Tag Archive for Sweets for a Saturday

Purples, Plums & Petunias

While the calendar says September, we’re still having summer weather~ thankfully with some lower humidity.  A teaser of fall-like temperatures are on the horizon for the weekend.

 I set a transitional table reflecting the bit of summer we’re still in the midst of~ enjoying the last of the summer annuals.  Petunias~ still blooming after a long, hot summer and some fruits in season~ Plums and local Muscadine Grapes from the Farmers Market.

I picked up these dishes a month ago at T J Maxx for a song~ each plate costing less than my former daily Grande Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte.

 It seems I’ve traded my Starbucks habit for a Dish one :-)

Originally thinking I would use them in the spring, I decided I could enjoy them now~ accessorizing with amethyst goblets & napkins and using an assortment of deep rich purple & plum-colored fruits for a centerpiece. . . my favorite kind of centerpiece~ one you can eat later :-)

 Adding a few petunias scattered among the plums, red and champagne grapes and local black muscadines~ enjoying the flowers while they are still busily blooming.

My two-tier server I used before here, is lined with salad savoy leaves for color and a foundation for the fruit~

 The lacy pattern on the stand and woven scalloped chargers led me to a loop edged ribbon to tie on the napkins in lieu of napkin rings~

A Nordic Ware Petits Fours Pan for mini flowers~ four different garden varieties~ dusted with powdered sugar~

I used a boxed mix~ dividing the batter between petit fours & some cupcakes, since each petit four only requires a tablespoon of batter~ that’s a lot of flowers :-)

Plates~ Royal Stafford/ T J Maxx

Tiered Bird Stand/ HomeGoods

Napkins & Chargers / World Market

Goblets/ Target.com

Flatware~ Portmeirion Botanic Garden/HomeGoods

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Dog Days

Living with Dogs: Collections and Traditions, At Home and Afield ***** by Laurence Sheehan


Since yesterday was National Dog Day and we are in the midst of the Dog Days of Summer, I thought it was timely to repost this edible book review~  inspired by Jain at Food for Thought~ a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

This is a favorite book of mine, with a prominent place on my coffee table. I stumbled on it for several years ago (it was published in 1999). If you are a dog lover, this one is not to be missed~ full of beautiful photos of homes, dogs, collections, and quite simply, as one reviewer says:  “this book is a celebration of hardcore dog enthusiasm.”


In his endearing and hilarious introduction, the author, Larry Shehan, talks about his dogs, one of which, a tricolor Collie named Zorro, who he says was “as slow-witted as he was beautiful”. (I had a cat like that :-)   He and his wife add an Australian shepherd puppy, Addie, to their household who “at that early stage of growth looked more like a California sea otter than a dog.”  As his household adapts to the puppy, he confessed to turning into my own worst nightmare– “a guy who carries a picture of his dog around with him in his wallet.”

A few years later, he finds a two-year-old English Setter, Buster“His upper lip was hung up on one side of his freckled muzzle and  one ear was flopped, pink side out, giving him a slightly deranged, ready-for-anything aspect.”  He was hooked~ however, he describes his household as becoming dysfunctional with introduction of an exuberant, willful dog deaf to the command of “Come!”. He, his wife, his cat & Addie eventually settle in and adapt slowly:

“The secret of living with dogs is to take the wild with the sweet, and then sit back and wait for the laughs and the love.”

~ Amen :-)

 My canine kitsch~  a collection of vintage chalkware dogs with no special pedigree  :-)

  You can find another book review a dog lover will lap up here~

 A chapter on dog portraiture. . .

 A “portrait” that won’t break the bank~ a canvas from Photofiddle~

“Like children they leave their toys scattered around– a rubber squeaky here or a half-gnawed bone there. These objects, along with the leashes, collars, food bowls, dog beds, and all the other paraphernalia associated with keeping a dog, turn a house into a habitat– and, late at night when the lights are out, a minefield.”

“Dogs settle into a home pretty much the way people do, gravitating to a favorite corner, window, or chair.”

No food references in this book (other than kibble :-) so I thought I’d have some Pup Cake fun, courtesy Hello, Cupcake!

