May 2009

Guest Chef on the waterfront in Seattle  is coming up in July, the money benefits an important cause. It is said that any one of us could become homeless at any time.  Here is an interesting article on being homeless, it is  something that the average person does not really like to think about but we should think about it more often and work to find solutions to the problem in every city across the country!

Farestart should be a model, one to replicate across the country to help with solving our nations homeless problem.

FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Over the past 17 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for over 3,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 3.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

The Homeless in Seattle:

FareStart has a mission, read about it here:

The history of FareStart,

Guest Chef on the Waterfront is Wednesday, July 15 in Seattle!

Savor tastes from over 70 of the Seattle area’s most talented chefs, breweries, and wineries. All proceeds directly benefit FareStart’s job training and placement program.


I have plans to go see this, if I can find the time this weekend. If it comes to your town and you are interested in the environment and our connections to it, I would suggest attending this production!  The concept is amazing!

Imagine being a creative dancer, spending time in the forest canopy of Costa Rica and in the wilds of the great NW,  experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells, of the forest, while practicing and performing the art of dance and learning how you can connect with the environment and learn something from each other.  That is the simple premise.

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, world-renowned canopy tree ecologist and author, led a group of artists call Capacitor  from San Francisco, into the tree forested canopy of old growth Douglas Fir forests in Washington state and into the Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica to give the performers an opportunity to interact with their complex surroundings, she brought to their attention things like, fragile ecosystems, embracing wild spaces, & conservation of untouched biomes.  This production encourages conservation. Go see it, if you can!   Amazing! I just came across this on my Twitter account, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about these new changes to Google Maps! In fact if you could have been in the room when I read this article, you would have had to plug your ears due to my screaming and whooping!

Now if you haven’t had the unpleasure ( is that a word) of having a business, a brand, a reputation, something that you have put your life’s work into, maybe you won’t be as excited as me and other’s like me. This is the best news for small business, since Google began!

Let me recap it…life for me and thousands of other small business owners like me, had only one way to compete with large competitors, it was called an advertising budget. When we began, we had one, but it was small.  What can I say..smalll business, small ad budget.  Then came Google with their unique algorithms ( don’t ask me to explain, as I have no idea, how it works  cuz that is their job) but suddenly, people started becoming aware of our small family business across the world! How can you argue with a premise like that?

Until recently, it has worked amazing! I have been one of their biggest fans, since my girlfriend in California sent me a ” hey join this unknown gmail thing” when I  asked her why,  she said, because my brother works there and it is cool! I trust her, so I accepted her invitation to join gmail.

I’ve never been disappointed in Google until recently…  I really even hate saying that out loud.  But this new move by Google makes me so happy that they have found a solution to the problem that exists out there in Google maps land that I had to share it!  And thanks to the twitter buddy who shared it with me!

You can read the article above, and I won’t waste your time recapping it, but  I will share with you how it will impact me  and other small business owners like me immediately and why I am excited.

I have recently been a target of a competitor, and I am not alone in this quest, actually it has been happening for quite a while.  I think the economic downturn has helped all of us analyze our business plans, so we have been  looking at things we didn’t normally look at.  Recently,  I decided to Google my company name, and boy was I surprised!  I spent most of one evening looking well into the search results, maybe 40 or more  pages into the Google search results and I’m talking about spending the most of one evening looking at the results.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered tons of my business listings, with bogus phone numbers, bogus addresses, bad information, etc.. I just couldn’t figure out how this happened.  To make the long story shorter, let’s just say that I found out that a few competitors were going onto Google maps ( tech savvy ) folks, and changing business listings, and redirecting business to themselves with bogus numbers, websites and address listings.  One of my competitors even went into Safeway Stores listing and used the Safeway address ( so she could have a legitimate address in my city ) and changed their name to hers and the phone number to hers! Can you believe it!?  So she suddenly looks legitimate because she is in Kirkland, and she does have a business by the name she is using and the phone works.  This new effort by Google Maps is going to fix many of the problems and help the with the  internet integrity issues and I am so excited!

Google gets a HUGE applause from me and I am sure small business owners across this country and the world! I can tell you that Google has been the only person to act on the problem.  I know so many small business owners who have spent  tens of thousands of dollars in Attorney fees , sent numerous compaints to the State Attorney Generals, contacted state and local officials, even the local police.  Not one thing has happened until TODAY!  Google deserves a BIG APPLAUSE for stepping up to the plate to be the first to take a stand on the problem.

I am so appreciative for my customers. I’ve had 4 customers call me in the past three days to tell me how beautiful our flowers for Mother’s Day were. They are claiming that they are still living, as a matter of fact.  That’s amazing even to me.

