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Bees Make the Best Pets by Jack Mingo -review


Bees Make the Best Pets by Jack Mingo – All the Buzz about Being Resilient, Collaborative, Industrious, Generous, and Sweet – Straight from the Hive.

Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by “Conari Press”


A honey bee flies up to 15 mph and its wings beat 200 times per second. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

The memory jogger “A pint’s a pound the world around” may help you out in culinary school, but a pint of honey weighs 1 pound, 6 ounces. The book oozes with bee facts and trivia like this.

If you are looking for protection from marauding elephants in your garden, curious about the color and quality of the highly touted local honey, or are curious about the role of bees in the Civil War, buy this book.

Winter is a good time for reading bee guides, brushing up on beekeeping knowledge and skills.

Winter is a good time for reading bee guides, brushing up on beekeeping knowledge and skills.

Bees Make the Best Pets, is an entertaining read. Perfect for a winter read, while gardeners wait to get into the spring garden. Your cabin fever and desire to get back in the garden is, by the way, no greater than that of the honey bees.

The author started out simply as wanting one simple observation hive. But keeping bees is likely to became a bigger project than you might anticipate. Bees demand more time, space and money than you might think.

If you are thinking about raising bees, ever wondered if it would make your great garden even better, or are looking increase your own revenue stream, read this book first.

Looking at bee keeping as a natural step toward sustainable living, Bees Make the Best Pets can teach you a lot about raising bees. It is a sweet introduction to raising bees.

Raising bees may prove to be a boost for garden productivity. Or, consider bee keeping as a fun hobby. Bees do make good pets and this book is a gentle introduction to the world of back yard bee keeping.

I’ve always flirted with the idea of raising bees. This paperback book is light introduction to the art of keeping bees. It will load you up on bee humor and trivia, guaranteeing your success at happy hours and tea parties.

Thankfully, this book is not a tedious accounting of the business of beekeeping. There are plenty of good manuals and how-to handbooks for that. Jack Mingo’s book is a fun and sweet introduction to raising bees.

Future honey beekeepers, gardeners, readers looking for a light and humorous winter read, will like this book.

Jack Mingo published over 20 books, including Random Kinds of Factness (Conari, 2005. He is an author specializing in offbeat trivia books. Mingo keeps six hives, and half a million bees, in his California Bay Area back yard.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Bee and Honey triviaIMG_4050

  • It takes around 25,000 trips between the hive and the flowers to produce a pound of honey.
  • A pound of honey contains the essence of about 2 million flowers.
  • The color of honey ranges from white through golden to dark brown. Usually the darker the color the stronger the flavor.
  • Most harmful bacteria cannot live in honey, making honey one of the safest foods.
  • Bees been producing honey from flowering plants for 10-20 million years.

Becky’s Flowers*

Delivered Saturday, December 21, 2013

Common Name: Amaryllis Picotee, botanical name: Hippeastrum Picotee

Amaryllis picotee

Blooms are pure white with a slender red ribbon edge. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

I’m sending Amaryllis to Becky. They are big, colorful and, not-to-be-ignored.The ones in my home are just thinking about blooming this December. The leaved are just peeking up about two inches tall. I am hoping for a Valentines day appearance. But these giant blooms are just for Becky.

The beautiful white bloom towers over other Amaryllis, growing to as much a 3″. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

These big blooms top tall stalks, between 2 and 3 feet high.  Amaryllis can become top-heavy when the flowers begin to bloom, staking is helpful. Amaryllis are most successful when planted in heavy pots just a bit larger than the bulb.

The perfect spot for Amaryllis indoors is in bright light. Our zones 5 and 6  are too cold for growing Amaryllis as perennials. If this flower is meant to be an annual, simply keep the roots moist until finished flowering. Your Amaryllis does not need plant food.

Blooms are pure white with a slender red ribbon edge. Bloom season: flowers in 40-60 days indoors and mid spring outdoors. Becky I’m sending the giant flower in a light plastic container. It will grow in this container, or you can “double pot”, setting the container inside a heavier, more decorative  planter.

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date.

