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!

Valentine's Flowers

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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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