Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas & National Tree

2014 National Christmas / Holiday Tree, Washington D.C.
"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

Merriest Christmas wishes to you and yours! May Jesus Christ's love and peace that passes understanding rest in your hearts and minds!

My husband and I went to see the National Christmas tree at the Washington D.C. mall today. As you can see, it's a big tree. According to the sign in front of the tree, it's called the "U.S. Capitol Christmas tree" or the "People's tree." Each year the tree is donated from a different state and this year marked the 50th year of this Christmas tradition. This year's tree came from Minnesota and is an 88 year old, 88 foot tall white spruce with a trunk diameter of thirty inches. "Minnesotans sent 10,000 ornaments from the land of 10,000 lakes to decorate" the magnificent tree. I'll share a few of my favorite ornaments with you below.
National Christmas tree flower ornament
This pretty poinsettia looks like it was hand crafted from birch bark and I love nature crafts.
Assorted national Christmas tree ornaments
I liked all three of these ornaments for different reasons. Both my mother and my mother in law love snowmen so I think of them every time I see a snowman decoration. Joy, as you can probably guess from the title of my blog, is very important to me, and I liked the poinsettia topped skis too.
Canoe ornament with signatures
This canoe ornament with what I presume to be the signatures of those who helped make it is adorable. I think, like the first poinsettia ornament above, it is hand crafted from birch bark.
Minnesota state and mixed ornaments
There were many creative ornaments in the shape of the state of Minnesota but I liked this multicolored one with the silver glitter cross the best. I hope you enjoyed this mini photo tour of our national Christmas tree! Merriest Christmas and happiest New Year wishes to you!

Related posts:
2013 National Christmas tree:
Smithsonian Christmas tree:
Christmas blessings:
Funny Christmas cat photos:
Longwood Gardens Christmas:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cute Dwarf Mongoose Enjoys Pumpkin

Cute dwarf mongoose: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy November and harvest time! My dear husband took me to the National Zoo so I could see the cute animals enjoying their pumpkin enrichment time. I thought the dwarf mongoose was especially adorable in her pumpkin house.
Dwarf mongoose macro: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
 Three of these cute critters took turns jumping in and out of the pumpkin.
Dwarf mongoose in pumpkin: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
 But this one stayed the longest.
Dwarf mongoose pumpkin house: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
 She could watch her peers running around the rest of the habitat from her window.
Cute dwarf mongoose feet: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
See her tiny little feet? She jumped out right after this shot. I thank you for visiting and hope these photos made you smile. May God bless you in this new month and always!

Edit/note added 11/5/14: I am prayerfully going to take an estimated two-month break from the blog, but, God willing, will be back with brief holiday messages and regular posts in the New Year. If there's something you'd like to see or read more about for 2015, please comment below or email me at May God bless and keep you!

Related posts for you to enjoy:
Cute Halloween cats:
Cute baby monkey:
Funny Halloween cat:
Cute rabbit photos:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween Cats and Flowers

Cute Halloween cat: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy Halloween and harvest time! Unlike easygoing Moose the cat, my feral born cat (Baby) doesn't take well to costumes so I usually just place props around her for photo sessions. As promised in Wednesday's post, today's post includes viking and cowgirl Halloween cat photos too. Enjoy!
Harvest/Halloween flowers: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Because Halloween also falls on floral Friday, I thought I'd include these pretty Halloween inspired flowers my dear husband bought me. 
Moose the viking cat: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Moose looks fierce in this photo but really she was just eyeing the bag of post photo session treats.
Baby the viking cat: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Baby looks even fiercer but she was just yawning. She eventually fell asleep with her head resting on the (totally safe) battle axe prop.
Moose the cowgirl princess cat: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
My husband bought this blonde wig and cowgirl hat for Moose and I thought this was a funny photo. She got extra treats for this one.

I hope this Halloween brings you many treats and no tricks. May God bless you!

