Here’s to a fearless year!

Fear. One little word that encapsulates an incredibly powerful force. We face it consistently in our lives from large scale, life-altering events to the daily moments that make your stomach drop and your brain hit the brakes. Fear manifests itself in many ways, and no matter how much we don’t like experiencing it, we can’t avoid it. We have to react to it. And it is in that reaction that we learn so much about ourselves: our limits, our priorities, our values… a sudden revealing of who we are at our most vulnerable core.

I will admit that I’m not someone who handles fear well. I often feel like I have a permanent address in the flight camp of the fight or flight response. I’m not very outspoken, I often care too much about what other people think, and my instincts always tell me to shy away from anything that causes even the slightest amount of fear to bubble up in the pit of my stomach. So I approach every situation with as much planning and caution as I can muster to avoid any possibility of being paralyzed by fear – fear of saying the wrong thing, of having the wrong opinion, of not being as smart, funny, or [insert any positive character trait here] as my peers, fear of failing, of falling behind, of being in danger, of not knowing how to handle the situation I’m in, and most of all, fear of disappointing others. I don’t like being fearful, and yet fear has played a prominent role in who I have become today. I know this probably won’t be a great revelation to any of you reading this – everyone’s lives are shaped by their fears and how they handle them. But the past couple months have been a particularly reflective season for me, so I suppose this awareness of my fears and how I interact with them has been on my mind quite a bit. AND since it’s my two year blog-iversary, (that’s right – two years!!! Where has the time gone?!) it feels fitting to share some of my musings as I look forward into the year ahead.

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A recent excursion to a flower farm felt very symbolic of the things that I’ve learned about fear this year. You see, there’s a great irony in my life – I LOVE flowers, but of all of the phobias that one could have, my greatest phobia is an intense fear of bees. While being allergic to them drives a good portion of that fear, there is still a decent portion that is just a plain old irrational fear. And that fear will send me literally (and embarrassingly) running from them when one gets near me. All of my usual calm and grace is completely shattered the instant I hear buzzing in my general vicinity. Once, in high school, my mom had my sister and I get out of the car on our yearly road trip to Minnesota to take some pictures in a sunflower field. It would have been a cute picture had my terror not been so visible through my half attempted smile and tense posture…

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That memorable photo from my last encounter with a flower field

I was shaking and yelling at my mom through gritted teeth to hurry up and take the photo so I could GET OUT of that field! And you had better believe that I booked it out of that field as soon as she said we could be done with our little family photo shoot! So last month when we were in the car on the way to the farm to go dahlia picking, it donned on me that I would once again be walking into one of my worst nightmares: a field FULL of bees. As we got out of the car, I rolled down my sleeves trying to cover every inch of exposed skin to reduce my risk of getting stung, and I said a small prayer thanking God that I forgot to put my perfume on that morning. We picked up our pails and scissors and stood on the edge of the field to take in the beauty before us. In my head, my thoughts bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball, “Wow, look at all of those beautiful zinnias!” “Oh my goodness… I can hear the buzzing from all the way over here.” “I think I see some dinner-plate dahlias – jackpot!!” “I don’t know if I can do this… what was I thinking coming out here?!”Row 4

This past year, my love of flowers has helped change how I interact with the fears in my life. As someone who is usually completely risk averse, I have found myself taking more risks and sticking my neck out a bit, not because I’m being forced to do so but because I have a found a passion that truly makes me believe that the risk can be worth the reward. I love this art form so much that I am completely at peace with owning my goals and opinions despite what other people may think. I have taken steps of faith trusting that God will provide the opportunities I dream about and am working to make happen. So from the many, many years that I have let fear negatively drive my decisions and my plans, it has been through this gift of flowers that I am finally learning that fear can be conquered and drive you forward rather than leaving you stuck in the mud unable to move.

That afternoon in the flower field, I was faced with two reactions – stand on the sidelines and let my fear prevent me from enjoying our adventure, or take hold of my fear and step into unknown territory that could produce so much growth and beauty if I let it. So… I took a deep breath and walked into the shoulder high rows of flowers.

I picked so many beautiful flowers that day, spent some lovely quality time with my dear friend K, and the best part – the bees kept all to themselves in their floral heaven. Not once did I feel the need to run, not once did I flinch, and at the end of the day, I felt like I could almost hear God saying, “See? I told you it would be worth it.” I know that not every experience of facing my fears will go quite that smoothly, but I learned in the best way possible what wonderful things can come from kicking fear out of the driver’s seat.

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Before this past year, if she wasn’t directly in the driver’s seat, fear was riding shotgun – navigating my path and giving me a false sense that I was calling the shots on where I was going when in fact she was the one with the map in her hands. But I think it’s time to tell fear to get in the back seat. I’ve learned to bring her along for the ride because she’ll always be somewhere in the car, but despite her attempts to be a back seat driver, she doesn’t get to call the shots anymore. I know where I want to go in the year ahead, and she’s not going to stop me. So here we go… another year of flowering and a new season ahead! Just wait and see what’s coming down the pipeline in 2018!

