Monday, November 29, 2010

El vino will flow!

* Author takes a healthy gulp of Malbec...*

Every year around the holidays, Michael and Christopher throw a fancy-shmancy wine tasting soiree at their fabulous condo. It's a fabulous event full of fabulous people, fabulous cheeses provided by the super-rad genius Chicago cheese artisans at Pastoral, and a fabulous wine tasting by certified sommelier (lookit me getting all French here! The fabulous is catching!).

It's a great idea because attendees can taste a variety of wines, learn official facts and tidbits about them (such knowledge makes one "great at parties"!) then snatch up enough bottles to last all holiday-party-season long. Fabulous idea, right?

And this year, the event got a little extra fabulous, with flowers provided by Forget Me Knodt. :) And when the challenge is a wine tasting, how could one resist working with grapes? My first stop, then, was at the grocery store, where I purchased grapes in every variety and color!

I did a few large centerpieces in oversized wine glasses, with some grapes and lush amaranthus draping down. Our cup runneth over!

I also whipped up some smaller versions in actual wine glasses. How could I not?

Forgive the blurry image. The first rule of a fabulous soiree, after all, is low lighting!

Thanks so much, Michael and Christopher, for such a fabulous opportunity! Time to go refill my wine glass now...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Operation Flowerbomb 2: A Socio-floral Success!

After this morning's rough start, I decided to take the show on the road for the lunch hour!

I hopped on the El and rode to Chicago's quaint Lincoln Park neighborhood. Sadly, the streets were dead...I'm thinking today's cold snap is keeping people huddled up indoors for lunch! A bit downtrodden, I hopped back on the train and decided to try my luck at the Merchandise Mart. The train car was crowded and I saw plenty of opportunities to hand bouquets to people, but I really clammed up for some reason! I think it was mostly that things so far hadn't worked out smoothly, that had me gun shy.

But there's nothing like the kindness of strangers!

A man sitting across the aisle from me asked, "How much are your flowers?"

Brightening, I responded, "They're actually FREE! I have a little floral events business and was just trying to hand them out to people in honor of Thanksgiving this week! But for some reason I've gotten nervous on the approach!"

Super Awesome Nice Man: "Dang! Let me have one of those for my wife! What a great idea!"

That's when all the people around me began to chime in, asking for a bouquet and a card of their own! Everybody was so sweet, telling me they really appreciated it and wished me all the best, etc. It was one of those great experiences that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about the nature of people.

With renewed confidence I hopped off the train and finished passing out all my free bouquets at the Merchandise Mart, and people were delighted! It was a great, feel-good kinda experiment. Fun stuff!

Oh. And when I said I passed out all of my bouquets, that's not entirely true. I actually kept one for myself -- the runt of the litter -- to remind myself of the fun I had, and of how friendly people can be once you open up a bit.

Just in time for Thanksgiving. :)

Operation Flowerbomb: A Socio-floral Experiment!

I have always loved trying to figure out what makes people tick, and will go to great lengths to satisfy my curiosity.

For example, one time around the holidays I came into a surplus of oranges. (Don't ask me how... I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you!) Anyway, I had more oranges than I knew what to do with. So I decided I'd try handing them out to people on my way to work. They're healthy! They're sweet! They can't really be poisoned, because they're encased in a rind, right? They prevent scurvy! People would want them, maybe? I thought to myself.

So on the El and on my walk to the office I'd try to give them out. Some people would take them, others would simply avoid making eye contact with me, while others still would get super annoyed -- one homeless man threw my orange at me and called me something terrible!

Another time a coworker and I had a surplus of books to unload. We'd put a post-it note with an encouraging message ('Page 306 of this one is a DOOZY!') on the cover, then leave them in random locations throughout the city. At bus stops, on top of mailboxes, etc. It was fun for me!

And now I have this little flower business. So of course, how could I resist trying to give people free flowers during the week of Thanksgiving? I mean, WHO wouldn't want free flowers right now? (Any time, for that matter!) Right? Right! So last night I made 30 or so adorable bouquets:

And created some cute cards with a simple message: "Just something to brighten your day"...

