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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The story of Adeline




Tara McMullen Photography


My water broke in a lavender field. The PEC lavender festival of all places, a two day event where thousands flock to experience the magic. You might not know but coriander is my second favourite herb. I was surrounded by beauty, Tyler beside me, Hattie between us squealing with delight as we came over the hill. It was nothing short of a dreamy carnival. 
Many familiar faces were there and friends came over to say hello. I joked, "this could happen any minute now, I'm feeling the feelings today and I'm one day past due." Just as the words escaped my mouth, a warm release of fluid came trickling down my leg. "Guys my water is breaking!" It was one of the most exhilarating feelings I've ever experienced,  something I missed out on with Hattie because they had to induce me due to low amniotic fluid. It's because of my traumatic birth with Hattie that the anticipation of our second daughter for 9 months had been wrought with anxiety, fear and doubt. 
I was dreading the possibility of another emergency c-section. Every week with my midwives I'd oscillate between trying for a natural birth experience or just booking a "nice" c-section where I could at least be awake and Tyler could be in the room, I couldn't decide. I was hoping nature would decide for me and I'd go into labour the day I was due. I remember telling my midwives early on that I longed for a birth experience in the woods with a harpsichord and a roaring bonfire but it could never be, previous c-sections have to have an OB present during the delivery. Midwives can be there but they have to transfer care once we reach the hospital. My previous OB with Hattie, wrote in my file that even without an umbilical chord issue, my body might not be able to deliver a baby naturally. Try getting that out of your head. My midwife Christy said, "let your body prove her wrong," but was that the piece of information that was going to trip me up while trying to give birth naturally and send me back to the emergency room? After months of doubt and uncertainty, something happened, a switch was flipped. I had booked a c section for July 6th in the event that if I didn't go into labour on my own before then, we were just going to make it happen, the "nice" c-section. On July 5th I experienced total clarity, I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to give birth to our baby. I cancelled my c-section for the next day.  You know the moment in Wonder Woman when they're in the trenches and she gets up, climbs the ladder and heads into battle? That's how I felt, unwavering, resolved and empowered. 
Tara McMullen Photography
So there we were, water breaking in the lavender field, the movie moment, hugging friends goodbye and hurriedly shuffling up the hill towards the car, complete strangers clapping for us and wishing us well.  And where was my fear? This negative weight holding me down throughout the entire pregnancy, my fear was nowhere to be found. I felt light and calm and ready. Our midwives instructed us to go home, take a nap, eat a bit. This tiny being was preparing to come but might still take many hours. 
Tara McMullen Photography

Unlike the first pregnancy, I was now on the clock given my previous c section there was a risk with how long I could labour before intervention and timelines don't exactly encourage oxytocin but I didn't have to dig very deep to keep my spirits light hearted, I was honestly in a state of euphoria. Just getting to experience my water break was a huge triumph. 
Back at the farm, we put on a few favourite songs, Hattie and I dancing naked in the living room to U2's With or Without you, Montell Jordan's This is How We Do It. The three of us laughing and dancing in the golden light of the setting sun streaming in through the front windows will be burned in my brain for all time. Hattie does this bum shake dance that never gets old.

