February 27, 2012

Garden Journal: February 27th

There isn't much going on outside this time of year but there is evidence that spring is on its way.  If you've walked around town lately there are crocus blooming everywhere. In my own yard there are tulip and daffodil bulbs coming up.  The ground is still soggy from the rain we've been experiencing so it's not the best time to work in the yard but I at least get to enjoy the birds and the flowers starting to bloom.

 My pot of spring bulbs are starting to come up.  The cream colored crocus have started to bloom already.

 My forsythia bush is starting to open its blossoms.  Last spring I noticed the little birds like the juncos would sit on the branches and eat the blossoms. 

 The double hellebore I planted last year is producing beautiful double blossoms.  Last year it continued to bloom far into late spring.

 Some of the mini daffodils are already up.

 Lots more daffodils are on their way

The very beginning sign of my white bleeding heart

Charlotte's 1st Birthday Party

 Charlotte turned 1 year today!  Last night we threw a small get together to celebrate her big day.  I made a cake (its terrible looking but hey, she's a dog, she won't care), boston terrier cookies with Brandy and I made mini pupcakes, edible for both dogs and humans.

 The table spread

 Mini Bostons

 Pupcakes with peanut butter dog biscuits

 Whitney lighting the candles

 Charlotte drooling over the cake (no she didn't eat any)

 Inhaling her pupcake

Happy Birthday my girl!

Ugliest. Cake. Ever.


To celebrate Charlotte's first birthday I wanted to make a cake and try using cake decorating supplies for the first time.  I wanted to make a chocolate stout cake with a raspberry frosting using fresh raspberries. My idea was to make a two tiered cake with frosting rosettes around the whole cake. In my mind this was going to be beautiful and girlish.  I  was off to a good start with the cake portion of this project. The chocolate stout batter was delicious.  And then I hit the frosting.  What a nightmare.  I could not figure out how to get the filling and frosting thick enough to keep it from running off the cake.  I made several attempts to thicken the frosting but failed miserably.  This has to be the worst looking cake I've ever made.  

This beautiful cake is from i-heart-baking.blogspot.com.  This is what I wished my cake looked like.  Instead it looked like this:

 At this point in putting the cake together I should have realized it would have been better to walk away. Instead I persisted and ended up with a cake like this:

Hurray!  Hahaha, I have to laugh at myself for this.  After all the effort and thought I put into this cake it looked awful.  Also, if it looks like I threw handfuls of sprinkles at the cake, its because I did! I don't think I will have a career in cake decorating. At least it tasted pretty good.  But the battle between me and the frosting isn't over yet.  I still have a birthday and St. Patty's day next month to test out my skills.  I know I can get it to work.  Round Two between me and frosting is just around the corner!

February 21, 2012

Boston Terrier Sugar Cookies


Well, Charlotte's 1st birthday is a week from today.  I can't believe she is almost 1.  It feels like it wasn't very long ago that I brought the little munchkin home but at the same time I cannot imagine my life without her in it.

This weekend I started getting ready for her birthday.  Yes, I am one of those pet owners that likes to celebrate their pet's birthday and special occasions.  Anyways, yesterday Brandy came over and helped me bake and decorate some sugar cookies in the shape of boston terriers.  They turned out really cute. Some of them even look like Charlotte.  They were very simple to make as well.  To make the frosting Brandy whipped up some powder sugar icing that we found a recipe for in the Betty Crocker cook book and then added black icing paste by Wilton that we found at Joann Fabrics.  I'm glad Brandy was there to help me because I don't think I could have decorated 30 cookies by myself!

I put the cookies in the freezer to save for next weekend when we throw a small birthday party for Charlotte.  I still have some craft projects for the party that I need to throw in between now and Sunday.  We'll see how much I get done this week!

February 08, 2012

D.I.Y. Pinched Fabric Throw Pillows


I found this great tutorial to make these puckered pillows from Thrifty and Chic another awesome D.I.Y. blog. This was a pretty easy project. To see the full instructions for this project you can click on the link above.

Here is the original pillow from Thrifty and Chic.

Basically you mark where you want your puckered spots to be and then pinch about a 1/2 inch around the point and tie it up. Continue this across the fabric and that is about it.

Here is the pillow I used for the recover. It was cute but the colors didn't match and it had a few stains on it.

Now it fits the couch perfectly.

February 06, 2012

Charlotte vs. the Dog Park


When Charlotte was 12 weeks old and had all of her shots I took her to the dog park downtown for the first time.  Unfortunately we had a terrible experience involving a pit bull and had not been back until last weekend.  Since the first incident we've actually had a great time at the dog park.  She's already made lots of friends (that's Brutus the pug and Barney the pug/Boston terrier above).  She gets her workout from both the small and large dogs.   Here are some videos/photos from her experiences.


video
This is her and Barney their first time playing together last weekend.


video
This is her yesterday with Barney and Brutus.  Brutus was playing referee for them, breaking it up when it got too "rough".

 Just sniff'n some dogs


 This little firecracker is a mini Aussie.  She was the spunkiest little dog I've seen.  She reminded me of a corgi and Yorkie mix if they had babies.  She had very pretty blue eyes.  Just watching her gave me puppy fever for a dog like her.

There she goes, off to chase the big dogs.

Looks like the dog park won this round.  She fell asleep in the sun as soon as we made it home.

