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.

Photographs – March Quickening/Buds, Blooms and Birds

I enjoy taking part in the WordPress Daily Prompts. My prompt word today is quicken. The Merriam-Webster definition of quicken is to make alive. Here are a few examples of ‘The Quickening of March’ in my area of Southern New Jersey.

A Robin Singing…

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Skunk Cabbage Emerging…

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Catkins Dangling…

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Trees Budding in a Blush of Pink…

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Wildflowers Blossoming…

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Projects – Snowflakes Panoply

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I have a brand new panoply of paper snowflakes on my window panes this year. Creating these inexpensive Christmas decorations is one of my joys. All it takes to make these lacy echoes of real snowflakes, is a bit of folding and snipping.

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You will need squares of paper. Computer paper is a good choice for snowflakes. I use different sizes, eight, seven, six, five and four-inch squares. All of these sizes are fairly easy to fold and cut.

Fold the square into a triangle shape by matching catty-corners, or in more modern terms, opposite corners.

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After the first fold is complete, using the corners on the long side of the triangle, fold the paper corner to corner once more.

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This next part is a little tricky. Let the longer side of the triangle face away from you. Bring up the right corner and fold it about a third of a way from the middle. Turn the paper over and repeat this step. You will have an accordion folded piece of paper with two bunny-type ears if you have folded it correctly. If this step is confusing watching the video at the bottom of the post will help.

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After I fold the triangle into this shape, I trim the ‘ears’ off leaving a cone shape. This does not have to be perfectly rounded, you will be cutting into it.

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* Important * You must always leave a bit of the folded sides intact to keep the snowflake whole. Don’t worry if you accidentally cut one and have it fall to pieces…it’s only paper after all.

Begin cutting your snowflake. Try to use both rounded cuts and straight snips. The combination of round and straight will give your snowflake a natural look. After cutting, open up, and prepare to be amazed by your beautiful handiwork.

I like to place the finished snowflakes in the windows of the house. Because the indoor heat causes condensation, the next step is especially important if you are using them on windows.

Iron the snowflakes between sheets of waxed paper. The layer of wax deposited on the paper will create a barrier against moisture. If you are using a good iron, protect it and the ironing board.  Cover the board with an old cloth and use layers of newspaper beneath and over the waxed paper before you begin. The heat of the iron will penetrate the layers of newspaper and melt the wax onto the paper. You might need to change the newspaper several times. I use the waxed paper only one time, use a new sheet, top and bottom, for each batch of snowflakes. * Important * Have a lot of newspaper on hand if you are using a good iron.

I remove the waxed paper immediately after ironing by pulling the two pieces apart.  The snowflakes are ready to glue to your windows.

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Glue??? Yes, you read right. I recommend Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue. Unless you want to spend hours and hours peeling and scraping tape residue from your windows, use a washable glue stick. A glue stick does leave a bit of residue when you take down the snowflakes, but it’s easy to remove with a wet rag. A spray of window cleaner and you would never know glue had been on your windows.

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Perspective – Here’s to Percolation

Percolation (from Latin percōlāre, “to filter” or “trickle through”)

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When we camp in a campground without electric hook-ups, we often use a percolator for making coffee. According to Wikipedia, coffee percolators went out of fashion in the 1970’s in favor of automatic drip coffee makers. Percolated coffee is often strong, and drinking a few mouthfuls might put ‘hair on your chest.’

I use the process of percolation in my creative thinking and projects. Often I’ll have a vague idea, nothing concrete will come of it, but it percolates away in my subconscious, gaining strength for the right moment to emerge as a fully formed idea or insight.

I also use percolation in my Bible reading and devotions. There are times I don’t immediately understand how a verse or chapter applies to my life. I am confident though, that as I read, the truth of God’s Word will take root within me.  There have been countless times in my life that the Holy Spirit has brought to the forefront of my thoughts a verse or chapter I have read in the past that will perfectly illuminate a current situation or problem. When you percolate the goodness of God’s Word through your heart, mind  and spirit, you will find many instances when his Good News will bless your life with exactly the guidance, promise and love you need to better live for Him.

Posies – Easy Bouquet & Quick Tip

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White miniature Roses, Baby’s Breath, light green Mini-Carnations and Hypericum Berries are usually available in the floral department of many grocers.

