Who am I?

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I shared this photo yesterday, on a whim, on my personal Facebook page and received lots of comments. Most people wrote things like, “You look so happy!” or “This is a great photo.”

I have to say, I am THE most happy at the moment right then, right before I would be completely ready for my holiday workshops to begin for my annual wreaths and kissing balls attendees.

Cathy Testa right before attendees were to arrive!

This photo, taken two years ago, was on a sparkling, yet brisk cold, December morning. I got up early before all the wonderful attendees arrive, working diligently with my helpful and happy husband to get all the beautiful fresh mixed greens on tables. All this work always took place right before the workshop was to start on the day off.

Boxwood in a Galvanized Bin

From fresh Balsam Firs, so traditional for the Christmas scents we are familiar with, to elegant florals such as Berried Eucalyptus. All would be carefully placed on rustic tables and shelves. Some bundles were placed in red plastic bins or galvanized rustic buckets in wheel barrels. Whatever we had on hand to make all the taking easy for everyone.

Fresh Juniper in a Wheel Barrel

It would be so pretty when we were done setting all the greens up. I would be freezing cold at times with the tips of my fingers being numb even while wearing gloves, and feel like my eyes were tired (why the big sunglasses over my eye glasses in that photo), yet, I always took the time for photos to capture these moments just before guests would begin to arrive. Every minute, from our first sip of coffee that day till the start time of my holiday workshop was consumed with work for both me and my husband.

Decor everywhere

There have been many years where I was completely exhausted from all the organizing type stresses. Will my greens by okay? Will there be enough greens? Will I be able to handle a group of 35-40 very excited women ready to make wreaths?! Will the weather cooperate? Will it be windy? Usually all my anticipation would start to fill my mind, of course, as I laid my head on the pillow the evenings before the big workshop days.

The days or even weeks before the event, I would start to decorate here and there, adding holiday touches in my home, on my property, and in the staging area for the greens. I always wanted to make everything perfect, or as best as possible. It needed to be a cozy, organized, and a welcoming event.

Cathy T’s Holiday Red Hat on the KB Sign

We would stage all the fresh holiday greens, many varieties, in a beautiful wood shed, which my husband built for his wood. For many years, he sacrificed the space on one side for us, for this workshop event, for the ladies. What a man, Mr. KB Claus. He never once complained about that. This year, of course, it is all filled with his stacked wood. And he just happily stacked his wood this year without ever a mention of how he gave up the space all those years prior for my workshops.

Decorations all around

It almost looked like a manger on my holiday workshop days, as one attendee stated one year. It wouldn’t be long before I learned, I need elf helpers because the large group took a lot of coordinated effort, and fortunately for me, I am blessed with three close friends who offered to help me and my hubby.

My elf helpers – They even agreed to wear the festive aprons I got them last year!

But this year is different, very different. My holiday offerings are different, our upcoming family and friend gatherings are different, and our holiday anticipation, in many ways, will be different. All due to COVID entering our worlds. Who would EVER imagine COVID would be here still in the month of November. Into, what eight months, since this all started in March? My goodness!

So this year, as I’ve noted, I am taking custom orders for wreaths and kissing balls, as well as offering fresh greens by the box. All the details are outlined on my site, http://www.WorkshopsCT.com. I have my holiday face mask ready to greet anyone coming by for orders, and my helpful and festive hubby already built a stand for safe zero contact porch-pick-ups. Well, it will be driveway pick-ups this year. The stand he built is from wood limbs of trees around our property, which make it rustic looking. I can’t wait to hang my custom wreaths and kissing balls on it for orders. I think it will look pretty. And this starts next week, immediately after Thanksgiving Day.

Steve, Mr. KB Claus, Holding a Wreath made by Cathy T last year for a customer

So who am I? Well, I guess this holiday season, I am still Mrs. KB Claus but in a different format. Not sure what my title will be but I do know, I thoroughly enjoy working with the beautiful fresh holiday greens creating and it will certainly help ease our COVID situations. Creating with greens is an amazing escape from any concerns we may have as we stay safe at home. And I’m sure my husband will tolerate all my antics along the way!

