Twas the Night Before KB…and

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All through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a…

Wait! That isn’t how it goes… Crazy Cathy T is stirring.

Yup, how I wish I could sleep a few more hours this morning, but nope, the 5 am wake up call came.

Heck, I’ll just get up, cause tossing and turning is more frustrating for me.

Today is the day. The 10th year workshop of making kissing balls, wreaths, and candle centerpieces!

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My space will be filled with festive ladies, the greens are set to be brought out and placed outside, the decor is up, and I feel relatively pretty good, minus a little sore throat I had last night – but I know what that is – not a cold, but from feeling a bit run down, which happens to people in the plant world during the holidays as we rush to get things prepared. The good news, is it feels good this am. We went to bed early last night to get a good night’s rest.

Yesterday was supposed to be a “rest day” too – before my first workshop today, but kinks happened. Some of my greens arrived late on the Santa truck. We had to rush out to get them at the last minute. I also was planning to be off the hook with holiday decorations but my decorator got injured.

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You see, I had big visions for my 10th annual event to celebrate holding these workshops for a decade. I lined up a decorator months ago. I never went that crazy before, but this is special. I even had visions of reindeer and sleigh but we know that would REALLY be over the top!

A couple months ago, my decorator and I had a great plan. Greens and golds upstairs, a winter wonderland theme down stairs in the workshop space, and the bathroom would be filled with bubbles of balloons in whites and blues. My entrance would be decorated too. I left a lot undone, of course, as I had someone lined up.

But three days before my event, my decorator contacted me to say she had a terrible fall. She decorates many big venues for the holidays and she tripped over a black rubber mat on a floor at an install job. She landed on her arm and hit her head too. Luckily no concussion but she got a terrible black eye and broke her arm! Yikes. Poor thing!

She felt terrible to not be able to do what we planned. She offered to come do it with her husband and maybe do less. I made the decision right there. No, you stay home and get well. That is way more important. No worries, we will adjust our plans.

I also told her that my biggest fear is what if I got injured when busy. These things can happen, so I could appreciate her situation. Thus, yesterday, my husband got into action decorating our entrance, putting up more lights. I have to admit, I had some decor out already here and there. I was a bit relieved but then I had to get a little creative. In the end, all looks really great! No worries.

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Because I’m a planner, it is hard for me to go with the flow sometimes. It can be a good trait and a bad one too. However, planning helps to be prepared for things that can go wrong. And that is what we did – after all – the decor was going to be a surprise, but it is not mandatory to have fun.

My point being is we have to make due when these unexpected things comes up. And in the plant world, this is usually the case. Sometimes, I think, “Why did I go into plants?” OMG, it can be so stressful.

But the plant passion continues to drive me to keep going. I totally get into the zen mode when I create with plants, and so will the attendees today when they create with a beautiful mix of greenery to make their holiday masterpieces!

Workshop Number One kicks off today and then two more in a week. Rest and restocking will be required.

It is go time! Ho, Ho, Ho!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercrazyct

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3 More Days

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3 More Days until my first Holiday workshop on November 30th, Saturday. The seats are sold out, the workshop space is set up, the greens are on their way, and the holiday festive music is ready to play!

This year, as noted before, is a celebration year for me. I read it is important to celebrate your accomplishments, and holding these holiday workshops for 10 years, is one for me!

Cathy T Holding Large Wreath

Being a small business entrepreneur, there is not an often ‘pat on the back’ for what I’ve accomplished by people in the business, believe it or not! It is “my attendees” on the other hand who have always thanked me for holding this workshop. I believe it contributes to a community spirit by bringing together a bunch of ladies to enjoy kicking off the holiday, an they do appreciate this.

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I feel celebrating this year, as the 10th, is important because if you don’t take the time to do so, you could feel a bit deflated (for lack of better words). Celebrating – Well, it feels good. Overall, this workshop, in particular, I feel has been a success. There have been many, many challenges for me in the background to set it up and make it happen, but in the end, everyone has a good time, learns, creates and best of all get into the holiday spirit. It sets me in the right frame of mind as well. It is a win-win.

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Celebrating this event with my attendees, especially those who have attended every year, is a way to acknowledge how important attendees are to my success. Without them, this would not happen – and without me – it wouldn’t happen either! It is a combination that makes it happen. This Saturday’s event is a way to say thank you to them and to myself.

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Hopefully, I will be able to add other annual events, like the Succulent Topped Pumpkins workshops or the Seed Starting Workshops, to that 10 year list. These workshops started up a bit later, so they are behind, but we are getting there. They are well received and grow each season.

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So, now it is 3 more days until the first workshop, followed by a couple more, and making my custom orders, which I wanted to remind my readers, followers, and customers, I make custom wreaths and kissing balls. If interested, reach out to me soon. You may call or text me at 860-977-9473 or use email noted below. A price list is provided for those interested.

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Until Saturday – enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday (which by the way, I have beautiful large globes with succulent and fall themed decor in stock) as a perfect hostess gift or as a centerpiece accent. If interested, there’s still time. They have gorgeous live succulents in them and hang or may be placed on a table. Each is unique with cones, fall themed fruit decor, and lotus pods, etc. Pick up in Broad Brook, CT is required.