 This is a great cupcake book, with lots of ideas and inspiration for Corn Utopia, Reliable Seeds & Butterfly Wings~





“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”  ~ Roger Caras

Chloe wishes you sunny skies and that everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene stays safe!

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It’s Good to be Queen

A city rich with history, Southern hospitality, and casual seaside charm~ Beaufort, South Carolina is the “Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands”~ discovered by the Spanish in 1514 and chartered by the British in 1711.

This year Beaufort celebrates its Tricentennial~ a special and historic birthday ~ that’s a lot of candles and a lot of cake!

 A National Landmark Historic District with gracefully restored antebellum homes, centuries-old live oaks, pristine waters, and some of the best fishing anywhere~

Beaufort has a way of reeling you in. . .

While Beaufort proper is the area’s Queen Belle, attracting admirers with her pre-Civil War mansions and sail-dotted bay, the town’s outlying provinces are also must-sees. . . Port Royal, Parris Island, Hunting Island, Lady’s Island, St. Helena Island and Harbor Island (an annual summer destination for us) just to name a few. . .

Queen Beaufort’s peaceful, watery realm is abundant with wildlife and remnants of the Old South~

Beaufort County rules over & encompasses more than 200 islands~ nestled between Charleston SC and Savannah GA~ most of which remain wondrously pristine. . .

A point of local preference that sets apart the Carolinas: In Beaufort, South Carolina, the name is pronounced BYEW-fort. In North Carolina, a coastal town of great similarity with the same name is pronounced BO-fort.

And yes, it matters :-)

Beaufort has an active and enthusiastically supported Arts Council. Mermaid statues, embellished by area artists in 2006, were auctioned off to endow a fund for public art.

 A few mermaids remain sprinkled throughout town. . .

 You can read more about Beaufort’s Mermaids here and see a little of sculptor Kevin Palmer’s mermaid-making process here~ from wood frame to fiberglass.

Miss Beaufort, with her streaming locks of copper wire, stained-glass tail, and beauty queen banner, greets drivers as they come onto Bay Street. She happily swims near a Palmetto Tree at the Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

A Celebratory Cupcake in honor of Beaufort’s 300th Birthday~ complete with a molded brown sugar mermaid & chocolate seashells :-)

Happy Birthday Queen Beaufort~ long may you reign!

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The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper ****

by Sarah Addison Allen

An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

“The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.”

I’m long overdue in sharing this book that I read back in April~

I always look forward to Sarah Addison Allen’s books~ I had pre-ordered it, anxious for its arrival. It was waiting for me like a nice, juicy peach ready for me to sink my teeth into, when I returned from vacation. I took these photos and cooked this book back when the azaleas were blooming, and although I had shelved this review, I didn’t shelve this book until after I read it cover-to-cover in two days. . . one day if I hadn’t had to unpack & bathe :-)

My intention was to take a little road trip to tie in to this review, and visit Transylvania County in Western North Carolina ~ the area that the town of Walls of Water is based on, and home to over 250 waterfalls. It became apparent that was not going to happen and though it’s still on my list to visit, it looks more like it will be the fall when the weather is not in the triple digits.

My other excuse is that I got waylaid by another book about peaches  . . .

The long-buried secrets and mysteries of The Peach Keeper continued to haunt me to return to it & Walls of Water ever since~  most recently by an article in Our State Magazine.

Full of North Carolina native, Sarah Addison Allen’s trademarks~ magic, small town charm, and FOOD~ The Peach Keeper is easy to devour in one sitting~  and is a great book to tuck in your beach bag or keep by your night stand.

In keeping with this book, I set a simple table where peaches are the stars. Peach blossom-inspired napkin rings from Pier 1, napkins from Stein Mart, Napoleon Bee flatware for the buzzing of the bees & a tablecloth from Kohl’s~

“A cool breeze floated eerily by, smelling of peaches.”

“If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there’s more to what’s written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don’t see.”

“There was a slight hint of peaches in the air, but it didn’t scare her.”

