Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Butterfly is Born

Back in June I posted some pictures of a Black Swallowtail Chrysalis. Well, I am happy to report that yes, indeed a butterfly was born! It was fun to actually see all the stages and witness the metamorphism. I was starting to think that the butterfly would never hatch. I had researched and found that it would take about 10 days. Well, ten days came and went and then another four or five, I started losing count. Then one evening I heard something rattling. It was the butterfly! Although we missed the actual event of it emerging from the chrysalis, it was here! Yay! I didn't kill it, which I was beginning to wonder.

We watched it for awhile before setting it free. That was the hard part, setting it free. Although that was the right thing to do, I had become attached to it, carefully nurturing the caterpillar and chrysalis so it would turn into the beautiful creature it was destine to become. Talk about beautiful, that it was. The picture I took doesn't do it justice at all. I only had a few seconds to capture it before it decided to take flight.

Since then, I have seen countless Swallowtails and Monarchs and other butterflies, but have yet to see another Black Swallowtail. Stay tuned I am nurturing another caterpillar which might turn into a Privet Hawk Moth if I successfully identified the caterpillar. I also have several butterfly pictures and other interesting insects I have captured in my lovely backyard habitat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stage 3: The Pupa

Raising butterflies is a lot harder than it sounds. At least that has been my experience these last few weeks. Since my last post I have managed to kill (for lack of a better word) all the caterpillars I have rescued but one! So there is still hope---I hope! Today, I bravely removed the pupa from the top of my kitchen blinds (where the caterpillar traveled to create his chrysalis) and transferred it to a stick like I have researched to do.

However, it was a lot harder than I thought. I had to tug at the silk thread it was hanging from and not squeez it at the same time. Oh, and also being careful to not drop it either! I quickly glued the tiny silk string to a piece of wood and let it hang. At first it kept swinging back and forth rather fast as if it was telling me it wasn't too happy with being relocated before it finally stopped.

At this point I am not sure if it will make it to Stage 4: The Adult Butterfly. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens. Here are a couple of pictures of the pupa.

Stay tuned to see if it will emerge into the lovely Black Swallowtail or not.

P.S. Be sure to click on the picture if you want to see a close up view!

View #1

View #2

Monday, June 8, 2009

Garden Surprise

Yesterday we discovered we have some caterpillars. HOORAY! I have been anxiously awaiting them since we planted our milkweed and discovered it loaded with butterfly eggs. I was shocked to find the caterpillars on my parsley in my garden instead of the milkweed. I thought how on earth did they get there and not die as they moved locations! I have been researching on how to produce butterflies in my yard and this did not coincide with my findings. Well, I should say I assumed they were monarch caterpillars. Confused as to why they were on the parsley and not on the milkweed, I of course "googled" and quickly found out that they are not monarch, but black swallowtail caterpillars. Alex and I have recently spotted this butterfly in the yard the past week. Go figure!

We are super excited. Well, me mostly! Today, when I went to check up on them, a few of the little ones were "gone". So tonight, I rescued 4 tiny ones, to ensure the ants or wasps don't have a snack!

Be sure to check back for updates on their progress. The next stage is the pupa or also known as the chrysalis---the "transition stage".

Below is a picture of the largest caterpillar I found and also a stock photo of the butterfly it will soon be.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Butterfly Season

Every year I try to add more flowers to my yard that will attract butterflies. I enjoy looking out the window and seeing them flutter around the yard as they look for nectar to eat. Last year I ran into a woman who also likes to photograph butterflies. I had a nice chat with her and she shared some tips with me. I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. Why not?

I was really interested in being able to track the Monarch Metamorphosis in my own yard. Alex too, has been very interested and I thought this would be the perfect project for the both of us. We recently bought the milkweed plant. This plant is the plant of choice for the Monarch butterfly, and they only lay their eggs exclusively on these leaves.

Last week we discovered we had 10 butterfly eggs! I quickly took a picture so we could track the progress. Today, I went to show a friend who stopped by, and I discovered that most of them have already hatched. So again, grabbed my camera to get another picture of the next stage: the Caterpillar.

I have enjoyed discovering some very interesting facts about these beautiful insects while preparing for this project. Stay tuned as I will update the progress of our caterpillars as they grow and prepare for their next stage: the Chrysalis!

P.S. Click on the pictures to open in a larger window.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nice Surprise

First of all, I have to say, I have the best neighbors anyone can have. I am so thankful for that. Not only are they kind and friendly, they both are super creative. She can do practically anything relating to sewing (machine or by hand) and he is the same when it comes to wood.

Anyone that knows me knows that a couple of weeks ago I had to get a tree cut down from our property. This was not an old scrappy tree, this was a beautiful Oak tree--mature. We estimated that is was at least 50+years! The tree had two trunks to it and two years ago one of them came down in one of the worst spring storms of 2007. The remaining trunk of the tree was still beautiful and really no one would have ever known that it had previously had another trunk.

