Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

US-Flag10510Today is Memorial Day
Formerly called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a holiday set aside to remember those who have died in our nation’s service.
Spring201009smallAnd this day of remembrance is very significant in view of last week’s  media reports that the military's worldwide counterterrorism mission (Operation Enduring Freedom) launched after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks has claimed the lives of over 1,000 service members.
Traditional Memorial Day observances have diminished over the years. Some towns and cities still hold Memorial Day parades; however, most people seem to have have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Many think the day is for honoring all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. In cemeteries, military graves are ignored or neglected. The proper flag etiquette for the day is often forgotten. When looking at your home from street level, the flag will look to be on the left (the flag's right). If the flag is on your porch looking out at the street, put the flag on your right – that’s its proper place.
Memorial Day is a half-staff flag holiday. The flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.
Memorial Day originated in May 1868, when Union General John A. Logan designated a day to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. (The South did not observe Decoration Day and honored its dead on separate days until after World War I.) The name was changed to Memorial Day in 1882 to honor soldiers who had died in other wars as well. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday falling on the last Monday in May.

JPGuntitled Red poppies are traditional at many Memorial Day services. Moina Belle Michael, an American teacher in GA, was inspired by the 1915 poem In Flanders Fields  written by Canadian physician and Lt. Col. John McCrae during WWI. In 1918, Ms. Michaels conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day to honor the nation’s war dead after teaching a class of disabled servicemen after the war. 

She started wearing a silk poppy one and sold poppies with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. The movement buddy poppy 0510 (7)caught on and  Michael was known as the "Poppy Lady."  In 1922, the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies and two years later launched the Buddy Poppy program selling artificial red poppies made by disabled veterans.
By the time of her death in May 1944, more than $200 million had mmichaelbeen raised for the National Poppy  cause. Several months after her death, the U.S. government christened a "liberty ship" The Moina Michael and launched it un Savannah, GA. In 1948, the USPO issued a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness in 1948. The Georgia General Assembly named a section of U.S. Highway 78 the Moina Michael Highway in 1969.

However you observe Memorial Day – take time to remember those who have given their lives and who have made this day memorable.
Remember to Remember  - it’s important

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Anna’s Chocolate Cake

A great thing about covered dish picnics is sampling delicious recipes from friends – especially desserts! 

frogs THUMBS UPThis deliciously moist chocolate cake was completely homemade, including the frosting and it contains NO eggs. Grenville and I are both confirmed chocoholics and we give this recipe thumbs & toes up. 

Heat oven to 350° F.

  • 3 C all-purpose flour 
  • 2 C sugar 
  • 1/3 C baking cocoa (Hershey’s) 
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 C water 
  • ¾ C vegetable oil 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 tsp vinegar

  1. Combine 1st five ingredients in a mixing bowl (flour to salt).
  2. Add water, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and vinegar.
  3. Mix well (batter will be thin).
  4. Pour into a well greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until  tester inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 

  • 1 pkge (3 ounces)  cream cheese softened 
  • ¼ C butter, softened 
  • 2 C confectioner’s sugar 
  • 1/3 C baking cocoa 
  • Dash salt 
  • 3 tbsp milk 
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, salt, milk, vanilla.
  3. Mix well; spread over the cake.

Disappearing Easy Baked Beans

Following Saturday’s Spring Fling yard sale was a Neighborhood Watch picnic. Our friend and NW coordinator (Colonel Jan) reminded everyone that not only did we need to bring a covered dish, but actually put something in it to share! Grenville’s contribution was rosemary potato salad which he made Friday night.I volunteered to bring baked beans and since these are best served warm, I waited until after the yard sale and cleanup to get started because I had an easy recipe plan. The recipe below is virtually foolproof and will work with any canned beans, even Campbell’s®.

