Category Archives: Good People

Monday bleurgs- we want SPRING

*Disclaimer disclaimer, not my garden!* In my wildest dreams!

For anyone else with the Monday blues… a wonderful garden timelapse from You Grow Girl to remind us of that time when the snow went away and the plants grew. Maybe it will happen again.

Garden timelapse video from yougrowgirl.com- instant spring therapy

If you are interested in growing anything– whether you have a patch of ground to call your own, or a little plastic bucket on a fire escape, I cannot recommend You Grow Girl (and owner/author Gayla Traill) highly enough. Under the tagline ‘Gardening for the People’, Gayla will show you how to get your own plants going from scratch. She emphasizes affordable, environmentally-friendly techniques for the low budget and/or definitely not Martha Stewart types among us. I loved this site when I was an absolute beginner, and I still love it  now with a few years of horticulture under my belt. Not that you’d guess from looking at my sad, neglected garden. Maybe 2016 is the year I get my act together!

Cover art for You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail.

Cover art for You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail.

PS. Whoever has my beloved , tattered copy of her first book, please give it back. Or I shall haunt you for all time.

 

 

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The Halloweenie

There’s a pointy-clawed, chompy-fanged monster in my house!

The night before a September wedding gig, I sweet talked my husband into taking me to the Humane Society . There was a photo on the adoption page of a little black kitten with the biggest ears you ever saw. His name was Mr. Bingley. And he needed a home.

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At 6:30 the following morning, I was making boutonnieres and kitty was frantically tangling himself up in the top of our kitchen curtains. I wondered if there may have been some poor decision-making on my part.

Mr. Bingley has become quite the little bruiser since then. His ears don’t seem as comically big, and I can’t count as many of his ribs, but he would like to inform you that he is literally starving to death at all times. Please call the SPCA.

When he isn’t screaming at the cupboard where we keep his food, he enjoys standing up on his back legs to try and eat socks, sandwiches, and the strings of your hoodie. He plays fetch with gerbera straws and paper balls. His arch-nemesis is the red laser pointer. His interests include the toilet, the garbage, and- after investigating these items- sticking his paws in your face. His true purpose in life is to get into the flower studio and unspool all the ribbons.

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Naptimes are 9:00 am to 11:00am and 2:00pm to 4:00 pm. Crazy Cat Time (aka ‘run and jump everywhere, claw and bite everything’) is 9:00pm through whenever you hope to go to bed and sleep.
He will frequently arch his back and do a meow-smile that makes him look exactly like a Halloween decoration. He will this zero times if there is a camera around.
Also not pictured- cuddle time when it’s especially cold or you’re having a bad day. I guess we’ll keep the little jackass around.

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In other local news:
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Doc says my wrist is good to go! Special thanks to Dr. Lau and the good folks in orthodpedics at Hotel Dieu. Hip hip hooray, let the physio begin…

Just in time to face down one of the greatest challenges on the florist calendar: the big December 2-4, the C-word itself. I’m not a Christmas in October kind of girl, but the more I work out my plans and designs, the more excited I am about the season.

Think Silver and Gold. And birch and moss and and lotus pods. Cinnamon sticks, orange clove pomanders, and cookies…pinecones and rosehips and painted branches…wreaths and swags and centerpieces, oh my. The whole studio smells of eucalyptus, pine, cloves, and cinnamon.

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You’re welcome to order and talk Xmas any time. I’m ready for early holiday gifts and parties. There will be sneak peeks, but I’d like to hold off on major advertising and announcements until Nov 11 to show respect for our veterans.

Nov 12? Showtime! (Anyone remember that? From Beetlejuice? Anyone?)

Happy Halloween!

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Filed under actually not flowers, Day-to-day, Good People, Holidays

Claire and Joel 28.09.2013

Claire and Joel were married in Gananoque on the sunniest late-September day you could ask for.
From our first meeting, Claire wanted a clean, simple look for her wedding flowers (Professional tip: write ‘NO DANGLERS’ in your notes and underline it a couple of times whenever a bride is aiming for this style.)

One of my favourite things about being a wedding florist is seeing how my contribution fits into the day as a whole- I’m like a kid at Christmas waiting for photos a few weeks after the event itself.

Well today’s the day! I thought Niche Photography did such a great job of capturing the simplicity and sheer happiness of this day.

