Easter Flower Arrangements

I went to my parents house this afternoon, where I helped my mom get her house ready for her tea party tomorrow night. She wanted a center piece for her dining room table so I went through her home and found a couple of baskets laying around .
20130320-135425.jpgFor this arrangement I used a magazine storage box.

20130320-135439.jpg

My original plan was to make only one basket, but once I got started I was having too much fun and had to make another one. She had just purchased some pansies to plant outside, but since it has been too cold lately they were still waiting in their containers to be planted.  My mom had also cut down a lot of vines and pruned some branches from her curly willow trees, both of these were going to work perfectly. I was outside gathering the clippings when I discovered some beautiful moss in the grass and also some weeping ‘silver leaf’ to fill the baskets empty spaces. On my gathering expedition I also found a couple of decorating pieces to use, little iron birds and small eggs in a carton.  I ended up using plastic bags for filler at the bottom of the baskets and from there I just has fun playing around with the different elements.  Due to the fact that the containers were so different I wanted to use the same elements in the arrangements to bring the two together, but at the same time play off of the different styles of the containers.  I had so much fun and am really please with the finished arrangements!

Terrariums

There is something so wonderful about digging my hands deep into the soil, discovering the life that lives beneath the surface and becoming apart of the natural world around me.  It’s been much too cold lately to really get my hands in the soil, I have been pruning and cleaning the area around the plants and tending to the new growth.  I have been inspired lately by indoor plants and mini gardens, but when it comes to indoor plants I usually get overwhelmed when the plant gets too large and ends up looking tall and lanky instead of short and bubbly.  For a couple years now I have wanted to try my had at making a Terrarium and well, today was the day!

I have seen a number of great images online for various designs and layouts and took a few of these to heart when designing my own terrarium.  I had a glass apothecary jar that I was using to store my son’s soother in when he was only a few months old, but he hasn’t had any desire for a soother for at least 7 months now and that beautiful glass apothecary jar has only been collecting dust.  This morning I stepped outside to hunt down all of the supplies I needed for our little ecosystem – I got all of my instructions from Sprout Home, which not only gave me great inspiration, but also the perfect instructions and maintenance for our garden. I got the small drainage stones and a couple mosses form our garden, the sterilized soil (as not to add any insects or bacteria into the space), a moss and a small tropical plant from the garden centre and the last item, activated charcoal, I picked up at our local pet store.  There were some tutorials that said the charcoal wasn’t required but made for a more difficult maintenance in the end.   The charcoal absorbs the impurities and helps keeps the soil fresh and the plants from rotting.  When I spoke to a sales staff at the garden centre she informed me that I shouldn’t use any fertilizer as it encourages growth, which is what you don’t want in a mini garden.  She also informed me that I want to pinch off any parts of the plant to keep it on the smaller side.  Of course these tidbits made sense to me, but its always great to have a professional give you those tidbits!

IMG_6535

Now that I had all of my supplies in order, including a glass apothecary jar with a lid, several types of specialty mosses (two from our garden and one form the garden center), stones, soil, and activated charcoal I was ready to begun. I wanted to build a closed terrarium, as I love the look of a little condensation and moss, so once I close the lid, aside form watering it I will almost never need to open the lid again; it will become a beautiful self-sustaining ecosystem.

IMG_6537

The first layer I added was the loose moss  to absorb some of the extra water that runs through the drainage rocks.

IMG_6538

The activated charcoal/carbon was added after the pebbles.

IMG_6539

I sloped the soil so there could be a front and a back.

IMG_6543Here is the beautiful pink and green tropical plant I added to give the terrarium a little extra oomph.  I am going to find a little porcelain figurine to add to this little world, but couldn’t find one while I was out today.

IMG_6545Here you can see the finished product and the beautiful layers that make up this precious eco system.  Once all of the ingredients were gathered this little DIY project took less than 30 minutes to assemble.  I am really happy with the outcome and the only thing I would change would have been to use a taller apothecary jar, but I wanted to use the jar I had on hand.  I also love that even the blackest thumb can try their hand at gardening without too much investment and in the end is a very easy garden to care for!

Raspberry Love

Without a single hesitation I can answer confidently that if I am ever stranded on an island and could request a single food item it would be fresh raspberries.  Of course, I would have tiny millions of little seeds stuck in my teeth and I would be without floss, but I would be one happy camper.  Which is saying a lot because I hate camping, but I LOVE raspberries!

