Keep Your Poinsettia After Christmas

poinsettiasIt is possible to keep your poinsettia alive into the Spring season when it can flower again for Christmas holidays the next year.

Of course, flower is the wrong word when dealing with poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima, from the spurge plant family). They don’t have flower petals. Those red leaves are called bracts. The red leaves are just more leaves on the planet but they turn red as they grow from the top. The actual ‘flower’ is that knobby looking part in the centre of the plant. This is why poinsettias are propagated through grafting in commercial nurseries.

I’ve never tried growing one from seed either. I just do my best to keep my live plants going from year to year. I did have one which I kept for several years. It finally caught a white fungus during one of my moves from place to place. It couldn’t be saved that year.

The plant needs 12 hours of daylight followed by 12 hours of darkness in order to bloom – get the leaves to turn red. With some fussing, you can induce your poinsettia to bloom red again after the holiday season when the leaves usually begin to drop off and leave you with a pretty bare and barren looking plant.

How to Get Your Poinsettia to Grow Again

Prune the plant. Take off the red leaves, if there are any left. After the last of the frost is gone from outside, take it out for some fresh air. Don’t rush to get it out there. The poinsettia is not hardy for being out in the northern climate. They are native to Central America and Mexico.

You can leave the poinsettia outside all Summer. It will grow and look much healthier than it has since Christmas. Bring the poinsettia indoors in the Autumn. It really does not want to catch a chill outside. Bring it in before the first frost. Place the poinsettia in a room which you can give it darkness (complete and uninterrupted) after sunset. The plant needs those long, dark periods for at least two months if you want to get the red leaves developing in time for Christmas. Any light during this stage will set it back.

If you only have dim light, not full dark, try putting a cardboard box over the poinsettia for those 12 hours of full dark it needs. Another idea, put a tomato cage in the plant pot and cover it with a cloth/ fabric tablecloth to block out the light. Don’t use plastic, or anything else which will cut off the air as well as the light. Don’t forget to uncover the plant at dawn so it can also get the full 12 hours of light it needs. We tend to have longer nights than days in the Autumn so it will need all the daylight you can give it too, the balance of light and darkness.

Keep the poinsettia on the dry side when it comes to watering. Set the pot on a few pebbles, marbles, beads, something which will make sure it is getting good drainage rather than holding excess water inside the pot. I also pot them with a few rocks at the bottom of the pot if I give them a new container, other than the one they came in from the store. The poinsettia likes moist soil but it does not like to be sitting in water or have water poured over it. The best thing is to let it be just a bit dry and then give it a soak in a bucket (or some other container) of water. Then take it out to drain out any extra water before you put it back where you have it growing.

Poinsettia Growing Links

Buttercream Barbie: Fluffy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Fluffy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp active dry yeast or 1 pkg.

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (divided)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Filling (combine first 4 ingredients)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Pinch of table salt

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons butter, softened

  1. Mix the buttermilk, vegetable oil and sugar in a saucepan and heat on the stove until lukewarm (105-110 degrees). Remove from heat then stir in dry yeast. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes to let the yeast bloom.

  2. Add 4 (of the 4 1/2 cups) of flour to the buttermilk mixture and stir well (no need to knead, just mix well). Dough at this stage will be extremely sticky and more like a thick batter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for an hour.

  3. In a small, separate bowl, mix the final 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. After the sticky dough has rested/raised for an hour, stir it down and add this final half cup flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated – this just takes a minute.

  4. Turn batter (which will still be quite soft and sticky) out onto WELL-floured counter and roll the dough around a few times, coating the surface with flour so it is not so sticky. Roll (or pat) dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2″ thick. Spread dough surface with 2 tablespoons butter then evenly spread on the filling ingredients and top with nuts (pat the nuts into the sugar a little). Roll up, jellyroll style, keeping it as tight as you can. Pinch the seam shut tightly. Cut into 1 1/2″ slices and lay them, cut side down, in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

  5. Bake in pre-heated 375 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and sound hollow when you tap on them. Drizzle with a simple icing sugar/milk glaze while still warm.

via Buttercream Barbie: Fluffy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls.

How to Get Started Doing Parkour

Parkour is a philosophy as well as physical exercise. Parkour is running, dodging, jumping through an obstacle course, on foot and without any special equipment. Parkour is also about learning to live your life in a better way.

What Parkour Really Is: The Whole Picture

Parkour is more than physical exercise or an extreme sport. Parkour is not about buying equipment or gear. Parkour is not about performing tricks or competing or showing off. Parkour is available for any level of athlete, or non-athlete.

