Pheathers – Lovebirds

I love to take morning walks. This week when I opened the door I immediately saw the silhouette of two large lovebirds on a distant tree. I grabbed my camera and actually jogged toward them, intent on getting a photograph before they flew away. I was sure they must be a pair of eagles. We have spotted one flying high overhead in our vicinity more than once. Perhaps the lone eagle had found a mate.

By the time I neared the tree where they roosted, I was a bit out of breath, but able to zoom in with my camera and check out the photo in the viewfinder. Oh, the pain of it! I was out of breath and wildly disheveled just to get a picture of a pair of old turkey buzzards.

Oh well, I guess buzzards can be lovebirds too. They are very prolific in this area. There is usually not a day goes by that I don’t see a few gracefully circling high in the air. Maybe next time I’ll be able to capture that elusive image of our neighborhood eagle. For now, I’ll have to enjoy the buzzards.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Phlutters – Earth Day – Two Days Late

The tiny size of the Azure Blue butterfly often causes it to be mistaken for a moth. When it lightly skims by, floating on the air, you glimpse a flash of blue. As it touches down on foliage or flowers, the blue is folded inward, hidden by the white undersides of the wings.

I’m so grateful for the zoom feature on my camera and the ability of my computer to crop and enlarge photos. In a world without technology it would be hard to get a close-up look at this small butterfly.

I was lucky, at just the right moment the Azure Blue opened his wings and I pushed the shutter-release button. I have some nice views now to study and admire.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1

Earth Day was rainy here in Southern New Jersey, so I am celebrating what Earth Day means to me the whole week through: harmony between men and the beautiful earth that God created.

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 & Quote – Cape May, New Jersey/Solitude

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“And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” ~ Mark 6:31

One of the best aspects of towns along the seashore in the off season is the ease of finding solitude. For those of you who see shapes and faces in objects, do you see the shape of bird wings on either side of the sun? I do.

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The shoreline of the Cape May Point State Park is a perfect place to walk, do a little bird-watching, or admire the Cape May Lighthouse.

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Cape May, New Jersey is a lovely place to spend a week or a few days for a seashore getaway. More to come on this southernmost tip of New Jersey to follow this week.

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!

Photograph – Old Horizons Renewed

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I’m hoping to revisit an old horizon as a new horizon in 2017. I enjoyed taking photographs of a path into the woods in 2014. It was interesting watching the snow vanish. I eventually created a winter slideshow, set to music, with some of the photos. I want to choose a new spot for the coming year, and try to stick with taking a photo once a week. Do you have any new projects or plans in the works for 2017?

This is a short video of ‘The Path’ in the winter of 2014.

Photograph – Ailanthus Webworm Moth

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I spotted an Ailanthus Webworm today when I looked out my window at the morning sky. I love finding examples, such as this moth’s beautiful coloring, of God’s artistry in the world around me. The moth is out of his element, since he is a tropical moth. How has he survived the frosty temperatures? Perhaps the cold was my ally in getting a good photograph of him. I gently raised the screen with the moth still on it, hung my hand and camera out the second story window, and snapped a photo.

The tiny ailanthus webworm is thought to be native to South Florida and the American tropics (south to Costa Rica),which were the habitat of its original larval host plants: the paradise tree (Simarouba glauca) and Simarouba amara.

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This moth gets its name from the Ailanthus tree.

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Quote & Psalm – The Timely Glow and Shine of Autumn

I find this C.S. Lewis quote very timely:

“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Here are a few timely photographs of the foliage transformation to Autumn colors in my Mid-Atlantic state of New Jersey. These photos were taken at Alcyon Lake Park in Pitman, New Jersey. The accompanying verses are found in Psalm 144:12-15. (The Living Bible Translation) The words of the Psalm, written by King David, 1000 BC, are another timely reminder of what to hope for in our country and in countries all around the world. Let the glow and shine of Autumn warm your heart.

