Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We Interrupted the Spring Preview Program to Bring

 Winter!. It finally arrived here on March 14 with the first measurable snow for the winter season.
I thought I might give you a before, during and after to our brush with winter.
 On March 9 the forsythia was out in bloom and branches cut to bring inside needed no forcing.
 Daffodils had begun to bloom in various locations in my garden. This bunch was gathered to bring indoors on March 10 because the weather forecast was for below freezing for several days.
 The weather forecasters were whipping us all into a frenzy with seemingly days of reporting that the storm was on its way and would bring us anywhere from 8" to 14" of snow. Here it was finally beginning to fall around sundown on Monday March 13.
 In preparing for the big storm I felt so sorry for my cherry trees that looked as though they were about to burst forth into full spring bloom. The low temperatures would not be kind to them. I decided to cut a small branch and bring it inside to see if it could be "forced" as forsythia regularly is. As you can see, Tuesday morning required  the snow shoveling crew. In reality we got only about 3" of snow but it was wet, heavy and nasty to shovel. That one little branch from the cherry tree gave us a glimpse of spring and kept our spirits up.
 Once the falling snow stopped I open windows or doors and stepped briefly out to record a few images.
 I had picked daffodils from this location only five days previous.
 As you can see spring had been well on its way and the under-story plants in the woods were already wearing their new green leaves.
 The twig picked in bud on the 13th had opened up to the white blooms by the 17th.
 And, by the 20th that same branch had taken on the mature pink hue.
 Today, the 22nd, is a bright, sunny, blustery day. Those daffodils are once more blooming.
 The cherry tree out front finally had blossoms open up this morning. But as you can see some of the buds have been impacted by the cold weather and will likely not bloom at all.
Nature does give us hope though. Today I found the first buds on the bluebells.You can see that the leaves have been somewhat burnt of the cold winds but the buds are there despite that.

Since the Spring Equinox was this past Monday, March 20 I do so hope we have only spring ahead of us. I was amused to read someone's line wondering if March came in like a lion and out like a lamb or if it was the other way round. Instead, the writer commented, March is more like a kangaroo this year!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Nothing Special Happening Here

Except that I have an hour or so free and decided to finally put a new blog post up.
 Here in the mid-Atlantic region we have been having an unusual winter with very warm temperatures and practically no snow. Last weekend I was out of town and as I drove into the neighborhood on Sunday late afternoon I immediately noticed that the ornamental plum tree in my front garden was awash in pink blooms.The past couple of nights have been not so warm so I decided to cut a small branch to bring inside to enjoy.
 A tomato red bouquet from a few weeks back.
Do you know how many petals a tulip has? That was a question this week at the Trivia night we go to each Wednesday evening. Keep reading to find the answer and see if you would have scored one correct.
 On Valentines Day I had big plans to spend the day photographing various red flowers. Alas, there were other things on the "to do" list but while out on the errands I did get handed this one red carnation so I decided to put it to work as a prop once I got home again.
 I had five lovely red gerbera daisies that I used as my subject for many days.
 The hellebores on the side shade garden stayed resolutely without bloom up until this week. I guess this year they did decide to be a Lenten Rose and not a Christmas Rose or a Winter Rose which are other common names for them.
 Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. The in-house chef came right in from the office , cast off his jacket and tie, and mixed up the ingredients for some very tasty crepes. He had two pans going and it was not easy to photograph him as he was constantly pouring and flipping.
 Some of the crepes got turned into dessert with a spread of jam, a roll up and then a garnish of whipped cream with a sprinkle of orange peel and a final dusting of powdered sugar. Delicious!
 This is a different hellebore. I thought I had lost this plant last winter and I was delighted to see it make a comeback this winter. Only one bloom that I can find but it is gorgeous.
This afternoon, having a little time on my hands, I actually took the chance to tie on my own apron and make some oatmeal raisin cookies. Here they are waiting to slide into the oven.
And to close out I have One Last Hurrah from the red gerberas. They should have been tossed out many days ago. When I did remove them from the vase on Wednesday I firstly laid them down on the counter top while I reached for the compost bowl. Then I noticed the wonderful reflection they made in the granite top so could not resist trying to capture that moment. I surely got value out of these red flowers for Valentines Day.

