Category Archives: Books

Stop and Smell the Gardenias

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Our Gardenias are in bloom,

I wish my photos had a

scratch and sniff feature. . . :)

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I was afraid our colder than normal winter

had taken its toll since they were a little

later blooming this year.

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 I smelled their fragrance as I stepped out

the back door before I even saw them. . .

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“Sultry as a summer evening and as intoxicating as an exotic perfume, the scent of gardenias settles like a memory onto your soul. The blossoms are just as enticing.”

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“Buds shaped like seashells unfurl into velvet soft flowers in the warmth and humidity of early evening. But it’s the fragrance that captivates.”

~Southern Living

Gardenias in the Garden

 As I pause to stop and smell the gardenias, help yourself to some Gardenia Tea and enjoy a charming book The Novel Bakers shared last summer. . .

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Dancing with the Moon,

A Story of Love at the Villa della Luna

by Jana Kolpen and Mary Tiegreen

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 “Gardenias are known to attract high spirits, induce peaceful vibrations and strengthen love potions.”

~ Dancing with the Moon

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They are also considered an edible flower and safe to brew for tea, so you can gather some gardenia blooms and petals to steep.

Brew a pot here.

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Or prepare a Gardenia Love Bath

for yourself or the birds :)

Gardenia Love Bath

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And dine with them at the

table with shells here.

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I hope you take time to

stop and smell the Gardenias!Sultry as a Summer Evening Gardenias

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis Monday,

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Welcoming Summer: Whites on the Porch!

 

I’m welcoming summer with whites on the porch!

If June’s weather is any indication, we’re in for a hot, humid summer! In anticipation, I’m surrounding myself with whites, to stay cool, at least psychologically, on the porch.

I’ve been busy with some household projects the past several weeks and no time to play with my camera, so I reached into the archives for this post to welcome summer! Originally from July of 2010, temperatures were the same as this June, in the mid 90′s with humidity to match.

This end of the porch stays in the shade all day

and catches a breeze,

unlike the other end of the porch that faces west.

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I like to nest on the porch

 with a few favorite things. . .

. . . a pair of old corbels that

 have been since painted green,

now residing on the porch

of the Potting Shed.

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And join a flag banner

for some patriotic dressing!

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A favorite birdhouse. . .

That joins me at the

table on occasion.

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And a little Lacy Queen Anne,

free for the picking.

Queen Anne's Lace1

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Along with a few books to enjoy~

 some for porch inspiration.

Perfect Porches

Perfect Porches:

 by Paula S. Wallace

A well-designed porch is like a welcoming committee that invites friends and family to share stories, catch up on neighborhood news, or quietly enjoy the breezes of a sultry summer evening. Porches bridge our public and private worlds, and convey the essence of one’s home.

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In more than 250 stunning photographs of forty homes, Perfect Porches illustrates how varied these iconic American spaces can be. A wealth of structural appointments are presented, such as the extended eaves of a rain porch along the Gulf Coast, the shimmering copper flooring of a converted Amish cattle barn in Bluegrass country, and Outback-inspired painted thresholds in California’s wine region.

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Whether you seek to reawaken a cherished memory of a childhood porch, create an adorned haven of your own, or take an enlightening journey across the nation, this volume is certain to become a treasured companion as well as a source of fresh inspiration.

Happy First Day of Summer!

Wishing you a cool and

comfortable spot to nest

this summer :)

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 Metamorphosis Monday,

The Scoop,  Inspire Me Tuesday,

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 Home Sweet Home,  Feathered Nest Friday,


Private Edens and Garden Bits & Pieces

Private Edens: Beautiful Country Gardens by Jack Staub

I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Garden Week!

You’re invited to pull on your gardening gloves and dig in with some virtual gardening as we share books, tour gardens, set tables, and enjoy some garden-inspired projects & recipes this week!

NB Garden Week

Our third book to share this week~

Private Edens: Beautiful Country Gardens:

Wander through twenty-one superb private country gardens in Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, each with a unique story to tell.

