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Four Fragrant Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Are you scrambling to find to perfect gift for your mom this year? You can never go wrong with the gift of fragrance. Aromatique is a decorative fragrance company in my home state of Arkansas so when I give scents, I always reach for Aromatique. My friend Patti Upton started the company in 1982 with a line of potpourri made with materials she found in the woods surrounding her backyard. Since that time the company has expanded to include approximately 500 fragrance lines and can be found in store across the country. You can buy the Aromatique online here, but if you want to shop local use their retail finder to locate a store that carries their fragrances here.

Vanilla Bean

Does your mom love the simple comforts of life? Is her style simple elegance—an intimate garden, good friends and home? I’m betting she’d love a gift of vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting on cupcake stands, a dessert cookbook and Aromatique’s Pure Vanilla fragrance.

Gardenia

Your mom is tranquil and serene, but enjoys a good belly laugh from time to time. Her style is modern and playful with an eye for the classics. She makes great shadow animals and cherishes close friends, family and a fragrant garden. A gardenia in a decorative container along with Aromatique’s Smell of Gardenia.

Hydrangea

A cheery disposition and a great sense of humor set your mom apart. Friendship, honoring the past and the beauty of outdoor living have a special place in her heart. Give your mother a hydrangea shrub, garden gloves, a trowel and fragrance from Aromatique’s Fresh Hydrangea line.

Honeysuckle

Fresh as a daisy with a love of home and hearth describes your mother. Every day is spring cleaning day for her and she’s always working on a project to spruce up her house. She’ll enjoy the fresh fragrance of Aromatique’s Honeysuckle Vine with a bouquet of white roses in a sweet filigree vase.

Flower Arrangements for Spring

Looking for a cure for the winter blues? I suggest a few cut flower stems to get you through the last stretch of cold weather. Most of us don’t have many blooms in the garden right now, but there are a few things to pick (early daffodils, quince, hellebores) and you can bolster your bouquet with flowers purchased from a florist.

Camellia japonica ‘La Peppermint’ from the garden. The short, woody stems are kept in place by inserting them into bit of floral foam wedged into the vase.

A small bouquet of daffodils, Muscari and tulips with purple Loropetulum and heather. A layer of marbles at the bottom of the vase give the short stems height. Daffodils produce a sap that will make other flowers wilt. Before using them in an arrangement keep them in a separate vase for a day and refresh the water every few hours. This will wash away the sap.

I love to hang buckets of daffodils from tree branches. So simple and chic.

Wisteria makes an elegant bouquet. The fragrance only adds to the beauty. I grow American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) ‘Amethyst Falls’.

Cut glass is a stylish choice for simple blooms like these Summer Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) ‘Gravetye Giant’.

Flowers with a Conscience

Are you aware of the efforts by American flower growers to get consumers to think local when purchasing flowers? In addition to the typical reasons for buying local (economy, ecological footprint, and chemical-free) you can expect domestically grown flowers to have more fragrance and appear more natural. Plus they last longer. For instance, with the proper care California roses will last up two weeks versus imported roses.*
Find a local flower farmer.

California Organic Flowers

*Palmer, K (2013, March). Blossoming Close to Home. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Tabletop Spring Garden

Welcome spring into your home with a tabletop garden planted with spring blooms from your local garden center or grocery store.

Materials:
Potted flowering plants
Plastic baggies
Decorative container
Sheet moss

Directions:
Remove each plant from its pot and slip it, soil and all, into a plastic baggie. This is optional. If your decorative container is large enough to accommodate the plants in their pots, simply slip them into the container. Otherwise the plastic baggies make it easier to arrange the plants.

Once the plants are in the container cover the bags or pots with sheet moss to conceal. That’s it!

For the longest life, place your tabletop garden in a spot away from source of heat. Water the soil with a spray mister.

For this arrangement I used pots of forced ‘Tete-a-tete’ narcissus, primroses and variegated ivy. After the blooms fade I’ll plant the ‘Tet-a-tete’ in the garden. This variety is a prolific multiplier.
The galvanized tray is available in my online shop.

Hot House Flowers

The grocery store makes for an unexpected ally in beating winter’s blues. Spruce up your home with a few potted plants that you can find at the grocery store. To personalize these blooms to suit my style I slip the plants (pot and all) into decorative containers.

Hot House Flowers are a Breath of Spring

Forced Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinths – The daffodils and hyacinths you buy at the grocery store can be planted in the garden after the flowers fade. Wait until the foliage dies back. I’ve not had much luck with replanting tulips because they aren’t perennial in southern gardens where springs are short. However, daffodils and hyacinths will bloom again for me the next year.

