Blackberry Mojito: A Festive Warm Weather Cocktail

If you are planning a warm weather party, you might be looking for a fun cocktail to serve. Blackberry Mojitos are a festive drink for Spring and Summer celebrations.

Blackberry Mojito (1 Serving)

(1) Muddle (i.e. crush together) several fresh mint leaves, 6 large blackberries, 1.5 T. of sugar in the bottom of a short cocktail shaker.

(2) Fill shaker with crushed iced. Add 2 oz. rum of your choice. (Lighter rum will yield a lighter drink color.) Squeeze the juice of one lime into shaker. Shake vigorously for 1 full minute to chill drink and melt ice.

(3) Run a slice of lime around the rim of a cocktail glass. Dip glass in sugar. Fill glass with ice cubes.

(4) Strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with a slice of lime and sprig of fresh mint. Serve right away. Have fun at your party!

Just Out of the Oven: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

My husband has a hard time starting his day without chocolate. So I make these muffins (or a variation thereof) pretty frequently!

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Makes 10

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. granulated white sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

1/2 t. ground mace

1/2 t. ground ginger

1 c. mashed banana (about 2 lg.)

1/2 c. canola oil

2 lg. eggs

2 t. vanilla extract

1 1/4 chopped chocolate or chocolate chips

honey for glazing

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 10 half-cup size ceramic ramekins* with baking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (except chocolate). Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (except honey). Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until the dry ingredients have been absorbed. Stir in chocolate.

4. Scoop batter into prepared ramekins. Use the back of a spoon to shape the batter in each cup into a slight mound. Place ramekins on baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

5. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on cooling racks. Immediately spoon honey over muffin tops.

* If you don’t have ramekins, use a standard 12 muffin baking pan.

Happy Arbor Day!

When I realized that today is Arbor Day, I just had to take some pictures of one of my favorite trees – Japanese Maple, “Garnet”. Garnet has lacy leaves that are bright red when they first emerge in the Spring and then again in the Fall. In between they are green with red stems. I’ve been shaping the specimen tree that we have for 12 years. It is about 4′ tall and 6′ across. I think that it will be a while before I see it at its mature height of 10′.  Garnet’s delicate countenance brings me pleasure whenever I work in the shade garden and I enjoy imagining its future size and shape every time I snip a little here and there. You know what they say, “to garden is to have hope for the future.”Japanese Maple Leaves Close Up

Return of the Lions

The fountain is back on and its lions are spewing water. One of our guests’ favorite things to do while staying with us is to sit on the porch and listen the fountain burble. Ok, so it’s one of our favorite things to do to! Hooray for the return of the lions! The Lions are Back

Irises in Morning Light

Anyone who visits us around this time of year is sure to observe that I am a big fan of irises.  This morning before breakfast the morning light on the garden was so beautiful, I had to run outside and take a few pictures.  As chance would have it, I happened upon what I think was a male Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly – any lepidopterists out there, please correct me if I am wrong – enjoying the flowers as well.

Beverly Sills Iris, top photo

Thornbird Iris, bottom photo

The First Rose of Spring

“Won’t you come into my garden? I would like my roses to see you.” – Richard Brinsley Sheridan

What a delight this morning to go out to the garden after breakfast and discover the buds on my Mr. Lincoln rose wide open. Mr. Lincoln is a sturdy tea rose bush with fragrant deep red roses, regarded by many as one of the best roses of all time.  It’s truly lovely!

Hostas and Heucheras

My big project for the week is rearranging my shade garden to accommodate an Empress Wu hosta that my mother-in-law kindly bought for me over the weekend. Empress Wu gets to be 5′ wide and 4′ tall, so some (i.e. a lot of) moving of plants here and there is definitely in order.  In planning the new layout, I’m trying to come up with a pleasant design in terms of the plants’ varying heights, textures and colors.

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination” – Mrs. C.W. Earle Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden (1897)

… but of course, if one is a gardener, exercise of the imagination tends to lead to exercise of the entire body. Mrs. C.W. Earle forgot to mention that part. After all that digging I’ve done so far, boy is my body tired.

Here’s a picture that I took – while taking a break from digging – of one of my favorite foliage arrangements. (Bottom right, heuchera Plum Pudding; bottom left, hosta Liberty; top, unknown hosta variety.) This corner of the garden I am happy with so I am going to leave it be … for now ; )  Happy gardening!