Wednesday, July 23

Garden Pic Wednesday: Rain Lily & Garden Views

Today's Garden Pics include a blooming day lily and several garden views around the yard:

Below is a Rain Lily. It's something like a crocus in appearance. It's a bulb. I bought a mix of yellow, white and pink (this one is actually a very pale pink). What makes them "rain lilies" is they bloom after a rain and the ground is wet. Perfect for a rain garden.

Next: a post-rain view of my main rain garden with a good view of the Chocolate Elephant Ears both in the rain garden and in the back right corner of the photo.

I love these Elephant Ears! I love the purple color! It really breaks up
the heavy green of a Florida garden.
They start green when little and turn dark as they mature. They are not a bulb, but have a root system like a day lily. Very easy to split and move. In fact, I split up the single clump I had this spring and moved them various places; apparently they loved it because they look better then they ever have!
Chocolate Elephant Ears are easy to grow. They prefer full shade, but will tolerate splotchy shade and partial sun. (These in the rain garden get morning sun.) Sun makes them slightly less purple.
They'd make a great large pot plant for the shade--but be aware they will fill your whole pot!
(I bought mine from an online garden center.)

Next: A view of my tall Zinnias in the center back yard bed:
This is the bed I edged with red castle wall blocks back in the fall.

These Zinnia's are all last years volunteers. I arranged them in a center row to be a tall feature. Herbs and smaller flowers occupy the other side.

Last: A front to back view of my yard along the north side my house.
These are my front beds of pampas and very tall hibiscus that frame our gravel parking spot here. (My home is to the left.) You can see the Hosta bed along the side of the house between the shrubs. This is just freshly mowed today. Time is 3 pm.

That's it for today!  Come back tomorrow to see what's up for Mama Kat!

Tuesday, July 22

Polyvore Tuesday: Be Yourself

I've just spent the last couple days re-vamping my Zazzle Storefront with larger thumbnails of each design category, such as "Chocolate Designs" or "Christian Faith Designs," and assigning sub-categories to various products groups within each. I also made special butterfly thumbnails for all the subcategories--just to make it pretty.
I've added a "Nature Stuff" thumbnail category to put everything garden, garden critter or flower orientated in, like my calenders, but it's a work in progress. I recently added a Waterfall Scripture Encouragement Card. (Finally a place to put such things!)
I've also been working hard on expanding my Christmas inventory!
Believe it or not, I have 350 products in my store now!
And I expect to hit 400 in the next couple weeks!
(All highlighted links will take you there!)

Today's Polyvore set is just an artistic for fun one I made based on the quote in the picture below about, "being yourself in a world constantly trying to make you into something else."

To Be Yourself

To Be Yourself by madamdreamweaver 

Have a great day!  Stop back for Garden Pic Wednesday!
And do drop by my Zazzle store to see all my pretty thumbnails!

Monday, July 21

Good Eating Monday: Cloves!

The Underestimated Power of Cloves

Chewing a whole clove is an old-fashioned cure for dental pain, like a toothache. The oil inside cloves is called eugenol and is a mild anesthetic. Clove oil also effective against gingivitis, periodontitis and stomatitis, which is a painful inflamation of the mucous lining of the mouth. Bet your dentist didn't tell you that!
Before toothbrushes and Listerine, cloves were used to brush teeth and as breath mints.

Clove oil also has healthful benefits as a bacteria & virus fighter. And as a mosquito repellent. (A common ingredient in some natural mosquito repellents you can buy nowadays.)
We once tried a natural flea remedy high in eugenol that made the cat smell like cloves, but wasn't actually helpful for the fleas--and she hated it. Cats do not like smelling like a bakery, let me tell you. 

Cloves didn't move from dental hygiene use to cooking use until the Middle Ages.  It's a key ingredient in Chinese 5 Spice, Indian Garam Masala, in French Quartre Epices.
In the U.S. cloves are a key ingredient in Pumpkin Pie Spice and commonly used studded on ham and are a staple in mulling spices, pickling, sausages, fruitcakes, pumpkin pie, any ginger or molasses cakes or cookies and lots of other baking!
Plus they can be used as a flavor accent in soups or stews! 
Hey, a tiny bit added to the grounds before you turn the pot of coffee will give a clove-flavor to your brew!

