There are several herbs and greens that will grow indoors under lights or on a sunny windowsill. Water cress is one of these amazing plants. I learned a bit about water cress as I composed this post. This green is one of the oldest known leafy green vegetables consumed by humans. Water Cress is related to mustard, radish and wasabi; that explains its peppery punch. It’s best to only eat water cress if grown by yourself or cultivated, in the wild it can be infected by parasites such as giardia.
The new tips, microgreens, or sprouts can be eaten raw. More mature leaves can be steamed. Care must be taken when mixed with certain pharmaceuticals such as Chlorzoxazone. Water cress is a low-calorie food and is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, and manganese. Beyond eating, I love the lush appearance of my Water Cress growing in a sunny windowsill.
This is a throwback post, and also a craft that’s been around for countless years. Since the time of paper and scissors, adults and children alike have been cutting paper snowflakes for windows and gift packages.
I cut over a hundred every year for my windows. I’ve included a how-to video with this post, but I have tweaked my snowflakes over the years, and want to share a new tip or two.
The most important tip I want to share is to cut many different sized snowflakes. The snowflakes on my windows look more interesting if they are not uniform in size. I use squares of computer paper cut into a variety of sizes, four inches to eight, and everything in between. As long as you have a square and do the folding correctly, your snowflakes will be a success.
As always, the best way to store paper snowflakes is inside a book until you are ready to use them. Here is a true story and a tip too. Write down what book you place them in and where that book is kept. I lost dozens and dozens of finished snowflakes a year or two ago. I found them months later in the “safe” place I had stashed them.
To finish off the snowflakes, press them between sheets of wax paper with an old iron you reserve for crafts, or to preserve your iron and board, encase them in several layers of newspaper and press them in wax paper. When you pull the wax paper away, your snowflakes will have a protective layer of wax to keep off the condensation winter windows often form.
The In A Vase on Monday challenge for this week had a twist for the ninth anniversary. The host, Cathy, asked us to create a handheld posy bouquet. I wasn’t able to attend the Zoom meeting, but I’m happy I took part in the challenge. I love the bouquet the pink-hued flowers in my garden enabled me to create. I was surprised by how unblemished these blossoms were considering the cold, rain, and wind we have experienced in the last few days. The bouquet turned out pretty. My husband complimented me on the flowers as the bouquet sat on the kitchen counter for its photo shoot.
I worked in floral shops for years and created many hand-held bouquets for proms, weddings, etc. As I design handheld bouquets, I twist the gathered stems slightly in my hand each time I add a new bloom. This allows the stems to face outwards, and keeps each flower airy, surrounded by a bit of space, creating interest and dimension. I always have a chenille stem (pipe cleaner) handy and bent into a hairpin shape before I start putting the bouquet together. When every stem is in place, I twist the chenille tightly around the upper portion of the stems, an inch or two below the first flowers.
I cover the chenille with a bit of broad ribbon. A long pin in the ribbon, pushed straight down in the direction of the stems, will hold it in place. The pin will not prick the person holding the bouquet as the point is encased within a barrier of closely bunched stems.
A good tip to keep the flowers fresh until ready to use is to cut the bottom stems to all one length and let an inch or two of the stems stay in water until ready to wrap or use. The flowers I used in this handheld post are Queen Elizabeth rose, Fairy roses, cyanotis, magenta salvia, wisteria tendrils, Mandeville blooms, and ground pine gathered on a weekend walk in the woods.
These gorgeous Mr Lincoln roses were blooming in the mid-November sun this Sunday morning. Somehow, their petals stayed intact through rather heavy rain Friday and overnight. They began to emit their compelling fragrance as they warmed up in the house. Not many roses can surpass Mr Lincoln blooms for scent and beauty.
The small hymnal in the first photo, The Gospel Hymn Book, is signed and dated 1890. Surprisingly, I found it in a local library, shelved in the Books for Sale section, available for purchase for only fifty cents. Oh my! I am blessed to have it. It is very fragile, dog-eared and spotted, bound with aged string, but the wisdom within is full of strength, power, and timeless. Under a title of Sweetness of Prayer is printed the following verse:
I love birdwatching of all types, seabirds, raptors, backyard birds, all fascinate me. We live in an area where I can seek out all three. Years ago, I had a secondhand platform feeder I enjoyed filling and watching. This year, my husband bought me a new one for my birthday. I love this view of the inner roof with the Sapphire blue sky above it. Somehow, it reminds me of the ceiling in my grandmother’s church, the memory is decades old, but still so sweet. I hope the birds feel a sense of ‘sanctuary’ here too.
