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Bizzaro Maria

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A few random flower photos [Jul. 18th, 2013|06:29 pm]
Lots and not lots going on, it's been a while, I know. Will post more later, I promise.

Recently had an AD person I've worked with give me a call wanting a few arrangements. I'm not a fan of making a couple here or there because I buy my flowers in bulk from the flower mart at the wholesale price. However, she made it worth my while, and the best part is... she let me just do whatever I wanted provided one was in pastels. So, this is what I came up with: (sorry for the crappy cell phone picts.)

Arrangement 1: Pretty in pink. Cafe Au Lait Dahlias along with this amazing King Protea were the main focus. Also used astilbe and varigated pittosporum as the greenery. Threw it in a birch container.

The other threeCollapse )
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May 5th Wedding. [May. 30th, 2012|09:32 pm]
Cross-posted from Weddingplans. (So, sorry if you saw this already, but I'm in LOVE with the pictures!!)

A while back, I was introduced through a friend to Jon and Margaret. We hit it off immediately. They're such a fun and creative couple! Over drinks at a birthday party, I agreed to help them out with flowers for their wedding.

Normally, when a couple tells me that they are going to DIY their own stuff, I get a little nervous. Some people, are very creative and talented and can execute well... others have the vision in mind, but fail to launch so to speak. These guys absolutely blew me out of the water.

When I first met with them, I was told they wanted to do a bunch of little bottles with collections of flowers around one larger lantern. Primary color being purple, but they wanted a BUNCH of different colors added to the mix. I pointed them to this wedding asking if this is kind of what they had in mind:

They loved it! So the process began. Overall for flowers, they had TWENTY EIGHT different kinds, which is the most I've ever had to prep. The LA flower market in late April is a virtual candy land of color and smells. Lilacs are in season, peonies are just coming out, there is every color under the sun. My list of flowers and greens included:
1. Mint
2. Purple Lilac
3. Blue Eryngium
4. Seeded Eucalyptus
5. Green Trick Dianthus
6. Pink Ranunculus
7. Salmon French Tulips
8. Billy Balls
9. Icelandic Poppies
10. Chamomile Daisies
11. Yellow Iris
12. Coral Peonies
13. Sherbet Orange Spray Roses
14. Tangerine Pin Cushions
15. Yellow Celosia
16. Purple Succulents
17. White Anenome
18. Purple Stock
19. Pink Dahlia
20. Maiden Hair
21. Pink Astilbe
22. Purple Carnation
23. Peach Stock
24. Green Mini Hydrangea
25. Disneyland Roses
26. Hot Pink Coxcomb
27. Scabiosa Pod
28. Lavender

Their wedding was held at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, which is a huge property with a ton of amazing photo opportunities. This is also where the newest Biggest Loser Resort is, and where they also shoot some of the exterior stuff for "True Blood".

I wanted to share with you all some of the details for their wedding which I thought made everything so amazingly personal and special.

What you really want is pictures!Collapse )
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Floral Business Update [Feb. 17th, 2012|01:46 pm]
In other news, a wedding that Kristeen LaBrot and I did got featured in California Wedding Day Magazine.

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Parties [Nov. 22nd, 2011|02:45 pm]
Threw a small dinner party last Saturday with our "LA Family" and Chicago parents. I'll post details later. Meanwhile, here's a teaser picture... I guess it turned out not half bad.


Oh yeah, still in love with the doily chandelier thingie I made for Kristeen's sis-in-law's shower
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Style Me Pretty [Oct. 10th, 2011|02:40 pm]
Oh, hi there. Guess who's work got featured again in Style Me Pretty? This time in their Little Black Book Blog.

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Fight Gone Bad 6 [Aug. 18th, 2011|02:54 pm]
I don't know what my problem is. I apparently like to abuse myself.
Just signed up for: Fight Gone Bad 6!

It's CrossFit's biggest fund raiser of the year. It's a grueling workout, probably the hardest 17min ever. Several CrossFit gyms will be participating and all the proceeds raised will go toward three deserving charities:

1. CrossFit Kids - This program teaches infants and toddlers the basics of water survival to prevent child drowning. To learn more you can visit their website

2. Special Operations Warrior Foundation - This program provides immediate financial assistance to families of wounded service members so they can travel to be with their loved ones. They also provide children of surviving warriors with a full college education. More information here

3. Camp Patriot - Taking disabled veterans on outdoor adventures at no cost to them.

What the workout entails:
5 stations, each station 1 min each as many reps as possible
1. Wall Balls with a 14lb med ball.
2. Sumo Deadlift High Pulls with a 55lb barbell.
3. Box Jumps with a 16" box
4. Push Press with a 55lb barbell
5. Row for calories on the row machine.

