Tag Archives: flowers

Cowboy Up!

May 6, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Normally I like to do something with flowers in this issue, typically my own Mother’s day tradition of potting my flowers. This year I decided to take an old piece of furniture and give it a pop of color for spring.

I tend to shy away from bright colors, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone. Bright colors are popular in spring. I chose a chartreuse paint, which gives punch to any backdrop.

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In this case it was a great little old shed that sits on a farm I drive past every day. It also happens to be the same spot where I had my youngest daughter’s senior pictures taken. I loved it then, and love it now.

I found some old cowboy boots in a thrift store, but I never wear them. They do, however, make a great place to plant flowers.

This really just requires a long weekend.

TIP: Unzip the boots, place on their sides and fill with dirt, then start to place plants and some ivy. Zip them up, and then stand them up. If you try stuffing them with dirt and then try to place the flower and ivy, it doesn’t work well.

Think of your entryway or porch as an extension of your house and have fun with it! 

Items Needed:
Wooden bench, or an old chair. If you can find a pair and put a little table in the middle that would also be a great look for a porch.
Sandpaper

Primer, if you are working over another color of paint

Paint. I used latex, and then sealed it.

Sealer

Boots of any type.

Colorful rain boots would look especially cute.

directions:
Make sure you aren’t going to use them again. Once you make that decision, drill holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain out.
If the boots have zippers, unzip them.

Place the boots on their sides, and fill them with dirt.

With the boots sideways, start placing plants and some ivy.

Zip them up if needed, then stand them up when they are finished.

So Fresh, So Clean

July 17, 2015 by

This article appeared in July/August 2015 Omaha Home.

Your home is your fortress and keeping it clean is a breeze when you’re armed with these dust-busting tips. Keep a sparkling presence both inside and out of your home to make every day of life but a dream. OmahaHome

Have the Proper Tools

Having a well-stocked cleaning caddy can make all of the difference. To fit the bill you will need the following: a window cleaner, a household ammonia for floors, a nonabrasive cleanser for general cleaning, a dilution of 4 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach for disinfecting, a feather duster, sponges, paper towels and rags, oil soap for wood cabinets, and latex gloves.

Curtains

Make that Marble Shine

Clean with a spray bottle containing warm water and one tablespoon of non-abrasive dish soap. Never use vinegar or lemon juice. The acids can cause etching. Wipe off with a hot, wet dish towel, taking care not to scrub. Lastly, buff immediately with an absorbent towel or chamois. A pool of water on the surface can leave a stain. And don’t let orange juice, wine, or coffee cup “rings of death” hang around for too long as marble surfaces stain quickly.

Curtains Closed

Mildew can be an unsightly friend in the shower. Prevent mold growth by occasionally tossing your vinyl or synthetic liner in the washing machine with laundry detergent and bleach

Flowers

A Room Full of Blooms

Prevent your flowers from getting sour. Add ¼ of teaspoon of bleach to each quart of water in the vase and your beauties will stay fresh and lovely, as they are intended.

Gloves

See Spots Run

To remove a stain from a marble countertop, apply a poultice made with baking soda and water, or flour and a non-abrasive dish soap. It should be the consistency of a thick paste. Apply to the surface then cover the area with plastic wrap. After 24 hours, lift the plastic wrap and use a damp cloth to wipe away the poultice. If the area is still stained, repeat the process. For grease spots, sprinkle corn starch and allow it to absorb for 20 minutes. Wipe away with a damp cloth.

Floor Cleaning

Wood Laminate Flooring

To prevent scratches that can occur from a buildup of excess hair and dirt, use a dry dust mop every few days. Do not use soap-based detergents or “mop and shine” products as they can leave a dull, luster-killing film. For a more in-depth cleaning, fill a bucket with hot water and add two tablespoons of baby shampoo or a mild liquid dish detergent. Scented or dyed dish detergents can damage the laminate or cause streaks. Soak and thoroughly wring out a mop. Excess water can distort your laminate flooring. What about those scuff marks? A common pencil eraser is your best friend here.

Pets

Pet Hair, Beware

Vacuuming up pet hair doesn’t quite do the trick. Use a long-handled window squeegee on your carpets. The rubber will loosen the embedded hair. Next, collect the clumps that accumulate. Repeat until all hair has vanished.

Cleaning1

Earth Children

June 24, 2015 by

Article originally published in June 2015 Her Family.

