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

 

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

JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design – Next Guest Instructors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Floral Design Workshop

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

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

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

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

To Register

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

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

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

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

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Workshop Fun – Oh, What Fun We Had!

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

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

Oh, what fun we had!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up Next:

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

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

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

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

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Gift Cards are Available

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

Happy Friday Everyone,

Cathy Testa