Thursday, January 31, 2013

Japanese Magnolia Blossoms

Well! It is a sure sign Springtime is right around the corner when the Japanese Magnolia trees begin to bloom.  It is unusual for them to be in full bloom this early.  It is usually mid-to-late February before we see them blooming like this.

Each year when these beautiful trees are in bloom I cannot resist going out in the yard and getting pictures.   Even though the sky was somewhat overcast and there was not much sunshine, I went out anyway and took lots of pictures.

That little grey sprig hanging down in the below photo is a little bit of Spanish Moss ... 
It seemed to be on everything this year.
Also, I was surprised to see two different color blossoms on the same tree

Looking down the hill from the back door this is the view of some of the Japanese Magnolia trees.  They are not quite in full bloom yet.

Years ago my husband went with his gardening friend over to Mobile, Alabama to a Nursery they had heard about.  My husband was looking for the hard to find white Japanese Magnolia tree.  He and his friend came back with lots of what looked like little sticks.  They planted those sticks and they survived and grew into these beautiful trees.

 I love this ocean of pink.

 This is another one of those little sticks.

Japanese Magnolia trees grow to be about 25 feet tall with a 25-foot spread.  They produce a 5 to 10-inch fragrant pink, purple or white blossom and bloom profusely in the early Spring.

 Japanese Magnolias prefer full sunlight or partial shade and a moist, acidic soil.

Japanese magnolia trees grow in US hardiness zones 4 through 9. 
They are native to south-west China and also were cultivated in Japan.

All of the above photos were taken a couple of days ago.  

I also wanted to include some photos I had taken in the past ....  The below photos were taken on a bright clear day when the sky was so intensely blue and accentuated the blossoms so nicely.

 The sunshine accentuated the colors also.

Well, that is it!   Another year of beautiful Japanese Magnolia blossoms ... What fun it is to try to take a nice picture of these beautiful flowers.  I am so glad you took the time to walk along as I went up and down the hills trying to capture some of the Lord's amazingly beautiful artwork.

Wishing you wonderful days with many blessings wherever you may be.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beauty Around Us

There is so much beauty all around us and I love trying to capture some of that beauty with my camera.  There is another kind of beauty....the beauty of spirit.  At our last Garden Club Circle meeting, the below words were our "words of inspiration" for the meeting.  I thought the "always do what is right and good and true" message was so inspiring.   I thought you might like that message as much as I did.
The Paradoxical Commandments
Dr. Kent M. Keith
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered,
Love them anyway. 
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior
Do good anyway. 
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true
Succeed anyway. 
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway. 
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway. 
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be
shot down by the smallest men and women with the
smallest minds.
Think big anyway. 
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway. 
What you spend years building may be destroyed
Build anyway. 
People really need help but may attack you if you do help
Help people anyway. 
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in
the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

And then, we have this kind of beauty ..... Our local grocery store had these beautiful tulips yesterday when I went grocery shopping.  I walked by them and just could not resist.  When I first put them in the vase they were drooping over, but I guess the light streaming in the kitchen windows pulled them up straight.

In the above photo this is one of my favorite places to be in our home.  I love to sit by the kitchen window with my coffee in the early morning and see what kind of wildlife is stopping by.  I did not see him this morning, but the bird suet that was in the feeder from yesterday was all gone.  So I know Mr. Raccoon stopped by during the night and had a midnight snack.

The tulips opened a little more today.  What a pretty color!

Coming back from the grocery yesterday I could not help but notice how the Japanese Magnolia trees are blooming .  They are blooming much earlier than usual.  Here in north Florida they usually bloom in mid February.

After unloading groceries I decided to take my camera and walk around the yard and try to get some photos of the Magnolia trees that were blooming.   Next time we visit,  I will share some of the pretty blossoms I captured with my camera yesterday.

Our prayers are with any of you who may be in the path of that tornado filled storm coming across the country.  Be safe until we meet again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wild Bird Food Suet Recipe

In the below photo, to the left on the edge of the bird feeder,  you can see the Mockingbird who spent a good bit of the day visiting.  Often he would sit as he is now looking out from the feeder.  I tried to get a really good photo of him, but he had other ideas, and was not interested in staying put long enough for me to get a nice picture of him.

This is a quick shot of him before he took off again.  Can you see him there to the left, sitting directly under the rose that happened to be growing into the feeder.  (Yes, it is time to prune the roses.)

 This is a quick shot of the Mockingbird just before he took off again.

Considering how cold it has been here, it was surprising to see this pretty little single rose blooming.  The covered bird feeder probably helped the rose survive.  Also, a little bee stopped by .... see him on the top left portion of the feeder?

Since I was not able to get a good shot of the Mockingbird today I went back to my picture files and found the below photo taken at another time of a Mockingbird who did want to pose for his picture.  Isn't he so pretty!  Those tiny feet must get so cold these days....I do wonder what they do about that.

The Mockingbird is the state bird of not only Florida,  but also of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.  If they are not eating suet at home bird feeders they are out eating insects, earthworms, weed seeds, and wild ripe berries and probably lots of other things they find out there.   They are  best known for their habit of mimicking other song birds and even the sounds of insects.

