May 26, 2010

Life By Chocolate

I made these cupcakes today for a dessert supper (how wonderful does that sound!) that we are having at church tonight since it is the last night in the quarter for our bible class.  The recipe for these Life By Chocolate cupcakes comes from The Pioneer Woman's website.  You can link to her recipe here:

I fully intended to follow her recipe, but I left out one important ingredient - baking soda!  I actually noticed that I hadn't put in any baking soda or baking powder but decided that must be how the recipe was written.  When I looked back later, there was a teaspoon of baking soda added when the buttermilk mixture was combined.  I missed that, but I after tasting the dessert...I like the deletion.  These cupcakes, of course, didn't raise much but the texture is more of a chocolate torte than a brownie or cake.  A little more fancy than a cake.  And I think that is good!  A wonderful mistake that I will probably make again.

The ganache icing is wonderful and super easy.  It makes a great topping instead of icing.  I used dark chocolate which is a marvelous contrast with the sweet cake.  This recipe made 18 cupcakes plus enough for a small ramekin.  You could probably make 20-22 cupcakes, but I prepared one 12- cupcake pan and one- 6 cupcake pan.

Have a great Wednesday night!

Note:  5/27/10  These are really great after they have been refrigerated and are very cold.

May 18, 2010

Rhododendron Bush

This is the last year for our Rhododendron Bush.  Here it is in all of it's glory:

The bush's individual blooms are equisite:

If the photo of the entire bush above looked like the bush was a little square, it was.  The inside of the bush is gone.  Part of it was dead and we cut that part out.  It doesn't seem as if it is going to grow back, so we decided after it bloomed, we would remove it.  Here is what the inside of the bush looks like:

It really makes me sad to have to do away with this bush for two reasons.  First, my childhood was spent in West Virginia and the Rhododendron or "Great Laurel" is the state flower of West Virginia.  Everytime I see rhododendron I am reminded of West Virginia and my childhood.  Wherever you drive in the mountains, rhododendron is growing wild on the side of the roads and on hiking trails.  Second, when my husband and I lived in Savannah, TN, we had a small rhododendron in our yard that struggled to survive.  I tried everything to make it healthy and bloom, but to no avail.  It always looked sick and only had a couple of blooms on it each year.  Our rhododendron here is so healthy and blooms profusely, but has become hollow on the inside and too large.

If anyone has an ideas on how to save this bush, please let us know.  If we cut it back, would it come back out in good health?

May 15, 2010

Oil Bottles

I read a post from Acanthus and Acorn, one of my favorite blogs, that inspired me.  She is an interior decorator. The post was written about organizing and decorating the laundry room.  I don't have a laundry room in this house.  I have a laundry closet, but am always interested in a new way of organizing.  The picture she posted of her laundry room showed her fabric softener stored in an oil bottle.  I thought "what a neat idea!".  I prefer liquid fabric softener to dryer sheets anyday, but hate the "gunk" that accumulates in your lid as your measure and pour out the correct amount for each load.  By using an oil bottle, you can pour the fabric softener directly into your washing machine without any dribbles and spills and do away with measuring out of a lid at all.

I started thinking of other ways to use oil bottles.  Of course, I use an oil bottle for my olive oil.  Such a great way to add oil while you're cooking to the exact spot you want to add it.  I thought of using oil bottles for mouthwash.  The bottles that mouthwash are packaged in tend to leak and become quite sticky on your bathroom counter after a couple of uses.  I keep an oil bottle with mouthwash in each bathroom with little glasses for each person to pour their mouthwash into.  No more sticky bathroom counters.

I put bleach in my dish water after I have washed my dishes to kill germs while wiping down my counters.  I tried an oil bottle for the bleach knowing that it might corrode the rubber stopper.  I was is slowly corroding the stopper, so I wouldn't advise trying to use an oil bottle for bleach.  I have heard of others using the oil bottles for dishwashing liquid, but I have a built in liquid dispenser with my sink so there was no need for another one.

Oil bottles are beautiful and decorative.  I found the oil bottles pictured at Wal-Mart.  The small oil bottles were $2.96 and the tall oil bottles were $3.96.  Very inexpensive!  I hope this is something you can use in your home, too.  If you find other uses for oil bottles, please let me know!  I'd love to hear from you. 

If you are interested in reading Acanthus and Acorn's blog on laundry rooms, click on the following link:

May 11, 2010

Boutonnieres and Hats

This has been the still life on top of my piano for several weeks:

The Remington statue's home is always there on the piano.  The other two items arrived at different times, but belong to the same son, Joseph.  On the left is a boutonniere.  He wore this boutonniere the night of the Junior/Senior Banquet at school.  The morning after the banquet he handed it to me and I set it on top of the piano to dry out.  On the right is Joseph's hat.  After working outside on the farm with his dad, he came in and stopped to play the piano, took his hat off and laid it on top of piano.  There it stayed.

If you have known our family since Joseph was a baby, one thing you would have known about our son was his love of hats.  Inside or outside the house, he always wore a hat with the brim bent so it fit his head.  The first thing he did when he got a new hat was to bend the brim.  He was quite an expert at it and could bend it without breaking the cardboard the brim was made of.  When we lived in Tennessee, he wore an orange University of Tennessee hat.  Totally wore that hat out.  I believe we have the remnants of it somewhere.  Later, after we moved to Georgia, he eventually (slowly) gave way and wore a red University of Georgia hat.  Now that he is a teenager, he rarely wears hats unless he is working outside on the farm. 

These two items reminded me of the changes taking place in our son's life.  He is quickly leaving behind his childhood favorites and trying on new roles and activities.  I guess I was very slow to remove these two items from their temporary home on our piano.  Too soon he will be gone and I know I will miss these reminders of his youth.