Put in a Nutshell – A Month of Sundays #2

I love the resiliency of Queen Anne’s Lace. It is considered an invasive weed by some, but I find its lacy petals and ferny foliage beautiful.

Although it looks delicate, it’s one tough plant. It can grow just about anywhere. This blossom is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

The Queen Anne’s lace is growing near the docks on the Fortescue Creek. This photo is part of Skywatch.

Saturday morning we went fishing at the Delaware Bay. Rose hips, growing on the sand dunes near the water, are another plant with great resiliency. I find the fruit of the wild roses beautiful against the rustic slats of the dune fences.

The air was filled with beautiful dragonflies finding resting spots on tall stems and trees. Unfortunately, another not so nice insect was also buzzing around…the Greenheads have arrived. If you don’t know what I mean by a Greenhead Fly, and have never been bitten by one, consider yourself very lucky! We have found that Avon Skin So Soft mixed half and half with water works great in keeping all kinds of biting insects off of us when we are outdoors. If you want to know more about Greenhead Flies, Yankee Magazine has a great article: Greenhead Flies.

A bit of a drama played out in front of me while I searched for photo opportunities. A very old gull seemed to study me. I know the wiliness of gulls when food is involved. My husband has had a hoagie and french fires snatched out of his hands by gulls flying past.  I think the gull realized I was lacking any type of food and he sauntered away.

The next time I saw him he was helping himself to a fisherman’s bait board.

The fisherman, realizing he was an old bird, was so kind, and gently shooed him away. I was touched to see him cut away a piece of his bait and throw it out to gull as he swam in the water. I think this gull deserves to be part of Bird of the Day.

Later we thought we saw the fisherman pull in a fish. I sure hope it was a big one; he deserved it for his kindness.

I don’t have any projects going on right now, I’m too tied up with gardening and outdoor activities, but a few ideas are percolating around in my head. I can feel the itch to start something new beginning to take hold. Maybe I’ll paint a portrait of this Cabbage White Butterfly. I love the detail of his eyes and antennae as he sips nectar from my lavender blooms. The creativity of God in even the simplest of creatures always brings me a sense of awe and praise. This photo is part of Sunday Stills – Creatures and Critters with Wings.

If you have Haagen-Dazs ice cream in your area sample their Sea Salt Caramel Truffle flavor. The lid says it’s a limited edition. I think I’m going to have to write a letter and beg them to keep making it. It’s AMAZING! I think the only thing that could make it better is to scoop it out with Pepperidge Farm’s Chessmen cookies.

I’m a big believer in going barefoot outdoors even into old age if you are able. Barefoot is Best – this is a fact you can easily prove for yourself. Feeling blue? Take your shoes off and walk in sand, water, grass, or even on bare ground. This process is called ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding.’ I’m a believer! This week I felt especially buoyant when I walked barefoot on a rainy day. More information can be found here: Benefits of Going Barefoot. Try it, the only drawback is dirty feet!

That’s pretty much my week. I wonder what the new one will bring? I’m happy to have my computer back from the shop. The problem was the power cord, worn out after years of use. It was a reasonably priced repair, and I’m very grateful for that too. It’s much easier to blog on a larger keyboard. I love my tablet but using it to write posts is difficult. Until next time…

Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays #1

I’ve been experimenting with a new technique for extracting the scent of garden flowers. Enfleurage captures the scent of flowers by pressing fragrant petals into fats or oil. Since I find the scent of organic coconut oil pleasant I’ve been using it to draw out the fragrance.

The photograph shows some petals of ‘Old Spice’ Sweet Peas in the process of enfleurage. I chose a simple method and press petals in oil between two plates. So far, I’ve tried lilac, heliotrope, sweet peas, and lavender. You can find a detailed description of enfleurage here: Enfleurage

Every morning I read Charles Stanley’s daily devotional. This week, the devotional on love and war really rang true for me. Dr Stanley writes an easy to understand explanation on why war between good and evil on this earth is sometimes necessary, but personal battles between people and revenge is not. You can read the devotional here:
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I finished reading Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. The historical facts were staggering. I knew of some of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime against Polish citizens, but I had no idea of the medical experiments on their women.

Seven Black Swallowtails emerged from their chrysalis this week. I caught the first glimpse of this one on video. I’m happy to tell you he/she waited for its wings to dry, and then flew over the roof into the morning sunshine.

I’m harvesting cucumbers and they are delicious!

