Cookie Policy Privacy Policy

Pick a better flower

Pick a better flower


Cut flowers. They are everywhere this time of year.

And I have to admit, if I have to read one more instagram blurb about how buying flowers every week is ‘such a great mood lifter’ I will get very cross.

Most of the cut flowers we buy at the average North American florist, or order through one of the big websites, are shipped up here from giant flower farms in South America. The working conditions at these flower farms are not good, often the pesticides used are harsh as they aren’t held to the same standard as agrochemicals used on food crops. It’s well worth reading this Tyee series on floral farms and fair trade.

There’s no need to give up on your floral addiction, just think about it a little differently.

Debra Prinzing, a writer and lecturer based in Seattle and Los Angeles, has written several books on working with local and in-season flowers and foliage. This may seem dismal in February, but a quick scroll through her blog will change your mind. Succulent cutting, clippings from trees and shrubs, and flowers from local hothouse growers combine to make some beautiful arrangements.

Here in British Columbia, we have several options at this time of year – the Fraser Valley has several flower growers supplying incredible armfuls of tulips, and a few local florists also stock locally grown orchids. Choices Markets has both local flowers and fair trade blooms from South America. Nationally, Whole Foods is a good bet, as they have their own Whole Trade relationship with South American flower growers, as well as sourcing local flowers as well. Keep your eyes open when you’re out for a walk, and look for sculptural bits and pieces, though always ask before taking a cutting!


Bee-friendly Valentine’s card printable in English & French

Bee-friendly Valentine’s card printable in English & French
bee presentation
Getting ready for my presentation about beekeeping to the kindergarteners


Every year I try and come up with a non-candy option for the class Valentine’s Day cards. In the past we’ve made bath bombs and red sparkly play dough. This year, as Valentine’s Day is the beginning of the beekeeping year, I have bees (even more) on the brain.

The other week I also did a presentation about beekeeping to my son’s kindergarten class, which was sweetness itself. After hearing about every single time every child has been stung, or nearly been stung, or thought about being stung, by a bee, wasp, or mosquito, they asked great questions about honey extraction, where the dead bees go, what makes honey taste different, and how I make the smoker work.

So, as the time for planting wildflowers comes up in early March here in the temperate, if damp, west coast, I thought we could tape a little glassine envelope of bee-friendly wildflower seeds inside the valentine. If you’d like to do the same, I think the bees would be thrilled. Below you’ll find a printable in both English and French (my son goes to a French immersion school), to make your own. We’re gluing this image to the front of a blank card after my son does the tough work of printing his classmates’ names on them, and taping the little envelopes inside.

valentine's-day-card-2015-EN valentine's-day-card-2015-FR


Win $40 to make a photo book on Blurb for Valentine’s Day


Oh Valentine’s Day. What a messy holiday you are. All those sparkles to glue down, romantic expectations, and inadequate heart-shaped boxes of crap chocolate. It’s no wonder so many people get quite worked up about it.

For my son’s preschool classmates, we’re making homemade bath fizzies in the shape of a heart, with some witty card I have yet to come up with. As they’re aged 5 and under, Valentine’s doesn’t have much significance other than an excuse for more candy, really.


For my husband – well, I’m not sure. We’ve never been into expensive gifts, though we’ve tried in the past to go out for dinner. That never works – restaurants always seem to be overbooked and over-stretching themselves. One year we waited over two hours for our promised lobster dinner, only to be told they had run out but forgot to tell us! At nearly 10pm we were ravenous and very, very grumpy.

I do like the idea of celebrating the love you have for some special people in your life. Homemade gifts are lovely, too, but sometimes you want something a little nicer than you could make with your own two hands.

For Christmas this year, I made a little hardcover book of my Instagram photos that illustrated our family’s first year living back in Vancouver for my husband. It was such a lovely experience going back through all those photos – Elliot sitting on the couch in our new and nearly empty apartment, Christopher leaning out the window with him to wave at people celebrating Pride, many shots of our very local beach, and Elliot on his first bike. I think it would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s too.

My photo book printer of choice has always been Blurb, for their ease of use and reasonable prices. I first discovered them when we were living in the UK when I was searching for a way to print some baby photo books. Even after trying a few other companies, I’ve always come back to Blurb. They have easy, clean templates, or you can design your own pages from the ground up. I think the best recommendation I can give is this: I have left countless photo book projects half-finished on other sites, but I have always actually completed and printed the ones I make with Blurb.

Blurb, in all their wisdom, have a timely giveaway for my readers: $40 CDN to spend on one of their photo books. We’ve arranged it so you will have enough time to get your photo project printed and shipped to be with you for Valentine’s, if that’s what you’d like.

Go forth and enter!

Fine print: Offer valid through April 30, 2013 (11:59 p.m. local time). A CAD $40 discount is applied toward your product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I’m a Blurb affiliate, but I don’t earn anything from this giveaway, I just wanted to share with you!