A Spring Branch Bouquet

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Dogwood trees are starting to bloom where I live and their blooms are so pretty! The Redbud trees are also blooming and their rich color looks so striking against the other trees that are just starting to produce small leaves. I decided … Continue reading

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Daffodils

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I picked these daffodils yesterday–they’ve just recently started blooming. They were growing by the side of the road, and I just had to pick some! I love the variety–some are bright yellow, some are soft yellow, and some are soft cream. My favorite, though, are the daffodils that have creamy petals with vivid orange centers.

Do you have daffodils in your garden and are they blooming yet?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Spring Colors

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I love the colors in this photo I took of hydrangeas, my favorite flower! I thought I’d call out some of these colors and make a spring color palette! These would be great colors to decorate with…or even create artwork or crafts with.

Hope you are enjoying the arrival of spring! :)

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Spring Fever

I had to make a quick trip to the mall and ended up staying longer than I intended because I was admiring some pretty Spring and Easter tableware and decor at two of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma! Teal, light and bright greens, and nature-inspired neutrals seem to be big color themes for the spring season. These happen to be some of my favorite colors–no wonder I was so drawn to the store displays! :) (Photos shown in this post are from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma)

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At Pottery Barn, I loved all the teal in the table settings displayed right by the front entrance. The tableware looked great with the natural color and texture of woven place mats, along with some burlap and twine accents–so springy and outdoorsy! The inside store display I saw looked very much like the set-up in the photo above, featured on the Pottery Barn website.

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And I thought these bunny cupcake stands were sweet–they also work great for mini pies and tarts or cookies!

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I also liked these nature-inspired basket fillers

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…perfect for creating your own woodland baskets!

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The teal-green-neutral combination also looked great in other home accessories…

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…like this brightly-patterned pillow.

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I thought this embroidered butterfly pillow had a great spring feel, too.

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And I loved all the glassware in spring colors, especially the teal!

img45cWilliams-Sonoma also had nature-inspired designs in some of their spring tableware

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…and they have a new Botanical Citrus Collection which looks very springy.

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You can always find fun baking accessories there, like this Buttercup Cakelet Pan. How cute is that?

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And I saw these cookies later on their website–some great Easter cookie decorating inspiration!

Do you have Spring Fever like I do? Have you found any inspiring Easter and Spring decorating, entertaining, or gift ideas out there?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

The Wonderful Cross

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When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
 
See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’re such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown
 
Oh the wonderful Cross, Oh the wonderful Cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
Oh the wonderful Cross, Oh the wonderful Cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name…
 
From THE WONDERFUL CROSS

The lyrics to When I Survey the Wondrous Cross were written by the well-known author of many hymns, Isaac Watts in 1707 (he also wrote Joy to the World and O God, Our Help in Ages Past). The hymn was set to more than one tune; the most popular was written in 1790 by Edward Miller.  An updated version of this hymn, The Wonderful Cross, has been performed by several contemporary artists including Micheal W. Smith and Chris Tomlin. You can listen to a version by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman by clicking here.

Hope you have a blessed Easter Sunday!

The Winter is Past

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See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come….

SONG OF SONGS 2:11-12 (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1994, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

I’m always glad to see Spring arrive every year, with warmer weather and pretty flowers blooming! It’s a season of new life and new beginnings. All the beauty in nature at springtime reminds me of another verse, Psalm 33:5: The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. (KJV) 

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful first day of Spring!

A Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

I PETER 1:3-4 (NIV)

New International Version (NIV) Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011, by Biblica

Praying you have a joyful, hope-filled Easter!


Fun Springtime Treats from Martha Stewart

I always find great ideas on Martha Stewart’s website and thought I’d share some really fun, yummy-looking decorating ideas I saw the other day (all photos are from marthastewart.com). These treats are perfect for Easter and all through the spring season. Maybe you’ll have a chance to try some of these ideas out this weekend!

From the top, right to left, there are cute Butterfly Cupcakes with pretzel wings, candy-coated chocolate heads, and licorice antennae; Lollipop Cupcakes with mounds of buttercream covered in sprinkles, taffy leaves, and lollipop flowers; Chrysanthemum Cupcakes with beautiful buttercream flowers; Coconut Nest Cupcakes with chocolate egg candies; and Spring Cupcakes decorated with flowers using jellied citrus slices for the petals. And I had to include these bunny-shaped sugar cookies…I thought they looked so cute with the ribbon tied around each bunny’s neck!

If you don’t have time to bake, here are a few fun ways you can package candy…

…make these fun Envelope Bunnies or Jelly Bean Carrots! So cute!