Tara McMullen Photography

Tara McMullen Photography

Tara McMullen Photography

I checked in with my midwives, cuz remember that timeline thing. They wanted us to come for 8pm to the clinic and see if there might be any progress. Off we went with a plan to stay at Tyler's parents that night, closer to Belleville General if we needed to move fast. 
Christy and Freya met us there and together we decided to do a small procedure to see if we could get things moving as I had only dialated 1cm. Back at Penny and Bill's we visited a bit and then all went to bed. I slept alone so Tyler and Hattie could get a good sleep, I was going to need him rested. Around 2 am I started to feel some cramping, it was coming on every six or seven minutes but sometimes skipping to ten or 15 minutes. I called Christy and she suggested waiting until things picked up a bit. Around 430 I called again, this time the pain was coming on with a sharpness to it and a little more steady at 5 minutes apart. Christy thought best to come do a check at the house before making our way to the hospital. By the time she arrived, each contraction was bringing me to my knees. All I wanted to do was get low, close my eyes, and release sounds in the most primal way. 
I was dreading a contraction coming on in the van, they were almost too much to bare. With each one, you just move through it and hold on breathing trying to remind yourself the pain is necessary to move your baby, not there to hurt you. 
When we arrived to the hospital I tried to beat the contraction to the front desk but it brought me to my knees in the hall. Within moments I was in a wheel chair and then on a bed, turned around leaning over the head of the bed backwards while kind nurses poked me with IV lines in between contractions. The pain was feeling too much to get up and over, then someone handed me this gas thing that I could administer myself and I sucked on that stick like, well, think Kate Winslet in Titanic when she's on the life raft blowing the whistle. My midwives arrived and all I remember saying in between contractions "can you follow my lead, I know what I need to do." They checked me again and told me I was moments away from being ready to push. I felt it too, the sensation was strong, almost uncontrollable. I remember saying quietly to my unborn baby, "we've got this, it's you and me." So many serendipitous things about this birth, full moon, Tyler's birthday, lavender fields and then my OB, she just happened to be on call the day I go into spontaneous labour. It could have been anyone of the 10 to 12 doctors and I get mine! OB's have to be present for a vbac, (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I was amazed to find such a beautiful working relationship between Dr. Alavi and the midwifery team. There was an unspoken collective team spirit happening and knowing there wasn't an underlying tension between the two departments was such a comfort. The room felt united. 
There we all were, I can't recount much because at a certain point you go so deep and the room disappears. You lock onto a voice here and there giving you a direction, where to push from and how long and when to stop pushing so you don't tear. You go so deep and then you come to the realization you're the only one who can move this baby out of your body. I remember someone placing my hand on the top of her head, I could feel her hair but even then it felt an impossible task. I remember begging for ice chips from Tyler and then he got good, anticipating my next spoonful. Then I remember yelling, 'no more ice!' I remember the mental shift and the moment I knew it was happening and I COULD do it, I would do it. Christy whispering in my ear, "just go to the woods." I don't know how but I also remember the presence of a really kind and funny nurse, later I would know her as Jill and she was snapping photos of the entire thing on Tyler's iPhone! Okay, I'll show you one of those at the end of the story.
Everyone was breathing and working with me in the most profound way. And then I arrived, the top of the mountain, the precipice and I felt her head pass through and then her shoulders quickly after and the sweetest most unbelievable instantaneous relief as they sprang her up onto my chest, we were crying and joyful and vibrating, the room collectively cheering. I could hear Tyler's voice fill with tears, he was overcome with emotion and joy as we kissed. I came back to the room the second she arrived and there I was looking into the eyes of these incredible women who helped me. Christy, Freya, Emily, Dr. Alavi, Jill and my love Tyler. We did it. 
Nurse Jill Photography LOL 

There is nothing in the world I can compare it to. Nothing sweeter, nothing more impossible yet sooo possible. Adeline Ruth (Ruth was my Nana who passed away a couple years ago, my soulmate) Hogan born July 9th, 845am, the very day and exact minute her Father was born! Weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces. A full head of blonde hair and a surprisingly round shaped head. Seeing as I arrived at the hospital at 6am and delivered by 845am didn't allow for much time in the birth canal. 
The aftercare was incredible at BGH, and although I was told it was safe for me to leave only a few hours after giving birth, I elected to stay the evening. Stacey was my nurse and she was an absolute rock. I'm certain I pushed the call button one too many times but she always made me feel like I could push it again if I needed to. She also stole me an extra pair of those amazing hospital undies. Kathy was my night nurse and she was also incredibly kind. I think by morning some sleep deprivation had kicked in and when Stacey was back on the floor I was calling her Kathy. I was mortified. 
When Hattie came to the hospital the next morning we were overcome with joy to watch her embrace her new sister with such kindness, she was genuinely excited to meet her. I have so many emotions around this area, I'm brought to tears when I think about how madly in love I am with Hattie and how much it hurts that I have to share the love she's used to having all to herself. Luckily, Tyler is her main squeeze and if anything she's getting extra attention right now which is such a comfort. 

