Archive | January, 2013

Turn Supermarket Flowers into A Stunning Arrangement

30 Jan

Create Unique Arrangements From Store-Bought Bunches

These flowers practically beg to be arranged. Take some home!

These flowers practically beg to be arranged. Take some home!

Greetings Bloomies!

This week I want to focus on giving you all some pointers on how to make your own beautiful arrangements (you know- just in case you can’t get to me for an order.)

“Not-Quite-Scratch-Made” Florals

We’re going to take a page out of many a home cook’s playbook. If  you’re trying to serve a big spaghetti dinner, you probably don’t start with fresh tomatoes that must be skinned, diced, and stewed. At the very least, you start with canned tomatoes, and maybe even jarred sauce. You can still doctor it up with herbs, spices, veggies and meat to make it your own, and it will be delicious.

Home made floral arrangements can be done this way too. It’s simple to dress up even the most basic of store bought bouquets and make them look like a masterpiece. Here’s how.

Start with The Right Ingredients

Choose a variety of flowers and greens for a great home-made arrangement.

Choose a variety of flowers and greens for a great home-made arrangement.

Where to Buy Flowers for Semi-Home Made Arrangements

Most grocery stores have a small floral section. If yours doesn’t, you can try Costco, a Farmer’s Market, or look for a roadside stand. Depending on the season, pre ‘arranged’ bouquets are easy to come by and there are often multiple choices. In some metro areas, small corner groceries are a great bet. Each source will offer something unique. If you have the time, it might be worth combining pieces from a few shops.

Choose Your Flowers

Avoid anything with discolored foliage, wilted, or soft looking petals, mold, or crushed blooms. Sometimes a flower can get a little wrinkled or creased- especially lilies. Therefore, finding the PERFECT bouquet might seem impossible. Just find the least damaged of the ones you like. One bunch generally fits one regular sized vase. Keep this in mind if you are thinking of doing more than one arrangement.

Choose a Container

Do you have a cupboard stuffed with vases from old arrangements you’ve been given? Start digging and see what you find. The best size should be 8″ or so high, the size a dozen roses would come in. If you’re doing something smaller, or several arrangements, that’s ok too. Just make sure you have sufficient flowers for what you are wanting to do. I don’t recommend a vase larger than the standard 8″ vase, only because pre-made bunches are generally cut shorter than what you’d need for a taller vase. If, somehow, you don’t have a collection of vases stashed away, get creative with your container choices. Do you have larger mason jars, or cute buckets of some sort? Unusual containers can add to the over all effect of your arrangement too.

Step-By-Step Recipe for Home Made Flower Arrangements

Prepare Your Flowers

Just like cooking, a bit of prep work makes it easy to pull everything together. Instead of chopping vegetables though, we’re prepping our flowers and vase.

  • Remove foliage from the stem, most importantly what will be under the water line. This reduces the chance of the water getting slimy, or the flowers rotting.
  • Separate out your types of greens and flowers in your bunch. It makes it easier to see what you have.
  • Fill your vase with warm water (above tepid but below bathtub temps) and floral preservative packet, if one was provided. Stir to dissolve all the preservative.

Arrange Your Flowers

Now that you have everything you need, set up in your workspace, (um, kitchen table), let’s talk about how to assemble the greens and flowers into something gorgeous.

  • Cut stems on an angle. This helps the flowers and greens to draw up more water and stay fresher longer. Don’t wait to long after cutting them to get them in water- the cut will dry out and “heal” not allowing water up the stems. You can re-cut if necessary.
  • Start with the greens. Whether it’s eucalyptus, or fern or salal or another green, cut them low so they rest in the neck of the vase, obscuring the edge and adding a structure for the other flowers.
  • Place flowers. The tallest should be smaller and shortest should be biggest. There should also be a rounded or triangular shape to the arrangement. Make sure it’s not top heavy. That is, more flowers should be short and full, with a few taller ones to fill out the design.
  • Use the Fibonacci sequence/golden rule. The tallest flower should be 1.5-2 times the total height of the vase. The best arrangements feel balanced.
  • Add or subtract things until it feels right and pretty to you. Trust your own eye and sense of aesthetics here. This is your creation after all!

Tips For Using Common Grocery Store Flower Types

Did you know, tulips continue to grow after they're cut?

Did you know, tulips continue to grow after they’re cut?

Congrats – You just did flower arranging! I told you it was simple. Here are a few more pointers to help you create truly beautiful bouquets, centerpieces, and more.

