate pied piper if you will, for my grandchildren. I hope when they are grown they will remember gazing in this mirror and relive their surprise and fascinated joy as their own image looked back at them. Perhaps the experience could be called a “selfie” of their earliest memories.

Brass mirrors and other chachkis: (True spelling: tchotchke – trinkets or baubles of little value) are easy to work in amongst the ivy or can be hung on any tree with a small nail or tack. These little knickknacks are easy to find at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales. Give it a try and make someone smile at their unexpected reflection.

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Quick Tip – Feed the Birds

If you have leftover ice cream cones, thread them with a pipe cleaner or string, fill with bird seed, and place outdoors on a branch or hook. I added a bit of hot glue to the hole I punched in the side so that the hanger would not pull through. An egg carton makes a perfect tray to carry them home. This is a super-easy project to craft with toddlers or Pre-K children.

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Quirkiness – Wacky Wednesday/Creating Cairns on Block Island

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I recently composed a mantelscape using “beachy” items in honor of summer and the many seashore areas we have visited. I created a cairn (stacked rocks) with a few pebbles I brought home from Block Island, Rhode Island. I have created many a cairn on the Block Island beaches and admired hundreds more of these impromptu works of art built by the talented stone stackers who roam the bluffs, rocks and sand of this beautiful place.

“A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn).” ~ Wikipedia

Here are a few of the cairns I have photographed over the years on Block Island. As you can see cairns can be stacked quite tall…

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Or very small…

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Some have a picturesque backdrop…

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While others adorn the muddy clay at the base of the bluffs…

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Some stand alone…

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While others stand en masse in a madrigal choir of stone.

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There are even a few who have gotten married! (See note about this photograph at end of post)

The Wedding March

Block Island cairns are created with the beautiful rocks and pebbles found on Block Island Beaches.

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I composed and photographed the bride and groom photograph on Block Island a few years ago. I have used it many times as a wedding or shower greeting card. Please feel free to copy and use the photograph for non-commercial uses. It looks terrific mounted on a piece of black cardstock and then double-mounted on a white 5 x 7 greeting card. The photo is a standard size and should be easy to have reproduced anywhere they print out digital photos. Better yet, try your hand at creating your own bride and groom photograph from natural items…so much fun!

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Photograph – What’s the Rest of the Story?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Half and Half.”This week, let’s split our photos in two.

I enjoyed taking part in this photo challenge. Here’s a bit of a game, guess what the other half of my photographs might be, and then scroll down and see how close you were to the correct answer.

What is missing in the photo of a frog?

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Why his frog buddy of course!

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trestle bridge

What will you find if you follow this railroad trestle bridge across a Southern New Jersey salt marsh?

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A terrific waterway for crabbing.

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What are these two ladies creating that requires so much concentration?

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They are creating a floral masterpiece in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory.

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Phavorites – Poldark on PBS

I’ve been enjoying Poldark on PBS. You can catch up through On Demand or view many clips and scenes on YouTube.

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Quotes – Corrie Ten Boom

WP Corrie Ten Boom Quote

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Place & Pond – Longwood Gardens and Canna Plants

Longwood Gardens Cannas Plant Growing In Conservatory

Longwood Gardens Canna Plant Growing In Conservatory

On a fine June day this year, my husband and I visited Longwood Gardens.

Water lilies at Longwood Gardens

Water lilies at Longwood Gardens

We enjoyed walking around the outdoor water gardens. The water lilies grown at Longwood are spectacular.

Giant Victoria Water Lilies

Giant Victoria Water Lilies

The large platter-like water lily pads are called Giant Victoria Water Lilies. The lily pads in the photograph are only beginning their growth. By the end of the growing season they will be six feet across.

Lotus Flower and Cannas in Water Gardens

Lotus Flower and Cannas in Water Gardens

While we admired the water gardens I noticed that the pond had cannas plants growing in the water. (The cannas are in the distance, the yellow plants in the background) Up to that point I didn’t know cannas would grow in water. I immediately envisioned them in my pond, and happily, found one on sale at a local fruit stand.

