I love this picture!

As always, when asked what I want for Mother’s Day, the answer is the same. I want an outing with the family at a location of MY choosing.

It often involves something more feminine. Being in a house full of guys, I usually have to give up the girlier things during the year, but for Mother’s Day I get my berry picking and botanical gardens visits!

This year, I asked for a trip to Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, Alabama. Again. I had already dragged the family out there over the holidays to see the fantastic light show, but I wanted to see it in the spring with all the flowers in bloom before we moved to Colorado.

I was not disappointed. And Timmy, my little naturalist, was just as impressed with all the flowers and animals.

I took the good camera with us so I could capture the beauty! Enjoy some pictures. Be forewarned, I took over 300 pictures, so I’ve distilled it down to about 30 of my favorites.

More »

I know it was silly, but I did start a garden here this spring. In part because we did a Cub Scout den project that involved planting seedlings. I ended up with several leftovers and I just stuck them in my garden plot.

Enjoy some pictures of the modest little harvest I might have had if it weren’t for all the bugs and birds that helped themselves first.

I planted the garden in late March. By May it was looking fantastic! Too bad the birds thought so too.

I planted the garden in late March. By May it was looking fantastic! Too bad the birds thought so too.

I let the birdseed grow some:



Crookneck squash. Timmy was very interested in how squash grew...too bad he doesn't like squash.

Crookneck squash. Timmy was very interested in how squash grew…too bad he doesn’t like squash.

I have quite a few tomatoes, and I'm sad about having to walk away from them all in a couple weeks.

I have quite a few tomatoes, and I’m sad about having to walk away from them all in a couple weeks.




20. May 2012 · Comments Off on Nebraska Discoveries 21*: The Keystone Trail in Bellevue · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

* I plan to renumber/redesignate my Nebraska-sightseeing-related blog posts into something more mangeable for search engines. Stay tuned, if you subscribe via RSS you might get inundated with updates. I’m not changing the text of the posts, just the titles and tagging.

The Keystone Trail parallels Papio Creek in Bellevue.

On Friday I took a short run on one of eastern Nebraska’s awesome running trails: The Keystone Trail.  I used to run on this trail a LOT when we were living in Nebraska, and I’ve written previously about the great views it gave us of the Offutt Air Show in 2008.  This is how I did my 10K and 1/2 marathon training when I lived in the area.

From where I’m staying in Bellevue for my reserve work right now, it was about a 1/2 mile run to a trailhead off Capehart Rd.  It was so easy.  So I set my Nike+ for a 5K run and ran out 1.5 miles or so on the trail.  On the return trip, once my Nike+ told me I had run 5K, I stopped to enjoy the views.  I could take some pictures too.

The markers are approximately every tenth of a mile. They are a bit misleading on this marker: the "K" is for "Keystone" and not "kilometer". The numbers posted are miles.

More »

16. November 2011 · Comments Off on Roses…Roses…and More Roses… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m making a cake later this week for the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club Charity Auction.  I hope it turns out really pretty and yummy…the money earned from the auction will help provide scholarships for members of the Team Hurlburt family!

Tonight I decided to start on the roses, since I hadn’t made roses in several years.  2007?  2008?  I can’t remember.

Let me say that skill in making icing roses is NOT like the skills you develop riding a bike!  I had a hard time remembering how to do it and I really struggled with the icing temperature.  I got a little out of control.  Out of all these roses, I only need about 10 of them.

I’ll take a picture of the completed cake on Friday, I promise!

15. October 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

I took these pictures while on a run on Wednesday morning.  I need to learn more about some of these flowers, but these are around a stop sign on a nearby street corner.

I took these with my iPhone camera, and several of the pictures were zoomed in and didn’t turn out so well.


Morning glories climbing up the stop sign…the first ones I’d seen all season.  I’m sure they’re around, I hadn’t paid attention, though.

Not sure what these are, if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to comment.

A gulf fritillary butterfly.  They’re everywhere around here right now…so pretty.

27. September 2011 · Comments Off on Wild Sunflowers Revisited (from September 2008) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

When I was in Nebraska earlier this month, I was immediately greeted by the wild sunflowers that I loved all over the edges of the highways and empty fields. I had planned to take some pictures but forgot. Oh well. At least I have this blog post from September 2008 to remind me of how pretty they are. Enjoy this “Rewind”:

This type of sunflower is a Helianthus annuus.  The wild ones have smaller flowers (~5″) than the ones you plant for seeds, such as those in western Kansas and Nebraska.

