2013 in Review of this Blog

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 142 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 266 posts. There were 956 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2 GB. That’s about 3 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was December 7th with 256 views. The most popular post that day was Three Easy Ways to Use Mesh Ribbon for Holiday Decorating.

https://cathytesta.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/counting-the-final-hours-til-the-evergreens-class-begins/  —>This was the post on your most popular recent day of December 7th, 2013.

Attractions in 2013

These are the posts that got the most views in 2013.

How did they find this blog?

The top referring sites in 2013 were:

  1. facebook.com
  2. pinterest.com
  3. cathytesta.com
  4. twitter.com
  5. cthort.org

Some visitors came searching, mostly for petasites japonicus, moss topiary mannequin heads, sansevieria, picea glauca conica, and musa basjoo.  This means people like to learn about plants – so this blog will focus more on plant topics in 2014.  Be sure to visit – look under “The Plants” link above in 2014 for more soon to follow.

Where did they come from?

Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & The United Kingdom were not far behind.  Why the Canada – perhaps the many relatives of Cathy T?  Why the UK – because Cathy T likes reading about gardeners in the UK and they’ve noticed Cathy T’s blog too.  Pretty cool, reach the world via blogging!

Who were they?

The most commented on post in 2013 was Cultivating a Future Farmer at Local Farmers Markets on this blog.

Most Active Commenters Are:

And most importantly, Cathy Testa’s 5 most active commenters on this blog, “Container Crazy Cathy T“, continue to be Bonnie (another blogger for CT – check her site out!), Dianne T, Gwennies Garden, Joyful Reflections Photography (love her photography work too!), and Jenny (another fellow blogger).

A BIG HUGE THANK YOU FOR ALWAYS PROVIDING SUPPORTING AND FEEDBACK – KEEP IT COMING! 🙂

Thank you to all!

Thank you to my followers, clients, friends, gardening buddies, and family.  If you are a former or future class attendee of Cathy T’s offerings, remember by clicking FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL (see right menu list), you will receive coupons for future events.  Big event coming up in May 2014 is the “THE BIG CONTAINER GARDEN CLASS” in Broad Brook, CT.

To sign up, see the CLASSES links at the top of this blog or email containercathy@gmail.com.

Happy New Year.  Let’s hope 2014 continues to bring us growing opportunities in our lives and gardens.

Cathy Testa

8 Holiday Recipes for Your Dog Too!

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I utilize a pet sitter for my three cats (and plants during the summer) when traveling. It is a service of tremendous value to my family, so when Pricilla Liang of DogVacay Blog reached out to me regarding holiday recipes for pets – and I realized DogVacay is also providing a valuable service by coordinating pet sitters with pet lovers around the country – the timing of this guest post by DogVacay could not be more appropriate.

As we have our treasured pets surround us in a room filled with holiday guests, we must also remember to keep an eye on our pets too because they are tempted to eat or sneak human treats. And also to keep them away from eating evergreens with red berries, such as Holly, used to decorate all around your home.

The evergreens or wrong food can make pets ill — and so, here are some alternatives by DogVacay Blog in their article titled: “8 Holiday Recipes for Your Dog Too!” written by Caroline on their site.

With written request and permission by Pricilla Liang, the Community Outreach Coordinator of DogVacay, it is a “guest post” I’m glad to share with my audience.

DogVacay is located in Santa Monica, CA.  They offer approved hosts of pet sitters in many areas around the country, including Hartford, CT.  You can find the link to the Hartford host site at the bottom of this post.

8 Holiday Recipes for Your Dog Too! 

by Caroline (of DogVacay)

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(source: agcrescue.org)

The holidays give us more than enough reason to spend time with our families and eat amazing food.  Your dog will certainly be a part of the festivities, and he’ll patiently sit by the table as the humans eat their traditional dishes of a beautiful roasted turkey and gravy covering everything in sight. However, there are foods that you shouldn’t offer your pets, no matter how powerful their puppy dog stare is. To make this wonderful time of love a special one for your best friend, we’ve come up with recipes that serve as “doggy alternatives” to the usual holiday dishes you’ll see. This way, every member of the family can be spoiled with the spirit of the season, and it will be completely worth it to see how happy your pooch is from the feast prepared just for him!

