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

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 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

Welcome to Two Stems of Joy!

Hello!

Welcome to Two Stems of Joy! My name is Britni, and this blog is my creative outlet in the form of flowers and floral design. You can read more about me in my profile, but to give a quick summary, I’m a Montana native, Boston-based architectural designer who loves flowers. While working in the architectural realm is full of creative opportunity, I have realized in my first few post-grad years that this creativity is mainly expressed in digital forms. I build 3D models of the houses we design in BIM (Building Information Modeling) software, which then produces the 2D drawings we use for construction documents. Very efficient. Very accurate. And yet, I find it frustrating being tied to a computer all day, rarely picking up a pencil to sketch. I wish I could have entered the workforce 40 years ago when drawings were drafted by hand with thick stalks of graphite, a few plastic triangles, and rulers. I love working with my hands to express my creativity – whether it be sketching, painting, molding, carving, or any other art form. I am a perfectionist, I love paying attention to details, and all of my favorite art forms fall within the tactile vein. So this blog is my way of reconnecting to my creativity in a more tactile, personal way than my job has afforded me thus far.

The arrangement for my office

It all started on July 17, 2015. My coworkers had brought back the leftover flowers used to stage a professional photo shoot for one of our completed projects, and the general rule is first-come, first-serve from the buckets of blooms and greens. That Friday, there was a lovely mix of hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and veronicas along with a few swamp lilies, various greenery and even a branch from a fig tree (figs included.) I arranged the bouquet for the coffee table at the front of our office then riffled through the remaining stems to assemble my own arrangement. As I carried the jar of flowers home for the weekend, I couldn’t help but think how much nicer it had been to sit at my desk that day with an extra burst of color to look at when my eyes need a break from the screen. I put the flowers on our kitchen table when I arrived home and started chatting with my roommate Esther as we usually do when we get home from work. For the previous few months, Esther and I had often discussed how our passions weren’t always fully satisfied by our day jobs – almost hitting the mark, but not quite. Earlier in the year, Esther (a registered dietitian) decided to start a food blog as a way of marrying her love of delicious food with her skills and knowledge of dietetics (seriously, you should check her blog out – as the official guinea pig and taste tester of all of her creations, I can honestly tell you this girl knows what’s up!). She had often encouraged me to start a blog, but I never knew what I would write about. Architectural Styles in American history? Watercolor paintings? My love of unique cupcake recipes? None of them seemed to stick.

The bouquet that started it all!

The bouquet that started it all!

But that day as we sat at our kitchen table talking over the top of the purple blooms, it hit me. Flowers. I love flowers. And there it was – the idea was born, and it took all of five minutes to start dreaming of abandoning my other pursuits to study the art of floral design and opening my own florist shop. But let’s be real – I already spent five years in architecture school, live in the notoriously expensive city of Boston, and have no idea how to run a business. So blogging seems like a pretty good way to start working with flowers while not pulling a 180 on a career path that I’ve already worked hard to achieve. So join me in raising a glass (or vase, rather,) and here’s to pursuing a newly realized passion!