Click to see their album on facebook:

niche facebook screenshot

They captured perfect echoes of black, white, and red in the outfits, decor and architecture, made everything feel not-posed, and used such clean composition and innovative ideas in their shots (That phone-camera-within-photo? Genius!)

Thanks for sharing your gorgeous work, Niche Photography,

and congratulations and many happy years to Claire and Joel!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

PS. Niche is on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Niche-Photography/134633456576434

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Big vs Small

On the left: grocery store sunflower  On the right: Sunflower from my  wholesaler

On the left: grocery store sunflower
On the right: Sunflower from my wholesaler

This morning, a customer ordered a bouquet of pink flowers for his wife.

I have fall colours in at the moment, with a few purple and burgundy blooms, so I asked if we could wait until tomorrow when my wholesaler will come through town again. The customer was fine with this, but I wasn’t satisfied that I had put him off for another day… so what did I do?

I went to the grocery store.  “I’ll buy a couple of fresh market bunches, take them all apart, cherry pick some of the best pink blooms and use them with what I have in stock”, I thought to my clever self.    Wham bam, service with a smile a whole day early- clearly I will be the next Martha Stewart.

Looks ok at first...

Looks ok at first…

As it turns out,  I did not become CEO of a multibillion dollar media company.  I am going to order from my wholesaler and wait until tomorrow after all, but like them science types will tell you– you learn just as much from a failed experiment as a successful one.

The gentleman in line ahead of me was telling the floral department staff that he used to buy all his flowers from a local florist, but now he just comes to the grocery store instead of paying an arm and a leg. I debated whether or not to say anything, and then wondered why I was hesitating to talk about flowers with other people who clearly love flowers.

“I agree with what you’re saying about pricing,” I told them. “I run a small flower studio myself. The prices here are close to what I pay wholesale– I just don’t have the buying power of a national chain.”  We all chatted flowers for a bit. Both the customer and floral dept worker were incredibly friendly, and  I really enjoyed the conversation with them. (Hey, I work from home.  I usually have conversations with the cat.)  Everyone at that counter was happy with what they got and what they spent on it.

Yours for just one limb +HST!

Yours for just one limb +HST!

There is absolutely no way around it- you will pay more to buy flowers from me than you will pay at a grocery store. It’s simple economics and I don’t think anyone is doing anything wrong: the national chains ship in entire truckloads, and other than wedding orders, I tend to buy my flowers by the armload.  My wholesaler is not going to offer me that kind of volume discount, and  I don’t have loss leaders and other revenue streams like the chain stores.  If I dropped my prices to compete with a grocery store… I probably wouldn’t be able to shop at the grocery store.
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On the way home, I wondered how I can articulate why I charge what I charge:

1.Quality.

Those bunches I bought looked great in the shop; the gladiola and little pink spray roses were fine, but when I opened up my mixed bouquet of Ontario blooms, there were rotting leaves, pale stems, mold blooms on some of the flowers. Because the bunch in question hadn’t been correctly processed, the leaves and blooms left below the waterline had begun to rot, and this was affecting all of the flowers. In all good faith, I can’t send out a single stem from that bunch, no matter how much I like the grower,  colour and variety.

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I don’t want it to sound like I’m slamming the workers at the floral department- because of the volumes they are dealing with, and the setup of their shop, they just don’t have the time to pick open and process each and every bunch of flowers that comes through.

I inspect and process every single stem that I receive.

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2. Delivery service

We will hand-deliver those fleurs for you, and we will figure out a specific delivery window that works with your schedule. I don’t think any of the grocery chains in this part of the country offer floral delivery- definitely someone correct me if I’m wrong!

3. Presentation, design, packaging

You can buy a market bunch (I sell them, too- unprocessed bunches direct from my wholesaler- for diy weddings and for the Lush shop at the Cataraqui Town Centre) for far less than a bunch that has been inspected, processed stem by stem, and arranged especially for you.

When I send out an order for a customer, I don’t just leave it in its plastic sleeve. I select  different flowers and foliage, create a custom design tailored to my customer’s vision and budget, and then package their order with biodegradable cello, tissue, and ribbon. The wrapping, tags, and  cards are an integral part of the presentation.

