BOOK CLUB Bookstore and More – Saturday

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Good Morning Everyone,

Tomorrow, Mandy Mayer from JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design and I (from you know where) will be at the small bookstore located on 100 Main Street in Broad Brook from 10 am to 1 pm for the store’s special event.

She and I have been invited to attend their “Artisans and Authors” day, and we both will have some special items available for purchase and information for you about our upcoming events. There will be flower bouquets, individually stemmed roses, mini succulent cone bouquets, garden journals, and of course – many books and other vendors.

BOOK STORE LOCATION

BOOK CLUB Bookstore and More” is located across from the Broad Brook pond (where a rare goose was sighted recently – don’t know the name of the goose, but pro photographers with very large camera lenses and tri-pod stands were gathered by the pond recently trying to capture a shot of it). It also is situated next door to the “At The Dam” restaurant.

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We are pleased to be participating and hope you will pop in to visit, despite the frightening cold weather the forecasters are predicting for tomorrow. A great game plan would be to bundle up, go have breakfast or lunch next door, and visit us.

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Mandy will be offering her beautiful floral arrangements – perfect for any one you wish to honor on Valentine’s Day – which is Sunday, but take note – she has a limited supply so don’t delay. She will have stemmed roses and other flowers for sale also.

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I will be selling adorable mini succulent bouquets, garden journals, and “Bert’s Birdhouses” which are made by my father with reclaimed wood. They are sturdy and made with care, and will help our feathered friends now and in spring time.

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WOODPECKER GETS ATTACHED TO ME

Speaking of birds, an interesting thing happened to me yesterday. I was heading home, and I, of course, looked at my iPhone (when at a stop light!), and saw an alert for a woman out in the cold with no coat. She walked away from Park Hill in Broad Brook which is a living center and the East Windsor police noted she has Alzheimer’s disease.

Instead of pulling into my driveway, I drove around town looking. Around the back of the church, down again towards Main Street, I glanced to see if there were foot prints in the snow and then I saw the East Windsor Police walking out of “At the Dam” restaurant, so I pulled in and thought, I’ll snap photos of the bookstore while here and I was relieved to see they were going place to place in search of the missing woman.

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When I got home, I saw a woodpecker sitting on the snow by my kitchen door slider outside. As I opened the door, my cat jumped out – but I picked her back up, put her inside, and got my iPhone.

It was a photo opp because the beautiful woodpecker was just sitting there, so I leaned down and said, “Hey, little guy, are you okay?”

Right then – he jumped onto my leg and clung on. I was shocked, and wow, what an experience. He obviously hit the glass window of the slider door, and was still coming out of his own shock of hitting the window.

With iPhone in hand, I took a few photos and a quick video. To feel those clawed feet attached to my jeans was interesting. They are stronger than you think. He was blinking his eyes, and turning his head, but he didn’t leave immediately. He hung on for a bit – probably warming up as well.

Suddenly, he hopped up at bit higher on my leg – which startled me. So with a few quick shakes of my leg, he flew off and landed on a deck railing to rest some more.

As I posted the photos on Facebook and Instagram, some people said it is a sign. My sister said, it is a sign you did a good deed by trying to find that woman. And, one friend posted, that woman is my Aunt and she’s been located.

Fortunately, she was found quickly and all was good. And the bird was fine too. I guess he thought my leg made a good stump.

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GARDEN PRESENTATION IN SOUTH WINDSOR

This week has been a busy yet productive one for me – I did a presentation on Wednesday night to a welcoming group from the “Down to Earth” garden club and library visitors at the South Windsor Public Library on Sullivan Avenue.

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After my presentation on “Container Gardening How To’s for Growth Success,” the club emailed me indicating they would like me back next year. She stated that they liked how I had something for the new, beginning, and seasoned gardener. This was nice to read on my laptop screen.

The library is a great venue for the club – it is very large. It was the first time I stepped foot in there – and thought, I need to get out more. They offer all kinds of seminars and I saw a great deal of kids hanging out in one area. Pairing up the club with a library is a smart idea because you meet new people in the library too. There were new gardeners in the audience as well as seasoned garden club members. I enjoyed meeting all of them.

PREPARING FOR SATURDAY

The rest of my week has been preparing the Valentine’s Day themed items for Saturday. I thought, how lucky am I? I love adorning these things with red themes for the day. I always had a love of Valentine’s Day and the colors and artistic nature of the little gifts and cards.

