Plans – Snow on the Way

I listened to the weather report this morning and know Chicago is experiencing snow. Their weather system will soon head our way and meet up with another big storm moving up the coast line creating a powerful Nor’easter. Snow is on the way.

The forsythia bursting into bloom just a few days ago has bowed its yellow blossoms in defeat, closing their cuplike petals against the cold and coming precipitation.

Only a few days ago I walked the neighborhood sidewalks with my grand-daughters, searching for periwinkles in bloom. We found a few, but now those brave little flowers will soon be buried under inches of snow. No one wants to experience a record-setting snowstorm so close to Spring. My wish is for just a few inches of the beautiful white stuff and then glorious sunshine prompting a quick meltaway.

The daffodils look like they know what is coming and have already given up. Later on, I’ll go out and once again cut anything that is blooming, rather than leaving pretty flowers outdoors to languish under the snow.

Peculiarities – Snow Squalls

We had a quick snow squall blow through yesterday; brilliant sunshine preceded and followed the showers of white. I grabbed my camera and ran for the path in the woods. The last few weeks of winter photos have all looked the same, a photo in flying snow would be something new. Before I could reach the broken tree stump where I take the photo each week, the snow stopped, the sun emerged, and my desire for capturing the snow squall with my camera was denied. But wait…dazzling in the brilliant sunshine, snowflakes, gathered on old spider webs strung between barren twigs, resembled blossoms of Queen Anne’s Lace.

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The blue sky with the snow-laden spider web was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Sky Blue challenge. It also worked out well for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Looking Up At Things.

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The moral of my tale: When things don’t go the way you hoped, look around, there might be a blessing, somewhere close by, in disguise.

Plants – Looking Down At Things

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Nothing is growing tall, or looming large, in my gardens now, except maybe, the dried out stems of last year’s blooms. To find patches of green I must look down, a perfect pose to find an answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge of “Looking Down At Things.”  Wild Cress, even in the middle of February is thriving. This small weed, in shades of shamrock green, grows all over my yard and garden beds through the winter. It is a favorite of mine for pressed flower crafts. The foliage is lush, probably due to the insulating Styrofoam pot and rocks it is growing between and near. At this time of year I’m not picky, I take delight in green plants wherever I can find them.

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I was thrilled to discover this small volunteer sprout of Larkspur, growing in winter against the odds. Larkspur need a period of cold for germination success. I will soon plant a milk carton for winter-sowing. Plants that need cold for growth do well when winter sown.

I’m sure the next few weeks will find me in my garden, looking down…and dreaming.

Photograph – Screamin’ Green Smiley Face

I love a challenge, and today I am taking part in four challenges with this post. Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge asks for ‘Things That Look Like Faces.’

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Can you see the smiley face on the ‘Screamin’ Green’ moss? Screamin’ Green is today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola Challenge.

When I began this post I had no idea what expectations to have. Expectation is one of the challenge words for this week’s WordPress Daily Post.

The shadows in the rock help create the face. Shadow was this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. I wonder what challenges I will face in the week to come. Have a lovely weekend my blogging friends!

Plant & Product – Mistletoe Cactus

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On a recent trip to Longwood Gardens I spied this amazing hanging basket filled with Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa, or as it is also known, Red Mistletoe Cactus. I love the combination of soft pink with apple green. (Granny Smith Apple – Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola) I would love to grow this beautiful plant in a hanging basket, but have no idea where it is sold other than mail-order. Perhaps I can find a source for seeds.

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This year, for the first time, I have found a large variety of hard to find seeds on Etsy. I’ve ordered from three sellers and have been very pleased with the packaging and speed of delivery. Upon searching the site, I found seeds for the Mistletoe Cactus, but they were rather pricey at 11.95. A little high for something without a guarantee to grow. Check out Etsy for rare and unusual garden and houseplant seeds.

Place – Woodlands in Winter

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The woods are crisp with fallen leaves and cold temperatures. I took a woodland walk with camera in tow, searching for the perfect fallen tree as an answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Inner and Outer. Within the trunk of a split tree I found a beautiful abstract design. It’s easy to pass by and never noticed the unseen ethereal beauty created by weather and mossy tendrils.

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As I walked I purposely trudged my feet kicking up the wonderful scent of the woodland path. I found another instance of inner and outer in the recesses of a knotty fallen branch. It reminded me of a miniature bird nest; I found myself fascinated by the complexity of what on first glance appeared simple. The swirling bark was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Shadow.

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I searched for greens amid the fallen leaves and was surprised by how many I found. Here’s my Ten on Tuesday & One, highlighted by the brilliant yellow of a dandelion bringing a touch of sunshine into the day.

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Plants – Atomic Tangerines

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Winter doldrums were certainly sent scurrying as we walked through the Longwood Gardens Conservatory on Saturday. Today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Atomic Tangerine perfectly matches what we found within the glass walls. These Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia Uvaria) were stunning from a distance, and up close. I immediately knew I had to try to grow this brilliant variety of the plant in my 2017 gardens.