Related posts:
Funny cat in sombrero photos:
2013 Halloween funny cat photos:
2012 Halloween cat photos:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Moose the Cat Rocks a Sombrero

Moose the Cat in sombrero: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Welcome to the Halloween edition of wild Wednesday! I hope you enjoy these cute and funny photos of Moose the cat in a sombrero. She's nineteen years old and mostly likes sleeping but she knows if she lets me take photos of her she'll get treats so she plays along.
Moose the Cat's sombrero stare: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
 I thought she had a good stare off face in this photo
Moose the Cat in sombrero 2: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Here she was looking up at our other cat but you can see the sombrero's colors best in this shot.
Sombrero siesta: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
And here she was settling down for a little nap.
Moose the Cat stretches in sombrero: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
But before dozing off she stretched out one paw dramatically. I had a whole red background photo session area prepared but when the cat is willing I take photos wherever she is. These were on the floor in our living room. She was enjoying the sunbeam on the carpet before (and after) the photo shoot.

Keep an eye out because we have a viking warrior, cowgirl and more funny Halloween cat photo shots to come. Happy early Halloween! May God bless you and those you love!

Related posts:
2013 Halloween cat photos:
Halloween squirrel:
Halloween orangutan:
2012 Halloween cat photos:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Echinacea, Pansies, Rose Petals and a Dahlia

Purple coneflower (echinacea): Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy floral Friday and welcome to "this week in my Maryland garden." The cooler autumn weather has killed a few of our plants but there are still spots of floral color to be found. The echinacea (purple coneflower) above is a volunteer from one of our original plants. It seems that the oldest plants bloom earliest but we're still getting new flowers from the youngest plants.
Blue and white pansy: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Thankfully, the pansies my husband bought earlier in the season survived the various heat waves we've had since planting. I love this blue one with white, violet and yellow accents.
Strawberries and cream rose: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
I was pleasantly surprised to find this strawberries and cream rose. I thought the weeds and morning glory vines had killed the bush. I love the white edging on the petals.
Burgundy and yellow pansy: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
The pansies not only survived but they're putting out fresh buds. Hopefully they'll continue blooming through next spring.
Yellow and white dahlia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
The dahlias are still blooming, although their flower production has slowed a bit.

I hope my flower photos made you smile. May God bless you!

Related posts:
Wheelbarrow pansies:
Pansy patch:
Spring pansies:
Spring poem and pansy photo:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monarch Butterfly on Pretty Chrysanthemum Flowers

Monarch on chrysanthemums: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy wild Wednesday! I love butterflies and the monarchs have always been special to me. It was fun watching this one on a patch of chrysanthemums in the National Arboretum's Asian gardens. 
Monarch wingspan: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
The butterfly only opened its wings fully a few times so I was thrilled to get this image.
Monarch on chrysanthemums 2: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
It flew from flower to flower.
Monarch and moth on chrysanthemums: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
And even shared space with a colorful moth (near the far right side of the photo).
Monarch on chrysanthemums 3: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
But didn't seem disturbed by the company of the moth or many bees also enjoying the chrysanthemums and sunshine.

I hope my photos made you smile. Happy autumn! May God bless you and the world's butterflies!

Related posts:
Monarch butterflies on tithonia:
Butterflies and dragonfly:
Butterfly garden:
Butterfly art:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Raindrop Drenched Dahlia, Chrysanthemum and Rose Photos

Raindrops on chrysanthemums: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy floral Friday and welcome to "this week in my Maryland garden!" Our daisy-like chrysanthemums started blooming this week. 
Raindrops on hot pink rose: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
I believe this is one of our "senior prom" roses and one of the first ones we planted in Maryland.
Raindrops on dinner plate dahlia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
The dahlias are the real powerhouse of our flower garden right now, still putting out daily flowers.
Raindrops and bee on red dahlia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Even the little dahlias are still producing beautiful flowers and the bees are enjoying them.
Raindrops and bee on chrysanthemums: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014An
Here's another look at the chrysanthemums featured in the first photo of this post. I love how raindrops are caught between the petals of the just-opening chrysanthemum bud.

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you this autumn and always!

