Monday, March 31, 2008

I've disappeared for over week, but now I'm back. We took a road trip/camping trip to California to see the desert wildflowers in bloom. I've never done that before, but let me tell you, it sure was fun! We started at Death Valley National Park, then moved south to Mojove National Preserve, and Joshua Tree National Park. Death Valley was really interesting, but Mojove and Joshua Tree had the best wildflowers, because they got rain this year when Death Valley didn't. We drove through Anza-Brorrego State Park on the way to San Diego. On the way home we drove through Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park, where there was still lots of snow, and only a few wildflowers at lower elevations. But both places were very beautiful! We needed more days, but were glad for each one we had. I'll start sharing pictures with you when my husband can move them from his laptop (where I downloaded on the trip) to my computer. Today I've got to focus on unpacking, cleaning up and helping my kids get back into routine.

I'm glad you are all still here. Thank you for all you comments, even when I was gone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Questions about my nature journal

I've had some questions about my nature journal and thought I'd answer them this morning.

Yes, I do keep a personal nature journal. I'm not regular in writing or drawing in it, but enjoy it very much when I do. I mostly draw in the spring and summer, because flowers are my favorite thing to draw.

I draw with a mechanical pencil, then I trace the pencil drawing with a black Pigma Micron pen. My daffodils were colored with colored pencils. I like to work with watercolor too, but notebook pages don't hold up well with watercolor, even though the art journal I use says it is suitable for watercolor. I sometimes trace and transfer a drawing using graphite paper onto watercolor paper if I want to watercolor a flower.

A tip for drawing flowers is to always draw what is there, and not what you think is there. I usually start the flower where a petal and the center meet. I draw that petal, trying to put each straight line and curve of the edge exactly as they are. Then I move back to the center and make the next petal. It is really tempting to just draw straight lines for the stem and leaves and be finished. But you have to look at them carefully too. Does a daffodil have a straight stem? No, it has an elegant twist, as do the leaves. Carefully look at the daffodil stem and study where each line goes, then draw the straight segments and curves, just as they are. You will really enjoy the result.

If I don't have time to color right then, I like to have a blue pencil and an yellow pencil with me to color in the lighter and darker places on the leaves. Then when I come back later, I can remember how the light was falling, and apply it to the flower also. Blue darkness and yellow light, makes more lifelike leaves when you add a top layer of green. I put in purple shadows at the end.

I'd like to put out a challenge to each of you to try drawing a daffodil, or other spring flower, and then share it on your blog. If you do, come back and leave me a comment so I can see it too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Mug of Wildflower Tea

I have one more entry in Gracious Hospital-i-tea's cupa-tea week. I hinted that I don't much appreciate mugs for drinking tea, but then when I thought about it more today, I realized that I have several tea mugs I enjoy, but they are pretty ones, and all were made in England. This very afternoon I drank some tea out of this one that is covered with wildflowers. I do enjoy my mugs that have pink roses and pretty blue flowers, but this one with wildflowers is my very favorite. One side of the mug features violets. The details are lovely, even showing the seed pod bursting with life. In the middle are some sunflowers with grass in the background
On the other side is some pretty pink flowers which I don't recognize. There are some tiny white somethings sprouting underneath the leaves too.

I had so much fun researching my tea cup that I thought I would see if I could find out anything about the company that made this mug.The bottom of the mug said it bone china, made in England by Roy Kirkman Pottery. I learned from their website that the company is only 30 years old, but they make some beautiful pieces. When I looked at their website I was amazed! They make beautiful tea cups, mugs and tea pots, featuring flowers, birds, nature and teddy bears. I think I liked every thing I saw there. Every piece would be a joy to hold and drink from.

And now I'd like to know how this mug made it's way to America to a thrift shop so that I could pick it up and bring it home to use and enjoy, and why am I so attracted to English made tea cups and mugs.