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(source: bestbullysticks.com)

1. Turkey Smorgasbord in a Bowl

Ingredients: Skinless turkey pieces, cooked oatmeal, cubed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey gravy; Prep time: 30 minutes

When that big bird sits prettily on your table, you’ll have everyone’s mouths watering, not excluding your pets. Luckily, with such a large bird to share, you will most likely have enough leftovers to prepare a little Thanksgiving feast for your pooch. We’ve found a recipe that creates a hefty bowl of goodness, and advise that you omit the gravy if you want to lessen the fat content. Also, be sure to remove any turkey skin still on the bird. We guarantee that your dog will gobble-gobble it up, and don’t blame us for the excessive drooling!

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(source: kitchendaily.com)

2. Stuffing Dog Treats

Ingredients: Whole wheat flour, plain gluten-free breadcrumbs, dried parsley, pure pumpkin, eggs, organic turkey baby food, warm water; Prep time: 1 hour

No Thanksgiving is complete without good ol’ stuffing. Since regular stuffing that your family enjoys contain ingredients like onions and garlic (which are harmful to pets), try out this alternative! Watch this video tutorial on how to make soft, cookie-like treats that will stuff your pup full of holiday stuffing! Your pup will be thanking their lucky stars they have a mama who takes the time to prepare such yummy goodies for them!

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(source: atasteofkoko.com)

3. Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins with Mashed Potato Icing

Ingredients: Eggs, honey, olive oil, canned pumpkin, cinnamon powder, Amaranth flour, ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda, fresh cranberries; Prep time: 1 hour

You’ll be blown away by this unique, pup-friendly combination of traditional holiday favorites. Although you might not find the combination particularly scrumptious, we promise these flavors will come together to transform into a tasty bonanza for your pet. Follow this recipe and as an extra treat, top the muffins off with fluffy mashed potatoes. We won’t judge you if you go ahead and take a bite… or two.

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(source: sheknows.com)

4. Dognog

Ingredients: Plain low fat, organic yogurt, organic baby food, eggs, water; Prep time: 5 minutes

A holiday gathering simply isn’t complete without a hefty pour of eggnog. While your pup shouldn’t sample the adult eggnog, we’ve discovered a pup-friendly recipe that will have your pup barking for more! Now your pup can join in with dognog, a safe alternative that you can learn how to make here. If you really want to spoil Fido, a banana slice as garnish will add an extra kick.

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(source: pattywhackdogs.com)

5. Pu(m)pkin Pie

Ingredients: Canned pumpkin, plain low-fat yogurt, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, unsweetened applesauce, water; Prep time: 30 minutes

Pumpkin pie is a wonderful dessert to present to your loved ones, but as the slices go around, make sure that your pooch stays away! The filling is actually unsafe for our furry friends. Instead use this pawesome recipe for pup-kin pie that will totally satisfy your dog’s sweet tooth.

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(source: dogtreatkitchen.com)

6. Doggy Candy Canes

Ingredients: All purpose flour, powdered milk, baking powder, warm water, chicken bouillon, eggs, food coloring; Prep time: 2.5 hours

Candy is a big no-no for our canine friends, but we can still get into the spirit of the season by putting in some labor of love to produce amazing candy canes made just for your pup. There’s nothing better to your dog than homemade meals prepared by his parent, so get to it! You can find the recipe here.

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(source: sippycupmom.com)

7. Christmas Dog Bark

Ingredients: Bacon, cheddar cheese, carob chips, crunchy peanut butter; Prep time: 25 minutes

How can you possibly go wrong with bacon and cheese? This simple combo will make your pup’s heart soar into holiday feast heaven. Check out this perfect alternative to the peppermint bark here, and prepare to wow the paws off your pooch!

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(source: en.allexperts.com)

8. Puppy Meatloaf

Ingredients: Ground beef, cottage cheese, dry milk powder, wheat germ, oatmeal bread, cooked oatmeal, cooked brown rice

Meatloaf is a family tradition you won’t want to leave Fido out of. Even if the delicious one you made for your family isn’t fit for your pup’s palate, we’ve wrangled a recipe that’s 100% pup friendly! This beautiful arrangement of meat and carbs will be the ultimate holiday dinner for your pooch. The recipe is pretty straightforward, but it has everything that is safe and delicious for those furry chops. During this season of giving, gift your pup a warm loaf of drool-worthy satisfaction.

