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July 2022 Photography Challenge

July first means we have made it through the first half of 2022! How about we celebrate all this wonderful month has to offer with a fresh list of randomness to photograph (aka the July 2022 Photography Challenge)?!

I can’t wait to see how you interpret the following prompts and #capturejuly.

  1. Red
  2. White
  3. Blue
  4. Freedom
  5. America
  6. Patriotic
  7. Game
  8. Check
  9. Proud
  10. Corn
  11. Circle
  12. Bug
  13. String
  14. Fresh
  15. Tap
  16. Fan
  17. Balcony
  18. Paper
  19. Suit
  20. Off
  21. Step
  22. Celebration
  23. Still
  24. Onion
  25. Moving On
  26. Stairs
  27. Top
  28. Bubble
  29. Before
  30. Cake
  31. Under

Take it literally, take them as suggestions. Play word association, or even photograph the opposite. Go in order, go backward, or randomize!  Whatever you do look for good in the world. Look at things from a different perspective…try a new angle.

Schedule for the July 2022 Photography Challenge - A calendar with each day's prompt

If you decide to post your challenge photos on Instagram, I would love to see them – please tag me so I don’t miss your creative shots!

Interested in taking your photography to the next level? Check out Evan Sharboneau’s 295-page eBook on Trick Photography and Special Effects. In this book he shares the secrets of light painting, levitation photography, trick photography, infrared photography, and more.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links (and pictures), I may receive a small commission – as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It will not cost you anything. I only share products and services that I truly believe in and think are great.

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Super Easy & “Berry” Delicious Dump Cake

My two blackberry bushes produced about a quart of berries this year. That wasn’t enough for a tasty blackberry cobbler but it was enough for this super easy (only four ingredient), and delicious, mixed berry dump cake!

This is a very summer dessert. The fresh berries are great for this time of the year. This dessert is also a great addition to any Fourth of July cookout or get-together!

Berry Dump Cake with a scoop of Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream.

4 Ingredient Berry Dump Cake

Ingredients:

– Fresh Berries (I used homegrown blackberries, the remainder of the blueberries from my picking adventure, and some store-bought strawberries that I cut into quarters) – you need enough berries to fill the bottom of a 9 X 13” pan
-1 Box White Cake Mix
-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
-1 ½ Sticks of Butter (3/4 C)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Wash your fresh berries.

If you are using strawberries, cut the big ones in quarters, and the smaller ones in half after removing their stems/leaves.

Pour your berries into the bottom of a 9 X 13” baking pan.

Bottom layer of the berry dump cake: quartered strawberries, homegrown blackberries, and blueberries. All fresh.

Over the berries, sprinkle the dry cake mix from a box of White Cake mix.

the second layer of the berry dump cake: a box of white cake mix sprinkled over the berries.

Over the cake mix, evenly sprinkle the brown sugar.

Layer three of the berry dump cake: brown sugar sprinkled over the white cake mix.

Cut the one and a half sticks of butter into small pats, then place them evenly on top of the brown sugar.

Layer four of the berry dump cake: pats of butter evenly place atop the brown sugar topped cak mix.

Put the pan into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

When the time is up, carefully remove the pan and set it aside to cool a little.

The cooked berry dump cake - it is so yummy! Great treat for summer!

It is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla (Blue Bell) ice cream beside it.

Berry Dump Cake with a scoop of Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream.

One comment

  1. This look so delicious! And what a great idea of how to use little bits of fruits that aren’t enough to use on their own.

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My Hilariously Tattooed Trug

My latest project – my tattooed trug – makes me a (possibly the only) tattoo artist with a canvas of wood…

For Christmas last year, my Mom gave me a beautiful trug for harvesting things in my garden. I posted about it previously, when I quickly gave it a weathered look – for all those details, check out that post here.

After trying out my wood burning pen (again, for more details, check out this post), I decided I wanted to jazz the trug up a little more.

Let’s Start at the beginning…

What is a trug?

Dictionary.com app screenshot of the definition of the word TRUG

So, like I said, I was given this beautiful handmade pristine trug. It was so perfectly clean I was almost afraid to use it…what if a bird pecked tomato leaked in it? The horror!

So In January (when there wasn’t much to do in the garden, yet, I weathered it. I simply used water, black acrylic paint, and a spray bottle.

