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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.

Monday, November 5, 2018

My Thanksgiving Cactus is Blooming

I have had a holiday cactus plant for a number of years. I've always called it a Christmas Cactus, but after a little research on the internet, I've concluded that it is a Thanksgiving Cactus. Here is a link you can go to and check out if yours is a Christmas or Thanksgiving plant.

I've threatened to get rid of them for a while now,  because they haven't bloomed for a number of years. But my husband wouldn't let me.

In fact, this past spring one of my plants lost a lot of its limbs. Large sections of it just fell off and I thought the entire plant was going to die. I put both my plants out on the front porch and hoped for the best.

Thankfully, the leaves stopped dropping off and they seemed to like being outside on the porch.

I've concluded what I had been doing wrong.
I was taking too good a care of them.
For one thing, I think I was watering them too much. I tend to forget to water my plants that I have on the porch, so that was good for them.

We kept them out on the porch until we felt the nights were getting too cold for them to be outside. Instead of bringing them in the house, I brought them inside and put them in the garage. I placed them on top of our old chest freezer we had out there and kind of forgot about them.

Lo and behold, my husband called me one Wednesday when I was down at the Senior Center where I volunteer (My cousin and I do crafts on Wednesday), and said, "Guess what? Our cactus plants are going to have flowers!" Well, I didn't believe him until I came home and saw them for myself.

The first picture is the one that almost died. 

As you can see they are full of blooms!

I left them in the garage for a while and brought them in one at a time to see if the shock of bringing them into a heated house would make the blooms drop or not. We keep our house fairly warm in the winter.

So far they are both doing fine.

So my advice for getting them to bloom is keeping them in a cool and dark place. Apparently our unheated garage was the perfect place for them to thrive. Cool and dark all night.

Now I know what to do every year.

Quit taking such good care of them!

Keep them cool and in the dark and don't over water them.

Do you have a holiday cactus? Which one do you have? Does yours bloom?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Just in Time - Squash Recipes

It's that time of year. The time of year when squash takes over your garden and fridge. We only have one squash plant, and it is supplying us with many, many squash.

Here are the ingredients for a delicious pie using squash - Just add a deep-dish pie crust.

PS: Don't you just love my little rooster egg holders. I made them from the cardboard egg cartons. I am told that the large 2-egg-holder one also works good for holding your salt and pepper shakers. This was a craft I had the Crazy Crafters at the senior center make a few months back. They loved them.

 Without any further ado, here is the recipe.

2 cups of shredded yellow squash
1 ½ cups of sugar
3 eggs
½ stick of melted butter                                                                                   
1 teaspoon of lemon flavoring
1 teaspoon of coconut flavoring
1 tablespoon of self-rising flour

Mix and pour into a deep-dish pie shell.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or a little longer until set.

This is a really good pie. Give it a try if you are being overrun with squash. I use yellow squash, I'm nor sure if it would work with zucchini or not.

I have already made four squash bread loaves, fried squash, made a squash casserole and now this morning have made this squash pie. I have yet to make squash patties, but I think that will be next on my supper menu. I am waiting anxiously for my tomatoes to get ripe to make my squash-tomato dish.

As another life safer for you, below are links to other squash recipes on my blog.

Go here for more squash recipes.

Go here for more squash recipes.

If you like these, there are many more great recipes in my cookbook. There is a link to it on my sidebar. It is filled with a lot of simple, old-fashioned recipes, even a few you can't eat --- and, it shows you how to make aprons from blue jeans and has empty recipe pages in the back for you to write down your favorite (or handed-down family) recipes on so they are not forgotten.
There are recipes for blackberries, too. Another favorite summer ingredient of mine.  I have lots frozen in my freezer and I have been taking a blackberry dessert every Wednesday to the Senior Center for them to enjoy.

I hope you are enjoying your garden this year.

Are you being overrun by vegetables, too?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dating Old Photos

I love old family photos. I have lots - wish I had more. I cherish them.

We take picture taking for granted nowadays. With digital cameras we can take as many as we want. Back in the olden days few were taken. You are lucky if you have very many of your ancestor's photos.

I've been doing a little research lately on vintage pictures. I have quite a few that are on the back of postcards. I always thought that was interesting. Below are three and the backs of two of them.

I found a site that tells you how you can date them. Have fun dating yours.
Click here to go to it.
The information confirmed my idea of when these pictures were taken.

I also have this picture. I haven't been able to find any images like this online. Can any of you help me in finding out what type of picture this is?  This picture is attached to a metal oval. There is small punched hole in the top for hanging. The paper is torn and coming unattached to the metal. The baby in the picture is my mother, so I know it was taken in the mid 1920s.

Tin type pictures are also neat. Here are two small ones. They have a hole punched in the top right corner and the pictures are dark. I have copies of these and a copy of the one above, too.

Quite a while back I did a post here telling about how you can display your old family photos.

I wrote a poem once, inspired by some of my family photos.

by Janet F. Smart

The traveling photographer
Caught their solemn pose
For a few moments
Their current life froze.

Their neatly groomed hair
Their finest attire
Captured in hist’ry
For us to admire.

Just a tiny piece
A snippet of life
That solemn portrait
Of husband and wife.
One look at the past
One page in a book
Of life long ago
In pictures he took.

Do you have a lot of old family pictures? Do you have yours in shoe boxes, detailed scrapbooks, photo albums, displayed about your house in frames? Or all of the above?

I hope the link helps you in dating them.
And I hope names are on them and you know who they are.