For more information regarding this above guest post, visit the DogVacay Blog at:
To find a host located in our region coordinated by DogVacay Blog,
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Reminder:  All pictures, articles, stories, and information above are subject to copyrights.  Permission was granted to post this above article as a guest post here on “Container Crazy Cathy ” by DogVacay’s Coordinator.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Cathy Testa

The Unexpected Advantages of Using Boxwood to Make Wreaths

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There is no doubt mixing various fresh evergreens cuttings, snips and tips makes a beautiful wreath or kissing ball.  It will add texture, color differences, and scents to your holiday creation – but using a single green, such as Boxwood, is also stunning because it creates a classic look and is easier to assemble, taking less time if you are in a hurry.  And using Boxwood has some other unexpected advantages.

Six Advantages of Using Boxwood:

  1. No sap = No sticky hands
  2. Elegant dark green color = Classic look
  3. Faster Assembly = No need to wire batches
  4. Lighter weight = Easier to hang
  5. Easy to re-hydrate = If dry after harvest
  6. Can be Preserved = Lasts forever

Minor Downfalls:

  1. No fresh scent like Pine or Balsam
  2. One of the more expensive greens to buy
  3. May yellow a tad over time if gets wet outdoors

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To make, you will need:

  1. Snips or pruners
  2. Green florist wire
  3. Boxwood greens (4-6″ cuttings)
  4. Wreath frame (13″ and 9″ used here)
  5. Ribbon (1.5″ width used) and ornamental decor
  6. Green zip ties (cable ties)
  7. Holiday background music (and perhaps a glass of wine)

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Steps:

Prepare your batches of the boxwood greens first, cutting them at equal lengths.  About 6″ tips were used.  One of the other benefits, not mentioned above, is usually the boxwood pieces are full so you can easily get good cuttings of a decent fullness per each stem.  For the 16″ wreath, about 12-15″ pieces are needed.  The more you use, fuller the wreath.  It is easier if you get them all lined up a ready before you start attaching to the wreath frame.  For the 9″ wreath, about 8-10″ pieces are needed.

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Wire the first piece of boxwood to your wreath frame with the florist wire.  Tightly secure to the wreath frame.  Once attached, move the wire down the wreath to the next position.  You may have to twine the wire between the first batch and second batch on the wreath, but this is optional.  It just makes the wire more smooth as you continue.

Be sure to put the next batch over the stems of the first batch so they are hidden well, and do not show.

Do not cut the wire as you work.  Keep the roll going as you move across the wreath frame.

Continue around the wreath, spacing equally each boxwood piece, and being sure to cover the prior batches stems each time.

When you arrive to the final batch where you started on the wreath frame, tuck the last batch under the first batch to hide the stems.

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Back Side:

This part is optional, but if you wish to hide the back part of the wreath frame, preserved Spanish moss works well.  Heat up your glue gun and melt the glue on the back.  Attach bunches of the moss around the back side.  You could also attach felt, or some other decorative material.  Because this frame is not green, it showed up a bit but still worked very well.

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Bow:

Attach a piece of ribbon to the top of the wreath (about 10″ long).  Make a bow and string the ribbon through one of the loops on the bow then pull tightly closed to attach the bow.  This will attach the bow, and create a place to attach a hook on the back.  You can either attach a hook to the bow ribbon on the back side, or attach a hook by using several zip ties.  The hook can be attached in the beginning or at the end – because sometimes you will find one position of the wreath looks best after it is finished.  Or if you have a place where it doesn’t look full, you may want to position the bow there to hide it.

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Decor:

Go crazy or simple.  For this wreath, some simple weather proof small decor apples were picked in and a dab of hot glue was put on the back side to secure each apple.

Cluster glittery ornaments right under the bow to hang in the center.  Use a zip tie or wire to attach them to the base of the ribbon.

Because the Boxwood greens are a nice dark green, bright red looked amazing against this dark green color, so a bright red ornament was selected, along with two green ornaments.  On the smaller matching wreath, only one red ornament was included.

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Matching Wreath:

A second smaller wreath was made to match the first.  This will be adorable for the recipient of these wreaths.  And because the Boxwood greens is simple, having a second smaller wreath adds that special touch.

