Pots & Pans – Creating Rainbows/Sanding Sugars

It’s Christmas Cookie Time! Hooray! Time to unpack my cookie cutters and whip up  a new batch of sanding sugars. Creating your own colorful sugars is easy to do, even better, homemade sugars cost a fraction of what you pay at the grocer or specialty store.


Ingredients & Supplies:

1/4 C of sugar

Food Coloring – Gel or Liquid

Jar or Plastic Bag

Toothpick if using gel

  • Cornstarch (sometimes needed if using liquid food color)


Measure out your sugar into a jar or plastic bag. Add gel with a toothpick or drip 12 -24 drops of liquid food coloring into sugar. Start small, more color can  be added later. I found with the gel food coloring, mashing the colorant into the sugar through the baggie combined it quicker than shaking it in a jar. Liquid food coloring might work better with the shaking technique.


Let the  sugar dry for a few hours. I spread mine on a piece of parchment paper. The flexibility of the parchment made it very easy to lift and pour the sugar into a jar. You can also use a plate or bowl. A funnel is a good tool for pouring the sugar into the jar without mess. If you used liquid food coloring, you  might need a 1/4 tsp of cornstarch worked into the mix  for dryness. I didn’t need any cornstarch in my sugars.


I think the finished sugars have a brighter appearance than many of the decorative sugars available in the supermarket.









Photographs – Riding the Waves


Today was the perfect day to put our bicycles in the back of the truck and head for Ocean City, NJ. Quite a few people took advantage of the warm temperatures, and although the sky was overcast, the boardwalk had a good crowd walking its length. In the distance you can see Atlantic City in a haze of foggy mist.


The surf was rough today…according to the Ocean City Surf Report the waves were 7 to 7.5 feet, and the water temperature was between 52-55 degrees. Dozens of wetsuit-clad surfers were gathered in the water waiting for the perfect wave.


I’ve never seen the waves so large in Ocean City.


It’s mesmerizing to watch the surfers “TRANSITION” from calmly waiting to flying across the face of the wave.

water spin

At times the transition means wiping out.


No big deal, the surfer paddles back out and begins again.


Photograph – Foggy Enchanted Trio




“What comes in threes? Submit an image for this week’s photo theme, Trio.”

Between five and six this morning, I ventured outdoors with my camera to take some photographs of the gorgeous moon illuminating the sky. My moon shots were blurry, but while I was attempting to photograph its luminous face, my camera flash bounced off the moisture in the air and captured a sense of the magical within the foggy skyscape.


Quick Tip – Mossy Pots and Collections Spotlighted


The natural route is the path I’m taking for my Christmas decorating this year. I don’t want to spend money on glitzy junk that I will use for a year or two, and then give away, or deposit in the trash. Instead, I am using a few of my collections, combined with treasured Christmas heirlooms, and adding a bit of nature to the mix.


My Willow figurines are displayed on a shelf throughout the year. Why not give them a place of honor for Christmas beneath the tree?


A few clay pots scattered throughout the grouping added just the right touch of “natural” to the collection.


You can piece the moss in place, using many different types, or if you are lucky you might find a rounded hillock of green that will fit perfectly within the diameter of the rim.

If perchance a figurine is knocked off a table or shelf a quick repair can be made using bread dough. Repairing Willow Figurines

Praise – Dandelions


Dandelions are resilient flowers. They are one of the first blossoms to show themselves in the Spring. Often, in the middle of our New Jersey winters, I will find a blossom or two reflecting the gold of the sun.

The poem included in the photograph of the dandelion, “My Jesus I Love Thee,” was written by William R. Featherston when he was sixteen. In 1876 Adoniram Gordon put the poem to music. “My Jesus I Love Thee,” is still sung in churches all around the world, just like the dandelions the hymn is resilient and will surely be sung many years in the future too.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

I love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

In Mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Perspective – World Affairs

Friends, I try for the most part to keep my blog light, infusing posts with my daily experiences of ordinary living combined with the extraordinary experience of loving and worshipping the Lord God Almighty. Do I have the normal high and low moments peculiar to all mankind? You betcha. Do I accomplish anything good? Well, I try and sometimes succeed, but there are bad moments when I fall flat on my face. Do I make mistakes? Of course. Do you know who is always there to forgive, steady and point me back in the right direction? Yes…my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will always be my Helper and Friend.

There is an old game doing new damage in the media, blogs, and everyday conversation…it is the blame game. The new twist is deeming UnChristlike anyone who expresses a cautionary attitude about opening borders to refugees without protocol in place to properly help them once they are here. Masterful spin doctors are picking and choosing Bible verses condemning anyone who urges some caution.

