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Posts from the ‘The Lonely Bouquet’ Category

Labor of Love: Valentine’s Day Lonely Bouquets

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

I hope your day has been love-ly and full of warmth, whether it be thanks to a special someone, a close loved one, or a furry friend. What started out as an (overly)optimistically sunny day has come to a very wet and windy end. But never fear! The sudden change in weather didn’t dampen my plans for launching a flower frenzy throughout the surrounding villages and cities.

I gathered a few bits and pieces from the garden- mossy twigs, herbs, hellebores, snowdrops, skimmia, and scented geranium leaves- before heading back inside to assemble a variety of Valentine’s Day Lonely Bouquets.

While arranging the bouquets, I was in seventh heaven thanks to the divine combination of hyacinths and rose geraniums. Yum!

The big bunch of tulips and hefty assortment of hyacinths that I had brought home from the market got split up into seven pretty posies. I printed out some “take me!” tags, tucked the bouquets safely into the trunk of the car, and headed out on my undercover mission to spread some love this Valentine’s Day.

Pausing for mere seconds to snap a few “in situ” shots, I stopped at various bus stops, parking lots, crosswalks, city benches, and train stations across town.

Despite the steady sprinkle of rain, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly my little labors of love disappeared. Most were gone within minutes!

The biggest surprise came as we were waiting to pick up our oh-so-romantic to-go order for Thai food. We were sitting, enjoying the intoxicating aroma of fresh basil, chili, and coriander when a man rushed in carrying one of the bouquets. He popped behind the counter, grinning from ear to ear and giggling with the waitresses and cooks. He handed the flowers to one of them before sitting down to eat his meal. What are the odds?!

I honestly can’t imagine a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Sharing the love with others and spreading secret smiles fills my heart with so much happiness. I was also lucky to have a handsome helper keeping me company during the distribution process… and the dinner was great! :)

Wishing you all a wonderful day and sending you lots of love!

Love is All You Need

Good evening, lovebirds!

Are you guys getting ready for tomorrow’s celebrations? Do you do anything fun or fancy on Valentine’s Day, or do you choose, instead, to boycott the materialism and fakery? Whether you’re a devout supporter and romantic at heart or a partypooper, there’s no denying one very special and deeply rooted relationship… of course I’m talking about the hot and steamy love affair between flowers and Valentine’s Day.

It’s with this undeniably special relationship in mind that I plan to take to the streets tomorrow, wearing my very best flower fairy attire, in order to sprinkle some floral fairy dust throughout our local villages.

A trip to the flower market resulted in a treasure trove of romantic beauties. I ended up coming back home with an extremely large bushel of tulips and an equally huge bundle of hyacinths. Something about the pastel shades of hyacinths, the soft lilacs, pale pinks, and creamy whites… they look as ravishingly beautiful as they smell.

I plan to pair these little lovelies with some snowdrops, pussy willows, skimmia, and anything else I can gather from the garden. Perhaps even the first of the hellebores? Although I’m a bit afraid that they are too fresh still to enjoy a lengthy lifespan after being snipped from the garden… hmmm.

Should you be curious as to the secret message these flowers will carry with them, you’ll be happy to know that hyacinths in general impart a playful message, while white hyacinths in particular stand for unobtrusive loveliness and blue hyacinths stand for constancy. Tulips are used as a declaration of love… ooh-la-la! Should I choose to add a hellebore here and there… well, that would add a touch of scandal to the bouquet! Maybe it’s best to leave them out? ;)

If you happen to be out and about around Maastricht and its surrounding villages, and if you happen to be feeling a bit glum on V-Day, be on the look-out for a lovely little Lonely Bouquet! I’m sure these friendly flowers would very much enjoy your company and fill your heart with love.

An American Tourist in Paris

Hello there, everyone, and welcome to the weekend! Well… for those of you visiting from the US, I suppose I’d better wish you a happy Friday instead. You’re almost there! :)

This week we’ve done a bit of touring around Paris. Are your feet getting sore yet from all of the walking? After scouting out some local gems and strolling around several characteristic quartiers, I suppose it’s time that we hit a few tourist traps. Although I’ve visited these quintessential Parisian hotspots before and have, thus, neglected them during subsequent visits, this time I felt drawn to check them out once again. Sometimes a few years and a fresh focus can bring out new details and give you a new perspective.