Tara McMullen Photography
Tara McMullen Photography
Tara McMullen

As I lay here now in bed at home, cocooning with Adeline, I'm reminded of the early days with Hattie. Moments that feel impossibly hard, tempered by euphoria make it all manageable. 
I am blessed with a quick and ample milk supply and Adeline was latching moments after being born. I breastfed Hattie until she was two and a half and fortunately Adeline is much like her sister, super efficient at the breast. The midwives had hoped to see her gain a few ounces in between visits and she gained 11 ounces! The things that rock your world as a Mom. 
For me, the two experiences are so similar yet worlds different. The recovery time after my c-section was weeks and weeks if not months of emotional trauma too. Tyler had to do everything for me and Hattie in those first weeks because my mobility was so limited. This time I was moving with ease after a few days, taking it easy from a few stitches but the discomfort was manageable. I'm doing all of the things a new mom should be able to, completely unrestricted. 
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how you get there as long as the baby is healthy. For me, this was about healing and avoiding major surgery, learning that my body IS capable of giving birth, if it had ended in a c-section at least I could say I tried. 
I wish I could say I enjoyed being pregnant but I'm too impatient. It's the one caveat, waiting 9 months, that's going to be the thing that saves us from having ten more. Honestly I would have all the babies if the baking time was shorter. 

Tara McMullen
Tara McMullen

Tara McMullen Photography

I love being a mom and now a mother to two beautiful girls, it is the greatest joy I have ever known. 
Love to you all and can't wait for you to meet her. 


(Tara captured us perfectly, Tyler and I kissing while Hattie downs the last few licks from her bowl of ice cream.) 


Alison xo

Friday, May 26, 2017

Always with the announcements!


Hello everyone!

It’s that time again;)
We’re expanding our family as well as our business model!

We’re shifting things around a little at the Picton location, moving our operations to the back of 202 Main Street to better accommodate the growing demand of weddings and events, and um..I kinda need to pop out a babe. This means we’re going to welcome a new Main St. boutique to the front of our building! EEEK! My friend Cat is opening CATalyst (cute right?!). She describes it as 'a modern shop in the old country with specially selected products that start a conversation, a place where rural heritage and a new creative spirit come together.' Cat's shop will compliment downtown Picton so beautifully and we know you’re going to love it. 
What do these minor changes mean for our current PEC customers? Coriander Girl is still available for event and wedding flowers all season long and already booking into next season for summer events. The day to day walk-in flower service will be on pause for now but we can accommodate flower orders with a $200 minimum. Ultimately these changes are allowing us the opportunity to focus on the development of Coriander Girl Farms, which in the long run will better serve our customers on a magnificent scale. Not only will the farm house our wedding venue at Water Road Chapel but our floral boutique and workspace, workshops, garden tours and a Bed and Breakfast or a "Bride and Breakfast," my friend Kathleen likes to call it! 
Nothing is changing at our TO location, the team there is only continuing to make it better and better and.......BETTER!
We can’t wait to invite you to our inaugural grand opening on Water Road so stayed tuned for more info on that!

Thank you so much for your continued support of Coriander Girl, the team and I are forever grateful and look forward to serving your floral desires for years and years to come!
We welcome your suggestions always and love hearing about what you would like to see from us! 



With buckets of love, passion and flowers,

Alison and the Coriander Crew xo

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Garden Inspired Spring Workshops!

Sunday, March 26th ~ 2 to 4pm ~ Garden Fairy Flower Crown

This workshop is for all ages. Learn how to make the sweetest flower crown to help
bring out your inner garden fairy and hopefully inspire spring to come even earlier this year. We are sooo over winter!

