Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Own Color Chart: Tea with Milk

The main table and chairs in our new house are actually a set my parents had from years ago. I have been calling the color of the wood butterscotch for months now, trying to shop for fabric to recover the chair cushions and to bring the overall decorating scheme together.

Yesterday, I walked past the table carrying a mug of tea and it became very clear that the color of this wood is Tea with Milk. Cute, eh?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2017: Surrounded by Succulents

(It was this selection at a local garden center that got me thinking about buying succulents. 
This is the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.)

I love to write about themes I notice at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Everywhere I looked this year, I saw succulents. Firm, dusty, pastel beauties adding a touch of dry elegance to everything from cakes to grand floral displays. They were for sale, of course at the many garden center booths. I was tempted!
Pine Creek Farm & Nursery (Vintage Garden Market, Booth 80) arranged a display that looked like the 50 Shade of Green! I just love how they layered old paint and new growth to make a booth you simply had to stop and admire. They had succulents tucked in small pots for sale - what a wonderful gift.

I have been planning to make myself a tabletop arrangement of succulents in a large cement bowl for my partially shaded deck. Planning is the operative word, as it snowed enough to cover the grass last night. Drat.

So all I can do is plan right now, which is why it's a perfect week to go to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show!
Fena Flowers used succulents in their prize winning floral arrangement. They gave us a "A Floral Feast" by mixing vegetables with vibrant blooms and they won First Place!
Here is a closer look at Fena Flowers' beautiful floral display. The entry featured fresh vegetables (notice the slices of purple cabbage), flowers and succulents. It is a masterpiece. My favorite part is how they arranged carrots and scallions across the top of the display and made their growth a focal point. It is witty and wonderful.
I absolutely loved how Celebrity Cake Studio in Tacoma, WA created this striking southwestern style cake featuring in edible succulents. They didn't stop at a great cake, but included edible potted succulents as well. Bravo!

Have I convinced you that succulents are everywhere at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show? I know that part of the appeal is their require low maintenance care. I was given a tiny succulent in a sweet pot last week and was told that all I need is bright light and 2 Tablespoons of water once a week during the warm months. It's easy! 

Succulents here I come. As for you, be sure to come to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2017: Shopping Mecca

There is far more than ferns and fertilizer at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I will spotlight some great gifts in this post and offer you the online links to track them down. This magnificent show is over now, but you can mark Feb 11 on your calendar for next year.

I already regret not buying this adorable lavender sachet lamb at Pelindaba Lavender (Booth 1015) and plan on giving them a call to place an order. I love everything about it: it's a lamb; it smells like lavender; it would make a lovely gift. 
Swansons Nursery (Booth 1218) was loaded with beautiful plants, terrariums and home decor items this year. The stand out for me was this beautiful strand of glass orbs in various shade of green. Each strand was light and lovely. I stood and looked at it in awe, like the way I admire a new box of crayons. 
JohnBob Cool Junk (Booth 84 in Vintage Garden Market) had these charming heart sachets made from vintage linens. The world has gotten away from keeping sweet smelling sachets in their drawers, but its not too late. Lets make our lives lovely again. This is a great place to start. Do you know a bride? Give her one of these at her bridal shower.
Jessica Thompson Jewelry & Accessories (Booth 505) had two displays that I thought you should see. The beautiful turquoise pieces (above) and these happy print scarves (below). They are at the intersection of beautiful and interesting.
There was an artist at the show that made me stop and stare. I realized that I had seen her work before and confirmed that she has a booth at Pike Place Market - huzzah! Look at the magnificent glass beads made by Isisray (Booth 315).
She also makes shaped glass beads - who wouldn't love some vegetables?
I simply couldn't leave with out this floral bracelet and it became my first purchase at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show this year. I had her clasp it on my wrist and I showed it off to attendees all day. It looks wonderful with my ribbon watch!
This year's show was loaded with art. Pieces made in many different materials for a wide range of tastes. In addition to classic piece of garden art, there were paintings, rain gauges, bird houses and antique clocks. You will find hundreds of objects that could enhance your home and garden. 

