Workshops – Make and Enjoy! What’s Coming UP.

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I promise to get back to posting about plants very soon! But, I want to take a moment to let you now of the workshops on the 2016 Calendar. They are listed below.

We kick off the year with Floral Design scheduled for this Saturday. Can’t wait. I will share photos of our floral creations the week following.

After that, I will be at a local bookstore for an Authors & Artisans’ Event in Broad Brook. See the date and link below. Garden journals and mini plants will be available for purchase, plus floral arrangements by JEM’s. Swing by to see this quaint bookstore on Main Street and visit with local small business owners. Learn about their services and more.

However, the pace doesn’t stop there – Next is the Hartford Flower Show. If interested in car pooling from Broad Brook on Saturday, February 20th, reach out. We have a small group forming. It helps with sharing parking fees and we learn from each other as we walk and talk the flower show floor.

That’s the start of the year in February, but – wait there’s more. My annual workshops kick in from there where we “learn – make – and celebrate combining nature with art”.

For photos of prior workshops, visit my Pinterest board. We hope you will join us this year – we love meeting new friends at these events and classes.

WORKSHOPS BY DATE

February 6, 2016 – Saturday – 11 am to 1 pm
FLORAL DESIGN with JEM’S HORTICULTURE AND FLORAL DESIGN
$45 pp

February 13, 2016 – Saturday *
Authors & Artisans Valentine’s Shopping Event
Book Club Bookstore & More in Broad Brook, CT
10 am – Free to Attend

February 20th – Saturday *
Group Meet Up: Flower Show in Hartford – 9 am
Meet in Broad Brook; Car Pool

May 14, 2016 – Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm
CONTAINER GARDEN WORKSHOP – Edibles, Herbs, Veggies, and More!
$15 pp (plus cost of plant purchases at class)

May 21, 2016 – Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm
CONTAINER GARDEN WORKSHOP AT STRONG FAMILY FARM, Vernon, CT
Registration Fee TBD

May 28th – Saturday *
CONTAINER GARDEN TALK – HOW TO’S AND DESIGN TIPS
Ellington Farmers Market
Free to Attend – At the Gazebo at the Market

July 23rd – Saturday, 11 am – 1 pm
NATURE WITH ART CLASS PROGRAM with TIMEFLIESBYLAURALIE
Theme: Working with Wine Bottles! More Details Soon.
Registration Fee TBD

October  – Date to Be Announced
PUMPKIN CARVING & PUMPKIN STUFFING WITH FLOWERS AND SUCCULENTS
Stay tuned!
Registration Fee TBD

October 15, Saturday, 11 am – 12 pm
OVERWINTERING TROPICAL PLANTS
$15 pp

December 3rd, Saturday, 11 am – 2 pm
THE 7TH ANNUAL KISSING BALL & HOLIDAY CREATIONS WORKSHOP
Fresh Mixed Greenery, Wreaths, Kissing Balls, Candle Centerpieces
$38-$40 pp

December 7th, Wednesday, 5 pm – 7 pm
WEEKDAY WORKSHOP: KISSING BALL & HOLIDAY CREATIONS WORKSHOP
$38-40 pp

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All workshops are located in Broad Brook, CT unless otherwise noted above.

*The items listed with asterisks are not workshops, but special events of interest.

And see our Side Bar menu on this blog for Garden Talks at various garden clubs in our surrounding towns too.

Thank you – Cathy Testa

JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design – Next Guest Instructors

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The first time I attempted floral design at UCONN during my studies, it was awkward for me. I found it to be rigid and required a great deal of attention to balance, form, and structure. I remember my instructor was very formal and went over all the exact steps on how to do various floral design styles in each class which had to be followed in a very specific order. There was no playing around with the arrangement as we worked. It made me feel like I didn’t have the freedom to bend the rules.

Perhaps my frustration had to do with the feeling that I just didn’t have a natural talent for floral design, which is kind of odd to me because I enjoy putting together plants in container gardens and patio pots. For some reason, plants with roots attached versus plants cut from individual flowering stems, have always been easier for me. The process of selecting the plants by texture and color comes naturally as I insert them into a pot of soil, but floral design is a little different – because it requires a methodical approach.

However, I believe many people have a natural talent for floral design. They have an eye for how the parts come together in an arrangement – stem by stem. After all, when you arrange flowers in a vase or in glass container for display, you need to have each stem cut at certain length for the appropriate height and balance. The individual pieces must work together in form and function.

