imageThe Monarch butterfly southern migration. The only butterfly that migrates.

I thought today would be a good time to talk about my obsession with butterflies as a child since yesterday’s book posting was about a lepidopterist. While I would not classify myself as such I did have a passion for butterflies and moths as a little girl when I would go butterfly watching with my Father.  At the time there were many vacant lots around our neighborhood many with urban gardens and urban gardeners (nothing is new!!!) and we would set out to watch these lovely creatures dart in and out of the flower gardens.  Some we would catch and, of course, free but then there were monarchs!  And oh my were there monarchs!  In addition to the vegetable and flower gardens, there were many patches of grasses and “weeds” one of which was milkweed which grew everywhere.  Milkweed is the food for the monarch and where they not only feed but laid their eggs, grew into caterpillars and formed their amazingly magnificent chrysalis. We did, by the way, plant milkweed seeds in our backyard garden.  In addition, to scouring the Chicago/Evanston area we continued our quest to find beautiful specimens on our summer visits to West Texas, where we saw many different varieties.  We also sent away for preserved butterflies and moths which we housed in specimen cases.  We spent hours in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History carefully studying the butterfly and moth exhibitions. All were great for show and tell and school reports.

imageWatching the metamorphosis of the monarch as a child (or at any age!) is pure magic.  What looks like small yellow dots and stripes on the green chrysalis is actually gold!

We would often bring the caterpillars and their milkweed home and watch them spin their “slumber” homes and then hatch into the beauties they became.  Most of these treasures we released but we did keep a couple. Don’t hate me for “killing” butterflies, my Father researched this with experts to be as humane as possible…I know killing anything isn’t humane and believe me, I wouldn’t think of it now!

imageA piece my Father did…very early plastic with a treasured preserved monarch…he included copper wire and strands of hair from my Mother, me, as well as himself.  It is very, very old but a valued piece of my childhood and the times I spent with my beloved Father and his teaching me about butterflies and their amazing beauty and how to treat the delicate beings, but mostly spending quality time with him, that I relished most of all!!!

We all have been reading that the monarch is endangered, along with bees, both serious threats to our eco system, and while I was doing a bit of research on monarchs I found that this is due to the lack of milkweed which has been virtually eliminated by chemical spraying and land development, when did you last see a vacant lot?   Many people are now planting milkweed, which by the way is quite beautiful in its own way.  I plan on asking all my friends who live in Harbor Country to plant milkweed seeds to encourage monarchs to thrive again…please do the same!  Here is a site that can be useful if you want to help save the monarch butterfly…please consider it!



In lieu of a Butterfly Cake, I am giving you a Hummingbird Cake…I adore Hummingbird Cake…guess it is the Southern coming out in me, courtesy of my Mother…I have made this cake once and loved it! Hope you do too. I do a bit more frosting…like lots between the layers as well as on top.


Nonstick baking spray

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium)

One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple

Frosting, recipe follows


2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

I added some chopped walnuts to the frosting, a handful or so!



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-inch baking pans with nonstick baking spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add the bananas and pineapple, beating until combined.

Using a measuring cup, spoon the batter into each of the three prepared pans, one scoop at a time to ensure an even distribution. Slam the pans against the counter to get any air bubbles out of the batter.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Spread some Frosting between the layers. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with coconut and nuts if desired.


Beat the butter and cream cheese together with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar in increments. Lastly, beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.




  1. Sally Schwartz February 22, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    Another hum dinger! Didn’t know this about the milkwood & we’ll be sure to plant some milkwood seeds. The cake sounds incredibly delicious too XXOO

    • nenasnotes February 22, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Major problem just like the bee issue. Milkweed is quite pretty, and of course the butterflies magnificent,but check first it might not be pet friendly.

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