From a romantic garden that pays homage to the best of English garden vernacular to a historic farmstead to a splendid Maryland-meets-Himalayas Eden of transcendent serenity, these garden paradises are inspirational on their own terms and together offer up the breadth and depth of what we can all achieve with a little respect for nature and a bit of imagination.

Inspired plant palettes and combinations, dazzling views, ingenious water features, splendid outbuildings, artistically crafted fences and gates, and exceptional garden structures and appointments all draw us into these heavenly landscapes and, ultimately and emotionally, into the countryside of our longing.

Private Edens Beautiful Country Gardens

Just a few notes:

 Most gardens featured in Private Edens are shade gardens and heavily wooded but you’ll be green with envy with the lush foliage, shady nooks, and pastoral settings.

I prefer not to be negative especially when it comes to such a beautiful book, so you might want to read the other reviews on Amazon before purchasing. I bought it strictly for the photos and was not disappointed.

The author’s garden is included in the book (Hortulus Farm Garden and Nursery) in the American Story Chapter but not identified as his.

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I’m sharing some garden bits & pieces,

along with some spring blooms and pots

 around the Potting Shed. . .

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Which is more of a Garden of Weedin’

than Private Eden. . .

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Azaleas

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Japanese Maples

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A broken teacup with blooms

is serving as a pot filler & accent

until the flowers fill in . . .

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Along with a favorite broken Pormeirion Botanic Garden plate  that I decided to salvage and plant among stock, creeping Jenny and salvia.

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My letter M is from an old sign and

 usually shares space on my bench with blooms,

 greenery, or pumpkins. . .

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I flipped it over and

planted it with succulents. . .

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Wishing you happy hours in your

 Garden of Weedin’ or Private Eden :)

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for Garden Week:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm

Spring Planting and Potting Inspiration  Home is Where the Boat Is

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Metamorphosis Monday,

The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysHome Sweet Home

Feathered Nest Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

Seeds of Inspiration: DIY Seed Gift Envelopes

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Garden Week!

You’re invited to pull on your gardening gloves and dig in with some virtual gardening as we share books, tour gardens, set tables, and enjoy some garden-inspired projects & recipes this week!

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I found some seeds of inspiration from

In and Out of the Garden. . .

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Adorable seed packets!

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Once this seed of inspiration took root,

I made gift envelopes to enclose seed packets

or give with seeds from the garden. . .

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An easy, fun, and inexpensive project for

a garden club, luncheon or party favor!

DIY Gift Seed Packets

I started with scrapbook paper you can find at a craft store with single sheets for as little as 50 cents each or found in scrapbook paper tablets.

My scrapbook pad came from Michaels with a weekly 40% coupon.

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I experimented with a plain piece of paper first,

 folding and cutting to decide on a size for a template.

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I ended up with 8 x 8 1/2 inches, large enough to fold the end ups and to tuck a standard-size seed packet inside. I used a bowl as a template to make some curves for the sides and the top flap to dress it up a bit.

DIY Seed Envelopes

I found some Recollections flower and butterfly page

embellishments in the scrapbook area that were

$3.99 for 20 pieces and then 40% off.

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My Martha Stewart butterfly paper punch

provided a little fluttering and dimensional

metamorphosis & embellishment to the envelopes.

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 Heavier card stock in the scrapbook tablets will need double stick tape or a dot of hot glue to secure the bottom flap of the envelope. Miter the bottom corners so the flap is less bulky.

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My violas have gone to seed so I harvested some to plant this fall. Make sure the seeds are completely dry before enclosing them in a plastic bag to tuck inside the envelope. I dried some blooms in the microwave to tuck inside the bag and envelope with the seeds.

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You can tie a stamped spoon plant

marker on to your envelopes

to gift with your seed packets.

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Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for Garden Week:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm

DIY Gift Seed Packets & Envelopes

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Metamorphosis MondayMarvelous Mondays,

The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysHome Sweet Home

Feathered Nest Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

 

 

In and Out of the Garden

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Garden Week!

