General Updates for Upcoming Items!


Hi Everyone!

I thought it is a good day to provide some general updates on upcoming activity!

Thank you:

First – special thank you to the friends and family, as well as new faces, visiting my booth at the Spring Bazaar at Holy Family Church in Enfield, CT last Saturday. Wow, 17 of my friends came by – that made me feel so special and thank you for purchasing items. Imagine my Father’s face when I told him lots of his birdhouses sold. He’s getting popular. My special terrarium themed “Faith” was purchased as well, and it kind of got me into this groove of doing “custom” terrariums in large glass globes. If interested, holler!

May 7th – Bookstore Visit

Next on the list is a visit with the local bookstore in Broad Brook, CT on May 7th. The store’s owner has invited me back and I plan to have special Mother’s Day items on this date for sale. See Book Club Bookstore and More on 100 Main Street. I hope you will be able to pop by. They were recently featured on Better CT television and have a wonderful selection of books and hold regular book discussions, including kid’s book discussion sessions. How sweet.

May 14 and May 21st – Container Gardening Workshops

These are the two dates for the Container Gardening Workshops. All the details may be found on The first one, May 14th, is being held in Broad Brook, CT and the 2nd one at Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT on West Street on May 21st. There is still plenty of time to register if you are interested.

Once registered, attendees are emailed complete Workshop Details. Here’s a sneak peek of the agenda and two of the fruiting plants planned, along with many more tropicals, annuals, herbs, veggies! We hope you will join us.

agenda 2016


Bluberry Jelly Bean

May 28th – Ellington Farmers Market

I will be at the gazebo again offering a free talk and selling plants. I love attending this market – everyone there – is super friendly and well, happy! Who wouldn’t be as you browse the selection of the market’s offerings and enjoy a beautiful day?


East Windsor Farmers Market

On July 10th, I will be offering a slide presentation on Container Gardening at the East Windsor Farmers Market held at the Trolley Museum on Rt. 140. Look for me in the main building. This market is growing – don’t overlook it this summer!

East Windsor Market Open

Look for me in the Main Building for a Free Presentation this year.

Later in Summer and Into Fall

After the May rush, we are offering several more workshops – One is on Floral Design with JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design (featuring a 4th of July theme) in June, another is a Glass Garden Art Workshop with Timefliesbylauralie on September 10th, and then we have a workshop on Succulent Arranging in the Fall. Check out for all the information on each. Registration is easy with Eventbrite on the site.

New Topic- Soil Sprouts!

I’m been obsessed with growing soil sprouts which are full of vitamins and soooo tasty. My favorite so far in my trials are radish sprouts – spicy and wonderful in sandwiches, soups, salads, or just fresh pop in the mouth snack. I also like mung bean sprouts and broccoli sprouts but I am doing trials with many types right now, seeing how they grow and taste.

Soil sprouts are not like micro-greens. Soil sprouts take a lot less time to grow – between 4 and 7 days, so with the routine set up – you are eating them EVERY day. Micro-greens take a lot longer, something like 21 days.

Anyhow, the other beauty about these are they can be done in any space, without special equipment or lights, and ALL year round. They fit the container gardening scenario indoors perfectly. Indoor gardening is another trend on the rise, but that is not exactly why I started growing sprouts. I’ve always loved eating them and now I can daily.

There is a simple process with specific steps and things needed but it is not complicated. I will be offering a workshop on this and I’m also thinking of offering a kit if you prefer to read and do it yourself. What do you think? Do you enjoy fresh sprouts too?

GoLocal Magazine

A new mag on the scene contacted me as a feature for their May issue – and I am flattered to be featured in a magazine that is hip, new and in tune with today’s local movement.

To top it off, this will be their first issue for the East Windsor, CT region. They are currently issuing in Agawam, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, and Hampden in Massachusetts, and in Suffield, Enfield, Somers, and Stafford Springs in Connecticut too.

I read their January 2016 issue and spotted some local artist people I see on Facebook from time to time – and also spotted new businesses and restaurants I didn’t know about yet.

I really like the VIBE of this mag – and if you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to look for it at local establishments. Many of their advertisers receive copies for distribution. Or go to for their online issues – where you will find me in May!

That’s all for now for some General Updates. Enjoy the rest of your week and the beautiful weather we have been having, well, except today is a bit cloudy – but wow, last weekend and the days before were so summer like out there – I hope you can catch some of those rays.