First up, Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomph. Although packed with tourists even on an early January afternoon, the flow of pedestrian traffic was smooth enough to enjoy a stroll along the massive rows of shops that make up the Champs-Élysées. There are several boutiques and specialty shops, for all of you chic shoppers, but also plenty of cafes and well-known department stores.

The Arc de Triomph is a beautiful construction… and always bigger than I remember it. For a fee you can choose to march all the way to the top of the monument for a scenic view over Paris. If you’re still a youngin’, the best part about most of the monuments is that they are free to EU residents under 26 (and all other international visitors under 25). Oh to travel a few years back in time…

Another sight-seeing stop I’d marked on my map was the medieval cathedral of Sainte-Chapelle. Tucked between the buildings of the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris, the cathedral appears unassuming from the exterior. The interior, however, reveals a “jewel box” of a chapel fully enclosed with floor to ceiling stained glass windows. It’s really only one room, though… so don’t expect anything too outrageous or extensive for the 8.50 euro entry price.

And then, of course, the Eiffel Tower. The grandiose icon of Paris. What a lovely lady she is.

We first caught sight of her from Trocadéro Square (probably one of the better and most picturesque views of the tower you’ll find). We didn’t take the stairs or the elevator up to the top this time… instead, our source of entertainment came in the form of bird poop. As we were admiring the structure from below, Monsieuropean got pooped on by a bird. Ha! For once it wasn’t me getting a little extra special souvenir from our flying friends.

Last, but not least, we decided to take the last of our flower friends to a fabulously fitting drop-off spot, the Louvre. We left her atop one of the marble pillars where countless tourists posed for photos with their finger hovering above the tip of the museum’s pyramid. First she was ignored, then she was tossed aside by an American tourist (boo…), until finally two young ladies rescued her from despair. They read her tag, took some pictures, and then called over a gaggle of their girlfriends to check out their lucky find!

It was cute to watch them pose for pictures, the Lonely Bouquet in hand :)

So there you have it… the final chapter of our adventures in Paris. I hope that you enjoyed being a virtual tourist and traveling vicariously to a scattering of places in Paris, both tourist traps and off the beaten path. Thanks so much for joining me! It’s be great fun going back through the pictures and being reminded again of all the special memories :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Locks of Love

Paris. Ah, the city of romance.

Sure, like most major cities, it suffers from dirty sidewalks, petty crime, graffiti, and homelessness… but that can’t overpower the air of passion, creativity, intimacy and pride emanating from its buildings and people alike. Perhaps the “Paris is for lovers” seed has been so deeply rooted in our minds that we see walk through the city wearing a pair of rose colored glasses, or perhaps the city really does have that special je ne sais quoi… or maybe I’ve just watched “Amélie” one too many times. Who knows!

I definitely know a few folks who don’t particularly care for Paris, but, as for me, its idiosyncrasies and roughness around the edges only add to its shabby chic charm. And what more charming spot to visit than the Pont des Arts, an arched metal pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine.

In recent years it’s become something of a symbol of romance for traveling couples… a mecca for lovers, if you will. Legend has it that those who “lock up” their love and toss the key into the river will enjoy a lifelong commitment to one another. By now the metal bridge is buried underneath a thick layer of “love locks”, each sealed with its own unique tale of romance.

The locks are literally all over. Lamp posts, railings, grates… you name it. Just for the record, we didn’t have a go at locking up our love. We did, however, have a fun time perusing the variety of names, quotes, shapes and dates included on each lock.

The bridge doesn’t just symbolize love in the romantic sense. If you’re familiar with the film “Amélie” (one of my personal all-time faves), you might recall that it was here, upon the Pont des Arts, that the mysteriously fabulous protagonist experiences a deep sense of harmony and an overwhelming urge to help mankind. It’s here that she makes the decision to commit small acts of kindness to help those around her.

It’s with this understanding of romance that I felt myself drawn to the bridge… what better spot to leave behind a little random act of flowers.

