I was at the laundromat yesterday, a place I don't visit as often as I should. It's a family run business where they sell bananas and houseplants and little brass charms at the counter next to single use packets of detergent and dryer sheets.

The owner's name is Rose and she is a pretty lady in her late 40s. She knows more about my personal life than most anyone else. She's watched my laundry pile in various stages of life- happily matching men's socks and then not and back and forth several times in the 5 years I've been on this street. She knows.

Yesterday as I was loading the dryers, she came up to me and suggested I redistribute them. Towels with the sweatpants and all of the sheets alone in another. She described, with obvious rapture, the look of a properly loaded dryer. The gentle tumble, likes with likes, lots of movement and a perfect, slow spiral. She said it was a thing of beauty, a dryer loaded with care and I swear I could see a difference. A mesmerizing, hypnotizing difference.

Dying flowers normally are that hypnotizing, unexpected thing for me. These poppies just gave up on my nightstand and started to collect dust and I let them stay until the water evaporated. Everyone has those little secret happinesses- the spin of a dryer or the droop of a dead stem.

A Wonderful Time

Since you've seen the pretty film-y shots from Florida, now we should get technical. Behind the scenes. Sneak peak into the process. Etcetera. Since the bride had already had her official wedding ceremony and it was dreamy and romantic and elegant and rustic and all of the good things that come with throwing a very fancy party in the middle of the woods (see photos here and here), we decided to have fun in Florida.

I have long been obsessed with Slim Aarons, a photographer famous for taking photos of socialites in hotbeds of preppy perfection- Palm Beach, Newport, New York and beyond. His poolside portraits from the 1960s and 70s were the first thing that jumped to mind when Ashley told me about the party her mother was hosting at a bath and tennis club outside West Palm.

Finding Slim's book A Wonderful Time in a free pile on the street years ago was a highlight of my days in the West Village and his interest in preserving prep really made sense as a jumping off point for the party. Citrus, obviously, and mix-matched milk glass, too. We embraced Florida instead of fighting it.
IMG_5960 IMG_5290 Sourcing local citrus still on the branch proved very tricky. All of the growers we spoke to wouldn't sell branches cut since they were more interesting in next year's crop. (Understandable.) Also, November is quite early in the season for fruit, since most trees hit peak production in January. 

We ended up shipping citrus from the West Coast that's grown especially for floral use, along with some other really beautiful California roses, ranunculus, celosia, camomile and tulips. The overnight fed-exing of flowers seems excessive even to me, but considering that nearly all flowers in your local grocery store were grown in Central America, buying from California is actually a more responsible solution.
IMG_5348 The milk glass vases were sourced from antique shops and the internet in record time. Too scared to ship them down ahead of us, we bubble wrapped them individually and filled up our carry-on's to bring them on board. We lost a few and had to scramble for more when we arrived.
IMG_5366IMG_5397IMG_5375 We ended up arranging the centerpieces in a spare room in the tennis club. We had a view of the ocean and kept spirits up with the cheapest of cheap mimosas around. André saves the day, always. The highlight of the job came after 10 hours of arranging, the executive chef brought us a surprise steak dinner on silver trays with silver covers. Food has never tasted so good.
IMG_5617IMG_6033IMG_5508 Always desperate to get photos of arrangements, we dragged a few back to our house and took some snaps around the gardens. I shot most of a disposable camera roll which is what you saw last post. Getting photos is my favorite and also the most anxiety producing moment of any event. You always have a million other more important things to be doing but, oh, god, pics or it didn't happen. I will beg, borrow and steal to have a few moments alone with my camera.
The day after, with heaps of citrus still hanging around, I got a few more moments to snap away. I made a little bouquet with leftovers and had Micha change into a 1960s lemon yellow nightgown I bought at an antique store when we were searching for more milk glass. We took some shots and then packed up the car, cup holders filled with ranunculus, and headed down to Miami to relax.

In Florida

Another lifetime ago (Novemeber) I traveled to West Palm Beach to do the flowers for a wedding reception.

We set up camp in a villa that belonged to a friend of the mother of the bride. The small complex seemed to be built in the 1930s or 40s and was nearly encased in vines and tropical plants and flowers, with a pool and a little path that lead to the Atlantic. I could drink my morning coffee on the balcony. From my bed I could hear the ocean. It was really something special.
Not having spent much time in Florida before, I now understand why people flock there. It's lush, beyond. The vines seemed on the verge of conquering every surface, everywhere. The sun of California but the jungle of Central America. The slowness of the South. It took me by surprise how quickly I was taken with it and even still, I wouldn't mind being back there now.


This arrangement was supposed to be about amaryllis. I tried, really, I did. It was even in the title of the design sponge post I made the flowers for. But whenever poppies are involved, it's a lost cause. Poppies will always win. They are the one bright spot on my winter horizon.
amaryllis 3
The kumquats in the arrangement once belonged to florist Sarah Winward and before that, they belonged to the fairy god mother of all florists, Ariella Chezar. They were given to me in a plastic bag over lunch with Sarah when she was in town for a master class with Ariella, where she used them in this arrangement. I love that they traveled from appreciator to appreciator, and that we both were able to make something beautiful with them.

Happy New Year

I'm in awe that new years keep on happening and with greater frequency than ever before. Meaningless perhaps, only a date on a calendar, but I put a lot of stock in new beginnings so January first will always mean something here. 2011 was full and beautiful and also so altering that I'm struggling to make sense of it. Bite-sized chunks will have to do.

I worshiped Elmwood. I woke up to see the sunrise and fell asleep swatting mosquitoes. I lay in bed and wished I never had to go home. I cursed New York a few times.
I fell in love with my camera. I pretty much figured out how to use it. I still have a long way to go.
I moved things around. I moved them back again. I grew stagnant. I took huge leaps. I was so nervous I almost threw up. Only once I actually did.
I launched my website. I was terrified. I lost perspective. I found it. Sometimes I screamed and cried and made a huge scene. I live alone so nobody saw it.

I dreamt some big dreams. I told people a few and a few I kept for myself.

I felt at ease. I felt at home. I felt understood and appreciated. I felt alone sometimes, but didn't mind.

I walked up to a boy and asked him to get a drink. For the first time in my life. Apparently it's not a big deal.

I made messes. I ran out of storage. I prayed for a huge, prewar industrial loft to work in. I didn't get it.
I foraged. Like crazy. I learned tree names and clipped more than I needed. I made friends with an old Italian gardener in my neighborhood. I grew flowers on my fire escape.
I traveled. Close to home and a little further away. I had 143lbs of flowers overnight fedexed to the beach. I really loved teaching classes. Oregon stole my heart.

I was grateful and humbled. I asked for help and tried to give it, too. You were really there for me and I appreciated it.

2012 is somewhat of a mystery, but I love a good mystery anyways. Resolutions seem like an afterthought for me this year, let's just instead search out a few moments of ridiculous happiness and not think too hard on where we'll find them. Here's to another one with you.