Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Nest Cookie Cups

Photo by Elsie Park
These are the cutest mini-muffin-sized treats complete with green colored coconut "grass" and jelly bean "eggs". My girls and I made these adorable cookie cup nests for Easter. Cookie dough, coconut, jelly beans and food coloring: Eight dollars. Spending time with my sweeties: PRICELESS!

Easter Nest Cookie Cups

1 package (16.5 oz.) refrigerated cookie bar dough of choice (I used snickerdoodle)
¼ cup prepared white frosting
5 drops green food coloring
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
Jelly beans

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 24 mini-muffin cups. Place one square of cookie dough into each cup. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pans to wire rack. Cool cups completely in pans on wire rack. With tip of butter knife, remove cookie cups from muffin pans. Arrange on serving platter. Drop food coloring in resealable food storage plastic bag. Add coconut. Seal bag and shake and mash around to evenly coat coconut. Spoon a tiny amount of frosting on top of each cup. Add a pinch of green coconut. Top with jelly beans.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Springtime at the Park Place

My husband, three little girls and I have lived in our new home (new to us, but built in the 80s) for 6 months and are experiencing our first spring around the one acre yard. It has been a lot of work raking, seeding, mowing, weeding, and junking old things left behind by the previous owner. And aside from a startling moment when I ran into a garter snake while moving and stacking old bricks (I didn't kill it, knowing he'd come in handy catching moles in my garden), the entire experience has been fun, and has given me a sense of accomplishment knowing the yard is my own and that it's what I've always wanted.

The real treat was watching so many trees catch color within days as temperatures warmed and snows melted. I was delighted to discover that the tree right outside our livingroom window blooms pretty pink flowers in the spring. Beautiful!
 A gorgeous crabapple tree lining our driveway stands out in singular beauty against the green trees surrounding it.
Closeup of the crabapple blossoms. STRIKING!

An exciting thing was planting 7 fruit trees in the latter portion of our yard. I've always wanted my own mini orchard and now (assuming I don't kill the trees in their youth) I can do that. I planted two cherry trees (Bing and Stella), two apple (Fuji and Gala), two peach (both Elberta) and one apricot (Chinese). It takes 2-5 years for most trees to begin producing fruit, so that's why I wanted to plant them right away, so we would have several years of bounty before my kids pack up and leave the nest.
My Gala apple tree blossoms. That's all they'll do for a few years before they start producing fruit. At least I HOPE they produce fruit for me. I'm a novice fruit tree grower.
We have gobs of onion grass clumps springing up all around the yard, sending off a pleasant, light whiff of green onion when we walk through them. We haven't tried eating them, but they sure smell good *smile*.

Cute little purple flowers (Hyacinths I believe) have popped up all around the yard. They look like miniature versions of the lupins that grew around the home I was raised in California.

And I can't forget to mention the mass of Irises that have grown wild from years of being left to themselves. I'll let them bloom this year, see what color they are, and then transplant the ones I want and let the ladies in my church or my neighbors have the rest (they must bring their own spades and pots, however, and dig them out themselves *smile*).
Not so cute are the hundreds of dandelions popping up, too. Though my girls love the bright yellow flowers, and even pick them to "give to mommy," I know the truth. They are a WEED, a nasty, horrible weed that takes over your lawn if not dug out or killed some other way. And once they produce those giant puffballs of flying seeds that children delight in blowing (yes, I did it as a child, too) they take seed in hundreds of other places. It's all I can do to merely keep the infestation from my lawn.

 A shade tree in our back yard. The purple-pink blossoms standing out against the tall green trees behind it. LOVE IT!
 My oldest (8 years old) mows the lawn for the first time. She did a great job, but the mower took off going down hill with her skinny body a couple times *laugh*. What a cutie!
The beautiful shade trees surrounding our back patio bloom flowers of a purpley-pink hue. My little two-and-a-half year old stands by her froggy sandbox.

I decided I wanted boxes for my garden. I've heard they are easier on the back (if they are tall enough) and that it's better for controlling weeds. Using the warped and damaged 2 x 4s my husband got free from work, I designed and constructed two 8' by 4' boxes, painted them with some old stain we had to keep them weather resistant, and I lined them with old lumber tarps to keep them from rotting on the inside.

This year I planted spinach, green onions, carrots, peas, stringless string beans and multi-colored bell peppers. I hope they come up. I'm not known to have the greenest thumb *chagrin*

Having our own home and large yard has allowed us to enjoy a firepit anytime we want without worrying about smoking out the neighbors or bothering them with boisterous voices or music. We love a good weenie roast complete with marshmallows, good friends and family.
I love my home and yard, and I enjoy doing the work to make it what I want it to be. Yes, springtime at the Park household has been a delight so far and certainly not a disappointment in any way (but I also realize that my enthusiasm stems from my being here only 6 months. Catch me next year when I'm doing this all over again. My attitude may be more on the ho-hum side. . . . We'll see *laugh*).

Remnants of a large Quaking Aspen stump we burned out (took about 5 days of letting it smolder to finish it off). We had a weenie roast around the makeshift pit. Great coals!
The absolute BEST part of doing yard work is that it has enabled me to FINALLY get my weight down to 160 pounds (not my ultimate goal, but certainly closer to it).