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Saturday

Horsing Around

Here's this week's entry for Wordless Wednesday (Saturday edition). Photo by Nickers and Ink.



Sometimes a little horsing around
Can help us find our common ground.



Do you love horses? Be sure to check out The Mane Point, a Haven for Horse Lovers.


Passionate about poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

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Wednesday

Save Your Easter Lilies – Gardening Glories, Year After Year


Save Your Easter Lilies –
Gardening Glories, Year After Year

Easter lilies are a perennial favorite! These fragrant flowers, with their pure, white trumpet-shaped blossoms signal the coming of spring and the promise of new life. What a wonderful tradition for Easter decorating and gifts!

How can you extend the life of your Easter lilies, so that you may enjoy their blooming glories for the longest time possible?


Enjoy Your Easter Lilies Indoors.

The Easter lily (lilium longiflorum) originated in Japan. As such, it flourishes in moderate temperatures. Indoors, Easter lilies do best at room temperature, between 60 (F) and 70 (F) degrees.

Easter lilies naturally grow best outdoors during summer months. Actually, the bulbs are forced into blooming indoors for spring celebrations.

Be sure to protect your Easter lily from direct sunlight, as well as excessive heat or cold. Heating vents, appliances (such as toasters, stovetops, laundry machines), working fireplaces, or even open windows may be detrimental to these flowers.

Also, Easter lilies can be quite poisonous to cats. One lily snack may be toxic, causing digestive distress or even kidney failure. Be sure to keep your Easter lilies out of reach, if you have pets!


Water Your Easter Lilies.

An Easter lily does well in moist soil, although it cannot tolerate standing water. If your Easter lily arrived in a foil-covered pot, you will want to remove the foil, so the pot may drain. Water your Easter lily well, and place a saucer under the pot.

Every few days, you can place your Easter lily in a sink or tub to give it a gentle all-over shower. Sprinkle water over the blossoms and foliage to discourage dust. Allow the plant to drain well before removing it to the saucer.

Extend Easter Lily Blooming.

Easter lilies will bud and bloom, offering fragrance and beauty for many days. As each blossom fades and wilts, you can pinch it off gently with your fingers.

If you reach inside each flower and pinch off the golden anthers as soon as the blossoms have opened, you can encourage the blooming to last longer. This is also an excellent way to keep the pollen from staining your tablecloths, countertops or other surfaces indoors.

Plant Your Easter Lilies in Your Outdoor Garden.

Once your Easter lily has exhausted all of its blossoms, do not toss the plant! Why not save it for your outdoor garden instead?

Stop watering your Easter lily when it becomes wilted, as the leaves begin to die off. Use a sharp knife or set of plant pruners to cut the main stem, about two inches above the soil. Place the plant in a temperate spot, either indoors or outside (if the final frost has passed).

When spring planting time arrives in your gardening zone, you can plant your Easter lily in your garden bed. Choose a sunny spot with healthy soil and good drainage.

Plant multiple Easter lilies about ten to twelve inches apart, to allow for annual growth and multiplication.

For each plant, dig a hole that exceeds your pot diameter by at least two inches. Loosen surrounding soil. Add sphagnum peat moss and plant fertilizer, if desired.

Remove the pot from your Easter lily plant. Loosen the root system (under your Easter lily) by gently poking and tapping the root base. Place your Easter lily into the ground, with the pot soil even with the garden bed. Add enriched potting soil around it and on top. Water your Easter lily well.

The original stem and foliage will wither and wilt. However, if you wait patiently for several weeks, you will begin to see a new shoot system emerging from the soil.

By midsummer, you can begin watching for your sweet white Easter lilies to bloom and add a bright accent to your summer garden! (In some climates, Easter lilies may take a year or two to become established in the outdoor garden before reblooming.)

In the fall, after all blooming has finished, you can cut back your wilting Easter lily stems to prepare the plants for wintering. Mound them with mulch, if needed, for cold-weather protection.



Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Save Your Easter Lilies –Gardening Glories, Year After Year.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Friday

Jelly Bean Gospel - An Easter Rhyme for Kids of All Ages



Jelly Bean Gospel –
An Easter Rhyme for Kids of All Ages

But Jesus called the children to Him and said,
"Let the little
children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the
kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.
I tell you the
truth,
anyone who will not
receive
the
kingdom of God
like a little
child
will never enter it."
(
Luke 19:16-17)


These little sweets
Are really neat.
You can share God’s Good News
With whomever you meet.

Gold is for God,
Our Maker and King.
He rules over everything.

Black is our sin,
Things we do, think and say,
Which are not God’s way.

Red is Christ’s blood,
Poured out from the cross,
To pay for our loss.

White is your heart,
When you give it to Him
And new life you begin.

Pink is the joy
You know in your soul
When He makes you whole.

Blue is the way
You stand up and say,
Jesus washed my sins away!

Green is for growing
And loving and showing
Your faith, which is glowing.

These little beans
Tell what it means
To live for Jesus
And do as He pleases.



Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Jelly Bean Gospel – An Easter Rhyme for Kids of All Ages.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Tuesday

Easter Bunny Beginnings – Where Did He Come From?

Easter Bunny Beginnings –
Where Did He Come From?

Origins of the Easter Bunny, the Holiday Hare


Our Lord has written
the promise
of the resurrection,
not in books alone,
but in every leaf in spring-time.

Martin Luther
(1483 – 1546)


He’s fluffy, friendly, and oh, so fertile!

Hippity, hoppity! Here comes the Easter Bunny with his basket of goodies! How did an egg-delivering rabbit come to represent Easter, the resurrection day of the Savior?

Actually, the entire Easter holiday has its roots in pre-Christian tradition. Early Christians adapted the Jewish Passover and pagan celebrations to mark their highest holiday of faith, in which the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ.


Where did Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, begin?

The ancient Anglo-Saxons worshipped Ostara, a goddess of fertility. During the spring moon, or vernal equinox, tribal members would offer seeds and colored eggs on a fertility altar to please and appease this goddess.

Christians transformed the word “Ostara” to “Easter” to mark the celebration of Jesusresurrection in the springtime. This timing was both historical and logical, as the Last Supper of Christ was actually a celebration of the Passover Seder, which also occurs in the spring.


How did Easter eggs become associated with Resurrection Sunday?

Since early Roman times and before, people have regarded the egg as a symbol of new life. As a sign of Christian rebirth, the egg is ideal. What once appeared to be lifeless has sprung into new life. A bird hatching from an egg has been seen as a type of resurrection, even as Christ stepped out of the sealed tomb of death.

Incidentally, in Greece, Easter eggs are dyed red, to symbolize the shed blood of Christ. Elsewhere, eggs may be colored in rainbowed hues for festive fun. In the United States and other countries, children participate in indoor or outdoor Easter egg hunts.


How did the Easter Bunny traditions begin?

Rabbits are among the most prolific of all living creatures. They exemplify fertility, as they may produce many offspring at one time. According to Anglo-Saxon mythology, Ostara (again, the fertility goddess) transformed a bird into a bunny, who laid colorful eggs for children. Thus began the tradition of bunny giving children decorated eggs in the spring.

In America, Pennsylvania Dutch settlers recounted stories to their children of the “Oschter Haws” (Easter Hare), who visited homes and left colored eggs for well-behaved children. Little boys would leave their caps, and little girls would leave their bonnets, as nests. In time, families began weaving and crafting baskets instead.

In the 19th century, German confectioners began making Easter bunnies from pastry.

Today, in the United States, families perpetuate the tradition of the Easter Bunny, who brings treats and trinkets to children. Many other countries have similar traditions.

As real rabbits begin birthing their many young this spring, one cannot help but consider our great blessings. Aren’t we fortunate that the Easter Bunny drops jelly beans and chocolate eggs, instead of what all those other bunnies leave in our yards?


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Easter Bunny Beginnings – Where Did He Come From?” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Sunday

The Easter Egg Hunt That Backfired


The Easter Egg Hunt That Backfired


Annual Easter egg hunts have always been a treasured tradition in my family. For generations, children have hopped like bunnies through backyards and basements (depending on the weather) to pick up multicolored plastic eggs, filled with candy and coins.

As a young mother, I found myself far from home for Easter one year. My first child had just turned two. Finally, she was old enough to enjoy holiday festivities. Her father was out of town for a technical conference, so the two of us were on our own.