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Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9743
containercathy@gmail.com

 

Ten Years of Kissing Ball Workshops

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Wow, ten years since I started these holiday workshops. These workshops began because I felt inspired by the holiday round greenery kissing balls I’d see when visiting relatives’ homes in Canada. Then, one day, a cousin asked me to help her making kissing balls and I did.

We spent all day making them. I said, “Hey, this would be a fun class to teach.” She agreed. We drove to a place where I get all my supplies a few days later, and said, “We can split all the expenses and do this.” Yet, she responded with, “No.” She said it was “my thing and that she didn’t want to participate in teaching it.”

So, there you have it – this is how it all started, and me being a plant person, this workshop was a perfect fit for me to add to my workshop offerings as part of my small business. I could teach about the greens and create a wonderful holiday decor item.

From that spark of a suggestion, my annual kissing ball workshops evolved over the years. I started to learn how to make wreaths myself, improved the KB making technique with new ideas, and then I added new creative items, which attendees may elect to make at the workshops, such as, the candy cane wreath, horse head wreath, square wreath, cross wreath, and more. Each year, it became more and more creative. And it grew with holiday spirit and in attendance.

The KB workshops kicks off everyone’s season – so they tell me. The “regulars” tell me it is the thing that makes them get into the holiday mood. This makes me so happy. Not to get mushy, but I didn’t have any children, and you know, I have always, always missed that part of what it must be like to have kids getting up on Christmas morning to unwrap their presents. Somehow, this event has filled that void for me during the holidays. The KB workshop is my highlight of the holiday season.

In my case, the holiday spirit starts taking hold in early November. Every single year, I start cleaning the messes in my workshop space to get things ready. I’m alone and working in the cold because the wood stove isn’t running yet. I start sorting holiday items, taking count of stock, cleaning, dusting, moving items to make space, and then comes moving in the tables and chairs, etc.

All of this pre-work to setup the workshop space takes time but it has become a good ritual for me. As I work on the various aspects, I start to think about the laughter, the smells of freshly cut balsam and all the fresh greens which the attendees cut at the workshop, and the images of the past ten years pop into my mind. I usually put on some holiday music as I do my thing setting up. This helps the holiday magic fill the air.

As my mind starts to wander, I even smile sometimes as I clean due to the memories. I may even laugh when I start thinking about something in particular that happened, or whatever. I just start thinking about all the attendees in this space every December. I think about the chaos of it all – usually, it is good chaos. Everyone is excited and getting into the holiday decorating zone. But sometimes, it is other chaos of just getting all the holiday ducks in a row.

The memories are good and so is the setup but it also reminds me that some people, though, sadly, I’ve learned over the years, are struggling at that time of year – but not showing it. Maybe something recent happened in their life and they feel down or alone. But, they still show up here for the KB workshop regardless, pull up their big holiday panties, and realize, hey, I can hopefully break out of my doldrums by being here at Cathy T’s KB Workshop. And they tend to feel better afterward the workshop. This makes me happy too.

Ten years. I never thought I’d be offering this workshop for ten years. How can it be even ten years already? I remember joking once, I’ll be a little old lady with gray hairs doing this workshop – but can I make it that long? I even feel I put on weight this time of year in preparation for being Mrs. Cathy Clause at the KB workshop. Seriously!

I’ve stressed out on so many aspects to set up this event. Like, will there be enough greens, will it snow, will my truck get a flat, how am I going to stage all of this first thing in the morning, what if it rains, what if we get a blizzard, and, what if this, what if that? I’m a big what iffer! But this can be good for planning. Thank Goodness I have Mr. Steve Clause to help me. And he does. Every year – he is part of the spirit too. I believe he loves this event as well. He would miss it if I didn’t do it. He says to me – you always do the what if, but it always is fine. He’s right.

There have been so many “behind the scenes” things I’ve dealt with which no one has any idea. I thought, I should jot down some of the interesting things that happened to me as a result or at this workshop. I started to do so today. And here they are…

The Mystery Coat:

A black mid-length winter coat was left by the fire pit outside on the workshop day. After everyone leaves, I usually sit outdoors by the fire pit with Steve to relax and talk about the day. When I put out word via emails and Facebook posts to the attendees the day after the workshop that someone left their black coat here, no one from the workshops ever claimed it. The coat fits me PERFECTLY. I needed a new coat at that time and it is larger than my usual coat size, yet, somehow it fitted just right. Was it the Christmas spirits who left it here? Still a mystery. There was a small red ball ornament in the pocket.

Almost Arrested for Taking Berries:

I got yelled at by a guy driving past a road side area where I had pulled over to cut “red berries” from wild shrubs for a KB workshop. It was a remote, nowhere area. He pulled up quickly out of nowhere too, with tires coming to a halting screech. He busted out of his car, came stomping over with a note pad in hand, and said he was going to REPORT ME for stealing red berries from a property. I remember feeling so annoyed because I was finally “in a moment” of having fun. I apologized profusely and explained I had no idea this was private property. Then he asked me, “Well, why do you want those anyways?” When I explained to him it was for the holiday workshop and that I teach about plants too, he calmed down and let me go. I didn’t dare mention the words: Kissing Balls.

