Celebrate the summer and all the holidays and special events of this time of year. Taking a short break to spend time with family and friends.
Heavy storms washed away the camouflage of trash and brush a mother raccoon had used for hiding her baby kits. She was nowhere to be seen today when someone pointed out these babies to us. Raccoons are nocturnal and these little babes were trying their best to continue napping beneath a bulkhead on the Delaware Bay. Hopefully, the mother raccoon can repair, or move her nest, before the busy weekend arrives. Wild baby animals are cute, but should never be touched.
Kohlrabi! Who knew it was so easy to grow? I’ve seen it on seed racks year after year and never tried it. This year I remedied that by planting a free packet someone gave me. I’m excited by the plants that are growing now. I’ve read kohlrabi tastes like a mix of cabbage and broccoli, and can be eaten cooked or raw. It is also recommended as a good addition to soup puree. Kohlrabi leaves can be cooked like mustard greens.
I found some good hints on using kohlrabi at the kitchn.com website.
Here’s a chuckle for you…a funny video of recent duck-feeding at Betty Park. Have a little fun this weekend…feed some ducks.
My four broccoli plants are going to seed. They never produced heads of broccoli, and were destined for the compost bin. Before I got around to pulling them the buds bloomed into interesting and colorful flowers. Hmmmm? Would it be possible to press these beautiful florets? I have tried to press lettuce flowers gone to seed in the past, and they were too delicate and thin? I am always on the lookout for yellows; would the broccoli work in book or microwave?
Oh YES! I picked several florets and pressed them both ways. The microwave and book pressing both worked perfectly. The florets greatly resemble wallflowers after being pressed, but instead of fluorescent orange, they turn a brilliant yellow. I can’t wait until the rest of my broccoli plants go to seed, in fact, I might plant a few more mid-summer just for the blooms. Go figure!!! Aren’t the unhappy surprises that turn into blessings one of the things that makes life grand? YES!
“Browallia earns its nicknames of amethyst flower and sapphire flower for the richness of its small blue flowers, which pop out like jewels against the bright green of its foliage. A tidy mounding plant, it’s great in containers or planted as edging in a neat row at the front of the border.” ~ Better Homes and Gardens
I planted a beautiful browallia plant in a rustic pot this year. It’s thriving in a spot that receives strong morning sunlight. I love the beautiful amethyst shade of its petals.
I’ve also experimented with pressing browallia flowers and have found the best way to process them is to use the standard method of pressing in an older book. Place the flowers between the pages, weight the book down, let it sit for about a week, then remove the flowers and store between acid free paper. When I attempted to flash-dry the petals in the microwave, which works perfectly for the Johnny-Jump-Up Violas in the photograph with them, the flowers lost all their color and dried to an unusable tan shade.
There has been a mass shooting in my country. A fellow blogger asked how I feel. I feel…
Blankness…hollowness…sadness…uncertainty…futility…so many other words could be added, but I think you understand how I’ve reacted from the few emotions I listed.
After the actual tragedy what bothers me most is the aftermath. The way the facts become fodder for an almost macabre form of entertainment by the media. I especially dislike the way the situation becomes just another political stepping stone for those pushing an agenda to take away freedom in the name of safety. I listen to countless discussions of the people determined to say the politically correct thing, and feel angered that in the midst of so many talking points they say nothing truthful or helpful in any way. But who am I to judge since I am mostly silent, for I have no solution either, and perhaps that is why those who gloss over the real reason for the atrocities don’t name it for what it really is. I wish I had the answer, but can only point to the words of Jesus in John.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33
My father once asked my great-grandmother (who lived to be 100 years old) if things were better in the world when she was young, and her answer to him was, “No, things were just as bad, you just didn’t hear about them as much.”
At first glance I was entranced. The flowers resemble a bottlebrush, and are a lovely pinkish hue tinged with magenta tips. The plant is called Ptilotus exaltatus and is native to Australia. Its nickname is Joey. Since my husband was called Joey as a child, this plant was a must-have for me.
Another plus is Ptilotus exaltatus is drought resistant. I planted it in a spot that is very dry and hot. I have high hopes. I debated whether to plant in the ground or keep ‘Joey’ in a pot to bring inside in the Autumn, but when researching found that seeds are available to grow this plant. If I can’t propagate it, I will try to grow from seed next year.
The plant is loaded with new buds; I can’t wait to see it fully blooming and ablaze in the sunshine.
I’ve posted in the past on how I use the heat at hand in a closed car for drying herbs. A few days ago, hoping to save the scent and color of a few of my rose petals, I dried them in my car.
