Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Ring Out, Wild Bells
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Happy New Year!!

Thanks to Graphics Fairy  for the Bells Illustration 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Butterflies on the Lantana

It's Halloween and it feels like spring.  I don't mind though.   Especially as it bring SO MANY BUTTERFLIES to visit our lantana bush (the one nature planted outside our front door several summers ago).  Here's my son trying to lure one onto a flower we cut.  That one didn't take his bait, but another did...a little brown jet like butterfly I didn't get a picture of, which I think was a Little Glassywing.

There were 7 types of butterflies that came to visit--the four shown here, the Little Glassywings, a pretty little yellow butterfly who I didn't catch a photo of, and a Monarch who stopped to visit for the briefest of moments, and made my sons day (he's a little obsessed with Monarchs ever since learning about them on the Wildcrats).    He drew this picture afterwards...

With the help of some friends online we found the names for most of them...

Tawny Emperor

These brown pretties are a frequent visitor to my yard.

Gulf Fritillary

This is a Gulf Fritillary...a male one, to be specific (the people in my local garden forum are amazing...that's the only reason I know this).   These have been in my garden many times before, but I just now learned their names.  Isn't "Fritillary" the best name for a butterfly?  Sounds positively Victorian.

Giant Swallowtail

The caterpillar form of these beauties LOVE my dill and parsley, and are just as fascinating to watch as they are in butterfly form.

Pipvine Swallowtail

But this blue/black stunner stole the show.  What a beauty!   She was always in motion so it was hard to get a good picture of her, though I sure tried.  And every time she moved she shimmered!    I had never seen this type before, but several have visited since.

Here's a picture of her in flight.  I didn't realize when I took the picture that this butterfly nearly became dinner.  Can you find the giant green spider in this picture?

No?  Keep scrolling...

Still have trouble seeing it?   Keep scrolling...but warning, it's creepier up close.

This is a Green Lynx Spider, sitting on it's egg sack, which looks pretty close to hatch.  This one, as most I've seen, are over an inch long.  (Click picture to see it larger, if you dare!)

My son drew a picture of it too....

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Secret to Saving on Spices

I have a secret to save 50% or more on spices!   Buy them "loose" from the bulk spices section at HEB.

The bulk herb section of the HEB in Hewitt

It takes a few seconds more work but the savings are phenomenal.  All you do is grab a baggie, scoop yourself some spice, take note of the number on the jar, then go down the aisle to a scale, weight your baggies, type in the number, and print out a sticker with the price.

Above is some cumin I purchased--two small scoops.  Notice the price, 69 cents!   The bag doesn't look big, but it filled up the whole spice jar below.

And yes, that jar was EMPTY.   So $0.69 filled up a whole jar which usually costs around $6.  But then, that jar was organic*, and might have been a little pricier than most.  But even compared to of the LOWEST priced jar I could find of bottled cumin ($1.99 for 1.7 oz of HEB generic cumin), my bag of cumin was 1/3 the cost!   Guess you pay a lot for that jar!

And yes, I've tried similar comparisons with other spices.  You get an even better deal with some bulk herbs (bay leaves ESPECIALLY).

*(SIDE NOTE:  If you are concerned about GMO, you should know that very few herbs have ever been genetically modified, probably because they tend to be naturally critter resistant.   The only ones I'm aware of, most of which you would not find on the HEB spice aisle anyways are sugar cane, alfalfa, chicory, flax, eucalyptus, rose and chrysanthemum [edible flowers], and tobacco if you count that.  You could check back for changes on the GMO crops list on wikipedia or this list at the International Service for the Aquisition of Bio-Tech Applications.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fiddler On the Roof

This Tuesday our family, and some other homeschoolers, got to see Fiddler On the Roof (yes, that's right...before it opened!  We got discounted tickets for the dress rehersal.)

So, so fun!   Loved the dancing, and the music is great...but beware, you'll be humming these tunes the rest of the week.  I especially liked Tevya's performance, which I thought was exceptionally done.

My kids did well, though it kept them up late and they were having trouble towards the end, which is a little less up-beat and funny than the beginning.

I've seen Fiddler once in high school (it was one of our high school plays).  I enjoyed it then, but the end bothered me...and my oldest had the same reaction (he HATED the end).  I didn't so much this time.  I saw the hope in it...maybe the acting carried that a little more, or maybe I was able to understand the symbolism of the fiddler a little better as an adult.

“A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!”

Other things hit me differently as well.  I thought the "Sunrise, Sunset" song was boring when I heard it as a teen.   This time, with my youngest in my lap and my teenager beside me, it brought tears to my eyes.

Overall, excellent performance.  I highly recommend it!   Fiddler is playing now through Ocober 9 at Baylor University (more info here).    If you are bringing children I suggest going to the earlier times on the weekends.