Psalm 144:12-15(TLB) A Psalm of David:
“Here is my description of a truly happy land where Jehovah is God:
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Sons vigorous and tall as growing plants.
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Daughters of graceful beauty like the pillars of a palace wall.
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Barns full to the brim with crops of every kind.
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Sheep by the thousands out in our fields.
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Oxen loaded down with produce.
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No enemy attacking the walls, but peace everywhere.
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No crime in our streets.
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Yes, happy are those whose God is Jehovah.

And to that I add my own, “Amen.”

Photo Challenge – Stoned

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Mirror
“This week’s challenge is all about reflections.” ~ WordPress Photo Challenge

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When I read the title for this week’s photo challenge this strange photograph I took on Block Island, RI came to mind. Block Island beaches are a beautiful mix of sand and gorgeous rocks. During one vacation my husband and I were on a hunt for heart-shaped rocks. Little did I know, as I gazed at this beautiful green rock and photographed it, that the wet surface would reveal my image when I downloaded the photo. If I tried to mimic this again, I doubt I would have the same result as I did in this lucky shot.

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Photograph – Endangered Sightings – One to Infinity

Numbers “Equations. Clock faces. Cash registers. Numbers are everywhere: this week, share a photo that puts them front and center.” The Photo Challenge at WordPress

On the drive to Fortescue, New Jersey, and the Delaware Bay last weekend, we saw a Bald Eagle having a meal in a cornfield. Bald Eagles are thriving in our state and 40% of them live in the lower counties. Years ago, the only eagles I encountered were in the Philadelphia Zoo or on the wildlife television channels. What thrill it is now to see them flying high, or to zoom in with my camera as an eagle brings down prey in a field.

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Horseshoe crabs are also considered an endangered species, but since they have been protected, they are impossible to count. The infinite number of eggs they lay on the local bay beaches keeps the crab population growing, and provides food for shorebirds, many of them also endangered.

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Horseshoe crabs often upend in the waves. Unless they manage to turn themselves over, and many of them don’t, they will perish in the hot sun.

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While my husband fished, I turned over dozens that lay with their undersides exposed. It’s amazing how fast these creatures can move when they are heading back to the cooling water of the bay.

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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.

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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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.

Photographs – Challenges/Vibrant Top Ten Historical Sites on Tuesday

I love the challenges that WordPress, and fellow bloggers, extend to the blogging community. I enjoy the mental stretching and growth the challenges prompt in me. In today’s post I’ve fulfilled five challenges. Read or skim through the content of the post and see if you think I was able to incorporate all five as a coherent whole, and at the same time, stay true to my commitment to keep the word count in my posts low.

“This week, share a photo of Something Vibrant. Let’s wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.” ~ Jen H./Wordpress Photo Challenge

These RAINBOW cottages stand in the Pitman Methodist Campground, now commonly called ‘The Grove,’ in Pitman, New Jersey. I couldn’t find a solid purple house, but did find some pretty lavender gingerbread to stand in its stead.

1. The Pitman Grove is number one in my Top Ten Tuesday Historical Sites, not because it is the best, only that it is the closest in distance.

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Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola. – Eggplant (Foundation Color of Cottage)

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Rainbow Cottage - Blue

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Below you will find the rest of my top ten historical sites for Top Ten Tuesday by Broke and Bookish Blog. I’ve kept this list exclusive to the U.S., but hope to someday compile a list of Top Ten Historical Sites Worldwide.

2. Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey – Site of Glassboro Summit Conference talks between Lyndon B. Johnson and Alexei Kosygin. I was in the crowd, but did not see Johnson or Kosygin, I was still in grade school. In the same crowd was a young man I would marry years later, he was able to shake the hand of Lyndon Johnson.

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The City of Brotherly Love. There are so many historical sites in Philadelphia I have visited and loved. The Art Museum, The Zoological Society, Franklin Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences, The U.S. Mint, Reading Market…the list could go on.

4. The Jersey Shore The Jersey Shore from Atlantic City to Cape May. The ocean beaches, the bays…I love all the Jersey Shore.

5. Red Bank Battlefield, Revolutionary War Site. – This is a lovely place to go and watch air and river travel.

6. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Thousands of Americans from both the North and the South died here. There is still a sense of sadness in the atmosphere. It is hard to explain unless you have experienced it. Everywhere you walk and gaze, men died, giving their lives for the cause they believed in. A must-see if you are interested in American History.

