Thursday, February 21, 2013

Charleston Chew "Cake"

Have you ever had a Charleston Chew? It's a candy bar created in 1922 and named not for the harbor city of Charleston, South Carolina that I love so much, but for the dance of the same name. I guess since the dance was named after the city, however, it sort of IS named for Charleston, South Carolina. The cake is more like a bar cookie, and it was the silliest recipe that GG gave me to try. It sort of just told you what to put in with some random measurements. 

1 stick of butter, 1 box of brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar), 2 eggs, 2 cups self-rising flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup of chopped nuts. I used pecans.
Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. You use the pan to mix the entire "cake".
Add the brown sugar to the melted butter until the sugar melts a bit as well and remove from heat.
Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well. Then add the flour, vanilla, and nuts. (blurry pic-still practicing with the camera)
Bake in a lightly greased 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Mine was nowhere to be found, so I used a square dish and a round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Mine took about 25-30, so just watch it after 20. 
All boxed up. GG informed me that she only had one piece before someone else ate the rest. I guess that means I have to make it again. The round cake pan really worked well, and it was easy to cut into wedges. Be warned, it is SWEET! But it does taste almost just like a Charleston Chew.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

And the Worrying Begins-It's Too Soon!

Drat this weather! The warm bursts are making all of the daffodils sprout early, and then it turns harsh and they are frozen. I've never really worried about daffodils, but this year I kind of am. Yesterday it was almost 50, today it's 26 and windy and snowy. However, there is not enough snow to insulate any of these little bulbs, and even the mulch is beginning to fail. 
These jonquils are pushing the frozen mulch right up off the ground!

These have all pushed up so far that they have been burnt by the freezes.

Some swelling leaf buds on the skeletal frame of the climbing hydrangea show a promise of Spring.

This, however, is crazy. A hyacinth totally budded out in February!

I am hoping for the best for the white azalea in the White Garden. The burlap really should have been in place sooner than it was.

The hellebores are right on time. They don't call them "Lenten Rose" for nothing!

More poor little burnt daffodils. 

The creeping sedums look so vibrant in the cold.

One of the new hellebores. 

Muscari in February is just as disturbing as hyacinths in February.

The defensive wrap of chicken wire seems to be working on the kiwi vines.

It's not pretty, but it seems to be working. Maybe this year they will be able to grow with no set-backs. 

These daffodils are only a bit out of the ground, so hopefully they will be fine. 

These, however, will not be blooming this year. It is becoming more and more challenging to garden in this ever changing weather. I hope the Spring treats us well.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Snapshots Around the Penthouse-Trying Out My New Camera

 I am by no means a photographer, but after four years of using my Nikon Coolpix, and relying more and more on my IPhone (a relic in itself) whenever the Nikon was failing, I have at long last invested in a new camera. It is still just a point and shoot (Canon Power Shot XS500) but it was on sale and it has much higher, well, I don't know. Pixels? Like I said, I'm not a photographer. 

What I do know is that it already takes clearer pictures in the regular light of my apartment without a flash. I still need to read and test all the things it can do, but tonight I was just happy to get the software installed and take some pictures. I think the Garden will look better than ever this year...

Seriously, Sharkey Gray had never looked so true to color on this blog. Please ignore the untidy sofa and pile of coats and sweaters.

A clear shot all the way into the bedroom.
Only the bedside lamps were lit. Usually I would have had to turn on the sconces and overhead (ugh-I HATE overhead lighting) light to have enough light for a picture.

The Winter Garden. Clear as can be.

It took me ten tries to get a shot of the Christmas decorations that were on the dining room sconce. This was just a quick snap.
I still need to practice with the macro setting. 
I am really excited about taking cooking/baking/food pictures again. Ignore the mess.
It's been such a pain lately, but now the light in the kitchen (I don't mind overhead light in the kitchen) seems to be plenty to get clear, bright pictures. 

It seems silly, but I feel inspired again. I know my posting has been lackluster lately, but now I feel like I really want to get going again. If anything, the money spent was worth getting rid of the headaches.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Easter, Er, Valentine's Day!

It may be Valentine's Day, but Easter is coming fast. Yesterday I was grabbing some poster board at United Art and Education, and while I was there I noticed a little gold leafing kit. And then I started thinking...
I had some lovely goose eggs from my last visit to my friend Tara over at Cottage de Haven. And you know all about the goose that laid the golden egg, right? What could be more perfect? 

I've not used gold leaf since high school, and I imagine there are easier things to gold leaf than eggs. I mean, there is really no good way to set them down after you put the sizing on. By the way, it's not REAL gold leaf, but, rather, a composite. 

Somehow I managed (with some lovely gold leaf fingers) to cover the eggs and then cover with the sealer. A wee bit messy.
But, I think, worth the results. The egg on the left has been sealed, the lumpy looking one on the right needs sealed (and the sealer sort of flattens out the gold leaf mistakes I made). Now where will these go for Easter? Stay tuned...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Only 90 More Days, Give or Take

Winter keeps playing the up and down card (drastic fluctuations in temperatures with 59 degrees one day, 12 degrees the next), but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm afraid this year two Meyer lemons may have just given up on me. They dropped their leaves (as per normal) and have since sort of withered (not normal). I decided to prune them back and continue treating them like all of the other citrus with a weekly watering and, just this week, the first very, very, very diluted feeding. All the plants received a weak feeding to sort of get their motors running. All in all everyone seems to have done well. I know, however, they are all ready to go to summer camp. 
My two Stephanotis plants have not really done anything all winter. I'm hoping a long Summer outside, either behind my window boxes or in the garden, will give them a boost.

The agaves all received a trimming of spent leaves and a watering. They are mostly ignored all winter, but they really need to get outside so they can start growing straight again.

My poor little citrus! The tall, skinny bare branch in the foreground is a Ponderosa lemon. It  is actually beginning to put out some tiny leaves, so I'm not too worried, but what about that poor little guy in the gray pot! He always loses some leaves but bounces back. This year I'm worried.

The other Ponderosa lemon, however, is setting buds! Just no rhyme or reason. I actually think part of the problem was that I waited too long to bring everyone in. Once there is a chill in the night air, many plants prepare to drop leaves and go to sleep. Citrus trees normally wouldn't do this in nature, but then there is really nothing natural about growing citrus in Indiana.
The figs are all doing absolutely wonderful. This 'Desert King' is happy as, well, a king!

The spent amaryllis blooms are all getting a trimming. I also think they will all be repotted this Summer. The little ZZ plant  (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) in the background was an impulse clearance purchase. He needs potted up still, too. 

My little Dwarf Cavendish banana tree. What a great little grower. And yes, I feel closer to the Dukes of Devonshire (and the current Dowager Duchess) for having him in my collection (they are named after the 6th Duke).

And there everyone is, the entire rag tag bunch of overwintered citrus, ferns, figs, succulents, and cacti. Only 90 more days, guys...hold tight!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Need To ______

Just a few things I need to do.
Start thinking about Easter decorations, and blow out more eggs.

Start fertilizing the figs (and other overwintering plants), diluted to 1/4 strength.

Polish the brass and all of the silverware. Really, I've been slacking.

Make plans for more Oriental Lilies in the garden this year.

Mount the staghorn ferns

Clean all of the pictures.

Sort seeds. I've already started buying this season's.
Smell this amazing flower.

Go to bed early.