Yes, Nasturtiums Are Flowers That Are Edible!

August 29, 2015

    Yes, nasturtiums are flowers that are edible.  Isn’t this a lovely way to use your nasturtiums?  Right now is a great time to make these ice cubes up for use at a party later.   Just imagine these ice cubes floating in a beverage dispenser.  The two varieties of nasturtiums I planted this spring, had a variety of yellow, orange, and red colored blossoms.   They are loaded right now!

   

 

       The ice cubes look crystal clear when you use distilled water.  I made pansy viola ice cubes earlier this summer and tried using regular bottled water.  Nope, that did not work so well.  Do not use that.  It made a foggier ice cube.  I also used a smaller ice cube tray and they melted pretty quickly.  I found this ice cube tray at HomeGoods.  Each little cell is a two-inch square.  The cubes last much longer and the nasturtium blossoms fit in the squares nicely.

   To make the ice cubes, pour about a quarter to a half-inch of distilled water into each of the little square cells.  Place the blossom face down and freeze for about an hour.   Remove the tray from the freezer and fill each cell to the top.  (If you fill the cells with water before the half-inch of water is frozen, the flowers will not be held and will float to the top.)  

 

   Once the ice cubes are completely frozen, they can be stored in a Ziploc freezer bag in the freezer for use later.  The nasturtiums will flavor your water or beverage slightly after the ice cubes melt.  Adding sugar or sugar syrup will make a better flavor.  If you are adding them to presweetened beverages that won’t be a concern.

 

 Nasturtiums Are Edible!

 

   Nasturtium flowers are so beautiful and the leaves are so unique!  Last year was the first year I planted them in my garden.  This year, I planted two packs of nasturtium seeds.  Next year I may plant more!  In some places, they may come back each year, but not here in the Northern Kentucky area.  To hasten the germination in the spring, this year I soaked the seeds in water overnight and then planted them as usual.  The seeds are rather hard and I do think they germinated more quickly.

    The nasturtium salad looks so beautiful and the pungent smell released when you are making the vinaigrette is amazing.  The vinaigrette and the flowers look and taste wonderful on top of a mixed baby greens salad.  Since I had never eaten nasturtiums before, I was not sure what flavor to expect.   I was so pleasantly rewarded by a wonderful peppery flavor.  You simply must try it!   You can find the recipe here ►Nasturtium Vinaigrette.

 

   It’s funny, we never grew nasturtiums when I was growing up in Indiana.  Perhaps it was because we grew more vegetables than flowers.  Having food on the table was more of a priority over growing flowers just for their beauty.  Yes, we did have flowers, but not like we have at our home today.

 

    We are pretty blessed to be able to grow and appreciate all the beautiful flowers in our gardens and the nasturtium is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites! And an added bonus is nasturtium flowers and leaves are totally edible!

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Feel Confident With Your Color Choices

August 27, 2015

    When faced with decorating your home, do you feel confident with your color choices or just overwhelmed?   Do you know what colors you love?  Do vibrant spring colors give you the energy and comfort you need?  Do you feel at home with pastel summer colors?  How about autumn colors?  Does the autumn color palette give you the earthy colors that warm your heart?  Or do you feel most at home with the regal, rich, jewel tone colors of winter?
 

    

 

   Some of us feel confident using color and make the right color choices because of studying color theory, the use of color, and its impact.  Some of us are completely in the dark and don’t know where to begin to paint or decorate our homes.  You don’t have to take courses in color theory to make good choices in your home decorating, but first,  you do need to recognize what colors and styles you love.  

 

   Don’t believe that all interior decorators know better than you do.  There are exceptionally wonderful decorators, but I have seen some poor color choices by some so-called decorators, too.   A perfect example is a friend who hired a decorator to help her choose blinds for her family room.  This friend had a big sofa with bold autumn colors in a bold floral pattern.  In that pattern was a small amount of a vivid teal. That is what color the decorator sold her to use for her blinds.   No longer was the fireplace a focal point!  When you walked into the room the first thing that caught your eye was that large, bold teal blind covering the window on the adjacent wall! 

 

   Obviously,  teal would have been a good choice for an accent color.  A picture with teal in it, vases, knick-knacks, an upholstered chair, and pillows of teal scattered around the room, would have been a good use of that bold color.  Think of your room as a picture.  Your use of accent color should take your eyes on a journey through the entire ‘picture’.

 

   Vertical blinds do have a valid purpose, but most of the time, blending into the background is a much better choice.  A color matching the walls would have simply made that blind visibly go away.  I do not particularly care for the look of switch plates and receptacle plates.  Wanting these to go away visually, I paint them the same color as the wall and add a couple of coats of polyurethane.  I don’t paint the switches, just the plates.