I made a YouTube video about the whole process-

Never Enough

I was really pleased with the weathering, it made it look like I’d had it a while and that it had carried bushels of garden goodness into the kitchen, but I felt like it was missing something.

After completing my first wood burning project, I got the idea to use that technique on the trug too. The difficult part then was deciding what to burn into the sides.

I had thought perhaps the lyrics to a garden/plant/herb song… “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” by Edison Lighthouse, or the old hymn “In the Garden”. But they both seemed a tad too serious for this project.

I have always been a lover of puns, riddles, knock-knock jokes, and “dad jokes”. When my brain put two and two together, I knew garden/plant related puns was just what it needed.

I looked up a bunch of puns, and then set them in different fonts. I printed them out, used my lightbox (but a window works just as well) to trace the words with pencil onto the backside of the paper I had printed them on. (This creates a carbon copy.) I then scribbled on the front of the printed text when I had it lined up where I wanted to transfer the text onto the side slats of the trug.

After I had a row of puns copied onto a slat, I plugged in the wood burning pen and started tracing over the transferred words. Then repeated the process until all eight side slats were “tattooed” on my trug.

I’m very pleased with the end result. Each of the puns makes me smile.

A photo of one side of my "tattooed trug" - puns burned into the wooden slats
A photo of one side of my "tattooed trug" - puns burned into the wooden slats

VIDEO

The top of the handle looked a little naked compared to the sides, so I decided to add Ecclesiastes 3:2 “a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which was planted” across the top. I think that is pretty perfect, because I see it (with a colorful background of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peas, and herbs) every time I pick up my trug to cart my harvest inside.

Ecclesiastes 3:2 “a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which was planted” "tattooed" burned into the wooden handle of my garden trug, with a background of cucumber, tomatoes, beans, peas, and basil in the trug.

When I had told my mom about my idea to “tattoo” my trug, I could tell by the look in her eyes that she thought it was a horrible idea. She was not discouraging though, she simply said, “It’s your trug, you can do whatever you want to it.”

She saw it last weekend and told me the whole truth… “When you first told me you were going to burn stuff into it I thought it would be awful, but now that it is all done, it looks really good.”

If you have a love for puns and have a garden related project you’d like to incorporate puns into, below I have attached the puns I used for this project for you to download for free.

Let me know what you think of how it turned out in the comments below…
What are some of your favorite puns?

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assorted books on book shelves

My Top 10 Literary Fathers

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links (and pictures), I may receive a small commission – as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It will not cost you anything. I only share products and services that I truly believe in and think are great.

I’ve compiled a list of extraordinary, albeit imaginary, fathers to celebrate Father’s Day 2022.

Counting down to number one, we start with a grandfather…

Awesome Literary Fathers

TEN

Literary Father number 10 - Grandfather from Heidi book

Grandfather (from Heidi by Johanna Spyri)

“Grandfather lives in a hut high in the mountains in Switzerland. Neighbors view him as an angry old man who wishes to be left alone. Grandfather is not happy when Dete brings Heidi to him but he warms up to Heidi quickly. Grandfather grows to love Heidi deeply. He does not want Heidi to go to Frankfurt. However, he knows that this is a good opportunity and lets Heidi go. He is thrilled when she eventually returns to his home. Grandfather returns to church with Heidi after many years of not attending.”


NINE

Literary Father number nine - Jean Valjean from Les Miserables book

Jean Valjean (from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo)

“Jean Valjean is a peasant who ends up spending 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread. When he is released from jail, he is angry and bitter and, as a result, steals silver from a kind bishop. The bishop forgives him and puts him on a righteous path. The hero commits one more minor crime before dedicating himself to a Christian life, but his last theft puts him on the run from the law. Jean Valjean has high native intelligence and prodigious strength and stamina. The first quality helps him become a rich industrialist under an assumed name and also aids him in eluding the police. His strength and stamina help him escape from jail several times and save a young man from the barricades. His kindness and compassion allow him to help many people. His most important act is rescuing the orphan Cosette, who becomes his daughter and brings love into his life for the first time.”


