December 29, 2016

Before We Say Goodbye to 2016

I have been saying all year that I will be writing new posts all 2016, and I really, REALLY meant it! I have so many pictures that I took during trips to London and Amsterdam, a Christmas House Tour for which I did the flowers and other pieces of the year including yummy recipes.

But to be honest, 2016 was a terrible, no good, very bad year (apologies to the book on this subject). For you see, my Mum was diagnosed in October of 2015 with leukemia and then passed away in May of this year. It was a heartbreaking experience to see a little less of her every day and yet I am so confident that she's in a better place. But oh, how I do miss her!

In the midst of this, my husband suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and decided to check out the other side for as long as you clinically can, before he came back. I truly thank God that he did. He's had many scary times since, but he's a fighter and from that, I gain strength. 

And then there is my sweet, strong Dad with advanced Parkinson's and a whole host of other ailments. He fights too, despite missing my Mum terribly, and he is the best role model, no matter what the future holds. 

So, as I look so forward to a New Year and to putting this one behind me, I thank any and all of you who have taken the time to read my blog. I have taken a leave from my job helping kids get into college, so I can focus on creative and fulfilling adventures like writing my blog while I am handy to those at home who need me.

I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season and I TRULY wish you all the very BEST for 2017!! Here's another (and hopefully my last old post for a while-just click on this link below)
Cozy Post Christmas Dinner.

March 27, 2016

Happy Easter from the White House Redux and a Quick Hostess Gift

Happy Easter! Two simple words that bring smiles to faces, Christian or not, for this holiday is a symbol of hope and Spring!

This Easter is especially meaningful because of the family I have around me.  And I hope you all, wherever in the world you may be, enjoy the love of friends and family, however you define that.

Okay, enough of my sappy sermon! Easter is also plain out fun and everyone gets to dress in crazy colors, do hilarious things with bunny ears, and eat boatloads of candy all day with ZERO guilt! And because there'll bound to be parties, I thought of an easy hostess gift! And while you're enjoying drinking the gift (I know, it's a shocker that my gift includes alcohol, ha ha!), I hope you'll have fun going down memory lane with my fabulous (if I do say so, myself) Easter post from last year, Happy Easter from the White House
Here I am with my beautiful Mum. We had such fun that day, so if you haven't read all about it, click on the link above!

 So, it's 11AM and you have to go to your cousin's house for an Easter feast. What should you bring? Easy! Grab a couple of bottles of wine, labels, Sharpie pens, a piece of card stock or heavier paper if you have it, and some cotton balls. If you don't have labels, you can grab some brown paper bags and cut a rectangle about 4" x 5", kind of like in the old days when we used to make our own book covers. (It's funny to think how foreign our kids would think that is today!)
I drew out a little bunny. I wasn't so great at it as you can see by all my eraser marks. Oh well, I don't care that I'm not perfect! I think he looks like a cheery bunny!
 I cut my little bunny out of the paper to make him traceable. The heavier the paper, the longer he'll last when tracing. Then, with my sheets of labels, I traced the bunny on each label. 
 Well, 'cause you never know what awkward conversation you're going to get into with Great Aunt Bertha (I don't actually have a Great Aunt Bertha, but I do have plenty of awkward family chats), I used my pencil with a motto that's more than apt for the day, to trace. And I need my darn glasses now since I can't see close up anymore. Uggh, age!
 Playing around with the different Sharpie colors, I retraced some bunnies, and then colored them in. Couldn't be any easier!
 I grabbed a bottle each, of red and white wine and carefully peeled the labels off.
 Quickly, since I was running out of time as always, I used my glue gun and attached some bunny tails. You can't have a bunny without it's cottontail!!
Ready to get packed up for the shindig and egg hunt!
And there you have it! We are set to head to the festivities with baskets and jelly beans for the kids, and wine for me, err I mean, the grown-ups in the room.

March 19, 2016

Flower Show Mania!

Living in New England brings its own challenges, winter being one of them. So when March rolls around, we collectively let out a sigh of relief that spring is soon on its way! And there's no better harbinger of the season's change than the Boston Flower Show!
Greeted with incredible scenery such as this, you enter smelling the sweet air of fragrant bulbs, hearing the chirps of (albeit piped-in sounds) birds. Heck, even the mulch smells good! One of my best friends, Traci, and I ventured into Boston and we had a great day followed by a yummy dinner at Legal Seafood on Boston Harbor, complete with some tasty wine (obvi)!
 One of the neat things about the flower show, is the highlighting of so many garden elements, from stonework to plantings, to just plain whimsy! Here is a beautiful pairing of tulips and hyacinths in dramatic color blocking to show off the incredible stonework.
He looks like he's about to fly away!
 I love how they showcase the river stones on the right, coupled with the sectioned gravel all mixed with the wood planking  This whole set-up makes me want to have a seat with a glass or two, but all the "Keep Off" signs won't let me near :(
 This domino-style wall was so cool! The mortar, if they used any, was so well-hidden and the wall was as sturdy as could be, despite the feeling like it was a big chain of dominos tipping over.
 I can't even wrap my pea brain around this globe, or around the effort that it took to create this incredible ball! Awesome!
 And if I hadn't had eight knee operations from my days as a college lax player, I could actually bend down and show you the mushroom stems, instead of this not-so-great view from the top. Oy!
Now that I'm looking at this owl, I regret not buying him! I need a little wisdom these days! 
The way they used the twigs and vines to make what's known as "wattle", is simply incredible!
Wrapped in a spiral, the display of tulips is jaw-dropping!
 Then, there are the scenes and vignettes that just catch your breath. I write copious notes detailing the varieties of plants, take pictures and promise myself that whatever I'm seeing is exactly what I'm going to plant this year! That is, until I get home, life takes over, I lose my notebook and I struggle with the weeds. But hope springs eternal, so maybe this is my year?
 Like this? Maybe I can build a cabana with a groovy fixture, grab some China Seas fabric and outdoor rugs? Where's my cabana boy when I need him?
 I think in a former life, I must've lived in a French palace or an English estate filled with topiary, because I can never get enough!
 And living garden walls are all the rage. See the ivy planted with the pansies? Genius!

Yup, this is just what it looks like outside my window when the weather is warmer. So pretty!
 As a flower arranger, I love seeing the annual flower competition between the Massachusetts clubs. I entered one year and got an Honorable Mention. Not a surprise, since like most things I do, I work fast and close to deadline. Not my best trait, but I have fun! (plus, I hate arranging to a set of rules:) This arrangement was stunning!
 And just check out the designer's materials list!

 Some of the classes are really tricky. This one involved an arrangement suspended in the circle, and then the interpretation was left to the designer.

 I liked this the best of the three, but the judges weren't fans. This got honorable mention too. 
 Though you can't see it in this picture, this arrangement was part of a competiton class that celebrated architecture. The coolest part of the arrangement was that the protea was placed behind and in front of the glass through cut circles. The juxtaposition of glass and materials all at different angles, was a lot like Frank Lloyd Wright's famous house, Falling Water.
One of my favorite categories is the tablescape division (this is the same class I competed in). I loved this arrangement and combo of elements, but alas, it only got a third place ribbon. I met a lady who had won a blue ribbon, and she told me that to compete in this division, "less is more." Aha! That's my problem all along! Doubtful I could ever abide by THAT rule!
 Ahhhhh, and then there is the WHIMSY! The best part of the show! Don't you just LOVE this train rambling through these sweet gardens?

 I feel like little trolls or elves are about to pop out!
 This bike with (yet more topiaries) had me at "hello"!
 I really DO need a puppy! It's getting bad, as any of my friends will tell you!
I love how the designer of this bike wrapped literally every part with flowers, cord etc, all but the gears!
 I see a DIY post coming up soon with these babies! SO awesome! Octopus using sea urchins and air plants. How easy!

 Even wedding cakes made the show! The "flowers" here are constructed using cupcake liners. Super clever! And I love the daisies planted in the Oreo-covered pudding.
 Sylvia Weinstock, eat your heart out! Gorgeous!
And who wouldn't want this cake at a party celebrating spring?
 And then there is the shopping! Easter baskets? Check!
Stunning terrariums? Yes, please!

 I spy, with my little brown eye...

 …gorgeous gardens, but something else?

Stainless steel stripers! I am now the proud owner of a family of five stripers, and also some mackerel to lead the way (since that's what they're chasing in the ocean anyway!). You can find a whole slew of different fish from this incredible Maine company, Fish in the Garden. My cousin, Eliza, owns the blue fish, my friend, Traci, owns the orange fish and I, of course, have the steel. Super fun!
 And we couldn't end the show without stopping at the super-cute "selfie station"! They had all these floral frames ready for you to take a pic, so why not?