 

   A long time ago, I was watching a decorating show on choosing colors and decorating styles. It was suggested that if you have no clue what colors and styles really speak to you, open your magazines and begin cutting out and saving the pictures of rooms that you love.  If you clip a picture of a living room, but you only like certain elements, color, style, or feeling, make note of that.

 

   The magazine idea is a great one but today we have Pinterest!  Make a board for color inspiration and pin only the colors that you love.  Make another for bedrooms you love.  Create one for favorite kitchens, living rooms, etc.  Make notes on your pins as you go.  You get the picture!  Maybe you have already done this!  

 

   Now utilize that information!  After doing this for a week, or even a month, or more, go back and take a look at what you have chosen.  There should be a common thread. Are all of the pictures muted, tone on tone and restful to the eye? Are the walls of your favorite rooms painted white and pops of bright color accenting the accessories?  Have you chosen mostly shabby chic?  Is it an earthy log cabin feel you have selected over and over again?   It should begin to be evident in the pictures you have chosen, exactly what calls to you.

 

   Now it’s a matter of going with what you knew in your subconscious all along. Armed with your choices on your boards, you should have a clearer idea of what you want to create in your own home.  Now that you have a feel for the colors you want, read my posts on the foolproof way to choose paint and no fear paint selection.  If you have a question on color, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page!

 

   You, too, can do this!  Feel confident with your color choices!

 

 

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Butterflies, From Vibrant and Gorgeous to Tattered and Torn

August 23, 2015

    The butterflies, from vibrant and gorgeous to tattered and torn have found my gardens.  This perfect Monarch butterfly was on the butterfly bush yesterday.  The bright orange of his wings caught my eye as he fluttered from one branch to another.  I ran for the camera, down the stairs to the patio and caught a few great shots before he fluttered away.

 

    The past week has been pretty busy with working on the bathroom makeover and watching our newest grandchild, Memphis.  Her mother has gone back to work part-time at the garden center.   Danielle, once again, can keep us up to date on the plants at the nursery.  The good news is Showplace Garden Center, where she works, here in Kentucky has the orange milkweed plants I wanted to plant this year! My plan is to add at least one of those plants to the same bed where the butterfly bush is growing.

   The milkweed plant, butterfly weed, or Asclepias tuberosa, is a hardy plant that grows up to two feet tall and three feet wide. Obviously, the location of this plant has to be considered knowing the size of it.  Apparently, it is not a little plant to be tucked neatly in among some of your other flowers.  It blooms bright orange in mid to late summer and is supposed to attract all the butterflies in the neighborhood.  Anticipating this, I am excited!

    In stark contrast to the Monarch, a couple of days ago this Zebra butterfly made his appearance on the butterfly bush.  His poor wings are so tattered and torn, it is amazing that he can still fly.  I never really thought about how their wings get so ripped and shredded before.   It is hard for me to imagine anything eating these beautiful insects, but a friend of mine reported that she has seen birds biting at their wings!  I have never witnessed that myself.

 

   My curiosity was peaked and I checked out a few websites about butterflies. Butterfly Wings and Ten Fascinating Facts about Butterflies had some interesting information on butterflies.  After reading about them, they seem more incredible than I ever even imagined.  

 

   Did you know that a butterfly has to assemble his proboscis when he emerges from his chrysalis?  When he comes out of his chrysalis, his mouth is in two pieces!

He uses palpi, jointed feelers, located adjacent to the proboscis to assemble the two pieces into a long tubular proboscis.  Isn’t that amazing?

    It seems the butterflies are at the lower end of the food chain and there are plenty of predators to eat them.   I am sure we were taught that in biology but I don’t remember.   That was many years ago and  I prefer to focus on aesthetics! Being a very optimistic person, I like that quote by Brian Tracy.  “You are a living magnet.  What you attract into your life is in harmony with your dominant thoughts.”

 

   Right now I am trying to attract some of those vibrant, gorgeous and even tattered and torn butterflies to my humble garden!

 

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Bathroom 2 Makeover Continues…

August 20, 2015

     The bathroom 2 makeover continues!  The travertine mosaic tile is down and I love it!  Look what an amazing difference there is with the grout!  This grout color is Biscuit.  It gives the travertine tile a softer look.  It is so gorgeous, I can’t stop turning on the light and checking it every time I walk by the bathroom!

   As I was kneeling on the cement backer board and on the tiles, my knees were saying, “Ouch!”, it dawned on me that I have a kneeling pad for gardening.  Yes, that little pad made quite a difference.  That is my tip of the day.

   We removed the mirror before I started tiling.

