{ Archive for the ‘projects and crafts’ Category }

Even plastic flowers can brighten my day

I received the latest ‘In Our Own Words’ newsletter from Anthropologie this afternoon, which was aptly titled ‘From bottle to blossom’ and it brightened my day! It turns out if you cut around the screw top of a plastic bottle, you can get some pretty interesting flower shapes. This discovery led to Anthropologie incorporating the nifty little blooms into their spring window concepts. I just might have to make some. Here are some pics the company posted to their Flickr account!

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A Christmas pickle?

pickleThe folks at Canadian Tire hosted a festive ‘Christmas in July’ event back in the summer at their offices. Upon leaving, we got a gift bag of holiday treats featuring some of their products, like NOMA tree lights and a Christmas pickle ornament. I found this last item a little odd until I read on the tag that in Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the tree–said pickle–would be hidden among the boughs and the first child to find it Christmas morning would be blessed with good luck. I wonder if they used a real pickle back then! Needless to say, this little gem is going to my good friend Heather who LOVES dill pickles.

In looking on the Canadian Tire site for my pickle pic, I happened across a neat tool they’ve created that lets you upload a photo of your house so you can try out the different Christmas lights and outdoor ornaments they sell in the store. There is a Christmas tree decorator, as well. And yes, you can see how the pickle might look hanging from your tree!

Highlights from the Evergreen Festival

Last week, I was thrilled to be a part of Elaine Martin aka The Vintage Gardener's Evergreen Festival. I helped Elaine as she demonstrated how easy it is to put together gorgeous holiday urns and I also presented a little session on forcing amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for the holidays.

My assistant editor, Jen Murray, came along to videotape my seminar (which we'll be posting soon!) and we took lots of snaps of Elaine's beautiful holiday fair, some of which I've displayed below.

Fellow gardening writer, Mark Disero, also published his take on the day.

Me posing with a couple of urns that were created during Elaine's presentation.

Me posing with a couple of urns that were created during Elaine's presentation.

One of Elaine's gorgeous evergreen carts where you could pick and choose what you wanted to use to create wreaths, urns, bows, etc.

One of Elaine's gorgeous evergreen carts where you could pick and choose what you wanted to use to create wreaths, urns, garlands, bows, etc.

One of the lovely pots Elaine helped me create as I explained how to force amaryllis bulbs. You can't see them, but they're hiding among the greenery and will grow around the branches in this lovely arrangement.

One of the lovely pots Elaine helped me create as I explained how to force amaryllis bulbs. You can't see them, but they're hiding among the greenery and will grow around the branches in this lovely arrangement.

My new fave: The pincushion flower

It was about a month or so ago that I first laid eyes on the pincushion flower. So when I needed to figure out what I wanted to carry at my wedding (which took place this past weekend), yellow pincushion flowers came to mind not only for their unique beauty, but because I liked the sewing connection, as well. I also ordered some extra to display on the tables at our venue, School Bakery & Cafe. Besides the yellow orbs of the pincushion blooms, I was pretty clueless as to what else I could put with them. Without having an example flower on hand, Helen at Anthi Floral Boutique was so helpful recommending complementary greenery — Jamaica greens and bear grass for the vases and aspidistra for the wedding bouquets. For vases I used Bernardin jars that I got thanks to my Uncle Glenn, and then I tied black raffia around the necks as a finishing touch.

For the bouquets my sister and I carried, we removed the greenery from the lower stem of the pincushion flowers and wrapped them in aspidistra and raffia.

Below is an image of one of my vases. I was very pleased with how they turned out!

pincushion

Visit the Evergreen Festival November 18-19 for holiday decorating ideas

I think it was back in September that Elaine Martin from Vintage Gardener asked me to help out with her Evergreen Festival. I happily accepted because I love anything to do with decorating for Christmas. I also really admire Elaine's style, creativity and her entrepreneurial spirit. We first met at a Vintage Gardener event in February that I went to with my mom. As Elaine demonstrated how to force branches and create interesting arrangements, each spring-filled pot was snapped up by a guest before she'd even finished with it!

The Evergreen Festival takes place next Wednesday and Thursday (November 18 and 19) at the Fermenting Cellar in Toronto's Distillery District. There will be a stage with chairs so you can watch holiday decorating presentations by Elaine, Gemini Nominee Ambrose Price and others. I will be presenting a seminar on forcing paperwhites and growing amaryllis!

