The Spirit of Autumn, Florified

I’m writing this blog with a big ol’ Darth Vadar-esque respirator on my face. Not because it’s almost Halloween and I need to practice obtrusive breathing, but because my house is making me miserable. My house has revolted against us and sixty some years of homeowners who neglected some much needed home improvements. We’ve basically spent the last two months rebuilding a good chunk of our house. And today is clean up day. The day my dear house’s tears of construction muck are wiped away, her newly insulated surfaces polished up, and given the big “Your gonna be okay” pat on the… wall.

The last month’s house challenges have sent me and my house into a state of depression. The kind that can only be comforted with episodes of Glee in bed (the only room that is unaffected) and bad food choices (specifically flour tortillas fried in butter until they are 30% black). Yum but not so healthy. But big changes that shake up routine in some areas, seem to shake up other areas. And out of this period of chaos has come… well, more chaos of the good kind. In desperation to get away from my house, I’ve finally moved my biz to a bona-fide workshop. It’s still not open to the public, but dedicated and outfitted for making some event magic. It’s in Lake City and I couldn’t be more excited about it. With some publicity from Floral Design Magazine and more in the works, we’re finally ready to give Lola Floral a loving kick in the ass it needs to make our moving and shaking less like spastic gyrations and more like a funky new groove. An updated business vision, a comfy new ‘thinking chair’, and some exciting new projects are all building up the excitement. AND my sister had a baby girl. So hooray! Wahoo for happy changes and wahoo for fall because isn’t that what fall is all about? Or was it about the hokie pokie? hmmmm….

And what better day for rebuilding/ restarting/ new beginnings than a crisp, sunny fall day. It is perfect here in Seattle. My favorite kind of day that would only be made better if I weren’t hacking drywall out of my lungs. And really, what better flower arrangement to celebrate all this than this one here. Local and organic through and through. So textural and welcoming you could scoop it up and give it a nose nudge…. or strap a collar on it and take it for a walk….. or dab some silky, frothy, steamed milk foam on top and slurp it off…. Maybe my respirator is also restricting oxygen intake.

Purple kale, by the way, is a rockstar for floral arranging. I also used it in wedding flowers last night. Of course, before using, trials were run. After leaving a leaf out in my warm workshop for 24 hours – no water, the kale was still as turgid as ever. No wiring needed.

This hanging amaranth is so amazing. Thank you to the local flower farmer’s coop for bringing us such wonderful, unusual plants. And for the asian pears. I swear I ate two! And for the brownies on Wednesday.

That is pink snowberry back there… (eeeeeee!) I love it. I also love it in your yard so you should plant it. Then you can invite me over and we can admire it together. I will bring warm cornbread….

All right, time to spiff this place up. This fantastic arrangement is available for groping at Brown’s Coffee. The coffee will inspire you too.



Bridal Brain- Part Two- Alliums and Jackie Robinson

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know we are taking a little brain break. And since the brain is taking a siesta, might as well let some emotion take over….

…so totally not related to my flowers, are speeches, and words that I really like and usually make me cry….

Like this speech from Jackie Robinson titled “Free Minds and Hearts at Work”

At the beginning of the World Series of 1947, I experienced a completely new emotion, when the National Anthem was played. This time, I thought, it is being played for me, as much as for anyone else. This is organized major league baseball, and I am standing here with all the others; and everything that takes place includes me.

About a year later, I went to Atlanta, Georgia, to play in an exhibition game. On the field, for the first time in Atlanta, there were Negroes and whites. Other Negroes, besides me. And I thought: What I have always believed has come to be.

And what is it that I have always believed? First, that imperfections are human. But that wherever human beings were given room to breathe and time to think, those imperfections would disappear, no matter how slowly. I do not believe that we have found or even approached perfection. That is not necessarily in the scheme of human events. Handicaps, stumbling blocks, prejudices—all of these are imperfect. Yet, they have to be reckoned with because they are in the scheme of human events.

Whatever obstacles I found made me fight all the harder. But it would have been impossible for me to fight at all, except that I was sustained by the personal and deep-rooted belief that my fight had a chance. It had a chance because it took place in a free society. Not once was I forced to face and fight an immovable object. Not once was the situation so cast-iron rigid that I had no chance at all. Free minds and human hearts were at work all around me; and so there was the probability of improvement. I look at my children now, and know that I must still prepare them to meet obstacles and prejudices.

