There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays
A Foraging We Will Go…
The first thing you need to know when you spend a windy December morning foraging with Reuben Mark Stewart, is that you really need to bundle up (a lesson I learned after the fact). Our morning journey to Reuben’s favourite winter foraging havens, along the Saint John River and in various wooded areas, proved to be a hike that required sure footing and many layers of warm apparel. I will be prepared next time, but I embraced every minute of this adventure, to gather evergreen boughs, branches, vines, berries and dried blossoms that would be used to style my home for Christmas, come what may.
A Master Forage Floral Stylist
Reuben is a master forage floral stylist. Every arrangement he creates begins with a journey like this to many different local spots to gather blooms and wild flora. Much of what he does, highlights the Maritimes landscape, as the outdoors truly comes indoors with him. He also incorporates flowers in his arrangements too, sourcing them locally & supplementing with imported focal flowers from Canadian distributors. Gathering nature’s bounty changes every season and Reuben’s destinations to find them also changes according to what is in bloom. I felt honoured to be with Reuben on this journey from the very beginning trekking and foraging through the woods to the end styled result of my beautiful festive home.
When I first met Reuben last spring (see link to Art, Flowers & Tea at Gallery on Queen), I knew that he was a ‘hidden gem’; his bouquets were artful masterpieces and I just knew I had to work with him again. Fast forward to me standing in the snow (in minus way too cold), taking photographs of Reuben skillfully handling his pruning shears in a winter wonderland, collecting all he needed to style my home top to bottom, inside and out for the holidays. I think my excitement kept me somewhat warmer than I dressed for, as well as the moments that took my breath away being immersed in Mother Nature’s awesome display. “Hey Reuben, do you think those are bunny tracks?,” I asked. “Probably,” he nodded, “I saw a hare last time I was out foraging.” he added. “Well, look close, I think he was hopping so fast that he got his ears into it too,” I laughed. Reuben just smiled.
It’s Probably Just a Deer…
A massive flock of geese took us by surprise honking noisily overhead and in unison we watched them all land on the far side of the river. “Wow! I bet you see a lot of awesome sights when out foraging?!” I half-asked, half-stated and Reuben nodded and smiled again. At our next foraging location, after questioning Reuben about the various animal tracks I was seeing in the snow, a loud ‘crack’ was heard in the nearby woods (sounding much like a stepped on branch). Reuben smirked and shared that he indeed heard it too. “I don’t think there are any bears around here,” he added nonchalantly after I pointed to massive tracks in the snow. He seemed amused with me and kept foraging. I scampered closely behind, keeping an eye on the nearby woods simultaneously. All the while, Reuben was totally in his element, relaxed and seemingly at one with nature and I was… trying to … but a bit unsettled and distracted, feeling like we were not alone and maybe being ‘watched’. Reuben smiled again and reassured me, “It’s probably just a deer.”
All Reuben needed to style my home ~ he had gathered, other than a quick stop to pick up a delicate pretty poinsettia at a local shop. Now it was my turn to smile as I saw Reuben exit the store, forfeiting his own warmth, to further protect the store-wrapped poinsettia from the elements. He cradled the plant like a newborn, swaddled in his scarf, then held it closely on his lap. He had precious cargo. That’s how Reuben handles everything he touches when he is creating his masterpieces.
A Natural Teacher
Reuben is respectful, meticulous, thoughtful and genuine. He is also a natural teacher and a zen master. I learned so much as he shared what he was doing every step of the way. He has given small group workshops from time to time and I told him repeatedly, he should do more of it as he is a natural teacher. He has so much knowledge & knowhow to share and he is truly gifted at imparting that to others. Once back at my home, I was mesmerized watching the process of Reuben’s creative styling artistry. I loved everything Reuben styled in my home. I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Do It Yourself (DIY) Instructions for an Envy-Worthy Mantel
Enjoy these DIY mantel instructions, so you too can bring the outside ~ inside your home to showcase your fireplace any time of year. The peacefulness I get from enjoying my new festive mantel, ‘almost’ made me feel like I did not need to put a tree up this year. However, since it is a treasured family tradition, I have decided this year our tree will go up again but it will find its’ place downstairs in our family room. My living room mantel is a standout and it deserves to be the sole focal point. I hope you like it as much as I am. Enjoy this step by step DIY.
