Interview with Laura Quatrochi, Founder of Bloembox

It’s no secret that Charleston Naturally is passionate about organic gardening or that we love to explore the latest in sophisticated giftware. Thus, you can imagine our delight when we discovered BloemBox, a company that has combined these interests into a series of charming, organic gardening gifts. BloemBox, founded in 2005 by Laura Quatrochi, creates gorgeous keepsake boxes filled with biodegradable seed ribbons and certified organic bulbs.

We were so enchanted with BloemBox, that we asked Laura to sit down with us and answer a few questions. Here’s what she had to say. . .

CN: Please briefly explain your gardening background.

LQ: I was in the garden at a young age. My mother had a large vegetable and flower garden that produced a bounty of summer vegetables and armfuls of summer blooming bouquets. In high school and during the summer months while in college, I worked as a gardener for local estates. When I was eleven, I won first prize in the junior horticulture garden club show. In the local newspaper, I am pictured holding my winning marigolds, and the caption reads, “You’re never too young for green-thumbing.” Growing flowers and vegetables continues to be an exciting and rewarding experience.

CN: Where did the idea for BloemBox come from?

LQ: For 20 years, I designed private label seed and bulb products for Smith & Hawken and other high-end garden and lifestyle companies. When I searched the marketplace, I saw a lack of imaginative, beautiful gifts for gardeners — irresistible gifts that grow. Rather than use one-dimensional photography (photos I shot for private label garden products), I created lifelike silk flowers that crown the top of a miniature hatbox. Inside, I filled the gift box with tissue paper and seeds that, when planted in a large outdoor container or garden bed, grow into the flower on top of the box. I used the same concept to create all BloemBox products, from Originals to Habitat Gardens to Tiny Tins to Seed Mat Gardens to Bulb Kits. This is the first collection that I offer under my own name, BloemBox (Bloem, the Dutch word for flower).

CN: How and where did you make the first BloemBox product?

LQ: In spring 2005, we assembled and shipped the first BloemBox product from my “seedhouse” in Philo, California.

CN: How do you keep BloemBox products eco-friendly and sustainable?

LQ: I designed BloemBox to be a keepsake box for jewelry or other found treasures. It can be used again as a decorative gift box. The seed ribbon is made of biodegradable tissue paper, and we print in soy-based inks. If you remove the flower and satin ribbon, the box can be recycled.

CN: What are some the most creative ways BloemBox products have been used?

LQ: BloemBox gifts are used for table decorations, place settings, wedding favors, fund-raisers, and special events. We personalize gift tags for bar mitzvah, bah mitzvah, first communion, baby and bridal showers, anniversaries, and birthdays. Customers love to give BloemBox for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. BloemBox is in department stores on cosmetic counters, botanical gardens, art museums, and clothing, garden and lifestyle stores. A fancy jewelry store used them to create a floral display on the counters and as gift boxes (filled with tissue paper) for rings, earrings, and pendants.

CN: What is your favorite BloemBox product?

LQ: BloemBox gifts are like children. I love them equally because they are unique and special in their own way. The Bloembox Originals Shirley Poppy is our signature flower.

CN: Where do you get new product ideas from? How are new products developed?

LQ: I get new ideas working in the garden, watching trends, and listening to people. I love to create and have more ideas than I can possibly execute. It takes 18 to 24 months to create a new product from design to finish. I create a mock-up to see color and scale and address production and assembly issues. The next step is to make molds for the silks and start manufacturing components that we assemble in Philo, California.

CN: Any exciting new products in the works?

LQ: We will introduce two new Amaryllis Bulb Kits for holiday 2010 and a new BloemBox Veggie Assortment for spring 2011!

Next time you need a special gift, consider one of Bloembox’s Flower Gifts. If you love organic gifts and eco gifts, you’ll love Bloembox!

Green Vocabulary – a Short Tutorial

Going Green

Confused by some of the terms we throw around?  Not sure what the difference is between “green” and “organic,” “sustainable” and “environmentally friendly?”  Here’s a quick recap:

The word “green” is generally a reference to the “green movement,” which supports a leaning towards environmentalism and eco-friendly living.  Although environmentalism is a trend that can be traced throughout American history, the movement was given a jumpstart in the 1960s with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, and has continued to grow in popularity over the past several decades.  Nowadays, the word “green” connotes organic food and other goods, environmentally-friendly or recycled products, and sustainable lifestyles.

