Thursday, February 23, 2012

Valentine's Day Wine Challenge

My sister's annual wine Challenge started a few year ago, in fact the first one she had I was pregnant with my daughter so there was no drinking for me.  But this year I was able to enjoy the huge selection her guests brought as well contribute in the planning of the event.  

The only weekend that was available on the calendar was the weekend before Valentine's Day, I wasn't sure how people would respond to that date but it turned out she had a great turn out and of course we had a great theme to run with. 

The invites went out through Paperless Post, a great online site for sending stylish invitations for a fraction of the price of snail mail.  I also want to plug that they are a sponsor at JSConf this year and we love love love using them!  

The rules were simple, bring a bottle of wine of your choice that was $12 or less. I didn't count how many we ended up having but I'm pretty sure it was in the 20 bottle range.    

When each guest arrived, I brown bagged and numbered the bottle and entered it into a spread sheet so we could keep track of the bottles and who they belonged to, the numbers were in random order so it wasn't obvious if you were the first guest to arrive that your bottle was numbered 1.  The white wine bottles had white hearts and were put in a zip lock bag and then into the ice bucket.  

The guests then proceeded to the wine glass table and picked up their glass which was adorned with a heart shaped name tag and 4 voting tickets.  At the end of the night you simply wrote your favorite wine/s on the tickets and dropped it in the voting bucket.  I was not able to vote since I was the one bagging the bottles. 

Guest were also given an index card and mini pencils to keep track of which numbers they preferred, honestly by #5 they were starting to become a blur to me.  Oyster crackers and spit bucket were provided but I'm pretty sure I didn't take advantage of either of those.  

Desserts and food was all my sister.  She made brownies and cut them out with a heart shape cookie cutter and ordered Georgetown Cupcake mini's which surprisingly priced out to be less than other local bakeries, I know crazy right.  My mom made us her famous crab and artichoke dip and a variety cheeses were scattered throughout the room, I know how cliche, wine and cheese.  

The decorations were left up to me.  My sister didn't want to spend a lot of money so we did it on the cheap and used old wine bottles and painted them red and silver. Over all the paint held up great considering it was painted on glass and we did use a primer.  We did have a few scratches during transport over to her apartment but they weren't that noticeable.  

The bottles were filled with white carnations and mini callas and red parrot tulips.  A few of the bottles had candles but we didn't want to use too many candles in fear of starting a fire (lots of wine and fire don't always mix)  

I decorated her fireplace mantle with submerged red rose petals and floating candles.  

Voting was cut off at 10:30 and we then revealed each bottle so people could see which ones they liked.  Chris and I won second place with a wine we purchased at the Wine Cabinet in Reston.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bridal Show

You won't see me at too many bridal shows and mostly I shy away from them due to the high cost it takes to be a vendor.  I'm a small business and I'm not looking to do 60 weddings a summer so it's hard for me to justify the time and energy that goes into a bridal show.  However last month I got a call from a caterer that I worked with a few times in 2011 asking me to team up with her for a local bridal show.  I didn't hesitate as I thought this would be a fun opportunity to do some design work during the slow season as well as meet a few 2012 and 2013 brides.   

She sent me a photo of the linen her team picked out and told me I could design whatever I wanted.  I often find this more difficult than when I have constraints from a bride.  It was up to me to come up with something that would wow the brides without breaking my bank. To show case a few key elements of a wedding I provided a bridal bouquet, an elevated and low table arrangement and a bud vase for the cocktail table. I tried to stick with simple flowers that are economical during any time of the year, the white hydrangea is one of those flowers.    

In the end I'm happy with the way our table turned out and I got to meet a lot of great couples ready to tie the knot.

Sample Bridal Bouquet
Hydrangea, roses, ranunculus, anemones, carnations and feathers.
Elevated Design
Hydrangeas, roses, carnations, wax flower and kermit mums
photo by Alexander Morozov
Matters of Taste Catering

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A New Year

Last year was a great year for Loda and my family and I'm sad I didn't blog about it so I've promised myself 2012 is going to be the year I get back into it (ok I know I'm 2 months behind already). I loved blogging and sharing with the world what I was up to and it made me sad that last year I didn't find the time to do that. This blog is not just going to be about flowers, however I'm sure there will be a ton of that but I also want to share what it's like to be a stay at home-working mom, raising an almost 2 year old all while trying to keep the house clean and have dinner on the table. I left my job as an Architect last April because I wanted more balance in my life and I felt like 2011 was a good transition year to get me to that balance. I feel good about 2012 and the direction my family is headed, my business is thriving, my daughter is amazingly smart, adorable and most of all happy, our new house is starting to feel like a real home and I have a great husband who works incredibly hard at everything he puts his mind to.

To make myself feel better about my lack of posts in 2011 I'm going to briefly showcase what we did last year.

I started out the floral season with an event at the Newseum for the University of Southern California, their new Dean was touring the country and made a stop in DC. Of course the flowers were in their school colors of yellow and red.

In late April it was off to Portland Oregon for JSConf2011, an event that my husband and I spend all year planning. My husband is a huge JavaScript fan and for all us non geeks out there, that is a coding language that is used a lot in website design (he may correct me when he reads that part)

Portland was beautiful but I needed a little sunshine so my mom, sister, daughter and I took a girls weekend to Amelia Island Florida.

After a relaxing few days on the beach it was time to kick off wedding season. My first wedding of the year was for a bride that loved irises and jewels tones and insisted on no white.

Heading into June I did a wedding with a bride who collected 22 antique candelabras, each one being different and unique. She was also in love with purple lilac which I got extremely lucky in getting since it was the first week in June.

Quickly came my sisters June wedding, something I was very nervous about since she's very picky and was being vague about what she wanted. It turned out to be a wonderful night and we are so happy to add her husband Steve to our family.

My baby turned 1 ! How did that happen! I had a great time planning her forth of July themed first birthday, she was born the day before the 4th so she will forever always have fireworks to celebrate her birthday.

August brought relaxation, we spent a week at Nags Head with my in-laws.

Labor Day was spent relaxing along with a small royal purple and green wedding.

purple calla lilies, purple stock, trachelium, purple bouquet

Mid September Chris and I put on Capitol JS and DojoConf of which both had a Spy theme complete with a top secret envelope with their mission.

Mid September Chris left for Ireland and Germany for FunConf and JSConfEU while I stayed to work on 7 weddings in two weekends.

dinner plate dahlia, magenta dahlia bouquet Mid October rolled around and I had to switch gears from flowers to conferences. Chris and I were off to Miami to run Pycodeconf. Waiting in our room at The Epic Hotel was a Miami specialty, the mojito.

I had one last wedding to do before my season came to an end. This classic Washington DC wedding featured fall colors and an iconic view of DC.

fall bouquet, mango calla lilies, orange roses, orange mokara orchids, james stori orchids, seeded eculyptusFall wedding centerpiece, orange and maroon centerpiece, orange mokara orchids, red hypericum berries, orange rosesOctober finished up with a great neighborhood Halloween Parade and my adorable daughter trick or treating as a her favorite fruit, a strawberry.

November brought my best friend's "Milkoholic" baby shower for which I provided the flowers of course.

Thanksgiving was at our house this year, getting 15 people around the table was the biggest challenge.

As a Thank You to all my 2011 brides I delivered each one of them a fresh Christmas wreath.

We barely made it to go see Santa but I am so glad we did, Virginia is wearing a handmade smocked dress made by Chris's mom and her favorite red glitter shoes.

Christmas Day was here before we knew it and we enjoyed every second watching Virginia open her gifts.