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Another New Year

And I, for one, am glad for it. I love new years. They signify new opportunity, new hope–new everything. As an avid gardener, I embrace the chance to begin a fresh new gardening season, improving upon the last. This year, my goal is corn. I’ve grown corn. I’ve had success, as you can see from this beautiful specimen…

Corn harvest_2015

But alas, I’ve also had less than stellar results. On other cobs, my corn kernels were full and beautiful, up to a point.

corn missing kernels

*sigh* Something about pollination, or the lack thereof, prevented the cob from filling out to its peak of perfection. Might be due to a fluctuation in watering. Might be due to the fact that my corn plants weren’t staggered appropriately alongside one another, allowing for the wind to carry “the goods” from one corn plant tassel to another.

However, I will NOT be deterred. Persistence and perseverance are the name of the game in gardening (this applies to my writing career, as well) and I WILL prosper. In fact, I’ve already learned how to make lemonade from my lemons: a lovely roasted corn side from my half-pollinated cobs.

roasted corn

Doesn’t it look divine? It was, and totally easy to prepare. Simply scrape the “good” kernels from the cob, the ones kind enough to grow properly, and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I threw in a few chopped red jalapeno to the mix, just for fun. Spread mixture out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes. Delicious! And a wonderful beginning to a fabulous new year.

Fluffiest Carrot Cake EVER

Looking for the perfect dessert this Easter? This carrot cake differs from most in that it’s light, fluffy and kid-friendly—from the making to the eating! Not only can they help by harvesting and shredding the carrots, they’ll love to decorate this spring treat (bunnies, anyone?).

light and fluffy slice

While this recipe calls for cream cheese frosting, a bit tangy for some youngsters, it would also be great with a creamy white/vanilla frosting, too.

Fluffiest Carrot Cake

2 cups self-rising flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

3 cups freshly grated carrots

½ cup raisins (optional)

½ cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

pre-made fondant for decorations

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Grease or butter 9 x 13 or 2 8-inch round pans. In a large bowl, combine oil, eggs and sugar and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine flour and cinnamon and mix together until creamy smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet and blend well. Fold in grated carrots, followed by any optional items of your liking!

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Serve with cream cheese frosting (even plain, this cake is so good).

Approximately 1 large or 2 8-inch cakes.

 bunny cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, refrigerated

2 TBSP unsalted butter, softened (at room temperature)

1 ½ – 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thick you like your frosting!)

1 tsp vanilla extract

dash of grated orange zest (optional)

Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in blender until well-blended and smooth. Add sugar gradually, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until blended. Stop when you have reached your desired consistency. For stiffer frosting, use more sugar. For creamy frosting, use less. Stir in optional flavorings at end. Spread (or drizzle) frosting over cake and enjoy!

You can purchase packages of pre-made fondant at most major craft stores (Joann’s Fabrics, Michael’s…) and forming your figures is easy. We used a tube of green cake decorating color for the greens on our carrots—for a more feathery effect. Don’t forget the pre-made flowers and sprinkles—talk about EASY! You’ll have a stylin’ cake in no time!

AIB Logo

For more great recipes, be sure to mark your calendar and join my 4th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop where authors and bloggers share their favorite recipes and gardening tips plus offering a host of GREAT prizes, including a brand new ereader of your choice (up to $200 value). Fun begins April 8th-April 17th.

Happy Spring!

Shopping in January?

You won’t find me in the clearance racks this month. No way. I’m relaxing on my sofa, perusing the pages of a plethora of seed catalogs arriving in my mail box. Yep, it’s time to buy your seeds. If you haven’t been seed saving, that is. Gardening might be a new adventure for you. A resolution of sorts, that coincides nicely with your resolution to lose weight, get healthy and stay active.

seed shopping

However, my resolution this year runs more along the lines of increased productivity. Looking back, I realized I only produced two novels in 2014. Two–after a gangbuster year in 2013 when I turned out five. But writing a series can do that to you. It’s sort of like writing one really long saga which makes it much easier on the thought process.

But this year I’m getting back to the keyboard with an ambitious plan. Not only will I publish three novels — a continuation of my new series, Sliver Creek — but I also intend to introduce a children’s garden book. Part fiction, part how-to, it’s a project I’ve been working on for quite a while but am finally ready to release. Woohoo — chalk up another tally in that productivity column!

IMG_8382

Hm. This resolution thing is working out already! And I get to ogle the ruby red tomatoes and luscious green leaves of basil. Definitely an uplifting experience for any bleak January day. Even in Central Florida we get those cloudy skies…today, case in point.

Gotta love a fresh start. How about you? Is your agenda moving green this year?

What Color is Your December ?

For many, the answer is probably white as in snow. Others might be red and green, glittery gold and silver, perhaps some shiny tinsel and colorful ornaments? Maybe blue for Hanukkah. Mine is green and lots of it.

sugar snap peas are thriving

Green grass, green trees and beautiful green leaves in my vegetable garden. One of the most wonderful things about living in Central Florida can be found in my garden. Not too hot, not too-too cold, December is a great time to be outside.

green harvest

Doesn’t matter if I’m harvesting or weeding, I love it. Right now I have kale, peppers, sugar snap peas, lettuce, onions, garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and the last of my tomatoes and zucchini. Come January I’ll plant some red and white potatoes, but until then, I’m simply going to enjoy the green of the season. Find out how and what I’m doing with all this harvest on my blog over at BloominThyme.

December salad

How about you? Any garden to speak of this time of year?

Hello, Fall!

This morning, I woke up and greeted my children, “Happy Fall!”

Glum morning pouts returned, “It’s not fall, yet.”

“But it’s the 22nd. Yesterday was actually the cutoff, so I’m safe today.”

“My calendar says its tomorrow,” my teenage daughter replied.

glorious-fall-color

Hmph. “Your calendar is wrong, or this is one of those off years. Either way, I’m celebrating today! Hot cider anyone? Glass of red wine by the fire?”

red wine by fire

Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only the cooler temps and fall foliage (leaves I get to enjoy on television), but it signals a change in pace. Gone are the unruly days of summer when life is a free for all with the kids home, bored, restless, but it’s also the time of year I get back in the garden.

squash going great

In Central Florida, September is planting month and boy, have I been planting! So far, I have black beans, red beans, lima beans, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, kale and peppers in for the new season. My okra and peanuts are finishing, making way for sweet onions, carrots, garlic and potatoes over the next weeks and months. Whew–doesn’t that just sound exciting?

How about you? Do you live where the gardens are going gangbusters right about now? If not, feel free to enjoy mine vicariously….at BloominThyme!

 

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