Mark your calendars: Next year's Northwest Flower & Garden Show starts February 7-11, 2018.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2017: Vintage Garden Market

I am in love with this display by Eyes Upon You (Vintage Garden Market) at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

This collage of old award ribbons and vintage photographs sets the mood for the kinds of treasures that Eyes Upon You sell: scales, kitchen implements, baskets - all interesting items that can be used in new ways to add charm to your surroundings.
There are 20 vendors in the Vintage Market section of the show and it is my favorite area to hang out. I get inspired when I see old teapots planted with a deep blue primula or a vintage map.
How do I explain what is for sale in the Vintage Garden Market? A little bit of everything re imagined with an artist's eye. A faded ladder becomes a charming display. An old wooden croquet set on the porch can be the perfect thing to make a new construction porch seem like an old family place. There is vintage Pyrex (I bought some at *Eyes Upon You - below) and concrete lamb statues; metal cake stands and distressed wire baskets.

Come and shop, I know you'll find something full of character. 

#NWFGS #Seattle

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2017: First Blush

(Orchid Garden Wedding Banquet display garden 

It's February in Seattle, but we can all pretend spring is here at the beloved Northwest Flower and Garden Show. This tremendous show has a world of inspiration and opportunity all under one roof. 

Your experience will begin with a long walk along the raised garden "Blooming Abundance" created by the Flower Growers of Puget Sound. A spectacular selection of flowering bulbs, plants, herbs and trees that showcase our local bounty. Every item shown here is available in local nurseries right now. 
After purchasing your ticket, stop and admire the Floral Competition entries and try to decide which designer suits your aesthetic. I dare you to pick just one! 

Young Flowers accented their stunning arrangement called "Succulent & Delicious" (below) with clusters of live succulents in dusty green. This luscious design was awarded 3rd Place in the Floral Competition - congratulations!
Now enter the South Hall of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle and wind your way around the 20 display gardens. They are life size representations of each landscape design company's style or aesthetic. What a wonderful way for them to bring their vision to life. 
"An Evening in the Mountains" designed by Choice Landscapes

There are boulders as big as a small car, full-size trees, real grass, giant water features, garden sheds, glass greenhouses - all telling a story in keeping with the theme: A Taste of Spring

Visually, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show is top notch. And I haven't even told you about the shopping yet! Stay tuned. #NWFGS

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why You Should Attend the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show is designed to delight every possible kind of gardener. In truth, the show covers such a wide range of interests and skill levels, I can't imagine someone that wouldn't enjoy exploring the show.

When you think of these broad topics:

  • full scale examples of how to design a backyard for entertaining
  • a vendor selling every possible dahlia tuber ready to plant
  • a tasting corner dedicated to selling craft food made by local artisans
  • a seminar on how to plant succulents into a vertical art piece
  • a vendor selling in lavender products made in the Pacific Northwest
  • a lecture on how to attract bees and butterflies to your yard
  • a garden center set up to sell books, terrariums and air plants for apartment living
To me, it seems almost silly to bill this show as one for gardeners. Its a show for people and I insist you come check it out.

Visually, you will be astonished by the scale and beauty of the 20 large display gardens. Flowering trees, giant boulders, live moss and spring bulbs are woven together to create themed vignettes all celebrating this year's theme: A Taste of Spring. This portion of the garden show is all for show. Stand and soak it in.

Take pictures and imagine incorporating some of the scale-able elements into your own backyard. The popularity of Northwest Flower and Garden Show goes far beyond these impressive display gardens. There are also living plants of all varieties for sale (succulents, fern, ivy, seeds, bulbs) in the Plant Market. I know, it's a lot.

The selection of garden and flower related products to shop for in the 350-vendor Marketplace is second to none. Need flower arranging tools, garden baskets, bonsai scissors or oilcloth aprons? They've got you covered. In my opinion, access to the Marketplace alone is worth the price of admission.

Looking for a concrete ideas and a chance to mull over what you've seen so far? Look at the schedule and take a seat in one of the 100 free how-to presentations.

Ready for lunch? There are great choices this year from salads and pasta, to soups, burgers and cheese platters, in addition to craft beer and regional wine.

There is more to tell, of course. Floral competitions to judge. Garden War competitions to cheer. Landscapers to hire. A garden society to join. I will be attending the show tomorrow (Weds) and delving in more deeply to be able to give you a tailored look at the show. 
"Good Times, Great Food" by Nature Perfect Landscape & Design)

Tomorrow night I swear I'll have 100 more reasons to attend this year's Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Enjoying the show is easy, doing justice to it is the hard part!