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You’re invited to pull on your gardening gloves and dig in with some virtual gardening as we share books, tour gardens, set tables, and enjoy some garden-inspired projects & recipes this week!

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 Sara Midda’s richly illustrated In and Out of the Garden has delighted readers and critics alike. Diana Vreeland praised it as “delightful and delicious,” and Laura Ashley called it “pure inspiration.”

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In and Out of the Garden:

The most elegant and subtle of books to give and to have, it evokes the English gardens of Sara Midda’s childhood, sowing the imagination with glorious images. Dozens and dozens of illustrations and tender reflections recall a hut in the wood, or a topiary maze, a summer day spent podding peas, or an herb patch that yields Biblical fragrances. Ruby-red radishes are the jewels of the underworld. Myriad colors fall upon warm green moss. Painted with Sara Midda’s fine brush, it is a book of lasting enchantment.

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While this book is delightful, the illustrations are tiny and the delicate water-colored calligraphied text so faint, it is a bit of a challenge to read.

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But I was charmed by the illustrations and

bits of garden wisdom I could make out.

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And inspired to fill a wheelbarrow with salad . . .

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And the last of the violas before they expire from

the heat, to be replaced with summer annuals.

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A Spring Salad of tender mixed baby greens, strawberries, blueberries, gorgonzola, pecans and edible flowers (violas, pesticide free).

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Add chicken for a complete meal and serve

with balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette. . .

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And garden trowel servers

from Pottery Barn :)

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 “This book is a potpourri of garden lore. Here are summer days of raspberry picking, swarms of bees laden with pollen, peas ripe for podding, herbs for flavouring. Every page, including the text, has been hand painted. Dip into it for recipes, poems, proverbs, and garden thoughts.”

*Strong reading glasses required :)

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for Garden Week:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm

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Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Metamorphosis MondayMarvelous Mondays,

The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysHome Sweet Home

Tablescape Thursday, Foodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

The Forgotten Seamstress

The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow

 I’m joining The Novel Bakers with

The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow:

 A tale of royal intrigue, forbidden love, and long-held secrets surrounding a beautiful patchwork quilt. . .

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A gripping tale spanning three generations, The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow, unravels the intertwined stories of a modern-day London designer struggling to make ends meet, and a remarkable young seamstress employed by the royal household in the early twentieth century. Their lives are bound by a beautiful and mysterious quilt with secrets stitched into every seam. . .

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Decades later, Caroline Meadows discovers a beautiful quilt in her mother’s attic, passed down from her grandmother.

As luck would have it, I have a quilt passed down from my grandmother, whose origins are a little ambiguous, my Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt. . .

The quilter’s identity is uncertain but thought to have been my grandmother’s friend and neighbor, painstakingly made with thousands of stitches and mini blooming hexagons . . .

“One of my pieces was the start of a patchwork. I’d only finished a couple of dozen hexagons as yet, but I was pleased with the way it was shaping up. . .”

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For a little Novel Baking,

I pieced together some tea sandwiches

at the mention of sandwiches along with the

many references to tea in the book. . .

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 Made with a patchwork of cucumber,

thinly sliced radishes, and strawberries,

for Patchwork Tea Sandwiches.

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Use a mandoline to make thin slices or strips

from an English or seedless cucumber, radishes

 and strawberries (large strawberries work best).

Patchwork Tea Sandwiches

Drain the slices on paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. I used a vegetable cream cheese spread on Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Bread for the tea sandwiches. 

Place strips/slices on top of cream cheese spread, overlapping slightly and pressing down gently. Trim crusts of bread and slice sandwiches in half.

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Garnish with edible flowers (pesticide free) and herbs. I used  violas, flowering thyme, chives, parsley and a couple of sprigs  of lavender that were just starting to bloom.

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Patchwork (noun)

a. Work consisting of pieces of cloth of various colors and shapes sewn together.

b. Something composed of miscellaneous or incongruous parts.

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“My quilt panel was complete, and I finished a beautiful border of pieced lozenge-shaped hexagons, in silks and satins, that would hold the secret of my love, hidden forever.”