Daffodils

Cape Primroses– Maintain temperature around 60 degrees. Place pot on a tray of wet pebbles to provide humidity without overwatering.

photo credit: Eva Gruendemann

Hydrangeas – These big, colorful flowers are everyone’s favorite. While the plant is indoors keep the soil consistently moist and out of direct sunlight. After the last frost date in your area plant it outside in a partially shaded spot.

Hydrangeas

Orchids – Watering orchids can be tricky and varies depending on the type or orchid and time of year. (Water more in the summer and less in the winter.) Generally a good rule is to water every five to 12 days. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Dab excess water off leaves.

Orchids

November Giveaway – Indoor Plant Décor

When you hear the word “houseplant” what image comes to mind? A macramé hanging basket or maybe a dusty fern stuffed into a corner? Houseplants have gotten a bad rap for being old-fashioned and hard to care for, but I know two people who are on a mission to change that perception. In their book Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants my friends Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson take a fresh look at how to use plants in your home. I like this book because Kylee and Jenny show how container choice and plant selection help your indoor garden appear as a design detail rather than an afterthought.

You can purchase Indoor Plant Décor on Amazon.com or if you are feeling lucky leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy. I’ll select a winner on Wednesday November 20, 2013. Congrats Guinelle for winning the November giveaway!

Here’s an excerpt from the book and a few photos illustrating unconventional containers.

It used to be that indoor gardening meant a ficus tree in the corner of the living room, a pothos plant trailing from the top of the entertainment center and a row of African violets in the kitchen window. While we wouldn’t knock any plant that thrives in indoor conditions, contemporary gardening has moved far beyond the expected and traditional houseplant. Add to that the myriad of interior decor styles, and it becomes difficult to know just how to use houseplants as a part of your home’s overall design scheme. That’s where we come in. In our book we show you how to define your personal decor style, and then guide you into making stylish plant, container and accessory choices to pull it all together.

As we confessed right from the start, we kill houseplants. If you’re a gardener of any type, it’s going to happen, so check your feelings of guilt and inadequacy at the door and forge ahead. Decorating with houseplants isn’t like buying a lamp or a chair. Plants are living things, and just like human beings, they will behave in unpredictable ways and sometimes not follow the rules. But this is what keeps boredom at bay; you’ll learn more about their personalities as time goes on.

The mission of Indoor Plant Décor is to improve your confidence in choosing plants that fit your design style as well as your lifestyle. We hope you will benefit from our own adventures into the wonderful world of houseplant design. We know the amazing power plants have to transform an interior environment — even our state of mind.

If you want to get to know Kylee and Jenny visit their blogs – OurLittleAcre.Blogspot.com and JPetersonGardenDesign.com. I think you’ll find their writing is funny, introspective and educational. Plus you can see how gardens grow in two different regions. Kylee gardens in Ohio and Jenny is down in Austin, Texas.

Take a look at a few of the innovative ideas from the book.

Spring is Luncheon Season!

For more spring party inspiration read my column in this month’s issue of AY magazine. You can find it online here. Read the entire article here.

The equinox on March 20th is the official beginning of spring, which is cause for celebration don’t you think?

Hosting a get-together doesn’t need to be a lot of work, especially during this gentle season. You can make your fete memorable and keep it simple by following these helpful tips.

Venue

Use both indoor and outdoor spaces. To accommodate spring’s unpredictable weather set up the dining indoors and the pre-meal gathering outdoors. Your guests can enjoy some time in the garden, but you won’t have to scramble if the day turns out dreary.

Invitations

Be old-fashioned and send a written invitation. This extra step makes even small gatherings more special.

Menu

Luncheons are tailor-made for fresh spring ingredients like salad greens, English peas and asparagus so stick to dishes that feature the flavors of the season.

Table Setting

Spring is the most ethereal season; set a special table to reflect this feeling. Use spring-centric colors or delicate tableware to set the tone. You can’t go wrong with a white table cloth, but bright hues are a fun way to create a lively mood.

 

Add a Little Farm Chic to Your 2013

You don’t have to live on a farm to have farm chic style. Take a look at these ideas for adding a little of the pastoral to your interior décor.

Rain chains are a fun alternative to down spouts. In addition to the tradition copper you can find them made with stones, glass, and many other whimsical materials.

I love this Paul Michael Company side table made from a petrified wood. If you have a tree trunk you’d like to transform into a table allow it to dry for a month, remove the bark, and then coat in polyurethane.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This “work of art” is made with old garden tools I had in my shed or found at flea markets. See more wall hanging ideas in this video.