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Re-hydrating or Preserving Boxwood Greens:

If you have harvested your Boxwood greens and they appear a bit dry, you can rehydrate them by soaking in water for about an hour, and then lay them out to dry on towels.  Do not assemble the greens when wet – this will cause rot.

And did you know?  You can preserve boxwood greens!  Here is a link on the technique:  Preserving Boxwood Greens by CraftingRebellion blog.  Also, boxwood can be treated with Wilt-pruf to reduce drying of the greens prior to assembly.

Written by Cathy Testa

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Bottling Intoxicating Scents of Fresh Evergreens by Making Potpourri

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Sweeping up the floor of my classroom after an Evergreen Creations Class, a thought occurred to me.  I should collect some of the smaller cut pieces which fell to the floor to make potpourri.

And it was then I remembered, I picked up some mason jar covers at a Vintage Bazaar this summer with a precut pattern in them. They will be perfect.

Using some mason jars I had in stock, I filled the jars with bits and pieces of the greens. It was amazing how quickly the scent permeated from the jar.

Most people enjoy the scent of freshly cut evergreens – especially because it brings back memories.  Scent being one of the most powerful to remind you of something from the past.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension has an article on their website which states the feeling of evergreen aromas perfectly.

“Of all the memorable aromas of the holiday season, nothing evokes its spirit like the perfume of fresh-cut evergreen. Every species of conifer has its own slightly different complex of terpenols and esters that account for that “piney woods” perfume. While all natural Christmas trees share many of the same aromatic compounds, some people develop a preference for the smell of a certain type of tree, possibly the one they remember from childhood. Even if it turns out that using a polyvinyl chloride Christmas tree is more eco-friendly than using a natural one, no chemistry lab will ever quite match the fragrance of fresh pine, fir or spruce in the living room.” – Paul Hetzler, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County

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Items used to make Homemade Evergreen Potpourri:

  1. Mason Jars
  2. Mason Jar Covers with Holes in the top
  3. Snips or pruners
  4. Decorative Ribbon
  5. Preserved Moss
  6. Pine cones
  7. Holly berries
  8. Fresh evergreens bits and pieces

The steps are pretty straight forward.  Gather up small snips and clips of evergreens, and put them into the mason jar.  Make sure the cuttings are not wet because they will rot.  Make sure the mason jar is not wet inside either if you washed it in soapy water prior.

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Add some preserved moss to the top for a decorative look or to eliminate any potential spillage from the cover of needles.

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Speaking of needles, got some on your table that fell off?  Put those in the jar too.

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Add a couple cones to make it pretty.  Perhaps a snip or two of holly with the red berries as well.  I also placed one item on top of the preserved moss, like a single holly leaf.

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Cover it with a cover that has holes so the scent will release.  Add a decorative ribbon or tinsel wire and perhaps an ornament.

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Keep in a cold place until you give to a friend, use as a table setting pieces, or put in a room to enjoy right away.  Again, I set one down at one point after it was finished and realized as I was sitting there the scent was strong right away.  I don’t think scented oil is required, but it is an option if you want it to last past the holidays.

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Open Studio Days

That same day, as I bottled up these cute and highly scented potpourri jars, a new friend, Cathy, attended my Open Studio Days, where by appointment you get the valuable one-on-one opportunity to learn how to make an evergreen Kissing Ball, wreath, candle centerpiece or other items for the holidays.

Cathy called me up to inquire about my sessions and how they work.  When I asked how she heard about my classes, she said she noticed some kissing balls hanging at a house in another town, but had never seen them in her area.  She wondered how they were made, and so she Googled it, and found my appearance on the CT Style television program when I talked about making them last year.

Homemade items are big on Cathy’s list – and I couldn’t agree more.  She said it is so much more valuable and special for so many reasons.  They are well-made (with love) and unique.  This is absolutely true with kissing balls.  Each and every one made in my Evergreens Creations Classes are one of a kind.  And mixed with lots of various evergreens creating amazing textures – and yes, of course, evergreen scents!

So while Cathy worked on her kissing ball, I made a small wreath.

Here’s are the items I used to make the small wreath:

  1. 10″ grapevine wreath
  2. 2-3″ cuttings of mixed evergreens (pine, juniper, balsam, and more)
  3. green florist wire (on a roll)
  4. green zip ties (cable ties)
  5. pruners
  6. ribbon

Start by cutting your greens and batching them together with florist wire.  Use about 3 snips of evergreens for each bundle.

