Thursday, August 31, 2023


I found this pretty wildflower on a walk at Bull Run Park in the spring.

 Bulbous bittercress (Botanical name Cardamine bulbosa).  Other names are Spring cress, Bulbous cress, Bulb bitterness and Spring bittercress.  This wildflower is native to North America and is widespread in the eastern part, where it is found in the moist soils of forests and swamps. 

Its leaves are edible apparently, and they can add a sharp, peppery flavor to salads (not brave enough to try that any time soon.  I don't know enough about such things but found it interesting).  

It blossoms with white flowers in late spring and early summer.  It's the first time I have seen this particular wildflower, or at least noticed it.

What wildflowers do you have growing in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


Today I am showcasing the female Cardinal.  Even though she is not as showy as the distinctive red-feathered male, she is just as beautiful with her muted colors. I took these photos of her in one of the trees in our garden.

The Cardinal is the official state bird of seven states. These are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. 
They are numerous in the Southeast, and it has been extending its range northward for decades.  We can see it now on winter days as far north as southeastern Canada.  You will rarely see it west of the Great Plains but it is quite common in the desert Southwest.
Here she is after flying down to sit on the deck rail, with a cropped version from above.  We are lucky enough to see both male and female almost every day throughout the year.
Females sing mainly in spring before the start of nesting, and those nests are usually well hidden in dense shrubs, vines, or low trees. She is the one who builds them, using twigs, weeds, grass, bark strips, leaves and rootlets, lined with fine grass or hair.
Another bird I enjoy is the Mourning Dove.  There was a family of six visiting this morning.  I love to hear them cooing in the early light as I wake up, and I often call them my early alarm.  Their call and their silhouette are very easy to recognize.  Its species name is macroura, from Greek meaning "long tail."  It is among the few birds that can drink using suction.  Other birds drink water by filling their bill with the liquid, then tilting their heads back relying on gravity.  
This is a Carolina Wren.  These photos aren't the sharpest as I took them through glass and a screen.  It is another regular visitor to our garden.
A male and female Carolina Wren will form a bond at any time of the year, and will then stay together for the rest of their lives. They like to make nests in unusual places, and if you have them near your home, you might find a nest in your mailbox, flowerpots, even in your shoes and pockets if they have access.  If you wanted to encourage them, you can set up a nesting box 3 to 6 ft. off the ground.  The box can also help to provide shelter during cold or extreme weather conditions, so if you install one, leave it up throughout the winter. 
Next I am sharing one of the planters we bought in the early summer.  We purchased two and both pots are dark green with the same plants.  The flowers growing above all the other plants, the ones with the red bell-like petals, are Honeysuckle fuchsia, more info below.  I'm going to have to start pruning as everything has grown amazingly well.  The planters are hard to move and are far too heavy for me.  We do have a dolly in the garage that will help with that.  I saw a hummingbird fly near them one day, a fleeting moment and haven't seen it since.   
I was concerned that the squirrels might take a liking to them, and I would find everything strewn all over the deck, but so far, they have left them alone.  A rare win with those little rascals.

I just looked outside from staring at my computer screen, and said to Gregg, "Look at all those doves?  There must be over a dozen of them."  Well, turned out what I was seeing was double vision.  My eyes took a moment to adjust from screen to deck rail.  Husband had a puzzled look as he looked out there, and when I told him we both had a bit of a laugh.  And a mental note it's time to get my eyeglass subscription updated!

Now for the Honeysuckle Fuchsia, also known as a Firecracker Fuchsia, with a botanical name of Fuchsia triphylla.  It prefers full to partial shade, though it can tolerate more sunshine if the temperature is mild.  They are mostly grown as an annual in the U.S.  It is super easy to take care of and resists almost all pests and disease. 

And that’s all for today.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
to pick up a book and read to a child.”

One of my happiest times of being a young mother, was when I used to read to our son before he went to sleep.  The first books I ever bought him were The Berenstain Bears. They were such happy little books  and there were many others, the more light-hearted the better.  Next came Dr. Seuss with The Cat in the Hat, Oh the Places You’ll Go, Green Eggs and Ham, so many.  There were also old books my Mother-in-law gave me of Curious George.  My own Mother read to me when I was a child, and she also made up happy little stories which she told me at bedtime.  My most favorite gifts at Christmas were my Bunty and Judy Annuals.  Mum and I also played board games together, as my son and I did.

I found the illustration above attached to the quote. I can’t remember the name of the artist.  It is on the tip of my tongue but it escapes me right now.  I will add their name when I remember.  Those books look like National Geographic magazines.  I have a few in a box down in the basement.  I stopped subscribing years ago. Something else I will have to sort through soon but there aren’t many left.  We used a lot for information on school projects.  I also gave them to friends for their children to do the same. And then there were times it was just for the fun of cutting around the animals, and others, with son making his own animal art, glueing them to sheets of cardboard from broken down boxes. Usually reserved activities for rainy days.  Fun to recycle and definitely fun memories!  

So what were your favorite books when you were a child?  What did you read to your children and grandchildren?   Did you have a favorite board game?

