Welcome to Nanas Petals, a blog created to share my love of Gardening, Home, Grandkids, Craft projects and a variety of other mostly unfounded, nonsensical and trivial information. Come on in and sit a spell, I'm truly happy to have you, please roam about at your leisure and if the mood should strike you- leave a comment or two.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nana's AHA! Moment

I had an AHA moment last week.  It was the kind that, when allowed to sink in, changes your way of thinking from that moment forward.  It was right there staring me in the face the entire time, somehow I think I already knew it, I just had to let it in.  Sounds huge doesn't it?  That's probably a matter of opinion, but it certainly felt that way to me.  You're dying to know what it was, aren't you?  Here it is-Nanas' house IS the adventure!  There is no need for us to always take trips to other destinations or plan overpriced summer diversions for our grandson.  Leaving his home and coming to our home is the destination, the diversion, the adventure.  Simple isn't it?  Yet, it took a visit to the public pool to bring me around to what had been staring me in the face. 

It was a much anticipated (by me) first summer visit and it failed miserably.  Bug seemed overwhelmed by the colorful slides, water spraying contraptions and busy boisterous crowd of swimmers.   I spent atleast 30 minutes gently and slowly getting him into the water, all the while hoping he'd warm up to it.  And then I looked at the apprehension and unhappiness on his little face and I knew...he was NOT having fun!   What we're we doing there if he wasn't having fun?  Wasn't that the point?  So I packed up and we headed to Nanas' house.  As soon as we got into the car his smile returned, his backseat chatter began and I knew I'd made the right decision.  After we got home, I sliced up a watermelon and carried it to the front porch where we sat in the porch rockers enjoying our sweet summer treat.  Before the day was done we had played in the sandbox, cooled off in the sprinkler, took a few spins around the yard with his 4wheeler, and enjoyed an evening walk.  Somewhere along the way, as I watched him happily rolling in the grass with our Beagle, I heard a little voice say " Nanas' house IS the adventure!" 

In my misguided attempt to fill our time with "quality" experiences, I had overlooked the fact that his time at Nanas' house is always filled with new and exciting adventures. We have spent numerous hours in the garden; touching, smelling and planting.  We have played with worms, crickets and frogs.  We have taken walks through the woods collecting acorns, rocks and sticks; stopping to inspect ants, birds and squirrels.  We have sprawled ourselves out on the grass and watched the glorious flight of a mama eagle with her babies and stood in wonder as a family of deer sipped from our creek.  We have watched a neighbors' horse and carriage clip-clop down the road, mooed like the cows and awed and oohed over the baby goats.  There have been numerous books read, forts made, sweets baked, and superhero battles fought.  All of this and more has been experienced right here, at Nanas' house.  Yes, Nanas' house IS the adventure, DUH!
We celebrated the beginning of Summer with watermelon and shaving cream fun!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Terrific Two!

Sweet Bug turned 2 this month!  Terrific Two!  I know, I know it's suppose to be Terrible Two, but I love this age!  He is so full of wonder, and laughter and he's just plain fun.  He notices everything and it all deserves a second look; a bit of exploration. His world is one of carefree joy and imagination and he reminds me everyday of how beautiful life is!
Superman is his current obsession and the combination of cake AND Superman..well that was just pure happiness!  A round of Happy Birthday To You had him clapping for us at the end and he blew out the candles all by himself-well we might have helped just a little.  He then promptly removed the figures for some serious hero battle play.
After cake and ice cream it was off to the yard for the unveiling of his very own 4-wheeler.  Oh I wish I had a picture of the expression on his face when he first saw it-it was just priceless.  

He's figuring out how to keep his foot on the pedal, but it looks like steering is going to take some practice.  We've disconnected the high speed (5mph) for the time being, but even at 2.5 mph Nana gets a heck of a work out keeping him on the right path.  His little face just lights up as he drives around and you can see he feels so terribly proud of himself.

I am so looking forward to this year of Terrific Two!

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gathering Beauty From The Garden

The garden has been beautiful this year due to mild weather and a lot of rain. Although the rain has caused some pest and fungus issues I've had to battle.   Several times I've intended to take photos for the blog, but life just seems to be getting in the way.  A few weeks ago I took time to cut some flowers and bring them into the house and I did manage to grab the camera.   

It was a beautiful morning to gather some of these beauties.  The yellow Roses are Knockout "Sunny" Roses and they smell amazing.  Their sweet old-fashioned Rose aroma perfumes the entire garden when they are in bloom.  They don't seem to bloom as often as the other colors of Knockouts, but they are truly my favorite.
Oh how I wished that the Lavender was in bloom for this bouquet.  It is now in its full glory, but unfortunately the Roses are not.  One thing I can always count on..the plants never bloom on the same schedule from year to year and I've learned to never assume.  Okay, I'm still working on that lesson-control issues!
 A simple arrangement of Knockout Roses which brightened my desk on a Monday morning!

Happy Gardening!

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring..Has Finally Arrived!

 Spring has finally come to the mountain!  I have no tangible proof, but I'm sure the landscape is changing by the minute.  It's a magical season, in the mere blink of an eye a new leaf unfurls, flowers blossom and new growth reaches up from the warm earth.  I have spent hours in the gardens performing various chores to prepare for the growing season ahead. This is such a busy time in the garden; cleaning, pruning, fertilizing and laying mulch.  The Potager is on the verge of being ready for new planting of wonderful warm weather vegetablesLast week I enlisted the help of Bug to add some flowers to a large pot. 