My garden pond cannas blooming.

My garden pond canna blooming.

I took the canna home, weighed it down with rocks, and was delighted that all seemed well. My smile of success soon disappeared when I checked later in the day and found that the plant had overturned, fouling the water with dirt and perlite. I scooped out what I could and took the canna out of the water. I found all the dirt had floated away. I decided to give the canna a try anyway and completely filled the pot with small and medium rocks. My canna has thrived. The yellow flowers have been blooming non-stop for about two weeks now. If you have a water feature in your yard, consider planting a canna plant.

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That’s me sitting on the Longwood Gardens Queen Bee Throne. Seriously, I did not plan my outfit and sunglasses to match the throne so perfectly. Funny! I must be a bee at heart…if not a queen.

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Phlowers – Flowers on Friday/Zinnia

When I see my zinnia buds beginning to look like this…

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I get very excited, because…I know they will burst into full bloom within days.

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I will finally know what color they will be and if they are single-petaled…

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Or very full, resembling a pom-pom.

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No matter the color…

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The shape or the size…

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I LOVE zinnias!

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Plants – Garden Update/Straw Bale Tomato Garden

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I posted in the Spring on “Planting Straw Bales” with tomato plants. The technique has been more successful that I had even hoped. The tomato plants are soaring above my head and loaded with tomatoes of all types. Thus far, I have harvested many grape tomatoes, but so has the neighborhood chipmunk. Growl….

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These little guys are adorable until they are ravaging your garden beds or digging dens under your concrete foundations and porches. One of the chipmunk gang in our yard has learned how to raid my suet cage and bird feeders. Double Growl…

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I sprinkled chile powder in the chipmunks favorite dining area, but he just brushed it away and kept on feasting. Triple Growl…

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One mistake I made with the Straw Bale Garden was placing the bales onto palettes instead of on newspaper. The palettes did keep the area neat at the start, but as the bales have decomposed they have sunk to low levels. I am hoping that somehow the roots of the tomatoes will find their way into the gaps of the palette and reach the ground underneath. I will update again further along in the season.

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Photograph – Beach Drift in July

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A bit of beach drift, natural and the not-so-naturals: Cayman Islands Dollar Bill, Trouble Bracelet, Sunglasses & An Army Man.

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Quirky, Quick Tip – The Dragonfly Pick

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On a recent hot day I found a dragonfly, lifeless on my front sidewalk. I took it inside and laid it on a piece of paper, waiting to see if it might still be alive, but it was not. What beautiful wings and perfect body, I marveled at the intricacy of the insect. I left it where it lay for a few days knowing it would dry out. Preserving the dragonfly as a plant pick was my way of paying homage to its magical beauty.

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A small dab of hot glue and a cloth covered floral wire was all it took to attach the dragonfly to the wire.

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I wrapped the opposite end of the wire around a small toothpick and inserted it into a fern. Beautiful. If you are squeamish about bugs perhaps you don’t see the beauty of my craft, but I am filled with awe when I gaze at the perfection of the dragonfly. This technique will also worked on other beautiful winged creatures. I have found quite a few large butterflies and moths perfectly preserved on forest floors and fields. Keep your eyes open for a winged creature who has succumbed to old age and find a way to extend its beauty for a bit longer.

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Philm & Painting – Woman In Gold

I had high hopes for this film and it did not disappoint. If you savor stories of victory over the establishment, if you feel we should all be reminded of the Holocaust to prevent the atrocities from happening again, and if you cheer for people who persevere even when all the odds are against them, you will LOVE this motion picture. “Woman in Gold” is widely available for home viewing at this time. I LOVED it.

A great article was written by the New York Times: The Woman in Gold.

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Perspective – The Gospel

Timelesslady:

Impartation: the ability to give unto others that which God has given to us … either sovereignly, or through other anointed vessels (messengers) of God.

Eric and Leslie Ludy Bio

Originally posted on Christian Patriots:

Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Romans 3:23-24

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . .

Romans 4:4-5

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted…

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