EIGHT

Literary Father number eight - The Man from The Road book

The Man (from The Road by Cormac McCarthy)

“The Man faces an existential crisis throughout the novel. He is driven to survive and especially to keep his son alive in a world where humanity is doomed to die out. But he and the boy suffer constantly from hunger, cold, illness, and other threats. The man knows he and his child may someday be hunted down, tortured, and eaten by cannibals. Amid this grim reality, he regularly asks himself whether he can, or should, kill his son to spare the boy a fate worse than death. He seems far less concerned with preserving his own life. Indeed, he seems set on killing himself if the boy dies. The man thinks of God and religion in ways that suggest he was a religious man before the apocalyptic event transformed the world to a place of chaos and death. In the aftermath of this event, the man struggles with religious uncertainty. He sometimes seems angry at God. His love for his son has a certainty that takes on the quality of religious fervor. Because his son is unusually kind and gentle, the man sometimes suggests that the boy is godlike or even an actual god.”


SEVEN

Literary Father number seven - Pa Joad from The Grapes of Wrath book

Pa Joad (from The Grapes of Wrath by John Stienbeck)

“Pa Joad is married to Ma Joad. When the story begins, they are tenant farmers in Oklahoma. He is a physically strong man who is the breadwinner of the family. Early on, Pa is seen as the leader of the family. However, as the story develops, Ma takes on the role of family leader. Although Pa doesn’t like this change, he accepts it. Part of him realizes that Ma is better suited to leading the family during the difficult times they are facing. Pa is persistent in his efforts to aid the family.”


SIX

Literary Father Number six - Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind book

Rhett Butler (from Gone With The Wind by Margret Mitchell)

“Rhett Butler is a gambler, a speculator, and a man who has experienced far more of life than the sheltered—and much younger—Scarlett can imagine. He frankly admires Scarlett from the first time they meet; he enjoys her spirit and finds it refreshing she is passionate and blunt and demonstrates other “unladylike” qualities. Rhett encourages Scarlett to break mourning after her first husband dies, helps her start her own businesses, and eventually proposes to her. However, Scarlett is too focused on Ashley to appreciate Rhett. Rhett is a good husband and father. He does his best to see that Bonnie and Scarlett want for nothing. After their Bonnie dies in an accident, Rhett’s spirit is broken – other than Scarlett, Bonnie was his only real love.”


FIVE

Literary Father Number five - Walt Longmire from the Longmire mystery series - "Depth of Winter"

Walt Longmire (from the Longmire Mysteries series by Craig Johnson)

“Welcome to Walt Longmire’s worst nightmare. In Craig Johnson’s mystery, Depth of Winter, an international hit man and the head of one of the most vicious drug cartels in Mexico has kidnapped Walt’s beloved daughter, Cady, to auction her off to his worst enemies, of which there are many. The American government is of limited help and the Mexican one even less. Walt heads into the one-hundred-and-ten degree heat of the Northern Mexican desert alone, one man against an army to save his only child.”


FOUR

Literary Father number four - Ned Stark from A Game of Thrones book (book one)

Eddard “Ned” Stark (from Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin)

“In the face of political tension, intrigue, and injustice, Ned struggles to remain virtuous, and by the end of the book he must reconsider what virtue means to him. He starts to see the importance of moral and practical compromises, though perhaps too late. His name, Stark, is an indication of his incompatibility with such compromises. Something stark is simple, severe, and rigid, like Ned’s initial boundaries between right and wrong. When the book starts he considers duty and justice to be one and the same. But as the story progresses, Ned finds himself in situations where loyalty and duty are at odds with his own sense of virtue, as when Robert demands that Ned consent to having Daenerys Targaryen and her unborn child assassinated. Ned is disgusted with these moral compromises, but by the end of the story he recognizes that politics demands sometimes dishonest acts to achieve a just end. He passed on his sense of moral upstanding to his children and nephew.”


THREE

Literary Father number three - Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol book

Bob Cratchit (from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

Bob Cratchit is a penniless office clerk who represents the hardworking poor in London. Despite being forced to work in uncomfortable conditions for very little pay, Bob remains loyal to Scrooge, even defending his boss’ stinginess to his family on Christmas Day. Although poor, Bob remains optimistic, loving, and merry. He works hard to support his family, reveling in holiday traditions and family togetherness. He doesn’t let his time at the office taint his precious moments with his loved ones. Everything he does (and puts up with), is all for his family.