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To borrow another grocery store department as an example, it’s the difference between picking up a boxed cake from the bakery section, or having one custom made and decorated by a local bakery.

The addition of floral departments to grocery chains has really affected florists in North America.
Obviously I’m pretty biased in favour of ‘shop florist!’
and I try to set myself apart from the chain shops by offering custom designs and seeking out the highest quality blooms.

Some people just want a bunch of flowers. Some people want a custom work of floral art. Fortunately, the floral industry in this town is big enough to serve both kinds of customers.
I’m happy when your flowers make you happy.

I would love to hear what you think about grocery store flowers vs. florists- feel free to leave me a comment, internetland!
Also, feel free to stop by with cake, because now that I’ve mentioned it, I really really want some.
Happy Thursday!

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Walking the walk- the incomparable John Geddes

I want to take a break from flowers and weddings and kittens this week, and introduce you to a guy who kicks unbelievable amounts of ass.

Photo credit: johnageddes.com

Photo credit: johnageddes.com

I had met John Geddes a few times over the years at parties for community theatre projects. I knew him well enough to say ‘hi’- he was that doctor with the deep voice who sometimes did Shakespeare, but that was about it.

I really got to know John last summer when I was costuming a fake Shakespeare Coarse Acting Show. I’ll never forget our first non-small-talk conversation: in the back room of the rehearsal space, with lasagne-pan armour and feather hats and fake boobs everywhere, John regaled me with tales of a trip to Amsterdam, including a visit to a fairly raunchy cabaret and spotting some of the performers at breakfast the next morning.

He was wearing tights and trying out various flouncy handkerchiefs and fake goatees at the time. The first rule of wardrobe, especially when dealing with tights and undergarments, is to behave as professionally as possible…but honestly, I wasn’t sure how serious I could be. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

When he isn’t travelling the western world, exploring and photographing our own city, writing articles for the local paper, or playing a role onstage, John can often be found travelling in East Africa.

He is on the board of directors for CanAssist African Relief, a charitable organisation to build and improve infrastructure in East Africa. These guys don’t just raise funds. They take the funds and supplies over there and help build things. One of their donors has actually covered all admin costs for the year as well- so they take ALL of the funds and go over there to build things. No overhead costs.

Pupils at the Kyabazaala Primary School in rural Uganda

Pupils at the Kyabazaala Primary School in rural Uganda. Photo by John Geddes


Those of us lucky enough to be on the good ol’ facebooks with John get to see his gorgeous photos of African wildlife, landscapes, flowers, and the people he meets on his travels. On his facebook feed and blog, we see how the people he visits are working to improve sanitation and education in their communities.

You need someone to come to your rural school and help build a latrine, building, or water catchment system? You need help building the actual school first? Need someone to get $250 together and help fix your well? Better call John. I think there’s a family outside Harare who named their baby after him!

Johnny Jr?

baby Johnny? John’s facebook profile photo

When I heard about the Westgate attack and murders, my first thoughts were of John, who is travelling in East Africa this fall. As it turns out, he was in Uganda at the time and nowhere near Nairobi. I shot a few dollars over to the International Red Cross, went back to my day-to-day life of flowers/weddings/kittens… and didn’t feel quite right.

Obviously when you are so far away from a disaster, there isn’t much you can do, but I’ve found myself falling into a real trap of complacency this year. I thought I should at least try to learn more about what would be helpful.

I messaged John to get his opinion.

His reply:

“If Westerners want to help Kenya, one way would be to continue to support the tourism industry here rather than give in to what terrorists want which is to invoke fear and panic and economic repercussions. Come on safari. Africans, in general, are beautiful, gentle, respectful and welcoming people. Karibu Kenya…
It is only horrible in Nairobi for a square kilometer around the Westgate mall. The rest of the city is in shock but not unsafe. Unfortunately cities or countries get branded as unsafe. Even the Boston Marathon had an attack but people still go to Boston to vacation. I hope they continue to come to Kenya.”

This one is blatantly stolen from John's facebook photos :)

This one is blatantly stolen from John’s facebook photos 🙂

You can read about John’s adventures- in Africa and closer to home- at his blog.

http://johnageddes.com/

And you can learn more about CanAssist’s projects and donate at
http://www.canassistafrica.ca/

john and the biebs

Safe travels, John!
And a happy weekend to all!