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“I stitched my love into this quilt, sewn it neatly, proud and true. Though you have gone, I must live on, and this will hold me close to you.”

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Brew yourself a cuppa and find more about

The Forgotten Seamstress along with a free download

for a pattern of Maria’s quilt on Liz Trenow’s website.

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 “Liz Trenow sews together the strands of past and present as delicately as the exquisite stitching on the quilt that forms the centerpiece of the story.”

—Lucinda Riley, author of The Orchid House

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

to see what they cooked up

for The Forgotten Seamstress:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm

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Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Metamorphosis MondayMarvelous Mondays,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysHome Sweet Home

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

National Picnic Day & Giveaway!

Pack a Picnic, Recipes, Menus and Inspiration for the Perfect Portable Feast!

April 23rd is National Picnic Day and kicks off

 the season to pack a basket,

grab a blanket or quilt and head outdoors!

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 In celebration of National Picnic Day,

I’m sharing some picnic love and

 giving away my favorite picnic accessory. . .

Pottery Barn picnic tote. . . A Galvanized Metal 6-Pack Bottle Caddy

from Pottery Barn!

I recycled some jars that fit the caddy for the convenience and ease of toting flatware, food, napkins or flowers. . .

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 The Classico pasta sauce jars are taller than Ball pint jars and the Ball jar lids also fit the pasta jars for transporting food, salads, or drinks.

Classico recently changed the neck opening and lid on the jar so it’s narrower and the ball jar lids no longer fit, but you can still find some of the older designed jars on some store shelves or you can use Ball 1 1/2 pint jars.

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In addition to the galvanized caddy,

I’m also including a cookbook in the giveaway,

with 125 recipes for 29 seasonal menus. . .

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Picnic by DeeDee Stovel:

 Picnics are fun, casual, and somehow the food just tastes better in a beautiful outdoor setting.

In PICNIC, DeeDee Stovel offers 29 picnic event ideas with more than 125 recipes – packable repasts from an informal Berry Picking Picnic to an elegant Music Festival Picnic. Although PICNIC includes all of the traditional fare, the recipes for the soups, entrées, salads, and desserts are all a cut above the ordinary.

And when lazy summer days turn chilly, enjoy a Sports Booster Picnic, a Fall Foliage in New England Picnic, and an Après-Ski Picnic. Wine and beer selections accompany each menu. Plus picnic lore, packing to go, the perfect picnic basket, rainy day alternatives, and much more. It’s an all-American feast!

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I packed a post with picnics, portable salads,

and menu ideas from the archives . . .

Click on the links to revisit the posts

for picnic inspiration and  a taste :)

A Picnic with Lavender

A Picnic with Lavender

{Less} Labor Day Picnic

{Less} Labor Day Picnic

Celebrating the Red, White, & Blue Picnic

Celebrating the Red, White, and Blue Picnic

A Jeep Picnic

 A Jeep Picnic

An Apple Picnic

An Apple Picnic

Memorial Day From Stem to Stern

Memorial Day from Stem to Stern

Fall Picnic with Pumpkins

Fall Picnic with Pumpkins

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For a chance to win the picnic caddy & cookbook

let me know by comment your favorite picnic food

or spot to picnic. . .

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Subscribers/followers automatically get a second entry.

Subscribe by email or follow on Facebook

and let me know by comment.

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For a third entry, share this giveaway on Facebook

and leave an additional comment telling me so.

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Giveaway is open to those living in the continental US only. 

The winner will be chosen May 9th!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Marie in AZ!

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“A picnic is more than eating a meal,

it’s a pleasurable state of mind.”

~ DeeDee Stovel, Picnic

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Happy Picnicking!

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

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 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Follow Me on Pinterest

You Are As Welcome As The Flowers Of Spring

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 I had a little chalkboard door inspiration from

 Beatrix Potter Week with The Novel Bakers. . .

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and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life.

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“You are as welcome

as the flowers of spring!”