Summer in a ½ pint Ball jar: Peaches and champagne preserves

English muffin peach preserves

Keep a supply of muffins in the freezer double wrapped in plastic. photo by PBH

Preserved peaches and champagne

Peach preserves with a hint of champagne make a chunky spread on toasty English muffins.

peaches are shipped across the country from this region. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Peaches with champagne in a jam

4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar*
3 T. Ball flex batch powdered pectin
2 T. bottled lemon juice
1 cup LBV Brut

Prepare 4 half pint jars. I put them in the dishwasher. Lids and rings can simmer in water on the stove top in a sauce pan.

Add chopped peaches to stainless steel or enamel cast iron pot. Cook on low stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Using a potato masher crush some of the peaches to desired consistency. Use an immersion blender to create a smoother consistency.  I like my preserves a little chunky with fruit bits.

Add the sugar and lemon juice. Bring the temperature to medium, stirring constantly to bring the mixture slowly to a boil. Note: The jam with splatter like a volcano erupting so where an apron.

Once at a boil add champagne and stir for about one minute then add the pectin. Bring mixture back to a boil which will happen quickly and keep at a boil for one minute continuing to stir. Remove from heat.

Immediately ladle peach jam into jars leaving 1/4″ head space. Wipe rims and add hot lids/rings and process in water bath for 10 minutes at a full rolling boil.

LVB Brut -  Missouri made bubbly. Using primarily Vidal grapes gives the methode traditionale sparkling wine a refreshing aroma with a crisp effervescence and dry finish.

LVB Brut is the champagne I used in the jam.

* If you make flavored sugars, like vanilla or lavender sugar, this is an ideal time to use.

My recipe is adapted from the Canning Homemade  Many of my canning projects begin with recipes and instructions from this site.

peach jam Wolfermans English Muffins

Wolferman’s English muffins with peaches and champagne preserves.  Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

I love Wolferman’s English muffins. We became acquainted when we were both living in Kansas City.  I order them now and then See Wolferman’s online.

The next Peach Festival will be in August, 2014

The festival opens at 5 pm each night at Cobden Community Park

This event, sponsored by the Cobden Lions Club where attendees can enjoy Karaoke and a DJ Show, Bingo and other games, great peaches and cream, peach cobbler & other great homemade food, along with a carnival, entertainment, and a Peach Queen contest.

There will be a 5K run/walk on Saturday morning, a parade on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 pm. The Union County Museum and Cobden’s restaurants and shops are open all day each day.

Free, for information call 618-893-2425  or visit

champagne and peach preserves

Peaches and champagne are the perfect summer combination in Bellinis. In the winter, our peaches and champagne become sweet preserves and summer memories. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson



Relive our summer memories

It’s Peach (Bellini) Season!

A fresh, juicy taste of summer

Spiced peach cobbler



Pink Hollyhock


I collected a lot of pink hollyhock seed this year.

Hollyhocks do best in full sun with plenty of water. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

I’m giving away: 30 pink Hollyhock seed. Check it out – Listia

When to plant. Some seed can be planted the first week before the last frost date.  Then, in two weeks plant a few more seed and, in two more weeks plant more seed. This succession planting will keep you in beautiful blooms throughout the season.

Planting. Get the hollyhock seed off to a good start in well worked soil. After that, you will have little to do except just enjoy their flowers. Start by adding a little organic matter or compost into the planting area.

Plant hollyhock seed just 1/4″ deep. These plants like sunny, moist but well-drained soil.

Be sure to thin to prevent mildew. You can transplant the thinnings, just be gentle and keep them moist.

You get seeds from every bloom. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

You get seeds from every bloom. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

These are a single hollyhock, or the old-fashioned flowers. Many newer varieties are double-flowered and some are shorter to handle the wind better. Those newer, short ones will probably fall into my cart, while I shop online.

Swallowtail Garden Seeds has a nice selection of hollyhocks, including the shorter varieties.

Renee’s Garden Seeds and Burpee have hollyhock seed.

