Friday, July 31, 2009

Celtic Thunder

WOW. We watched the new Celtic Thunder concert on PBS last night, complete with pledge breaks, and again it was wonderful. Young Damian's voice has plummeted from the 14-year olds high pitched but mellow sound to a baritone. That was a surprise. Many of the favorites from the first concert we heard were brought back and the repetition was welcome. If you have never heard them go to their website and listen to the generous video that is posted there.

Music has always been so important to me. I only regret that I gave up playing music as an adult - although a 61 year old drummer probably isn't in high demand! The piano though is another story. When I practice, which is rare, I scare the cats to death. The sound fills up our cathedral ceilinged living room and even if you aren't playing well, it sounds pretty good in that resonating chamber.

Last weekend I installed powered speakers for my computer which allows me to blast my favorite music at the decibels I prefer. Much of my digital music library was lost in transitioning to the new computer, so some rebuilding will be in order as time permits.

We will be going to the Celtic Thunder concert in Atlanta, and although it is hard to believe that it could be better in person, at least it will not be interrupted by pledge breaks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Flowers on a Budget

We have returned to the real world after supervising the 500+ person national convention of my husband's lineage society. He and his compatriots of the Georgia Society of the National Sons of the American Revolution had been preparing to host this convention for nearly 6 years.

The weekend before it started, we had 30 or so volunteers at the house, stuffing over 500 registration bags and eating brownies. The wives lucked out - being able to stay in the kitchen, preparing name tags and talking - while the men sweated it out in the garage.

That Monday, more volunteers arrived to move everything to the hotel - stuffed bags, bulletin boards, vases, books, etc. Then a trip to COSTCO was in order to pick up 99 cases of food for a charity project planned.

Thursday night, real activities started, with a volunteer party at Maggiano's. The 70 or so people who were involved gathered for food and conversation, plus a little wine. Yellow polo shirts were handed out to identify Georgia folks who would be available at the Congress.

Friday, guests started to arrive from all over the country. And again Friday evening, eating, drinking, and talking were the chosen activities.

My husband spent his time managing the millions of details for each meeting room and guest, coordinating the hotel's response to our needs. Most days, I spent hours with my computer creating assigned seating lists for the Monday luncheon and Tuesday/Wednesday banquets. But I was released for the flowers...

Many months before the Congress, I had released requests for quotes to a number of florists, detailing our needs. The first estimate was $13,000. The second was $10,000. The budget was $3,800. Clearly, I was going to have to figure out how to do them myself, with the help of other wives.

The solution came from the inspiration of a glass vase, called a Serenity vase. Not a bubble vase, but one with an elegant shape. I chose yellow roses and we cut each of three stems between 2 and 3 inches long, placing them inside the vase. Then we added three pieces of looped lily grass, each almost reaching the rim. Of course, a little water to keep them hydrated. Because they were placed on 10-person tables, we magnified their presence with mirror squares. The hotel added three votives to each table. The result was simple and elegant.

For 43 tables per banquet, this solution was very doable and very cost effective.

A florist was chosen to provide the podium spray and six long, low arrangements for the head table, color coordinated with our roses. A few extra vases were also placed on the 3-tiered head tables, thus tying the florals together.

For the ladies luncheon, a 13 table event, we replicated a Colonial centerpiece found on Julie Mulligan's Floral Lifestyle
BLOG. The Colonial Centerpiece was appropriate to the speaker who spoke about a historic structure near the Old North Bridge of Paul Revere fame.

Our final expenditure for flowers was close to $2,800, a full thousand dollars below the budget.

After the covention, anyone visiting our home would have had to ask "who died?" since I am unable to discard any flower until it is absolutely dead. All are compost now, save a lovely Hydrangea blossom that was in a bouquet we received in our suite at the hotel. A lovely reminder of the week we spent with friends.

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