Tucker Devlin:

“What I know, what I’m best at, is peaches. Peach juice swims in my veins. When I bleed, it’s sweet. Honeybees fly right to me.”

“He looked like the world was a ripe peach and he was ready to bite it.”

There was plenty to tempt my palate between these pages~ Oatmeal Cookies with Coffee Icing, Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies, Lemon-Chicken Salad, Lemon and Broccoli Mini-Quiches, Angel Food Cake, Honeymoon Pie. . .but it just seemed criminal not to use peaches in this edible review~

“Cups of lemon crème layered with hazelnut shortbread crumbles, pansies, lavender, and lemon verbena.”

I layered peaches, store-bought hazelnut shortbread cookies, lemon curd & whipped cream~ and garnished with edible violas for an individual, easy trifle~

“Lunch was then served, beautiful food garnished with edible roses and tasting of lavender and mint and lust. People closed their eyes with each bite, and the air turned sweet and cool. The quartet played ravishing melodies that were strange and exotic. There was a curious sense of longing in the air, and everyone felt it. People began to think of old loves and missed opportunities. Unlike most of these functions, no one wanted to leave. Lunch lingered for hours.”

“So it was with Claire Waverley, a beautiful, mysterious caterer who it was rumored could make your rivals jealous, your love life better, your senses stronger, all with the food she created. Her specialty was edible flowers, and once it got out that she had something no one else had, everyone wanted her.”

I highly recommend sipping on a Peach Bellini on a Saturday or Sunday morning as you read this book :-)


“ ‘Can you really make people feel differently with the food you cook, with the drinks you prepare?’ ”


A savory recipe for your peaches~ A Stacked Peach & Mozzarella Salad~

Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad, recipe courtesy Southern Living

Served with baby spinach and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette~ Delicious & definitely a Keeper recipe :-)

  “Just as they turned to walk back up the steps, the scent of peaches permeated the air for a moment, thick and cloying, before it faded into the night, crossing the moon in a wisp of smoke, then disappearing.”

“Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.”

 “North Carolina novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of fairy tale magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.”

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Oh, Say Can You See. . .

A 4th of July Table with simple white dishes and red & blue accents~ where the food and the party favors are the stars & stripes. . . to celebrate Independence Day~

On the fourth, there will be 17 of us celebrating family members’ and Uncle Sam’s birthday~ while enjoying food, some boating fun, & fireworks on the lake.

I found these little vintage greetings-inspired buckets at World Market last summer and thought they would make the perfect pails for party favors.

A trip to Dollar Tree kept me from liberating all of the cash from my wallet~ where I filled my pails with Red, White, & Blue goodies. . . including a battery operated Fan, Patriotic Tootsie Roll Midgees & Pops, mini Flags and Sparklers.

A family favorite~ Our Flag Was Still There Fruit Pizza

A cookie dough crust using Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough~ sugar cookie or our preference, chocolate chip~ with a layer of sweetened cream cheese, and the fruit of your choice. Brush apple or apricot preserves over the top of the fruit if desired. Fun to make in a flag formation with blueberries, cream cheese and red grape/raspberry stripes, but we enjoy maximum fruit!


Land of the Free Lemonade~ recipe courtesy Southern Living

A refreshing combination of pureed watermelon & lemonade~ garnished with some watermelon stars and with the addition of some blueberries~


1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 large lemons), 4 squeezed lemons reserved

4 cups chopped watermelon

Watermelon stars and blueberries to garnish, if desired


Bring 6 cups water, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat, add reserved lemons, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree chopped watermelon in a blender or food processor with 1 cup water.

Pour syrup and watermelon puree through a strainer into a pitcher. Stir in lemon juice. (Lemonade can be made up to 1 day ahead.) Serve over ice. Garnish with watermelon stars and blueberries if desired.

 Add citrus-infused vodka for a refreshing  adult cocktail!

You can find a printable recipe, here.

