Photograph & Perspective – Skywatch Friday/Falling Leaves

What a wonderful time of the year! Autumn is near and bringing with it colorful falling leaves. They are so lovely, the greens of summer turning into gold, fluttering to the ground amid the swish of the breeze. Sounds pretty, doesn’t it? But it’s not true and a purposeful deception on my part.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” ~ II Timothy 4:3-4

Look a little closer and see the trickery in the photograph.

The leaves aren’t falling at all. I collected several and arranged them on a large spider web to give the appearance of Autumn. In reality not many leaves are changing color yet in my area. The photograph certainly gives the impression of falling leaves. I am strictly an amateur when it comes to photography. Think what a professional could do to fool you into thinking the leaves are actually falling from a tree and not merely suspended on a spider web by someone with the aim to manipulate your thinking and attitudes.

“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
~ Romans 16:18

We live in a time and age when media outlets of all types use lies, deceit, and purposeful manipulation of photographs, video, situations, testimony to depict or twist world events into crafty mind control. Be aware!

“But test everything; hold fast what is good.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:21

This post is part of Skywatch Friday – First Day of Fall 2018 Edition.

Plants & Problem-Solving – Yellow Mushrooms in Potting Soil

One of my African Violets has been showing signs of blight. I transplanted it several months ago to a larger pot, but now realize I didn’t do enough to prepare its long neck of a stem for the move. According to The Bump/How to Transplant African Violets with Long Necks, I should have removed some of the outer brown tissue from the stem before burying it in the potting soil.

Added to the long neck syndrome and dying leaves was the growth of yellow mushrooms in the soil. Mushroom Appreciation has a very informative article on yellow mushrooms in potting soil. The problem is quite common and won’t hurt your plant, but the mushrooms are toxic and if you have pets or small children you should replace the soil or toss the plant.

“Leucocoprinus birnbaumii (also known as Lepiota lutea) is quite common in potted plants and greenhouses. This species is considered inedible, although the exact toxicity is unknown. So don’t eat them, no matter how candy-like they appear!” ~ Mushroom Appreciation

Since my plant was failing to thrive I opted to discard it. I will watch for mushrooms in my remaining houseplants and scrape the top layer of soil away if the problem recurs.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/Labrador

I’ve noticed most weather vanes tend to be in resort areas, or depict a beloved animal or hobby. This week’s weather vane seems to be a Labrador of some type.

Thanks to Priorhouse Blog for joining in the fun last week. You can see their post here:
Thursday Doors from Carytown, Virginia.

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!

Project – Acrylic Pour Paintings

Youtube can be addictive. There is so much information it is mind-boggling. Recently I became entranced by acrylic pouring videos and using an easy and budget-friendly method created amazing paintings with my grandsons on a Sunday afternoon. We used a votive candle cup to pour over, but I’ve included an even easier Youtube video that shows how to pour paint into and out of a measuring cup. I think I will try this technique next.

I bought inexpensive acrylics at 3 for $1.00 at A.C. Moore. I had Elmer’s glue on hand and plenty of leftover squirt bottles from a tie-dying project. The canvas size is 12 x 12,  purchased in bulk at 7 for $10.00 by using a 50% off coupon. Buying materials when they were on sale kept the cost of creating seven canvases under $20.00.

Pre-mixing your liquids/paints is key for a successful painting. I pre-mixed 16 ounces of 1/2 glue and 1/2 water in a leftover ricotta container and stirred well until combined. I poured my acrylic paints into the squirt bottles, added an equal amount of the glue/water mixture, and shook well. Another helpful tip is to elevate the canvas by pushpins on the bottom. This allows the paint to flow off the edges. Cover all surfaces and wear old clothes, or do as we did and cover yourself with a large trash bag. Protective gloves are a MUST…unless, of course, you want rainbow colors under your fingernails for weeks.

Before we started we covered the blank canvas with a layer of the glue/water mix and squeegeed it around with a piece of cardboard until the surface was covered. Begin to pour your acrylics onto the canvas. We poured over a votive candle cup. It worked great. Grooves on the outer surface are key to creating the interesting design.

Pour the paint on top color by color. Keep adding color in varying amounts.

Add paint until the design is about an inch or two from the edges. Remove the votive cup (THIS CAN BE SLIPPERY) and let the paint run into the center before you begin to tilt.

This is me, Nanny, watching my grandsons have FUN!

The younger grandsons, ages 9 and 6, have smaller hands and so we worked as partners to tilt the canvas and allow the paint to run to the edges. Tip: It’s difficult for smaller hands to keep thumbs out of the way.

