Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Project #219 - Flower Arrangements #2

So, the flower arrangement from last week was a little bonkers, and not the easiest thing to arrange or maintain. So, in the spirit of giving out actual useful information I'll talk about some simpler flower arrangements made from the same bouquet.

This project would be good to note if you're thinking about doing your own simple arrangements for your/anyone's wedding. I could have saved myself a lot of money if I had some simple, accessible arrangements to crib from. Still, I carry with me some hard-won lessons. Leave flowers with multiple, large blossoms arranged vertically to the professionals. {Also, I will never be ready for floral foam.})

Statice is a great flower for anyone just getting into cutting their own. They'll put up with a lot of abuse (extreme temperatures, forgetting to water them for a day) and dry well if you're nervous about timing fresh flowers correctly.

Just fanning one type of flower in a vase is about as easy as it gets for arrangements. This works best for tree branch-shaped flower stems with multiple blossoms at different levels. Trim off anything that would be underwater and make sure you have a nice assortment of heights. Using multiple colors of the same flower will also add interest.

Fossflowers are a popular annual and will grow in most lawns. They sprout chaotic stems thick with little, hairy blossoms. Just a few stems will fill a lot of space and create informal, natural looking arrangements.

Delphinium are also easy yard flowers. I like to leave a little foliage on them to break up the columns of purple.

For two big, attention-getting flowers with single, circular blossoms like sunflowers and zinnias I like to treat them as equals and arrange them in one big ball. They'll tone each other down and and won't drown out more subtle blooms.

Otherwise, two different flowers with different blossom arrangements sometimes work best when placed at different vertical levels. Columnar snapdragons dominate the top half of the arrangement while puffy Joey Ptilotus (I think that's the right name...) fill in lower down. There is a little bit of mixing, especially with the ptilotus creeping up top, just to keep the bouquet from looking completely bifurcated.

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posted by Alison 9/01/2009 03:19:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Project #216 - Test Tube Bud Vases

I like being able to put flowers in unexpected places.

I used some science surplus test tubes and neodymium disc magnets to make my bud vases. Whatever magnets you use will need to be strong, so rare earth magnets are a good place to start. I also used some epoxy to hold the two pieces together.

The brand I used had minimal fumes, so I felt comfortable mixing it in small quantities indoors. I also scuffed up the test tubes with a little sandpaper to give the glue a rougher surface to adhere to.

My test tubes are narrow enough so that the water tension doesn't break when we open the dishwasher. However, we do have to water the flowers at least once a day because even if we fill it to the top, it's still just a few mL of water.

This kind of arrangement might work for simple wedding or shower decorations. The vases could be attached to a magnetic picture frame or stuck to a metal container holding candles or pens and paper. People could even take them home as party favors.

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posted by Alison 8/29/2009 05:38:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Project #212 - Flower Arrangement

Oh boy. Oh boy. Today. Today, I deserve a drink. Sadly, it is difficult to do my job and drink at the same time, so I'm settling for the $5 variety bouquet at the Farmer's market as my pick-me-up. Just carrying the flowers around the market and to my car did a little to lift my spirits.

When I take a new bouquet of flowers home I always prepare them immediately. First, I cut the stem of each flower at an angle underwater so they can easily take in moisture. I keep the cut stems initially in a holding container full of cold water until I'm ready to arrange them. Next, I remove any leaves or buds from the lower part of the stem; they'll rot underwater. After that, I'll mix one part Sprite or 7-up with four parts water and pour that into my vase. Finally, I'll arrange the flowers in the vase starting with the tallest and working my way to the lowest stems, clipping as necessary. The tallest stems are in the middle of the neck of the vase and the shortest ones will be around the rim.

I try to put flowers of the same variety at different levels, and keep the most prominent ones to odd numbers, this makes the arrangement look a little less artificial and more natural and spontaneous.

It's embarrassing that spending a little money at the market can make me feel better.

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posted by Alison 8/25/2009 09:47:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Monday, July 13, 2009

Project #178 - Cabbage Centerpieces

When I'm working on other people's weddings sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that it's not my wedding. Case in point: the vases above. The mother of the bride purchased about 8 narrow glass vases and a handful of silk roses, one or two per vase. She wanted them to be the centerpieces for each table.

My oldest brother-in-law (again, not the one getting married) and I both looked at them and hated them instantly, mostly because we both have black, black Martha Stewart hearts. The vases were too little to fill up space on top of the jumbo sized tables, and they were so narrow that they would likely fall over whenever a guest stood up or sat down. Plus, the itty-bitty rosebuds looked pathetic and forlorn all by themselves.

However, this was not my damn wedding. The mother of the bride spent her money and time picking these things out, so there was no way that they were not going to end up in the middle of each table. I needed to suck it up and design some sort of flower arrangement where the offending vase would be the star. Oh, and I needed to do this with the last $20 of the flower budget for 8 tables. Ah, and we were out of flower containers.

The solution to all of my problems turned out to be $2 cabbages from the farmer's market.

We saw a truckload of lacy, organic cabbages at the market, ones that were a shade of purple and a shade of deep green that wouldn't clash with the sage green table cloths. We purchased nine on the spot, the extra one would be used to experiment the day before the reception. Each cabbage would be cut into a vase holder. They would fill in the center of the table, incorporate the required decorations, and, hopefully, not look completely insane.

We prepared all of the cabbages the morning of the reception. First, we removed all of the outer, insect chewed leaves. Then we lopped off the bottom of each so they would sit levelly and not roll around. Next, we cut the hole where we would insert each vase. We used the lip of the vase itself to lightly bruise the outer leaves and give us a cutting guide.

