Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Top 12 Butterfly Garden Plants

This year Olivia and I are working on improving the butterfly garden in the backyard. Many years ago, when I did the art and farm camp at our farm, the garden was well-maintained and it had a little pond with tiny waterfall. The birds loved it. Having camp counselors and volunteers help with gardening made a huge difference in maintaining all the gardens.

This year, we are putting a lot of effort into the garden. I started last year and got some new perennials in it before Sophia's graduation party that was here. I had some annuals in it to add color since not a lot of perennials were blooming in late-June.

Our goal now is to add more perennial plants, with a focus on native plants that benefit butterflies, pollinators, beneficial insects, and birds - particularly early-migrating birds and hummingbirds.

There are over 700 species in the United States, with 161 species living in Minnesota. Although butterflies provide food for other animals, an equally important role is that they are pollinators. Only about ten percent of plants are self-pollinating. So, the rest of the plants depend on butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to help them reproduce. Without pollinators, many food crops, wild plants, and flowers would be at risk of dying out.

I came across a post about the top butterfly garden plants on Plant Care Today. Some of the plants were for different zones - ones that are much warmer than the one we live in. So, I eliminated those from the list. Below are the ones that we have added to our garden based on the article. The information noted is also from the article on Plant Care Today. The pictures show flowers in our garden.


#1 – Buddleia – Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush is a fast-growing, easy-to-care-for shrub attracts masses of butterflies throughout the summer with sweet smelling white, blue or purple blossoms. These bushes can grow huge, but it’s easy to control their size by just cutting them back to the ground late in the autumn or very early in the springtime.

Botanical Name: Buddleia Davidii and varieties
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with moist, well-draining soil.
Height: 10 feet
Spread: 15 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9 (varies by type)


#2 – Phlox

Phlox has pretty, sweet-smelling blossoms in white, pink, lavender, salmon or red all summer long. \

Botanical Name: Phlox paniculata
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with moist, well-draining soil.
Height: 4 feet
Spread: 1 foot
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-8

#3 – Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop is a beautiful, rugged, drought-tolerant plant that does very well in hot climates. It produces blue blooms toward the end of summer that are highly attractive to butterflies, yet they are also deer and rabbit resistant. The flowers are sturdy and long-lasting and make excellent cut flowers.

Botanical Name: Agastache foeniculum
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with moist, well-draining soil.
Height: 5 feet
Spread: 2 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-10

#4 – Asclepias – Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed (aka Milkweed) is an excellent choice if you want to attract Monarchs. Adult butterflies enjoy the flowers’ nectar and lay eggs on the leaves of the plant. Caterpillars eat the leaves and make their cocoons on the plants’ stems. The most popular variety has orange flowers, but there are many milkweed varieties.

Look for Swamp Milkweed and Annual Blood-Flower for butterflies to add variety to your milkweed patch. Not all types appeal to all butterflies, but a good mix will help ensure a meal for a wide variety of butterflies.

Botanical Name: Asclepias tuberosa
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with moist, well-draining soil.
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 1 foot
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9

#5 – Aster

The aromatic Aster plant is a wonderful choice to add color and attraction to your butterfly garden in the autumn. There are a variety of colors available that result in abundant blossoms in white, pink, blue, red and purple.

Botanical Name: Aster selections
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with moist, well-draining soil.
Height: 5 feet
Spread: 2 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8
Note: Height, spread, and hardiness vary depending on the type of Aster you choose. If you are short on space, seek out Botanical Named varieties, which tend to be more compact and resist disease quite well.

#6 – Echinacea – Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflower is a hardy, pretty, useful plant that grows well in a bright, sunny butterfly garden. The plant is drought and heat tolerant and produces purplish-pink blooms all summer long; and the butterflies enjoy the nectar. The picture above is a different type of Echinacea called "Hot Papaya."

Botanical Name: Echinacea selections
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with well-draining soil.
Height: 5 feet
Spread: 2 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9
Note: Height, spread, and hardiness vary depending on the type of Echinacea you choose.

#7 – Salvia – Meadow Sage

May Night or Meadow Sage is a vigorous salvia cultivar producing abundant spikes of purple flowers throughout the summer. This heat tolerant, drought-resistant plant is easy to grow and well-loved by butterflies. There are other salvia varieties available in pink, red and orange.