My neighbor invited us to accompany her family to the local Easter egg hunt at the park district playing fields. Together we loaded my daughter’s car safety seat into my friend’s minivan, right between two of her own.

Arriving about 45 minutes before the start of the Easter egg hunt, we still had to park several blocks away from the park. We hiked to the soccer fields, trimmed with staked streamers and balloons. Each field was marked for a specific age group, so we scanned the horizon for the toddler area.

The grass was covered with thousands of colorful plastic eggshells. Parents and children lined the perimeter of the field, holding small paper sacks and eagerly waiting for the starting gunshot.

Ready, Set, Go!

We set the children in place, along the chalked outlines of the playing field. Parents everywhere did their level best to hold their kids back from the waiting loot.

“I heard there are golden eggs out there with free bike tickets!” one child exclaimed.

“Head for the golden Easter egg, son,” a father muttered to his offspring.

Just then, the Easter Bunny himself arrived. He strutted back and forth between the various age-specific gatherings of children.

“Happy Easter!” he shouted. But none of the children approached the holiday hare. Apparently, they did not want to lose their strategic starting positions by the Easter egg fields.

Suddenly, a big bang was heard. The crowd of kids exploded onto the grass. Boys and girls shouted, stumbled and shoved past one another to gather the plastic eggs.

Parents clicked photographs and recorded videotapes of the minor mayhem.

It was all over in less than five minutes. Once the plastic eggs were gathered, I glanced at my watch. It was ten minutes to eleven. The hunt was not scheduled to begin until 11. Why had they started early?

As children sorted their sweet bounty, additional families continued to arrive. But they were too late. They had missed the Easter egg hunt.

Before long, the word began to travel through the crowd.

Across the street from the park was an automotive repair shop. Apparently, a car engine had backfired at precisely 10:45 a.m. Hearing the big bang, the crowd had launched into action.

We learned a few valuable lessons at that Easter egg hunt, although the organizers’ plans had backfired:

  • The early bunny catches the eggs!
  • An egg on time loses nine.
  • Don’t count your eggs before they’re snatched.


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “The Easter Egg Hunt That Backfired.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Wednesday

What a Pane! (for Wordless Wednesday)


Here's this week's entry for Wordless Wednesday. Photo by Nickers and Ink.

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Monday

How to Clean Your Own Car – Automotive Detailing Deluxe

How to Clean Your Own Car –
Automotive Detailing Deluxe

Spring officially arrives in less than two weeks. Eventually, the melting snow and warmer temperatures will bring car-washing weather. If you ask me, it’s about time!


My Dirty Little Secret

For nearly a week, I intended to clean out the family car. Between the discarded shoes, the one-handed mittens and last month’s school book reports, the inside of our automobile was getting a little cluttered. But that was nothing, compared to the accumulation of construction zone dirt and road salt on the exterior of the vehicle.

After all, a Midwestern midwinter wreaks havoc on an automobile, particularly an unwashed one! And this year, as many Midwest counties have run short of rock salt, they have added sand to the mix. Can you just imagine what this concoction might do to an automobile’s paint job?

Although I had planned to wash the car, the local climate had not cooperated. Car washes tend to be closed when temperatures linger too long below zero (F). Most automotive detailers are not available on sub-zero days, either. And who wants to run a vacuum in a sub-zero home garage?

So, I admit it. I drove a dirty car for a while.

Then it happened. My worst fears arrived, in overdrive!


A Field Trip

I had signed up to chaperone a field trip and ride along on the school bus. However, on this frigid frosty day, the school bus refused to start.

Enter the dirty car.

All of the chaperoning parents lined their vehicles up by the front of the school building. I did the same, though somewhat sheepishly.

The students filed out of the building, including my own child, with her teacher in tow. She had drawn the lucky straw, and the teacher would ride with us, in my filthy Ford.

Guess what I did that night! That’s right. I cleaned my car. Actually, I performed a comprehensive automobile detailing procedure. Here’s how.


Car Cleaning: Start With the Car’s Interior.

A thorough car cleaning or detailing must begin with the vehicle’s interior. First, all in-car clutter must be removed. Toss any trash, and stow any toys, togs or trinkets in a bag or box for sorting.

