Mendocino

A little ode to my favorite little town nestled on the edge of California.  I've been visiting this village my whole life and it still holds so much magic for me.  

Growing up, we used to visit in the summer, as a teenager I would always look for little peace sign earrings or turquoise studs in the jewelry shops. It was much more of a hippie town back then.  

Now, my husband and I try to visit once a year for a little relaxation. I love walking on the headlands and finding the largest nasturtium leaves you’ve ever seen. There used to be more expansive gardens (most of the houses are weekend houses now) notably filled with fuchsia - we would slip the stems through our pierced ears and let the flowers be our jewelry.

Finding Creative Space

The idea of creativity during motherhood has been circling around.  

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Before having my son, I was always working on creative projects both for work and myself.  I've always taken photos as a hobby of sorts, since I was about sixteen.  After twenty years, I'm taking a break from "working" as a floral designer and I'm noticing that now that I'm not "working" as a floral designer, I'm taken a lot more photos of flowers than before.  Melding my work into something else of sorts.  Flowers have always been a tremendous part of my life and I don't think I will ever stop working with them - just in different ways.  Anyway, I got lost along the way of talking about motherhood and being creative and finding the times and the tug-of-war one can feel.

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As to finding space, I have to make it in a house with a five year old where every space needs to change during the day for the next project or meal - I tend to set up things to photograph on my kitchen table when I have time.  It's got the best light in the house and easy to have a little undisturbed time and a fast and easy clean up.  Life is messy and constantly moving with children.  You can't be too precious, you just have to find a way to push through.

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winter walks

The first weekend of the new year and we woke up to a beautiful, heavy fog.Foggy mornings seem to give you more of a chance to slow down without feeling a sense of time going by.  At least they do for me.  My family spends a lot of time meandering the trails near our house.  On this morning, my son was looking for mushrooms and I was busy looking at the remnant grass and seed heads of summer and fall in the meadows.  The decaying blackberry canes and the last of the rose hips rotting and withering.  I closed my eyes and thought of other seasons here, the flush of wild roses in the spring flouncing and adorning the sides of the path.  The meadows lit up with explosions of colorful confetti when the mustard, wild radish and lupines are in bloom. The sweetness of the blackberries ripening in the summer heat.  Listening to the birds, always busy, chattering away making nests or screeching as they swoop to snatch a mouse. 

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Mother's Day

Mother's Day can feel cheesy and forced, but there are simple ways to celebrate her.  As a mother of a four year old, I really am just looking forward to some coffee in bed and little extra time to sleep.  Once you become a mother, sleeping-in is a thing of the past!

Coffee or tea in bed is the simplest thing in the world.  But, very thoughtful!

You could even jazz it up by adding toast and a gift.  Takes no time at all!

Hand-picked posies and arrangements melt every mother's heart!

Depending on your child's age - pick or let them pick flowers, foliage (whatever they like) from your garden. Give them a nice working space that can get wet (like this tray) and a small vessel and pitcher of water.  Let them explore the stems by themselves and choose how that want to arrange it.  Nothing is better than getting a little arrangement made by your child or grandchild!

roses & strawberries

You can feel spring in the morning now, with light pouring through the windows and the warmth outside. Suddenly, you don't need your sweater.  My sister, Zoe and I got together to make a sweet post about May Day, but then were more inspired by an abandoned birds nest and roses.  Roses growing on her fences and field.  She and I grew up on our family's cut flower farm with 13,000 roses planted in our fields and worked together designing florals for years.  We have always done flowers.

In Asia, roses in fossils have dated back 70 million years.   Even if they don't know any other flowers, most people can identify a rose.  Throughout history, symbolism of roses has meant so many things, from love to death, peace to war.  Wreaths of roses have been found in Egyptian tombs, and Romans used them to carpet their floors for special occasions.  

Roses and strawberries are such a sweet combination, with this single-petaled climber mimicking a strawberry flower.  It is also a beautiful scent combination and can be used to create delicious jams.  They go together so easily.

I spent the summer I turned twenty in France and one of my favorite desserts was a bowl full of sliced strawberries with red wine and sugar to macerate them.  Just soak them in the wine.  No need for cream or anything else.  Delicious. 

Rose water is so refreshing, a quick face or body mist with a hydrosol really helps cool you down and to elevate your senses.  It's also nice to spritz it over a glass of chilled white wine or champagne.

See another easy bouquet Zoe and I did with strawberries.  Or, some of her garden roses.  Daisies and strawberry foliage is also another nice combination. 

Florals and styling by Zoe Honscher & Silvanie Farmar Bowers, photos by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

Chamomile Hair Rinse

As a natural blonde, my hair has gotten darker over the years.    I decided to make a couple of chamomile hair rinses to give it extra shine and lighten it up a bit naturally.  Chamomile (or camomile) has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties which can strengthen hair, help fight dandruff, and promote hair growth.  Adding it to your bath or placing cooled teabags onto your skin can help anything from burns to cuts to dark circles under your eyes. 

In the summer you can use wild chamomile or flowers from your garden but, its the middle of winter, so I used loose dried flowers and store-bought tea bags.

Here, I used four tea bags and filled the jar with boiling water.

For the loose dried flowers I poured boiling water over them in a pyrex bowl.  I just used what was already in my cupboard, about 1/4 cup flowers to about 3 cups water.

I let them steep about two hours.  You could do it longer or shorter and still benefit.

Strain the loose flowers into another bowl (don't pour the liquid out).

I poured the loose flowers through a fine-mesh sieve so there where still particles floating around.  I'm going to use it quickly so I didn't mind.  You could also use cheese cloth if you didn't want any bits floating about.

I let it cool completely then labeled it for the fridge.  After washing and rinsing your hair, pour the cool chamomile rinse over your hair, leaving it in as your hair dries.  It will continue to lighten as it is left on and you will see results with regular rinses.

Chamomile is one of my favorite flowers, it self seeds very easily and is a nice addition to any herb or floral garden.  It also attracts honey bees and smells wonderful.  In Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers, chamomile means "energy in adversity".

Winter Vegetable Workshop

I spent yesterday at Soul Food Farm enjoying my friend, Anne Goffin's cooking workshop of winter vegetables.  We had a great afternoon of watching Anne make pickled pink turnips, braised cauliflower with farro, and frisee salad with roasted Chioggia beets and blood oranges and many more winter vegetable recipes.  We also got a chance to sharpen up on our knife skills and a chance to ask a chef for little tips and tricks you don't know as a home cook.

We took a nice walk around the farm to visit the chickens and pigs and drank rose in the olive orchard before feasting on a dinner that included all seven recipes along with some delicious stewed chicken thighs and pan seared pork sausage.