Spring

Spring

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Milkweed Bug

I always let a few milkweed plants grow in our perennial garden.  Although considered a weed, I like them for many reasons.  They have a pink flower and a pod which bursts in the fall leaving fluffy silky fibers with a seed attached.


These are the milkweed pods that form after flowering.

In the fall the pod will burst open and the wind disperses the seeds.





I especially like milkweed plants because they attract monarch butterflies.  It is the main food source for the monarch butterfly larvae.  I have written about this butterfly before and even used similar photos but focused on the butterfly and not the flower or pod.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2014/07/monarch-butterfly.html

Milkweed Bugs clustered on a milkweed pod.

What I haven't mentioned before is the Milkweed Bug.  In the fall when the temperatures are cooler at night but approach eighty degrees during the day, the female Milkweed Bug lays eggs on the milkweed plant.  When the eggs hatch, the tiny little bugs called nymphs eat from the plant.  They start out very small and molt several times until they become their adult size.


You can see several sizes here.  See the tiny one on the leaf.

They continue feasting on the plant, actually destroying the seeds and sucking the sap.  Birds and other predators don't eat them because the milky sap is toxic.  If you want to destroy them you don't have to worry about their defenses.  These bugs don't bite or sting.   I just leave them because we have more than enough milkweed surviving and reemerging every year.

Here is an adult Milkweed Bug.  The adults can fly.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our "Morning Mist" Framed By Kalbarri Picture Framers

Last July when we were on vacation, we stopped to see one of my husband's high school friends.  He now lives in Dandridge, Tennessee after living in Australia for many years.  I had only met Dan once and had never met his wife Leonie.  It was a wonderful visit, and we felt very comfortable with them.  We learned that he had a picture framing business in Australia and was continuing it here in the states.  The name of his business is Kalbarri Picture Framers.  His website is http://kalbarripictureframers.com/ and his Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/kalbarripictureframers?fref=ts  I would recommend looking at the variety of frames he can make out of many different kinds of woods.  He has a very nice set up and an artistic eye.  We were very impressed.

Although I am not a professional photographer, I take a lot of pictures.  We thought it would be nice to have one of my photos framed.  We struggled with which one to choose.  Most of my pictures are of local wildlife, but those aren't very unique.  We thought about a family photo, but the kids change so much that in a year that would be obsolete.  Finally we decided on a picture I took recently from our deck.  Anyone who knows us or has seen my blog photos will recognize the church steeple in many of my pictures.  Off across our marsh is a view of the church.  The photo we chose was at sunrise when the misty fog was beginning to burn off.  I emailed the jpeg to Dan a few weeks ago and chose the type and size we wanted.

When the mail came today, guess what was delivered.  My picture came in this beautiful gorgeous frame.  It is so unique.  It is rustic oak slabwood with the bark still on in this irregular shape.  It is like nothing you can purchase in a store.  Although the photo looks like something you would see in any calendar, to us it is special and the view we see each day. 

Framed photo of our view from the deck.

For those interested, this is the information on the back of the framed picture. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Organize Your Credit, Debit and Reward Cards

One of my husband's pet peeves with me happens whenever I pay for an item at a store.  I stash my receipt and change or debit card or credit card into my purse.  Then at the next store, I'm scrambling to find my cash or card to pay.  Since I'm the one usually paying, he gives me "the look".  If you have seen my husband, he can give "the look".  He taught seventh graders for thirty three years so he is really good at it.   I had gotten better in recent years.  I would put my card back in it's spot each time to avoid the problem.  I still was having difficulties with reward cards and grocery store cards.  I would forget and then at checkout they would ask if I had a reward card.  I would say yes, but then couldn't find it.  Usually they would have to look up our phone number and spend more time finding it than the benefit received from using the card. Most change purse/wallets have slots for cards, but not near enough for all of them I have.  The other day I went shopping with my very organized daughter.  You may remember her from her menu planning skills.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2015/02/meal-planning-system.html

She had purchased a Thirty-One Mini On-The-Go Organizer.  It was basically a small wallet with a little alphabetized file system inside.  When she paid in a store, she would easily get out the proper card.  I loved that system and knew I needed such a thing.  It would save a lot of time and dirty looks.  I found out that Thirty-One had retired this product.  I could have purchased one on ebay for about $20, but I set up my own.  I had this little zippered wallet and some index cards.

Zippered wallet that I had never used.

The first thing I did was take the pack of index cards.  I traced the shape of the credit card on the index card and put a small tab on the top by tracing a coin.

I traced onto index cards.

I staggered tracing the tab across the card.  I had four separate templates.  Then I just cut out the shapes and alphabetized them.

Each card had a letter except XYZ is on one.

I cleaned out my purse and collected every card I could find.  I put my important medical cards in a special place, my driver's license in the front, but took the rest and organized them by name.  Now if I go to Shopko and they ask if I have a rewards card, I look behind the "S" and there it is.  I love it.  My tabs are getting a little floppy so I think I will laminate them so they hold up longer.  I am lucky and have access to a laminator.   Yup, you guessed it.  My very organized daughter has one.


