Place – Cape May/Points of Interest

img_5016-2

Near the Cape May Point is a small pond. A beautiful duo of swans were swimming in the water. I hoped to capture a wonderful photo of their long necks regally extended, but they were intent on feeding, and this was the view they gave us.

img_5015-2

On the way home we stopped at the Cape May Zoo.

img_5025-2

I had never seen it so crowded. We saw an opposite image of our pond swans, black swans in one of the zoo’s pond enclosures.

img_5037-2

The giraffes are always a favorite…

img_5041-2

…as are the zebras. The animals have very large areas to roam and run in.

img_5066-2

The zoo was very crowded, we had forgotten it was a holiday weekend. I wished I could fly like a peacock and set myself above the commotion.

img_5061-2

By the time we left we felt as exhausted as this napping camel. Isn’t he/she cute?

img_5057-2

If you are ever in the Cape May area take a few hours to visit this amazing zoo. It is a free zoo, if you would like to make a donation you can do so when you enter for parking, but it is not required.

Project – Terrarium Part II/The Stopper

img_4928

One of the pitfalls of creating a terrarium is finding the perfect stopper, or lid, that will not detract from the beauty of the planted jar or vase. I wanted to follow through on the natural theme, but also hoped to find something entirely unique to seal in the moisture. For the natural, I placed some double stick tape on the top of the vase, and wound several strands of dried grass around the rim.

img_4929

Next I glued a few pieces of dried moss to the rim.

img_4930

I finished off the natural elements with some skeletonized hydrangea flowers. These beautiful blossoms naturally lose their flesh when left beneath the bush through the winter. I find them beautiful, and they are not as fragile as they look. I always let a few strands of my arrangements behave in an unruly manner, in this case, a few pieces of grass and buds unfurling from side give the arrangement a bit of whimsicality and movement.

img_4932

Lastly, I placed a beautiful moss green Christmas ornament on the top of the vase to work as a stopper/lid. I love the way the color of the Christmas ball mirrors the color of the moss inside the terrarium.

img_4931

The arrangement/terrarium looks good from several angles, top and sides.

img_4935

The Christmas ball reminds me of the Gazing Balls that many have on pedestals in their gardens.

 

Pheathers – Winter Sightings

img_4228

I miss the beauty of heavily foliaged trees, but bare branches often expose visual treasure. My husband spotted this beautiful hawk as it soared past our window yesterday. He yelled, “Hawk!”

“I grabbed my camera,
Quick as a flash
Ran to the window,
Pulled down the top sash,
Hung my arms out the window,
And started to snap!”

(With apologies to Clement Moore for mangling his perfect poetic rhythm and meter.)

I was able to zoom in and take these photographs of the hawk.

img_4224-2

He was a large Red-Tailed Hawk. I captured his intensity of gaze just before he swooped and disappeared. I wonder if he caught his prey? What a beautiful bird. Winter has its own set of blessings for birdwatchers.

img_4223-2

The WordPress Photo Challenge for this week is New Horizons, a challenge to get a jumpstart on New Year’s Resolution. One of mine will be to take part in even more bird-watching. For the most part it’s free, it’s fun, and it is a way to enjoy and thank God for the beauties of the world he created.

Place – Elephant Swamp Bike Trail

img_3513-2

Elephant Swamp Trail  “The Elephant Swamp Trail is built on top of the former railroad bed that once ran from Glassboro to Bridgeton, NJ. Elk Township maintains the easement through Elephant Swamp, and the trail passes among streams, wetlands and farm fields from the Elk Township Recreation Complex in Aura to the baseball fields in Elmer.” ~The Trail Link

I was thrilled to discover another bike trail built on an old railroad line. Elephant Swamp Trail is a nine-mile round trip spanning two counties in New Jersey: Gloucester to Salem. The only challenge during the ride was the intermittent rocky areas. This trail is not paved.

img_3539-2

Do you see what I see?

img_3535-2

I’ve lived in New Jersey most of my life and have never seen a green snake in the wild. I probably have walked right by them—they blend in perfectly. I think this little fellow is a smooth or rough green snake, so to keep it simple I’ll identify it by a name common to both, a grass snake.

