Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Northwest Flower and Garden Festival: I Know You'll Love It


As a new girl in the Pacific Northwest, the garden learning curve is steep. It’s exciting to move to a more temperate zone (from 6a to 8b) but my new-construction house and square lawn means my garden is truly a blank slate.

Where did I start learning about my new climate? The NorthwestFlower & Garden Festival in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center February 20-24, 2019. My experience with the show began in the press room with incredibly kind members of the GWA: Association of Garden Writers (now known as GardenComm).

As a blogger, I was thrilled to cover this famous show. I have self-published 3 books that highlight my love of flower arranging, gardening, edible flowers and floral portraits.  My mission as a writer and photographer is to dissolve the barrier between busy American women, who get their information and inspiration through their phones, and the “you-need-to-know-a-lot” world of horticulture.

In addition to blogging, I am an artist/photographer and I was carrying one of my DELIGHT magazine bags (the "Loving Roses" issue). It caught the eye of GWA members Marianne Binetti and Mary-Kate Mackey. We all started talking and the next thing I knew, they were introducing me to everyone in the press room and encouraging me to come to the GWA Connect Meeting the next night. I met a whirl of members who echoed a message of “I’m so glad you joined!” They were supportive of my work and how I fit into the new definition of garden communicating.
It’s two years later now and I feel like I’ve found long-lost cousins. We speak the same language and love the same things. I walk into the Washington Convention Center every February and I am back at a botanical family reunion, hugging those I’ve gotten to know better through Facebook and introducing myself to names I only know on-screen. It is fantastic. I am also a new Regional Director for GWA/GardenComm and I am honored to help enrich this dynamic group.

My personal mission is to get more people to attend and love the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. I want you to buy two tickets (early bird pricing is still available) and make plans with a friend to attend the show. You will be inspired and delighted. I promise. Continue reading this post to see just what the show is like.

From my perspective, the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival covers the intersections of all the things I love. Cakes that look like birch trees; air plants arranged like wallpaper and blown glass vegetables that add visual vitamins to any kitchen. It is impossible not to be inspired.
("Father's Day" by Nature Perfect Landscape & Design 2018)

At the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, I start my week with the media tour.  Trying to absorb and photograph each of 16 grand show gardens in a manner of minutes is difficult. We all appreciate Marianne Binetti’s insight and coaching to keep our lenses focused on the important elements and story-telling details. Last year’s theme was “Garden Party,” a celebration in honor of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show’s 30th year. Built by some of the region’s best designers and landscape professionals, these show gardens are a breath of fresh air.  The outside is brought indoors. Green grass, blooming trees, water flowing, camellias flowering and a carpet of bulbs in bloom – it is the reassurance of spring that we all need in February.
("For the Apple of My Eye" by Avid Landscape Design & Devel 2018)

The first full day of the show (this year: Weds Feb 20), I usually walk the floor with my mom. We admire the show gardens, search for seeds, investigate a vertical aero-growing system and buy beeswax candles. When we stop for lunch, we always end up sharing a table with other plant lovers and these local gardeners give great advice.
(Sedum Chicks booth)

Another fun part of the show is the Vintage Garden Market—booths crammed with up-cycled and vintage items, often planted with primulas or violets. Charming and fresh, this section of the show inspires us all to work with what we have, to create meaningful and storied displays in our home. I am weak and I usually buy vintage Pyrex, antique tins and charming garden ephemera.

For Writers & Influencers, Thursday begins early with an informal Tweet-Up, linking social media with garden blogging, networking, and swag. The house lights are up and the phones are out. After leaving our mark online (#NWFGS and #springinfeb), I concentrate on the vendors in the Marketplace, where French linens, Victorian greenhouses, and glass garden art prove that the show had something for everyone.
(Secrets in the Attic booth)

Last year I spent an hour at Debra Lee Baldwin’s seminar about caring for succulents in the Pacific Northwest. The breadth of content covered in the seminars is staggering and more than half of the speakers are GWA (now known as GardenComm) members. I think it’s wonderful that attendees can learn as much about design and the use of color in the garden, as they can about shade, drainage, and soil pH. Pick a class, any class, they are all free to attendees.

That same afternoon, I sat in on a session of Floral Wars. Gina Thresher, AIFD took on Jon Robert Throne, AIFD in a healthy floral design competition. Presented by American Grown Flowers, Floral Wars was hosted by Debra Prinzing of SlowFlowers.com. Debra answered questions and encouraged the designers to share tips and tricks during their speed rounds creating a bridal bouquet, grand foyer arrangement and trendy floral crown. The crowd loved this event and we all left with a greater appreciation for texture and scale used in floral design.

May you all find time to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival this year; I know that you will love it and you must share what inspired you. I hope you have a wonderful growing season ahead of you and may the internet connect us like far-flung cousins until we meet again, hopefully at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. 

I always carry one of my ANA Delight totes, so you’ll know its me. Please say Hi!