Flowers blooming in the garden.

Thanks for reading! God bless your week.

Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays – An Explanation

I struggled to find the perfect ‘p’ or ‘q’ word as a category for my new blogging format. After considering the words pause, pared down, and even pruned, I decided on this sweet little cliche that perfectly describes future blog posts.

“Put in a nutshell- To summarize or describe something in only a few words.” ~The Free Dictionary

Putting things in a nutshell is what I hope to do with my blogging endeavors in the next year. I came close to completely stepping away from the blog for a year or two. Instead I decided on condensing the posts I might make in a week to one quick-reading version. Some weeks might only consist of a photograph or a quote, other weeks might find me a bit more long-winded. The only thing I can promise is I will begin writing, ‘A Year of Sundays,’ this week.

One motivation behind the new format is the realization that I circle around and back to the same scenes, flowers, projects and garden hints over and over again. In short, I’m running out of unique ideas. The new technique will be a weekly diary of sorts.

One of the good outcomes I hope to reap from this decision is more time to read YOUR AMAZING BLOGS. Thanks so much for the support through the years. Kathy

Phlowers – Evening Primrose

Water, reflecting the form of the flowers above it, highlights the yellow of Evening Primrose.

This beautiful plant is considered a wildflower. If you look closely while traveling, you can spot it in the hedgerows along the highways.

“King’s cure-all or common evening primrose is an erect, 2-6 ft. biennial with leafy, branched stems from a basal rosette. The bright-yellow, four-petaled flowers, up to 2 inches across, open at night. These fragrant flowers occur in a many-flowered, terminal spike.” ~Wildflowers.org

I love the lemon yellow of the flowers, in my opinion, a true crayon-box yellow. (Do you see the small spider captured in the photograph below?) I don’t remember sowing the seeds of these plants. Could they have sprung from a wildflower packet of seeds or were they planted by the birds that drink from the birdbath? Whatever the source, I’m happy to have this tall wildflower in my garden.

Evening Primroses are a bonus for gardeners who are also birdwatchers. Goldfinches, perfect color counterparts to the lemon-yellow petals, visit the plant regularly to open the seedpods and feast on the oily seeds within. The spent flower in the photograph below will drop away and leave behind a pod full of seed.

Evening Primrose is part of Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #51.

Planting – A Timely Repost/Belling the Tomatoes…Again

My tomato plants are beginning to produce fruit. Before they turn red, purple, orange and yellow and look tantalizingly succulent, I am going to bell them.

I have an old Christmas wreath of bells I am going to use. The finish on them is starting to flake away, and it’s time to recycle the bells into a new project. Here’s how I will fill my yard with the sound of ‘Jingle Bells’ at the start of summer.

A reblog of ‘Belling the Tomatoes.’

My tomatoes are beginning to set fruit and ripen. This is prime time for squirrels and other wildlife to begin taking a bite here and there, ruining countless tomatoes over the course of the summer. My neighbor, a terrific gardener, told me the squirrels do this to quench their thirst when the weather becomes dry. I have a bird bath in the center of my Square Foot Gardens this year. Hopefully, the squirrels will use this rather than nibble at my beautiful, red tomatoes.

In case this doesn’t satisfy them, I have “belled” the plants with large Christmas bells I set aside in December. I have red ones to mimic the red fruit, a few greens to resemble the unripe tomatoes. If biting into a hard piece of metal doesn’t deter the squirrels perhaps the “ting-a-ling-ling” will scare them away. If none of this works I will cut a few pieces of fresh garlic and push it inside the bell.

I’ve tried this same idea with plain Christmas balls in the past, and had a bit of success mixed with a few half-eaten casualties. I am hoping the addition of what I think might be a “scary” sound to a squirrel will work even better this year.

Praise – Building One Another Up

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encouragement can come from a heart of stone surrounding a few virtues. We found this message of hope on a Block Island beach many years ago. Although I’ve shared it in another post, I felt it deserved a repeat. It is unlikely, in this life, I will meet the person who created the sand art. One thing I do think likely is the artist must have a heart for God and one day we will meet in heaven.

Projects – Tiny Tadpoles (Abridged)

I’m reblogging my tiny tadpoles post from 2013. The weather during the time I rescued them was much like we are having now…daily, heavy rain. These storms cause the overflow of creeks and swampy areas where tadpoles hatch. The puddles these small creatures are trapped in quickly evaporate in summer’s heat. This is a very interesting project for children. The small toads can be released in your garden. This post is a condensation of four posts.