It is very easy to enter into the fray as Christians to prove our point by picking and choosing our own Bible Verses in response. Today in “My Utmost for his Highest,” by Oswald Chambers, the daily devotional spoke about being consumed by the “cares of this world.” I took the words to heart and decided to bring to an end any posts I might make on world affairs. Instead of adding one more voice to the cacophony of spoken and written opinion, an area where I am prone to make mistakes, I will “intercede” in prayer, leave it on the altar, and give the consequences to God.

“Beware of ‘the cares of this world,’ because they are the things that produce a wrong temper of soul. It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God. Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life.”

“God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” ~ Oswald Chambers”

My Utmost For His Highest – Daily Post

Perspective – Refugee Crisis

The refugee crisis is building. People have escaped the wars and persecution in their homeland and have nowhere to go. Countries are forced into opening their borders for those in need of help and sanctuary. Yet…as we all know…wolves in sheep’s clothing are also entering in with the refugees. I don’t know the answer. As a Christian I want to help my fellow man, following Jesus’ example of the good Samaritan, but on the other hand I also have read extensively in the Old Testament and know Israel was brought to ruin many times by letting refugees settle in their land bringing their own customs and religion with them. Today I read an article with an excellent perspective on the situation and Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. I’ve included a quote and link to the full article below:

“But it’s important to recognize a couple of things. First, the Samaritan did not take the man into his own home. He paid the bill, but he did not in any way put himself at risk of harm from the man. Even more importantly, the Samaritan made a free choice of his own will to help the man.

What the left wants to do in the case of the Syrian refugees is use the power of the state to force an entire nation to welcome people into their midst without any effort to ensure that members of ISIS with evil intentions were filtered out. That’s not compassion. That’s national suicide. And if you think God wants nations to commit suicide, just skim through the Old Testament and consider the many instructions He gave to Israelite kings to attack foreign armies – even killing and plundering those they conquered. When it came to warfare, God instructed the kings of Israel to be pretty ruthless in dealing with their enemies.”

~ What does the Bible really say about taking in Syrian refugees-Dan Calabrese/Canadian Free Press

Phlowers & Phloral Arrangements – Alstroemeria

alstromeria jpg

“Alstroemeria, commonly called the Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Alstroemeriaceae. They are all native to South America although some have become naturalized in the United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Madeira and the Canary Islands.” ~ Wikipedia

Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily) are one of my favorite flowers for floral arrangements. When I trained to become a floral designer, I learned a few tips about this plant. The first step in floral arranging is to remove all the foliage that is below the water line. Alstroemeria has an abundance of leaves. One odd fact about alstroemeria is the foliage along the stem will yellow and die before the flower petals begin to fall. Most floral stems lose their flowers first. When I prepare alstroemeria for vases I remove ALL the foliage BELOW the blossoms. I keep the leaves intact that are attached to the blossoming offshoots. Your flowers will stay fresh longer if you remove the lower leaves. Alstroemeria are available anywhere you buy flower bunches and come in an amazing array of colors. They are very thirsty so check your vase and arrangement water daily to keep them hydrated and fresh.

Postscript: Thanks to Lulu for reminding me about the very best characteristic of Alstroemeria…they are one of the longest-lasting flowers to use in arrangements. :)

Pheathers – Creating Crystalline for Birds in Winter


I am in the midst of creating layers of crystalline on a stump in the backyard. Placed near the border of ivy and pines, I am hoping the birds will flock to the stump and enjoy the salt crystals as they form. The crystalline should help ease their craving for salt and keep them from ingesting rock salt and ice melt when the ground is covered in snow.

Recipe for Crystalline
Wood ashes*
Mix salt and ashes with enough water to dissolve and pour over a large rock, stump or wood block. As the water evaporates, crystals form that attract mineral-hungry birds. (Be sure to keep the salt water away from areas that are planted with shrubs or near gardens ? salinating the soil can create problems for plant growth.) *These can be fireplace ashes as long as they do not contain residues from colored (especially red) or slick paper
~ Mother Earth News & “Country Wisdom and Know-How

First I burned some small sticks and oak shavings. I used only natural wood and newspaper without colored ink to give it a quick start.


I let the ashes cool down and then used a large tin can filled with a 1/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of water. I added all the small pieces of ashes I could scoop out of the fire pit. The recipe doesn’t give exact measurements so I am just guessing about quantities.


I poured the crystalline over the stump and  used the trowel I mixed with to batter down any lumps. The consistency resembled cement and easily stuck to the stump.


I will continue mixing up the crystalline after campfires, and build up layers on the stump. In a few weeks, if the birds don’t notice the stump, I will scatter some bird seed and hopefully they will come and dine.

Crystals can also be formed by using mixing up plain saltwater.