Optional: If you have a narrow ledge on your mantel, start with slim container(s) to securely hold natural elements. Reuben had two chicken feeders that were ideal. This is not necessary but is a great support to ground the display.
Step 1: Add candles/vases/feature items you wish to highlight.
Step 2: Incorporate bottles/glassware (3/4 filled with water) to give heavier branches a weighted vessel to hold them upright and to maintain some moisture in branches.
Step 3: Clip tips of branches to cut any scabs that may have formed since foraging to allow water to enter. Trim branches to desired height, and place in bottles, varying the heights for interest. Be creative, break the rules ~ just go with what you’re feeling.
Step 4: Add greenery ~ let the fir fly! (see what I did there? heehee) Add spruce, pine, cedar, holly, mosses, etc. ~ whatever you foraged.
Step 5: Add detail bits (pinecones, berries, sumac, etc.) again, whatever you managed to forage.
Step 6: Add mini-lights, and any additional personal touches, then set timer on lights (if applicable) & light candles (monitoring when you do so) & enjoy your stylized mantel! You did it! Take it all in!
Style Your Home with Reuben Mark Stewart
I cannot say enough about the creative artistry of Reuben Mark Stewart. You have to see him create something for yourself and I highly recommend you do. He is a treasure in the Maritimes. A gift to us to have him here versus permanently in a big North American city. The great thing is he is ours - a real maritimer ~ the boy next door!
If you would like Reuben to style your fireplace mantel, design a floral arrangement or installation for your business or home for a special celebration or holiday, make you a special wreath or a breathtaking tablescape that your guests will ‘ooh’ & ‘aah’ over, or perhaps create a welcoming entrance to your home, or style a room, main floor or even your whole interior or exterior of your home or business, he can do it!
If you would like him to creatively and artistically style an event from a simple tea or birthday party, a graduation party, baby or wedding shower, an anniversary celebration or a wedding from the rehearsal party to the final dance, Reuben is your guy… anything at all from big to small.
Reuben is a down-to-earth Maritimer with the skill set of a New York Fashion Week floral designer (did I mention he has this on his resume too?!). Well, he does! People are catching on and Reuben has created unique floral installations in local art galleries and he has hosted ‘pop up shops’ for festive wreaths and floral arrangements in downtown Fredericton businesses too.
Don’t miss a chance to have Reuben create something really beautiful for you or for someone very special to you. He will give it the TLC that will make it a stand out. He’s one of a kind and he creates one of a kind whimsical arrangements. Just look at how he styled the exterior of my home. The front door wreath is an artpiece and the kissing balls are delightful. I told Reuben, they should be marketed as kissing acorns due to their sweet evergreen caps pulled together in a buffalo check ponytail bow). They are delightful day and especially at night as they light up. My whole home is smiling now Reuben after you performed your magic on it. I luvs it all! xo Thank you so much! <3
Read more about this humble stylist that gets swept up and jetted off to big cities often to style an event or join a team of famous floral stylists at big major events. However, don’t let that intimidate you. Reuben really is just the boy next door. He just so happens to have trained and worked under some of the best in New York and Australia, but he is a kind, down-home Maritimer. We are lucky to get to benefit from all his expertise. His designs are elegant, playful, magical and delightfully serene and zen.
Reuben is the sweetest guy with the biggest heart. He loves what he does and it shows. The care he gives to get to know his clients and marry their style with his special touch is surreal. Give him a chance to create something wonderful for you or for someone special to you. Find Reuben’s contact information and more about him by clicking on his photo links below. Message him and share that the Maritimes Maven sent you! He will take good care of you.
This post was sponsored by Reuben Mark Stewart; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Be the first to know when a new Maritimes Maven story is posted by subscribing through the link at the top of this page. You can also follow the Maritimes Maven on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.