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Snaps from an English Garden

June 14, 2018

Just wanted to quickly share a few snaps with you.   We’re in England for the week visiting family and attending a dear friend’s wedding.  We’re heading back to France next week but it is so nice to pop over here, to my husband’s home country where I also have family.

I love England in summer and there is nothing quite like the staggering beauty of an English garden.  Full of roses, peonies, lavender, this one is like a dream.    To step foot in it the first time nearly brought my to tears.

Our son ran around happily all day yesterday alongside the three dogs that live here and it reminded me of how lovely it is to have a big garden to explore when you are little, and how much we would love to have him live a “country life” at least for part of the year.

These yellow roses are even more breathtaking in person and might be my favorite, especially when covered in morning dew.   These were taken at sunset, which is so lovely and late here.   The golden light pours through the vines and it is a sight for sore eyes.

Flowers Style

Effortless Wrap Dress for Summer

May 10, 2018

Earlier this week, Will and I introduced a new column on the sidebar of the homepage — “snapshots” — which is going to be updated daily with pretty photos, behind the scenes videos and snaps of my latest outfits/beauty tricks.   We are planning to continue with some of our more home-based content (like entertaining, collecting, decorating), but didn’t want to lose sight of the fun of discovering a new clothing or jewelry brand, an easy to wear dress or a brilliant beauty trick which must be shared.   I think it will also allow us to share more of our day to day rather than always presenting the most polished view.   I really enjoy shooting on the polaroid camera as well as the iPhone and I think that this is what we will use for now.

In the spirit of this new series, I am sharing a favorite wrap dress which is so easy and light for summer.  It also comes in a skirt and top combination — I think the skirt would be very useful with a linen button down or white tee.   I have also been wearing a lot of these circle bags — going to mix it up soon I promise, I love this one!  I am such a uniform/lazy dresser.  I love to experiment with new looks but oftentimes fall back on what is the most easy and comfortable as I am usually running a bit late!

Isn’t this jasmine exquisite?  Just had to show you!  The city is perfumed and in full bloom, it is a beautiful time of year here.  Hard to believe that we’re off to France for over a month a week from Monday!! Yikes!

Let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like to see in our “snapshots” section !! xx

Charleston Entertaining Flowers Home

Crash Course: Spring Flowers

May 2, 2018

The spring is one of my favorite seasons for flowers.   I remember when we were planning our October wedding many years ago, all the flowers that I loved the most were unavailable or too hard to get because they were for Spring.   Now of course it’s possible to get anything year round, but I really try to stick to what’s in season and to look forward to what is blooming next.   I can’t wait to get my hands on some lilac!

An early spring (late winter?) favorite are ranunculus — they are so soft and feathery and are such a treat.  I also just discovered these white tree peonies at a local shop and fell in love with them; I bought them “open” but they seem to be holding up ok!  Daisies are a favorite, as are sweet peas (I bought some “wild” sweet peas yesterday — something I had not seen before, either).   Tulips, daffodils, speedwell, queen anne’s lace and snapdragons are all so beautiful and delicate.  I also ADORE paper whites, clematis and hellebores.  The list goes on!

People often ask me how I select my flowers.  The truth is that I go totally by color and texture, and only by following this instinct has my knowledge and taste expanded.  I remember that I used to feel that I could only buy romantic antique roses and peonies and didn’t quite understand the rest and how to handle them once I brought them home and had to make an “arrangement”.    The more you practice the better but one thing that makes it super easy is just to keep your flowers in pretty monochromatic arrangements: all the ranunculus together, all the daisies, etc.  while you gather confidence in processing and handling flowers.

The same goes for color; if you’re feeling intimidated, just stick with a really simple color scheme, like white, and then select all the white flowers that you like from the store.   I’m known for laying out all of my flowers at the wholesale florist and then eliminating or adding from there — a habit which I am sure is very annoying (and well handled by them) but since I am a visual learner, this is the best way for me to educate myself on what works well.

Charleston Flowers Home Style

Styling Spring Flowers

April 5, 2018

This afternoon was pure bliss.    We had a beautifully sunny start to the day and after sometime at the office, I headed out to pick up some fresh flowers for the house.   The storm clouds rolled overhead just as I stepped inside but the rain was still balmy and warm so I had all of the windows open with a breeze coming through.    I love days like this.

I often get asked how I go about selecting flowers — it’s tough when you’re new to it.  I honestly go by what jumps out at me first and then try to find complementary colors.  I was on the hunt for something moodier today but couldn’t pass up these pink candies and creamy tulips.

Often times I struggle to not buy too many — I bring out lots from the cooler and edit from there, unless it’s an occasion that I don’t need to hold back on.   I couldn’t believe the bounty that greeted me at the flower shop.   These pink ranunculus are ridiculous — they’re a special kind, I’ll have to find out which — so fluffy and vibrant!   I mixed them up with some creamy tulips and queen anne’s lace as well as some foraged branches from local trees which I made Will cut down for me as I hid in the car (what a hero!).    There ended up being enough for several arrangements and both upstairs and downstairs are full of fresh flowers.

We have so enjoyed our new backsplash — I linked to the tile here because we receive a lot of questions about it.   I also love this one and this one.    It was a great choice but is very thick so do be careful and make sure it can fit in your space without throwing off other things.    I’m looking forward to swapping out the hood, knobs, adding a laundry room door and some blinds in the coming months.  We have lots of DIY house projects which we’re struggling to find time for but are desperate to get done so will bump them up on the priority list.   I really want to add crown moulding to the upstairs and some more trim around our windows, finish stitching together my grandmother’s curtains which are a bit too short but can be combined to match our ceiling height, finish the downstairs bathroom, as well as the baby’s, etc.   It never ends but Will and I are having a fun time taking a whack at it ourselves…!

