Friday, July 30, 2010

Ferrety Friday

My daughter is disappointed that I don’t write lengthy ferret posts like I used to. I’m disappointed too, but I just don’t have as much free time as I used to during the colder months. And I don’t spend much time on my computer in the summer, so there’s that too.

I hope to get back on track with my informative ferrety posts sometime in the fall. Until then, I will post photos of my fuzzies; like this one of Clair being utterly lazy.

That’s our Clair. Cute but unbelievably lazy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today's Trivia - Hummingbirds

This week it’s all about hummingbirds...


- Depending on the direction of flight and on air conditions, a hummingbird’s wings will flap 70 – 80 times per second. (W-o-w!)

- The bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, weighing about 0.06 ounces and measuring about two inches long.

- 4,700 bee hummingbird eggs can fit inside one ostrich egg.

- The sword-billed hummingbird’s bill is longer than its body.

- A hummingbird’s tongue is bifurcated (split in two).

- Hummingbirds do not suck in nectar through their beaks; they lick it with their (bifurcated) tongues.

- Hummingbirds travel at an average speed of 25 miles per hour. That speed can climb up to 60 miles per hour in a dive. (Fast little critters, no?)

- There are between 325 and 340 species of hummingbird.

- The heartbeat of the blue-throated hummingbird has been measured at 1,260 beats per minute.

- Hummingbird eggs are the smallest amongst all birds; they weigh less than 1/55th of an ounce and are ½ inch long and 1/3 inch wide.

- The eggs hatch anywhere from 14 – 19 days.


- The rufous hummingbird will migrate 3,000 miles to get to Mexico from Alaska and areas in Canada. (Heck, who can blame them? I’d travel that far to get away from northern winters, too.)

- In a single day, a hummingbird will consume up to half of its weight in sugar, and will feed 5 – 8 times per hour. (And the little buggers are still so thin! Wish I had a metabolism like that. Imagine how much ice cream I could have and never gain an ounce of weight.)

- A hummingbird’s metabolism is very fast; these little birds are always just hours away from starving to death if they don’t get enough food. (On second thought, I’m not sure a metabolism like that is such a good idea!)

- To satisfy their insatiable appetite, hummingbirds may visit 1,000 flowers a day.

- Hummingbirds, like bees, are able to assess the amount of sugar in nectar, and will reject flowers that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar.

- Because nectar is a poor source of nutrients, hummingbirds meet their protein needs by preying on insects and spiders, especially when they’re raising their young.

- Like most birds, hummingbirds have very keen eyesight but no sense of smell.

- Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly in any direction they choose: forward, backwards, straight up or down, and sideways. They can also hover in mid air and fly upside down for short distances.

- The average lifespan of these tiny birds is between 3 and 4 years. Some hummingbirds have lived as long as 12 years in the wild (this is discovered from banding them).

- A hummingbird’s heart will beat about 1,200 beats per minute.

- Hummingbirds slow their metabolism at night by entering a hibernation-type state called torpor. During this period, the heart rate and rate of breathing slow down dramatically; this reduces the need for food. They also tend to enter this state when food is scarce.

- The hummingbird is small enough to have the Praying Mantis as an enemy. (This I find sad because I like them both.)

- The heart of a hummingbird is 2.4 percent of its body weight; the largest known relative heart size of any other bird.

- While resting, a hummingbird will take in about 250 breaths per minute.

- They may be small, but hummingbirds are extremely territorial and aggressive. They are known to attack jays, crows and hawks to protect their territories.


And they’re so darn adorable, too...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Plants, Plants, Plants

It’s that time again, folks, where I write about new additions to the garden. I know it’s not the most exciting post but it’s my blog, after all, and I get to decide what goes in it. Not that I don’t care about your feelings and such, but, you know, it’s still my blog.

So, for those of you that are willing to stick around for yet another post about plants that have been added to my garden, here’s what’s new:


1) Hibiscus ‘Luna Red’

I found out recently in a gardening magazine that there are hibiscus plants that will survive my northern winters. My thoughts: ‘Hibiscus as a perennial in my backyard? OHMYGOD! Can it get any better?’


Well, as soon as I made that discovery, I was on the lookout for one of these plants because I just had to have one. I found one at a garden center a couple of weeks ago and added it to one of the flower beds in my backyard. Can’t wait for the blooms!