I didn’t hear back from the flowers, but I hope that, in their own little way, they helped to add to the enigma of Paris. Perhaps they convinced a tourist or two that Paris really is the city of romance :)

A Beautiful Blossom in a Bulb

“Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn.” – William Arthur Ward

What a touching quote. It’s with great patience, forethought, imagination, and sweat that a garden is grown. Nothing happens overnight, and you can bet your bottom booty that nothing will happen without a little (or a lot!) of elbow grease. To me, that’s the great gift of a gardener- to see beauty in something as small as a scraggly-looking seed, to see the potential for so much life in something that, to the naked eye, looks pretty darn dead, and to provide just the right circumstances and tender loving care needed to help the garden grow.

This winter, my big plan was to expand the selection of spring flowers in the cutting garden. With just a handful of daffodils and tulips sporadically scattered around the borders, spring has been the only growing season with scarcely any flowers.

Terribly tardy, I set about placing an order for spring bulbs right before the cut-off date for deliveries arrived. Oops. Days later, I received a carefully packaged set of crates packed to the brim with spring bulbs and lots of extra goodies. Many thanks to Fluwel for the top quality bulbs, gifts, and speedy delivery. Yay!

A fun variety of bulbs in an array of colors and textures has been slowly making its way into the garden. Each day, I’ve dedicated an allotted amount of time to cleaning out the gaps between the roses and planting the promise of sweet spring flowers.

Deep reds, peaches, purples, and whites… I’m keeping my fingers crossed that most (all?) of the bulbs will gather their strength during the winter in order to put on a stellar performance come spring.

This is all a bit new to me, so I can only have faith and trust that there’s a beautiful blossom just waiting to explode from every bulb! :)

The Last of the Lonely Bouquets

Hello, everyone!

Another weekend has come and gone, which means that another Monday awaits! Yippee, right? Well, after all of my musings over what to do with the dwindling garden, it seems that a killer frost came along and made my decisions a whole lot easier. I guess my reverse psychology worked! Now all I have to do is get up off of my lazy but and get to work :)

On Friday evening, I could sense a chill in the air and had a sneaking suspicion that a frost might settle in overnight. In preparation for a potential case of sudden death, I waltzed around the garden with my cutting shears and picked the rest of the blossoms and buds. In combination with some left-overs I had at home (dramatically dark-centered anemone and white roses), I fashioned up three of this season’s very last Lonely Bouquets.

Dahlias, inherited garden roses and one large Terracota rose, lupines, painted sage, and sweet peas were the best that the tired garden could muster up. Luckily the left-overs added a little extra “oomph” to the posies.

I headed down to the local abbey, where under the careful supervision of a flock of sheep, I went about leaving the Lonely Bouquets behind.

The first of our flower friends was placed on a wooden bench frequented by walkers and hikers. Luckily for these frost-bitten flowers, they didn’t have to brave the chilly temperatures for long. It didn’t take but a few minutes for the bouquet to get swooped up and taken home!

The second brrrrr-bouquet was placed in front of the arching entryway to the abbey’s courtyard. It was still patiently waiting when I drove away… so I can only hope that someone gave the flowers some shelter.

It looked, to me, like Maria could use a bit of company. I like to think of it as a win-win situation- both Maria and the flowers could enjoy each other’s company. Even if the bouquet didn’t find a new home right away, at least it wouldn’t be all that lonely.

Then it was time for me to part ways with the very last of my flower friends… to drive back home empty handed.

I can only think of all the fun that awaits, hidden in the hopes and dreams of next year’s garden. Who knows what adventures we’ll get up to when springtime rolls around! :)

Lonely Bouquets Branching Out

Good evening, everyone!