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Spring has been slower arriving this year

so blooms on the door are welcome . . .

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 Along with the grape hyacinths

in a bunny planter. . .

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We’re slowly beginning

to green up. . .

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Daffodils are in bloom. . .

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And the birds are

beginning to nest. . .

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I cut some purple leaf plum blossoms 

to fill some watering cans before they

became scattered like pink confetti. . .

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 And bunnies are multiplying!

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I hope you are welcoming

spring where you are!

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Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us Wednesdays, Inspiration Gallery,

Home Sweet HomeBe Inspired Friday,

Feathered Nest FridaySeasonal Sundays

Follow Me on Pinterest

Peter Rabbit Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Peter Rabbit Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter and Bunny Week

and ending on a sweet note. . .

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 I found a Peter Rabbit Cupcake Kit which called

 for a batch of Peter Rabbit Cupcakes,

complete with Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten

and Benjamin Bunny!

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So I found a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes~

a recipe that everybunny would enjoy :)

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I made a few changes to the original recipe after reading the reviews. These cupcakes are a delicious way to use zucchini, which adds moisture rather than a distinct flavor!

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes,

adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients

1-1/4 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. container plain yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 cups grated zucchini

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In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

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Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

You can find a printable recipe here.

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Frost cupcakes with favorite

Chocolate or Cream Cheese frosting.

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You can find a 5 star-rated Chocolate Frosting here,

or a 5 star-rated Cream Cheese Frosting here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

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You can follow The Novel Bakers on Pinterest,

and find all the Beatrix Potter recipes

and bunny inspiration for the week!

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Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Spring Tea Sandwiches with Flower & Herb Cheese

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It’s been a delicious week with

The Novel Bakers

and Beatrix Potter and Bunny Week!

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The recipes and fun have multiplied like rabbits :)

You can hop along with

The Novel Bakers on Pinterest,

and find all the Beatrix Potter recipes

and bunny inspiration for the week!

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I’m serving Spring Tea Sandwiches

with Flower & Herb Cheese,

 fun for a garden party, shower, or tea. . .

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. . .Inspired by some tabletop gardening

and Cooking with Flowers.

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Beatrix Potter, Pansies Watercolor with Pencil, undated,
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

 

Flower & Herb Cheese

Making Flower & Herb Cheese (or Butter) is easy and beautiful with edible flowers, and adds a ‘wow’ factor for a shower, garden club lunch or treat at the breakfast table!

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For one 8 ounce package of room temperature soft cheese, add 1/4 to 1 cup flowers, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and any other herbs or desired seasoning.

I used Neufchâtel, violas, chives and parsley.

As with any edible flower, use only ones that are pesticide and chemical free.

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Pick your edible flowers in the morning when they are fresh, avoiding older bruised blooms. Rinse gently to “debug” them and pat dry. Remove each pansy or viola from its sepals (green base).

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 Blend to incorporate, adding your shredded/ chopped petals to your room temperature cheese, along with your herbs and seasonings.

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 Cover and refrigerate.

Use soft cheese within a week.

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For 8 ounces of soft cheese use these

amounts of flowers as a guideline:

Pansy/Viola Cheese~  1/4 cup violas

Nasturtium Cheese~ 1 cup nasturtiums

Rose Cheese~  1/2 cup rose petals, add 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)

Lavender Cheese~ Up to 2 tablespoons lavender buds

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I used Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced Bread and seedless cucumber and radishes sliced thin with a mandoline. Place sliced cucumbers on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

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 Spread your herbed flower cheese on your bread, layer cucumbers and/or radishes and use cookie cutter for shapes. If you don’t want to fool with cookie cutters, serve your sandwiches open-faced, and cut in squares or triangles for serving.

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 Garnish with violas and

parsley or other herbs.

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 If assembling tea sandwiches ahead, cover your sandwiches with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap to keep your bread fresh & from drying out. Garnish with flowers before serving.

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You can find a printable recipe, here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Spring Tea Sandwiches with Flower & Herb Cheese

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays