Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Surprises

I just love surprises. This morning, I got up early and took the dog for a walk and saw that in the Sunday paper, there were free samples of chocolate chip FiberOne bars and FiberOne raisin bran cereal. I hadn't tried the cereal, but the bars are one of my very favorite things! I had to stop buying them because I was eating 2 or 3 a day and they do have a lot of sugar in them. All in all, not the worst snack I could choose, but hubby and I decided to try a different brand with less sugar and more protein, blah, blah, calories, blah. So today, welcome back, delicious old friend. What a great surprise to start off my day! Plus, the cereal was delicious, too. As if that's not cool enough, I look at the beautiful flowers my dad sent us for our anniversary and see that 2 of the gorgeous orange lilies had opened up and that 2 of the other closed lily blooms are beginning to open and they are actually stargazer lilies, not orange like the others! There were no open stargazers in the arrangement, so to have them pop open is another wonderful surprise! I took some pics before the stargazers started peeping out, but my camera battery is dead, so I can't take any of them right now. What a great start to a great day! I hope yours is fabulous as well.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Today I delivered a bouquet for one of my 2 September brides. It was for her bridal portraits. I used gerbera daisies, roses and spray roses in pinks and white. I got to see her in her dress and she looked absolutely beautiful! Here's a couple shots:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Harry Potter vs. Voldemort

Ok, so this has absolutely nothing to do with anything crafty or flowers or weddings, but I was just catching up on one of my fave blogs, cakewrecks, and there was a link to this. Made me laugh so hard I was crying.
Harry Potter v Voldemort rap battle

Shell Boutonnieres

My Folly Beach Bride is doing boutonnieres made out of shells. The groom will have orange spray roses and shells and their son will have a mini-me version of his dad's, but the other men will have all shell boutonnieres. I'm playing around with sizes, shapes, weights, etc. The men won't be wearing jackets, so they need to be light enough to hang well on linen shirts without sagging or pulling at the material.
Here are my inspiration pictures:
These from Martha Stewart Weddings are so super cute! I love how they use just one type of shell each and a little ribbon and let the natural beauty of that shell show. I also really like the way that they pin into the shirt/jacket and do not have a "stem."

I love this one with the assorted shells and the orange ribbon as well. It is made by fritts rosenow of rosenow floral design. It just so happens that the bride is using orange, too! But I think this one would get too heavy for the linen shirts, so I'm playing around with different adhesives and ways to hide the pin to make it work.
Here are a few so far. All with the exception of one are meant to pin into the shirt like the first set of inspiration photos. I'm going to play around with some more tonight, so stay tuned!

I love these auger shells!

I would use a real leaf in the real version.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Granny's 97th Birthday Party

The birthday girl!

The birthday party for my Granny was a success! All of the residents and any family that they had visiting enjoyed it very much, and most importantly, Granny loved it. I met my $25 challenge by a mile, thanks to some great bargain finds. I ran out of time to buy things before I ran out of money. If I had known the deals I would find, I would have gotten way more flowers and tumblers and lanterns on my first trip to the stores! The decorations were not what I originally had in mind, and if I were to do it over again, I would get lots more paper lanterns and would have had one of the maintenance people use a ladder to hang them from the ceiling (which was my original plan). But there were no maintenance people readily available and the ceilings were higher than I anticipated, so I ended up only using 4 lanterns and putting them on walls. The residents appreciated and enjoyed the decorations so much, that people started asking what the special occasion was at the mere sight of the flowers on the tables! Although it was not aesthetically what I wanted, it was even better than I imagined in terms of being fun for the residents and for Granny. It did not take much--those old ladies sure know how to party! And I can say "old" without meaning any offense--all but 2 of the guests were over 90 years old! If I make it that long, I will consider "old" a compliment! How cool to be surrounded by so many years of experience and wisdom. It was a very fun day and although it wasn't what I originally had in mind, I think it turned out just great.
Here's the hallway area where tea time is held. It's outside of the main dining room and there is a cute little old-fashioned ice cream parlor that they open at snack time, too.

Here's the cute little ice cream parlor. We didn't use that room, but there were people in there and it has the porch area where it is nice to sit outside. It was a little chilly that day, though.