Botanical Name: Salvia sylvestri
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with well-draining soil.
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 1 foot
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9

#8 – Lantana

Bushes of Lantana flowers abundantly throughout the summer with pretty white, cream-colored, yellow, orange, red, pink and lavender blossoms. This plant is excellent in the garden or as a container plant. It is a good choice mixed into the flower bed or trained along a border.

Botanical Name: Lantana selections
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with well-draining soil.
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 3 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10. Lantana grows as an annual in cooler zones, including Minnesota


#9 – Zinnia

Zinnias are popular with butterflies. Available in a wide range of colors and varieties, it’s easy to create an interesting, varied garden with just a collection of pretty zinnias.

Botanical Name: Zinnia selections
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with well-draining soil.
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 1 foot
NOTE: Height and spread vary depending on the types of Zinnias you choose.
USDA Hardiness Zones: Annual


#10 – Eupatorium – Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is a big, vigorously growing plant that butterflies love. Some varieties grow to be six feet tall, but there are cultivars (e.g., Little Joe) that stay smaller. The plant produces billowing clusters of dusty pink blooms late in the summer and into the autumn.

Botanical Name: Eupatorium selections
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with moist, well-draining soil.
Height: 7 feet
Spread: 3 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9

#11 – Rudbeckia – Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan is a daisy-like perennial that is heat and drought resistant and lovely in bouquets. Blossoms appear late in the summer and provide a tasty meal for butterflies and bees.

Botanical Name: Rudbeckia selections
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with well-draining soil.
Height: 6 feet
Spread: 3 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9

#12 – Coreopsis

Coreopsis has pretty yellow blossoms and deep green, fernlike foliage. The plant blooms all summer long and can be encouraged to bloom even more with vigorous deadheading. In fact, trimming it back with the hedge clippers is a good way to get it to produce blossoms in abundance.

Botanical Name: Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’
Ideal Conditions: Choose a bright, sunny spot with well-draining soil.
Height: 18 inches
Spread: 18 inches
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

For quite a while I've been wanting to make spring rolls. I found an easy recipe on Pinterest for Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce that led to Sally's Baking Addiction. The most labor-intensive part is the chopping. Once that is done, the assembly of the spring rolls takes just a few minutes.

This recipes makes 8 spring rolls. They are flavorful - especially with the homemade peanut sauce. I will definitely be making these spring rolls again!


Spring Rolls

2 ounces rice vermicelli or maifun brown rice noodles* (I used rice noodles)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I doubled the amount to give the noodles more flavor)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup torn butter lettuce, ribs removed
1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage (I used green cabbage since that's what I had on hand)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or sliced into strips with a julienne peeler
2 Persian (mini) cucumbers or 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced or sliced into strips with a julienne peeler (I used a regular cucumber)
2 medium jalapeƱos, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
8 sheets rice paper (spring roll wrappers)

Peanut Sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce (I used soy sauce)
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (I used honey)
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed (I didn't use the water)


To make the spring rolls: Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles just until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse them under cool water, and return them to the pot. Off the heat, toss the noodles with the sesame oil and salt, and set aside.

Fill a shallow pan (a pie pan or 9″ round cake pan works great) with an inch of water. Fold a lint-free tea towel in half and place it next to the dish. (Note: I used a paper towel.) Make sure your prepared fillings are within reach. Combine the green onion, cilantro and mint in a small bowl, and stir.

Place one rice paper in the water and let it rest for about 20 seconds. You want the sheet to be pliable, but not super floppy. Carefully lay it flat on the towel or paper towel.

Leaving about 1 inch of open rice paper around the edges, cover the lower third of the paper with a few pieces of butter lettuce, followed by a small handful of rice noodles, some cabbage, and a few strips of carrot, cucumber and jalapeƱo. Sprinkle generously with the herb mix. (Note: I added edible flowers to the spring rolls. This was the first thing I put down before the rest of the ingredients.)

Fold the lower edge up over the fillings, rolling upward just until the filling is compactly enclosed. Fold over the short sides like you would to make a burrito. Lastly, roll it up. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

To make the peanut sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari, honey, sesame oil, and garlic. Whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed to make a super creamy but dip-able sauce.

Serve the spring rolls with peanut sauce on the side. You can serve them whole, or sliced in half on the diagonal with a sharp chef’s knife.

Note: The peanut sauce can be made in advance. You also can prepare the vegetables several hours or up to 1 day in advance, and store them in an air-tight container (they will lose freshness with time). The spring roll wrappers tend to dry out with time or once chilled, so spring rolls are best assembled shortly before serving. If you’d like to keep them fresh for a couple of hours, store them under a lightly damp, lint-free tea towel at room temperature (the skin tends to harden in the refrigerator).

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Patriotic Strawberry Spinach Salad

A couple weeks ago, I was looking for a healthy recipe to have with our Memorial Day meal. Came across one for the Best Ever Strawberry Spinach Salad on Pinterest. The recipe led to The Slow Roasted Italian.

The salad dressing is easy to make and quite flavorful. I had to substitute a couple of ingredients since I'm trying to use what I have on hand.

The candied pecans are something that you have to watch closely since they go from doing well initially to cooking very quickly and potentially burning. I removed them from the stove just in time.

The salad itself has a variety of ingredients that offer bites of sweetness along with neutral flavors but different textures.


Candied Pecans (I doubled this so I had extra for other salads)

1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves (I used walnuts since we didn't have pecans on hand)
Pinch of salt

Dressing (I doubled this as well)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra light tasting olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used a sesame-honey mustard dip)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 1/2 teaspoon instead of the 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika


10 ounces fresh baby spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 small red onion, sliced
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 (5 ounce) package blue cheese crumbles


Place a sheet of parchment paper on the counter top to dry the pecans.

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add pecans, sugar, and salt. Stir until the pecans are well coated. Stir until the sugar caramelizes, about 3-5 minutes. (Note: watch very carefully! This process goes quickly and can burn in a split second.)

Spread onto parchment paper. Separate pecans. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile: in a pint size mason jar combine dressing ingredients. Seal and shake until well combined. Set aside on the counter. (I used the Ninja food processor and set it to puree. It blended the ingredients beautifully.)

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, onions, strawberries, and blueberries. Pour about 1/2 of dressing over salad, and toss. Top with avocado, cheese and candied nuts. Serve remaining dressing on the side.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes before serving (or serve immediately).

Serve with the remaining dressing on the side. Enjoy!


The dressing may solidify in the refrigerator. It is best to allow dressing to sit on the counter for a while before serving. Shake well before using.

If you are making the salad ahead, prep the salad ingredients and refrigerate. Then dress the salad about 15 minutes before serving. This will help keep the spinach from wilting.

Mozzarella or feta cheese are also amazing on this salad.

Lighten it up by subbing plain pecans for the candied ones and eliminate the sugar from the dressing.

Add sliced grilled chicken for a fabulous summer meal.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Roasted Vegetable Medley with Sausage (Paleo Whole30)

This past week I made Roasted Vegetable Medley with Sausage. It's a Paleo and Whole30-compliant dinner that's super easy to make. Everyone enjoyed it, and we had plenty of leftovers that reheating nicely. I would definitely make this recipe again.


1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into fourths, and then sliced into bite size pieces (I didn't include this)
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings
1 bell pepper, top and seeds removed and sliced into strips (I used 2 peppers)
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, halved (I used 16 ounces of fresh mushrooms)
3 large pre-cooked sausage links, sliced into bite sized pieces (I used 4 sausages that were nitrate-free with sun-dried tomatoes and basil)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (I used 1 tbsp. dried. However, I think fresh basil would have tasted better)
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit and line 1 large or 2 medium baking pans with parchment paper.

Cut up all of the vegetables and sausage and place in a large bowl.

Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss until coated.

Add basil, salt and pepper, toss again. Spread vegetables and sausage out in an even layer on baking sheet(s).

Place in oven and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once. You want the vegetables to be brown on the outside edges and tender on the inside. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Asian Slaw with Ginger Dressing (Whole30)

This past week I tried a new Whole30 recipe: Asian Slaw with Ginger Dressing. The Napa cabbage, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and cashews have a flavorful homemade dressing. The dressing had ten ingredients that were blended in the food processor.

Here's the recipe:


Ingredients - Dressing

1 2" piece of fresh ginger
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t soy sauce
1 t maple syrup
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 t toasted sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients - Salad

1 small green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), shredded. I used a Napa cabbage

4 medium carrots (shredded or sliced)

4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Ingredients - Topping

1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or roasted cashews


To make the dressing, put everything in a food processor and blend.

Place the salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Add the dressing to the mixing bowl, and everything well to coat the vegetables.

Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Sprinkle the cashews on top.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Bacon Egg and Cheese Wreath

With Sophia home from college, there are more of us now who eat eggs for breakfast. I remember making a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Brunch Ring many years ago. Found the recipe again on Pinterest that led to Bacon Time with the Hungry Hypo.

Everyone enjoyed the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Brunch Ring (except Paige who doesn't like eggs). A serving is one of the crescent roll sections and the exposed egg section next to it. It's a generous portion that is quite filling. We were all full for most of the day and didn't need to eat again until mid-afternoon.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Brunch Ring

Prep - 25 min
Total -55 min
Servings - 8


4 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
Salt and pepper, if desired
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (I didn't use this)
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent rolls or 1 can (12 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend (4 oz)
Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired (I didn't use this)
1 cup Old El Paso™ Thick 'n Chunky salsa, if desired (I didn't use this)


Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for Grands!™ crescents). Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat about 4 minutes or until cooked but not crisp, turning once. (It will continue to cook in oven.) Set bacon aside; drain all except 2 teaspoons bacon drippings from skillet.

In medium bowl, beat 1/3 cup of the milk, the eggs, salt and pepper with fork or whisk until well mixed. Stir in bell pepper. Pour egg mixture into skillet. As mixture heats, portions of eggs will begin to set. Gently push cooked portions with metal spatula to outside edge of skillet. Avoid stirring constantly. As more egg sets, push it to edge, and place it on top of the already set egg mixture. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until eggs are thickened throughout but still moist.

Meanwhile, unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. On parchment-lined cookie sheet, arrange triangles with shortest sides toward center, overlapping in star shape and leaving 4-inch round circle open in center. Crescent dough points may hang over edge of cookie sheet. Press overlapping dough to flatten.

Place bacon on each of the triangles. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the cheese onto widest part of dough. Spoon eggs over cheese. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the cheese.

Pull points of triangles over eggs and cheese, and tuck under dough to form ring (filling will be visible). Carefully brush dough with remaining 1 tablespoon milk; sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup cheese.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes (18 to 23 minutes for Grands!™ crescents) or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. With broad spatula, carefully loosen ring from cookie sheet; slide onto serving platter. Garnish with cilantro and salsa.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Creating a Memorial Garden with Perennials

On May 5th, on the anniversary of the death of a loved one, I planted seven perennials from a local nursery. These are all in shades of white, pink, and red - colors that were in home and yard.

The challenge is that this garden is on the north side of the home and gets very little sunlight. Nonetheless, there are some pretty perennials that like shade and have color to their leaves and/or flowers.

I planted:

- Barrenwort

- Lily of the Valley (2 plants)

- Wild Rose Coral Bells

- Pink Fizz Foamy Bells

- White Bleeding Heart

- Paris Coarl Bells

- Swan Blue and White Columbine

In addition, I found some little ferns that were sprouting up in the yard that I transplanted to this area.

There was moss that was growing around this area that I dug up and placed around the plants - to give it a look that this garden has been around for a while.

I cleaned out the pond after neglecting it for many years. There were rocks and sludge in it. Surprisingly, the pump still works after I cleaned it out. The bamboo fountain, however, no longer works.

The small pond almost cleaned out. 
The hostas were transplanted 
many years ago and are coming up. 
The ferns and coral bells were added this year.

Later in the month, on the 18th, Olivia and I filled up the pond with water. We positioned a couple of rocks and sticks for the birds and other wildlife to use if they fell into the pond and needed to get out.

Olivia positioning a stick in the water. 
In the upper right of the photo,
is the white bleeding heart. 
We've always had pink bleeding hearts, 
so it's nice to see another color.

The girls and I picked out a koi fish fountain and tubing at Menards to attach to the pump. Initially it was working and then it stopped. After washing out the pump again, it was working. Then it stopped again.

We will try one more time with cleaning and scrubbing out the pre-formed pond and re-washing the pump. Otherwise, we may need a new pump.

I added a hummingbird feeder along with a half of an orange. We are seeing a ruby-throated hummingbird and oriole daily now since about the 16th of May!

One of the male Baltimore Orioles at our farm.
So far, we have seen three male Orioles and one female Oriole.

It's nice to see this area come alive again with new perennials and the pond (even if the fountain isn't working quite right yet).

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls - Copycat Recipe

For Mother's Day, Sophia asked me what I would like for breakfast. Although I was hungry for waffles, our waffle maker was broken by Aspen who pulled it off the counter and it fell to the floor. So much for using that again.

As I looked through ideas on Pinterest, nothing grabbed my eye until I saw: Copycoat Cinnamon Rolls! The recipe led to Fun Happy Home.

The recipe requires some time to prepare, but is much easier and less time-consuming that the recipe that my Grandma made. It is packed full of flavor and each roll is very filling. Sophia did a nice job with making and baking the rolls.

We would definitely make this recipe again! I'd like to try the overnight and freezer methods to see how they taste compared to making them, baking, and eating them in one day.

Cinnabon Rolls Dough

1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup softened butter
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 cups flour

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Filling

1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
⅓ cup butter, softened

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Cream Cheese Icing 

6 tbsp butter
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
½ tsp vanilla
⅛ tsp salt

Cinnabon Recipe Directions

To start the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour, mix well.

Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and mix. If using a stand mixer you will want to use the dough hook. Mix well until well incorporated.

Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx ¼ inch thick.

Make the Copycat Cinnabon Filling

To make cinnamon filling, combine the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Carefully starting from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1½ inch slices.

Place the cut rolls into an oiled 13×9 inch pan Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, mix all icing ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.

When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

Overnight Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Recipe

We know that making homemade cinnamon rolls can be time-consuming and that you may not want to rise at the crack of dawn so you can have them ready for breakfast.

You can make this recipe up to the point where you cut your rolls and put them in the pan. Once they’re cut and in the pan, instead of letting them rise, cover them and put them in the fridge.

Take them out in the morning, let them rise for the second time, and then bake as instructed. {Please note that it will take a little longer for them to rise as they will be cold from being in the fridge. Allow for 15-30 minutes longer for rising.}

Freezer Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Did you know that you can freeze the cinnamon rolls while they’re still dough and then cook them? This is a total game-changer and will allow you to have homemade cinnamon rolls any time you want. And it will also allow you to make less at a time.

Simply make them up to the point where you cut them and shape them. Instead of putting them in the pan, put them on a cookie sheet (without letting them touch) and put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. This will allow them to freeze enough that they won’t stick to each other.

Once they are frozen, place them in a gallon-size freezer bag and store in the freezer til 12 hours before you’re ready to use them.

The night before you want to make them (or 12 hours before if you’re making them for the evening), move cinnamon rolls to the fridge and allow them to thaw.

When you’re ready to bake them, take them out, place them in a greased pan and let them rise til they’re double in size. This will take around an hour since they’re going to be super cold to begin with.

Once they’ve risen, bake as usual.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Asian-Style Spicy Coleslaw

On Mother's Day, I tried a new recipe Asian-Style Spicy Coleslaw, that I saw on Pinterest. It led to Food and Wine.

I had some cabbage that I wanted to use and had all but one of the ingredients on hand. That's the type of recipe I like - one where I have everything available and don't have to go out and get something special.

The recipe has a flavorful and spicy flavor which I enjoyed. I wasn't able to detect the Asian fish sauce in it, but Sophia could and said she didn't care for it. I think it could be eliminated since it isn't a critical ingredient.

I made half a recipe since I knew that only Sophia and I would eat it. So, I kept some of the dressing aside to add as we were eating it so the cabbage and other vegetables wouldn't soften.

I would make this recipe again - maybe next time without the fish sauce and see if that makes a difference in the taste.


