Friday, January 28, 2011

Allan Gardens Conservatory

A recent trip to Toronto took me to the most beautiful botanical garden, Allan Gardens Conservatory.  The conservatory is a park and indoor botanical garden located in downtown Toronto and is open daily to the public.  The garden is the main part of the property and was donated by George William Allan who was a politician and cultural leader.  Before being named Allan Gardens, the park took the name "botanical gardens" and then "horticultural garden".  Allan Gardens was established in 1858.  The garden’s permanent plant collection includes orchids, hibiscus, cacti, caladiums and various palm trees.  

The Victorian conservatory known as the Palm House was created in 1910 and is comparable to similar gardens in England and the USA.  The botanical garden covers 16,000 sq ft and features six greenhouses with a permanent plant collection including a sub-tropical garden, palm house, cacti, and seasonal plant collection.  The garden houses contain the largest collection of pandanus (Madagascar tropical pine) in Toronto.

For more information on Allan Gardens Conservatory visit:

Below are a few images of some of the most visually stunning blooms from my tour.

The Palm House at Allan Gardens.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Beautiful Wedding Flowers

My dear friend Diane Wagner just published her second book Beautiful Wedding Flowers!  It's filled with useful, practical, and inspirational information that will help every bride plan her special day!  Not only does Diane share with you her years of experience and expert information, but she included advise from other wedding experts!

With hundreds of beautiful, inspiring photographs and over 300 fabulous ideas this is the ultimate guide to planning every floral feature for beautiful, unique weddings.

Develop a color palette and choose the most beautiful blooms to create a memorable bouquet for the bride. Diane shows you how to carry the floral theme from detailed boutonnieres and corsages to stunning ceremony flowers and exquisite reception d├ęcor that will be sure to set the ambience for an unforgettable event.

Experience the attention to detail and personal touches Diane brings to every bridal consultation in this fabulous collection of over 300 tips:

  • Choosing flowers, and finding a florist you can be comfortable with
  • Selecting flowers to enhance a color theme
  • Beautiful bouquets for the bride and flowers for every member of the wedding 
  • Unique touches to personalize the ceremony
  • Formal and informal designs for striking tabletop flowers 
  • Plus, special hints from several of Diane's favorite professionals in the wedding business

This book will be a valuable reference for brides as they plan their dream day or consult with professionals.

Available now online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon & other booksellers

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recycled Card Program

Every holiday season I receive quite a few Christmas cards!  I usually pick a few cards to add to my Christmas Card archival collection that I store in a filing box.  Usually these cards are photo cards of dear friends and family members, unique handmade cards, or beautifully designed cards that inspire me.

At the end of the holiday season, the one thing I hate to do is throw out so many beautiful cards.  I learned about the St. Jude's Ranch For Children's Recycled Card Program a few years back.  Since I've learned of this organization, I have sent hundreds of cards knowing that they'll be reused.

The funds raised from the sale of the recycled and redesigned cards goes to support the organization.  Holiday cards can be purchased on the St. Judes Ranch Online Store.  Cards for all occasions are sold in packets of 10 for $10.00.

Below I have included the Recycled Card Program History and links where you can donate your cards or purchase cards for your next occasion.

Recycled Card Program History

Over thirty years ago, wishing to show our donors appreciation for making St. Jude’s Ranch for Children possible, the idea was conceived for turning the previous year’s Christmas cards into "new" cards for the coming season. The recipients were so delighted with their unique "thank you," they requested the children sell them the special cards. And so, the St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Card Program was born.

Since then, the program expanded to include all occasion greeting cards…just about anything that starts with a used greeting card. People from all over the world have sent us their used cards!

Operated by Kids, Corp., a program for the children at St. Jude’s Ranch to learn entrepreneurship skills, the children participate in making the new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. The result is a beautiful new card made by the children and volunteers. The benefits are two-fold: customers receive "green" holiday cards for use and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of "going green".

The ongoing support for the Recycled Card Program has been overwhelming! The Program grew and soon we were receiving over one million cards. We have since redesigned the process to more efficiently manage the increased production from the increased volume and we welcome your submissions!