And the plan was to hand them out to people as they walked to work in the morning. So, what do you think happened? Remember -- they're FREE and they're CUTE!

Nobody wanted them! I think either people were too rushed to get to work, or maybe they thought I was selling something, or maybe they thought I was pushing some cause, like the Hare Krishnas and activists in the classic film, Airplane! (Ha! The thought of people thinking I'm an activist makes me giggle.)

Whatever the reason, I could scarcely get people to look at me!

So, I was bummed. The morning rush ended and now I'm left with a bunch of adorable bouquets. I'm not going to give up though... I think I'll head to a different location for the lunch hour! Maybe someplace less business-y, where people are more relaxed. And maybe I'll have to add "FREE!" to my greeting as I try to hand them to people? Harumph!

Of course there's one question on your mind as you read this: Where is Maddie, my fearless mascot, through all this? I'm not at liberty to say.

But I can say this. She is elsewhere, tackling a challenge of her own.

Stay tuned for Operation Flowerbomb, part 2!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thinking outside the (flower) box.

Author's Note: This post is dreadfully overdue! I've been so busy, but there is no excuse! After all, this particular event is way too much fun to talk about! So without further ado...

In the beginning of November I was tasked with coming up with "innovative floral solutions" (if you will) for a corporate event designed around the theme of Innovation. So, I decided to think outside the flower box! I had great fun with this event -- both with the innovation theme, and designing in a very modern, sleek style that's not typical of my work.

It's always good to try something new! Here are a few snaps from the event:

Just inside the entryway--a cluster of bright arrangements.

Upside-down callas, submerged hydrangea and one fuzzball-green Dianthus in a four-legged vase!

I couldn't get enough of these Dr. Seuss-esque fuzzballs.

And why not hang flowers from the ceiling? The kitchen island, I was told, would be taken up for wine and fancy snacks, so I took the flowers up a notch, with a few pomanders and hanging vases.


Bottoms up! Fantastic catering provided by Nacional 27.

Literally every nook & cranny of the event had a delightfully wacky little touch, which was great fun. It's always nice to break out of the mold every now and then. Cheers!

Daisies, fish, and a whole lotta love.

Meet Wayne and Laura, married November 13 at Prairie Production -- an awesome venue in the West Loop.

Aren't they adorable? Fantastic shot by Chris Hall.

I knew this wedding would be incredibly inventive and edgy. Both Wayne and Laura are wonderfully creative people, so I had high hopes. I'm pleased to say my expectations were exceeded! The bride wanted to use all daisies -- daisies daisies daisies of every type and color -- and I was all too happy to oblige! Each of her three bridesmaids received a different bouquet of color-coordinated blooms.

The bright daisies really popped against the wine-colored dresses.

Laura herself carried a cluster of daisies all in white.

The groomsmen donned equally bright and cheery gerbera daisy boutonnieres...

And the decor was out of this world! Everything was so personal and special. See that book on the left there? Wayne wrote it himself and hired a professional illustrator to bring it to life--and he then used it to propose to Laura! Such sweetness! Illustrations from the book were used for the table cards.

Cocktail tables were quaint -- just a cluster of daisies set in the center of the table. They all really popped out against the white linens, and the clean, modern white of the room.

The end result was simple, but very whimsical. It's a super groovy event space! Guest tables, shown below, were designed around mason jars housing live Betta fish in the center, with pops of daisies here and there strewn about. So unique and happy -- just like Wayne and Laura!

Guests were able to take home the centerpieces, includuing the live Betta fish in mason jars. Each was named after a guest in attendance. I must admit I fell in love with all of them... it was hard to give them up by the time the wedding arrived. :)

(This photo is just added in for the ridiculous cute factor.)

Some guests were honored with daisy bouquets of their own, per the bride's request.

Big thanks to Karen Klipowicz for the gorgeous photos. And of course, my humblest thanks to Wayne and Laura. Thank you so much for trusting Forget me Knodt with such an important part of your most important day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Here's to the ladies who lunch. (And the babies who love them!)

