New Attendees at the Evergreens Creations Class by Cathy T

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cathy Testa

HOMEMADE HOLIDAY GIFTS AT THE MARKET

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Greetings Visitors!

Heads-up, if you are in need of an evergreen wreath, candle centerpiece, cute and festive table décor, door swags or other evergreen creations, and live locally to my neck of the woods and nearby towns, please stop by on Friday, December 14th, at the Ellington Winter Market, 11 Pinney Street in the YMCA Building, 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm.

I will be there tucked in the corner surrounded by evergreens.  It is a great opportunity to pick up a hostess gift if you are on your way to a holiday gathering, a festive item to dress up your home, and holiday presents for your family and friends.  We know we all have very busy schedules this time of year, however, it only takes a few seconds to swing on your way to shopping malls or gatherings.  You will find other wonderful homemade and hand-crafted local gifts at the market – it is their Holiday Festival Date this Friday at the Ellington Winter Market.

At the Market

Cathy T at the Market

Yesterday, because I wasn’t exactly sure where the YMCA Building is located, I decided to take a ride after picking up my cat from the vet.  Here was my cat, meowing louder than a hungry baby in the car, and me driving down Windsorville Road.  The cat was becoming so loud, I accidentally took a left onto Pinney Road (instead of Pinney Street).  It didn’t take long for me to discover my error, I should have continued straight down Windsorville Road to the rotary.  Follow the rotary circle and take the 4th exit onto Rt 286/Pinney Street.  The YMCA Building is on your right shortly thereafter.  There is plenty of parking in the front.  http://mapq.st/UBgg6g

You know, I’ve never been inside this building before.  It is amazing how many new places I’m introduced to in town from the markets and my garden presentations, from libraries to churches.  Makes me realize, I need to check out my local offerings more often!  Shame on me!

There are many services, sometimes services which are free, which we overlook.  In fact, this afternoon I plan to go visit the new Vernon Community Arts Center at 709 Hartford Turnpike.  Up to Sunday, December 23, they are showcasing 70 local artists works.  Hours vary, so visit www.vernonarts.org to find the times, but I definitely want to go there to get some unusual holiday gifts.  And support our motivated and talented local artists.

I also have to make it out to the East Windsor Trolley Museum to see Jeannie Pomeroy-Murphy sing.  She is a local friend from my high school class, and I still haven’t made it out there – shame on me!  The CT Trolley Museum is having their Winterfest every weekend until Sunday, December 30th.  Great for kids because of the ride of lights on the antique trolleys.  For hours, visit www.ct-trolley.org.  They took a hit earlier this year, when someone stole items, which I read about in the newspaper.  This is the perfect time of year to help them recoop from the impact, by utilizing their services and seeing Jeannie sing too – support our local venues, they need us.

Maybe we need a tour bus arranged so we can be shuttled to all the local events as it seems they can be easily overlooked or there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day.  As for myself, I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping – I might as well have fun while doing it – so going to local events is one great way to do so.  Cathy T

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Evergreen Kissing Balls Class 2012

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Candle Centerpiece

Good Morning, or Afternoon Everyone!

Today is the day I have the pleasure of teaching attendees the how-to’s of making gorgeous evergreen kissing balls for the holidays.  Wreath making is also being offered as well as mailbox swags, button balls, candle center pieces, and more.  This is my third annual class on this topic, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to hold it because is it fun, creative, and everyone leaves with a hand-made evergreen decoration.

For those reading my blog regularly, you know this tradition – at least for me – is partly due to my Canadian heritage, and the other part of the formula is being in the world of horticulture.  It can be dreary looking outside in the winter months, and having evergreens around your home in various décor showcases surely cheers one up.  It adds a nice dark green color against the soft snow of the season.Birdbath with Evergreens

I hang two kissing balls from hooks by my entrance door every year, on hooks used for hanging baskets in the summer.  I also make an evergreen topper for my whiskey barrels and insert a big wicker snowman with lights in the center.  I like putting evergreens on a iron garden bench and on the rim of my hearted birdbath.  And I hang evergreen garlands from various places too.  The list goes on.