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As a kid – I really liked picking out the little decorative cards, and sharing them with class mates – remember those days?

Also, sending a Valetine’s Day greeting card to my parents for this day is something I’ve always done. Valentine’s Day is not “just for lovers” but for those you love as well.

My desire is to meet you and new friends, so we hope you will stop by on your travels through town. There will be other artisans and authors there to meet and greet as well.

TGIF Everyone,

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

 

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Sweet Gifts to Warm the Heart

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Good Morning,

I said I would return to writing about “plants” – Well, flowers are plants, right?

I can not do a plant related post without first acknowledging the efforts of our wonderful guest instructors from JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design, Jeff and Mandy Mayer, at Saturday’s Workshop here on Floral Design with Valentine’s Day Reds.

First, the flowers were absolutely ga-GAH-gorgeous! And also, this couple was very enthusiastic and concerned that each one of us were happy – which I surely think we were. Look at the attendees’ floral arrangements – absolutely beautiful. Great job by all.

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This one was created by MaryBeth. She is a returning attendee to my workshops – and she brought a beautiful blue and white bowl for her centerpiece. It is so pretty.

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This one is by Cathy P, another attendee. She rimmed the edge of her container with bling-bling before the class to fit the Valentine’s Day theme. She created an Ikebana style floral arrangement. I didn’t realize her goal was to do this unique art form until she was done because I was making my own arrangement during the class and didn’t see her progressing along until she was done. Let’s just say, she nailed it!

I have never done this Japanese style myself but the process involves arranging flowers and forms so each are displayed with a simple specific structure and balance – That is the best way I can describe it. Sometimes you will see this Ikebana style at flower shows where the arrangements are judged and awarded prizes when they adhere to the art form’s strict rules.

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Everyone’s creations were different and uniquely arranged. We joked that we felt like brides holding our arrangements. It was a fun day of creating and enjoying flowers.

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Jeff and Mandy Mayer of JEM’s make a great team. Jeff is in the center photo above demonstrating his process. He is very symmetrical with his designs, and Mandy, his wife and business partner, was going around to each individual asking if they were okay as they got into their “design” zone. Jeff too. He wanted to provide as much one-on-one attention as possible.

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We enjoyed yummy cupcakes made by a friend, Alissa. She attended my winter holiday workshop and mentioned she is an avid baker. The red velvet cupcakes looked as real as the flowers with (non fondant) frosting. Yummy.

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When I posted the above photos on Instagram, people raved about what a great job she did with this basket of yummy soft flowering sweets for us to enjoy at the workshop. My sister commented that “I spoil my class attendees.” And yes, well, I do! 🙂

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The flowers provided to each attendee were very fresh. We lucked out so many ways on this workshop day. There was an unexpected snowstorm the day before, so we had to readjust to pick up the flower order right before class started due to travel conditions being hazardous the day before. This resulted in our guest instructors having less time to set up but it all worked out. We were also lucky because they accepted my invitation to teach this workshop – and are returning in late June to do a “4th of July” Floral Centerpiece class – more on that later. Check in if interested. It is listed on the Workshop Dates link above on this blog.

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Here’s my adorable arrangement – I added lollipops to it and really think its cute.

NEXT EVENT: BOOK CLUB BOOKSTORE & MORE

Now it is onto another special event this weekend at a new local bookstore located close to my home called “Book Club Bookstore and More” on Main Street in Broad Brook, CT. They are hosting an “Artisans and Artists” Day on Saturday, Feb 13th. You can’t miss the store, it is adjacent to the breakfast place, before the bridge (across from the dam) by the Broad Brook Pond on Main Street in the center of town.

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If you are a book lover, this store holds book discussions, has special author events, and the interior is beautiful. The store is much bigger than you’d expect, when you enter, it has a long interior style (kind of like a shot gun style home). My friend visited recently and she told me the children’s book selection is wonderful as well.

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JEM’s will be there with me on Saturday, February 13th, from 10 am to 1 pm at the bookstore’s event too. Mandy will have flower arrangements for sale, and I’m bringing along adorable Valentine’s Day themed goodies, such as Mini Succulent Cone Bouquets and Garden Journals. We hope you will pop by. Heck, have breakfast next door then walk on over for a bit. It will be too cold to be outside anyways per this week’s forecasters.

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I spent part of my week making these tiny pompoms to add to my items – Are they so cute?! They look like min-whoville flowers.

