Thursday, March 28, 2013
I have been thinking about love.
It doesn't come easy for me. I watch my friends do it and I can't do it like they do.
Sometimes it's easier for me to connect with the person who checks me out in the supermarket. Or the honest passerby asking for directions. The relationships with strangers on the internet. Which gives me pause and makes me feel all messed up.
Eric is at the farm and I'm in the city. It's not so much about that. When he's gone I eat late, big kale salads that are good. Salad is a hard sell for him. But when I'm done, I'm all 'wow that was a LOT of kale' and I feel sort of sick.
32 and still confused.
In the end, we all do our best.
Monday, March 25, 2013
I have lots of names for Nea, but lately I call her Chi-chi Gonzalez, I don't know why it just fits her. Chi-chi Gonzalez sounds sassy, up for anything and maybe ready to sleep with just about anyone, which Nea definitely is.
Tonight Eric is in the city with me which is so nice because lately I'm just here alone. We're making spagetti for dinner. We're waiting for the water to boil, sipping wine at our dueling laptops. It's boiling now.
We've spent the last few days working with Thierry Boutemy and his crew. I like having other designers come use our studio. I like to watch how they do things. Granted, it's not particularly easy to take direction, but in general I enjoy the opportunity for someone else to call the shots. Through translation I learned we have a lot of flower ideas in common. He is a very very special artist.
Ruby was in town from Berlin/Australia and helped on the job. I'm crazy about Ruby, she's smart and perfectly sarcastic. And she reminds me of warmer Australian weather.
Today I've been out all day buying plants for our sale this weekend. I really hope people come because I've got so many beauties ready to roll. And Asheley's friend Anna made us all these great rope macrame plant hanger things. I'll try to give you a preview before the weekend so you can judge for yourself whether it's worth coming out.
One thing that gave me pause... last night at the end of our installation with Thierry, his intimidating, straight-shooting amazing assistant came over to me and said in her rough thick french accent; "Your girls. They are reel-ly gooud. Reeely gooud."
I know. I said.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I'm holed up in my office at the farm watching a snow storm unfold outside. A ladybug has landed on my computer screen, I move it to the Aussie Tree fern sitting next to me. Good deed of the day, check!
Sounds peaceful, but I'm at ground-mother-effing-zero of a shit storm of plant research, and not just for the plant sale....no no no no no no. NO! That ground work is mostly done. This is for hellebores - the ultimate hellebore endgame.
Five minutes ago I was begging someone in Michigan to send me Hellebore plants even though we're weeks away from being able to plant here. She's figured out I'm in zone 5 and she's not giving in easy. I NEED THEM I tell her. And then suddenly I am trying to explain to her that I am also a florist and that I just need to cut the flowers... how I might do great things if I could just get one of Chris's yellow crosses...a plant I spied in a corner at Peace Tree, a gift to them for their garden (from his crossbreeding reject pile!). It's just that I can't stop thinking about it. I know I sound crazy to this good midwestern woman on the phone as I try to coerce her to tell me the exact stage of the flowers in the greenhouse, have the petals dropped yet? Are the sepals rusty? Has she even been out to look at the plants? I sadly realize that I am that person on the phone. Shit is real, friends. Shit is real.
I have been hustling a lot lately, something I promised I would quit. It's just that there's too much at stake, every week things present themselves. Nothing fancy or really that important. No celebrity weddings or dream jobs. Mostly just plants I need to travel for or flowers I have to pay attention to. Lots of driving back and forth between the city and the farm unfortunately.
A shift has been in the works this year, and I'm realizing it now as I try to find the words to describe my feelings. I am less interested in events and more interested in flowers. Maybe it's always been that way but this year it is crystallizing. Asheley and Deanna try to talk to be about linens, about props for events and my eyes glaze over, I can't focus. There's something to this, you have to follow me...
I have had the pleasure of meeting lots of florists from different parts lately. They casually come say hi at the studio or we meet for coffee. These are some of my favorite days and I always end up talking very fast and getting very excited. Similar to when I meet growers. I notice I work out ideas that have been kicking around in my head in these conversations. A few weeks ago I met with a couple of southern florists. We were talking about business, of course. And how you have to stick to what you love to do. (ARE YOU WORRIED that I'm going to try to bring the m-fing inspirational rain on you this fine spring morning?)
