Floral Fever (and a Giveaway!)

Spring has sprung for many of you, dear readers. However, in my part of the country, winter hasn’t quite let go just yet. Even if Mother Nature graces us with some early spring-like days, we usually get a cold snap around St. Patty’s Day, and nothing really starts blooming until April. I’m finding myself with a case of floral fever! 

I love flowers and floral patterns! Every room of my house has some nod to flowers and plants – be it a picture, a textile, or a plant. I think living in a cold climate makes me an even bigger fan of florals. I have lived most of my life in Connecticut, yet in my memories I can still clearly see the wildflowers in the Texas hill country from when I was small. A field of Texas wildflowers is a sight I will always miss. 

Toddler me, wildflower picking in Texas, 1970 something.
Fields of flowers, Texas hillcountry, 1970’s

Living in New England, I appreciate blooming trees and plants now even more, and especially love flowers. I look forward to my favorite flowers blooming each spring, signaling the end of winter’s rest. 

Early spring blooms will be here soon…

While I love all flowers, my favorite flowers are peonies. I just love their big, fluffy blooms that remind me of an old-fashioned petticoat.

Blooming in cooler climates, peonies have a short bloom time, and can be delicate, losing their petals in a heavy rain. Even so, the scent of a peony is Heavenly! 

One event that we look forward to each year is the Connecticut Flower and Garden show. It’s usually at the end of February, and is a sign that the end of winter is near. There are vendors of all sorts, plants, and beautiful displays. Held at the Connecticut Convention Center, it is so exciting to go up the large stairway and into the doors where it is a gardener’s proverbial candy store! This year did not disappoint.

I really loved seeing “Disney Princess” dresses created from flowers and plants.

Could that be the World’s Largest Watering Can?

We had a wonderful time at the show this year, but my most favorite booth this year was that of a local artist from Westport, Connecticut, Kerstin Rao. Her booth was so bright and happy! My daughter bought me a beautiful tote bag, featuring a stunning bouquet of peonies, as an early birthday present.

The beautiful birthday bag my daughter bought me is the perfect knitting project bag! Using my pretty floral bag makes me smile with the vivid colors and fluffy blooms so perfectly captured.

Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

Sketching all the time as a child, Kerstin Rao was known in school for her drawings. Originally from Minnesota, Kerstin moved to Kentucky when she was in the third grade, when her college-professor parents moved to the state for positions. An art major in college, when Kerstin moved to New York in the 1980’s, she realized at the time the New York City art trend was grunge and dark – the complete opposite of Kerstin, whose art was more delicate and cheerful. (Kerstin herself is a sunny breath of fresh air). Knowing she had to make a living, a sculptor friend suggested that Kerstin try teaching. She loved it from day one, and teaching became her calling. 

Using art as a way to engage and explain to her students, Kerstin was an educator for 34 years, teaching in inner-city schools, and eventually ending up in Westport, Connecticut in 1999. 

Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao, Vivid Cottage

It was during the lockdown of March 2020 that Kerstin found her second calling, creating the art that now graces her beautiful totes, tea towels and note cards.

A beautiful tea towel featuring Kerstin’s art, photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

When the Westport Farmers’ Market carefully reopened, the first thing Kerstin bought was  a beautiful fresh flower bouquet from Kristin Burrello’s Muddy Feet Flower Farm. (Her bouquets and fresh flowers are amazing)!

Looking at that first purchased bouquet in the breezeway of her home, Kerstin pulled out her sketchpad. Kerstin began sketching bouquets she purchased each week from Kristin, loving the shapes and colors. She would lose herself in drawing, leaving behind the tension and worry of the Pandemic. Kerstin says she feels she “vanished into a world of natural beauty.”

Kristin Burrello, Muddy Feet Farm, and Kerstin Rao, Vivid Cottage at the Westport Farmers Market. Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

After posting her sketches on Facebook, Kerstin received lots of encouragement and requests for items like greeting cards, and the rest is history! Kristin’s flowers inspired her, and she helped Kerstin as a sounding board, as Kerstin left teaching in her late 50’s to become a woman business owner of Vivid Cottage. Kerstin says “bouquets are a tiny world”, and “every bouquet is a fresh opportunity for adventure as an artist.”

To me, flowers are also medicine for the soul. I’m looking forward to spring, summer and fall blooms. 

Until then, I will enjoy my bag, my flowery dresses, and other florals. And to help YOU with floral fever, I put together a little floral-themed giveaway: flowery note cards, a cute little hanging sign, flower seed packets, floral emery boards, and beautiful floral seals. One reader this month will be randomly chosen from the comments, so don’t forget to let me know that you stopped by!