TWO

Literary Father number two - Arthur Weasley from Harry Potter book series

Arthur Weasley (from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling)

“Ron’s father and Mrs. Weasley’s husband. Humble and unassuming, Mr. Weasley is a minor Ministry employee with little standing in the outside world; however, he’s also a devoted father and a trusted mentor to other young wizards, like Harry. Mr. Weasley’s gentle character and strong sense of valor and loyalty make him an emblem of positive family values. He’s a foil to fathers like Uncle Vernon or Lucius Malfoy, whose obsession with status and power pushes their sons in the wrong direction.”


ONE

Literary Father number one - Atticus Finch from To Ki  la  Mockingbird book

Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

“Atticus Finch is a lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama, and the widowed father of Jem and Scout. Atticus is well-respected personally and professionally. He is an honest man with an open heart, a quick and fair mind, and a gentle disposition. At the same time Atticus is strong and focused in everything he does. His levelheadedness and legal training give him a solid backbone and strength of conviction, particularly during Tom’s racially fueled rape case. Neighbor Miss Maudie tells Jem and Scout that Maycomb citizens are paying a great compliment to their father by placing faith in him to do the right thing. Throughout the novel Atticus shows himself capable of living up to that trust.

Atticus Finch is an honorable and well-respected lawyer who believes in doing the right thing.”


Who is your favorite literary dad? Tell me in the comments below.


2 comments

  1. My favorite literary dad- that is difficult, as I am a bookworm. I love some of the fathers you mentioned.

    1. Jean Valjean
    2. Bob Cratchit
    3. Arthur Weasley
    4. Atticus Finich (still only discovered him last year)

    I love more fictional dads than that, as I love a combo of both literature and musical theatre dads

  2. This is a great list of fictional fathers… I don’t know who I’d put on my own list. Now I’ve got to think about that.

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Snake Season – 4 Tips to Protect Yourself

May started snake season in Texas. And like previous years, hospital trips, thanks to a Texas native (copperheads), are on the increase this summer.

In May snakes mate, and they shed. Snakes shed their skin because they have outgrown it. During the shedding process they are blind…and mad. (Honestly, who isn’t mad when wearing a girdle?) The shedding process lasts up to 14 days, and they can shed multiple times each year in our area. When they feel threatened, and can’t see, they lash out.

Of the venomous snakes native to Texas, copperheads are part of the largest family: pit vipers (which includes copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes.) Their gray, brown and copper coloration blends so well with fallen leaves and plant debris that “it’s possible to stare right at a copperhead” and not see it, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says.

I know of three people (through less than 6 degrees of separation) who have been bit by copperheads already this summer.

It is uncommon to die from a copperhead bite these days – as long as you get immediate medical treatment – though side effects, such as tissue and nerve damage, from the venom are long lasting and, in some cases, lifelong. Antivenom is also expensive (roughly $12,000 per vial). Some have described the feeling after being envenomated as though your bones are on fire.
I think all would agree it is best to avoid such pain and suffering.

Protecting Yourself from Copperheads and other Venomous Snakes

“Because they are so well camouflaged, most bites occur when a snake is accidentally picked up or stepped on. Always use care when picking up or flipping over logs, boards, old tin or other items where copperheads may be resting,” TPWD said. They also like tall grass, black mulch in landscaping, and window boxes.

Texas Copperhead snake in fallen leaves. Texas Gardeners should beware of the possibility of snakes lurking in underbrush, woodpiles, fallen leaves, and tall grasses.
A Copperhead snake hiding in the leaves.

I currently have a happy plot of purple hull peas and pinto beans in a 16’ X 4’ section of my garden – the ground cover there makes it a great hiding spot for various critters, but particularly snakes. With the increase in bite reports lately I am always sure to have my boots on when I wade through them to check for harvestable pods.

Tips for Snake Season:

  1. Wear close-toed shoes while in grassy or wooded areas – or doing yardwork or gardening. I prefer my leather boots.
  2. Use a rake or stick to probe piles of leaves or stacks of firewood before reaching to pick something up with your hands. 
  3. Keep your grass short.
  4. Check your child’s outdoor toys, and keep your yard picked up.

If you do encounter a copperhead, “back away and give it some distance, make it feel comfortable, it will take off,” Mark Pyle, president of the Dallas Fort Worth Herpetological Society

Thus ends my public service announcement – The More You Know. Stay safe.

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Blueberries (Picking and Canning)

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links (and pictures), I may receive a small commission – as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It will not cost you anything. I only share products and services that I truly believe in and think are great.

I went on an adventure last week…I went blueberry picking!