I just had to include this item too…it’s not edible, but it’s definitely eye candy and very pretty…

Delicate flower arrangements in eggshells…really sweet!

Hope these ideas have inspired you! What’s your favorite Easter or springtime treat?

Hosanna!

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And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

MATTHEW 21:8-9 KJV 

If you’re wondering what “Hosanna” means, I found a great explanation here. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew words Hoshiya na! (“Save now!” or  “Save, please!”), an expression the people would use when asking a king to help or save them in times of trouble (see 2 Samuel 14:4 and 2 Kings 6:26). Over the centuries, Hosanna gradually became an expression of hope and exultation: “Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!” The crowd of people shouting Hosanna in the verse above were recognizing Jesus as their Savior and Deliverer, the prophesied Messiah. And believers use it now as an expression of praise and gratitude to God and His Son Jesus for the gift of Salvation.

I thought this would be a great time to tell you about a song I like called Hosanna. It’s by the Canadian group Starfield, from their CD I Will Go. Filled with hope and praise, it really expresses the meaning of the word Hosanna. Click here to listen to it.

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful, restful Palm Sunday!

Linked to Think on These Things.

Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with Lemon Glaze

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I baked this loaf late one evening, sleepily mixing the glaze while the loaf was cooling. A little later, yawning while I drenched the loaf with the lemon glaze, I was hoping, after this late night baking session, that this creation of mine would taste good when I tried it the next day!

In the morning, when I took a bite of it, the words “a moist, lemony delight” floated through my mind (they really did!), and that seems to be the best way to describe this Lemon-Zucchini Loaf! It has a nice lemon flavor and the zucchini gives it a rich, moist texture. The glaze enhances the lemon flavor, too, so be sure to add the glaze!

This loaf is fairly healthy compared to other treats…it’s made with unbleached flour, canola oil, lemon juice and zest, zucchini, and buttermilk. It’s perfect for serving at a spring or summer breakfast or brunch.

LEMON-ZUCCHINI LOAF WITH LEMON GLAZE by NancyCreative

Makes one 9×5″ loaf

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (you don’t need to peel the zucchini before grating it)

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, beat 2 eggs well, then add canola oil and sugar, and blend well. Then add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and blend everything well. Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed in mixture.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don’t overmix.

Pour batter into prepared 9×5″ loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (if your oven tends to run hot, check the loaf after 40 minutes; also, if you make this in an 8×4″ loaf pan, your baking time may be a little longer…about 5 to 10 minutes more). Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely. While loaf is cooling, you can make the glaze…

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended. Spoon glaze over cooled loaf. Let glaze set, then serve.

Copyright ©2012 NancyCreative. All Rights Reserved.

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This Lemon-Zucchini Loaf is great way to use the zucchini from your garden this summer! Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe?

New Life

Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die.”  JOHN 11:25 NLT

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Garden of Flowers Cupcakes

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These are the pretty flower cupcakes I told you about in an earlier post, Springtime and Easter Cupcake Cuteness. These were also made by my friend, Ann, and this recipe is also from the cookbook Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins. These cupcakes have chocolate chips in the batter and are topped with a smooth, creamy Royal Icing. They’re perfect for any spring celebration, whether it’s Easter, Mother’s Day, a spring birthday, a garden party–or just whenever you want to make some pretty cupcakes! The original recipe has a custard filling, but Ann made hers just with the chocolate chips, and they were very yummy! This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

GARDEN OF FLOWERS CUPCAKES (adapted from Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins)

VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP CUPCAKE BATTER:

  • 1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a standard cupcake pan with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixter, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk and beating on very low speed just until batter forms. Be careful not to over mix! Gently fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into paper cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool to room temperature.

TRADITIONAL ROYAL ICING (Makes about 2 cups):

  • 2 large egg whites (or 1/4 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites)
  • 1  to 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • Gel food coloring, optional
  • Flavored extract, optional

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites and lemon juice until frothy. Add sugar gradually while beating on medium speed until mixture is smooth and shiny. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for about 5 minutes, until stiff glossy peaks form and mixture is stable enough to glaze a cupcake. To check consistency, dip a spoon in the glaze and draw it upward, letting a bit fall back into the bowl. If the glaze can be seen on the surface of the mixture for 5 to 7 seconds, the icing is ready. If the mixture is still a bit runny, beat in more sugar and test again. Add food coloring and extract if desired and use immediately.

ASSEMBLING THE CUPCAKES:

  • 12 edible sugar flowers
  • Assorted sprinkles for top of cupcakes, optional

Prepare cupcakes and cool completely. Prepare icing; top each cupcake with 1 teaspoon icing. Sprinkle on colorful sugar or sprinkle toppings if desired, and place a sugar flower in center before icing sets. Set cupcakes aside until icing sets and serve.