The Old Rusty Wreath Frame

As mentioned above, a ritual of cleaning takes place every year in the workshop space. Well, one year, I saw something tucked behind my big black oil tank in my basement. What is that, I wondered. I pulled and tugged at it and out it came with a force. It was an “old, rusty wreath frame of a very large size.” Seriously, folks. This was not put there by me. I didn’t even make big wreaths yet. Was it left behind from whomever owned this house over 30 years ago? Or did Santa leave it there? Now, if that is not weird, what is? I won’t toss out that wreath frame. It hangs in the workshop space. I find it would be bad luck to remove it.

The Big Balls

Okay, we have, over the years, made the biggest balls of them all. Every year, I have to remind all the ladies that if they make them too big, they will fall off the hooks. We keep to measurement guidelines now, but one friend did tell me, she saw her kissing ball rolling down her street on a very snowy and windy day from her kitchen window. She made her kissing ball too big, and thus, it was too heavy and fell off the hook. We don’t make them “monster” sizes anymore but they do come out larger and better, in my opinion, than what you see in retail. OK, so big balls it is! But I did have to enforce no more monster balls, after all, this isn’t Halloween, it is Christmas! LOL.

The Dark

Every year, I offer one or two day time workshops. And a week night workshop. This year, I decided to skip the weeknight offering. It is just too dark and cold outside. The greens are outdoors but we hold the workshops indoors. To lug all the greens to the indoors in the dark was becoming too much for me. One year, after everyone left, I switched on a spot light pointing outdoors to finish up some work on some items outside in the dark, and when I clicked on the spot light, there – standing right in-front of me was a deer. I was like, OMG! It startled me. I said out loud, “You stay away from my greens!” And right then, his nose glowed red. Then I heard the jingle bells of a sleigh take off.

The High

No, we don’t get high here but the smell of the greens is so over powering in the workshop space, we may get that tinsel type high from the wonderful aromas of the fresh greens. But the natural high I get from the workshop event lasts well after everyone leaves from the workshop. In the first few years, the workshop would run all day, even into the night. I had so much adrenaline after it was over that I often sat in my kitchen trying to deflate. Mr. Santa Steve is asleep in bed by then. But I can’t fall asleep, even though I’m usually exhausted, so I start looking at all the wonderful photos of everyone from the day’s activities on my iPhone. The wreaths, kissing balls, and all the smiling attendees’ faces. In more recent years, the ladies have made a day of their events. My workshop is their number one stop, and after, some will go to lunch out, or even attend another holiday event somewhere. My event transitioned into a day of activities for the attendees, not just a few hours. Pretty cool.

The Weather

Knock on those wooden ornaments, I have been very lucky with the weather. We always make the next day a backup date should we get a big snowy storm, but in 10 years, that has never happened. One year, it was so warm out, we had t-shirts on – yup, global warming does exist. Santa is very good to me. He waits to bring on the snow storms after my holiday workshops. This year, I have a feeling it will be cold however, which means me working outside in the cold. Much of my preparation is done very close to the workshop date because I like things fresh. I like quality. And some of the preparation is done far in advance like now, including getting sign-ups, picking up hard good supplies, and what have you.

Well, I know there is more storytelling to tell but I can’t think of it now. I know when I work today, some of those stories will pop into my head again. If they do I will share them. In the meantime – You too could become part of the KB story. Sign-up for our workshop on Saturday, December 7th. There are still seats available. Ho, Ho, Ho…

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Broad Brook, CT
www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
860-977-9473

Cathy T Holding Large Wreath

Me holding a Large Custom Wreath and Wearing that Mysterious Black Coat

 

Thank you to all at the Crafts Fair

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It was a gorgeous sunny (yet very chilly outdoors) type of day at the fall craft’s fair on Saturday in Stafford, but now- for me anyways, it is planning and sign-up time for the Holiday Workshops! Here we go!

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Two Lovely Ladies with Wreath and KB Made at an Evening Workshop last year!

I’m offering 3 sessions this year and seats are limited in each, so it is again, just a friendly reminder – Sign up early before it is sold out. To sign up – visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com and you will see 3 separate posts for each type of workshop.

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Beautiful Candle Centerpiece Example Made in Last Year’s Workshop

This year, in particular, it is a shorter month than usual. Why I’m offering my first workshop on 11/30/19, and then a week later is the next workshop on 12/7/19. I know folks sometimes don’t like hearing about holidays now, but alas, I have to plan ahead for everyone who wishes to attend.

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Two KB Examples

I also take custom orders for wreaths and kissing balls the first weeks in December.

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Extra Large Custom Wreath made by C. Testa

Just a heads-up to all – And again, thanks to everyone who visited me at my vendor table last Saturday – so fun meeting you all!

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