Finally, we've got monarchs in the garden this week.
Todd and I saw one freshly hatched from its chrysalis on a walk the other morning. Talk about fresh, vibrant colors! But many of the ones I've seen are older. This monarch has probably been alive for a couple of weeks. He has telltale tears on his wings, and many of the tiny feathers that cover his wings have flaked off, leaving dull, gray spots.
Older butterflies are a little more devil-may-care than the younger ones. They don't mind sitting on my fingers, or letting me get close while they feed.
I love their delightfully spotted bodies! God had fun making butterflies, I'll bet.
The older ones aren't as buoyant as younger ones. This monarch had multiple tumbles from flowers, but he always patiently climbed back up to the bloom to feed.
Another winged visitor this week: a beautiful moth resting on our screen door.
Identifying moths is difficult, because they are so numerous, and so many of them happen to be brown. But I still enjoy studying their markings. Don't they have lovely designs?
A common buckeye (Junonia coenia) stopped by for some nectar. They look interesting with wings closed, but...
...they are much prettier with opened wings!
Recently, I was eating supper in our little sun room and idly surveying the back yard. On a low wire running through our pine tree branches, I saw a familiar silhouette:
A mantis was poised in "attack position" directly over the web of a small orb weaver spider. The spider tidied up his web, seemingly oblivious of the threat. Do mantises eat spiders?
Oh, yes, they do! Mantises eat all forms of insects, bees, and spiders. Oh, and also small birds and reptiles...if they can get them! I'm telling you - these things are dangerous! :)
Even though I had planned on taking it easy with knitting this year, I feel like I've got an unusually high amount of projects on needles. I like doing small projects in between the big ones, because I need that instant gratification. I recently completed a really fun project...a bookmark.
With a tail.
Squashed, with a tire-tread back.
And a lolling tongue. And, in case you still weren't sure...X's for eyes. Yes, this is one dead rat.
He was so much fun to knit! The pattern was easy...a simple 2-needle cast-on (using Judy's Magic Cast-On), a few increases, a bit of embroidery, some polyfil, and then a simple garter stitch body. I used teeny pink i-cords for the feet and tail.
I don't need to crack open a fortune cookie to know that there are many more of these in my future!
Of course, just in case I wanted to stack the odds...I happen to know how to make fortune cookies. They're easy, and fun, and great for almost any occasion...Valentine's Day, a birthday, an exciting life event, or...just because. Would you believe they only contain four ingredients?
Now there's really no excuse not to try them!
Makes 12 - 20 cookies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
Whisk all ingredients together until well-blended and then chill for one hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and write out your fortunes!
When your batter is chilled, spoon out 1 teaspoon of it onto a greased cookie sheet and spread it into a 3- or 4-inch circle. I made my cookies a bit too big and they didn't fold as easily as they would have if smaller. Lesson learned! Only put 3 or 4 circles on your cookie sheet. They harden quickly after baking, so if you have more than 4 cookies waiting to be shaped, there's a good chance that they'll harden before you've got time to shape them. Don't worry...if they do harden, you can heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them.
Here's where the fun begins! Bake for about 5 minutes, until they've just gotten a golden edge.
Working quickly, remove your cookies from the cookie sheet and flip them over. Lay a fortune inside...
...fold them in half...and fold them over the edge of a bowl to harden. Because mine were a little too big, I ended up placing them on a clean cloth and resting a spoon against their tops to hold them down while they hardened. Either way will work!
Look! You just made fortune cookies! Repeat with remaining batter and let cookies cool. You can give them away in their current state...
...or, you could dip them in chocolate and cover them with sprinkles, which is my preference.
The chocolate hardens quickly, and then they're ready to give!
Your recipient will be "fortunate" to receive such a fun gift!
I hope you'll make some this week. Enjoy!