Project – Broken Bits and Shells – Part 2

Broken Bits Part 1 demonstrated how to create a necklace out of small pieces of shell that are broken or have a small hole in the middle. I still have cups and bins full of very similar pieces. Another way to use these bits, and other small shells, is to make an OCEAN portrait with them. In this case, a heart filled in with bits and bobbles from the sea.

A glue gun was my method for attaching the shells. It was quick, relatively painless, and was ready to hang as soon as the last shell was in place. Goop glue, would have been a good choice too, but it takes a long time to dry, has a strong (perhaps dangerous) odor, and is expensive. The downside of the glue gun is the fact that I will be pulling spider web type strings from the finished heart for years.

I have gone back to the project after I thought it was completed and filled in gaps. I also found I enjoyed placing a double layer of shell or sea glass in some spots. Most of all, it was so much fun, and almost free.

Phavorite & Phlowers – Bougainvillea with Fledgling Bird

Eyes were upon me, I felt something watching as I browsed through a greenhouse in search of bedding plants this year. It was a small fledgling sparrow, its feet wrapped around a twig of a bougainvillea plant in a hanging basket. I was in love with his sweet expression, but then wondered if it was sweet, or maybe a bit annoyed at me for disturbing his space. I bought another bougainvillea hanging near the one he perched in to remind me of the moment. Sweet. I think this is one of my favorite photographs taken in May.

As I left the greenhouse, I noticed the nest he occupied as he grew above the door. The bougainvillea flower is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens) is called the Herb of Grace.

It was a common herb believed to keep away witches, and that folk use evolved into the Catholic Church’s practice of dipping branches of rue into Holy water and sprinkling it over the heads of parishioners as a blessing, which earned it a common name for the plant of “herb of grace.”

Mother Earth Gardener

Rue is a fabulous addition to a Butterfly Garden. Last year, planted in a sunny spot in my garden beds, they grew and thrived, hosting many eggs and caterpillars of Black Swallowtail Butterflies.

I didn’t cut them back in the Autumn. In Spring, they began to grow at the tips of rather leggy stems and were soon loaded with buds, and afterwards bloomed a brilliant yellow flower. They have a unique appearance, rather sticky in the center. This area is hard and forms into a rounded seedhead.

The foliage is a beautiful blue-green and presses perfectly. There is a caution for people with sensitive skin – Rue can cause phytophoto dermatitis following sun exposure in those susceptible to that condition.

Grow Rue in full to part sun in well-drained soil. This is a wonderful herb and is a great host plant for Black Swallowtails.

Rue is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Ploral Arrangement – Pink…again! IAVOM

New Dawn is another rose that blossoms in a gorgeous shade of pink. This is its second or third year growing in my flower bed, and it has climbed and blossomed much better than in the past. I guess I can call it established now. I spray the New Dawn rose bush every other day, as I have been all the rose bushes, with a solution of one gallon of water, to 1 tsp each Palmolive dish detergent, vegetable oil, and baking soda. This seems to keep both sawfly larvae and black spot disease at bay and does not harm me or the environment.

I love the inner shape of this rose. Also included is False Indigo leaves and a sprig of blossom. More on this plant later in the week. It is one of my favorites for floral arrangement. The foliage stem is strong and such a lovely shade of blue-green. This arrangement is part of In A Vase On Monday.

Phloral Arrangement – Roses in Pinks

Pink roses are in abundance in my garden today. They look lovely in my grandmother’s Fenton coin-dot fluted vase. The roses within are Prosperity, a white rose that has one branch that occasionally blooms in a fluky bi-color. Fairy roses, Blue Lagoon a sweet lavender, a pink climber that is so old I don’t remember the name anymore, and the reliable pink Knockout.

My vased arrangement is part of IAVOM – In A Vase on Monday.

Prayer – National Day of Prayer

Sometimes I post reruns, especially if they are favorites of mine. I love these quotes by Oswald Chambers on prayer.

“Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work”

The Key of the Greater Work: Oswald Chambers

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ~Ephesians 6:12

Phlowers – In a Vase on Monday (IAVOM)

Such a busy time of year. I’ve been lax with blogging, but I so love taking part in the IAVOM challenge, I scurried around the yard cutting stems today before I began planting out seedlings. The little goldfinch is a reminder of my first glimpse of brilliant yellow goldfinches this past week. I’m so happy to see them in their summer colors. The bouquet is created with Japanese Photinia, yellow tulips edged in pinks, and a stem of comfrey.

