Welcome to my blog!

I photo sights and sites in my BloomingdaleDC neighborhood, or Washington DC or places I visit and write some thoughts about what I've seen. May your days be blessed with miracles, surprises and amazements too!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No, Not A Pinata, But A Wasps' Nest

Look, up in the tree, it's a balloon? A ball? A pinata? Nope, it's a huge wasps' nest! So amazing. We were driving on Q Street NW in Washington DC and looked up at what we thought was trash or something in the tree but on closer inspection turned out to be a giant wasps' nest. Or at least that's what I think it is as it looks like one I once saw in a museum.  I zoomed in with my camera and saw the opening and expected to see things buzzing in and out but it's probably too cold for wasps right now.  But I am wondering, where do wasps go over the winter? Do they die or hibernate?  I'll have to go look this up!
Well, I just ran off to Wikipedia about wasps and learned a lot including that it is probably a wasps' nest as "social" wasps chew trees and other stuff to make a paper pulp to make their nests. Apparently there are lone wasps too, but they don't make big nests and live together. (Sounds like some people we all know!).
I expect this nest will get covered up as the tree leafs up but I'll keep an eye out in about a month and see if I can still see it. 
The address for this wonder of nature is about 1406-1408 Q Street NW, just east of The Bike Rack shop nearby.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Inklings

Daffodils peeping out from snow
Tulip Tops Appearing
Sweet Yellow Crocuses!
Despite the recent snow falls I've espied hints of spring flowers in my garden.  The daffodils are forging ahead and put their yellow pointy heads out even through a crispy snow cap.  Then, in a pot by the kitchen door I spotted some tulip tips coming out. And lo and behold, I then saw some lovely yellow crocuses blazing away despite the low temperatures.  So all in all, I'm quite happy that signs of spring are showing up! So glorious to imagine when they are in full flower in just a few short weeks! And a short walk outside this morning confirmed there are a lot of tips and tops of bulbs and plants peeking out, reaching for the sun and inching their way through the last of March!.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hidden Garden With Bright Colors and Unusual Plants

We recently visited the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C., up near the U.S. Congress buildings.  We were thrilled and amazed at the plants and flowers and trees growing there. As it was a very cold wintry rainy sort of day, it was very pleasant to go into a warm and humid environment and see brightly colored flowers and tropical plants. It's set up with many different rooms all of which are glassed in, although there is an outside area -- the Children's Garden -- that is only open in warm weather. There was a room full of orchids that were spectacular hues, some with tiger skin design or flaming pink or orange or colors you didn't think existed naturally. Another very interesting room was filled with desert plants, such as various cactii and grasses that grow in very dry areas.  They had specimens from many areas of the world and with just enough text to explain what it was, although I think they could have provided just a little bit more information. One room was filled with medicinal plants and having more text it was cool to find out how many commonly-used
pharmaceuticals are derived from plants.  Another huge area, two-storeys high, was filled with jungle trees and vines and bromeliads, some flowering, some just hanging. Inside the Children's Garden you could see a large plant that looked like it was made of glass. In fact one visitor looking at it said "That's not a real plant!"  But it turned out there were several of these milky white glassy plants growing there and they are real. Another treat were the topiary trees shaped as animals such as bears, and some potted mosses and ferns arranged to look like frogs or other creatures. Since it was the holiday season there was also an extraordinary display of poinsettas, some pink, some cream and the more familiar red ones. Another (small!) glass room displayed some endangered species plants, including some interesting ferns and flowers.
View to US Congress from front of Botanical Garden
This is a  truly a wondrous place to visit (for free) in the city and learn more about the environment. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Drinking Sunshine Each Day

I'm not sure why I foto'd my making of fresh orange juice today but as I looked out my sunny kitchen window while squeezing four huge oranges I realized that orange juice is like sunshine. It's sweet and bright and you just have to have it every day!
So, using my trusty old juice squeezer (that I found while dumpster diving 15 years ago and it still works!) I squeezed a glass containerful.  You may note that the glass container is a re-used pickle or salsa jar.  You won't find me tossing out such a useful wide neck jar that has a metal lid!  Another day I will make use of the pulp left over, keeping it stored in a baggie in the freezer with other citrus pulp leftovers from other squeezings. Once I have enough frozen pulp squeezings I will make marmalade with it or use it in some fruit compote or toss it on broiled chicken or something that cries out for orange flavoring.
Then, to finish off the oranges, I tossed the cut up peels down the sink grinder; I've heard that citrus fruits are good at helping keep clean these devices and keep the blades sharp.  Then, I poured us two ounce glasses of juice!  Delightful fruit of the earth!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Most Trusty Kitchen Appliances

Everyone knows I'm pretty frugal and when I assessed recently my kitchen appliances I had to agree as many of them I got for free or low price and I keep them for as long as they work.  For instance, my $9.99 white Rival crockpot that I got at Walmart; this has got something heating or cooking in it just about every other day, from sauces to dinners to jams or soups. It doesn't have a timer so I just hook up a timer if I need to set it to start when I'm not at home. Who can not have a crock pot? Then I have this vintage Hamilton Beach juice squeezer. This I found in the trash one day when I was cruising by what was obviously a massive toss-out of someone's stuff. I've had it for 15 years already! It's squeezed a thousand oranges, lemons and grapefruit.  Who can live without fresh squeezed juice?  Then there's my Hamilton Beach hand mixer that was given to me by best friend in college who had received two of them at her wedding shower and gave me the extra one. And I went to college over 25 years ago, so you know this has made a lot of cakes, puddings and whipped cream! And where would I be without a blender?  This I use just about every other day for something.  My son has a disability so we grind up all his food in the blender at just about every meal he eats with us. I also use it to grind granulated sugar into icing sugar, or to make gravies or soups or guacamole. Due to such heavy use I burn the motors out on these every 12 months or so, so I go buy a new one. Interestingly, the price of these has not changed over my 30 years of cooking! They still cost between $20 and $40, depending on quality and sale discounts! Then, this past year I discovered the value of a food processor as a mini processor came free with the Oster blender I bought the most recently. I use this to make hummus and dips and grinding up larger quantities of food that the blender can't handle. Last, but not least, is a microwave oven that my mother-in-law gave to me when she downsized her kitchen. It's made by Samsung who I thought only made TVs! I know some people think these are bad for you, but the occasional re-heating of food or quick melting of something makes it a very efficient device. This particular model has a rotating plate in it so the food or liquid is evenly heated. This model of microwave also talks to me! Yup, after setting and finishing its timed cooking cycle, it beeps.  Then, if I forget to open the door within a few minutes, it beeps twice again at me, as if to say "hey, you forgot you're melting butter here." I have other appliances such as a coffee maker and a food processor and a coffee grinder -- all of which are just as old, or donated to me or bought on sale -- but I just wanted to share my most-used and useful appliances. Only these made it into this all-star lineup! How wonderful to have these! Look what electricity and manufacturing have wrought!