A few weeks ago, I was blog hopping all over the place since we had yet another snow day. I stumbled upon this in my wishful thinking of warmer weather projects and decided I'd begin the hunt for a soda crate of my own to create this living garden art. I found a few on ebay, but with shipping, they ended up being about $20, which was more than I wanted to spend for something I was going to staple to pieces and fill with dirt and plants.
Benny and I were also on the hunt for a pretty and unusual plate to hang in the kitchen to balance out a little vignette we're doing on the wall (I'll post pics when we get that finished), so we took one Saturday afternoon (after I'd had a morning of Saturday school with the kiddos to makeup a snow day)to visit our favorite local art gallery and the antique store down the street. After visiting the main and top floors in the antique store, we were about to call it quits, but decided to investigate the basement level, which is mostly where they keep the furniture. And were we glad we did... we found both things we were hunting for; a silver plated punched decorative plate and a soda crate that had seen better days. So, all told, we spent $25 for both and were pleased with our purchases. Not only did we like what we found, but we were happy that we were able to put our money into a local business, rather than sending it who knows where through ebay. (Not that ebay isn't great for some things...)
I'm super excited about my hanging garden and plan to hang it on the exterior basement wall when we finish the patio area underneath the deck this spring. I think it'll add a nice touch to the seating area under there and it should do well with the amount of sun it'll get. But I'll wait to construct it until it's a little closer to spring here, and I'll give you a step by step rundown when I tackle it.
My next project is to make a Valentine's wreath for my classroom door. I'm thinking a yarn wrapped cardboard thing, something like this. I want something that's going to be simple to make (and I can do it while I watch Arrested Development or one of our James Bond movies with Benny), but will be fun and festive for the kids.
This month has also been about using what we have around here in the kitchen as much as possible, so we've worked down the freezer and the pantry a good bit, but still have plenty of staples to spare. One of the things I had an abundance of in the freezer was bananas and berries. (The school occasionally gets donations from the local grocery, and the cafeteria can't use them, so when they sent boxes full of bananas, I stocked up.) You can freeze bananas right in the peels, no kidding, if you're planning to use them for baking. I just thaw them in the fridge overnight or in the microwave and they're ready to go. I discovered this fabulous coffee cake recipe in my Coffee Cakes cookbook by Lou Seibert Pappas that uses bananas and coconut, both of which we had on hand, and the recipe was perfect for dessert when some friends invited us over for dinner a few weeks ago. You'll find that recipe at the bottom of the page. I also plan to work some bananas and berries into these muffins, which will either get made tomorrow (if we have another snow day) or this weekend.
Banana, Macadamia Nut, and Coconut Coffee Cake
2 c all purpose flour (or substitute 1 c whole wheat and 1 c all purpose)
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 1/4 c mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 large bananas)
2 large eggs
1/3 c veg or canola oil
2 T amaretto liquor (or just add some extra vanilla)
1/2 c sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c sweetened flake coconut
1/2 c chopped macadamia nuts or pecan halves
1 T granulated sugar mixed w/ 1 t cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Stir to blend. In a food processor, combine eggs, bananas, oil, liquor, sour cream, and vanilla. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine, until smooth. Stir in coconut. Pour into greased pan. Top with nuts and sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.
Bake 30-35 min, or until golden on top and cake tester comes out smooth. Cool on wire rack, and then remove from pan. Serve warm or at room temp, cut into wedges. Serves 8-10 (or breakfast for two all week long).
I'd love to hear what you're up to, or if you try the recipes or project ideas!