Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Late Spring Garden

Late spring is one of the best times in my flower garden. Irises and peonies, my favorites. I went to the plant nursery this morning to buy vegetable plants for the vegetable garden. Picked up afew perennials, then came home and weeded the flower gardens all morning. Very therapeutic.


Red Rhododendron. Very pretty flowers, but this plant has never grown very large.

Spiderwort. Just planted this today

White iris

Variegated Weigela

The first peonies

Lavender Iris

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pineapple Confetti Cake

I enjoy making cakes from scratch, but every once in awhile I need to make something faster, or I feel lazy, and a box comes in handy. This cake is a lazy example. I could have shaved the top layer to make it flatter, but that would have been far too much effort!

Pineapple Confetti Cake

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained (press into strainer and retain juice)
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg

1 box white cake mix
1 cup water
retained pineapple juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup colored sprinkles

1 can white frosting (or 2 cups homemade buttercream frosting)
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all filling ingredients in medium saucepan. Simmer and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens and no longer looks cloudy (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool.
Spray 2 9” round baking pans with baking spray. Combine cake ingredients in mixer (or by hand) and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Pour equal amounts batter into pans, smooth out with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and pick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool, remove from pans. If desired, trim layers to make them more flat and even. Spread thin layer of frosting on top of first layer. Spread pineapple filling on frosting. Place second cake layer on top.
Frost cake and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Blue is one of my favorites, but it's rather difficult to find true blue in nature, other than in birds. Most things that are "blue" seem to be more purple than truly blue.

Obviously, there is the blue sky

I want a peacock. One of these days I may get one, although I know that they are extremely noisy and tend to be unfriendly!

Our blue point Ragdoll cat Iris has beautiful blue eyes.

After the ice storm. I wish that the camera would have captured how beautiful everything looked when the sun came out after this ice storm. It looked as if the trees had been sprayed with liquid diamonds.

I have mixed feelings towards large marine mammals in captivity. They should NEVER be taken from the wild unless it is to rehabilitate them from an injury. However, I also see an educational value in keeping some captive born/can't return to the wild marine mammals in situations (non performing situations in which they can be properly cared for) where the public can view them. Seeing an animal up close does raise awareness, and can spur more donations to charities that help wild populations to survive.

Friday, May 7, 2010



I have to admit that yellow isn’t normally one of my favorite colors. I painted my laundry room yellow and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what color would work better for me in that room. However, I do like yellow outdoors, especially in the spring and fall. It’s nice to see that first pop of yellow daffodils after months of snow.

Still life in yellow

I’m not sure what this plant is. Looks like a cactus, but this photo was taken on Assateague Island in June.

Sunflowers are fun. Easy to grow, and a big statement in the garden for very little expended effort

The humble dandelion. I find dandelions to be very pretty. When we lived in town, I’m sure the neighbors cringed because we had dandelions in the yard every spring. The rest of the street doused their lawns in chemicals. Living in the country, nobody cares about dandelions

Sunshine on a fall day

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mediterranean Garden Spaghetti

With summer quickly approaching, it's time to come up with some lighter meals. Between kid activities like 4H getting into full swing and summer maintenance on the farm, quick meals are also a priority. This meatless dish is both light and easy!

1 lb spaghetti, cooked al dente per package instructions
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and flaked
1 cup feta cheese

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in large skillet. Sautee garlic, scallions, basil and tomatoes over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Put spaghetti in large serving bowl. Pour sauteed tomato mixture over spaghetti, add remaining olive oil, salt, pepper, avocado and feta cheese and toss together.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The bees have arrived

This morning we welcomed 10,000 or so new members to our family. At 6 am the phone rang. It was the local post office informing us that our bees had arrived. They seemed rather eager for us to get there as soon as possible to remove them from the post office.
My husband had set up the hive last weekend in preparation for their arrival. After reading several books about beekeeping, he'd decided that he didn't really need any protective equipment other than the bee hood (bees will attempt to crawl into your nose and ears). Plus we'd seen a really good movie called Ulee's Gold, starring Peter Fonda as a beekeeper. Peter Fonda walked freely amongst the bees ( which were probably computer generated) sans gloves or any other protective gear. My husband was going to be the Bee Whisperer.
The bees arrived in the wooden and mesh cage pictured above. Several were loose and clinging to the cage, so the person at the post office happily gave us the plastic USPS tote that the cage was in and sent us on our way.
Our next door neighbors had bees for several years, so they had all of the gear. When it came time to put the bees in the hive, I suggested to hubby that he go next door to borrow additional safety gear. "No, I don't need that stuff. It's all about remaining calm. They won't sting you if you stay calm". Ooookay. For protective gear, he opted for a fishing raincoat and the bee hood.
The queen bee is in a separate little box. The box is corked, and after you remove the cork she is still kept in there with a piece of sugar "candy". Within several days, the worker bees will eat the candy, releasing the queen. Hopefully by then they will have decided that they like her, and will take care of her. If not... we have to get a new queen. After she is placed in the hive, it's time to install the rest of the bees.


When it comes time to release the bees into the hive, you basically kind of bang the cage until they come out and go into the hive. Turns out bees don't really like being banged around. The Bee Whisperer ending up running and getting stung once. I was 40 feet away, and one bee ended up stuck in my hair, which involved running and flailing.

In the end, the bees were safely transferred to their new home. Our neighbors kindly brought over their unused bee equipment, including a full safety suit which will be used from now on, or until we learn the art of remaining zen calm with bees crawling on us.