As it matured, the colors of this yellow tulip became even brighter. Lovely! I think this tulip is worthy to be a part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

The comfrey blooms once a year. I am going to save seeds to send to my sister who has begun a Flower Farm in North Carolina.

Not only is it an evergreen through the winter, it blooms in the spring. The new leaves are a gorgeous shade of blush pink/red. Japanese Photinia is a perfect choice for a garden tree/bush.

Project – What to do with the Broken Bits

What do you do with the broken bits in life? Sometimes you can make them into something beautiful.

In Jamaica, I found so many broken bits of shells. Not much in the way of intact seashells make it onto the beach in Montego Bay, but, being a bit of a scavenger, I had an idea. Why not fashion these bits of shell, many with a ready-made hole, into a necklace? A year or two ago I did just that!

Of course, when I returned to Jamaica in March of this year, I gathered even more. I will update when I decide what I make next.

Cee has the topic SMALL for her Fun Foto Challenge. I thought these bits and pieces fit right in.

Perspective & Plants – Updates

I’ve been in a bit of limbo for two months. We had more than half of the interior of the house painted. It began mid-February and ended last Thursday. TOO LONG! I will think very hard before I ever begin major home improvements again. No matter how nice a stranger is, they are a stranger, and I am ashamed to say even an attempt at chit-chat and pleasantries began to grate as the time began to drag on and on. I really began to feel a bit wacky due to my routines being disrupted for so long. The job was well done though, and the walls are bright and clean.

We had a break in the two months of painting and went on vacation in Jamaica. The weather was wonderful. We came home to very cold weather in New Jersey. Brrrr….better now though. It is very warm today.

The praying mantis pods I gathered a few months ago, after spending the winter on the porch, are now velcroed to my rose bushes. I am hoping they will keep the sawfly invasion down this year. I also bought some alyssum seeds to sow. Sixteen packs from the dollar store only cost $4.00. I read alyssum helps keep pests that rise from the ground at bay. I am hoping to have a carpet of alyssum beneath the roses this year. Of course, now that I am searching for a link, I can’t find it again. Bah!

Placing a plastic grid from an old market tray over my pots of bulbs worked great. Pots without the grid were dug through by squirrels all winter long. The grid was a perfect shield and easily removed when the bulbs had sprouted.

I started over 200 seeds indoors this Winter. I always start weeks earlier than the seed packets recommend. If grown with heat mats and under light, the plants do not get leggy, well at least most of them did not get leggy. My biggest surprise, the dahlias. They thrived under the indoor conditions.

I have managed to root the tips of geraniums that had become hopelessly overgrown. I was inspired to try this gain after watching Gardener’s World on Britbox. This has become a favorite and it kept me sane through the weeks of painting.

Phloral – IAVOM – Daffodils in Victorian Vase

Daffodils are my entry for the In A Vase On Monday Challenge, hosted by Ramblings in the Garden. The yellow and orange variety is displayed within a Victorian Milk Glass Hand Posy Vase. A sprig of evergreen Japanese Photinia helps to keep the stems in place. My outdoor gardens are coming back to life with Spring bulbs appearing in every bed, making it easier to once again take part in this challenge.

I drape beaded garlands from small hooks beneath the mantel and hang simple cardstock Easter bunnies on the length. A cottonball is glued on for the fluffy tail. I keep Christmas tree hooks at the ready all year long. They come in handy for projects and decorations; I even use them in the gardens.

These perky daffodils are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlower – First Periwinkle

I looked for a periwinkle a few days ago, and found nothing. I didn’t know it was hiding out within the mass of ivy beneath the pines. I love these small flowers. Now I know for sure Spring is on the way in South Jersey. It’s really cold and windy today, but this tender little blossom gives me hope. My periwinkle is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Photo Challenges – Cosmic Photo Challenge: Straight Lines

This is the first time I have come across this great challenge. So happy to take part today after going on a bit of a nature walkabout with my camera. Cosmic Photo Challenge: Straight Lines; come along and walk with me…

The woods nearby yielded some interesting textures and lines. Weathered and worn, with straight lines engraved by years of lying on the woodland floor.

Cross the bridge with me, the straight lines of the planks support your steps, but add a bit of bounce and sway too as they carry you over a shallow gully.

A straight line of lichen grows within the confines of the tree bark. The beautiful greens match the color of my kitchen walls.

In the straight lines between the brick steps on my back porch the Creeping Jenny is showing signs of greening up into her Springtime chartreuse.

In the front garden beds, cress is beautifully unfurled between the straight lines of driveway and brick. This is one of my favorite plants for foliage pressings. More on that later on in the week.

