Tag Archives: Floral

Best Bets: Decorating With Flowers

Years ago the Chop spent a couple of months out in Seattle, and perhaps the biggest point of culture shock in the Emerald City was the near-universal habit of buying fresh flowers regularly. Maybe it’s a direct result of the mostly dreary weather there, but Seattleites go around buying flowers like Parisians buy baguettes.

As a city, Baltimore is not particularly floral. We tend to buy most of our flowers in connection with funerals or anniversaries, and even with a recent increase in the presence and awareness of urban gardening on public and private lots, the vast majority of that soil has been given over to vegetables. Flowerbeds in public parks and flower-potting in streetscapes remains minimal.

Daffodils look great in Cylburn Arboretum... or in your living room.

We grew up in a house where fresh flowers were seldom present. When they did appear indoors, they were always meant to sit in the same heavy crystal vase on the dining room table. Over time, they began to achieve the same effect as a Christmas tree; they were around to mark an occasion and they had a great effect when first placed there, but with each year that went by and each day they sat in the same spot they were just too easy to get used to, and were eventually overlooked almost entirely.

Now that we’ve got a house of our own with plenty of space to decorate we’re discovering that flowers are the best way to keep the home looking fresh as time passes. If the warm weather we’re enjoying recently has you thinking floral, here are a few tips to get the best of your buds.

  • Buy different flowers each time. Daisies are nice, but if all you ever buy are daisies, you might as well just buy a picture of some daisies and be done with it. You’re better off just going for whatever is in season, or whatever has been marked down for a quicker sale. This way you get variety without having to think too much about it.
  • Have a few different vases handy. It’s best to have about 1 vase for every room in your house where you might put flowers. If you have a studio with a kitchenette, 2 is enough. If you’ve got six rooms plus a good size bathroom and a screened porch, get as many as 8 vases. They don’t need to be expensive, and a few of them should be plain and understated for moving from room to room. (Thrift stores are a great source for plain vases.) Make sure the sizes and shapes are different to accommodate different flower varieties.
  • Flowers in each room, not every room. It’s just too much work to keep flowers trimmed and watered in every room at the same time. Keeping them in one room at a time minimizes work while maximizing appeal. Dress out the table for dinner guests, or put them in the bedroom on date night. Try to keep them in the room in which you’ll derive the most enjoyment from them in any given week.
  • Make buying flowers a habit. Perhaps no one loves flowers more than the Dutch, and in the Netherlands flowers have a regular spot on the shopping list next to bread and milk. We in Baltimore would do well to be on a first name basis with our neighborhood florists, or make the flower cart a regular stop on our weekly trips to the grocery store or farmers’ market.
  • Don’t be afraid to grow your own. It takes good timing, a little knowledge, a lot of work, and a bit of luck to grow flowers from seeds. If you’re not possessed of all of the above though, you can still grow flowers successfully, barring a garden-digging dog or any neighbor kids running roughshod over your yard. Nurseries and home improvement stores have thousands of types to choose from, and will be happy to help you find the best type for you. Most places even sell flowers in biodegradable, plantable pots keeping the work required at a minimum.
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Chop Style: Men’s Swimwear

The Chop’s not a great one for swimming. We might be tempted to sit poolside if there’s a bar cart involved, but dangling our ankles is about as wet as we’ll get. We’re also not too keen on staring at mostly naked men and comparing them side by side. That’s a job better suited to a beautiful woman, and so we’ve enlisted one to write today’s post. Local designer and fashionista Katy Hunchar has style to spare, and here she gives you her swimsuit picks for Summer 2011.

The Short Swim Trunk

The super short swim trunk is my favorite style, hands down. I just love legs! I also love Boris Becker. Though I gather from Google image search that current day B.B. dresses like a playboy, his court style in the late ‘80s was champion. I know he had international tennis star legs, but honestly, it was his crisp short shorts and trim polos that gave him the active man look I love. Here are three solid options, starting with the shortest:

Orlebar Brown's 'Pup': $130

I like Orlebar Brown’s Pup in olive and Paul Smith’s short slim style in navy. Wear them and move effortlessly through summer with free legs and awesomely tan thighs. If these are a little pricey, you can probably find a cheaper version at American Apparel. Pair them with white and gray heather t-shirts.

Patagonia Baggies: $45.

Patagonia’s Baggies are a super simple and versatile sport/swim short. They are perfect for a multitude of activity pairings. Run around the Harbor then stop at the Tiki Barge for a swim! Mow the lawn then go to Safeway. Whatever you want to do, these shorts will take you there. I also recommend these as a replacement for one pair of mesh basketball shorts. (As a side note, Patagonia carries a lot of good simple men’s styles.)

Original Penguin Board Short: $65.

Prints

Skip plaid this season. Stick to classic stripes and bright graphic prints. Nautical stripes are always in style and Penguin has some solid offerings for the seafaring fellow. I like this color-block in bright red and blue. Alternatively, Orlebar Brown’s Eley Kishimoto Dane is the raddest print I’ve seen so far. It looks best in red.

Orlebar Brown 'Dane': £150.

The Floral

This navy and orange floral, again by Paul Smith, is really great. A lot of florals are too busy and look like tropical rainbow explosions. This toned-down navy and orange print is nice and simple. It looks so melty and luxurious.

Paul smith's floral print: $175.

Denim Cut-offs

In middle school my entire gym class had to jump into a swimming pool wearing jeans. While treading water, we had to shimmy them off underwater, pull them to the surface, tie the end of each leg into a big fat knot, and finally, with our last gusts of life-breath, blow them up into makeshift denim life preservers. It is difficult to swim in denim, but absolutely possible.

Denim cut-offs can be worn successfully in a handful of locations: by the swimming hole, at the lake, and on tour while lounging around some random swimming pool. The best cut-offs are super faded and worn to threads. Most likely, you already have an old pair of jeans in your closet that are ready to cut. If you don’t have a suitable pair, reread Chop’s Guide to Thrift Store Shopping Part I and Part II and head over to Value Village. While you’re there, keep an eye out for Boris Becker shorts! Also look for OP tees with faded neon surf graphics to pair with your olive Pups. YES!

Cutoffs are high style at Prettyboy or Beaver Dam, not so much at the gym or hotel pool.

The Board Short

If you insist on wearing the board, look for the shortest pair you can bear and wear them low. Look through collections by skate and surf brands like Hurley, Volcom and RVCA or choose a simple solid red lifeguard style. Avoid contrasting diagonal plaids and prints that simulate laser beams. You know what I am talking about.

Y’all just roll through the water.

Truth is, if you really want to look awesome at the pool or beach this summer, learn how to move well in the water. Ride your bike down to the Patterson Park pool as soon as it opens and LAP IT UP.

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Katy Hunchar is an artist and designer living in Charles Village. Check out her work at lpconcept.com and follow her on Twitter at @chipsnkaty. She is also a lifelong competitive swimmer and has coached swimmers of every age, including NCAA Division I swimming while in grad school.

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