You can mail your donations to: 
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005
877-977-SJRC (7572)
*Please visit the website for tips to donate your cards.

For more information and to learn more about the St. Jude's Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program visit: 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Visit to Cinderella's Castle

As the big Disney fan that I am, I have been lucky enough to have had many opportunities to visit and experience the magic of Walt Disney World.  This has been a destination that I have frequented for many years and even had the opportunity to live on property when I was a former cast member. 

My career at Disney started with an internship where I worked at The Yacht and Beach Cub Resort as a Chef.  My culinary role was primarily in catering and conventions, but I made my way around the resort working on their other dining concepts.  When my internship ended, I remained a cast member traveling annually to fulfill my role at Walt Disney World Resorts.

Years later after my role at Disney, I had returned working with with Disney from the outside.  As a former employee of David Tutera, I worked closely with Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings to create the Couture Wedding packages.  I had a good time traveling back and fourth from New York City to Walt Disney World to style photo shoots and help create the first ever Dream Wedding that took place in the Magic Kingdom.

Among my travels to Disney, I had my BIG magical moment when I got to tour Cinderella's Castle, which was a once in a lifetime experience and rare opportunity.  At the time Cinderella's suit was newly unveiled and one guest was chosen in the Magic Kingdom each day.  The guest chosen was allowed to reside one night in the castle suite with up to five guests.

The inside of Cinderella Castle Suite has the kind of detailing that you would expect from the Disney Imagineers. The Suite is intended to make you feel not just that you are inside the Castle but that you are immersed in the whole experience.

Cinderella's suite was inspired by the 17th century French chateaus upon which the Castle was modeled.  You will find ornate furnishings in dark woods with opulent fabrics inside the suite.

Below are a few images from Cinderella's Castle Suite that I captured during my visit!  Enjoy!

The elevator complete with Cinderella's glass slipper, crown, and scepter.
The very ornate ceiling of the elevator.
Cinderella's carriage done in mosaic on the elevator floor.
The ornate fireplace with a 17th century style portrait of Cinderella.  This portrait magically transforms into a flat screen television!
One of two queen size beds facing the ornate fireplace.
Queen size bed fit for a princess!
The beautiful dark wood finished ceilings!
The Castle Suite sitting room.
The Castle Suite sitting room.
Powder room!
Double sink.
Huge garden tube with ornate stained glass windows.
The bathroom.
The shower.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Frosty Hike

Here are a collection of images that I took on a recent visit to the homestead!  I made sure that I got in a good hike before I headed home.  The wintery outdoor sights and sounds were amazing!  I love to investigate the property and see how much the landscape changes from the abundant summer months to the sparse and bare winter months.

The lower field rolling into the woods. 
Another field view.
One of the larger ponds.

Pond Overflow drain.
Path between fields.  

Runoff from the mountain filling the pond.

A beautiful view of the surrounding area.

Equipment path leading to the woods.

The up hill path into the woods.

The woods!
I love all the moss covered rocks and boulders!
Rotting birch bark.
A magnificent boulder!
Boulder close up!  Love all the textures!
I wonder if there is any wildlife living in all the tunneled out nooks?
Love all the rounded pattern in the boulder!
The beautiful woody scape!
A very large boulder! 
The melting snow dripping off the moss covered rocks.
A small grassy pasture in the middle of the woods.  This is a favorite spot for the deer in both the summer and winter months.
A opening in the rock wall to allow was made to allow us to drive and walk with no obstacle. 
The soggy ground.
One of the many windy trail in the woods.
So many beautiful tree trunks!
Upper field view.
Tree branches are a source of nourishment for the deer during the winter.
A wood delivery.  This wood will be cut into smaller logs and used to heat the wood oven.

Logs waiting to be cut smaller more manageable sizes.
The pile of smaller cut logs.  This is usually a task done during the end of summer.
A rolling stream headed down a steep hill.
 The winding stream gets pretty deep during the end of the winter.