Easy Baked Beans       
Open cans of baked beans (or pork and beans if you prefer). My P1010637choice was (3) 28 oz cans of Bush’s® Best Maple Cured Beans.
  1. Open beans and pour in pot.
  2. Cook 1/2 lb of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon, drain, crumble and set aside. Reserve drippings.
  3. Chop small onion; Cook in reserved drippings until tender.
  4. Add cooked onion and following ingredients to beans.
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup (catsup if you prefer)
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Sample after adding and adjust amounts as needed. P1010641
Heat on stovetop for 15-20 minutes over medium to low heat.* Place into 1 ½ quart casserole. Top with bacon. Bring to event.
HOW you will know for sure that everyone enjoyed the baked beans?
By the nearly empty casserole dish you take home.
* Optional: Instead of heating on stovetop, bake uncovered in a 350°F degree oven for about an hour. (But why bother heating up the kitchen on a warm day?)

The after-picnic night time maneuvers were cancelled due to attacks of marauding seagulls in search of leftovers and no-see-ems starting their own evening maneuvers.

Yard (and House?) Sale

Yesterday was our little town’s 2nd annual Spring Fling annual yard sale NordicTrack Proin which residents are “invited” to hold yard sales. Of course, anyone can have a yard sale anytime, but for this one, the town advertises in the local paper, provides a sale sign, and prints a map showing yard sale sites in town. Grenville and I  signed up, got the sign, but never got any maps to hand out. Of course, we  KNEW where we where, but some folks who stopped by asked if we had a map showing the locations of other yard sales. Now exactly WHY we would want shoppers to leave our little sale to go to someone else’s was a mystery to us!

Actually, we didn’t have a lot of things but “stuff” that had been stored and moved from place to place – and if you’ve ever combined households and/or moved, you will KNOW what we mean. But, a big “to sell” item was my Nordic Track ski machine that I really used (years ago) when my condo had a full basement. If you’ve ever used this ski machine you will KNOW just how much space is needed. Sure, the unit can store compactly, but once it’s set up it’s unwieldy and a space hog. It’s been stored and a few weeks ago, we moved it back to the F&P. After some clean-up it was set up in the guest room and immediately dominated the space. Grenville figured it would make a good clothes hanger for overnight guests, so it was was time to find it a new (or old) home, just not ours any longer.

for sale by ownerSo the NT was set up on the front porch (due to threat of a.m. showers) with a  large For Sale by Owner sign in front. (that’s the tip of the sign hidden behind the porch frog in the above photo) A friend who was at our place selling items said that someone might think we were selling our home! 
The power of suggestion – you know what happened – of 0409 House photocourse.
We had 3 people ask if we were really selling the house. Grenville gave them a price – with or without contents (save our personal “stuff” and PCs).
We’ll let you know when (and if) we’re moving.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Creamy Scrambled Eggs & Scallions

What makes these eggs extra creamy is the cheese –  PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese. Scrambled eggs are so simple to make that everyone has a favorite recipe adding herbs, cheeses, and vegetables. We use cheddar cheese for omelets, but for scrambled eggs, our choice is PHIILLY®. This basic recipe is now a F&P breakfast favorite with scallions and extra cream cheese. We sometimes add other veggies like chopped peppers or broccoli - depending on what’s in the fridge or Grenville’s garden.
scrambled eggs-scallions
5 eggs
1/3 C milk or light cream
Salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter
1 C chopped scallions
3-ounce package cream cheese (cut in pieces)
  1. Beat eggs together in bowl. Add milk or light cream, salt and pepper.
  2. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture.
  3. Cook until mixture begins to set on bottom and around edges.
  4. Add cut-up cream cheese. While cooking, stir egg mixture to melt cream cheese.
  5. Continue cooking over medium heat about 3-4 minutes, until eggs are cooked throughout, turn heat off. Let sit and butter English muffins or toast.
Serve with a fresh fruit cup and juice or coffee.
Here are  more ways to use PHILLY® Cream Cheese.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It may have been a quiet day in Lake Woebegone,

