Charitable living

I spoke with one of the florists who is closest to Oso and offered our support with what ever they need. They are pretty distraught, which is to be expected. If any of my florist peeps can help volunteer your services, please call David at Flowers by George in Arlington, 335 N Olympic Ave, Arlington, WA 98223
(360) 435-5789 or call me at the store 425-827-1414. The victims of this horrible landslide are in our thoughts, and we will help however we can. It’s hearbreaking~

The new wave in Floral Design~

Read about simple things you can do to make someones day!

I know I’m an idealist but I can’t help it….I was intrigued when I recently heard about this movement.  The author is David Wagner, the book is called~ Life as a Daymaker.  The book was published back in 2003, but it’s still so timely for society today.  I don’t know why I haven’t heard of it before now, maybe I’ve just been too busy earning a living.. but  I find so much wisdom in the concept of making someones day.  I practice it every day in my flower shop.  I think it’s something we could all practice, if we only gave it a thought once in a while.  It has the power to change the world and move us towards kindness, love and joy.  I thought about David’s comment that ” it’s hard to focus on your own problems if you are living life as a Daymaker. ”

It reminded me of a time many years ago when I worked in a nursing home. My friends used to ask me how I could do it.  Everyone found it depressing, but I always found that it helped me to be more positive.  When I looked around each day it made me realize that there was always someone who had it worse than me.  I learned to count my blessings in small ways.  I made a difference in a life, in my own small way, and that always made me feel great.

A woman came into the flower store one day a number of years ago, and she asked me to make a corsage. She came back the next day, she paid for it, and asked me to give it to the next person who needed a corsage.  I couldn’t believe it.  You can imagine my surprise when another woman called later in the day and asked if she could order an inexpensive corsage.  She explained that she didn’t have much money, but that she really wanted to get this corsage for her mother for an upcoming special occasion.  When that woman found out that she was going to be the recipient of a free corsage, paid for by a prior customer, she became so emotional.  I’m not even sure that she believed the whole thing was true.  She kept thinking that I was the one giving her a free corsage.  I kept trying to explain to her that it was paid for by a stranger, who wanted to be a “Daymaker”.   It’s a movement we could all engage in.

In the words of David Wagner “ Just be Kind,  it only takes a moment to make someones day. Each of those actions can sustain us. Those moments can even change lives”.

You can read excerpts from the book on Amazon, or purchase the book here:

Park Place Books~ A local Kirkland Bookstore

Thirdplace Books~ An Independent Book Seller an online book store:

I was recently reminded of how much joy flowers can bring, when I read about an anonymous benefactor who is bringing joy to folks in their town by having flowers delivered to individuals for no apparent reason. I was so thrilled by this story! The only criteria is that the recipient must have done a good deed at sometime in their life.  The florist Dennis Nutley of the Green Cottage in Hudson Valley gets to create & deliver these gifts,  and he recently said  “he wished the person sending the flowers could see the joy that he sees when they are delivered”.  You can read about it here;

Another fellow florist in Scotland was reflecting upon how beautiful their flowers looked in photographs that were sent to them by a local photographer who was shooting an event they did locally.  Their flowers are really beautiful!  You can read their blog and see their flowers here;

I was reminded while reading their blog, how little I really get to enjoy my flowers.  I am always so busy with the production aspect of installing for an event, or setting up a ballroom for a party or wedding, or just making beautiful flowers for clients who call daily and want us to send a little bit of joy to their loved ones, there is so little time for me to actually enjoy them.

If you ask our delivery drivers, they will certainly  tell you a whole different story. They get to experience the joy, the surprise, and the pleasure that a gift of flowers can bring to the recipient.  Delivering flowers is a hard job, but I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world!  My driver always wants to know what the occasion is because he cares that much.  I always love it when he comes back to the  studio and tells me how much the recipient loved the flowers.  I realize that I need to stop taking flowers for granted!    Bringing JOY is what we do best!

The other thing that was a great reminder was when a customer recently sent me flowers.  She came into the studio, while I was at home sick. She asked if any one had sent me flowers?  Of course not, who would make them?  But our designer Tamara told the client she knew how picky I was & knew exactly what to send to me! I can’t tell you how it made me feel!  Maybe I was more shocked at the kindness of the customer, but I know that a big part of my joy was seeing the beauty of the flowers through different eyes.

I would love to get a little mystery flower trend going and send them to someone who deserves a little bit of joy back!  We all know that special someone who keeps giving but never expects anything in return.  What do you think? This could be like the Seattle wave~pass it on~let’s make it happen in our own little communities. Call your local florist, , give them a little joy, by asking them to send a gift of joy  to someone who deserves it! Just thank them for being the kind of person who gives to the community expecting nothing in return.