XO Britni

Dahlia Arrangement

 

An extra special thank you to my friend K from KARMOMO for joining me on this adventure and taking many of the lovely photos you see featured here!

If you have an event or wedding for which you are needing a florist, I am booking for 2018! Please email me at britni@twostemsofjoy.com to discuss your custom floral package.

If you’re on Instagram and Facebook, please follow @twostemsofjoy to see the pictures from my posts, as well as other snapshots that don’t make it onto the website. Thank you!

Freshman Flower Crowns

We did it – we finally made it to summer! Just a few weeks ago, all of us here in Boston were questioning whether summer would actually arrive when she decided to take her sweet time showing up in the city. But now we can kick back and enjoy warm temperatures, beach days, and watermelon while the memories of winter completely vacate our minds. And with the 4th of July right around the corner, the best memories of summer will be made while hanging out with friends & family, barbecuing our favorite foods, and celebrating/appreciating the beautiful country we call home. This holiday weekend also marks the one year anniversary for my friends Matt & Grace – dear friends who trusted me to do their wedding flowers last summer when I was just starting to pursue floral design. So Happy Anniversary to the not-so-newlyweds, and pop over here to see their beautiful wedding again!

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you know that this post has been in the works for a while. Summer has been much busier than I anticipated (like it is every year and yet, every year I’m still surprised by it,) so while the workshop happened a few months ago, I’ve finally carved out some time to share it with you all. The good thing is that flower crowns are always in season… so just ignore our cooler-weather clothes and enjoy the snippets from my first flower crown workshop!

My friend Renee approached me about doing a flower crown workshop for a group of freshman girls that she works with at her job in college campus ministry. They wanted to host an event to celebrate the end of the school year, share summer plans, and talk about how we as young women experience beauty and beauty standards in our culture today.

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With the workshop as the foundation for the event, the evening grew into a night full of solid discussion, inspiring stories, and a whole lot’a laughter! The girls had the same materials to work with, but each girl’s crown was unique and perfectly reflected the beauty and personality of its creator.

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Their creativity and the depth of their conversations were inspiring. They spoke openly about their insecurities, the things they had learned in their first year away from home, and how they felt empowered by their faith to embrace their beauty that exists both outwardly and inwardly. It was a fun evening to share together, and it makes me so excited to see what these women will do in their years ahead!

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Photos courtesy of Renee Buck and Two Stems of Joy

Like the idea of a flower crown workshop? Book one now for your next birthday party, bridal shower, or girls night out! Please email britni@twostemsofjoy.com for more details.

New Season, New Look!

I’m excited to finally get back to blogging – March was a crazy busy month and then April just flew by, so now it’s time to show you some of the things I’ve been up to! First, did you notice anything different about this page when you arrived? I’ve been starting to refine my brand, and after much googling and many YouTube tutorials, my website got a little facelift that I’m excited to finally show off! There are still more changes to come, but some of the highlights are the new Home page, the updated Gallery, and my blog posts can now be accessed via the Blog page in the menu bar. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new logo thanks to the amazing KARMOMO studio, and I’ve been working with one of my favorite photographers, Rory McCann Photography, to showcase some of my most recent work. You can also find me in a few new places on the web: the TSOJ Facebook page is up and running, as is my new vendor profile on WeddingWire! Like I said, it’s been a busy couple months!

Rory and I worked together in early March to capture some of my most recent wedding florals. As some of you may recall, Rory was the photographer for Matt & Grace’s wedding last summer, and her photos from that wedding are still some of my favorite photos in my portfolio (if you go to my homepage, the background image is one of her stunning shots from that wedding!) So naturally when I started thinking about adding more pictures to my professional portfolio, she was the first person I called, and we planned a photoshoot for the day after my next big wedding. I wanted a mixture of floral portfolio shots using the flowers from Dan & Sarah’s wedding (another upcoming post – stay tuned!) and a few working shots and head shots. And as always, she did not disappoint! We had a fun afternoon listening to music, laughing as we set up each shot, and running around in the freezing temperatures to snap a few pictures outside. (Don’t be fooled – even though those outdoor photos look warm and sunny, the wind was bitterly cold that day!) We even incorporated some of the pink peonies into the photos… you’ll also hear about where they came from in Dan & Sarah’s blog post 😉 Enjoy all of the burgundy goodness, and stay tuned to see more of these wedding florals soon!

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©Rory McCann Photography

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Centerpiece ©Rory McCann Photography

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©Rory McCann Photography

If you have an event or wedding for which you are needing a florist, I am still booking for 2017 & 2018! Please email me at britni@twostemsofjoy.com to discuss your custom floral package.