So here's the money part:

4 paper lanterns from Michael's crafts $4

pink crepe paper steamers from DollarTree $1

6 bushes of brightly colored fake flowers from DollarTree $6

5 bright tumblers 75% off at party store $1.62

paper plates and napkins from DollarTree $2

3-tier Martha Stewart cupcake stand from BigLots $1

roll of pink kraft paper from party store $1

Total: $16.62

These are the things that I used that I had already:

tape, scissors, plastic forks and spoons, ribbon to hang the lanterns

And here's the party!

I could not do to-the-floor table covers because most of the residents use wheelchairs and they tend to get in the way, so I covered the top of each table with pink kraft paper and put a couple streamers on the end. Each table got a colorful tumbler with bright flowers and I put a few on the ledge behind the tables as well. They are only $1 a bunch, and the tumblers were on clearance at Card and Party Outlet . They turned out to be about 30 cents each!! The guests took the flowers back to their rooms.
Although I am usually not a fan of artificial flowers, I like to use them in situations like this because they do not wilt and die and they can brighten up the room without any maintenance on the part of granny or the other ladies who took them back to their rooms. The guests beginning to trickle in.

99 year-old getting out of wheelchair to hug 97 was either going to be very sweet or disastrous. I was torn between grabbing my camera and standing by to grab someone who may fall, but luckily there was staff nearby to catch anyone who needed it, so I took pictures! It was all sweet, no disaster!

This is the cart they use for tea time snacks and drinks before I set it up and got the cupcakes on the cupcake tower. We also had sugar-free pudding and Jello for those who could not have sugar.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick update

Just a quick update from Chicago. Yesterday, I posted 2 idea boards for a bride who is getting married in September. She likes Gerbera daisies and her husband-to-be is a Clemson fan, so she wanted to use some orange along with the champagne and black combo they are using for the wedding. I couldn't find photos of some specific combinations of flowers that I had in mind at the time, so I kind of faked it by pasting daisies over other bouquets just to to an idea of what it would look like. Gotta love Polyvore!

Today is the big day of Granny's 97th birthday and $25 nursing home birthday party challenge. So far, so good on the $25 challenge. The party changed a little when we decided to bring Granny home for dinner. So instead of doing the party around the dinnertime in the dining room at the home, I'm sprucing up their daily 2:30 tea time. They have a snack cart and open the little ice cream parlor every day at 2:30, and the more independently mobile residents come down to have some snacks and drinks and visit with each other. There are usually family members who are visiting there, too.
Yesterday, I was shopping around for some last-minute items and my brother suggested I go to a store called Deal$. If you like DollarTree, you will swoon in Deal$. I spent over an hour in there, no joke. It is a DollarTree company, so there is all the usual stuff you find in DollarTree, still at the $1 price point, but then there are other things in there as well, up to $5. Nothing in the store is above $5. And it's not all junk, either. Because of the higher price point, they have a lot of name-brand closeouts and overstocks along with the off-brand products. Love it!
Happy Friday y'all! Have a good weekend!

Monday, July 13, 2009

97th Birthday Party Challenge

So my current project is a very special birthday party for a very special lady: my Granny! It combines a few of my favorite things (cue Julie Andrews singing softly in the background now): parties, party planning, travelling (especially going home) and Granny, who is my favorite of all. The party itself presents a couple of small challenges, plus I am proposing a challenge of my own just to make it even more interesting!
First, the inherent challenges:
1) Granny, as fabulous as she is, is turning 97 years old. She's had 96 birthdays and is not into making a big deal of herself. She is not a fussy or elaborate person at all. She is a very laid-back lady. She is gracious and fun-loving and will love and appreciate anything I put together, but I want to create something that is perfect for her and will not overwhelm or embarrass her.
2) This is the big one! The party will be at the nursing home where Granny lives and will have to fit into their schedule and their routine. Since Granny doesn't get around so well (that seems to happen when you're pushing 100 years old), I'm choosing to have her party at the nursing home so she does not have to go out and about and have trouble getting around. Plus, I want to include all of her new friends that live there. But...I don't know how many people that will entail, their cognitive and physical abilities and limitations, and any other restrictions there may be.
3) Her birthday is July 17 and I will be getting into town late in the day on July 14.

So that's a fun set of challenges to work with, but I'm upping the ante with a challenge of my own--I want to do all the decorations, paper, flowers, favors, etc for $25 or less.
Just for fun, here are the rules I'm setting for myself:
1) The $25 doesn't include the cake or any other food.
2) It's $25 to spend, not the estimated value of the products used (for example: sometimes on TV shows or for magazine articles, they'll use 25 of something that they purchased in a pack of 30, so they'll only count the per-item price of those 25 things in their total)
3) I'm not including sales tax in the $25, but the sales tax in my hometown is 10% and the sales tax where I live is 6.5% or 7%, depending on which city/town you're in.
4) I can use things that I or my dad already own as part of the party.

So there are my rules and my little challenge for myself. I'm going to get details on rules, guidelines, etc from the nursing home today and ask Granny what she wants the theme to be. Right now I'm thinking garden party with butterflies, 50's sock hop or beach bash. Details to come!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Yay and a Boo

Happy Monday! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend as much as I did. This morning, I have a pretty new layout for my blog (yay!) courtesy of Super cute and FREE! And they are easy to use for those who are just getting started and figuring this blog thing out. Check it out! So that's my yay and now for the update (or maybe I should call it a down-date) on the "first big project." Re-doing my office has been postponed until August due to hubby's crazy work schedule in July and my leaving town for a week. Since I need to use the room on a daily basis, we decided against tearing it up until we know we can get it put back together in a short amount of time. So I am on the quest for another project. Any ideas?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Just a quick post. Here's what I am wearing to our 4th of July parties today. Actually, it's an approximation of what I am wearing--the closest I could find pictures of. And the super-cute enamel rings are just for pretend. I wish I had them, but I do not (sigh). Kate Spade has a bunch of really cute jewelry out for the summer, including some with a caning design and some Mayan-inspired pieces. LOVE this!
Happy 4th, y'all!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Baby Bro's Orange and Blue Graduation Party

Baby Brother's graduation party was this past Saturday. Hubby and I went to Chicago for a week and set it up. It was a great time--just a fun, super laid-back backyard get-together with fried chicken, keg beer and old friends. Here are some pictures as we were setting up.
I decided not to do flowers on the tables because 1) while he certainly would have appreciated them, BB's not a big flower guy 2)we needed bug candles on the tables and 3) there were storms in the forecast, so I didn't know how long the party would actually be set up outside and how fast we would have to break it down to get everything in the house. So I did a couple fun, masculine and waterproof decorations, the main ones being 2 18" orange I's in the 2 planters flanking the front entrance of the house. They were my favorite part and what do you know--I didn't take a single picture of them!!! Oh bother. Hopefully, they'll still be in OK shape next time I go up there, so I can take one then. I put big cintronella candles on the tables and small citronella votives in
miniature galvanized tubs on the highboys.

The neighbor loaned us the sweetest tub for wine. It wasn't orange and blue, but was the perfect size and unique and handmade. The galvanized went with the other items I had out. I also wrapped the orange plastic flatware in big white paper napkins and tied them up with orange, blue and white ribbon in a 12" round galvanized tub lined with an orange cloth napkin we had at the house. picture again! That didn't get put out until the dinner was delivered, so I didn't think to take a picture while we were setting up. For the snacks, I put the loose plasticware in cups with some napkins and plates. Here they are--not as exciting as the dinner stuff.

I did a couple very simple arrangements and used a little beargrass, which I don't usually do, to make it look more festive and echo some of the ribbon streamers I used in other places.

I did a little table with cards and pens, asking people to leave words of wisdom for the graduate. Towards the end of the night, his friends left some messages that

I did a couple little I's for the back porch. They were in flower containers.

Some crazy-lady Wisconsin and Michigan fans (my cousin and MIL) were trying to change the letters, though :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Polyvore!
Here's my idea for my dream outfit for the party tonight(plus, what the dog would wear). But alas, there will be no brand new cute outfit and fabulous accesories for me, and the doggie isn't even invited to the party, so no outfit for her, either. I'll probably be wearing one of the old standby dresses with some fun jewelry to make it look new and fresh.
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Love Summer

My idea board for my summer plans!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Love This

Since I will be away from reliable internet connection, I thought I would compile some polyvore idea boards to post in my absence. Polyvore is a fabulous website that I came across. It allows you to creat these idea boards from tons of images that they have available to search and you can clip some of your own images in, either from your own photos or from some places on the internet. The coolest part to me is, as you mouse over each image, it will tell you where it is from and information on it, like the price. So say you put together a board for a super-cute outdoor party and found the dress and shoes you want to wear, as well as a fab vintage tablecloth. You can include those in your idea board and then refer back to it so you know where to go to buy them! So cool! I love it!
Find me on Polyvore

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Baby Brother's Graduation Party

Hubby and I are going to Chicago to visit my family and to throw my youngest brother a graduation party celebrating his recent graduation from University of Illinois. It's going to be a backyard party at my dad's house. Originally slated as a BBQ, Baby Bro has chosen to have it catered by Brown's Chicken, a Chicagoland oldie but goodie. Since other Little Bro is a professional chef whose specialty happens to be grilling, I wasn't even considering having it catered, but it's Baby Bro's party. Plus, they have super delish coleslaw and it will be easy, so Brown's it is! Pictures of the party and flowers to come soon!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Big Project!