It took a day or two, but the birds have found the feeder. Typical of brash birdy personalities, the first to hover and land were the blue jays. Yesterday, I saw a couple small birds, a redpoll finch, and a junco. The same afternoon, a curious squirrel dug beneath the feeder, but thankfully didn’t climb up.
We are so pleased with this beautiful hand-crafted birdfeeder. You can read the link on the tag if you want to visit the builder: great product, prompt delivery, wrapped/shipped safely.
“Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Monday Morning Blues are non-existent when flowers start my day. The last dahlia bud of the year has opened into a spectacular disk that for some reason makes me think of ferris wheels. The pristine white of the petals is set off by the aged blooms of magenta hydrangeas, matured now into a lovely mix of chartreuse and deep maroon. Dried garlic chive umbels/branches sprayed metallic bronze give added interest. The milk glass vase, a Victorian posy holder, seems a good match for the dahlia bloom. This arrangement is part of In A Vase Monday, hosted by Rambling in the Garden.
Garlic Chive Umbels, dried perfectly on the plant.
Garlic Chives – This is a strong recommendation, a definite 10 out of 10, for this wonderful plant. The leaves are great as a garnish and taste delicious snipped into soups and salads. Even better, the starry-white flowering stalks are stunning in late summer. Left alone, they dry into strong, dried flowers. After shaking out the seeds, which I will save for next year, I sprayed the dried umbels with paint in a metallic shade. I have another project in mind for these, but that will have to wait until later in the month. If you have a chance to cultivate this plant in your garden, you won’t be disappointed.
“Do not watch the petals fall from the rose with sadness, know that, like life, things sometimes must fade, before they can bloom again.” – Anonymous
The best rose of the year is blooming today in my Autumn garden. Winter Sun was a great performer all summer, covered in flowers, abundant leaves, and strong canes. Blossoms at this time of year are scarce, but this beauty is perfect and as large as the span of my hand. Winter Sun is my Flower of the Day?
This Autumn Bouquet arranged for ‘In a Vase Monday,’ was created using flowers from my garden and hedgerows surrounding a park near my home. Flowers featured: Sedum, Celosia, Mexican Sage, Zinnias, Honeysuckle, Milkweed pods, and Dandelion Poufs. The harmony of colors ranges from the Espresso Brown of the Sedum to the bright orange tones of the zinnia. Purple seems to be a popular Halloween shade and was a good addition to the bouquet.
“Already the dandelions are changed into vanishing ghosts.”- Celia Thaxter
The spooky quote by Celia Thaxter seemed doubly appropriate for Halloween and the bedraggled appearance of one of my Dandelion poufs.
The other was still in good shape when I came upon it. Both are included in my bouquet, their weak stems supported within the twisted rows of the Celosia.
I was surprised to find a stem of honeysuckle in bloom, out of season, but very welcome in the cooler days of Autumn.
“There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.” —Robert Brault
Salvias, sometimes referred to as sage, are the champions of my Autumnal garden beds.
In truth, all SAGES are SALVIAS. Over time, though, the term sage has been closely aligned with cooking or medicinal use and the term salvia has been given to the more ornamental members of this genus. Nevertheless, Salvia is the Latin name, or Genus, given to all these plants. ~Mountain Valley Growers
The colors of my salvias have stayed vibrant through several frosty mornings.
The flowers of Mexican Sage are fuzzy and remind me of purple bumblebees and velvet.
The salvias are so blossom-loaded; I felt the hummingbirds stayed too long this year, sipping their nectar through early October. I hope they have made their journey now to warmer climates.
I held a piece of this salvia up against the bluest of Autumn skies; the camera captured the velvet texture of the blossoms and the detail of the leaves. What I didn’t see when I took the photo was the small flying insect resting beneath one of the buds. This photo is part of Friday Skywatch.
I think the ‘extraordinaire’ in my title fits this lovely vase of lilies. The bouquet is still going strong 10 days after the purchase of the flower stems. Most of the buds were closed when I brought them home, but a diagonal cut along the bottom, a bit of flower food in warmish water, and several lilies unfurled within 24 hours. Arranging each stem opposite another, giving the vase a turn before continuing on, creates an intricate design aspect through the glass vase rather than a bunched-up mass. Today, I cut away the first of the faded blossoms. There are still many flowers left in bloom, and a couple of promising buds still ready to burst. The fragrance is strong and distinctive of lilies.