The Oak tree was beautiful. The problem was that it was too close to the house, like inches away and most of it hovered over the roof. Being that the root system was already compromised (even though no one could tell) it really was a matter of time before it too was a victim of a Spring storm. Rather than take our chances we had the tree removed. Although this was what needed to be done, I was heart broken. I would have much rather it been a Cedar tree than my beautiful Oak.

Well, today I had a nice surprise. It even moved me to tears. My neighbor came over and presented me with a weed pot. He had salvaged a few pieces of the wood from my Oak tree and from one of the pieces made this beautiful little pot. It is beautiful, just like my tree was. I was definitely surprised. What a thoughtful gesture for him to make. As you can see from the pictures below, the pot is beautiful. It is truly a blessing that someone would take their time and do something like that for others. I told you I had good neighbors!

What would the world be like today, if more of us would do the same? I challenge anyone who reads this to think of something (does not have to be big or expensive) to do for someone unexpected, from the heart just like my neighbor did. I promise you it will make their day in more ways than one.

Monday, April 13, 2009

First rose in TEN YEARS!!!!!!!

Okay, so this is not the prettiest rose picture, but it is super special. This rose bush was already here when we moved to Duncanville over 10 years ago. It has NEVER and let me repeat NEVER BLOOMED! EVER! It also has never produced any buds either. Every year I contemplate chopping it down and digging it up. I usually have this thought during the “wrong” time of the season and then wind up waiting for the perfect time. I don’t know why I do that, especially when I was just going to dig it up, but that had been the cycle for the last ten years.

Well, I am super exited to say that this year has proved to be different. A few weeks ago, I noticed a lot more green leaves than usual and have been watching it with much anticipation. Then all of a sudden there were tons of buds all over and I mean TONS! Wow, I could not believe it. Now I wondered if these buds would actually bloom. Well, I am pleased to announce the first one bloomed. I can't believe it. I quickly got my camera and took a picture before leaving out of town. It was super sunny, definitely not the best time, but I was headed out of town and did not want to chance it not being there when I got back. Now, all of the other buds are starting to bloom too. I am so glad I did not chop and dig her up out of the ground! Also, be sure to check back. I have lots of pictures to post from my recent visit to Austin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mountain Clouds

Today the weather called for pm showers. Late afternoon, I decided to go out with my son to let him ride his bike before the rain came. While outside, I looked up and saw these amazing, gorgeous clouds. They reminded me of mountains far off in a distance. I quickly went inside to grab my camera. Once outside, I was able to get two shoots of the clouds before the rain started to pour. I wish, I had gone out earlier! When I came inside I decided to turn the weather on the TV and check out what was coming our way. Have you ever seen the pictures people send in to the local TV channels of the hail, lightning, etc? Well, they were showing some of the clouds. I decided I would send in my pictures, something I always say I should do, but never do. Anyway, while uploading the pictures, I browsed the ones already submitted. WOW! There are some amazing pictures out there. If you get the chance, go to one of the local TV channels website and take a look. It is amazing to think that we had those clouds over us!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Exotic birds of Honduras

Last week we went to the Western Caribbean on a 7-day cruise. Wednesday we were in Roatan, Honduras. This was my favorite port of the trip. Maybe because, I had already been to the others before and this port was "new" to me, or perhaps it was because of the rolling hills, green trees and jungles everywhere. We hired a driver who took us all over the island. He took us to what was suppose to be an Exotic Butterfly Garden. I was very disappointed. The butterflies were not "Exotic" or beautiful by any means. We did however, get to see some amazing birds. While in the enclosed butterfly area, out of no where a Toucan zoomed right by. We were totally caught off guard and did not expect it at all. Wow, the bird was beautiful. They didn't like us getting too close, so it was a little hard catching a decent picture of them.

After watching the Toucans fly around, we left the butterfly area and proceeded to the bird area. We saw some more beautiful birds, Parrots and Macaws to name a few. The colors of the birds were simply amazing. (God is an awesome Creator!) One of the birds loved picking at Brad's hat and backpack as he was walking around the area.

More pictures from our vacation to come. Check back soon!

Alex being very still while the bird sits on his arm. At least the bird did not "pee" on him like the monkeys did in Costa Maya---stay tuned, that story to come later.

This bird just loved Brad's hat!

Now he wants the backpack! He wasn't "picking" on anyone else, just Brad!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

Okay, so the other day I said nothing smells better than homemade fresh bread baking in the oven. Well, I am adding Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls to that list. Last night I made a batch of Challah bread dough, let it rise and then put it in the fridge overnight. This morning I decided to try another recipe from my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook, Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls. Well my friends, they were wonderful. Not too sweet, just right! Here are a few pictures to enjoy calorie free! Oh, by the way, so glad these were not super easy to make (not too hard either, just more time consuming) because I would be in serious trouble.


