Saturday, August 1, 2009

Additional Hibiscus Info

Addendum to my last post: I should have mentioned how care-free and easy it is to grow hardy (perennial) hibiscus. (This is not a Tropical Hibiscus that would not survive the winters here) Hardy Hibiscus can be grown in zones 4 - 9 (-20 degrees F). I live in zone 6b. This plant simply comes back year after year with little attention. In the winter it dies back to the ground and I remove the dead branches. It emerges late in the spring just when you think you have lost it. Year after year of spectacular blooms! Click here for more information on growing.

I purchased this white hibiscus last summer from Lowe's. I had to enclose it with chicken wire because little bunnies had eaten a few stalks!
Pink hibiscus has slightly smaller flowers than the red one.
Giant Blossom!

Blooming in the median strip along a local interstate highway.


Friday, July 31, 2009

I Spy with My Little Eye...

so many interesting things to see!

Since Abbey was a tot we made our annual trek to the hibiscus bush for a picture of her dear little face beside a ginormous blossom. She no longer participates in this tradition *snif*, but I found a little one who would. (ginormous is an Abbey word just in case you couldn't guess)
Look what else Ella and I found... an "UG-ie" bug" (cicada shell after it had molted)
another one...
a tiny lady bug...
a very tame baby bunny... (quit content, I'm sure, from a tummy full of pretty annuals)
and lot of these!Click here to see a fascinating animation of a cicada molting!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mini Apricot Cheesecakes

I am part of a rotating team that provides refreshments for a weekly Celebrate Recovery Group at our church. Non-sweet items are preferred like veggie and cheese plates, but to change it up a bit I found a treat that is satisfying and only 114 calories each. (my version is down to 101 calories each, probably lower than a few cubes of cheese!).
Yes, they're small, just several bites...
but they're BIG on flavor to satisfy that sweet tooth
without lots of guilt!

Mini Apricot Cheesecakes

INGREDIENTS

24 vanilla wafers

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel 1/3 less fat)

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup apricot preserves (I used Smucker's Sugar Free)

DIRECTIONS

Place wafers flat side down in paper-or foil-lined muffin cups; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon juice and vanilla; beat well. Fill muffin cups three-fourths full.
Bake at 375° for 17-20 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from pans to cool completely. Top each cheesecake with 2 teaspoons preserves. Store in refrigerator. Yield: 2 dozen.

Taste of Home Recipe

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If You Grow It They Will Come

My main reason for growing Buddleia (better known as a Butterfly Bush) is not for its appearance but rather because it attracts beautiful, fluttering, butterflies.

I took these pictures yesterday of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. The bush was filled with tiny Fritillaries or Skippers (I get them confused) as well but they are small and flit about so that I was unable to get a picture of them.

Some other visitors ~ a Monarch
Do you know what this little guy is?
It is not a hummingbird...
it is a Hummingbird Moth enjoying the nectar of the Butterfly Bush!
Our hummers do visit as well.
I don't know its lifespan, but this bush has been in our yard for many years!

The following is an excerpt from Buddleia: Butterfly Bush Extraordinaire by Claire Hagen Dole:

With a name like butterfly bush, you might expect a plant to be attractive to butterflies. In fact, it's more than attractive; it's a magnet for all the butterflies who pass through your garden seeking nectar. Many butterfly gardeners plan their garden around Buddleia (pronounced BUD-lee-ah), a genus that includes over 100 species and cultivars. Also called summer lilac, the medium- to large-sized shrubs can anchor a perennial bed or form a hedge.

You'll be happier with Buddleia if you accept its growth habit, which is not neat and tidy. Its narrow branches support lilac-like clusters of blossoms a foot or two in length, with side branches and blossoms. After a rainfall, the flower-laden branches of some species can droop all over your flower bed. You'll want to allow at least six feet between bushes to keep some semblance of neatness.

But wait till you see the bush covered with fritillaries and tortoiseshells! Even a large swallowtail can land on the cluster, to sip from the many individual blooms.

Butterflies and bees will flock to the honey-scented blossoms, whose dilute nectar is sweetest in midday sun. Near a path or patio, the shrub provides delightful fragrance for you, too.

Summer Supper

Marinated chicken and favorite skewer tidbits grilled just right...
Cranberry Rice Pilaf with mushrooms, Craisins, peas and almonds...
Browned potatoes (from left over baked potatoes) with onion and rosemary (for my picky one who doesn't like mushrooms or Craisins in her rice. She doesn't like onions in her potatoes either, but was willing to pick those off of her potatoes)
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread/Dessert

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding mix
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons poppy seeds

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, water, eggs and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Fold in poppy seeds.
  • Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 slice) equals 120 caloriesumm umm, good!
The Rice ... A staple at our house as it is my grandson's very favorite dish. I add bite size pieces of cooked chicken or steak for him and he eats so much I think he'll burst!

This is what I did:

1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 small bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 small clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbs butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup rice
2 1/4 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup Craisins
1 Tbs toasted almonds
  • Melt butter in a skillet and saute the onions and mushrooms until tender.
  • In a saucepan heat the water and bouillon cubes until boiling. Stir in the rice; cover tightly and reduce heat to low. Simmer 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the peas and Craisins. Top with almonds.
~*~

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