 ◄  Note that the strong boys that I have, yanked on the shower rod and have marred the paint on the walls.  There is a two by four there and I will be attempting to drill holes in the cups on the ends and attaching those to the two by fours with screws.  Hopefully, that will take care of the problem!  

 

   Side note, I saw curtain hooks that have little balls on them at Joann’s the other day.  Presumably, this keeps the hook from getting caught on the rod and having one of your children yank the whole thing off the wall.  Has anyone tried these?  I am thinking it might be a wise investment.

 

  My son, Jon-Michael, who worked for several years at Lowe’s in plumbing, said now is the time to change out these water line turn off valves for the sink and the toilet.  He said they rust from the inside out and though they look fine, after eighteen years, the odds are they are not.  Since we have easy access now, it is prime time to do it.  

 

   Dave and I removed the mirror without breaking it.  Only two drywall screws held it at the top and two held it at the bottom.  Yikes!  We slipped a pry bar behind the metal strip and carefully, but easily, pried the screws out of the drywall.  There was no glue holding it at all!  It did make for easy removal.

 

   Crown molding is the next step for the bathroom.  Dave is getting antsy to put the vanity in place, but the crown has to go up first.  Then he will be moving the light fixture.  It was centered over the big mirror.  The smaller mirror and the light fixture will be centered over the sink.

 

   Then the wallboard will have to be patched and repaired where the light fixture was moved and the vanity was removed.  The thicker baseboard will have to be installed, caulked, and then painted.

 

   Speaking of paint, using the color fan, I did choose a different color for the bathroom.  I love the Reef Blue” still, but I do have another half-bath and a bedroom in that color.  Using the ‘foolproof way to choose paint’, I decided upon Dublin Gray, another Sherwin Williams paint color.  It’s a soft gray that I matched from the tiles.  It will make a beautiful background.  So now my bathroom 2 makeover continues!

 

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The Best German Chocolate Cake

August 17, 2015

    German chocolate cake is a favorite in our home.  I have been baking it for years using the recipe from my Betty Crocker Cookbook.  While the cake recipe is good, it is the frosting that makes this cake unbelievably decadent and delicious! This is one cake where I cheat sometimes and use the Betty Crocker German Chocolate cake mix.   Okay, I cheat a lot of the time and use the cake mix!  Don’t tell!  Everyone is so accustomed to my homemade, they don’t even question it!

   The frosting mixes for this cake cannot begin to duplicate the richness of the original Betty Crocker recipe.  It’s not even close.  Your time is better spent on making the frosting from scratch.  Buy coconut that is moist in the package.  Check the different brands of coconut and buy the freshest, most moist.  This is not the time to be frugal!

 

    Lining your cake pans with parchment assures the cake will come out perfectly and not stick to the pan.   There won’t be telltale signs of white flour on the sides from greasing and flouring the pan either.

 

   Since the German chocolate cake is not frosted on the sides, leaving the sides visible, this is the time to use my tip on ‘cake doming’.  It still amazes me that such a simple thing works so well!  The top of both layers will be perfectly flat using this technique and your cake will be beautiful.

 

   Save yourself some time and use the cake mix.  I substitute milk for the water called for in the directions on the box.  It seems to make it a little richer and homemade tasting.  Always set the timer for five minutes earlier than the shortest time the cake should be done and check it when the timer goes off.  I use the finger test.  Touch the cake lightly in the center with your index finger.  If it springs back and the indentation from your finger disappears, it is done.  If it is done, take it out of the oven. Nothing is worse than a dry cake! 

 

   Another tip, use butter, not margarine.  The flavors and textures of the end product are not the same.

   

   Coconut-Pecan Frosting

 

  1 cup evaporated milk

  1 cup sugar

  3 egg yolks

  1/2 cup butter 

  1 teaspoon vanilla

*2 cups flaked coconut

  1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

 

In a saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, the stick of butter, and vanilla.  Over medium heat, cook and stir the mixture until it boils and is thick. Set your timer!  This should take at least 12 minutes!

Stir in the coconut and the chopped pecans.  Frost the cake!

This recipe makes about two and a half cups of frosting.

 

*The original Betty Crocker recipe calls for 1- 1/3 cups of coconut.  I use 2 cups and like the extra coconut.  Either way, it is delicious.   

 

    This is a picture of my cookbook.  I have had to tape the cover with thick clear packaging tape.  It was falling off the spine!  You can see the edges are well worn.  It is one of my favorite cookbooks and I believe I have had it in my kitchen since 1976.

 

   Isn’t it interesting that Betty Crocker was not and is not even a real person?  She was dreamed up in 1921!

 

   Using the German Chocolate Cake mix and this recipe for Coconut-Pecan Frosting, you can whip up a delicious dessert in no time!

 

   

   

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