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Remember to lay the most decorative green on the top layer, as done with the blue berried juniper, so it shows up on the wreath.

Set your bundles aside.  You will need at least 8 bundles.  Each is twined at the stem end with green florist wire, wrapping around several times so they are well secured.

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Attach the first bundle to your wreath with a zip tie.  Why, you may ask – a zip tie and not the florist wire?  Well, I feel it is really secure that way as the starting point.  And the zip tie is easily threaded through the grape vine.  Sometimes it is easier than using the wire.

However, if you decide to use wire instead.  Attach it to the grapevine for your first bundle.  Keep the wire attached to the wreath as you continue around the wreath to attach your pre-cut evergreen bundles.  You don’t have to stop to cut wire for each bundle.

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As you attach each bundle of greens, be sure to position it to cover the zip tie or wire of the previous batch.

I started using my roll of green florist wire to continue.  Keeping the wire attached to the wreath frame and winding it over the frame as I moved to the next batch of greens.

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In between working on my little wreath, I would stop to help Cathy cut greens for her kissing ball.  She was proceeding very well and had lots of questions.  This is when I realized having the Open Studio Days enables more individual attention for the student versus the large class held on the first weekend in December.

The large class is lots of fun, and it will remain in session every year – but should you be the type of person wanting more quiet time and some personalized help, the Open Studio days, following the Evergreens Creation Class, is your best option.

Cathy and I spent 3 hours – yes 3 hours chatting and discussing upcoming holidays as we created.  After Cathy was all done creating her kissing ball, we decided on a sparkly gold wide mesh ribbon.  It went on the top with tails on the bottom.  The tails included gold cord which made it more dramatic.  This set the color decor theme for her kissing ball.

We picked out small round gold ball ornaments to attach on the needles and a few decorative florist picks.  And, we also added a new item I had in my decor stock called, golden rain.  It is beautiful, thin long strands of sparkling gold which hangs from a central long pick.  Inserting it on the top of the ball to drip over the sides really finished off the look.  We both just loved it.

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Cathy considered adding some golden bows, but when she asked if she should, I told her no – I thought it was just right and too much might be overdoing it.  She agreed.

I think Cathy will be the talk of the town, because she said none of her neighbors have kissing balls.  When the outdoor lights hit that ball, the sparkling from the golden decor will evoke the feeling of the holiday spirit, just as scents of the evergreens will do.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

P.S.  The evergreen potpourri jars make great hostess gifts – and you may be a recipient soon. 😉

Cathy Testa

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Learning More at Evergreen Holiday Creations Classes

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And I was the learner!

Holding classes on how to make Evergreens Creations has been fun, challenging, exciting, nerve racking, and more – but I didn’t expect that I would learn so much from the attendees in addition to teaching them.

Over time, every year, as I continue to expand this class in December, I find I learn something new – whether it is how one makes a bow a special way, or how a person may consider using a new tool for their creations, or in one case recently, the husband of an attendee brought along some heavy wire to show me how it can be used for hooks in the kissing balls.

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Here it is in the above photo.  It is actually used for electric fencing.  It is easy to cut, bend, and very strong.  So next year, I will take the suggestion and try to find this material to be used as hooks for the Evergreen Holiday Kissing Balls.  He gave me a couple pieces to test out, so we will see.  I did like how easy it was to bend, and it beats cutting wire coat hangers and straightening them out.

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Skip and his wife, Cindy, attended an Open Studio Day this week where anyone can sign up by appointment to make an Evergreen Creation in my classroom with my instruction and theirs (LOL).  When Cindy asked if her husband could tag along, especially because of the driving in the snow that day, I said, “Sure.”

And I also learned something else by having a hubby here with a first-time attendee.

He was available to help Cindy with the snips and cuttings of various fresh evergreens.  And as you can see, he did that with a big smile.

I had an “Ah-ha moment.”  Maybe husbands should attend my classes to help their wives. Former and ongoing attendees know by the end of class, your hands can be sticky and worn out from all the tips needed to make a kissing ball.

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This time of year, I end up with cuts, sore spots, and difficult to remove sap on my hands from all the various evergreens used in my classes and for custom orders.