  1. Denise Thompson says:

    This sure makes me ready for Spring! I love flowers, all kinds. They are such a wonderful refreshing way to decorate our homes. Just a small bouquet brings joy to those who see them. Thanks for the look into your fun time at the flower show Nicole and for the chance to win these beautiful items.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, thank you, Denise, I am so glad you liked this post. I am happy to report that we have had lovely, spring-like weather here the last few days, but I know not to get too “used to” it just yet. But, waiting for spring flowers gives us something good to look forward to! Good luck in the drawing, and thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Lara Johnson says:

    I missed the Flower and Garden Show this year, but I’m anxiously awaiting the first day of Spring, and the opening of my favorite nurseries. I love seeing all the new plants and blooms each year.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Lara, I hear you! We will be there soon! Enjoy your spring season, and thanks for dropping by the blog! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Donna Rothe says:

    Hi Nicole, originally I am from the north..born in WI, then lived in MN, IL, England and now in FL. I am definitely a flower gal but miss my Spring flowers such as daffodils and tulips as they don’t grow down here. So off I went to Trader Joe’s last week and bought a beautiful bouquet of daffodils which are sitting on my kitchen table.

    My favorite garden was when my husband and I owned a B&B in a village in WI. I created a English Country Garden with gazebo. I so enjoyed providing my guests a place to sit and relax and the garden provided me a piece of land to work in.

    It was a pleasure reading your column and love your pictures.
    Take care,

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Donna, Trader Joe’s is wonderful, isn’t it? I love so much there. Your WI garden sounds like it was dreamy! However, Florida has so many wonderful qualities too! Enjoy spring, and good luck in the drawing. Thank you so much for sharing with us today! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Jill Walton says:

    What a wonderful story, and what beautiful artwork. Thank you for sharing this with us. I enjoyed perusing Kerstin’s website and her lovely floral artwork.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jill, isn’t Kerstin’s artwork just so beautiful? Surrounded by her work inside her booth at the Flower Show was a burst of happiness! I appreciate how “real” her artwork is – the details of the flowers are just breathtaking. Thanks for reading and commenting; good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Ruth Strutz says:

    I so related to your post. I looked at the picture of the younger you and saw myself at that age. Flowers have always been my deep seated joy. Thank you for bringing me back to moments I’d almost forgotten.

  6. Kim Bedtelyon says:

    Love those watercolor paintings and all of the beautiful flowers as well as your article. I am so looking forward to spring’s arrival. Have a wonderful day!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kim, isn’t her art so beautiful? Her textiles are excellent quality, as well. Using my tote bag makes my heart happy. Enjoy the spring season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Margaret King says:

    Spring is beginning to show her flowers here in Spokane, Washington. My little flower garden has crocus beginning to bloom. They make my heart feel so happy.
    My husband and I are planting seeds for our garden inside by the front room window. I can’t wait for the time to plant them outside.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Margaret, I feel the same about the crocus! I can’t wait to put my seeds outside this year, either. I have started some seeds and will do a few more this coming week. Spring can’t arrive soon enough! Good luck in the drawing, and thanks for “stopping by”! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Alice says:

    Beautiful post, Nicole! Lovely photos and wonderful story. I just checked out Kerstin’s Vivid Cottage Instagram and it’s a treat for the eyes!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hello, my dear friend! We need to catch up soon. You would have loved seeing Kerstin’s booth! Her art is truly amazing. Hope all is well! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Marge+Turner says:

    Beautiful flowers I love your posts, they cheer me up! I am so ready for planting! The Amish greenhouses in my neighborhood are really gearing up and it makes me want to shop for plants-we might be selling our little farm this summer but I still plan to have lots of flowers.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge! It is always so wonderful to hear from you. I bet the Amish greenhouses are absolutely beautiful, stock full of plants. I can’t wait to have flowers in pots on my porch, too. I am sorry to hear you might sell your farm! Big farmgirl hugs to you, Nicole

  10. Ginger Louden says:

    Our summers seem short in ND, but as soon as the middle of May comes around, I start thinking of flowers. I don’t plant much before the end of May as I’ve lost plants to late frosts. We have moved to a place with very few flowers and I hope to change that! Last summer I had container flowers around the house. I’m hoping to get a root or cutting of a perennial plant from some neighbors so I’ll have a ‘neighborhood’ flowerbed. Flowers just bring happiness!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ginger, we are very much like you, too. Gardens typically go in around Memorial Day, and our summers seem so short. I try to savor every pretty day! By the time fall arrives, I am done with hot weather and look forward to warm fall days with cooler evenings. What fun to start from “scratch” with your yard! Happy planting – and good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Debbie Fischer says:

    Happy Spring! Oh how I love Peonies too Nicole, they are beautiful. After moving to Oregon in 2020 I fell in love as it seems there are always flowers blooming. It is because of our rainy season that we have all the beautiful flowers and green grass. Rhododendrons are absolutely amazing as we have quite a few on our property. Spring is right around the corner and I am ready!
    Thank you for your giveaway and have an awesome Spring.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Debbie, your spring season sounds dreamy! I am hoping to get rhododendrons flowers this year – I ran out of deer repellent and before I got more they became deer snacks. Hopefully they left me a few blooms! Oregon always sounds so beautiful. I hope to see that part of the country someday. Thank you for “dropping by”! It’s always so good to hear from you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Ellen Susan Ottoson says:

