The Art of the Bloom

There is nothing better to brighten up a room than a vase of fresh flowers.  Since the florist does not make regular appearances at my door, I’ve taken to the flower aisle at the local grocery store.  As a child I remember sitting at a table in the garage that my grandfather set up for my grandmother.  She loved making flower arrangements.  She had a box of “frogs”, flower tape, ribbon and wire, and – beautiful flowers.  She would set out everything she needed and a bit later a work of art would sit on the table.  I’m not certain if this was a southern thing or a Charleston thing, but she could work magic with whatever was at hand.

My grandmother’s arrangements were complicated with a variety of different flowers, greens, tall, short- all mixed together depending upon what was in season.  When she had a hole to fill you would find her out in the garden with a pair of clippers and her imagination.

Where  grandmom’s arrangements were complex, I opt for simple.  In the summer, I tend towards sunflowers.  They are happy and make me smile.  I have a couple of go to vases but my favorite vase is one a bit on the modern side that works with my eclectic sense of style.  In the flower aisle I look for one flower that is fresh and crisp.  I then buy enough of that one flower to fill my vase.  At the grocery, flowers are usually sold in a bunch of three or four so I need multiple bunches to fill my vase.  The end result I want is a very full vase so I always add one bunch over what I think it will take to fill the vase.

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At home, I cut the stems at an angle to three or four inches above the top of my vase and remove all the leaves that are “inside” the vase.  I then add the flowers one stem at a time turning the vase as I go.  I start along the outside of my vase with the shorter stems and move to the inside with the stems cut slightly taller.  Then, my secret ingredient, a shot of vodka.  Be careful with the vodka, it serves to extend the life of the flowers but, if you add too much, you can get a drunken flower arrangement.  Finally, add clean water.  My arrangements tend to last a week so long as I remember to change the water.

 

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The Beach Reading List

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Did I mention how much I love to read? As a child I was seldom without a book. My Mom introduced me to the Bobbsey Twins and Boxcar Children. When I was sick with chickenpox, My Aunt read Secret of the Old Clock to me creating a Nancy Drew fan in the process.

I am an eclectic reader. If I have to choose, I would say mysteries are my favorite. There is something appealing about trying to guess whodinnit before the reveal. I also love to read stories set in local and far away places. The ability to escape into someplace familiar or, in the alternative, foreign and be carried away by the story is a characteristic I look for in a good book. Historical fiction, cookbooks, biographies and design books round out my reading list.

Needless to say, I read and read a lot. For vacation, I look for a good story. So what is on my summer book list?  Since it’s still the first of summer, here are highlights from the list. It’s a long list . . . .

Jackie’s Girl by Kathy McKeon

Written by a former personal assistant to Jackie Kennedy, this is a compelling story of life post Camelot at Jackie’s residence in New York known as 1040. The true story of the writer’s immigration to the United States from Ireland and her life as a peripheral member of the Kennedy Clan pays homage to the former first lady and a particular time and place in history.

Mondigliani Scandal by Ken Follett

My introduction to Follett was through the Cathedral series with Pillars of the Earth. He weaves wonderful intricate plots with compelling characters. The Mondigliani Scandal is a bit of a departure from his norm but still has the intrigue of Eye the Needle. A fun read with a surprising albeit predictable ending; it is well worth the read.

On the Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett

Another oldie but goodie by Follett. This is the story of Ross Perot and the Iranian Revolution. A true story that reads like a work of fiction. I found it fascinating and educational.

Dead Ringer by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter

I love vintage Mary Higgins Clark. If I did not know otherwise, I would swear this book was written by Ms. Clark. A great mystery which leaves you guessing to the end. Extra points for weaving Klimt and Nazi stolen art artfully into this present day mystery in a manner that brings awareness to the issue.

The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby

The latest in Crosby’s Virginia winery mystery series, this one delivers again. Light and fun, part mystery and part romance, this is simply a fun read. I recommend the entire series .

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank

This is the story of two families intertwined by history and regular vacations at Isle of Palms. Ms. Frank writes stories set on the islands off the South Carolina coast. They are light and fun and she makes it so easy to get lost in the trials and tribulations of her characters. She is one of my go to authors and her latest does not disappoint.