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Richelle and Matt’s wedding flowers

Happy Thursday, all!
TGI almost-F, right?

Want to see some detail shots of Richelle and Matt’s wedding flowers from the other weekend?

calla bridal bouquet 1

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I was pretty excited to tackle these calla and peacock feather designs after my first meeting with Richelle.
I’d been online-stalking bouquets with feathers all year, and their wedding venue, the Renaissance on Queen St, has the perfect art deco, Great Gatsby vibe to compliment the architectural flowers and tall feathers.

Richelle made peacock feather fans for her bridesmaids to carry in place of bouquets, and she also made peacock feather bouts and corsages for groomsmen and family members. I think she bought every photo frame, birdcage, and peacock feather in town to create her own centrepieces– most of the decor was already done before I came on the scene!

Richelle carried 7 callas with peacock feathers. I loved the green stripes in these flowers, and found ribbon to match!

Richelle carried 7 callas with peacock feathers. I loved the green stripes in these flowers, and found ribbon to match!

I took care of the bride and flower girl’s bouquets, the groom’s boutonniere, corsages for mothers of the bride and groom, and venue decor.

calla lily peacock wedding bouquet boutonniere

The Renaissance was built in the 1800s and used to be a church- but the colour and materials remind me of the 30s.

The Renaissance was built in the 1800s and used to be a church- but the colour and materials remind me of the 30s.

We used a garland to frame the couple as they said their vows in front of the fireplace.

We used a garland to frame the couple as they said their vows in front of the fireplace.

Garland and fireplace detail.

Garland and fireplace detail.

Garland close up- the father of the bride made gold letters to spell the word 'always'

Garland close up- the father of the bride made gold letters to spell the word ‘always’

I was chatting with the venue manager Denis while setting up, and he says giant potted palms look great with all that crystal and marble, too. (He commented on the originality of our window urns and garland- I consider that a pretty big compliment from someone who sees two or three weddings per weekend!)

Urn inserts of curly willow, fern, eucalyptus, and ruscus

Urn inserts of curly willow, fern, eucalyptus, and ruscus

Everyone I met at the Renaissance was friendly and helpful, and I hear the whole day was amazing. Get yourself over there if you’re looking for a Kingston event venue with a bit of 30s sparkle.

Three cheers for the newlyweds- thanks again for letting me create the flowers for your big day!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Congratulations, Ashley!

Ashley Raposo is the winner of our giveaway draw from the Kingston Wedding Show this past Sunday. Congratulations, Ashley!
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And congratulations to everyone getting married! We met brides and grooms-to-be from Kingston West to Belleville to Carlton Place, with wedding dates this year, next year, and even in 2015.
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The wedding show was a great day out at at fun, classy event- think cocktail bar and live music on the top floor of the Holiday Inn waterfront.
I got to meet some great wedding folks from the area, including Nancy from Forget me Not Wedding Flowers and Michelle from Chartreuse Flower Works- I’d been stalking their gorgeous work online for a while, it was so cool to meet them in person. Best of all, the whole event raised funds for the Kidney Foundation, so all those sample cupcakes and cake pops and hors d’oeuvres I devoured were for a great cause.
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It’s thank you time: thanks to Danielle Kesco at kingstonweddingshow.com for organising the whole shebang, and thanks to all the staff at the Holiday Inn. They were calm, cool, friendly and so helpful; if you’re looking for a hotel wedding venue on the waterfront, they would be worth checking out.
wedding show booth

I usually work solo, but it’s best to have at least two people on deck for these kinds of events. I couldn’t have pulled the day off without my mom, Christine. You need someone to get up ridiculously early on a Sunday and pack your car full of lanterns and flowers and then stand until 4pm? You need a few spare roses just before go-time? You need someone to remind you that a handful of Riesens is not breakfast, and then whip a bagel and coffee out of her ginormous purse? This woman, I tell ya. She did deliveries for me on Mother’s Day. Yep. Thanks, Momsy!

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Well my magical weekend came to an abrupt end with fillings at the dentist and a dead car battery on Monday, so I guess it’s time to get back to real life. Still, when real life has moments like this…
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it’s kind of hard to complain.
Happy Wednesday, all!

PS. Ashley, I’ve sent you an email. Shoot me a message or give me a call!

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