Monday, June 6, 2016

The Iris of 2016

The Iris are blooming in the yard. It's so nice to see some blooms this year since last year they got completely hailed out. These are Avalon Sunset, Champagne Elegance, Colette Thurillet and Excellency.

Avalon Sunset
Champagne Elegance
Colette Thurillet
Excellency
Gladys My Love, Going Home, High Master and Scottish Reel.

Gladys My Love,

Going Home

High Master

Scottish Reel
Stepping Out, Wench, World Premier and Circus Stripes.

Stepping Out

Wench

World Premier

Circus Stripes

 Hot Spiced Wine, Boysenberry Buttercup, Let's Boogie and Enchanted One.

Hot Spiced Wine

Boysenberry Buttercup

Let's Boogie

Enchanted One
Jesse's Song, Rare Treat, Rush Creek and Telepathy.

Jesse's Song

Rare Treat

Rush Creek

Telepathy

I lost the labels on the next two and finally a bright yellow seedling.



 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Felted Gnome Journey

A few months ago I saw a video online on making gnomes by Sarafina. It was nice and simple, just a nose, ears, hat and lots of hair. I thought, that can't be too hard so I'll try it. But I can't ever do things exactly the same, so I added an entire face on this gnome, plus some simple arms and feet.


Next, I made one with a very simple armature for the arms and hands.


Earlier in April, our felting group met to make gnomes taught by one of the other members where I made this teeny tiny gnome. The teacher, Wendy, gave me some wonderful tiny Bluefaced Leicester locks for his beard.


And finally, I made a companion for this last tiny little gnome. This the work in progress.


And this is the completed product.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

I've recently started needle felting. I've done a few things and this bunny and egg are the third and fourth things I've done so far. The bunny was made following a tutorial from Sarafina's website on basket bunnies. I also followed a tutorial on using hand carders to blend grey and brown fibers for his pelt.
I also decided to try my hand at felting a floral egg. There's a honey bee and grape hyacinth, crocus and wild purslane blooming on the egg.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Donovan Loves Being Vacuumed

My 14 year old orange tabby loves to be vacuumed. He's the only cat I've ever had that didn't run from it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Snowy Day

The Denver area was predicted to get "buried" in snow last night. We got at least a foot. If the winds pick up like they are predicted to, the roads could get very messy.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Evolution of the Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownie

I've been in search of a good dark chocolate brownie recipe and at the same time, I've been searching for more ways to use up all the summer squash that comes this time of year. So, when I found a well reviewed zucchini brownie recipe, I thought I'd had it made. But I didn't care for the original recipe so I experimented a bit. My favorite version is at the bottom of this post.

The recipe I started out with can be found here.
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

I made this recipe the first time without any changes except skipping the icing. Also, I used the Special Dark cocoa powder. I found the brownies to be very good but quite cakey so I set about modifying the recipe for a more fudgey brownie. I researched what makes brownies more cakey versus more fudgey and found that reducing egg, flour and baking soda should do it. So, I went about it the scientific way and changed one thing at a time. First I reduced the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon. This definitely made the brownies less cakey, but they were still pretty cakey IMO. Next, I reduced the flour to 1 1/2 cups. They helped a LOT towards making the brownies more fudgey. Still not as fudgey as some I've had in the past. Next, I reduced the baking soda to just a scant 1/4 teaspoon. Next, I added more cocoa powder, bringing the amount up to 3/4 cup. Now these brownies are pretty fudgey! So, the ingredients for my current recipe is:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Finally, I jazzed them up a bit by adding a cream cheese swirl. Wow! These are currently my favorite brownies! For the cream cheese swirl:
Cream Cheese Layer:
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
Beat all the ingredients for the brownies together, minus the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl. After putting the brownie batter in the pan, beat the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl together until smooth and spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie mixture. Draw a knife through it repeatedly to swirl it. Then bake as usual.

Ice Plant is Blooming and the Bees are Out

Today is a lovely day. The sun is shining and the temperature is in the upper sixties. Just two weeks ago the temperature was minus 10, so I was surprised to see anything growing, never mind blooming. But there are at least three varieties of ice plant blooming and the bees have found them.