Thursday, November 20, 2014

woodland birthday: moss

For years, I've wanted to throw a party with a woodland theme or woodland aesthetic. This year, I decided, I'd finally do it - for my birthday. There aren't any woodland-themed party activities; really, this is just about setting a pretty table of pretty bites for an afternoon of games and maybe a holiday movie, after a midday ice skating session.

Click here to see the wedding idea from Amy Wallen photography that is my table inspiration for this party. I went to the florist today to order three "pink mink" protea for the floral arrangement. I think the other bits and pieces - the eucalyptus, the limonium, the roses, even the ranunculus - shouldn't be too hard to find at my local grocery stores.

But you'll see there's a lot of moss there in that picture. And I thought that moss would be nice to tuck around platters and serving dishes on a table full of appetizers, to give a woodsy feel. And  since I live in the Pacific Northwest, with the shade of a grove of doug firs guaranteeing a regular crop of moss in the backyard, it was a simple matter of going out and harvesting clumps of moss and cleaning it (this did, however, take me an entire afternoon and evening), and then preserving it, to have a good amount of moss for my table (not quite as much as I'd like, but that's okay - I'm just being forced to practice moderation here... or heck, maybe I'll just go dig some more!)

I found the instructions for preserving moss at The Art of Doing Stuff. Basically, the moss is cleaned, allowed to dry, and then soaked in a mixture of vegetable glycerine and denatured alcohol (two parts glycerine are mixed with 1 part alcohol) for 10 minutes, then drained for 10 minutes, then left on paper towels to dry for a few days.

Above, the moss is clean and dry. Below is the preserved moss. What's nice about this (as contrasted with just drying moss) is that it stays nice and green, and it's pliable. Also, any little clumps of dirt that were stuck in the moss through the preserving process are just falling out as the moss dries, which is pretty cool. The downside, however, is that it kind of stinks like green, wet seaweed in our kitchen! I might transfer all of it outside tomorrow to air and see if that helps!

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