So, how many petals does a tulip have? The correct answer is six. We guessed wrong.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on January 6

 Today, whether you think of it as Epiphany, Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night, marks the end of the Christmas season and thus, the end of my Preserving the Spirit of Christmas series. I have had a lot of fun trying to create my posts and I hope you have enjoyed following along.
 Back at the beginning when a list was being made of different things to focus on each day "snowflakes" was written down in the expectation that we would surely have some of them. Last night finally came the prediction of snow - and this morning came the reality of the very light dusting. Not even enough to make a good photograph. Oh well.
 The ornaments on the front porch Christmas tree got changed out in the hope that it can remain out there for a few more weeks yet with a new title of winter tree.
 Downstairs I had to resort to setting up a winter vignette.
 The time for over-indulging in holiday candy is nigh but
 the hot drinks season will continue for a few weeks yet.
It's time to pack away the decorations and tidy up ready to move on to a new topic. What will that be? Maybe we will finally get some snowflakes! Watch this space.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on January 2

 On the Eighth Day of Christmas it is New Years Day. From the kitchen we had a very tasty pork roast with apple sauce, risotto and a warm kale salad with sweet potato garnished with pomegranate seeds.
However, this post is intended to be all about what we drink at this festive time of the year. With that in mind you might notice that we had a pleasant pinot noir with dinner.
 Hot cider warms both body and soul and is good for dunking cinnamon pretzels in too.
 Mulled wine was tried at home...alas, no appropriate drinking cups for it
 And again when we were invited out to spend the evening with friends. Note to self, watch out for punch sets at barn sales and second hand stores.
 Around December 25th it was good to sit down for a quiet cup of afternoon tea and the chance to reread some Christmas cards.
 Hot chocolate with all the trimmings - just what you need when the weather turns cold.
And for a cold drink well, you can't beat the Real Thing, available for a short time only in this seasonal can.

The Spirit of Christmas continues.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 31

 In a quest to preserve the spirit of Christmases past number 1 son and I laced up our walking shoes, got ourselves a smartrip card and headed into Washington DC to see the sights of Christmas - something we have not done in several years.
 We took the metro and got off at Union Station. The tree gifted to the people of Washington to symbolize the friendship between Norway and the USA is always a grand sight against the wonderful backdrop of Union Station.
 From Union Station we strolled briskly down Delaware Avenue to the North facade of the US Capitol.
 On the western side of the Capitol building they have been hard at work for several weeks now preparing for the upcoming Presidential Inauguration.
 Next stop was the Botanic Gardens where we had hoped to see the model train exhibit but the line of people waiting to get in (estimate was a one hour wait) was offputting so we headed into the main front spaces of the Conservatory where the display, Seasons Greenings, is a delightful mix of models of many of Washington's most iconic buildings created using plant materials by Applied Imagination from Kentucky. The choice of the theme was in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
 Okay, who knows what this tree is? It is real - and amazing. It is a Theobroma Cacao plant aka the chocolate tree.
 Walking out of the Conservatory we decided to ditch the plan to metro down to the Ellipse and to instead walk  down the National Mall.
 Alongside the National Gallery of Art I was intrigued by a structure which I first thought was an outdoor sculpture. But once I spotted a large logo for AT&T I realized it was more preparations for the upcoming inauguration.
 Arriving at the intersection of 14th and Constitution you cannot miss the very newest of the Smithsonian Museums, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is a very intriguing sight from the outside as it appears as a see-through facade. Opening in late September this year it is still very difficult to get tickets to see inside because of the popularity of the Museum so we contented ourselves with the outdoor view before heading off to our final destination, the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in front of the White House.
 Washington DC is always refreshing, rebuilding, renovating and more so trying to get the best views (and photographs) is often challenging. When we first got a glimpse of the tree it was behind a large fenced off area and looked a little insignificant. But by the time we skirted around the fence and got closer the lights had been turned on. Like the museum we had just walked past, this tree also has a see-through facade - in this instance a tight weave of the electrical cords holding the vast number of blue and white lights.
 True to tradition, the Volunteers of the National Christmas Tree Railroad, have again delighted us all with many trains chugging to and fro around the tree.
 By now we were getting weary so we headed up 17th Street seeking the Farragut West metro station. Along the way we passed by the PNC Place building with it's very simple symbol of the season. Finding the entrance to the station took some sleuthing (we are not frequent metro riders) but we made it and settled our tired bodies into the seat for the ride home.
Our closeout view for the outing was this portion of the display at Reston Station, outside the terminus on the silver line.

Lastly I do apologise if you have visited here on the past few even dates looking for my posts. We made a short notice overnight trip on Monday and came home on Tuesday to be welcomed by water dripping from the ceiling (fortunately it started after we arrived home). But it seems the balance of the week has been taken up with moving things out of the way and waiting on various tradesmen to attend to the situation. There are two more themed posts still to come in this series intended to Preserve the Spirit of Christmas so keep checking back to see what else I have in store.

Happy New Year to all - may it be a happy, healthy, safe and more uplifting one than 2016 has been.