Buying Cloves: This one is strictly imported & not something you can grow. Whole cloves should have nice nail-like heads and not be just stick. The larger the heads, the better. They will last a year or more in an airtight bottle or container away from light & heat.
You can buy whole and grind your own fresh, which will be more aromatic then store-bought already ground, but Ground Cloves from the store will be plenty pungent and effective, though for best flavor you might like to replace them every year.

Using Cloves:
The rule with cloves is "a little dab will do ya." 
That's why it's common in recipes to see no more then1/2 teaspoon or less usde. Cloves can over-power if used too generously.

If you use whole cloves in savory dishes or on ham, you do want to remove them before eating! 
A couple good ways to make whole cloves easily removable:

    *Stick 3 or 4 whole cloves in a small onion & toss in soup or stew, then, once done, fish it out and discard.

   *Or do what the French do and make a "bouquet garni," by wrapping your selection of fresh whole herbs and spices, like cloves or allspice, in a bit of cheesecloth tied with string to drop in your soup or stew.

Using cloves for decoration or fragance:
You can make a pomander by taking an orange or other citrus fruit, poking small holes in the peel in a pattern or face, then insert the stick-end of your cloves in those holes just to the depth of the head, so your orange is now dotted with clove heads.  Then, place in a bowl on the table. This is an old-fashioned craft for scenting your home. It will last till the citrus dries out.
Eat up, me hearties, yo-ho!

Friday, July 18

Friday Finds: Adorable Cute & Strange Creatures!

For today's find I'm featuring another Zazzle friends store:
The lady who designs these items, Boriana, lives in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She's been very supportive of my designs in Google+, so
I'm returning the favor by featuring her store and a sampling of her popular designs all of which are available on all sorts of products!
Do browse her marvelous store full of cute & strange cartoon creatures! 

Lots of other cat designs & cute cartoon creature designs to see
Enjoy & See you Monday!

Thursday, July 17

Mama Kat Thursday: Duped

I didn't care for any of the Mama Kat official link-up topics this week, but I did use her prompt generator to come up with this topic:
  "You got duped. What happened?"

Unfortunately, I'm a bit on the gullible side. Equally unfortuante, my hubby happens to be a leg-puller. Not in a mean way, but a jovial, spontaneous way.
The last time he successfully pulled my leg was just this year, back in March while we were visiting home in Indiana.
We needed to drive to Effingham, Illinois to pick up my Uncle at the train station, which is about an hour away from Terre Haute, where we were staying with my Mom.
On the way, we passed a billboard advertising something about Effingham and I mused out loud, "That's an odd name. I wonder where it came from? No doubt the town was named after someone."
My husband smoothly replied, "It was named after Bruce Effingham, the 1848 Gold Metal Olympic Shot Putter."
This sounded so plausible, I bought it. So did my Mom in the back seat. We were both completely taken in.
"Really?" I answered, awed that my hubby knew such a fact. I didn't realize he knew anything about the Olympics.
"Oh, I don't know," he replied.
At that point I knew I'd been had.
"You made that up?" I huffed good-naturedly. He laughed.
Mildly embarrassed I'd been totally hood-winked, I said, "I am not going to believe anything you say the rest of the trip."
And I didn't. Which made my hubby roar with contagious laughter every time I expressed a dubious response the rest of the two weeks there.
To this day, the story of Bruce Effingham, the famous 1848 Olympic shot putter still makes us both laugh uproariously.
The first official modern Olympic games, by the way, were held in 1896 in Athens. 

Thanks for visiting!
So, when was the last time someone pulled your leg and got away with it?

Wednesday, July 16

Garden Pic Wednesday: Bumbles & Caterpillars

It's raining out today. Yesterday, too. It's a reflection of that huge wave sweeping south that's giving our northern friends unseasonably cool weather!  Lucky you. It's still 90 here.
But it is much needed rain. I love to see a bit of water standing in my rain garden! It's looks so pretty for a few hours!
I planted a Cinnamon Fern root there, which is a large fern that likes that sort of place. The first tiny stem has recently popped-up, showing me, yes, it is indeed alive, putting to rest all my doubts.
 I accidentally stepped on a snake this past week. He didn't expect me and I didn't see him and we totally startled each other. He was near the block wall surrounding the bed with the dill, a small harmless sort of snake that fled under an Azalea bush while I kept on my merry way. 
(Keep in mind I grew up way out in the country where I was taught to recognize & respect all forms of critter life; not fear it. As should we all.)

