Category Archives: flowers

Boutonniere Inspirations for a Wedding

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Long ago and far away, I worked as a freelance wedding planner.  My specialty was economical weddings in dramatic settings, such as beach weddings, foreign destination weddings and weddings in authentic Texas locations.  I once planned an elegant wedding in an old Austin Texas  barn, attended by some famous C&W musicians.   As they invited me to participate in the wedding celebration, we all had the times of our lives. The juxtaposition of elegant finery contrasted with the rustic elements provided by the barn was just perfect, and I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts.

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As part of my promo literature at the time, I gave tips about wedding attire, honeymoon accommodations and other useful things.  What follows is some advice I had for boutonniere inspirations.:

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Nothing can quite add the panache to a groom’s wedding attire  like the classic style embodied his boutonniere. This traditional symbol worn on the lapel of the groom’s jacket is a gesture brimming with meaning that reaches  far beyond the flower itself. Boutonnieres symbolize beauty. They symbolize the fragility of life, and love undefined all captured in a single blossom.

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Classic Wedding

A classic wedding calls for a classic symbol. A single red rose boutonniere with, perhaps, a tiny spray of baby’s breath embodies all of the characteristics any bride could wish for in a groom. The red rose symbolizes courage, sincere love, respect and a hearty congratulations to the happy couple. The baby’s breath symbolizes everlasting and undying love.

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Beach Wedding

Keeping things natural at a beach wedding is the way to go. Tiny white lily boutonnieres trimmed with raffia and miniature seashells can add a nice touch, or for something more ornate,  earthy boutonnieres with lavender, green blueberries, wax flowers and rosemary can add a subtle, yet beautiful touch the blends right in with a stunning ocean environment.

Western Style Wedding

A sunset wedding on the ranch, or at the beach, calls for shades of yellow with a boutonniere made from dusty miller, billy balls and handmade wooden button flowers tied with twine. This is a winning combination that can dress up any groom’s lapel without going over the top.

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Castle or Mansion Wedding

Any  groom can  look like a prince in a beautiful purple boutonniere made of royal ranunculus buds and rose hips that are wrapped with white or purple velvet ribbon.

High Desert Wedding

Ranunculus and rice flowers in soft desert pinks, corals and yellows are a perfect combination for a high desert wedding boutonniere. An alternative choice is silvery brunia and tiny, mint green succulents wrapped in a pale pastel ribbon.

Elegant Cocktail Lounge Wedding

Imagine the beauty of an elegant cocktail lounge wedding atop a skyscraper overlooking the glittering lights of the city. What better boutonniere could adorn the groom’s lapel than one inspired by the fresh ingredients and herbs found in the fine spirits that are served there. An aromatic boutonniere made from cinnamon sticks, Douglas fir, hops, bay laurel, grains, juniper and rosemary will be the highlight of the groom’s suit.

Hawaiian Wedding

Hawaii is one of the most popular destination wedding locations in the world. The groom will fit right in with a simple orchid boutonniere, or, for a little more flare, a boutonniere made of astrantias and jasmine blooms against a background of local foliage.

Remember, a successful wedding celebration is all about the details.  The marriage?  That’s all about the couple.

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Lavender for Migranes

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Lavender has been studied recently for several purposes including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as a number of other things. Its analgesic effect, however, its painkiller effect, is one of the widely studied properties. Surprising, then, that there hasn’t apparently been a single documented clinical trial to study lavender for the treatment of migraine headaches that affects tens of millions of Americans every year. Until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”

Migraine sufferers were asked to—at the early signs of headache—rub 2–3 drops of the lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-min period of time and score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group they did the same thing except they used drops of basically unscented liquid wax. Neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group 74% of patients had an improvement in their symptoms, significantly better than placebo. Though in the study lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments, lavender appears to stack up pretty well compared to typical drugs. Lavender helped about three quarters of the time, high dose Tylenol only works about half the time, and Ibuprofen 57% of the time. The #1 prescription drug, generic imitrex, is effective 59% of the time, and then the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms where they inject you under the skin, 70%. All of these work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drilled a hole in your head to let the evil spirits escape.

Conclusion: The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.

You can buy pharmaceutical grade lavender for $21 HERE.

Ballet and Flowers

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Yesterday, little Ingrid participated in her first real ballet since we put her in the Portland Classical Ballet Academy.  It was a modified presentation of Swan Lake, and was utterly adorable.  It is not uncommon for me to cry during live ballet or opera anyway, but big salty tears *really* slid down my cheeks  during this performance as my heart swelled with pride. All of these precious little children working so hard to do their amazing performances really touched me.  They were all so cute.

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Ingrid had been very nervous and anxious about the performance, but you’d never have known.  She exuded confidence and looked so secure and happy up on that stage.  I honestly believe she had a good time, which, for me, was the most important thing.  She worked toward and achieved an important goal, and I think that made her feel great.  She seemed proud of herself afterward, and I know *we* were very proud of her.