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

Token Males, I used to call them as a joke, hanging out with Steve by the firepit outdoors while us festive women created our holiday items!

8 Days Till Christmas

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Is it 8 days till Christmas? Or…8 days till Christmas Eve?

Guess that depends on how you count the days!

For me, I was on a 15 day of a cold – coughing and feeling quite run down. I remember one day, when having a moment to pause, I felt suddenly exhausted. But, I got through it all: The KB Celebration this month, the KB Workshops, and the Holiday Custom Orders, the client installs, but we still have 8 days, and I’m sure many of you are running around finalizing your holiday plans from gift shopping to food shopping.

Gift Certificates or Hostess Gifts

I still have those 8 days for any last minute requests – Need a Gift Certificate to next year’s workshops? I have them in stock. Just reach out. Need a small plant related holiday gift – ask. I have some cute items I make by order, and I don’t even post any photos of them – they are too unique. Great as hostess gifts or for table decor.

What is KB? You may ask…

KB, as most of you know, is my short-cut name for Kissing Balls. I held all workshops of where everyone makes their KBs, along with wreaths and candle centerpieces, except one session, because I just was too sick AND lost my voice. I didn’t want to spread my germs to the private group either – and I will make it up to them next year somehow. Thankfully, they were very understanding. But the workshops held were super fun and festive. I posted lots of photos on my Facebook and Instagram Pages. Everyone’s creations were well-done.

KB Celebration 2019 by C Testa Copywrite_0004

Attendee to our KB Celebration 

2020 Planning

Next year – OMG, I took out my first 2020 calendar and started to jot dates down based on last year’s happenings. The season will most likely start with my “Seed Starting Sessions” and Seed Starting Presentations. That can start up as early as February for me. I will start preparing the game plans, outlines, seed calendars, and handouts in February, probably around the same time of doing taxes (ack!) but then the classes (or sessions) on seed starting will most likely be around March 14, March 21st, and even March 28th – but these dates are all tentative. Will keep you updated in early 2020.

tomatoe 2018_0002

I need to review other activity first – but I think those dates above are my targets. In April, there is a part two to my Seed Starting Sessions – called, Seed Monitoring. I think I will follow the same format at last year. I really enjoyed the whole Seed Starting (for tomatoes and peppers primarily) offerings. It was one of my most rewarding workshops. Why? Because it was continuous. I got to see how everyone’s starter plants did over the summer, see their harvest, and it was really a good feeling to see how happy everyone was. Who doesn’t love their own homegrown fresh tomato, right?

May’s Topic

Then, in May, should I do the Succulent Hanging Baskets again? Should I offer a new topic? I may poll my attendees or maybe I will come up with something new. I’ve been focused on succulents the past few years. Maybe it is time to return to perennials, tropical plants, or even houseplants? TBD on all of that. But, if I did offer a workshop on container gardening or patio pots, it would most likely fall around May 9th and May 16th in 2020. I do have some new ideas brewing. Stay tuned.

Good Photo Kim with Hanger

Summer Months

The summer months are usually quiet in regards to workshops, but my container installs keep me busy during the height of the watering and flowering season, no worries there, but I usually don’t offer any big workshops mid-summer. People are usually on vacation! Even so, the time moves so quickly every summer. In fact, I keep so busy watering my own container gardens at home that I promise myself EVERY year to not plant as many containers and patio pots at my own home, but what do I do? I always plant tons cause the plant passion grabs me. But grabbing that hose was hard on my arms last year. I got tennis elbow in not one, but both arms. I think it was from the hose dragging all summer long. Of course, I usually have various types of plants for sale during this time as well.

