Friday, February 16

Friday Finds: Napping Bumble

I walked out to take a photo of my daffodils today and found this:
A bumble bee tucked inside a daffodil trumpet, sound asleep:

Typically, it's the Drones you find napping like this, completely motionless.
They only have one job, and, once done, they're otherwise useless around the hive, so the Workers kick them out. They really have little else to do, but sleep the day away.
(This is a Brown Belted Bumble Bee.)

Wednesday, February 14

Garden Pic Wednesday: Moving the Agagpanthus!

Today was moving day for my Agapanthus--The container it's been occupying for years has gotten over-crowded.

They are a true-blue perennial  flower, also called "Lily of the Nile," common in Southern landscaping. It's actually related to the Amaryllis family.
The name "Agapanthus" means "Love Flower" in Greek.
(This photo of one of mine in bloom)

Presently, they were just starting to pop out green leaves in this container below:

I used an old shower curtain to dump the container out on, so I could separate the rhizomes. A couple bulb-based weeds had gotten in among them and this was a chance to get rid of those as well.

Once I separated the rhizomes and replanted this container with a few, I put all the remaining rhizomes in a bucket and carried them to the rain garden area in the back yard.
Along the outer edge of the flagstones edging this rain garden, I've had orange Native Day Lilies for several years, but they've become too invasive to manage easily anymore.
With the lilies also just starting to come up, it was the perfect time to move things around, since I could see where they were!
 The ground back there was still pretty mucky from a recent rain, which made digging them up much easier. The lilies came up in thick rooty mats 6 to 12 inches wide plus a number of root clumps for single lily heads.
(You can see the pile of lilies in the lower left corner of photo below.)

The Agapanthus spreads as well, but very slowly and not intrusively.  Hopefully, I'll eventually have a nice row of blue heads along the this rain garden edge come summer! If not this year, then next! 
I replanted the day lilies in several places out front and along the outer edge of the back bed as well as did general raking out and clean-up of the rain garden.
The whole job took 2 1/2 hours.

Monday, February 12

Good Eating Monday: Chocolate Banana Bread!

This Chocolate Banana Bread is to die for yummy!  Super moist and pretty with all the chocolate chips on top!
(Photo is my own)
This is one of the breads I made into mini loaves for Holiday gift giving!
 The recipe makes a single 9 x 5 loaf or 3 two-by-four inch mini foil loaf pans!

Chocolate Banana Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large over-ripe bananas (1 1/2 cups mashed)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1/4 cup canola, vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (save 1/2 cup for topping)

1) Set oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2)  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
(A touch of cinnamon enriches the flavor of chocolate!)

3) In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Add melted butter and oil and stir until combined. Stir in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir till fairly smooth.

4)  Stir dry ingredients into we ingredients and stir just enough to be well combined. Don't over-mix.

5) Add 1 cup of chocolate chips and fold into mix.

6)  Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 50-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean--you might have melted chocolate chips on there, but what you don't want is gooey batter. Check at 50 minutes and allow additional baking times 5 minutes until bread tests done. (Oven times vary)

7)  Remove pan from oven and set on wire cooling rack. Let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes, then run knife around edges and carefully remove from pan.  The chocolate chips on top are still melty, so you can't just flip it out upside down on wire rack!
Let bread cool before slicing.
Refrigerate as needed when not serving. This bread also freezes well if you want to make mini-loaves ahead.

Friday, February 9

Friday Finds: First Sign of Spring!

I was actually busy Wednesday, so I didn't get around to doing a Garden Pic post, so I decided to show off the first blooms of my Daffodils today!
It means, for Northwest Florida, winter is generally over. 
I ordered some veggies seeds to day from a company called Seed Savers, which is devoted to saving the diversity of our worlds flower and vegetable seeds, because varieties are gradually becoming homogenized by big farming.
Many of their seeds have fascinating origins; some donated by families who've owned and grown them for generations!

I ordered a bush zucchini, bush green beans & a drought resistant kind of spinach. I plan on buying tomato plants locally.
I'll want to get going on the veggie garden around mid-March.
Today, I planted the potted Hyacinth bulbs I'd purchased a couple week ago into their permanent location outside and used my weeding tool to dig up numerous Spider Worts that are where I don't want them. They're pretty, but intrusive. 

Thursday, February 8

Mama Kat Thursday: Backwoods Indiana Memories: Laundry Day

Wringer Washing Machine
I remember while growing up in rural Indiana in the 60's and 70's, doing laundry was an all day event.
My clearest memories of  "laundry day," come from summer time, when we were out of school. 
Mother had a certain day of the week she did laundry usually. I liked to sleep in and I recall waking up around 9:30 to the chugging rhythm the wringer washer already at work. 
I'd see all the dirty laundry sorted into piles around the utility room floor: whites, light colors,  medium colors, dark colors and heavy darks, like jeans.
(The photo is one I found online of a Kenmore wringer washer quite similar to the last model I remember Mother having in the 70's.)

You have to understand, wringer washers only do the washing part.
She'd start with whites, then once the washer finished it's wash cycle, it would stop. Then she'd, by hand, pull each item of clothing out of the washer and feed it through the wringer rollers to get the soap out, making sure each piece got put into utility sink beside right beside her, which she'd already filled with clear water for rinsing.
 In fact, I think both sides might've been filled for a double rinse. Then once thoroughly rinsed, she'd feed the clothes, by hand, back through the wringer again and drop them into a laundry basket on the floor.

Example of a
 classic double utility sink
The wringer head was movable and could be rotated back and forth to be either over the washer or over the rinse sinks easily.

She'd start the next load, then either she or us would haul the basket of freshly washed laundry outside to hang on clotheslines.
We had multiple clotheslines strung between trees---between 
5 and 7 lines, I think, and, in summers, they'd all be pretty much filled.
Helping to hang those clothes was one of our summer chores.
I remember taking down the laundry and I loved that smell of fresh, dried-outside clothes and sheets! There's nothing like it!

Believe me, fabric softener and dryer sheets are poor cousins.

Once the laundry was all done, the washer needed draining.  It had a hose with a hooked pipe on it just like any washer does and had a drain cycle, so Mother either had to run it into an empty utility sink or, as she often did in summers, she'd run the dirty water into many buckets, then carry each down to the garden to water her vegetables. When we were older we may have helped haul buckets as well.
(You don't waste precious well water watering gardens or grass.)

Doing laundry with a wringer washer was a big, involved, sloppy mess. The tile floor would be drenched by the end and she'd have to mop it as well.
I suppose it could've been 2, even 3 pm before she was done.

In winter, Mother would hang all the wet laundry on wire hangers to dry in the house. There were 3 narrow galvanized pipes Dad suspended from the ceiling for her in the utility/laundry room area for this purpose. Of course, we were in school then and we'd come home and find all laundry neatly drying on hangers.

Because all our water came from a well, we couldn't have an automatic washer. They just used too much water and would've depleted our well---which was true for everyone where we lived.The beauty of a wringer washer was it only needed to be filled once and you could do everything in that one tub of water!

Fortunately, early in the 80's sometime, modern convenience made into the our Hoosier countryside and a municipal water line was put in allowing our folks to connect to that and give up the well.
 After that, they did get an automatic washer because, Mother said, all the labor involved with using that wringer washer just got to be too much.

Maytag stopped making wringer washers in 1983.
Wringer washers were in use throughout most of the 20th century beginning with hand-operated models, evolving into models with gas powered motors, then, finally, fully electric models by 1930 when electricity was commonly available in nearly all American households.
I recently read wringer washers are actually still quite popular and sought after. People want them because of their water efficiency, since you only need fill them once, and their lower power use. 

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