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Showing posts from August, 2014

Mama Kat Thursday: Two Before & After Projects

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The Mama Kat Prompt topic for today is: "Show Us a Before & After." Last fall and this spring I had two major  drainage issue locations: one in the back yard and one on the side of the garage. After hours of TLC they're greatly improved. Here's the before & after on both: First: The Back Yard Pond : This happened every time we had a heavy rain: After: Same spot as it looks now. Paradise. I took advantage of the naturally concave area by edging it with flagstones and filling the center with gravel & water loving plants. The Chocolate Elephant Ears here are gorgeous! Second, The Other Pond: This bed edges on the garage near the front of the house. After:  I edged the bed with paving blocks, raised the dirt level on the grass side, then planted grass plugs. Now that it's late summer,  it's nicely filled in! I consider rate these two projects among my most successful---though not all gardening  exp

Garden Pic Wednesday: The Bowling Ball Project

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I mentioned last week that I'd come into a free bowling ball that a military guy, who moved away left us, one that is no good anymore for bowling.  So, I decided to try a little garden art with it.  I've seen the pretty shiny chrome bowling balls on Pinterest, so I wanted to try that. It's trickier then it might sound.  First , it takes several coats with dry times in between, so it took a couple hours to do. Second , the various engraved brand emblems aren't completely concealed, just painted over, so you have to turn it to it's best side when you put it out in the garden. Third , you must use exactly the right Shiny type Krylon Chrome spray paint to get the glossiest results--which I ended up not having. I found a duller Short Shot Chrome that only cost $1, since I didn't really know Chrome came in two shades. But I had shiny silver spray paint on hand, so I used that to make it a shiny silver, which isn't as reflective as chrome. Fourth ,

Good Eating Monday: Wasp Cake!

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Greetings!  Today's foray into deliciousness is a 4 ingredient snack cake called "Wasp Cake." A Wasp Cake I Made Last Week It can also be called "Wasp Nest Cake."  It gets it's name from the unique honey-comb like texture it develops during baking as the butterscotch morsels melt into it! No frosting. Just bake, cool & serve! Wasp Cake Ingredients : 1 box of yellow cake mix 1 small box of Cook-n-Serve Pudding, either vanilla or butterscotch. 2 cups of milk 1 1/2 cups butterscotch morsels Directions: Stir pudding & milk together in a large batter bowl that you can microwave and microwave at 2 minutes intervals, stirring and cooking until thick & bubbly. (Or you can do it in a pan on the stove top if you prefer.) Remove from microwave and pour box cake mix into the pudding and stir till well blended. Stir in 1 cup of butterscotch chips the pour into an oil sprayed 9 x 13 pan (or 9 x 10 if you want thicker cake).

Friday Finds: New Swahili Bibles In Kenya

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Hubby has gotten to be friends with a Kenyan pastor through the Navigator Discipleship Network online. (The Navigators is our missions organization.) Though, Pastor Davis isn't a Navigator, he is interested in discipling his congregation & helping them learn to disciple others. So he and Hubby share that interest.  In case you don't know where Kenya is, it's a country on the east side of Africa just south of Ethiopia that has a border on the Indian Ocean. Davis in a city, but out in the country and his "church" is a frame with a dirt floor and a canvas tarp for a roof. ( I just mention that so you'll have a correct mental picture and not imagine an actual building such as we have in America when I say words like "church" or "pastor.")  Though official language of Kenya is English, the common language is Swahili.  (If you're a Star Trek fan you might remember that is the character Uhura's native tongue as well.) The thin

Mama Kat Thursday: Vintage Velveeta Recipe

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The Mama Kat blog prompt for today is: "Share a favorite recipe from your childhood that you still make today." Golden Meatball Casserole. It's a vintage Velveeta back-of-the-box recipe that my Mom made when I was growing up and that I still make!  Who can resist Velveeta?  The hubby loves it.  I usually make it for him for his birthday and generally fairly often during the winter months. It's rich, cheesy and delicious skillet meal that only takes about 40 minutes to put together in total, including prep time--as long as you use frozen meatballs! For this recipe you'll need either a large skillet ,12-inches diameter size or a 16-inch size electric skille t. Either will work. Golden Meatball Casserole Recipe: Ingredients: 1 bag containing 28-33 frozen regular size meatballs in either beef or turkey. (Italian is fine) 1 cup of chopped carrot. (1 inch chunks for regular size; 1/2 inch for baby carrots) 1/2 cup chopped onions 1/2 cup chopped