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This is Ingrid after the performance, coming out to take her bows with her classmates.  She is the little one second in line from the teacher.

During final bows, each child was presented with a rose.  Of course, we also bought her a gigantic bouquet of them, but these single stemmed yellow roses were really sweet for them to get on stage.  And the thing that touched my heart most was when her parents drove me back home.  As I was walking up to the house from the car, she rolled down her window and called to me, so I returned to see what she wanted.  She told me I was the sweetest Gams in the world and said that she wanted me to have her yellow rose.  Lump in throat.  More tears….but happy ones.  Ingrid is such an articulate little girl…so sweet.

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I smile every time I think of it.  I am lucky.  I am blessed.

And I know it.

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Life is really, really sweet.  Ya know?

Sending kisses to your heart, little Ingrid.

I love you.

Day #1- Want

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Original photography by Stacy Alexander.

© 2015 – All rights reserved. 🎸

A “Ten Things” Check In

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A “Ten Things” Check In

I am spending very little time online these days.  Time is fleeting as I count down the days until my final 10 weeks of school work and I am staying quite busy….working, playing, learning….  There are not words sufficient enough to describe how much I needed and am enjoying my current break.  My capstone (thesis) course begins on Sunday, but I probably won’t check in and look at it until Monday.

During my break, I have accomplished a lot and have felt joyful and happier than usual, simply because I have so much to feel grateful for …and because I am so close to completing this monumental goal in my life.  Things seem to be falling right into place in virtually every area of my life.  However, I remain ever-mindful that I could lose it all in an instant. That is the nature of life……so I am enjoying what I have in the moment, and am feeling extraordinarily thankful.

Here are some of the things that make me feel so lucky:

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#1.  John – My husband is such a good person.  He is a genuine blessing in my life.  His play writing endeavors are getting a lot of positive attention and reviews.  It makes my heart jump with joy to see him thriving in this way.  He is happy, so I am happy.  That’s how a good marriage works.  His job is also going very well.  He was just promoted and given a nice raise and a extended contract…AND, he will now be an exclusively online professor, meaning that he can work from anywhere in the world.  He will be moving back home to Portland  at the end of May, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  We have many adventures planned together.  While we have settled into our separate routines in separate cities over the last five-ish years, with him coming home during holidays and over the summer,  we have always wanted to be permanently reunited.  This will be a dream come true for us both.  This will also give me the opportunity to take care of him better…diet, exercise…tender loving care.

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#2.  Art – I am on a roll with my art, becoming more inspired each day, learning new skills, trying new techniques.  Just this morning, I finished a mixed media portrait of my best friend called, “Lightworker”.   My head is constantly filled with art.  Right now, I am taking one of Deryn Mentock’s fabulous jewelry making classes, but I am also designing a new mosaic fireplace surround for our house, working on a painting, doing a series of guitar-related art, working on a new tee shirt graphic and am generally living the art life.  I love it.  I set aside a number of hours every evening to focus upon and create new art.

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#3. Music – Music, of course, is its own form of art, but I feel it deserves its own category.  I am practicing my guitar each day and still taking lessons. Not getting very good, but am learning a lot.  The main problem lies in the fact that despite being a keyboardist for the vast majority of my life, I do not have strong hands.  I understand how to play guitar perfectly.  My fingers, however, struggle.   I am, again, taking the Berklee College of Music songwriting course, and I will probably enroll in it again and again.  Even though the lessons are the same each session, I learn something new each time.

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I am working on writing these country songs that are really coming together!  I am also still attending jams on Sunday afternoons/evenings and am becoming deeply immersed into the Portland music scene.  I am having fun, meeting a ton of great people and have found yet one more thing to be grateful about.

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#4.  Friendship – With each passing day, I am more thankful for my best friend and the energy, love and kindness that he bestows upon me.  Two peas in a pod, we are, and demonstratively indestructible.  He is a gift straight from heaven.

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This is real love….real friendship, and I am grateful for it every minute of my life.  It has its negative side, as all things do, but since I have learned to ignore that, I am better able to reap the benefits of the positive. I used to take the negative aspects into my heart and allow them to hurt me or worse, allow them to make me angry.  Today?  I can’t believe I ever allowed them to bother me.  The positive is SO good, that it completely cancels out the negative.  I simply ignore the fluff and embrace the substance.  The love is substantial.

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  In addition to my bestie, I have other friends that enrich my life every day that I live it.  My friends are exceptional people, individuals from whom I continue to laugh with and learn from.  I am so fortunate to have these awesome, intelligent, remarkable people in my life.  What a gift!

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#5.  Organization – I am becoming remarkably organized, purging things from my life, becoming more minimalist, materially, and less dependent on STUFF, as I become more dependent on living a rich, full and active life.  I am sorting, adding shelves, tossing things out, donating things and really taking a new perspective on every THING that I own.  Stuff is simply not that important to me any more.  I find it easier and easier to let go.

