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.

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!

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.

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?

Photo Challenges – Copper Snow & Candelabra Trees

We had a small snowstorm this week. It took me by surprise; I hadn’t heard the forecast and didn’t know snow was on the way.

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

                                  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Can a snowstorm be perfect? This one was near perfection, quick, never accumulating on roads or sidewalks, in and out of the area in a hurry, leaving behind a beautiful dusting of white to reflect the waning sunlight.

The winter sun gleamed so brightly in the sky it almost seemed as if it had become a supernova for a moment, illuminating the frozen landscape with a burst of copper.

I looked up the street towards my friend‘s house; she would soon be one of the drivers heading home from work. Maybe she had already made plans to open the curtains, heat up a hot drink, and enjoy the beauty outside her window. The tree in her backyard blazed so bright in the sun it resembled a lit candelabra.

In my backyard, the sun continued to set, leaving behind a pure lavender and gold sky…utterly breathtaking! Winter does have its delights after all.

“Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall each one a gem

                                          ~William Hamilton Gibson

Quote & Photograph – The Heart of November

“November is usually such a disagreeable month as if the year had suddenly found out she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it.” ~ Anne Shirley (L.M . Montgomery)

I love the heart of Anne Shirley in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables novels. There are so many wise quotes and life lessons in the books. I’ve read the stories many times over and love to rewatch Megan Follows as Anne Shirley in the 1980’s series, Anne of Green Gables.

November is full of change; the glorious jewel-like colors of Autumn leaves have vanished and left behind the rough textures of grasses burnished to golden hues by the frost. The cooler weather has cleared out the dense undergrowth in our forests, giving us the opportunity to indulge in a short hike this past weekend.

We’ve always wanted to see this beautiful pond up close, but it would be lunacy to try and forge through the massive amounts of undergrowth in summer. In November, when bare branches rule the day, it was finally possible to clamber over the strands of thorny, but leafless brambles to get our first look at this small pond near Belleplain State Forest.

Photograph – Rainy Day Trio

I ventured out with my umbrella today for City Sonnet’s Umbrella Challenge. It also was the perfect opportunity to take photos for my first time posting on Dutch Goes the Photograph’s Tuesday Photo Challenge of Trio. Here’s my trio of trios for the challenge.

Wisteria Pods

Barberry Berries

Bald Cypress Cones

If the temperatures were colder we’d be covered in a blanket of snow. Locations a bit north of us might be getting their first snowfall today. In the Mid-Atlantic state of New Jersey, my home, we’ve had more rain in 2018 than I can ever remember.

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.
New Jerseyans have been humming that tune to no avail for what seems like all of 2018, a year that is poised to go down as one of the wettest in our state’s recorded history.”
~ Asbury Park Press

Too bad a challenge word today wasn’t ‘doozy,’ because that is exactly what the Farmer’s Almanac forecasts for New Jersey’s Winter of 2019. Oh my, considering the weather pattern of the last months I can easily believe the Almanac is right.

Phriday Phads, Pheathers & A Photo Challenge – Pull Up a Seat

I was pulling the trash cans to the curb when my neighbor across the street called out to me, “Look up.” I did, immediately ditched the trash can, and ran for my camera. I was lucky and the bronze and brown hawk wasn’t disrupted by my motion beneath him. He sat prettily for his portrait against the overcast sky. He’s a beauty, and I believe he is the same hawk I’ve written of in past posts.

For some reason he brought to mind pole-sitters. I’m assuming that in the generations born after me, most people have no idea what constitutes a pole-sitter. Pole-sitting didn’t take a lot of skill, just a bit of bravado and endurance.

Wikipedia says: “Pole sitting is the practice of sitting on top of a pole (such as a flagpole) for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is typically placed at the top of the pole for the sitter. Led by the stunt actor and former sailor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, flagpole sitting was a fad in the mid-to-late 1920s, but mostly died out after the start of the Great Depression.”

If you have never heard of pole-sitting, take a look at this quick Youtube video:

This post is part of Pull Up A Seat Challenge.