Show is open Wednesday, Feb 22 - Saturday, Feb 25 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 26 from 9am - 6pm. #NWFGS #tasteofspring #seattle

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Genius of Burpee: Advent Calendar Promotion

Every once in a while I come across something that deserves an award in promotions & marketing. This year the award goes to the Burpee Seed Company.

They created an advent calendar for the 2017 holiday season and mailed it to garden writers and journalists. The calendar features the Burpee Seed House (which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places) and behind each of the 25 windows of the advent calendar is a tiny packet of seeds. Each package of seeds is a sample of a new Burpee variety.

You can applaud now. Isn't that the cutest idea ever?  It is clever, interesting, unique and builds anticipation. It actually transcends marketing and would be a fantastic item to sell in gift shops and garden centers. I mean it! I can think of a lot of people that would love to get this whimsical gift.

I have to tell you that I have not opened all of my windows yet. My move was scheduled just after Christmas and I was nervous that I would lose the seed packets in the chaos. My dormant treasures are still safe behind the paper windows. When I am ready to sow seeds I will open them all with abandon.

My all-time-favorite-advent-calendar came with an informative booklet that includes a photograph, a description of each new seed and the plant's attributes. Genius.
I have to mention something that is so interesting about the historic Burpee Seed House on the calendar. The booklet explains that the seed house was designed and built in the late 1800's to let in as much natural light as possible in late summer/early fall. It wasn't a safe environment for candles so the employees worked by the natural light from the windows to wash, grade, sort and catalog the seeds. Isn't that wonderful? 

I love everything about this advent calendar promotion:
  • It is beautifully designed and therefore fun to display
  • It builds anticipation for growing season in the darkest time of the year
  • It is informative and tells you everything you need to know about the product
  • It blends the history of the company while including the latest products they offer
Bravo, Burpee! I can't wait to try out some of your latest and greatest seeds. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in USA: Montalcino Ristorante in Issaquah, WA

I knew I loved this place! I am happy to share that local gem, Montalcino Ristorante was named to Open Table's 2017 Top 100 most romantic restaurants in the United States

Do you use Open Table to make reservations and research dining options? I have relied on this company for years and love using their app to secure a table when the occasion arises.

After the monumental task of moving across the country, we have lived in our new home for just one month. When I thought about plans for Valentine's Day, I knew that we needed to go out for a lovely meal and toast our sucess.

The best meal I have had in years was at Montalcino Ristorante in Issaquah, so I used Open Table to made a reservation for the week of Valentine's Day.

We both ordered halibut in a herb-infused cream sauce. It was topped with a seared prawn and scallop was served with homemade risotto and roasted vegetables. Swoon. It was perfect. The sauce was delicious - flavored with a touch of lemon, a few capers and dose of Italian magic that makes something taste rich and complex.  We ate every bite of our generous meal and still had room to share a tiramisu. Eyelashes flutter.

The candles, the acoustic singer (who doesn't want to hear Volare sung in Italian?), the touch of dessert wine provided at the end of the meal - it all felt authentic and wonderful. 

Good job, Open Table, you are on point. I too highly recommend Montalcino Ristorante for a romantic dinner just 20 min East of Seattle. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Glass Blowing: Make A Piece of Art

This is my new favorite souvenir for Seattle. A blown glass ornament that I made (under close observation) at the glass blowing studio, Art By Fire in Issaquah. 

From now on, I am going to suggest this as an activity for my out-of-town guests. It's really fun. It takes less than 30 minutes. And everyone leaves with a beautiful souvenir (after leaving it at the studio overnight to cool).

I found out about Art By Fire when I bought their "Glass Blowing Session for 4" during a silent auction at the Compassion House Pie Auction, remember
I brought three friends with me and we all really enjoyed it. First you take the prepared iron rod and heat the glass in the kiln by turning it constantly. The consistency of hot glass is similar to honey - you have to turn it or it will flow right off the rod!
I dipped my base glass into tiny glass pebbles (my base was green and I dipped into red and white) and then returned it to the kiln to melt the smaller pieces into the main ornament. After that, I blew into the pipe and turned it to make a round ornament shape.
This photo (above) shows the turning and cooling process. I clamped those tongs a little to fast (I thought it would be harder and I gave it too much gusto) and we almost lost the ornament, but the skilled glass blower assigned to me saved the day.

I just loved making this ornament and would recommend the experience to anyone (over 12). I've heard that people are happiest when they spend money on an experience. This must be one of those instances, for I love this piece of blown glass art and the memories I have from making it. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day: Cookie Decorating

Happy Valentine's Day! This day holds a special day in my heart as it was the day in school that we celebrated my August birthday. I was always in charge of the class treats and I loved it.