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On a visit to the Jersey shore town of Strathmere last weekend, my husband and I parked in a huge puddle on the side of the road. When we returned to the truck after a day on the beach, I noticed that the puddle was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of tiny tadpoles.  I couldn’t resist saving a few and scooped them up with my palm and carried them home in a water bottle. A week later, most are thriving, although I think I did lose two or three. They are beginning to develop legs and the shape of their head is changing.

I found a site explaining how to care for the small amphibians. A good way to feed them is to boil green lettuces until they are pulpy and place bits of it in the water.

Here is a terrific page on how to raise tadpoles to maturity.

Raising Tadpoles

I’m not sure what type of frog or toad these tadpoles are, but I am thinking most likely they are garden toads or tree frogs.

Later: The tadpoles have flourished in a small container. They are quickly metamorphosing into frogs or toads. I still have not figured out which species they will ultimately become.

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Here’s a close-up of the frog/toad. My final thoughts on the adventure. I’m very glad I saved the tadpoles. When I first observed them in the puddles I also saw red-winged blackbirds plucking them out of the water as an easy meal. I knew that in their quickly evaporating puddle not many would survive.

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Later Still: Yesterday, while watering my herb garden, a flash of movement caught my eye. Oh my! An adorable tiny toad, no bigger than a dime, was jumping away from the splashing droplets of the hose. I knew it had to be one of the toads I had raised from a tadpole. I ran for the house and my camera, praying the toad wouldn’t jump out of sight. He didn’t. I was able to get a good photo of him.

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It was a lot of work raising the toad. I hope a few of his brothers and sisters are somewhere hopping around the garden too.

 

Phlowers – Catmint ( Nepeta)

I love my Catmint plant.  I’ve featured it as my Flower of the Day in the past blog posts, but right now it is glorious and deserves another look.

The best way I can describe the lavender-blue flowers of my plant is to say they are a cafeteria for buzzy pollinators. The whole plant is vibrating with bees and hoverflies collecting the pollen and nectar.

Catmint is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlutters – The Final Three

The final three chrysalis opened today. Each butterfly emerged while I wasn’t looking.

I think I just missed this one crawling out of his tight confines into the light; his wings still had a slight curve.

They have all flown out into the yard and are now seeking nectar. My crusade to add to the butterfly population isn’t over. I have a large pot of dill on my back porch and there are eleven caterpillars on its tender fronds eating and growing rapidly. What fun!

Perspective – A Beachy Day/Part II

I’m riding my bike in one of my favorite Delaware Bay towns.

I pass by a nicely decorated home and yard. Oh what pretty birdhouses.

I’ll write a birdhouse-themed blog post I decide. I focus my camera and click.

A man is suddenly peering over my shoulder at my camera screen.

The situation feels menacing, an utter stranger standing way too close.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Making sure you’re not part of the riff-raff around here,” he answers.

“Do I look like riff-raff?” I ask.

He mutters something more about watching out for neighbors and walks away.

I am over sixty, I look sixty. I am average height, average weight for my age. I was wearing a hat, sunglasses and had reading glasses on a string around my neck. The man, in my opinion, purposely tried to intimidate me for taking photographs. I was in the street, I was not on private property. We live in an age of people indulging in bad and rude behavior if they feel their cause is good. I, for one, am SICK of it all.

Here’s the law about photographs for anyone who takes photos to use on your blog, You can take any photographs you want if you are on a public street or public property. If you step on private property to take a photograph you are breaking the law and can be prosecuted. You can find an informative article here: When photos break the law, and an updated, but harder to understand article here: Photography and the Law.

Photo Challenges – The Challenge of One/A Beachy Day

These photos of ‘one’ are part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. The fish above is the one that didn’t get away. It was the prettiest catch of the day. We catch and release so he/she is still out there in the Delaware Bay waters.

While we were enjoying the beautiful day a reminder of those who serve our country graced the sky; a large military plane from Dover Air Force Base flew over the beach. I think it is called a Galaxy plane.

This beautiful patriotic display of flags was flying close to the beach we were fishing on.

One flag was a reminder that there are still many who are MIA and possibly POW’s. These men and women who have disappeared or been imprisoned while serving our country still need our prayers.

I love the perseverance of this one plant growing in the midst of a large swathe of sand.