 

From the Archives…

Life has been pretty busy over here in Boston, but there are too many exciting things happening at TSOJ to not to share a little snippet. A couple of the highlights are that I have my first wedding of 2017 this upcoming weekend (So Exciting!!!), and I’ve been collaborating with some extremely talented ladies to breathe some fresh air into TSOJ (did you notice the new logo from KARMOMO? I’m still swooning over it!) I’ll share more about them in next month’s post. But before the fruits of our rebranding labor are revealed, I thought it might be fun to dig into the archives and show you some of my work that you haven’t seen before. When I started this blog, I couldn’t get my hands on enough flowers to satiate my new floral design thirst, and I have plenty of arrangements and experiments to show for it over the last year and a half. So please enjoy these past creations, and stay tuned to see the new look of TSOJ coming soon!

P.S. If you have an event or wedding for which you are needing a florist, I am still booking for 2017! Please email me at britni@twostemsofjoy.com to discuss your custom floral package.

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A Shakespearean floral crown commissioned for a bridal shower

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If you’re on Instagram, please follow @twostemsofjoy to see the pictures from my posts, as well as other snapshots that don’t make it onto the website. Thank you!

 

Merriment & Evergreens

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed safe and happy holidays. I meant to publish this post before Christmas rolled around, but spending some much needed downtime with my family and friends took priority these past couple weeks. So I started writing this somewhere in the middle of the California desert as we road-tripped to L.A. for a mini Christmas adventure, and I’m finishing it on New Year’s Day in a cozy apartment with my roommates, ready to kick off the new year with a fresh start. There are many things I could write about during this time of year; I could tell you about my family Christmas traditions (like the old German tradition of hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree – ask me about it sometime,) I could reflect on the highs and lows of 2016, I could share my excitement for all of the things to look forward to in 2017… But I think that all I want to write about is how grateful I am for the people that were in my life this past year. They are the ones who made me laugh and cry, the ones who encouraged me, the ones who helped me, the ones who challenged me, and the ones who rounded out my memories with greater fullness than I would ever be able to create on my own. A couple years ago on my one year anniversary of living in Boston, I expressed my thanks by saying “Thanks to all of you who got me here, and thank you to all of you who are keeping me here,” and I think I could repeat that with even greater depth than I did the first time. Not only is it true in terms of location, but now it is also true in terms of passion. So many of you expressed nothing but joyous encouragement when I started pursuing floral design, and now that this baby business is starting to grow, you are demonstrating your support by asking me to design flowers for your weddings, bridal showers, etc. and I am so humbled and grateful! 2017 is going to be a wonderful year, and I can’t wait for it to start with all of you by my side!

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Last year for Christmas, I convinced my roommates to get decked out in Christmas crowns for the blog, and I tried my hand at wreath making. This year, I invited some of my sweet friends over to make wreaths together. By the time the festive evening rolled around, the event had become a Christmas party,  pajama party,  and wreath making party all mixed into one. We had a fun and hilarious evening, and it was a much more enjoyable way to spend the 2 +/- hours it takes to make a wreath.

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Wreath making and shenanigans with some of the best gals in Boston!

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I also tried a new project with the leftover greens – a kissing ball! A similar concept to mistletoe, this kissing ball was fun to construct although a bit more challenging to hang (it survived being dropped a couple times – oops!).

It was a wonderful last hurrah with the girls before we all left for our vacations, and the wreath on our front door was a welcoming site after I finally made it home from a red eye flight early yesterday morning. So please enjoy these last festive creations from 2016, and just you wait for all of the beauty that is going to flood this blog in 2017! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones – may this season usher in a year of hope, peace, and joy for us all!

 

If you have an event or wedding for which you are needing a florist, I am now booking for 2017! Please email me at britni@twostemsofjoy.com to discuss your custom floral package.

If you’re on Instagram, please follow @twostemsofjoy to see the pictures from my posts, as well as other snapshots that don’t make it onto the website. Thank you!

New Hampshire Nuptials

I’m so excited to finally share these photos & flowers! This summer, I had the honor of being both bridesmaid and florist to my dear friend Grace and her now-husband Matt. I’ve known Matt & Grace for several years, and their wedding was the sweetest celebration of their love and commitment to one another. They are some of the most generous people I know, and they exude warmth and kindness in everything they do. It was such a treat to be so involved in their wedding!

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Photo Credit: Rory McCann Photography

Their wedding palette was a mixture of roses, stock, limonium, and coffee greens (which was a little nod to the fact that Grace and I became such close friends while meeting for coffee every week before work.) The flowers adorned every part of the wedding: lining the ceremony aisle, decorating the bridesmaids’ hair, dressing up the cake, and of course, filling out the spunky bouquets and centerpieces.

And after perfectly capturing all of the love, joy, and beauty of the day, a big shout out is due to the amazing Rory McCann who took all of the breathtaking photos you see here! She is a florist’s dream photographer, catching the fine details that sometimes only we florists get to see as we put the flowers together.

The wedding was beautiful, the reception was a blast, and many fun and precious memories were made on that joyous day.

After the wedding was done, in true Matt & Grace form, we shared the joy of their wedding by donating their flowers. Grace is studying to become a nurse, so the bright arrangements found a home at the nurses’ stations in a local rehab hospital. It was the kind of sweet, selfless gesture that Matt & Grace are known for, and it was a perfect closing note to the end of this florist’s 2016 wedding season. Congratulations Matt & Grace, and I hope your marriage is as beautiful and joy-filled as your wedding celebration was!

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Professional Photography: Rory McCann Photography, Venue: The Oaks, Cake: Teaspoon of Ink, Florals: Two Stems of Joy

 

If you have an event or wedding for which you are needing a florist, I am now booking for 2017! Please email me at twostemsofjoy@gmail.com to discuss your custom floral package.

Blog-iversary!

One year…

It’s extraordinary how much can happen in a single year, isn’t it? A segment of time that seems so minimal within the larger span of a lifetime, and yet, life as we know it can reverse directions, fast forward, slow to a trickle and even appear to stop dead in its tracks all within a single year. We’ve all heard the saying “Change is the only constant in life,” but it can be difficult in real time to remember that that is the nature of our world – to ebb & flow, to morph, to grow, to put to rest… to change. I’ve been reflecting these past few weeks on how much has changed in my life this past year. As you can tell by the title of this post, today marks the one year anniversary of blogging as Two Stems of Joy. I still can’t wrap my head around how much has happened this year. From the little bud of an idea last summer to having a professional internship and two full weddings under my belt, I have been stretched, challenged, and blessed in so many ways.12-blogiversary-6

When I started this blog a year ago, I was simply looking for a creative outlet. I felt stuck having completed all of the goals I had made for myself: to finish college, to secure a good job, and to live independently in a big city. I often prayed for God to reveal what was next, to divulge what the next big thing would be in my life as an architect in Boston. I never dreamed that floral design would grow into such a deep passion that would allow me to do what I have felt called to do for many years – finding tangible ways to spread joy in my community. I had no clue that this new passion would lead me down an entirely different path than I had planned for myself with so many dreams and goals that have brought me great joy and excitement for what is ahead.

I am incredibly grateful to all of the people who have helped me and cheered me on this past year. I would have never made it this far without the support of so many wonderful people – so thank you! And an extra special thank you to those people who have been with me from the very beginning (you know who you are.) I will be forever grateful for your encouragement, your inspiration, and your support. You helped me find the courage to pursue this passion, and you continue to provide encouragement when I need it most. While Heraclitus may have argued that change is the only constant, your support and God’s grace & blessing have been true constants in this process that I have not and will not take for granted.

So, after so much deep gratitude and reflection, it’s time for the lighter celebration of this milestone. For my blogiversary, my roommates and I celebrated as best we know how – with cake and flowers.

Esther (author of her own blog Teaspoon of Ink and my dear roommate for the last two years) worked her magic in the kitchen again and made a dessert utterly perfect for the celebration: mini lemon lavender bundt cakes. Let me tell you, they were AMAZING! I love mini desserts and anything lemon flavored, so her petite creations and her contribution to the celebration couldn’t have been more perfect. Esther was my first cheerleader in this process; she was the one who for months encouraged me to start a blog, even before I knew what I wanted to blog about. Watching her take that leap herself was so exciting, and the time spent developing our skills and dreams in tandem has been one of the best parts about being roommates.

Also joining us in our celebration was our newest roommate – meet Megan! She’s an absolute sweetheart, and it was a fun day to show her what goes into making and photographing a blog post. Hopefully our crazy antics didn’t seem too weird… my roommates often make the loveliest of models for my floral creations, so I’m hopeful you’ll see more of her in the year ahead 😉

 

And of course, what’s a floral blogiversary without some celebratory flowers. For this party, I combined two of my favorite things: dahlias* and flower crowns. The crowns were a mixture of dahlias, wax flowers, solidago, daisies, and lemon leaf, and the festive colors where a perfect fit for the transition between Summer and Fall. (*Side note: shout out to Five Fork Farms for always producing top notch, local flowers. The dahlias I receive as part of their summer flower shares make me swoon every week!)

It was a wonderful afternoon celebrating a big milestone. There will be many big things to share with you in the year ahead, but for now, all I will share is my joyful gratitude for the blessings of this past year. Thank you for following along with me; it’s been an incredible journey, and this next year will hold even more exciting and incredible things – just you wait and see 🙂

~Britni

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If you’re on Instagram, please follow @twostemsofjoy to see the pictures from my posts, as well as other snapshots that don’t make it onto the website! Thank you!

Blushing Bride

So… I’ve fallen a little behind on my blogging this summer. Last time I posted, it was early May – the weather was dreary, people were anxious to trade in their rain jackets for swimsuits, and I was spending my free time yearning for all of the fun that summer would bring. Now, here we are halfway through August, and I can barely believe that summer is almost over. And what a summer it has been! One big update is that I had the incredible opportunity to work as an intern with True Vine – a floral design studio here in Boston! I learned so much from their amazing team, worked some incredible weddings throughout New England, and although working two jobs was a lot to pack into an already full summer schedule (hence the lack of blogging,) it was one hundred percent worth it! But more to come on that later. The other big highlights of the summer were events that I mentioned several months ago – the weddings of two beautiful friends who so graciously asked me to do the flowers for their weddings. So here is the first one that I’m so excited to finally share with you all!

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Meet Dylan and Emily. Emily was one of my roommates for the past two years, and we went from being total strangers to very dear friends by the time she moved out to live with her permanent roommate (aka Dylan.) We grew close through late night chats drinking tea, bonding over our food allergies, and discovering all of the quirks in our turn-of-the-century house. When Emily and Dylan started talking about engagement, it was no surprise – they have one of the most mature, strong relationships of any couple I know; he is the yin to her yang, and their solid relationship is rooted in both friendship and love. We screamed and squealed the morning she walked into the kitchen to share the big news and show off her sparkly new accessory, and it wasn’t long before she was in superwoman mode, planning a wedding while applying to grad schools and studying for the GRE. Emily has been one of the biggest cheerleaders in my floral adventuring, so I was very touched when she asked me to do the flowers for their May wedding in New Hampshire. I couldn’t have asked for a better couple as my first wedding clients, and it was a fun few months of planning that lead up to their stunning wedding.

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The palette was a mixture of garden and tea roses, lisianthus, hypericum berries, and dusty miller to create soft, classic arrangements that complimented the blush gowns and gray suits. Football mums added texture to the reception centerpieces, and the elegant vanilla cake was dressed up with a few blooms to tie everything together.

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Personal touches sprinkled throughout the wedding made the event anything but cookie-cutter, and even the flowers had sweet memories woven into them. The wedding party’s bouquets and boutonnieres were wrapped with remnants of tulle taken from Emily’s mother’s wedding veil, and the bridal bouquet was wrapped with satin and lace taken from her mother’s wedding dress.

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It was a picture perfect day in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire, and all of the details fell perfectly into place as the joyous celebration of their marriage began.

Even after the wedding, Emily and Dylan continued to spread the joy of their special day. As you may have read in my previous posts, I love using flowers to bring joy to people, especially to those who may need a little extra encouragement in their day. Emily and Dylan jumped on board to help me spread some of that joy by donating their flowers after the wedding. The blush bounty was rearranged into centerpieces, and the flowers found their new home at an Alzheimer’s care facility outside the city. Emily has spent the past three years conducting research on Alzheimer’s patients, so it seemed only fitting to share the joy of their day with the people she works to help.

Congratulations Emily and Dylan! It was an absolute treat to celebrate with you both as your friend and as your florist, and I wish you all the best in your marriage!

 

Professional Photography: Eric McCallister Photography, Venue: Cathedral Ledge (Ceremony) & Snowvillage Inn (Reception), Cake: McKaella’s Sweet Shop, Florals: Two Stems of Joy

May Day Heyday

Hi everyone!

The inspiration for this post goes way back to my childhood. I remember sitting down at our kitchen table, armed with pint sized scissors and construction paper, cutting and rolling the coarse sheets into cones during the last couple days of April. My sister and I scoured the backyard for grape hyacinths sprouting wildly among the grass and snipped lilacs from the bushes along the back fence line. We would put all of the trimmings into our makeshift baskets and cross the front lawn to leave our little gifts on the handles of our neighbors’ front doors.

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Some of you may recognize this tradition – it’s a part of May Day, the celebration of spring on May 1st. Rooted in old European tradition, May Day baskets are small baskets of flowers and/or sweets secretly hung on the door handles of unsuspecting recipients. Originally exchanged between sweethearts, the tradition morphed into an innocent gesture for people (usually children) to spread kindness and warm spring wishes to their friends and neighbors on the first day of May each year. The popularity of this tradition in the US has faded since the 1960s, but it is still celebrated in many parts of Europe today.

As one of the youngest families on our block, I remember how much joy these surprise gifts would bring to our older neighbors. Typically I’m not one to recall many details from my childhood (just ask my family – they will confirm that I don’t remember much about those early days,) but these moments stick out with surprising clarity. So despite feeling like my passion for flowers is a recent discovery, memories like this one reveal that my love for flowers and spreading joy has long been a part of my story.

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And thankfully that memory helped motivate me to invest in May Day this year. I will admit that joy has been in short supply these past few weeks, and there are enough things on my plate that I could have easily let the opportunity to give slip by without a second thought. But I’ve learned that sometimes by giving joy to others, we find the joy that we’ve lost in our own lives. So on May 1st, I picked up an armful of flowers, dug my scrapbooking paper out of the bottom of my desk drawer, and began the search for joy through this nostalgic tradition of giving.

As I walked from house to house, trying to stealthily navigate the creaking wood steps to the front door like I did as a child, I felt bits of joy seep back in with every basket I left behind. I didn’t witnessed the moments when my neighbors discovered their flowers, but I hope that that gloomy, rainy day was brightened just a bit when they did.