Rest 1 min and then repeat the above 5 stations twice more. 17min total workout.

Now to start bugging ye old family and friends to raise some funds for these charities!
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Improvements [Aug. 2nd, 2011|07:16 pm]
3 months ago I told husband I didn't ever think I'd be able to do a "boy" pushup.

This morning at class I did 9 toe pushups in a row, chest to deck and back up. No worming, no laying on the ground, no breaking form.

Next goal is hand stand pushups.
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Cupcake Extravaganza [Jul. 31st, 2011|07:19 pm]
Andrew's (the husband), birthday is coming up in two weeks. So we've been pondering what to do for him. We've thought about going to a restaurant vs hosting at home. Grilling vs getting dishes and throwing them in chafing containers. Etc.

Ultimately, we decided to host so our friend's children could come and run wild, and probably get stuff from a place to cater so Andrew can visit with friends and neither of us are stuck at the grill. Then it came down to cake stuff. I'm an okay baker. I'm sure given time, I could work better at my presentation etc. But other than the cake disaster of '07, I haven't really had a cake-tastrophe of epic proportions. I like baking over buying only because it makes it more personal to me. Someone bakes you a cake because they care. It takes time and energy and only special people get home-made cake.

Don't believe me? Here is some proof:
Cake Disaster of '07: (I don't know what I was thinking)
some had to be sacrificed to the sink gods the blue cake

Improved Caking two years later:
IMG_3883 IMG_3868

Here comes the conversation that ensues:
Me: "Hey, what flavor cake shall I make for your birthday?"
Andrew: "Um.. I dunno. Hey, what if we make cake pops of a few different flavors?"
(I start researching recipes and methods)
Me: "Um, cake pops look like a LOT of effort"
Andrew: "Okay, how about cupcakes?"
Me: "Well, it's your birthday. I'll start researching recipes and maybe we can do a test run this weekend."

So, I set to searching out the 70+ cupcake recipes on, printing out likely candidates and then started baking. I took the cupcakes to a friend's game night last night, and used the guests there as my test subjects seeking feedback. Unfortunately, I didn't really take any pictures. I should have. They weren't all that pretty, but really I was going for texture and taste... the look can always be improved on.

Here's what got made:

I have made this recipe before. It's the chocolate cake pictured above. It's a very dense and rich cake. The lavender in the cake batter add an interesting twist to the chocolate, and the salt in the chocolate orange butter cream frosting is what totally makes it. While it requires a little extra effort to make, it's worth it. My friend Or usually asks for it for his birthday. His wife Rose starts salivating at the slightest hint that the frosting is going to be made despite her allergies to dairy.
For the cupcake version, I learned how to make my own candied orange slices and garnished the top with them. IMO, the cupcake version might even be better than the cake due to how rich it is. You just have to watch your bake time so you don't dry anything out. Both Rose and Or lobbied hard to have this one make the cut.

This was a cupcake version of the above cake. Top garnished with fresh berries. While it tasted okay... there was nothing AMAZING about it. I might have overcooked the cake slightly as it was a little on the dry side and not as fluffy as I would have liked.

Andrew sampled this and blurted out "God DAMN that's good!" So, I'm guessing this one is going to make the cut. The reduced coconut milk in this recipe helped keep the cake light and moist. I garnished the top with lightly toasted coconut flakes. I would like a little more vanilla kick to it, so I'm going to go all out an use actual vanilla bean in addition. Also will probably try to get more of Rose's home-made vanilla extract made from the beans and whisky.

This got rave reviews on Epicurious. Per the suggestions of the other cooks online, I dropped the oil to only 1/2C and added 1/4c of apple sauce. While the batter appeared thin going into the oven, it thickened perfectly. I garnished the top with home-made candied carrot curls. I loved this cupcake and it was my favorite by far. The orange icing was a perfect compliment, and the cake was deliciously spiced.

These were also pretty delicious. Light and fluffy. The food dye I should have done without. I garnished with my own candied lime slices.