With summer vacation and a welcome reprieve from the classroom under way, spring is a great time to teach kids lessons in greener pastures. Spending time in the garden with mom and dad not only helps get kids outside, but can also unearth some hidden interests.

Scott Evans, the Horticulture Program Coordinator for UNL’s Extension office in Douglas and Sarpy counties, got his start in plants as a kid, and his passion never faded. He grew up around nurseries with garden-loving parents, and despite a childhood obsession with dinosaurs, springtime visits to greenhouses in Council Bluffs made him into a plant guy.

“The smell of earth and that dampness is still something that, to this day when I walk into a gardening center, just brings back very fond memories,” says Evans.

Even if your kids aren’t crazy about plants, Evans believes that working hands-on with flowers, vegetables, and shrubs can teach kids important lessons about sustainability, especially if they’re not around plants all that much in the first place.

“When kids grow up in urban settings, they don’t realize where their food comes from. They’re missing that connection from where food actually comes from,” says Evans.

To make the experience more fun for parents and children alike, be sure to tailor your gardening routine to whatever your kid is interested in. Parents can get their creativity budding by browsing Pinterest or other websites for gardening project ideas.

Have a child who has a craving for homemade pizza? Grow the necessary ingredients together—tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc. If your kids love fairy tales, plant vegetables and flowers with whimsical names—there’s the Snow White carrot and the Purple Dragon carrot, for starters. Or try planting flowers with a variety of fun colors, smells, and textures for those still exploring their interests, like Gardenias or Woolly Lamb’s Ear.

For children who are too young to start taking care of plants on their own, pulling weeds and watering plants alongside adults are good tasks. Many gardening stores even have smaller, easy-to-carry watering cans or trowels designed just for the budding young gardeners. While adult supervision is key, Evans says to not be afraid of letting kids get their hands dirty. The more involved they are in the project, the more likely they are to stay interested.

Evans also recommends teaching kids simple biology principles that will help them understand how plants grow. Explain to them how plants aren’t like animals in that they make their own food, and thus need to have a proper amount of sunlight and water to flourish.

Finally, remember to start small. Remind children that even with tender loving care, not every plant will bloom, and don’t try to grow an entire greenhouse overnight. Even just starting with a few pots or another container garden can teach kids valuable horticulture lessons, and help their creativity bloom.

“It’s like when we go to dinner—our eyes are bigger than our plate,” says Evans. “Just starting small allows for a greater success, and then when you have that success, you can continue to build upon it.”

LessonsLearned

Be Our Guest

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“They tell me, it’s up to you to change things out. We trust you.” Alex Ostblom, a landscape designer for Lanoha Nurseries, strolls across a newly transformed Westside lawn, naming flowers off the top of his head. Impatiens, begonias, mandevilla, and sweet alyssum are planted in great swaths of color, sweeping along sidewalk, driveway, and around to a brand-new back yard. Guests to the remodeled home might never suspect what the place looked like just a few months earlier.

Ostblom explains that the homeowners wanted a lawn that matched their refinished house’s new capabilities: to blend in with the rest of the stately neighborhood and to provide a perfect space to entertain family members and close friends. “Other than that,” he says, “they didn’t have too many particulars.” So Ostblom let his creativity loose, beginning the design process in March and construction in May. The entire project was completed by June 15.

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The first order of business was to redesign an unsightly retaining wall that led around the north of the house to the back yard. Originally made of concrete block, the five-foot wall created a tight alley between the house and a small mountain of unusable back yard. Its considerable height so close to the back of the house blocked off half of the dining and living room windows. A cramped patio made a stab at bringing hospitality to the space.

To simultaneously create a much less imposing wall while also making the yard itself usable, Ostblom removed tons of dirt to create tiers of lawn that allowed him to install a limestone wall less than two feet tall. The limestone complements colors in the house and can actually be found in the landscaping of nearby homes, bringing the property more into the neighborhood’s fold. Large blocks of the limestone accent the front and back yard, “giving the grandkids something to climb around on,” Ostblom points out.

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Thanks to the greatly shortened wall, guests in the dining and living rooms can enjoy a panorama of seasonal annuals (“One of the owners just loves lots of color,” Ostblom says), a rose cutting garden, and mature evergreens. “They wanted everything to look like it’d been there for years,” Ostblom says, so Lanoha Nurseries set field-grown spruce and conifers in place with machinery. “That’s a one-time deal,” he explains. “If the trees don’t take to this well, we can’t get the equipment back in here to put in more of that size.” So he’s monitoring their progress closely, already eyeing some barely noticeable brown needles on a spruce. “That one might be under stress from over watering.”