You might be wondering why the open blossom is missing the dark anthers that are within the bud beside it. I learned this tip while taking classes on floral design: lily anthers are staining. If the pollen dust on them touches clothing, table coverings, or upholstery, the stain is usually impossible to remove. As the lilies open, I remove the anthers and dispose of them. I love the way they look, but I know from experience, remove them.
If you like the ‘freckled’ appearance the pollen gives the petals, gently tap the anthers over the petals before removing. Be aware though, even this small amount of pollen can cause a big stain.
Surprise! This lovely Kousa fruit developed on my dogwood. After the flowers, tiny buds resembling drumsticks appeared in their place. I forgot about them until I spotted the fruit/drupes in early Autumn, much larger, the size of a shooter marble, and cardinal red in color. Beautiful! The fruit is edible, although there are so few on my small tree, I will just admire them this year.
Cool Autumn has arrived in the Mid-Atlantic states. While collecting seeds from my Cardinal Flower Vine, I found myself face to face with a beautiful grasshopper.
I’m not blessed with many close-up moments with grasshoppers. When the temperature is warm, they are fast to spring away.
I was fascinated by the beautiful details, the face and large eyes, tiny hairs and hooked feet, the sporty lines resembling the stripes on a race car along the sides of his legs. I know grasshoppers can be destructive in large numbers, but I enjoyed my encounter with this fellow as we both basked in the Autumn sunshine. The beautiful creatures in God’s world bring me joy.
As I related in Cladonia cristatella Part I, I searched for British Soldiers in hopes of creating a gift for my friend Sherry. I planned to encase the British Soldiers I collected, along with pressed Queen Anne’s Lace, in resin.
Instead of the two-step pour and mix variety, I chose the softer, one-step product. I purchased Blue Moon Studio charm molds, UV resin, and a small UV light from a local craft store. The products were expensive, but I was lucky and found them on sale.
The directions in the package were simple. When followed, they yielded perfect results. The resin, as indicated, dried in two minutes under the UV light. One plus was the ‘on’ button on the UV light; when pushed the light stayed lit for only a minute. This helped me avoid over-drying the resin.
The charms popped right out of their molds. Beautiful! I couldn’t believe I crafted something so tiny.
I gave the charms a bit more time in UV light and placed them in natural sunlight for a few hours. One final thought on finishing the charms. After I placed jump rings in the hole created by the mold, I strung the charms on a polyester necklace.
The polyester retained wrinkles from the packaging. I dampened the strand and hung it on the clothesline with a large weight. This straightened the necklace out in a few hours.
My tips after using Blue Moon Resin Products:
When I first tried to pour the resin from the bottle into the molds, I could not get the product to flow.
Why didn’t I remember most liquid in bottles come with an inner seal? After a bit of frustration, unnecessary squeezing, and muttering to myself, I took the cap off, felt sheepish when I saw the seal, peeled it away, and of course, no problem at all afterwards.
I did wipe the interior of the molds with a bit of rubbing alcohol before using them.
Tweezers are a definite must for placing the Cladonia and Queen Anne’s Lace in the poured resin.
I would never use the resin indoors as it dries under the UV light. Even on the porch, the smell in the air became noxious. Next time, I will be aware of the strong odor beforehand and move away.
I wish I remembered to thoroughly examine the poured resin before curing. After drying, I discovered a few trapped air bubbles. The directions state you can pop air bubbles with a straight pin before curing. When cured, they are a permanent part of your project. I plan to have a magnifying glass at the ready when I create my next project, and of course a sharp pin at the ready to pop those bubbles.
September brings an end to many of my garden flowers. If they have not gone to seed, they are falling victim to browning blossoms and leaves. I still have an outlet of admiration blooming in a side garden, a lovely pink Balsam I have named Leona’s Pink. My grandmother loved this shade, and so the name is perfect; she cultivated gentle colors in the garden, nothing brash was allowed in her flower beds.
The lovely flowers leave behind large seedpods. I’m hoping to collect many seeds in the next few days to plant next year. The seeds are large, easy to harvest and store for next year’s garden beds. The seedpods are self-scattering, and if care is not taken, can become invasive. Since the small plants have shallow roots and are easily removed, this has never been much of a problem for me. I often transplant the volunteers to new locations in early Spring.
Would it seem odd if I labeled this post Throwback Thursday? Probably. I made my acquaintance with this small red lichen, Cladonia cristatella, better known as British Soldiers, years ago. In childhood, my friend Sherry, sister Susan, and I, would roam the fields near Sherry’s home in search of this small lichen to grow in terrariums. The lichen is a throwback to memories of earlier days.