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More embellishments to be added – These are great as a sweet gift, table setting pieces, or just for fun to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to whomever is special in your life – it is not just for romance, it is to show your love to your love one’s. It will warm your heart on our predicted very chilly weekend. And there are other vendors participating, so we hope you will visit to stop by and say hello.

I will post more on our floral workshop later as there is more to show, but for now got to go. Looks like this snow “might” postpone my Garden Talk tonight at the South Windsor Public Library – will have to wait and see. If not, I’ll be there promptly at 7 pm. Tonight’s talk is on the How To’s of Container Gardening for Growth Success.

Happy Hump Day Everyone,

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

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

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

What do Horticulture People do during January? Plan and Rest, or Rest and Plan!

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Around this time of year, I see people in the horticulture industry either vacationing somewhere tropical for a much needed rest before spring arrives, placing their plant orders, preparing calendars for the upcoming growing season, and attending conferences to keep learning more about growing, selling, and sharing their plant passions with garden enthusiasts.

Thus, in January, our minds are very busy with planning and hopefully taking some time to rest – because in the growing season, it is a busy time and non-stop.

Container Crazy CT’s 2015 Monthly Snapshot Calendar

A calendar depicting activity underway on my calendar for my clients and gardening friends has been posted on this blog, under the “Nature with Art Programs” drop-down menus. Or you can see it here:

ContainerCrazyCT 2015 Calendar (2)

WORKSHOPS

You will see, there are a lot of fun gardening shows and conferences underway. I’ve already ordered my plants from my local Connecticut grower for the upcoming spring season, specifically for Cathy T’s May Container Garden Workshops scheduled on “two” dates this year – May 16th and May 23rd.  SAVE THE DATES!  And for visits to local farmers markets.

CATHY T CLASSES

In April, there is an Eclectic Wind Chimes Making Class – and we are very excited to have lined up a very special guest artist, Laura Sinsigallo, whom is originally from the Broad Brook / East Windsor, CT area. Click the links above to see the details. We already have sign-ups – it will be a fun way to kick off spring.

ContainerCrazyCT 2015 Calendar (3)

GARDEN WALK AND TALK TOURS

The 2nd half of the 2015 year will bring on Garden Walk and Talk Tours, which were started up last year, and are FREE. Save the Dates – first will be an amazing vegetable garden in Willington, CT by another talented artist and garden lover. More details will be posted, but to learn more – visit the drop down menus on the top banner of this blog page.

GUIDED TOURS

In September, a Guided Tour of the Brimfield Antique Show is on the schedule as well – Yup, you can go with Cathy T – and let me tell you – this is such a fun event to attend, and at the end of the season is a good time to get the best bargains and try to haggle with the sellers – something I’ve learned to do over time.  Want to go? Save the Date, Click the above drop down menus for the details and contact forms.

ARTISTS INVITED

If you are a local artist interested in showcasing your products and sharing your skills with a captivated audience, feel free to contact me. The theme is creating with Nature and Art.  Don’t be shy – reach out!  We’d love to hear from you.  Same goes for anyone interested in sharing their garden with us – it is really a great way to network, meet new friends, learn tips you have used in your own garden – big or small – we are in!

Email: containercathy@gmail.com or containercrazyct@gmail.com.

Happy Hump Day Everyone,

Cathy Testa
ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9743

Quick Monthly Pic of the 2014 Year

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January – A visit to a garden center reveals a tray of lettuce growing happily in a warm greenhouse.

Spotted at a Greenhouse in Old Wethersfield, CT - Comstock Ferry

Spotted at a Greenhouse in Old Wethersfield, CT – Comstock Ferry

February – A walk on my father’s property in the bright winter sun, wearing a silly hat – just for fun!

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March – A beautiful Amaryllis burst open its white blooms. The scent of its presence fills the room.

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One more shot

April – Two lovely birds meet on a perch. The puffs of their feathers and little o’ chirps.

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May – A photo was posted of an orchid cactus bloom. So vivid against the blue sky.

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June – An attendee graciously poses with her pot – the May class was fun, we learned a lot!

An Attendees Creation at the 2014 Class!  Gorgeous!

An Attendees Creation at the 2014 Class! Gorgeous!

July – A group of us gathered to hear about a homeowner’s pond gardens. Walk and Talk Garden Tours first year.

Attendees Listening to Talk by Rhonda

Attendees Listening to Talk by Rhonda

August – A hummingbird moth visits a butterfly bush during another Walk and Talk Home Gardens Tour.