Tulips

If tulips are curved or arched, they will most likely be straight by tomorrow. Also, they continue to grow after they’re cut, so make them shorter than you’d think and you might need to trim them a couple times later on.

Roses

Roses should be cut under warm water and allowed to rest in water for an hour or so before arranging to make sure they last and don’t droop over immediately.

Gerberas

Gerbera Daisies can sag or have limp stems. I recommend floral straws or floral wire to keep the stems straight. Both are available at art and craft supply stores.

Happy Arranging, Bloomies!

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Flowers for Kids: Five Tips for Choosing an Arrangement

23 Jan

Think Flowers for Kids: They’ll Love Them as Much as You Do!

This bright woodland themed kids arrangement with a cute bird would brighten any sick kid's day.

This bright woodland themed kids arrangement with a cute bird would brighten any sick kid’s day.

Happy Wednesday, Bloomies!

So I’ve been thinking a lot about kids. I heard a sad story about a girl with Leukemia. And one about an entire family of flu-bugged children. Poor little nuggets!

It’s so easy to think of adults in the hospital needing some cheer and well wishes. But, kids get sick and hurt, too. And lots of times it can be really scary to be so little and not know what’s going on. Guess what? Kids like flowers as much as adults!

When I was little, my mom would sometimes get me a stuffed animal clutching a single stem of freesia, or a rose; a little token as a “Good Job, ” or “Congratulations!” for a good report card or for making Honor Roll. Those small gestures made me feel loved and very grown-up. My very own flowers!

Tips for Choosing Flowers for Kids

Wanting to continue the tradition? Here are some pointers:

Keep It Small

Kids don’t need a 100.00 blowout to feel appreciated. A bud vase, or a stuffed animal holding a little something can often mean more. Kids love when stuff is “kid sized,” and flowers are no exception.

Cheerful Colors

Think bright, fun colors. All white probably won’t grab their attention. Find out their favorite color and use it.

Include Toys or Sweets

Add a “trinket”- a cute little bird, a little box with goodies inside, or some candy with their flowers make it super child friendly.

Fragrance Free

While there might not be any allergies to flowers in the recipient, you should avoid sending scented flowers to the hospital. Advise your florist of chemo treatments or hospital stays. It helps us make the correct floral choices.

Pick a Theme

Even if you don’t include a trinket or stuffed animal, they might have a favorite game, show or character whose colors or concepts can be integrated into the arrangement.

Are the ideas flowing? Great! Find a deserving child and order them some flowers!

Three Edible Flowers You Can Serve at Your Next Dinner Party

16 Jan

Edible Flowers Bring Color and Interest to Your Table

Edible flowers bring simple elegance to your table.

Edible flowers bring simple elegance to your table.

Have you ever tried edible flowers? They are a great way to bring vibrant colors and a unique twist to your table. We’re all accustomed to using herbs for flavor and interest on the plate, but we rarely make the leap to edible flowers.

You can now find fresh petals packaged in the same aisle as the herbs we use so routinely, so there’s no excuse for not brightening your next dinner party with edible flowers on the plate (and of course a stunning arrangement on the table top.) If you can’t find them at the supermarket, many can be grown right in your own backyard. Start planning now for a tasty and gorgeous summer harvest.

A word of warning, make sure you know for certain that the flower you put on the plate is edible. Just because it came on the cake, doesn’t mean it should go in your mouth. If your uncertain, don’t eat it. Also, you’ll want to make sure you use food grade flowers, that are pesticide free. If you buy the packs in the supermarket or grow your own you’ll be fine.

Three Ways to Incorporate Edible Flowers at Your Next Shindig

Pansies

Pansies come in a wide variety of colors, but most often in some luscious shade of purple or brilliant shade of yellow. They have a mild minty flavor that makes them really easy to use. They will work well in savory or sweet dishes alike.

  • Toss them into a salad for a colorful twist on plain greens. What an easy way to impress your guests!
  • Decorate sweets with a single blossom. Think lemony cupcakes with a delicate flower on top.
  • Wrap them into spring rolls. Since you can see through the translucent rice paper wrappers, you can line up a few tiny blooms on the outside layer of fillings for a beautiful presentation.

Rose Petals

Roses are such a classic flower, that it’s hard not to love the idea of roses in your food. They have a strong, sweetish flavor, and much of their culinary interest comes from their fragrance. Our experience of food is very much determined by smell, so roses are a particularly appealing. The more fragrant the better when it comes to edible roses.