The USDA.GOV site has plant profiles:
Plants Profile for Alcea rosea (hollyhock)

I’m giving away: 30 pink Hollyhock seed. Check it out – Listia

This post is similar to Becky’s Flowers

Becky’s Flowers*


delivered Sunday November 24, 2013

Flowers by the yard


You can almost smell these quilted roses.

Quilt by Ludmila Uspenskaya

Because your flowers aren’t just the every day florist’s bouquet, I’m sending you flowers that are quilted. These flowered quilts are on exhibit at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah KY.

quilt bouquet

A giant mixed flower bouquet looks like a painting on the wall, not a quilt.

Not all bouquets come in a vase. These are fiber art. Sometimes it takes just as long to quilt a bouquet as it does to grow one.

Becky, wrap yourself in a blanket of flowers and friendship. My you find some warmth and comfort in your fablic bouquet.

Quilted flowers

The detailed floral creations are a bloom with details.

Paducah transforms to Quilt City USA® each spring when 30,000 international and domestic quilters attend AQS QuiltWeek™ 

The National Quilt Museum is located in the heart of Historic Downtown Paducah; 215 Jefferson Street, Paducah, Kentucky 42001.

For more travel information about Paducah, visit the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date.

Becky’s Flowers


Delivered November 13, 2013

Profusion Zinnias

These little flowers are non stop bloomers. They can either be started from seed or plants. By mid summer, you can’t tell the difference. The seeded  zinnias have caught up in size and vigor with the zinnias that were planted as starter plants.


Profusion series of zinnia are an AAS winner (All American Selections) that tells you they will grow almost anywhere and everywhere, are very disease resistant and pest free.They are all in warm season colors some semi double and the newest ones are double.

They are heat-loving plants, require little attention are good to grow in borders and in containers. The flowers are brightly colored, never fade and are a butterfly magnet. The plants get 18-24” tall and produce masses of 2″ semi-double flowers.

Zinnias are a favorite cutting flower because they just keep on coming even if you cut a bouquet. Also, it’s easy to save seed and then, grow even more next year – because to can collect about a gazillion more seed than what comes in a seed packet.IMG_3019

Becky I’m sending these flowers in three half-pint jelly jars tied with raffia bows. Keep the water fresh and refilled. (Zinnias are heavy drinkers.) Strip the foliage high enough to keep the leaves out of the water.

They aren’t fragrant. But if you set the jars of zinnias out on the patio table, butterflies will appear. Magic!

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date.

The golden lawn

A lawn of gold.

A lawn of gold.



When I woke up to this view this morning, I was delighted. My front yard is golden and bright on this  grey drizzly day. The yellow leaves seemed even brighter this rainy day.

All the leaves were on the tree last week when we left home. The lush green lawn was  loving the cooler weather. We came home last night in the darkness of the time change. So, my first view of the front yard was this rainy morning.

I love leaves and when the weather gets drier, they will be moved to a huge pile of chopped leaves by the vegetable garden.   The raised beds in front of the house will eventually get a layer of  the chopped leaf mulch in a few weeks.

But first, there are a couple hundred Darwin tulips to be planted in front of the porch. These raised beds get the benefit of the morning sun and the blessing of afternoon shade. There are hundreds of daffodils already in these beds.

The daffodils thrive here and, because there are so many varieties, we will have weeks of early blooms. Some are fragrant and some have multiple flowers.

stone furniture

Stone furniture, center left, is already for a spring tea party.

So, in the next few weeks, there is still plenty to do. Planting tulips and raking leaves are the perfect way to close down the gardening season.

Oh, yes, in the vegetable garden, there is still more garlic to plant. Every bed will get leaves dug into the soil and a layer of chopped leaves to cover the whole bed. The spring soil will be ready for planting a few weeks earlier than usual thanks to the investment in time this fall.

In a couple of days, I’ll wake to a brilliant sunny day. There will be a pot os slow simmering stew or chili either on the stove or in the crock pot. We will spend the day(s) raking leaves and getting ready for winter. When we are weary from a good days work outdoors, it will be time to come inside. We will step inside to a warm, fragrant kitchen and a simmering pot of vegetable soup.