When I see beautifully arranged floral designs on the web, I always pause and admire the creator’s work, and that is exactly how I felt when I visited JEM’s Horticulture and Design’s website for the first time. Each floral arrangement made by the designers of JEM’s for various weddings were perfectly formed and assembled with really, really pretty color combinations based on various themes for each wedding they serviced – and I thought, their designs are traditional as well.

JEM’s Horticulture and Design

The art of floral design requires some basic skill to get started, which some people master over time, and I would have to say JEM’s Horticulture and Design has accomplished this. But, I didn’t know of them because I happened to browse their site accidentally. I met Jeff Mayer, owner of JEM’s, when I started my first nursery job after finishing courses at the University of Connecticut. At that time, he was new in the horticulture world, somewhat – but I was very new. We both had just acquired positions at a garden center and started chatting there as newbies. I was a career changer in my late 30’s, he was just starting his career in his early twenties.

Jeff and I started either on the same day or same week at the garden center. I can’t remember now exactly because that was over 8 years ago, but I remember we were learning our new jobs and getting acquainted with the regular long-time employees at the nursery.

As I got to know Jeff, he would sometimes offer me tips when I started drawing landscape design plans for customers of the nursery. He never mentioned to me that he had a degree in landscape design, but would try to help me whenever he could between moving quickly from the office floor to the nursery floor outdoors.

We also would joke about things from time to time, share plant passion comments during our daily work – and, I genuinely enjoyed Jeff’s company although he is half my age! Eventually we both moved onto different arenas in the plant world. We lost touch for a while, but we were both noticing our work online.

Fast forward to today. Jeff is a Head Grower of a very large grower based out of Cheshire, CT called CK Greenhouses. This is impressive. This growing facility sells to both to independents and big box stores – they process huge orders – into the thousands of plants.

In the winter time, Jeff has posted photos of their greenhouses filled to the brim with red poinsettias which is amazing to see as the miles and miles of bright reds, pinks and whites fill the scene. It’s incredible how many they grow there. And being a plant person myself, I know this effort requires horticulture expertise and talent.

One day last year, I decided to text Jeff to ask him a question about an insect problem I was having on a plant, and I took the time to tell him how I admire his progress in the horticulture world. He replied that he admired the creativity of my container gardens which he saw via my postings on Facebook. The bottom line is – even though I am not nearly as advanced as Jeff is with plant knowledge, we both seemed to find our niche in the plant world. And we both appreciate the differences of the working worlds we are experiencing today.

What I didn’t know was he and his wife, Mandy, started a floral design business in 2009. It started with their own wedding actually. It was the very first time they formally made arrangements, centerpieces, and corsages for a wedding. They decided to start offering their floral designs as a team and named the business JEM’s Horticulture and Design, with JEM’s being a play on their first names and sounding like “gem.”

As you can see from this photo from their wedding day – they didn’t do a shabby job for the first time creating wedding arrangements in colors of the reds, bright yellows, and warm oranges to represent an autumn wedding date of October. Their adventure of providing floral services for weddings and funerals took off from there. They have serviced over 15 weddings to date, and as you browse their links on the website, you will see the various colors used for each theme and season.

Jeff is a graduate of The University of Connecticut with a degree in Horticulture and also a graduate of The University of Maine with a degree in landscape design. With his two degrees and experience as a head grower, you can imagine he has a wealth of knowledge about growing various plants, trees, and flowers. However, I didn’t realize what a talent he had for floral design arranging until recently.

Mandy, whom I met for the first time when she and Jeff met my husband and I for dinner, said she learned the skill of floral design from Jeff and their friend, Dory. Dory lives in Maine where Mandy is originally from, and it is where they delivered floral wedding arrangements for Kurt and Cindy, among other friends from that area. They designed the bride and bridesmaids bouquets as well as the centerpieces and arbor flowers. Personally, I absolutely love them – the whites, pinks and soft rose color are gorgeous in the photos shown from Kurt and Cindy’s wedding day.

Mandy describes herself as crafty but she said she doesn’t have any formal training in floral design outside of what Jeff has taught her, and her friend Dory who has a background in floral design also taught her – so there you have it – some people are gifted at floral design – and I think she is, based on all the arrangements they have done for friends and family ever since they did their own wedding arrangements.

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Mandy has an eye for the colors and what would go nicely together, per Jeff’s description of her style. And she says, Jeff has the eye for texture and how to shape an arrangement. He is very symmetrical with his floral designs, something, which I noted earlier, I do not. This is something you learn and master, or perhaps have a natural ability for doing.

