By Yves Samuel
This weekend Ryan and I are heading up to Garden Valley Ranch to pick out a rose that we’ll plant to celebrate the arrival of our little girl (whenever she decides to make her appearance). Otherwise, with two weeks until my due date, we’re just playing the waiting game and trying to get ready as much as we can (whatever that means!). I also wanted to mention that this will be my last Happy Weekend post for awhile – but fret not! Starting next week, our awesome new intern, Shanley, will be stepping in with link round-ups every Friday while I’m on maternity leave, and she has some excellent picks lined up already (I got a little sneak peek). Until then, here are some of my favorite links from around the web this week…
Get in the mood for summer with fruity striped ice cubes.
DIY Fathers Day sampler gift boxes from Oh Happy Day.
Beautiful pics of Appalachian spring plus a recipe for strawberry balsamic black pepper jam.
The queen in technicolor.
Sweet customizable family tree.
What a perfectly, beautifully simple hair clip.
We’ll be off Monday to honor Memorial Day, but have a happy weekend everyone and we’ll see you Tuesday!
Summer is on its way, and my favorite local farmers market is full of delicious goodies, but I’ll be honest – as much as I love browsing stalls and sampling what’s new, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the whole thing, and often leave the market with either way too much or barely anything. So when our friend Steve Fortunato at the innovative RoomForty Catering offered to share some suggestions for making the most of a trip to the farmers market, I immediately took him up on it. Here, Steve’s tips for “making your farmer’s market experience (as Thomas Keller says) a little bit better every time.”
1. Ask a Chef Where to Go
The term “farmers market” has come to mean many different things. We’ve been to farmers markets that are mostly prepared food stalls, Rastafarian art and singer/songwriters pouring their hearts out. We’ve been to other farmers markets that are filled with… wait for it…farmers. The point is that all markets are not created equal. Ask a chef at your favorite local restaurant which farmers market they like and go to that one. Chefs are paid to have local knowledge – and the hospitality business is all about nurturing people in various ways, not just through food, so your favorite chef will most likely be happy to tell you. Why? Because it’s nurturing to tell people where to get good food!
2. Walk The Entire Market Before Purchasing
Seasonality means that several farmers are going to have the same product. Nothing is more frustrating than going to one stall, buying what you thought was
killer eggplant, then going two stalls down, and seeing eggplant that makes the
eggplant in your bag already look like eggplant marinara. Get a feel for what’s
available, and where it looks best throughout the whole market, then start to
3. Ask Questions of the Farmers
We firmly believe in always learning. Growing food can be one of the most rewarding, visceral, timeless practices, and farmers love to talk about their products. So ask them questions. Things like: What is a good way to prepare this? Can I try a sample of this? I see your farm is organic; what does that mean to you? What’s coming next week?
4. The Early Bird Avoids the Worm
Try to get to the market as close to when it opens as possible. Remember, everyone has free reign to pick through the bins and get the best of the goods, so the later you arrive, the less chance you have of finding the cream of the crop.
5. Try Something New
Every time you go to the market, we encourage you to try one thing you’ve never had before. Trust us – just one thing at a time.
6. Think Beyond Vegetables
We find a lot of people buy their fruit and vegetables at farmers markets, and get everything else, well, elsewhere. There are some awesome meat purveyors and dairies coming to markets (house made cheese anyone?), so be open to buying more than produce.
7. Gauge Ripeness According to Use
The market is inspiring, but as inspired as you are, you most likely will not use everything you buy in one day. So get some items that are ripe enough to be used immediately, and some that are under ripe but will be perfect in a few days.
Cash (rarely are credit cards accepted), your own big shoulder bag (you don’t want to be walking around the market with a handful of plastic bags), and that’s it. Have fun!
And now some delicious shots of the RoomForty team in action at a farm-to-table dinner they catered, ending with their signature Campfire S’mores with Hickory Smoke.
Yum! I’m definitely ready for a trip to the farmers market (and a seat at the table of the next RoomForty event).
What was your last farmers market purchase? Mine was a few months ago, but it was some tiny, delicious kiwis that I’m still dreaming about!
When it comes to wedding expenses, sometimes it’s hard to understand just why a particular element costs what it does, or why there’s such a range in rates. Something as seemingly simple as cake can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $12.00 a slice! Well today we thought we’d take a look at bridal bouquets to see if we could better understand some of the factors that might result in a certain price tag, with our first installment of Budget Breakdown…
1. The Flowers
Let’s start with the most obvious thing: the flowers themselves. For all flowers, there is the cost of labor and resources required to grow and transport them, which can fluctuate based on things like weather and the cost of gas. And of course some flowers are easier to grow and/or transport (in-season sunflowers, for example), while others are more difficult and delicate (say, cattleya orchids).
Just like with fruits and vegetables, seasonality affects both the quality and cost of flowers. If you want peonies at the tail end of the season, they won’t be as full or lush as their peak-season counterparts, so you’ll need more stems to get the same effect. You might even be able to get peonies in November, but they have to be shipped from around the world, meaning you pay extra transportation cost.
2. The Florist
Sometimes called a floral designer, the florist you hire will play a role in what you pay for a bouquet. The more experienced, skilled, and in-demand the florist, the more they can charge for their work.