Next Spring will include theses daffodils.

Daffodils are already planted. They are great naturalizers and ready multiply.

Daffodils are already planted. They are great naturalizers and ready multiply.




Colorful Darwin tulips are big and sturdy.

Colorful Darwin tulips are big and sturdy. This is the 2013 display.  A few of these tulips may come back for a second year. We still need to plant the 200 bulbs for 2014.

Tailgating on CBS


Great weather, good food, Perfect for Tailgating in Fayetteville Arkansas

A few more photos from Fayetteville Arkansas:

Still BFFs

Still BFFs

Cheering for both teams is easy for these friends.




IMG_5038 IMG_5059

Faithful fans never miss a tailgating opportunity.

Faithful fans never miss a tailgating opportunity.


See more photos here:

CBS tailgate fans


Becky’s Flowers


Delivered Monday, November 4, 2013

Daylilies, Hemerocallis

lily in rain

Just after a rain, these blooms weathered summer storms and stand tall. Photo Patsy Bell Hobson

I have hundreds maybe thousands of the bright orange flowers. There was a good stand of them on the property when we moved into this Cape Girardeau house. Too bad these flowers don’t get frequent traveler points. Many of them are well traveled. They have taken many trips in my wheelbarrow.

Daylilies (Hemorcalis) are a low maintenance, easy care flowers, needing little attention.

Daylilies (Hemer0callis) are a low maintenance, easy care flowers, needing little attention. Photo PBH

Because I have so many, they tend to get planted en masse. The daylilies are planted along a bank that is too steep to mow. I’ve never seen the triple blooms like these I’m sending you.

Daylilies planted on a hillside that is too steep to mow.

Daylilies planted on a hillside that is too steep to mow.

You often find daylilies naturalized in ditches of abandoned homes and farmland. Most often, we see the orange single blooms. There are lots of these “ditch” flowers in Kansas.

They may be named daylilies because they only last a day. Each plant has several blooms. I’m sending you bunches that will last for days, maybe weeks.

Becky, I’m sending you lots of bright orange daylilies.  No fragrance, but great big bold orange flowers. I’m sending this bouquet of old fashioned flowers in a large, Fiesta ware peacock (Aqua) disk pitcher. Enjoy!


Becky’s Flowers


Delivered Fri October 25, 2013

St John’s Wort  (hypericum perforatum)


St John’s Wort  (hypericum perforatum) is a herb, sometimes it is considered a wild flower right up until the minute it is considered an invasive weed. The common name, St John’s Wort was given because it is usually in bloom during the summer solstice (dedicated to St. John).

St. John’s wort, a plant that grows in the wild, has been used for centuries for health purposes. I grow this herb because the flowers are beautiful. I do not use it as a medicine.

This plant cast it’s spell the minute I first saw it. Waving it’s petals in the warm, gentle breezes of late spring, I knew we were meant for each other.

St John's Wort

When I brought it home from the nursery, in a two gallon pot, it was covered with blooms. That was the last time it bloomed for the next 5 or six years. Since then, I’ve moved it many times, trying to find it a happy home where it can bloom and thrive.

For some reason, it began to bloom again last year. And it has those big carefree gold blooms. It is lovely, butterflies and hummers like it too. Becky, this is the flower I’m sending to you today. St John’s Wort*.

Imagine St. John’s Wort, golden as sunshine, with shrubby medium green leaves. If I could deliver this flower myself, it would come mounded in an old antique china tea pot.

I love this bright bloom. It just makes me happy to be around it. I hope you like it too. It’s easy to dig up and divide, so just say the word and I’ll send you a division.

St. John’s Wort is a shrub-like perennial herb and it can be invasive. So, be careful what you ask for.

St John's Wort flower

Some folks use this herb medicinally. St. John’s wort may help some types of depression and, it can also limit or increase the effectiveness of many prescription medicines. I don’t use this herb as a drug because of the potential for interaction with prescription medication.

It’s just beautiful and cheery in the herb garden. I hope I always have it blooming somewhere. 


*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date.

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