Monday, September 7, 2015

Chocolate Cake, A Garden Update, and a Cat Allergy Question

Hope everyone had a wonderful extra long weekend! We started it off right with this fancy little dessert...

Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and Bluebell Dutch Chocolate ice cream. Yum!

In other news, we worked in our garden this weekend. We've had a strange summer, weather wise. We seemed to go from rain every single day for weeks on end, to not a drop of rain and drought like conditions, then back to rain again. Feast or famine, I tell ya. 

My knockout roses weren't happy with this and they showed it. They were starting to look very scraggly and their time between bloom cycles was a little too long for my taste. So we pulled them up and replaced them with Turk's Cap and Lantana. I did keep one knockout, but the rest are history. 

Our garden center was having a huge sale and we scored three Turk's cap plants and five Lantana for around $15. Not bad. 

Below you'll see where we used to have four knockouts and now we have two Lantana, and a couple of Pink Turk's Cap for bookends. 

Both the Turk's Cap and Lantana bloom from May to December in our neck of the woods. Here's a close up of the Pink Turk's Cap bloom...

This is my favorite Lantana color combo...

Followed closely by this purple one...

I love the variety of colors in Lantana, as well as its ability to tolerate our Texas heat. This stuff will bloom on and on and on. It's drought tolerant, isn't picky about the soil condition, and is a Texas native. 

My blue plumbago is doing rather well too...

As is the bottle brush...

This is my messy little corner of the garden. All the purple Gomphrena was grown from seeds gathered last summer. 

Here's a close up.

Here's my red Turk's Cap...

This is a yellow Lantana. If you look closely, you can see a peek at the purple Society Garlic bloom to the right. The Society Garlic is just starting to bloom again now that we had some rain.

This area had two huge Knockouts. We replaced them with two Lantana. My hubby said he definitely won't miss pruning all those Knockouts in the spring. :)

I'll share pics as these new plants start to fill in. Both Lantana and Turk's Cap grow rapidly. 

Here's my sweet basil and believe it or not, my Shamrock plant is still going strong. It even has a little Zinnia friend that popped up in its pot to keep it company. :) I'm realizing that basil really needs to be pinched back. Oops. 

Okay y'all, I had to take a pic of this Elephant Ear in my backyard. I've never seen it get this big! Those leaves measure 24 inches by 21 inches (yes, I went out there with my tape measure just for you) and it's almost as tall as the 6 foot fence! It sits in a shady spot right between some Bridal Wreath and I guess everyone gets along famously because it's thriving there. 

One of my favorite places in the backyard...

Looks like Geoffrey the lizard is visiting for a drink. 

For some weird reason, when my boys were little, they started calling all lizards and geckos "Geoffrey" or "Sara" and every squirrel "Phillip." So now when we see one, we call them by name. So strange, I know. Lol!

So, here's the cat allergy any of you have a cat allergy, but you also live with a cat? Y'all remember the sweet twins my mom adopted...

Well, her hubby seems to be showing signs of an allergy to them. Of course my mom has already fallen madly in love with them, so they're looking into ways of treating his allergy, or at least keep it under control. Have any of you taken anything for a cat allergy that actually helped? 

I've heard you can take things like Claritin and Zyrtec, but I don't know anything about them. Please leave any advice you can offer in the comments below. We really appreciate it and I'll keep y'all posted on everything. :)

Well, I hope y'all have a good week. I cooked twice this weekend, one of which was homemade baked potato soup. It's not a difficult recipe, (especially since I discovered I can remove the corer on my APPLE PEELER and use it to peel potatoes) but it does require some time. So other than baking some HOMEMADE BREAD my son requested, this mama is done cooking for the week. It'll be take out all the way. :)



  1. Beautiful flowers.. Love them.
    I am allergic to cats and dogs.. I have really bad asthma, so can't have any animals in the house..
    Not sure what helps the allergic reactions , except advoidance.. ha. Hope they find a solution ..
    Have a blessed week... The cake and ice cream looks wonderful.

  2. Your yard looks so nice, Lisa! We seem to have quite a few of the same plants.....Lantana grows like a weed here! We seem to be in our "see-saw" season, when one day will be triple digits and the next is below 100. I'm amazed at some of the things that have tolerated the summer heat, like a couple of mums that I planted last Fall. Of course, my herb pot has been completely taken over with the is now a bush! So funny about the gecko.....we were slightly enamored by these little creatures when we first moved to AZ and one in particular (we knew it had to be the same one all the time) we named Fred. Fred was tolerated by me until the day I realized he was on the inside of the screen and not the outside! Fred was called a few other choice names that day!