All materials included, a delectable beverage and a light snack
Cost ~ $85 plus HST

Sunday, April 2nd ~ 2 to 4pm ~ Spring Wreath Making

Wreath making isn't just for the Fall season, springtime is perfect for wreath making and bringing the
outdoors in.

All materials included as well as a delicious bevy and light snack
Cost ~ $125 plus HST

Sunday, April 23rd ~ 2 to 4pm ~ Spring Garden Plant Arrangement 

There is no better way to kick off the Spring season than to get your hands dirty, smell the fresh
earth and make something beautiful.

All materials included, a beverage and light snack.
Cost ~ $100 plus HST

To register please email us at workshops@coriandergirl.com or call 416 532 3333
We can't wait to see you!

The Coriander Girls xo





Friday, March 3, 2017

Another Blog takeover from our friends at Mango Studios!

New Year’s Eve Wedding: Marta and Mike



Let me tell you that the moment I met Marta and Mike, I knew it was love at first sight. They are really fun and adventurous spirits that I just loved hanging out with! As a wedding photographer, it is really important for me to get along with my couples and it was so easy with these two! Photographing their fun-filled New Year’s Eve wedding was a breeze! I used Mango’s signature candid approach in their first look and ceremony because I wanted to document raw, genuine emotions between them. Our photojournalistic style was a great choice for their reception as well as it was filled with laughter, tears of joy, and hilarious jokes.


Marta and Mike met in Guelph where they both grew up. Mike works as a business analyst, while Marta is a successful interior designer, both in Toronto. Mike is an avid sports fan, and plays recreational softball and golf with his buddies any chance he gets. Marta loves all things design, fashion and food. She loves to cook and Mike loves to eat. Isn’t it a perfect match?


Marta and Mike told me that they wanted their wedding to be a non-serious, super fun party that everyone has a blast at! They decided to throw a New Year’s Eve wedding bash that would be party focused as opposed to more traditional in theme. Marta designed all of the bad-ass stationery and black and white paper decor that incorporated many witty quips and quotes throughout the space (“Trust me, you can dance - Vodka”). Cocktail offerings were a traditional Old Fashioned (our favourite!) and a bubbly French 75 in keeping with the festivities of New Year’s Eve. The bride’s gals each received a heart-shaped pendant necklace engraved with a rap lyric, and the groom’s dudes all got Blue Jay caps in various colours (reflecting the groom’s passionate love for baseball, of course). A full 4-course dinner played off of the groom's maternal italian side, who insisted on a plate of pasta before their meat!


What I loved the most was Marta and her girlfriends burgundy flowers designed by the talented Coriander Girl! Deep, merlot red with loose greenery – they looked so organic and flattering against their leather jackets and gold sequin dresses. Continuing the theme, Coriander Girl also worked her magic and transformed the reception space at Archeo into a winter wonderland garden, filled with romantic hanging greenery and lush floral arrangements. The reds in the flowers complemented the space’s rustic vibe, while the greenery gave it a modern spin!




Looking back at this wedding, I feel grateful for being a part of such an awesome New Year’s Eve wedding bash. Not going to lie, I spent the rest of the night dancing away with Marta and Mike and sipping on the bubbly French 75.

~Mango Studios 

Photography ~ Mango Studios
Flowers ~ Coriander Girl 
Location ~ Archeo in the Distillery District 


Monday, January 30, 2017

Special Guest blogger today:: Mango Studios!!

From Mango Studios

To be honest, we fell in love with Lauren and Sacha the first time they came into our studio. Both with an amazing sense of humour, contagious laughter and impeccable style, we weren’t surprised when these two had an unforgettable, Casa Loma wedding filled with love and warmth!