Superbowl Feast (Pancake Maple and Bacon Cupcakes and Hashbrown Skillet Dish)



 The Superbowl Sunday crew

The first Superbowl I remember watching was Superbowl XXX when I was in 4th grade.  I think this was the first time we threw a party because I remember my mom getting excited about decorating for the game.  She was busy making football shaped brownies with icing stitches when I asked her who was playing in the game.  She stopped, looked at me, and started laughing and said she had no idea.  I had to go ask my aunt, who actually watched sports, to find out it was the Cowboys and Steelers playing.  I also remember having a blast because at half time we went sledding down the hill outside our backyard when we lived on Nob Hill in Klamath Falls.

I've always had fond memories of watching Superbowl since this first one.  Even if its just for the food! This year for Superbowl Sunday I decided to take a different route when it came to food.  Usually I make buffalo wings and some sort of chili or dip but this Sunday wee served breakfast items, fruit and veggies.



The Pancake cupcake with maple, cream cheese frosting topped with crisp bacon strips.

How to:

Follow the pancake recipe on the side of a Bisquick box.
Line a cupcake tin with paper wrappers and fill with Bisquick mixture.
Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 12-17 mins or until lightly browned.

Icing:

11 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
3 cups powder sugar
1/2 maple syrup

Mix cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Then add in powder sugar and syrup.  Then spread on cooled cupcakes.  Add fresh crisp bacon on top.

 Yummy!  Tasted just like a pancake and bacon breakfast.


 I also made a country skillet dish that is amazing.  

In a separate pan, brown some sausage on medium heat.
In a large pot, cook a package of hash browns (I dethawed them over night), 1 medium diced onion, and 1 diced green pepper. And to hash browns and cook on medium.  When the hash browns are heated and the veggies are tender, add in the cooked sausage and stir together.  Then using a large soup ladle, make 5-6 bowl shaped dips in the potato mixture.  Crack an egg into each bowl shape.  The bowls keep the eggs from running everywhere. You should have 5 or 6 eggs in there.  Keep the heat to medium and cover the pot with a lid to cook the eggs faster.  It will take about 20mins. to cook the eggs.  Once they are mostly white, take off the stove and add shredded cheddar, avocado and tomato.  Add sour cream, pepper, salsa or any other toppings you wish.
I'm enjoying my meal with a nice cold brew.

Oz and Jesse hanging out on the couch that actually watched the game.


The kids were engaged in their own game of chase and wrestling.


Yay for football!  I think Brandy was the only one who was watching the game and not the dogs.

Winter Wine Soiree

Saturday, January 28th was the big wine tasting event Schmidt's and First Alternative Co-op hosted at the garden center.  (Sorry this post is a little late, I was too tired recovering last weekend to post this). 

There were about a dozen wine vendors, half a dozen artisan cheeses and half a dozen delicious chocolates, including Posh and Cherry Country, both sold at Schmidt's.  There was a great turnout, almost 100 guests showed up plus lots of staff members from First Alternative and Schmidt's.  First Alternative provided the wine, cheese and chocolate and I did all the decorating and event set up at the store.  This was the first time I have done all of the decision making and planning.  Without Susan at the store to run ideas by that meant I had full control of planning.  It was very stressful but I think it turned out beautiful.  The greenhouse looked spectacular that night with white lights, primrose blooming and a handful of Valentine's Day decorations.

The only part of planning this event that I thought could have been better was the number of people that were able to buy tickets.  None of us were sure just how many tickets we could sell so we under planned, and had to turn a lot of people away when the event sold out a few days before.  Next year if we plan to do this again, we will definitely have to sell more tickets.

Below are some photos of my decorating and of the party itself.

Whitney and I toasting to the night.  Everyone that attended received 3 wine sampling tickets and an engraved wine glass from the event.

Marsh, from Cherry Country.  They make chocolate covered cherries right here in the Willamette Valley in Rickreall, Oregon. 

 Yummy, both our customers and our staff really likes these and are having a hard time resisting taking the free samples at the store.

Sartori cheeses.  He made four delicious types of cheeses.  My favorites was the one with salsa added into it.  A lot of people really liked the rosemary infused one.

I love cheese, I could have eaten it all night had I not been working!

Even Tim had a bird station at the event.  Tim has become the in-house bird expert.  He has lots of information and loves to share bird stories with customers.

It was a very busy night.  I had the event set up to have half of the vendors inside and half of the vendors in the greenhouse.  Thank the weather gods that it wasn't raining this night!  The greenhouse sometimes drips when it rains and if it did, I don't know how we would have fit everyone inside the store!

Some table decorations in the greenhouse.

The week of the event, Whitney was very busy planting up beautiful flower bowls to have ready to sell that weekend.  We also received a bunch from Peoria Gardens.  The flowers in the greenhouse were definitely the icing of the cake as far as decorations went.



We bought 3 to 4 dozen of these red tissue paper balls for decorating.  I love putting these together.  They are so simple and you can use them for all sorts of events.  I will have to write a blog sometime on how to make them.

A beautiful garden angel among blooming tea cups.


The greenhouse had beautiful music filling the atmosphere from the dulcimer bells.


The greenhouse was sparkling that night.


There were lots of great vendors at this event.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  Thank you to everyone that contributed to the event and thank you to everyone that came to taste wine and support all these local businesses.
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