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.

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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Phun – Throwback Thursday/Padiddle

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When I was young we played several games in the car to occupy the time. One of these was ‘Padiddle.’ The rules of Padiddle are easy: If you spot a car with only one headlight, be the first to say, “Padiddle,” and earn a point. This game could only be played at night.

Another game my sons played, that sometimes caused spats in the backseat due to too much ‘ooomph’ given to the punch, was ‘Punch-buggy.’ A Punch-Buggy was a nickname for a Volkswagen Beetle. The first person to spot one would yell, “Punch-Buggy,” accompanying the shout with a punch in the arm for his/her seatmates.

A few other backseat games:
The Alphabet Game – finding the letters of the alphabet in order on roadside signs.
The License Plate Game – Trying to find all continental state license plates on long trips.

Do children/teenagers still play these games or are their eyes always focused on a phone or tablet?

Can you think of any other games such as these that you played in a car?

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.

Photograph – A Walk in Ceres Woods

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
II Corinthians 13:14

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I’ve heard some say they have a hard time believing in the Trinity. I believe. How could I not? There are three trees behind me in my shadow photograph. I can’t see them, but I know they are there. Why? Because of the evidence of their presence. The evidence of the presence of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit surrounds me every day. I only have to take pause from the unending busyness of life to dwell with them in my spirit.

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Spring was evident everywhere yesterday. The calendar says “winter,” but the budding woods proclaims, “Spring.”

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State of Mind
“This week, let your inner world and the outside one converge in a photo.”
“Photos show us the surface of things, but they often tell much deeper stories about the objects they depict — and about the people who take them.” WordPress Photo Challenge

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One of my greatest pleasures is walking in nature in every season. These photos were taken in Ceres Park a beautiful woods covering fifty-two acres a few miles from my home.

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The signs of Spring were all around us: wet, soggy ground, the budding of undergrowth, the touch of sunlight setting even the bark of the trees aglow. The mosses seem to be awakening first, sending up stalks that will soon bud into capsules filled with spores.

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Ceres parked is dotted with marl lakes. The mineral turns the water a magical green. I will have to go back to capture the true iridescence of the water another day. The heavy rains of last week muddied them a bit, but if you look closely, you can see swathes of green within the waters.

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Pots & Pans & Phailures – OOPS!

I found a new flavor of Hershey Kisses…oh my, wait just a minute…I must run downstairs and grab a few before I continue writing this post, or I will be so totally distracted by craving them, I won’t make any sense at all…does that make sense??? I’m laughing…and also in reality…getting up…and finding some Hershey Kisses!

Truffles & Cordial Kisses

Okay, now that I am eating my “Mint Truffle” and “Cherry Cordial” Hershey kisses I can go on with the posting. A week or so ago I found these delicious nougats of joy in my grocery store. I’ve seen beautiful cookies created with plain kisses, I immediately imagined amazing cookie possibilities concocted  with these new flavors. I found a recipe online, softened my butter, gathered ingredients, mixed it all up, baked…and tasted…and grimaced!

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The cookies were horrible. I was so glad the kisses were saved until after baking, at least they weren’t wasted. OOPS! I was going to throw the cookies out, but thought twice, and froze them in a ziplock bag to feed the birds and squirrels.

At least the back yard squirrels appreciated my attempt at a cookie masterpiece.

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Another good use for cookies that are not up to par is grinding them down and using them as the crust for cheesecakes and other pies. I used my food processor and reduced about six cookies to crumbs, added two melted tablespoons of butter, and pressed this in the bottom of cupcake liners in a muffin tin. I baked this for five minutes in a 325 degree oven. When they cooled down they hardened up into perfect little crusts for my mini cheesecakes. The recipe is below. Oreo halves or vanilla wafers are also options for the crusts.

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MINI CHEESECAKES (12  Mini Cheesecakes)

Cookie Crust or 12 Vanilla Wafers/Oreos for Crust
2   8 oz pkgs of cream cheese softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Any topping desired:  fruits, jam, melted chocolate, sour cream, etc.
(I like them plain!)

Oven preheated to 325 degrees.

Use cupcake liners in muffin/cupcake pan.  Vanilla Wafers or scraped Oreo halves can be placed in bottom of liner. Another option is using 6 cookies (such as my disappointing recipe) and grind them in a food processor until they are crumbs. Mix with 2 tbs melted butter and press in liners, bake for about five minutes to harden.