  • Spread a bit of rose petal jelly on toast with butter as a light appetizer. You can make your own or you might find some at upscale grocers. Talk about a sophisticated snack!
  • End the meal on a mellow note with rose petal tea. While coffee is a typical meal ender, not everyone wants to head into the night with a head of caffeine. Rose petal tea is a great way to end a meal.
  • Make rose petal vinegar to highlight this super fragrant edible flower. Pour boiling rice wine vinegar over rose petals. Let them steep for a week then use the vinegar for salad dressings and more.

Lavender

While lavender might qualify more as an herb than an edible flower, it is incredibly versatile. It is a classic flavor in many places, and it’s so easy to grow your own.

  • Celebrate your friends with delicious lavender cocktail. This one looks delightful, and easy to make!
  • Serve a main course with a lavender spice mix. Roast lamb with Herbs-de-Provence, a French spice mixture that includes lavender. For a vegetarian crowd, there’s nothing quite like garden fresh rattatoullie, complete with lavender.
  • Bake lavender into your favorite bread recipe for a simple and creative twist on the dinner staple. Serve hot with fresh butter. I guarantee there won’t be left overs!

Unusual January Holidays Are Great Excuses for Flowers

9 Jan

Don’t Wait a Month: January Holidays to Keep You In Blooms

What would you rather look at: a stack of papers or a delicate orchid? Go on, give yourself the gift of a clean desk- it's a great place for flowers!

What would you rather look at: a stack of papers or a delicate orchid. Go on, give yourself the gift of a clean desk- it’s a great place for flowers!

Holy moly, Bloomies, it’s still only January, right? All of a sudden I thought I was a WEEK away from Valentines, with no orders to fill. That would have made me sad! Luckily, it IS only the second week of January, and there are plenty of ‘holidays’ between then and now to fill my time. Don’t believe me? Check out this list.

6 Best Reasons to Give (or Get!) Flowers in January

This year:
  • January 12th is the Miss America Pageant. Award yourself (or that special lady) “Miss Fabulous” with a big pageant bouquet.
  • January 13th is Make Your Dreams Come True Day. I don’t know about you, but my dreams always include flowers.
  • January 14th is Clean off Your Desk Day AND Organize the Home day. Replace the stack of files with a low arrangement of fragrant flowers.
  • January 17th is  Get To Know Your Customers Day. Thank them for answering your questions/survey with a beautiful desktop arrangement (to go on their still neat desk from the 14th) or even just a single bloom.
  • January 22nd is Celebration of Life Day. What better way to do so than with real live flowers? Let them know you appreciate them in your life with a bouquet or a living, potted beauty.
  • January 31st is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day. Flower Design is a form of art. Pick up an architectural or textural arrangement inspired by modern art.
There are so many more weird holidays, but these are the ones that make the BEST excuses for buying flowers. As if you need one. Even if your gift is a single daisy, it lets the recipient know you were thinking of them, and that you care.

January Birth Month Flower: Snowdrops

2 Jan
Snowdrops arrangement from bloom.uk.com

Snowdrops arrangement from bloom.uk.com

A Resolution: More Flowers in 2013!

Happy New Year, Bloomies! 2012 was a rough year on many people I know, and I think many of us are looking forward to a smoother 2013. This year I’m going to start off right. A little late, but right. More flowers, less stress. Hoping the same for you!

Snowdrop: The Better January Birthday Flower

Normally, when I do the flower of the month for birthdays I just grab what’s top of the list, the most common. However, I know people who hate the flower most commonly associated with this month- carnations. So we’re going to flip the script, as it were.

Snowdrops are tiny, white and love the snow. Often they are the first bulb flowers besides crocus to show in the late winter/early spring, popping up in the melting snow. The heads hang downward from the stem. Each flower only has three petals.

They are quite small and delicate, so work best in bunches. They work especially great in simple arrangements with out much filler or fuss.

Meaning of Snowdrops

It’s proper name is Galatus Nivalis. Its generic name, Greek in origin, Galathus means “Milkflower”. Nivalis is Latin meaning “relating to or resembling snow”.  It is also referred to as the bulbous violet and is often classified under Narcissus in botany books.

In Victorian times snowdrops were considered foreboding of death, due to their appearance in cemeteries- and people wouldn’t allow them in their homes. Don’t let this history turn you off of snowdrops though!

Today they stand as a symbol of sympathy, or can be given to a bride as a symbol of optimism and virtue. And as one of the first blooms to peek from beneath the winter snow, they’re clearly a symbol of hope and renewal. What a better way to celebrate a January birth?