Friday, December 21, 2012

The Snow Owl: an inspiration

I have to say, with each design I create comes thought and inspiration. The visuals stream through my head like a movie being fast forwarded. I catch slight glimpses of the design as its being constructed in my head. Patterns and places, textures and scents, elements and composition move in and out and side to side through my mind like a wonderland of visual delights. I know it sounds chaotic but it's actually calm and quiet...quite poetic.

This particular design I knew I wanted to do something very wintery, like something you would see in a cottage in the frosty woods. I knew pussy willow, naked silver eucalyptus bells and black privet berry were going to create my collar or "nest" of the bouquet. My true inspiration though came from the snow queen protea which just reminded me of a beautiful snow owl. As soon as I added the protea everything else fell into place. I added hints of green miniature cymbidium orchids, white Veronica, white ranunculus, and silvery dusty miller.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Deep Fried Goodness

Home-made Donuts using Grands biscuits.

I used the flaky variety and cut each biscuit into 1/4. Carefully placed 4 pieces into a saucepan of bubbling hot vegetable oil. Turning them once over and removing them with a slotted spoon. I let them sit on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. I topped half of them with cinnamon sugar and the other powdered sugar. Paired with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate would make the perfect Christmas Eve bedtime snack.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter bouquet fit for a Princess

A lush verdure bouquet of Princess Pine {sp.L. clavatum, genus lycopodium} with root system intact, collared with phalaenopisis orchid {sp. phalaenopsis amabilis} leaves and an accent of fresh cut Dutch white hydrangea {sp.H. macrophylla}. The bouquet is accented with copper bullion wire and a crystal pin.
Designed & Photographed by Valerie McNichols, IOBette

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notes of Oakmoss & Amber

Autumn is definitely a unique time of year. People tend to want to snuggle and eat comfort foods. It's a time of gathering and sharing. There's so many things I look forward to when fall arrives. Nothing says romantic like a roaring fire with of course wool, fur and flannel blankets to nuzzle up in. One of my favorite things to do is spritz my pillows and blankets with an amazing vintage cologne. I'm in love with Coty's Aspen circa 1989.
Top Notes
Lemon, Bergamot, Mint.
Middle Notes
Lavender, Vetiver
Base Notes
Oakmoss, Amber.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Firecraker Firecracker Boom Boom Boom!

This slender-stemmed, multi-trunked tropical evergreen tree or large shrub, a native of Cuba, reaches 15 feet in height with an equal spread, and has unusual seven-inch-long leaves varying in shape from oblong, fiddle-shaped, or even-lobed (Fig. 1). The one-inch-wide red flowers are produced year-round in beautiful clusters held upright above the foliage and helps make Fire-cracker an interesting specimen plant. The seed capsules which follow hold several smooth, speckled, and toxic seeds, a fact which must be considered when placing this plant in the landscape; it should be kept out of the reach of children.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Little flower has a lot of impact...

Stephanotis is one of the most popular bridal flowers. It's intoxicating aroma and demure physic is sought after by every type of bride. It's the perfect accent to a bridal bouquet and makes for stately display if the bride chooses to have a bouquet bulging with the dainty white flower. Stephanotis has always been a flower associated with a happy marriage or the desire to travel. I guess that's why it is so desirable to have as part of a bride's bouquet.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mariachi, Marriott and Manzanita

This is definitely one of my all time favorite weddings. I knew it was going to be fabulous when the florals arrived pristine and perfect. The bridal bouquet consists of over 50 stems of white Mariachi lisianthus. The bridesmaids carried ultra violet lisianthus that sat on a bed of deep plum stock. Centerpieces were high and low designs completely opposite of each other. Tall manzanita branches stretched high above with darling hanging glass votive cups with small bunches of white blossoms. The low pieces were made from reclaimed wood boxes with an ombré design from white to deep plum.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pretty in Pink Autumn Wedding

