Photo Challenge & People – My Own Backyard

First we had rain, heavy rain, then we had cold, bitter cold; it hasn’t been a week conducive to driving around looking for new weather vanes. I’m glad to say in all this bad weather I was able to stand in my own backyard and take a photo of a weather vane. My neighbor’s vane is common to our development. Many of the houses have this same vane and I’ve used similar vanes in past challenges. Sometimes exactly what you need is right outside your door.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” ~ L. Frank Baum

Do you recognize the name of the author of the quote? L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz. Here are a few facts you might not know about Mr. Baum:
The L. stand for Lyman.
He loved the theater and wanted to be an actor.
He started writing children’s books in his 40’s.
He named Oz after a file cabinet drawer marked O – Z.
Dorothy Gale was named after a niece who died.

Thank you to these bloggers for taking part in last week’s Weather Vane Wednesday Challenge:
Pics by Kaz – Trinity House Weathervane
The 59 Club – Watch Dog
Daily Musings/A Day in the Life – Weather Vane Wednesday

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

People & Perspective – Things That Matter


Sunday Night Supermoon Rising

When beautiful events take place in the sky I look up and take notice. When a person changes many lives for the better by standing up for what he knows is truth, I take notice of his words. I wonder what Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream would be if he lived in our present world.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

What am I silent about even when I know something is very wrong? Do I keep opinions to myself because I don’t want to come across as condemning instead of loving? What might my silence let happen that should, at the very least, be spoken against? Today I am stating my opinion on abortion. My belief is that at conception life begins. I don’t usually contact government leaders, but this weekend I sent a thank you email to Rand Paul for reintroducing the Life at Conception Bill.

“Each year, the March for Life calls on the powerful to protect life at its most helpless. What we say about the value of human life fundamentally impacts who and what we will be as a nation. In recognition of this, I have reintroduced the Life at Conception Act to ensure the unborn receive equal protection under the law, along with legislation to end forced taxpayer support of Planned Parenthood. May the message heard today and the marchers’ passionate dedication inspire change to reaffirm this most basic of rights-” ~ Rand Paul


Monday Morning Supermoon Setting

Praise – Gratitude

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”     ~ A. W. Tozer


In the winter, I’m grateful for the barrenness of the tree branches, for they give me wonderful views of the neighborhood birds. Even a humble grackle is a glorious representative of feathered beauty as he suns himself in the sunshine of a January morning.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault


A nuthatch having breakfast on a pine cone thrills me, and my heart is filled with gratitude as I witness God’s providence for the birds of the air. God bless you on this Sabbath Day

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault

This post is part of this week’s Skywatch.

Pots & Pans – Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder

Sometimes having a bit of insomnia is a good thing…especially if you find a perfect recipe.

It’s a great video, but the music drove me crazy, too perky for the middle of the night. I loved the ingredient list and the ease of putting the chowder together; I made a pot of it within a week of viewing the video.

The recipe can be found here: Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder.

I changed a few things (I always do) to use what I had on hand. I used fresh basil and substituted 1 tsp. dried Italian herbs and 1 tsp dried parsley for the thyme. I also rarely use heavy cream in recipes if I can substitute whole milk with a little butter.

I splurged on some organic red new potatoes; I wanted the peels to be free of chemicals of all kinds. I cooked the soup in the slow cooker on the high setting for 4 hours, and only blended a ladle or two of potatoes and corn at the end of the cooking time, leaving the chicken entirely out of that step. (Something about chicken in a blender revolts me. 😒 Ugh!) I also halved the recipe since it only needed to serve two people. This recipe is easy, delicious, and nutritious.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/How Far Will You Go?

How far will you drive for a favorite food or snack? We’ve driven sixty miles, give or take a mile or two, to get our favorite Ocean City Boardwalk pizza at Manco and Manco’s. If you’re ever in the area check out this delicious pizza.

Ocean City is a good source to find both weather vanes and lightning rods. I’m wondering if weather vanes double as lightning rods on some of the three-story condos. I’ve found seashore towns to be the best source of many weather vanes in one place. The first vane is a heron, the second two dolphins. I’ve always loved dolphins; I grew up in the era of Flipper on television. I think this vane will be one of my top ten favorites.