The twelve-year-old grandson has bigger hands than I do and was able to tilt his canvas on his own.

The thickness of the paint creates a 2 – 3 day drying time. I can’t wait until later in the week when I will have fun again creating a pour in PINKS with my grand-daughters. Happy Painting!

(There are so many techniques and products you can use for creating acrylic pours. I had a great time researching techniques and watching instructional videos on Youtube.)

Phlowers – Wildflower Walk

“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.” ~ Native American Proverb

Jewelweed – Autumn Wildflower

I haven’t taken part in a WetCanvas Plant Parade Challenge for quite a while. For the month of September, the host has chosen wildflowers. I thought it a great opportunity to grab my camera and take a walk to look for Autumn wildflowers. The jewelweed, in the photo above, might seem fragile, but the plant has some mighty powers; jewelweed is a natural remedy for poison ivy.

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

Other wildflowers I found were goldenrod, autumn clematis, late-season honeysuckle, and evening primrose.

My wildflower walk is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Perspective – Heaven

Yesterday, before the start of my grandson’s first soccer game of the season, I walked around the perimeter of the fields and took a few photographs of the horses in the adjoining pastures. When I downloaded the photos today I noticed I had captured four horses in one of the shots. Their contrasting colors immediately reminded me of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I went to Revelation and found the verses describing these horses, and was tempted to write about them, but to be honest, although I’ve been reading Revelation daily in the last few months, I know I am not an expert in interpreting it. Instead of focusing on things I don’t understand I am posting the beautiful descriptions of Heaven written in Revelation 21. I know that through believing on Jesus I will one day see and dwell eternally with Him.

Revelation 21:10-27

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.

The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.

The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [or 1,400 miles!] in length, and as wide and high as it is long [1,400 miles wide and tall!].

The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits [that is 200 feet!] thick.

The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.

The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst [these last two stones are unknown or only exist in heaven today].

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Is your name written in the Book of Life? Are you part of the Whosoever?


John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Pots & Pans – Slow-Cooker Cuban Sandwiches

I’ve been going through recipes I’ve pulled from magazines and stored in folders. Jeff Mauro, of Food Network’s ‘The Kitchen,’ shared this recipe in the September 2016 Food Network Magazine. You can find the recipe here: Jeff Mauro’s Slow-Cooker Cuban Sandwich.

The reason I can’t share a photograph of the sandwich is it was quickly consumed within minutes of being put on the table. The recipe is easy and only takes a bit of final preparation to serve. The sandwich is hearty and perfect for this time of year. My sons and daughter-in-law tailgate for the Eagle’s games in Philadelphia, and they are going to take it with them for one of the games.

Here are the changes I made to the recipe. Instead of a pork shoulder, I used three pork tenderloins. I substituted 2 tsp. garlic powder for the minced garlic. I only needed one small red onion and served that and the pickle on the side since some of the family dislike them. I put condiments on the table with the sandwich, but it was so juicy I don’t think anyone used them. I used three 12 inch torpedo rolls instead of two and still had a bit of pork left over for the next day. I used thinly sliced swiss cheese since some of the children aren’t that fond of the flavor. I buttered the sliced torpedo rolls and put them in a hot oven for a few minutes before assembling. The inner portion was moist and the edges had a nice crispiness to them. This is a fabulous recipe. Give it a try.

Phlowers & Photograph – Rose of Sharon

My Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) photograph is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Today is an overcast day in southern New Jersey…again. We’ve had a very wet summer and it looks like the upcoming Autumn season might bring the same. When I take a walk a little later in the morning, I will be sure and grab my camera to take along. I have found grey days create an amazing background for skyline photographs. The moisture in the air forms a screen of sorts, and shadows magically appear within the mistiness surrounding the plant. You can see this effect in the unretouched photo above.

A few years ago a generous friend sent me seeds from her Rose of Sharon bush. This sweet little tree is the result. I grew it in the house for quite a while, and then, when I felt it was hardy enough, planted it outdoors. It has thrived this summer and grown to about three feet tall. Plants given to me by friends always bring me great joy.

The leaves of the Rose of Sharon are glossy and green and don’t appear to be tempting to many garden pests. Hooray. Thanks again to the kind lady who sent me these seeds. You can find excellent growing and pruning tips for Rose of Sharon at The Spruce.

These photographs are part of Skywatch Friday. Thanks for stopping by today.

Quick Tip – Bubble Wrap Upcycle

In the Autumn of the year, I hang this sweet welcome sign on my front door. The scarecrow and greeting are painted with acrylics on a heavy piece of slate making the piece very durable. My problem over the years has been the racket the plaque makes by banging to and fro when the door is opened or shut. At some point, after years of bouncing around, I’m concerned the slate will crack and be ruined.

