Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting High on Fresh Flowers!

I was retained by my darling friend and Black-eyed Susan staff florist, Shannon, to be her assistant designing the flowers for a weekend wedding party.

This is what I found when I arrived at her posh Bucks County Farmhouse!

Buckets and buckets of chartreuse (my favorite!) hydrangeas, roses, decorative cabbages,
hypernicum berries...

and multiple buckets of fresh white blooms! What a mix.

This is a favorite new find; dianthus. It looks very mossy and is extremely hardy. I kept a stem in my car for almost one week (out of water!) then took it in and put it in a glass of water, and it revived for another two weeks!! I wish I could be that sturdy! My mother would call that "gritty"! Gritty, indeed. And, cute! Way cute. It is a member of the carnation family, I least the stems look identical to carnation stems. That could be one redeeming quality of carnations, of which I've never been a fan in the least.

Shannon had prepared a delicious dinner for her family , and we took a break an hour or two into the game to enjoy stuffed peppers. Delish! I highly recommend them. Low fat, high protein and gourmet taste. I might say that my usual "night shift" work does not include great food...unless Shannon is on the team for the night, and then she generally provides this added benefit! She's definitely a keeper.

Try it, you'll love it!

Shannon's Stuffed Peppers

Preheat oven to 350
wash and core 5 peppers (I prefer using the red/orange and yellow ones)
Spray a baking dish and arrange the peppers inside
Cook peppers for about 10 minutes (just to soften)
saute in a large pan:
1 large package (2 lbs?) of ground turkey (I use the big containers from Costo)
1 T. garlic
1 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. Goya Adobo all purpose seasoning (add more to taste if needed)
(add to large bowl and let cool)
in a separate pan with lid add:
3 c. chicken broth
1 1/2 c. quinoa
when it starts to boil, put lid on and simmer for about 15-18 minutes until quinoa is puffy.
let cool and add to big bowl with cooked turkey.
Add to cooled turkey/quinoa mixture:
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice, undrained
2 c. of baby spinach
a few large handfulls of shredded parmesan cheese
mix together and stuff peppers with mixture
top with additional parmesan cheese
cook uncovered at 350 for about 15 minutes or until cheese on top is golden brown
350 calories
19 grams of protein
total fat 13 grams (saturated fat--3.5 grams)
Dietary fiber 5 grams

This is the charming room we enjoyed dinner in. A favorite color, recommended by me some time ago, SW (oh, dear, I can't recall the color...Shannon-please comment and add the color!) Check out the plate collection! I was in heaven, and Martha Stewart most likely pining .

Shannon's home was featured not long ago in Bucks County Living magazine. The walk-in fireplace that crowns the dining room is dressed with her cream-ware collection. I was totally coveting that over sized blue transfer ware platter! It was such a pleasant setting to do our creative work. The heady smell of fresh flowers, friendly cat companions, her three children entertaining us with reading was a nice break from the norm.

We set to work on her painted farm table and begin to see our visions materialize.

One of Shannon's cats enjoyed drinking from our hydrangea filled bucket!

We were creating hand-held bouquets,which can be challenging to handle...especially with arthritic hands. The design begins by adding in one stem at a time, rearranging and examining as you go. I discovered these mini cabbages last time I was in Paris. They can be ordered from Holland when given enough lead time. I have used them a good bit since this discovery!

The bridal bouquet also included white freesia and fresh rosemary!!! Shannon, that is simply brilliant! (She uses this expression quite a lot, and I admit, I think it's the perfect expression.

We used the rosemary in the boutonnieres as well. Jade roses, hypernicum berries and white spray roses dressed with a simple square knot bow of chartreuse ribbon. Oh, my!

Shannon's daughter, Riley, gladly posed with a wrist let creation. (It looks a little large on her little wrist.)

I personally am not a fan of wearing fresh flowers, but this isn't a bad way if you must!

This is the rear view of the Bridal bouquet, showing some of the dianthus peeking out! Yep, way cute.

Enjoy the mix of hydrangeas, roses, freesia, hypernicum berry, rosemary and miniature cabbage. The smell of the rosemary is really intoxicating in the mix.

We also used Lizzyanthus (not my personal favorite, but requested by the bride...) It's the "range-y" (a total Shannon term) flower that you see here. It did add a nice dimension to the mix.

The Bride's maids bouquets were slightly different in the mix, slightly smaller and identified with this beautiful green satin ribbon instead of ivory. This is going to be one beautiful line-up!

One of the challenges of working with fresh flowers is working without refrigeration. We decided to clear out Shannon's refrigerator to make room for the most important bouquets. We thought it to be the best idea, but to Shannon's horror the next morning, ice crystals had formed in the mason jars that held the bouquets! The ribbons were frozen stiff as a board! Oh, dear. A little replacing of several of the blooms was necessary, and momentary panic set in. Shannon saved the day with her quick thinking. *note to self--check accurate refrigerator temp*. Eek!

