Wild Visitors In The Garden

June 29, 2015

    We have had a lot of wild visitors in the garden this year.  The little frog above has made his home in the fish pond.  He floats among the lily pads and if I get too close, he plops into the water.
Wild Visitors In The Garden on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com
Wild Visitors In The Garden

   This brown and orange butterfly, which I believe is a ‘red admiral butterfly’, is on the Liatris.  If you want bumblebees and butterflies in your garden, this is one of the plants you should have! They flock to these spiky lavender plants.  Liatris is a native North American flower.  I’ve planted a row of them separating the driveway and the backyard.  They grow just about three foot tall on strong stems.  Each year, they are covered with bees and butterflies.  Notice that they bloom from the top of the spikes first and then open up downward.  Most spiky plants bloom from the bottom upward.

    Isn’t this ‘Tiger Swallowtail butterfly’ gorgeous?  When I pulled this picture up on the laptop, I immediately noticed the shadow of the Liatris bloom on the left wing.  Isn’t that cool?  The butterflies flit from one flower spike to another, giving me ample time to take some amazing pictures.

    Monarda, Bergamot, or ‘bee balm’ is the other perennial plant in the garden that is a magnet for the bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.  (I am still working on capturing a picture of the hummingbird!)  This is another native North American plant.  It is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family.  Apparently, it can be an overpowering plant in the far south, but not farther north and not here in Northern Kentucky.  The harsh winter last year took a toll on my monarda, but it seems to be on the rebound.

    The leaves of the bee balm can be crushed and used to make a minty tea.  The leaves can be dried or fresh and crushed to make the tea.   Perhaps you have heard of it referred to as Bergamot tea.  The bergamot oil is used in Earl Grey tea.   You might be able to recognize the flavor. 

    The native Americans used the bee balm for medicinal purposes, too.  Ointments made from the oil can be used to treat skin eruptions, abrasions, and minor infections.  The pulverized leaves can be used to treat bee stings, which is where it gets the name ‘bee balm’.

   The tea can also be used for treating fevers and chills.  Therapeutic baths use the bee balm, too.   Make your own therapeutic bath by tying some leaves in a cloth and tossing it into your hot bath at home.  Breathing the steam from the bee balm leaves is supposed to help with sore throats.  Is this plant amazing or what?

   The blossoms of the bee balm can be eaten!  This is yet another beautiful blossom to add to your fresh summer salads.  (I can’t wait til the nasturtiums are blooming again!)

    This male cardinal sits in the crabapple tree and warily watches to see if it is safe for his mate to drink from the birdbath.  The other night, Dave and I sat on the deck watching his protective ritual.  She flew down to the birdbath and perched on the edge.  Next thing we knew, he was there right beside her.  Their beaks met.  I am relatively sure he was feeding her something, but at the moment, it was almost as if he was giving her a kiss.  

   Is it any wonder I love the wild visitors in the garden?

  

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Delicious B-52 Bomber Cheesecake

June 23, 2015

   This delicious B-52 Bomber Cheesecake was inspired by the B-52 Bomber mixed drink.  My daughter challenged me to create a B-52 Bomber Cheesecake.  I had never even heard of this drink!  

    Well, I looked up the ingredients for the drink, studied a few recipes for the B-52 Bomber cheesecake and came up with my own recipe for this dessert.  This is the cheesecake base for my favorite cheesecake.  From there, a variety of flavors can be added to create a multitude of different cheesecakes.  

                            B-52 Bomber Cheesecake

The Chocolate Crust:  

 2 – 1/4 cups chocolate Teddy Grahams 

3/8 cup Kahlúa

4 1/2 Tblsp butter

   Crush or process cookies.  Pour Kahlúa over cookie crumbs and mix well.  Add the melted butter and stir to combine.   Press into a 10″ springform pan, which has been lined with a sheet of parchment paper.

***I cover the flat bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and snap the side ring around the bottom, catching the parchment securely.  This makes the cheesecake easy to release from the pan.  As always, I wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and set in a roasting pan to fill with hot water before baking.  

(For more on that, click here ►bain marie or hot water bath.)

Cheesecake Base:

      4 blocks of 8-ounce cream cheese, (softened)

       1 – 1/4 cups sugar

       4 eggs at room temperature

 

   In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

    Remove 2 cups of batter to a separate bowl.  Set aside for the Grand Marnier Layer.

  Bailey’s Layer:

       To the remaining batter, add 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

       Stir Irish cream into the batter and mix well.