Update:  I found some plastic alphabet index cards.  I cut them to fit, and they work great and don't wear out.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Ripon Wisconsin Corn Maze To Remember

In the previous blog, I wrote about the fun we had at the Color Vibe run to raise money for educational programs and activities at the EAA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. http://www.thecabincountess.com/2015/09/the-color-vibe-5k.html


Then later in the day after Heather and Dylan got cleaned up from the run, we decided to attempt a Corn Maze not far from their house.  Earlier Heather had bought some beautiful plants at this farm and knew the Corn Maze was ready to open.  The maze was on the property of Kaufmann Farms and Petals and Plows (https://www.facebook.com/PetalsPlows?fref=ts)

Aerial photo of the maze.

Having done a corn maze in the past, I was fairly confident that it would be a fun activity but not too difficult.  I hadn't seen this aerial photo previous to starting out.  When we arrived there were a lot of activities happening.  They have tons of pumpkins, gourds, mums and other plants and produce for sale plus live music and carriage rides.

They even had the horses ready for carriage rides.

We purchased our tickets and received the map.  My other daughter Sarah and one of her sons had joined us.  Off we went excited to start.  The maze consisted of three sections.  There was a kiddie section, a medium maze and the long one.  We thought we should start with the long one.  Only later would we realize how long it actually was.  If you can read the map, it says 4.3 miles at the far end of the maze.  We hadn't read that in advance either.


The boys took off leaving us on our own.  They would get way ahead and and then come back to check on us.  We were struggling from the get go.  Being fairly intelligent individuals, we thought we could follow the map.  It wasn't long when we realized we were following the white line like they have in all the maze books, and we should have been following the black line.  We weren't the only people having trouble.  We ran into the same people over and over again.  I guess it is called a maze for a reason.  It is AMAZING if you ever find your way out.


After quite a bit of time, we finally found our way out.  I was pretty tired, but the kids wanted to do more.  The two big boys took off to the medium maze.  Thinking it would be shorter and easier, we thought "why not".  We started off fine, but then we got really confused.  The sun went under so we couldn't navigate by the sun, the corn stalks were eight feet high so we couldn't see over them and since this was the first day open, we couldn't follow footprints in the dirt.  We went around and around.  Ewan, our five year old grandson said "I think we're lost, we keep going around in circles".  He was right.  We managed to get all but two punches but had reached the point of "forget it, get us out of here!".  We hadn't brought water because we didn't think this would be such a workout.  When we finally emerged, there was Sam and Dylan sitting in the grass waiting for us.  They had not only finished the medium maze, they also finished the kiddie maze. They were grinning from ear to ear.  Thank goodness we didn't attempt that small one, or I'm afraid we would really have been humiliated.  

In spite of sore feet,
We are still smiling and in an upright position, so all is well.

I was even able to get out of bed this morning.  It was an awesome day to remember.  Now back to reality.  I should really go out and help stain the deck railings but my husband is doing such a great job, I think I will let him enjoy himself.

Doesn't he look happy or maybe NOT.

The Color Vibe 5K

Sometimes the best days are the ones you don't plan for.  That is what happened to us yesterday, September 12, 2015.  To some this won't seem fun or exciting, but to me it was a perfect day.  We had no time constraints or anything we had to do.  Well, that isn't exactly true, staining the deck is something that should have been done on a perfect fallish day without rain.  Hopefully that can be accomplished today unless we get another offer we can't refuse.

The day started out early.  We left the house at 7:00am to meet our daughter Heather and grandson Dylan.  They were running in a 5K Color Vibe race on the grounds of the EAA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  It was a crisp cool morning so I put on a shirt, a sweatshirt and a light jacket.  Layering is the way to go at this time of year.  We got to the grounds and hundreds of people had already arrived.  I had not expected to see so many enthusiastic people this early in the day.  We were there to observe and take photos.  Little did we know that avoiding all the flying colored powder was going to be our biggest problem.  There was a stage set up and early on people were dancing and getting ready to run/walk.

It appeared that tutu's were the dress of the day.

As it got closer to the time of the race (which was 9:00 am), more and more people arrived.  There were a few thousand participating in all shapes and sizes.  It was a good race because it really isn't a race at all, it isn't even timed.


There were so many people that they had to start them in groups.  Heather and Dylan were in the third wave so it gave us time to get in position before getting trampled by excited people covered with colorful powder.

Ready, Set, GO!

Everyone is covered and they are just getting started. 

After everyone was on there way, we walked over to the finish line.  We knew it would take between thirty and forty minutes for most people to get to the finish line.  One guy finished in twenty minutes but he must have been a "real" runner because most of the people there weren't that serious about anything.


Yay, they finished.

A colorful ending.

It was only 10:10am and time for breakfast.  Little did I know that my day had just begun.  We had planned on attending our middle grandchild Sam's football game, but by the time everyone was cleaned up and fed it was too late.  That will have to be next weekends adventure.  Rather than go home Heather suggested the Corn Maze.  That sounded like a great idea.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2015/09/a-ripon-wisconsin-corn-maze-to-remember.html