Jeff has done everything from small corsages to large arrangements. While he may appear as the master mind behind their floral design business at JEM’s, in just the one dinner meeting with Mandy, I was impressed with her talents and the way she spoke about everything we discussed. She is a very smart young lady and has a keen sense for business.

Funeral Arrangements by JEM

We had the best time talking that evening over dinner, and I probably was over-talking because I was so excited to talk plants, flowers, and workshops with them both – all the while, my husband, Steve, quietly listened and ate his Italian meal with no objections. He was probably admiring the connection between us as plant enthusiasts.

Floral Design Workshop

There are specific things to learn about floral design from how to cut stems, ways to store them, and how to prepare the water for long lasting pieces, and you may become a master or be like me, coming along slower when it comes to floral design – but I do know this for sure – creating as a group in a workshop energizes everyone attending and participating. It is inspiring to share a space, learn, and create – Thus, I was super thrilled when both Jeff and Mandy accepted my invitation to teach a class this year as part of Container Crazy CT’s “Nature with Art” class programs. This workshop is scheduled on Saturday, February 6th, 2016 in my Broad Brook classroom. Start time is 11 am.

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We timed this workshop so attendees may make their floral design arrangement just in time for Valentine’s Day. This workshop is a great way to share time with your mom or daughter making your very own floral arrangement and taking it home to display, or to gather up some friends to create your arrangement.

Our feature flowers at this workshop will be Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), spray roses (clusters of blooms on one stem), carnations, spider mums, mini carnations, daisies, and Ruscus (evergreen foliage). Additionally, attendees will have the option to buy a container at class (two types will be available) or bring their own of an 8” diameter. In addition, they will have the option of purchasing some special bicolor carnations, additional spider mums, and red roses. What more could you ask for?

I suggested to attendees currently registered that they may bring any embellishments they desire to dress up their floral arrangements, as shown on my Pinterest board. Bring it along, and we enjoy having Jeff and Mandy’s direction on everything at our workshop day.

To Register

We are so very lucky to have these two guest speakers on February 6th. There are seats still remaining. If you would like to register, please do so below, and confirm your seat by mailing in your payment ($45/pp) by January 15 to Cathy T’s Landscape Designs. The address will be provided after we receive your registration. We need to order the flowers three weeks in advance per my guest instructors, so don’t wait – We would love to have you to join us, but seats are limited – sign up today!

Family Photo

By the way, Jeff and Mandy have two beautiful children. They reside in Stafford Springs, Connecticut where their business is also located. Mandy also holds a degree in early childhood education from the University of Maine. She is a stay at home mom, and she and Jeff love combining their love of flowers, family, and home life.

Cathy Testa
containercathy@gmail.com
860-977-9473

“Stay Tuned for More Workshops! We are filling the 2016 Schedule!”

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Workshop Fun – Oh, What Fun We Had!

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Next month is our first workshop of the 2016 year with JEM’S Horticulture and Floral Design where we will have fun creating Valentine’s Day themed floral arrangements in containers with fresh flowers.

But before I talk more on that, I wanted to do a “flashback” of last year’s Wind-chimes Making Class which was held in April 2015.

Oh, what fun we had!

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This group of ladies are related as sisters, sister in laws, etc. After they made their wind chimes, they headed out for another event. What a nice way to spend time with relatives.

Each workshop attendee selected a unique wind-chimes topper to work with, which were furnished by our guest speaker that day, Laura Sinsigallo of Timefliesbylauralie. They were vintage and salvaged items such as the garden trowel and forks.

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This is a photo of my sister, Lisa. She had her husband cut some copper tubing to use in her arrangement. It has the most wonderful sound, and drift wood was her choice of topper.

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This is my friend, Rhonda. She also used drift wood and blue stones with a beach theme in mind for a special place she recently acquired – how nice. Part of the enjoyment of offering my workshops is knowing their hand crafted art goes to a special place by the attendees in their outdoor spaces. My wind-chime is hanging in my grow room and I love looking at it when the sun hits it!

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Also available and displayed during our workshop day was unique art by Laura Sinsigallo of Timefliesbylauralie. Laura is showcasing her art at many farmers markets and shows now – Look her up. I especially like the flower and animal themed works of art – That cow and chicken are cute.

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Laura brought lots of vintage pieces from bells to old keys, along with delicate beads for us to use that day – We really enjoyed it all.

Mother and Daughter teams have a great time at our workshops, along with friends and clients.

We hope you will check out our programs for 2016 listed above under WORKSHOP DATES and NATURE WITH ART CLASS PROGRAMS.