  Grand Marnier Layer:

      2 cups of batter set aside earlier

       1/4 cup Grand Marnier

       1 Tblsp *freshly grated orange peel

  Add the Grand Marnier and orange peel to the batter set aside earlier and mix well.

   Bake for 55 minutes at 350 degrees or until center is almost set.  Open oven door slightly and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool.  Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and chill overnight.

   Before serving, add chocolate curls, orange zest, and sprigs of mint.

   Some of the recipes that I looked through were followed with comments that the flavors blended together and really didn’t mimic the drink.  They were unimpressed. With this recipe, I think the separate layers and their distinct flavors can be identified.

    *The fresh orange zest makes such a huge statement.  Don’t be tempted to use dried orange zest.  It is not the same!

    Last year, about this time, I made the B-52 Bomber Cheesecake for the first time and it was a hit with all of Danielle’s friends.  With the Fourth of July coming up soon, I thought of this cheesecake again and decided it would be a fitting treat for our holiday celebration.   If you like the drink or the liqueurs, maybe this delicious B-52 Bomber Cheesecake would be a good addition to your holiday menu, too!

   Linking with Stonegable The Scoop.  

 

 

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The Garden Has Changed Again

June 20, 2015

    A week away from home and the garden has changed so much!  The cilantro has grown unbelievably and this little fellow seems to like the blooms.  This is the first little ladybug I have seen in the garden.  My daughter just informed me that you can actually buy ladybug houses!

   Better yet, here is a website with DIY instructions on how to build one! ►Build a Bug Hotel.

This looks incredibly easy!  I must do this!  

   The Asian lilies are blooming.  The daylilies have just begun to bloom.  There will be a steady progression of varying colors as each variety blooms at its own pace. These yellow Asian lilies are so huge and gorgeous!  I love this picture!

  The Liatris is blooming!  This perennial is so easy to grow and the bees love it!  This mass of flowers came from a single plant, years ago.  There is now a wall of Liatris at the edge of the driveway, separating the drive from the backyard.  They are really carefree and are so beautiful en masse.  Just like a painting, I have spread little pockets of Liatris and their lovely lavender color throughout the garden, transplanting from one bed to another.

    The dahlias are just beginning to open their blossoms.  I am so excited to see what colors I have this year!  I have planted several of the smaller dahlias from a variety package and the package claimed the plants should not grow over two foot tall.  The severe winter last year killed my dahlias, which I have had for years.  They were quite tall and it was hard to keep them staked, so I opted for a lower growing variety.  I miss the big ones though.

     Remember the wall planter from my May post?  This is what it looked like just a few days ago on the seventeenth of June!  It continues to grow.  Fortunately, while I was away at the beach, my youngest son watered my flowers.  He said we had several days in the nineties so it is a good thing he did!  I might have come home to dried up plants.  

     You can also see the burlap liner looks pretty good.   The cable ties are keeping the burlap liner in place really well.  Isn’t it amazing what a difference there is in a few weeks of growth?

Garden Changes on MyHumbleHomeandGarden
Wall Planters

 

Mourning Dove Nesting on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com
Mourning Dove

    The babies have arrived!  The pair of doves has dutifully set on their nest day and night for weeks.  When we came home from vacation, we were surprised to find these little cuties in the nest.   

Baby Mourning Doves on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com
Baby Mourning Doves

   These pictures were so easy to capture because the birds just sit there.  The cardinal, on the other hand, teases me.  He’s there and as soon as I am ready for the shot, he jumps behind the leaves of the crabapple tree or he flies to the other side of the tree.   My attempts thus far have been out of focus or missing part of him, but I have not given up yet.

    It is amazing how Mother Nature continues her work, whether we notice or not.   Whether we are here to notice or not, we can rest assured the garden continues to change.  

 
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Swansboro, NC Visit

June 17, 2015

    Each time we head south to the coast of North Carolina and we are within a short drive of Swansboro, we visit this quaint historic town.  It is located at the mouth of the White Oak River, where the river joins the Atlantic Ocean.

   We always stop at Yana’s and have a cold drink and a bite to eat.  A life-sized Elvis greets everyone at the front door.  The little shop is filled with memorabilia, taking you back in time.  We sat at the booth with a variety of pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

    A few years ago, my sister and I stopped in and had a little lunch.  They were considering adding strawberry fritters to their menu and asked if we would try them on the house and give them our opinion.  They were delicious!