Problem-Solving – Conquering Houseplant Pests Part I – Mealybugs

At this time of year many of us are bringing houseplants indoors from their ‘vacation’ time on porches and the great outdoors. Unfortunately, when we do so, we often bring in a few hitchhikers in the form of mealy-bugs. Here’s a timely repost of a few tricks to control houseplant pests organically.

While watering my succulents I noticed the dreaded white fluff of a Mealy Bug. Oh no. I have had experience with these pests in the past and know they can become a full-blown infestation. I wasted no time in treating the infested plant.

I like to use organic products and things I already have around the house. For Organic Mealy Bug Treatment Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol is a good choice. Using a Q-tip I touched the saturated tip to the back of the mealy bug. As I checked the plant I saw a few more of his family residing along the stems and treated them too. Further down there were more, oh no, it was beginning to look like an infestation, time for more drastic measures. I filled an atomizer with some of the alcohol and sprayed the entire plant. I left it on for a few moments and then washed all the foliage in tepid water. Most organic pest control sites recommend watering the alcohol down first, but for a hardy succulent, straight out the bottle did no harm. If I was treating one of my african violets I would definitely water the solution down before using.

I knew I had to check all the plants that were in the same room with the infested succulent, and sure enough, on one coleus I found the beginnings of more mealy bugs. Hopefully the intervention with rubbing alcohol has eradicated the problem.

Problem-Solving – The Uncollectibles

I posted this for the first time in 2012, but it’s a good reminder now that Autumn is here once again, and I thought it was worth a repost. It’s fun to collect colorful leaves to press or use in projects, but there are still some plants to be aware of as you collect.

Many adults and children collect colorful Autumn leaves for projects and pressing, but beware, poison ivy is still growing,  and it’s leaves are now cloaked in a gorgeous array of crimsons and golds. The urishol oil stays active on the leaves and vines. Picking up even one leaf for pressing can cause a nasty rash. When the poison ivy leaves fall off the vine, they fall solo, not in groups of three. This makes it impossible to follow the wise proverb of, “Leaves of three, let it be.” It is much harder to identify poison ivy when it has fallen off the vine. One thing to look for is an oblong shape, and many of the leaves have a notched appearance. Take a good look at the veining on the leaf in the above picture…that’s a good clue too.

If you see a leaf that might be poison ivy, take a look around to see if you can spot a vine with berries that look like the sample in the photograph above. If you see these berries, don’t pick up or brush against any of these vines or leftover leaves.

Pain – Sigh…and try, try again.

IMG_2067 (2)

I had no idea when I said I’d update that I’d  be posting so soon on the state of my avocado tree. I’m back to first steps again. A dastardly chipmunk decided to bite off the sprouts and unearth the pit. Again, I was inclined to toss out the whole project, but I am going to try again. Perhaps I will have three or four sprouts this time. I’m hoping the avocado pit still has a little life in it.

IMG_2068

I added more soil, and while I was at it, I also potted up the top of a pineapple and some ginger bulbs. My grandsons helped me with this part of the project and enjoyed talking about the prospect of the fruit and bulb re-growing.

 

 

Photographs – Two on Tuesday

IMG_1867

Heavy storms washed away the camouflage of trash and brush a mother raccoon had used for hiding her baby kits. She was nowhere to be seen today when someone pointed out these babies to us. Raccoons are nocturnal and these little babes were trying their best to continue napping beneath a bulkhead on the Delaware Bay. Hopefully, the mother raccoon can repair, or move her nest, before the busy weekend arrives. Wild baby animals are cute, but should never be touched.

IMG_1868

Phun – Throwback Thursday/Adventure/King of the Hill

IMG_1315 (2)

WordPress Discover Challenge – Adventure

Remember when your best adventures were as simple as climbing, or defending, a large pile of sand?

IMG_1314 (2)

Throwback Thursday – Do you remember playing “King of the Hill?”

“King of the Hill (also known as King of the Mountain or King of the Castle) is a children’s game, the object of which is to stay on top of a large hill or pile (or any other designated area) as the “King of the Hill”. Other players attempt to knock the current King off the pile and take their place, thus becoming the new King of the Hill.”
~ Wikipedia