Place – Philadelphia in the Fog

The fog surrounding Philadelphia transforms the city and surroundings with a metallic silver hue. These sight were photographed from the opposite side of the Delaware river on the shores of National Park, New Jersey.

National Park is a great place to watch planes arriving and departing from Philadelphia International Airport.

Cee’s Foto Challenge this week is Metal. Think how many metal water towers we pass each day, never notice, but depend upon for their durability.

Project – Tripod Birdhouse

Fallen branches create an easy and secure tripod for a bird house. The bottoms are stabilized by placing them about ten inches in the ground. The top of each branch leans against the others securely fastened with floral wire and leather ties. The bird house rests within the three branches and is secured with floral wire and leather through screw-eyes attached to the bottom of the house.

The bird house stands about seven feet tall. I’ll plant several vining plants around the bottom: Moonflower, Cardinal Flower, Morning Glories and Climbing Nasturtiums.

Quick Tip & Pressed Flowers – Pink Leaves or a Baggie, Camera & Notepad with Pencil

I press flowers throughout the year and often create miniature gardens on cardstock to use in the place of overpriced greeting cards. Today, as I was walking, I noticed the Wild Grape leaves were beginning to emerge. The samples in the photo range in size from a quarter to about a dime. They are thick, but press well, and keep their beautiful Spring colors.

I often use the underside of the leaves for my compositions. The pink tints of Spring are deeper on the back, and I love the added texture of the veining.

I found these gems as I took a morning walk around the block today. I wish I had thought ahead and had a small baggie in my pocket. I also would have enjoyed taking a photograph of the tenacious vines in their native setting, and of course, a pencil and notepad would have been great to jot down my thoughts at the moment. I need to keep these things at the ready in the desk near the front door, easy to grab when on the run or starting a walk.

If you press flowers, or want to try, this time of the year is a perfect starting point. Trees are unfurling leaves, maple keys, and other bud-like growth that won’t be found again for a year. Happy Pressing! For more information on pressed flowers click on the title in the category cloud in the right sidebar of this blog.

Plant – Violets

I love violets in the Springtime, not only do they add color, they are gently fragrant and a scent I seek out at this time of the year. Violets self-seed and will pop up in unexpected places, like this one under my hydrangea bush. I have violets everywhere, offspring of the dozen or so I transplanted from the creek bed years ago.

“Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Violets are one of those wonderful garden plants that will grow in between the cracks of stones and in other tight places. They are also perfect for arranging in miniature bouquets.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain

Quick Tip – Losing my Glasses/Tip on Tuesday

I lose my reading/weeding glasses everywhere. Gardening brings about a constant loss and drop of my dollar store spectacles. I place them on the top of my head for safekeeping, but then I need a hat to shade me from the sun and must move them. I carry them in a shirt pocket or tuck them into my collar, and they drop out unbeknownst to me and blend into the weeds. I have a string to hang them around my neck, but it gets caught on bushes and twigs, and besides, I’ve lost that somewhere too.

I found the solution in a simple large safety pin. I attach it to my shirt, and the earpieces slide smoothly into the side, firmly held, but easily removed too.

Here’s a few more Quick Tips for using safety pins:
Safety pins eliminate static cling in clothing: Reducing Static Cling
Zip your dress: Alone and can’t zip, attach a safety pin with a piece of dental floss tied to it and zip away.
Avoid pickpockets: For added security in crowds, safety pin zipper to fabric of purse or pack.
Fix a broken flip-flop: Pin through stem underneath the sole. This will not last long, but might get you to where you can get a new pair.
Keep keys safely in pocket during an amusement park ride: Pin your keys to your inside pocket to avoid losing them when that roller-coaster goes upside down and around.
Keep spare buttons organized: When a shirt/blouse/coat comes with a little packet of replacement buttons, thread them on a safety pin and store in a safe place.
Hide bra straps: Use a safety pin (or paper clip) to hold the back of your bra straps together.

Added tips:
Sherry – Wearing a safety pin can be a way to show solidarity.
Prior – Has used a creative repair for broken flip-flops – a piece of silicon from pool goggles.
Derrick – Great idea for glasses…have a few pairs in different strengths for different needs.

Know another? Tell me in the comment box and I’ll add it to the list.

Peculiarities – Cat Snack

Sunday, I was getting myself ready to go to church and enjoy the Easter cantata, when I noticed my cat behaving oddly. He was crouched near my fireplace, intently studying something on the floor. I watched his odd behavior for a moment or two, then noticed, whatever he was watching, he was also eating. The clue is the small speck of beige on the big blue pillow.

Did you guess? Yes! My praying mantis pod hatched on Palm Sunday.

I was lucky to notice before I left for church and took the pod outdoors to my porch. At this point in time, it seems only a couple dozen or so of the mantis babies escaped the cat and are roaming the house. I have let these mantis go about their business on my walls all day, and they have darkened up in color, and most seem to be okay. Since I’m not squeamish about non-biting, benign insects, I will wait until tomorrow and then give them a ride outside on a sheet of paper. To try and handle their fragile bodies would crush them.