Parkour is a philosophy about moving within your environment (mental and physical) and dealing with the obstacles you face. Through Parkour you attempt to understand and improve yourself. Parkour helps us learn to understand and help others by giving us practical skills and the methods of using them.

Parkour teaches us to move in our environment in a way where we can gain the most ground, make real progression and learn how to manoeuvre in different variety of ways.

Parkour can take place in an urban environment. Also, in forests, deserts, any outdoor element or place where there are some obstacles and space to move around them.

Parkour practitioners are called tracuers or tracueses (for women).

One is not truly participating in Parkour without the combination of philosophy and exercise. Parkour is a physical and mental exercise to improve your body at any level of ability, to give you more confidence and change how you see and feel about the world.

How Did Parkour Start?

David Belle was influenced by his Father who grew up in Vietnam as a child soldier trained through obstacle courses known as Parcours. David Belle’s Grandfather taught him about Hebertism. Both of these merged with David’s own philosophy and experiences to become Parkour.

Getting Started: Keep Moving, That’s What Matters

Move around your personal space. Look at the objects in the room differently. Find new ways to move through the room. Take a different route. Walk backwards. Twirl while you move through the room. Skip or hop on one foot. Crawl or walk on your hands if you can. Simple movements are a start. (Don’t wreck the place, go outside to give yourself more room to move).

Remember the old kid’s games where the floor became something dangerous to step on. I used to swim in the public pool and pretend the stripes on the pool floor were giant whales side by side. I tried to avoid stepping on the dark lines between the whales – the dark space between them surely went on forever, sinking deep, down into the ocean. So, I had to swim over them to the next whale.

Important techniques for beginners are good jumping and landing techniques. The roll which limits impact and carries momentum to continue forward movement is an important beginner technique to master. Beginners also learn how to fall, because falling happens. Other beginning moves include monkey vaults and precision jumps.

Don’t start leaping from tall buildings. Find your way along at your own pace. Don’t consider Parkour only as a physical thing either. Think of ways you would like to move through your life, what is keeping you from moving? Could you find a new way to move and gain progress?

Train your mind for Parkour as well as your body. Take a look at puzzles, mazes, things that make you look at new solutions to find your way.

Getting Started: Equipment to Consider

Originally, Parkour was barefoot.

Of course, one nice feature about shoes is the protection of the feet. A tennis shoe should give better traction. Shoes for martial arts are popular for being close to being barefoot. You will want a shoe which is light, comfortable, flexible with a good grip on the ground. Consider snow, rain and sun too, Parkour goes well with the great outdoors.

You could look at wearing gloves to protect your hands. But, like shoes, Parkour doesn’t require any special gear.

You need fabric that can stretch and let your skin breathe, light, casual clothing which you can really move in and sweat in. It’s also important to avoid clothing which could get caught or snag on anything and slow you down or cause you injury.

Parkour Links

 

White Chocolate Cheesecake

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

8 oz. melted white chocolate

3 lb. cream cheese

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. flour

6 eggs

1 c. heavy cream

1 tbsp. vanilla

Grease a 10-inch springform pan. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place cream cheese, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl and add melted white chocolate. While mixer is running on very low speed, slowly add vanilla and heavy cream, blend well.

Pour mixture into springform pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until center of cheesecake is just firm. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate until set before removing from pan.

SAUCE FOR TOPPING:

1 c. heavy cream

2 c. white chocolate, finely chopped

2 oz. orange liqueur Triple Sec

Place heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over white chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until melted. Add orange liqueur and continue stirring until well mixed. Pour warm over chilled cheesecake and serve.

via Cooks.com – Recipe – White Chocolate Cheesecake.

Chrome Daisy

There’s a Lady Gaga theme on Facebook games ( a few of them) now. I had never heard of her until my Mom came back from Florida and was talking about her last year. Mom likes to was the American Idol show and Lady Gaga was on there as well. She’s younger than I thought. Anyway, I liked the idea of shiny, chrome daisies when I saw them come up with the new stuff on Facebook. Daisies are nice in all kinds of designs. I especially like them done in blue and white. Chrome would be pretty too, more glamorous than pretty maybe.

I also found that you can get chrome daisy styled tail light covers if you have a VW Beetle car. That would be pretty cute. Though they would suit the head lights better, since they could be white then instead of red. But, it could be less than safe to have anything partially covering your head lights.