Thanks for listening to my rambles, 
and have a great day. 


Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American children's author and cartoonist. He is known for his work writing and illustrating  more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss.  His work includes many of the most popular children's books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death.

Monday, August 28, 2023


Another salad this week, this time with an Orzo pasta. There are variations of Orzo recipes on this blog, all very good.  I am happy to have found this one at Living Lou, hosted by Lou (Louisa Clements).  The original recipe can be found here.  Another for our favorites folder.  It was delicious!  Light and refreshing and perfect for summer days.  

It is also vegetarian.  You can add a protein but it is perfect as the main course as is.  I am thinking of adding garbanzo or black beans next time to round it out.  I also really love those Kalamata olives in this (already one of the ingredients).  You can change things around to include your own favorites.  

Thank you very much Lou!  If you want to read Lou's tips on this recipe, I highly recommend visiting her blog.  She also has great recipes not only to go with this one, but there are many others I would like to try later.

Greek Orzo Salad - serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes 

Cooking time: 10 minutes 

Total time: 20 minutes 

I am adding the above times of Lou’s basic guideline.  It always takes me longer as I pace myself, it may take you shorter, just saying.

You can make this the day before but if you do, add a little olive oil and mix in before stirring, just to loosen the pasta up a little.  This is Lou's suggestion.

For salad dressing:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (we used rice wine vinegar)

1 clove garlic, grated

½ tsp salt

½ tsp dried oregano

For pasta salad

1-½ cups orzo

3 Persian cucumbers, or half a regular cucumber, chopped

1 225g package cherry tomatoes, halved (this works out to 7-7/8 ounces for us in the U.S. according to a a conversation chart online.  I bought a small container of cherry tomatoes and added them until I thought it was enough, which turned out to be the whole container.   Use however much looks good for you.)

½ green bell pepper, chopped

2 tbsp minced red onion

½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Get all ingredients measured out and ready to go.

In a measuring cup, whisk all ingredients for the dressing together.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add orzo and cook according to package directions. 

Drain and toss with half of the dressing while still warm. Allow to cool.

Stir in cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper, minced red onion, Kalamata olives, and feta followed by remaining dressing.

Serve and enjoy!

Full website address for those who prefer to cut and paste is:

The only changes I made today is in using a red sweet pepper instead of the green one.  Neither of us are too fond of the green.

Absolutely loved the salad dressing in this.  In another dressing I saw later, they added the lemon zest.  We both liked the sound of that.

Gregg suggested adding hot red pepper flakes, which sounds good.  However, I am sticking to without for now.  He will add the flakes to his plate at the table as a garnish.  I must be going through my ‘no heat added, thank you’ phase.  I just liked the recipe as is.  

We did substituted Japanese Rice Wine Vinegar instead of the White Wine Vinegar.  It suits our tastes perfectly.  Not sure how it would alter the taste from the White Wine Vinegar, which would be more in keeping with the Greek theme.  I don't use it often enough for me to buy a bottle when we are happy with what we have already in stock. We have used the rice wine vinegar several times in other recipes, and the results have always been very yummy, as was this one.

Because there are 4 servings to this meal, we will have the leftovers tomorrow. As much as we both enjoy putting something new together, it is always nice not to have to fuss to put a nutritious meal on the table the next time. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023



This is a jigsaw I completed recently (on my iPad).  It reminded me of the village where I lived when I met hubby in 1975.  The fashions are earlier, the layout is a little different, there was no pond but there are still several similarities.   

Happy Sunday Everyone, and 
I wish you a great week. 

Friday, August 25, 2023


 A month ago we went for another drive along the Snickersville Turnpike.  The previous one we had to cut short because of a warning light that appeared on the car's dashboard.  This day was once again sunny, not too hot and perfect weather.

An historical marker reads:
"Originally an Iroquois hunting trail, it became by 1786 the first recorded operating turnpike in America, praised by Thomas Jefferson.  In 1810 the Virginia Assembly chartered the Snickers Gap Turnpike Company, authorizing three toll gates between Aldie and Snickers Gap: horse 3 cents, 20 cattle 12-1/2 cents, four-wheel carriage 12-1/2 cents. 
A toll booth operated on the Blue Ridge Mountain until 1915.  The Turnpike today is a Virginia Byway overlooking the same landscape George Washington traveled between 1748 and 1788, where he often stopping at West's Ordinary near Aldie and Edward Snicker's inn and ferry on the Shenandoah River." (An Ordinary is an inn, tavern, etc. where ordinary meals were served).
A lot of old farms...
and houses, all of which I thoroughly enjoy taking photos of.  Some were in the process of getting a little tender loving care.
I have noticed for some time now that the fences we see in the countryside are painted black instead of white.  
It took me a while to get used to, but I rather like them now.
You can pass miles and miles of these fences.
There are also new homes being built and we saw sales signs...
but then there were the old, abandoned homes...
and what stories they could tell.
We saw many old barns still in use...
and more houses.
This is another scene shared before but I saw the mural again and took another photo.
It is where we saw this beauty, a photo I captured by sheer luck and posted on my blog a few weeks ago.  It was the only deer we saw that day and I thought was worth a repeat.
And here is the red barn that I shared as a painting two days ago. 
I found some interesting information about why these barns were painted red.  It goes back to the late 18th century, with New England farmers applying a protective varnish to barn surfaces. The varnish usually contained a mixture of linseed oil, lime or iron oxide, which under the sun would then turn to the red ochre hue that we have become so familiar with. 
Eventually, as red paint became available, many people stuck to the color tradition. Red paint is also one of the cheapest colors available to purchase (this is because the large amount of iron and oxygen compounds in the paint are plentiful in the Earth).
Apparently red barns can be in seen in other parts of the world.  In Sweden for instance, the red color has appeared in barns and other buildings since the Middle Ages.  Iron oxide was used from the mining tracts of Falun (Sweden).  Even today the color is called Faluröd. Although iron oxide has been used for thousands of years as a paint pigment, in Sweden it was apparently an attempt by the noblemen of the 16th century to mimic the brick and terracotta of European buildings.  This information was given by someone from Sweden.  
Here is a map of our drive.