Wild sunflowers are in bloom in E. Nebraska and W. Iowa. They just popped up all over the place, like how Queen Anne’s Lace pops up in PA and WV, and how wild thistle grows on the sides of the highways in NC.

So I pulled a Maryann and pulled over on the side of this country road while driving back from Toys R Us in Iowa and took some pictures.

This is what a single plant looks like…

And here’s a group of them.

There’s a HUGE field near Timmy’s preschool, I should get over there and take some pics soon before they’re over with.

29. August 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
Over the course of the day, the stamen will produce their bright yellow pollen, such as what’s seen here.  It’s all very fast…this flower was wilted by sunset.

As promised two posts ago, here’s a nice pretty post for you.  This is our Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) plant that grows in front of Jacob’s bedroom window in the front of our house.  I was pleased to see these flowers this summer, since the week we moved into the house in late November 2010, we had a hard freeze that essentially killed off the 5′ tall plant for the season.  But in April it came back!

Unfortunately, when the hibiscus plant has to start from scratch, it’s tough to get the profuse flowers that I was accustomed to in Hawaii (where my Dad was stationed then when I was ages 3-6) and Melbourne, FL (when we were stationed at Patrick AFB).  These flower bring back so many memories of living in Hawaii where our house (we lived in military housing) had a tall hedge-like row of hibiscus along one of the outside walls.

I’ve been seeing the occasional flower this summer…hibiscus flowers only last one day so it’s been tricky getting outside at the right time to photograph it.  It needed to be before lunchtime, and most of this summer I simply wasn’t thinking about heading out to photograph the front yard until it was too late in the day.

Once school started, and the kids were playing in the front yard while waiting for their respective buses, I had a chance on the first day of school to get these shots of a fresh bloom!

The flowers are about 5-6″ across.

27. May 2011 · Comments Off on Blogger Problems, But Here’s a Pretty Gardenia · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

UPDATE: Whatever is going on is related to my Safari browser. So here I am using Firefox and everything seems fine. Phew!

Apparently my Blogger account (not Google account, just the Blogging part of it) is having some problems, so I will be attempting to do some blogging via e-mail, which is the only way I know how to get posts in at the moment.

This won’t look very good, and I don’t know how many pictures I can incorporate this way.
Until Blogger figures out which way is up…we’ll muddle along.

Coming soon…black-velvet slugs, garden updates and the CREPE MYRTLES are starting to bloom!
I’ll leave you with this pretty picture of a gardenia from my garden that I took last week just before I headed to Nebraska.

21. May 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

The mimosa trees are starting to bloom….

…or so I thought…

I have loved these pretty trees since I was a kid in southeastern Virginia…this one is blooming right up the street.

I’ll take my iPhone along on runs so I can listen to tunes, but about once a week I get distracted so much by the pretty flowers, I stop to take some pictures with the iPhone camera. It does a pretty decent job.

So I took several pictures of this “mimosa” tree and was all set to write up not just about the tree, but also about the delicious Sunday brunch staple: The Mimosa.  I’ll get to that particular Mimosa in a minute.

In case you hadn’t noticed after all these years, my posts about pretty flowers, cool trees or curious critters on this blog never lack at least a cursory round of research and web links for you to learn more.  This will be no exception.

Right away, I learned that these trees I’ve called “mimosas” for decades aren’t really  “mimosas”.  They’re Persian silk trees.  The geneses Mimosa and Albizia are both in the family Fabaceae.  Many folks are familiar with the mimosa species whose flowers quickly contract when touched.  You might know it as the “Sensitive Plant”, botanically known as the Mimosa pudica, seen in this video (you will get the gist of it in the first 10 seconds).

It seems so theraputic, doesn’t it?

Okay, okay, since the point here is that this ISN’T a mimosa, let’s focus on what this IS.

According to my buddy Wikipedia, the Persian silk tree is native to much of Asia, from Azerbaijan to China to Korea.  It was brought to the U.S. in the 18th Century as an ornamental tree and has become an invasive species in the eastern U.S., particularly in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.  It is commonly confused with both mimosas and acadia trees, because of the similar patterns of their respective leaves.

