Tuesday, February 19, 2013

a beautiful day

Earlier this week, we had a great rain.  Afterward, it was so nice and fresh outside that I decided to take a walk around the yard.  February has traditionally been my least favorite month.  The fall/winter holiday excitement is over, the cold has lost its novelty and you're ready for spring, but it's at least a month away.  It's a bit different here in South Carolina, though.  It's cold, but there's still so much to look at.

I walked by my mystery vine and noticed that it had finally started to bloom...  

...and proved to be a trumpet vine.  Pretty yellow flowers that are much loved by hummingbirds and bees.

I still marvel at all the Helleborus around.  I never got it to grow successfully in Indianapolis, and I always thought it was so beautiful.  Here, it's everywhere.

Big clumps, all up and down the length of the front of the house...

Up by the mailbox, and all over the back yard.

We must have 20+ clumps of them, and I was gratified to read that they spread easily.

The camillas were blooming...

...and this bush, too.

The clumps of snowflake flowers were putting up long stalks...

...and they make lovely, long-lasting bouquets.

We've had a lot of rain, so we had all sorts of interesting lichen on the ground...

...and on fallen branches around the yard.

I uncovered a squirrel stash with my foot.

Some bushes are heavily laden with berries.  As much as I'd like to pick the bunches and bring them in the house, I want to make sure that the birds get their fair share, so I usually leave them alone.

This grass, which I believe is called monkey grass, has been close-cropped by hungry deer.

They come at night and remain unseen, but I see a lot of wildlife in general here.  On the day of my walk, I saw a female cardinal...

...a hungry squirrel nibbling on seed...

...and a mockingbird, posing.

Geese were swimming in the pond...

...and it was totally peaceful.  I couldn't believe it when later that week, we had some snow!  It wasn't quite freezing, so the snowflakes melted quickly.

Still, it was coming down quickly for about 45 minutes.  The sky cleared, though, and we had a beautiful sunset.

This past week, I baked a massive (for us) cake for Valentine's Day.  I will refer you to Sweetapolita's LINK for the original recipe and step-by-step instructions, but I'll give you a quick rundown.

The cake was a 3 layer red velvet cake with raspberries, chocolate buttercream, marshmallow cream cheese, and another fluffy frosting that I didn't add.  I meant to, but once I spilled an entire panful of hot cream and gelatin down the front of the stove and all over the hardwood floor and spent almost 30 minutes cleaning it up, I'd lost the desire for 4 fillings.  The three I had were enough, especially the marshmallow cream cheese - YUM!  Probably my favorite frosting ever, and I'm not even a marshmallow fan.  You have to have a special occasion for this cake, or a dedicated gym routine, because it involves several cups of sugar and SEVEN sticks of butter.

First I baked and cooled the 3 cakes...

...and spread on the marshmallow cream cheese.

Then the chocolate buttercream...

...then the raspberries.

Then stack...

Repeat...and stack.

Ice the whole cake, and ignore the probable lopsided-ness.

It was dark before we cut into it, so the lighting was pretty bad.  Still, hopefully you can see the layers.  You'll notice they aren't red...I can never bring myself to add all of that red dye to red velvet cake, even for effect.

 It was so good.

 Todd and I each had small slices, and then I wrapped it up for him to take into the office.  It was demolished in one afternoon!

Hope you'll give it a try if you've got a special occasion coming up.  Enjoy!

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