Autumn

Fall arrives very quickly after summer, and we move in the Succulent Topped Pumpkins workshops, which I always feel is a keeper. Will I offer it again? I think so. If yes, I’m looking at the dates of Oct 3rd and Oct 10th. All TBD at the moment. Just scanning the 2020 calendar today for the first time. But if you want to pencil them in….

Custom Pumpkins by C Testa Copywrite_0006

Holiday Workshops

OK, so the big question is – will the Holiday Workshops continue in 2020? I think so on those too. I am toying with the idea of more dates and smaller groups – but I don’t know – it is so popular and I feel like everyone relies on me now to kick off the holiday season with this fabulous and festive workshop. I will have to just wait till I get closer to decide. My tentative dates noted are December 5th and December 12th for now.

End of Year

As I reflect on 2019, I am so thankful for the workshops attendees of 2019 and of past years, and thankful for new clients who found me this year. For the garden talks and presentations at garden clubs and local farmers markets too – great groups this year. I’m also thankful for the inspiration, creativity, and fun we had through it all. It was a very busy year, and I think I said that last year, but this year was busier. In fact, they say it takes 5 years for a business to take off – I disagree – for me it was 10 years of practice, trial, and persistence. My 10th year has been the busiest.

I hope the 2020 year will bring lots of the same fun and maybe a little more controlled hectic schedule. When I finally decide on the exact 2020 workshop dates, I will be sure to post it to keep you updated.

Have a good pre-week before Christmas you all.

Stay Healthy. Stay Happy.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Container Crazy CT
http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
http://www.ContainerGardensCT.com

KB Celebration 2019 by C Testa Copywrite_0003

Cathy T with Hubby Steve 2019

Round Two and Three for KB!

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Beg Advance 2019

My next workshop is coming up on Saturday, December 7th, 2019 and all seats have been taken. We got our first decent snow fall yesterday and last night. In fact, my husband is out there right now plowing our driveway before heading to work.

The snow is a plus for our holiday greenery creations made in my workshops. The cold temperatures and a bit of moisture from the snow or mist falling on the kissing balls and/or wreaths prolong the life of the creations! That is the good news. But snow is somewhat of a PIA when it comes to moving in and out of the house or going back and forth to work or for holiday shopping, etc. However, the sun should (hopefully) shine during the next couple days, and it is always gorgeous out when there is full sun after a white snowy storm.

Last Saturday was quite the day. Everyone was super festive, in the spirit, and made the most gorgeous creations with fresh greens. The only down fall was I felt under the weather – darn colds, why do they exist? But this class was filled with mostly regulars and long-time attendees – so they know what to do. I am filled with warmth knowing and hearing about how attendees stepped up to help attendees who needed help. Also, my 3 Elf Helpers did so much to help and assist, I can’t thank them enough. Thanks to all.

This workshop has grown quite large and I’m getting older – it is not so easy to organize all and the timing for many aspects has to happen right before or after. People stepped up to help me when the caterer was late, the teacher (me) was a bit under the weather, and the clean-up needed to be done. Team work – so nice. Good thing I have thorough handouts to help too!

I don’t like to have anything not done well, so the patience was appreciated. The other good news, is hopefully, I’m getting better now. I did loose my voice but it sounds better this morning, and my sister, who is a singer, gave me all the tips on how to not stress the vocal cords more – like don’t whisper! So last night, I was actually “texting” my husband to save my voice to discuss upcoming items on the to-do list.

I’m making custom wreath and kissing ball orders for people this week too. That was actually very soothing for me yesterday because I didn’t focus on my little cold and took my time making some wreaths. I love the way they came out. And I always put on a holiday movie that is a bit corny but there is always a message, and good ones, so that is nice to have in the background while creating. It takes me two hours to make a wreath from start to finish with decor – and movies are usually two hours – perfect!