I look pretty pleased with the end result. Fresh flowers, definitely delightful!

Working in the charming atmosphere of an authentic Bucks County farmhouse, fabulous!

Working with Shannon, totally entertaining!

Many Happy Returns.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

There is nothing more fashionable, chic, or en vogue and stylish than being a good mother. Sometimes it takes becoming a mother ourselves to appreciate fully what our mothers did for us.

My darling mother continues to inspire me to do better, even in death. She is the supreme example of unconditional love and support. Service was second nature to her by choice. Entertaining in everyday life, she found joy in motherhood. I always felt her admiration and pride in my accomplishments. I, along with my sister Denise, have many moments when I need a "moment with mom" for advice on relationships, a recipe,or a fashion inspiration. I'm happy I know for sure that those times will come again.

One of many fine cakes baked for my birthday by Charlotte Jane, my mother!

A favorite of mine, lemon merange pie. Again, baked by my sweet mother. Yum!

Mother, preparing to cut the last birthday cake she baked for me. It was yellow cake with lemon curd filling and white mountain frosting. Fine baking was her talent and fine living was her accomplishment in life. She really learned the lessons of life and motherhood.

I remember this tender time when I took mother wig shopping and indulged her by trying one on! It was her recipe for simplified living! (Well, she was legally blind, after all. Hair styling was difficult for her with this disability.) I think she would be happy to see my natural color is just about like this now!

So many of the finest women I know are fine mothers. The women I work with- Connie , Carol, and Shannon. My daughters, Michelle and Jessie. My dear friend and co-designer kindred spirit-Linda. My sister Denise. I think motherhood brings out the best in us and refines us due to service, sacrifice and age.

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ho-hum to Hip!

I was called by a client to update her college graduate's room several months ago. The only start to the room was a fresh coat of soft gray paint. That was my inspiration, and it didn't take long to come up with some cool fresh colors and pattern direction...I guess you won't be surprised to hear that chartreuse was my choice!

This outdated color pallet was calling for a Restyle for sure! I looked around the room for elements that we could use. The pecan chest of drawers was a sure candidate for a fresh coat of paint, and the cream granite top was of interest as it was.

Obviously, the room had not been changed since this young adult was a young girl. It's a common design issue that we often find! Just look at what a few simple changes and a moderate Restyle service did for the room! The budget was also moderate and I think you'll love the results!

Note the outdated window treatments,lamp, and particle board bookcases. In the initial assessment, these elements were discussed as needed changes. You can see that the room was in the stage of sorting and prepping for the new look.

Installation days are always rewarding for my design team! That is when we see the vision of our design work come to life. This is the old headboard and bedspread...

This is the new!

I absolutely love the graphic patterns and contrasting colors. My client picked up this fabulous little mohair pillow and throw and it was a great addition!

To backtrack a little, this was the room with several of the new elements in place when we arrived with the finishing touches and draperies. Note that the chest of drawers has been painted a fabulous gray color, deeper than the walls. We found these inexpensive bookcases with a bit more style (!) that didn't break the budget and were far less than custom work. You can see the new, hip lamp on the floor, as well as another bright chartreuse lamp for the desk area. In the foreground is a very stylish white leather chair. With the beginnings of our Restyle evident, I guess you are not surprised that I could not get those valances down soon enough!

This is a shot of the new bedding on the former headboard! My cute client just couldn't live with the old one second longer and did not wait for us to arrive to begin the Restyle! That taupe and chartreuse certainly makes a difference already. *sigh*

The bedding is from a great collection of machine washable ensembles. There is a great range of patterns and colors and the prices are great!

Often, a Restyle involves rearranging the room. I made the change of putting the chest of drawers on the side wall and moving the bed towards the center of the room. The bed had been in the corner of a fairly large room prior to this. I needed room for the new drapery panels and in preparation for my favorite glamorous chandelier to be hung (yet to be done!), this move was the perfect solution. Note the dramatic mirror we used for a impact and functionality. Wow!

So...out with the old...

and in with the new! Never fear, the queen headboard will soon be fitted with a matching queen mattress!

Another view of the room with accessories, grommet ed drapery panels (very hip!), leather chair, new bookcases (check out the mirrored bottom doors and new desk lamp. Moving the chest of drawers to the other side made room for the chair and drapery panels. It also made the room more cozy and spacious at the same time. All of our client's favorite books and sentimental items were used in the room, so it's still personal and intimate.

Closeup of draperies and cool hardware! Chartreuse accents make the gray walls and white bookcases pop.

I managed to get some of my favorite oh-so-real while phaleanopsis orchids in the design! Oh, the drama and beauty.

A closeup of the mirror-framed mirror! Note the tissue box which just happens to compliment our colors! And there's that modern lamp to make me smile. We put the granite top back on the newly painted chest. Great contrast, and wonderfully practical.

And, I don't think we'll be missing this!

I hope you're loving this!