How are you guys enjoying the onset of the chilly season? Getting comfy-cozy inside, or still playing in the garden? I’ve been trying to do a bit of both, although I notice that my body can’t handle much heavy labor these days. I did a bit of transplanting yesterday and felt it almost immediately in my lower back and hips… odd. It’s a bummer not being able (at least temporarily) to do the kind of garden work that I’m used to. Surely my body is busy diverting all of its energy to the little lady in waiting who is growing bigger every day. So worth it :)

Since I’m not all that able to keep busy in the garden, it’s been a welcome surprise that the late-blooming flowers have allowed me to continue spreading Lonely Bouquets. Today’s bouquets consisted of a few simple bundles of fall-infused hydrangeas and a sprinkling of other flowers from the cutting garden. While taking care of some grocery shopping and other errands, I left a trail of Lonely Bouquets behind around Gulpen.

One on a bus stop bench… another near the parking machine…

And, finally, one last bouquet for the park-goers of Gulpen.

I haven’t yet heard back from any of the Berlin bouquets, but a lovely lady named Nancy has already let me know that the park bouquet has found a happy home!

In addition to my little floral contributions, I wanted to share something special with you guys. It was recently brought to my attention that The Shops, an adult vocational training program run by Devereux in Devon, Pennsylvania, has embraced the Lonely Bouquet idea and made it a weekly event. Every Friday, employees and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities go around the local community dropping off bouquets and spreading the love.

I think it’s wonderful that a program like this can use the Lonely Bouquets as a way to encourage their members to actively participate in creating a more tight-knit, caring community. What a great, great way to increase understanding, forge new relationships, and open people’s hearts.

I can only hope that more organizations might pick up on the idea… maybe even hospitals, halfway houses, women’s centers and retirement homes? Spreading smiles and making other people feel good can add a sense of purpose to person’s life. I know that giving back to the community and expressing myself through flowers has sure given my life new meaning.

Anywho, I thought you guys might get a kick out of this new branch of Lonely Bouquet-ing. How fun!

Wishing you a wonderful day, evening, or night… wherever you might be! :)

Bouquets for Berlin

Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed your weekend and made the most of your time off. Ours seemed to fly by, but I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Today was actually another “off” day for us here in Belgium, as the 11th of the 11th is both Armistice Day and the start of the Carnival season. While I didn’t participate in any official celebrations, I did get to partake in a little flower fun and meet up with a lovely local lady! :)

I awoke with a startle after squinting out of the window through sleepy eyes at a field full of frost. Eek! Luckily for me and my flowers, I had raided the garden the day before and brought lots of blooms inside. Not that I can congratulate myself on making a conscious decision based on a careful review of weather predictions and frost fears… nope. In a stroke of pure luck, I had brought the flowers inside with the intent to create a few Lonely Bouquets destined to travel far and wide.

Hydrangea heads from my in-laws garden, sweet peas (!!!), red and magenta dahlias, amaranth, dark queen anne’s lace, painted sage, anemone, roses, snapdragons and Sweet William all breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of enjoying a cozy evening in the living room.

The quirky qualities of the late season flowers are especially fun. Rather than tall singular spikes of indigo blue-colored foliage, the painted sage gets an aged makeover. In a hastened attempt to put on one last show, it generates a cluster of short antique-looking stems. None the less striking than their earlier-season cousins, these beauties exude charm and personality.

I still can’t believe that I’m cutting sweet peas in November… sowing a scattering of seeds in June is most definitely something I’ll be doing in the years to come. What a wonderful way to prolong the growing season of such a staple flower for romantics and perfume-lovers!

After tying on the “take me” tags in both German and English, I tucked the bouquets into their travel box and loaded them into the car.

We took a short drive to Bakhuis, one of my favorite spots for fresh-from-the-farm ice cream and soup, to meet up with a lovely lady named Jenny. After her friend happened upon a Lonely Bouquet, Jenny was eager to find out more about the project… and with a trip planned to visit her daughter in Berlin, she was inspired to bring a few flower friends along for the ride!

It’s always so much fun to meet up with passionate locals. It’s like going on a little blind date… anxious to see one-another for the first time, excited to get to know someone new, and eager to share in some flower fun! :)

I hope you’ll join me in wishing Jenny and the flowers a very safe and happy trip to Berlin. You’re probably just as excited as I am to hear all about the adventures our blossom buddies will enjoy abroad! :)

Lonely and Looking for Love in Aachen

Hello, hello!

