RIP, Payton

May 15th, 2014

It was a year ago today that you went on your last insane hunting safari…..and leaped like a maniac after that MARINE iguana.  Silly girl!

I miss you every day.  EVERY single day.  Paytie, you were the best cat ever!  Miss you so much.

Payton ~ the Empress....knows clean when she sits on it

Payton ~ the Empress….knows clean when she sits on it

~ Blonde Gator

P.S. Blonde Mom misses you too!  Happy hunting, your Highness!


Happy Today, Happy Tamale!

May 10th, 2014

Every once in a while I get the Jones’ for Tamales.  And serindipitously, the banana trees just happened to push some beautiful, new, unblemished (untorn) leaves.   (Click here for the “before” pics)….. So, before the yard guys got here to trim up the bananas, I cut some of them to make my favorite tamale wrappers.



While I love chicken enchiladas, I just don’t think the chicken filling works as well as pork with red chili in the red tamales, so those are my go-to.  I roasted off about a seven pound pork butt, and made two big trays of red enchiladas, as well as about a dozen tamales.

The recipe for roasting the pork for both applications is here.  Making the enchiladas is here.  And the recipe for tamales is here.

Steamed Banana Leaves (rolled up), Steamer Basket w/2 Layers of Tamales, 8 Quart Pot, Ready to Steam

Steamed Banana Leaves (rolled up), Steamer Basket w/2 Layers of Tamales, 8 Quart Pot, Ready to Steam

Bon Appetit!

~ Blonde Gator

P.S.  I found out I could FREEZE the steamed banana leaves, so I will no longer have to wait for a sufficient number of perfect leaves to make tamale wrappers out of.  Woo Hoo!  Merely cut out the center stem, pile atop one another, roll them into a tight cylinder, steam and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, for the freezer.  Voila!

April Blooms

April 23rd, 2014

Well, BFF Island Girl gave me a spectacular birthday gift earlier this month, a gift certificate to my favorite nursery, Nu Turf.  So I splurged on the BIG sizes of thyme and rosemary, augmented my parsley by two plants, and got some dill, oregano, and mint.  And I was so inspired, I bought myself a birthday gift.

Angel Wing Begonia "Dragon"

Angel Wing Begonia, “Dragon”


One of my favorite orchids is the Psychopsis papilio (cool name, too), which is very unsual.  I bought it in bloom two years ago, and it has been in bloom ever since.  It only ever has one bloom on the very end of its bloom spike, and after the flower drops, it pushes a new bud through the same bud end, so one should never cut the bloom spike off this plant, until the entire spike dies.  It is an extremely slow growing orchid, and in the two years I’ve had it, it has only produced one new pseudo-bulb (new plant growth), but that, too, has pushed a spike, and this picture is the first bloom on the new spike (you can see the “old” spike to the left of the bloom).  I hope to be able to catch it when both spikes are in bloom, although the new spike is about six inches shorter than the older one (pushing a bud now).

Psychophsis papilio, April 2014

Psychophsis papilio, April 2014


Look at the Face on that Flower!

Look at the Face on that Flower!

Also in bloom is one of my Paphiopedilums, Paph. Hilo Jewel #4 x Paph fairrieanum ‘Green Horn’.  I had hoped it would have a double bloom this year, alas not.  This is the picture from last year, as my camera is having hiccups, and I must send it in to have the zoom and focus adjusted *sigh*.  (Second Panasonic Lumix to crap out on me, I love it, but they seem to die after about 2 1/2 years).

Paph. Hilo Jewel #4 x Paph fairrieanum 'Green Horn'

Paph. Hilo Jewel #4 x Paph fairrieanum ‘Green Horn’

Also blooming, now is my Cattleytonia “Why Not”, which I’ve had for at least 20 years, which was given to me by my old friend Dianne, who moved to Cali and whom I miss very much.  I’ve divided this orchid countless times, and given away all of them, this plant makes a great gift.  Alas, the picture I took earlier was out of focus, but I’ll try again in a bit and update this post.  This Why Not is a bloomer, and grows like mad.  A plant I would highly recommend for anyone who wants to start growing orchids, it’s a disease resistant, happy grower.  A Cattleytonia is a cross between a Cattleya (the corsage orchid) and a Broughtonia, which looks like a tiny little Cattleya, but which has multiple red blooms on a spike.  The plant is compact, maybe 8″ tall, as opposed to the regular Catts, which can be well over 2′ tall.


Cattleytonia "Why Not"

Cattleytonia “Why Not”

Happy Gardening this spring!

~ Blonde Gator




A Happy Easter Was Had By All

April 22nd, 2014

My BFF & I, the Island Girl, decided to do up Easter by making several dozen sugar cookies, flooded with Royal Icing, as well as making up some fancy baskets for Mason & Blonde Mom.  Island Girl is an expert baker (I was the pan holder, and I learned a lot from her about the difference between baking and cooking….precision is the key!).