Some specific terms encompassed by the “green” lifestyle include:

Organic: This refers to the absence of synthetic chemicals.  Organic fruits and vegetables, for example, are grown without the use of manmade pesticides, hormones, or other chemicals.  Organic products, such as organic sunscreen or organic hair care products, are likewise made from natural materials and exclude unnatural chemicals.  Organic goods are generally considered to be healthier for the body and safer for the environment.

Sustainable: The word “sustainable” generally refers to a lifestyle that can be continued, or sustained, over a long period of time with minimal impact on the environment.  Sustainable lifestyles tend to include patterns such as recycling and using recycled goods, buying organic or environmentally safe products, home gardening, etc.  Sustainability essentially sums up the goal of the green movement, which is to care for our bodies and for the environment with healthy, eco-friendly practices.

Environmentally-friendly: This one is pretty straight-forward.  Environmentally-friendly products can be used without causing damage to the environment.  One can find environmentally-friendly options for almost any product – such as eco-friendly cleaning supplies, organic sunscreen, organic hair products, all-natural cosmetics, and recycled home accents.  The term “environmentally-friendly” can also refer to one’s overall lifestyle, and in this case would be synonymous with the word “sustainable” or the word “green.”

Interested in making these words a reality and creating a sustainable lifestyle?  Check out some of the ways you can “go green” with organic sunscreen, organic hair products, and other natural products.

Benefits of Aquatic Exercise

Aquatic exercise has recently become one of the more popular ways to get in shape, because it allows you to tone and strengthen muscles without putting excessive strain on your joints. It can also help you to lose weight, convert fat to muscle, and give you a cardiovascular workout at the same time.

water physical therapy for senior citizens

Water Workout

People are finding that there are particular benefits to aquatic exercise that you donít get when working out at the gym, biking, or going on a run. There is a greater resistance to the exercise or movement, because you have to exert energy to push and pull against the water, yet the impact is less on your body.

Aquatic exercise can take place in a pool, lake, or the ocean, and can range from swimming, water aerobics, strength training, and more. When starting out, I would recommend that you enroll in aquatic water classes, so you can learn the different exercises and related movements under the guidance of a qualified instructor. Later, you can work out on your own, or move on to advanced classes that give you the opportunity to improve your techniques. Local community centers and YMCAs have water exercise and aquatic programs available for you to consider.

Many doctors and physical therapists recommend aquatic exercise since it provides specific cardiovascular and muscle resistance benefits. Aquatic exercise and water physical therapy are also good for people who are not able to perform even the most basic exercises due to age, injury to their back, knees, or hips, or a medical condition that prevents participation in land-based exercise programs. The buoyancy of the water lessens pain, and increases flexibility and balance.

1. Cardiovascular Workout

Aquatic exercise is a great way to get a cardiovascular workout. You can swim, jog, or do aerobics and strength building exercises. The water provides resistance that makes aquatic exercise particularly good for elevating your heart rate. And you may not feel as tired, as the water provides support when you are exercising.

2. Less Stress On Joint

One of the major benefits of aquatic exercise is that the water buoyancy allows you to move your body around with much less stress on your joints, because you are working out with less than 100% of your full body weight. In fact, water physical therapy has gained a major following with ìbaby boomersî since anyone that has an injury or had to reduce their exercise intensity can still get a workout in the water.

Women who are pregnant have found that being in a pool, or water in general, gives them relief on their joints from the weight of carrying the baby.

Senior citizens can benefit from water aerobics and exercise programs: the water workout can be less strenuous, and provide a good social outlet at the same time.

3. Relax Your Mind/Release Your Stress

It seems that the human body has a positive response to water therapy. Many people have found that just floating in a pool, lake, or ocean gives them a sense of relief or of general relaxation. So if you have had a stressful day, and want a good workout, head down to your local community center or public pool and swim, take a walk or jog, or just float around in the water. You should find that much of your pent up stress will be gone, and youíll be getting stronger ñ both in mind and body.

So get in, get wet, and get in shape!

About The Author:
www.towabletubesdirect.comJane Warren is an outdoor water enthusiast who enjoys swimming, scuba diving, boating, and water sports. Several years ago, Jane suffered an injury that caused her to use water aerobic exercises for rehabilitation. She knew how to swim, but never considered using the pool and ocean for any type of workout. Now, water exercises are a part of her weekly exercise program.

Because of her interest in water sports, Jane started the website, where she provides information and reviews on brands of towable tubes, such as Airhead and Rave Sports. The water toys include towables, kayaks, water skis, wakeboards, water trampolines, and related sport accessories.

Summer Kick-Off Warehouse Sale

Core Bamboo Wave Bowls

Our Warehouse Sale celebrates the best in summer fun with new arrivals and big discounts on summer and discontinued merchandise.

