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January 22, 2018

Family Dinner Goals : This Week's Menu & Forcing Spring Bulbs Inside

Happy Monday : )  It feels like a Monday - in the best way.  It is slightly warmer than usual outside (but getting colder by the minute), grey and misting.  The warm, wet weather over the weekend made it feel like Spring should be just around the corner, but I know it isn't.  In the meantime, I am bringing some spring inside.  I finally got all of my paper whites cleaned out over the weekend - they were definitely on their last leg.  I replaced them with some spring bulbs.  I so enjoy growing something inside during the holidays months (paper whites and amaryllis), that I like to keep it going until spring.

These, on our dining table, are muscari.  On our baking counter I have a large urn planter filled with daffodils and a small terra-cotta planter with tulips.   I have a couple of more terra-cotta pots on my office bench with more tulips.

Emma and I also cleaned out my dead boxwoods in the windowboxes (DIY link) over the weekend (insert eyeroll).  I did it again.  I did not water properly through the fall and did not plant them in the ground before winter and now they are dead.  Again!  Two years in a row.  Twelve small boxwoods, gone.  Ugh!  I'm going to install a watering system to the boxes as soon as it thaws this spring.

Instead of boxwoods this year, we filled our window box planters with tulip and daffodil bulbs.  All of these bulbs, that we're forcing inside and in the windowboxes, have been chilling in our garage for the last two months.  As in, I bought them to plant in the yard this fall, never got around to it, so they've been in the garage - cold and dark.  Bulbs require 6 weeks of dark, cold space before they'll be ready to bloom.  

And on a fun note, and completely uncharacteristic of me, Emma and I picked a crazy assortment of every different type of tulip and daffodil bulbs.  So, we'll be surprised when they bloom - she's excited to see what they are!  We should have lots of different colors, shapes and varieties.   Normally, I would have picked a mass of the same, but I got a wild hair this year, I guess.   I'll transplant them into the ground after they bloom this spring, so I'm sure I'll sort them out when they go in their permanent places.

So, our family dinners will be around these bulbs for the next month or so.  I think they'll be a fun centerpiece and conversation piece each night as we watch them grow... and I think they'll be easy to keep moist, since we'll be staring at them at least once a day.  I'm going to guess that they will be watered by Emma's leftover water each night at dinner.

I like having seasonal, low-maintanance centerpieces on our dinner table.  It makes our family dinners feel like more of an occasion, without them feeling fancy or stuffy.  I love a casual, comfy table.  Here are some other easy centerpiece ideas :

Potted Herbs

Potted Violet (super low-maintanance)

Bowl of Oranges, Lemons or Cuties

Taper Candles (these are 6")

Forcing Bulbs Tips :

Chilled Bulbs : Buy chilled bulbs, or chill them yourself in a paper bag in a cold, dark spot.

Pea Gravel : I put a plastic container in the base of the pot (you want it to be able to hold water), then fill it with pea gravel.  Place the bottoms (where the roots are) of the bulbs in the gravel, then cover with moss.

Water : Add enough water to be just below the bottoms of the bulbs.  You don't want them to sit in water or they will rot.  You want to keep the water accessible for the roots to grow down and reach it.  The moist moss helps wake up the bulbs.

Sun : Place them in a sunny window and keep the water level just until the base of the bowl.  Really watering once a week or so it usually fine.

Alleluia, Mike is home all week!  For the last two months, he's been traveling a lot for work, usually 2-3 nights a week.  It feels like such a treat for him to be here for the entire week... which means I need to step up my dinner menu.  

Tonight, we're having pasta.  At least one night a week, I need a big bowl of pasta.  It is a rainy day, so today is the day.  This Penne All Vodka (plus shrimp) is a house favorite.  Lick your plate good and quick and easy.
I don't know why, but every January this comes into rotation.  It makes a ton, it reheats for easy lunches and dinners and is the perfect thing to make early in the week for busy nights.

Beef Drip Sandwiches
I can't get enough citrus lately.  I'm going to make this tomorrow during the day and have it ready to go after Emma's busy after school activities tomorrow night.  Yum, those roasted lemons....

Tessa's Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

This is one of those comforting dinners that has a lighter, more springy feel.  The rosemary broth is out of this world.   More of a Sunday night supper recipe... on our docket for the weekend.

Rosemary Braised Pork

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