Daffodils Dance in my Nature Journal

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gracious Hospital-i-tea Blog-a-thon

My friend, La Tea Dah, at Gracious Hospitality is have special tea themed blog-a-thon. It is styled like my Wildflowers in Winter extravaganza. Here is what La Tea Dah says on her blog:

"You are invited to join Gracious Hospitality by pouring yourself a cuppa tea and participating in the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon. In a relaxed, easy manner --- you are invited to share some of your favorite things about afternoon tea. A listing of themes for the weeks ahead is listed below and you are welcome to enter a post for each and every week. In fact, you can post as many times as you wish each week, just so it keeps on the weekly topic. Rylan has created an image for you to use to identify your blog-a-thon post each week. You are welcome to copy it and post it with your posts or on the sidebar of your own blog. Each week there will be a reminder post on Gracious Hospitality, reviewing the theme for the week. Each time you have posted your weekly theme, return to Gracious Hospitality and leave a post with URL in the comments section. It will be highlighted and transferred and linked at the end of the weekly theme post for all to see. Late posts are accepted. This is a great way to make new friends and to find others who share an interest in the relaxing tradition of afternoon tea. So, please tell your friends and join in on the fun! At the completion of our tea event an entry will be made for each post and a drawing will be conducted to select the winner of a package of tea goodies."

So hurry over and take a look and join the Gracious Hospital-i-tea Blog-a-thon.

Tea-cupa Story

The theme for the first week of Gracious Hospital-i-tea's Blog-a-thon is to tell the story of a favorite tea cup. I shared about my favorite thistle tea cup a few weeks back, but this is another favorite of mine.

I didn't grow up in a family that used tea cups. I don't think that we even owned a tea cup and saucer. We usually had the basics, but there was rarely money for extras. Sometimes I remember drinking some peppermint tea from a heavy mug. Sometimes grandma made some sun tea when the weather got hot, but other then that, there just wasn't much tea around.

When I read about tea parties and saw pictures of beautiful tea cups, I really longed to own one, but it was long after I graduated from college before I owned my first tea cup. This tea cup wasn't my first one, but it was my first beloved tea cup. When I saw it at an estate sale, I snatched it up quickly, and hoped they wouldn't charge too much because it was just what I wanted. It was similar to my dream of what the perfect English tea cup would look like, covered with flowers inside and out, including pink roses. I really was thrilled to own such a pretty cup. I just love that it is beautiful on the inside too. It reminds me of how God wants us to be, not only pretty on the outside, but pretty on the inside too, because He makes it so.

I was curious today if I might learn some more about this tea cup. The bottom the cup says it is made by Roslyn Fine Bone China, Made in England. The pattern is Black Velvet, number 8555. I don't know anything about the woman who once owned it. I'm guessing that because it is in such good condition, that it sat many years in a china closet, too pretty to use. I wondered if it might have been a gift from an English relative, or a souvenir from her world travels. I won't ever know the answers to these questions but I wondered if I might find out something about the company that made this tea cup.

I went searching on the web and learned that Roslyn Fine Bone China was made at Park Place Works, Longton, England from 1946 to 1963,. Previously the Roslyn company was called Reid and Co. and they made fine china from 1913 to 1946. I learned that my cup was made sometime between 1950 and 1955, when they put the name of the pattern in a banner. The pottery factory is now a museum. You can see some examples of other Roslyn works here.

When guests come for tea at my house, this is often the tea cup that I let them use, because maybe they too have never held a pretty English tea cup in their hands before. Maybe when they hold this pretty cup in their hands and share friendship they will know more clearly just how precious and beautiful they are to me and to God.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Molasses Cookies

I've been in the kitchen week experimenting with gluten free oats and making some cookies. Let me tell you that they are great! Oats don't technically have gluten in them, but in America they are usually contaminated with wheat because they are usually grown so close together or processed on the same machinery. They aren't cheep food, but for this family with three gluten intolerant individuals the certified gluten free oats are like spring. We can't afford using them for oatmeal at $4 a pound. But I'm decided that maybe we should have them in cookies sometime. Once I got cooking and tasting I couldn't stop and had to go get some more, so I could make some more for us to take with us on spring break.

I took my favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe and make some changes, so it has no processed oil, and is gluten and dairy free and not too sweet. The molasses makes them dark, as if they had some chocolate in them, but they are chocolate free. We were all happy with the results.