Plus, enjoy an exclusive first-look at our latest collections for the home, garden, kids, pets, and beauty.

From colorful Core Bamboo nesting bowls to Aroo dog leash and collars, Save BIG at our summer Warehouse Sale!

Bring your Friends and Shop our Mount Pleasant Warehouse

1514 Mathis Ferry Road, Mt Pleasant, SC on:

Friday, June 25 from 4 – 7 p.m. and

Saturday, June 26 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Unable to make it to the Warehouse Sale?

Watch for offers on on our Sale Items page.


Contact Us


Contest: What’s Your Favorite Fourth of July Celebration?

fourth of july

Image taken from

Imagine hosting the ultimate Fourth of July celebration that will be remembered for years to come. Where the outdoor lighting offers the perfect amount of backyard illumination, the décor is patriotic and the food is delectable.

Because we want you to enjoy a Fourth of July celebration from the comfort of your own backyard, we invite you to enter our Favorite Fourth of July Celebration contest. Participants of this Charleston Naturally contest have the chance to win a set of five Allsop solar party lights (valued at $100). Included in this set of Allsop lights are the Marigold Pod, Poppy Pod, Red Original, White Original, and Green Original lights.

Allsop party lights

Displayed from left to right: Allsop Pod lights, Allsop Original lights

To enter for your chance to win a set of Allsop party lights you must follow the steps below:

  • Sign up for our newsletter, OR subscribe to this blog.
  • Then comment on this post telling us your favorite Fourth of July memory / celebration, and leave contact information to notify you if you win.

Additional ways to enter:

  • Blog about this contest with a link to this post.
  • Retweet this post with a link back to this post.
  • Mention the contest on your personal Facebook page or your company Facebook page with a link to this post.

Comment on this blog post each time you do one of the above to notify us of your additional entry. Your name can be entered up to four times.


The contest begins today, Monday, June 14, 2010, and ends the following Monday, June 21, 2010, at midnight (Eastern). The winner will be chosen and notified on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, via and announced on this blog.


There will only be one winner of this contest. The winner will receive a free set of Allsop party lights, valued at $100.00. Included in this set of Allsop lights are the Marigold Pod, Poppy Pod, Red Original, White Original, and Green Original lights.

Terms & Conditions:

No compensation for commenting or promoting this contest will be given in either cash or products unless you are a chosen winner or registered affiliate of the contest. Charleston Naturally will not be held liable for any participant’s comment, and the participant states that by commenting and associating himself / herself with a specific business that he / she has the right to publish a comment on behalf of that business without compensation of any kind. All comments submitted become a part of Charleston Naturally and can be published in the comments section of the Charleston Naturally blog. The winner also agrees that the mention of his or her name on the Charleston Naturally blog as the winner is acceptable.

Names will only be entered four times maximum per person (if the person chooses to take additional actions specified above to promote the contest) and will be chosen randomly–no exceptions. Winners will be contacted via email.

By commenting, you are stating that you understand and agree to the terms and conditions of this contest. Further, you are stating that you have the authority to publish the comment you are submitting on behalf of any individuals or vendors you may specify in your comment.

If you agree to the above terms and conditions, you may begin commenting today. Please mention your name and your email.

Winner will be emailed and announced on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. No purchase necessary.

Summer Dinner Party Recipes and Décor Suggestions

Summer is the best time of year to open your backyard and garden to friends and family and invite them to a midnight’s summer dream dinner party. The formula to create the ultimate outdoor summer dinner party is a combination of delectable recipes and fresh flavors and a welcoming décor that complement each other.

The Formula:

Summer meals range anywhere from sticky barbeque ribs to perfectly pink salmon, glazed lemon chicken to hot dogs and hamburgers, and citrusy shrimp to juicy steaks. Whatever your fancy, a summer menu can be elegant, casual, exciting, or eclectic—it’s all up to you.

Below are some recipe and décor combinations to consider when planning your next summer dinner party:

Barbeque Bonanza

Entrée: Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe’s Backyard Championship Ribs”

What you’ll need:

  • 3 Slabs of St. Louis-Style Ribs or Baby Back Ribs, cut in half, membrane off and washed
  • 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup Big Time Barbecue rub (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 2 cups your favorite BBQ sauce

Click here for preparation steps.

Side Ideas: Complementing sides include mini shredded pork sliders, blue cheese coleslaw, fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, and vinegar-based pasta salad.

The Décor: Because barbeques are smoky, dress and décor are often casual. But who says casual means bland? Make your Barbeque Bonanza a smash with rustic, decorative pieces such as luminous tree lanterns.