All done!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Artisan Bread

Nothing smells better than homemade bread baking in the oven. About a month ago, I finally decided (after telling myself I really didn't need it) to purchase the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I wanted to know the "secret" for such wonderful bread in only five minutes a day. Well, it is quite simple.

Day One, you mix the ingredients, let it rise for 2 hours and then place it in the fridge. (No, JRS, this is not Friendship Bread!) The next day you are ready to make your bread. Take out the dough and pull off how much you need, say the size of a large grapefruit or cantaloupe size for one loaf. Give it a gluten cloak and shape (this is the part that only takes five minutes) and then let it rise 40 minutes. After that, you are ready to bake it, which takes about 30 minutes. Plain and simple. Simple is that, the only time really spent is shaping the dough and you basically leave it alone after that. No kneading required!

Well, I must say the the bread is delicious! It also looks pretty too! BTW, the book is full of all all sorts of recipes of different types of bread you can make with this method. Peasant loaves, Beignets, Flat bread, Calzones, Stromboli, Pita and Sticky Pecan Carmel Rolls to name a few.

Here is the recipe for the Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) that I made:

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt (don't use table salt)
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose flour, measured with the scoop and sweep method
Cornmeal (to put on the stone to prevent sticking)

Mix together the lukewarm water and yeast. Then add the salt and flour, mix so there is no dry flour. Let it rise for 2 hours, then place in fridge to use next day. You can use it immediately, but the dough is much sticker than if you waited.

On baking day, get the amount of dough you need, let it rise for 40 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes at 450. If you want to make it pretty--sprinkle flour on the bread after it has risen and on a serrated knife. Then make a pretty design buy cutting the dough a few times across in a pattern like tic tac toe or freehand.

Here are a few pictures of a few loaves that I made earlier today.

Rising loaves

Rising loaves

Scored the bread right before baking

All done!

Beautiful Artisan Bread!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yummy Cookies!

Yesterday was my annual Christmas Tea & Cookie Exchange. The day before I spent hours making cut out sugar cookies for everyone to decorate. I cut and baked over 140 cookies. I had such a great time visiting with all my friends and tasting their lovely treats. We had chocolate chip, chocolate mint, dipped cherry cookies, molasses jewels and peppermint bark to name a few. Thanks to everyone who spent time baking cookies and making the exchange a success.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Dad the Artisan

I wanted to share a few pictures of my dad's stone work. He truly is very talented at what he does. Here are a couple pictures of a mantel he recently hand carved for his new house.

He also hand carved this star. It is one of my favorites.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good Morning "B" Family

Good Morning "B" Family. B, C, and A come on out!
No, that was not the voice of Ty from Extreme Home
Makeover greeting us the other morning.
It was a TARANTULA!!!! In my kitchen!!!! Oh MY!!!

Thank goodness I don't get too freaked out of spiders but this was more than I expected. How did he get in the house? This is the second time we have spotted one in the house. The other time was about a 1 1/2 years ago in the bathroom.

We quickly got him out of the house and then I went into a picture frenzy. Of course I had to take a picture for all y'all to see. I took many pictures and at one point was holding a broom while he was crawling on it toward me. That is until my six year old came out and said, you know, he can jump 3 feet. REALLY, 3 FEET???? Mind you at this moment the tarantula was about an arms length away from me as I had him dangling on the broom in the air. Not sure if that statement was true or not and really did not want to wait and see, I quickly put him down and stepped back, way back!
What a way to start off the day.

I did not think much of it as the day passed, until I was laying in bed. While my head lay comfortably on the pillow, I began to wander if he had any friends and if so where were they lurking? I said a little prayer and tried to fall asleep ASAP!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Y Pomegranates!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Austin Visit

Last month Alex and I went to Austin to visit my sister.
Here are a few pictures from our visit.

South Congress Ave.

Capitol/South Congress Ave.

Town Lake

Rolling on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol

Austin Children's Musuem

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fun at the Zoo!

Tuesday Alex and I had the honor of going to the Fort Worth Zoo with my friend Tracy and her lovely children.

We had a wonderful time. There were baby giraffes and baby lion cubs! My favorite were the lion cubs--they were so adorable. Only problem was they had their backs to us so I didn't get a good picture.

Here are a few pictures (out of the 300+) that turned out half way decent. A big thanks to Tracy and all the kiddos for putting up with all my picture taking!


Boys will be boys!

Too bad this was the only shot I could get. I wish they were turned around so we could see their cute faces!

(Can't believe that I cut off the goose's head in the reflection!)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

~~Name this building~~

Thought this might be fun. Can anyone name
this building and where it is located?