Friday, October 30, 2009

High Voltage Ranch: Farm Fresh Eggs

This is the last (sniff, sniff) post I'll have on High Voltage Ranch this week. I wanted to show you the roosters who run around the property and the hens. Our friends at the ranch gave us two dozen farm fresh eggs from these hens, so we are tremendously grateful to them all! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Stay tuned for the "harvest" photo results on Monday. We're doing a mini photo shoot tomorrow for it and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Dahlia Dell: Purple and Orange

Here are three photos I had left that I wanted to share. In person, the purple dahlias were almost as big as my head! Completely stunning.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Old Tom Foolery Interview

Today I’m super excited to share an interview with the funny and talented founders of Old Tom Foolery, a San Francisco-based letterpress card company. Lauren Weinblatt and Joel Gryniewski are not only engaged to be married, they are business partners! Read more for insights into the letterpress field and what it takes to start a business.
LPF: Have you always been creative?

Lauren: When I was little I took art and music lessons, but I always thought I would have to find a “legitimate” profession like being a doctor. In college I wound up with an internship at an ad agency and I realized that being creative can be a job.
Joel: I had to work on the perception that I’m a creative person. Everybody’s creative, but it takes courage to call yourself a “creative person.” I was more into sports than art when I was younger, and I was a good student, so I considered going into business or journalism. But ultimately I wanted to do something more creative than that.
LFP: Did you always want to run your own business?

Lauren: I always sold stuff even when I was a kid – clay animals, jewelry – but I never thought it would turn into a career.
Joel: I thought entrepreneurship would mean that I’d have to read the Wall Street Journal every day and that’s not me. But I love running OTF because it doesn’t always feel like work.

LPF: How did you decide to start making cards?
L and J: When we were both in grad school for advertising in Richmond, Virginia, we courted each other with cool cards from an awesome shop called Mongrel. ( As we bought more and more cards, we got inspired to start learning about the greeting card industry, which seemed to be run by individuals like us. With our advertising background it seemed like something that might be achievable.
LPF: Why letterpress cards?

L and J: We really love and appreciate the craft and tactile nature of letterpress cards. Also, it seemed practical and hands-on: we could buy a press and print cards ourselves, rather than working with a vendor. We found a press on Craigslist and then some learned some printing fundamentals at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Other letterpress companies, like Susie from Carrot & Stick were really helpful too. Then, we used the press to create all our prototype cards.

LPF: How did you start actually selling your cards?

L and J: We launched at the National Stationery Show in NYC in May 2008. We wanted to launch big and treat our business like a real company, since our goal, after all, is to do something we love but still have a successful business. In order to do this, we knew we wouldn’t be able to continue working full-time in advertising. So starting in January 2008, we began focusing on getting ready for the trade show and only worked part-time in advertising.LPF: How did the show go?
L and J: We made some mistakes, like not having the best lighting for our booth, but it was a great learning experience and we went back again this year. Everything needs to be shipped to NY which makes it expensive – local vendors have such an advantage! Regardless, we’ve really enjoyed being part of the show and have made some friends through it.

LPF: Has it been hard to maintain both personal and business relationships?
L and J: Actually, it hasn’t been that challenging, because we met as partners in ad school so in a sense, we’ve always been working together. The hardest part is shutting off at the end of the day, since the company is completely intertwined with our lives and also our apartment, which is the OTF headquarters. We still enjoy working together and in some ways, it helps that we can be brutally honest with each other!

LPF: One parting question: What's your best advice for people starting small businesses in an economy ours?
L and J: Be smart, but go for it. If a business can succeed in a time like this, you know there's only one way it can go from here -- and that's up!

For more about Old Tom Foolery, check out their blog and online shop.

Thanks Lauren and Joel!

Dahlia Dell: Yellow

I've never seen the lemon and white dahlias before. I kind of want to eat them. Yum!

High Voltage Ranch: Leonardo and Paco

Leonardo is a barbados sheep who was rejected by his mom and then bottle-fed / raised by the owners of High Voltage. He is beyond adorable, and has some serious identity issues. He thinks he is a dog or even a person, and is never more than 6 inches away from his human "dad." He never even hangs out with all the other barnyard animals! He is the cutest, I am dying to have my own barbados sheep now.

Paco is a cool horse and when I walked across the pasture, walked behind me and nudged my back for attention. Prosh!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dahlia Dell: Pink

There is a plethora of pink dahlias. This is just a smattering of what nature has to offer!

