“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Saturday, July 27, 2013

In the Garden

Hi Friends,
I will be working on a few projects around the house and in the garden for the next week. 
I will see you back here in a few days! ~ Diane

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Down Memory Lane

One of my brother's recently turned 60 years old.  As we reminisced about the good old days we also came to the harsh realization that we are getting old! How this happened we could not determine, but sure enough, when you look at the calendar and figure up the years, we are indeed old.

During our conversation my brother requested some of the old photos I had stored away.  He wanted to get some copies so he could quiz my Uncle about some of the relatives in the really ancient pictures. 

Year after year, the relatives start to slip away.....the ones who still remember all the names in the old photos.  My gift to my brother was a promise that by next summer I would have all the pictures copied on a disk for him.  As I started paging through my Mom's old photo albums, I noticed a theme with my pictures, I seemed to always have a cat as a prop!  Or maybe, I just always had a cat in my arms. I know they were my constant companions, so it is no surprise to see my image grasping a cat.

My brothers were several years older and I was almost like an only child at times.  There were no kids that lived close by, so many days I would play alone.  My bond with felines was obviously established at a young age and will continue all my life. My introverted nature helped me cope with being alone so much.  I actually preferred spending time with  adults or much older children than myself. That is probably where I honed my listening and observational skills!

Some day I will get all of these photos copied and I hope to share more of them with you.  I have sworn to my brothers to never put pictures of them beyond age ten anywhere on the internet, but they never read this, so I might sneak one in sometime down the road.

What kind of things start you down the path of memory lane!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Look Deep Into Nature

            ~~~~  Albert Einstein

Tiny Mushrooms

Often times while rushing through the day and marking off one task after another, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. For a moment... because these are the things I must do, the errands, the shopping the other obligations of everyday life. Then I think about the things I really love to do, like meeting a friend for lunch, or just sitting on my screened porch in the morning with a cup of coffee and listening to the birds sing.

I have always been a good observer, especially in the garden.  I am not a fidgety type of person, I can sit for quite awhile and observe how the bees move in the garden or how the mamma wood duck looks around for predators (for about 15 minutes) before she signals the all clear for her ducklings to jump from the nest box.

Sometimes we do not have the luxury of taking the time to be observers.  In this day and age, it seems people are too busy when they are out and about, listening to their iPod or iPhone to pay attention to what is going on around them.  I often walk in a large park and wonder why anyone would want to have their ears plugged listening to music, when nature's music is all around them.  You know I love music, but everything has a proper time and place!

Sometimes when you are trying to accomplish one task, like getting some nice photos of the setting sun on your roses, you find out that there is something else very interesting right in front of you.

That something interesting could be how the light hits the buttercup flowers in just the right way.  Or maybe you see an incredible iridescent bug like the one below.

I looked up the information on this little critter and it is a Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, they grow to about 1/2 inch long and eat ants and other small insects.  They also will bite a person if you pick them up and mess with them.  It had no objection to being photographed though.

Six Spotted Tiger Beetle

If you are lucky, you may get the opportunity to observe some wildlife that seems as curious about you as you are about them! Sometimes being observant pays off.

"Hansa" Rose

This cute mamma raccoon is in five of the pictures above, did you find her in all of them?  Shortly after I took these photos and went back inside, two baby raccoons came climbing down the tree.  The mamma raccoon had brought them to eat under our bird feeder. Unfortunately I never got any good pictures of them. 

I hope you all have a few moments this week to be a nature observer yourself!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pineapple Coconut Icebox Cake

I made this dessert last week while I had house guests visiting.  It is the perfect dessert for these hot summer days.  It is cool and luscious and not too sweet. I hope you all give it a try. ~ Diane

Pineapple Coconut Icebox Cake
Ingredients for Cake:
1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 large can (20oz.) of crushed pineapple including the juice
2 whole eggs

Cake directions:
In a large bowl whisk the eggs until frothy, add the cake mix and the crushed pineapple
including the juice.  Mix well to combine. Pour into a greased 9x13 Pyrex baking dish.
Bake according to cake mix directions on the box. Let cool to room temperature.

Ingredients for the Topping:
16 oz container of whipped topping
1/2 cup milk
3.5 oz package of instant vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Topping directions:
In a large bowl mix the pudding and the milk together.  Fold the whipped topping
into the pudding mixture.  Spread on top of the cake. 
Sprinkle the coconut over the top. 

