Stuff and Nonsense


2.23.2020

2020 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford is something I look forward to every February. Even though I don't attend every show, the photos it generates are a godsend in the middle of winter blahness. Over three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, horticultural displays, and vendors transform the Connecticut Convention Center into a gardener's paradise. The themed gardens are just so much gardeninspo, filling my head with fantasies about my new yard.


If all that's not enough for you, the show also offers a daily series of talks and workshops. As large crowds in enclosed spaces tends to trigger my anxieties (working on it), I used the talks as an opportunity to create a little breathing space for myself.

I attended three talks:

Grow a Pollinator Garden with award winning, nationally recognized garden writer Charlie Nardozzi

Every Yard Matters: How to Create a Healthy Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Home with Diane St. John of Natureworks Garden Center

Wild Flowers with Owen McLaughlin, landscape architect and founder of Perennimix.com


And purchased three books from the UCONN Hartford campus bookstore's gardening and local interest display:

New England Bird Lover's Garden: Attracting Birds With Plants and Flowers by Randi Minetor

Northeastern Birds Backyard Guide by Bill Thompson III

Native Plants for New England Gardens by Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe

Do you see a theme?

1.16.2020

Dream Kitchen, Where Are You

I said: I enjoy cooking and need a functional kitchen that is also classically attractive. Preferably with smoky blue cabinets and lots of easy-to-reach under counter storage.

What I meant: I enjoy cooking and have very exacting ideas about what a functional and accessible kitchen means to me, but will not be able to articulate them to your satisfaction.

What the kitchen designer heard: My customer desires an on-trend kitchen with lots of storage.

I think we're mostly at cross-purposes, the kitchen designer and I. She's set on creating an Instagram Top Post-worthy kitchen for me with beautiful cabinets and cunning storage. I want a kitchen with cunning storage that allows me to use a step stool 95% less often. She has created a kitchen that is the unique style center of the home. I want a kitchen that is the heart of the home.

We've been back and forth with the design and, while it's slowly moving in the right direction, I'm not sure it's ever going to get to dream kitchen status. I ... want to let my designer go? I am now one of those people who not only hire kitchen designers, but fire them as well? I'm a diva?

Anyway, this is the most current design with all of my changes made to it. Click to embiggen.

12.28.2019

Christmas On The Island & Crafting

I run a library book club called Book Scents. Every few months we gather to discuss a feel-good novel, eat pastry, drink coffee, and make a craft inspired by the book. For example, in December we read Jenny Colgan's heartwarming holiday novel, Christmas On The Island and made a stove top potpourri simmer inspired by both the novel and the season. It was a simple craft, but everyone enjoyed putting it together and there was excited talk about what other spices or fruits might be added. Apple slices, for example. Or gently bashed cardamom pods.


To make this craft, I purchased bags of dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and freeze-dried cranberries from Nuts.com. I also found whole allspice and star anise at a local Asian grocery for an extremely reasonable price. Excluding the cinnamon sticks, the spices were portioned out into plastic shot glasses (leftover from another craft) so everyone received half a shot glass of each. I just piled the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cranberries into big bowls and we passed them around, crafting our own individualized potpourri blend as we discussed Christmas On The Island.

Free-dried cranberries were used strictly because I knew people would be leaving this out on windowsills or tables and I didn't want anyone to find their potpourri had gone green and fuzzy. As I have not actually simmered mine, I don't know what will happen with the freeze-dried cranberries, but I half expect they will dissolve into goo.


I'd arranged an assortment of season scrapbook papers and washi tape on a separate table and, at the end of our discussion, everyone had a chance to decorate their jars. Then we ate cranberry-chocolate scones (first -- and fab -- attempt by a group member!) and satsumas and wandered well off topic into holiday plans ... which is to be expected at this time of year.

In March we will discuss Abbi Waxman's "quirky, funny, and deeply thoughtful" book The Garden of Small Beginnings. I have not yet decided on the craft. Maybe pots of gardeners hand balm?