Frequent entertainment of friends and family meant the homeowners needed a large, welcoming space. In particular, they wanted a gas fire pit large enough where several people could comfortably gather. The idea of an L-shaped outdoor kitchen was tossed around, but the couple decided instead to place a simple grill out of sight around the home’s south corner to ensure that the fire pit remained their outdoor gathering place. A gas line leads from the house to the grill; no empty propane cans here.

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Ostblom notes that establishing such a mature landscape within six weeks calls for careful attention to how light will change over the seasons. Most of the yard is in at least partial shade, particularly in the front yard and to the north. To the northeast and east, the yard transitions into full sun. To cope with the variety of landscape elements (varying light, drainage, and plants with differing needs), Ostblom says he redesigned the home’s irrigation entirely. “They have turf, trees, annuals…it all requires different watering.” To facilitate easy maintenance by Lanoha Nurseries without disturbing the homeowners, Ostblom had the irrigation clock moved from inside the garage to just inside the gate in the backyard.

“I visit about once a month,” he says, though he admits he makes the rounds in the neighborhood frequently, checking in on this and other landscaping projects for any signs of trouble. “Communication. That’s the biggest part in making sure it all looks amazing.”

The Best, Local Farmers Markets

July 22, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Krisha Goering has made a weekend visit to the farmers market a summer tradition for the last four years. The Millard mom, who often takes her own mother along for a little girl time, enjoys spending an hour or so each Sunday morning walking the farm stands at the Aksarben Village market and buying the bulk of the fresh groceries she’ll need for her weekly menu and beyond.

The veteran shopper says she heads to market each week with an action plan. “I know exactly what I’m going to get when I get there. I make a swing through the market with $20, and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Goering says.

“I typically buy whatever’s in season. At the beginning of the summer, that’s asparagus and a variety of lettuces. Eggs are abundant [early summer], so I eat a ton of them, too. Come August and September, when the harvests are plentiful, I buy tomatoes two or three cases at a time for canning, and I grab a couple of bushels of green beans to freeze. I also buy cucumbers for canning pickles, as I haven’t had much luck growing [cucumbers] in my own garden.”

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Goering says she buys her fruits and veggies at the farmers market whenever possible, preferring locally-grown over store-bought, organic produce in almost every instance. “They’re simply more fresh and more nutritious. Store-bought goods just don’t ripen the same or taste the same.”

Visiting with her favorite vendors, some of whom she now considers her friends, is one of the perks of frequenting the same market each week, Goering says. “We chit-chat a bit, talk about our kids, share a little news…” she says. “These [farmers] are quality people. They work many hours a day and grow and sell wonderful product. I really respect them. But I don’t want to occupy too much of their time visiting, as I know they’re aiming to make new clients and I don’t want to cost them business.”

Omaha shoppers are fortunate in that they have three large outdoor markets from which to choose, all accessible by bus, bike, car, or foot. The Omaha Farmers Market at 11th and Jackson streets in Downtown Omaha is open every Saturday from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Historic Old Market, which served as a city market for local produce vendors over a century ago, today offers more than 100 vendors selling everything from fruits and veggies and baked goods and dog treats, to teas and coffees and jewelry and toys. Great Harvest Bread, The Tea Trove, Big Kahuna Kettle Corn, and Cibola are a few of the names you’ll see each week.

The same group of sponsors that produces the Downtown Omaha market also organizes the farmers market held each Sunday at Aksarben Village, 67th and Center streets. More than 85 vendors participate in this market, which offers much more than produce as well. Goods from Goodrich Pottery, Honey Creek Creamery, and Soup-n-More can be found alongside fruits and vegetables from Birdsley Road Blueberries, Shadowbrook Farms, and Hillside Orchard, among many others.

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Both Omaha Farmers Market ventures participate in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which helps financially strapped families afford healthy food options.

A third farmers market is hosted Saturdays all summer long on the south side of Village Pointe Shopping Center, 168th and West Dodge Road. A wide variety of produce from farmers within a 150-mile radius is available, as well as food and gift items from Jisa Farmstand Cheese, C&C’s Bzzz Honey, Dance in the Wind Iris Garden, and dozens of other retailers. The shopping center hosts a fun family event, Harvest Fest, on the final day of the market October 5.