I have more photos and I will share them another time.

Thanks for looking everyone and
I hope your day is a great one.

Thursday, August 24, 2023



This is Gregg's photo of the hawk that got our local crows all agitated yesterday.  I need an expert's help for a definite ID, but from photos I saw online, I thought it might be a Juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  You can see more information at this website
(Added note: 8-24-23 at 3:41 p.m.  Cloudia from Comfort Spiral thinks this might be a Cooper's Hawk and also sent a link.  I am sharing it here.  Thanks so much for the help Cloudia.) 
He hasn't returned and we have several smaller feathered friends visiting.  They are enjoying the bird bath.  The clever little things seem to know when a bird of prey is around.  I loved seeing it and it needs to survive, but am glad our local crows objected and it moved on.  
It was a wonderful morning when I went outside early.  It actually felt like Autumn was on the way, so cool and fresh.  The lowest temperature was 65 degrees Fahrenheit and it certainly felt like it, even a little cooler perhaps.  It is going to get up to 81 degrees today.  

My Snickersville Turnpike post will be shared tomorrow, where you can see the original photo of the red barn from the ArtCard result here.  

Have a great day everyone and thanks 
so much for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023



Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A sunlight pasture field with cattle and horses feeding,
And haze and vista, and the far horizon fading away.

~Walt Whitman, Jr. - A Farm Picture~

This, as you might know, is another photo turned into art with my ArtCard app on my iPad.  I haven’t gotten tired of it yet and I hope you haven’t either.  The original photo I will share soon.  We went on another drive along the Snickersville Turnpike scenic route after having to curtail our last trip due to a car problem.  It was a very enjoyable ride and once again the weather was perfect.  We saw a lot of old barns and pretty homes.  Even the places that had been abandoned had their own beauty.  These red barns look incredible against the blue of the sky.

We had an unexpected visitor today.  A very regal looking hawk rested on the deck rail.   The neighborhood crows set up quite a racket.  They were warning other birds to stay clear and were sitting on other branches quite near it.  Gregg read that Blue Jays mimic the call of a hawk to warn other birds also.  The hawk flew up into a tree when it realized we were staring just beyond the glass.  After a few minutes of the crows loudly squawking it took off, with the crows in hot pursuit.  Gregg took a photo and tomorrow I will share it if it came out.  It all happened so fast.  I don’t know my hawks well enough to tell which kind.  Others I have identified as Coopers Hawks.  

Walt Whitman Jr. (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. He is considered one of the most influential poets in American history. Whitman incorporated both transcendentalism and realism in his writings and is often called the father of free verse.  His work was controversial in his time, particularly his 1855 poetry collection Leaves of Grass. Whitman was born in Huntington on Long Island, and lived in Brooklyn.  You can click on his name for more info.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023


My photos were taken along Skyline Drive.

The following is its story: 

Queen Anne of Great Britain was tatting white lace. (Tatting is the art of making lace by hand.) The beautiful white lace she was tatting became the white lacy flowers of the wild carrot plant. She pricked her finger and one drop of blood oozed out. This became the central dark red or purple sterile floret that is present on some, but not all, of Queen Anne's Lace flowers.

Legends disagree as to which Queen Anne was tatting such lovely lace. Some say it was Anne (1574 - 1619), the first Stuart Queen Anne, who was brought over from Denmark at fourteen years of age to be a Queen to King James of Scotland. Others argue it was Anne (1665 - 1714), the daughter of William and Mary, and the last monarch in the Stuart line. Both died in their forties.

Her lawn
looks like a meadow, 
And if she mows her place
She leaves the clover standing
And the Queen Anne's Lace.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay~

This is from one of my older blog posts.  We were on Skyline Drive.  Wherever we looked there were hundreds of these pretty wildflowers. The one above and below has a little visitor.  I thought the ant was special, it looked almost metallic.

It has another name besides Queen Anne's Lace and Wild Carrot.  It is also called Bees Nest, with a botanical name of Daucus carota.  It usually blooms mid and late summer and early fall.