In true Internet-geek fashion, a short series of click-throughs led me to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, whose mission is to manage the spread of invasive species in Florida’s natural areas.  Every two years the Council publishes a list of Florida’s invasive plants, placing each species in a Category I or Category II.  Category I is more dire, meaning the species is capable of altering a natural ecosystem if left unchecked.

The Persian silk tree is a Category I invasive species.

Nonetheless, I grew up thinking these trees are so pretty, and I won’t change my mind on that.  What I WILL change my mind about is trying to get one for my own landscaping one day.

Let’s shift gears and talk about another Florida Discovery my Dear Husband and I have made: The Mimosa.

(That’s Mimosa with a capital “M”).

Within a week or two of our arrival, our family had a hankerin’ for some seafood, and ventured out to Pensacola Beach, where we were met with several choices.  We chose a touristy joint called Crabs — We Got ‘Em.  It was Sunday early afternoon and we were given a brunch menu that included several brunch-ey entrees, and all-you-can-drink Mimosas!  We ordered right up and the Mimosas were so delicious!

Now Dave and I want to keep a bottle of inexpensive Champagne on hand just so we can enjoy them on weekend afternoons.

So what is in a Mimosa?  Very simply put, mix equal parts Champagne and chilled orange juice in a Champagne flute.  Stir and serve with a light brunch.

Enjoy some history behind this drink.  Or this history, which also mentions the “Buck’s Fizz”, which is a very similar beverage.

In our house, we enjoy “Indian River”-brand orange juice, which is found at our local Publix supermarket, at a cost comparable to other national brands, but is MUCH more delicious!

Like the glass?  One of our Vegas souvenirs from 2006.  We stayed at the Flamingo.

I don’t have any champagne flutes.

Enjoy one this weekend!
10. May 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 11: Magnolias, Oleander and Other Florida Flora · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

We moved here in November, and by then most of the growing season was over.  So we’ve been greeted with all sorts of surprises over the past several weeks.  I’ve been taking lots of pictures of the pretty flowers blooming around here.

Unfortunately, these past few days all my photography has been with my iPhone camera, which is pretty good quality (for a smartphone camera)…but doesn’t give me the same flexibility as our Canon.  Dave had taken the Canon to Pennsylvania last weekend.

Magnolias are blooming here right now…so when I’m running in the neighborhood, I will pass a magnolia and enjoy the delightful fragrance…that awesome smell of “The South”.  On a run this past week, I decided to snap a few pictures of a pretty magnolia flower.

Any magnolia flower.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Oddly enough, after my run during my cooldown, when I decided to pull my iPhone from the sleeve and get the camera ready, I couldn’t find any easily-accessible magnolia flowers on the couple of blocks near my house.  I saw several in the distance in peoples’ backyards (I don’t walk through peoples’ yards to get photos), or else deep in the woods.

So I gave in — I went traipsing through a wooded lot towards a HUGE tree in full bloom. You can see the tree in the first picture, with the large oval dark glossy leaves.  It smelled wonderful!

I was wearing shorts and a tank top walking through this thick brush.  My skin wasn’t happy with me after this little adventure.

Isn’t it pretty there?  There’s a reason why those creamy white flowers are so popular in hotel room art…

This flower is about the size of my fist.  And it smelled SO GOOD!

I can’t wait to get out with my good camera for some photos!  This simply isn’t cutting it.  We’re totally missing the petal detail here…

As the title suggests, I’ll also be talking about oleander.  The first time I really encountered oleander was in Eastern Florida in 2002-2005, I was dealing with an infant/toddler all the while never forgetting “Oleander is poison!”  There were oleander hedges everywhere!  But I didn’t pay it much mind…

We now have a tall hedge of oleander in full bloom as a boundary between my yard and my neighbor to the right:

For the first time, this week I got up close and personal with these flowers and was impressed with the detail in the blooms! We have white, pink and fuschia flowers.

Who here has read the book “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch?  I remember reading it when it was an “Oprah’s Book Club” selection.  Who remember’s Oprah’s Book Club?  Ha ha!

Loving the ragged-edged inner petals!

Finally, enjoy some other flora I’ve seen around…

Loquats, anyone?  This was in full production on the edge of a house’s yard that I run past at least once a week.  Thanks to a couple of Facebook friends who helped me verify what these are.
Gardenia!  This is in my front yard — I cannot WAIT for it to open!  I’ll be out there as soon as it does — with our good camera!