Antique lightning rods and weather vanes are considered decorative collectibles.

Thanks so much to these bloggers for taking part in the last week’s challenge. Please take a look at their weather vanes:

The 59 Club – A Calm Voyage
Cee’s Photography – Weather Vane Wednesday – January 9, 2019
Photography OCD – No Direction Home
Daily Musings – Photo Challenge Weather Vane Wednesday
Light Words – Live Weather Vane
Exploring Colour – Wind Vane, Invercargill

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Planting – Sea-Bean Success

Oh WOW! It’s truly how I felt when I checked on my sea-bean sowing a day or two ago. They were sprouting! In about a week’s time the seeds I nicked before soaking have swelled and sprouted and given me JOY! How can I not be happy when new life emerges from a dried out seed, a seed found in a pod among sea drift? I still have no idea if the pod is from a local tree or if it rode the Gulf Stream on it’s path from Caribbean to East Coast. Cape May juts out a bit from the coast so I am hoping this could be a tropical plant. Whatever it might be, it’s quick sprouting has filled me with plans to search out more sea beans for my ocean sprout collection!

“Sea beans come our way from the Caribbean, South America, Central America and the southernmost Florida Keys thanks largely to the Gulf Stream, the north-flowing river within the Atlantic off the East Coast. The beans turn up as far north as Cape Cod, though they become increasingly rare north of Cape Hatteras. Southeastern Florida beaches, on the other hand, are a collector’s paradise, given the proximity to the sources.”
~ Naturalist’s Notebook: Knowing Beans About the Beach

One technique I will continue to use is nicking the shell of very hard seeds before planting. Only the seeds I nicked sprouted. The others are still laying beneath the surface of the soil.

Planting – Winter Sowing in Photographs

Imagine growing hundreds of seedlings for your garden without the need to tend them indoors. It’s almost like magic! Winter Sowing is the answer to hands-off seedling success. I’m illustrating my steps to winter sowing with step by step photos. You can find amazing articles throughout the web and videos on Youtube if you need more information. I noticed there is even a Facebook group for Winter Sowing now. Today, I sowed and put my first container outdoors for the 2019 growing season. I planted beets from a dollar store packet that only cost 25 cents. I thickly sowed the seeds to take advantage of both greens and beets. Today in the supermarket one large beet was considered a bunch and was selling for $3.49. Outrageous! Winter Sowing is the brainchild of Trudi Davidoff. Detailed information and links on beginning winter sowing can be found here: Winter Sown

I’ve saved milk cartons in the basement for months.

Begin by inserting a paring knife into the carton 3-4 inches from the bottom, near the handle.

After I make a small slit with the paring knife I cut around the bottom with scissors.

Stop before you cut all the way through, leaving a bit of carton near the handle to join the top and bottom. This makes taping the carton shut easier.

I place the bottom of the carton in my kitchen sink over the drain. I push my paring knife through the carton bottom in four spaced out spots.

I insert the scissors in the slits and twist. This creates four large drainage holes. In the past I used a hot screw driver to make holes, but this process is easier and you don’t inhale toxic fumes from the melting plastic.

I fill the bottom of the carton with 1 1/2 inches of sterile organic potting soil. On top of the potting soil I add an equal amount of organic seed starter soil.

I water this until it is soaked and then let it fully drain.

I sow my seeds and cover with a thin layer of seed starter. If I keep the top layer very thin it will usually wick up water from the layer of seed starter soil beneath it.

I label the top with permanent marker. I have to keep a close eye on the labeling. The letters will fade in just weeks. It’s vital to reapply the marker when the letters lighten or I’ll be guessing as to which seedling is what. Tape the edges together with duct tape and place outside in a sunny spot. The wet soil in the carton bottom has always kept my cartons grounded, even in windy winter weather. I will remove the cap later today or the seeds might become too hot in warmer weather. I usually don’t quit my winter sowing madness until every spare milk carton is filled. You can find lists of which plants do best started this way on the Winter Sowing site. Happy Gardening!