Buying raspberries in the winter is disappointing.  They just haven’t been the same since summer ended, they lack the taste and plumpness that only the summer sunshine can bring.  This hasn’t stopped me from buying them during the winter months, but they leave something to be desired.  And I know my problem sounds very first world, almost the same as complaining that heated seats cause my skin to dry out and don’t heat my rear evenly enough, but I really miss summer fruit!

raspberriesI came across some recipes online to put into my online recipe book for a few months down the road and I wanted to share a few. Click on the images to be directed to the recipes website.

This is called Sunday Sauce, which sounds as though it would be unreal on yogurt, pie, chocolate dessert or simply spooned directly into my mouth!!

sunday sauce

The wonderfully delish second item is Brie en Croute with Raspberries and Pecans.  This recipe takes a wheel of brie, tops it with jam and toasted pecans and then bakes it in a pastry crust.

BrieThis next recipe looks absolutely divine!!!  A beautiful medley of fruits, herbs, sweet and liquids creates this  Raspberry Mojito…umm yes, please.

raspmojitoAnd this finale addition to today’s post is a perfect marriage of lemon tartness and raspberry deliciousness.  These Raspberry Lemon Crumble Muffins have been baked in my home twice now and have been gobbled up by residents and guests alike.  My only comment is that they are best eaten fresh, as they get pretty dense and a little too dry after 2 days, but not to worry they hardly lasted 2 days.  Sweet mercy, these were unreal!

lemon raspSince the sun is trying its hardest to show its beautiful face at the moment I am going to head outside to enjoy a little heat. Have a fantastic day!

45 Minute Hot Buns!

I have to be honest when I tell you that I have had great success and great failures when it comes to using yeast.  As I do with the rest of my cooking/baking I always tend to add a little dash of this or change the recipe to my liking.  This has most definitely been my down fall when it comes to using yeast.  This past year I decided I wanted to conquer my fear of this stinky peculiar product and time and time again I became more fearful.  After failed cinnamon buns, loaves of bread and the worst looking buns you have ever seen, I was even more determined to get things right.  I followed recipes absolutely perfectly and although it was against my will, I did not add even the slightest bit piece of personal opinion.  After trial and error I figured out where I was going wrong: Letting the yeast proof too long, adding flour/various ingredients at the end of the kneading process and punching the dough down after the last rise prior to the baking process.  Of course I also determined that there is a time and a place when there are exceptions: this is where I was thrown a curve ball in the past!  This past week I have rocked pizza dough and dinner buns and questioned myself throughout the entire process.  Below is a recipe that I came across after making soup and deciding that I wanted some delicious warm buns to go with it.  After scouring the internet I came across a straight forward plan for exactly what I wanted: dough that didn’t need to sit under a cloth in a warm place for hours on end, but could be ready from start to finish along with the rest of our meal.

 

Hot Buns

 

45 Minute Dinner Buns!!

http://www.honeyandbutter.com/bread/30-minute-dinner-rolls

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water

1/3 cup Vegetable oil

2 Tbsp yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3 1/2 cup bread flour (I find bread flour works best, but all purpose flour will also do the trick)

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix water, oil, yeast, and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer and let it rest for 15 minutes. Add the salt and egg, mix thoroughly. Gradually add the flour. Divide into 12 equal pieces, and shape into round balls. Place onto a greased baking sheet and let it rise for 10-15 minutes. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Now let me outline my fears seeing as I have more fails using yeast than wins:

  1. Fear #1: The buns didn’t seem to rise that much on the greased baking sheet after 15 minutes (I did place them beneath my under cabinet lights since its winter and our home is a little on the cooler side).  My worrying was definitely in vain.
  2. Fear #2: After 10 minutes the buns were not even brown – I was afraid I was going to cook them too long, but I did end up adding an additional 7 minutes to the timer and the tops were slightly brown, but the bottoms were quite dark.

 

Below are the buns prior to rising for 15 on the baking sheet (beneath the under cabinet lights and a tea towel – I still don’t know why I cover them with a tea towel, but I do it because all of the other recipes have called for it).

IMG_6385

 

Here are the bins after 15 minutes, they did rise slightly, but I thought that they were supposed to be fully risen prior to cooking, I didn’t realize that in the oven they would rise that much more.

At this point I put them in the over with the timer on for 10 minutes.  I peeked in on the tiny little buns progress every minute and after 7 minutes I saw significant growth, but the colour wasn’t yet close to brown.  I figured there was no altering things now – such as adding more yeast or kneading again, but I had to add some time, I wasn’t about to serve raw yeasty dough.  It was a trying process and my patience was given a chance to grow, but after 7 extra minutes they came out perfectly.

IMG_6395