Cutting the first few layers isn't hard, but eventually you'll need to start scooping out the middle of the cabbage, which won't come out as easily. Keep a fork on hand to pulverize and scoop out the stubborn bits. We cut a tunnel deep enough to hold the first 1/3 of each vase.

We smelled like coleslaw for a little while.

I'm glad that I married into a family that does not think I'm nuts.

We also made a special display for the bride and groom. The mother of the bride seemed to be pleased at how it all turned out. Phew! She cared much more about the decorations then either of the newlyweds and she was the one I was most concerned about keeping happy.

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posted by Alison 7/13/2009 01:06:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Project #177 - Wedding Flowers

Our next big wedding task was to purchase and make all of the floral arrangements. The farmer's market is an awesome place to buy flowers for cheap if you co at the right time of year. My oldest brother-in-law (the one not getting married) and I managed to get all of reception flowers and greenery, seen in the picture above, for about $60. $60!

The important thing to do when you purchase flowers is to cut the stems at an angle (preferably under water) and put them in water immediately. We bought the flowers the day before we needed them, so we put them in a cooler 3/4 of water and added ice to help keep the flowers for over blooming by adding ice to keep them cool.

My in-laws had nearly 30 family heirloom ice cream dishes that we used to do the flower arrangements. I tried to make the flower arrangements look a little like ice cream sundaes.

I woke up super early this morning to finish all of the the arrangements so that they would be ready to go by the afternoon. Everyone was up early with some sort of task to do.

This sort of DIY wedding won't work for every family, but I kind of like doing it this way. We all have different skills that fit well together and it really makes me feel like a part of the family to have something to contribute.

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posted by Alison 7/12/2009 11:35:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stretching our Floral Dollar with Wheatgrass

Previously: Our Favors Require a Degree in Botany

If I had all of the money in the world I would have sprinkled our reception venue with dozens and dozens of dense, exotic flower arrangements. But as someone interested in having a wedding without going into debt we had to think of something else that would have a similar impact, but with less cost. There is a quality to fresh flowers, the glow of living, breathing things, that I love. So, in lieu of silk flowers we decided to go with live plants, namely wheatgrass. I've been growing the stuff for years and I love how each plant breathes and perspires, furthermore, the bright green fit right into our color scheme.

Plus, the our third try at finding the right variety of wheatgrass did the trick! It grew up thick and the blades were new-leaf green. I wanted to give the impression of a lawn so I added random yellow chrysanthemums to some of the containers. We used our little containers of wheatgrass to add a little to our table settings and as companions to our guest table centerpieces.
It might not be clear from this photo, but I sank small plastic test tubes into the soil of the beflowered grass containers to serve as mini water tanks. We filled the tubes with water using a turkey baster before inserting the flowers. They still looked fresh almost two days later when they were deployed for the wedding.

These larger containers were used to decorate our peripheral tables, like the cake table and the guest book table.

I'll have more pictures of our grass and flowers in action when our photos are released.

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posted by Alison 10/17/2007 09:43:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Friday, July 20, 2007

Snackable Centerpieces

I really, really like fresh flowers, but we didn't have money in the budget to pay for baskets of flowers for 20+ tables or the time to assemble them. My fiance liked the idea of using fresh fruit in the arrangements, so we experimented and found something that we both liked that would cost about $16 per table.

The Bird of Paradise blossoms will be about $1.75 each from our florist with a bulk purchase, and there will probably be three in each final arrangement. The vase in the center is a beer glass from Ikea (6 for $6.99), and the glass is filled with $1 of Jabo marbles purchased in bulk from ebay. The bowl is a $3 plastic punch bowl from Target*, and it is filled with a $6 crate of clementine oranges that will be purchased from a local fruit distributor. I managed to get clementines on our wedding date last year from the grocery store, so I am crossing my fingers that they will be available from the wholesale shops again.

We needed something simple that could be assembled quickly by the wedding coordinators and would fit well with the reception venue. We will be sitting in an Amazon rainforest exhibit next to a waterfall, so the Bird of Paradise should work well. Additionally, the stems should be tall enough so that views across the table will be unobstructed. Mr. Lollipop also likes the idea of guests snacking on the centerpieces if they get hungry. We'll be gluing the vases to the bowls to keep them from tipping over even if all of the oranges are removed.

*Target changed their punch bowls a little a few months ago, so the current version is a little taller and narrower

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posted by Alison 7/20/2007 09:40:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, July 19, 2007

An Edible Bridesmaid Bouquet

Exactly one year out from our wedding date I decided to do a test run of our bouquets and centerpieces so I could get an idea of what was in season for September. I really wanted to do the flower arrangements myself to save money, but I had no experience at all. I figured that if I screwed up I could always just have the female bridal party carry books or lanterns down the aisle.

To save even more money, we decided to use fruits and vegetables to cut down on flower costs. Plus, I was having a tough time finding flowers in anything other than weak, pale green shades. So, I decided to do a test run of the bridesmaid bouquets using green bell peppers, broccoli and asparagus. The pepper and asparagus bouquets turned out horribly because, as I said before, I didn't know what I was doing. They were asymmetrical and lumpy.

However, when I tried a third time using broccoli I managed to get results I could live with. I used alstroemeria, white chrysanthemums, mini white roses and an outside layer of bells of Ireland to surround a head of broccoli in the middle.

The flowers in the picture came from Whole Foods and our Maid of Awesomeness is serving as the hand model.

The flowers for the wedding itself will be come from Jim Ludwig's Blumengarten in the Strip District. They will be selling us wholesale flowers for bouquets and centerpieces as well as pre-made boutonnieres and corsages. This will cost us about $400.

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posted by Alison 7/19/2007 08:23:00 AM : (0) comments : splink


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