Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The importance of being photographed.

Dear early-2000's Janessa:

Why in the name of all that's holy did you NOT get photographs of the flowers for the weddings you did back in the day? Hmmmm?

If I knew then what I know now, I would have ALWAYS made sure I snapped great photos of each and every flower arrangement I made! Because back in the day (think, before the iPhone came out, with its super-cool picture-taking widgets that make everyone into a photographer... and even before people carried cell phones everywhere with them!) I was lucky enough to design flowers for some pretty amazing weddings.

Take, for example, this one:

You can click to enlarge the photo, but really it won't help you much...

Why? Because these photos were all taken in a frantic last-minute craze by me, with a flippy cell phone that came from the Days of Yore. But they were such gorgeous flowers! Callas, hydrangeas, huge Casablanca lilies, orchids and roses and pale lavendar iris! The centerpieces were huge fishbowls with floating dahlias and gerberas and submerged callas... and I have nary a photo of them! They exist now only in my memory.

And then there was this wedding:

Again, you could click to enlarge, but the photos will still be blurry!

This wedding was a sort of Rockabilly affair, with the most heavily-tattooed bridal party I've ever seen! Red, black and white. Feathers and netting. It was such fun -- the centerpieces were rich clusters of Black Magic and Black Beauty roses and red dahlias, tucked inside raw silk wrapped vases (red, of course). The bouquets involved feathers and ornate antique brooches. It was different than anything I'd ever done, and these photos are all I have! Sigh...

So brides, I urge you to hire the best photographer you can find. The memories will last you a lifetime. Your daughter (if you have a daughter!) will curl up with your album when she's old enough, oohing and aahing over her mother's special day, all the while dreaming of her own special day to come! (It's true. You know it is! If you're a girl, chances are you did this too!)

The moral of the story? If you're planning a wedding, think carefully about your photographer! Need a tip? For those in the Chicago area (or even beyond -- they'll travel!) I cannot recommend ImaginativeStudios enough. They're friendly, fun and wildly talented. (Ah, if only they'd been around with me for those weddings years ago.) Check 'em out -- if for no other reason, the pictures are so much fun to flip through!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fearless mascot? Maybe knodt!

Miss Maddie Knodt is Forget me Knodt's fearless mascot. But she's not feeling so fearless today, on account of the crazy storms we're having right now. She was quoted this morning as saying:

"No flowers today. No modeling or mascoting today. No playing today. If I am needed, I will be right here in the bathroom, where it is safe. Please go about your business now, I am upset with Mother Nature and would prefer to be left in solitude."

Such doom and gloom is highly out of character for the usually rambunctious and optimistic seven-year-old. (Please refer to Exhibits A and B below, for proof):

Exhibit A: Such happiness! Such majesty! Such joie de vivre!
(Photo by Imaginative Studios)

Exhibit B: Such focus! Such determination!
(Photo by Imaginative Studios)

We're hoping she gets her groove back soon. The business just doesn't function well without its fearless mascot operating at 100%. Please send well-wishings and emails to (I will translate for her) and direct all biscuits to Maddie's P.O. Box.

With enough support, she may get back to full strength before we know it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Throw a party for your favorite punkins.

For my very first post (which was really just a test post) I hinted at the idea of using miniature pumpkins filled with flowers as favors for dinner party guests. Well, folks, this isn't just some wild, pie-in-the-sky, hypothetical, fly-by-night, theoretical idea! It is tried and true! Janessa-tested, Janessa's-friends-and-family approved.

If there's one thing that really gets me going, it's entertaining. And combining my love of entertaining with my love of fall's bounty of flowers, colors and foods (especially those of the gourd variety!) seems only natural. So without further ado, Behold: the Pumpkin Party.

* Pumpkin cream cheese dip with peppercorn crackers
* Spice-roasted pumpkin seeds
* Butternut squash soup
* Roasted root vegetables with wild rice
* Stuffed acorn squash
* Toasted pumpkin ravioli
* Pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate ganache
* Pumpkin pie (of course!)
* Signature adult cocktail: pumpkin pie martini

I made enough of these mini centerpiece favors for each guest to take one home. It was lovely to be able to walk guests to the door as they were leaving and send them off with one of these cute little guys, to remind them of the pumpkin-ful gathering for days to come. I'm here to tell you they were a big hit!

Even better, they doubled as decor for the party, adding festivity to every room!

I also carved out some jack-o-lanterns with a twist: autumn leaves and a crisp breeze.

Giant pumpkins were hollowed out for serving dishes -- one for the butternut squash soup and one for the roasted root vegetables. Dinner was served buffet style, so it was a perfect touch!

I brought in natural elements wherever I could for autumnal oomph! The salad bowl was made from a carved-out tree trunk, candleholders were crowns of bittersweet.

And of course, there were supplemental flower arrangements placed throughout the house, to add extra touches of color and cheer. Like these happy zinnias in shades of fall. I am obsessed with zinnias.

All in all, it was a great little event. I love doing flowers for weddings, of course, but there is also a special allure to taking on a dinner party. It's an intimate occasion, so you can really make the most of a theme on a much smaller scale.

Plus, a dinner party is always a delicious way to celebrate any beautiful season! (It just so happens that fall melts my butter like no other season can!) Although, I am dreaming up some truly bright ideas for the holidays... stay tuned!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Poof! Magic!

Designing floral arrangements for an event like a wedding is a process that never ceases to amaze me.

You get up early-early-early and make the trek to the wholesale mart to pick up all your raw materials. You drive back to your shop, unload, clean and prep the flowers and after the hours it takes doing that, you're left standing there panting, gazing out upon a (sometimes overwhelming!) mountain of raw beauty, in various water containers all over the place:

Uh oh. That's a lotta mums! Now what?

Gorgeous! Can't wait to turn those anthuriums and bells of Ireland into bouquets!

Then it takes a little imagination, a little creativity, a little vision, a LOT of elbow grease (strong coffee always helps too!)...

Just 300 more of these to go...

And in the end, you're left with the greatest sense of accomplishment! Because you get to see the final product, all set up...

The magic is in seeing it all come together into a truly memorable event.

And the best part? If all went well, you just made someone else very happy in the process:

This really is the greatest gig in the world!

Today's the day!

This day's been coming for quite some time, my friends. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's been coming all my life! I've finally taken the step to make an official go at a life in flowers: MY SITE IS LIVE at!

I owe enormous amounts of smooches and thank yous to my dear friend and "Samurai Sister" Ikuko Aoki-Salinas for her brilliant site design. She picked up on exactly the feel I wanted to communicate, and she brought it to life! And what's more, she kept me on task, pushing me to make the writing better, and also to meet important deadlines and milestones so we could launch the site in a timely manner.

You know. Because I've only been wanting to do this for... ohhhhh, decades!

You can see more of her brilliant work at If you or anyone you know needs website design -- or any other sort of design, for that matter -- I could not recommend her more strongly!

Alright, let it begin! I feel accomplished for what's been done so far, and excited for all the unknown, amazing things to come. I am ready to work!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Howdy, punkins!

It's fall in Chicago! Halloween's coming up! And everywhere I look, I'm surrounded by gourds!

It's like a dream come true. I'm decorating with 'em, cooking with 'em, using 'em as maracas at fiestas. I'm even carving 'em out and making fall-themed flower arrangements out of them...

Kind of a cool idea to use mini punkins as vases for party favors at your next dinner soiree, eh? I thought so! Ahhh, fall. It's the best season. Now if only it lasted longer than two weeks here in Chicago...