    I do have a cat allergy, but cannot give up Abby. Years ago, I went through allergy testing and was extremely allergic to just about everything. I spent about 3 years getting allergy shots and that cured me of most allergens, even the cat. Of course, when we moved here, where there are so many different types of vegetation, some symptoms came back. I was taking Allegra until I started chemo, and the doctor suggested I switch to Claritin. It works really well on some of my chemo side-effects (I know that's weird, huh?), but I have found that it works much better for my seasonal allergies & Abby than the Allegra did. We buy the Costco brand of Claritin, much cheaper and exactly the same ingredients as the brand name. Hope this helps!

  3. The cake looks so yummy and your garden is beautiful. My granddaughter is allergic to cats and so when she visits her other grandmother with cats she takes Claritin and that seems to help her. I heard Zyrtec is really good for animal dander allergies too. Hope he can find something so the can all live so happily together.

  4. Oh my! That dessert looks yummy! What is that leopard design on the cake? Just decorative? Now that Fall is near, I guess it's a good time to start planting things. I'm sure your plants will fill out nicely. I don't suffer from cat allergies but I know people that do. Most people that have cat allergies just choose not to have cats. I heard it was the dander that causes the allergies (whatever that is). I would recommend checking with his doctor or pharmacist. We are experiencing a lot of ragweed in bloom around here so I wonder if your dad could be reacting to something blooming instead?

  5. I'm highly allergic to cats...eyes begin to swell, breathing problems, itching, you name it! You'll laugh out loud I know but I'm also scared of them! :) Childhood experience that's never left me. I give myself allergy shots 2 x week for inhalants. Children and adults that I've seen being tested are given shots as well as drops re: cat/dog dander. Benadryl is something I take if I go in someone's home that has cats. My deal is just to avoid them! :)

    Your plants and flowers are always so beautiful! We haven't had more than a sprinkle since May when we almost washed away. We need rain desperately! I need cooler temps desperately! :) Have a great week!


  6. Your chocolate treats look so yummy!!!! We have had pretty much the same weather as you and my knock out roses were not happy either. I have three bushes and we plan to remove one because it just can't tolerate the heat and ends up dropping all it's leaves late in the summer and it looks just awful!!!! My next door neighbor is highly allergic to cats..... his wife is known as the crazy cat lady since she feeds all the stray cats in the neighborhood and also has two indoor cats. He goes to get shots every week so they can all co exist.

  7. Oh...that cake. Yum!

    Loving everything you planted--you have such a gorgeous yard and now is your time to enjoy it. I want to plant Lantana next year. We have cool plants at the lake that we don't have here so I haven't added anything new.

    I'm terribly allergic to cats as is my husband and one of my daughters. Not only do we sneeze, it gets out asthma going so we simply can't have them or be near them. I think people with mild allergies would do good on an antihistamine and since it's all in the dander, keep the kitties out of the bedroom or the rooms where the allergic person spends a lot of time. Just things I've learned.

    Jane x

  8. I am just a little bit allergic to cats so I'm not sure if this helps....when we've gotten a new cat over the years my face itches, my lips tingle, and all that. After a few days or a week it goes away...I think we build up a little tolerance. Now if someone is super allergic that might not work.

    Your lantana will be perfect! It's probably perennial in Houston, right? It's iffy here...I usually have to replant it.

    Still no Blue Bell here!!

  9. Your cake looks delish!!
    I always enjoy all your garden pictures and I'm so impressed with how much you know about gardening. I have no green thumb whatsoever! haha!
    I hope your mom finds a solution to the cat allergy situation so she can keep her little babies!

  10. Your garden is looking beautiful! I may need to check out Turk's Cap!!
    Zyrtec works pretty well, but Benedryl ( or the store brand) works better. I have to take it and one of my grandgirls does as well. Posie cat rules the roost, so I just do what I have to do :^) Also, LOTS of brushing works wonders. I guess it loosens the dander and brushes it away. I take Posie outside and brush her. In the winter, I brush her in the bathroom and then wash the area down with vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
    Hope this helps!!

  11. Such beautiful plants, Lisa! And that elephants ear is amazing! I'm sorry I'm no help in the pet dept.! Hope you're doing great and the sun shines soon for you! (I had to stop and stare at the sentence about that plant blooming till Dec! We are covered in snow by quickly I forget it's not like the everywhere!)
    Kendra @

    1. Thanks, Kendra! I'd gladly trade some of our sunny winter days for your snow! I think everything is just so pretty covered in snow. :) Hope you're having a great week!

  12. Love the little lizard on the birdbath photo!!!all your flowers looking so pretty!

  13. Love the little lizard on the birdbath photo!!!all your flowers looking so pretty!

  14. Your garden still have a lot of beauties laying around despite your roses mishap Lisa! As for the allergy - you may possibly control mild pet allergy depending on how allergic her hubby is to cats. There are different levels of allergy (severity wise), so if it's mild, maybe controlled with meds. I say maybe, because your mom still has to clean a lot of the hair in the house al the time, most cat allergy is from the hair. Good luck!

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