Not enough farm chic for you? Join me on my Facebook page for Farm Chic Friday . Each week we give away prizes and share ideas for bringing a little Southern charm into the home and garden.

 

Fabulous Tobi Fairley Giveaway

Congratulations to Marilyn Herdon! She is the randomly selected winner of Tobi’s St. Nick Pillow. Woot woot!

Designer Tobi Fairley joins us today on my blog to spread some holiday cheer with a special giveaway – a pillow from her Saint Nick collection.

Hello, friends and fans of Allen!

Over at my blog, I’m giving thanks for all sorts of wonderful things in my life: people, places, opportunities, experiences, transformations, and more. I am so grateful for wonderful friends like Allen, with whom I can share big ideas about design, entertaining, food, and the outdoors! Another HUGE part of my gratitude is for the pleasure of giving, so I want to give something special to one of you this week to kick-off your holiday season!

If you leave a comment on this post telling Allen and me what you’re giving thanks for this week, you’ll be entered to win one of my Tobi Fairley Home pillows from the Saint Nick collection! The winner will be selected by random draw on Wednesday 12/05/12.

Sometimes an accent pillow is ALL it takes to make a sofa or chair festive and fun for the holiday season!

Find more inspiration from my Pinterest board: Holiday Treats & Decor

(like this sweet pic…)

Best of luck!

Xo,

Rachel Ashwell Talks Roundtop, Texas

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Don’t worry if you can’t find a one-horse open sleigh, just be sure to get out of the house and into the spirit of Christmas! Whether you’re heading south like a snowbird or traveling to be with family for the holidays, Christmas travel is certainly more than just a destination. I spend more time than usual perusing antiques during the holidays, and Round Top, Texas, is one of my favorite places to do so.

Round Top is known for its antique fairs, held each January, April, June, and October, but the small town has a plethora of arts-and-crafts and antiquing activity throughout the year. One woman who has made her mark on Round Top is Rachel Ashwell, international designer and creator of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture.

Ashwell’s style gained popularity through her London, New York, and Los Angeles stores, where she sells her designs—pieces that evoke a sense of the past with a fresh, clean look. She had been traveling to the treasure trove of Round Top for seven years when a familiar bed-and-breakfast property became available. Ashwell jumped at the opportunity, refinished the house in her own style, and dubbed it “The Prairie.” It’s a space that she fondly calls “a magical bubble” and now rents out to fellow antique hunters in Round Top. She loves it so much that she stays there when in town, all the while managing her international Shabby Chic Couture business.

I reached Ashwell (RA) in London, and she took the time to answer a few of my design questions about what she calls the flea market capital of the world … and this is coming from a woman who has shopped in many parts of the globe.
P. Allen Smith (PAS)

PAS: Round Top is quite a departure from your other locations. How is your style enhanced or altered by location, especially a place as unique as Round Top?

RA: Even though I am a London girl who has lived in Malibu, I have always had an attraction for the country western aesthetic and culture. Jeans, cowboy boots, and country music have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

PAS: The Prairie sounds like the perfect canvas for you!

RA: Many people have a preconceived idea that Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture aesthetics is all about white, pink flowers, and chandeliers, which of course is my signature. The Prairie allows me to demonstrate the versatility of my aesthetics:

PAS: You’ve created so much in Round Top; what are you most proud of?

RA: Making The Prairie home for myself and all those I love brings me great pride. When I bought the property (formerly The Outpost Inn), I inherited the owner’s labor of love, and this legacy continues through The Prairie by the love and labor of all involved.

PAS: With that much going on at The Prairie, what does a typical day in Round Top look like for you?

RA: Up at 6:30, then 10,000 steps around the fields with Pearl the dog. At 8 a.m. I get my chef Danny’s  yummy yummy breakfast, where I meet and greet guests. By 9 a.m. I jump in the timeworn, open-topped Jeep with my associates and shop and shop and shop, stopping for food and drinks and chats on the way.

PAS: What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink, and relax in Round Top?

RA: My favorite place to eat is in our own backyard with Danny cooking barbecue, listening to music, taking in the wide open prairie … but Royer’s Cafe, Pie Haven, Stone Cellar, and the little stands on the side of the road are pretty great too.

PAS: After a full day of shopping and food, drinks and chats, I bet The Prairie is a welcome reprieve.

RA: Absolutely. I’ll relax with a hot cup of tea (others prefer a cold beer), reflect on the day, and ride a horse!!

photos of The Prairie provided by Rachel Ashwell