Tuesday, August 30, 2011




I have too much to tell you that I don't know where to start dear diary.
The last few days have been tumultuous. We made a wedding in a hurricane, we fought for the farm, we washed the remains of a dead animal off the dog.
The details of life, flittering by...stacked one on top of the other.

This evening I'm finally back in Brooklyn, settled again at home. I made a tomato sandwich. Eric and Nea take a nap. It's quiet here.

Thursday I got the sad news about Jeanette Ingberman, a woman who I realize I've been carefully modeling myself after these past few years.

To be around Jeanette was to be electrified. Over the weekend I've been filtering though all the moments I could conjure of our time spent together. How strange that after someone dies, the sound of their voice seems to sharpen and crystallize...

I first knew Jeanette as her intern in 2003. She would meet me in her office and we'd sit and organize her desk; I'd leave with a pile of her papers feeling exhilarated and honored. She seemed to me like a queen. I spent an afternoon once trying to find a florist to deliver to Marfa on her behalf. A few years later I went back to Exit to work as Assistant Curator, a job I'd lusted over since first moving to New York.

Jeanette had endless enthusiasm for young people and their dreams. Countless artists will attest to that, and I can too. When I became interested in flowers, she'd let me make big arrangements for openings at the gallery, and then tell everyone I made them and talk about how beautiful they were. When I started Saipua with Eric while still on the clock at Exit Art, she'd encourage me and ask whether I was charging enough for my flowers. And when she called me into her office one day to ask me why I wasn't doing my job at the gallery with full force, I broke down in a shameful mess of tears and resigned.

Of course she knew before I did what was destined for me.

She sent me a handful of encouraging emails in the last few years, often prompted by something about Saipua in the paper. "Love you, miss you, stop by sometime..."
I never did.

She always toasted to life; L'Chaim!

But the thing about life is that there's just never enough time, is there?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

bad news

eric and I have been trying to buy a farm upstate near albany.
sometimes things work out, and sometimes they just don't. banks are frugal right now, and they won't grant us a mortgage on the land.

i've been dying to show and talk to you about this for ages now, but i've been superstitious.

i cried my eyes out on the corner of lafayette and bond streets today around 3:30pm. a funny thing; when you see someone crying on the street in the city its seems such a spectacle, but when you're the one crying you just don't care who walks by to witness...


this farm is meant to be ours. the first time we saw it, after a long drive, i peed on the corner of the barn, marking my territory like a god damn dog.


rooty tooty, fresh and..









It seems our fall season has started already and I'm scrambling to make the best use of the amazing flowers and fruit that are available to us right now. It's overwhelming.

Friday, August 19, 2011

veddings, veddings

photo by Robert Sukrachand

How did I forget to share this, I don't know.
Our friends James and Jen got married at the bell house in May. Photographer Robert Sukrachand took all the pictures.

Weddings we work on for friends are always more fun. Lots of times friends say "just make it beautiful!" or "we trust you!" Love that. James and Jen wanted a rich, opulent Shanghai feel to the night. We played with peonies, oriental poppies, salmon amaryllis, nine bark, carnations, tulips, smoke bush etc...


Jasmine tea soaps were the favor...

Photo by Robert Sukrachand

Cafe lights; these make such a difference in a big space like The Bell House or at the Foundry. We all worked two weddings on Saturday before climbing a 20-foot ladder to instal these bad boys 9 o'clock the night before...well worth it.

photo by Robert Sukrachand

I don't even look tired! That's how good Bobby is...HIRE HIM NOW GIRLS

photo by Robert Sukrachand

The only thing funny here is how long Eric's hair is.

photo by Robert Sukrachand

Handsom sons

photo by Robert Sukrachand

I love when there is good dancing at weddings.


More from this wedding here on Bobby's blog.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

i'm trying.


I find Viburnum berries difficult to work with. Sometimes I ask Ben to cut all the "albino" pieces, the ones that don't see the sun, the berries that are hidden on the underside of the bush that color to only a milky-yellow-white. These are like gold. But his "guy" that cuts the stuff somewhere out in Jerse must have laughed at this request and I got a 75 pound bale of thick woody top growth - berries blood red. Blah. Did the best I could with it, but most of it ended up in the wood chipper. I lie, we don't have a wood chipper.