Something about soft girlie colors amongst the fall backdrop of Montgomery County Pennsylvania just seems so romantic and lovely. This stunning event took place on the perfectly manicured grounds of Talamore Country Club on October 6, 2012.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just add the Groom

Organic style boutonnières for perfect fall

1. Cotinus and broomcorn wrapped with red and white check ribbon.

2. White snowberry and brown glitter birch twig wrapped with copper bullion wire.

3. Purple rain grass, confetti birch twig, and myrtle wrapped with green wool.

4. Laurel and fresh lavender wrapped with brown and white gingham ribbon.

5. Myrtle and thistle accented with sphagnum moss.

6. Dried lotus pod, snowberry and broomcorn stems wrapped with a white velvet band.

7.Millet and banksia protea leaves wrapped in rawsilk ribbon

8.Sweet Huckleberry and burgundy kangaroo paws wrapped with natural bind wire.

Designed, styled and photographed by Valerie McNichols, IOBette

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Up Close & Personal, inside look at Paphiopedilum

Paphiopedilum (sometimes colloquially referred to as "Paphs") are considered highly collectible by growers due to the curious and unusual form of their flowers. Most naturally grow in humus layers as semi-terrestrials on the forest floor, in rocky outcroppings or in trees.

Along with [[Phragmipedium]], [[Cypripedium]], [[Mexipedium]], and [[Selenipedium]], the genus is a member of the subfamily Cypripedioideae, commonly referred to as the Lady’s or Venus’ Slipper Orchids, so named from the unusual shape of the pouch (labellum) of the flower, which was said to resemble a lady’s slipper. The pouch functions by trapping insects so that they are forced to climb up past the staminode, behind which they collect or deposit pollinia.

These sympodial orchids lack pseudobulbs. Instead they grow robust shoots, each with several leaves. These can be short and rounded or long and narrow, and be solid green or have a mottled pattern. When older shoots die, newer ones take over. Each new shoot only blooms once when it is fully grown, producing a raceme between the fleshy, succulent leaves. The roots are thick and fleshy. Potted plants form a tight lump of roots that, when untangled, can be up to l m long.

One group of paphs, commonly called the "Chinese paphs" or "Vietnamese paphs" are known for their unusually bright colors. Paphiopedilum armeniacum, for example, discovered in 1979 and described in 1982, amazed growers of orchids by the extraordinary beauty of its bright yellow flowers.

The Paphiopedilums are among the most widely cultivated and hybridized of orchid genera. Thousands of interspecific hybrids have been registered with the Royal Horticultural Society in London over the years. These orchids are relatively easy to grow indoors, as long as conditions that mimic their natural habitats are created. Most species thrive in moderate to high humidity (50 to 70 percent), moderate temperatures ranging from 13 to 35 degrees Celsius and low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux. Modern hybrids are typically easier to grow in artificial conditions than their parent species.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crack ups!

1 cup unsalted butter, Anchor pure New Zealand butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers with sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Lay crackers out on the foil.
Melt the brown sugar and butter until a boil is reached.
Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved.
Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly.
After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer.
Let cool or refrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces and serve

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Gazpacho Tingles the Taste Buds

On a perfect 90 degree day my co-worker offers my a bowl of her homemade Gazpacho soup. I had never had gazpacho nor any kind of cold soup. The moment my lips hit the saucy broth I knew I'd be hooked. It was full of body and the flavors practically popped out of the bowl. I added a spritz of fresh lime and sprinkled croutons on top. Not only was it full of amazing color but it was delicious too.
Lynnette Cook's Recipe
1 can 28oz crushed tomatoes with basil
1 cucumber, remove seeds and sliced in cubes
1 medium green pepper cleaned and cut in cubes
1 Tbsp organic apple cider vinegar, (Braggs)
1Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp dry white wine or chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, pressed

1 medium lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Seasoned croutons

Mix together all ingredients then chill. Upon serving squeeze fresh lime and add croutons on top.