I found out the secret of attracting Mockingbirds to the bird feeder ...... I began to notice the Mockingbirds visited the feeder at times when we added suet.  Then, later when it was gone,  we would not see them. 

With that thought in mind I thought I would share a wild bird food suet recipe I have made for the birds off and on for a couple of years.   Many birds, not just Mockingbirds really do enjoy this suet treat. 

Wild Bird Food Suet Recipe

  • 1  cup EACH of peanut butter, Crisco, oatmeal, wild bird seed, raisins, and peanuts
  • 1/2  cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • In a large pot over low heat,  melt the Crisco and peanut butter. (It melts quickly)
  • Remove from heat and mix in all of the above dry ingredients.
  • Pour the suet into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 dish.  (I used Pam spray.)
  • Let cool,  harden,  and then cut into the size portions of suet you will need.
  • Store in a Ziploc bag and place in freezer.
  • When ready to use defrost and place in bird feeder.
For some reason we have had low numbers of birds at the feeder for a couple of months.  With Springtime right around the corner I am sure they will be back.   And, it might help if I get busy and make up some of this "delicious" food for them.  Maybe you might like to try it too!

As you can see this recipe makes about ten large size blocks of suet.  It seems to keep nicely in the freezer and that way it stays fresh until needed.

It was such a beautiful weekend here in Tallahassee; so nice and mild with cool evenings....just wonderful!  I opened all the doors today and let the fresh-air breezes blow through.  I sure hope it was beautiful there wherever you are as well.

Wishing you a wonderful new week with many blessings.

Cedar Key Sunset and Moonrise

We took a quick drive down to Tampa, Florida on Friday for a meeting, and then drove back on Saturday.  We enjoyed driving the back roads and taking our time.   We included a quick detour down to the little town of Cedar Key on the west coast of Florida.

We had never been there before and were delighted to see how picturesque and charming the little tourist town was.  It is a very little town with only 800 residents.

As we drove into the area the sun was going down....we almost missed the sunset.

As you can see it was a beautiful evening with a full moon rising.

There were so many other picture opportunities, but it was getting dark.  This little fellow looked like he was enjoying the evening.

Cedar Key is only about a three hour drive from Tallahassee so we definitely plan to go back when we have more time to visit and sight see around.

Hope you had a very nice weekend too wherever you may be.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Lifetime of Trucks and Cars

We were driving along Highway 319,  just south of Tallahassee in Wakulla county, when I looked out the car window, did a double-take,  and said, "What?"  .........  I asked my husband if he would mind turning around and driving back a short distance .... He had not seen what I had just seen. 

Notice the driving path around this tree.

Being the good sport that he is, he turned the car around and we drove back.  Yes, I was not seeing things .... There they were,  a rusted line-up of old trucks, and I later discovered cars too, all lined up as if on display.

I was so glad to have my camera with me because I thought these old trucks made such an interesting picture.

As we walked around each old rusty car, we wondered why, and who,  posed all of these old trucks and cars and lined them up so nicely.

Every one of the old rusted trucks and cars looked like they could each tell an interesting story.

You could tell from the tire marks around the tree as we drove in,  that many others had the same curiosity we were having.

I took lots of pictures and then we drove back on the highway and continued on our way.

It was a good bit after lunchtime so we decided at the next restaurant we would stop in for a late lunch and ask a few questions about these old trucks and cars.

We stopped in at Posey's restaurant which was just a short distance from the old trucks,  in a little town called Medart.

As we began asking questions about the old rusted trucks the owner of the restaurant actually came over, pulled up a chair, sat down with us and told us the story......

She said some folks in the area had a large family farm.  Each time their truck became so old they could not drive it anymore and it was no longer useful on the farm, they just parked it somewhere on their property and it just sat and rusted.  It started with the grandfather.....

Then, the father did the same thing with his old trucks, and the years slowly slipped by.

This below truck looks like it may have been an old hay truck.

Then, one day not too long ago,  the son and grandson of these two farmers decided to take all of his grandfather's and father's old cars and trucks and line them across the property.  I am guessing here, but I would like to think he lined the cars up in memory and tribute to days gone by and to his father and grandfather.

At the restaurant they told us all of the trucks are lined up from left to right, with the oldest being on the left, on down to the most recent vehicle on the right.  They date back from the early 1900s to the mid 1970s.

In the below photo is Posey's Seafood Restaurant where they were so friendly and shared the sweet story about the old rusted trucks.  

Driving from Tallahassee, this restaurant is located on Highway 319,  just outside of Crawfordville in Medart.  It is located about 25 miles south of Tallahassee.  Just for the record....  The food was delicious.  My husband had Oysters and I had the most delicious Fried Shrimp......thought you might like to know that,  just in case you are ever going this way.

There are so many good people in this world.  How special of this young man to think of his father and grandfather,  and go to all that trouble to put their old trucks on display.  The owner of the above restaurant said she knows him,  and he is dismayed with the interest in his family's old vehicles.  She also said many folks come there to have family portraits made in front of the old trucks.  I would love to see some of those photos.

Well! we never know what we might see next do we!

It was fun having you come along with us today.  Sure hope you are doing well wherever you may be.