One phrase that my sister always used to repeat was the Ian Maclaren quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I have often found that to be true, and it was a phrase that encouraged me as I made my way up and down the street. What a difference we could make if we cared for one another, served one another, and loved one another with this attitude. So as my joy came back ever so slightly, I have been reminded that this is one of many reasons why we should always be kind and giving – because both the giver and the receiver will be blessed, and the joy that often escapes us can be found again.

Let [us] eat cake…

Wow – where did March (and almost April) go?!? I knew that my spring calendar was full this year, but I didn’t quite realize how full. And yet, I am thankful that the fullness has been the result of so many good, challenging, and utterly growthful things. In the flower realm, part of my busy schedule can be attributed to some very exciting news – I’m thrilled to announce that not one, but two of my lovely friends are getting married this summer, and both have so graciously asked me to do the flowers for their weddings! I am so excited and honored! So while there isn’t anything to show for it yet, there has been tons of floral adventuring happening offline these past two months. It will be another couple months before I can show you the fruits of that labor, but I think this new post is going to make up for it in a very sweet way!

My roommate Esther and I had talked about doing another blog collaboration after our Thanksgiving brunch event, and Esther suggested it was time to give it another go in honor of her one year blog anniversary (AKA “blogiversary.”) So we celebrated in the best way we know how – with cake and flowers!9-Cake12Esther made a phenomenal lemon blackberry naked cake with coconut frosting, and we went to the Boston Flower Exchange to pick out the flower garnishes. It was my first trip to the Flower Exchange, and it was pure bliss. Flowers of every shape, size, color, and texture covered the floors and the tables. I could have stayed for hours just taking it all in.

After wandering back and forth through the blooms, we pulled a mixture of ranunculus and lisianthus in muted spring colors, I finally dipped into my “florist’s discretionary account” (a much appreciated birthday gift) for this special occasion, and we headed home to start working. Fair warning – this may have been one of my favorite projects I’ve done so far, so I had trouble narrowing down the pictures… Enjoy!

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The final result was pleasing to the eye and to the stomach! It was a fun way to celebrate a beautiful spring day, the arrival of spring’s first flowers, and Esther’s blogiversary all at once!

So congratulations Esther – everything you make keeps getting better and better, and it’s been a wonderful experience to live, eat, blog and collaborate with you this year!

P.S. I have to give a quick shout out to our other roommate, Sam, for helping us get the lighting right for our outdoor photos – girl can work a sunshade like nobody’s business! 😉

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Roses are Red…Update!

Hi again! I wanted to add a little update to my last post after having a flower filled week that was too good not to share!

I am one of the many February birthday babies out there, and this past week I celebrated with some of my closest friends. In the weeks leading up to my birthday, though I had several friends who kindly offered to take up the majority of the planning, I was feeling the pressure to make birthday plans that I wasn’t very excited for. Dinner after a long day at work didn’t sound very fun, a big party sounded too overwhelming for my work-stressed introvert, and nothing about celebrating my creep up the age scale seemed appealing. Then I wrote my Valentine’s Day post and as I brushed my teeth before going to bed that night, an idea surfaced. I’ve often celebrated Valentine’s Day and my birthday together, and so why couldn’t I take up my own challenge of giving back on Valentine’s Day by using my birthday to help me? By the time I pulled up the sheets and set my alarm for work the next day, my excitement for my birthday had turned 180° and I couldn’t wait to get planning.

Within 24 hours, the invitations were sent, the phone calls were made, and the vases were counted. The invitations went out asking my friends to join me for my favorite meal (brunch in the form of french toast and scrambled eggs,) but in lieu of gifts, cards, and food to fill the table, I asked them to each bring a small bunch of flowers. You see, my light bulb moment earlier that week was to ask my friends to celebrate my birthday by joining me in spreading some floral joy in our community for Valentine’s Day; the flowers they would bring would be made into Valentines bouquets for the women at Rosie’s Place, one of the women’s shelters in Boston. And let me tell you – my friends jumped right on board and brought a huge spread of flowers that morning that made our apartment look and smell like a florist’s shop. I have never been so happy to celebrate my birthday, and I was so moved by my fantastic friends and their generosity!

Valentine's Flowers

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After eating delicious food and spending a lovely morning with everyone, the afternoon and evening was spent crafting 20 mini bouquets for each of the 20 women who are staying at shelter. With such a large assortment of flowers, each bouquet was completely unique, and I spent several hours in pure floral bliss while arranging each one. The next day we packed up the vases, headed downtown to drop them off, and the staff at the shelter helped us unload the bouquets into a big basket for delivery.

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The Finished Bouquets

While I didn’t get to stay for the moment when the women would see the basket of colorful blooms that would adorn their rooms, I was thrilled that they would be enjoying the flowers as much as I did in the 24 hours beforehand. And as we drove back, I knew that this birthday/Valentine’s Day would be one to remember because it was filled with love and joy not just for me, but for many others. So I hope that even if you missed the opportunity to extend a hand of love and joy this holiday, you would consider taking some time in the next week, month, or year to do so – I promise you won’t regret it!

