Sunday, February 9, 2020

Spring Is Springing!!

Image result for photo of spring with bird

Well, now that winter's chilly veil is wearing thin, and the robins are showing their red breasts for the first time this year, can finally feel spring coming. This is a time of year that really makes me feel alive. The trees are still bare, but new life is seeping into nature.

Muenster is a great place to be in the spring. The Germans have a rich tradition of festivals. Most people are familiar with fall's Oktoberfest celebrations, being almost as culturally ubiquitous as St. Patrick's Day is with the Irish! The spring, however, is rich with its own set of activities.

In the coming months we look forward to Spring's crown jewel, Germanfest in April, but the last few years have added some very nice stones to the setting with two large crawfish boils, that bring the surrounding communities and the metroplex together with amazing bands and festivities. Alongside with the heavily catholic population here, meatless Fridays mean that I get to look forward to weekly fish fries held by the volunteer fire departments surrounding us and the Knights of Columbus. It is such a fun time to get together with friends I have not seen in too long, and make new ones I didn't know I'd missed in the first place!

I mentioned the crawfish boils before, and I don't want them to be understated. The last few years have seen these fledgling operations grow from local fundraisers into big time festivals! The first, the Sacred Heart School fundraiser opens the season and they are bringing a band I recently fell in love with, Prophets and Outlaws. Im not personally a huge fan of the Texas country music, as my boys call it, having grown up more with a taste for Billy Joel and Naked Eyes (not to date myself), but this one caught my ear. My oldest son played them nonstop one afternoon while he was working on his old truck with Brad, and got hooked. When they announced the lineup included them, I immediately bought us some tickets.

The other big Crawfish boil, the Muenster Volunteer Fire Department Annual Mudbug Bash is a little more raucous an occasion. This one is a bit bigger an event that I may not personally attend, but all my kids and apparently a couple of cousins are coming to town for this year. The announced headliner is the Toadies, who I remember from the blaring stereos of my kids in high school, but never really personally was too attached to. There are a few other bands playing that are 80's hair rock style from what I can tell. Im sure it will be fun, but I think I will just look forward to seeing the kids enjoy this one!


So since Punxsutawney Phil saw no shadow this year, let spring be sprung and as they say in New Orleans, Les bon temps rouler!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Fall or Christmas Outdoor Decorating with Nature

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Some would say I go "a little crazy".

Having lived all over the world as a youngster, I have seen Christmas decorating in all cultures and all walks of life.

People mistakenly believe they need to go out and spend a great deal of money to achieve amazing eye popping decor.

Actually, nature provides some of the best decor for you!

Some hints on how to get fresh greenery...  If you do not live in an area that has a variety of greenery, where you may go out and fresh cut, then stop by your local tree lot.  When the tree lots cut off the bottom of the Christmas tree for customers, they are happy for you to collect the branches.  You would be surprised how many branches and varieties of greenery you are able to collect.  They just throw that away.

We put all delicate plants away before the first freeze. We then fill our pots with a variety of cuttings, and evergreen branches such as Holly, Nandina, Pyracantha, Fir, Pine, Cedar, Rosemary, etc, be creative (you may need to replace them after a month -but hey- they are free).

As the months grow cooler, many bushes produce beautiful and vibrant berries. Look around your yard or neighborhood and gather many of these.
Take your empty pot or urn and make sure you have some soil in them (helps prevent them from blowing over and holds water). These cuttings are still alive and will absorb the water in the soil and stay fresh longer (feel free to water it if you live in a dry climate).

In the fall, we place a variety of our leftover veggies from the garden, such as corn, pumpkin, squash, okra (we let okra and squash get large and tough to use as decor), in and around the pots. 

When the Christmas Season is upon us, we take away the fall veggies and add Winter flair.

Make a garland of cheap plastic Christmas balls.  Collect, fun shaped sticks, and branches that have lost their leaves.  I often spray them gold, red, silver or leave natural to create a beautiful tall accent in pots.

Our flowers do not go back out into nature until March, so we see our Christmas decor morph into "Winter Decor".  We remove the balls and other obvious Christmas decor, refresh the greenery in the pots so they look fresh, and we continue to have a Winter theme.
I have found that after you have used nature for your decor, and you have made your first pot, you will begin to notice and spot beautiful things to decorate your outdoors with!  

I have been known to stop the car and jump out and cut a unique evergreen from the side of the road (be careful to respect private property).

Be sure and use some of your fresh greenery indoors to bring in that wonderful winter scent and creative beautiful garlands or swags.

Have fun and do not limit your imagination!