2) Monarda panorama ‘Red Shades’



I picked up a couple of these and added them both to the center of my backyard. They’re still fairly small, so it’ll be awhile until I see the vibrant red blooms that these pretty little things are supposed to make. No problem; I can wait. In the meantime, the foliage smells very nice. And it’s quite attractive.



3) Aquilegia McKana mixture


I picked up this lovely columbine a long time ago but failed to write about it; its tag got mixed up with many others and I lost track of it. Apparently, the flowers on this perennial are an array of pastel colours, but I haven’t seen them yet, and might not even get a glimpse of them this year since the plant is supposed to bloom in spring. No big deal; it’ll be something to look forward to next year. I picked up one of these and added it to the flower bed under my kitchen window.



4) Alcea rosea ‘Chater’s Double Mix’


I don’t know whether hollyhocks (common name for Alcea rosea) will make a comeback or not (they were quite popular once upon a time), and I don’t necessarily care. I picked up one of these and added it to my garden because I’m curious about the lovely blooms it’s supposed to make. The plant is going to get quite tall, too, and it’s attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. So it’s all good.


5) Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’


It’s always nice to have some late summer/early fall blooms and this plant is supposed to provide me with that. We’ll see how that goes. I picked up one of these and planted it under my kitchen window



5) Astilbe ‘Diamant’ (Astilbe × arendsii Diamond)


With all the sales recently at garden centers, I couldn’t resist picking up this lovely Astilbe with its lacy green leaves. I added it to the right side of my backyard where it will grow as tall as three feet and produce pretty white flowers each year from June to July.



6) Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’



I picked up this Pulmonaria at a great price and added it to the right side of my backyard where there is still lots of room to spare. I don’t care whether this plant blooms or not; I like it for its attractive foliage.



7) Astilbe x arendsii 'Bridal Veil'

This is another pretty Astilbe that happened to follow me home. Actually, two of them did. I planted both in the flower bed in front of our home.



8) Tricyrtis ‘Empress’


There are two things that I love about this plant: 1) it produces gorgeous, orchid-like flowers and 2) it has no problem with shade. I picked one of these up (on sale) and added it to the right side of my yard.



Well, that’s it for today. I have about 7 or 8 more plants to write about and that should be it for this year. Unless I pick up something on sale. Or something amazing that I can’t resist. And then there’s the fall bulbs and stuff, too. So maybe I’m not quite done yet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Buttermilk Loaf Cake

I never would have discovered this awesome recipe if it wasn’t for the fact that I had leftover buttermilk (purchased for another meal) that I wanted to use up instead of tossing out.

So.

I searched the internet for recipes where I could put my buttermilk to use and VOILA! I ran across this one. Lucky me. And now, lucky you, cause I’m sharing it.


BUTTERMILK LOAF CAKE

Ingredients:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
finely grated rind of 2 or 3 lemons (I don’t add this)


Preparation:

Butter a 10-cup loaf pan. Dust with fine, dry bread crumbs, and tap out excess crumbs. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter. Beat in vanilla. Add sugar and beat only until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating only until incorporated. Bear for about 1 minute more.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beating until incorporated after each addition. Stir in grated rind.

Turn into prepared pan and shake the pan a bit to level. Bake at 325 degrees on a rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven for about 1 hour and 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake tests done (check center of loaf to see if it’s cooked by inserting a knife through it). The top of the loaf should be richly brown.


Let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a rack to continue to cool. Refrigerate (or freeze for about an hour) before serving.

Slice and enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Busy Bee

Because of the abundance of blooms in the garden right now, there are a lot of tiny critters, mostly winged, dropping by. Not all of them are welcome (who the heck would be happy about a red lily beetle dropping by, for example), but the ones that are put a smile on my face. Like this little fellow:



This busy little bee was sweet enough to hang around long enough for me to snap a photo of him hard at work. Bees are one of my absolutely favourite bugs, along with butterflies, so I was thrilled to see this little guy enjoying the blooms on my Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, which looks like this:


If I was a bee, I’d want to dine on this plant too. So many flowers to choose from!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Photo Of Clair

It’s been over four months since Clair joined our household. Since then she’s gained weight, she’s learned to trust us, her fur shines and she’s as gentle as can be. Not that she was ever really aggressive, just a little apprehensive. I believe that all living creatures (my fuzzies included) flourish with love.


And we do love our Clair...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Today's Trivia - Assorted

Some of the trivia I add to this website is from online sources. But some of it is from a desk calendar that I have sitting on my computer desk. Like the trivia below...