Browsing the flowers, arts and crafts, yummy treats, and unique gift items at the farmers market can make for a fun, leisurely outing for some shoppers. But for health-conscious grocery shoppers like Goering—there for the fine, locally grown produce and foods and not much else—here are several tips that can help produce a fruitful visit. (Sources: Krisha Goering, tasteofhome.com, and localfoods.about.com).

  • Go early for best selection of produce, thinner crowds, and to beat the summer heat. Go late for (again) thinner crowds and the best deals; some farmers discount items at the end of the day to avoid hauling them home.
  • If you’re new to the market, make a swing through just to get an overview of what’s there. (Some markets offer a map of vendors.) Don’t buy at the first stand you see; you may find better goods cheaper down the line and have buyer’s remorse.
  • Bring your own reusable bags. Reinforced plastic or canvas bags work best and make carting produce around more convenient. If you’re buying a lot, bring a wheeled cart.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen and bring a water bottle and your patience. You may have some waiting in line to do, and not all areas are tented with shade.
  • Be considerate of other shoppers. Don’t overstay your welcome at a busy stand, block the roadway with a huge stroller, or allow your dog to invade others’ personal space. Shopping in small groups is recommended.
  • Get to know your vendors during the market’s downtime. They may offer great food prep or cooking advice, share recipes, or give referrals to other vendors you’ll enjoy. They might also share their growing techniques or food philosophy.
  • If you’re looking to not break the bank, set a budget and stick to it. Make your grocery list beforehand and avoid impulse buys.
  • Respect the vendors. Selling their goods is their livelihood, and a farmers market is not a flea market. Don’t haggle on price. If you’re not willing to pay it, politely move on.

For more info on farmers markets in Omaha, visit OmahaFarmersMarket.com or VoteRealFood.com.

Local Farmers Markets

Omaha Farmers Market—Old Market

11th & Jackson streets

May 4 – October 19

Saturdays 8am-12:30pm

Omaha Farmers Market—Aksarben Village

67th & Center streets

May 5 – October 20

Sundays 9am-1pm

Village Pointe Farmers Market

South side, Village Pointe Shopping Center

168th & W. Dodge Rd.

May 4 – October 5

Saturdays 8am-1pm

Here Comes the Bride

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Just as April marks the arrival of springtime, so, too, does it signal the beginning of wedding season—typically viewed as mid-April through mid-October—and the onset of “wedding fever” for many excited soon-to-be and wanna-be brides.

Regardless of whether your nuptials are a year away or far off in the distance, wedding season is a great time to attend Omaha bridal fairs and visit bridal boutiques, floral shops, and other wedding businesses in the metro and start making a list of all your must-haves for your special day. After all, creating your dream wedding takes time and planning—why not get started now?

To celebrate wedding season, we’re spotlighting three metro businesses that provide distinctive products and services for Omaha brides: gown boutique, Rhylan Lang; accessories vendor, Inez Gill; and floral service, Flowers for Special Occasions. All three are owned by local, young women who are not only on top of national trends, but in fact are leading the way in the Midwest with unique, high-end wedding fashions and accessories.

Rhylan Lang

The goal of upscale bridal boutique, Rhylan Lang, is simple—to make sure that each bride leaves with a dress that is as amazing as the memories created. “Every dress in the store is made from silk fabrics,” says owner Tracy Ponec, 29, of her unique collection. “If there is beading, it is Swarovski. If there is lace, it has intricate details. I want brides to be able to tell the difference in quality.”

Ponec, who has a joint degree in textiles and journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been working in the wedding gown industry for nine years. “In college, I [did] bridal alterations,” she says. “I never thought I was going to make a career out of it.”

After graduating, she moved to Kansas City. “I had done a few internships that were more in-line with fashion-related public relations, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for that in the Midwest.” But with years of bridal alterations experience on her résumé, she took a shot and applied to the highest-end bridal salon in Kansas City, even though they weren’t hiring. Of course, she got hired. She even had the opportunity to do some professional training in New York with bridal design teams for Vera Wang and Reem Acra. “The owner [of the salon] and I made a great team. I learned so much from him. A few months in, he told me he thought I was born to do this.”20130227_bs_7349 copy

When Ponec returned to Nebraska, she saw the bridal market with new eyes. “Knowing how many of my brides in Kansas City were from Omaha, it was pretty obvious there was something missing for these brides in the Nebraska market.” She worked a bridal position for a short time but then decided it was time to bring her vision to life. A few years later with a business plan in hand, Ponec opened Rhylan Lang.