The complete wipe-down is next. Grab a bottle of window cleaner and a roll of paper towels. Take it from the top, and wipe your way downwards, cleaning the insides of windows, the dashboard and control panels, the consoles and arm rests and the seats. Spray and scrub every surface. Pay special attention to any areas that may bear sticky or germy fingerprints. (Be sure to open all of the vehicle’s doors for this process, to protect yourself from inhaling your cleaning products.)

Vacuum last. (We bought a new vacuum a few years ago, and we keep the old one in the garage, just for cleaning out the car.) A thorough car vacuuming, including under the floor mats and between the seats, can work wonders in cleaning an automobile’s interior. If you do not have access to a vacuum in your own garage or parking area, most gas stations do offer these for loose change (which you may find under the car seats).

Finish with air freshener. Some folks swear by the dangling scented car air fresheners, which look like little Christmas tree ornaments. I prefer to use spray air fresheners in our vehicles. The choice is yours.


Car Cleaning: Keep It Simple.

Prevention can go many miles, in terms of simplifying your car cleaning or automotive detailing tasks.

For example, we like to keep a basket in the back of the car to catch any clothing items or other accumulations. We also place a smaller bin in the passenger area for pens and pencils, hairbrushes, lip balms, knick-knacks, cell phone chargers and other little objects that can quickly become lost under a car seat. When it is time for car cleaning, these containers are easy to remove, so items can be sorted.

Rubber floor mats are a lifesaver as well, particularly for busy families with pets. These can be lifted out and hosed down quite simply, virtually eliminating the need for frequent in-car carpet cleaning.


Car Cleaning: Wash The Exterior Well.

In warmer seasons or climates, washing or detailing a car can be a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and a little exercise. A hose, a bucket, a soft sponge and a gentle biodegradable soap will do the trick. Be sure to scrub all surfaces before rinsing thoroughly. Step back and check out your handiwork, to see if you missed any spots before wiping down the entire vehicle with soft, dry cloths or towels.

For a thorough cleaning, be sure to scrub, rinse and wipe tires, wheel hubs and hubcaps well. Spray products are available at automotive supply shops to shine up dull tires, if needed.

During the winter or inclement weather, a drive-through car wash is sufficient. Try to choose one that sprays the undercarriage of your car.

After washing the car, it is a good idea to open all doors and hatches and wipe down those areas with clean paper towels.

To prevent streaking, avoid opening any windows or using the wiper blades until the vehicle has been completely dry for some time.


Car Cleaning: What About Waxing?

Car fanatics seem to love frequent waxing. Is this necessary? Certainly, some automotive waxes do protect the car’s paint job. However, this may not be an essential step for every time. Periodic waxing can be advantageous, so long as all products are completely buffed into a lovely shine (with a soft cloth or buffing brush) on each occasion.

A clean car will serve you well, as you drive in style!


Click this link for “How to Clean Your Own Car –Automotive Detailing Deluxe.”

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink. Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post

Friday

Fuzzy Fleece Fun - Make Your Own Fleece Blanket


Fuzzy Fleece Fun –
Make Your Own Fleece Blanket

Polarfleece is popular! This easy-care fabric is fun to use and offers extra cozy comfort for clothing or blankets.

Fleece blankets are simple to make, and they make excellent baby or housewarming gifts, as well as super send-offs for summer camp or college. Fleece is available in solids, cartoon images, animal prints, sports logo patterns, holiday themes and countless other designs.

Pick up a couple of your favorite fleeces at the fabric or craft store, and you can whip up a fleece blanket in less than an hour.

Most fleece fabrics are sold in 58”/60” widths. For a square blanket, you will need to purchase 1.33 yards of two different fabrics. For a rectangular blanket, buy the yardage you desire. Coordinate your fabrics to fit your own taste!

Create your own fleece blanket, using either the NO-SEW or SEW SIMPLE method:

Make Your Own Fleece Blanket – No-Sew Method

Spread one fleece fabric out flat on the floor or another large surface, right side down. Place the second fabric on top, right side up. Carefully smooth out all wrinkles. Try to prevent both fleece fabrics from stretching, as you square them out together.