Up Next:

On February 6, 2016 we offer our first workshop on Floral Design. We have 9 attendees so far and can fit more – Don’t be shy if you would like to join us. You may sign up here or via Facebook.

Cost is $45 pp and includes fresh flowers, florist foam, tape, mechanics, and instruction where you will make a floral arrangement/design in a unique container of 8″ in diameter.

You may bring your own container if you wish or purchase one from our instructors the day of the workshop. More details are posted here on the blog’s menu bars, and on Container Crazy CT’s Facebook page under EVENTS.

Registration and payment is required in advance by Jan 20th of this month. A special Guest Instructor Feature will be posted very soon as well so you can learn more about our instructors.

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Gift Cards are Available

And, just a reminder, we have Gift Cards available if you wish to treat a special someone to a day of workshop fun this year for their Birthday or other special occasion. Spending time crafting is a great way to say I love you! Especially on Valentine’s Day.

Happy Friday Everyone,

Cathy Testa

2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for Container Crazy CT’s blog (a blog about container gardening and combining Nature with Art).

 

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What a Month!

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And what a year ahead…

2016 will be filled with exciting new workshops and garden talks, but I have to comment on what a wonderful past month or so it has been installing container gardens for business clients with greenery and festive fun, holding the big “Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations” workshop with 35 attendees this month, and making wreaths, kissing balls, evergreen garlands, candle centerpieces, swags, and more for clients all month long.

These photos of my Instagram feed say it all.

It’s been a pleasure serving you and I’m looking forward to the new year!

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Thank you again everyone, and have a Festive Holiday and Christmas.

Only two more days to go!

Cathy T

 

 

4 or 5? More Days To Go!

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There are only 4 (or 5 more days to go if you are super last minute) to go until Christmas Day.

Last night, it actually occurred to me that Christmas is not on the weekend, but on Friday, and that means less time to do my final preparations for my family gathering at my home.

The days will be busy for the next four days, even though I did so much in advance.

Decorating (done!), tables and chairs for my family guests (done!), cleaning (good enough!), gifts (wrapped!), food list (prepared!), and confirming attending family members (all set!).

All I really need to do is get my recipes and meal making in order this week, but I also have last minute customers potentially requiring some fresh greens to dress up their table, maybe a custom wreath to make for a customer to give as a gift, and kissing ball orders to hang, or some beautiful fresh greens for a mantel – or a Container Crazy CT Gift Card to give for those who just don’t know what to get the plant lover in their life.

Gift Card in PPT

To see the details of what I have available – this week only – see the PDF document below:

Visual Report Custom Wreaths and Greens for Sale

So, remember, as you rush around, if you happen to be in my neighborhood of Broad Brook, and need one of the above, feel free to text me at 860-977-9473.

And congrats to the 3 lucky winners (Kelley (Gift Card), Lidia (Mini Greenhouse), and Doreen (Wreath)) of my recent raffles posted on Facebook.

Thanks to all for all the shares, comments, and likes.

Cathy Testa

860-977-9473

containercathy@gmail.com

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Boxwood Ball Custom Made for a Customer

Going, going, …Gone! Greens for Sale, Custom Orders, and More!

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Soon it will be going – going – gone on all the beautiful mixed greenery available for purchase at Container Crazy CT’s. I’ve made custom kissing balls for clients, wreaths for friends, and have available boxes of greens if you wish to purchase some to use for your final holiday decorating, but after this week – all will be gone! So contact me if interested soon.

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On Saturday, because it was 60 degrees out, I sat at the end of my long driveway making kissing balls with holiday music coming out of the truck, and my husband facing the sun as he kept me company.

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Some neighbors walked over to say hello and cars beeped as they drove by. It was a fun day and one to take advantage of because of the amazing unusual warm weather we experienced this weekend in December.

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During the week, I also made some cute mini swags and handed them out to friends. They are perfect to put on the back of chairs or as decorations on your holiday table.

I also tried making my first wreath in the shape of a cross. It is filled with juniper, variegated holly, seeded eucalyptus, boxwood, silver fir, yew, pine, and more greens. It took over an hour to make, but it was a nice process for the first time and I know how I would change the application of the batched greens next time to look even better. It is rather large too – at 3.5′ in height. Someone suggested making smaller ones for cemeteries which I thought is a really nice suggestion.

