Before I dive into today’s post, I would like to apologize to those of you who received a second copy of my “pancake post” from last week.  I have been making changes to my site, which has caused a few snafus with Mailchimp.  The good news is that I have added new features, including: widgets to link through to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest (still working on my Pinterest boards — Rome wasn’t built in a day!), etc.  And, I also have a Pinterest “overlay” on my site now so that you can hover your mouse over any photo and receive a prompt to “Pin It.”  Finally…best of all, I’ve added a shopping cart feature so that you can buy “My Life in Parties” products directly from my site.  I have a few products posted there now but I am working on another capsule collection that will be available in the next few months.  Hooray!  And now, back to the show…



iiiinspired _ lotta agaton


I hope you’ll recall from my “Back to School Breakfast” post that I’m totally smitten with schoolwork.


If hitting the books involves brushing up on such scintillating subjects as flower arranging, mixology and calligraphy, then move me to the head of the class!  Enter Juliska and the fab programs that they offer at their Flagship Store in Stamford.  You’ve often seen me posting snaps of Juliska’s gorgeous tableware…



But they also offer a regular roster of fun, inspiring and practical classes focused on entertaining.  In the past few months I’ve “enrolled” in both a flower arranging class and a calligraphy class with friends and today I’m sharing the cliff notes with you — just in time for the spring entertaining season.  I enjoyed both classes immensely and loved finding a gorgeous place set with my name on it and fun supplies for creating something new and beautiful!  Let’s get start with the flowers…




soup turrine

Juliska’s recent flower arranging class was intended to celebrate the launch of the new “Field of Flowers” collection and was taught by one of their talented designers who is responsible for the many gorgeous vignettes in the store.

Among her tips for fabulous flowers (even for the super savvy flower arranger — it’s always good to be reminded of 1-3!):

1. Always use cold water in your vase/vessel.

2. Give stems a fresh cut with a sharp knife or scissors.

3. Remove all leaves that will be submerged in water.

4. Get creative with unexpected containers (a soup tureen, Grandmother’s vintage tea cup)…and compositions.  Here, a potted plant in a small soup tureen and a glittery bunny hopping on a bed of moss are at once charming and inexpensive.


5. Give your tulips a “pick me up” by adding a penny to the water.

6. Select flowers with a variety of textures and heights for visually interesting arrangements.


7. Use green foliage from your garden or yard (herbs, tree leaves).

8. For large arrangement, start with the largest blooms first and work your way down.

Among the arrangements that she showed us for spring are:

Tulips in a bowl:  Put a piece of floral oasis in a bowl, arrange tulips in the center and then tuck grass around the edge to form a border or “collar.”  Flats of grass can be found at most nurseries and simply use scissors to cut off the pieces that you need for your arrangements.


The ultimate carnation ball:  This entails soaking a ball of oasis and using the heads of approximately four dozen carnations to get this fluffy, heavenly look.  Fill in flowers one row at a time, following around the circumference of the ball.  Mist with water regularly.


Simple and fresh white and green: use a large leaf to wrap around the stems for a clear container (line the container with the leaf first!).

And, the arrangement that we made as a group was this lovely little bouquet of roses ensconced in a pussy willow “cage.”


Here, the supplies for the class:


My work station, including: a small caned pot, a piece of oasis that we cut down to size, clippers, pussy willow branches, twine and Spanish Moss.  After arranging the roses in the oasis, we added the pussy willow branches and tied them together at the top with twine.  The Spanish Moss provided a nice finishing touch.


Here’s my final product in my family room:


I also love the pussy willow cage for larger arrangements — perfect for Easter!


And…even picked another up this past weekend.


Moving on to…



In December, I attended the calligraphy session taught by a talented local calligrapher with a few friends.  Note our quills and cocoa!


We received practice sheets, a pen and the opportunity to try out a range of different writing instruments — from quills to calligraphy pens with all different sized “nibs” (the metal tip of the pen that you dip in ink).


Here, my reindeer games.


If you would like to punch up your penmanship on your own, I would suggest picking up one of these calligraphy pens and taking a peek online for some basic brushstrokes.  Or, sign up for Juliska’s next class!  Finally, for further inspiration you can scroll through some photos of my absolute favorite calligrapher, Bernard Maisner.  When I got married (almost twelve years ago now) I became obsessed with Bernard after reading about him and seeing his work in Martha Stewart Weddings (here a “cootie catcher” for Martha’s wedding editor, Darcy Miller).


Town and Country, Vogue, etc.  I convinced my parents that we needed to have Bernard calligraph the invitation text and then, of course, Carrot and Stick needed to letterpress the invitations.  (Gosh I am more trouble than I’m worth!).  I couldn’t manage to dig up a photo of the invitation for this post, but I did find the little sign that Bernard made for our getaway car:


A menu that he did for another wedding (swoon!)


Custom place cards that he designed for Vogue:


And a box of his social stationery (hand painted, natch!).  He is a true artist and master calligrapher.


Increasingly, however, Bernard seems to be de-emphasizing his custom business and focusing more on his lines for retail stores (his collections are often featured at Bergdorf’s).  I just discovered that he is also a designer for Paperless Post, so  -for just a few “coins” – you can now send an electronic version of one of his gorgeous designs to your nearest and dearest!





Now that’s a class act!







Images: CT, Pinterest.

Bon Appétit!