What So Proudly We Hailed Watermelon Cupcakes

I had a trial run at these”cupcakes” with my nephews who were visiting this past weekend. The reviews were mixed~ with the adults more impressed than the boys.  Since I pledge allegiance to any frosting~ the best part of a cupcake to me~ watermelon was a surprising & fun frosting-delivery method :-)

I cut pieces of seedless watermelon with a cookie cutter the approximate size of the cupcake liner~ added pineapple cream cheese frosting and decorated with sprinkles. After punching the watermelon pieces out, I placed them on paper towels to absorb some excess moisture, then put a little piece of wax paper in the bottom of the paper wrapper to prevent the “cupcakes” from weeping through the decorative liners. Next time, I’ll make them & frost ahead and put in the liners at the last minute~

 Dawn’s Early Light Pretzel Sparklers~ sure to be extinguished quickly :-)

Pretzel Sparklers, directions courtesy Martha Stewart

 I found these festive metal pails in the dollar bins at Super Target~

Oh, Say Can You See Table details:

Napkins/ Kohl’s

Plates/ Oneida Westerly Basket

Flatware & Placemats/ HomeGoods

Matelasse Coverlet used for tablecloth

Vintage Greetings-Inspired Pails, Hobnail Pitcher & Glasses/ World Market

Metal Patriotic Pails/ SuperTarget

Blue Goblets/ Dollar Tree

A Star- Spangled Menu

 Banner Yet Wave Burgers

Home of the Brave Hotdogs

Broad Stripes Broccoli Salad

Bright Stars Baked Beans

Rocket’s Red Glare Potato Salad

Proof Through the Night Pasta Salad

Our Flag Was Still There Fruit Pizza

What So Proudly We Hailed Watermelon Cupcakes

Dawn’s Early Light Pretzel Sparklers

Land of the Free Lemonade


Wishing you a Safe & Happy 4th~

with Liberty & Potato Salad for All!

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The ScoopInspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home

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How to Find Flower Fairies

How to Find Flower Fairies *****

by Cicely Mary Barker

I’m sharing my Edible Book Review, inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite~ for the written word.

“After centuries of being hidden from human sight, the Flower Fairies allowed Cicely Mary Barker a glimpse into their enchanted fairy world in Fairyopolis. Now you can continue the adventure with this spectacular new novelty book where every page unlocks the secrets behind the magical places the fairies call home.”

 Enchanted with the Flower Fairies, I created a table, this time, By the Wayside ~ with fantasy more than function in mind~ for this edible review.

You can see my fall forest floor version here if you like.

 Suspend your disbelief and enter the Flower Fairies’ magical realm. . . after all, only true believers are able to see the fairies. . .

I started with a foundation of burlap and soaked some moss to rehydrate it and make it easier to piece and form a blanket~   Sprigs of ivy, violas, and butterflies dot the mossy carpet where fairies love to hold their feasts & banquets :-)

My Portmeirion Botanic Garden flatware is stamped with flowers & butterflies and make the fairies feel at home~ along with Lennox Butterfly Meadow Cloud plates~

“After much painstaking searching, I have discovered that there are five special places where fairies make their homes. Look within the pages of this book, and you will find these magical places; the tree tops, the forest floor, the garden, the wayside and the marshes.”

“When you are passing along the wayside, see if you can spot large numbers of butterflies fluttering around. Hedgerow fairies often fly amongst butterflies; they provide an excellent means of concealment when travelling.”

 This pair of mushrooms was hiding in plain sight, waiting for me at HomeGoods for my table~

 I filled some peat pots with ferns, since some fairies prefer the security of being on the ground :-)

Snail napkin rings hold fern print napkins, both from Pottery Barn.

“Be alert to the presence of fairies whenever you are in a garden. Even a snail trail may not be quite what it seems. Fairies use sprinklings of fairy dust to mimic these trails when they are travelling on the ground!”

“Flower Fairies wear outfits fashioned from fallen petals—by dressing to impersonate the flowers that surround them, the fairies may flutter by unseen!”

Cicely Mary Barker was born in West Croydon, Surrey, a small town near London, England in 1895. As a child she suffered from epilepsy and as a result was physically frail and unable to attend school. Cicely’s father, an artist himself, encouraged her artistic talent, enrolling her at Croydon Art Society when she was thirteen years old and paying for a correspondence course, which she continued until 1919.