Sphinx Moth on Butterfly Bush Blooms

Sphinx Moth on Butterfly Bush Blooms

September – A shot taken mid summer in-front of some pots – being prepared for a special event.

Cathy Testa at Home

Cathy Testa at Home

October – A group of attendees getting into their mix as we learned how to make Hypertufas as part of the Nature with Art Programs offered by ContainerCrazyCT.

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November – A view of my chicken coop covered with Kiwi vines and surrounded by mixed plantings.

Chicken Coop Pen at Cathy T's

Chicken Coop Pen at Cathy T’s

December – A winter container garden installed at a local business. One of many with fresh greens and decor.

Container Garden Dressed Up by Cathy T at Carol Jean's Hair Salon

Container Garden Dressed Up by Cathy T at Carol Jean’s Hair Salon

What will 2015 bring?  Check in to see…

ContainerCrazyCT.com

Thank You – Feeling Blessed Once Again for The Support of Clients, Friends, Family

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Last night, I posted on Facebook a photo of my Christmas tree, not yet fully decorated, while noting that I was very tired indeed. My schedule from spring up to this day has been filled with activity related to plants and container gardening, and during this time of year, decorating the home for the holidays with fresh evergreens and decor.

But, as I sat down last evening, it hit me. I was feeling pretty exhausted from lots of activity, but happy all the same. This year was filled with classes, Walk & Talk Garden tours where friends offered their gardens to be showcased free to anyone interested in attending, plants sales, and container gardening installs. Sometimes I will push myself to do events and I’m definitely driven by the fact I enjoy what I do but it is mixed also with ups and downs of emotions, meaning I get so excited (an up!), then sometimes I worry about the details (the downs!)

Worrying about details can be counter productive because there is so much you can not control in the gardening world. Plants get bugs, they may fail, or look weak – but I always want the best of the best so I will stress, look over my stock, scout and make sure all are doing fine – for my annual Container Gardening Workshop, as an example in May – or for the greens used this month for my annual Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations Workshop in December. I always want every thing to be just right – or as perfect as possible.

I got so hyped up at my last class, I thought I was going to faint when I was going over details with the attendees before they started making their kissing balls, wreaths, and holiday arrangements with greens. It kind of reminded me of the panic which set it when I did my first tv gig.  I was “soooo nervous.” I literally thought I may pass out before the start of my talk.

But I still did it and do it – Why? I sometimes think, why did I say yes to something that made me so nervous?! The answer to that question is obvious – because I love doing anything related to plants and container gardening, and while I may not be the most polished speaker in the world – I wouldn’t miss a chance to share what I know when asked, and so I proceed, even if the situation is a little out of my element or nerve wracking. After many talks now, it is not as difficult as it was when I started being asked to do talks – and I love doing them, even when busy and racing around with various activity.

This year, I was honored to be asked to speak to the Advance Master Gardeners Group in Tolland, CT for a session in September on Container Gardening Design, Care, and More. Then, my stupid laptop had major issues, so major in fact that I had no time to finalize my presentations, so I started getting nervous.  I begged the Master Gardener Coordinator to reschedule me – and thus, she did – to November 19th.  She kindly agreed (Thank you Deb P!).

If someone would have told me – you will be speaking to Advance Master Gardeners in November during the evening when temps were somewhat cold and we are approaching the winter season – which is not necessarily container gardening season – I would have thought it nuts, but I spent over 2 hours sharing a great deal of knowledge I’ve gained over the years as a container gardening fanatic and as an installer of container gardens as a business with my audience.

I thought about what I could offer that would be different – and some of it was the different types of tools for design which people may not consider, which I use all the time in my inspirational pool of … well, of, I don’t know the right word there – but what I mean is I try different stuff and tools that may be nontraditional when I design containers and gardens to gain inspiration and more.

And the response by the Master Gardener audience that evening during my presentation made up of 5 modules was amazing, they didn’t want me to stop talking. They commented on the documentation I provided too – saying they don’t get that much in other talks, which I took as a complement.  And two ladies approached me after the talk saying they want me to come visit them at their location south of Hartford. I jotted down their contact info – and then off I went to get busy with my evergreen orders and classes for December – so I still haven’t called those two ladies back yet (I will, I will – I promise!).