P.S. I just remembered the lady who came into the store, and asked if she could pay for the next person’s flowers~ When the next person came in, I rang up the sale and told them that they were already paid for, she just could not believe it!  She thought it was me that paid for it, but I told her it was paid for by a customer, who just wanted the next person to be blessed in the way she felt she had been blessed in her life.  I don’t know what led me on this path today, maybe it’s just the time of the year, but I too feel very blessed. The human spirit is truly amazing and I am reminded every day in this job that it’s not about shopping, it’s about a purpose!

We recently held an interesting event at the store.  I opened up my design studio to a friend whose daughter was getting married. Professional  wedding flowers weren’t in the budget, so I decided to offer them the use of the studio and the cooler so they could make their own bouquets.  The morning of the work party, they were running around collecting flowers from local growers, farmers markets, and friends yards gathering all the dahlias they could find.  Much to my surprise, they showed up with 10 buckets of flowers.  I agreed to give them a few quick pointers, but each girl had to make her own bouquet, plus they had 21 mason jar vases of flowers to do for the tables.  Watching this whole thing unfold was fantastic.  It was a great reminder to me of just how much skill it requires to design flowers.  I was a little uncomfortable watching the whole process, and I really wanted to jump in there and save them, but they were having so much fun,  I just had to sit back and watch the whole creative process happen.  What ended up happening was that each bouquet had the uniqueness of each person making it.  I helped with wrapping the satin on the bouquets, the professional in me wanted to take them all apart and make them right.  They laughed at me when I asked the mother of the bride if she wanted that flower sticking up out of the middle like that???  She replied  “yes, it looks cool, I like it!” I guess beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.  :>) I learned that the beauty for me wasn’t the flowers, but it was the joy they shared while doing the whole bouquet making process together.  The party took 6 people, about 3 hours to complete everything.  It inspired me to want to rent my shop out to bridal parties who are lacking a budget but have the creative spirit and sense of adventure to give it a try.  Everyone agreed that it was really  much harder to do than what they imagined it would be.  They all wondered how I could do this job every day.   I have to agree with them,  that it is a tough job, but I love what I do.

Oh, I forgot to mention, that the professional in me couldn’t stand it, and I had to make the brides bouquet.  She picked out her favorite colors and styles from the dahlia buckets, and I created a bouquet for her.

One of the guests who was participating in this fun event is a writer, “Linda is a writer and an educator who holds classes in Intuitive Writing on the Eastside. Check out her website or contact her at for further information.”  Linda sent me this recap from her perspective:

Dahlia: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, perennial plants native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. There are at least 36 species of dahlia. Dahlia hybrids are commonly grown as garden plants. The Aztecs gathered and cultivated the dahlia for food, ceremonies, as well as decorative purposes,[3] and the long woody stem of one variety was used for small pipes.

Patty opened the cool workroom of her Brittany Flowers Shop to a sea of color. She had worked with flowers for a long time, yet still this sight overwhelmed her. Dahlias! Buckets of them! Everywhere! An unusual edginess nagged at her. What had she gotten herself into?
It was Labor Day weekend, and a friend’s daughter was getting married. When planning the wedding last winter, the bride told her mother, “I want those flowers that you grew in our garden and yard when I was younger. The colors, the sizes! They are perfect-exactly what I want.” So dahlias it was. The weather in the Northwest has not been the greatest this summer and the dahlias are not as prolific as usual this year. So the dahlias were collected in Patty’s warehouse cooler-from Lori’s garden, friends’ yards, and of course, Brittany Flowers. There were buckets and buckets of them, for bridal party bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, altar arrangements for the grotto, table arrangements-everything imaginable.
Patty’s friend Lori and the bridal party arrived to help. By the bride’s order, each of the five bridesmaids was in charge of making her own bouquet, and then would help with the other decorations. Patty held a quick lesson on how to cut, keep the flowers together and hints on arranging. Feeling rather nervous, her last request was this. “The bride’s bouquet is mine. I was there when you were born and your bouquet must be perfect. I am making it.”
So the work began. Patty listened, helped with all of her creative talent and experience, and watched. As she worked, the nervousness dissipated. She listened to the excited voices that became hushed and awed as they chose their own flowers. She helped when questioned on placement and tying it all together. She watched in awe as it all came together.
Each woman created a reflection of themselves in their bouquet. The tiny bridesmaid chose the smaller flowers of brilliant colors as if to say, “Here I am! Something small, speaking loudly!” The two who were mothers chose a great combination of sizes and colors as if to say, “Here I am! A combination of many things constantly changing hats to keep my family going.” The maid of honor, a tall athletic young woman chose strong flowers of vibrant colors and arranged them with confidence as if to say, “I am confident and in charge! Watch out world, here I come.”
It was amazing, awesome and inspiring. What was happening before Patty was a reawakening of what she was as a florist and an artist. The pride of her work has always been it’s uniqueness, and its tie to each individual that she created for. Here it was happening before her very eyes. It was not to the perfect degree that she always demanded of her work, but it reaffirmed the value of the extra time, individual attention and quality that she always put into her creations. Perhaps she could do some perfecting after everyone left-perhaps not.
The day of the wedding was a grey northwest September day, with rain threatening the outdoor wedding. The flowers were brilliant against the green of the setting and the dull grey sky. The bouquets were gorgeous and truly matched each woman who walked in. The bride’s bouquet, perfectly created by Patty, matched the beauty, happiness and fun in her face. Even the inevitable rain could not dampen the radiant beauty of the flowers and this memorable occasion.