But here on the Eastern Shore it was my first day this year of Eel Grass harvesting. So what is Eel Grass or Zostera marina ???? It is a sub aquatic flowering grass much like the grass in your yard but underwater. Being a plant it needs sunlight to photosynthesize, or make its own food, so it can’t grow very deep. Eel Grass also does not like warm water which is why we are at the south reaches of it habitat. So what does this stuff look like and how do you harvest it, and WHY??????
Seagrass restoration project, South Bay, off Eastern Shore of Virginia, June 2009.
On the left is what Eel Grass looks like out of the water. If you have ever gone to the beach you probably have seen it laying near the wrack line (just above the high tide line). Once it has dried out it turns black, BUT it has no smell. On the right is a what it looks like in an underwater meadow.
Eel grass is very important to our bays because itOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         provides protective habitat for many juvenile critters. Small fish, blue crabs, sea horses, and even scallops rely on the Eel Grass for habitat, protection, and even food (everybody is somebody's lunch).
So how do we harvest the Eel Grass???? By hand mostly. As you snorkel over an Eel Grass bed you can see the difference between the vegetative shoots (the ones photosynthesizing) that are flat, and dark green, and the reproductive shoots (with the seeds) which are yellow and round and have little white dots in them (the seeds).
Kate Hibbard collecting eelgrass chutes, VIMS staff in background. Seagrass restoration project, South Bay, off Eastern Shore of Virginia, June 2009.

As you harvest the reproductive shoots you put them into mesh bags. The bags are taken into shore and placed into large tanks until the ripe seeds fall out and sink to the bottom. They are collected and then taken back out to the bay and broadcast almost like you would do to reseed your lawn.
Scott Marion and Martin Wunderly of VIMS haul in a netful of eelgrass clippings. Seagrass restoration project, South Bay, off Eastern Shore of Virginia, June 2009.
Eelgrass holding tanks in Oyster, Va. Seagrass restoration project, South Bay, off Eastern Shore of Virginia, June 2009.

If you enjoyed this you can see more at
AND if you are really interested there are at least another 2 weeks of harvesting that YOU!!! can volunteer for. Just go to the web site above and click on the volunteer button under “How You Can Help”. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wildflower EXplosion (for a Buck)

Yes that’s what happened in the Frog & PenguINN back yard this spring. And the real beauty is that all this color came from a few boxes of assorted wildflower seeds from Dollar Tree for $1 each. And, even better – nearly all these are perennials which will keep reseeding. What could be better?
wildflower garden ALL (1)
Grenville scattered boxes of seeds last year, and while we had some blooms then, this year was MUCH more colorful and overwhelming. The display has impressed quite a few neighbors who have started asking us WHAT flowers we have. Those comments got us checking every couple of days to see what’s new and then trying to ID  them. Thankfully, there’s many on-line databases for wildflower information. Grenville’s collection of wildflower books help too.

The large displays seen above and below are Lance-Leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata). This North American native has daisy-like flowers and blooms all season as long as it has lots of sunshine. It doesn’t bloom the first year, but after that watch out!Coreopsis lanceolata (3) Coreopsis lanceolata (5)   
Common Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) has also seeded well displaying in varying shades of white, pink and purple. Yes, association you make between this plant and heart medication is correct. But  BEWARE as the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant are poisonous to humans and some animals due to the presence of the cardiac glycoside digitoxin and can be fatal if eaten. So look, but don’t sample.
Digitalis purpurea Common Foxglove 0510 (1) Digitalis purpurea Common Foxglove 0510 (2) Digitalis purpurea Common Foxglove 0510 (9)Digitalis purpurea Common Foxglove 0510 Digitalis purpurea Common Foxglove 0510 (4) There’s also been a colorful profusion of Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus). This self-seeding perennial is attractive to bees and butterflies.
Sweet William Dianthus barbatua Caryophyllaceae (3)  Sweet William Dianthus barbatua Caryophyllaceae (5)Sweet William Dianthus barbatua Caryophyllaceae (15)  Sweet William Dianthus barbatua Caryophyllaceae (14) Earlier this spring, there were lots of Cornflower/Bachelor's Button  (Centaurea cyanus (blue).  To find out how this flower got its name, just click the link (it’s quite an interesting story).
cornflower bachelors button (2) Globe thistle 
Clusters of fiery orange flowers best describes Siberian Wallflower (Cheiranthus allionii) which supposedly likes shaded areas, and it definitely doesn’t get any in our yard.  Siberian Wallflower Cheiranthus allionii (3)Siberian Wallflower Cheiranthus allionii 
Recently, Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) bloomed attracting bees and ladybugs. This plant has a mouthful of old folk names including: arrowroot, bad man's plaything, carpenter's weed, death flower, devil's nettle, eerie, field hops, hundred leaved grass, noble yarrow, nosebleed, old man's mustard, old man's pepper, seven year's love, and snake's grass.
common yarrow CommonYarrow (8) 
Yellow pea or Yellow Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria) is said to have medicinal use. According to history, the Mohegans of south New England used the root of wild indigo to acquire a medicine with which they washed cuts and gaping wounds; a practice followed even now
. Yellow pea or yellow wild indigo Baptista (1)Yellow pea or yellow wild indigo Baptisia 
Indian Blanket/Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) is the state wildflower of Oklahoma as of May 1986. This colorful plant is considered an annual, but will regrow the next year if the seeds fall  on the ground (wonder where else they would fall?).
Indian BlanketIndian Blanket Gaillardia pulchella (1)
Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) favors night blooming. The flowers open in the early evening and wilt by noon of the following day.
Common evening primrose Oenothera biennis (4) Common evening primrose Oenothera biennis We have two types of wood sorrel on the lawn – yellow and violet.  Depending on your point of view this plant is a nuisance weed or colorful little wildflower. The common Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta) is often called a shamrock due to its three-leaf clover-like structure. Wood Sorrel is also known as  Sleeping Beauty, Sour Trefoil, Sour Grass, Hearts, Toad-Sorrel, Lady's-Sorrel, Indian-Sorrel, Wood Sour, Hallelujah, and various other names. 

Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violacea) also has other names, such as Sheep Sour, Purple Wood Sour, Sour Clover, Fairy Bells, Hallelujah, Three-leaved Grass, Trinity Grass, Wild Shamrock, Purple Shamrock, Indian Lemonade, Violet Wood Sorrel. When direct sunlight strikes the leaves they fold downwards; when shade returns, the leaves reopen. The flowers also close at night.
violet wood sorrel oxalis violacea (3)yellow wood sorrel violet wood sorrel oxalis violacea (2)
Wood sorrel is said to have a strong lemony flavor. Sorrel comes from a French word for sour, and its family name, Oxalis, is derived from oxys, the Greek word for sharp or acidic. The flowers, leaves and bulbs of wood sorrel are edible and medicinal. The entire plant is often used in alternative medicine. A drink made from the acid leaves is said to quench thirst and allay a high fever.

If you’re managed to get this far, you know a lot more about wildflowers – at least the ones at the F&P. Wait, there’s more to come because Grenville had a few packs of wildflower seeds and was walking around the backyard today.
To be continued – as soon as more flowers bloom.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Green House is UNDERWAY!!!!!

YES, our green house is finally started. Yesterday we cleared a section of the Wild Flower garden by moving some plants to the back of the property, creating a new circular garden (we are telling the locals that it is a Heli-Pad for our new ‘Sport Copter’.)  Today we laid out the edge of the foundation, added some sand, and layed the blocks.




Beatrice stayed busy handing me the blocks and then sweeping in the sand. Tomorrow we will finish the 4x4 edging and keep sweeping in the sand so everything is nice and tight when we start erecting the Green House.

Now it is time for some Tylenol and a good night sleep.


Possum’s Pansies

Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to find beauty, just visit a friend’s garden on a beautiful spring morning.
Pansies in all so many colorful variations – beautiful !DSCF5664   DSCF5688
DSCF5674 DSCF5677 DSCF5712     
DSCF5682 DSCF5691DSCF5689
There were other colorful too.
 DSCF5668 DSCF5661
 DSCF5684 DSCF5736
DSCF5747 DSCF5699
  DSCF5669 DSCF5668
Thanks, Jan for sharing your garden with friends.