Winter Sunrise

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One thing I have noticed about living in the South for over five years is that the sunrises in the wintertime are the most beautiful. Since we are on the cusp of spring which brings amazing beauty in so many other ways, I thought I would honor those sunrises before they disappear for several months. Here is a compilation of morning shots I took during the past few winters.. I hope they add some beauty and happiness to your morning!

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A Hopeful Happy New Year

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I didn’t realize how long my hiatus from posting anything has been until I just looked at my blog. May was my last post! About gardenias. We definitely aren’t in gardenia season anymore.

I don’t really make new year’s resolutions but one thing I would like to get back to this year is posting more frequently again. The past year has been a rough one for me between big disappointments and major surgery. Of course I am grateful for the beautiful moments as well. But I feel like I have lost a piece of myself and my spirit has been a bit battered. Having a place to express my thoughts or even just my photographs and do it on a regular basis might help me get back to a better place. A more hopeful and fulfilling place.

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That said, I took these photos yesterday. We had our first snowfall, more like an icefall. It was a magical frosty winter day. Great for one day and now I am ready for a Caribbean vacation. But being in Georgia, it will be 50 degrees warmer later this week. I’m not complaining.

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I hope your new year is full of hope and promise and that you find ways to lift your soul and spirit too. Happy 2017!

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Scent of the South

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My gardenias are blooming! I was so excited to see all the buds form after the winter. We planted a hedge of August Beauty Gardenias two autumns ago. Last spring there were maybe five gardenias total that bloomed and I was so disappointed. I even saved our coffee grounds and used them as fertilizer in the hopes that it would help. It must have been the harsh winter or the fact that they were newly planted. This spring there are a million buds and the gardenias are flourishing. Gardenias are one of my favorite things about living in the South. I never imagined I would have a whole army of them blooming behind me when I sit on the patio. The scent is heaven on a breeze.

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I tried to think of a way to display them inside the house, so I cut a few blossoms and floated them in a large terrarium bowl on the dining room table. I always use odd numbers when arranging flowers, and five fit perfectly. They really perfume the whole first floor of our home. I hope they bloom all summer, or at least until any house guests we may have can be wowed by them too. But beggars can’t be choosers, and I am grateful they bloomed at all. Pure loveliness.

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Information about August Beauty Gardenias:

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How to care for August Beauty Gardenias:

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/grow-august-beauty-91118.html

Nat King Cole singing “Blue Gardenia”

An Ode to Spring

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Spring makes my heart so happy. I thought I would share the season’s preliminary gifts from my garden. But first..

When my children were teeny tiny, they had a sweet little book that I loved to read to them every spring, “Home for a Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown.

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I still remember the opening verses..

“Spring, spring, spring!” sang the frog. “Spring!” said the ground hog. “Spring, spring, spring!” said the robin. It was spring. The leaves burst out. The flowers burst out. And robins burst out of their eggs. It was spring.

I turn my face to the sky, feel the sun on my skin and the first warm breeze, and I think of those words. Every spring. I feel as joyful and excited as the little creatures in that book. Here are the fruits of my labor and Mother Nature’s gift to my garden this spring..

Evergreen Clematis (the scent is heavenly, like jasmine or tuberose)

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Fringe Flowers

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Bridal Wreath Spirea

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Pansies in the vegetable garden survived the winter and came back with a flourish

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The frog, the groundhog and the robin were right. It is spring. Finally!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Bundt Cake with Pecan Coconut Icing

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IMG_5878I had been staring at some overripe bananas on the kitchen counter for a couple of days, pondering whether to toss them or make something. Normally it’s chocolate chip banana bread. But the warm sweet scent of my grandmother’s banana cake came wafting through my memory. I dug the index card out of her recipe box. What a treasure!

My grandmother would normally frost the cake with chocolate since that was the family favorite. I believe she would also use cream cheese frosting at times, which sounds even better to me. I did make some adjustments here and there. I also decided to make an icing as you would for German chocolate cake. To be honest I’ve never liked German chocolate cake. I want chocolate frosting with my chocolate cake! The more chocolate the better! But banana and pecan and coconut together? Yum! I have to say, the cake is divine! It takes all the self control I have not the eat the whole thing while my children are at school. IMG_5917IMG_5925Coincidentally it’s also the tail end of gardenia season in the South. Gardenias happened to be my grandmother’s favorite flower. I clipped the gardenia out of my own garden. I also used pecans from Valdosta in Southern Georgia. I hope you enjoy the cake if you make it. Just don’t eat the gardenia! 😉IMG_5934

Banana Bundt Cake with Pecan Coconut Icing

For cake: 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for pan), 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 cup unsalted softened butter (plus extra for pan), 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 3 overripe mashed bananas, 1 tsp vanilla, 3/4 cup buttermilk

For icing: 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg yolk, 4 Tbs unsalted butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, 1/2 cup flaked toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk in the salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar and add the vanilla. Beat well. Add the mashed bananas and beat again. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Make sure to add some flour last. Pour batter into the bundt pan and smooth so it is evenly distributed. Bake for 40 minutes or until a tester does not have wet batter on it. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a rack while you make the icing.

In a saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolk and butter. Stir over low heat for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, pecans and coconut.

Place the cake on a platter or dish even if it is still warm. Pour the warm icing over the top. It is supposed to fall over the sides of the cake. Ooey gooey banana goodness.