The bugs of my Oleander

Let's take a close look at all the pests on the oleander during this muggy summer day.

First, I see tons of yellow aphids. Black ants are eating the yellow aphids and the white things are aphid eggs. What a mess. This called for a systemic treatment.

Here's a ladybug...which is great because they eat aphids.

Here's the oleander caterpillar. It only eats dessert rose, oleander and mandevilla. They eat the leafy green part of the leaves and don't touch the veins.
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Lemon-Orange Gelato Recipe

I made the lemon-orange gelator recipe from the Kitchenaid recipe book a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed it. I slightly modified it. My recipe is below.

Lemon-Orange Gelato by Danielle Copeland

2 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
5 egg yolks
.75 cups sugar
4 strips orange peel
4 strips lemon peel
zest from one orange
dash homemade vanilla extract

1. Scald milk with orange peel and lemon peel in heavy, medium saucepan.
2. Whisk yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk half of milk mixture into yolks. Return yolks to saucepan with remaining milk. Stir over low heat until mixture thickens slightly and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 8 minutes; do not boil. Strain into medium bowl. Refrigerate until well chilled.
3. Assemble and attach the KitchenAid® Ice Cream attachment to the Stand Mixer. Turn to STIR Speed. Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR Speed for 15 to 20 minutes or until desired consistency.
4. Transfer gelato to airtight container and freeze several hours to allow flavors to ripen. Can be prepared up to 4 days ahead. If frozen solid, soften slightly in refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

Instead of pouring the gelato into a container, I poured it into halved oranges that I had previously juiced. I topped them with mint and orange supremes and it made a wonderful presentation.

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Accidental Seedling and a Mulch Tattoo

I noticed these seedlings under the miracle fruit plant today as I was laying mulch. I decided to pull them out and plant them. We'll see how it goes. In the first photo, you can see the seed is still attached. This looks very similar to how beans look just after germination .

The leaf looks a bit curled up on this young seedling...I think it might have some kind of deficiency already.

Miracle fruit seedlings

Here's my accidental tattoo. I got it from the pine bark mulch bags. Now it won't come off (even with soap).
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Staghorn Fern and Pineapple in Zone 10

We have a staghorn fern growing on a dead palm tree stump in the front yard. It's being held on by fishing line and it's looking great during July, which is a time that many plants look strained from the constant heat.

As you can see, the pineapple plant in the lower left is nearly ripe. Last year, the same pineapple plant produced a fruit that was ready to harvest in mid August.
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How to Make Vanilla Extract

Christmas gifts this year are homemade bottles of vanilla extract. I had no idea the recipe is as easy as infusing vanilla beans in vodka! There are dozens of DIY guides on the internet, but here's how I did it...

I used 4 oz bottles that I purchased online. I used a hot glue gun with purple wax/glue for the seal, and leftover ribbon. I used a few sheets of old laserjet sticker paper for the label and I found the artwork online.

I generated a free QR code and attached a link to this post so all my friends/family can read about how I made the gifts.

Here's (below) how I did the actual infusion. It took about 6 months. I recommend using high quality vanilla beans and a high quality vodka. I used Sobieski Vodka since it's smooth Polish rye vodka, and I used Madagascar vanilla beans.

Here are a few more photos of how this project came together.

I boiled the bottles to ensure they are sterile.

Here's what the empty vodka bottle looked like after I was done filling the little bottles.

I have to admit that the aroma and taste of this extract is superior to any other extract I've ever tasted. It pays to do it yourself!


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