This past Sunday, I attended a cookie decorating experience that I had signed up for on a whim. I am very new to my area and I thought that an hour of cookie decorating could help me to meet some people who live nearby. 

The brainchild behind "come use our frosting and sprinkles to make some sweet treats for your family" is Katie from Steve's Doughnuts in Snoqualmie. She had everything ready and we could make 6 masterpieces for $5. These are my edible works of art. 

It was fun, unexpected and delightful. I met 3 nice women in the area and I the cookies were delish. Thanks, Katie.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Save the Date Feb 22 thru 26

Mark this on your calendar: Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, Feb 22-26. I attended last year and it was a whirl of delight. 

I also found a new tribe. In my life in Michigan, very few of my peers had gardens or practiced flower arranging. I had a huge rose garden, a cutting garden, herb pots, container gardens, you name it. I loved it every day, but I didn't have many people to talk to about it, let alone get advice.

When I attended the Northwest Flower and Garden Show Press Preview and Twitter "Tweet Up" last year, I was overwhelmed with the kindness and community that exists between garden writers. 

I entered with a long history of blogging about things that make people happy: color, sugar and flowers are my favorite topics. I make day bags that feature a Delight magazine cover. It is my imaginary magazine that I design using my photographs and article titles to create something that I would want to read. I call them Delight Totes and I carried one that featured roses to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show last year.  
My Delight Tote was a great conversation starter and it lead me to connect with some wonderful garden writers. They included me in discussions, introduced me to other writers, invited me to sit in on a Garden Writers of America meeting (loved it!) and encouraged me to jump into this world with both feet. Most of the people that I met were longtime friends with the other attendees, as a result of this country's vibrant garden industry. 

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show serves as a writing reunion of sorts, bringing like minded people together to talk about their favorite things: plants, flowers, vegetables and Mother Nature herself. 

Most of this tribe are garden writers for magazines, newspapers and their own blogs; Many had expanded their work into writing books and giving lectures on horticulture (many were speaking at this show, of course!); All of them went out of their way to make me feel welcome. 

What is interesting is that we had so very much in common (I also blog, speak to large groups, have written books and love gardening), but I am also out of my depth the minute someone refers to the Latin name of a plant. 

I think it was my Delight tote covered in flowers, that reminded everyone that we were indeed kindred spirits. I can't wait to attend the show this year and see what surprises and conversations are in store for me. Last year I was "just visiting" as I built the framework of a new life out West. Now I'm here for good and I'm ready!

#NWFGS #Seattle #Garden

Monday, February 6, 2017

Heart shaped Waffles

My friend Angie got my 12 Days of Valentine's Day back on track when she texted me a picture from the new Crate and Barrel catalog. An entire page dedicated to Valentine's Day and the focus was a new heart-shaped waffle maker

Dan and I were given a heart-shaped waffle maker for an engagement present in 1992 and it finally stopped worked just a few years ago. I've missed it; Angie knew it and suddenly had an urgent errand to run.

I tried it out last week and the results were delicious. Good eye, Angie!

Friday, February 3, 2017

12 Days of Valentine's Day starts Feb 3rd

When's the last time you knew you were going to have fun for 12 days straight?  
I know, we don't often look at things that way, and that is precisely the beauty of celebrating the "12 Days of Valentine's Day".  It's a time when you do little things to show love for family, friends and while you're at it, yourself. Wear pink one day, make a cake, put out red place mats - everything counts when you are celebrating the fact that you love a lot of people. 

There is no set schedule; Nor is there a "number" relationship, meaning you don't have to sneak 10 Hershey kisses into a loved one's pocket just because it is Day 10 (but what a great idea!).  Nope, you just do what feels right (and fits into your schedule) on any particular day leading up to Valentine's Day.  When someone compliments your pink scarf, just smile and say that its in honor of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  If your neighbor questions your sudden gift of 6 muffins, cite your inspiration, The 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  Have fun with it.

Remember, this is a gift of the heart, so any gesture, no matter how small, will be appreciated.  If you type valentines into the search box at the top/right of my Moments Of Delight blog, you'll see lots of Valentine's posts from prior years. Have fun!

*This is my beautiful heart-shaped shell covered box. I have it on display this month in my living room. A small treasure with a big message.