A Trip to the Plant Nursery . . .

Today the thermometer read eighty-seven. 
Only a week ago the morning kept us shivering with rain and a sharp breeze. 
As the Sun’s brightness actually over heated my just emerging from winter skin, 
my hands itched to touch plants and soil.
 I dragged the kids to the nursery . . .
Not planning to buy anything . . .
 Just to scour the rows and rows of cheery plants awaiting their moment to join the earth. 
Well heck, I’d  be a little dotting to bring three reluctant pioneers to this plant haven, without expecting to leave the premises with a small token to remember it by.
 The colors connected with my camera as only colors do . . . And I left, not sure if I felt more full from the click, clicking of my finger, 
or the actual plants themselves.
                                                                          ~Marica

At Late Breakfast . . .

I have found the addition of cornmeal to blueberry muffins kicks them in the right direction just enough to qualify them not just as good, but delicious. I baked this batch of muffins this morning and was not disappointed with the outcome in the least. Hot out of the oven with a cup of tea or coffee is a wonderful way to start the morning.
Blueberry Orange Corn Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl mix:
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup orange juice
In a separate bowl combine:
1+1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup sweet rice flour make sure to use very finely ground flour
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to dry ingredients and mix gently:
1 cup frozen blueberries of course fresh berries work wonderfully.
Pour into an oiled muffin tin. Fill each to the top.
Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes
or until knife inserted comes out clean.

                                                                 ~Marica

For the Love of Mistakes . . .

I often love when I make a mistake. It usually adds an unusual twist or pleasant surprise to a project that would have otherwise been simple ~ perhaps even dull. When a mistake is made, it has to be fixed, and it is during that fixing that some of the best ideas come out.
Just recently, in making a skirt for my daughter, I had a simple three-piece triangle image in my mind. Once executed it was boring. I decided the key would be to run a ruffle around the bottom to give it more flare. I quickly trotted down to the store to find some eyelet, but once there, was much inspired by some creamy, crocheted like edging. Due to its pricy-ness, I only bought a yard thinking the bottom of the skirt couldn’t possibly be wider then thirty-six inches. Upon returning home, I indeed found the skirt’s bottom hem was several inches wider. I moved the edging up a bit, where the circumference wasn’t as wide, and began to stitch. Being who I am, I didn’t measure first, and found upon completing the round, my stitching had to stop within just one inch’s distance from the other end of the crocheted edging. How unfortunate and bothersome. But my luck was that I still had a small scrap left of the skirt fabric. I gathered and stitched this last scrap into a flower . . .attached it where the gap was gaping, and stood back to check my handiwork.

 Surprise!!! What would have been an adequate skirt was now a tasteful indulgence of pleasant décor.
Hooray for the mistake and the chance to make more out of something than I had 
set out to do. This is just one example of my many experiences where I ended up 
praising the error that guided me to success.  

                                                                                                             ~ Marica

Simple Dinner . . .

Tonight’s dinner struck me perfect . . . Baked salmon, sushi rice, Brussels sprouts and wakame seaweed. I had never prepared wakame before. It’s extraordinarily simple, all you have to do is soak the dried pieces of wakame for five minutes in cold water and it turns into silky, salty . . . mmm . . . what could you call it? I guess, a taste of the sea.
The salmon was just as simple. I rinsed it, placed it in a oiled glass baking dish, cut a few scours in the surface, and baked it at a strong 500 degrees for about 15 minutes. I drizzled a bit of rice vinegar over the salmon once served up on the plates. 
The Brussels sprouts were braised in a bit of simmering water, covered, until they became a perfect spring green, 3-5 minutes.
Sometimes simple is so much more satisfying than hours of dedicated mixing and stirring. This dinner had a remarkably clean finish about it. 
               Best Wishes ~ Marica

Extremely Moist Cake au Chocolat

So this cake is moist . . . I mean very moist. Tasty, simple, and easy to make, minus the fact I added brandy sauce that I had sitting in the refrigerator since bread pudding heaven. If you don’t happen to have brandy sauce awaiting its fate in your cold box, either skip it or, heck, make the stuff . . .
Moist Cake  au Chocolat
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
In a bowl mix:
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil grapeseed or canola
1 cup sugar 
In a separate bowl mix than add to egg mixture:
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate melted
2/3 cup coffee room temperature
Add:
1 cup unbleached white flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt

Pour into an oiled 8″ round cake pan.
If you use brandy sauce, pour in a swirl around the top.
Bake 325 degree for 30 minutes.
Brandy Sauce:
Mix and then simmered until the sugar is devolved:
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest from 1 orange


Hope it all comes out delectably ~ Marica

Perfect Salad . . .

Last night I made the yummiest salad. It was very late summer-esk I have to admit, but it still was really nice for the first day of spring. I found these plums in the grocery store and although I know plums aren’t supposes to be around for months I couldn’t resist how delicious they looked. So to cut to the chase, the salad contained: Mixed baby greens, goat cheese, avocado, chopped plums, pecans, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Seriously so yummy!!
                    Happy Spring ~ Marica

Making Puppets

So this project started over a week ago . . .
I had this desire to make really large puppets with paper mache heads. We all were excited, and the kids decided using an entire dowel was the way to go. I think they were right. The heads came out larger than grapefruits and the whole puppets themselves definitely have a presence to them. We started by taping crunched up news paper to the ends of the dowels. We then paper mached over to make smooth, hard heads. We added noses by taping cardboard or small balls of newspaper  to the faces. We than paper mached again to finish the effect. After drying overnight the puppets were ready to paint. 
We used acrylic paints and had to wait between the coats. Once the paint was dry we hot-glued yarn for the hair. 
I added clothes. Everybody else is still at the head stage, but I’m not sure when they will actually finish so I am posting this as is.
 
All in all, it was a very fun project. My favorite part was how everyone’s puppets came out so different.
 
                                                             ~ Marica