My hands get tired.  Maybe that is why I have such a darn hard time trying to make bows using the old fashioned twist and turn method for bow making.

Cindy told me she has made beautiful bows for many of her friends in years past, but due to some troubles with her hands, she no longer can make them that way.  I have difficulty with my hands too when doing the floral technique of bow making with the pinch, twist, turn method.  I never seem to be able to keep in tight in my hands either.

So during my classes, I share a trick on how to make bows with a simpler method.  This is what the bow ends up looking like.

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It is suitable, and you can make two, then bunch them together to make it a bigger bow if you want to, or just create the one – but they ain’t as elaborate as they could be or should be.

I especially love the BIG huge bows on the Ellen Degeneres show.  I just twittered her this morning to ask she show us how they make those gorgeous bows which sit on top of the big gift boxes she displays during her 12-Day Giveaways.  Like yah, I doubt she will find my request in her millions of tweets.  But that would be sweet if she did – after all she always helps those in need – Help Ellen, I can’t make a big pretty bow.  Well, of course, there are bigger things in life to worry about – but this time of year, big bows are a must-do, right?  Ellen, won’t you show us how you make those bows on the show?  Pleeeaase.

In the photo above, you can see I also create tails for the bottom of the bow.  Attaching them to a green florist pick with the wire is helpful and then I just insert it into the bottom of the big ball at the end.  This really finishes off the look.

During my annual Kissing Ball Making Class, one of my regular attendees, Maryse, is an excellent bow maker.  So I asked her if she could help some of the attendees make bows which she gladly did for me.  She also tried out a bow making device, but found it cumbersome, so for now, I’m still struggling with bow making – but I will say this – I think the mesh ribbons are way easier to use to create big fluffy bows.

The mesh ribbon material seems to puff easily no matter what – so I have been using this more often.  Yesterday, I created a big fully bow with it for a mailbox evergreen swag.  Photos on that later.  See my earlier post on how to use mesh ribbon three different ways.

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Everyone seems to like my bubble bunch with mesh ribbon hung at my door.  An attendee told me she was going to make one at her house.  I forgot to ask her to send me pictures of it when done – I want to see – and perhaps she will add something new to it to share.

While Cindy and Skip were here making a kissing ball, we talked a lot about farming, property in our town, common friends we know in the area, and more –  but this was the first time we met.  And ironically, they live on the street I grew up on.  When I asked about where their house was exactly on the street, I told them – Oh yes, I know that house – you put out two big pots at the end of your driveway every year.  I absolutely love them because the plants are flush and full – and colorful.  “Coleus, right?” I asked.

Cindy responded, “Yes.”  I have been admiring those two big pots for many years.  Sometimes, I have slowed down to see the plants, and always thought it was Coleus.  So you see – it was fate.  She found me via my postings on my classes, they came here, we met and now I see a long-lasting friendship forming.

By the way, there is another session today scheduled at 2:00 pm to learn how to make a kissing ball.  You around?  Want to join us? Just call, or call for a specific time at your convenience for a personal appointment.

Thank you, Cathy Testa

Open Studio Days – Making an Evergreen Creation – by Appointment

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Photos by Cathy Testa

Photos by Cathy Testa

A Reminder.

Open Studio Days are available this week.

By appointment, over the next three days, you can make your own Evergreen Creation and take it home for the holidays.

You pick the time – After work or during the day.

Just Call to Inquire for your individual time slot.

This is a great opportunity and will be your last chance this week to make an Evergreen Creation and

Take it Home

Just in Time for the Holidays.

See this flyer for more details:

OPEN STUDIO DAYS Evergreens

Feel free to contact Cathy Testa at 860-977-9473 for questions

containercathy@gmail.com

New Attendees at the Evergreens Creations Class by Cathy T

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Meeting new friends and having them join my Holiday Kissing Balls and Evergreens Creations class is an honor, so I was especially happy when several new attendees signed up for my class this year.

Natasha was one of those new people from last Saturday’s class.  As seen in this photo, she and I were having a great time.  She is a happy person, with an infectious laugh.  I met Natasha at a holiday party last year, and I was the new person in the room that evening.  I didn’t know anyone except the hostess.