    Thank your for the uplifting and colorful posts. I noticed two days ago that our Crocuses of white & purple have emerged to greet me. My cats look out of our large front window and enjoy seeing the world change and the Robins returning to our drizzly Ohio weather. The Tiger Lillies are getting ready to send up their flower stalks while their leafy greenery is uplifting to finally see in my sleeping garden! Spring is finally here.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Ellen, what a beautiful comment! I can just picture your kitties watching all things spring appear! Enjoy the season, and thank you for dropping by the blog and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs,

  13. Kaitlin says:

    This has me longing for spring and the strong scents of lilacs and lilies
    Today it is absolutely gorgeous out and I can’t wait to start gardening

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kaitlin, I hear ya! I can’t wait to get outside on a warm day and garden, either! And don’t lilacs smell amazing? My miniature English version is nice – they are mildew resistant and have such a nice strong scent. However, they bloom later than the larger variety. Lilac is one of my favorite blooms. Happy spring, and good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Kerstin Rao says:

    Oh, my goodness, Nicole! I am so, so honored to be featured in your delightful blog. (I adored the photo of you as a child among the flowers in Texas – we are practically twins from that era!) I’ve been so touched by talking with you, and receiving all your kindness and encouragement. The comments here are super lovely, too! I’m delighted you’ve invited me into the Farmgirl Bloggers world of Mary Janes Farm! With much gratitude, Kerstin

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Kerstin, thank you for allowing me to share your wonderful world with the readers here! You are an amazing artist, and such a beautiful person inside and out. I am so glad we met and look forward to staying in touch! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Carol says:

    I just planted a small plot of wildflowers over my beloved dog’s grave. He was always sniffing through my flower beds so now he has a place of his own to rest in peace.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Carol. My heart goes out to you. There is nothing more painful than losing a beloved pup. We lost our littlest furbaby last May. I still cry about him, and thought about him when we got a very warm, sunny day this week. He LOVED warm days. His little brother misses him, too. I am sooo sorry you lost your furbaby, and may those flowers bloom bright and bring you happy memories of your sweet pup. BIG FARMGIRL HUGS TO YOU, Nicole

  16. Melissa says:

    I loved your article. I am in Washington State and it takes awhile for spring to come also. I am really looking forward to the peonies! Thank you so much for connecting with us and sharing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Melissa, thank you so much! I have friends in your area and have heard how beautiful Washington State is. Lucky you – you get to experience peonies, as well! Thank you for joining in to the blog today! Have a happy spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Rebecca Thornton says:

    I hope Spring finds you soon.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, thank you! Little signs are showing more and more each day. Fingers crossed we get no more winter weather like heavy snow. It has been known to happen. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  18. Sister Trish says:

    Oh my…..love your creativity. I am a flower power guru also, my passion are Iris, hens n Chickens & big beautiful sunflowers. Just installed our greenhouse last yr to help birth those lil baby seeds. Love being a farm sister

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Trish! Thank you! I love your choices of favorite plants and flowers…especially hens and chicks. They make me think of my grandma. She could grow roses like nobody’s business, but she also would arrange hens and chicks in pots and give them away. I grew some amazing giant sunflowers last year, and will do more this year. Hopefully, we have a better summer than last season. Good luck with your baby seeds! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  19. Marlene Cosner says:

    Thank You for brightening my day with your words and pictures. I went out in my yard today…and my daffodils and forsythia are the first to bloom…I now have a little bouquet by my kitchen sink…can’t wait for what’s next! Thanks for getting me to Think Spring!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marlene, our forsythia are just at the cusp of blooming. We had a few days in the high sixties, but today is colder and this weekend will be colder still. Now they say it will be the end of April before we get any more 70 degree temperatures! I love that you have daffodils by the kitchen sink. Mine look like they will bloom over the weekend – almost there! Thanks for sharing today! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  20. Jeretta Bliss says:

    Thank you so much for sharing his Beautiful flowers. I love flowers, But our ground is so
    hard, and not good. I have to just have a few flowers in the house. I live in Az. It is still cold here. I will be glad when Spring is here. Thank you once again for sharing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jeretta! I have been to Arizona and loved it. The cacti everywhere where beautiful, but I understand how you would just be able to have flowers in the house. Each region has its own beauty, don’t you think? Thank you stopping by and commenting; I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  21. Glenda York says:

    What a lovely time spent perusing your blog. Full of flowers and color and creativity. Made me feel good the whole time I was here. That’s a great accomplishment in today’s world. Thanks!

  22. Sandra Johnson says:

    I enjoy reading about your very busy and creative lifestyle! I love cottage gardens and the anticipation of spring in the cold and snowy Midwest (though Winter has been very dry and mild this year). Thank you for sharing the beautiful blooms!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandra, thank you so much! Our winter has actually been pretty mild, too, all things considering. We have had lots of sun lately, finally, which is nice. It is colder this week, but it’s just the first day of Spring. Thanks for reading and commenting; good luck in the drawing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  23. mary says:

    Hi there!

    I would love to be on your mailing list! I really enjoy your site!
    Mary Yuter, RN

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