Lauren and Sacha had a clear vision of their perfect, Casa Loma wedding from the start – a day surrounded by friends and family sharing good stories, over great food, and amazing wine. We really wanted to capture the essence of Lauren and Sacha’s dazzling personalities and tell a natural, seamless story of their big day. That’s why we took our signature candid approach to their wedding photography. By incorporating storytelling and editorial elements, we strived to capture their emotions and the warmth they shared with their family and friends in every shot.





Planned by Bisous Events, this wedding was filled with golden details, elegant decor and featured custom, white and blush florals by our friends, Coriander Girl. To say that we swooned over her bridal bouquet is an understatement! Delicate, yet lush, it was a perfect mirror to Lauren’s femininity and soft, kind personality.






What was one of the most memorable moments? The couple’s happy faces when they saw each other for the first time during the ceremony! The bride kept her Kleinfeld gown a secret from soon-to-be husband (as many brides do) but the groom also kept his custom suit a surprise for his bride. Paired with amazing music and their happy tears, I couldn’t help but tear up myself!







Wedding planner :: Bisous Events 
Photographer :: Mango Studios 
Dress :: Kleinfeld 
Flowers :: Coriander Girl (You're here!) 
As seen recently on Style Me Pretty 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 ~ You sure did a number on some of us monkey.

Hi friends,

Like many of you, I'm happy to see 2016 in my rear view.  I've never seen such a collective hate on for a year gone by. The monkey was relentless. Yet despite the crappy bits, there were actually some incredible triumphs and discoveries. We moved into our dream farmhouse with a wedding venue, what could be wrong?! For me it was a year of extremes. Great successes mixed in with monumental challenges and a slice of anguish on the side. I watched my friends struggling too, not everyone, but some of us took a wild ride through the spin cycle. I learned that without the tribulations this past year, I'd have no chance for future success. Sometimes you have to burn it all down to see what's salvageable. I fear my business and my personal life could have suffered greatly had I not been forced to dig deeper than I ever have before. Taking stock of what is working in your life is quite a thing, but to actually unearth the shit that is catastrophic, to shine a light on the darkest parts, that is something entirely different.  It feels like an actual page has turned, or rather an entire chapter has ended and I'm so hopeful and excited about 2017.  I've always been transparent with my readers, sometimes I fear being too honest but I don't know how else to be. This blog started out as a way for my Mom to catch up on the goings on in my life and business and so I wrote it as though we were having an intimate phone conversation. Over the years a few thousand or so of you started reading but I couldn't change the way I wrote, every time I edited myself it became inauthentic, pinched.  So here it is, my heart on my sleeve, authentic me, this one's for you... and my Mom.

                                                                                   (a few highlights from the year)

Since moving to the County full time after Hattie was born, I took a huge leap of faith prepping the business for my TO team to manage. Over the last 7 years we've seen some major growth but particularly the last 2.5 years. There is some serious truth behind the idea that it's impossible to grow your business from 'behind the counter.' The best decision I've ever made was to hire a manager. I've always been blessed with landing crazy talented human beings who help the business evolve, challenge me, challenge themselves and create beauty on a daily basis. If you follow Coriander Girl then you are well aware of our "all star" cast. You know who the people are who've helped make this company great. I make it a point to credit my designers, as I believe everyone deserves acknowledgement. Sure it gives people a platform to go off on their own but heck, it's a new world and I'm not sure the old rules apply. Most recently we shared the news that Tellie Hunt would be leaving us to pursue her own business. This decision didn't come easy for me. For those of you who own businesses, you understand it's a constant juggling act. No matter how successful you get, the juggling never stops, the balls just get bigger. So while attempting to juggle my increasingly large lady balls, I realized the task wasn't getting easier and the stakes just kept getting higher. From the County, I was observing my TO team crushing it but still feeling the impossible weight of responsibility. It's one thing to carry the weight when it's your own baby but it's quite another to expect your employees to do it. Inarguably I've always been fair to my people, and in that fairness, I knew it was time for Tellie to pursue her own endeavours and fortunately she agreed. Without question, she did an amazing job, gave her heart to my company and you all know the caliber of beauty that came out of the wedding studio over the last couple of years. The thing that needs to be addressed however, and with total respect for Tellie, is that she wasn't an army of one. On any given day, we had upwards of 3 to 5 employees in the wedding department. We've heard a few rumours that because our weddings manager is leaving, this is the end of our wedding team,  but that's quite an insult to the incredibly talented people who still remain. Deanna Balmer is a wildly talented designer and deserves an award for the endless hours and heart she's given this company. Elena as well as Alexandra and Mal all worked tirelessly to help get the job done and of course the unwavering support of Coriander Dad/contractor/wedding set up guy/caterer/delivery dude extraordinaire.  Recently we've welcomed another lovely crew member, Marilou, her designs are cray-zy. These talented, inspired women, are led by the incomparable Amira Shabason (who has been with the company for three years, two of which were spent as Tellie's right hand at the wedding studio.) They've earned their cred and are nothing short of amazing. Together we all wish Tellie well as she embarks on the wildest most exciting ride of her life in business ownership, she deserves every success.