Oatmeal Raisin Molasses Cookies
by Elizabeth Joy

1. Soak 1 1/2 cups of raisins in hot water for 20 or more minutes. Drain. Discard liquid.
2. Mix in a bowl the following:

2/3 cup honey
4 TBSP molasses
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup soymilk

3. Blend and add to the above mixture.

1 cup water
1/3 cup cashews
2 TBSP flax seed

4. In another bowl, mix the following:

The 1 1/2 cup of soaked raisins
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
5 cups quick oats
1 cup brown rice flour
4 TBSP tapioca flour

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well. Let set 10 minutes to firm up. Drop by 1/8th cup portions onto a lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Flatten and shape. Bake 350' F for 25 minutes.

Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

My next experiment with certified gluten free oats used some apricots that I pulled out of the freezer and thawed. I think that I liked them even better then the raisin molasses cookies. A guest today thought they were really good. They aren't too sweet, so you don't have to feel guilty eating them.

Apricot Oatmeal Cookies
by Elizabeth Joy at

6 cups certified gluten free oats
2 cups raisins
2 cups sunflower seeds
1 TBSP cinnamon

Blend and add to mixture
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/3 cup cashews
2 TBSP flax seeds
4 cups of unsweetened apricots, drained

Stir everything together. Let soak for 10 minutes to firm up. Drop by 1/8 cup portions onto a sprayed cookie sheet. Flatten and shape. Bake at 350' F for 25 minutes, or put in the food dehydrator for18 - 24 hours if you wish to keep more of the nutrients from the apricots. I made some both ways, and both work well.

Gluten Free Granola

Now you are really going to think I'm crazy, because I made 12 quart bags of gluten free granola for our upcoming vacation trip, so we'd have something quick and easy to eat every day we are on the road. The original recipe came from a friend. I'm posting it here with my variations, including the gluten free oats.

Gluten Free Granola

Mix together:
5 cups of rolled rice flakes ( if you can't find them, use all oats)
5 cups certified gluten free oats
1 cup raw buckwheat groats
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP cinnamon

1/3 cup raw cashews
2 TBSP flax seeds
2/3 cup water

Pour in a small bowl and add and mix:
1 can of apple juice concentrate
1/4 cup maple syrup

Add all the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir to coat completely. Place in cookie sheets. Bake in a 250' F oven for a couple hours or so. Stir every 45 minutes or so. After baking add sulfite free dried fruit, such as raisins, pineapple, apples, in the proportion that you desire. Store in sealed bags or containers, before your family devouring it for a snack. Makes 6 quarts of granola.


Daffy-down-dilly is new come to town,
With a yellow petticoat and a green gown.
English Rhyme

My little boy picked them for me and brought them in and placed them in this tiny vase for me. They look sweet next to the green teapot, but not as sweet as the smile on my boy when handed them to me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Winner of the Wildflowers in Winter Drawing

I can't believe how fast eight weeks have passed. Wildflower in Winter has been so much fun because of you, each of the participants. It wouldn't have worked without you. Thank you for spreading the word, and making such interesting posts, when (for most of us) there was hardly a wildflower to be found.

And now it is time to reveal the winner of the drawing. So the drawing would be easy, and unbiased, I asked my husband to use his computer to choose a number for us between 1 and 166, to see who would win. His computer chose 106, which corresponds with:

The Shady Gardener at Does Everything Grow Better in My Neighbor's Yard?

I'm going to be making up a little package to send to her, just as I promised.

I looked through Mr. Linky and discovered that The Shady Gardener had a post every week for this wildflower extravaganza. Congratulations, dear Shady Gardener. I feel like I've gained a new friend. Actually, I feel like I've gained many new friends - all of you. If I could, I'd send every one of you a big bouquet of the freshest spring wildflowers.

Do stop by my blog and say hi, even when Wildflowers in Winter is over. And do keep searching for, photographing and writing about wildflowers. It will make blogland a more beautiful place.

And now for a question. If we were to do this again next year, do you have any suggestions to improve how we do it? I'm all ears.

Thanks again!
Elizabeth Joy

Wildflowers in Winter - Weekly Themes and Drawing Information

Scroll down for for more details.

Scroll further down for my regular posts.

Every winter I find myself longing for spring. I just love the warming rays of sun and the wildflowers that start to open. It is my favorite time of year. Wildflowers bring me so much joy.