1) In Webster’s 1996 dictionary 315 entries were misspelled.

2) The 1921 Canadian 50-cent piece is a rarity among collectors. It is believed that there are only 75 in circulation. Today they are valued at over $125,000 apiece, in pristine condition. (Wish I had me one of these...)

3) In 1905, eggs were 14 cents a dozen

4) Blondes have more hair than dark-haired people.

5) A cow gives nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.

6) The king of hearts is the only king without a mustache.

7) No two lions have the same pattern of whiskers. (Now, how do they know this?)

8) During the winter of 1932, Niagara Falls froze.

9) The Bata Shoe Museum is Toronto is the only shoe museum in North America. It features shoes and shoe-artifacts that go back as far as 4,500 years ago.


10) It is impossible for most people to lick their own elbow. (I’m sure many of you will be trying this...)

11) A technical glitch on the CNN website in 2005 mistakenly posted obituary templates for famous people who were not yet dead. Dick Cheney, Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and Gerald Ford were all named in the retraction.

12) The work of Pablo Picasso has made more than $1.399 billion through sales and auctions. ‘Boy with a Pipe’ earned the most, selling for a staggering $104 million in 2004.

13) The longest running show on Broadway is CATS, seen by more than 80 million people and raking in an impressive $3.2 billion in box-office receipts.

14) A six-pound sea hare, a type of sea slug, can lay 40,000 eggs in a single minute.

15) No piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven times. (I’m sure many of you will be trying this too...)

16) Proving that time is money, there are no clocks in Las Vegas casinos. (Really? Have any of you ever been there and noticed this?)

17) The world’s highest winds (372 km/h or 231 mph) were measured on Mount Washington in New Hampshire in 1934. (Wow...)

18) Pepsi was originally called Brad’s Drink, and Kool-Aid originally went by the name Fruit Smack Flavoured Syrup. (I’m curious to know who Brad was.)

19) A shrimp’s heart is in its head.

20) Alexander Graham Bell once said that he came up with the idea for the telephone while living in Brantford, Ontario. (Wonder if it was during a really bad winter when he was stuck indoors and had nothing else to do but think.)


And that’s it for this week, folks!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Photos Of Rose Blooms

I’ve been busy with an assortment of things and haven’t had enough time to prepare a decent blog post. Well, that’s not entirely true; the honest truth is that I haven’t really bothered to sit down and work on any real writing during my free time. Regardless, the day is moving along quickly and the only thing I have available for today is some pictures of rose blooms. So that’s what you’re getting.

In any case, here’s a look at them:
















I never imagined I’d like roses in my garden since I don’t like receiving them in bouquets on special occasions, but I do. I like them very much, especially the miniature. So there you have it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Greek Salad

There must be a gazillion different ways to make a Greek salad. However, as a descendant of Greeks who ate this regularly while growing up, I’m going to tell you what the most important thing to remember is when preparing this tasty dish:

"Always use the freshest ingredients possible; this includes herbs. Because the fresher the ingredients, the better the flavour."


GREEK SALAD

What You Need:

2 large tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1 medium red onion
1 red, green or yellow pepper
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup black olives, sliced

Dressing:

3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp chopped fresh)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Preparation:

Cut tomatoes, cucumber, onion and red pepper into large chunks. Place in large salad bowl. Add cheese and olives.

Dressing: In small bowl, combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and oregano; whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and gently mix well.

Serves 6.

Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh My, How You’ve Grown

I think one of the greatest pleasures in gardening is watching your baby plants grow into big, gorgeous specimens while under your care. Some of my own garden babies have shocked me by how large they’ve become since I placed them in the ground. Below are some before and after pictures of a few of my garden’s ambitious perennials.

1) Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:





2) Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade’

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:





3) Morden Sunrise (Roses)

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:





4) Blue Girl (Roses)

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:




5) Adelaide Hoodless (Roses)

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:




6) Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:



7) Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:



8) Monarda ‘Petite Delight’

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:



9) Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunfire’

When it was first planted:



What it looks like now:




10) Leucanthemum (chrysanthemum) ‘Silver Princess’

When it was first planted:


What it looks like now:



And finally, here are before and after photos of the flower bed in the middle of my yard that we carved out in April of this year.

What it looked like when it was ready for flowers:


What it looks like today:




It’s amazing how fast those tiny little plants that you bring home from the garden center grow. It makes you feel like you’re doing something right.