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Roses are red… and yellow, white, pink and peach!

Happy February everyone!

I know February is a polarizing month – most people either love it or hate it. I’ve always fallen into the love-it camp. Sure, I might be a bit biased (between my family and friends, there are about 10 birthdays to celebrate in February, and who doesn’t love birthday cake?), but even putting birthdays aside, I still enjoy the month with all of its Valentines accessories. You know what I’m referring to. The chocolates, the balloons, the red roses… so many classic symbols of the holiday designated for the celebration of love. You see it spilling over in the aisles of grocery stores everywhere you go, and come February 14th, the world will be covered in red and pink hearts, toting white teddy bears, and popping bottles of champagne.

However, as the holiday rolls around this year, I want to challenge you to considering doing something a little different. What if, instead of giving your sweetheart the classic bouquet of a dozen red roses, you two picked out flowers to take to a senior at the nursing home who is grieving for their late spouse? What if instead of buying an expensive box of chocolates, you treated that single mom in your office to a nice dinner with her kids to get to know more about her life? What if instead of hunting for the perfectly scripted Valentine’s Day card, you wrote a letter to express how you actually care for and appreciate the person to whom you are writing? What if we treated Valentine’s Day as a day to show our love to others, not just to our spouse or significant other? I think I’m stating the obvious when I say that Valentine’s Day has become so polarized because it’s a holiday that’s easy to celebrate when we have someone to celebrate it with, and it’s easy to hate when we find ourselves alone. But perhaps if we didn’t confine the holiday to the celebration of romantic love – if it could be a time to celebrate the love between friends, family, and humanity as a whole – maybe we could find a little more joy in the holiday regardless of our relationship status. So this week when you pass by the flowers at the supermarket, I hope that you will not only see the red roses of love and passion, but also the yellow roses of friendship, the white roses of sympathy, and the pink roses of gratitude and remember that love comes in many forms.7-ValentineRoses6

Blooms and Brushes

Happy 2016 everyone!

I hope you all have recovered from the holiday craziness and are enjoying the return of normal routines like I am. I’m still wishing for more snow here in Boston, (New York – feel free to send some our way!) but we have settled in for the winter nevertheless. Heavy sweaters, wool socks, and sleeping bag jackets stand at the ready, and there have been more than enough excuses to indulge in the warm comfort foods that I’m always craving when it gets cold. I was chatting with a friend over frozen yogurt last week (I know it’s winter, but fro-yo is always in season in my book,) and we were discussing how much more of a challenge it can be to find things to do in the winter. Boston is lovely in the warmer seasons with an overwhelming number of farmers’ markets, outdoor activities, and free events to attend, but the winter calendar isn’t quite as full. I do love cozy nights in as I mentioned in my last post, but it is fun to brave the elements for an evening to do something fun. So I was quite excited when an event popped up on my Instagram feed that felt like it was made for me – a collaboration night between Central Square Florist and The Paint Bar! If you’ve read my bio, you know that I’m an architect by day/florist by night, and part of my architecture schooling involved learning the art of watercolor painting. Therefore, making bouquets that would serve as inspiration for watercolor paintings sounded like the perfect blend of my favorite artistic mediums. I immediately enlisted two of my coworkers to sign up for the event with me, and we trekked down to Newbury Street on a freezing Tuesday evening for girls’ night.

Jackie from Central Square Florist kicked off the event by teaching the basics of floral arranging. Everyone had a bunch of tulips, roses, irises, hyacinth, and solidago to make their mason jar arrangements, and every table had a heap of Silver Dollar Eucalyptus to add for filler. It was fun to see how different everyone’s arrangements came out despite having the same materials to work with!

Next came Jackie from The Paint Bar’s turn to lead us through the watercolor techniques for our still life paintings. Being someone who loves color, I practically drooled over the enormous watercolor palate, and painting made me wish for the days of school again when I would paint every week for my graphics class. Just like the bouquets, all of our paintings turned out so differently, but we were all equally as proud to take them home and display them to keep the bright pops of color in our wintery homes even after the bouquets died.

So now as the snow falls and the temperatures drop with the arrival of the big blizzard, there are bright, pleasant flowers on my kitchen table, and I’m a little more content to cozy in for the weekend after my little adventure into the city.

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P.S. I’ve updated my website, and I’ve finally fixed the subscribe link! Please subscribe to my blog to receive email updates from Two Stems of Joy. (If you are reading this on your phone, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find the link.) Don’t worry – I hate spam as much as you do, so you’ll only get emails alerting you to my new posts. Also, if you’re on Instagram, please follow @twostemsofjoy to see the pictures from my posts, as well as few extras that don’t make it onto the website! Thank you!

The Season of Peace

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

I’m sure many of you will be able to relate when I say that the past few weeks since Thanksgiving have been FULL. There is always so much to do in this season – end of year deadlines and holiday parties at work, festive activities that fill every square inch on the calendar, and of course, the nostalgic evenings spent baking Christmas sweets and decorating the house in all things red and green.

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Roommate Christmas 2015

My roommates and I spend the first weekend in December in full Christmas mode; we decorated our little tree, hung our stockings, made gingerbread cookies, took Christmas pictures, and cozied up on the couch to watch our favorite Christmas movies.

 

I’ve been looking forward to this season for so many reasons. Growing up in Montana winters taught me to love those quiet, cozy evenings spent with my favorite people, and as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate those moments even more as they provide an opportunity to slow down, catch my breath, relax, and truly enjoy the company of those around me.

5_Wreaths1However, I let the stress of the work sprint-to-the-finish-line mentality get to me again this year, and by the time I stepped on the plane to head out to a fun-filled vacation week, I was exhausted. I had forgotten that this is the season of peace despite being surrounded by its symbols and reminders all month long.

 

Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Be still. Be still. I am always prone to filling every nook and cranny in my life with things to keep me occupied: A full calendar of events, a list of books to read, a to-do list a mile and a half long. I am never still. It is one of the habits I hope to cultivate this year – taking a daily moment of stillness to breathe and recheck my priorities. But God is not calling us to just embrace stillness. “Be still and KNOW that I am God.” The peace of this joyous season was ushered in by He who was born in Bethlehem, and that perfect peace can only be found in knowing Him. But the knowing isn’t like how you know your phone number or know your best friend’s favorite song. This is the deep kind of knowing that settles in your soul, solid and comforting no matter what is happening in life around you. The kind of knowing that produces raw and honest faith to say, “God, I’m struggling to understand you, but I will keep choosing to trust in who you say you are despite the struggle.” Be still and know that I am God. That is how I want to know God, both now and in the years ahead. I hope you’ve been able to sense God’s peace in this season, and I hope that 2016 will be a year filled with moments of stillness and opportunities to know God for who he really is. Merry Christmas everyone, and wishing you a very joyful and peace-filled New Year!

 

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Winter Wreath

The Season of Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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I know it’s a few days past the holiday, but I don’t think the sentiment has expired. In my mind, this whole season should be one of thanksgiving. Heck, not just this season – why not the whole year? Shortly after moving to Boston, my perspective on life changed quite significantly after a friend of mine recommended that I read one of her favorite books: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann describes her journey of counting “gifts” (blessings from God, both big and small) as an exercise in cultivating genuine gratitude. She finds that, over time, thankfulness becomes a habit and joy overflows into every part of her life. In my season of transition, I took her advice and started looking for the blessings in my own life to overturn the pessimistic and worried attitude that I often found myself wearing. I didn’t end up recording the full one thousand gifts but just like Ann, my attitude slowly shifted to one of grace, optimism, and joy that has sustained me though a whole sea of experiences these past couple years. I still have plenty of refining to do in that arena, but it certainly has changed my perspective on life from what it was before. So for me, Thanksgiving is not just a single day to pause and reflect on what I’m thankful for, but rather a moment in a whole year of reflection where I can celebrate with friends and family and hear about the blessings in their lives as well.

This year was a rich celebration with friends both old and new. My boyfriend and I shared Thanksgiving dinner with a sweet family from our church, but the feasting began long before we arrived for our 3 pm dinner invitation. Thanksgiving morning started as every day should – with amazing brunch food and close friends.

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Thanksgiving Brunch with Teaspoon of Ink

My roommate Esther and I had talked about hosting brunch this year as a way to celebrate our two passions: food and flowers. The collaboration process was a blast, and it was a wonderful morning to catch up with my roommates and guests before we parted ways to our dinner parties. Esther made pumpkin bread french toast with coconut whipped cream and pomegranate seeds, scrambled eggs, and a delicious potato hash (check out her blog, Teaspoon of Ink, for the recipes!) and I went in search of bright, festive flowers for the table and place settings.

Mixing the classic fall colors of red and orange with some white accents put a fresh spin on the classic Thanksgiving floral theme, and a little bit of bakers twine added a homemade touch to the place settings. I did have to laugh when I was picking up the Ilex berries a couple days before the event. My boyfriend had come with me to the store when I picked them up, and as I carried them on the subway ride home, he wondered out loud if people were questioning his ability to pick out flowers for his girlfriend since it appeared that I had been gifted a bunch of berries. Hahaha!

It was a lovely morning with fantastic food and amazing friends. I was keenly aware of how lucky I am to have found such a great community of people here in the transient city of Boston. It was another moment counted in my internal gift list, and as we move into this holiday season that flourishes on family, friends, and faith, I hope you can start your own list of gifts to be continually reminded of the blessings in your life. So Happy Thanksgiving, now and in the days ahead!

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Fresh Floral Bouquet for Thanksgiving Dinner