I’ve been on quite a hunt for this plant, searching for it for weeks on end, I even know the date I began, August 31st. On that day we took Sherry, we’ve been friends for sixty years now, to the airport in Philadelphia, for her return trip home to the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. I wanted to find a way to commemorate her trip to visit us, and also wanted a reminder of our decades of friendship. I envisioned an idea to use British Soldier Lichen, but oh my, what a time I have had finding it.
British soldier lichen, with its brilliant red caps, is named for the army of British “redcoats” who invaded colonial America. FloraFinder
I will write more about the use I am going to make of the lichen in Part II, this post is more about my search and where I finally found the lichen. I remembered as children we found the ‘soldiers’ growing along an abandoned roadway. I visited the same area and found nothing. I also rummaged around a broken-down fence that bordered a park near our home, I spotted the lichen there in the past, but nothing was found. I was near giving up, telling myself perhaps the lichen was seasonal and not growing in the area in late summer.
I had almost given up my great idea for a gift when on a bike ride, along the Glassboro-Williamstown bike trail, whizzing by a decaying split-rail fence, I spied a spark of red from the corner of my eye. I braked, threw down the kickstand, and shouted to my husband, “I found them!”
There were hundreds, more likely thousands, of the British Soldiers growing on the length of the railings. Need I say I was thrilled? I gathered a few, some for my project/gift, a few others to attempt growing over the winter. Parts II and III the blog posts on the British Soldiers will follow over the course of the next week.
I love my new ‘My Pillow‘ slides. I wore them in the storm-drenched grass this morning, and found they are still equivalent to walking on top of clouds when the conditions are wet.
What I love about the product: super comfortable, basic design and colors, excellent support, ease in walking, true-to-size. I like Mike Lindell and admire the fact that he is not afraid to speak the truth and supports conservative values. I’ve bought several of his products over the last year for this reason.
What I dislike about the product: not made in the U.S.A., the smell of the slides was horrendous when I opened the plastic-bag package. The shipping was not free and added a large amount to the total. Today when I went to the website I found the sandals are being sold for an even lower price. Bah!
I can’t change the fact that they are not made in the U.S.A. What I did change was the terrible smell that clung to them when I took them out of the plastic bag they were stored/shipped in. I used a diluted amount of dishwashing soap, washed/scrubbed them well with a soft rag, rinsed in hot water, and then placed them outdoors in the sunshine for a few hours. Anyone who has bought any type of rubber shoes will know the smell I am speaking of, and how repulsive it is. My fix worked, about 75% of the odor disappeared. I think the last bit of smell will work its way out as I wear them.
The tram car, a Wildwood, New Jersey icon, has been traveling the boards for over seventy years. Believe it or not (Sounds like Ripley’s) this is the first year I can remember riding it. If I rode it as a child I don’t remember, but the voice of the tram is something imprinted within my brain, and also a well-known local phrase I can perfectly mimic. In a strange way the canned voice, cautioning unwary walkers out of the way is oddly soothing.
Here is a super-short video, filmed in July, a timeless portrayal of the boardwalk in summer. We were in the first car, and you can briefly see me reflected in the rearview mirror as I film. You can see another tram car passing on the right side as the car driver stops to pick up new passengers. For $4.00 one way, $8.00 round trip, you can ride the entire boardwalk.
If the tomato cage and bell didn’t give you a clue to actual size, this bird would appear to be just a common bird perching on a wire. Not so, the hummingbird in the photo was very annoyed with me. I disturbed its meal of delicious nectar.
Hummingbirds have visited our yard since Spring. I had a nectar feeder, but when it gets hot, and my flowers begin to bloom, I take it down. The feeder is glass, the liquid inside becomes quite hot. Besides being a possible burn problem, the heat contributes to the nectar going bad. I change the contents every 48 hours, but I don’t trust it to stay pure when the temperatures rise.
Firecracker flowers are a perfect shape for a hummingbird’s tongue.
The cardinal vine flower is trumpet-shaped, another perfect feeding blossom for the hummingbird.
Cardinal vines are climbers, they wrap their quickly growing stems around anything within reach. I usually have to cut, rather than pull, them away from their support. The vines have the strength of steel filaments before the growing season is over. The vines against the sky are part of this week’s Skywatch.
Blue Salvia is another flower that draws the hummingbirds to our garden. I know, in a few weeks, they will have their last sip of nectar in my gardens, but I am already thinking of what to plant next year to bring them back again.