SPOTTED: Familiar Springtime Faces… and side-dishes.

SPOTTED: Familiar Springtime Faces... and side-dishes. | StayingSouthern.net

Viola tricolor or Johnny Jump Up

There’s nothing like a relentless winter to make me leap for joy when I finally spot a couple of tiny, familiar springtime faces in the yard.

As pretty as the flowers are, Johnny Jump Ups make a tasty little treat, too. Members of the same perennial family such as sweet violets, violas and pansies are edible as well. The most common way to integrate the colorful blooms into a meal is as a garnish or in a salad. They also make delicious spreadsjellies and even vinegar. Sweet violets (Viola odorata) can be used in tea, syrup and cakes or even candied.  While the sweet violet flowers taste slightly perfumed, their leaves are tart.

 Johnny Jump Ups have even been known to treat epilepsy, asthma and eczema.

For best flavor, harvest newly bloomed flowers in the morning. This is when the oils are most concentrated and blooms look their best. The more you harvest, the more flowers will grow.

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A Wyoming take on “Virginia’s Holiday Finest”

I am crazy about seasonal wreaths. My taste swings back and fourth between simplistic and “more is better” depending on the season and my resources at the time.

Resources? Yes, resources. See, I’m a stern penny pincher. Most of what I use to make my front door décor is stuff I have hoarded away in my “craft closet” for the last couple of years I have actually had an extra closet in my house.

If I need something that’s not in the ribbon-and-glitter-packed closet, I scour the clearance aisles at places like WalMart and Tuesday Morning.

I picked up this sweet little autumn-themed gem at WalMart for $1.99 with the intention of using it for parts during my next crafting frenzy.

Look for "red-tagged" items on the clearance aisle.

Look for “red-tagged” items on the clearance aisle.

Then, I fell in love with this wreath in Southern Living:

Southern Living magazine is where I turn to for a great deal of my Southern inspiration.

Southern Living magazine is where I turn to for a great deal of my Southern inspiration.

I love when my go-to sources for Southern style blend masculine aspects of the outdoors with charming regional classics. It’s a balance I’m always trying to strike since my husband would put antlers on everything if I agreed to it.

To achieve my rendition of “Virginia’s Holiday Finest,” I had to improvise. Living in Wyoming at the time, I had no access to on-the-stem cotton. I did, however, have pheasant feathers from a friend’s recent hunt, conifer boughs and whitetail deer antlers.

I dismantled the bargain wreath. I added spruce boughs from our Christmas tree, artificial berries (and a faux bird) my office was discarding from past holiday decorations, spruce cones from my yard and a pair of shed antlers I found ages ago hanging in a sage brush.

This was the final product:

Wyoming offers similar, if not the same, materials necessary to make up this cheery holiday porch decor.

Wyoming offers similar, if not the same, materials necessary to make up this cheery holiday porch decor.

The wreath brought a big smile to my face every time I walked up to my front door. It reminded me that even though I may be far from my Southern home, a few touches and a little effort here and there will make it seem a little closer.