Again, delicious and seemed to go well for the crowd. Per Epicurious suggestion, I added a little spice. The over-ripe banana was PERFECT for this. I would recommend the cupcake even without the icing straight out of the oven. Andrew suggested adding a grape jelly dollop to the center of these for a banana, PB&J version. The frosting was fluffy and I garnished with some chopped up lightly toasted and salted peanuts.

These were pretty good. The frosting was a little runny and I wish I had had more time to set it. I garnished the top with some candied ginger chopped up and a slice of candied lemon slices. Or liked these as his second favorite. I thought they were pretty good, but not my ultimate favorite.

These were delicious but messy. I garnished the top with lemon-raspberry icing and a fresh raspberry on top. The middle had a dollop of seedless raspberry jelly. The cake was fluffy and light. The batter over-flowed a bit and kinda made a mess of things. But still, good to eat.

The winners for 2 wks from now are: #1, 3 and 4.

The five flavors I didn't get around to making but perhaps want to try:
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The Ant(s) Story. FOR YOU KARA [Jul. 18th, 2011|07:24 pm]
A couple days ago kutie_kara posted about an ant being discovered on her bed and her visceral reaction to it. It immediately made me think of the first place I lived in out here after I moved out of Anne's place.

Cindy and I lived in a 2bd 2.5 ba on the Glendale/Burbank border. The place was HUGE. In addition, it was on the 2nd and 3rd floor, so one would imagine there would be no bug issues. However, there was a reason why it was so cheap. Our landlord was a slum lord for all intense and purposes.

The building itself was infested with the small black ants. The fun thing is the apartments were arranged in a circle. So, one neighbor would complain of ants, spray, and the ants would just move to the next apartment over. Because of the ant issue, we had to really watch how we operated in the house. Food was not left out. Counters were religiously wiped down. And no food was brought upstairs to the bedrooms.

This did not help though as the ants seemed to be attracted to sweaty clothing. I still remember the day I moved in. After moving, I striped down leaving the sweaty clothes in a pile in the bathroom, showered and went out to dinner. I came back a couple hours later to discover ants ALL OVER the clothing. I was horrified. I do not like them, but I also didn't want to be spraying poison where I brush my teeth. Mint oil and Chinese chalk were invested in.

While this kept things under control for a while, after the rains in February, things got worse. The ants came out in droves. In addition, there was water damage to the property from excessive rains. Later in the spring, termites were discovered in our apartment. They would flutter and die on my roommate's bed. They ate the wood of our futon leaving small sawdust piles. They would then die, and the ants would come and eat their bodies. My roommate carefully collected the dead termites in a baggie to show the property manager telling him the property needed to get tented. We were told that they were "flying ants" and that we "didn't know what we were talking about."

To make maters worse, from the water damage, black mold evolved. I wasn't working at the time, and started getting sick... every month. I would develop an uncontrolled fever and sore throat for days at a time. Andrew would stay over and get sick too. The doctor told me I just needed to get my tonsils removed. Instead, I started a job, wasn't at the house that much, and shocker... didn't get sick any more.

We called the city on the landlord. Of course, the city calls them to warn them of the pending inspection. He came in without warning or permission, vacuumed up the termites and painted over the black mold. The city still got him on the water damage. Ultimately, we moved out as soon as the lease was up. Months later, I drove by the place and low and behold... the building was tented!

Anyway, from that place come two of my favorite ant related stories:

1. One night I came home from swing dancing. It was around 2A. Completely wiped and forgetting about ants and sweaty clothing, I striped and stumbled into bed. When I awoke, there was a trail of ants going from my bedroom window, around the room to the far side along the ceiling, and then down and to the pile of clothing. And they were slowly starting to come up the bedspread when I caught them. I flipped out. I mean, WTF??? I live on the damn 3rd floor!!!

2. When we were moving out of the place, I noticed a crap ton of dead ants under the fridge after it got moved. Looking at the wall, I noticed a small crack and a soft spot along the wall where the fridge connected to the water pipe. I touched the spot, and the crack gave way. At that point a ton of live ants came spilling out of the walls. Yes the ants had been living amongst the walls the whole time!!! I screeched in revulsion, then grabbed the can of Raid and sprayed for all I was worth.
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CP Results [Jul. 15th, 2011|02:54 pm]
Okay, so I'm not 100% sold on the twig thingie. I think the bride likes it because it's "Secret Garden"-ish.

However, I'd say it's a fairly good imitation of the inspiration photos taking the bride's colors into account.

Now to rinse and repeat 16 more times.



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