We've been "harvesting" a lot of different things from the city sidewalks this year. Queen Anne's lace, poke-weed. I like to find the pokeweed it in it's infancy, before the purple shows up. It has a soft lacy effect in bouquets. Usually all the leaves have to be stripped off since they wilt rather quickly. I encourage you to read the wiki page for this plant.

Our California garden roses arrive this morning, so I look forward to that.

It's raining again in new york city.

If I had a magic doctor I would ask him to take all of my body apart. Unscrew my head, detach my legs and arms, clean out all the joints. Hey! be careful with my right wrist! I guess I would have to be asleep for this..that's fine. Finally, all the nuts and bolts of me laid out. My eyeballs, the joints of all my fingers. When they have all been cleaned and oiled real good, I would be put back together piece by piece and finally woken up with some of that brown rice green tea.
Then I'd go to work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011




Do you believe in grace or nature?...if you saw Tree of Life...it is still knocking around in my head.

Grace Jones on the stereo.

Still fighting boredom and restlessness this week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

this will go down on your permanent record.








So it is true; there is a warrant out for my arrest.

A letter arrived at my parents house Monday describing options for my "safe surrender" at a Washington D.C. courthouse.

The details after this will be omitted, largely due to the fact that they become increasingly complicated, involve trips to the - god forbid - Department of Motor Vehicles and are ultimately mundane. (But I had you at that first sentence, didn't I?!) The bottom line is there is or was someone in the parrallel universe of 7:45 am December 30th, 2001 that used a name very similar to mine and my childhood address when arrested. A Sara without an "H"... really?

Identity theft - even in this rather minor, resolvable instance - is a bizarre feeling.

The upside to this debacle is that I had to cancel my Tuesday and head upstate to my folks' (the DMV in their town is like a god damn garden party compared to those in the city) and dilly dally around my parents place for the afternoon. The autumn anemones are about to bloom...a mystery plant creeps out from it's squat in an old watering can, and I found a nice smattering of bittersweet - inconspicuously stealing itself, still green, wound up in an old catalpa tree.

I love this time of year when August gives us a gentle reminder that summer can't last forever. The garden and its surroundings are in over-production, run-away growth. Edging just a little towards the realm of past-prime. A trained eye might detect the slightest fade. Here and there, a bit of rust. The rather romantic process of flora sacrificing leaves for seed.

To my stunt double; I hope you're staying out of trouble. And looking good...why not? But please don't steal any of my money. I need it all for the farm..

Monday, August 8, 2011


zinnias times 100


i finally made the zuni chicken last night. i welcomed guests into my 100 degree kitchen and made them sit down and wait for it. the extra special heirloom roses i had on the table couldn't handle the heat and were mush by the time dinner was served. had i known the weather a few days ago, I may not have sought out the perfect 3-pound bird, salted and sprigged the shit out of it two days early, only to have to roast the sucker on 95 degree day.
bread salad with heirloom tomatoes and currants

i love this zuni book so much.

zinnias still making me crazy at the studio. marigolds now too.

we did a fun wedding at The Foundry with Diner (they cater now, so if that isn't inspiration to throw a party, what is?) but had a bit of a mishap with wind and ceremony urns outside that I'll write about soon. never stop learning lessons in this business, my 5 years of weddings and I still say to myself, "next time I'll know what to do..."
(The top picture I really love. I've gotten tired of shooting in the front of the shop, so I played with shooting this simple arrangement in our dark hallway behind the store. I looks like a painting I want to crawl into it and take a nap, except as you know i don't nap. I've been thinking about making simpler arrangements. This has 4 elements - zinnias, feverfew, crabapple and asperagus fern - all locally sourced. The guys at Dutch flower line miss my business this summer, but the local material is vibrant beyond compare. However, before we all start drinking that cool-aid, I want to spend some time writing down my thoughts on the local/seasonal debate; because there are a lot of angles to consider...)

Friday, August 5, 2011

on swiss chard



swiss chard, the champion of leafy greens makes into everything lately; i can't resist the rainbow stuff that's all over the market the last 2 weeks. i know people sometimes grow it along side their zinnias, which is an idea that I should like, but don't. you got to keep that shit separate!

perhaps my favorite chard fix is to sautee it with a lot of garlic and olive oil, then mix it with rigattoni and fresh ricotta. this simple combination introduced to me by russell years ago and which has been in my repertoire ever since.

same garlicky chard over bruchetta with or without the ricotta.
chard on a grilled pizza with goat cheese, mozz and an inordinate amount of red pepper flakes.
chard in frittatas.

incidently it's been a summer of frittatas around chez saipua, here we refer to them as "tatties" and they have served as an last ditch dumping ground for anything in the crisper. thinly sliced potatoes, jalepenos, garlic scapes and a big grating of all the cheese bits littering the top shelf. the frittata has saved many things from damnation to the compost bucket.

the key to a good tattie is the 10inch cast iron skillet, fearlessness with butter, and the tolerance to use the stovetop and broiler in 90degree heat. be brave and be rewarded.

1. lots of butter and a bit of olive oil, vegetables - saute
2. 4-6 eggs beaten lightly right in there after the vegetables are mostly cooked
3. 3 min later, just when the edges are set, throw in the cheese turn off the heat and turn on the broiler.
4. under the broiler just till completely set and golden in spots

perhaps this method is standard for all you suzy homemakers, but i write it down here for those of you, who like me, have been burning the shit out of eggs for years.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Spent all day traipsing around Manhattan today in meetings. Not complaining - I got to ride in a car and pretend that I'm a person of status. A hotshit powerhouse. Change the world with the decision to swath a room in gold lame and urns of zinnias!
Just allow me this, please.

At least my appointments got me out of the house. Yesterday I sat staring at the wall, considering what to eat for lunch in the most uninteresting way. Do a handstand. Fall. Walk to the other side of the apartment. Consider the dog hair-dust bunnies. Then a tomato sandwich. More staring.

As a child I had a severe boredom troubles. Threw a lot of tantrums. Wailing about how bored I was.

What can I say, I like to be entertained. Once when a promise of a trip to the mall was cancelled on a Saturday afternoon for really no good reason at all, I remember grabbing a small paring knife in the kitchen and threatened to slit my wrists. I remember this so vividly -- my parents sort of sashaying their way through the kitchen with coffee cups, glancing over their shoulders at my meltdown in the corner and then snickering to each other, sharing a moment of humor unique to parents. My rage further fueled, I retreated to my room to devise a more effective tantrum.

It pains me suddenly to recall the colorful display I saved for the occasional lost card game.

I digress.
It's raining; lightly but steadily right now; 72 degrees; 7:16 at 147 Van Dyke Street. Am I misusing semi-colons?

I'm back at the studio and my plants are all glistening in their relief on the sidewalk outside. I fixed that quick bouquet with some sweet potato vine, carrot flower, marigolds, asparagus ferns, kale...the drill. Shot it in the rain, not caring if my camera got wet, feeling thankful that this planet, in all it's distress can get it together to give us some gentle relief. And thankful that I don't have to haul a 5-gallon bucket of water (twice!) down 2 flights of stairs to water my garden at home tonight.

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To be fair to myself, I did get up and make that there yesterday. The simplest rustic tart from David Tanis' book Heart of the Artichoke adapted for blueberries - a bit early for them, but I'll explain where I got the berries tomorrow.. Get that book if you haven't already, it's one of my favorite things to pull out and read over breakfast or if you find yourself unmotivated with a refrigerator full of someone else's old produce...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

diamonds and rust

dahlias urn

time passes and most of it these days lolly gagging around the hot apartment


cooking some, listening to a gaggle of donovan, joan, grace, peter paul and mary, and hot97. a strange mix, but it seems to be working out for me. my hair is growing fast.
I wish I could sing like joan baez.

i have been cooking a lot. eating a lot of vegetables. my skin looks good because of that i think.
been composting. been thinking about exercising. started to run a little. sounds totally boring doesn't it.
it is.

truth is, i feel bored with flowers lately, and i dunno whats up with that.
i do know actually, but i can't tell you yet because i don't want to jinx it.

the world turning feels so much bigger than the next wedding and i'm not sure what i've gotten myself into.

buying books on animal husbandry.

also i think i want to be a dancer. is it too late? probs