So, I propose some wildflower fun this winter to take us into the first days of spring. I will have a different theme each week through the middle of March. Join right in by making a post on your blog fitting the theme. You may copy the theme image for Wildflowers in Winter onto your blog entry, and link back to this blog so others will know where to look for more information. Then come back to my blog and enter your information in the Mister Linky at the bottom of the page, so we can all see your post. Late entries will be accepted up to March 12. My daughter wants me to make sure and let you know that children can participate not only in the children's art contest, but in all aspects of the Wildflowers in Winter Theme, if they have the photographs or skill to do so, and thus be entered in the drawing.

Please do spread the word so your friends can also enjoy Wildflowers in Winter. I would love to see lots of entries. It will brighten up my gray winter days.

For each post you make about the wildflower themes and enter in the Mister Linky, your name will be entered in a drawing. The winner of the drawing will receive a set of wildflower notecards (yet to be created) made by me.

Here are the themes listed by week, so you can plan ahead are as follows:
Click on the highlighted words to go to an entry with more details about this weeks activities.

Week 1 - January 16 - 22. Your favorite wildflower photo from your files.

Week 2 - January 23 - 29. Wildflowers in Winter, a winter image of a flower in your area.

Week 3 - January 30 - February 5. Literary Wildflowers - Stories, quotations or poetry about wildflowers written by you or someone else. Or write a book review about a book that features wildflowers, such a guide book, picture book, travel guide or something about wildflower gardening, etc. Or Write about some special places/trails/areas to go searching for wildflowers that you are familiar with. Tell about the best time of year to go there, and what you might see. Share photographs if you have them.

Week 4 -February 6 - 12. Wildflowers in the Home - Decorating with wildflowers. Show us dishes or other decorations made by you or someone else that you have in your home. Save the fabric decorations and paintings or drawings for the next two weeks.

Week 5 - February 13 - 19. Stitching up wildflowers - creations made with textiles (fabric, yarn, thread etc.) and featuring wildflowers in some form, made by you or someone else.

Week 6 - February 20 - 26. Wildflower Art - Share art made by you or someone else that features wildflowers. I am thinking of paintings, watercolors, sketches, drawings etc., elaborate, detailed, free style, or very simple. Something from your nature journal would be appropriate too. If you can't find something in your house to photograph and share about right now, this week you can sit down and draw or paint one. Come on, don't be shy. It is really lots of fun, and may chase away those winter blues faster then you'd guess.

Week 7 - February 27 - March 4. Kid's Wildflower Art Contest - Post a photo of a child's art creation featuring wildflowers (or other favorite spring flower, I won't be picky) on your blog or theirs. You have until Tuesday night, March 4 to get them up on a blog. If you don't have a blog, email them to me, and I'll post it on my blog for you. Come back to my blog and enter your name followed by (week 7) and then enter the link where the art work is found. Then on Wednesday, March 5, we will open up the voting, which I will keep open until Thursday, March 6, at 6:00 P.M. PST. take time to look at all the week 7 entries, choose your favorite and then send me an email with your choice to: morninglightblogger at yahoo dot com. (Remove the spaces and fix up the email so it will work.) The winner will receive a really cool Dover Publications Wildflower Coloring book and a neato set of Prang watercolors, some watercolor paper and a piece of graphite paper. If you have any questions be sure to ask.

Week 8 - March 5 - 12. The First Wildflower of Spring photo challenge. Be searching for wildflowers in your area. Try to find the first one blooming and post a photo of it on your blog. If you don't know what it is we will try to help you identify it.

I'll be leaving this post at the top of my blog for your information until Wildflowers in Winter is completed.

When you enter your name place in parentheses which week you are working on, for example "Elizabeth Joy (week 2)". I can only use one Mister Linky in my blog at a time, so we will enter everything in this one. (I'm not entering myself in the Mister Linky, but I am blogging about wildflowers myself, so if you want to see what I have posted, scroll on down through my blog.)

One Last Chance

One last chance to make an entry for Wildflowers in Winter. I'll have my husband help me with a computerized drawing tonight to see who will will a set of note cards.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Winner is ...