High Voltage Ranch: Out to Pasture

Every day the goats, sheep and cows go out to pasture. They group together and wait by the gate. Then they march, in a very focused way, towards the fields. It is really funny to see how orderly they are, and it makes me pretend they hear a little drumbeat that I couldn't. I posted the pictures in sequential order so all you city folk can experience the animals heading to pasture just like I did. Any pasture stories on your end?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dahlia Dell: Red

Sigh. What is more lovely than that little red pompom dahlia at the top? It's like a textured velvet pillow and I want one for my bed!

High Voltage Ranch: Ursula and Francine

Ostensibly this blog is about flowers and design, but I'm also very interested in creative inspiration and where / how people find it.

Forgive me for pointing out what is probably obvious to regular readers, but I find inspiration in nature and especially in animals. And especially rescue animals who've managed to come through rough circumstances and remain gentle and sweet. Two such animals who live at High Voltage Ranch are Ursula, a German Shepherd, and Francine the pig.

Ursula was saved from a puppy mill and has truly prospered on the ranch. She is a loving, gentle dog, and her favorite activity by a long shot is herding the farm animals, which drives them nuts! But you can't change nature, folks, she's a sheep herder through and through. The picture below where all the goats are clustered together - that's because Ursula herded them into a corner. She also herded cows, chickens and us people throughout the day. I am glad she has such a happy and entertaining home now!

Francine, who is a little bit hard to see in her picture, was saved from a voodoo practitioner who planned to sacrifice her. She is blind, but happy, lazy and well-fed. She shares her area with a peacock and is next to many, many hens. When we arrived at the ranch, she even wandered by to say hello, before Ursula herded her back into cozy pen.

I am so glad people like Oscar and Jim, who own the ranch, provide refuge to animals who need it!

P.S.animal stories and pictures of putting the goats and cows out to pasture tomorrow.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

My fiance and I spent a lovely, perfect day at High Voltage Ranch in Capay Valley this weekend. It is a beautiful agricultural valley next to Napa, and has many wineries and organic farms.

I have a number of stories to write about the ranch, but I thought I'd start with some inspirational peeks at the Valley itself. More about High Voltage Ranch, and its plethora of animals, rescued and otherwise, tomorrow!

Dahlia Dell: White

I'll be posting different colored dahlias from the Dahlia Dell in Golden Gate Park every day this week. Enjoy the eye candy!

Dahlia Dell and Conservatory of Flowers

I've been spending as much of Indian summer as I can in Golden Gate Park, soaking up sunshine before winter fog rolls in. I'm not sure if many of you have been to the Dahlia Dell, which is next to the Conservatory of Flowers, but it is a gem that you must seek out!

I was there this weekend, and there are so many spectacular dahlias, I decided to post them every day this week, sorted by color.

Here are some pictures of the dell. Next up, white dahlias :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flowers Inspired By...Next Week's Theme

Hello - next week's theme is "harvest." Submit a link in the comments to whatever "harvest" evokes for you. Please submit by Wednesday! Thanks.

P.S. Stay tuned for lots of great content this week, including an interview with a woman who runs letterpress company and lots of pictures from High Voltage Ranch, where I was privileged enough to spend today!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flowers Inspired By...Cozy

I'm so excited to share this pairing! In case you haven't been following, every week I post a different theme (this week's was cozy) and you respond in the comments with a link to something that exemplifies that feeling for you. I then create floral arrangements inspired by your ideas.

LPF received just lovely, inspiring submissions, and I can't overstate how hard it was to select one to work with for the flowers. In the end, I went with the only poem submitted. It's by one of my favorite poets that I've ever read, and the author is one of the reasons I became an English major in college! I know, that's saying a lot, and now I'm really coming out as a complete nerd on this site, but what can I saw, it's true. So thanks to my dear friend Liz for reminding my of Eavan Boland's exquisite poetry.

For the flowers, I wanted to capture the moment of dusk, my very favorite time of day, as perfectly as the author did. I focused on various shades of blues and purples, ranging from cool to warm. There are also some warm golden and orangey hues to add more warmth and reflect a setting sun. Plus frosty blues and a little black that reminds of silhouettes. I am not sure I've worked with a palette exactly like this before and I am just in love with the flowers right now, especially the tea-stained purple-blue hydrangea.

My apologies for the length of this post! Below is the poem, and above are the flowers. I hope you love them all as much as I do!

"This Moment" by Eavan Boland:

A neighbourhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.