I found that I have a hidden gem in my own hometown, a pick-your-own blueberries farm – the Blase Family Farm. (Check them out on Instagram for the latest updates.)

Blase Family Farm Welcome sign.

They have an impressive blueberry farm (and honey bees) surprisingly nestled in an old neighborhood. I was able to sign up for a time slot on the third day they were open for picking this year. The bushes were loaded with berries, but few were ripe (not too few, I just mean that there are loads more to be picked later). It was a bit like a scavenger hunt!

I took my mom with me and together we picked about five and a half pounds of blueberries. We had a great time. The weather, especially for June in Texas, was wonderful. The staff there is so sweet and friendly.

The blueberries are weighed when you are ready to leave (you pay for them then) – $7/lb. I looked at it as the price of impeccable fresh fruit AND an adventure. I now have two pales of blueberries and a plan!

Mrs. Blasé also makes the best popsicle I’ve ever eaten – the perfect way to cool down after an hour of picking.

Two pails of freshly picked blueberries from a Pick Your Own Blueberry Farm in Rockwall, Texas, along with two homemade popsicles made with fresh fruit.

I left them on the counter, so that the less ripe/slightly red ones could finish ripening I gathered the necessary items for my plan – namely pint jars, some sugar, and my Presto Pressure Cooker/Canner. Aside from the few I’ve eaten while waiting a few days, my plan was to set aside a few for eating fresh, then can/preserve all the rest of the berries. They will be great in some lemon muffins!

I know canning can sound really intimidating…I used to think so too, but my experience with the pressure cooker/canner in the last eighteen months has given me a confidence that can only be garnered from experience. As long as you follow the direction in your canner’s manual, you truly have nothing to fear. I’ve become well versed in canning tomato sauce from my homegrown tomatoes (of which I will be doing a lot more this summer), as well as pumpkins, meat, and soup base. Canned goods – such as tomato sauce and jellies/jams make great gifts too.
You can find my simple guide to canning homemade tomato sauce here if you are interested.

Canning blueberries is really easy.

HOW TO PRESERVE BLUEBERRIES

Intro Graphic from How to Can Blueberries part of the blog post
Ingredients:

Blueberries
Sugar
Water
Mason Jars
Canning Lids
White Vinegar

The measurements for this undertaking are dependent on the volume of berries you are wanting to preserve.

There are three main options for your syrup… light, medium, or heavy.
Light Syrup = 4 C water, 1 C sugar
Medium Syrup = 4 C water, 2 C sugar
Heavy Syrup = 4 C water, 3 C sugar

Directions:

Sanitize your jars with bleach and boiling water before getting started – you don’t want bacteria or mold to grow in the jars after they are sealed.

Fill your jars with your blueberries, be sure to leave the top half inch of the jar (the mouth and threads part) empty.

Place your lids in a pan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil

On the stove, combine your sugar and water (for your desired strength of syrup) in a sauce pan and on medium low heat stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Then carefully ladle the syrup over the berries in the jars. Again, leave the top half inch unfilled.

Next, top the jars with your lids/lids and rings. Screw the lids on finger tight.

Place the jars in your canner. Be sure to add the required amount of boiling water to your canner (see manual for directions). After putting the lid on your canner, turn on the stove. Wait until the canner starts venting, then add the weight. Keep and eye on the pressure gauge and cook for 8 minutes at 6 pounds of pressure.

After the eight minutes, turn off the burner and wait until the gauge says there is no pressure left in your canner – then it is safe to open it.

Remove the jars with a set of bottle tongs (if you don’t have the tongs, carefully remove the jars with two potholders). Turn the jars upside down and leave them on a dishtowel for the syrup to cool.

After the jars have all cooled, flip them over and check that they have sealed.  (Sealed equals no wiggle in the center of the lid – no popping sounds.)

And that’s it! Your blueberries could stay sealed for up to eighteen months – that is if you don’t want to add them to a batch of muffins, pancakes, or a cobbler before then.

Can of preserved blueberries

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photography of fruits

The Ultimate Gardening Resource

Last week I stumbled upon a gold mine, a gardening resource that is invaluable. It is a bit of a secret, but available to anyone. What is this ultimate gardening and landscaping resource? Your county’s AgriLife Extension Office. (A part of the Texas A&M University – my alma mater – system in Texas. An AgriLife Extension program of other universities in various states – google for more information relevant to your particular area of the country.)

