Blossom Viewing

Last week, I bemoaned the creeping entrance of spring and lack of flowering trees. This week, the local flora decided to prove that they were not entirely beaten. Sunday, our local cherry trees reached official “peak bloom” and Monday, after a gloomy morning gave way to a gloriously sunny afternoon, I decided to take a little walk and view the blossoms.

I made my way down to the sidewalk that winds around the Tidal Basin and watched as a relatively scant group of tourists took photos and just generally enjoyed the beautiful setting. All around me, trees had burst into bloom, with only subtle reminders of the departed early brethren who were lost in our late snowstorm. The remaining blossoms still made a lovely picture, and so I took a few.

The cherry blossoms against the blue-green of the water and the azure blue of the sky reminded me of old paintings. Gnarled branches punctuated with pink and white stood against their backdrop like impressionist almond blossoms .

Of course, I gave in to the temptation to take selfies in the blossoms, but the bright sunlight meant that few of them turned out well. I tended to have that little worried crinkle between my eyebrows as I tried to withstand the brightness of the day.

But all in all, the day left me warmed, relaxed, and with a renewed sense of peace after seeing the beautiful reminders that no matter how long the winter, spring will come eventually. And it has left me in the mood for cherry blossoms in everything. Perhaps I shall go on a quest later for some sakura sweets.

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Signs of Spring

It has been a strange season this year. Winter was, for the most part, mild and uneventful, other than one or two exciting days. But we managed to have quite a few weeks of unseasonably mild temperature. Followed by a snowstorm the week that we thought we would be gearing up for springtime.

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In my city, we celebrate the cherry blossoms, and so the beginning of spring is always marked with glee by local merchants, and by the tourists who come every year to see the blossoms. But our teasing warm spell and subsequent snowstorm brought the blossoms out early, only to freeze them on the branch. So we lack the profusion of pink and white flowers to mark the celebration and need to make do with the cherry blossom decals that pop up all over town. It’s a bit of a forced cheery sight, but reminds one of spring.

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This year’s spring is going to be a bit more subtle, a bit of a slow crawl out of grey, chilly days and towards brighter, warmer ones. A hint of green as the leaves bud on the trees. A flash of pink or violet as small flowers that resisted the early warmth crawl out of garden beds and lawns. And it is looking for these tiny creeping steps towards spring that keeps my spirits up through grey days, freak snowstorms, and chilly evenings. I yearn to wear short, floral dresses, no stockings, and sandals, but I have to cover over everything to keep warm still.

You see, technically, spring came on Monday. But it still doesn’t feel like spring, either meteorologically or emotionally to me yet. I’ve found myself mired in the quagmire of winter thoughts, bundling myself up in blankets and resorting to comforting food whenever I have the chance. Piling on down at night, and even sleeping in socks when necessary. I need a warm day and some sunshine to pull me out of this funk. I need some real springtime.

And now, the signs are there. We just need the rest of spring to join them.

A Day of Toil and Sunshine

Yesterday, we got all the gardening we wanted to do done in the front of the house. I’m actually a little surprised, as I thought it would either rain or we would tire out. We started a little after 10 in the morning after Boyfriend had a chance to cut the grass. We started by digging out all the existing plants in the garden, pulling weeds, and clearing any dry debris. Boyfriend manned the shovel, while I went along behind him with my trowel to get smaller plants and knock dirts off the larger plants’ roots to keep it in the bed instead of in the refuse. After about an hour and a half of work, we had the bed mostly cleared out. Remember, this is what we started with:
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From there, we cleaned up a bit and went for a lovely early lunch at a local farmers market. Duly fortified, we went to the garden store for more tools (a cultivator), along with mulch and the plants, of course! I spent probably an hour walking through the plants trying to decide what I could reasonably put in the space without obscuring the windows in the front of the house, or breaking the bank, as some of the plants were quite expensive. I was very tempted by hydrangeas, but for some reason couldn’t quite find the right one for our space. I thought perhaps we got too much shade in the front for roses, as there are several large trees in our neighborhood and the front is entirely shaded by the house for most of the morning. I may put in roses in the back later. In the end, I settled on three little azalea bushes, which will hopefully expand to fill most of the space.
DSCN0305After returning home, we used the cultivator to break up the soil and work in some peat moss and high-quality organic soil mix. Then, I gave everything a bit of water from the hose, and we started planting the shrubs. Once the shrubs were in, all that was left to do was to cover over everything with a nice layer of mulch to try to discourage those weeds from growing back and give the new plants some more water. As you can see, it looks much nicer than the overgrown tangle that was there before!