     Dave and I stopped in last week.  Dave ordered sweet tea for both of us and yes, we had an order of strawberry fritters!  They were delicious.  In addition to the strawberry, they also have peach and apple fritters.   I also had a bowl of vanilla ice cream, which tasted so good with the fritters.  Dave had a root beer float.  Oh my,  we were on a sugar high after we left there!  (That little sugar feast is something we never do!)

   We stopped in most of the little stores on North Front Street.  Some we have visited in the past and some were new to us.  We picked up a few interesting items.  Aidan, our grandson, loaded up on pirate toys while we were in Beaufort.  He was disappointed that the compass which he bought did not work correctly.  

   We found and bought a really neat compass in a little brass case at the ‘Poor Man’s Hole’, a shop full of interesting antiques.  Aidan loved the compass!  It actually works and it looked impressive in the brass case resembling a pocket watch.

   We stopped in at the little quilt shop, which has been there for as long as I can remember. These little headbands that had ribbon roses on them caught my eye.  I bought the pink one for Memphis.  These would be so easy to make, another DIY idea!

    The ‘Port O’ Swannsborough’ is another shop we visited.  This store always has some interesting souvenirs, gifts, and they have Christmas ornaments and decorations year round.

   I found an interesting kitchen gadget there by Charles Viancin.  I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but their display piqued my interest and explained the uses quite well.

   This silicone lid seals tightly on all smooth rimmed stainless steel, glass, plastic, and ceramic containers.  There are different sizes and different flower designs.  I bought one of the nine-inch poppy lids.  I am going to test this one and if it works well, I think I will buy more.  They can be used in place of plastic or aluminum foil in the refrigerator.  It is safe to use as a lid on the stove top, the microwave, and in the oven up to 428 degrees.  It is also dishwasher safe.

   They had little ones to use on coffee mugs or drinks, which they claimed would keep the beverage cold or hot.  I am thinking these would make great Christmas presents. 

   If you are ever near this quaint little town, you should visit!  We always love our Swansboro, NC visits.

 

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Memphis Belle

June 15, 2015

    Our beach vacation was interrupted with the news that Memphis Belle would be arriving six weeks early.  Tuesday, a call from our daughter, Danielle, informed us that she had severe preeclampsia and they were planning to induce labor as soon as possible.  Medicines began and the news was that Memphis Belle would probably be born Friday or Saturday.

    My phone is not attached to my side at every moment, as a rule, but I was checking it constantly and waiting for news.  It was always within reach this last week.  Saturday morning Dave and I got up at four thirty to pack up things and help Jon-Michael and Emily start back early.  They had a graduation party to attend that evening.

    Then I checked my phone for messages.  Danielle delivered at 4:45 A.M.  Our third grandchild, Memphis Belle, was born weighing four pounds two ounces and measuring sixteen and a half inches long.  She was healthy and doing great.  Danielle said Memphis didn’t want us to have the party we were planning without her.

   Danielle’s blood pressure has been elevated the last couple of weeks and they are still working on getting it down.  The nurse said it usually goes back to normal within a week or two after delivery unless there is a family history of high blood pressure.  There is not so we are expecting that it will return to normal soon.   

    Danielle has been puffy and swollen with water weight for a few weeks now. She is anxious to shed the extra fluids and get back to her normal size and good health.  Who wouldn’t be?

    We returned home safely about ten-thirty Saturday evening.  Sunday morning, Dave and I went to the hospital to see both of them.  Danielle’s face looked less swollen, but she seems to be having more problems than Memphis.  They did a cat scan to see what was going on with her lungs.  They were afraid there might be a blood clot, but it apparently was fluid built up around her lungs causing breathing difficulty.  Hopefully, that is better today.

    We both got to hold Memphis.  I did not want to put her down but needed to take pictures!  Dave held her while I took a few dozen photos!  Tiffany took the picture above with my camera.  As you can see in the picture, her little forearm is about the size of my thumb!

     The nurse said her lungs are working at one hundred percent capacity and she is eating well.  Danielle chose a strong name for a strong little girl.  If the name sounds familiar, it is the name of a B-17 Bomber based in Britain during the Second World War.   The Memphis Belle inspired the making of two motion pictures.  We will probably have to hunt down those movies now!

    At this point, we don’t know when Danielle or Memphis will be able to leave the hospital.  Hopefully, they will improve each day and be home soon.  We have a lot to do now in a short amount of time to help Danielle and Kris prepare for Memphis Belle.  

 

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