I was doing some research into becoming a Master Gardener – a program and certification available in most counties. Not just in Texas either, simply look up your local Master Gardener program and give them a call for more information.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension logo - A great resource for gardening information (Ultimate Gardening Resource)(
How is AgriLife Extension an Invaluable Resource?

When I stopped by the office to ask more questions about becoming a Master Gardener, I was met by three ladies who are Master Gardeners in my county. They were working the hotline. That’s right, on Wednesdays from 10am-12pm members of this elite program are at the office to answer all kinds of gardening, landscaping, plant, and pest related questions. They also return calls that were made at various times throughout the week with answers as well.

If you’ve got questions like:

Should I pollard my crape myrtle trees?

Why do my camillias keep dying?

Why do I have all these random fire ant nests after it rains?

What is this green bug on my basil plant?

I read that blackberry plants like acidic soil, what is the best way for me to add more acidity to my soil?

What can I do to help with water conservation efforts in my area?

Should I hand pollinate my cucumber plants; and if so, how?

I suggest you give them a call or send them an email to see what these trained experts have to say. The call/email cost you pennies, but their wealth of knowledge and resources is truly a treasure trove.

Woman in Garden - Gardner
Interested in Becoming a Master Gardener?

If you think becoming a Master Gardener might be something you are interested in, give your local AgriLife Extension office a call for more details.

When I stopped by my local AgriLife office I learned that the applications for the program for Rockwall County are due by June 24th. There will be 10-12 weeks of classes (one full day 9am-4pm each week). Those classes cover a wide variety of gardening topics and also include guest speakers who are experts in the horticulture field. Following the course (and test), a total of 72 hours of approved community volunteer hours are to be completed for the certification. The service hour opportunities range from weeding, manning the hotline, community and school outreach opportunities and more. There is also a $200 fee.

I truly hope that I can make the classes fit in my schedule this fall!


Another great gardening resource? Check out my post about Neil Sperry and his book for Texas gardeners.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my garden metrics tracking journal. Track your garden’s yield this year, track what works and doesn’t work this year so that you can adjust and have an even better and more productive garden next year.

One comment

  1. This sounds so interesting. Are you looking to become Master Gardener certified? I know you’d be great at it.

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Chocolate bon bon in the shape of a royal crown

Easy Homemade Jubilee Chocolates

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links (and pictures), I may receive a small commission – as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It will not cost you anything. I only share products and services that I truly believe in and think are great.

This week is an exciting historical (a once in multiple lifetimes) event in the lives of my British friends, and all people. This week is Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. What it really means is that the British people and the millions in commonwealth countries are celebrating the 70th year of the Queen’s reign. She reached the historical milestone of being the longest-reigning British monarch in 2015 – on September 9, 2015, she surpassed the 63 years, 7 months, 2 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes that her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria spent on the throne to become the country’s longest-reigning monarch in a line dating back to Norman King William the Conqueror in 1066.

Fun Fact: 90% of the world’s population has been born since Queen Elizabeth II was coronated as the Queen of England.

The Queen has been on the British throne since the death of her father on February 6, 1952. Her coronation was June 2, 1953.

Yesterday was the annual Trooping of the Colour (a ceremony/parade performed by regiments of the British Army and marks the official birthday of the British sovereign – a beloved tradition that has occurred for over 260 years.)

Photo from the British Trooping of the Colour the celebration of the monarch's official birthday.

Now, I am a Texan through and through, and [generally] a proud American, but I have several friends in the UK so I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to celebrate the Queen’s historical milestone. (Plus, I am a big fan of the Cambridges.)

I found this crown silicone mold months ago in a clearance bin at my local Michael’s craft store. (A similar mold can be found here.) It was a dollar, I didn’t have impulse control at that moment, and I thought I would eventually find a reason to use it. I have!

Easy Homemade Jubilee Chocolates

Homemade Jubilee Chocolates

Notes:
-Since my molds were small, I eyeballed this recipe, so there are no exact measurements.
-This recipe can be used in any mold shape and do not necessarily celebrate the jubilee in any way other than their royal crown shape.

To start I melted roughly a quarter of a cup of semisweet chocolate chips over a double boiler (a metal bowl over a small pot of water on the stove).