I have two fantastic shots for my Garden Pics today: a Brown-Belted Bumble Bee & Black Swallowtail Caterpillars!

First: Did you know bees nap? They do! 
It's extremely common for honey bees or bumble bees to fall asleep on a flower.
The photo below is a Brown Belted Bumble Bee who secured itself under this Zinna for a little nap. He was sound asleep for at least 30 minutes, which made him or her very easy to photograph! Normally, they're hard to catch on camera, hopping so quickly from flower to flower.

It's called Brown Belted because the stripes of fur on the tail are dark rather then yellow. (Capenter Bees are about the same size and have a furry yellow thorax, but their tail is smooth and hairless--which is how you tell the difference.)
Bumbles are NOT aggressive bees---by that, I mean, they aren't like hornets, yellow-jackets or paper wasps, who will chase you down to sting you.
Bumbles aren't that way. They pretty much mind their own business. I read an article by a guy said he accidentally dug into an underground bumble colony and they swarmed furiously around him, but never once stung him.

Unique to Bumbles: if a bumble feels you are too close, they will warn you by lifting one of their middle legs, holding it straight out to one side, like a bee karate kick, as a signal to "back off."

With bees, regardless of kind, it's always a good rule of thumb to respect their space!

In general, Bumbles live underground with a queen, drones & workers. They make honey, but not in a huge quantities--only a few tablespoons full and all, but the queen, die by autumn.
 So far, no one has figured out how to create a hive they'll stay in to be easily managed like honey bees. (Not for honey so much as for porting to fields & crops to do fertilizing work.)
Still, they remain amazing and welcome garden visitors!

Flowers to grow to encourage all bee types to visit:
Zinnias, Cone flower, Mexican Heather, English Heather, all Herbs (basil, Greek oregano, sage, dill, etc), Poppies, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Onion Chives & Garlic Chives, Snapdragons, Marigolds, Sedum---really just about anything that blooms attracts bees!

Next: Swallowtail Caterpillers:
These 3 are on one of my Dill plants. They were a good shot here, close together, though they've spread out since then.
They were only about an 1 inch size here and, once full grown, are closer to 2 inches.

Right now, I'm hosting about 12 or 13 caterpillars, the majority being on the Dill. Three are on my Parsley on the patio. I actually had an excess number on the Parsley and just moved those extra to the Dill plants, where there's plenty of room.
I have 3 Dill plants, each about 24 to 36 inches tall, so plenty of dining room for my voracious little guests!

In that particular bed, where the Dills is, I'm planning on letting all the Dill, Sage, Basil, Zinnias, 4 O'clocks, Marigolds & Bachelor Buttons go to seed, so I'll have lots of free-spirits sprouting next year. (Hopefully!)

To promote Butterflies in your area look up their host plants and to see if it's something you can add to your garden space.
For example: some butterflies only like certain trees, but I have no spot for adding trees, but I can add certain shrubs, flowers or herbs.
What's your favorite annual flower to plant? What grows most easily for you, where you live? What have you tried that failed?

Tuesday, July 15

Polyvore Tuesday: Maleficent

We did see the film Maleficent. It was enjoyable, but nothing I'd care to own. It might provide good opportunity for discussion about greed, ambition, love and kindness with the kids.
We also recently saw ECHO. Really, it's about the characters relationships to one another and true friendship. Also a clean family movie---but good only as long as you don't look at it too closely, then things that don't make sense stand out like a sore thumb:
For one thing, the adults were apparently all unobservant nit-wits.
And deaf, too. No one hears the kids tromping up the stairs at the girls house or all the clanging & banging in the barn, considering the kids were quite worried about making noise as they crept past the house.
The one boy proved abruptly to be quite the skilled driver not having every driven before before.  (You'll want to be sure and point out to your kids why this isn't realistic!)
And as we walked out, my hubby observed, "That town should've fallen into a massive sink-hole after the space ship left."
Just to mention a few.

Today's Polyvore set is one I made for the "Secret Pal" group member contest, since my secret pal seemed really into Disney cartoon & film characters. 
It's a nice set, but the secret pal contest thing I don't find rewarding enough to be worth my while doing again.

Maleficent, Gift #1

Maleficent, Gift #1 by madamdreamweaver

What have you ever given up as not being worth while?