Bubble wrap to the rescue! In this age of massive online purchases and mailings, bubble wrap envelopes are abundant. A good way to recycle a few of these is to cut out cushioning strips and put them on the back of items that might be broken by movement. To safeguard the plaque, I cut a few bubble wrap envelope strips and glued them onto the back with my glue gun. The whole process took about five minutes, and the strips work great. The racket is diminished and the plaque is protected.

Inspired by my success, I googled recycling bubble wrap. Two of my favorite ideas were found on The Secret Yumiverse: 9 Poppin’ Uses for Bubble Wrap. One was practical: put bubble wrap inside empty handbags/purses to help them keep their shape. The second just made me laugh: make a primitive burglar alarm by putting bubble wrap under the doormat/rugs near your front door. Funny, but hey, it just might work!

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/When Pigs Fly!

Once again, I was driving when I found this week’s weather vane. A sweet pig perched on top of a cupola. Do you see his wings?

Here’s a close-up of him. This weathervane is brass and has great detail, right down to the curl of the piggy’s tail. I found this weathervane in the town of Mantua, New Jersey.

“The phrase “when pigs fly” (alternatively, “pigs might fly”) is an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in question (the adynaton, and the circumstances to which the adynaton is being applied) will never occur. ~Wikipedia

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!

Pots & Pans – Bake a Buckle

What in the world is a Buckle, and why is it good to eat? Here’s the answer from What’s Cooking America – History and Legends of Cobblers:

“Buckle or Crumble – Is a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter. It is usually made with blueberries. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.” – What’s Cooking America

I’ve baked two buckles in one week. I use any overripe, juicy fruits I have on hand. My favorite combination so far has been plums and nectarines. In addition to changing the type of fruit in the recipe, I also used dark brown sugar instead of light, cinnamon in place of nutmeg. Because the recipe is protected under copyright law, I can’t include it in my post, but I can give you the link to the recipe: Food Network.com – Blueberry-Peach Buckle. The recipe is quick and easy. All who sampled the cake pronounced it delicious. It warms easily in the microwave and stores well at room temperature for a day or two. We eat it fast! If I was keeping it any longer I would store it in the refrigerator.

Quotes – Rest & Shelter

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” ~Matthew 11:28-29

“Friendship is a sheltering tree.” ~ Samuel Coleridge

I always noticed this tree on Block Island, RI, as we walked the path to Clayhead Beach. Its wide branches seemed to invite me to climb, lay upon the branches, and rest. I easily imagined myself in repose there with a book in hand, a blanket draped over a bough, a pillow beneath my head. This daydream still lives on in my heart whenever I think of the path and the tree. To me, it seems to be a bit of heaven on earth.

I wish for you the finest rest on this Sabbath Day.

This post is part of Sunday Trees.

Photo Challenge – Lime Green

Do you see her? She is lime green and blends in perfectly with the bush she rests upon. I found her by following the sound of winged distress. An urgent flapping outdoors alerted me that a bird of some type was in crisis. I peered into the bush where the noise emanated from and saw a gigantic praying mantis in the midst of devouring a cicada. Surprised, I jumped back and in doing so interrupted the feast. The cicada fell to the ground and the mantis moved to a new branch. She’s a beauty, lime green, very large, and burdened with a swollen abdomen that predicts she will soon produce an egg case.

I gently took her indoors to show my cat. He is a scaredy-cat so I knew the mantis was not in jeopardy.

Just as I thought, the encounter was a stand-off, but I did get to see a sight unique to me; the mantis unfurled her wings and put on a very good display of aggression. She took on the stance of a boxer, ready to bop the inquisitive nose of Hans.

I’m torn now over having these amazing creatures living in my gardens. In the past, I delighted in finding one or more egg cases in my yard, but Praying Mantis are voracious insects; I’ve even heard horrible rumors that they can capture hummingbirds. I let her go back into the gardens, far away from any nectar-producing plants the hummers visit.

The mantis is part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge/Lime or Light Green.

Phriday Pheathers – Woody Woodpecker

I loved the cartoon Woody Woodpecker when I was a child. I haven’t seen Woody on television for years; he’s been replaced by cartoons full of gadgets and superheroes. I miss his ornery laugh and pecking. Here are a few woodpeckers and what I think might be a Northern Flicker. I have found a camera with a powerful zoom helps me get an up-close glimpse of the birds I see on bare branches.

