Carnation Coronas: My Easy DIY Flower Crowns

Many years ago, I had a blog called Bluebonnets for Sal. Every Tuesday I’d publish a post on flowers. Years later, I still love everything floral-related and I find a way to bring flowers into my life whenever possible. One of my favorite things to make for parties are these super simple flower crowns. There’s something about these happy headpieces that makes me think of moonlit nights and forest fairies, candlelit dinners and late summer rain. I most recently made a few of these “Carnation Coronas” to celebrate the Summer Solstice. {Did you know the word crown comes from the Latin word corona, meaning garland/wreath or korone in Ancient Greek?} They are super easy to make and you can use any color scheme you’d like. Click through for my brief tutorial.

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Posted In: Entertaining, Living, Style

April Gargiulo of Vintner’s Daughter

April Gargiulo, Founder of Vintner’s Daughter

In today’s saturated beauty market, false advertising has made it harder and harder to find genuine, quality products. As a beauty junkie myself, I’ve fallen pray countless times to brands who over promise and under deliver. In skincare, as in life, talk is cheap but when it comes to real quality, you know it when you see it. About two years ago, I began noticing some big changes in my skin. While I’ve always been fair complected, there was a sudden and palpable shift wrought with rosacea, hypersensitivity, and sporadic blemishes. To try and hide — and more importantly remedy — the aforementioned issues, I sampled a bunch of products hoping for the best. What I found at the end of the trial and error rainbow was quite literally a pot of skin-nourishing gold: The Active Botanical Serum by Vintner’s Daughter. It is so special, in fact, that I felt compelled to reach out to the founder, ask a bunch of questions, and share her story with you. I’ve only been using the serum for about a month now but it’s already become my favorite step in my beauty routine. There are so many things I love about this product, from its golden hue to its nourishing efficacy and its all-natural ingredient menu. The moment you apply it (with the recommended push/press method) you feel time turn back a bit. I’m also enamored with its lovely fragrance. Photographer Jamie Beck likened it to “twilight in the garden in June when the fireflies come out and play” – the perfect sensory description, in my opinion. I’ve also recently realized that Vintner’s Daughter combines two of my favorite things in life: wine and stories. Founder April Gargiulo is the daughter of a vintner (hence the name) and has used her detail-oriented, grape growing heritage and love of wine-making to create a product that is quality at its core. In essence, the serum is also a rich and well-crafted story made up of 22 characters, each rife with its own history. Take for example the the marigold flower, which has been coveted for centuries for its healing powers, or the rose oil sourced from a generations-old family farm in Bulgaria’s Valley of the Roses. Luckily, when you buy your own bottle, a little black book gives sweet insight into these character-rich ingredients, their history, and their skin-beautifying benefit. Read on to learn more about this special serum called Vintner’s Daughter (and the brand’s second product, the Active Treatment Essence just came out in 2019!)  Without further ado, let’s meet April Gargiulo!

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Posted In: Interviews, Living

Wabi-Sabi Welcome + A Chat With Julie Pointer Adams

I’ve always found personal collections to be very intriguing things. What draws us to collect what we do? Piece by piece, our collections grow and change over the years, taking on new texture, depth, and personality. For many, the hobby itself lasts a lifetime, as we seek out those things that stir the soul in some intimate way.

What do you collect? For my mother, it’s coral sea fans and heart shaped rocks she’s picked up along her travels. For my mother-in-law, it is miniature silver sombreros that she’s sourced from markets and shops all over the world. On a trip to a private residence in the Dordogne Valley a few years ago, I was taken by the collection of walking sticks that belonged to our elder host. Each one was differently adorned, with fox heads, jeweled caps, and other fanciful curiosities. Over the years, I’ve built up a collection of coffee table books, and I’m proud of the little library it has become. Books have a way of binding people together and I love how revelatory they can be when compiled  in a room. Together, the assorted titles, genres, and subject matters make up a larger story about my interests in life. My collection ranges from the African Masai to the Virgin Mary, from Provence to party dresses, from WW2 history to Maharajas jewels. All of these tomes offer a glimmer of insight into the things that pique my curiosity and feed my daily appetite. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that I am always on the hunt for a new book to add to my collection.

Much to my delight, I recently found a new favorite in Julie Pointer Adams’ Wabi-Sabi Welcome. Julie is a Santa Barbara writer, photographer, and the proprietor of a floral studio called Olivetta. (what a dream, right?) In Wabi-Sabi Welcomeshe opens the door to a refreshing, simplified way of thinking about our lives.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy and a way of life that revolves around the acceptance of simplicity and imperfection. We live in an age where social media has bred a contrived culture of perfectionism, and this culture often has a negative impact on the way we live. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or something in between, social media makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves to others, which in turn can make us feel less grateful and content with who we are and the things we have.  The wabi-sabi way is an antidote to this culture, and the book takes us through the ways we can incorporate its guiding principles into our own lives. From bringing nature indoors to bringing friends together, the book carves out a space in the soul that reminds us to slow down, to embrace gratitude, to be present in life, and to seek beauty in everything. As an avid and passionate entertainer, I especially enjoyed her take on how to entertain with a wabi-sabi sensibility. It’s not about the flowers or the china or the stress that comes with making everything perfect and orderly. Rather, it’s the easygoing and unpretentious occasions, those moments when we are truly present with our guests, nourishing one another through simple food and honest hospitality, that remain in memory.

The philosophy behind wabi-sabi is explained in more detail by the author below, yet one of the things that resonates with me most is the idea that everything is fleeting, that the things we own are temporary, and we ourselves are transient. Embracing this truth makes it easier to see the value of a wabi-sabi life founded on beauty, simplicity, humility, and grace. The book is divided into places — Denmark, Italy, California, France, and Japan — and we’re invited into people’s homes to learn first hand how wabi-sabi is at work around the world. These stories, typed alongside Julie’s own, understated photographs illustrate a simple, rewarding existence that we can all be a part of. Read my interview with Julie Pointer Adams at the jump – enjoy!

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Posted In: Interviews, Living

Living With Lilacs

Picture via Pinterest

Do you have a favorite flower? I have gone through many over the years, from white daisies with sunshine centers to eggshell-colored peonies and tissue-thin ranunculus. In the past few years, however, my loyalty has lied with lilacs. I’m enamored by the floral symbology of lilacs, their intoxicating fragrance, and their beautiful, trembling buds. According to Greek mythology, the story of the lilac begins with an attractive nymph named Syringa, who turned herself into the aromatic bush in order to escape the zealous chasing of Pan, the god of the forests and fields. Lilacs bloom with each returning spring, living short, yet vibrant lives. In parts of the Mediterranean such as Greece and Cyprus, lilacs are purportedly called paschalia, and are frequently associated with Easter. I love the lilac’s delicate buds and all the things they stand for: youthful innocence, love’s first emotions, purity, protection, confidence. My husband and I loved lilacs so much that they became the focal flower at our early spring wedding.

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Posted In: Living