After a (major) adjustment period of stormy weather and gusty winds, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to a vision of blue skies and *gasp* sunshine! Given our late autumn abundance of dahlias and random sprinkling of everlasting annuals, I figured that today would be as good a day as any to spread a little flower power around the area. Since we happened to be heading to Aachen for a doctors appointment, I seized the opportunity and loaded up the trunk with six freshly-picked Lonely Bouquets.

The dahlias, anemone, ornithigalum, lupines, amaranthus, coral bells, fall foliage and roses made for a colorful display within their tightly-packed transportation box.

Our first stop was the central train station located a hop, skip and a jump from the old downtown area. I left one bouquet within the entry hall and the other outside on a bench. Hopefully the commuters and tourists weren’t in such a hurry that they rushed past the lonely flowers!

Next up was a bench near a sweet-singing, guitar-playing man. Another pink and purple posy was left at the base of a bronze statue downtown. They were picked up by Emanuel and his girlfriend, who in turn paid the flowers forward and made a stranger smile!

Another small arrangement was left in good company to ensure that it’s wait wouldn’t be all that lonely. In fact, a cute couple swooped it up before I could barely cross the street!

Our last bouquet of the day was plunked down right in the middle of a busy through-way in the city center.

Coincidentally, my sister also decided to spread a little flower power of her own in Glendale. Her sweet bouquet of garden-grown dahlias, lavender, and geranium leaves surely made a coffee-lover smile! :)

So there you have it, another unexpectedly and unseasonably late Lonely Bouquet distribution… let’s hope we’ll be able to squeeze in a few more before the frost comes and ruins all of our flower fun!

I hope you all have a wonderful day, and I can’t wait to see you again tomorrow :)

A New Way to Lonely Bouquet

Happy Monday, everyone!

I don’t know if Monday’s are “happy” days for you, or if you’d rather the weekend just last a little longer? I suppose my opinion of Monday falls somewhere in the middle. Don’t love it, don’t hate it. Nevertheless, I try to make the most of it!

During various outings on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, I dispersed a handful of Lonely Bouquets throughout both my own neighborhood and a village or two further away. It’s always fun leaving a little trail of flowers wherever I go!

Today, in combination with getting a few necessary errands taken care of, I brought a bag-full of bouquets to Maastricht. It was the perfect opportunity to try out a new tagging method that we’ve developed to make the whole Lonely Bouquet process more interactive and streamlined… so much fun!

From the local abbey to the local watering hole, flowers from the garden made the autumn landscape a bit brighter. I even saw a cute couple walking away with the bouquet of sunflowers and dahlias pictured above. I couldn’t help but smile as I tried to hide the other handful of flowers behind my back. They must have spotted the half-hidden flowers, though, because the lady smiled and said “thank you!” :)

A couple folks from Saturday evening sent nice messages after finding the bouquets, but I didn’t hear anything on Sunday. Funny how that goes sometimes. It’s really seems to be a hit or miss kind of thing. No biggy. As long as I know that the flowers found happy homes, I’m a happy camper!

Today, however, I printed out a whole new set of tags… outfitted with a nifty-looking QR code and adoption key, these tags make it easier for tech-savvy folks on the go to check in and report their adoption. It’s all part of the new website dedicated to the Lonely Bouquet. It’s still in its baby phase, but I thought that it would be fun to show you guys first!

I was a bit worried that the advanced technology might throw some people off or take away from the charm of finding the abandoned flowers. Pushing my fears aside, I decided to take the new tags for a test drive and see how the locals reacted…

Success!!! Out of the five bouquets I left around Maastricht this afternoon, four were officially “adopted” and two friendly finders even uploaded super cute pictures!

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that the reaction rate was so high this time or if people actually prefer the new adoption process. Maybe some people don’t have facebook, or are wary of sharing their find on a social network? Maybe some people just like the spontaneity of sharing the good news on the go? Either way, it gave me a big smile to see so many happy faces!

Feel free to use the new site for your own bouquets (if you should want to spread some smiles of your own), and let me know how you like it! We’ll be making some tweaks here and there in order to ensure that everything is in proper working order, but it’s already ready to be used by any and all of my flower friends :)

Have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you tomorrow!