These photographs are part of Skywatch Friday.
The post is also linked to: Dear Kitty, Some Blog – Great Spotted Woodpecker

Pleasures – A Passion for Stones/Nurturing Thursday

I’m easy to please. I love stones…rocks…pebbles and consider them treasures. If I see one with promise I will pick it up. I once spent a week on Block Island beaches searching for hearts of stone. You can see the resultant video at the bottom of this post. I’ve shared it before, but as is the case with many posts, it is buried way back in the blog archives.

Have you ever attended a craft show and been entranced by a large bowl of polished stones? I love these stones and have bought them in the past always wishing I could polish stones too. Now, thanks to a rock polisher given to me by one of my sons on my 60th birthday, I polish my own. The stones in the photograph were collected from a creek near my home, Atlantic Ocean beaches, the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, and Cape May’s Diamond Beach.

It took me a few tumbles to figure out how to process the rocks, and every attempt was worth the finished products. They are not without flaws, the prettiest ones are hardest to get smooth as their stripes and mottled appearance means they have different levels of hardness within the stone. The flaws don’t bother me, I’m going to dab them with a bit of polish and consider them finished. Tumbling and polishing stones is one of the ways I nurture myself. My stones seem a perfect fit for the Nurturing Thursday Challenge hosted by Becca at ‘On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea.‘ It’s never too late to start a hobby you’ve always wanted to try to nurture yourself every now and then.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Photo Challenges – Weather Vane Wednesday/Summer has Flown

Labor Day 2018 is now in the past, so is the summer season at the lake/pool we belonged to this year. What joy-filled times we have had there. We’ve celebrated a milestone birthday, swam with our grandchildren, reconnected to old friends, and best of all we’ve made some new friends and acquaintances. My husband and I are a bit sad that the hazy days of summer won’t return for nine months. It’s very fitting that this week’s Weather Vane Wednesday Challenge is located at the entrance to Lake Kandle in Washington Township, New Jersey. Even more fitting is the weathervane itself, a goose flying, which in my mind means birds flying south for the colder months.

Thanks to these bloggers for joining in the photo challenge a week ago:
Galloping Winds/Reading, Pennsylvania
This Made Me Smile Today/Regina, Saskatchewan

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!

Phlowers – Sunlit Crimsons

Crimson Blooms are still blossoming in my gardens.

The Lady Baltimore hibiscus is one of my most reliable perennials. She is always late to the party, her stalks being one of the last to emerge from the ground in the spring, but she always outdoes the other perennials in color, bloom count, and size. Each blossom is as large as a dinner plate. Lady Baltimore grows 4 – 5 feet tall each year.

My red tropical hibiscus is a favorite too. I carried this plant away from a neighbor’s trash heap several years ago. The hibiscus wasn’t in the best of shape, half dead and a bit buggy, but I’ve nurtured it over the years and it has rewarded me with double blooms all year long. This hibiscus must be brought indoors before the first frost arrives.

Angel-wing begonias come in pink and red. My hanging basket has done well in semi-shade all summer. I will try and save the entire plant in a sunny window to bloom again next year. I also rooted a cutting in water; it is now planted in a small pot and growing under my basement plant lights.

All of these plants grow reliably outdoors. Lady Baltimore dies back to the ground every winter but sends up new stalks in the spring. The tropical hibiscus and Angel-wing begonia do double-duty as houseplants.

Planting – Pineapple, Avocado and Ginger

The plant in the photograph had its beginnings in the sparse leaves atop a pineapple. I have planted the tops of pineapple in two ways. The first, soaking the severed pineapple top in water didn’t work out well. The pineapple softened and rotted in the water and the plant never thrived. The second is a better method, cut away the top leaving about a half inch portion of the pineapple, dry for a few days and then plant in soil. The result is the large plant you see above. It has been growing about two years give or take a few months. Supposedly, pineapples grown like this will produce fruit atop a stalk and then die back. Pineapples are bromeliads.

Avocado pits grow well using two methods. One, suspend the pits in water using toothpicks. Leave the top half inch above the water line, the pointed end will be submerged in the water until you see roots and/or top growth. You can also plant the pit directly in the soil. Leave a small portion of the top above the soil. The key to growing avocados is having a schedule for pinching out the lanky sprout. There are many good articles on the internet about when to prune your avocado plant. Good directions can be found here: Pinching out an avocado.

I guess it won’t come as a surprise that when my ginger suddenly sprouted I planted it in soil. Updates will follow in a few months.
Give growing ginger tubers a try: Growing Grocery Store Ginger

It’s the season of many fruits. What pits, seeds or sprouts do you have in your fruit bin? Children love these projects. Happy planting.

A good article on planting fruit seeds: Mother Earth News/Plant Your Fruit Seeds