A quick primer on floppy tulip syndrome just in time for Valentine’s Day


Don’t want your tulips flopping over in the vase? Here’s the quick skinny on what to do.

Buy good quality tulips – buds tightly closed, brightly colored, without any fraying on the edges.  Protect them from extreme cold or heat on the trip home. Don’t leave them sitting in the car while you’re running errands.

Add glass floral marbles and a couple of old copper pennies (prior to 1982) to the bottom of the vase. The marbles support the stems; the copper from the pennies, at least in theory, supports stem strength.

Arrange the tulips one by one, gently placing each stem within the support marbles.Cut at least 1-3 inches off the stems depending on the height of your vase. A short vase and tall tulips will guarantee flopping.

The tulips may look a little floppy at first, but should straighten up after a little time in the water.

Voila!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Huffygirl: How to cure floppy tulip syndrome

© Huffygirl 2012

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope


I almost missed the opportunity to catch this picture of a rare double rainbow. Last fall best husband and I were debating if the rain would hold off long enough to take an after work bike ride. We debated so long that we got off to a late start. The weather was cool and threatening rain the entire ride. Because of the late start, we had to hurry to make sure we would be back to the car before dark, so it was more of a forced march than a fun ride. We were nearing the end of the ride when the light rain started. As we crossed the street facing into the sun, I had a feeling we’d see a rainbow if we stopped and turned around. What a surprise to turn around and see not one but two perfect double rainbows. We could see the entire arc of both rainbows from end to end. Both were incredibly bright, but unfortunately I could not capture the true beauty with my phone, the only camera available. We both stopped and snapped pictures with our phones for a few minutes, then rode the rest of the way home in light mist, with the double rainbow to our left, and a brilliant red sunset on our right.

Judeo-Christian traditions see the rainbow as a sign of God’s hope or promise. Other religions and traditions have different beliefs on the meaning of a rainbow. No matter what you believe, the rainbow is always a beautiful, unexpected welcome sight; a  good reason to stop what you’re doing and take some time to enjoy it,even if you do get a little wet. You never know when you’ll get to see one again.

© Huffygirl 2012

HuffyHow: Birdy buffet


Unfortunately this poor bird is named "Tufted Titmouse." (Photo: Huffygirl)

This time of year the winter doldrums begin to set in. The fun of Christmas and New Year’s has passed and the Superbowl without The Bears is just not anything to get excited about. It’s too early to psyche oneself up for spring and Valentine’s Day is just a blip of a holiday.   That makes it a great time of year to enjoy watching the colorful and interesting birds that come to backyard feeders many times a day. Backyard bird feeding is not hard, and for

Goldfinches are harder to spot in winter when their yellow plumage has faded. Look for the white and black bars on the wings. (Photo: Huffygirl)

 a minimal investment you can enjoy watching the birds from the cozy inside comfort. If you haven’t been feeding the birds since fall, it may take a while to attract them to a new feeder. Be patient – this is the time of year when birds are burning lots of calories to stay warm, and they’ll eventually figure out there is a new feeder in town and come around. The best place to get advice on how to start bird feeding is your local birdseed store. There ‘s also a ton of information available online. In the meantime, here’s a few HuffyHow tips.

My bird feeders: note squirrel baffle and ground cover. (Photo: Huffygirl)

Start with a basic pole and offer at least  two different foods. This time of  year the birds are looking for high-fat foods to help them stay warm, so a good place to start is a suet or Bark Butter feeder (a commercial suet and peanut butter mix) and a mixed seed feeder with peanuts, sunflower seeds and millet. My feeders are: mixed seed and peanuts in the green feeder; mixed finch food in the tube feeder, suet in the green cylinder and Bark Butter on the wooden board.

Tell the squirrels to keep out. Use a squirrel baffle on your pole and place it

Keep these guys out! (Photo: Huffygirl)

far enough away from ledges, roofs, and decks from which the squirrels can jump onto your pole. Or use only squirrel-proof feeders, like the green one here. If you feel too sorry for the squirrels to exclude them, set out corn in a squirrel feeding area separate from your bird feeder. Don’t feel too sorry for them – if you let squirrels take over your feeder, the birds will be driven away.

A basic heated bird bath (Photo: Huffygirl)

Provide a water source – a heated bird bath works great. Birds need water for drinking and bathing, even in the winter.

Keep things clean – periodically clean feeders according to the recommendations that came with your feeder, and discard seed that becomes wet or moldy. Spoiled seed can make birds sick.

Don’t forget the ground feeders. Birds like  Juncos and Mourning Doves only eat from the ground.  Most of the time enough seed will fall from your feeder onto the ground for these critters, or you can sprinkle some out periodically or add a ground feeder station. (but be careful, these can attract squirrels.) I put a handful of seed on my patio ledge so I can

This guy eats mainly close to the ground (Photo: Huffygirl)

 watch the skittish Dark-eyed Juncos.

Avoid bargain bin seed. There’s often a lot of filler in the cheaper discount seed. The bags may be cheaper but you spend more in the long run because there’s more waste. I like the “no mess” varieties of seed which only uses shelled seeds. These cost more, but there is no wasted seed, and no mess of seed shells on the ground to clean up later.

Clinging birds like this Downy Woodpecker and Flickers, like the suet and Bark Butter. This feeder is just a board with a clip on the back.

Provide cover. Birds need plants and bushes nearby to give them shelter while feeding. You can give them some extra shelter in the coldest months by recycling your Christmas tree as a temporary shelter underneath the feeder.

Name names. Get a bird guide-book or check online.

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