Perhaps eventually I’ll get my roses…

Florals for Spring

As I sit at my desk at work sipping a mug of jasmine green tea, I inhale the heady floral scent of it. I love florals. I wear floral prints, I love the scent of floral perfume, of floral tea, I decorate with flowers where I can. And now that we’re in the full throes of spring, nature has responded with her own florals.

Floral tea is one of my favorite flavors. I don’t go in very often for flavored tea, save the classic Earl Grey blend, but floral flavored teas will make me forget my preference for unadulterated teas. Green tea with jasmine. Oolong tea with the sweet scent of magnolias. Black tea with roses. The perfume of the flowers mingles with the perfume of the tea itself. My favorite blend is Earl Grey tea with red roses and a splash of rosewater, to supplement the fragrance of the roses. It’s lovely with just a touch of honey or sugar.

I’ve baked flowers into my cookies, cakes, and scones. Rose petals, lavender, and rosewater come together with butter and sugar for a fragrant treat. I received a madeleine pan for my birthday several months ago, and it might be time to bake a floral-scented batch of tiny French cakes.

And of course, it’s the time of year for flowers. I shared the photo above of a rose I got after my matinee this weekend. The theatre company had decided to have roses for all the mothers and far fewer mothers showed up than expected, so I got a rose of my own. It now sits on my breakfast table, brightening up the place, and bringing it’s soft floral beauty into my morning routine. It makes me want to have flowers more often, although there isn’t a very good source of them nearby. Some of the farmer’s markets, though, have great buckets of flowers on occasion, so perhaps I will start haunting the stalls waiting for them to have another lovely addition to my table.

Happy spring, all!

The Many Uses of Milk Bottles

 

This weekend I opened my play, and one of my lovely co-actors decided to surprise all of us with bouquets delivered in stealth to the dressing rooms. He’s in just one scene, while the rest of us are on stage most of the rest of the play, so he had plenty of time to leave presents. They were lovely and mysterious (for about a day, until someone spilled the beans), but I realized on the ride home that I didn’t have any vases! But I did have some milk bottles that I have yet to return.2015/01/img_0185.jpgI kind of love my little stash of milk bottles. They’re actually cream bottles. The brand of cream I like best for scones and such comes in glass bottles from a local dairy. And there’s a $2 deposit, but lately I’ve gotten lazy about returning them. But they come in so handy. As you can see, in addition to an impromptu vase, the bottles make wonderful storage for reusable straws.

When I first got my glass straws, I realized that I would have to clean them right away, and also that I would need to have some way to dry them standing up to avoid spots. I also wanted to keep them separate from the rest of the drying dishes so that they wouldn’t be overlooked and broken accidentally. The milk bottles proved to be the perfect solution. So far (knock wood) I haven’t broken any of my original straws, and I can keep them right there in the bottle with their little brush for easy drying and access.

Boyfriend even uses a milk bottle to store spare change. It’s probably about time for us to get coin rollers and turn it in at the bank, but it’s also a great way to make sure you always have quarters on hand for parking in meter-heavy areas.

I think that $2 for such a versatile little bottle is pretty nice! If I could come up with a way to cap them, they’d also make a lovely way to store drinks or homemade beauty products, or bath salts as a gift. And I love the vaguely rustic charm of having them out as a decoration. It’s easy and casual, but still not as casual as using a plastic bottle.