Beat with mixer, cream cheese, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and mix until blended. Fill each cup to about 3/4 full. Bake 25 minutes, or until no longer jiggly in middle. When cool, remove from pan and place in refrigerator until cold. The mini cheesecakes are super-easy and delicious.

Prompt – Coffee with a Friend

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Forward Drive.” “What is the one thing that drives you to wake up in the morning and do whatever it is you do? Is it writing, family, friends, or something else entirely?”

I have coffee with my Beloved Friend and read The Book of all Books.

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People & Prompt – Mother Teresa

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Think Global, Act Local.”

“Think global, act local.” Write a post connecting a global issue to a personal one.”

Mother Teresa
Photograph Collage courtesy of Flickr and Peter Lopez

One of the books I’m reading for my morning devotionals is a volume of wisdom by Mother Teresa. When I read today’s Daily Prompt, I immediately thought of her. If anyone personifies acting locally and reaching the whole world, it would be this tiny, but spiritually strong lady. Though her life on this earth has ended, her wisdom and witness live on.

“We need to give Christ a chance to make use of us, to be His word and His work, to share His food and His clothing in the world today. If we do not radiate the light of Christ around us, the sense of darkness that prevails in the world will increase.”“Mother Teresa/No Greater Love.”

Photo – Snowfall Shadows

“Low-light photography can be difficult to get right, but sometimes the absence of light can make for a compelling, dramatic photograph. Experimenting with shadows can be a fun and rewarding way to push yourself to try something new with your camera and your surroundings, and look beyond the obvious shot.”

Shadowed: A WordPress Photo Challenge

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“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

Snowfall…tranquil…hushed, an enduring remembrance of serenity for those who have stood with upturned face, encountering the caress of a snowflake’s kiss. The blanket of a gentle snowfall muffles even the loudest shouts of children sledding down a hill. The cold, though ever-present, is easily forgotten as you crumple into the soft embrace of a snow angel. The white shadows of snowfall convey a moment of peace to even the most anxious of souls.

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“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 36:7

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In the cold or the warmth, in the sunlight or shadow, may the love of God embrace you with a sense of His peace this Sabbath Day.

Prompt – Oh Grandmother!

Good Things

“Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.”

Ten years I was on the cusp of becoming a grandmother. Yes, what you’ve heard is true…being a grandparent is one of the greatest joys in life, definitely rewarding and challenging, often in the same moment. The most fun…oh yes! It really is true, after the fun, you can give them back. 🙂

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6

Prompt – By Hand

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By Hand

“What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.”

I have been blessed by gifts created by the hands of family throughout my life. The beautiful baby dresses in the photograph were hand sewn by my grandmother and great-aunt. I had to include the red dress my father bought for his new little girl too. It’s not handmade, but it was chosen by him for me.

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One of my recent handmade gifts is this unique journal my cousin gave to me on a recent visit. I treasure it and the goodwill and love shown to me by her gift.

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Years ago, when I married, another cousin gave me a notebook filled with her hand-written recipes. You can see the evidence of a well-used recipe by the remnants of sugar cookies across the pages.

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Sometimes the presentation of a gift is graced with a handmade treasure…as in the case of this Christmas tag crafted by my mother. The portrait is of her great-aunt Bridget Cavanaugh McCue, a beautiful lady who lived at the turn of the century.

My life has been filled with handmade treasures: quilts, clothing, afghans, furniture, what-not boxes, dolls, doll clothes…the list is so long I could never recall it all. I am blessed.

The greatest blessing these handmade treasures have instilled within me is the desire to create gifts that are handmade and contain a bit of my spirit. I have been blessed by the love of my family since the earliest days of my life.

Prompt – Perfect Conditions

“Life is too short to _____.”

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…Wait for Perfect Conditions. “

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”
Ecclesiastes 11:4

Daily Prompt @ WordPress: “No Time to Waste
Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.”

My photograph of a tenacious little mushroom illustrates the wisdom of Ecclesiastes and Mary Engelbreit…Use what you have and make the best of every situation. In short…

“Bloom Where You’re Planted” ~ Mary Engelbreit

DAILY PROMPT – NO TIME TO WASTE

Prompt – Without the Clouds of Nine

Birdwatchers at Turkey Point On the Chesapeake

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Daily Post – Local Color/“Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?”

I can do without ever being on the clouds of nine. Why? Because the blue of the sky is one of my favorite colors and also a favored object. I am content gazing upward, focusing my thoughts on the Creator of this magnificent expanse. There is peace of heart and mind in the blue transparency of the sky.

“The heavens declare the glory of God…”

~ Psalm 19:1

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Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky.

Alfred Edward Housman, 1896