The name “Rhylan Lang” is actually a play on Ponec’s maiden name, Rhylander. “There is part of me in the name, but [the brand] isn’t about me. It’s about the brides,” she says. Because she cares about her brides, Ponec wanted her gown collection—which starts at a range of $1,600 to $6,000—to be exclusive in the state. From there, it was important to that the dresses were the highest quality fabrics and finishes available at each price point.

“During an appointment, a professional stylist will help select gowns from our inventory based on what a bride is looking for and their budget. The experience here is more intimate and far less chaotic than brides are used to. It’s a pleasant change for those that have been shopping a lot.”

For more information, visit rhylanlang.com or call 402-933-3510.

Inez Gill

Courtney Zurcher, 24, got the itch to start her own accessories business after making scarves for her family and friends. Today, she is the owner and designer at her accessories business, Inez Gill. Since starting Inez Gill, Zurcher’s accessories have been featured in Omaha’s Wedding Essentials and on Daily Candy, an e-mail newsletter and website devoted to what’s new and hot. She’s even designing accessories for the Daily Candy editor’s wedding.

“Inez Gill actually came from a combination of family names,” she explains of her business’ name. “My grandfather’s mom, Inez, was the kind of woman who just painted everything. She even painted the fridge once. She was very eccentric. Gill was my grandmother’s last name. She was a traditional mom and did needlework to make clothing.” Zurcher likes the combination of Inez and Gill because “one was artsy and one was practical,” which is how she’d like to approach her business.

When it comes to weddings, more brides are willing to pay for high-end products that are unique. That’s where Inez Gill accessories come in. “Accessories have a lot of life because you can put it on and it will change an outfit completely,” says Zurcher, who recently displayed her work at Omaha Fashion Week. Most of Zurcher’s bridal accessories are for the brides who want really fun, colorful looks. “I want [my pieces] to feel like accessories from a 1920s hat shop down the street—things that tailors and seamstresses would custom-make.”20130227_bs_7349 copy

While most designers and bridal vendors ship in their accessories, Zurcher creates and designs each piece. “Some designers draw sketches, but I just think of what I have, and then I put it together. I do have to put a lot more thought into how I design an accessory though because I take so many different pieces and put them together. I have my own system, and I don’t buy anything pre-made, unless it’s like a vintage leaf or something.”

With suppliers coming from everywhere (even some out of England), Zurcher has a lot of unique pieces to work with in creating each accessory. Natural stemming, vintage leaves, rhinestones—she finds all kinds of items from her suppliers and antique shops. “I don’t really follow a particular style,” she says of her mix-and-match work.

But just because Zurcher makes her accessories by hand doesn’t mean they look handmade. In fact, she prefers to spend more time making each accessory have a high-end look, even if it takes her more than the usual three to five hours. “I just like making things that make people feel good.”

For more information, visit inezgill.com.

Flowers for Special Occasions

“We have a strong passion for floral design,” says Jessica Pitt, 29, owner and designer at Flowers for Special Occasions. “We are always reinventing our work to stay fresh and in touch with the ever-changing fashion of the [wedding] industry.”

Although Pitt studied Fine Arts at College of Saint Mary and Behavioral Sciences at Bellevue University, she says that the floral business is in her blood. With four generations of her family having been involved in florals, it was only natural for Pitt to take up the business. “I grew up in my mother’s flower shop, spending afternoons as a child playing in the shop and eventually working there from the time I was 15 through college.”

A customer actually gave the business its name. “We were trying to establish ourselves as a vendor who worked exclusively with weddings and other special events. The name just sort of stuck,” Pitt says. But the business is also known as the Flower Design Studio, which Pitt explains comes from their days as a co-op with two other businesses.20130227_bs_7197 copy

Pitt says Flowers for Special Occasions is unique because they custom-make floral arrangements. “None of our work is based on cookie-cutter bouquets,” she adds. “We work with the client to develop a special feel for the event, and we create our pieces based on our collaborations.” Budgets of all sizes are welcomed by the Flowers for Special Occasions team. It doesn’t matter if a couple is working on a small or large budget—Pitt says the floral arrangements will look beautiful.

“We have built a very loyal following through the years. We work primarily through word of mouth. I believe [that] our happy clients and their referrals are what has built and sustained our company, making it the success it is today.

“Since we are a family business, we all have a personal stake in wanting our business to succeed. We never cut corners,” she says. “We have one chance to get it right, so we always strive to give each wedding something very special.”

For more information, visit flowersforspecialoccasions.webs.com or call 402-891-1602.