Phloral – IAVOM – Hyacinths and Ivy

Hyacinths and Ivy in a green Mason jar, surrounded by a sprinkling of sea glass. I brought a few in to have an up close and personal encounter with not only the gorgeous lavender blooms, but also to enjoy the strong fragrance that fills the kitchen as they mature. I hope they will keep on blooming all through the week.

My vase is part of IAVOM/In a Vase on Monday.

Phlowers – Yellow Tulips

I could interpret last week’s sixty-degree temperatures as a sign Spring is on the way, but I have lived through many seasonal changeovers, and I know that even though twilight is coming later every day, the hope of Spring arriving early is just folly and there are still weeks of Winter to live through.

Tulips are my Flower of the Day, part of Cee’s Daily Flower Challenge.

I have grown the yellow tulips from bulbs I purchased in Autumn. Past attempts at forcing them have been mixed. I have kept them bare and in a cold place, forcing them in water. This year I planted thickly in terracotta pots, about six bulbs per pot, and left them outdoors on the porch for several months. I wasn’t sure when I should bring them in, but the tulips themselves told me by thrusting leaves above the surface. I bring one in each week, and this pot is my first success. It is a bit leggy, but grand just the same. I support the overgrown stems with small twigs in the soil. I like the seasonal look they give, and even though thin, they support the leaves and stems perfectly well.

Photograph – Oh Bee-aby!

There are loves throughout my life that have been questionable: people, habits, places, some friends. But my love of nature and the pollen-gathering creatures God has made is not a choice I feel will diminish or ever be deemed debatable. I don’t remember the exact moment in time I took this photo, but when I came across it today, it immediately brought back the spring/summer rush I feel when I grab my camera and run straight for the garden bed and insects gathered there.

The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.
Elizabeth Lawrence

There is nothing motley about the pollen sprinkled across the bumblebees, in fact it seems ethereal, dusting the bumblebee’s fur/pile with magic.

Bumblebees have round bodies covered in soft hair called ‘pile’, making them appear and feel fuzzy.

Nature – Check out this article for amazing facts about bumblebees!

The sweet bumbler hangs on and collects pollen from lavender bee balm (Monarda fistulosa), a dependable perennial in my summer garden. Bee Balm blossoms are my Flower of the Day.

Photo Challenges – LAPC #235

At least 65 years plus in age, my birdbath still holds water for my backyard birds. It mimics the full moon that has been gracing February’s cold night skies. It first belonged to my maternal grandmother. I remember being nose-high to its edge, peering over the rim at the silvery reflections. It resembles a crystal ball. Strange, I am considered a reasonable person, but I have no desire to know the future, near or far. I gaze into it to remember the joys of the past.

Today’s post is part of Lens Artist Photo Challenge #235: Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome. Thank you to both the hosts and the participants in this challenge.

The reflected sky is part of Skywatch Friday. Water, Water, Everywhere can even be found in a backyard birdbath, thanks to Jez for hosting.

Plants – Things People Grow/Sea Beans

There is nothing fancy about the Sea Grape. I love the plant/bush because it reminds me of the first time I vacationed in Jamaica. We traveled there with my son and daughter-in-law, her parents and sister, and it was there we first heard the news that a new grandchild was on the way. Sea Grapes bordered the walkways of the Runaway Bay Club Caribbean. They grow wild all over the island nation. I fell in love with them at first sight. Thick leaves, with red veins intersecting the two halves; I began to dream of how to grow one at home. Unfortunately, transporting seeds/plants from one country to another is prohibited. I was out of luck. Eventually, I did order some seeds online from Florida, but they never sprouted.

Flash forward to Sanibel Island, Autumn 2021. I once again found several sea beans on the beach. I soaked them, planted several, and a few grew for me. Oh, Happy Day, it turned out one of those sprouts was a Sea Grape.

Sea Bean – Drift seed, a seed of any of a number of tropical plants growing in coastal areas, the seeds of which are found floating upon ocean currents, by means of which the seeds are dispersed.


The Sea Grape has thrived, although it grows slowly. The newest leaf it developed is the largest so far. Sitting beside the plant is a teacup of shells also found on the Sanibel Island beaches. We were horrified by the hurricane that slammed into this area in October 2022. We keep track of the progress being made in rebuilding, and we will certainly visit again and support the community as soon as possible.

I subscribe to this wonderful shell seekers YouTube channel. This video shows both South West Florida beachcombing, and some of the devastation on Fort Myers Beach. If you miss summertime, and are in a state of winter-induced torpor, this video is a good way to dream of warmer days.