Once the chocolate was all melted, I poured it into the molds and then tilted the tray around to get the sides all coated in chocolate. Then I poured the chocolate back into the pan – the goal was to create a shell which would be filled.

After the molds’ edges were all coated, I place the silicone tray in the refrigerator to set up.

In the meantime, I mixed up my Keto “Chocolate Mousse” (simple and delicious recipe found here) and scooped it into a Ziplock bag (to be used as a piping bag when the chocolate in the molds had set up).

When the chocolate in the molds had set up (after about 30 minutes in the refrigerator) I pulled them out and then snipped off the tip of one of the bag’s bottom corners. I then piped the “mousse” into the cavity of the molds. (You will only use a little of the “mousse” so be sure to refrigerate the rest to be enjoyed at another point.)

After they were all filled with “mousse” I used a knife to make sure they were all level. The last step…remelting the chocolate in the pot to top off the (what will be when turned out) bottom of the chocolate crown candies.

After remelting it, I used a spatula to coat the tops of the exposed filling. After each one was covered, I put them in the freezer to get the latest layer of chocolate to set up and make sure the chocolate was all solid enough to withstand turning them out of the molds.

After about 30 minutes they are ready to be turned out of the mold and enjoyed!


From a proud Texas “yankee”, congratulations on your historic milestone Your Majesty.
Long live the Queen.

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silhouette of woman photographer using camera at night

June 2022 Photography Challenge

Welcome June! You bring with you the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, scorching temperatures (at least in Texas), and my beloved nectarines! And a new photography challenge.

Can you record the start of your summer with these random prompts?

I can’t wait to see how you interpret the following prompts and #capturejune.

  1. Plain
  2. Knife
  3. Bloom
  4. Burn
  5. Strangers
  6. Drawer
  7. Pen
  8. Stone
  9. Lunch
  10. Bite
  11. Paint
  12. Large
  13. Lemon
  14. Flag
  15. Leg
  16. Glue
  17. Nose
  18. Cloth
  19. Key
  20. Loves Me
  21. Summer
  22. Memory
  23. Happy
  24. Outside
  25. Grass
  26. Up
  27. Sweet
  28. Cut
  29. A
  30. Bench

Take it literally, take them as suggestions. Play word association, or even photograph the opposite. Go in order, go backward, or randomize!  Whatever you do look for good in the world. Look at things from a different perspective…try a new angle.

If you decide to post your challenge photos on Instagram, I would love to see them – please tag me so I don’t miss your creative shots!

Interested in taking your photography to the next level? Check out Evan Sharboneau’s 295-page eBook on Trick Photography and Special Effects. In this book he shares the secrets of light painting, levitation photography, trick photography, infrared photography, and more.

June 2022 Photography Challenge calendar - 30 days of prompts to #capturejune

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links (and pictures), I may receive a small commission – as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It will not cost you anything. I only share products and services that I truly believe in and think are great.

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woman showing retro photo camera and holding blooming flower

May 2022 Photography Challenge

“…bring May flowers.” Hopefully we see the blooms soon.

I can’t wait to see how you interpret the following prompts for the May 2022 Photography Challenge to #capturemay.

May 2022 Photography Challenge

May Photography Challenge

  1. Powder
  2. Flower(s)
  3. Fruit
  4. Soap
  5. Colorful
  6. Vintage
  7. Doll
  8. Sliver
  9. Straw
  10. Winged
  11. Yearbook Photo
  12. Coil
  13. Negative
  14. Yard
  15. Web
  16. Center
  17. Small
  18. Liquid
  19. Fire
  20. C
  21. Yellow
  22. Feather
  23. Upside Down
  24. Ring
  25. Pour
  26. Mark
  27. B
  28. Lamp
  29. Crack
  30. Hero
  31. Last

Take it literally, take them as suggestions. Play word association, or even photograph the opposite. Go in order, go backward, or randomize!  Whatever you do look for good in the world. Look at things from a different perspective…try a new angle.

If you decide to post your challenge photos on Instagram, I would love to see them – please tag me so I don’t miss your creative shots!

Interested in taking your photography to the next level? Check out Evan Sharboneau’s 295-page eBook on Trick Photography and Special Effects. In this book he shares the secrets of light painting, levitation photography, trick photography, infrared photography, and more.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links (and pictures), I may receive a small commission – as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It will not cost you anything. I only share products and services that I truly believe in and think are great.

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