Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Are These White Webs?

I was going to write about this subject last week, but I was curious to see if this phenomenon would happen again.  I haven't seen it before and I haven't seen it since.  It was shortly before the sun came up.  I always look out the window to see our view.  I look to see if there is anything new and what the weather is like.  At first I thought that there was frost on the trees.  Then I realized that it was much too warm for frost.  I went out on the deck to get a closer look.  This is what I saw.

It was foggy out on the marsh, and I thought there was a lot of frost on the bushes.

I zoomed in.  What was that?  It wasn't frost.

It looks like hundreds of spider webs.

As soon as the fog burned off and the sun came out, I could see better.

The bushes (mostly willow) were covered with white webs.

I started searching for what this was.  I found a lot of information on tent caterpillars, but they are usually seen in an area on a tree, but not on the whole tree unless they have already killed the tree.  I couldn't get close enough to see if I could see worms or insects.  I think these webs are from something I'm not familiar with.  I still don't know if it was a temporary thing or if the lighting was exactly right that day, but later in the morning they were gone.  At least, I couldn't see any webs, and I have not seen any since.  I am open to any ideas.  I am sure there are people who specialize in this and know exactly what it is.  If I find out, I will update this blog with that information.

The webs are gone or became invisible to me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chocolate Eclair Cake

My family always loved Chocolate Eclairs.  They were a pain to make because you had to fill each eclair with pudding and then frost them.  The little frozen ones in the grocery store are good, but they didn't have those back when my kids were small.  One day I came across this recipe for Chocolate Eclair Cake in a cookbook.  I think it was in the late 1970's or early 1980's.  The first time I made it, it was a complete success.  It is very easy to put together and tastes just like the individual eclairs.  I have made this recipe many times over the years.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

1 cup flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 t. salt
1 cup water
4 eggs (room temperature is best)
2 packages instant vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups cold milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounce whipped topping (Cool Whip)
3 oz. chocolate chips
2 T. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 T. milk

Bring water and butter to a boil until all the butter is melted.
All at once add flour and salt; beat until mixture forms a ball that leaves the sides of the saucepan;
cool slightly.  Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.  Spread mixture onto a ungreased jelly roll pan (15 x 10 x 1).  Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven.  It will be puffy so pierce the bubbles with fork while hot.  Cool completely.

*Beat the softened cream cheese with the milk, then add the instant pudding and beat according to the pudding directions.  
Spread on the cooled crust.  Follow with the whipped topping.  Then melt the chocolate chips with the butter over low heat, mix with the powdered sugar and milk until you have a thin glaze.  Drizzle the chocolate glaze over the whipped topping.  Refrigerate for a least an hour.  Cut into squares to serve.

*Hint:  Mixing the cream cheese with milk and instant pudding works really well in a cream pie.  I cut up bananas in the pudding and put it in a pre-baked pie crust.  It sets up and cuts so much better.  I learned to do this after I took a pie to work for a treat.  My boss Dan liked banana cream pies.  When we cut it, it ran all over.  You needed a straw to eat the pie.  After that experience I figured out how to do a better job.  This method always works.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pelican or Whooping Crane...You Decide

For all who know me or have read my blog,  know how fascinated I am with the Whooping Crane.  I have written about them many times.  I follow their migration every year from Wisconsin to Florida.  I have seen them in person following the ultralight aircraft, but I have never seen them out on their own in the wild.

Yesterday I thought that had changed.  I was sitting outside at our daughters new house with Piper the grand dog.  My husband was busy finishing up a drywall project he was helping them with.  My dad was along and sitting in the living room listening to a book.  The weather was so perfect.  I looked up and saw some beautiful white birds flying around overhead.  I tried to take some photos.  They were quite high, and I thought they were probably sandhill cranes.  The sandhill cranes have become quite light in color this time of year.  In the summer the sandhill cranes are a rusty color which they apply to themselves with sand.  When I got home, I put the photos on the computer.  I got so excited, I thought the photos looked like Whooping Cranes.  A week or so previous, five Whooping Cranes from the Class of 2013 were spotted in Fond du lac county Wisconsin.  I was just a few miles from the county line.  Here are some of the photos I took. 

I wanted to be sure so I sent my photos to Operation Migration.  They told me they were NOT whooping cranes.  They were white Pelicans.  Now I'm not a professional, and I haven't devoted my life to stop the extinction of the whooping crane....but these don't look like pelicans to me.  I have seen tons of pelicans in our area.  They are white, and they do have black on their wings, but they have a much different head.  Pelicans don't have a long neck.

 So I don't want to question the professionals or be a sassy old lady, but I choose to think I saw five whooping cranes. Does believing hard enough make it true?  It works for Santa.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Trick or Treating Afternoon

Although Halloween is several days away, the local communities held trick or treat this afternoon.  It was a warm and sunny day.  It was perfect day for the kids and adults to roam the streets going door to door.  I walked along again this year.  A lot of adults dressed up.  Some were a little inappropriate, but I'm old with low tolerance.  I would have taken pictures but I didn't want to be yelled at.

This is Ewan, our youngest grandson.  He is four and his favorite movie is "The Princess Bride".  He wanted to be Wesley and was very put out if you called him a ninja or Zorro.  He mostly says "As you wish".  He did learn to say son of a B....from watching the movie several times,  but that was corrected very quickly.  His mustache didn't stay on very long because it tickled and made his eyes water. 

For school he was Clark Kent reporter.

The second to youngest grandson is Jack.  Jack is six.  He wanted to be Abraham Lincoln.  He was very serious about being the 16th president of the United States.  He even quoted  "four score and seven years ago" to people from Lincoln's famous speech.  When ever I tried to take his picture he would hold his lapels as if to speak with conviction.

Here is a picture of his speaking with conviction or preaching fire and brimstone.

Next is Sam.  Sam is ten.  He had to tell me what he dressed up to be.  I'm not familiar with comic book characters or super heroes.  I think he's a tree or a plant.  I think he said he is Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, but don't quote me.  Sam has told me from the time he was small that he wants to write and direct movies like Star Wars.  Who knows, time will tell.

Then there was Dylan.  Dylan wanted to be a Rocket Man.  Thank goodness his other grandma is so clever and figured out how to make that happen.  His mom was out of town, but got back in time for the fun.  I didn't know what to do.  I didn't have any appropriate supplies.  I think they did an amazing and wonderful job.  I don't know where the Rocket Man idea came from, but I imagine it was from the same source as Sam.  It was either a movie, comic book or book of some sort.  A fun time because he is now old enough to go trick or treating with his cousin and friend. 

People go beyond the call of duty.  This was the most amazing house we saw.  The theme was the Wizard of Oz which is another one of Ewan's favorite movies.  They had the whole side of the house made into a big tornado with a house.  The people handing out candy were dressed as witches.  The sidewalk up to the house was lined with poppies, and they were playing Somewhere over the Rainbow. 

Witches handing out candy.

Poppies lined the sidewalk.