7. Arlington National Cemetery – A place to honor those who gave their lives for our country. Also visit the grave of the 35th president of the USA, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

8.Mount Vernon – Mount Vernon – Home of the first president of the U.S. – George Washington.

9. Williamsburg and Jamestown, Virginia – One of my all-time favorite areas to visit. My grandparents lived in the Tidewater area of Virginia, and in many ways it still feels like a second home to me.

10. Washington, D.C. – U.S. Capitol

A few more favorite historical areas on the East Coast: New Hope, PA, Brandywine Valley, PA, Batsto Village NJ, Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC, Block Island, RI, and Jim Thorpe, PA, the Chesapeake Bay, Easton, MD, Tilghman’s Island, MD, and others!

I love visiting these amazing historical areas, and hope to continue doing so in the future. Like so many of us, to accomplish all these goals and dreams I definitely need “Twenty-five hours in a day, seven days a week.” I hope all the dips and turns and strange nuances in this post of challenges has not been confusing. 😀

Search out a few challenges to take part in here on WordPress . If you aren’t a blogger consider starting one. I enjoy the challenges and meeting people from all over the world. Thanks for reading!

Photograph – Mullica Hill Alphabet

“This week, let the alphabet be your inspiration: find a string of letters. Try a multi-photo gallery to collect images of single characters. Find some beautiful typography, or look for letters hidden in natural forms. I’m excited to see your ABCs!” Alphabet


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What fun it was to gather photographs for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. It prompted us (see our reflection in the collage) to take a long overdue stroll through Mullica Hill, New Jersey, a town known for its antique shops. All the alphabets in the above “sampler” were on Main Street. We had a bit of trouble with the Z, but found it in the graveyard of the Quaker Cemetery.

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Photo Challenge – Woodsy January Circlets

A few natural CIRCLES photographed on a January walk.

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“God must be the very first thought and the very last thought in the life of every disciple of Jesus. God must be the centre as well as the circumference of our lives. We live and move in Him, within the circle that He has drawn for us. And within that circle we will always find Him.”
~ Zac Poonen

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
Acts 17:26-27

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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.

Pheathers & Product – White-Throated Sparrow

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I heard loud rustling as I strolled a wooded path in the park yesterday. I was surprised to see a  fountain of leaves  exploding from the mossy ground. A couple of peeps alerted me to the presence of a bird beneath the cascade. He created quite a crackling ruckus as he foraged for insects. Aha, he was exactly my purpose for walking the path. I raised my camera, the new Canon with the super zoom feature, and clicked several shots.

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I have just replaced my old Canon Camera with a newer model. I wouldn’t have chosen any other brand. My old camera has taken thousands of photographs. It has traveled with me everywhere I have gone in the past few years. It has chronicled parties and family gatherings, holiday dinners and the goings-on in my gardens. Over the years, the camera has been dropped, been left outdoors, weathered drizzle and dew, and still…through it all has continued taking photographs.

After one of the more recent drops, the battery and SF card compartment stopped shutting correctly. No worries, and no replacing it right away, duct tape held it together for a time. Recently though, even the strongest tape, the addition of a rubber band, and the hardest grip of my thumb would not keep the batteries connected. It was time for a new camera. The brand  has performed for me so well, I knew another Canon was only choice. I replaced the old camera with a  PowerShot SX400 IS.

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Eye-Spy a White-Throated Sparrow.

Oh the joy of it. On my first outing I zoomed in on the foraging sparrow. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the photographs and found that the sparrow was quite a fancy fellow. The yellow streaks and white ruff under his chin soon had me goggling, and I was able to identify him as a White-Throated Sparrow.

I have probably seen these birds over the years, but until I was able to zoom in close, I had no idea such beautiful little sparrows visited our area in the winter. Final thought: if you are in the market for a new camera check out Canon brand. They are reasonably priced,  set up easily, take amazing photographs, and best of all…last and last and last.