#NWFGS #springinfeb #momentsofdelight #gardencomm #gwa #gardenlife #gardenlover #gardencommunicators #gardenphotography #gardenwriter 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Jam Jar Snack Bags

Can you stand it? These are zip-close Jam Jar snack bags from Kikkerland. As a someone who likes to be prepared (think of tote bag stocked with tissues, a pen, a small flashlight and a phone charger) this is my favorite product from 2018.

I bought various sizes of these bags at a gift shop called, The Front Porch in Sutton Bay, Michigan. I amused myself all summer long carrying snacks with me in these reusable bags. The highlight was when I pulled them out of my carry on during our long flight from Seattle to Orlando. I consider these travel essentials.

When I am shopping, I often rationalize a purchase by saying that Cute is Forever. I know that I will find joy in this item for as long as I have it. My feelings for jam jar bags are right up there with monograms and vanity Kleenex. I don't know why I like them, I just do.

I know that I will relay on these cute, washable snack bags on picnics and road trips for years to come.  

#snackbags #jamjars #jamjar #kikkerland #design #cuteisforever #momentsofdelight #travelessentials #travelaccessories

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Heirloom Cookshop: An Evening to Relax and Braise

The neighborhood that I moved into is new construction and with the boom of the tech industry in Seattle, it has attracted families from all over the country and the world. I am really enjoying my new neighbors and I'm grateful that they are planning many fun ways to connect. In November, some of us enrolled in a one-night cooking class called "Braising" at Heirloom Cookshop in Snoqualmie, Washington. You should read my first post about this cool food-focused business.
The 4-hour class started with a glass of wine and a beautiful board of prosciutto, cheese, dried apricots, candied nuts and Marcona almonds to snack on. We introduced ourselves and discussed how familiar we were with cooking & braising in our own kitchen. Chef Schu explained that braising revolves around searing and caramelizing the exterior of food and then cooking it in liquid at a lower temperature to develop flavor and ensure tenderness. Since one of the recipes required a long braise, we would be preparing the first few steps of the recipe and then switching to one that she had cooked the night before, so that we would be able to taste the finished product - so smart. We would be making Ancho Chile-Braised Short Ribs, Yogurt-Braised Chicken with Sumac, Ginger and Cilantro, Braised Cabbage with Fennel and Pancetta and Caramelized Braised Pears with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
The students sat at stools around a beautiful wood bar top table. Chef Schu teaches from one side, near the stove and it really works. We could see her explaining knife skills and follow her instructions for cutting up vegetables or preparing the pears. Of course, we needed to approach the stock pot to see how the chicken was searing etc., and we were able to come over and look to gauge the process. I know how to cook, but I thought it was a really fun and relaxed class full of good information. Our group and the other students asked a lot of questions and it led to some great side conversations with Chef Schu about cooking, sourcing and loving food. 
We took notes throughout the class on the recipe packet provided, and now we can recreate these hearty braised dishes at home. While the pillar of a cooking class is the instruction, you need to know that the meal we created was delicious too.  

The ancho chile beef short ribs were rich, tender and satisfying. The yogurt-braised chicken was really nice. The sumac gave it a feeling of sweetness, but that was balanced out with lemon and salt. I enjoyed it and I would certainly make it on my own. The cabbage was a pleasant surprise. I can't say that I'm likely to make it, but I certainly won't pass on cabbage anymore when it is a choice. The pears with cinnamon whipped cream was as wonderful as it sounds and we ate ourselves silly on this dessert.

The entire evening was fun and I'd take another class in a second. In fact, I'm eyeing her Valentine's Candy-making class. If you enjoy food and cooking, I encourage you to visit the Heirloom Cookshop in historic Snoqualmie.

#heirloomcookshop #snoqualmie #cookingclass #foodgoals #cheflife #chefkristenschumacher #smalltownlife #sustainablebusiness #food #cookshop #smallbusiness #womanownedbusiness #cookingclass #braising101 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Heirloom Cookshop: Food Focused in Snoqualmie

I consider myself lucky to live close to a stylish, food-focused business like the Heirloom Cookshop. Located in a historic building in downtown Snoqualmie, Washington. Chef Kristen Schumacher's Heirloom Cookshop is part retail (I covet the salts, oils and boozy cherries), part cooking school (I just attended her class on Braising) and part grab & go gourmet lunch spot. The business also hosts a year round Happy Hour every Thursday from 5-8 and has organized a weekly Green Market with vendors in tents selling fresh produce, baked goods and local flowers on Friday nights from 4-7 pm during the growing season. Bravo.

I love everything about Heirloom Cookshop and appreciate that the various aspects of the business are like satellites revolving around the sun. It all relates to good food, fresh flavors, sustainable practices and culinary triumphs. 

Tomorrow, I will tell you all about my first class at Heirloom Cookshop. 

#heirloomcookshop #snoqualmie #cookingclass #foodgoals #cheflife #smalltownlife #sustainablebusiness #food #cookshop #smallbusiness #womanownedbusiness