He loves flowers, but a Bumblebee happened to wonder into our fun and he suddenly began saying Bzzz, Bzzz and left me to follow the bee!  The attention span of a 2yr old is indeed short.

Happy Gardening!

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cookies and Milk-A Sentimental Journey

Bug and Papa enjoy an evening ritual of milk and cookies. Papa has taken great joy in teaching him how to correctly dip, nibble and sip.  Did you know there was a correct way of doing this?  Me either.  This ritual takes place sitting at the kitchen island and always puts me on edge because our stools are backless and I have visions of him falling off backwards.  One night I suggested to my husband that a step stool/chair like the one my great grandmother had would be a perfect solution.  Of course, I had no hope of finding one as this was many many moons ago.  But, I thought I might be able to find something similar so I started searching online.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that the company (Cosco) still manufacturers these stools.  I have such sentimental memories of this little red chair that seemed to have been in my great grandmothers kitchen my whole life.  
Who would be sitting in it was a constant source of argument among the cousins and I remember the younger kids were elevated to counter height by a rather thick copy of Ma Bells yellow pages.  An exact replica of this wonderful memory now sits in my kitchen.  Bug just loves his new chair and the fact that he can use the pull out steps to climb up and down all by himself is a big plus.  Our yellow pages aren't any thicker than a magazine, but a nice fat hardcover book gives him just the right height to enjoy his cookies and milk.

 Happy Easter!

Linked to Grandmas Briefs-Grand Social

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Decadent Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

The Great Cupcake Experiment 
Bug and I love to bake together.  I started training him as my kitchen assistant at the ripe old age of 15 months and he's always excited to climb up in his chair and get to workRecently we have embarked on what I call The Great Cupcake Experiment.  The objective?  Seek out and/or create new cupcake recipes and combinations, test them in the kitchen and eventually narrow down our favorites and include them in a keepsake photo book of our adventure

Decadent Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

 Our first baking adventure in The Great Cupcake Experiment and we already have one for the favorites list.  Moist chocolate cake with strawberry cream filling and strawberry butter cream frosting prepared with fresh real strawberries-it's a little piece of heaven.  I took what I felt were the best parts of 3 different chocolate cake recipes, tweaked them slightly and came up with chocolate decadence.  The strawberry filling and strawberry frosting cut the intense chocolate flavor just perfectly.  My husband is not a big chocolate cake fan, but he can't keep his hands off of these.  We have encountered one small problem-Bug loves strawberries, but he truly hates chocolate.  A taste of the cake batter sent him into a gagging, spitting fit-think toddler biting into broccoli and you'll get the pictureWe've known for sometime that he hasn't yet acquired the taste for chocolate, but we are keeping our hope alive.  While the cupcakes were not a giant hit with him, he did enjoy the mixing process and the strawberry frosting.

Chocolate Cake

1 Box Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake Mix
1 Small pkg Jello chocolate pudding mix (instant)
1 Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup sour cream
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee extract*
1 Pkg Ghiradelli semi-sweet mini chips (Ghiradelli brand is recommended-it makes a difference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat eggs slightly, add in all other ingredients except for the mini chips and mix completely.  Stir in the mini-chips.  Add papers to cupcake pan and fill 2/3 full.  As this batter is very thick I found it easiest to use an ice cream scoop when filling.  Bake following cake mix package instructions for cupcakes.  Over baking will result in a less moist cake, so make sure to check them with the toothpick method. When finished, cool in pan 5 minutes and then move cupcakes to wire racks to complete cooling.  This recipe made 27 cupcakes.
   *The use of coffee extract will not give your cupcakes a coffee flavor.  Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor.

Strawberry Cream Filling

1 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar 
1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
6 Tbs processed strawberries   

Process the strawberries in a blender using "chop" speed until they resemble a nice strawberry puree consistency. Beat the whipping cream and vanilla until it begins to thicken.  Mix in sugar beating until it resembles cool whip.  Fold in processed strawberries.  Refrigerate until needed. 

Strawberry Frosting 
 From Candice at allrecipes.com
Enough fresh strawberries to make 1 cup of puree -( about two cups of sliced strawberries)
1 Cup Salted Butter -this is 2 sticks (real butter, not margarine) 
31/2 Cups Confectioners' Sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Puree strawberries in blender making sure to have 1 cup of finished puree.  Place puree in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring often, continue to boil until liquid is reduced by half, this took about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

With mixer; beat butter until light and fluffy.  Add 1 cup of confectioners' sugar and beat until just blended.  Add 2 Tbs reduced strawberry puree and vanilla extract and beat until just blended. Repeat adding 1 cup sugar and 2 Tbs strawberry puree two more times.  Add last 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar into the mixture and beat until just blended. 

Suggestion: this frosting has an amazing real strawberry flavor when first made, however the flavor is usually even better the next day. If you don't want to make the cupcakes at least 24hrs before serving them,  prepare the frosting ahead of time and refrigerate until needed. 

When your cupcakes have cooled fill them with the Strawberry Cream Filling.  You can do this in two ways;
  • 1. Use a small pairing knife to cut a cone shape from the middle of the cupcake, fill with cream, replace top portion of cake over filling.

  • 2.  Use a cake decorating tip to inject the filling into the middle of the cupcake (this is the method I used) which is faster and less messy.  The tip I used was the Wilton
    Bismarck Tip 230.

After filling, frost your cupcakes however you prefer and add fresh strawberries as garnish (optional).
     Pour yourself a large glass of cold milk and - Indulge!

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