“Many birds crave salt as an essential mineral, particularly in the winter when roads are regularly salted. Unfortunately, feeding on the side of the road can be deadly for birds, and offering salt crystals at your feeders will help keep them safe. Create a strong saltwater solution and let it evaporate in a shallow dish to make larger crystals, or pour it over a log or stump if there is no danger of freezing.

TIP: Salt can kill grass and make it difficult to grow plants, so keep the salt you’re offering the birds well away from gardens and other plantings.” ~ About Home / Birding

Providing bird grit (available in pet sections) in cleared out areas also helps with digestion when ground is covered with snow. As always, a water source is vital for birds in all weather.

Quick Tip – Quelling a Queasy Stomach


It’s the season of stomach flu, digestive upsets due to over-eating or eating the wrong foods, and as in my case, ingesting too many chemicals/food coloring.

My husband is a victim of stomach flu today. He works in retail and comes in contact with many people in the course of day. Eventually, germs slip by even the most diligent hand-washing. I offered him a bowl of applesauce just a few minutes ago, and he was able to eat it. I think he will begin to feel better soon.

When I am feeling queasy, or wake with a sickly headache due to unwise eating, applesauce makes me feel better. I always choose a brand without sweeteners. The last thing I need when I am feeling poorly is a big dose of sugar or artificial ingredients.

Applesauce is an item in the BRAT diet for upset stomach. (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast) BRAT diet information.

Here’s some more great advice for quelling a queasy stomach. Thanks to Fatima for this great comment.

“When I was a child, my mum would grate an apple and add some orange juice for sweetening whenever we had a poorly stomach and didn’t feel like eating. Another one of her home remedies was to mash a banana with lemon and a bit of sugar: this really stopped runny tummies very quickly and I still use this remedy today. My son loved it too and it really works! Can’t beat nature for effective remedies!” ~ Fatima Saysell

Plants – Thanksgiving Cactus


My Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera) is beginning to bloom right on time.


Blossoms and buds cover the tips of the cactus. I summered this plant outdoors on the porch until early Autumn when I brought it indoors. Placed in a window of my cool basement, I kept the plant fairly dry, watering lightly. The cactus is upstairs now showing off its beautiful flowers.


There are plenty of buds in varying sizes, a promise of blooms through Thanksgiving Day.

I found a terrific site with good information on identifying Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus and how to grow and bring them into bloom: Caring for Holiday Cactus

Praise – I Know Whom I Have Believed

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.” ~ Psalm 119:30

Living at peace in our modern-day world seems unlikely as we read/hear of current events. Every nation appears to be on the precipice of ruin and war due to the selfish and violent natures of a few. It’s easy to start contemplating the horrifying what-ifs, but I stop myself short and say aloud, “God is in control.” The words of this hymn came to mind today and gave me sustaining peace. We must stay aware of the times we are living in, but as we do, we must also continue to have constant faith in the coming triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed,” was written by Daniel Webster Whittle (1840 – 1901)

“I know not when my Lord may come,
at night or noonday fair,
nor if I walk the vale with him,
or meet him in the air.
Refrain:But I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that he is able
to keep that which I’ve committed
unto him against that day.”
~ Daniel Whittle Webster

Photo – Ordinary into Ornate

Ornate “Forget about subdued and restrained. This week, let’s embrace the breathtakingly extravagant.” ~Wordpress Photo Challenge

watch workings

Even though it’s functional and quite ordinary, the inside of a watch has an intriguing beauty. Take a photograph, crop, bump up the color, and it’s downright ornate.

PicMonkey has many free photo applications for editing photographs.

Plants & Plans – Seed Catalogs and Garden Journals

pinetree garden seeds

Yesterday was the perfect day for a bit of sunshine in the way of garden catalogs. I found a copy of the Pinetree Garden Seeds Catalog in my mailbox, and in my virtual mailbox I received notification of the new edition of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog. Both of these favorites were a high point in a rather cloudy day.

The arrival of these catalogs prompted me to pull out last year’s garden journal. I use a spiral notebook for my garden notes. I appreciate having the option of pulling out a page I’m disappointed with, and I also like the low price. (50 cents to $5.00) I’ve tried fancier, and more expensive journals, but prefer an inexpensive spiral with an interesting print as a cover, or as in the case of this year’s notebook, an intense garden green.

garden notebook

I tape plant tags, glue down used seed packets, and make notes to myself on these pages. Perhaps tonight I will read through each entry  and highlight the plants that were successful, or write a big, “NO! beside the disappointments I don’t want to repeat.

Even though gardening might be a low priority on your to-do list now that Autumn is waning, it is the perfect time begin dreaming and planning for the 2016 growing season.



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