But I can tell them, too, that they will never face some of these prejudices because other people have gone before them. And to myself I can say that, because progress is unalterable, many of today’s dogmas will have vanished by the time they grow into adults. I can say to my children: There is a chance for you. No guarantee, but a chance.

And this chance has come to be, because there is nothing static with free people. There is no Middle Ages logic so strong that it can stop the human tide from flowing forward. I do not believe that every person, in every walk of life, can succeed in spite of any handicap. That would be perfection. But I do believe—and with every fiber in me—that what I was able to attain came to be because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past: to discover the truth of today; and perhaps find the greatness of tomorrow.

I believe in the human race. I believe in the warm heart. I believe in man’s integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it—and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.

My fight was against the barriers that kept Negroes out of baseball. This was the area where I found imperfection, and where I was best able to fight. And I fought because I knew it was not doomed to be a losing fight. It couldn’t be a losing fight—not when it took place in a free society.

And; in the largest sense, I believe that what I did was done for me—that it was my faith in God that sustained me in my fight. And that what was done for me must and will be done for others.

Purple Flower Fight… To the Death…

Muah- ha-haaaaa.

I don’t like not knowing answers and am generally hesitant about taking people’s opinions as truth. So, I’m not about to make a wired bouquet that is expected to look stunning for 12 hours without knowing the flowers are gonna give it their best shot, even without all the necessary elements of survival. If only cut flowers could live on love…. (sigh)

So it is time for yet another Lola Science Experiment. It’s not terribly scientific. Basically we will stick all the potential players together and see who can rock it the longest on no juice. But just to make it scientific-like, here are the specs.  My house, where these very unacceptable photos were taken stayed about 63-65 degrees. The experiment began on Friday, June 24th at 8:30 in the morning. Just to make it super scientific, you can imagine me in a white lab coat and white flip flops.

The players are…


Behold the lovely fighters

Now based on what I know and backs of cereal boxes, I’m guessing that the stocks will kick the bucket first and the orchids will win the fight. Lets see…

12:00pm on Friday

It’s been 3.5 hours and stocks, lisianthus,  and delphinium are wussing out early. Stocks is softest, then delphinium, then the lisianthus.

The Allium is loosing its cool somehow holding it together.

Roses are standing strong,

Brodiaea and orchids seem bored and unmoved.

4:00pm Friday

Four hours later, stock is toast. Delphinium is soft but still holding form. Lisianthus is soft but still straight and holding it together. Allium has almost lost it. Dendrobium is softer and starting to droop. Ocean Spray Rose is getting soft. All other flowers are awesome.

at 5pm, Allium kicks the bucket.

At 6:30 pm, Delphinium checks out.

at 8pm, Dendrobium, one of our star players is out.

At 11:30pm, 14 hours after the flowers were cut off of sustenance, both roses, the Vanda and Phale Orchid, the Lisianthus, and the Brodiaea are rockin’ and rollin’.

Day 2, 5:00am

Everything still aok.

(this is the part where I start to get distracted with other projects and stop taking pictures)

Here is the summary.

Day 2, 9:30 am- Lisianthus calls it quits after 25 hours of a fight. Roses and Brodiaea are showing droopage and the orchids are a bit soft but still holding shape.

Day 2, 11:00 am Ocean Song Rose dies (26.5 hours) followed by Cool Water Rose at 3:00pm (30.5 hours).

Day 2, 9:30pm- Phalaenopsis Orchid has gone limp beyond acceptability. (37 hours)

At the end of day 2, Brodiaea is droopy but flowers are still firm! Vanda orchid is getting floppy but still holding shape.

Day 3, 10:00pm, the Vanda Orchid is worn out after nearly 60 hours.

The crazy thing is Brodiaea is still looking fantabulous and is obviously the clear winner.

It’s not until day 6 that Brodiaea is retired. And not because it looks bad. The top half or so looks vibrant and is still turgid. It’s just because I’m bored… this experiment has gone on so long that a house spider is starting to incorporate the flower into its web house. Even the spider recognizes the flower for its staying power. Let’s hear it for Brodiaea!

Luckily. ALL the flowers held up for a sufficient length of time for my flower making purposes. From this experiment I have learned where certain flowers will be placed to highlight long lasting lovelies.  And here is some of the finished product.

Mom's Corsage


In Defense of Flowers

I’ve noticed this year a bit of an underwhelmed attitude when clients come to me to commission flowers for events. I get the feeling some people view flowers as an obligatory accessory. Or perhaps people feel weird about spending on a luxury when money is tight. I totally get that, flowers are luxurious. But when you are planning an event, or more importantly THE event, you may want to consider what the flowers are doing for your you.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s my birthday and I feel feisty, the inspiring back episode of Ugly Betty I saw, or the wonderful meeting I just had with two new colleagues, but I’d like to help change the underwhelmed into the overjoyed.