Garden Pic Wednesday: Coneflowers

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You know how people decorate bowling balls for the garden?  We inherited a free bowling bowl from a military guy who was moving away, one that was useless because it was cracked between the finger holes. Having seen in Pinterest bowling balls turned into gazing balls with silver or chrome paint, I decided that's what I wanted to so with this one. I was working on it today. It takes a couple hours of spraying, waiting, spraying, waiting, spraying & waiting to get a good look. This project will be next Wednesday's post feature. Today, though, I have Coneflowers! Relatives of the common daisy, their formal name is "Echinacea." They are a great flower for dry, sunny garden spots and bloom profusely from spring to fall. Also a great flower for bees and butterflies!  Below is one of my Coneflowers with a small iridescent  Green Sweat Bee on it: Coneflowers are perennial and will grow back from the roots year after year, bushier and bushier.

Good Eating Monday: Quick Reese's Brownies

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Greetings!  After Zumba today, I worked on edging some flower beds, saved some seed & photographed some butterflies---not necessarily in that order. In Florida, this is butterfly season! I see more butterflies at this time of year then in spring. Buckeyes, Fritillaries, Black, Tiger and Giant Swallowtails! It seems to be a good year for the Tiger Swallowtails. I've seen 3 just this week. Sometimes I see none. The seeds I saved were for Blue Balloon Flowers & Blue Bacholar Buttons. I also have dried some nice zinnia heads for seeds and several of my largest Rubeckia heads. The Rubeckia I'll start and plant this fall as they winter over nicely, then bloom next year. Today's good eating recipe is one of my own invention: Quick Reeses Brownie's. I've made these twice and the Air Force kids at Bible studies devour every one! This is a box brownie mix recipe made healthier with the use of applesauce instead of oil and a little extra roughage added

Friday Finds: Designer Accent Pillows!

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My finds for today are gorgeous accent pillows! Tropical Throw Pillow You can add a name! More at   Trendy_Wedding Paris Postcard Pillow Vintage Fleur De Lis Pillow Both French themed pillows from:  13 Moonshine Designs Pretty Little Blue Bird Pillow More at  VectorGraphicsVicky Plus you can always check out my Boutique ! Have a great weekend and come back for Good Eating Monday!

Mama Kat Thursday: Something New I'm Trying

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The Mama Kat prompt topic today is:  "Write about a time you tried something new." For a gardner, "trying something new" is a life motto. I'm know I'm always have some sort of gardening experiment going on! I currently have two new garden somethings underway: My Suckers in a Pot #1)  I'm trying out growing a new tomato plant from a pair of suckers I snipped off my older tomato plants, which haven't really thrived this year.  My hope is a fall harvest of tomatoes, perhaps on a happier plant. I saw this idea of growing tomato suckers on Pinterest and thought, "Why not?" Sweet Potato in My Potato Bag #2)  I bought a "potato bag," for growing a potato in, on sale from Park Seed earlier this spring that I was determined to use. My efforts to get a red potato to sprout failed. (Though, the buggers sprout often enough when I don't want them to!) Not to be deterred,  I put a sweet potato slip in wat

Wednesday Garden Pic: New Butterfly & Sweet Potato Blooms!

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I had one Black Swallowtail caterpillar that I knew where it was. Last week, I posted a transition photo of it's change from caterpillar to pupa. Yesterday morning, he was out! Here, he is: a male Black Swallowtail butterfly drying his wings.  (Which is the only time they are still enough for a really good photo!) Male Black Swallowtail In my daily observations of the pupa, I noticed that the black of the wings becomes visible through the skin of pupa the night before they're due to pop out. He'd been out at least 45 minutes to an hour when I took this photo, and it was 8:30 in the morning then. He'd been out enough to be able to strong enough to flutter into a neighboring tree where a human with a camera wouldn't bother him while he finished up preparing for butterfly life. (It takes about 2 hours for their circulation to fully strengthen their wings.) I know it's a male by the quantity of yellow spotting. A female has a minor amount of spotting and

