A rose is not a rose

There are roses and then there are roses. Anyone with eyeballs knows what I'm talking about. These fall into the latter category and exist on an entirely different planet than anything wrapped in say it with flowers paper and a packet of food. Dripping with petals, full of beetles and picked a moment before from the garden- these are Gertrude Stein's roses and Shakespeare's too. Do I even need to talk about the smell? It's everything.

I scoured the bushes to find the slightly past prime ones, a little rusty around the edges, just to feel okay with clipping so many. Rose thorns often carry bacteria so most every prick will develop a small infection and throb for days, it's a joint sacrifice for the both of us. I shy away from decadence in most forms, but I am powerless in front of a rose bush. I clip and clip unabashedly. The next few days are spent bringing your little bouquet from room to room as you go about your business, periodically smelling them when the scent fades from memory. 

Post-script: I have written a small piece on my girlhood fascination with roses for the newly launched book Summer Goals. Please take a look.

Orange you glad

I'm only saying this cause we're friends, but I've been avoiding you. Straight up seeing you coming and crossing the street. Truth is, two weeks ago my cat died and I didn't want to talk about it. Still don't. But it felt awful to talk about anything else, so I pulled out my proverbial cellphone to make a pretend phone call whenever I saw you coming round the corner.

Let's instead think back to July, back to when summer was never gonna end. I bought these two buckets of flowers at the flower market in New York and brought them up to New Hampshire, my one big birthday present to myself. I went flower crazy and as I made this bouquet, Frankie held the camera reins.

Orange doesn't come easily for me. It's work. I mean, I love a peach or an apricot, a rust or a pumpkin pie- but straight orange has always proven the red headed stepchild of the spectrum. Not until the New England daylilies bloomed this year did I even start to warm to it. But now we're making peace, one lily and rose and calla at a time.

Micha's Birthday

A few weeks back my dad loaded up two canoes with hot dogs, bug spray and beers. We pushed off and rowed towards Indian Rock, a small clearing reachable by water with a huge boulder that fronts a fire circle. I brought turkey feathers for each of us to stick in our hair, and when we docked, we accidentally slammed into my dad's canoe just as he was trying to get out. Our howling fits of laughter could probably be heard 3 miles away.
IMG_5237Untitled-1IMG_5244 My sister Micha is our family's campfire queen. She always brings her dulcimer and plays this one folk song that I swear is ripped straight out of Ken Burns' The Civil War. I can't listen to it fully without stifling a sniffle.

Last year we celebrated her birthday by renting a small cabin in West Virginia and this year she's 10 states away. We spoke briefly on the phone today, neither one of us having great service. The basics were covered, I wished her a happy birthday and we said we loved each other and must catch up when we both had an hour to chat. I can't help but feel the whole interaction was woefully inadequate for a sisterly birthday celebration, so instead I'll think back to our campfire and dream that is was her actual birthday instead. Happy day, big sis.


When I think back on this summer, I'm pretty sure I will remember all the time I spent with Frankie Zmetra as one of the highlights. She spent a few nights at Elmwood and we took so many photos it would make your head spin. That gorgeous blondie in a lot of my flower photos? The one and only. Frankie has written the most incredible blog for the past 4 years and she yesterday shuttered its doors to launch a new venture called Lawrence, a vintage shop and journal of images.

Even though we spent most of our days working on the site's photos, we couldn't help sneaking in a little series of us in the goldenrod when we discovered we both had vintage yellow play suits.

These are some of the snaps I took for her new shop, the last one is a favorite of mine. We had just finished taking the silly yellow photos above and as the light was fading we raced out to the canoe. The water level was going down drastically, thanks to the paper mill, and the mosquitoes were beyond compare. When it's dusk and the mosquitoes are swarming, the bats start swarming, too.

It was getting so dark that I couldn't see if the camera was focused or not and just as I figuring out how to frame the shot, it started to rain. We snapped a few more and then ran to collect the various iphones, lens, cameras and pieces of vintage clothing which we had inevitably strewn along the field behind us. I put her camera under my straw hat to keep it dry as we made our way back inside. We woke up the next morning to a sky full of sun and it was her birthday.

Thank you

Thank you all so much for your warm reception to my new website! I'm really deeply touched by your emails and comments, I wish I could launch a new site every week just to read them. It makes my heart swell thinking about it, I'm so beyond grateful to have found a circle of inspiration in all of you.

While I'm home in Brooklyn, I still have a whole summer's worth of New Hampshire photos for you. The little arrangement in the windowsill was made from mostly from flowers from the small town farmer's market. The grower was selling them in bunches for less then a latte and I dug deep in the bottom of my bag to make sure I spent every penny I could. The zinnas are beyond special, an old fashioned variety called Raggedy Anne with long fringey, folded petals. Let's all remember this variety when it comes time to plant next spring? Starting zinnias from seed is nearly 100% foolproof, the easiest of easy for beginners, and they last ages in a vase. They are summer wrapped up in a single stem, I think.