Related posts:
Late spring raindrop flowers:
Early spring raindrop flowers:
Late summer raindrop flowers:
Raindrop foliage:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dogs and Bees at the U.S. National Arboretum

Frontal bee detail: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy wild Wednesday! Earlier this month I enjoyed a walk in the U.S. National Arboretum and saw these cute bees and dogs. I hope the photos make you smile.
Cute little fluffy dog: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
I wanted to pet this cute little dog and ask its human what breed he was but they walked in the other direction before I got the chance (I used my zoom to get the photo). 
Bee on bicolor marigolds: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
This bee was parked on top of two pretty, mostly red, bicolor marigolds. 
Faithful guard dog: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
And this adorable dog was keeping watch while her humans slept. I love how she's got one ear up.
Bee on yellow wildflower: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
These bees were really fun to photograph so I had to include one more image.

That's all for this week's wild Wednesday feature. Which was your favorite photo from today's post? Do you have a favorite dog or bee memory to share? I'd love to hear it! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Cute skirted dog:
Cute bunnies:
Bentley the dog:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dahlias, Chrysanthemums, Petunias Plus a Bee and a Cat

Big Dahlia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy floral Friday and welcome to "this week in my Maryland garden!"  I love this white, bronze and yellow dahlia and hope we can harvest a few more flowers before our first hard frost sets in.
Bee on purple dahlia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
 The purple dahlias are still going strong, to the bee's delight and mine.
Bicolor chrysanthemums: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
The yellow-bronze chrysanthemums are nearing the end of their bloom time but hopefully we'll have some peach daisy-like chrysanthemum blooms soon.
Moose the cat under rosebushes: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Moose the cat escaped (we'd prefer that she were solely and indoor cat but she wants the best of both worlds) and took refuge under the rose bushes. Never fear, she's safely back inside now. How does this photo relate to floral Friday? You can see some lantana blooms in the far background.
Pretty petunias: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
The red petunias are particularly striking now that fall's here. I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of our Maryland garden! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Funny cat Halloween photos:
Flowers & bees:
Dahlias and bees:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Three Steps to a Simple, Joyful Christian Life

I jotted down these three steps after reading Dr. Charles Stanley's September 8, 2014 Peace With Ourselves daily devotion from In Touch magazine. Here's my favorite quote from the devotion: God's"delight or displeasure with your conduct in no way alters either His love for you or your identity as His. The Lord always sees you as His own and as a person of infinite worth...never forget that you are not what you do. You are what you are: a child of God." 

Other than the fact that in September I was focusing on simple living, I'm not sure how I got these three steps from that particular devotion but hope they  inspire some of you.

  1. Love God (Matthew 22: 36-40)

  2. Trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6)

  3. Obey God (1 Samuel 15:22)

Of course, if we truly love God, steps two and three will flow naturally so all we really need is step one.  Love really is the most important thing in this life!

May God bless you and mayHis great love, joy and peace fill your heart so fully that you share it with all those He places in your path!

Related posts:                                                                                                                                                                                 Loving home:                                                                                   Loving relationships:                                        Living Love:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monarch Butterflies on Tithonia

Monarch on fading tithonia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Happy wild Wednesday! It's autumn and the tithonias (also known as Mexican sunflowers) are starting to fade but the butterflies don't seem to mind.
Monarch on tithonia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
I am so happy this pair of monarchs is visiting our tithonias. We grow them especially for the butterflies although the bees and hummingbirds like them too. This year we seem to have fewer butterflies than usual so their sightings are extra special.
Two monarch butterflies: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
Here you can see both monarch butterflies enjoying the tithonias.
Monarch in motion: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
I know it's blurry but I like how you can see the overall shape of the monarch butterfly's open wings.
Monarch and bee with tithonia: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2014
This one's a bit blurry too but I liked the butterfly's curly proboscis and the bee photo bomb made me smile. Usually when I come out with my camera these two monarch butterflies fly away so perhaps they're starting to get used to me and I can get some better photos next time. For now, I hope you enjoyed these butterfly images. Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Bees and flowers:
Hummingbird photos:
Hummingbird nest: