28 July 2009

Beauty in Your Own Back Yard

I was experimenting with the family camera and finally figured out how to use the "macro" function. I was doing this because I had some very pretty wildflowers growing around our house and wanted to take some close-up pictures of them. I didn't want a little speck of flower in the middle of a large picture. I probably looked rather silly to the neighbors as I lay in the grass in the middle of the yard taking picture of some of the smaller flowers.

I like how the pictures came out and told my daughters. One expressed an interest in seeing the little beauties so I decided to post them and share them not only with her but with you. I had reasonably good luck scouring the Internet for pictures and have tentatively identified all but one flower. If my identification is incorrect, I welcome you to correct my error.

Red Clover

Stargazer Lily

Cow Vetch

Queen Anne's Lace


White Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus

Daisy Fleabane


Scarlet Pimpernel

White Clover

Common Thistle

Bittersweet (Creeping Nightshade)


Birdfoot Trefoil

Yellow Hop Clover

That's all there is for now. As I get more pictures, I'll post them on this blog. Enjoy!

25 May 2009

What happens when you mow cat mint on a windy day

Well, I just had to share this with everyone. I went outside to trim prior to cutting the grass and accidentally mowed down some cat mint growing under one of the pine trees in our back yard. The wind caught what I thought were grass clippings and blew them into the side of my pants. Boy did I get a surprise when I went inside to cool off !!

Each of the cats, one after the other, suddenly became very affectionate. If you watch the videos, you will see that I was hung on, chewed, licked, pummeled and layed on.

Some of their kitty affection actually hurt, especially the teeth and claws as they hung off of my pants trying to get to all of the cat mint.

I'm thinking that maybe I'll try and remember to stand upwind the next time I mow under the pine trees.

13 April 2009

Pumpernickel Bread Recipe

Every once in a while my wife decides that she wants to make something different. She adapted a wheat bread recipe that she and our daughter came up with and Voila! Out comes a new pumpernickel bread recipe. The first loaf to come out of the oven smelled absolutely heavenly! The ones that followed smelled and tasted even better after she tweaked the recipe. It is so good that I decided to share it with the rest of the world. So here goes.

This recipe makes either two loaves of bread (free form or loaf pan) or 24 rolls. It requires either a 1/2 sheet pan or two loaf pans for bread or a 9 x 13 pan for the rolls. If you have a stand mixer (KitchenAid or the like) it will take about 15 minutes to prepare the dough. Mixing by hand will take a while longer.

1t. yeast
2 1/4c. water
1t. salt
1/4c. dark molasses
1/4c. dark brown sugar
4oz. (4 sq) unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4c. olive oil
4T. orange zest
3T. gluten
2T. powdered cocoa
1/4c. orange juice
1/2c. ruffage (rye seeds, caraway seeds, etc.)
2c. whole wheat flour
2c. rye flour
2 1/2c. bread flour

Place the water, yeast, dark molasses, melted chocolate, dark brown sugar, olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, salt, cocoa and gluten in the mixer bowl. Mix by hand until all of the ingredients are combined. Add the rye and whole wheat flour and mix by hand until combined. Place the bowl in the mixer, run on low and add the ruffage. Add the bread flour, 1/2c. at a time, until combined. After the last 1/2c. is combined, run the mixer on medium until the dough is of uniform consistancy.

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and knead for 3-5 minutes, sprinkling with bread flour, until dough is no longer sticky.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a warm, damp towel. Let the dough proof for 2 hours or until it has doubled. Punch down the dough and remove it from the bowl. Knead until it is smooth. It it happens to be a dry day, you might have to sprinkle a little water into the dough to remoisten it while you knead.

For loaves: Form into two loaves and place on a greased or corn mealed 1/2 sheet pan or in two loaf pans. Cover the dough with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

For rolls: Separate into 24 pieces, pinch round and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cover the dough with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Uncover and place in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and let the rolls or free form loaves cool. If you are using loaf pans, remove the bread from the loaf pans and set them on a cooling rack.

Note: For a harder, crunchier crust, put a pan of water in the oven while things are baking.

Now you're ready to eat. Don't hold back... you know you want to try that delicious pumpernickel bread!

04 January 2009

WeeHelp Tree Lighting Services

Well it looks like another job for the WeeHelp tree lighting techs... The Christmas Star on the top of our tree quit working today so we decided to send in the calvary. Our junior tech climbed the tree and made a quick assessment of the situation.

Yes, the center blinker bulb needs to be replaced. As soon as she determined the correct bulb number she came down, retrieved the correct bulb and headed back up for the swap. We managed to capture some great footage of her performing her duties.

As you can see, she is quite nimble. The bulb has since been replaced and the Christmas Star is working perfectly now.