Adding this mammoth farm project to our business has made me look hard at my role in this monster we've created. It's the first time I've really planned, or thought about the future, and it's uncomfortable, I hate it. When I sit down to write business plans for loans I end up on spotify crafting mixtapes that connect 2 Chainz and Barbara Streisand. That's not a good thing, friends.
What I realize I don't want to do is sit in lots of meetings. I don't want to suck up ever ever ever to people who don't really understand what we do. I don't want to plan details for table top. Sure, I want those details to be incredible, but I don't really want to personally be that involved with it. I don't want to look at tent schematics or talk about the marshmallow roasting fire pit after-party. Especially if I'm not invited to said fire pit after party. I don't want to do photoshoots I don't have full creative control over.
All I really want to do is scour the country for the best flowers, Orchid Thief style! and god that sounds like a reality TV show, which I definitely do not want to do. I want to make flowers for myself, take pictures of them and share them with you. I want to buy flowers. A TON of them. And I want to make so many arrangements for ... yes ... weddings and events. And I want to awe those clients with the most unusually beautiful, delicately nuanced flower compositions.
But I personally, as the owner of this monster, I really just want to do the flowers, and nothing else. So Asheley please don't make me go to Mood again. Ever.
As I'm writing this morning I'm also trying desperately to track a box of baby chicks that was supposed to arrive yesterday. Can you imagine baby chicks being born into a USPS box and then getting stuck somewhere in a snowstorm on the back of a truck. It's killing me. But I digress...
I think the things we love the most are the things we do best. When I clutter my business with shit that bores me or worse -- things that I think I am supposed to do as a floral designer -- I suffer and Saipua suffers. We live in an age now where we can invent, each one of us, what our personal industry looks like. So I may not take my clients shopping for linens, but I will provide them with a full tutelage on flowers, invite them to come see how we grow flowers and ideally inspire them to start their own gardens and begin their own experimentation with flowers.
Someone emailed me from Oklahoma this week. A picture of a little arrangement they made with a lenten rose from their garden. Told me they were planting lots of hellebores in their yard this year. Do you know what a big deal that is to me? It means more than you know.
I want to wish you a happy vernal equinox. Equal parts day and night.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Great house plants are hard to find; I know because it's my mission in life to fill every square inch of my house with unusual plants. And now it's my mission to help you do the same. Sure, I've got my motives...
Numero Uno: I need to make some cash for our farm. Pronto. It's a long story that I can tell you sometime if you're interested (I do love to talk about business) - but the short of it is that we scaled back our wedding work big time this year in order to become flower growers and cash flow has suffered. Now we are gearing up for our first real growing season at the farm and we need a tractor amongst other things. We hope we can sell enough plants to raise the money for a down payment on a sweet used 4wheel drive manual 50 horsepowered dreamboat with less than 1500 hours on the gear box.
In addition to funding our farm, my mission in general is to get more people gardening... more people appreciating plants and flowers. It's good for my work obviously, but it's also good for the world, in a macro sort of way. I believe that, and I hope your eyes are not rolling right now...
Before I ever thought much about plants or flowers I lived in an apartment surrounded by pavement - pavement which I pounded - like no one else - I might add. Around 2004 I got the spring fever and came home with a window box of herbs. Two weeks later they were fully infested with thrips; they soon shriveled and died. Herbs are quite difficult to keep inside, especially for a novice. What I really needed at the time was a good old Peace Lily, or the indestructible Mother in Law's Tongue (also known as Snake Plant). Slowly, I advanced. The best way to learn about houseplants sometimes is to kill a lot of them. I learned about the dangers of overwatering, the importance of drainage and the quality and quantity of the light in my apartment. I've come so far! In a thrilling recent episode of houseplant drama, I rescued a lemon verbena and Datura from the onset of a white fly infestation - a few drops of Dr. Bronners in a spray bottle, rinse, repeat - now they're thriving! For good measure I nestled a distantly perched potted Geranium in the giant Datura -- I like to think the geraniums potent oils acts as a deterrent to bugs.)
