Friday, November 6, 2009

Homemaker Musings

Hey everybody! I thought you might like to see some pictures of the canning we did this year. In the first picture, I am canning peaches (mmm...). The next picture is of oh-so-yummy pickled beets, and the last picture is of me making applesauce. In addition to the three items mentioned above, we canned apples and green beans. They were all fun to can. We used a pressure canner for the first time this year. I'll tell you how we canned the peaches and the beets:

First, we boiled water, then put peaches in it. We let the peaches soak for 5 minuets before plunging them into cold water. Then we sliced them in half and peeled them. We left the pit in some of them, so we could have one pit in each jar.My Grandmother told my mother that this helps the peaches keep their color.


As for the beets, we boiled them in water, then put them in cold water to peel and slice them.

The rest of the process is the same for both. We packed the fruit/veggies in jars, and pour liquid over them. Then "burp" the jars with a knife to get all the air bubbles out. Then wipe rims of the jars. Next, we put on the seals and rims. The last step is to put the jars in the pressure canner, and let the pressure increase and boil for 30 minutes at the required pressure.Then we wait for the canner to cool completely before removing the jars. They are placed in a draft free area to cool and rest for 24 hours. As they cool, the seals will each make a "pop"sound from the vacuum sealing process. I like listening for the pops!

As for the applesauce, we cut the apples into quarters, then cooked the apples with just 1/4 cup of water or apple juice.When they are hot and tender, we put them into the Victoro Strainer, and turned the lever to make... applesauce!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clear-Winged Hummingbird Sphinx Moth

Hello! In this post, I want to tell you about the Clear-Winged Hummingbird Sphinx Moth caterpillar that I have been raising since August. Mom found it on a Honeysuckle plant one day when we were out exploring, searching for Black Swallowtail caterpillars to raise. We did not find what we were looking for but we found this cute caterpillar :). It is certainly a very pretty caterpillar.
Notice the golden crown on it's head and the yellow base on the horn. It also has black dots along the sides of his body that are barely visible when it is only 1/4 of an inch long. That is how long ( or short) this caterpillar was when we found it. As it grows the spots are more visible.
These caterpillars feed on honeysuckle, h
awthorns, viburnum, and Black Cherry plants. Compared to the Monarch caterpillars I raised, my clear winged sphinx moth caterpillar grew rather slowly and did not eat as much. The caterpillar never consumed a whole Honeysuckle leaf in a day, even when the caterpillar was full grown.

The last picture is of the caterpillar in the pupa stage. When the caterpillar is fully grown it will climb down the host plant and bury itself in the dirt to go into the pupa stage. But our caterpillar could not bury in the dirt, so it pulled some leaves over itself and then went into the pupa stage. I have read that the caterpillars will do this if they can't get into the dirt for some reason.
We bought a bird-cage at a thrift store that we put the jar into, so that we can watch the moth after it hatches for a little bit before letting it loose. Our caterpillar should stay in the pupa stage all Winter and hatch next Spring,
Lord willing.

After hatching the moth continues to grow. It grows until it is about two inches long. The moths live in fields, on forest edges, and in gardens.

Did you know?...
The Clear-Winged Hummingbird Sphinx Moth got it's name because people often think it is a hummingbird? The resemblance is amazing. A few years ago we saw something and thought it might be a hummingbird, but we weren't sure. Now we think it must have been one of these amazing creatures! Click
here to see a picture of the moth and get some more information!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interesting Things

The top picture is of a grasshopper (of course!). I know, we all have seen them, I think, and know what they look like, but did you ever notice their bellies? If you look closely, you can see what looks like a person's face with sunglasses on between the second pair of legs.

The next picture is of a Parasa Chloris. We found this rather ugly caterpillar/slug on our flowering cherry tree one day while looking for a Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar (which, by the way, we never found. I hope we can watch one next year, though. I'm sure it would be fascinating). I will post some more pictures as we watch the Parasa Chloris, the ugly thing :-P :-)

The caterpillar in the picture above is a yellow-necked caterpillar that I found on our front porch. A very interesting looking feller, huh? They aren't very exciting looking as a moth either. They are dark brown and tan when that are a moth. To see a picture of a moth click here. Very pesty though, and the yellow-necked caterpillars cause a lot of damage to trees, eating the leaves. The other picture is of a toad we found in the herb patch beside our house.

And this very interesting creature is... well, I have no idea whatsoever. Very interesting looking, do you not think so? Mom thinks his head looks like that of a crocodile. Notice the intricate designs on his back. His leg's colour is greenish-yellow, or lime green. His hind legs are like that of a cricket. He is about one and a half inches long from nose to tail. If anyone has any idea what this creature is, please leave a comment on this post!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Seven Gems

Hello! I want to share some information about the seven Monarch butterflies I raised this year.
I learned some new things this year, including the fact that the Monarch caterpillar has twelve eyes, six on each side of it's head! Even though it has all those eyes it has very poor vision, so it uses it's antennas to know where it is at.

Also, I want to let you all know "Monarch Monica" from last year, is a male. The last picture on this post is a picture of a female. The female has wider black veins on her wings, and no dots on the hind wings. She is also smaller. The male has dots on his hind wings. In our studies, last year and this year , we have had only one female butterfly. We also noticed that all of the our male chrysalis' were the same size, but the female chrysalis was considerably smaller.

The caterpillars seemed to grow at the same rate as last year and about the same length except for the female. She was only about 1-1/2 inches long when she went into a chrysalis. Another thing I learned is how a caterpillar breathes. It breathes through little holes along its body called spiracles which are connected to tubes called tracheae, which carry oxygen throughout it's body.

I also noticed as I was watching a caterpillar spinning into it's chrysalis, that I could still see the stripes for almost an hour! After the stripes disappeared, I noticed yellow dots on the solid green chrysalis. A few hours later those dots had turned a lovely gold! Watch a gem!!!

The first picture is of a baby caterpillar when it first hatched. It's... kinda cute, don't you think? :-) The baby caterpillar will eat it's eggshell immediately after it hatches and then it will begin munching on the underside of the milkweed leaf, making a hole large enough for it to crawl through.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New York

Hello there! It's been awhile, hasn't it?
I thought I would fill you in on all the exciting things happening recently, and share some pictures as well.

First of all... the result on the giveaway. No one in our family ever won a giveaway... until I won that one! Yeah! I was pretty excited :-)

Second... here are some pictures from our trip to New York City/Long Island!!

This is Lady Liberty's old torch
The first ferry we rode on was the Miss Liberty. This is the Miss Gateway. We rode on her twice.
A building on Ellis Island

We went through the Holland Tunnel which goes under the water! That was neat. We also went across the Williamsburg bridge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Giveaway!

Cheri at A Joyful Handmaiden is giving away this beautiful apron at random on Friday.

To enter, just leave a comment here. If you want to enter twice, make a blog post, and leave another comment with a link to your post. The apron does have a small pin-hole in it, and a dirt smudge. Cheri also has more pictures on her post.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Planting

Last week we started to plant a few things in our garden. I
planted potatoes and onions. We are planning on growing several
kinds of tomatoes, brusell sprouts, green peppers, banana peppers,
lettuce, spaghetti squash, broccoli, green beans, yellow squash,
winter squash, beets and maybe carrots.
We hope to put the rest of our vegetable plants and seeds in
this weekend, if we don't have more thunderstorms like we did
this morning. It seemed strange to have a thunderstorm in the
morning. Lord willing, I will post updates to this blog more
often then I did this winter.