Fort Worth Botanic Garden -- Spring Has Sprung

A couple of days ago, were out at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden taking pictures of new-to-me vintage brooches to go up on my Etsy site.  While we were there, I took some shots of the beautifully intense spring colors.  Enjoy.

These two shots are of pansies.  A humble choice for sprucing up the garden, but look at the effect of a mass planting, and the beauty of a single plant in closeup.

And who could expect such brilliant intense beauty from any other vegetable aside from Swiss Chard?

What could be more of an acknowledgement of spring than a fern unrolling new growth?

And here's a bonus: Two shots of a squirrel who was likewise out enjoying the good weather. 


Making a Fascinator from a Vintage Brooch

I'm fascinated with fascinators.  They can be oversized or subtle, dramatic or elegant, worn as part of a hat or a viel, or fastned directly to your hair.

I'm also in love with vintage brooches (if you don't know that by now, you obviously haven't taken a look at my Etsy shop, where I sell the overflow of my collection).

So when I got invited to a formal, I decided to make a feather fascinator starring a vintage bird brooch.  I love the way the bird's wings arc back, so I wanted to make the feathers look like an extension of the wings.  I also tried to echo the oversize crimson rhinestones by adding a few red feathers to the shimmering green ones.

Whatever brooch you use, whether a bird or something geometric, making a feathery fascinator couldn't be easier.  You can make one too.

1 Beak-clip hair finding
floral or jewelry wire
12-14 (6") feathers (I used black / green sheen ones that were already bundled together in threes)
4 - 6  (2") feathers (I used dark red)
1 vintage brooch

Place the brooch on top of the clip and arrange the feathers so that they line up with the design elements of the brooch. Carefully slide the clip out from under, leaving the feathers in place on the table.

Wrap one end of the wire around the inside edge of the beak clip to secure it.  Pull out the leftmost feather (or feather bundle), and wrap it onto the top of the clip, bringing the wire back up through the center of the clip.  Repeat with the remaining feathers.  Then simply clasp the brooch onto the piece (for a more permanent result, you can glue the brooch in place if you don't mind damaging it).


It Takes The Cake: Two Peas in a Pod Cupcakes

A friend of mine just had a baby shower, and decided to have a dessert bar.  She's having twins, and the shower theme was, "Two Peas in a Pod."  I was asked to make a batch of cupcakes, and I had a vague recollection of seeing a cupcake design with a fondant pea on it.  I decided to make my own version of this, frosting half of the cupcakes with a mound of pink buttercream and adorning each with a single pea, then frosting the other half with a layer of white buttercream and stylized pea flowers. (No, they aren't botanically correct, but I was going for quick and cute.

The fondant peas were easy to make.  You just roll it out, then cut leaf shapes with a butter knife.  Hold the shape in your palm and place two candies (I used Sixlets, but green Skittles would work just as well.  Fold the leaf in half and press it gently together, leaving part of the edge open so you can see the front part of the candies.


Green Curry Chicken

Thai couisine is one of my favorite styles to cook in.  The flavors are bright, the meals come together quickly, and they don't take a lot of specialized equipment.  I grow my own basil, and Jake has a little kafir lime tree (he's into all things citrus -- you can see his lime tree on his citrus blog), so we find that this is a great dish to show off our garden efforts.  Green curry at restaurants always seems a little to "soupy" to me, so this recipe uses only one can of coconut milk. Enjoy!

Green Curry Chicken

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tbsp. Thai green curry paste (less, of you don't like your curry spicy)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
1 ½  pound boneless chicken breast, sliced *
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
2 kefir lime leaves, minced
Handful fresh basil, minced
Juice of one lime

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry paste and stir-fry for about a minute, until the paste starts to become fragrant.  Add the onions and bell pepper and cook until they soften (2-3 minutes). 

Pour in coconut milk and fish sauce.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then add chicken.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is completely cooked.
Stir in basil, lime leaves and  lime juice.; bring to boil. Add chicken and bell pepper; stir until chicken is just cooked through. Add salt, pepper, lime leaves, basil, and lime juice.  Serve with jasmine rice. 

* I find that chicken is easier to slice if you cut it when it is still partially frozen