Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monster Cupcakes! For Julian's 8th birthday.

The cake is a basic vanilla cupcake from scratch (an adaptation of a recipe from Martha Stewart Kids, found online) and the icing is also vanilla-flavored (not spinach, in case you were wondering!) cream cheese and butter.

One could really go crazy here, but I tried to keep decorations as simple as possible:

--3 colors of gel-icing tubes (white, black, and red)

--candy eyes (found at Michaels Crafts, in the cake section

--red licorice laces

--M&Ms in white, black, yellow, and aqua (bulk section of the supermarket!)

--mini M&Ms

Julian got right into the decorating! I made some too... (with permission from the head artist!). They are sooo cute that I had to take pictures of them all...

I was going for scary, but this just turned out cute!

Big Grin monster (Julian)
Baby Vampire (me)
Zombie? Julian
Animalistic cyclops (me)
Evil vampire (me)
Triclops (me)
The inspiration cupcake (me)
Stalk-eyed monster (me)
Stabbed cupcake (Julian)
Green eyed horned monster (me)
Classic cyclops (Julian)
Things got a little crazy on the last cupcake (Julian)
Frog eating a fly off of his forehead (Julian)
Tri-eyed monster (Julian)
Happy polka dot monster (me)
Girl monster (me... made scarier when Julian tried to make her grin)
Drippy eyed monster (Julian)
Long-tongued alien (Julian)
Mess cupcake (Julian-- he claims this one for himself!)
Guess who? (David)
Cyclops with mono-antenna (Julian)
Injured monster (me)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants!

This 3x8 foot bed was an experiment in small-space gardening! There are 8 tomato plants, trained to a trellis, in the back of the bed. Eggplants in the middle, then peppers in the front. The plants seem to be doing well! Unfortunately, they were planted so late (we only got the bed built in mid July) so I'm not sure the eggplants and the tomatoes will beat the frost. But next year this should be great!

Trellising works great for the cherry tomatoes... for the larger, heavier tomatoes, the verdict is still out. One of the plants broke the twine it was tied to this week... and the plants are having trouble holding up the heavy fruit. If we try growing Dad's prized Brandywines, I don't think this system will work at all (his tomatoes are dinner-plate sized!).

They yellow pear tomatoes are voracious growers... if I miss a week maintaining the trellis, they have shoots in all directions! In another bed that is not trellised, the pear tomato plant just took right over and choked out everything except the pole beans. But since the tomatoes got such a late start, it is nice to at least have some tomatoes, and the yellow pears are tasty!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I had to prune back the basil plants to let the peppers get some sun... which resulted in mass quantities of basil leaves!

Pesto recipe (Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe)

16 cups of basil leaves, loosely packed
4 heads of local garlic
1 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 cups olive oil
(2 cups parmasan cheese)

Peel garlic, then process in the food processor with pine nuts and walnuts. Add basil, salt, and pepper, process until smooth. Add in olive oil in a steady stream, while running the processor. If you plant to freeze, leave out the cheese (add it later when you eat it!).

Store in the fridge with a layer of oil on top for up to a week. Or freeze it! Last year I did the ice cube-tray thing... but I have so much this year, and I hated trying to get the pesto-smell out of the ice cube trays (if I do this again, I will try lining with plastic wrap, but this sounds so fussy...).

Lazy freezing method... freeze in ziplocs, in flat, thin slabs. Break off a piece of the slab when you want to use it. So far so good... the oil in the pesto prevents it from freezing too solidly!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just a day...

Views of the terraced rock garden... April 8 and April 9th.

Enjoying spring flowers from inside...

View from the bedroom... it is hard to see, but there are dozens of yellow and purple crocuses in the leaf-littered lawn.
View from the kitchen window.


My Ikea orchid, in bloom again (3rd year).

Hardy Geranium

Hardy geraniums flourishing in the sunny window in my bedroom. They're some of the only plants that made it through the winter in less-than-ideal conditions on various windowsills. They were started in late summer and autumn from seed.

This seems to be the only hardy geranium that made it through the winter outside. It was the strongest to begin with... the other two were a bit wishful!