As the days grow shorter and we head closer to the longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, I can think of no better way to bring a bit of warmth and cheer to the house than to force a few bulbs. Above are some paper whites I started last week. The photo is nearly a week old, so these little guys are now on the verge of blooming as I type this post. I'll include a photo of their blooms in my next post.
I try to plant a few bulbs each week, so I'll have several weeks of blooms during the bleakest part of winter. I've also planted some amaryllis. As I mentioned in my last post about budget-friendly wrapping ideas, I'm on a tight budget this year, so all my Christmas decorations must be beautiful while costing next to nothing. At a buck a bulb, or less, paper whites fit the bill for me. They last days and days, smell beautiful, and you only need a few to make a big splash. In fact, nothing is lovelier than a single paper white sheltered by a glass hurricane chimney or an "upcycled" jam jar! You don't even need soil to force paper whites--just a shallow bowl or lipped tray and some water. Keep the roots (not the bulbs) well watered in indirect sunlight, and you'll have blooms in 2-3 weeks.
I'll be sharing several more ideas for celebrating the holidays on a budget, and I welcome you to share yours here, too! I loved hearing about your gift wrap ideas in the last post. Special thanks to my friend Sande, who featured my wrapping post at her exquisite blog, A Gift Wrapped Life. Sande inspires me every week with her creativity and her eye for beauty, so I was honored that she shared my much more humble efforts on her beautiful site.
Finally, I know that as special as the holidays are, they can also be a difficult time for many folks. I've certainly had years when I just wanted to draw the curtains and sleep through Christmas. If you are having a tough time this year, please know there are always people who care. The expectations surrounding the winter holidays can just be too much to bear, especially during tough economic times. This year, some of my friends have been counting their blessings each day on their blogs or on Facebook. I think rather than expecting so much from myself (or others) this Christmas, I am just going to count my own blessings, and then share some of them with those who have too few to count.