At the age of sixteen, she had her first work accepted for publication as a set of postcards, which prompted her to devote her career to painting.

Cicely was influenced by the popular interest in fairies which developed from the Victorian enthusiasm for fairy stories and the immense popularity of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in the early part of the 20th century. Published in 1923, her first book, Flower Fairies of the Spring, was well received by a post-industrial, war-weary public who were charmed by her vision of hope and innocence.

She preferred to use real-life child models for her fairy paintings~ most models coming from the kindergarten her sister Dorothy ran in the back room of the home where they lived. She would have the child pose with the particular blossom, twig, or flower to accurately depict the texture and form of the plant, enlarging the flower to make it the same size at the child.

Always botanically accurate, Cicely’s flowers were painted from nature. If she could not find a flower close at hand, she enlisted the help of staff at Kew Gardens, who would often visit with specimens for her to paint.

 I was alerted to the presence of Flower Fairies on this delightful tin of confections, on one of my HomeGoods excursions~

“A fairy ring is a place where fairies meet to dance. To find such a ring, venture into a shady glade in a quiet part of the woods. Look for a circle of fungi growing. But remember that the fairies only dance by moonlight…”

 These little chocolate mushrooms danced right into my cart at World Market~

“Fairies appreciate the following:  Sweet delicacies such as fruit, jam and cake. . .”

 A cake fairies can appreciate~ an angel food cake, cut in thirds, layered with lemon curd, whipped cream, berries & chocolate mushrooms :-)

“Flower beds are a perfumed paradise for fairies that desire beauty above all else.”

“Every flower has its own fairy to care for it,  which explains why most of my own fairy encounters have taken place in the garden.”


 You can see Cicely Mary Barker’s beautifully illustrated fairies here.

“Tread softly and speak quietly when you set foot in the fairies’ world. Who knows—perhaps you too will be allowed a glimpse into their magical kingdom?”

Beautifully illustrated, the paper engineering with its lift-the-flaps, booklets, maps, holograms, and other ephemera, hold surprises waiting to be discovered, and are sure to delight both young readers and the young-at-heart alike :-)

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Zoo Story



Zoo Story ****.* by Thomas French


I’m joining Jain with my Edible Review at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word. 


I loved this book~  animal lover that I am, I found it heart warming and heart wrenching in equal measure. Written by Thomas French, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, based on six years of research, French takes us behind the scenes at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The characters are noteworthy:  Herman, a species-confused chimp with a preference for blondes; Enshalla, a Sumatran tiger who revels in Obsession perfume; and the egomaniacal and brilliant CEO, Lex Salisbury, who is the driving force behind the zoo’s growing pains, its triumphs and its tragedies.

 The characters I was most fascinated with were the elephants *sigh*. . .

The book begins with elephants onboard a 747 leaving their home in Swaziland, a country smaller than New Jersey in the southern tip of Africa. Survivors from annual culls, a reality that is practiced to control the country’s elephant population, they are stretching the parks’ resources and in need of a new home. These eleven elephants find themselves being relocated to zoos in San Diego and of course, Tampa where the controversy and story begins:  “Eleven elephants. One plane. Hurtling together across the sky.”

“Elephants, it turns out, are surprisingly stealthy. As the sunlight fades, other species declare their presence. Throngs of zebras and wildebeests thunder by in the distance, trailing dust clouds. Cape buffalo snort and raise their horns and position themselves in front of their young. Giraffes stare over treetops, their huge brown eyes blinking, then lope away in seeming slow motion. But no elephants.”



“Anyone who has ever been squeezed into the middle seat of a passenger jet on a transatlantic flight has some notion of what it must have been like inside those crates. But to be confined for two full days without understanding where they were going or what was happening—lacking even the most basic notion of a plane—must have been disorienting almost beyond description.”