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But Natasha struck up a conversation with me and we continued talking throughout the evening.  Her personality was warm and happy and we discussed both of our businesses too.

Sometimes, you just click with an individual for whatever reason.  So this year, she decided to attend my class, and I thought it was funny when she asked me how I knew about all these evergreens and their names, saying, “How do you know a white pine is a white pine?” with her Russian accent.

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I responded with that I attended horticulture classes, and explained how I also had to study the Latin names of 200+ perennials, by the genus, species, and cultivar – AND the plants did not have flowers on them – in order to pass a final exam.  I also commented that I think it wasn’t too difficult to memorize them because I grew up in a home with a second language – French Canadian, so for some reason, I remembered how to spell them correctly, etc.

Natasha is from Russia and she seemed to understand the connection of a second language.  I didn’t have too much difficulty memorizing the Latin or botanical names of plants during my studies.  She understood my explanation, but then I joked I am terrible at math however, and then she laughed with that infectious giggle.

Organizing and instructing this holiday evergreens class has taught me more about evergreens which I pass onto the class attendees, including a hand-out with instructions on how to best use the greens in their designs and a few tips on the do’s and don’ts for evergreen care and use in the arrangements made by everyone.  Every year, I add a new one to the list of evergreen available so we can test out how they work in the designs of the kissing balls, and other items made in class.

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Natasha seemed to have a great time with all the other attendees.  And now she officially knows what all the evergreens are from this class held annually in December.

She also left me a gift – it was chocolate covered marshmallows.  I texted her later that day to say, “That’s it – We are soul mates…I love marshmallows!”

She replied with, “We are a couple of marshmallows”.  This made me laugh out loud.

Perhaps you will be a new attendee next year, or if you missed this class and are interested in learning how to make an evergreen items such as a wreath, kissing ball, or candle centerpiece, feel free to contact me with questions.

Cathy Testa

Decorating your Mailbox for the Holidays with Greens

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Just a very quick post to show you the evergreen swag made by a class attendee this weekend for her mailbox.  I’ve offered this option in my class for two years, but this was the very first taker for this particular item.

The other attendees made kissing balls, wreaths, and candle centerpieces.

And now, I have to say, “I’m hooked!”  on these mailbox swags.  It came out beautiful, and I must make one for my mailbox if I get the time soon.  It’s lovely.  Great job attendee!  You know who you are.

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The swag requires a special frame and evergreens of course and some time.  The technique is covered in my class on the how-to’s.

More photos and tips will be posted on my Evergreen Creations Classes to share with you.  Especially now with the holidays fast approaching.

But in the meantime, if you are local and wish to join a day class tomorrow, December 10th, 12:30 to 2:00 pm, contact me at 860-977-9473.  Location:  Senior Center in Broad Brook, CT.

Stay Tuned,

Cathy Testa

P.S.  You do not need to be a senior to attend the class noted above.  Thank you.

Evergreens Creations Class at the East Windsor Senior Center on Tuesday

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Yesterday was a huge success of making amazing evergreen creations with attendees at my annual class, but there is another chance if you are available during the day and would like to join my next session at the East Windsor Senior Center located on Main Street in Broad Brook, CT.  It will be held Tuesday, December 10th, 12:30 – 2:00 pm.  If interested, we have a few seats open.  Contact me either via cell: 860-977-9473 or containercathy@gmail.com.

To give you an idea of what you can make, take a look at these photos below of the regular sized kissing ball and wreath.  The candle centerpiece is unique – we won’t be making them in this beautiful sleigh as one attendee did yesterday – what a GREAT IDEA, but the candle centerpiece you can make is just as beautiful.  See my Classes on this blog for other photos.

Every year, the creativity increases by the attendees.  I’m always impressed with their new twists on how to make their evergreen creation more – well CREATIVE!  We had attendees make topiary balls for a beautiful pot outdoors, another attendee brought a cute sleigh to create her candle centerpiece, and even another attendee installed red lights in her kissing ball – WOW.  Stunning, which I will share those photos later.

But for now, this is just a peak of items from yesterday’s class below.  If interested in this week’s Tuesday class at the Senior Center, please contact me right away.

Take a look at other photos on this blog for what you can make with fresh evergreens, including the instruction and materials.  For more information, contact me 860-977-9473.

And enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Thank you – Cathy Testa

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