Do you remember my parent's kittens Ella and Calla? They are full grown ladies now, but it doesn't diminish their calico cuteness. My mom drove the kitties the 10 hour trip to Elmwood in a cat carrier and only a single mew was heard the whole time. The cats had as good a time on vacation as we all did. This little lady caught a bat and deposited him on the bedroom floor. I can only laugh over how excited she must have been- the great huntress thinking she caught the only mouse ever born with wings.

My new website

My site
Yesterday I launched a website for my floral design and styling business. I've quietly been doing flowers for events on my own for the past year and have finally opened up to taking on more projects.

The website has been in the works for months and I'm beyond thrilled and proud of how its turned out. It's been the most rewarding collaborative project I've tackled yet. Macon York designed logo and text layout, Bryan Gardner shot the GORGEOUS homepage photos, Andrew Fiorillo turned the images into a clean and easy to navigate website, Erica Nikolaidis elegantly edited the copy and I conceived the concept and styled all of the photos. Dream team, forever and ever.

I've gotten an incredible response from this wonderful post about my new website, I thought it'd be fun to tell you the story of how we as a team created the site from scratch.


I started dreaming up the site's concept while I was traveling in Amsterdam last Novemeber. Micha and I went to the Rijksmuseum where I fell in love with this 1636 Jan van Kessel painting with currants and insects. As we walked home from the musuem, we stumbled upon Stenelux, a shop selling a beautiful collection of insects and butterflies. I promptly spent all of my remaining euros on a few moths and beetles with the hopes that I'd be able to recreate a similar tableaux of flowers, plants and bugs for my site.

The yellow violas are a photograph from 1910 that I thought was very sweet. I especially liked how they were shot from overhead, so it almost seems like a classic botanical illustration in picture form.
When we got home from Europe, I started hounding the internet for more images to help me flesh out my idea. I've always been a big fan of Imke Klee's gorgeous, color coordinated overhead photographs and knew I wanted to shoot my collection of plants and flowers on a white background in a similar way.

The website Sheaff Ephemera has an astounding amount of scanned antique graphics, so I pulled these two to refer back to later. I was really drawn the fonts that were on the simple, almost modern side of the antique spectrum. The illustration is a 1970s book plate that I can't get enough of.

I was really very taken with this Van Gogh painting when I saw it in The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, so much so I remember pulling out my little notebook and writing the name and something like stunning wine color with yellow and green...

The other illustrations are all from etsy, which is a treasure trove of book plates for cheap. The butterflies knocked me over, the greenhouse plants print really spoke to me because the layout and fonts were so clean and the carnivorous plants plate had a nice mix of all of the colors I wanted to use.

At this point I reached out to Macon York, who is a really talented graphic designer and art director, to develop a logo. I've followed her blog for ages and knew she was awesome at combining beautiful fonts and photographs (which she was doing for Martha Stewart at the time.) She now works for herself, doing custom design work like my website and printing letterpress cards.

Once I got her on board (very luckily, I might add!), she introduced me to her colleague at Martha, Bryan Gardner, who is a spectacular photographer. I've since learned he's a good southern boy who likes sweet tea, hosts a mean cookout in the park and has a really wonderful apartment with his whip-smart girlfriend Maggie in Greenpoint.
One sleepy Sunday we all gathered together and shot the homepage. Even while I was clipping the plants I collected and starting to style the homepage, I was thrilled with how everything looked. Bryan is really out of this world talented and he put on Paul Simon's Graceland while shooting. I kept everyone caffeinated and full of cookies.
When we had the images done, Macon got to work designing the site's layout. We did multiple options and while the floral wreath was my favorite photo- we all agreed the airy rectangle lent itself best to a website. The wreath is going to become a thank you card, so I'll get to look at it a lot, too.
flowers page
Once Macon had the text layout settled, we turned all of the files to Andrew, who built the back-end of the site. Not only did he work crazy quickly, he also handled my pathetic attempts to talk about HTML related issues like a champ. There was a night when we were supposed to be chatting about site stuff and instead he tolerated my ramblings for at least 30 minutes about how romantic Anthony Hopkins is as a butler in Remains of the Day. He is very kind, to say the least.
My dear friend Frankie took this snap of me when we were in New Hampshire last week and I couldn't help but use it as a bio photo on the site. It makes writing a blurb about yourself much more bearable when you have a photo that doesn't make you want to hide. All of the words on the site got a once over from Erica, who is the editor for my posts on design*sponge. She has a witty and smart voice, so she's very easy to trust when it comes to polishing sentences. And she doesn't judge when I confuse its vs it's, which is all the time.

I'm really thrilled with how the site turned out and I couldn't be more honored to work with the people who brought it all together. Long story but a short message, stop by and let me know what you think!