The girls have been off school for a week and we've been on the go. We had a classic "staycation" where we went into the city and hit some playgrounds, coffee houses, and even flew a kite on the beach one stormy afternoon. We spent a couple days with my mom, ran some errands and did some chores for her, visited an elderly friend, attended a lecture, and ate out at a salmon house and a Parisian crepe cafe. Sadly, I took few photos. When I catch up on the neglected household chores, I hope to do better with my posting here.
After snow the 3rd week of January, I expected a final die-back in the garden after an unusually mild winter. Even after being buried in nearly a foot of snow for a week, and enduring a heavy ice storm, plants that should be dead live on. In fact, I think it spurred increased vigor, and the 50 to 60 degree days that followed in early February convinced the plants that spring is here.
Last summer when I planted this radicchio I was so disappointed because it refused to set heads. Week after week it would send up long, flimsy, furry green leaves that were not what was pictured on the seed packet, and didn't taste anything like radicchio. After 8 months it not only survived the snow, but finally decided to set beautiful, firm heads of the radicchio I know and love. I've been enjoying several leaves a day in my salads.
The Swiss Chard is still coming on strong.
Chives have emerged.
The mints usually die back, but not this year. They are as vigorous as ever.
Pieris Japonica is in bloom.
Spring bulbs are bursting up from the japanese maple leaf mulch I cover the beds with in the winter. I usually wait until March to rake away the mulch, but I may have to lift it earlier so as not to encourage slug overpopulation.
If it ever stops raining again, I obviously have lots to do in the garden. I finished pruning the fruit trees and though I'd have a couple more weeks before getting my hands dirty again, but maybe not!
For A, who is now in middle school, we decided she should give Valentines just to teachers & bus drivers, because it would be too awkward to give just to friends, as she is in multiple classes through the day with over 100 different kids. For each teacher she gave either a primrose plant or a bar of chocolate with the 4x3 card photo card attached with curling ribbon.
For Little K, her cards go to the staff at her school, without any candy or flowers, since there are 50 staff: former teachers, playground supervisors, crossing guards, custodians (there are 3!), office staff, and specialist teachers (library, gym, computer, art, etc). For classmates she opted for an inexpensive box of those little paper valentines with puppies and kittens on them, and she taped a small lollipop to each one, since she didn't want to be that ONLY kid in class who failed to give candy. Her teacher, whom she adores, will receive a box of dark chocolate hearts, a packet of sweet pea seeds (she loves to garden), a pocket packet of floral tissues (what teacher doesn't get the sniffles?), and a special card.
She has a party in class towards the end of the day, but I won't be there. The parties are run by a few volunteer moms who compete to bring the most generous amount of sweets. Last year it was an overload of cookies, cupcakes, candy, and soda, and there was no limit for the kids on what they could help themselves to (no "EITHER a cookie, OR a cupcake," it was: "take everything!") I hate to witness that, it makes me ill watching the kids gorge themselves. Besides, I'm working today, so I can't be there even if I wanted to. Just as well, since chocolate is not safe when I'm around...
It had been years since I went to the Flower and Garden Show, so this year I decided to give it a visit again, heading into town while the girls were in school. I decided to travel light and not take my camera, so the photos here are what I was able to get in low-light using my iPad. By the way, this is also my first post using my iPad via the Blogsy app. I've only been using it a few minutes and it's crashed twice, so I'll be curious to see what actually gets published! There should be some photos here for you to enjoy....
My favorite area was the children's garden
Panty hose, dirt, seeds, and a jar of water ad you can grow your own grass head.
Scraps of fabric, ribbon, thread, feathers, and moss are gathered by kids from baskets, then taken to a table...
Where this man with wire and pliers was ready to help kids build their own little nests.
An example of an "art nest" in the children's garden.
I love the terrariums and succulent gardens.
This demonstration garden has the most amazing weathered stumps and rootballs incorporated into the display.
Best repurposing of a VW bus that no longer runs: front part is a potting shed, and back engine compartment is a chicken coop!
Lots of fun things to buy! I tried to restrain myself by taking the bus into the city, but I did place an order with a tool company that was offering free shipping and no tax on orders placed at the show. I bought one plant: and Edelweiss for my alpine rock garden. We'll see how it does.
It was a fun show and I enjoyed having hours to wander and dream, without having to keep track of the kids. However the girls were bitterly disappointed that I didn't take them, so I promised them that next year I will.
Valentine's Day is fast approaching and the kids are anxious. What shall we make this year? What's the ettiquite now that A is in middle school and there are no more class parties and she attends 6 classes a day with hundreds of kids, many she hardly knows? How does she slip Valentines to her closest friends without hurting the feelings of others? Should she just give cards to her teachers and bus drivers and leave it at that?
Previous years we've made photo cards like this:
I usually photoshop 2 images on a 4X6 that I can cut into 4x3's. Printing a set of 12 gives 24 cards to exchange with classmates, for a cost of $1.56 per girl, much less than the cheapest Valentine cards for sale at the stores. I also do a set with a photo of the girls together, that they give to teachers and relatives.
The trend is now giving candy and toys, not just a card. My girls insist that kids who give only a card are ostracized, so for the last few years they've talked me into giving candy, too, which I think is unnecessary. Although with the loot that the girls come home with after a school party, it must be true that only the newest immigrant kids who've never exchanged valentines before fail to include "a treat" with their card.
I have mixed feelings about all these extras. I don't know whether it is moms trying to outdo each other, or kids demanding them, but the expectation is there. It's like those insideously expanding "goodie bags" full of cheap-o plastic toys and candy that kids come home with from birthday parties. It's just getting to be too much, but...
Here I am a few days before Valentine's day, listening to my daughter's pleas to do something spectacular for their friends, and as I peruse the internet I can't deny all the delcious opportunities to share a fun craft with my kids. Keep reading, and tell me you are not just a little inspired, as well!
These are some great ideas I've come across in my annual research of what to do for Valentine's Day. Click on the image to be taken to a tutorial or post about the project. Click on the name of the website I found it on to be taken to their home page for year-round inspiration. Enjoy!
Please note: while I'd love to credit the original source of these creative ideas, the nature of the internet makes it difficult to trace who was the first to do them. Chances are some of these were started decades ago by a crafty mom or grandma, or others came to the minds of many simultaniously due to pop culture trends. The links I've profiled here are simply the ones I found during my search, and have chosen to share with you. Put your own creative twist on whatever you do, and enjoy!