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This combination, in the neutral colors I’ve chosen, or in any pretty color combination, make a fast and easy bouquet.

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Quick Tip: The outer petals of roses are often browned or damaged. You will do no harm to the rose if you gently peel these petals away. Cut all flower stems on an angle to keep the bottoms from resting flush against the vase, this allows more water to flow through the stem.

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A tall narrow vase works best for this arrangement. Cut the mini-carnations a few inches taller than the vase. Insert them into the water like the spokes on wheel.

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Add the rose stems next, cut most of these double the height of the vase, with one or two an inch or two taller. The bottom stems of the carnation, will help hold the roses in place.

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Fill in with some Hypercium Berries and Baby’s Breath. There you have it, the transformation of a few bunches of flowers into a bouquet that can rival anything you purchase in a floral shop.

Pots & Pans – Apricot Waffles

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A week or two ago I found Jerry Baker’s Giant Book of Kitchen Counter Cures at a library book sale. I snapped it up. I turned fifty-nine this month, and although I have always eaten well, I want to consider my future health when I buy and prepare food; I know I can do better.

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I’ve recently been dismayed to find these words on the package ingredients of many of my favorites:

‘Partially produced with Genetic Engineering’

In plainer terms this usually means an ingredient in the product contains a modified food or GMO. How did these modern-day horrors slip into our food with most of the public unaware? They should have been banned.

“Unless you’ve been living “off the grid” for the past 10 years or so, you know that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in just about every kind of processed food on the supermarket shelves. Extensive animal testing has shown that foods containing GMOs cause health problems, ranging from gastrointestinal upsets and infertility to organ damage, immune system impairment, and accelerated aging.” ~ The Ghastly Dangers of GMO’s – Jerry Baker’s Blog

In hopes of making more food from scratch I took a look at the recipe for apricot waffles in the book, adapted the ingredients to make better use of what I had in my pantry, and made a batch of 12 -18 waffles (Amount depends on how full you fill the waffle iron.) For a quick nutrition bump-up on a day when you are in a hurry, add 1/2 can of chopped apricots to your pancake and waffle mix before cooking.

BUTTERMILK APRICOT WAFFLES

1 can of apricots/in fruit juice
Prepare apricots – Chop 1/2 the can of apricots. Puree 3-4 apricots into a smooth sauce in a food processor, or just mash them with a fork until smooth. (I ate any leftover apricots right out of the can!)

In mixing bowl combine:
2 cups flour (you can substitute 1 cup with wheat flour)
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda

In small bowl combine:
1 3/4 Cups buttermilk (*substitution at bottom)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Pureed apricots

Add to dry ingredients and mix. Gently fold in chopped apricots. Follow directions for your waffle iron. I think this batter would probably make good pancakes too. ENJOY!
* Use the same amount of milk with a tablespoon of vinegar added. Mix these two ingredients together and let them sit for five minutes before using in the recipe.

I know, I know, canned apricots may be contaminated by ingredients leaching out of the can, enriched flour is loaded with no-no’s, and sugar is deadly…but hey, at least I am eating a food high in natural beta-carotene. I’m also trying to make inroads to finding flour, sugar and other products I cook and bake with in a more natural/organic form.

Jerry Baker’s Blog is filled with health advice, seasonal tips, recipes and garden hints. A terrific blog to visit and browse.

Prompt & Past – Throwback Thursday/LC Smith Corona Typewriter

The WordPress Daily Post Prompt, ‘Shelf,’ was a perfect fit today for Throwback Thursday.

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Probably few remember this early edition of the LC Smith & Corona Typewriter. Planning out this post brought back many reminders of my years of typing. What I miss is the sound of the old manual typewriters. I had forgotten that they ‘ding’ when you begin to reach the outer margins, a warning that you must begin a new sentence or hyphenate a word. For those of you who have never used a manual typewriter, the previous sentence probably sounds like a bit of gobbledy-gook. In that case, who best to demonstrate an old manual typewriter than the inimitable Jerry Lewis.

This typewriter was part of the family hardware store business for decades. Many a store invoice was typed out with its keys. When I researched the model the date it seemed to match best was 1927. The typewriter sat in our basement for years. Recently, while cleaning off shelves I came upon it and decided it was too unique to languish for more years in the dark and brought it upstairs. It can still type out letters and words, with a little help in moving the carriage, and I was able to type out a holiday greeting on parchment.

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