(click all pictures to get larger ones)
It was my first time icing cookies and I don't think I'll icing cookies very often. Too much work! But the cookies seemed to be a hit with my friends. I created a menagerie with the rest of the dough. I used some Williams-Sonoma cookie cutters that are lovely but good grief, most of the animals had skinny legs and/or tails and it was a challenge to cut them out. Maybe these cutters will work better with a flatter, more dense cookie dough. My grandma's recipe results in dough that is quite soft, but the cookies are slightly cake-like and I love them. Here's some of the menagerie pre-icing:
Here are the decorated hippos I made just for my husband. I thought they were a bit drab all in gray and needed some multi-colored sprinkles.
While I was off spinning, my husband planted a vegetable garden. There's quite a bit planted in the beds: lettuce, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cucumbers, basil, tomatoes, corn, onions, yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, cantaloupe, eggplant, and beans. Whew! I've probably forgotten one or two (peas, a potato plant, more tomatoes, and an artichoke are growing on the other side of the yard). For some things we only planted one plant and for others there are six transplants. I don't expect everything to do well and I've recorded what's planted where in a Gardener's Journal so I can note what works and what doesn't. We've grown vegetables before, mostly from seed, but work on the interior of the house took us out of the garden. Hopefully it will be a good growing year and we won't have the heat waves we had last year. Behind the vegetable beds in the picture are some of our fruit trees. I'm calling this our mini-orchard, although we have many more fruit trees throughout the yard. In this patch, there are two small apple trees, a Meyer lemon tree and two peach trees. There are also blackberry canes that you can just barely see off to the left and my husband planted some new raspberry canes but they're little and you can't see them.
In the rest of the yard we have: plum, almond, apricot, pear, fig, blueberry, orange, tangerine, lime, grapes, cherry, and strawberries. The plum, apricot, peach, and pear trees provide enough for canning, the orange and lemon provide us with juice and the rest provide just enough for a tasty treat. We don't have a large lot. It's only a 6000 sq ft lot and the house takes up about 1/4 of that. I can only imagine what we'd do with a larger yard!
There's still more work to do on the vegetable bed side of the yard. We are going to put gravel between the beds, stone pathways, some decorative plantings, and an arbor to hide the view of our backyard neighbor's house (if only it could sound-proof it too!)
Here's a view of the rest of the back yard. Note the hippo in the pond.
And last, but not least, a (not so great) picture of the completed Simplicity 3893 top. The review, and maybe a better picture, will have to wait for another day.