Now, up next, is the next Holiday Workshop on Saturday, Dec 7, and then another one on Sunday, Dec 8. Reminders to the attendees will be sent out mid-week. I’m so glad now that I did not plan a mid-week class. I needed the much needed rest! Mrs. KB Cathy Claus has been busy.

Photos will be posted later. I’m soooo excited I hired a pro photographer for last Saturday, and I sooooo can’t wait to see the photos. It will be a great way to see what I missed during the day.

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Cathy T.
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473

 

Twas the Night Before KB…and

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Workshops by C Testa Copywrite_0007

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

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

Holiday Workshops by C Testa Copywrite_0004

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

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

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

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

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

KB Workshops by C Testa Copywrite_0004

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

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

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

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

It is go time! Ho, Ho, Ho!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercrazyct

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Getting into The Spirit of Fall

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Everywhere you go in the retail stores, you will see a bit of both these days – fall and holiday decorations and supplies. A month ago, I saw so much holiday decor in a store, I told myself – don’t look that way and stay focused on fall.

I love both seasons, of course, and I also have lots of activities surrounding both in my world of offering workshops and seasonal plant related gifts.

For example, in October, my succulent topped pumpkin workshops and custom orders kick it off. Then, as October comes to an end, a craft fair or holiday event pops up, which quickly leads to my holiday workshops in early December where we make kissing balls and wreaths.

Fall Fair by C Testa Copywrite_0004

As I worked in my greenhouse yesterday preparing for a fall craft fair coming up next weekend (as noted above), I was totally in the mood for fall. I know the holidays are right around the corner, but fall is still in the air. The fallen tree leaves crunched under my hiking boots as I walked the path to my greenhouse, and the cold brisk morning temperatures were just chilly enough to require a vest to keep warm, but not a jacket.

These environmental elements are what gets my mood into a particular seasonal theme. In fact, I went to a couple fall themed events last Saturday with Steve, my husband. The weather was predicted to be sunny and warm – and I was feeling like taking a break and enjoying the fall scenes, while they last, because it won’t be long before fall moves by quickly.

We drove to a pumpkin event in Coventry, CT at a church, which turned out to be directly across the street (practically) to a restaurant we enjoy there. The pumpkins were being sold at a church and the money is donated to various causes, one of which is a Navajo Indian farm. Since it was a nice area, we picked this as our first stop on Saturday.

The pumpkins were quite large and so were the gourds of various colors which I had not seen these colors before. I thought how wonderful some of these would have been for my succulent topped pumpkin workshops in October, but no matter, I still was there to enjoy them for carving or other projects.

Fall Fair by C Testa Copywrite_0007

I picked out this one for myself. This gourd weighs a lot but I just may make something creative with it this week. I had never seen this orange and white pattern on a gourd before. It is not a candidate for carving because it is so thick, but I couldn’t resist it.

Because the sun was brightly shining on this little journey of our’s, and the color of the shrubs next to the church were so intensely red, I used the opportunity to have Steve take a photo of me. As you can see, we were in the pumpkin and fall mood for sure.

Fall Fair by C Testa Copywrite_0005

I absolutely love that Steve enjoys fall adventures like this as much as I do. He is a kid at heart when it comes to carving pumpkins (and me too). He picked out a large tall one for his carving plans the next day.

Fall Fair by C Testa Copywrite_0006

After we visited this church and had lunch nearby, we drove back roads over to Manchester, CT and it turned out to be a spontaneous beautiful ride with some foliage colors still to be enjoyed. Steve commented how wonderful these roads would be on the motorcycle. He was starting to appreciate that we decided to take the day to have some fall fun.

In Manchester, we visited some small shops on Main Street during a Halloween Candy event, which even if you don’t have kids (we do not), you might enjoy. Seeing all the creative costumes and the smiles on the children’s faces is another way to get into the spirit of the fall season. Plus, they have a couple breweries in that area and we stopped at one which Steve also appreciated.