First of all, thanks to everyone who participated in the kids Wildflower Art Contest. Thank you also to everyone who emailed their vote to me. I have counted all the votes, and the winner is ...

D. who posted some lovely tulips at his mother's blog, Stitches of Grace.

Congratulations to D. I mail you a little package as soon as I can.

Reminder to Me - Eat Your Greens

Do you have a hard time convincing people in your family that they won't die of protein deficiency (there really is no such thing) if they don't eat meat. I just read an excellent blog post about how veggie burgers have more nutrients then beef patties and how broccoli, kale, and romaine leave steak in the dust when it comes to nutrition. Take a look at the blog Disease Proof. You have to look at the second chart on the page. It is really impressive. It is an excellent reminder to me to keep putting kale in my smoothies, and steaming broccoli to serve with every meal.

And yes, I do need that reminder. I'll tell you what happened to me this winter. Most people who know me know I have come to eat salad as my main food. It has really helped my health and energy to do so. But something happened as the weather got colder, I started making other kinds of good food such as soups, lentils, rice, beans and other such things. They really are good food, but don't have near the nutrient content of greens. When I make these foods the main thing, I don't eat as many greens. A few weeks ago I remember congratulating myself that I must be doing much better health wise, because I was doing so well without as much salad. Then things started changing. I got some kind of intestinal flu, I ate something at a potluck that didn't agree with me very well, maybe msg, and had three nights of disturbed sleep. It is clear my digestion wasn't very happy either. Then two days ago I woke up with 3 cold sores on my lips. Though I used to get these quite regularly, I haven't had them at all since I started eating greens leafy vegetables regularly. I thought about it and wondered what was it causing all of this. I decided to check my acid/alkaline balance since I hadn't done that for a while. Oh my! The results were interesting. I've never come up so acid when testing myself. I had the strongest acid reading on the stick! No wonder I wasn't doing so well. I must get cold sores when I'm highly acid. How does one get their body back to alkaline? Eat greens, lemons and limes, and some other fruits and veggies. I think I learned a lesson here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Please Vote in the Kid's Wildflower Art Contest

Anyone who stops by my blog can vote for the Kid's Wildflower Art contest. We've gotten a few votes, but we need more. So go ahead and email in your vote. Votes are due by Thursday at 6 p.m. pacific time.

The First Wildflower of Spring!

On the east side of town in a grassy strip between the railroad tracks and the highway I found the first wildflower of spring. I have been hoping for them, longing for them, looking for them, and then last Friday I found them! Grass widows, also know as Satin flowers were blooming.They were only about 6 inches tall, but their pinky purple faces seemed to eagerly welcome me. I've seen them much taller over on the Puget sound where they get more water.
I looked up the term "Grass widow". There is debate about the origan and meaning. Wikipedia said It "is a widow whose husband will return in a limited period of time, usually a voyage, or in a second sense, divorced or separated from her husband." The definition made me think I rather liked it's second name better, Satin Flower. It seems more fitting and matches the beauty of the delicate flower.

I looked at web page called "The Language of Flowers" and it said that Satin flowers mean sincerity.

I sincerely wish you a happy spring. Hurry for the first wildflower! I know there will be more to follow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Voting Open for the Kid's Wildflower Art Contest

I am opening voting now for the Kid's Wildflower Art Contest. Some great wildflower art has been created. You can vote by email at morninglightblogger @ yahoo . com (remove spaces). Voting will be open until Thursday, March 6, at 6 p.m, pacific time.

Here's how to vote. Look at the Mr. Linky list in the top post of my blog. Between numbers 134 and 149 you will find entries for week 7. Look at all the entries. Then make your decision as to who you think should be the winner of the Kid's Wildflower Art Contest. Email your vote to me as described above. I'll announce the winner on Thursday evening sometime before I go to bed.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

First Wildflower Coming up ...

I photographed my first wildflower of the spring on Friday. Yippee! But I'm not going to show you what it is until week 8 starts. (No it isn't a dandelion.) I don't know what we are going to do about you ladies who live in the far north who have no hope of seeing anything green for another long gray month.

If you haven't found a kid to draw a wildflower for you yet, you have a couple more day before we start voting. Even a baby will do, just show them a picture of a flower, give them some paper, and make sure they don't eat the crayons.