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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Getting Your Thanksgiving Cactus to Bloom

I have discovered the secret to getting my Thanksgiving Cactus to bloom!

I had just about given up on getting my cactus to bloom. For two or three years in a row it never bloomed.

I wanted to give them away.

I wanted to put them in a yard sale. (I used to have two - one small and one large)

My husband wouldn't let me, even though I suspected he was partly the reason they never bloomed.

Why did I suspect he was part of the reason?

I had researched online about how to make them bloom. I tried doing what they said, but they like coolness and they like darkness.

My husband likes a warm house in the winter and he leaves lights on at night. I was fighting an uphill battle.

Well, last year I put my cactus on the front porch for the summer and I kept it there until the nights started getting a little too cool for comfort. I didn't want it to freeze. I brought it inside the garage and placed it on our chest type freezer until I had somewhere to put it in the house.

Well, after a few weeks I noticed red buds developing on the tips of the plant! More and more buds developed and they started turning into flowers.  Yeah!

I brought it in the house and it bloomed beautifully.

I did the same this year and it is in full bloom again.

The garage gave it the environment it longed for -- cool and dark.

I used to think it was a Christmas Cactus, but it has convinced me that it is a Thanksgiving Cactus. Either way, they are beautiful!

Do you have one?

Does it always bloom for you?


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Feeding the Squirrels

We enjoy feeding the squirrels around our house. 
Next to chipmunks, I think they are the cutest critters.
We feed them corn, peanuts and hickory nuts.
They've really fattened up over the summer. 

Munching on a hickory nut. 

Nibbling on a corn cob. 

Look close and you will see two squirrels in this picture. In addition to the one hanging on the tree, one is on the ground eating the kernels that have fallen onto the ground. 
That's called teamwork.

They are such acrobats! 
And if you notice, squirrel and hummingbird are friends.
 Maybe I should write a picture book about that.

See what I mean about being so cute! 

The bees in our yard also get fed. In this picture, Mr. Bee is covered up in pollen from one of our Rose of Sharon bushes.

Do you feed any critters in your yard?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Traveling West Virginia - Hawks Nest - New River Gorge Trail

We don't do as much traveling as we used to. But we recently took a day trip to southern West Virginia.

Our first stop was Hawks Nest State Park. If you have traveled there before, you know where they get the expression half the fun is getting there - that is unless you are prone to motion sickness. If you are, then I would advise you to sit in the front seat of the car.

We have been to Hawks Nest many times, but this is the first time we ever rode the tram down to the river.

We wanted to ride the jet boats, but they were all booked up.

 So we did the next item on our list. We went on a hike. My husband has a bad knee, so he didn't go with my son and me. He loves to talk, so he stayed and talked to the tram guys.

The hike was beautiful - a path filled with large rocks, rhododendron, foot bridges, caves, snakes . . .

Of course, my son had to climb up onto the first big rock we came to. Boys will be boys.

And speaking of snakes. This is where I encountered a baby snake wriggling under my shoe. I didn't stay long enough to see what kind he was, but he wasn't a black snake.

On the way back down the trail on this neat little foot bridge.

Our next stop was at a trail we had never walked on before. You drive over the New River Gorge Bridge, which is an experience I never tire of, and then travel a local road to a set of trails that take you to a great place for a photo op of the bridge.

I never took any pictures along the trail because we were in a hurry. We even sprinted in a few places. I never walked a trail so fast in my life. It was late and given the length of the trail we were going to be walking back in the dark. Thank goodness for cell phone flash lights!

The first mile and 3/4 was a fairly easy walk. But the last 1/4 mile was a heavy breather. This is approaching the end of the trail. And believe me when I tell you the view was well worth the huffing and puffing. 

This was as far out as I would venture. My son said that I couldn't fall off unless I just walked off the edge. I said different --- You could trip. You could slide. You could get woozy. So I played it safe.

We still got some great pictures. My son even took a few selfies.

