Friday, 20 May 2016

20 things to do during Spring.

Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
20 Things to do during Spring - Elizabeth Anne
I adore Spring. The appearance of crocuses and daffodils, the magical dawn chorus filling the air and warmer weather are some of the things I love about Spring. I have put a list together of ideas to serve as inspiration for a lovely Spring.

1. Create a pressed flower journal.

Preserve flora and fauna long after the fresh versions fade. Pressed flowers look lovely in a journal or used as decorations for notebooks or in a photo frame. Pressing flowers couldn't be more simpler to do. Either invest in a flower press or an excellent inexpensive way is to place flowers between two sheets of blotting paper and place a stack of heavy books on top. Leave somewhere safe and dry for a few weeks until the flowers are completely dry.

2. Make elderflower cordial.

Just when elderflowers are coming into season, this cordial is easy to make and not too sweet. To make the cordial you will need:

40 elderflower heads
3 lemons
240ml clear honey

Pick the elderflowers (preferably away from urban areas and roads) and shake gently to remove any small bugs and dirt. Cut the lemons into thick slices and place with the elderflowers into a large saucepan. In a separate saucepan, bring 2 litres of water to the boil then add the honey and stir until dissolved. Pour the water over the elderflowers and leave to steep in a cool place for 48 hours; taking care to give the mixture a stir morning and evening. (If you prefer a more concentrated taste, leave the mixture for longer).
Strain the liquid by pouring it through a muslin cloth into a large bowl. Pour through a funnel into a sterilised bottle (I find Kilner the best.) This recipe makes 2 litres of cordial which can kept in the fridge unopened for a few weeks. Serve and enjoy!

3. Plant flowers for bees and butterflies.

Give wildlife a helping hand by planting flowers in your garden. The Royal Horticultural Society has some great advice on what flowers to plant to attract bees and butterflies.

Bumblebees enjoy:
Honeysuckle
Lavender
Snapdragon
Foxglove
Aquilegia

Butterflies enjoy:
Lavender
Buddleia
Cornflower
Stocks
Catmint

4. Find a new scent for Spring.

Let spring blooms inspire you when it comes to finding a new scent for Spring. My personal favourites are Marc Jacobs - Daisy Dream, Heathcote & Ivory - Lily of the Valley, L'Occitaine - Cherry Blossom. Jo Malone has a wonderful range of floral scents too.

5. Host a picnic.

Enjoy eating outdoors with wholesome food and good company. Pack delicious food, a blanket and drinks. The British Blanket Company has a wonderful choice of 100% British wool products including throws, blankets and picnic rugs.

6. Go on a bike ride in the countryside.

Discover new sights and enjoy gentle exercise whilst on your countryside pursuit. The classic way of exploring the countryside, ensure you invest in a bicycle that is comfortable and fit for purpose. Pashley Bicycles are England's longest established bicycle manufacturer since 1926 and for me represent the quintessential countryside bicycle.

7. Clean your home naturally.

Put the charm back into cleaning with homemade remedies. My personal favourite is an all-natural mix bombs which are small, scented de-scaling shapes; great for sinks, baths and toilets. You will need:

300g bicarbonate of soda
100 citric acid
10ml essential oil

Wearing rubber gloves, measure out the bicarbonate of soda and citric acid into a bowl. Carefully add the essential oil of your choice and stir with your hand to incorporate. The mixture should hold together when squeezed, if not add a little spray of distilled water. You can add petals or herbs for colour, scent and decoration. Push the mixture into silicone moulds and leave to dry. When ready, push the shapes out and store in a pretty jar.
For more natural ways to clean your home try Forgotten Ways for Modern Days by Rachelle Blondel.

8. Read a book.

Curl up and relax with a good book. Maybe read that book you've been to busy to start or perhaps reread a series you own.

9. Visit a farm shop.

Enjoy local and fresh produce. Many farm shops stock a wide variety of food and drinks and offer to try before you buy. Farm Shop allows you to find your nearest shop and what they offer.

10. Let pastels influence your fashion.

Introduce pastels into your wardrobe and makeup. Research has shown that wearing colours improves our mood so make way for pretty florals, soft hues and fresh fabrics.

11. Bake with flowers.

Ever thought of baking with flowers? Eat My Flowers produce lovely crystallised flowers that can be used to decorate desserts, chocolates, cakes and sweet pastries.

12. Write a poem inspired by nature.

Let nature and wildlife inspire your writing or perhaps read some poems. There are many poems written about the countryside, nature and wildlife, however, my favourite is "The SkyLark" by John Clare in particular this line:

"Had they the wing, like such a bird, themselves would be too proud, and build on nothing but a passing cloud."

13. Make homemade bird feeders.

Very simple to make and can be made in batches. Place the cookie cutters of your choice onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. I find a heart or star shape easiest to work with. Mix the bird seed with a little peanut butter or lard then pack the seed mixture into the cookie cutter. Using a skewer make a hole near to the top (this will be to thread the twine through). Leave the seed mixture to set and when ready, gently push the shapes out of the cookie cutters and thread twine through the hole. Hang in your garden and watch the birds!

14. Draw / paint a picture inspired by nature.

Let nature and wildlife inspire your creative side. You don't have to be an excellent artist to enjoy drawing or painting. Or if that isn't your kind of thing try Joanna Basford - Secret Garden colouring book with beautiful pictures waiting to be filled with wonderful colour.

15. Sit by a stream.

Listen to the relaxing sounds of nature and really take time to enjoy the scenery. Be mindful... listen to the gentle hum of the water, the sight of wildlife, the scent of wildflowers and the touch of soft grass beneath your feet.

16. Visit a botanical garden.

Enjoy a visit to your local botanical garden or if you're looking for something extra spectacular visit Kew Botanical Gardens.

17. Play a traditional game outdoors.

Relive a traditional game outdoors with family and friends. Need inspiration? Dot Com Gift Shop has a wonderful selection of outdoor activities from quoits to rounders or perhaps play the much loved game depicted in the Winnie the Pooh stories "Pooh Sticks" played on a bridge where there is running water; each player drops a stick on the upstream side of the bridge and the one whose stick appears on the downstream side is the winner.

18. Watch the wildlife.

You don't have to go far to watch the wildlife. Sit by your window and I can guarantee you'll see all sorts of wildlife that you never really noticed before.

19. Visit a farmers' market.

Discover local artisan foods, crafts and a whole range of beautiful goods. Not only helping support local farmers, businesses but also helping your community, these markets are full of treasures waiting to be discovered. Find your nearest farmers' market here.

20. Introduce spring palettes into your home.

Add pastels and floral fabrics inspired by nature; perfect for creating a spring theme. Show off the fabrics to their best advantage by pairing with a neutral backdrop and tease out the accent colour. The quintessential designs like cushions, blinds and throws work best.

I hope this post has given you some ideas and I'd love to know in the comments what you'll be up to over Spring.

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© Elizabeth Anne. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.