Good Eating Monday: The Facts About Food Expiration Labels

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This funny line from Pirates of the Caribbean about the Pirate Code being, "more like guidelines, then actual rules, " is basically the situation with food expiration labeling. It's really just guidelines. Not rules.  Most food products last long past these arbitrary dates. First, FOOD expiration labeling has 2 general catagories: The "Sell by" Date: This date is JUST for stores & manufacturers. It's a guideline for them to know how long an item has been on display on the shelf for sale or kept in storage at the warehouse. Having a item in your pantry or frig with an expired "sell by" date means nothing if you're not a grocery store. Eggs will last 3 weeks past the sell-by date in your refrigerator.  Milk lasts 3 to 5 days past the date, then once sour, can be used for baking cornbread, muffins, cakes, cookies or in any recipe calling for buttermilk. The "Use by" or "Best Used By or Before" Dates :  Thi

Friday Finds: Tea Themed Gifts!

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Greetings! Today, I have for you a selection of "Tea Themed" finds: A quote by C.S. Lewis on the topic of tea & books: C.S.Lewis Quote Bag And a great mug for the Sherlock fan! Moriar Tea  (I love the little skull in the brand design!) A Dragon In a Teacup Postcard: Dragon Steamed Tea Postcard For lots more mythical creature gifts, visit Meliane 's Store And last, one of my own newest tea themed designs: The Tea Connoisseur Mug! This one took some research. It includes specific names of teas or categories of tea or tea blends.  Darjeeling, for example is a black tea.  Gunpowder is a green tea. There's examples of herb, flower & fruit teas listed, like "mint" or "apricot." Also the tea type "Blooming," which is  loose tea that "blooms" after you put it in water. Sometimes tea is named for the region where it's grown or the pick of leaves, such as "White."  I made

Mama Kat Thursday: 6 Things I'll Miss About Summer

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The Mama Kat prompt topic this week is: "6 Things I'll Will Miss About Summer" I live on the Florida Panhandle, so summer, in the sense of sunny days of sandals and blooming flowers, runs long here.  The first hard frost that turns everything brown may not occur until December or January. I'm generally still doing last rounds of mowing into October, though, once the grass stops growing and cooler temps arrive, there are things that I miss: Summer Beach Sandals  Igloo Beverage Cooler #1)  I miss having flowers so easily convenient to just pick and put in a vase. Free. #2)  I also miss all the outdoor color of summer--not just of flowers, but of variegated greens & purples that die back when it's cold. Only blue-green Dusty Miller dots my otherwise drab winter landscape. #3) I always miss being able to enjoy being outside in sunshine and fresh air. In winter, we stay and there's nothing to do outside. #4) I actually miss all the work--the

Garden Pic Wednesday: Black Swallowtail Pupa & New Pampas!

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   I have a rare privilege this week to know where one of my Swallowtail Caterpillars is to observe his transition and await his arrival as a butterfly in about 9 to 11 days! My hubby just happened to be outside when the caterpillars on the parsley in a pot on the patio decided they were ready to take off to hide & change. I put those 3 on my leafy gardenia topiary. This one is the only one I was able to see easily, as he put himself on an outer branch, where I saw him before he actually changed. Once they change, the pupa looks like a small leaf and is very hard to spot. (These are actual photos I took.) I have a red yarn tied on the branch it's on, so I know where to look, since I check it daily. Other pics today: My first blooms of  beautiful Silver Pampas: And A View Down My Front Walkway : My native day lilies are currently blooming again. They do so yearly. I think it's the Florida climate.  You can also see my pretty Hen & Chicks

Good Eating Monday: Tips for Making Your Baking Healthier

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Greetings! Welcome to August!  Halfway to Christmas already! Finally got past that cold I had last week! Yay! Today's Good Eating topic are Tips for Making Your Baking Healthier.  By healthier I mean less fat, less sugar and more good-for-you stuff in your baked quick breads, muffins, cookies & cakes! I've notated what's easy & more difficult & provided links on thing like how to use honey, agave, etc. Tips for Reducing Fat: The main fat in baked goods is the oil, butter or margarine. * Easy: Replace the oil/butter with an equal measure of Unsweetened Natural Applesauce.  For example: if a recipe or box mix calls for 1/3 cup oil, use 1/3 cup applesauce. * Easy: If butter is important to the recipe, use Light Butter. It comes unsalted or salted, too and has half the calories of regular! I've never had a problem baking with it. * Easy:  If you prefer a non-dairy margarine, read ingredients and select one that   doesn't contain &qu