Friday, April 27, 2012

Please send the Sun!

Would anyone care to tell me where they placed my sunshine?  And warmth?  It's been almost a week since I had a chance to play in my garden!

Just last week...
We got peas in the ground, and cute teepee for them to grow up on.  They aren't tied together in this picture, but they are tied together now, and I can't wait to see them grow!  We also got carrots in, which I'm excited about.  They grew well last year, although I didn't even get all of them out of the ground before winter arrived.  This year I went with a Kaleidoscope mix, which has white, purple, yellow and orange carrots.

Tomato seedlings!
On my desk, which is in front of a Southern facing window, are my growing seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.  They seem to be doing well- I noticed the tomatoes are beginning to grow their true leaves, which means I can transplant them to some  bigger newspaper cups soon.

We're supposed to get some warm days next week, so hopefully by this time next week, I'll have my lettuces, spinach, kale, bok choy, scarlet runner beans, onions, and sugar snap peas in the ground.  And then after that I'll be digging up at least 2 new vegetable beds, and creating a space for some herbs.  I also have a ton of sunflowers to put in this year, enough that we might have a mini sunflower forest growing in the yard.

Let's hope for some sun!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This week in pictures.

I realized today that as the kids get older, and while in a busy school semester, I don't take many pictures...that's made me sort of sad.  So I'm going to try to remember to take pictures more often.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's time for things to start growing!

Tulips and Hyacinths
It's that time of year...well actually it's not.  My flowers actually started blooming in the end of March, after that week of super warm weather.  It's CRAZY.  I cleaned out one garden bed, but that literally took me all week, so when it returned to cooler weather, I had to postpone finishing the rest of the garden beds.  At least I have a small head start, right?

I started some seedlings for the vegetable garden today.  Tomatoes (Heirloom Rainbow), Eggplant (Black Beauty) and Peppers (Sublime hybrids).  Hopefully they will be sprouting in a few days, and then be ready for the outdoors in 6 weeks.  I can't tell you how giddy gardening makes me.

Pretty pink hyacinths
I'm enjoying my flowers this year.  Last year, I let them just go to see what grew, what didn't, what did I need to do.  Apparently I need to be handy with the pruning sheers because my flower beds looked like a jungle.  This year I'll aim to keep tight control of that.  I'm amazed at how much came back.  I didn't plant anything, and yet all the spring flowers came back.  About the only thing I didn't care for was the millions of mums growing, mainly because they just were not in a place I liked, so I ripped quite a few out...but I plan on adding my own stuff this year.  I love everything I find on so I might pick some kinds that I like, for my own touch.

And I plan on creating my own sunflower garden, on top of doubling my vegetable garden.  I already know I started too many tomato seedlings...and I plan on adding cucumbers, squashes, melons, lettuce, corn, kale, peas, and beans (totally making a bean pole/ living plant teepee this year...). I also have strawberry plants from last year, and blueberry plants, although I think I need to move them.  And I might start an herb garden, although I'm wondering if I could make one that could be moved indoors over the winter...not something I need to do, but I am curious.

The weather is supposed to be super nice this weekend, so I hope I get a little gardening time in.  I enjoy it so much, and just can't wait to get my hands super dirty while being in the sun.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Easter fun

My little helper
Lilia is on vacation...she started Thursday, and won't go back until the 16th. This seems like a crazy amount of time, particularly since John and Liam only get Monday off for Easter at the college. So what else should a mom and daughter do? We watched My Little Ponies, and made cupcakes. She even let me brush her hair and put it up, which I have to tell you is something so rare it needs to be marked in a memory book.  Seriously- the girl hates her hair touched (and I don't blame her- she has perfect curls that make brushing a pain, literally.)  She loves baking, and I don't do it nearly enough with her- mainly because I'm trying to lose weight, not gain it.  And since simple carbs are just one of those things I'm supposed to keep at a minimum...

I decided to make Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes.  I saw it on Pinterest and knew I had to do it, just once.  I didn't follow any particular recipe- there was at least three I saw on Pinterest (and brĂșlee and brownies, omg drooling...) so I used tips from all of them and used my own recipes.

I started with a basic chocolate cupcake recipe, adding cadbury mini creme eggs :

The Completed yummy!
1 stick Butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C. Sugar (I use organic cane sugar- I love that slight molasses flavor)
2 Eggs, room temperature
3/4 C. Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1/4 t. Salt
1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 C. Milk (I used 2%)
1 t. Vanilla

12 mini cadbury eggs (frozen at least 2 hours)

12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, then turn it down to 350 just prior to baking- line muffin pan with heavy duty muffin liners (I can't tell you how much of a difference this makes.)

1. Beat the butter with mixer until it is soft and creamy, then add sugar. Beat about 3 minutes.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time beating until they are well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sift out any lumps and whisk them to incorporate them. Combine milk and vanilla.
4. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar and beat it just to combine. Add half of the liquids, scrape down bowl and beat to combine. Continue adding the dry and wet ingredients alternately making sure you end with the dry stuff.
5. Fill muffin tins 1/2 of the way, stick in the frozen mini eggs and cover until each muffin tin is 2/3 of the way full.   Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool.

When cooled, I used a basic buttercream recipe:

1 stick of butter, room temperature
Powdered sugar
Milk (I used skim this time)
Vanilla (about 1 tsp)

Cream your sugar until light and fluffy, add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk alternatively, and slowly until you get your desired consistency.  Not too thick, and not to watery.  Save about 1/4 of the frosting if you want to make the cupcake look like a creme egg.  Frost with the white frosting, and then mix the remaining 1/4 of the frosting with yellow food dye.  Add a "yolk" and voila! A deliciously sinful Cadbury creme egg cupcake.

Thank goodness I've only eaten one, and half of the cupcakes are gone.  Between cupcakes, easter candy, and the girl scout cookies that arrived from my's gonna be a tough few weeks of me versus the scale.  I think I need some extra treadmill time...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Egg and dye and oops.

I think I missed March...Oops...

Anyways, I learned something new about fresh eggs.  Really fresh eggs, straight from the chicken to my fridge, with no productivity scrub down...they are a little harder to dye.

Fresh eggs, dyed with Kool-Aid
Apparently, because chickens from large scale farms are kept in such close and unsanitary conditions, eggs are doused and scrubbed with hot water and who knows what else. So unlike the eggs I get, they don't have that special invisibile lining that helps keep bacteria from permeating the egg.  It's not something one usually thinks about, until you dye an egg with that lining.

This year I decided to try dying our eggs with Kool-Aid (Thanks Pinterest!) and while it was a decent success, a few of the eggs look almost scaly because of that lining.  Now, I wash my eggs.  Using a warm, wet paper towel, I wipe the eggs down, but I only immerse ones that are really dirty.  From what I've been told, this is best because eggshell is permeable and washing eggs can help push bacteria into the shell.  I honestly don't know if it's true, but I figure it can't hurt, as long as I remember to wash my hands whenever I handle eggs, and cook my eggs thoroughly when I use them in the kitchen.

But it seems in order to dye eggs, I have to remember to scrub them quite well before boiling them.  Not that these eggs aren't cool looking- quite the contrary...they almost seem like dragons eggs or alien eggs, which is a really neat effect.
Easter Dragon's Eggs
We might dye some more later, depending if there's time, and if we eat these in a timely fashion.  And I'll see if scrubbing the eggs doesn't make a difference.