All of this activity got my spirit into creating plant related gift items and decor themed in fall colors, but I am still making some fun holiday items too. One of the fall items are large glass globes filled with live succulents and decor of orange and yellow fall colors. These will be available at this weekend’s Fall Craft Fair at the Stafford Fire Department’s event on Saturday, November 2nd which runs from 9 am to 2 pm.

 

Fall Fair by C Testa Copywrite_0003

I was debating whether I should create holiday items or fall themes for this craft show. As I got into making items, I let the fall spirit nature guide me. The natural cones and lotus pods of warm vibes as well as some vivid and bright orange and yellow fall decor let me go into that decorating mode. I think our Saturday adventure helped me get into that mode too, which was perhaps another reason why we got out there for some fall events.

This fall fair is expected to have various craft vendors, some of which are hand-made pottery and other items. I’m sure it will be a fun day for me – and you too if you decided to stop by! I always love meeting other vendors and adventuring to a new place, as you never know what kind of inspiration you will get from it – like we did this past weekend. Stafford is also another nearby town to be appreciated in all seasons. They have a local cidery and gift shops. They have a lot to offer and it is not far from the fire house.

Fall Fair by C Testa Copywrite_0002

Here are the details, again, of the location and event:

2019 Annual Fall Craft Fair at Stafford Fire Department No. 1 Ladies Auxiliary
Saturday, November 2nd, 9 am to 2 pm
27 Willington Avenue, Stafford Springs, CT

Stafford Fire Dept Building

Hope you will have the opportunity to swing by this weekend!

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

www.WorkshopsCT.com
www.ContainerGardensCT.com

Custom Orders for Wreaths and KBs

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Hello all!

Just a friendly reminder,

I am continuing to hand make custom wreaths, kissing balls, swags,
and offer boxes of greens till Christmas!

winter fest_0001

My wreaths are very full and fluffy –
and I use between 12-15 different variety of fresh, aromatic greens.

They are adorned with a bow of your color choice (red, gold, candy cane, etc.)
and some faux berries with small glass ornaments,
or may be left natural if you desire one with no decor.

Kissing Balls and Swags are made with various greens as well.

We have about a week and a half left before the big Christmas day, so don’t delay.
*** Pick up in Broad Brook, CT by Appointment. ***

IMG_0389

On Saturday, December 15th, I will be one of the many vendors
at the Stafford Winter Fest.

The market is held indoors in the town hall on Main Street.

If you have not been to downtown Stafford Springs, CT in a long time, now is the time.

The Main Street runs direct to the Town Hall – the building facing the rotary, and there are shops along the way on Main Street. Many are new and happening!

There is a wonderful coffee pastry shop, pottery store, a cidery, vintage type store, a restaurant or two, and there will be a food truck in the parking lot
as well near the town hall.

Grab your umbrella and come visit.
The town hall is a lovely old building with stairs to the 2nd floor to the market place.
It is not too many stairs either – I tested it out! My hips are not as friendly now, LOL.

I am going to be there with hand-held styled holiday gifts adorned with succulents and greens, and greenery fresh items – all will be perfect for those last minute gifts or decorations.

Market place runs from 3 pm to 7 pm, and during the day, as noted on the flyer above, and there are other fun events happening same day in town.

See you soon,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook, CT

KB Wreath Promo xmas

How many Fridays until Christmas?

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Do you ever see that question posted on Facebook about how many Fridays until Christmas?

I have recently, and I’ll be honest, I will think, “Ugh. I don’t want to see those types of posts yet.”

However, I am guilty as charged of making my first holiday related social media post yesterday, when I announced the 2018 dates for my Annual Holiday Kissing Ball & Wreath Making workshops.

They are December 1st and December 5th, 2018, which is only 12 Fridays until our 9th Annual Event.

greens by Cathy T_0014

All of the links to register and confirm are on WORKSHOPSCT.com.

And guess what, the minute it was posted, people signed up. This event fills quickly every year, so please, if interested, visit the site and get your name on the list.