There will also be a French-style market with flower carts where you can make your own bows from ribbon, wreaths, evergreen miniatures and more! Partial proceeds from the event will be given to the new Ronald McDonald House.

For anyone in the GTA who is interested in attending next week, I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away! Leave a comment below telling me how you use evergreens and other florals to decorate for the holidays. I will randomly draw 5 names on Monday.

The image on the promotional postcard was part of Elaine's spread in the November issue of Style at Home.

The image on the promotional postcard was part of Elaine's spread in the November issue of Style at Home.


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How should I carve this year’s pumpkins?

I love that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year. Usually it’s such a rush to carve something the night before (anything sooner is squirrel supper). Last year we got creative and scooped an idea from Martha Stewart’s Halloween issue (here is her gallery of jack-o’-lanterns). This year we have three pumpkins. Not sure what they’ll be transformed into, but we’ve got all day to figure it out!

If you’re not into pumpkin carving, try this neat idea from Mark Disero at gardentoronto.ca. Mark uses orange spotlights to turn his house into a jack-o’-lantern!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

My pumpkin from last year - infested by rats and creepie crawlies!

My pumpkin from last year - infested by rats and creepie crawlies!

Dining between the charcuterie and the olives

Two nights ago I attended the launch of A Taste of Ontario, a cookbook jointly published by the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and Foodland Ontario. The dinner was hosted by Mark McEwan and held at his new 23,000-square-foot grocery store, McEwan (located in The Shops at Don Mills). Between the European-style meat, deli and dessert counters, we sampled some of the delicious recipes conceived by award-winning chef Anthony John Dalupan.

Besides launching this free cookbook (which you can also download as a PDF here), the event was meant to showcase the fresh local produce from Ontario greenhouse growers. And what a difference the lack of distance between your food and your plate can make. I received an amazing basket of vegetables from local greenhouse growers — the taste and quality are amazing!

So in the dead of winter when you're trolling the grocery store for healthy local produce, keep an eye out for greenhouse-grown produce from a local grower.

Also, stay tuned as I will be posting an excerpt from the cookbook on our site!

It was pretty neat eating dinner in a grocery store, especially McEwan - I will definitely be going back to treat myself to some of the amazing cuts of meat, salads and produce!

It was pretty neat eating dinner in a grocery store, especially McEwan - I will definitely be going back to treat myself to some of the amazing cuts of meat, salads and produce!

I'll be cracking open A Taste of Ontario to use up some of these delicious peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes I received!

I'll be cracking open A Taste of Ontario to use up some of these delicious peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes I received!

A bumper crop of teeny tomatillos

The tomatillos that managed to escape my broiler and blender last year reseeded themselves and produced three plants this spring. There could have been more, but I think I inadvertently pulled some out. Anyhow, they are finally ready and survived this frosty week. They are much smaller than last year, but made a delicious salsa verde last night. Last year I mentioned a recipe I found on CanadianLiving.com, but I also really enjoy the variation I’ve created with a recipe from the old Wish magazine site because it calls for honey. A delicious addition to the tacos I made last night… yum!

Don’t forget the flowers!

happy-bunch-227If you’re attending Thanksgiving dinner hosted by friends or family this weekend, don’t forget the flowers. Cut flower bouquets make a great hostess gift. You can either stop off at your local florist to choose a lovely arrangement or you can create your own. Either way, they’ll make a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table!

For a few ideas on festive arrangements you can make yourself, check out these bouquets.

A lush fall centrepiece

A happy bunch of fall flowers

Three fall centrepieces for the harvest table

Fabulous fall bouquet and a mystery plant

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What is this interesting-looking thing?

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My lovely fall bouquet

Today's the first day where it's actually started to feel a little like fall. There's a slight wind here in Toronto and it's overcast and raining. We’ve had a very warm September until now. Even Northern Alberta, Vancouver and Whistler, where I spent the last week, have enjoyed an unusually warm fall. Only a few leaves here and there were beginning to turn various shades of gold in Northern Alberta, but everywhere else still seems fairly green.

My first real glimpse of fall colour is in this lovely `welcome home` bouquet that greeted me when I returned from my trip. Especially interesting are the red and furry, pie-slice-shaped flowers. I have never seen them before. My fiancé said they were called `high fives` until I realized he was pulling my leg. Does anyone know what these are?

(photo taken with a Kodak EasyShare M381 digital camera)

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