Most of the remaining mantis babies were born outdoors on the back porch. Thankfully, the weather has shifted, and the coming week is going to be warm and without heavy rains. They have a good chance to survive if they can find smaller insects to consume. If not, they will find each other, and it will be a matter of survival of the fittest.

By the time I arrived home from church, most of the mantis babies seemed to have disappeared. I’m hoping they are in the yard already. I know that their small size allows them to slip through the mesh of the screening.

There are still a few lingering on the pussy willow branches, but by tomorrow they will probably have found their way into the great outdoors.

Photographs & Pheathers – After the Storm/Skywatch Friday

It’s rainy and overcast again. In our area ‘April Showers’ are usually a reality and not just a cliché. I took a few photographs of the sky as the sun came out and broke through the storm clouds. I enjoyed the way the light illuminated one side of the trees with the backdrop of grey sky still behind them. The birds looked a little rain-weary, not really moving around too much, giving me a chance to zoom in and get a few interesting photos as they dried off.

If you have a chance take a peek at the Skywatch Friday BlogSpot for some stunning sky photographs. My photographs were taken within a half hour’s time, the storm cleared out quickly, the sun and wind are miraculous at breaking the clouds up and blowing them away.

Plants & Projects – Throwback Thursday – Spider Plant Revisited

Two years ago, April of 2015, I shared a project involving a yard sale bird feeder frame and a spider plant. I love to find wiry, strange contraptions at yard sales and turn them into plant containers. This one is still growing strong. The photo above shows the growth the spider babies have made in two years. Spiders are great plants and easy to propagate. I thought this was a good post to revisit for Throwback Thursday since yard sales are beginning again with the warmer weather. The photo below shows the plant when it was just starting out.

IMG_5606

Quick Tip – Tip on Tuesday/The Miracle of Sharpies

I love Easter Chicks. Show me a small, feathery, fluffy, bright yellow baby bird with beady black eyes and I will definitely say, “Aw…”

I’ve had the chick in the photograph above for years. Over many seasons of packing and unpacking, the tissue paper covering his beak on one side tore away.

Sharpies to the rescue! These permanent markers are great for repairing loss of color. I use the black and blue most often. When I use bleach for cleaning or laundry, no matter how careful I am, if I don’t cover up with an ancient bathrobe while I pour the bleach, I tend to ruin my clothing. Sharpies to the rescue for bleach spots too! I’ve filled in many a spot on blue jeans and black jeans with a sharpie marker. It isn’t perfect, but it extends the life of the garment.

Look how well the Sharpie Marker filled in the torn area. Best of all, I bought this pack of Sharpies in the Autumn when they were almost giving them away during school supply sales.

My Tuesday Quick Tip: Always have an assortment of Sharpie Markers at the ready for small color loss repairs.

Psalms – Winter into Spring

Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
~ Psalm 90:2

The weekend is a perfect time to take a nature walk. These are a few photographs of the wetlands near my home: the trees are beginning to bud, the birds to build their nests, the grasses will soon shoot up new growth, the border of tall waving fronds around the swamp will become dense and impenetrable. Even the ordinary becomes divine when I walk in the beautiful world God created.

Grasses bordering the wetlands, their texture is fascinating.

 

Project – Forcing Pussy Willows

I searched the creek banks near me several times in the last few weeks for pussy willows. There were once several stands of them, but that was before beavers moved into the creek, built a dam, and took down dozens of trees. The beavers have since been relocated to another area, but too late to save the pussy willow trees.

I decided my only course of action to have an Easter arrangement with pussy willows was to buy a bouquet of them. I did so, vased them up, placed them on the mantel, and waited for the catkins to burst through the brown buds. It never happened. My pussy willow branches must have been cut and left dry before they were sold. The twigs are not alive, their catkins will never burst out of the tight buds.

In the meantime, I read an article on preserving pussy willows. I didn’t know I could remove the bud case around the catkin by hand.

This is not as easy as it sounds…and creates a lot of mess.

Removing all the buds took about a half hour of time, but it was worth it. The arrangement looks better with catkins reflecting the light.

Perspective & Plants & Quote – Seedlings/You Do Too Much? NO!

The coleus seedlings have begun to thrive. After their typical slow start, they have developed roots and are now reaching toward the sun on a kitchen windowsill. I’ll let you in on a secret…this is only a portion of the coleus I have growing, there are dozens more under lights. Yes, it seems like a lot of plants, when you add in the tomatoes, eggplant, zinnias, cardinal flowers, moon flowers, etc., etc., etc., but today I came upon a quote in ‘One Woman Farm,’ by Jenna Woginrich, that perfectly described how I feel about what others might view as an excess of activity and objects in my life.

Jenna writes in a chapter titled, ‘I Do Too Much:’
“I do what I do because it fills my mind, body, and spirit. I live in this frenzy of activity not as a victim but as a celebrant.”
and…
“You know what I think? I think wasted potential is a lot scarier than feeling overwhelmed. There is no monster greater than regret.”

I agree Jenna, and so I say when I spend a good half hour watering all my seedling babies…”Onward!”

One of the ‘mother’ plants of my coleus seeds.