And that is ALL I will say on that for Christmas and the holidays for now.

Faux Pumpkins Grouping

On to autumn, as noted in the prior post, is all about making Succulent Topped Pumpkins and other Autumn inspired decor.

We have seats remaining for the first session date on October 6th and many seats available on the weeknight session date, October 10th.

Details on our autumn workshops are here. We make gorgeous tabletop centerpieces using real or faux pumpkins with fresh, live succulents. Come join the creativity of our workshops!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Broad Brook, CT 06016

First Cool Fall Day – Get Ready to Craft

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Yesterday, my sniffles and sneezes would not stop. It got to the point my eyes were red from rubbing them. Yes, the cool fall air arrived and it made me go into fall allergy mode.

But today, it is going to be warmer and humid. It seems mother nature and the fact hurricane winds hitting the North and South Carolina coasts are shuffling up the air here in CT, it will be a bit warmer today, but still wet.

Most of us are probably looking forward to fall cool air and are ready to welcome it. But with that comes some gardening chores, like disassembly of our patio pots before frost in October, and putting things away. Alas, it is time to take down my many tomato plants in my pots and grow bags on the driveway, but it was a good season for eating them. I am thankful for a good summer season.

For me, because I have so many plants outside to take care of and put away, I will start slowly and keep working on it every day until October gives us a fall freeze. To try to do it all in one day is too difficult for me – now that I’m in my 50’s. But it is always worth it – my deck was “jungle style” with many tropical plants and my bigger pots in the yard have huge plants in them right now to take down but all is so rewarding – it gives me so much joy and relaxation to watch my plants grow and provide a living environment all around us in the summer, I just love it. I think the animals, birds, and bees love it too.

In between these fall gardening “chores”, I also get crafty and have been showing some prototypes on my Instagram feed of succulent hanging dish plates (a new trend spotted on Instagram), and I made a Spooky Halloween Terrarium prototype (kits are for sale now), and I also been playing around with decoupage to put natural leaves picked from the yard’s plants on white pumpkins, and I even tried out some turkey feathers on another small white pumpkin, which I thought gave that pumpkin a “spooky” feel to it. It has been fun getting crafty as we wait for the full fall weather to be here permanently.

In addition, I want to pot up some bulbs (daffs and tulips) and chill them to have them forced early in the spring for inside the home. They bulbs are stocked in the nurseries now and it is time to pick them up. You may plant them outdoors now anytime until the ground freezes. But I also want to test them out in small pots, put in the fridge for the required weeks, and then take out to grow and bloom in early spring or even in late winter. I will let you know how that goes. If successful, that could be another new workshop to offer next fall season.

Mothers Day Copywrite CCC_0001

Despite the humid heat of this summer, which was brutal and increased the critters on plants (ugh), I did finish up a big project I really wanted to do this season, which was stain the boards inside my greenhouse which support the clear panels of the roof. This was a big job. I would start early in the day like 6 am, and stop by 11 am because of the summer heat being too much. Imagine how much hotter it is on a ladder staining at ceiling level in a greenhouse. I must be crazy – but it is done and now the wood will be preserved for more years to come in my most favorite place in the world.

Succ Pumpkins copywrite Container Crazy CT_0001

So, back to autumn and fall, here are some things coming up:

New Events and Workshops

A demonstration at Ellington’s Farmers Market on Sept 29th – Look for me in the small round gazebo. I am usually in the larger gazebo but a band will be there and of course, all their amazing vendors are at the market, and lots of pumpkins, I am sure. To learn more, visit their website.