Another thing that surprised me was a request to do my edibles container gardening talk in February!  The group said of course, they would love to hear about edibles in container gardens during the winter – so that is up next, after a rest over the holiday week coming up and maybe a little more right after. And after having the luxury to do plant orders for next spring – which is a fun activity – and I’m excited (a big up!) about that as I take my knowledge and experience to select the best plants for next season’s Container Garden Workshop theme – which is going to be about powerful perennials in container gardens.

In addition to the Walk & Talk tours, I held many container garden talks this past year with a special focus of combining edibles in mixed container gardens as “design” elements (meaning their beautiful features – not even the fact they make a good snack when you admire your container gardens), and ‘nature with art ‘ classes with guest speakers, and offering my Big Container Garden Workshop at my classroom location in Broad Brook, CT for the first time, and – lets see, talks and visits at various Farmers Market and more – well, the activity was non-stop. It kept going – all good news!!

This is not to imply, however, that I’m as busy as I could be – I want more work and hope you will consider me for your container gardens in the upcoming season – Oh YAH!  Thanks to the homeowners and business people whom hire me repeatedly every year – you make me so happy – you do not know. When I’m at your home or business installing your container gardens, I think to myself – I’m sooooo happy doing this!! I’m so happy doing this!!  I could do container gardens 24 x 7 allll day long and be happy – why, I guess it is my passion!!

So – anyhow, not to babble – which I know I am at the moment, this post is just to say thank you to everyone supporting my efforts as part of my business, called Cathy T’s Landscape Designs, and my blog called, Container Crazy CT.

Oh, a friend just asked me on Sunday, when she came by to purchase some holly greens for her containers at home, why I changed my business name to Container Crazy CT?

My business name is still the same, but my focus is less on garden design and more on all service offerings related to container gardening – all things container gardening – installs, classes, and more – and offering monthly classes where nature is combined with art with guest speakers, and offering garden tours.  I’m doing less of the landscape design work specifically, but do offer general consultations on gardens or landscapes. I’ll update my blog on all my 2015 service offerings in the new year.

You know, at the beginning of this year – I wrote 5 goals on my black board in my office — You know how they say, write a dream board or goal board, and it will happen?  Well, all of my goals, except one, happened! The one that didn’t, I had put an X on it and said wait til 2015.  It was about transforming this blog into a more professional format, which I hope to do in 2015.

As for the other goals I listed, well, if you want to know what they are – contact me, I will tell you.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

It is time for bit of rest (and gift shopping and cooking for me) – I’ll be back very soon…

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (cell)
containercathy@gmail.com (email)
http://www.cathytesta.com
Blog: Container Crazy CT

We Put Lights in Our Holiday Kissing Balls and Wreaths

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The lovely lady in the below photo, attending Container Crazy CT’s annual Kissing Ball & Holiday Creations Class, brought a string of holiday lights to put in her kissing ball one year – and that was the moment a trend began at this annual class!

The Official Light Queen at Cathy T's Annual Class

The Official Light Queen at Cathy T’s Annual Class – Photo by HomePlaceBlogger

Magic like this sometimes happens in class – and is one of the best part of holding a session where creativity kicks in by all the attendees. Thus, this light originator has been crowned our “Official Light Queen” at our class.  Love it Eilene!  Thank you for inspiring us.

Lights in our Holiday Kissing Balls

Lights in our Holiday Kissing Balls

In fact, this season, so many of the repeat attendees, which I refer to as the “Advanced Kissing Ball Makers,” are perfecting their techniques as they create their kissing balls, wreaths, and candle centerpieces with fresh evergreens.

Square Wreath with Lights - New This Season in Cathy T's Class!

Square Wreath with Lights – New This Season in Cathy T’s Class!

Here is an attendee also bringing lights, inspired by our “Official Light Queen” above, which she added to the square wreath she made with a mix of beautiful fresh evergreens.

Cathy T shows the class the new square wreath frame (Funny Expressions! LOL.)

Cathy T shows the class the new square wreath frame (Funny Expressions! LOL.)  Photos by HomePlaceBlogger

The square wreath is a new option available at Cathy T’s class this year.  It is created using a 14″ double-heavy duty metal frame – the frame is so strong, it will not bend and lasts for years to be reused. And the lights, which this attendee attached to her square wreath shown above, are battery operated – Great Job Dianne!

Light Queen Demonstrating

Light Queen Demonstrating – Photo by HomePlaceBlogger

I asked our Light Queen, Eileen, to demonstrate her technique for adding the holiday string of lights to the kissing balls, and you can see Renee is watching carefully – as she had plans to do the same in her two kissing balls.