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My goal this year is to grow most of my plants from seed. It will be a challenge to bring this plant into flower its first year. To get a jump-start on possible bloom this year I am going to try growing the seeds in two ways, Winter-sowing involves placing sown seeds outdoors in a milk carton. More info can be found on winter-sowing here: Winter-Sowing Seeds.

I will also try growing some of the seeds by following the directions on a website called Outside Pride. Their directions call for giving the seeds a period of cold before sowing.

Dampen a paper towel, wring out excess moisture and carefully place the flower seeds on the damp towel. Roll up the towel, place it in a Ziploc bag and place in refrigerator for 4 weeks. ~Outside Pride/Red Hot Poker

Red Hot Poker plants come in a variety of ‘hot’ colors. An added bonus: Red Hot Poker flowers draw hummingbirds to your yard.

Here are a few additional examples of ‘Atomic Tangerines’ growing in the Conservatory.

Flame Vine
Flame Vine
Lily with Atomic Orange Stamens
Lily with Atomic Orange Stamens
Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise

Painting – Throwback Thursday/Bob Ross & Sepia

Today’s Throwback Thursday is a tribute to Bob Ross and his ‘Happy Little Trees.’ Bob Ross had a magnetic, upbeat personality that came right out of the television and touched your heart. I watched his show many times, and my youngest son, in his pre-teen years, painted using Bob’s techniques a few times too.

Robert Norman “Bob” Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995) was an American painter, art instructor, and television host. He was widely known as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting, an instructional television program that aired from 1983 to 1994 on PBS in the United States, and also aired in Canada, Latin America and Europe. With a soft voice and a permed afro, Ross went from being a television personality in the ’80s and ’90s to an Internet celebrity popular with fans on YouTube and many other websites. ~ Wikipedia

Many of Bob’s videos can still be viewed on YouTube. During these long winter days and snowed-in weekends, break out some old paints and try his technique. You might amaze yourself at what you can do.
* Thanks to a comment on this post I can also add Netflix and Amazon Prime as two sources of Bob Ross Videos.

Sepia is today’s Crayola color in Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola.

“Sepia is a reddish-brown color, named after the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish Sepia. The word sepia is the Latinized form of the Greek σηπία, sēpía, cuttlefish.” ~ Wikipedia

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I have a few Sepia tones in this unfinished watercolor. The watercolor, a painting of the creek that runs near my home, has been untouched for months. Why? This might sound strange, or perhaps you can totally relate, but I am so pleased with the form and colors to this point, I am terrified to touch it again in case I mess it up. This came about because the last thing I attempted to paint, or should I say, fix in the painting, was the reflections of the tree trunks in the water, and they gave me a devil of a time. Now, I am afraid to go back into it with my brushes because I don’t want to risk losing what I have done thus far. How silly you are probably saying, and I am saying it too. Perhaps this confession will lift the fear, I’ll laugh at myself and continue on. I wonder if this is why some paintings in museums tend to look not quite finished. Perhaps the artist was afraid he was going to mess it up if he continued. I’ll update…one of these days…when the painting is finished. Sigh….

Perspective – Wisdom on Wednesday – HALT

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“We are wise to be aware of our mental state as we approach decisions. The acronym “H.A.L.T.” stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired—four states in which we will likely make poor choices. When considering options, it is well worth waiting until a better time.” ~ Dr. Charles Stanley – In Touch Ministries

This is wonderful advice to follow all year through, but in the wintertime, when many of us spend every day in close contact with others, it can save us from countless problems and broken relationships. I sometimes add an S to this acronym, and make it HALTS. It reminds me to also be still and silent, and to make no quick decisions when I am stressed or sick.

I enjoy listening to Dr. Stanley’s daily devotionals while I am working on the computer or creating art and pressed flowercraft. His word from God is heartfelt and biblical, and always turns my eyes toward the Lord and away from myself. In Touch Ministries

I used the color brown for the word Halt. Brown seems to me a color of strength and determination. It often is in the background, highlighting the brilliance of the other colors in the box. Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola

Phun & Photographs – Color Your World – 120 of Crayola

Today I discovered that Jennifer Nichole Wells is running her Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola challenge again. I enjoyed taking part in this last year, and hope to create several posts that fit in with many of the Crayola color themes.

The color of the day is Burnt Sienna. This is one of my favorite colors to use when painting in watercolor. Burnt Sienna brings an earthiness to any color it is mixed into.

A good example of burnt sienna in nature is fallen leaves, much like these my backyard squirrels have woven into their winter nest.

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Seen from a distance, this nest appears precarious. Perched on the end of a trimmed branch it seems likely to fall.

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When I zoom in with my camera though, I see it is a masterful design, the leaves held in place by dozens of small twigs that have sprouted from the cut end. What a great squirrel condo, and also a good example of the many tones of burnt sienna. I would love to take a peek inside at the interior of the nest.

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I’m also adding another photo of our friendly neighborhood biscuit-loving dog. He is definitely blessed with a heavy coat of burnt sienna…many tones of brown and orange make up his fur. My blogging friend SusieShy asked me if he was a stray. I was able to say no, with surety, since he is wearing a Christmas kerchief around his neck.