Two workshops at my Broad Brook, CT location on Succulent Topped Pumpkins on Oct 6 and 10th – Sign-up now. We have seats still available but the first workshop is starting to fill up. I am SO LOOKING forward to this workshop. We will be making our gorgeous centerpieces again using real and faux pumpkin with live beautiful succulents. Each year, the tips and tricks get better – This is year 3 of offering this seasonal workshop. $15 to register, plants for sale at the workshops, and all details are on my WORKSHOPSCT.com site.

flyer succ pump 2018

A day at the Strong Family Farm Harvest Festival on October 20th – Mark the date. This a historic farm with so many new updates and a beautiful barn. They will have many vendors in their large field, and fun things to do with kids – so mark the date. I love this place. It is located in Vernon, CT.

Faux Pumpkins Grouping

Garden Talk at the East Hartford Garden Club on Oct 22nd with succulent sales. I really enjoyed speaking to this club last year, and they asked me back. You guessed it – we will be talking Succulent Pumpkin Centerpieces. Contact the club if interested in attending.

spooky terrarium copywrite photo C Testa_0003

New Items – Spooky Kits:

I am now offering “Spooky Halloween Terrarium Kits” for sale – see www.WORKSHOPSCT.com. I had so much fun making a prototype with a skull embellishment on the glass and adding cacti. Kits are available now. The glass bowl is embellished with a skull applique which makes it super cool for the Halloween season. The internal components, 2 cacti plants, and instructions are part of the kit.

spooky terrarium copywrite photo C Testa_0001

9th Annual KB Workshops

My 9th Annual Holiday Kissing Ball & Wreath Making Workshops will be opening by end of September for pre-registrations. Stay tuned. We are offering Advanced and Beginner sessions this year. We absolutely love offering this quality workshop with fresh live greens – and this year is year 9. OMG. That means, next year, it will be a decade of a holiday event I truly cherish and love offering. It takes a lot of work and coordination and I’m thankful to have my elf helpers – so stay tuned – it is coming.

BBPOTS Container Crazy CT_0007

Hope to see you soon.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
Broad Brook, CT

 

My First Square Wreath Done!

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Greeting Fellow Visitors,

Making a square wreath is a little more challenging as compared to a typical round wreath because of the corners and how you should keep the greens symmetrical to maintain the square look of the frame – but it is just as much fun as any project working with freshly cut evergreens.

Steps to Make a Square Wreath:

First, decide if want to batch your bundles of freshly cut greens by the “same type/variety” or by a “mix of each type” per bundle.

Mix of Fresh Cut Evergreens

Mix of Fresh Cut Evergreens

Because I wanted to see how it would look if I cut and batched the fresh evergreens by same type, this is the option I used to make my first square wreath.

However, I also love the look of bundles when a mix of each cutting or snip of the various greens are batched and bundled as well. It just depends on your preference or style.

Types of Evergreens Used:

Shown above, from left to right, are Holly, Berried Juniper, Silver Fir, Fraser Fir, Cedar Coned, Boxwood, and Golden Arborvitae.

Highlights of the Evergreens:

  • Holly – Very sharp leaves, and more of a decor touch – I only used 2 batches of those.
  • Berried Juniper – What is a wreath, kissing ball, or centerpiece without a touch of the berried Juniper? The soft, blue tones add a contrast and like the Holly, I made only 2-3 bundles of this to add as a highlight.
  • Silver Fir – Thick stems, one sided long soft needles (meaning the underside color is softer), and smells amazing when cut!!
  • Fraser Fir – Very long lasting, a must in any arrangement, traditional – just like Balsam, but Fraser is what I had available this season.
  • Cedar Coned – I love, love, love the golden color of the little cones on the tips – and it really shows up against darker greens, like the Boxwood. This type tends to drupe or dangle, so use care where you position it.
  • Boxwood – This is another fav – because it is so classic, a rich dark green color, small ovate like leaves, and a bonus is they don’t make your hands sticky while you work.  It’s a dark contrast of green to use in the design and a nice base, such as the Fraser Fir or Balsam.
  • Golden Arborvitae – Soft, flexible yet so beautiful – it has patterns of golden yellow in the green, and really so pretty to add as another element. Like the Cedar, it is a little softer and pliable.
  • Pine – Also smells amazing when cut, very sappy, and thin, long, flexible needles, nice next to coarse greens. Think thick foliage next to fine.