Cathy Testa


Hypertufa Making Class – A Great Way to Enjoy a Chilly Fall Day


On a very cool and rainy Saturday, 12 ladies gathered to hear a professional hypertufa making artist talk about the how to’s and secrets of making hypertufa pots.

Hypertufa is a very lightweight natural material that looks like stone,” stated Jim Kandik of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa.

And he should know. He has been handcrafting planters and garden art in hypertufa style for years and offers them for sale at various garden and art shows, such as the Boston Flower Show, Newport Flower Show, and Celebrate West Hartford show – just to name a few.

We all felt lucky to have Jim give us the low-downs on how to make hypertufa planters and containers as we wore our cozy sweatshirts and hats to ward off the slightly chilly air coming through the garage doors of Cathy T’s large classroom.

And if the fall clothing didn’t work, a cozy outdoor fire pit and hot coffee spiced up with pumpkin flavoring and whipped cream was offered to the attendees to warm up their fingers before they began their work of assembling their first hand-made hypertufa pots under the careful direction and guidance of Jim as our guest instructor.

As Jim explained in his class handouts for the attendees, “Tufa stone, a form of limestone, was used in olden times to form troughs on farms.  It is now so rare that “Hypertufa” was created to duplicate its look and function.

Jim has refined his hypertufa recipe and process to create the finest hypertufa available.  And this refinement is not an understatement as it was apparent to us all attending this class that Jim has a love for making these handcrafted pieces of art.

He makes beautiful birdbaths, planters, fairy houses, mushrooms, and sundials.  Even a gorgeous planter was showcased as part of the day’s activities.  Each is made with good lines and bones, so to speak.  The edges are clean and forms are nearly perfect, but each is unique.

Hypertufas are very lightweight, so they can be easily moved around as features in your gardens or as planters for a table top.  They are easy to care for as well.

Any plant can go in them, from houseplants to succulents, and you may even elect to add a bit of mini garden art or delicate small stones to the top after planting them.

As Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa stated, “Hypertufas need no other special attention and can last for many years.” But he strongly advises you should always move them under cover by bringing them inside during the winter, as standing water will freeze and crack the pieces.

Jim explained his passion of vegetable gardening from years ago, and how a special Aunt was an avid grower of roses.  She was so involved in the process of growing roses, she was eventually a judge at one time for the American Rose Society.

His love of making hypertufa pots and art is in his genes.  It was all passed on via the love of gardening by people like his Aunt. He remembers the first time he saw a hypertufa in friend’s garden and how he was drawn to it immediately and wanted to learn how to make them.  Once he learned the process, it was, well, all hypertufa history from there!

“Cement is an ingredient in hypertufas, but it is not technically accurate to call cement a hypertufa,” stated Jim during his lecture portion of the class.

He went over the other key ingredients to use in correct proportions by volume to achieve the correct mix and showed everyone exactly how to add water appropriately so you do not have too much or too little.

Mixing water into the hypertufa mix is an art form, similar to how one must master the art of watering plants in container gardens.  There’s a bit of science and art to the process, and our special guest instructor, Jim, was sure to show and tell this aspect very well to the attendees.

Hypertufas are porous, not as dense as cement,” explained Jim further during his lecture and demo.  “Cement is very fine (like talcum powder), and it is extremely important to get it well mixed thoroughly as it absorbs water, and it must be evenly distributed during the mixing process.

Jim adds other special ingredients to stabilize the mix and make it stronger, which he shared with the attendees of this class, and also provided lots of tips and the “secrets” of success.

After Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa went over all the specifics, tips and tricks, and details of the mix components, he showed us exactly how to mix up a batch, explaining his mixing process is similar to how masons do it for masonry work, using the appropriate mixing tools as well. He also showed the exact consistency and what to look out for as you prepare your batch.

As soon as things were mixed just perfectly, the attendees began assembling the mix into their molds.  This class was designed to teach the process, so the molds were on the smaller to medium size, just perfect to understand and learn the process from a master.

When making hypertufas, it is important to remember the mixing process is critical as well as the correct ratio of the components used in the mix, and then the last step, the curing process is critical.

After made, they are not ready to be used for a few weeks.  A few days of setting is involved, then removal from the molds, and followed by another period of curing and drying.

Depending on where this takes place, such as in a garage or inside a workshop in the home, the temperature and air environment will affect the amount of time required.

Also, the materials used to make the hypertufa can have an affect on the pH of the soil put into the pot, so Jim provided a tip on what to do if this is a concern for the type of plants used in the hypertufa container.

Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa was very generous by offering us all his insider tips which he has learned and mastered over the years, and giving wonderful fall discounts on some of his pre-made hypertufa pieces of art.

And last but not least, he made us laugh too – what more could you ask for in a presenter?! We truly appreciate his expertise and hope to visit with him again soon at his upcoming art shows.

Here are some photos taken during the class.

To find out more about Jim and his products and exhibits, visit Also, his products will be available at online stores via soon.

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Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (cell) (email)

Upcoming Workshop:

5th AnnualHoliday Kissing Ball and Evergreens Creation Class” is scheduled.

Date:  December 6, 2014 (first Saturday in December)
Start time:  11:00 am 

To Request Your Seat:  

Fill out the Contact Form by clicking on the top menu bar of this blog, or here:
Cathy T Classes-2014 Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations Class.

Scoring Garden Art at Antique Shows & Vintage Bazaars

Watch Faces at The Vintage Bazaar

Watch Faces at The Vintage Bazaar

Antiques are not really my thing, but I love salvaged pieces and re-purposed items. Something about a pile of old watch faces displaying antique lettering or rusty railroad spikes made from wrought iron speaks to me. I think about how I might use them when combining art with nature in the garden and as decor in my container gardens.

So when I suggested visiting a vintage bazaar in Salisbury, Massachusetts to Steve, my husband, as an idea of “what to do on our anniversary this year,” he agreed to go.  There was a nice “seal the deal” portion of the trip because on day two of the event, vintage motorcycles would be showcased, plus we planned to stay on the beach nearby. 

Clever displays, Upscale and Classy.

All of the show’s vendors at The Vintage Bazaar in Salisbury, MA cleverly displayed their features and finds in well-spaced tents of a boutique style format. Their items were arranged in interesting groupings on the edges of their tents, and in an upscale classy way. There was also a raffle table where you could place your five raffle tickets received as part of your entrance fee of just $5.00. If you wanted to get there early to find the deals and get first dibs, you could do so by getting “early bird” tickets for $2.00 additional dollars.

Raffle Table

Raffle Table

It didn’t take too long to spot the unexpected, from eerie Ouija (weeje) boards to a cute little vintage travel trailer spiced up with adorable and charming embellishments inside and out. All included in the vendor’s asking price.  The trailer sold during the “early bird” hour, prior to the gates opening at 10 am, for a price of $3,200-3,500 (I can’t remember the exact amount she stated, but I know it was in the 3’s).  You may not expect to spend that much at an event like this – and you don’t have to – there were many bargains and deals as well (I got two huge golden reindeer for $4 each!), but seeing this special trailer did start the day off with a feeling of more good finds to discover.  And I could imagine this cute little trailer right in a garden as a spot to relax and enjoy the views too.

Not pricey but not desired, too spooky.

Not pricey but not desired, too spooky.

Vintage Travel Trailer

Vintage Travel Trailer

Inside the Vintage Travel Trailer

Inside the Vintage Travel Trailer

Interior of Trailer

Interior of Trailer

Added bonus – getting Autumn Decor at the show.

There’s something special about visiting fairs and shows like this one during the fall season when you can also collect Halloween or Autumn decor to dress up your surroundings at home for the season.  One of my favorites was works by Alycia Matthews made of paper mache and mixed media.  I bought a cute little Halloween themed doll from her whimsical display to add to my collection of Halloween figurines. Alycia is located in Newburyport, MA and her works may be found via etsy at

Mixed Media by Alycia Matthews of Newburyport, MA

Mixed Media by Alycia Matthews of Newburyport, MA

Pumpkin Heads by Vergie Lightfoot

Pumpkin Heads by Vergie Lightfoot

Pumpkin Heads by Vergie Lightfoot.

And I was infatuated with handmade pumpkin heads with realistic painted eyeballs by folk artist, Vergie Lightfoot. I spotted this pumpkin headed manikin with a black velvet dress from yards away, and couldn’t stop looking and considering the others like this one in the tent. However, by this time, we had spent enough dollars on other finds, some at bargain prices – and with a weekend beach stay as part of this trip, we couldn’t justify the expense for a pumpkin head, even though the seller mentioned these pumpkin heads were talked about on The Jay Leno show last year, and he collects them.  I can see why – they are comical and goofy.  I especially liked the one in the little black shoe with a black umbrella.

