Inviting Spring Indoors

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forsythia leaf

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This has been such a fun winter full of snow, sledding, skiing, ice skating and snowmen.
But I won’t lie, I’ve got Spring fever!

Yesterday I was so tempted to put the snow boots and gear away up in the attic but then reminded myself that it’s not quite Spring yet.

Rather than let myself get in to a funk, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get me through the
end- of- winter blues.

A few weeks ago I bought a few Oxalis plants to brighten things up a bit and began to force some branches.

Forcing is an easy way to invite Spring indoors. A gentle nudge to a blooming tree or shrub can perform quite an amazing display and act as a reminder that soon the warmer weather will arrive. Even before they leaf out and bloom, branches are beautiful on their own, like a sculpture giving height, texture and definition to any room.

Any woody, deciduous shrub or tree that flowers in the early spring is perfect for forcing. Forsythia, flowering quince, cherry, plum, pear, crabapple, dogwood, spirea, witch hazel, magnolia and pussy willow are successful indoor bloomers. Wait until after the flower buds swell in late winter to begin the process.

I bet there are many candidates right in your own backyard. If not ask a friend or neighbor for a clipping. The forsythia pictured above is from my mother’s garden and the fallen dogwood branch I found on my morning walk.

Forcing branches

::Pick a day to cut branches when the temperature is above freezing. A rule of thumb for cutting is mid-January for forsythia, pussy willow and witch hazel. Mid-March for trees like crabapple, cherry, pear and dogwood.

::With pruning shears cut branches that have numerous flower buds.

::After you bring the branches inside, split open the bottom of stems with sharp scissors about 1 inch or if it is too woody of a stem, gently mash the ends with a hammer.
This will help the branches absorb water.

::Make a simple preservative of 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of plain household bleach and 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice and a quart of warm water.

::Fill vase with solution and add branches.

::Place in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Remember they need springtime (not summer) conditions to bloom.

::Change water and preservative once a week.

::Forsythia and pussy willow generally take only one to three weeks to force.
Flowering fruits like crabapple and cherry can take up to four weeks.

::Be patient. Sometimes buds can be stubborn and take longer to open and occasionally some buds may not bloom at all. But you can almost be certain you’ll be rewarded with bright green foliage.

::If timed right you can have different blooms adorning your home for many weeks.

::Add store bought spring blooms like tulips and ranunculus for an extra punch.

::Experiment and have fun!

a Dance Party

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Hannah is now officially 12 year years old. It’s hard to believe that this is her last year before entering teen-hood. It has been such a joy watching her grow into the wise, strong, confident individual that she is. And it makes this mama happy that she still asks for parties at home.

Last night she had a bunch of friends over for a dance party.
This was one of the easiest and most simple parties we have thrown. Some pizza, root beer floats, mustache straws, silver balloons, and a good dance mix was all that was required. At this age they fill in the gaps and keep themselves engaged.

A few times during the night I couldn’t help but to reminisce about past parties, ones with themes and games. I would peek in and get a little emotional about how fast time is moving and that next year I will have a teenager. I tried to think back to my own 12th birthday party. I think it was a sleepover where we watched horror films and played “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” and broke out the Ouiga board.

There are still a few stragglers here from last night. Breakfast dishes have been cleaned up and I have some left over pizza heating up. I hear a game of monopoly in the other room. The balloons are still hovering above and all is calm.

Earl the Squirrel

feeding nuts to Earl the Squirrel
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Remember Earl?
Our little squirrel friend?
He’s a grown man now but he still visits.
He’s been knocking on our window for nuts on these cold snowy days.

It will be a year this spring when Chris found baby Earl abandoned and brought him home.
He is still living out back in the big Silver Maple tree right outside Hannah’s window.
Chris can spot Earl a mile away and he even has a little “swish-swish-swish” call that he answers to.
Earl will still take a nut straight from Chris’s hand.

Sometimes I giggle when I am checking out at the grocery store with a basket full of almonds and walnuts. The cashier will say “You must be baking something good today!”
I just nod and smile.

Let’s start with cake…

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We usually drag birthdays out as long as possible around here. The day you were born is an important day to celebrate so why not do it over several days or even a week!

Although Hannah doesn’t turn 12 until Tuesday, we began the festivities with a birthday cake with friends last night. I made this cake and it was to die for!
I am usually a chocolate cake with buttercream or cream cheese icing kind of gal but this cake spoke to me when I read the icing was made with sour cream and bittersweet chocolate.
The tangy to sweet ratio was perfect! Warning: make enough icing to ice your cake and eat it too. It was hard to stop tasting!

When I came home from the store to unpack the cake ingredients I was disappointed to find that I had overlooked the bittersweet chocolate I had bought contained almonds. Chris was nice enough to run back out for me. He couldn’t find plain bittersweet but did come home with both dark chocolate and milk chocolate. He thought combined it would do the job. And he was right. It was perfect.

And there is still cake left over. Cake counts as breakfast right?

Out and about

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with all of the snow we have been getting, our days have been spent hunkered at home cozy and warm. i do make it a point to get outside every day but there is nothing like getting out and about and breaking the regular routine to cure that touch of cabin fever.
yesterday’s adventure couldn’t have come at a better time.

my mom treated my sis and i to lunch at one of our favorite places to celebrate our birthdays.
carving out a whole day together with two of of my favorite people was such a treat.
we lingered as long as we could eating, sipping and chatting before we headed out to do a little antique-ing.

since the three of us have pretty much the same tastes and style it’s always fun to peruse our favorite spots together, my favorite being a 3 story barn filled to the brim with beautiful old things.

as always, thanks mama for the perfect day! xo