After enjoying the view and taking a bunch of pictures, we started back. And yes, it was in the dark. I kept imagining encounters with wild animals, but none appeared.

My son said, "If we see Big Foot, shine the light while I take the picture."
I told him, "Please make it a clear picture."
For some reason all the pics people take of Big Foot are blurry. 😊

Press this link to a list of trails in the area. I would like to try them all out. The name of the trail we took is the Long Point Trail.

 Hope you enjoyed this Traveling West Virginia.

Have you ever been to either of these places?

If not, I hope you get to visit some day.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Pileated Woodpecker

We have downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers and northern flickers (woodpeckers) that eat ants and every now and then we have visits from the large pileated woodpeckers. 

We had a visit from a pileated woodpecker yesterday.

He really 'went to town', as the saying goes, on a large stump in our back yard.

Hope you enjoyed watching him.

Do you ever have a visit from these large woodpeckers?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Squirrels Have Found a Home

A while back we built a duck house. Click here to see my post about it.

I would love to see baby ducks diving out of the hole into the creek, but our local ducks have yet to set up housekeeping in it.

But our squirrels have been checking it out.

Last week we saw them dragging house-building materials into the house opening. This is okay with us. If the ducks don't use it, the next best thing would be the squirrels.

I took a few pics this morning.

Viewing the countryside  from on top

Down we go!

Bye - Bye

We call this our Flintstones Table.

scurrying away

You'd think they were flying squirrels

I've read that squirrels have babies twice a year - in the spring and summer. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Cooking with my Instant Pot

Hi everyone.

My son and daughter-in-law got me an Instant Pot for Christmas and I just now got the nerve to use it.

I'm not afraid of pressure cookers, I've used one all my married life. My mom got me one a few years after I got married. But this one is a little fancy and I was kind of uneasy about using it for the first time.

Isn't this cute. It has it's own little chair to sit on in my dining room.

We're going to my cousin's house today for a get together of hot dogs, potato salad and baked beans. I was making the potato salad, so I thought this was the perfect time to use my Instant Pot to make hard boiled eggs. I had read on the internet that this was the easiest thing to do and perfect to get your feet wet, so to speak, when using the Instant Pot.

Just let me say this, "I will never boil eggs the old-fashioned way again."

I should have timed myself. I had the peelings off of the eggs in probably 30 seconds - and not one messed-up egg. Aren't they pretty?

IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING. Put one cup of water in the pot. Put your eggs in the little lift-out rack that comes with the Instant Pot. Close the lid and turn the steam valve to the sealing position. Set the pot to manual/pressure, high pressure and use the +/- button to set the cook time to 5 minutes. For an 8 qt. pot, when the cooking time is finished, do a quick release. Which means to turn the steam valve to the venting position. Use a long handled utensil to do this and don't let the steam get on you. When the red float valve drops down, the pressure has been released and it is safe to open the lid. Lift the eggs out and put them in a bowl of ice water. Let stand for 5 minutes. I then peck the ends on the counter top and roll the eggs between the palm of my hand and the countertop. Then - THE SHELLS PEEL OFF SO EASY!

Next I put the cubed potatoes and carrots in the pot. I put in about 1 1/2 cups of water in the Instant Pot and placed 4 cups of cubed potatoes and and about 2/3 cup of those tiny carrots in the pot in a steamer basket. 
Lock the lid in place and make sure the steam valve is in the sealing position. Select high pressure and put the cook time to 4 minutes and press start. When the timer beeps, do a quick pressure release - just like you did with the eggs. When the red float valve drops down, the pressure has been released and it is safe to open the lid. After they were cooked, I diced the carrots. I didn't want to put diced carrots in the cooker for fear they would turn to mush.

I then proceeded to use my potato salad recipe and put it together.

Yeah! My first dish using my Instant Pot!

Always remember, to read and follow all the instructions and safety procedures when using your Instant Pot.

Do any of you have one? What is your favorite recipe or thing you like about it?

This is where I first read about making the potato salad.