Ok, so it's been a couple weeks since summer started for me and I am starting in on my first major project. I am going to tackle the choas that is my office/craft/sewing/storage room. By the many purposes that this room has to serve, one can tell that this will be quite an adventure! But I am confident. I have much creative inspiration and DIY instructions and support from various sites and blogs and equally important, a hubby that is handy.
First, I must reveal the mess. This is the first time that it has been exposed to members outside the immediate family. (I reccommend those who are squeamish cover their eyes and scroll past)
The Room

So there it is. It's a small room (about 10x10 ft) and has to serve multiple purposes. The inspiration for the room is coming from several sources. The beginning came from a fab DIY project by Michelle from 3 Men & a Lady. I love the project, but I especially love the shelving and the colors. In the past, I have been opposed to using adjustable track shelving, but seeing the way she put it together with other elements made me realize that they can be functional while actually looking cute. I love it! The shelves were the only option that made sense for us in terms of function, size and price when we set out to re-do the office in the first place, but I didn't want to use it, so the project stalled. Thanks to this new inspiration, the project is on!
First step.....clear out all the STUFF. And yes, that is a plush deer head on the wall.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I expound my love of Martha Stewart, part 1

When it comes to Martha Stewart, those who have an opinion about her feel adamantly either way. You either love her or can't stand her. Reasons people give for disliking her range from speculations about her personality ("she's a b*tch") to doubts about her domesticity and skills ("I would look like I knew what I was doing, too, if I have a large team of peons doing everything for me."). While it is true that, possibly excluding her time spent in super-minimum security incarceration, she probably could not remember the last time she did such common tasks as dusting, changing litter boxes, laundry, weeding, etc, she knows how to do these things and do them well. And these are the skills upon which she has built her business. In her case, the word "business" does not even begin to describe what she has built, but I will describe it as such. She has done what many of us creative-crafty types dream of doing. She has taken a hobby that she loves to do and built this omni-media empire. Please note that it's "omni-media," not "multi-media." Yes, that's what it is: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Not just some of the media, but ALL of them. Radio, TV, satellite radio, books, magazines. Then there's the products that bear her name: the flowers with 1-800-flowers, the houses with KB homes, the rugs, the paint colors at Lowe's, the line of products at Macy's and the one at K-Mart, the furniture, the lighting, the party supplies, the craft supply line, the flooring. I'm sure that I am leaving something out, but that's a whole lot of stuff right there. In addition to the actual products, there's the brand she's built. It's a feeling and a style. For example, I have a friend who now calls me "mini-Martha" after I coordinated her wedding and did the florals, and I have heard people say, "Oh,that's so Martha," to describe something. I even found a blog, just this morning, by that very name. There are actually a host of blogs that have to do with Martha Stewart, either as a fan or from the other side of the camp. I understand that Martha herself does not design every one of these things. It's quite possible she may not even see some of the designs for these products, but she's still making money off of every single one of them. And since she's making all this money, if she wanted to sit down and hand-make a birthday card for her hairdresser's dog, she could do that. And I'm sure it would be the nicest birthday card that dog's ever seen. Or she could bake said dog (or anyone--the dog's just an example) a birthday cake, or make a crepe paper garland to hang at a party. Or she could have a team of art school interns do it for her--it's her choice. The point is, she started off as just a regular woman, and took what she loves to do and turned it into a VERY successful business for herself.
Like her or dilike her, you have to admit that she is a heck of a businesswoman and she can whip up one heck of a triple-decker gourmet doggie bicuit birthday cake (or whatever) and I consider any comparison to her "a good thing."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

9 Fallen Heroes

Today's post will be short. Today is the 2-year anniversary of the fire at the Sofa Super Store in which 9 of Charleston's firefighters were killled. I have so very much to say about how this tragedy was preventable in so many ways and on so many levels and how it took over a decade of purposeful mismanagement of the fire department and blatant dereliction when it came to training and safety, but I will keep them to myself and try to focus on the good that has come from this tragedy. Although those 9 families will never get their husband, father, son, uncle, nephew, cousins back, and the lives of their friends and fellow firefighters will never be the same, this event did finally shed light on what had been going on in the Charleston Fire Department for 16 years plus and things have been changing for the better since then as far as the operation of the department is concerned. Personally, people are still recovering and trying to adjust.