1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce
2 pounds napa cabbage, thinly sliced (12 cups) (I didn't have this so used regular cabbage)
3/4 pounds red cabbage, thinly sliced (3 cups) (I didn't have this either so I used regular cabbage)
3 medium carrots, julienned
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
15 mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter with the lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, garlic and Sriracha. In a large bowl, toss the napa and red cabbages with the carrots, peppers, cilantro and mint. Toss the salad with the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Serve right away.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Making Some More Window Stars

One of my goals this year is to try some new window star patterns that I found on Pinterest. One of the patterns I tried turned out very similar to the image shown on Pinterest. I used 3"x6" lime-green kite paper to create it.

This is the pattern and instructions.

I made both a yellow and lime-green version of the window star. I think lighter colors are better so the pattern can be seen easier than with a dark color.

I tried making the window star again, but using 2.5"x5.5" paper. The results were somewhat different with the smaller size, but no other significant changes:

This is how the sizes compare - with the yellow using the larger 3"x6" paper and the lime green using the 2.5"x5.5" paper.

The second star I made didn't even come close to the image in the image on Pinterest. This is my result.

This is the pattern that was linked to Fashion and Recipes. It has quite a few patterns on the website. I used 3"x6" pink kite paper.

Now as I look at it I'm wondering if I forgot the last two steps with folding the points into the middle. I may have to try this one again.

It's been fun trying some new patterns during the stay-at-home order. It passes the time and gives me something creative to do.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A Positive Message During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Yesterday, I heard "The Great Realisation" by Probably Tomfoolery - first on the radio while driving  to take Cooper to the vet, and then I watched the video at home. Each time I was captivated by the message of what life was like before the virus and what it has been like since.

The story speculates what life will be like once a cure for COVID-19 happens. Will people go back to their old ways or will they want to stay with what life has been like?

Have there been positive changes in your life because of COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders?

This video is worth taking a few minutes to watch.

Here is the written version of the story:

Tell me the one about the virus again.
Then I'll go to bed.
But my boy, your growing weary,
sleepy though about your head.

Please! That's ones my favorite.
I promise, just once more.

Ok, Snuggle down, my boy,
though I know you know full well,
this story starts before then
in a world, I once would dwell.

It was a world of waste and wonder
of poverty and plenty,
back before we understood
why hindsight's twenty-twenty.

You see the people came up with companies
to trade across all lands.
But they swelled and got much bigger
than we ever could have planned.

We'd always had out wants,
but now it got so quick.
You could have anything you dreamed of
in a day, and with a click.

We noticed families had stopped talking.
That's not to say they never spoke,
but the meaning must have melted
and the work-life balance broke.

And the children eyes get squarer
and every toddler had a phone.
They filtered out the imperfections
but amidst the noise they felt alone.

And every day the skies grew thicker
till you couldn't see the stars.
So we flew in planes to find them
while down below we filled out cars.

We'd drive around all day in circles,
we'd forgotten how to run.
We swapped the grass for tarmac,
shrunk the parks 'till there were none.

We filled the seas with plastic
because our waist was never capped.
Until each day when you went fishing,
you'd pull them out already wrapped.

And while we drank and smoked and gambled
our leaders taught us why.
It's best to not upset the lobbies
more convenient to die.

But then in 2020,
a new virus came out way.
The governments reacted
and told us to all to hide away.

But while we all were hidden
amidst the fear and all the while,
the people dusted off their instincts.
They remembered how to smile.

They started clapping to say thank you
and calling up their mums
And while the car keys gather dust
they would look forward to their runs.

And when the skies less full of voyages
the earth began to breath
And the beaches bore new wildlife
that scuttled off into the seas.

Some people started dancing,
some were singling, some were baking.
We'd grown so used to bad news
but some good news was in the making.

And so when the found the cure,
and were allowed to go outside,
we all preferred the world we found,
to the one, we'd left behind.

Old habits became in extinct
and they made for the new.
And every simple act of kindness
was now given its due.

But why did it take a virus
to bring the people back together?
Well, sometimes you've got to get sick,
my boy, before you start feeling better.

Now lie down and dream of tomorrow
and all the things that we can do.
And who knows, if you dream hard enough,
maybe some of them will come true.

We now call it the Great Realizations
and yes, since then, there have been many,
but that's the story of how it started
and why hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Artist/Picture Study - Giotto di Bondone

Continuing with the Artist/Picture Study for this year, Olivia focused on Giotto di Bondone (1267-January 8, 1337).