Here’s a small version of the final result, as well as a larger arrangement behind.   They flowers are so pretty that I am seriously considering taking them with me while we travel tomorrow! xx

Charleston Entertaining Flowers Home Style Tables

3 Ways to Maximize Your Dinner Party with Matouk

January 18, 2018

Set a beautiful, inviting table to welcome your guests!  This table was an absolute pleasure to set.  Working with Matouk linens is so so luxurious, they are elegant and timeless without feeling intimidating or too good to pull out for a more laid-back gathering.   They are great staples for life (so if you’re getting married soon, hello registry!).    What is particularly fun is how versatile these colors are — I had a completely different vision when I arrived at the flower shop but was so drawn to the queen anne’s lace, white anemones, and light pink tulips and couldn’t resist; the table turned into an ode to spring and a celebration of the beauty of each very special flower and color.

I mostly use glass vases on the table but I loved the way the stone sat with the blue edges of the placemats, I thought it a fun way to relax the vibe of the setting.   I also had to use a hodgepodge of vessels because there are so many flowers.   These arrangements are higher than I would normally set; I typically make sure that flowers do not block the view across the table.  In this instance, it was fun for our guests to arrive to such an elaborate setting and then to have the arrangements moved to sit all round us on the surrounding tables and window ledge.

 Do as much prep as you can before guests arrive so that you can enjoy them!! In an ideal world, we’ve done the majority of the cooking before guests arrive (close friends will know that this is not always the case, and many of our friends have cooked for us in our own kitchen post baby…!) so that we can focus on conversation.  This means keeping the menu simple and seasonal; we often pick up a quiche from the local shop and throw some vegetables and meat on the grill, toss a huge salad and of course, crusty bread.   Dessert is fresh fruit and ice cream and I love to keep little pots of candies (chocolate covered almonds) on the table for guests to nibble on as we continue chatting — usually WAY past midnight.

Dressing up, music & dinner party games are a great party enhancers.  We often set the mood with upbeat but relaxed music when guests arrive (Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, etc.) and melt into 90’s rap or tropical house music if dancing picks up, which hopefully it does.   It’s so much fun to have great party games like  Cards Against Humanity on hand but I also love to set up a good murder mystery (we do this at our large family gatherings) which can even be explained and assigned before guests arrive.  Either is definitely sure to end in laughter and that’s always the goal.  I would love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below!!! We entertain a lot and it’s always great to have new recommendations and ideas!

Charleston Flowers Home Style

3 Little Tricks For Arranging Flowers

January 16, 2018

It’s no secret that I love having fresh flowers in the house.   My love for flowers started in childhood, it was something my mother valued but perhaps my confidence in selecting the ones I love is due to my great friend Anne from Charleston Stems who I have done so many creative projects with and learned from.  Regardless, I am no expert at arranging flowers but, I do make sure to have a healthy rotation of cut flowers in the house.   I love our access to the Charleston Wholesale Florist but also love shopping for flowers at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.   And, for Charleston locals, I love SYG designs for arrangements beyond my ability!

3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers

I remember when I started to buy flowers from the wholesale shop, it was such a mystery.  I didn’t know much about them beyond being able to recognize a standard garden rose, let alone how to make sure that I was keeping them alive for the maximum period of time and tending to them correctly. I was standing in the cooler at the wholesale florist here where I buy all my flowers now, and I bumped into one of my idols, Carolyne Roehm.   She was so certain of herself as she went around selecting things I had never even dreamt of picking up — colors I hadn’t even entertained — and I watched it build like magic in her arms.   It was there and then that I decided it is just all a matter of what you are drawn to, and a bit of bravery.   Because I never place an order myself, I have to go with what is available.  I walk in with an open mind and select the flower that I am most excited about and go from there.   Oftentimes, it is something obvious like a peony or a ranunculus.  I love lilac season and lily of the valley of course.   Sometimes there are days like today where there is less obvious material available and you just have to go with it and give it a try, there is no failure if it’s just for you and I like adding something new to the mix to decide whether I want to work with it again or not.

3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers 3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers

For arranging flowers in this case, I went for clean whites and a bit of pink, and it’s hard to go wrong there…I love how silver Olive leaves are — I always try to select greenery for filler but stick with olive and eucalyptus for the most part (a safe choice I’m sure…) as I don’t love very bright greens.    Stock isn’t something I use very often but it is great filler and can add a nice hue;  I typically trim off the top bit of green to make way for more blooms which I find changes the whole appearance.  I think it’s important to realize how much you can manipulate the flowers, I often shed lots of leaves and try to blow big blooms open.  Some basic rules of practice for flower care are to cut the stems with you get home, to remove all the leaves that might fall below the water line and to put in fresh cool water, unless you want the flower to open more quickly in which case you can use warm.   Of course every flower is different, and I am still learning so much.

3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers 3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers

I didn’t use it in this case, but chicken wire is a great thing to tuck inside your vessel.   I learned this from the pros, but you just cut a piece and ball it up and it becomes the structure for the stems to lean in, allowing you to use less and not crowd or rely on each flower to hold the other up.  I try to start with the greenery to create a base around the edges and then move along to the statement flower (say the peony) before filling in with the other whimsical pieces.

3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers 3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers3 Little Tricks for Arranging Flowers

I hope these tips for arranging flowers were helpful! Thank you so much to Gadsden House for letting us shoot here, it’s our favorite wedding place to shoot in town and to Abby, always 🙂 xx

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