Russian Cake for Mother’s Day

I’m going to try making this Simple Cake with Sour Cream Frosting for Mother’s Day. I like it because I can still do my decorating idea on top, not using the crumbs as they do in the recipe but my own plan. Plus, it is an overnight cake, the kind that you put in the fridge overnight and it is even better for having the extra time to meld and merge ingredients.

Ingredients:

Cake:
3.5oz of butter. melted
2 eggs
14 oz of sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
0.5 cup of all purpose flour
1-1.5 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
White vinegar, about 1 tablespoon

Frosting:
20-25oz of original sour cream
0.3 cup of sugar

Add eggs to melted butter in a mixer bowl and beat together on slow speed with wire attachement, just until mixed, then slowly add melted butter cooled till room temperature.
Continue mixing until well incorporated.
Mix in sweetened condensed milk.
Turn mixer off. Put a teaspoon of baking sode into bigger tablespoon and sprinkle with white vinegar, then fast pour bubbled soda to the batter.
If there is still soda powder left in the spoon repeat sprinkling it with vinegar until it is all done.
Start mixer on slow speed and slowly mix in all flour, spoon by spoon. Continue mixing until batter is homogenous.
Preheat oven till 350F. Pour about half of batter to the springform greased with butter.
Put springform to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (start checking it with a wooden toothpick at about 15th minute: pierce it till the bottom, if toothpick comes out clean then light cake layer is ready).
Take springform from the oven (but don’t turn heat off, you will need it again), let it cool a bit, then carefully get light cake layer put and put a side to cool down.
While springform is cooling down, mix about 1 table spoon of cocoa powder to the rest of batter in mixer bowl until well incorporated.
Clean springform with paper towel and grease it again with butter; pour there all of the batter and put springform to the oven.
Bake dark cake layer for 15-20 mins on 350F until ready (again try with wooden toothpick). Then remove springform from the oven and remove cake from the springform; set it aside and let it cool down till room temperature. Now you can turn heat in oven off.
Then cut both cakes in equal halves using a long knife.
Now it is time to prepare frosting. For this pour sour cream into deep bowl and add sugar.
Mix them together until sugar dissolves completely.
Arrange bottom part of dark cake in the middle of the cake stand or big flat plate.
Spread sour cream on the cake layer using frosting spatula.
Piece bottom part of light cake layer with a fork in several places from both sides.
Arrange it over the black layer on the cake stand.
Spread a layer of sour cream on top.
Pierce left part of black cake with a fork the same way you did before with white one.
Put it on top,
And again cover with a layer of sour cream.
Pierce last part of white cake with a fork from both sides and put it on top.
Cover with layer of sour cream again.
Using spatula spread sour cream on the sides of the cake. Remove redundant cream from the bottom of the stand with spoon, wipe stand with paper towel if needed.
Put cake to the fridge for several hours, 6-8 hours are good for layers to soak sour cream. After that is ready, slice it up and enjoy.

Nobody Does it Better

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby you’re the best

I wasn’t looking
But somehow you found me
I tried to hide from your love light
But like heaven above me
The spy who loved me
Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight

And nobody does it better
Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why’d you have to be so good

The way that you hold me
Whenever you hold me
There’s some kind of magic inside you
That keeps me from running
But just keep it coming
How’d you learn to do the things you do

And nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, baby, darling you’re the best

Baby you’re the best

Do you remember Carly Simon singing this one as the James Bond theme for The Spy who Loved Me? It’s stuck in my head tonight.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I made pumpkin spice muffins today. They are cooking for about another 10 minutes. I even followed the recipe, except I added an extra egg when the batter was dry (I didn’t use pumpkin because I had a winter squash already done and ready to go). I’m not planning to make the icing for them.

Ingredients

1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnut halves
2 eggs
3/4 cup (175 mL) canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup (50 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

Maple Cream Cheese Spread:
1/2 pkg (8oz/250 g pkg) cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp (15 mL) icing sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
1/4 tsp (1 mL) vanilla

Preparation:

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon,
baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves and nutmeg; mix in 1/4 cup (50 mL)
of the walnuts.

In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree oil and vanilla;
pour over dry ingredients. Stir just until dry ingredients are
moistened.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Bake
in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven until golden and tops are firm to the
touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes.
Transfer to rack; let cool. (Make-ahead: Store in airtight container
at room temperature for up to 2 days or wrap each in plastic wrap and
freeze in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

Maple Cream Cheese Spread: In bowl, beat cream cheese until light;
beat in icing sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until blended.
(Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) Serve muffins
with spread.