Cake needs to be kept in the refrigerator for best results.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Why Should We Care About Honey Bees?

"Because 1/3 of the human diet comes from 
insect-pollinated plants---the humble honey bee 
is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination."  
Defenders of Wildlife 2013

Memories of summer

Have you ever had days where one thing just leads to another and then another? Well yesterday was one of those days.  I don't normally write about this sort of thing on my blog, but I just couldn't let it go. I had to get these stories out there and see what some of you think about all of this.

I have been worried about honey bees and bees in general for several years.  I have noticed a huge decline in their numbers in my own garden. It seems that a few people are starting to jump into action to save them, so when I heard a report about a bunch of  bees in Saint Paul Minnesota being killed a few days ago, I could hardly believe it. I checked the story on my online newspaper thinking somehow I had not heard it correctly on the evening news. But to my dismay, it was true.
Below is part of the story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, click here for the full story.
  St. Paul fire crews killed honeybees  

  • Firefighters had been called to eradicate the swarm, estimated to contain 25,000 to 30,000 bees.  

  By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE kevin.duchschere@startribune.com   
      The mystery of what killed thousands of honeybees bivouacked in two oak trees in downtown St. Paul was solved Wednesday, when an official said that fire crews had sprayed the bees with fire retardant foam in response to a police call for help. 
   “During the day we might have called animal control or other resources, but it was just a few minutes before midnight on a Sunday night,” St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said. “We were trying in good faith to avoid injuries or panic.” 
   The foam caused the bees to drop dead to the sidewalk below the trees, creating dark-colored mounds that one pedestrian the next morning likened to “small snowdrifts.” 
    It was a bittersweet resolution for Marla Spivak, a University of Minnesota entomologist who feared that insecticides had been used. Using foam on bees is “what fire departments have been instructed to do nationwide,” Spivak said. “If you’ve got a bee problem, it’s a good way and a fast way to get rid of it. It’s a much better way to do things than insecticide.” 
   Still, she said, it would have been better had officials contacted a beekeeper to move the swarm, which she estimated contained 25,000 to 30,000 bees. 
     “A colony of bees grows just like a plant, and they normally get to their maximum size in Minnesota in early June, when half would take off looking for a new place,” she said. 
   That's likely what this swarm was doing — camping in trees while waiting to find a new home — when they were killed. 
   “This was an unfortunate situation,” Paulos said. “Bees are cool. They help pollinate and they are a necessity to nature. But in this case, it was a public safety issue.” 


OK, so here is my two cents worth!  Really now, they really couldn't just pick up the phone and call a beekeeper??  The police just call the fire department and the fire department blasts a bunch of sleeping bees!!! It's not like they called a beekeeper and the guy or gal says, "Nope, can't help you, that's just too many bees. blah-blah-blah".  They didn't even try!!  Were the police so busy on a Sunday night around midnight that they didn't have time to think of anything else?? I'm sure they were just following procedures.  Oh, and the fire department did say it was a "shame", but the bees were a public hazard.

I probably wouldn't be so irritated by this except it seems that every time a moose, or bear, or some other form of wildlife wanders into town, the only thing they can ever think to do is to kill it. Other places that come to mind like Wisconsin and Michigan, seem to use tranquilizer guns and other non-lethal methods to handle wild things.

But back to the subject at hand. The even weirder and equally disturbing part of this story is that they left the dead bees just lying there on the side walks. The images appeared as dark colored mounds akin to "snowdrifts" to passing pedestrians, who obviously reported this weird phenomenon to the newspaper, thus the article. The saddest part about this story, the bees were moving to a new colony and would probably have left as peacefully as they came. There was not one report of anyone being stung by the wayward bees.

senza titolo

And if that wasn't enough, the next day I read this article!
I just read in the summer 2013 edition of Defenders of Wildlife a  story titled:
WildMatters --- Talk About a Buzzkill

It turns out that back in the early 1970's, some beekeepers were looking for a cheap alternative to honey to feed their bees. I mean, why let the bees eat their own honey which was so expensive, when they could feed them cheap corn syrup!  Does that sound like a good idea to you?  Here is what they didn't know at the time:

"High-fructose corn syrup is not itself toxic to bees, but with honey removed from their diet the bees miss out on important nutrients that help the bees fight off pathogens and the toxins found in pesticides.