I've made the choice to close our retail location in Toronto because the reality is I'm not there, 90% of our sales are now by phone or email and our wedding department is all consuming. The shop front tends to steal so much time from the pile of orders accumulating throughout the day, our staff ends up having to stay hours after close because they can't get to the work. I have struggled with this decision, lay awake contemplating reasons why it's a good or bad idea but remember the part above about "employees feeling the impossible weight of responsibility..." it's time to secure the foundation properly before adding another floor. Undeniably though, it was the local love and support from our favourite neighbourhood walk ins that put us on the map long before Instagram likes and we're forever grateful. The thing is, moving into the expansive studio space on Florence allows us so many more options. We'll still be accessible on certain days, we're planning regular shop and pop-up events to satisfy the folks who need to touch and feel the produce. And we aren't going far, just a couple of blocks away from 1604. The amalgamation of the two spaces will alleviate a myriad of issues that have developed over the years and will create an even stronger opportunity for efficiency and growth. We'll be able to focus on providing a broader selection of locally grown blooms from our favourite local farmers and bring you the very best of our talents. In the words of the great Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing."



So please, if you still have questions we welcome your emails to hello@coriandergirl.com or pec@coriandergirl.com We want to help you understand the changes and leave no question unanswered. We're making the transition over to the studio this month. All month long we'll be having shop sales at 1604 to lighten the load before we do our final move. We'll also be unveiling a more user friendly website with online shopping! I never thought I'd say those words! I remember when I first left the TO location and moved to the county. My girls would call and say, "customers are asking for you." And then those same customers quickly realized talented people were there in my place and happy to serve them. Perhaps I need to add an "s" on the end of Coriander Girl because it's never been one person alone, not EVER. It's the collected efforts of many who make this company great and in it's continuing evolution my sole responsibility is to remain consistent in beauty, that's what I can promise you. I believe Now Magazine called us "Best Florist" this year for a reason, we're not going anywhere;)



From my deepest truth,  I have never been more grounded or more clear headed about the direction of my business. I've never been happier or more stable feeling in my personal life. Tyler and I will welcome our second babe this summer and we are over the moon for Hattie to have a sister or a brother. Thank you dear friends, your kindness, love and support is felt from all over this incredible world. I get your messages! I love reading about your experiences in this crazy business and although I can't always respond promptly, I will try harder this year. I'm always amazed that anyone wants my advice, half the time I feel like I'm dangling off the edge of a cliff! We're all flailing at some point or another and once in awhile, for a minute, we might make it look effortless.

                                                                                                         (to the new world)

If you or someone you know is looking to rent a beautiful space on Queen St. Please send your inquiries to pec@coriandergirl.com and tell me all about yourself. The space is available as of February 1st.

2017 here we come with hope and love blazing strong in our hearts.

Alison xo