According to Wikipedia, Giotto "was an Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Late Middle Ages. He worked during the Gothic/Proto-Renaissance period.

"Giotto's contemporary, the banker and chronicler Giovanni Villani, wrote that Giotto was 'the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature' and of his publicly recognized 'talent and excellence.'

Olivia focused on six pieces that Giotto created. Below are the images of the work and what Olivia remembered about each one after she studied them for a while.

Crucifix (1288-89)

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a big cross, but it is a very fancy-looking cross.
- At the base of the cross, there is a rock formation that looks like it is in front of the cross and underneath the rock, there are some bones.
- On the cross, is Jesus and you can tell he is nailed to the cross by his feet and both of his hands.
- He has a kilt and that is the only piece of clothing he is wearing.
- He also appears to have been there awhile because his stomach is sagging.
- He also has a wound on his side that is bleeding, and on the two parts of the cross that go out horizontally there is a picture probably Mary on the left side and what appears to be Joseph on the right.
- Mary is wearing a blue and pink shawl/robe-thing and Joseph has a blue robe on with the hood up - and it is a dark blue.
- Mary has the same hair color as Jesus - kind of a light brown. Both of their hair is wavy.
- Above Jesus (at the top of the cross), there is a square plaque that has gold writing on it that looks like it is probably Arabic or Hebrew.
- The cross is done in golds, reds, and blues.
- Jesus has one of those golden halos around his head, and his skin color has kind of a greenish tint to it.
- There are patterns at the base part of the cross where Jesus' legs are on it - covering it.
- The background around the cross is black and the main colors that were used were creams, golds, reds, and blues.


Ognissanti Madonna and Child, created in 1310, tempera on wood, 128 x 80 inches, Uffizi, Florence

Olivia remembered: 
- In the picture, it has a triangle shape top. It looks like it would have been on an altar or in a picture frame with a weird top.
- In the center of  the picture, there is a throne chair and it is surrounded by people and on the chair is Mary with baby Jesus. 
- Baby Jesus is wearing a pink dress/robe/outfit and he looks like he is a couple of years old.
- Mary is wearing a blue robe/wrap and I think it covers what she is wearing underneath - it may be a white dress.
- Closest to the throne and three people on both sides and two of the people (one on each side) are holding gifts out to Jesus. Maybe they are kings.
- The one on the right is holding out a box/mini chest and the one on the left is holding a crown. 
- The three men have the gold halos around their head, and so does Mary and Jesus. 
- The other people in the background also appear to be lords or kings because they have a crown on their head.
- In front of the wise men, at the base of the throne, there is an angel on both sides. They have white robes on and they are kneeling. They are holding out a gold vase with something inside it.
- The wings appear to have a slight ombre effect - white on top with gray followed by an orangish-red. 
- The throne is white with lots of detailing with gold, red, and blue paints.
- Also, the arms of the chair appear to have big, open windows on the top.
- The background of the picture is gold. 
- The people appear to be very pale and not have natural skin colors.
- These people are dressed in greens, reds, blues, and browns. 
- The chair appears to be sitting on a marble pedestal that is decorated around the edges.


The Nativity in the Lower Church, Assisi

Olivia remembered:
- This picture has a mountain in it and in front of the mountain there is a barn, and in the barn is a feeding or water trough with a cow and donkey looking over it. 
- Sitting in the hay - but it looks like a mattress - is Mary and baby Jesus. 
- The barn appears to be set on a ledge - it looks like it is a little off the ground.
- Baby Jesus has one of  those golden things around his head, except it looks like it has a cross on it 0 it has three points sticking out from his head.
- Sitting on the floor next to the ledge is Joseph and he looks kind of old - he has white hair and white beard, and his knee is propped up with his arm on it and head resting on his hand. He looks very bored.
- Next to him are two women and there is a bowl that looks like it is sitting - in between them. The one wearing white is holding another baby and this baby has a golden ring with the points sticking out of the side. The other woman who is dressed in pink has a cloth that she is holding out. Next to her is a bunch of sheep and behind the sheep are two shepherds and they look frightened because there is an angel above them that looks like it is telling them the good news about Jesus' birth - except these don't like normal size/human size angels. They look like little angels you find on fountains - like cherubs. 
- Above Mary in the barn there are angels in front of her and behind her, and they are all smiling and happy that Jesus is born. 
- The sheep are mostly white, but there are some brown ones in there, and they almost all have horns. 
- Above the mountain, there are some more angels, and there is a star that is a shooting star that is going past them, and the angels are all singing. 
- Coming down at the peak of the mountain and shining down on baby Jesus are the rays from another star, but you can't see that star. 
- Jesus is wrapped up in white cloth and Mary is wearing a blue robe with gold trim. 
- Joseph has a blue robe and a white shawl that covers the upper half of his body.
- Behind the shepherds, there is one single lone tree with some leaves on it. 