“Imagine the landing in Tampa. Begin with what it must have been like to descend through the clouds—that curious sensation of slowly sinking, the leveling of the wings, the cascading change in altitude. What would it have felt like to an elephant? Did their ears pop? Then came the buzz of the landing gears lowering beneath their feet and the shaking from outside as the air resistance increased. Then the bump of the landing and the sense of rushing forward on solid ground and a roar from outside as the plane slowed and finally stopped. Something opened, and a series of unrecognizable faces and scents approached their crates. Then the whirring of the forklift and a groaning from the crane, accompanied by the sensation of being lifted and lowered. A rush of fresh air, the patter of rain. Night, unfurling outside the metal box that had become their world. A mechanical growling as they were propelled forward on the trucks. A forest of flashing lights. The thunk-thunk of helicopter blades, rotating somewhere above.”



“In Swaziland, as in other parts of Africa, elephants have struggled to hold their own against humans. Americans tend to think of Africa as a continent of vast, unclaimed spaces, where species can roam to the horizon and beyond. In reality, humans have occupied so much of the continent that many animals are confined inside game parks. Although these parks are often huge—sometimes stretching across hundreds of miles—the animals increasingly find their movement restricted by human boundaries, human considerations, human priorities.”

“Beloved as they were, elephants tested a zoo’s limits. They were expensive to feed and house, they were extremely dangerous to work with, and their very nature—their independence and intelligence, their emotional sensitivity, their need to bond with other elephants and walk for miles a day—made it difficult to provide them with surroundings in which they would not lapse into misery.”

“One study showed that over a fifteen-year period, one elephant handler was killed in the United States every year—a fatality rate three times that of coal miners, the most deadly occupation tracked by the federal labor department. The job was especially hazardous when their human keepers worked side by side with the elephants under a protocol known as free contact. To survive under free contact, which called for them to enter the same space as the elephants, many keepers believed they had to not only join the herd but maintain dominance. Essentially they had to become a human version of the matriarch. This was never easy, given the differential in size and strength, but it became particularly hazardous when the lead handler was off-duty and a subordinate had to take over. As elephants maneuvered for position in the hierarchy, they would push or bump their handlers to test them. If the person wasn’t experienced enough or fell down in front of them or showed another sign of vulnerability, one of the elephants would sometimes see an opening and attack.”



“Elephants are the most beloved animals on the planet. But they are also voracious eaters that feed for up to eighteen hours a day. They have a remarkable ability, unrivalled by any species except for Homo sapiens, to alter their surrounding ecosystems. The elephants inside Mkhaya and Hlane were tearing the bark off so many trees and knocking down so many other trees that they were systematically deforesting entire sections. The destruction threatened the future of the eagles and owls and vultures that nested in those trees. It also posed a serious challenge for the black rhinos, one of Africa’s most endangered species, which depended on similar vegetation for their diet.”

Food for Thought was not readily apparent in this book~ I decided to make Elephant Ears. . .which as they turned out, look more like Valentine hearts. (I have no doubt were this February, my attempt at hearts would look more like elephant ears :) You can find a recipe from the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry website here.

“Elephants routinely communicate with one another through snorts, shrieks, roars, bellows, and trumpets. They also exchange information through low-frequency rumbles, most of which humans can’t hear. Sometimes people in the vicinity of elephants can feel these rumbles; the vibrations have been described as ‘a throbbing in the air’ similar to thunder. One researcher in Kenya, listening to the infrasonic calls on a specialized recorder that picked up low frequencies, reported that they sounded like soft purring, Elephants tune in to these rumbles not just with their ears, but also with their feet, they can detect low-frequency sounds as they ripple in seismic vibrations along the ground. Elephants use these infrasonic signals to attract mates, to assert dominance, and to find and rescue calves who have fallen into watering holes or gotten into other trouble and are calling for help.”


“From the argus pheasants to the goliath bird-eating spiders, each of Lowry Park’s sixteen hundred animals offered living proof of nature’s endless gift for invention. In the curves of their skulls, in the muscles of their wings, in their blood and bones and twisting nucleotides of their DNA, each carried millions of years of the planet’s biological history. But their presence inside these walls also testified to the epic self-regard of the species that had seen fit to build the zoo and so many others like it around the world.”