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Yesterday a break was due. My husband and I took the time to visit the Coventry Winter Farmers’ Market at their new location at the Coventry High School. The market is held on Sundays from 11 am to 2 pm. It was a great opportunity to purchase some gifts and to visit my friend, Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie, who was vending as well. She taught a class here for me last year, and she makes the most adorable and cute holiday themed dolls, and she stamps vintage spoons and makes other art. I had asked her to make a spoon for me with my website name to maybe use in my pots, and here it is. She said it was rather challenging, but I just LOVE it!

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And here are some photos of Laura’s work at the market. I picked up a few things for gifts for my family. Her style is one I truly enjoy.

Next year, if I plan all right – I will be vending there on the same Sunday, but this year was just a little too hectic this month to get in on time. My priorities this week are making wreaths in the morning, holiday shopping in the afternoon, planning my menu for my family’s Christmas gathering in two weeks, and well – it is time to make a list and check it twice…

Cathy Testa
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

 

P.S. I use green florist tape to cover the kissing ball wire hooks. It looks so much better. Those little touches help. It will be something I will show everyone at next year’s workshops.

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Wreath and Kissing Ball Workshop on Sat, Dec. 12th

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Flyer Sq Wreath

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for all the posts this week, but I feel the Claus energy and need to share this workshop as it is the last chance to attend one of my workshops this season until next year.

This Weekend:

Workshop is this weekend, Saturday, Dec. 12th, 2015 if you wish to make your own holiday creation with a wonderful mix of greenery including variegated holly, berried eucalyptus, yew, boxwood, juniper, red cedar, fir, coned cedar, and more.

To Attend:

To attend, text/call: 860-977-9473 or email: containercathy@gmail.com.

Cost: $37 pp + sales tax

Location: Broad Brook/East Windsor, CT

Included: Greens, mechanics, hooks, and florist picks, etc. There are a few items you will need to bring based on item you elect to make (florist wire for wreath makers).

Options to make are a kissing ball, round or square wreath, candle centerpiece, candy cane wreath, swag, or garland.

Time: 11 am is official start time but if you prefer earlier in the day to have time to do your holiday shopping, please ask. It is doable.

Payment at class, but let us know if planning on attending for head-count. (No credit cards, sorry. Cash/check only.)

Happy Holidays,

Cathy Testa

http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

 

 

Thank you to Attendees

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I want to say thank you to all the amazing attendees at Saturday’s annual Kissing Ball & Holiday Creations Workshop, and thanks to the secret elves who cleaned up the workshop tables at the end of the day too.

And of course, a special thanks to my little helper elf – My niece! She was so enthusiastic and will surely carry on the tradition of this event some day when she is older.

Here are some of the photos with more to be posted soon. Enjoy.

Sharing some of the photos today:

 

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Some of the Greens Setup Before the Workshop

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An Award Winning Arrangement by Eileen – Seriously Beautiful Job!

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Looking up as they create at the Workshop on Saturday

The square wreath makers – Maryse, Renee, and Linda

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First time attendees – Mom and Daughter Team

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Mother with Two Lovely Daughters – They plan to return next year too.

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Bonnie with her friends – Thank you for attending again.

During the Workshop Scenes

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Bonnie, Sister, Friend – Big Smiles and Laughs

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First Time Attendee – And she said she is not crafty! Ah – NOT true – great job for sure.

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Another shot on the way out. Sun glaring on a December Day. Amazing.

Hands On Photos During the Workshop (These photos are by Bonnie of The Home Place Blog – Thanks Bonnie.)

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BFFs – The Staceys!

Custom Installs after the Workshop by Cathy T, and an urn by a friend – who got greens from Cathy T. Contact me soon if interested.

MINI WORKSHOP – THIS SATURDAY

Just a reminder, please let anyone know interested in making an item, I offer my last workshop of THIS season this weekend on
Saturday, December 12th.

To attend, just call or text me (860-977-9473 or containercathy@gmail.com).

CUSTOM ORDERS

For custom wreaths (as shown above) and kissing ball orders , email me at containercathy@gmail.com or call 860-977-9473.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR REVIEWS

Thank you for the recent reviews and ratings on my Facebook page.

For those who asked where to do this, here is where you may find the “REVIEWS” section on my Facebook Container Crazy CT page (on the left side bar) – Look for the “stars.”

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Facebook Wall – On left – See “Share Your Opinion” – Your Input Matters!

RAFFLE PRIZE WINNER FROM THE WORKSHOP WILL BE ANNOUNCED
BY MONDAY, 12/14/15.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

GIFT CARDS

We have them available – Great gifts for people who enjoy hands-on workshops, plants, nature with art programs by Container Crazy CT all season long.