What am I doing when I design your flowers or event? I am pulling out the meaning of the event, pulling out the meaning of you, surrounding it by petals and putting it out in front of everybody. Sound exposing? It should be. You should be able to look at the flowers and think, Yes. That is me/ us/ this. Or just cry, that is fine too.

And flowers are the ultimate luxury. Not rented, not borrowed but grown in dirt, cared for by good people, cut, carefully handled, and brought to you- sometimes from far away. Luxurious, yes. But in celebration of an event worthy of affecting people emotionally? I argue it’s essential to do it right.

What grabs attention and draws you in a room? Flowers. You walk over to get near them. Once your attention is brought down to the scale of a flower, and its particular texture and shape, everything changes. Everything becomes something to be touched, something that stands out from its surroundings. People start appreciating things like corners of lips and eyelashes.  The weave of a tablecloth suddenly becomes something worth looking at and you realize, this is special. Not necessarily the flowers, but the here and now. This place, these people, near me. This is beauty.

Flowers are the ultimate here and now celebration. Picked from some place with a feel all its own (a sun filled field?) and brought to you to live out its life with you, where you are. They are orchestrated with other flowers and decor specifically to connect with you- to connect you to here. Flowers slow you down and remind you that now has a beauty that’s up for grabs.

What is there to be indifferent about?

Whimsical Eco-Rad Centerpieces from Repurposed Materials

I was recently asked to make an arrangement for an auction. I agreed. I went home and searched through my house. Cute and cheap, cute and cheap. I was grabbing at things I could re-purpose as if I was late for a White Elephant party.  AHA! Paper bags! So versatile.  When wet down, crumbled up, dried and straightened out, paper bags can be nice and workable.  (So many jokes are running through my head right now) And the fancy Metro Market sacks are bleached white and I’m sure could take on a bright color. The result would be great for a baby shower celebration, birthday, whimsical wedding, thanksgiving, whatevs. And depending on what materials you use, they are different levels of eco-rad. So here’s the how-to. At the bottom you will get the cost run down.

I love that the next photo after mentioning eco-radness is a photo featuring the Caution notation. I looked it up and it’s best to wear a mask and gloves while using dyes in powder form. I used about a fifth of a packet of dye in about a gallon of water and had more than enough to do my two pieces. I cut up two different kinds of sacks, bleached and brown, to see how each took the dye.  I wadded the paper up, stuck it in the dye for about an hour and carefully hung it out to dry. In the morning I ironed them flat.

I loved the yellow on white paper and the blue on brown paper.  By the way, do this with tea bags and paper bags to make some neat buried treasure maps for kiddos that look like they are ages old.

I used 6 inch plastic design trays that I had reused from a past event and some floral foam (not so eco-rad but convenient… Convenient is eco-rad’s nemesis). But YOU can use the bottom of a yogurt container, an old bowl, whatever. To hold the flowers in place, you can use sand, dirt, pebbles, sticks. All you need is something that will give a minimal amount of support to keep the flowers from flopping around.  For the yellow arrangement, I cut out triangles and started on the inside layer of petals, gluing them near the top rim of my container. I worked my way around and down, gluing the final row of petals under the container and tacking to the side.  For the floppy blue flower, I cut out basset hound ear shapes and sandwiched two together to give them more support. Looking back, I would have added some wire to my basset hound ear sandwich so I could bend and twist the petals easier. I then rolled the edges under for more support and a softer edge. I added water to the center and shoved in about 6 Carnations. For more added eco-radness, use flowers, berries, rocks, or pods available in your native habitat. Finally, I rolled and bent the petals until they looked about right.

So cute. The blue flower is about 12-14″ wide while the yellow flower is 6-8″ wide.

I’ve been told this one looks like chips and cabbage.

All in all, the supplies I used cost $12.60 and I have dye to spare. If you use your own flowers, container, and flower support, then you are only paying for the dye which is about 2 bucks a pop. I think one box of dye would have gotten 15-20 flowers worth of paper. Not to shabby. I’ll be completing the set with a large leaf this weekend. Then, we’ll see how much it brings in at the auction.

About Curious Lola

Exploring floral design, events, art, and living the creative life. Thriving in creative business. Lattes everyday.

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