This cupcake is so pretty with the pink sugar sprinkled on top…

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You can really be creative with these when you’re choosing your frosting color, flowers, and sprinkles. Hope you have fun trying them out! :)

Linked to Sunday Showcase, Made by You Mondays, Tasty Tuesday, Muffin Monday.

Ann’s Easter Egg Cupcakes

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Here’s one of the yummy cupcakes I told you about in my Springtime Cupcakes post. My friend Ann made these and she found the recipe in a cookbook called Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins. These delicious cupcakes have a creamy custard filling and are topped with a fluffy buttercream frosting. You can put chocolate eggs covered with a speckled coating or malted milk speckled eggs in your buttercream “nests.” And then just top them off with some colorful sprinkles!

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Here’s the recipe–it makes 12 delightful cupcakes!

EASTER EGG CUPCAKES (adapted from Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins)

CUSTARD FILLING:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small heatproof bowl, vigorously whisk egg, egg yolks, and sugar until mixture is pale in color. Add cornstarch and mix until fully blended.

In a small saucepan, heat milk and vanilla extract over medium-high heat until mixture just comes to a boil. Slowly add half the milk to the egg mixture and mix until smooth (the heated milk warms up the eggs slowly so they don’t begin to cook and get lumpy).

Pour this egg/milk mixture slowly through a fine metal sieve back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, whisking constantly so the custard doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. NOTE: Ann told me that she actually didn’t use a sieve–the purpose of the sieve is to strain out the lumps of the egg mixture. The trick is to do it all SLOWLY, warming the eggs slowly, so you don’t get any lumps. If you don’t have a sieve, just remember that tip and your custard will turn out fine! Using a whisk when mixing is definitely important to get a nice smooth mixture.

Remove custard from heat and pour into a shallow flat tray. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the custard to prevent a crust from forming. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 days.

GOLDEN SOUR CREAM CUPCAKES:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with paper liners. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with sour cream and beating on very low speed until just blended. Be careful not to overmix!

Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool cupcakes to room temperature.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Gel food coloring, optional

With an electric mixer, cream butter and 1 cup confectioner’s sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add remaining confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth. Add milk, salt, vanilla, and food coloring; beat until creamy. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days (let refrigerated buttercream sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then beat on low speed until creamy before using).

ASSEMBLING THE CUPCAKES:

  1. Prepare the custard filling; refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Prepare cupcakes and cool completely.
  3. Transfer chilled custard filling to a piping bag fitted with a round tip or into a squeeze bottle.
  4. Insert tip into center of each cupcake and pipe in about 1 Tablespoon of filling.
  5. Prepare frosting and transfer to a piping bag with a star tip.
  6. Pipe frosting on cupcake tops, then place egg candy decorations on top. Add your favorite sprinkles on the “nest”, if desired.

Then serve and enjoy these cupcakes! They will disappear quickly! Here’s a close-up of that lucious creamy custard filling…

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You could also make these without the custard filling, but if you have the time, it’s worth making them with the filling!

Linked to Show and Tell, We Did It! Wednesday, Make It Yours Day, Muffin Monday, This Week’s Cravings, Strut Your Stuff, Foodie Friday, I’m Lovin’ It Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday.

Springtime and Easter Cupcake Cuteness

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Take a look at these really cute cupcakes my friend Ann made! She’s the same Ann who made those Decadent Turtle Brownies. She used some fun sprinkles, edible decorative flowers, and some chocolate eggs covered with a speckled coating (you could also use malted milk speckled eggs). I thought these were so adorable…perfect for springtime and Easter!

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The “nest egg” cupcakes have a delicious custard filling and the flower cupcakes have chocolate chips in the batter…how yummy is that? Believe me, these cupcakes taste as wonderful as they look! Ann gave me the recipes and I’ll be posting those in the next few days so you can make your own pretty cupcakes to celebrate Easter and enjoy throughout spring!

Linked to Tasty Tuesday.

A Sweet Springtime Snack

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I’ve always loved those Malted Milk Speckled Eggs…they are my favorite Easter candy (and those Cadbury Creme Eggs are a close second)! I buy them every year and eat way too many of them! :) This year, I found a Robin’s Egg Blue teacup at a flea market and thought it would make a great candy dish for my speckled eggs–doesn’t it look cute? Maybe you’ll be able to use this idea for your Easter candy.

It’s fun using teacups for other uses than just drinking tea. I went to a Tea Room recently with some friends and they served soup in teacups–isn’t that a great idea? If you’re a teacup collector, it’s a great way to use your teacups more often! :)