Festive SnowyAs shown on my latest guest appearance on the CT Style televisions program (See:  http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/ct_style/holiday-kissing-ball#.ULnhI10o7IU), I mentioned kissing balls don’t just have to be hung from hooks or from the ceiling of your entrance doors or wrap around porches, although they look absolutely gorgeous there.  They can also be placed in a pretty holiday tin as a table centerpiece. Or you can create festive and fun snow man by using a kissing ball as the body. Another new creation I invented is what I call a “button ball” which is almost a full ball that is hung on the base of your windows, outdoors, on the center of the base.  Just think creatively.

Yesterday, my oil delivery guy tapped on my door to hand in my bill, and he said, “Your place looks so nice!”  I told him I was setting up a class and had people attending tomorrow.  He asked for what?…, and of course, I pointed to my kissing balls hanging right there, he said they were beautiful.  You know, I’ve had the mail man complement me on plants in summer, the woman delivering the newspapers mentioning she enjoys my big container garden season change up by the end of my driveway, and even an electrician this summer, working here, bought an item of mine on his way out that I just made for the farmers market.  He said his wife still raves about it still.

Candle CenterpieceThree days after my kissing ball and wreath making class, I’m holding a class at my local East Windsor Senior Center on how to make candle centerpieces with evergreens and decor.  My parents go to this senior center every single day, yes every week day, for lunch.  They love it there.  I never thought they would be so involved in a senior center, only because they spent so much time at home on our farm, and many of their best friends were Canadian relatives, but now he has many town friends from the senior center.

One day I ran into a person who is involved in running the center, and he said, at first my father was very quiet, yet now he talks to everyone non-stop.  I’m so glad the center is here for my parents, I truly appreciate this helpful service at a time when my parents are retired.  The senior center staff invited me to have lunch with them before we begin our hands-on session for candle centerpieces.  This is another class I’m looking forward to doing, especially because the attendees are good friends of my parents, and it is a local venue.

ev on plateThen it is off to decorating some business store fronts with evergreen décor and hopefully, after that is done, I can do a little more at home for myself.  Some of my favorite evergreens to use are boxwood, balsam and fraser firs, blue berried juniper, coned cedar, yew, holly, and white pine.  I went over why during my television segment, and will during classes.

I also love collecting pine cones which I bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at a low temperature to kill any little critters that maybe hanging out in there, and this also opens them up if they are closed tight.  The fragrance emitted, as they slowly warmed up, is interesting, and kind of sets the mood too.

Beautiful, fresh, and textural evergreens dress up your outdoor environment this time of year, and will add a bit of fresh fragrance, and create festive, welcoming environment.  Once decorated, they can’t be beat and I think even the birds enjoy them.

A new trend I’m seeing is the evergreens are showcasing more unique light products, such as solar powered lights that can be tucked in the base, or you can put a string of lights in the base on top of the soil before inserting your greens and painted or natural branches for holiday outdoor containers and pots filled with evergreens.  You can even create an ice globe by filling a balloon with water, putting outdoors during freezing temps, it will freeze into a ball.  Then just peal off the balloon and you have an ice globe.  This globe tucked into the base of the evergreens in a holiday pot with lights can look very cool during the evenings.  And if it melts, oh well, that just gives some moisture to the tips and cuttings.

This year’s class is full, but keep it in mind for next season as it will return and grow each year.  Also, if you are interested in a custom order for evergreen décor, do not hesitate to contact me at cathy.testa@aol.com or 860-977-9473.  Thank you for visiting.  Don’t forget to see more photos on my business Facebook page:  Cathy T’s Landscape Designs, and on Pinterest for my holiday boards for ideas.  Cathy T