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.)