Using a ruler or yardstick, cut a 2” square from each corner, through both thicknesses of fleece fabric.

Next, snip 1 1/2”-wide strips all the way along each of the four sides. Try to cut these to a uniform depth of 4” each.

Beginning at one corner, tie each pair of strips (one of each fleece fabric) together in a half knot. Make your knots match, as closely as possible, all the way around all four sides.

Once you reach the final corner of your blanket, you are done!

Make Your Own Fleece Blanket – Sew Simple Method

Spread one fleece fabric out flat on the floor or another large surface, right side up. Place the second fabric on top, right side down. (The two layers of fleece fabric will have their right sides facing one another at this point.)

Carefully smooth out all wrinkles. Try to prevent both fleece fabrics from stretching, as you square them out together.

Using straight pins (available in the sewing notions department of a fabric or craft store), fasten both layers of fleece fabric together, all the way around.

Set your sewing machine to a knit stitch selection or a narrow zig-zag stitch. Machine-stitch the two fleece fabric layers together. Begin in the center of one side, and stitch all the way around, leaving about 6” open for turning.

Remove all pins. Carefully snip corner edges. Turn blanket right side out. Slip-stitch seam opening closed.

If you wish, you can top-stitch all the way around the edge for a professional look. You might also tie your blanket every few inches with a soft yarn to prevent it from bunching with repeated washings.

That’s all it takes for a cozy fleece blanket!

Click this link for “Fuzzy Fleece Fun.”

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink. Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Tuesday

Totally Tissue Flowers


Totally Tissue Flowers

Fancy and fluffy paper flowers are simple to make, and they’re not just for homecoming floats or high school proms in the gym! Tissue paper flowers are ideal for party decorations, table place card holders, gift wrapping tie-ons and guests’ take-home party favors, as well as fun children’s crafts.

Totally Tissue Flowers – Supplies:

Several sheets of gift wrapping tissue papers (in your choice of colors)
Floral wire or pipe cleaners
Green construction paper
Green floral tape
Scissors

Totally Tissue Flowers – Instructions:

Open out several sheets of tissue paper. Cut these in half, width-wise. This will create two smaller rectangles.

Stack five to seven sheets of tissue paper, arranging colors in the order you desire. (The top sheets will eventually form the center of your flower.)

Place your stack of tissue papers on a counter or flat surface, laying it out vertically (up and down). Beginning at the top, carefully fold down one inch of the stack of tissue papers, through all thicknesses, all the way across. Crease it well.

Flip the papers over, with the new fold at the top. Again, neatly fold down one inch of all of the papers (now double-thick, including the last fold). Crease it well.

Flip the papers over, with the new fold at the top. And again, fold down one inch of all of the papers (now triple-thick, including the last fold). Crease it well.

Continue this process, until the entire tissue stack is folded, back and forth, like an accordion.

Pick up the folded stack of tissue papers. Fold it in half across its width, to find the center. Fasten the center of the stack by folding a wire or pipe cleaner across the center and twisting it closed underneath. (This will form the stem of your flower.)

If you wish, you can use your scissors to cut each end of the folded stack into a curve. This will create scalloped edges on your flower petals!

You can also dab a bit of color to the edges, for a hybrid flower effect.

Fluff Out Your Flowers!

Open out the stack of tissue papers, to form a pleated circle.

Begin lifting up the top tissue paper sheet, all the way around. Crinkle it, as you do. This will create the center layer of flower petals, resembling a fluffy peony or rose.

Repeat the process with all of your tissue paper layers.

If you wish, you can adorn the stem of your tissue paper flower, by cutting leaves from the green construction paper. Fasten these to the wire or pipe cleaner with the green floral tape. Continue taping up and down the entire wire or pipe cleaner.

Fancy Flower Favors

Here’s another option: Why not leave the pipe cleaner bare, and wind it around a hair clip, barrette, or brooch pin (available at craft stores)? What a lovely accessory gift or party favor!

Easter Bunny Surprise

Or, the Easter Bunny might choose to fasten a few tissue paper flowers to the handle of an Easter basket before delivering it to an eager child.

Click this link for “Totally Tissue Flowers.”

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink. Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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