I’ve been noticing lately how hassled everyone is.  Of course I can think of a million reasons why anyone could easily feel stressed and uptight lately, but does that justify being mean and rude.  I was talking the other day with coworkers about how much easier our journey through life would be if we could try to be kinder to each other.  We’ve all heard about random acts of kindness, but today I read this blog which reminded me about how great the thought is when put into action!

The concept of paying it forward isn’t a new idea, but becoming a kinder nation might just open up amazing possibilities.  Thanks to the above blogger for giving  me  a great reminder!

It’s easy to get grumpy and frustrated when things aren’t  looking very bright or cheerful, but now more than ever we need to focus on being more positive and finding things to be grateful for.  I can honestly tell you that every single day I talk to people who are having to deal with distressing issues.   You can’t imagine the things that I hear every day. Honestly, when I hear in one week, about four suicides, the death of an small child, a 30 year old with terminal cancer, brain tumors, breast cancer, children in rehab for drug addiction, it makes me realize that I have a lot to be grateful for.  I’m not saying that my life doesn’t have it’s issues, but  I try to think of something positive every day,  I’m trying to make it a habit.

I hope that you can make it a habit to become inspired, motivated and compassionate about kindness and pass it on please! I posted this article on twitter about 4 months ago, and I have been continually thinking about all of the possibilities for affordable housing.  It’s a brilliant idea.  I watched the original show on planet green.  So imagine my thrill this morning when I heard about a new organization that is taking the idea and moving forward with it, to provide a small village of containers to Haiti!  I was so excited to hear about the project, I couldn’t wait to share it with every one!  Here is their website, please check it out and find out how to get involved in the project.

Here are their goals:

Complete construction and site preparation for 50 container homes that will provide housing for 400 homeless people over the next two years…

Develop ecologically sound sanitation, hygiene and composting system for 400 person village at Bois Neuf Field…

Create water reclamation and filtration systems for safe drinking and washing water…

How could anyone not support this fantastic idea?

The Ample Harvest campaign diminishes hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their excess produce with neighborhood food banks.  I recently became aware of this organization through some fellow twitter farmers and of course I promptly looked up my neighborhood food bank to see if they were members. I was happy to discover that they were members. I was excited to see this!

Hopelink  just opened a new facility just down the street from my new location,  11011 120th Avenue N.E. in Kirkland, and I have been hearing some great things about the new facility.  One of the most exciting things I recently heard was that they offer  a whole new format for a  food bank.  They have it set up more like a grocery store.  Research shows that people don’t always eat the way that the food bank gives out food.  So they have organized it like a grocery store, where families can come in and shop just like you would in a grocery store. Each family has it’s allotment based upon need. Families have  more freedom to get food that they actually want and end up eating healthier as a result. You can read the news story here: I am so excited about this new food bank model, and even more excited about Ample Harvest, it’s  the missing piece to our nations food bank models.

I know that it is the end of growing season, but I wanted to post this so that we could all think about adding an extra 2 or 3 plants of lettuce, beans or tomatoes, or whatever you love to grow, just so that you could know that we can all help provide healthy & nutritionally great food to families through a simple distribution model.

I really did not know that you could donate fresh produce and I’ve just never given it a thought until now.  I always think of non perishable items when I think of giving food to a food bank.  I know that I have always felt bad every time I drive by an apple tree and see the apples going to waste.  My friend Leslie has made me aware of an organization called Fallen Fruit, which is an activist group that is mapping fallen fruit around the country so that it can be put to good use.  It’s a great idea! I think this takes it a step farther by enabling individuals the opportunity to make a choice to donate to a good cause like which has the connections to get local FRESH natural food into the hands of the families and individuals who need it the most.

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