A metal cookie sheet works best for me. I spread an even layer of my flower petals, or herbs if that is your choice, and leave them in the closed car. Within a few hours I have dried plant material to use for projects or in my cooking.
The flowers shrink down to about half their original size, and retain their vivid colors.
I can add a few drops of rose essential oil, or another flowery scent, to enhance their natural fragrance. Give this a try…I promise you it’s amazing!
Numbers “Equations. Clock faces. Cash registers. Numbers are everywhere: this week, share a photo that puts them front and center.” The Photo Challenge at WordPress
On the drive to Fortescue, New Jersey, and the Delaware Bay last weekend, we saw a Bald Eagle having a meal in a cornfield. Bald Eagles are thriving in our state and 40% of them live in the lower counties. Years ago, the only eagles I encountered were in the Philadelphia Zoo or on the wildlife television channels. What thrill it is now to see them flying high, or to zoom in with my camera as an eagle brings down prey in a field.
Horseshoe crabs are also considered an endangered species, but since they have been protected, they are impossible to count. The infinite number of eggs they lay on the local bay beaches keeps the crab population growing, and provides food for shorebirds, many of them also endangered.
Horseshoe crabs often upend in the waves. Unless they manage to turn themselves over, and many of them don’t, they will perish in the hot sun.
While my husband fished, I turned over dozens that lay with their undersides exposed. It’s amazing how fast these creatures can move when they are heading back to the cooling water of the bay.
I planted several roses in April of this year. I replaced the cottage garden annuals that grew in the long border with a half dozen rose bushes in hopes that the labor intensive area would become easier to maintain. I chose varieties that promised fragrance, and I haven’t been disappointed. Heirloom, Fragrant Cloud and Singing the Blues are definitely roses with a beautiful scent. (These roses are available from local retail stores and through Star Roses)
I enjoy cutting ready to burst buds from the bushes to enjoy indoors. Adding a few sprigs of foliage is a perfect foil for the beauty of the bloom.
I use ivy and variegated vinca vine growing along the borders of my yard. These plants work well with flowers in arrangements. I also have an abundance of sprouts growing from our original trumpet vine. The trumpet vine sends out long-reaching roots, the roots send up dozens, if not hundreds, of sprouts, each one capable of growing into another gigantic trumpet vine. I use them in floral arrangements, but they are not long lasting, and wilt quickly. The smaller leaves of the trumpet vine press well and look pretty in my greeting card designs, but would I ever plant a trumpet vine again? Absolutely NOT!
We celebrated four family birthdays in May. We all love ice cream cakes, so that was our dessert of choice. Store-bought ice cream cakes can be pricey, so for the last birthday in the month, and because we had repeated the same brand of cake twice; I created an ice cream cake of my own.
The cake turned out sensational. Since I buy my favorite brands of ice cream when they are on sale, the cake cost half of what I paid for the store bought cake, and fed double the people. Hooray!
Homemade Ice Cream Cake
2 Cartons of Breyers Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream
1 pkg. Keebler Grasshopper Cookies
2 tbsp melted butter
Redi-Whip Whipped Cream in a can
These ingredient choices are easily changed to make your own custom cake. Half the ingredients will make a smaller cake. (8×8 pan)
Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process grasshoppers to crumbs. Mix half the crumbs with melted butter and press into pan. Bake for about five minutes. The chocolate on the cookies will also help the crumbs stick together. Set remaining crumbs aside.
Let cool. While cooling, take out ice cream and let it soften until it is easily spread with a spatula or back of large spoon. Before I begin to spread the ice cream, I mix it around in a bowl to be sure it is ready to spread.
When the pan is completely cool you can begin to add the ice cream. I like to space out six to eight dollops on the crumbs, and then begin to spread it. If the ice cream doesn’t spread easily at this point, wait until it softens a bit more. If you try to spread while the ice cream is still too cold, you will break up your cookie crumb crust and create a big mess.
Sprinkle half the remaining cookie crumbs evenly on the top of this layer of ice cream. Gently press into ice cream with back of a spoon or spatula.
Repeat with the second carton of softened ice cream, spread carefully until you have an even top layer.
At this point I used two large, rectangular container lids I had on hand, and laid them on the top of the pan as a guide. I created diagonal lines of sprinkles, with a line of cookie crumbs alongside each stripe of sprinkles.
Wavy strips of whipped cream added a third decorative element. A border of whipped cream around the edge of the pan created a nice finished look.
Cover and freeze your finished cake for several hours. Just like a store-bought ice cream cake, let the cake thaw for about twenty minutes before you attempt to cut and serve. Enjoy!