Friday, August 1, 2014

Piper Makes A Friend

This is Piper our grand dog.  She is a cockapoo and is almost a year old.
We are taking care of our grand dog this week.  We haven't had a dog for three years.  The first couple days were challenging.  She ate great grandpa's Metamucil cookies and a cereal bar that I had laid out for morning.  She took a couple cough drops from the bedside table to play with and toss around.  The waste baskets and kleenex boxes were a special treat.  She really is a darling little dog, but she loses her hearing when she sees a squirrel or a rabbit.  For her own safety we put her on a long tie out.  This way she can roam around, but not get hurt.  The last thing we want is for something to happen to her on our watch.  The other day I heard her barking.  She very seldom barks, so I went to investigate.  Look what she found!

This is a Bull Snake or Pine Snake.

I realize by posting these photos, we will probably never get another visitor to our home.  The truth is, I am very happy having this snake live near the foundation of our house.  It takes care of the mice that come into the area.  I think this snake just had a good meal.  He is looking pretty fat and content.  This snake is not poisonous and is more afraid of us.  Except for his head, he is rather dull in color.  I'm thinking he may be ready to shed his skin.  In fact, we found a snake skin in the yard this morning.  It was all ripped up.  Probably the work of our little doggie guest.  It is good the snake wasn't still in it.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monarch Butterfly

My flower garden is a mess.  It is full of unruly perennials.  Most of them are left to come up wherever they want.  I don't manicure this garden at all.  It's main purpose is to support the butterflies and bees.  Both Monarch butterflies and bee populations are on the decline.  It is working.  Although I am just a little helper, I hope it will help in a small way.  I just saw a Monarch caterpillar chewing on the wild butterfly bush.  It is a really pretty caterpillar.

These beautiful creatures go through 4 stages during their life cycle.  The butterfly lays many eggs usually on the milkweed plant, the egg hatches into a caterpillar, the caterpillar spins a cocoon which turns into a butterfly.   This process is quick.  The metamorphosis from egg to adult only takes 30 days.  The butterflies live just a few weeks.  The very last generation in the fall has the job of migrating thousands of miles.  This generation lives longer.  They live long enough to spend the winter in the warm climates and migrate back to start the reproduction process all over again.

There is another black and orange butterfly called the Viceroy butterfly.  It is smaller but looks very much like the Monarch.  It is easy to confuse the two. 

I have seen a few other interesting butterflies this summer.  Here are a few photos.  

Red spotted purple admiral.  This one is a little damaged but still pretty.

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

We get a lot of these.  The Great Spangled Fritillary

Messy flower garden full of milkweed and bee balm.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

EAA Kenny Loggins Concert

Can you recognize this singer?  If you look close you will see it is Kenny Loggins.  It is hard to believe he is now 66 years old.  I thought I was the only one who got older.  We don't think of others including famous people aging.  He still sounds great.

Kenny Loggins on stage.

We don't get out much anymore.  We take care my dad who will be 90 in November.  He doesn't require much personal care, but he can not see well enough to prepare any meals or even answer the phone.  We really can't leave him for any period of time.  Tonight we had a chance to see a Kenny Loggins concert at the Air Venture in Oshkosh.  In order to do this, we got Dad a babysitter or as we call it an elder sitter.  We had our granddaughter, who is almost 14, come to take care of him.  She made him a TV dinner and got him his 9:00 pm snack.  We were able to leave in the middle of the afternoon and not get home until ten.  It was fantastic not to have to worry.

We parked the car and headed into the grounds.  There were a lot of people, but it is a very well organized event so it didn't seem overwhelming.  We found where we were going with the help of our grandson, Dylan.  He has been there many times and knows the area very well.  We found the spot and set up our lawn chairs.

Target must have sold out of adult sized lawn chairs.  We got a kick out of this.

Then we sat and waited.  There was an air show going on.  It is amazing to see the precision of these pilots.

We also saw an Osprey.  The Osprey can take off and land both vertically and with a short takeoff and landing.   It is designed to function as a conventional helicopter and a higher speed aircraft. 

There was a lot going on.  Just watching people was very entertaining.  It is amazing to me that everyone has a head with eyes, nose and mouth, but everyone looks different.  If you think about it, how many combinations could there possibly be.  I can tell you, there are millions and millions.

We had a pretty good view of the stage.

Kenny Loggins and the Blue Sky Riders Band

We were confused at first because Kenny Loggins came out with a band named the Blue Sky Riders.  Then they started playing and I thought this wasn't the music I was familiar with.   Loggins told the crowd that forming this band gave him an opportunity to creatively change.  The Blue Sky Riders played the first set.  Then later Kenny Loggins played solo with many of the songs we were familiar with.  It was great.  A little loud at times but that's just my age.  The concert was a lot of fun. 

As the concert was coming to a close, they were setting up several hot air balloons.  I imagine they were going to take off together later.  They were beautiful.

Thanks Bret and Heather
and of course Melissa

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Version Of Iced Coffee

Many years ago, when I lived in Stoughton Wisconsin, there was a coffeehouse named Java Junction.  They had a frozen coffee drink called a "Big Train".  I really enjoyed them, but I didn't have one very often.  They were loaded with calories. Years ago I found the powdered mix, but it was expensive.   I tried to make them at home with less calories but always failed.  They were usually tasteless and icy.  I kind of forgot about them until recently.  My daughters told me that they really enjoyed Mcdonald's iced coffee.  Last week we stopped in, and I bought one.  I got the sugar free vanilla.  It had 90 calories and tasted delicious.  It was similar in taste to the Big Train without the frozen ice cream shake texture.  I went home and tried again.  I think I came up with a good iced coffee that was decaffeinated and sugar free.  Many of you may already do this, but I am really enjoying this refreshing drink.

Iced Coffee

2 quarts of cold water
4 oz. of ground coffee (I measured and 4 oz. is about 1 1/2 cups)

I bought good decaf coffee.

Put the ground coffee into a pitcher of cold water.  Stir it up and sit it out at room temperature for eight hours or overnight.  The key to this recipe is to use very strong coffee.  I would always use cold brewed coffee, and the ice would water it down too much.

The 2 quart pitcher I used.

In the morning, I took a sieve and lined it with coffee filters.  I didn't want any coffee grounds sneaking through.  Cheese cloth would work too.  Slowly I poured the coffee through.

Filtering the coffee grounds out.

The finished liquid is a very concentrated strong coffee.  I poured it into 2 one quart jars and stored them in the refrigerator.

Strong coffee concentrate.

I filled the glass with ice.

Fill the glass 3/4 full with the coffee concentrate.
At this point, if you like your coffee with cream and sugar.  Just prepare it that way.  I bought some delicious sugar free caramel macchiato coffee creamer.  It only has 15 calories for a tablespoon.  I guess you can sweeten as much as you wish.  I drink my hot coffee black, but I need the iced coffee to be sweet.  I used 2 tablespoons of creamer.   If you like coffee, this is a great treat.  It doesn't have to be iced.  Just add some water to this concentrate and heat it up.  You can have a quick cup of hot coffee.