My thoughts and prayers turn to The Charleston 9 every day, but today I am especially reflective of the impact that June 18, 2007 has had on my life and the lives of so many people. When I think of how preventable the entire thing was, I feel angry. I have been trying to let go of that anger and trying to focus on anything positive that has come from it. Nothing I can do can change what has happened, but I can change my reaction to it and the way I think about it. Doing so helps me to find comfort and peace. I hope that the families involved and all others touched by this are able to find a little more or that peace and comfort every day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Folly Beach Wedding in September

This is an idea board that I made using It's a super-fabulous site which I will tell more about later. The idea board is for a wedding that I am doing in September. It will be on Folly Beach and the bride describes it as very laid-back, nothing elaborate. The orange dress is the actual dress that the bride has chosen for the bridesmaids. Everything else are images that I chose to create the board. We are doing sage hydrangeas and orange roses for the bouquets and the boutonnieres will be orange spray roses with green or all green. If we go with all green, I am thinking yoko ono/kermit mums and hypericum berries or small pieces of the sage hydrangea with the berries. We may incorporate sisal or raffia and seashells for a more organic feel or double sided satin and grosgrain ribbon if the bride wants it a little more traditional. The guys will be barefoot and wearing khakis and white shirts, so the flowers they wear will have to be very lightweight. We will use orange rose petals to define the aisle. More on this project as it develops!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Life is a garden and love is in bloom

This past weekend was the wedding celebration of one of my dearest friends, Beth. Since both the bride and groom are from out of town, many of the guests were traveling to be here for the wedding and accompanying festivities. One of the highlights of the week/weekend for me was the beautiful shower that the bride's sister gave for the bride. She chose the theme "A garden party in pink and green," and used that for every element of the party. She also incorporated a lot of Lilly Pulitzer design and products into the party. It was a fabulous afternoon. The bride's sister put much thought and effort into the planning and hosting of this party and I would say that the princess of prep, Lilly herself, would have approved of this fete.

The lunch was at Poogan's Porch, an adorable little restaurant on Queen Street. It's one of those old places that has a cool story and it is even on the list of Charleston's haunted buildings. We had the upstairs room to ourselves (where the ghost is supposed to be!), so we could ooh and ahh and laugh and visit and carry on as much as we want without disturbing anyone. The bride's sister was particularly excited about the decorated umbrella, which is a tradition in the Bahamas. She got a battenburg lace umbrella and decorated it with ribbons and I attached flowers in the colors to the handle. It turned out great!

a close-up

the gift table

The favors were little tins of sweet pea seeds (one of my favorites!) with a little sweet pea on it and a quote: "Love held is the seed, love shared is the flower," which the hostess also put on the place cards. She put one at each place, along with the menu. For the menu, she made up sweet names for the dishes that had to do with happiness, love, etc., and used the same Lilly Pulitzer stationery she did for the invitations--adorable!

I did the flowers for the shower. For the tables, I wanted to keep the arrangements low so that we could see each other over them. I started out with short vase arrangements to keep a garden feeling and not too fussy, but they ended up being taller than I expected, so I went with julep cups (love them!) and little bitty revere bowls for the main table and we used the vase arrangements in other parts of the room.

We had some great food and beverages, some fun shower games and opening of gifts, and it was a fabulous way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

What a Wonderful World

Welcome to my brand-new blog, Sweet Eloise. I plan to use this to chronicle my attempts in all things crafty, culinary and creative. My occupation is teaching, but I enjoy dabbling in so very many things, floral and event design being my main interests. I also enjoy cooking (particularly baking), crafts, quilting and basically anything that requires beign creative and/or resourceful. One of the best things about teaching is the fact that I have summers off to do these great things. So this summer, I am going to use this blog to document my projects and help keep myself on track. Hopefully, the fact that someone else out there would be reading this will hold me accountable to finish my projects before starting in on new ones. I also enjoy finding out about products and designers from other blogs and get inspiration and ideas from those, so I hope that I can provide the same for someone else along the way. Thanks for joining me and welcome to my wonderful world!