some like it not so hot

Last week a lady came into the flower shop with a cushion from one of her kitchen chairs.  She wanted us to design a wreath to go along with it.

blue and neutral patterned cushion

None of the senior design staff could get excited about the project because the customer was adamant that she did not want any pops of color, the beauty of bittersweet notwithstanding.  When our usual work looks like this, this, and this…

tall tropicals arrangement: birds of paradise, red anthurium, spiral eucalyptus, birch branches, pincushion protea vase of sunflowers and Gerbera daisies with bells of Ireland tall vase with tulips, snapdragons, Gerbera daisies

…maybe you can understand why no one was eager to attempt the wreath.  My manager started it, then raised her hands in frustration and went to make deliveries.  So I took over and, with some coaching from others, ended up here.

finished wreath

grapevine wreath with cattails, spiral eucalyptus, magnolia leaves, silver brunia, seed pods, and burlap bows

When the customer arrived to pick it up she gushed, “Oh, I love it.  It’s so much better than what I imagined it would be!”  I think at that moment the only person happier than the woman beholding her dream-come-true wreath was me, basking in the glow of her praise.  (She didn’t know I was the one who made the wreath.)  The situation vividly illustrated the idea of “different strokes for different folks.”  It also reminded me that sometimes it’s worthwhile to give to others something we don’t like ourselves–maybe our “never-in-a-million-years” is their “once-in-a-lifetime.”  All it takes to find out is a little listening.

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flowers for fall

At the flower shop we’ve phased out the beach-towel brights of summer and moved on to the burgundies and oranges of fall.  Over the weekend I got to put together this seasonal arrangement:

cube vase with orange lilies, yellow roses, leucadendron, green berries, and mini callas

I think fall might be my favorite season for floral design because in the fall people embrace textural elements they tend to ignore during the rest of the year.  Working at the flower shop has taught me to recognize my attraction to texture.  I love the way a few unexpected things, like the leucadendron and hypericum berries in this arrangement, can take flowers from “pretty” to “interesting”–in a good way, not in an “Oh-that’s-interesting” way.  The other flowers here are orange Asiatic lilies, yellow roses, and purple mini calla lilies.

top view of previous arrangement

If the Thanksgiving color palette isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of other directions you can take fall flowers.  Here’s a small vase I put together for friends who had their first baby, a little girl, last week.  I felt confident they’d receive plenty of pink, so I chose red instead.  Besides, I knew they had a lot of red in her nursery so I wasn’t worried about red being “wrong.”

white hydrangea, red Gerbera daisies, red alstroemeria, and birch sticks in a bling cylinder vase

I have to admit I thought about using whites and greens in one of those pink ceramic baby vases–in the store we have ones shaped like carriages, shoes, and bouncy balls.  But I hate their cliche pastel-iness and I thought this new mother probably would too.  So I opted for a simple cylinder adorned with what my co-workers and I call “bling”: a silvery plastic band we wrap around vases for a bit of sparkle.  The flowers are white hydrangea, red Gerbera daisies, and red alstroemeria.  Then, since it is fall, after all, I added birch sticks for texture.

Do your preferences in flowers or decor change with the seasons?  What colors, textures, or objects are you craving as we leave behind sand-and-sun for sweaters-and-cider?  (Yay, sweaters!  Yum, cider!)

recap and preview

We had a marvelous Thanksgiving–I hope you did too.  We spent the morning in the kitchen: Lovey whipped up the lightweight, golden pancakes he makes so well, and I turned all this:

into this:

That’s a package of carrots, a package of celery, three bell peppers, a tray of jalapeno peppers, and three onions.  I’ve learned that celery goes limp (even with the stalks-in-a-glass-of-water trick), carrots wither, peppers sag, and onions’ outer layers dry up before we can use the amount that comes in a family-size package.  Not keen to waste food, I’ve started experimenting with freezing things.  The crispness goes out of frozen veggies, but when they’re meant for soup anyway, who cares?  So I piled chopped vegetables into several of the new Rubbermaid containers Hubby picked up for me the other day, and socked it all away for use this winter.  All except the bell peppers, which went in the fridge for snacking.

And snack we did while we waited for our pork roast to, um, roast.  We discussed this year’s Thanksgiving meal and decided that as long as it included mashed potatoes no one would feel cheated.  Hubby suggested barbequed pulled pork to go with the potatoes.  (Yes; my husband will plan a meal around potatoes!)  I’m not a big fan of barbeque–or meat, for that matter.  I don’t complain about eating them, but they’re not on my favorites list.  So I went searching for help, and lookwhat I found!  A few days ago I would have said, “Make this if you like barbequed pulled pork,” but now that I’ve tried it, I’m saying, “Make this no matter how you feel about barbeque or pork!”

For one thing, the apartment smelled divine.  For another, once I tasted this, I had to get up and walk around, as if actively searching for the words to describe how amazing it was.  I don’t want to overplay it (sidenote: that’s impossible) because I know some people–like me–tend to feel disappointed when they finally experience anything that’s been enthusiastically talked up.  So I’ll restrain myself.  It’s good.  Try it!

Okay; my mouth is watering again.  Let’s change topics for a while.  During the hours we waited for our meal to reach perfection (yes, perfection–I’m sorry; I can’t help it!) we plopped down and watched a movie.  This was our plan for the day: never change out of pajamas.  Watch movies all day.  Eat lunch.  Go for a walk.  Watch more movies.  I have to be honest: we didn’t go on a walk until this morning.  But other than that we totally stuck to our plan of hanging around absorbing the bliss of a no-obligations day.  It was just what we needed after a few months of feeling like we’ve barely had time to connect.

Between movies two and three, I needed to get up and move around for a while.  I just couldn’t stand to wait any longer, so I started decorating for Christmas.  Here’s a bit of what I accomplished:

The glass jars on the entry shelf hold ornaments for now, but my plan is to swap those out for some white sand and candles.  The jar of kabob skewers is a mini-project waiting to happen.  More on that in the future.  The wooden vase in the background holds more skewers with ornaments poked on the ends.  (Some lost their caps so the skewer is inside the ball; others have non-removable caps so the skewer pokes through the hole meant for ribbon or an ornament hanger.)

The pinecones that were on the dining table for fall have migrated into the living room.  Something else is happening at the table, but it’s not quite photo-ready.

And finally, here’s my new favorite display.  I traded out all the yellow and orange for green and gold.  In the past I’ve gone for what I guess you could call a candyland Christmas–lots of bright colors amplifying each other into a robust chorus of joy to the world.  This year I’m thinking I want more of a “peace on earth” feeling, so I toned down the color palette accordingly.  So here’s what I want to know.  Have you decked the halls yet?  Do you have a color scheme, or do you crave the homey look of layer upon layer of Christmas memories–candy canes, popsicle-stick crafts, glitter, and flashing lights?  I think there’s beauty to both, but which is more beautiful to you?