Praise – Looking Up

“To bear witness to God the Father, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and to be guided by the Holy Spirit.”
~ Parish of St. Michael the Archangel

I love the mission statement, quoted above, of the Parish of St Michael the Archangel. What an amazing goal and purpose for a church in this modern age.

We were on a drive and spotted this beautiful bird on the steeple of St. Catherine of Sienna. (Merged in 2010 with Parish of St. Michael the Archangel.)

““As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.”
~Henry Ward Beecher

The modern world chooses not to honor God’s truths or hear his voice. In many churches world views contrary to God’s word are condoned in the name of love. I plan to keep looking up, my eyes and spirit focused on God’s truths, instead of being in agreement with what the world considers politically correct.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Quick Tip – Marker Fun & Removal

This week on the Home & Family show on the Hallmark Channel, I found a timely tip on how to remove markers from wood floors. In my case the markers bled through thin paper onto the wooden bench beneath the masterpiece-in-the-making.

Ordinary toothpaste, not the gel types, rubbed gently into the marker with a soft rag, will remove markers of all types, even the permanent variety. I needed to add a bit of dampness to my rag in order to remove all the pigment.

It worked! I buffed the area with a soft cloth to remove any excess moisture or toothpaste.

Hallmark’s Home & Family show has a good mix of recipes, household tips, home improvements, garden segments, pet rescue highlights, and craft projects. In my area the show is aired twice a day and is also available On Demand.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday & Sea-Beans

I spotted the weather vane as we drove over the bridge into Cape May. We were there for a winter getaway. The weather never cooperated…nothing but cloudy sky. Bah! Oh well, we told ourselves, at least the indoor pool will be warm. Bah! The heater in the pool was broken, the water about as cold as the ocean water. I swam one lap in that cold water and felt like a Viking conqueror. It’s been eternally dreary here this past year. We had over 140 days with precipitation, and that doesn’t even include the days that were overcast and grey.

We walked the beach anyway, for only a few minutes though, my husband was one of the unlucky ones who came down with a terrible case of cold/flu that lasted for weeks. In NC, my sister told me, they call this sickness, “The Crud.” Someone even invented a medicine to combat it called Carolina Crud Crusher.

Even though our beach walk was short I found a pod, a sea-bean pod. Determined to make the best of the day, I took that bean pod home, sure it must have followed the gulf stream from the tropics to the beach of Cape May. (It might have, but it is also possible it is a pod from a local tree.) I consider all beach drift a gift from the sea. A love of natural beach detritus will probably never die in me. I put the pod in the pocket of my winter coat and took it home. This past week I added some unknown seeds found on the edges of bay waters to my sea bean cache.

I nicked the edges of half the seeds in the pod and have them soaking in water with a discarded rotisserie chicken container at the ready, filled with potting soil, a stand-in for a greenhouse. I will plant them tomorrow after their overnight soak. I can’t wait to see if they will grow.

Thank you to these bloggers for taking part in last week’s challenge. Take a look at their terrific weather vanes:
The 59 Club – Double Duty
Exloring Colour – Weathercock

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Perspective – Moss and My Pet Tree

I recently said to my sister that I’ve noticed in our area the earth heals herself with moss. I love moss…the whole spectrum of greens it grows in. I know, I know, there is some moss that is near mold and a bit loathsome, but I’m not talking about swampy algae-like moss, I’m talking about the glorious greens that fill sidewalk cracks and crannies with many shades of emerald.

Nature doth thus kindly heal every wound. By the mediation of a thousand little mosses and fungi, the most unsightly objects become radiant of beauty. There seem to be two sides of this world, presented us at different times, as we see things in growth or dissolution, in life or death. And seen with the eye of the poet, as God sees them, all things are alive and beautiful. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Today, I searched my yard on the edges for some moss, that if taken, would not leave a noticeable scar. I found a bit, and placed it around my scrub pine Christmas tree, transplanted once again, this time in terracotta. I have loved this little pine so much, that even without its pretty ornaments, I cannot put it outdoors in the wintry mix of weather that will surely assail us soon. I’m keeping it! In my studio, I feel a need to decorate it again, this time with small birds. Updates will follow.