In addition to their time and talent, and the retail mark-up on materials, florists have overhead expenses you might not expect, and that gets factored into what they charge: rent and utilities (retail space or work space), transportation costs (to and from market, to and from venue), and supplies (tape, foam, tools, buckets), to name a few. And as with everything else, their costs depend on location (overhead will be higher in San Francisco than in Milwaukee), which results in a higher or lower mark-up on their product.
Florists may also have to purchase more flowers than they’ll actually end up using in your bouquet. Even if a bouquet will only include 6 tulips, the florist might need to buy twice that many to guarantee they open the right amount at the right time, and that they aren’t damaged or bruised.
3. The Bouquet
And then there’s the bouquet itself. A large bouquet of tulips will obviously cost more than a smaller bouquet of tulips. If your bouquet includes more delicate flowers that require refrigeration, you may end up paying more. And what about the size of each flower? Garden roses and lily-of-the-valley might each cost $10 a stem, but you’ll need far fewer garden roses to make an impact.
Something we see a lot in wedding magazines and blogs is bouquets tied with beautiful ribbon – not something that immediately comes to mind as an expense! Though some brides prefer a simple ribbon wrap, a more elaborate ribbon embellishment will cost more – and that cost goes up depending on the quality of the ribbon, which can run anywhere from $4 to $20 a yard.
If you’re thinking about your own wedding bouquet, and wondering how all these things might factor into what you carry down the aisle, here are three similarly-styled bouquets, each from the same Los Angeles-based florist, with three different price tags…
Some of the reasons this might be a $150 bouquet: medium size, use of a few expensive garden roses, use of less expensive sweet peas and crab apple to fill things out, simple color scheme and design.
Why this bouquet might cost $250: slightly larger size, uses more large flowers than the previous bouquet (such as peonies, lilac, and ranunculus), uses fewer “filler” flowers like sweet pea and crab apple, accented with four unique ribbons.
Now for a major splurge! Reasons this bouquet might run you $350: quite a large bouquet, almost no “filler” flowers except to add some texture, uses more of the expensive flowers (such as lilac, peonies, garden roses) with the addition of even more expensive clematis, tied with antique French velvet ribbon, more elaborate overall design and color scheme.
While it’s good to have a sense of what’s available for your budget, a smaller budget doesn’t have to mean low expectations; it just means being more flexible. A good florist should be able to listen to your ideas and then work within your budget to create something that you’ll love – even if it’s not an exact replica of what you originally had in mind. Who knows – you might just find that a bouquet starring ranunculus can be just as beautiful as a handful of peonies!
Thanks to Twig & Twine, Adelphi Productions, and Christina McNeill for sharing these inspiring bouquets with us! You can see more photos of these bouquets in the gallery.
With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.
Though their paths first crossed when they were just babies, it wasn’t until a local teen dance that Dorothy and Brian really connected. After a few months of dating, though, Dorothy’s mother thought the teenagers were getting too serious about each other. “My mother thought I should be seeing loads of boys,” explains Dorothy. “She thought Brian was monopolizing me.” Taking her mother’s advice, Dorothy decided to break up with Brian, but she was really quite upset about it, so she looked to her uncle, who gave her some welcome advice: “Feel with your heart. It’ll work out if you go with your heart.” A quick phone call later and the two were back together. Dorothy explains, “We really only broke up for a few hours,” and Brian interjects: “No, you broke up. I didn’t!”
Back together, the young couple spent a lot of time together. Dorothy’s family lived out in the countryside and Brian would sometimes stay over in her brother’s room. Dorothy had a trick to make sure Brian always said goodbye in the morning before he took the bus back to his house – she would take his shoes at night so he would have to find her to say goodbye!
A few years later, the two went with their hearts but were also practical about their engagement. They decided they wouldn’t get engaged until they were out of college, and that they would get only married once Brian’s probationary period at his job was over. Even when Brian asked Dorothy to marry him, she stayed grounded, replying, “I’d like to think about it.” But there wasn’t much to really think about. They were married and spent their honeymoon on a skiing holiday. (Well, one of them skied. Dorothy claims she spent most of the time skiing on her butt! Says Brian, “We enjoyed it, didn’t we?” and Dorothy replies, “One of us did!”)
Over more than three decades, Dorothy and Brian have learned what works for them as a couple. Certainly no more skiing holidays, but Dorothy says it was important for her to learn that it was okay for the two of them to be traveling on “parallel tracks, instead of on the same track;” that they didn’t have to share all of the same interests as long as they were moving forward together. The couple used their fridge as a station for messages during years when Brian was working late shifts and they saw little of each other, and found ways to stay close when his work took him outside of the country. To Brian, geography wasn’t too important, “I could live anywhere, as long as I could get her to come with me.”
Dorothy and Brian are set to watch their first daughter marry later this summer. Have they given her any advice ahead of the big day? Dorothy says, “We’ve told all the kids, whoever you’re with has to make you laugh. Does he light up your heart when you see him? Your heart has to skip.” With a loving look at Dorothy, Brian concurs, “And long may it keep skipping.”