Saint Francis and Saint Clare 1279-1300

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there are two people. They are standing between two different archways. One is a man and the other is a woman. 
- They are both dressed in brown robes. Neither of them has shoes.
- The woman is holding a palm tree branch in one hand and she is wearing a habit. She has very long fingers and toes.
- The background for both of the pictures if blue with a little bit of green and they have writing behind them.
- The man has a Bible and he, too, has long fingers and toes. On both of his hands and feet there are these dots that look like blood.
- They both have the halos around their heads.
-  The center column that separates them appears to have a twisty pattern on it and the tops of the column looks like it is done in a Greek or Roman style.
- The archway is decorated with patterns done in gold and blue with a little bit of red. 
- They appear to be standing on the ground which is brown. 
- They both have their eyes closed or they are looking down. 
- There is writing behind them on the blue sky. 
- The Bible is done is a reddish-brownish leather. 


No. 5 Scenes from the Life of Joachim, created during 1304-06

Olivia remembered: 
- In the picture, there are three people and five animals. There is a house or a hut behind the man who is sitting on the ground. This man is wearing a pink robe and is resting on a rock. He looks like he is asleep.
- There are two shepherds and they are looking at the man, and they don't seem to know what's going on.
- They appear to be on the side of a mountain. It's a very barren looking mountainside. There's only a couple of trees behind the hut and several scraggly-looking plants near the sheep.
- One of the sheep is reaching up and eating one of these plants. There are three white sheep, two are laying down. There are two black ones (one is laying down) and the other one appears to have horns and is standing next to a dog.
- In the sky, there is an angel and the angel has a kind of an upper body that is present, but the lower half is non-existent or you have to imagine it for yourself. 
- The wings on the angel are red and he is carrying some sort of staff. Both the angel and the man laying down have the gold circles around their heads - the halos.
- This picture is during nighttime. 
- The ground is like a white, grayish-tan. It looks very desolate. 
- The sky is a nice, dark blue. 
- The shepherds are wearing tunics that are a light gray and dark brown. The one wearing the light gray tunic has a walking stick, but it is tucked under his arm so you can't see the top. They are wearing boots that come up half-way up the calf and are brown.


St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, created in 1299

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there are two men, a tree, and lots of birds. 
- The birds appear to be in pairs of two kind of like Noah's Ark, but a little like Noah was supposed to take two of each kind. 
- There are two birds flying down. 
- Some of the birds appear to be those kiwi birds or sandpiper birds. There are ducks, a rooster, and what looks like two magpies. 
- One of the birds that is flying down looks like it is a hummingbird and the other one looks like it could be a sparrow.
- There are dots around Francis's head that kind of make it look like he is supposed to have a halo. 
- The man behind Francis does not look happy. He has a little bit of red in his cheeks and it looks like it could be from anger. His eyes are also kind of squinted. 
- They are both wearing brown robes that are tied around the waist with a cord. It looks like they are wearing caps, but it may be the way their hair is cut - where it looks like you have a ring of hair around your head. 
- They are both barefoot and they have gathered with the birds on the grass.
- The sky, for some reason, is yellow; and the tree has a very narrow trunk and it looks like someone took some ferns or big leaves that grow on the ground and stuck it on a tree.
- The tree looks like it has some blue fruit on it. 
- One of the birds - the all black ones - have a red beak. The ducks have a bright orange bill. They are gray on top and white underneath. 
- They all seem to be listening very intently.