Renee works the blues - adding blue ribbons and blue lights

Renee works the blues – adding blue ribbons and blue lights to her kissing balls

Renee and I attended the same high school (many moons ago). In fact, we sat next to each other in art class back in those days – and I always loved her drawings and clay art, and later in life – well, she ended up in my life even more – because I married her cousin!  So we are in-laws, and to have her here again this year is a treat.  She did an amazing job with her two kissing balls this season.  Way to go Renee!

Two finished with Blue Ribbon and Blue Lights!

Two finished with Blue Ribbon and Blue Lights!

I just love her bubbly personality which comes through in these photos.  More will be posted soon of our attendees amazing creations, and see below – a mini session is underway this weekend on Saturday.

Finished with Lights; Photo by HomePlaceBlogger

Finished with Lights; Photo by HomePlaceBlogger

Tips for Using Lights in Your Kissing Ball:

Evergreens remain fresher if kept outdoors in the cold where they will also receive some moisture from occassional snowfall or rainy days.  So, I always recommend kissing balls be hung outdoors, this way, they will last a long time – even up to February.

And please note: DRY greens are a huge fire hazard.  Never EVER leave a kissing ball with lights on unattended – and the same goes for any candle centerpieces created – do not leave candles unattended in centerpieces with greens if you decide to light the candle – even if it is a non-drip type as provided in class.

In fact, my recommendation is to not light the candle at all – or to use the non-drip type with a catch tray inserted for any potential drippings and if you light the candle, ONLY when you are sitting right in front of it.

Why so cautious?

Ever see a dry Christmas tree catch on fire?  It can be very dangerous and the flames move quickly.  So while lights are gorgeous in all evergreen creations – and many are available now as battery operated – just remember the safety rules – only when attended and better if the creation is displayed outdoors.

Have a Good Day Everyone,

Cathy Testa

Note:  A mini-class is underway for this Saturday, 12/13/14 at 12:30-3:00 pm.  If interested, contact me soon!

Container Gardens with Evergreens – Spice Up Your Space for the Holidays

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I’ve worked on cold and windy days to install festive holiday container gardens with evergreens and decor this time of the year – but I have to say, yesterday was probably the coldest day ever experienced outdoors while doing so.

Checking the weather beforehand wasn’t on my list – I knew it was going to rain today, so I thought, I need to get this done first thing on Monday.

The truck was loaded up with evergreens and decor supplies by sun up. Sometimes, having an early start is nice because all is quiet before shops open up for the day.

So off I went.  Within the first 45 minutes tho – my hands were frozen.  It was much colder than I expected. It was like 22 degrees out!

But because I enjoy the process of installing container gardens for the holidays, ignoring the tips of my finger tips getting cold in my not-warm-enough gloves was somewhat easy – at first.

As the owner of a business showed up to unlock his store, he said, “You picked a terrible day to do this. It’s freezing out.”

So, I responded with, “It is suppose to rain tomorrow, and it is time for the seasonal change up, so here I am!”

He agreed, indicating this is his favorite container of the seasonal change outs, and how he is looking forward to the holidays.

After completing his two big barrels at his store front, I went for a coffee and returned to the house for warmer socks, gloves, a neck warmer, and warmer ski like hat – it was THAT cold out.

Back out I went and finished two other jobs, taking a lunch break in between to – yes, warm up again.

Luckily – these are local clients – for which I am very thankful for their business.

Check them out – The Sweet Spot Bakery in Broad Brook, CT offers freshly baked cupcakes, cakes, and more – and they are yummy. In fact, I had them make a kissing ball cake for my latest class – it was much fun as everyone didn’t realize it was a cake at first.

KB Cake by The Sweet Spot Baker (Photo by HomePlaceBlogger)

KB Cake by The Sweet Spot Bakery of Broad Brook, CT (Photo by HomePlaceBlogger)

Then there’s the huge and popular package store, Joe’s Fine Wine & Spirits, on Rt 140 in East Windsor, CT.  When I looked around at the supply of wine and beer, during my warm up breaks in the store yesterday, I thought – “Gosh, what Leslie and his staff has done for this place is amazing.”  They offer a huge selection of wine and beer — and they hold holiday festivities during the year, like wine tastings, and several important fundraising benefits to help raise funds for community efforts.