One oyster perfectly mirrored the blue of the sky above it.

One bird and birdhouse was the catalyst to an encounter I would rather not have experienced, but that is Part II of this post, and hopefully I can put it in the proper perspective tomorrow.

Phlutters – Here We Go Again/Part V

SUCCESS!

The first butterfly emerged today. I came home from an outing and found the newly born winged creature on the screen door. When I did swing the door open the butterfly flew away so quickly I knew he/she was healthy and without any flaw that will keep it from sipping nectar and reproducing in the next few weeks.

And a little sidenote…

My pots of dill have at least eleven new black swallowtail caterpillars munching away. Here we go again…again!

Photo Challenge & Phavorites – Smile

“Raindrops on Roses, and Whiskers on Kittens…ummm…Bunnies?”

~ Oscar Hammerstein II

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for this week is Favorite Things. For me, as is true of most of us, God, family, and home tops the list. After these three there are hundreds of items, situations, places, that I love-the list could go on and on.

It’s pouring rain today. Most of the Northeast coast of the U.S. is experiencing rainfall. I thought it a perfect day to photograph a garden rose wearing a veil of raindrops as a favorite thing. When I went outdoors, instead of a dewy rose, the sweetest vignette presented itself: a bunny using my hanging plant as an umbrella. I think this clever bunny is guaranteed to bring you a smile.

Photo Challenge – Color Your World: Asparagus

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I have a lot of greens in my home. Green, especially a glowing yellow-green, is one of my favorite colors. These are my photo choices for the Color Your World Photo Challenge: Asparagus.

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I love growing philodendron sprigs in ceramic pots. Philodendron easily roots in water. The plant and pot have shades of asparagus in their greens.

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The Jamestown glass from historic Jamestown, Virginia, was given to my mother as a gift for my birth many decades ago. One of the asparagus green vases holds a piece of a Photinia shrub. The underside of the Photinia leaves have the green glow of fresh asparagus.

Photinia is a wonderful bush for your garden. The foliage is outstanding in vased floral arrangements.

I enjoyed collecting these greens for the Color Your World Challenge.

Phlowers – Laurentia/Pretty in Pink

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I’m growing Laurentia, (Isotoma axillaris) the ‘Pretty in Pink’ variety, as a container plant again this year. This lovely star-shaped flower also comes in a periwinkle blue and white. The foliage is daisy-like in a pretty green shade.

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The flowers are lovely from both front and side-view. The buds are interesting as they form and open.

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The petals have a nice curve and capture raindrops as they fall. I don’t do anything special for this plant. It grows in full sun from mid-morning until early afternoon. If the soil becomes a little dry it doesn’t seem to suffer. A few rainy days in a row don’t seem to bother it too much.

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The only problem I have found the plant to have is the leaves begin to yellow as they age. I remove them without difficulty for a better appearance. The Master Gardener Program of the University of Wisconsin says that Laurentia plants shed their spent flowers and don’t need deadheading. Shearing them back in mid-season will promote regrowth.

Laurentia are native to Australia.

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

 

Praise – The Beauty of the Earth

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My computer is glitchy, the power cords/battery not powering up at all. I think they need replacing. In the meantime I’m using my husband’s computer to repost some of my favorite photos of Block Island, Rhode Island for today’s post. If you ever have a chance to visit this beautiful place you won’t be disappointed.

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On Sundays I love to include a bit of praise and gratitude toward the Lord God for all His love and care for us. Today I’m going to dwell on these words of Jesus and try to live them every day. God bless you!

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~Mark 12:30-31

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Phlutters – Here We Go Again/Part III

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The caterpillars have gone through their instars, and are ready to start the process of metamorphosis into a butterfly.  One caterpillar has hidden his chrysalis well, or somehow made his way outdoors under the screen door. Four of the caterpillars created, or are in the process of creating, their chrysalis cases on the screens and walls.

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The caterpillars stiffen into this comma shape for quite awhile before the transformation to chrysalis takes place.

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When the chrysalis forms it has quite an alien look.

Three of the caterpillars chose well and are five or six feet above the floor.

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This one chose a terrible spot. He is only three feet up, on the doorjamb, exactly where the everyone passes when they go outdoors. I cut the bottom off a yogurt cup and used duct tape to place it around the unwise caterpillar as a barrier. Hopefully, I will be able to remove it when the time comes for him to emerge. I am hoping to post some photographs of black swallowtail in a few weeks.