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#6.  Adventure – I am trying new things a lot…going places I’ve never been, re-examining things that are familiar to me and seeing them through more appreciative eyes.  I am studying things more….nutrition, geography, philosophy….and taking on new perspectives about virtually everything.  I love trying new things and learning lessons about them.

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#7.  Simplicity – This one fits in closely with my binge toward organization.  I am learning to simplify…physically, emotionally and in every way.  If something is not working in my life, I have learned to simply move on with no regrets.  This happened with a couple of members of my family that simply could not be happy with anything I did in my life.  Therefore, I simply let them go and moved on happily, with no regrets and no negativity.    It’s funny.  I have let go of family members, but have not had to let go of any friends….but I will, if I need to.  I just haven’t needed to.  My friendships remain positive, probably because of the old adage that you can choose your friends, but not your family.

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#8.  Family – This is another category that should go higher on this list, in terms of priority…but I’m not writing these things in order of importance.  I am writing them as I think of them.  My family has taken some dramatic shifts over the last few years.  I have grown very close to my mother and father.

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I have grown closer to my cousins and have an Auntie that I feel very close to and thankful for.  I have a new daughter-in-law with whom I am very close, and a new grandchild who delights me with each encounter.  I love and appreciate my family here in Portland, and thrive on my encounters with little Ingrid.  I have grown closer to my granddaughter, Maya, and embrace the idea that she will soon live here in the Pacific NW again.  I admire her sense of adventure and love it that she is not afraid to make drastic changes and try new things.  She is an adventurer of whom I am quite proud!  I am one lucky woman and I know it!  Exceptional bunch of people, my family…..at least some of them.  😉

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#9.  Finances – I am learning more and more about business, about how to manifest money….about how to work the system to my advantage so that I might help others. I’ve learned to make lists and to prioritize.   It gives me such pleasure to share what I have and to make other people’s lives easier.  Using my financial prowess to do good in the world is my ultimate goal.  So far, so good.

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#10 – LIFE – Life, in general, is good, but I never take it for granted.  Rather than fear the future, I am grateful for what I have in the moment.  I know there will be losses eventually, but I prefer not to focus on that and, instead, really live the life that I have, while I can, and to do as much as I possibly can with a big smile on my face.  Life IS good!

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

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Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

I’ve heard that Steve Jobs used to spend hours walking around the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.  It is located right across the street from his beloved Reed College.  It took me 6 minutes to get there by car from where I live.  I took a quiet walk there this morning.  I’d never visited prior to today.  After  my daughter sent a text yesterday saying that she was there and that I should go because it was so beautiful, I decided to get up early this morning and oblige.  She was right.

The entrance to the park is situated on a ridge.  As soon as I entered the gates and began to descend the small incline, I could hear the sound of water gurgling down the rocks. It was a cheerful sound, a welcoming one, and my heart felt peaceful as I walked and this lovely scene came into sight.

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Each time I rounded a bend, there appeared a scene more breathtaking than the one before it.

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This is another of Portland’s “gentle places,” of which there are many.  However, few are this beautiful.  I am forever discovering new people, places and things in Portland that make me love the Rose City even more.  This truly is a gentle city.  The people in this park spoke quietly this morning, in soft voices, as if they were showing respect to the serene beauty of the gardens.

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The path wove back and forth across the terrain, up and down small hills with rhododendron spilling over in shades of pink, white and purple.  There were my favorite weeping willow trees and pedestrian bridges, and the sounds of the little crystal spring dancing over the rocks.

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My heart felt so peaceful as I enjoyed the crisp, clean air and the gentle breeze that caused the willow trees to wave at me. I felt so thankful to be alive, and to have the honor and privilege to live in this stunningly beautiful city.  I know how lucky I am to be able to have moments like these and to visit places such as this that are only a few minutes from where I live.  I found myself smiling, and noting that the other visitors were as happy.  I can’t even tell you how many people told me to have a nice day.  I stopped to chat with another photographer, then, with a young father and his toddler son.  I sat on a bench with two nuns and spoke to them about St. Mary’s convent and the weather and the beautiful flowers.  Friendly place, Portland….and beautiful.

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In addition to the manicured areas that make up most of the gardens, patches of less orderly shrubs, upland forest, marsh vegetation, and submerged logs attract wildlife, especially waterfowl, most prevalent in winter. The Rhododendron Society has counted 94 species in the garden, including grebes, herons, ducks, Canada geese, wigeons, gulls, thrushes, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others.  A few of the ducks said hello to me, but most were too preoccupied with the beautiful morning to notice their human friends walking by.

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There was beauty everywhere!  I sent some of these pictures to people that I love, as I walked.  I wanted to share this place with them.  Sometimes, I found myself wishing I could walk these paths with my parents. I know how much they would love it.  The climate is mild.  There are few, if any, mosquitoes, no cloying heat, no fire ants, no chiggers.  It is a place that says, “Welcome.”

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Visit this place.  You will be glad you did. Take care of the earth.  You will be glad you did.  So will your grandchildren.