Lowry Park’s very existence declared our presumption of supremacy, the ancient belief that we have been granted dominion over other creatures and have the right to do with them as we please. The zoo was a living catalogue of our fears and obsessions, the ways we see animals and see ourselves, all the things we prefer not to see at all. Every corner of the grounds revealed our appetite for amusement and diversion, no matter what the cost. Our longing for the wildness we have lost inside ourselves. Our instinct to both exalt nature and control it. Our deepest wish to love and protect other species even as we scorch their forests and poison their rivers and shove them toward oblivion. All of it was on display in the garden of captives.”

“Inside our subdivisions, we sit with our kids and watch The Lion King, singing along as Pumbaa and Timon parade across the endless veldt and majestically celebrate the circle of life. But the truth is, the circle of life is constantly shrinking. If you’re going to see a lion even in Africa, it will almost certainly be on a tour inside a fenced park.”



Herman the zoo’s most famous resident for three decades:


“By now the years were catching up with him. His chin hairs had gone gray. He grew winded more easily in the past. Still, he seemed to miss nothing. If one of the other chimps in his group was upset, he offered comfort. If a dispute erupted, he stepped in. Often, though he held himself apart from the others and stayed on his stony perch. Tired of standing, he lay down on the rock shelf, studied the black nails of his fingers.”

“His early years, with a human family who had clothed him and diapered him and taught him to sit at the dinner table, had left him in profound confusion, and his years of isolation in the cage had increased this confusion and imbued him with an unceasing need for human attention. Though his alpha status conferred upon him sexual privileges, he never tried to breed with the three female chimps available to him. Instead he was attracted only to human females, preferably athletic blondes.”


“At times, Herman seemed uncannily human, understanding things that eluded the other chimps. His unusual relationship with Dr. Murphy was a good example. Like many of the animals at Lowry Park, most of the chimps disliked the veterinarian because they associated him with the sting of a tranquilizer dart and other indignities required for their medical care. One day, Murphy appeared in the chimp night house with a tranquilizer gun so he could attend Herman, Murphy was a good shot and almost never missed. But this time, his aim was off. The other chimps would have run and hid. Herman just picked up the dart, walked over to the mesh, and handed it back to Murphy so he could try again.”


Monkey Bread, in honor of Herman~ even though he is Chimp not a Monkey :)


A recipe for Chimp or Monkey Bread, can be found here.

“In the zoo world, orangutans are known as escape artists. Typically much calmer and quieter than chimps, they are inquisitive and love to spend hours figuring out how to put things together or take them apart. Their species practices these engineering skills high in the jungle canopies of Indonesia, where they have been observed tying branches and vines together and manipulating the tension of saplings to move more easily through the trees. In zoos, they are famed for their ability to devise ingenious ways from slipping from their enclosures.”


Zebra Cake Trifle~ layers of chocolate pudding, whipped cream and of course, Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

“All zoos, even the most enlightened, are built upon the idea both beguiling and repellent—the notion that we can seek out the wildness of the world and behold its beauty, but that we must first contain that wildness. Zoos argue that they are fighting for the conservation of the Earth, that they educate the public and provide refuge and support for vanishing species. And they are right. Animal-rights groups argue that zoos traffic in living creatures, exploiting them for financial gain and amusement. And they are right. Caught inside this contradiction are the animals themselves, and the humans charged with their well-being.”



“Despite all their flaws, zoos wake us up. They invite us to step outside our most basic assumptions. Offered for our contemplation, the animals remind us of nature’s impossibly varied schemes for survival, all the strategies that species rely upon for courtship and mating and protecting the young and establishing dominance and hunting for something to eat and avoiding being eaten. On a good day, zoos shake people into recognizing the manifold possibilities of existence, what it’s like to walk across the Earth, or swim in its oceans of fly above its forests—even though most animals on display will never have the chance to do any of those things again, at least not in the wild.”


“New life insists. It does not debate. It simply appears, trembling and hungry, and will not be denied.”

 All the wonderful animal photos are courtesy of the NC Zoo~  where you can see new life in the form of a baby chimp born August 2nd :)


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