I want you to feel the same satisfaction. And maybe tap into the quiet, methodical - dare I say meditative - experience that watering and caring for your plants can lead to. I've said before that I feel flowers might be a sort of mascot - a symbol - for the great challenge of caring for our environment. The more people turn their heads toward gardening the more likely they will tune into the complexities of nature ... the more likely they are to act as stewards of it.
You know its small actions that amount to bigger ones over time. A flower leads to a plant leads to a garden leads to a farm. We always need more people growing things. I hope I sound sincere right now, because there's nothing I believe in more.
Come buy a plant and I promise to give you sound advice on how to keep it alive.
THE PLANT SALE.
Saturday March 30th and Sunday March 31st; 10-6pm
147 Van Dyke Street (between Conover and Van Brunt)
Featuring unusual houseplants for novices and advanced plantspeople. Ferns, Begonias, Succulents and more. All profits go to The Farm at Worlds End for purchase of a tractor!
Advice given free of charge.
No reserving plants in advance.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
I've had an adventurous series of days since we last spoke. From handling the limp body of a dead baby lamb last Saturday, to riding shotgun in a prop plane across the Caribbean sea. We're just going to leave it there talk about something as mundane as my culinary pursuits tonight. Because the fact that I'm cooking on a real stove, with real ingredients feels like the best big deal in the world, and you'll get something out of this, if you follow. Promise.
All my brooklyn bitches know by now that Fairway in Red Hook has reopened (after being decimated by Hurricane Sandy) and it's changing peoples universes across the borough, I'm sure. I'm excited but also sort of cranky about it -- it means that Nea and I can't use Van Brunt Street as our personal catwalk anymore -- a steady stream of speeding motorists desperate for their imported cheeses and lamb sausage (as are we, as. are. we.) returned to our sleepy streets as if a switch had been turned back on. Welcome back my fine, far flung friends..welcome back! I hope you all stop at my big plant sale in a few weeks...stay tuned. And please watch out for me emerging suddenly from between parked cars looking cranky and walking a cheerful raccoon on a leash.
But back to my culinary delights! With infinite grocery options now a mere three blocks away I found myself in a decision-making meltdown. I like to think that the powerful women of the world, the Hillary Clintons, the Christine Quinn's the Sheryl Sandbergs are faced with similar inconsequential pangs of domestic indecisiveness in their free time as they Lean In to their shopping and grocery lists. Jesus. (I'm working on my own little feminist manifesto in response to this Sandberg shit, so stay tuned for that as well.)
Last night I defaulted to one of my favorite nine o'clock fifteen dollar dinners. I can't take credit for this, it was maybe the first meal we ever shared with Russell and Sara back in the days when we had a social life. His always tastes better in my memory. But last night when I made it for the two of us - after surviving the crowded catwalk and the paralyzing indecision meltdown - it tasted pretty good.
SIMPLE SWISS CHARD RIGATONI AND RICOTTA
Swiss chard is my favorite green, most days. We grew it half heartedly at the farm this summer, and cut it as microgreens for a fish garnish. Actually we didn't really use it as a fish garnish, but that would have been ideal. Swiss chard is naturally rather salty and earthy and makes a good foil for the sweet lemon-laced ricotta. I grate a lot of pecarino on top and then a drizzle of olive oil just because I can. If you can, buy the white ribbed or yellow ribbed chard -- the red ribbed chard will make the ricotta turn pink and make the plate a bit unsightly, though equally delicious.
2 bunches of swiss chard washed and chopped in 1 inch pieces
[With water still clinging, steam the chard for 7 minutes or till mostly wilted. Then add...]
5 cloves of finely chopped garlic and
a a few tablespoons of olive oil and
a sprinkling of salt and
a big sprinkling of pepper flakes
[let that all cook on medium together for around 5 minutes. Then empty the cooked chard into a bowl and set aside. Fill the cooking pot with water and get that water boiling while you check email and pour a glass of wine. When the water boils, salt it heavily and add...)
a pound of rigatoni
[While the rigatoni cooks...]
a pound of ricotta and mix in...
the zest of half a lemon and
a tablespoon or two of olive oil and
salt to taste
[Drain the pasta rather quickly, leaving a little water still clinging to it. Mix the chard into the pasta and then add in the ricotta mixture. late with the grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil as I mentioned above.]