Praise – Praise Him! Praise Him!

Praise Him! Praise Him!
Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O Earth-His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! Hail Him!
Highest archangels in glory,
Strength and honor give to His holy name.
Like a shepherd
Jesus will guard His children-
In His arms
He carries them all day long.
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Tell of His excellent greatness;
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Ever in joyful song! ~ Fanny J. Crosby

Phriday Pheathers – Over-wintering

White Egret in Salt Marsh – Fortescue, New Jersey

I read a post today written by Be Creative Mary that spoke of the salty smell of East Coast seashores. My state’s coast, including the Delaware Bay, also has a distinctive fragrance of salt marsh. Even though we are in the throes of cold wintry weather, the first day of the year was filled with amazing birds over-wintering in the salt marshes of the Bay near Fortescue.

The swans were busy grooming, but one lifted its head long enough for me to capture their graceful beauty.

The sparrows, sheltering in bushes near the beach houses, were a cheerful sight to begin the year of 2019. The scrubby brush provided wintry hospitality for the small birds. I felt a sense of gratitude to see and hear the sweet chirping of this small flock.

I am hoping, that although most of the birds seem to be common house sparrows, perhaps there are a few that are a member of the endangered Salt Marsh Sparrow and the species will experience a recovery of numbers in the coming years.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday and Friday Foto Friends.

Photo Challenge – Weathervane Wednesday/Statues Galore!

On New Year’s Day we took a drive to the Delaware Bay and went through the town of Deerfield, New Jersey on the way home. Deerfield is a small country community, but it is home to a large antique store called Jantiques. Jantiques is three story warehouse and claims to have the widest selection of imported furniture and garden decor in the state.

We didn’t go into the warehouse this time, instead we took a few moments to just gaze at the oddities and life-size statues in the garden lot. Amazing! I was also able to spot two decent rooster weather vanes, although you have to study the photo to pick them out in the midst of the surrounding bric-a-brac.

Take a look at these entries in the last Weather Vane Wednesday Photo Challenge:
The 59 Club – Reporting Calm Blue Skies
Exploring Colour – Plough Wind Vane

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Perspective – Jingling Bells or Clattering Chains

Yesterday morning we had a bit of clear weather before another rainy spell descended. I took a quick walk around the neighborhood to get a bit of exercise. The quiet of my winter jaunt was suddenly filled with the jingling of bells. The chiming was courtesy of a local mail carrier delivering the day’s mail. He was wearing a string of sleigh bells as part of his uniform and with every step the lovely jingling grew louder. I wouldn’t have been able to quench the big smile that spread over my face if I had tried. Added to the music of the bells was a ‘Happy New Year’ greeting from the carrier. I told him he had brightened my day just when I had needed an uplift, and it was 100% the truth. I felt the heavy load of the moment lightened by the sound of the bells and his greeting of cheer.

Photo courtesy of Project Gutenberg

For some reason as I walked away I was immediately struck by a contrasting thought of the clattering chains the ghost of  Jacob Marley wore in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I immediately decided that in the coming year I want to bring the joy of jingling bells to others rather than weigh them down by the heavy chains of negativity. I want to spread a positive outlook as far as I am able. I don’t believe in false optimism or perky attitudes when tragedy or negative situations besiege others or myself, but I hope that as often as I can, I will bring to others a voice of hope in 2019.

“…All thought, however trivial-seeming, however fleeting, is immeasurably powerful.” ~ Faith Hill

I hope to dwell in positive thoughts the whole year through. Happy New Year to all my blogging friends.

Perspective – Simplicity

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. ~ Matthew 1:21

I love simple peg ornaments. They remind me of cuckoo clock people and always bring a smile to my face. They are a good of example of simplicity bringing joy.

Minding My P’s with Q will be back New Year’s Day 2019.