The Sunday before Easter, I gathered up my stuff, I’d gone on a preparation safari to JoAnn’s fabrics, where I purchased baskets, ribbon, some cool cookie cutters, egg dye, Bunny Pez, Peeps, a Transformer Egg, “straw”, etc., as well as the (recommended by Island Girl) Gel dyes for the icing and some other stuff at another store.  AND I found some really spectacular Easter Egg dye….instead of the usual same-old with cups, vinegar, water, and dipping….these had pastel metallic dyes in little ketchup-like packets, and baggies for each of the five colors.  So we sat on IG’s patio (whilst visiting the Tea Trolley), in between making batches of cookies, and dropped beautiful colors on our hard boiled eggs, (drying was a problem, as it was raining, a beautiful spring tropical misty rain, 100% humidity)…and then dropping them in another color.  We were super pleased with the results.  After a leisurely day of baking cookies, and just having fun, we had 40 big cookies.

Wonderful New Egg Dye ~ Love These!

Wonderful New Egg Dye ~ Love These!

We spent three more days, about 3 hours each time, decorating the cookies.  Island Girl had never done the “flooding” with the Royal Icing before…and of course, not being a baker, neither had I.  But before we started out, I did a fairly thorough search of internet pictures for ideas (we had a bunny and a big egg cookie cutter), and printed out some ideas.  And we also watched about 25 minutes of YouTube videos.  Let me tell you….it’s NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS.

Cookies in the Early Stages

Cookies in the Early Stages

On our last day, we finally got the correct techniques down (both the consistency of the icing….and the piping) and got pretty speedy at it.  We were very pleased with the results.  Here they are, all wrapped up (fortunately the expert baker, IG, had the appropriate “treat bags”, the only ones I could find were all decorated…what’s the point of that w/beautiful cookies?).  I took this at night, most of the “orange” is actually bright pink…alas color saturation was off.

Some of the Finished Cookies

Some of the Finished Cookies

And then, we put the whole shebang together.  Kudos to the Iguana Man (*cough* chocoholic *cough) for the wonderful treats.  Super happy with the results of the basket adventure.  Did I mention there are now 1 lb. solid Reese’s bunnies?  Who knew?

A Basket for a Reese's Fiend (1 lb. Chocolate Reese's Bunny)

A Basket for a Reese’s Fiend (1 lb. Chocolate Reese’s Bunny)


Blonde Mom's Easter Basket

Blonde Mom’s Easter Basket

A Huge Basket Any Six Year Old Would Love

A Huge Basket Any Six Year Old Would Love

Sugar highs all around.

~ Blonde Gator



In Bloom Now

March 9th, 2014

LC Rojo (C. Aurantiaca x L milleri):

c aurantiaca x c milleri ~ LC "rojo"

c aurantiaca x c milleri ~ LC “rojo”

And, one of its parents (not its actual parents, but one of its parents of the same breeding), the C. Aurantiaca:

C. Aurantiaca

C. Aurantiaca

I have been working on the patio to get everything ship shape.  It’s a slow thing.  Since Blonde Mom has been sick, the orchids have suffered.   Must get them back in shape.  And replant my herb garden.

All is well.

~ Blonde Gator


Merry Christmas 2013!

December 24th, 2013

Gator Christmas Tree

~ Blonde Gator

“It’s SOOOO Cheesy!”

September 24th, 2013

That was the response when I fed the kindergartener my homemade spinach & mushroom lasagna.  Not bad for a little kid, who generally prefers red sauce and is a super sausage fiend.  He was so sweet…”you’re a really good cooker”….and of course, the reply is “well, you’re a REALLY good eater!”.  (No kidding, he ate 3x an adult portion, LOL!!!!).

Spinach Lasagna done


I read a couple of different recipes (Emeril, Tyler, Food Network, AllRecipes), and did a combination, per the usual.  My final recipe is here.

Do give it a try, it is spectacular.  The roasting of the mushrooms, and really squeezing the moisture out of the spinach gives it a beautiful texture.  Plus, how can you beat spinach, baby bellos, and 4 cheeses?  Not even my Gators can do that!

~ Blonde Gator

Hello World

September 1st, 2013

My internet pal the Wrathful Brunette sent me a small cattleya seedling last year for my birthday, it was probably about two to three years old.  After hanging out on my patio for the last sixteen months, it is a now a “first bloom seedling”….and is she ever a beauty!

Blc. Krull's Lemonade "Sunshine"

Blc. Krull’s Lemonade “Sunshine”


~ Blonde Gator

Honorary Mr. 2 Bits

September 1st, 2013

Errict Rhett, Gator Great.

See the story of the Mr. 2 Bits Tradition, here.  It’s a fine one!

We got off to a reasonable start of the season, not bad, but no esophogheal spasms, either.  GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~ Blonde Gator

A New Season Begins

August 27th, 2013

I can’t wait!

Gator Sunset

With thanks to CDGator….

~ Blonde Gator