Cutting the Snips for Bundles:

So, cut a few of each at all the same length (4-5″ or 5-6″) and wire them together tightly at the cut end with green florist wire. Use sharp pruners and wear gloves, otherwise, you will have a sticky mess on your hands, and lots of lotion required afterwards.

Prepared Bundles:

Here are several bundles prepared. It is easier and faster to work if you have all the bundles ready to go, then you can lay them out on top of your frame to see how they would look before attaching them individually on the frame.

Bundles Prepared

Bundles Prepared

Think about putting the lighter colored bundles next to darker ones. For example, dark green Boxwood next to the light blue of the berried Juniper or the softer Golden Arborvitae. However, in the end, I don’t think it much matters, as all the beautiful freshly cut evergreens on the wreath usually look amazing!

Dark Green Boxwood

Dark Green Boxwood

14″ Wire Frame Used:

A heavy-duty double-wire 14″ square frame was used for this wreath. The durable frame is usable year after year, which is why I highlighted it at my class on making kissing balls and other holiday creations last weekend.

14" Wire Frame Used

14″ Wire Frame Used

Shown above are several of the bundles attached.  You can see there are two bars along each side of the frame.

Options are to wrap each bundle directly over the middle of those two bars, or to stagger them on each edge of the double bars. If you have a paddle of florist wire, wrap the stem end to the wire, then continue for each bundle without cutting the wire from the paddle.

Working Way Around

Working Way Around

Or you can cut wire as you go – either way works – but the key is to wire tightly. Wrap, pull tight, wrap a few times more to ensure it is secure.  The Silver Fir, as an example, can be heavy as well as a batch of drooping Cedars, so be aware of their weight for each bundle.  Boxwood and Fraser Fir are lighter thus may not require as much wiring.

Golden Arborvitae Used in the Design

Golden Arborvitae Used in the Design

As you approach each corner, think about the placement a bit so the square form is maintained. It also helps to watch a good holiday movie or listen to holiday tunes, and if your day is lightly snowing!

Snowfall that day in Broad Brook, CT

Snowfall that day in Broad Brook, CT

Here is my first ever made finished square wreath without decor and ribbons. The little red berries are double-ended on a wire and easy to attach. The look here is natural and likable, but decor was added after this step.

Square Wreath with Red Berries Attached

Square Wreath with Red Berries Attached

Adding Decor:

This step is really based on your preference. I made a bow to match the color of my white and red holiday decor colors at the house, and inserted picks of white snowflakes. Zip ties are what I use to attach a hanger on the back.

Bow on the Left Side

Bow on the Left Side

Silver Snowflakes Added

Silver Snowflakes Added

All Done!

Here it is all finished and hung on my door.  When my hubby arrived home, he said he liked it and that it smelled good too. And, when posted, many friends “liked it” which was very nice too – Thank you!

All Done!

All Done!

Want to Make Your Own ?? – Now’s Your Last Chance at Cathy T’s!

I’m holding a mini-session tomorrow, Saturday, Dec 13th from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. If interested in attending, contact me via text or call: 860-977-9473 or email containercathy@gmail.com. Cost is $30-35 based on item you elect to make. Options: Kissing Ball, Candle Centerpiece, Round Wreath – or, of course, a Square Wreath!!!  Location: Broad Brook, CT.

This will be your last opportunity to Make Your Own, but if you don’t have time, and need a decor element made for your home, custom orders are accepted.

TGIF Everyone,

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

Visit Cathy T’s Pinboards on Holidays to see many, many inspirational ideas of working with evergreens!  Click the Pinterest Icon on the right side bar of this blog.

To see examples of Cathy T’s Container Gardens Stuffed with Evergreens – See her latest posts and pinboards.  Ho-Ho-Ho-Horticulturist!!!