Quick Tip – Small Spatula

“It’s largely accepted that the original version of the familiar smiley face was first created 50 years ago in Worcester, Massachusetts by the late Harvey Ross Ball, an American graphic artist and ad man.” ~ Smithsonian Magazine

I’ve always loved smiley faces, they remind me of cartoon characters. Created in 1963, they’ve been around for most of my lifetime. The current emojis, especially the smiling face, have always reminded me of the smiley faces of my childhood.

FYI – “The first emoji was created in 1999 in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita.” ~Wikipedia

I baked almost all of my Christmas cookies for gift-giving over the weekend. It was rainy and dreary, a perfect day to hibernate indoors. I had all the ingredients on hand, and best of all, while shopping the outlet mall for gifts and stocking stuffers, I found the perfect spatula for removing the cookies from the baking sheet. My generation would probably say this spatula was based on a smiley face, a large percentage, if not all, of the younger generation would say it resembles an emoji.

The edge of the small spatula is angled, easily slipping beneath the warm cookies. I’ve had many cookies destroyed by overly large, blunt-edged spatulas. The smaller size of this smiley face spatula keeps its edges from ruining adjacent cookies when you scoop the cookie off the pan.

If you like the look of the Neapolitan cookies you can find a good recipe here:

Taste of Home Neapolitan Cookies.

I make these every year and change up the recipe a bit, leaving out the nuts and the almond extract. We have a grandchild with a tree nut allergy. The Neapolitans are amazing made without the nuts and flavoring…always a favorite.

Pages – Indoor Plant Decor

What do you do when a dreary Saturday has you rained-in (again) and you’re fighting a ‘humbug’ attitude because of too much to do? Well, my solution today has been to eat a handful of cookies (I’m in the midst of beginning the third batch of the day), and read a good book while more Christmas cookies bake. My book choice is Indoor Plant Decor by Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson. Thoughts of houseplants thriving and this book’s ideas and photos have actually elevated my mood. (Or is that the sugar I’ve eaten?😒)

The photograph of a plant inside a handbag gave me an instant uplift of mood. I also smiled over the plants in old instruments and the bottom of chairs. The book features 142 pages of tips and stunning photographs. I know I’ll come away inspired  to create fun houseplant displays throughout my home.

“With more and more people (5.9 million-plus) working from home or retiring from the workforce (10,000 new baby boomers retiring every day) the quality of the home environment is becoming more important than ever. Jenny and Kylee know that adding living plants to the decor pays off in enjoyment, pride of place, and an increased sense of well being (not to mention lower blood pressure, higher creativity and cleaner air quality).”
~ Goodreads

Perspective – Angels We Have Heard & 100 Years Time

Time To Create – Timesquare Challenge

Did you know a fireplace hearth is a convenient place to produce art masterpieces? My grand-children do, and they use this area quite often for their creations. The youngest grand-daughter is diligent, and doesn’t quit until every inch of paper is covered in color. The girls especially love markers and crayons, and make magic with Princess Pink and Electric Blues.

I feel a sense of gratitude to their parents, school teachers and Sunday School teachers for instilling in them a love for art and singing. While they visited yesterday we danced to Rockin’ Robin, a fifties tune that is cheerful and sweet. The song was part of last year’s school program and the girls still love it. We also sang along to YouTube videos of Angels We Have Heard on High, their favorite song from last Sunday night’s Children’s Christmas Program. I will never forget the sight and sound of those sweet girls exuberantly singing ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo.’ I told them when I was a little girl I also loved singing Angels We Have Heard on High and we spent some time singing Christmas Carols available on Youtube.

Before we finished with our singing I played them an old Chuck Wagon Gang song. What a precious moment I had when I told them that when I was a little girl I would listen to these songs when I visited my grandmother, their great-great grandparent. It was near fifty years ago that I sang along to this group when my grandmother played the album on her stereo. It suddenly dawned on me as strains filled the room of a guitar strumming a quick overture to Echoes From the Burning Bush, that perhaps this would be a century long memory, and one day my grand-daughters will play this song and say to their own grandchildren, “When I was a little girl…” and I’m reminded again of how the Good News of Christ the Savior is best passed down from generation to generation through the centuries of time, and I ask you, are you spreading the Good News and the true reason for this season?