Amazing Pumpkin Heads

Amazing Pumpkin Heads

My fav of the Seasonal Pumpkin Art at the show

My fav of the Seasonal Pumpkin Art at the show


There were other surprises – like this big basket or container created with saws.  And things like a bowl or envisioned bird nest made with rebar.  Both repurposed in a unique and creative way.  These could be positioned in a garden as garden art and would last for years due to the material.  The creators were thinking wisely and you can see the hand-crafted effort put into these items.  And check out the mason jars – different ways to repurpose them into storage containers, whether for your spices or wine corks, it is a good use of a commonly available jar.  You could easily recreate something like it with baby food jars too.  However, getting them from an artsy person is always an option too if you don’t have any crafty bones in your body.

Saws Re-Purposed

Saws Re-Purposed

Rebar Repurposed

Rebar Repurposed

Mason Jar Spice Rack

Mason Jar Spice Rack

Storage Mason Jars

Storage Mason Jars

Other Garden Themed Decor.

The event gives you inspiration by viewing all the wonderful ideas and finds.  Take these metal letters – perfect for creating a sign in a space like on a roof top patio or by a sitting area in the garden.  Or how about the little decorative glass lantern below with a bird nest and other cute features, perfectly staged to add decor to a themed enclosed garden room.  And the old typewriters remind us of prior years.  When incorporating elements from the past into our spaces, we create thoughts and memories – and talking points. And who would think we would treasure the bowls or drinking glasses from the 60’s or earlier times?  The once tossed or stored items by your parents or grandparents are treasured for so many reasons – they are rare, unusual, or bring back memories.  Plus many come in great colors too.

Metal Letters

Metal Letters

Lantern with Nature Decor

Lantern with Nature Decor

Old Typewriter as Decor

Old Typewriter as Decor

Notice magazine, a photo of this display was published.

Notice the magazine, a photo of this display was published.

Capping it off with a Harvest Fest.

After the vintage bazaar day, another traveler mentioned another find – an “Applecrest Harvest Festival” in Hampton Falls, NH.  So after resting our feet for a bit, we drove there – and it was worth the visit.  Fiddle band, warm apple pie with fresh ice cream, hayrides, orchards, tons of apples, peaches, figs, and homemade cider donuts.  The waiting line for the donuts was very long, so we opted for pie and picked up some fresh goodies, then ended our day with another sit on the beach in our sweatshirts, waiting for the harvest moon to cap off another gorgeous sunset on a beautiful September weekend in the fall. And alas, it rained on Sunday (which it did on our wedding day 23 years ago – and seems to happen almost every September 22nd, but it is considered good luck – so we’ll continue to take it).

Applecrest Harvest Fest in Hampton Falls, NH.

Applecrest Harvest Fest in Hampton Falls, NH.

The Harvest Moon, Salisbury Beach, Sept 2013

Salisbury Beach, Sept 2013

The Event’s Location.

The Vintage Bazaar in June and September is held on Pettengill Farm at 45 Ferry Road, in Salisbury, MA (only minutes from Salisbury Beach).  I believe this was their 3rd annual this year in 2013. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm and entrance per person is $5.00.  However, there is an “early bird” ticket option where you can enter earlier for $2.00 more which includes free entrance on Sunday.  The parking is free. Several bands play during the day, and because the event is held on a beautiful flower farm, you also have the option to shop for plants at reduced fall prices. There are greenhouses, arbors, statues, fountains, and even a live emu on the premises.  A beautiful map of the grounds, designed and rendered by “Order Up a Garden,” is displayed at the raffle drop off beyond the entrance booth. And by the way, The Vintage Bazaar is going on the road in October, partnering with The Boston Antiques & Design Show at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA.  To learn more, visit:

Framed for Fall

Framed for Fall

Written by Cathy Testa

P.S.  Steve did purchase something – an antique Budweiser serving tray.  That surprised me the most – not that its BUD, but that he bought something for himself at this event!  He was a good sport, and even though the next day’s rain prevented us from seeing the Vintage Motorcycles on day two, he went with the flow.  Instead we opted to hit the road early back home and get some local pumpkins to put outside.

Bud Tray with Business Cards picked up a the show

Bud Tray with Business Cards picked up a the show

Another tip:  Seaglass Restaurant on Salisbury Beach is outstanding.  Great views and a nice treat for dinner, and take an easy walk on the beach after to work it off.  Loved the side plates (appetizers) the best!

Links to business cards above:

Sand, Sea & Steam

The Yellow Zebra

Alycia’s Art

The Cozy Nook

Pettengill Farm

Yard Garb

POP & circumstance

Peacefrog Designs

Mermaid Bay Treasures

and there were many many more…See HERE.