If you have trees in the backyard or dangling over the patio, place some soft-lit lanterns on sturdy branches for a rustic, yet romantic aura. We love the Allsop Soji Original Solar Lanterns in red and white for their lightweight and simplistic shape. Not to mention, these eco-friendly lanterns are solar powered and wireless.

Allsop Red Soji Solar Lantern

The Citrus Canopy

Entrée: Paula Deen’s Lime Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs

What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (16-ounce) can pineapple rings, drained, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound large fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Click here for preparation steps.

Side Ideas: Keeping in line with the citrusy flavors of your main course, try grilled fruit (nectarines, red plums, peaches, and apricots), oriental chicken salad with a sweet lime dressing, and asparagus with a Thai citrus sauce.

The Décor: Bring out the citrusy flavors of your dinner party with bright colors that are an essential component to building the perfect citrus canopy in your backyard. The flavors combined with the visuals will send a jolt of joy through all your guests—just be prepared to dance through the night!

We suggest stringing the Allsop Soji Pod Solar Lanterns across your backyard trees for a colorful zing to your outdoor ambiance. The lemon, lime, and tangerine colors are sure to delight your guests.

Lowcountry Fried Feast

The Neelys’ Fried Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

What you’ll need:

  • Oil
  • 4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch rings
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch paprika
  • Buttermilk Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

Click here for preparation steps.

Side Ideas: Provide bacon, lettuce, and bread so that guests can make fried green tomato BLTs. Also, not everything needs to be fried, but try frying some food items here and there such as chicken skewers, zucchini, and shrimp skewers. Make a salad to counter all the heavy food items!

The Décor: You don’t have to live in the Lowcountry to simulate the beauty of Spanish moss that dangles from the huge live oaks. You can create your own variation of this romantic appearance through decorative pieces such as Home Port Bud Vase Chimes. Dangle each string from a tree branch, and place a flourishing cluster of long grass or a bud into each vase for a stunning visual and audio appeal.

What was your best outdoor dinner party? Tell us about it in

Dog Days of Summer

While the official start of summer is later in June, the temps are already hot in many parts of the U. S. Last week we chatted with fellow dog owners to get their tips on how to beat the heat of the dog days of summer. We met and talked with several responsible and smart pet owners who take special precautions to keep their dogs well-hydrated and healthy.  Here’s what they had to say.

Happy dog days this summer!

CN:  Do you do anything differently when exercising/walking your dog in hot weather?

Take fewer walks, schedule them for the late afternoon or early morning, and cut the walks short.

Use a harness as opposed to a neck collar to create less strain and decrease the panting

Bring water!  A combo water bottle plus bowl with a strap works great.

Use a kid’s pool filled with water for a dog’s very own splash park.

CN: When swimming, boating, or playing in the summertime, what precautions do you take to keep your dog healthy, hydrated, and happy?

Bring water on every outing – plenty of it.

Take advantage of shady areas.

Use a collar and a leash to prevent dogs from running into traffic or into unfamiliar places.

Keep dogs away from open bodies of water like pools and ponds.

CN: How do you prepare for summer travel with your dog?

Travel with plenty of food and water and consider buying pet bowls made for travel.

Never leave the dog in the car alone in the hot summer months.

Sop every two hours for breaks.

Use window shades to shield car interior from the hot sun.

Bring along their favorite bed or blanket.

Have a tip to share?  Tell us all about it in the comment section below.

Not Your Daughter’s Summer Camp

Adventure, exploration, and summer love—many grownups are reconnecting with their inner child at adult summer camps which are popping up all over the country. Whether you want to rediscover your passion for the clarinet at band camp or meet active singles at sports camp, odds are there’s a program to entertain and challenge you this summer.

Here are a few adult camps worth mentioning:

The Crow Canyon Archeological Center:

This campus-based program gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn about archeology and ancient civilizations. Located in southwestern Colorado, the Crow Canyon site is known for its dense concentration of Pueblo Indian artifacts. Participants work side by side with archaeologists, unearthing treasures in the field and studying them back in the lab.

Adult camps, such as the Archaeology Research Program and the Archaeology Lab Program are held in one-week increments and— for those seeking an adventurous family camp experience—Crow Canyon offers Family Archeology Weeks.

The Crow Canyon Archeological Center

Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women:

Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, crave a rejuvenating getaway, or want to challenge yourself to learn a new skill, Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women in Mexico is an unforgettable summer camp experience. With an all-female staff of experienced surf instructors, Las Olas introduces women to surfing in a no-pressure and nonjudgmental environment. The benefits of surfing go beyond a great workout, and Los Olas strives to give women inner strength, awareness, and inspiration—all of which remain with campers long after they return home. Their motto says it all, “We make girls out of women.”

Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women

Adult Singles Summer Camp:

The Singles Travel Service offers a unique opportunity for active singles to journey back to their youthful sleepaway camp days, and—hopefully—find someone special to share a romantic, lake-side first kiss with. Adult Summer Camp is located in the Berkshire Mountains of Connecticut on more than 300 lakefront acres. Campers enjoy a wide array of activities, including water sports, mountain biking, trapeze lessons, yoga, and massage, just to name a few. Unlike your childhood sleepaway camp days, this camp offers more adult-oriented fun, such as happy hour, cocktails by the lake, and a camp dance club. Sessions are typically held over three-day weekends and include a boomers-only weekend.

Adult Singles Summer Camp

Best Sunscreen and Use Practices

Top Five Mistakes People Make When Applying Sunscreen

Hot summer months bring a renewed awareness of the hazards of sun damage. In addition to causing painful burns and potentially fatal cancers, overexposure to the sun is proven to cause premature aging. Over time, UVA and UVB rays weaken the skin’s renewing functions, slowing down collagen production and cell turnover rates.

To avoid seeing wrinkles in your future, be mindful of the most common mistakes made when applying sunscreen:

  1. Waiting until you are already exposed to the sun before applying sunscreen. It takes 20—30 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed into the skin and become fully effective. When you head outside sans lotion, you are putting yourself at risk.
  2. Forgetting to apply sunscreen to your ears, feet, hands, scalp, and other vulnerable areas. A burn on the top of your feet or on your scalp in the delicate skin exposed in the part of your hair is a painful reminder.
  3. Using an expired or insufficient sunscreen. Sunscreen loses strength over time, so it’s important to check the expiration date and buy a new bottle every year. Before purchasing a new bottle, make sure it provides protection against both short-range UVA rays known for causing sunburns and skin cancer and deep-penetrating UVB rays that break down collagen and speed up the effects of aging.
  4. Not reapplying. Once is not enough. You need to reapply sunscreen a minimum of every two hours and always break out the sunscreen after swimming or sweating.
  5. Only applying sunscreen when it’s sunny. Your skin is susceptible to sun damage regardless of the season. Harmful rays can travels through clouds and glass and even reflect off snow. Sunscreen needs to be applied daily and year-round for maximum protection.

What are your sunscreen tips? Do you prefer organic sunscreen? We would love to hear from you!

For natural protection, check out our selection of organic sunscreen products:   Erbaviva Children’s & Adult’s Organic Sunscreen, John Masters Organics Sunscreen SPF 30, and Coola Organic Sunscreen for Face, Body, Lips and Sport.

Summer Camp for Children with Autism: Surfer’s Healing

Planning a vacation with a family member who has autism can be a challenging matter with lots of planning ahead of time and details worked out prior to leaving. Much of the fear that arises in autistic children is the fear of the unknown. Sensory stimulation can also raise fear and anxiety in autistic children, which is why planning out each detail of a vacation is essential to ensure that everyone enjoys himself / herself.

Surfer’s Healing, a foundation for autism, is dedicated to bringing families with autistic children a joyful experience and a new form of therapy through surfing.

Founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz, Surfer’s Healing was created as a way for their son Isaiah to find relaxation from sensory overload. Israel took Isaiah for a surfing ride one day and found that surfing had a large impact on Isaiah.

Danielle and Israel realized the power of surfing for autistic children and decided to begin hosting day camps for autistic children and their families to experience the therapy of surfing.

Surfer’s Healing camp is offered in a variety of locations across the east coast of the United States, including Maryland, Virginia Beach, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

During each day at camp, families arrive at the beach to be greeted by friendly staff members who will guide the families through the day’s itinerary. When it’s time for the child to embark on his / her first surfing experience, one of Surfer’s Healing staff members will assist the child with his / her life vest and take him / her out into the water to meet his / her personal instructor. Staff members will find out a little bit about the child’s interests and dislikes from the parents before taking him or her to the instructor. This enables instructors to establish trust with the child.

When the child is ready to go into the water, the staff member will take them to the instructor who will then help the child position himself / herself on the board. And off the child goes!

If the child responds well to the first surfing experience and is eager to continue, the instructor will provide one-on-one lessons for the child so that he / she can surf on his / her own. Surfer’s Healing offers a truly rewarding experience for both the children and the parents.

To learn more about Surfer’s Healing, click here to visit their website.