Gather 'round, friends, and I'll tell you my tale of Annie and Becca.

They are two good friends of mine, and I feel so lucky to know them! I'm fairly new to the scene though. These gals have been best friends for more than a decade (12 years, I believe!) having met and fallen head over heels back in their college days.

I adore tales of lasting friendship... especially when there's a twist! Annie and Becca ended up both getting pregnant, with due dates within two months of one another! And I'll even take it a step further: they found they were both having boys! (!!!)

Becca's due date was first, and sure enough sweet baby Lleyton arrived on schedule at the end of October. Becca decided that having a newborn was far too easy...certainly not hectic...sleep was not at all important...and clearly, parties must be had! So this past weekend she threw a lavish celebratory luncheon for Annie, in honor of her baby-boy-to-be.

I was honored with the delightful task of creating flowers for the occasion and I couldn't have been more excited! It opened me up to some new blooms I haven't played with before, and brought back a few old flames, as well. (I haven't worked with Babies' Breath in ages!)

Lamb's Ears draped over the edge of baby-boy-blue ceramic pots, soft as a baby blanket. Ornamental Kale served up a little *wink-wink* Cabbage Patch-y flair, while Babies' Breath added whimsy. Fun!

In addition to the two large centerpieces for Annie and Becca, I also made individual favor arrangements for each lunching lady, in ceramic pots of lemon yellow and lime green. They were so adorable!

All boxed up and ready for lunch!

The dining area was absolutely gorgeous...more than I could have ever imagined! The huge, round mahogany table and silver pedestal made for a truly beautiful setting.

Love those Lamb's Ears! I couldn't stop touching them - they are so incredibly soft.

Becca's centerpiece graced the dessert table. Sweets to the sweet!

Each guest was able to take her favor home at the end of the luncheon as a memento of a lovely afternoon!

Becca, Annie, thank you so much for letting me be a part of such a sweet afternoon! Here's to ladies who lunch, and here's to you - two best friends, starting an exciting new chapter in life together! Those baby boys have some pretty special mamas.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet November

First off, I must apologize for using a terrible, Keanu-Reeves-and-Charlize-Theron-inspired movie reference as the title of this post. I couldn't resist! Why? Because unintentionally terrible movies are hilarious! And also because November IS sweet. It's my favorite month.

November marks the excellent, crisp-breeze-filled break between the stress of October (darn you Halloween... I never know what to go as!) and the mad dash of the Holiday season. Plus, there's lots of football (go Bears! Even though the Bears are kind of terrible this year and pretty much have been since 1985!) and football-related food and drink (go beer! Go pizza!) and then there's THANKSGIVING. Ahhhh... I'm getting pleasantly sleepy just thinking about it.

But you know what else I love about November? Gorgeous autumn flowers, and the final trips to the farmers market before that crotchety Ol' Man Winter comes along and drops a freeze bomb on us all! Care to take journey with me, friends? Why, thankya kindly!

How I love a nice walk through the splendor of a fall day in Chicago. Behold: the sculpted gardens in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory. I love this city!

Remember, folks. Always stop to smell the flowers! This is something Maddie (mostly-fearless Forget me Knodt mascot) and I are particularly adept at.

And here we approach the Green City Market: a wonderland of food, flowers and fun!

There's nothing like the varieties of flowers available in the fall. I love them all so much!

Yumberries. And celosia! These brainy guys add a unique touch to any arrangement.

And let us not forget the peony: always a classic. These guys can't wait to pop open!

And just when you think you've left the floral department of the market, you stumble upon flowers you can eat! If you've never tried stuffing zucchini blossoms with ricotta and pesto, then frying 'em up, you really haven't lived. Get 'em while you still can!

Me? I opted for sunflowers. I seldom work with them, but they've got to be the most cheerful flower in town. Their faces, always turned toward the sun, almost make them into little people with big personality!

Maddie approved. Which is good. Because boy is she picky about her flowers.

Here's to the fall -- fleeting as it may be here in Chicago. That's okay though, because once winter hits it's all snowballs, winter berries and fragrant holiday greens!