Monday, November 23, 2009

Art, Flowers, and Velvet Pumpkins

One of the things I so love about Fredericksburg is the abundance of creative people who have chosen to live here. I can count shop after shop of individuals who have a special gift for creating their own niche in our wonderful town.
While Main Street is the obvious locale for a lot of these special spots, I continue to stumble upon "hidden treasure". One of my favorites is Sprout, created by Michelle Hodges and Rhoda Reynolds. Sprout is not hidden by any means, but has evolved over the last few years and is now tucked into a wonderful old German house just a block off of Main Street.

Peeking in the door, one can see beautiful fresh flowers and wonderful vignettes of vintage accessories and local art.

I love the mix of vintage items, art, gifts, and flowers, each in beautiful composition.

My favorite
find on the day I visited were the velvet pumpkins, made with with gorgeous velvet and real pumpkin stems in an array of yummy colors.

I love the colors, with names like harvest, merlot and rose.

Without further ado, I'd like to share my visit with Michelle, one of the two creators of the wonderful Sprout.

Cute Michelle, working on a custom arrangement, was most accommodating and happy to share her story!

When did you first begin selling flowers? What was the original concept and will you describe the setting you began with? (I am thinking of those days I would see you or Rhoda sitting on the porch swing next door to the Peach Tree, but that may have not been the beginning....)

Sprout began in 2005 as a simple flower stand that was open a few days a week--initially on the porch of a vacant building and later in the courtyard outside Rather Sweet bakery. Both settings were quite picturesque, but only when the weather cooperated.

How did the original concept develop?

I've always been inspired by the appreciation Europeans have for fresh flowers. Even in the poorest countries, it is customary to take flowers when going to some one's house for a meal. I love the idea of seeing them almost as an essential part of daily life rather than a luxury. This appreciation has led to some incredible flower shops as well. I lived in England for a bit and in the nearby market town, which was similar in size to Fredericksburg, there were three flower shops within two blocks of the High Street--each very unique and very busy.

How has the concept grown over the years and what other services/products do you provide?

A flower stand has its limitations, so when a space became available, we expanded into more of a flower market which enabled us to carry more product and eventually we added gift items as well. The first week we were open, we were asked to book a wedding and that has now become a large part of our business as well as offering arrangements for special occasions and events.

How did you begin having art shows in the shop?

We have always had art on display at Sprout. It was just part of the aesthetic that I wanted in the shop. When Fredericksburg began promoting a monthly art walk, we joined in. We don't necessarily have a show every month, but we have had six in the last year and I've really enjoyed seeing them come together. Most of the artists have been local and I love being part of such a creative community.

What is your favorite part of the business?

It has to be shopping for the flowers. Yes, its about the customer and the end product, but going into the flower cooler always makes me happy. This may sound a bit cheesy, but I once saw a movie where Christian Slater delivered flowers. When asked why, he said because of the expression on the people's faces when they opened the door--that's pretty good too.

Are all of your customers local?

walk-in customers tend to be local, but most of our wedding business tends to be people from out of town. Fredericksburg has become quite a popular place for destination weddings.

Sprout is also available for custom arrangements and multiple flowers for special events, be it a small dinner party or a huge fiesta! Love the flowers shown here.........

Sprout filled tin cans from a Mexican grocery store for a Mexican themed dinner party.

Aren't they fun!

Of course, with access to this fabulous old rock building, Michelle couldn't let the upstairs go unused, so true to her creative nature, she opened the most charming bed and breakfast, called, what else? Flowerbed!

For more information click here.

Thank you so much, Michelle, for sharing the story of Sprout with me.

Oh............and did I mention that a few velvet pumpkins came home with me? Just perfect for the season, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I can't tell you how much fun it has been to read everyone's comments on my kitchen dilemma. Thank you all so, so much! I have been considering everyone's opinions and suggestions and will probably continue to do so over the holiday season.

I plan to really study my options - creamy whites, colors, painting all the cabinetry versus just some, perhaps leaving the island the natural pine, figuring out how to make whatever I do cohesive with the rest of the house - I don't know. Hopefully the new year will bring clarity.

 Photo by Nathan Schroder, House Beautiful, November 2007

Meanwhile, here is one of my all time favorite kitchens, designed by Shannon Bowers of Dallas. I am crazy about the antique tile back splash, the simplicity of the cabinetry and hardware, the big window with a simple shade, and the built in shelves for display. I know, it's not a big, fancy designer looking kitchen - it just speaks to my heart. I could be happy here.

  I realize it isn't remotely like what I've got to work with, but I love it all the same! Hmmmm.......did I mention that I love painted floors?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Design Help Needed!

I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in Texas, old long leaf pine is considered gold. I have a house full of it and am afraid to admit to anyone locally that I am so tired of it! Please don't misunderstand - I have an appreciation for the fine work that was done in building this classic hill country house. I know the materials are special. I just would not have used so much pine had I designed the house. It is literally everywhere - doors, windows, cabinetry in the bathrooms, closets, and kitchen.

In an attempt to lighten our kitchen we have talked about ........ssshhhhhhh........painting the cabinets. We have black granite counters, beautiful stone doorways, some natural light, but not as much as I would like.

When we first moved in I had the ceiling beams whitewashed and the little bit of wall area painted yellow. That gave us a little more light.......just not enough. Now I am just tired of so much pine everywhere I look. I collect images of kitchens I love and long for a crisp, white kitchen or a kitchen of beautiful colors like the one I posted about here.

  What do you think of our idea? I am open to opinions and suggestions!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Traveling Dog Love

My pal, Buddy......making my days a little more interesting all the time!

I just read my friend, Joan's, latest post on her blog, for the love of a house, and was so moved that I took Joan's suggestion to copy it here to pass the word. In this time of discouraging news everywhere we turn, this is a positive story of good people making an impact in the land of dogs. None of us can fix the world, but we can jump in and make things better one step at a time.

If you are an animal lover, or just interested in doing the right thing, you will enjoy reading about these great efforts.

Here is what Joan has to say:

When we moved to New Hampshire we were shocked and surprised to learn that most of the animal shelters here are empty of stray or abandoned dogs. After asking questions and investigating we learned that this was due to New Hampshire's strict spay and neuter laws. While this is true, I think it has more to do with what is acceptable, and in this part of the country it is simply not acceptable to dump a dog, or let your dog run amuck and have liter after liter of puppies. We have lived here for almost two years now, and while we live in a very rural area we have never seen a single stray dog. What we do see is car after car with a dog or two, or three inside.... this is one dog loving state!

We found sweet Ella at the Dallas SPCA which, as of today, has 12 pages of adoptable dogs..... We once thought we would have to drive back to Dallas to get Ella a "sister," but we recently became aware of a shelter in Alabama with an amazing group of volunteers who drive vans of dogs from over-populated shelters in the South all the way to New Hampshire (and Maine) to find their forever homes! The Shelby Humane Society is a shelter who partners with humane societies across the country that are in need of animals to adopt. It's a win/win situation. I am so very awe-struck by the kind hearted individuals who take days out of their busy lives to drive these lucky, lucky dogs states away to find people who will love them. I think they are angels...

Jenifer Wallis & Jenny Miller are two of the angels that will embark on such a trip this Saturday, November 7th... Please click on their blog and read how these two adorable Alabama girls are going to rescue a van full of dogs and bring them to New Hampshire!
Please, please if you can- donate money to this very worthy cause, even $5 will add up and help these shelter dogs! (If you are another blogger please feel free to copy this post and spread the word!) There are three easy ways to donate on the site....

Stay tuned to their blog as they will also do posts along their journey!


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