The scientists found that consumption of the compound p-coumaric, for example, turns on "detoxification genes" in bees.  This nutrient is found in pollen, not nectar, and makes its way into honey inadvertently by sticking to bees' legs as they visit flowers.  The genes amplified by p-coumaric help bees to safely digest a common insecticide used by beekeepers to kill mites." from Defenders of Wildlife

The entire article is not posted online yet but should appear in the next month or so. Here is their link.

Monarch Butterfly

And then there's this.....which explains why I haven't seen a Monarch in my garden....

Monarch butterfly numbers down sharply (full story here)

  By BILL McAULIFFE  bill.mcauliffe@startribune.com
Minnesota’s state butterfly is scarce again this summer, a victim of two bad weather years in a row and the decline of caterpillar-sustaining milkweed in the landscape, experts say. 
Counts of caterpillars, which transform into monarchs during the summer, are “the lowest we’ve ever seen,” said Karen Oberhauser, a University of Minnesota professor who runs the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.    But it’s not just a problem in Minnesota.       “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as low as it is this year,” said Chip Taylor, an ecology and biology professor at the University of Kansas who is also director of Monarch Watch, a research and educational organization, speaking of the monarch populations across North America.    

Indeed, an estimated 60 million monarchs spent the winter at their customary migration site in Mexico, but 350 million would be customary, said Elizabeth Howard, director of the tracking site Journey North. That’s an 80 percent decline.      

Ordinarily, the distinctive butterflies, with gold-and-black wings trimmed with white specks, are common across the Minnesota landscape this time of year.  Aggressive suppression of milkweed in corn and soybean fields has removed a key piece of the monarch life cycle across much of North America, Oberhauser said.    “There’s a strong correlation between the loss of milkweed habitat and loss of monarch numbers,” she said.       

Krischik, who is researching ways to blunt the declines under a grant from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, said linden trees, which are in bloom this time of year, should be buzzing with pollinating insects.    She said she was “stunned”   when she checked 30 trees Wednesday and found only a single painted lady butterfly.    “It’s not just that there aren’t monarchs. There’s nothing there,” she said.      

 “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” Krischik said.      “... we’re never going to see monarchs like we did, say, in the 1990s,” Taylor said. “We’ve lost too much habitat.”    

So friends, what do you think?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm Surrounded

I'm surrounded by cute things and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Who doesn't love looking at these sweet items I picked up a few weeks ago at the local flea market?
Just look what I found! 

Two wood items, the darling Kitty match holder and the Rooster decorated Woodpecker wooden ware knife holder. A sweet little pig pitcher, an adorable green squirrel planter, a gorgeous pink fan McCoy planter and some darling vintage birthday cards.

All these things bring a smile to my face and my heart. Many things in our lives are beyond our control.  Since I can control my immediate environment, I have decided that surrounding myself with cute things and making them available to others is what I will do with the second part of my life.   This way I get to enjoy these darling treasures for awhile and then share them all with you the reader or collector.

I also found the pixie planter, a yellow cat cactus planter, a Scotty dog cookie cutter 
and a bunch of vintage Valentines.

After watching a couple of episodes of hoarders, I want to make sure I keep on track with moving these items from my home to yours!! It's a winning formula, I get the enjoyment of searching and finding these little treasures and sharing with other people who will also appreciate their fun, cute or quirky appearance.  Maybe you can't or don't want to get up at 5am to go to the flea market or estate sale, but I really don't mind it. In fact my husband and I both love going and we have a great time together! So on Saturday and Sunday mornings, you sleep in and I will get up early and go out and find more of these lovely little gems just for you.

Right now I am enjoying their sweet little smiling faces and pretty long lashes and bright little eyes.

 Yes I am surrounded.... 

surrounded by some of the things I love!

If you crave cute things as much as I do, then check out my shop CraveCute on Etsy. Maybe you will find something there that you will love too!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Has Come At My Window

Today the summer has come at my window
With its sighs and murmurs;
And the bees are plying their minstrelsy
At the court of the flowering grove.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
           Hindu poet

Monday, July 1, 2013


It seems like it took forever to get here, but summer has finally arrived!
To kick it all off we start by celebrating our Independence Day on the 4th of July!

This week you might be hearing some of this.....

I hope you are all enjoying some.....

................now that it's warm enough to eat it without shivering!!!

You will probably be seeing some of these.....

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks - 2

               ...........and I hope you are able to do some of this....

                      ..........and have one of these .....

             .......with your friends or family!

Happy 4th of July 
Have a Wonderful Week!