Plants – Yellow-Greens

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.” ~Virgil

Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola has been a blog challenge I’ve enjoyed. I’ve participated through the 120 days at least a dozen or more times, and am very grateful to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her great idea. My last entry for this challenge will end on what I consider one of the prettiest colors in the world…yellow-green.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

Yellow-green is the a color of renewal for me. It is the color of Springtime and new growth. Yellow-green blends harmoniously with almost every other color in the rainbow. It is a favorite of mine to use in my pressed flower greeting cards. Here are a few instances of yellow-green growing in my garden.

Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny

“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.”~Christopher Morley

New growth on pine trees
New growth on pine trees

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~Virgil A. Kraft

Pheathers – Color My World in Goldfinches

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An American Goldfinch changes colors with the seasons. In autumn the male molts from summer’s gold to winter’s tan. In the spring, another change begins and the male goldfinch becomes bright yellow.

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Today was the first day I noticed the goldfinches sporting their summer feathers. I had two pairs visiting my yard and photographed this sweet couple having a snack at my feeder. These beautiful birds are the perfect choice for today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola Challenge – Yellow.

Phlowers – Tulips

It’s tulip time at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

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Tulips come in a wide array of colors and dazzle the eye in mass plantings in the Longwood garden beds.

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This bright purple perfectly displays the “Vivid Violet” of today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola Challenge.

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My favorites are the coral-pink variety.

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They are beautiful planted in abundance, but I prefer to zoom in on a smaller group and enjoy the beauty of the sun’s rays shimmering through each petal.

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Phlowers & Pressed Phlowers – Periwinkle

I’ve begun pressing flowers again now that the weather has warmed and early wildflowers and foliage are emerging.

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Periwinkle (Vinca minor) are one of the earliest flowers to blossom. An amazing groundcover, the ground vine can also become invasive if left unattended.

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I pressed these periwinkle blossoms and stems only a few days before taking the photograph. Because I pressed in a hardback book, rubberbanded, and then microwaved, the flowers are ready to be used within a few days. The color of flower petals will usually darken a bit. The periwinkle blue of these flowers darkened to a Purple Mountain’s Majesty hue, a perfect choice for today’s Color Your World/120 Days of Crayola challenge. Always press more flowers than you think you will need to avoid disappointments, not every flower will press without blemish.

Directions for pressing flowers/foliage in a microwave.


When the flowers are dry I remove them from the book I used for heating. If I leave them too long in the original book they could become impossible to remove.

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As you can see in the photograph, the stem of the periwinkle easily lifts, but the more delicate flower is sticking to the page. I first lift the page and roll it a bit to help loosen the petals.

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If rolling the page does not totally release the flowers, use a soft bristled paintbrush and gently tease the edges of the petals away from the page.

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A pressed flower will stand on its own if it is dry enough to use in projects.

Photograph – FLAMINGO pink

Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola has been an enjoyable challenge for me through the winter months.  On rainy days, when the view from the window is gray and dreary, I enjoy searching my photograph files for a pop of color. My entry for the Crayola color of, ‘Flamingo Pink,’ is a flamingo. In reality, the pink on his beak is closer to the actual hue of the crayon color.

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This photograph was taken in December at the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey. I used it in a blog post then, but now I’ve cropped the flamingo’s head for a closer look. What an amazing bird. I also enjoyed removing the color…the flamingo is just as stunning in black and white. I hope this little pop of pink mid-March will brighten your day. The blessing of color…what a marvelous gift from God.

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Photograph – Playground Harmony

On Friday, when I checked the topic for the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge, I was thrilled to find the title word of harmony.

Harmony
“The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords having a pleasing effect; the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.” ~ WordPress Photo Challenge

Harmony, melodious, musical…all these words bestow on me an instant uptick in mood when I hear them. In my files, I knew I must have dozens of photographs perfect  for depicting harmony, but none came to mind, and I couldn’t understand why I felt so blocked. Until today…

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Today dawned warm for early March, the sky cloudless, almost like someone had colored its expanse  with a Pacific Blue crayon. I took my grandchildren to a nearby playground, just three and almost four, they are the best of friends. Without any hesitation, they climbed the stairs and skipped across the bridge that spans two sliding board sections. As they crossed, they spontaneously began to sing, “London Bridge is falling down.” At such a young age, not in harmony of course, but in definite harmony with the spirit of the day and each other.

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I thought this black and white photograph of them, wearing my oversized sunglasses, was a perfect choice for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge – Twins.

Photographs – Take a Walk/February

Seasons-“Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.

– WordPress Photo Challenge

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In February, my area of the world becomes a landscape of grey and brown. The absence of foliage creates in me  a renewed appreciation for the form of tree limbs against the winter sky.

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Vines, hidden by leaves in warmer months, fascinate me as they twist and turn around the tree branches that support their winding attempt to reach the sun.

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The sweet-smelling blossoms of the Autumn Clematis, growing along the banks of the creek, have disappeared, leaving behind mahogany (Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola) seeds in a cloud of snowy fluff.

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Shallow puddles and ponds form an ephemeral mosaic.

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Daylight is once again lengthening, bringing the slumbering wildlife out of their burrows for water and food.

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The emerging leaves of celandine is a sure sign that Spring is on the way.