Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flux, Slime, and Cookie Time

My goodness, I never knew that trees were so high-maintenance.  But our arborist has informed us that one of our front trees has a bacterial infection called slime flux.  It's not serious, but the tree is seeping an almost yeasty-smelling liquid that is attracting all sorts of insects.

European hornets.

Beautiful June Beetles with their iridescent exoskeletons.

Dainty butterflies... stacks!

The hornets tried to drive off the butterflies and other insects time and again...

 ...but the lure of the slime flux was too strong!  They settled back into place just seconds later. 

Treatment is optional with slime flux, but we're so paranoid about losing trees that we went ahead with the recommended treatment - a diluted bleach spray.  We'll keep a close eye on things to see how it goes.

Speaking of slime...look at this beautiful chocolate tube slime mold from a branch in the back yard!

A solitary yellow mushrooms is sprouting in the shade under our sun porch stairs...

...and this blue-grey lichen adorns another fallen branch.

Our shasta daisies are blooming.

One of our azalea bushes randomly burst into color.

A single coneflower made it.

Even our rose of sharon-ish bush, with its spent blooms, is pretty.

I caught some "Wild America" action earlier this week, when a cardinal got ahold of a female imperial moth just outside of my office window.

First he shook the wings free...

...and then helped himself to some of that juicy protein and fat!

Soon there was nothing left but the discarded wings.

Truly, I haven't been going outside much.  July and August are my least favorite months...I'm just not a "summer" person.  I've mainly been staying inside and using my camera strictly for the cats:

I've been in a major baking slump.  Last week I made a batch of coconut oil molasses ginger cookies.  Failing to follow the directions properly (a notation frequently written in my elementary school report cards), I only chilled the dough for 2 hours instead of three.  The cookies melted into soft saucer-sized disks.

Then, I got a telephone call from a neighbor earlier this week, wanting to know if I could make a same-day dessert for another neighbor's gathering.  It was unplanned and very last-minute, and I was absolutely swamped with work, but I figured it wouldn't take too long to whip up something simple.  I decided to make "death by chocolate" cookie cups with fleur-de-sel chocolate filling.  In a hurry, I overfilled the muffin tins.  They were raw in the middle and didn't "dent" properly in the middle due to the excess of batter.

I decided to make a quick chocolate chip cookie cake instead.  Whipped up the batter, put the pan in the oven, and FORGOT TO SET THE TIMER.  A cookie cake is not like a 'normal' cake and can't be checked for doneness with a toothpick in the same manner.  I flew back and forth from my office to the kitchen, anxiously patting the top and fussing with the temperature setting.  In the end, I didn't want to risk the middle being too soft, or possibly burnt to a crisp.  Gnashing my teeth in frustration, I made a batch of my no-fail oatmeal cookies, somehow managing to burn my upper arm with an oven rack. 

At least we were left with the cookie cake.  It was a little crisper around the edges than I preferred, but - silver lining! - I was able to use a really cute milk glass I'd bought on clearance at Michael's a few weeks ago.

It has a cow etched in the glass, and says "dairy."  Win win.

Cookie cake recipe here.  Have a great week!

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