Barrels in-front of Joe's Fine Wine & Spirits by Cathy T

Barrels in-front of Joe’s Fine Wine & Spirits by Cathy T

After finishing the decor at Joe’s Fine Wine & Spirits, it was off to a local hairdresser’s shop, next to the new TRX exercise studio, which is another small local business to support. The salon is called Carol Jean’s Hair Salon at 144 North Road, East Windsor, CT. Michelle is a great person and offers local salon services.

Container Garden Dressed Up by Cathy T at Carol Jean's Hair Salon

Container Garden Dressed Up by Cathy T at Carol Jean’s Hair Salon

All of these business owners tell me the festive container gardens outside their businesses adds a welcoming environment – and their customers really enjoy seeing them each season, and talking about them with the business owners.

Container Gardens outside of storefronts and businesses lets everyone know – customers are important to their small businesses, and they want to share the holiday happiness too!

If you are interested in an install job for container gardens, call me this week while supplies last.  This is the best time of year to dress up your outdoor store front environment, whether it be a container garden stuffed with greens and decor or a holiday kissing ball or wreath hung on your front door. Tis’ the Season!!

His and Her's Elves Grace the Steps of THE SWEET SPOT Bakery in Broad Brook, CT.

His and Her’s Elves Grace the Steps of THE SWEET SPOT Bakery in Broad Brook, CT.

And, by the way, I’m super glad I went out yesterday, despite the freezing cold, instead of today. I hear the ice is slick out there today – black ice, my husband warned. He already e-mailed me from his office to say be careful stepping out on to the driveway today. It is slick.

I think I’ll wait for the sun to come out and warm up everything – this time!

Cathy Testa

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

Wild Friends in My Backyard this Autumn

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A few years back, we purchased a motion sensor camera to put in the woodlands behind our house – strictly for fun.  It is amazing to see what we capture from time to time living and roaming in the wild. Turkeys, raccoons, our cats, and more.  Two recent visitors have been this fox below, and a buck.

I know foxes live out in the woods beyond our backyard, and I recognize their barking sounds.  They sound like a dog with a scratchy voice.  I’m sure my chickens are not liking their visits – I can imagine the foxes scan the coop’s pen from time to time when we don’t know it.

One year, a momma fox and her two babies hung out in our yard quite a bit.  I was sitting on my porch, quietly sipping coffee, and the momma fox came right up near me suddenly, not knowing I was there – and she had the nerve to yelp at me a little because she was startled when she saw me.  I yelped back, because I was startled too, and quickly ran back into the house.

Fox, Broad Brook, CT

Fox, Broad Brook, CT

And this buck, in the photo below, was also captured by the camera this week as he slowly walked up to the camera to investigate it – they are smarter than we think.

This shot is particularly cute with his inquisitive eyes. He is seeing the blinking red light which flickers when a photo is taken. We got many snapshots of him on the camera, but I picked this one to share this morning.

Deer use our backyard as a passage way – the Scantic River runs beyond our property and with the wetlands and many trees, they enjoy the woodland areas.

One year, a little deer in the backyard showed up, so I snuck up with a camera to take a photo, using the pool as a shield as I approached her.  I got rather close to the deer – but she didn’t run away.  My father later told me to never do that again, deer can attack, he stated.

Deer Spotted in Autumn, Broad Brook, CT

Deer Spotted in Autumn, Broad Brook, CT

People will complain about deer munching on their garden plants – but I guess because there is plenty for them to forage on in the woodlands, they don’t seem to bother my landscape plants much, but I certainly would be annoyed if they attempted to munch on my plants in my container gardens scattered around the yard.  Sometimes, in the winter, they may try to bite a bit on some holly bushes in the front landscape area of my house, but it doesn’t happen often.  Thankfully.

There are many critters around here in my backyard – raccoon, fox, and deer are common visitors.  This spring, a family of raccoons took up residence in the garage attic – How did they get in?  Through the pet door for our cats!  It was not fun eradicating the momma raccoon and her 3 babies. Afterwards, the pet door got shut off for a while until we resolved their regular visits.

I really don’t mind the wild visitors in my yard – they bring a sense of calm when you quietly witness them walking around and enjoying their surroundings – so long as they leave my six hens alone – they are welcome!  It is all part of enjoying nature, and as this autumn approaches and we witness the change of the leaves, feel the cooler breezes, and listen to the quieter evenings no longer filled with the sounds of crickets and frogs, I guess we will welcome our wild friends along with the change of seasons.

Cathy Testa