Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Can't Fool Mother Nature...or Can you?

We've had some crazy cold snowy and rainy weather lately. So when we had a couple of sunny days I was feeling a little cooped up watching it from my office window, so I decided to use my lunch break to maximize the sunshine. It was still pretty chilly and as you can see from the trees still very much winter.

So I decided to go somewhere I knew it would feel and look just like summer. The Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park in Tacoma is a beautiful Victorian structure built in Link1908 and luckily its not very far from downtown where I work

It's really an oasis in winter. Even the palm tree gives an illusion of semi tropicalness

As you step in the front door you are hit with a wonderful smell from the many orchids and a floral scene that currently screams spring.

Potted azaleas

And spring bulbs give me hope for whats to come in the next couple of months.

Aren't you ready for daffodils?

I loved this bulb too...not sure what kind it is. Maybe some kind of crinum?

The foliage in the conservatory is so lush and a perfect backdrop to all of the gorgeous orchids

There are many different varieties..I love this one

And this beauty

This begonia is pretty happy in the warm humid air

And this clivia is so pretty. I have one like this in my house, but it hasn't bloomed for us.

There are so really unique things in the conservatory including spanish moss..reminds me of home in Louisiana

Or how about these cool pitcher plants

At the end of the "path"

is a bench to rest a bit and take it all in

From this spot I admired this enormous fiddly fig

And these pretty yellow orchids...check out the scary tiger lurking in the background

After a little rest I headed back up the path into the main domed room

to see the fishies and waterfall

And to admire the cute little mushrooms

Amazingly in all of this lushness they have also created a little mini arid zone

Check out this papyrus

There is a great gift shop to visit before you leave. I love those tiny little Adirondack chairs right in front of the counter. I bought a cute plant for my desk at work and a pretty little enamel heart box.

Loved these drawings on the door to the shop

The kids are as inspired as I am! This spot in particular makes me wish I was an artist

With my lunch time coming to a close I figured it was time to head out but took the time to be jealous of the gorgeous Ponderosa lemons

Back out into the sunny but 40ish temps

Love the outside of the building too though especially up against that blue sky.

Some day I'll take you on a walk around the park itself. There are some great old trees - its great in fall. Today the Monkey Puzzle tree caught my you know it?

I think its supposed to look like a bunch of monkey tails

So......if maybe you can fool mother nature at least part of the time I wonder if you can fool a cinnamon roll lover ? This is my quickie version of cinnamon rolls. They are really cinnamon biscuits and super quick, but fun to make. I used to make these with my sister on Saturday mornings. And by the cinnamon roll lover may not have been fooled but he went back for seconds :-)

Cinnamon Biscuits

1 can biscuits - the cheapest brand you can find work just fine, but something like Grands works even better
1/2 stick margarine or butter, melted
1 cup Sugar
cinnamon ( a couple of teaspoons or more depending on how cinnamony you like it)

Coat each biscuit with melted butter. Dip and roll each biscuit in cinnamon sugar. Place in a round cake pan. Drizzle tops with extra butter and cinnamon. Cook at 350° for about 15 mins or until cinnamon begins to get browner and forms a little crust. You just want to make sure the biscuits are cooked through.

Now give it a try and see if you can fool them too!

Joining in for Mosaic Monday at Little Red House & Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and Hello 2012!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! We spent Christmas in Louisiana with my family

Loved every minute of it!

We flew back to Washington in time to see in the New Year - quietly! I seem to have caught a cold back home in the *warm* south so didn't really feel like going all out for a big New Years day meal. But I still had to get in the required New Years day staples - black eyed peas and greens for luck and money! So I decided to just dump it all in a pot and see what happened. The result was pretty tasty and worthy of a repeat so I thought I would write it out and share.

New Years Day Black Eyed Pea "Gumbo"

2 Tablespoons bacon grease (or vegetable oil)
2 heaping Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 large onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch greens (I used Kale, but any would do)
2 cans black eyed peas
1 can diced tomatoes with chiles (Rotel)
Smoked Sausage or smoky ham or smoky bacon (smoke is the theme - for flavor). Whatever you have on hand. I used 3 links of good smoked Louisiana sausage that I have in my freezer courtesy of my parents.
3 cups chicken broth
Spices/seasoning to taste - I used Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning & garlic salt.
2/3 cup uncooked rice

Heat grease or oil in a skillet until hot. Add flour and stir continuously (heat medium-high) until you have a roux that is light reddish brown - you could go darker, but I didn't want to have a strong roux taste. Add onions, bell peppers, celery & garlic and cook down until vegetables are tender. Add greens, peas, tomatoes, sausage, broth and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add rice. Cook until rice is tender (about 30 minutes). Serve with cornbread.

Wishing you a very prosperous, healthy and happy 2012! Thanks for taking the time this past year to check out my blog and what I have going on. Your comments have been much appreciated!

Joining in for Mosaic Monday this week over at Little Red House
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