I really appreciate someone taking the time to pass on feedback. It’s just so good to be able to share what you feel whether it is good or bad.  Bad feedback helps us get better, and good feedback makes us even better yet! It is the best advertising we could ever get.

I love  & appreciate my customers! They are the reason I do what I do..Thank you!

It’s a tough job always trying to please everyone and give more than they expect, but that is what we always strive to accomplish. It’s great to know that someone is watching and rewarding us by telling us that we are being successful.

summer wedding

chocolate callas and cream roses handtie

semiahmoo wedding

As a florist I am being asked quite often for local product,  of course I’ve talked about this subject before,there is not much local in the NW except in summer.  I did recently make contact with our local farmer’s market director last week to request a list of local farms and what they carry. I thought about my conversation with her, and I realized that we are all so busy doing what we do, that sometimes we forget to look outside our box. I’m looking for product and they are looking for silly is that?

I was thinking about all the growers that are local around me, and wondering why I didn’t know of a single one? Some of them are in my own neighborhood!  It reminded me of the time I needed lilacs, and I called my mother and had her cut them from her tree and ship them to me, they arrived the next day and they looked beautiful.  she lives about three hours away from me.  Sometimes I walk down the street and look at the beautiful things growing in the neighbors yards, and I always think how much I would love to buy some of that natural product.  They have the time to nurture and grow,  I have time to sell & design!

I have a wedding coming up that is going to need magnolia leaf,  & no one is commercially growing that around here, but many folks have it in their yard.  I just happen to know someone who loves to have me take it! I have a customer who prunes her corkscrew willow tree and calls me to come pick it up. I love it, I’m helping her and she is helping me.

My old store used to be in the middle of a wonderful neighborhood community and we used to find gifts at our back door, salal trimmings, willow, cherry tree prunings,  pittosporum, magnolia, ..we dubbed them ” gifts from the flower fairy”..  I always appreciate it so much when someone takes the time to call me and ask me to take their “natural trimmings”  That enables me to pass  the saving on to my customers.

I have a customer who is retired, and he loves to grow Dahlias in his spare time, I buy them from him because he uses the money to buy books to donate to the local schools.  I have another customer who loves to grow calla lilies, I really love going over to her yard and pick them fresh and then pay her instead of someone I don’t know.  She lives in the neighborhood where my store is located. I have another gal who cuts her holly back every year at Christmas, and I always  make her a lovely centerpiece during the holidays in exchange for the holly she brings.

Think about your neighborhood, think about the local florist, the next time you prune your yard and have to pay to throw it away, why not pass it on and give joy to someone else,  and joy to yourself!  I’m sure your florist would give you a beautiful arrangement in return for taking your trash or be willing to pay you for it, if you have cut it at the right time, hydrated it properly and handled it carefully.  It’s just what flowers are supposed to do…spread a little joy to everyone!  Call your local florist the next time you think about loading that truck full of yard waste to take to the landfill!

I can’t say this too many times..keep the water level up in the vase.  Flowers drink a lot of water and they need to have the vase filled to the top every day with fresh water.

Heaven forbid that anyone got flowers in a box for Mother’s Day, but if you did, make sure you recut the bottom of the stem before placing them in the water.  They are dehydrated, and need to be recut in order to be able to drink water.

It makes no difference if you add a penny, or seven up or sugar, those are myths.  Sugar is what the flowers need to live on, but if too much is added you will actually cause the flowers to use up their energy quicker and die faster.  All florist’s add flower food to the water, so until you change the water, there is already the right amount of food in the water.

Speaking about changing the water, cut flowers breed bacteria and bacteria kills flowers. When the water starts turning nasty and dirty looking, grab the entire arrangement out of the vase with one hand, and dump the water out and rinse the vase, then add fresh water back in it and quickly place the flowers back in the vase of water. You can actually add a small drop of bleach to the vase of water after you put the flowers back in, and it will help the bacteria level from growing, it doesn’t hurt the flowers.  If the flowers don’t come out of the vase becasue of grid work, then just hold the edge of the vase under the running water and flush the dirty water out by forcing fresh water in.

What does hurt the flowers is sucking air up the stems, so you have to be quick about changing the water, if the flowers are out of water for more than 3-5 minutes before being placed back in the water, they have to have each stem recut.  I always tell my customers not to recut, unless they know how to do it because recutting can also kill your flowers if it is not done properly. When a rose sucks air up the stem it causes an air block in the stem and it blocks water from going up the stem. I’m sure you have seen a rose with a bent neck, that’s why it happens.

If you have a very sharp knife, like a swiss army knife, you can cut the stem with that, or with sharp pruners. Never ever use scissors or dull pruners because they pinch the stems when you cut with them, which crushes the inside cell structure of the flower, then it can’t drink water and it will die for sure!

Enjoy your flowers!

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