Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring Garden Visitors

The week after Easter is my traditional time for garden work. I spread things out to make it fun, not a chore. Over the last two weeks I've worked up the soil and planted seeds, seedlings from the nursery, flowers, trees, and lots of onion sets.

But I haven't been the only visitor to my float garden and deck pots. Here are a few of the rest.

Frogs are singing and munching bugs (hopefully)

Mourning Cloak butterflies enjoying the mud

Bumblebees in daffodil tents

Bee flies imitating their namesakes

Mrs. Robin helping control some of my pests

Tree swallows checking out the new birdhouse

What's been happening in your garden?

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my Camera Critters post this week. For more great animal pictures click here. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Coastal BC Plants: Orange Peel Fungus

O is for Orange Peel Fungus

When Wayne and I took a quad ride, the roads seemed to be littered with bright orange confetti. When we stopped to consult a map, I found the source. It was a fungus growing right out of the rocky soil.

Some were tiny and growing in clusters, but some were several inches across. They are called Orange Peel Fungus, a very appropriate common name. They look like just like bright orange peels curled up on the ground. The scientific name is aleuria aurantia. It's a cup fungus that likes to grow in clay soil, disturbed areas, and along road cuts and banks.

Orange Peel Fungus lives on and decomposes organic matter, ultimately enriching the soil where it grows. You can look for it during summer and fall in most North American locations.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the sixteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers.

Orange You Glad It's FridayI invite you to stop by Maria's blog Life's sweets and spices for more orange pictures and share one of your own. -- Margy

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cabin Cooking: Using Frozen Sourdough Biscuit Dough

Last month I used some of my starter to make Buttery Sourdough Pan Rolls. Even though I cut the original recipe in the cookbook in half, I had enough dough left over to freeze for later. Here's how I used it.

The recipe I used for the rolls didn't call for kneading because as the cookbook said, "rolls are small, so gluten doesn't need to be strong enough to hold up the weight of a loaf."

Oil pan and coat with cornmeal.
Rather than using the dough for more biscuits, I formed it into a small loaf. I have a small loaf pan I found at the thrift store that was just about the right size for the dough I had left.

Work cold dough with your hands.
I let the dough thaw, but before it got to room temperature, I used my hand to work it up a bit. My thinking was that it would help work up the gluten a bit more. Once it got sticky, I stopped and formed it into loaf shape.

Let rise until double.
I oiled and dusted the loaf pan with cornmeal. After placing the dough in the pan, I covered it and put it in a warm place near my stove to raise until double.

Slit top, drizzle with herb butter.
I used a sharp knife to slit the top. I also melted a tablespoon of butter with dried thyme, garlic powder and a bit of salt. I used that to drizzle over the top of the dough before baking.

Since it was a small loaf, I baked it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

The texture of the bread was more crumbly than my kneaded variety, but it tasted great warm with butter, and later warmed up by pan toasting.

Not making it into rolls helped us stretch it over several meals, rather than gobbling down all the rolls in one sitting. Plus, it was way easier.

Do you use frozen bread dough? Do you have any tips for me?

Head on over to A Peak into My Paradise for the Happiness is Homemade Link Party to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy

Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Love Affair with a Cougar" by Lyn Hancock

I only recently discovered the wonderful books written by Lyn Hancock. She's a prolific and well known author here in British Columbia. As a retired teacher, I'm sure she is proud to have children, young adults, and "grown ups" enjoy her tales. Once a teacher, always a teachers.

Love Affair with a Cougar begins with Lyn and her husband David living in Vancouver, BC. While David studied zoology at the University of British Columbia, Lyn taught grade four at Lord Kitchener Elementary School. Their rented home was shared with Sam the sea lion, Haida the puppy, and a variety of other critters needing care.

The story opens with David crawling through their bedroom window with four orphaned cougar kittens. He's brought them home to raise and study.

Wayne's photo of a cougar up near Heather Main in Powell River.

There were lots of hints that life with David wasn't easy. He was a dreamer and planner. Lyn was left with the day-to-day chores with animals and home, all the while teaching for pleasure, and to bring in a steady family income.

Of the four cougars, Tom was the only male. David decided Tom would be the focus of their efforts. As problems grew in their Vancouver neighbourhood, the couple purchased property near Victoria. But rather than a peaceful retreat, they became embroiled in controversy and politics. Through it all, Lyn stood by Tom, looking out for his best interests.

As a retired teacher (and administrator), my heart went out to Lyn. I enjoyed reading about how she used animals and science to thematically teach all content areas. She drew out shy students, and challenged everyone to do their best. I can almost hear the conversations in the teacher's room. Been there, done that as a young enthusiastic teacher among a faculty of entrenched colleagues.

If you love animals, adventure, and overcoming adversity, read Love Affair with a Cougar. Want to know more about Lyn Hancock? Here are some links:

Lyn Hancock's Website
Wikipedia - includes a list of her books
Facebook Page

Do you have any favourite books to suggest? I'm always looking for something good to read.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my Camera Critters post this week. For more great animal pictures click here. -- Margy more exciting book reviews, head on over to Semicolon's Blog each weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Coastal BC Plants: Purple Dead Nettle

N is for Purple Dead Nettle

I love spring! Wild flowers are in bloom. Here are some roadside posies I found down near the Shinglemill dock.

This one is called Purple Dead Nettle (lamium purpureum). It's a member of the mint family. When I first saw it as a young green plant I thought it was mint. It is listed as a invasive tenacious weed that originated in Europe. It is supposed to be edible and has herbal properties.  Of course, don't eat anything wild that you cannot positively identify as safe.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the sixteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

RESCUE! W.H.Y Wasp Trap

The RESCUE! W.H.Y Trap is designed to attract and trap Wasps (W), Hornets (H) and Yellowjackets (Y). Last year we had three wasp nests at the cabin. One was easily dealt with because it was exposed. The other two were more problematic because they were hidden in the wall and under the deck, so we had to tiptoe lightly every time we went around the back of the cabin.

This year I decided to take a proactive rather than reactive stance. I got a W.H.Y trap at Canadian Tire because it advertised that it used a special liquid attractant that could entice early emerging queens to enter the trap. And to top it off, I got it free with my Canadian Tire Money. That took a lot of "sting" out of my purchase.

The trap is “baited” with the liquid attractant in three spots, on the bottom in a felt pad, on the top in a small vial, and in the main chamber in a cup of water.

The sturdy plastic trap is designed to last for years, and refill packages are available. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the attractant only lasts for two week and refills cost about $5.00 each. But if I can prevent a nest under our float deck or in the cabin wall it’s well worth it.

I put the trap up on March 15. We are having early spring weather, so I don’t want to miss the queens. If they start nest building, I could be trying to catch workers all summer long. And that isn’t a pleasant thought! I’ve been stung before and it hurts like hell. Fortunately, I’m not allergic. For some people it’s deadly!

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here. -- Margy

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Up the Lake

We are having a amazing spring here in Coastal BC. Up on Powell Lake, the weather was sunny, warm, and so calm that you could see a reflection in every direction you looked.

The barge hardly ripples the water as we head up the lake.

Very little snow in the high country for early April.
We love to go out on the lake on days like this. And we were the only ones, we didn't have to share it with any one else. Amazing! -- Margy