Christmas & Holidays

How to Make Your Own Homemade Christmas Wreaths

December 1, 2014
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One of my favorite traditions during the Holiday season is taking a day to decorate the house. While it may feel like a chore for some, I have always enjoyed putting a lot of creativity and effort into my décor this time of year.

Personalizing the front door wreath is one of my favorite ways to help set our home apart from others in the neighborhood. Years ago, people would put wreaths on their front door featuring different floral arrangements or crafts to identify their individual families and house—similar to the way we use house numbers today. Once I learned this, I couldn’t wait to create a few different Christmas wreaths for my friends and neighbors!

The wreaths shown below were inspired by each recipient’s hobby, but you could create one for just about anything—a new baby, a friend’s favorite movie or even a family’s heritage.

DIY Christmas Wreath for Knitters
Christmas Wreaths for Knitters

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How-To's

DIY Apple Dessert Bar with Caramel & Chocolate Covered Apples

November 19, 2014

A do-it-yourself caramel and chocolate apple bar is a fun idea for any gathering this time of year and it works for kids and adults alike! Using apple slices instead of whole apples makes it easy for guests to create different combinations. Plus, it’s easier to eat one slice at a time anyway. No double dipping allowed!

Here are the basic steps to get you started. Just remember to have fun with it and make it your own! Fresh fruit, whether dipped or not, is a great gift to send as well.
chocolate-covered-apples-buffet

Materials Needed:

* Apples (Different Kinds Are Welcome)
* Chocolate for Melting (White, Milk & Dark is Always a Fun Option)
* Caramel
* Head of Iceberg Lettuce
* Kale
* Container to Hold the Chocolate Dipped Apples
* Skewers
* Crunchy Options for Dipping (We Used Crushed Toffee, Walnuts & Toasted Coconut)
* Apple Corer
* Lemons
* Signs to Explain to Guests (i.e. Label the Macintosh Apples as “Macintosh”)
* Various Display Dishes

Preparing the DIY Apple Dessert Bar:

* Choose a few different varieties of apples.
* Wash apples before coring and slicing.
* Core and slice apples.
chocolate-covered-apples-slices

* To prevent the apples slices from turning brown, put the slices in a bowl and squeeze a lemon or two over the slices. Gently mix the slices with a wooden spoon so that they are coated with the lemon juice.

chocolate-covered-apples-with-lemon

* Prepare the container that you will be using to hold the skewered apple slices on the buffet table by compactly filling it with a head of lettuce. For a fancier look, use pieces of kale to cover the lettuce.

lettuce-kale-dessert-bar

* Insert a wooden skewer into the bottom of each apple slice.

chocolate-covered-apples-skewer

* Place the other end of the skewer into the cabbage and continue adding apple slices until you have filled out the container.

chocolate-covered-apples-diy

Chocolate Dipping Dishes:

Start with the “glue” – melted milk or white chocolate or caramel sauce. Use microwave safe dishes and pop them in right before serving. I recommend having an extra set of the melted dips so that you can quickly replace them as they start to cool off, rotating them out throughout the party. You could also keep the melted chocolate or caramel sauce on the buffet table in a small crock pot or keep the individual bowls on a warming tray.

chocolate-covered-apples-dipping

Next is the crunch. The choices are endless! We used crushed toffee, walnuts, toasted coconut, and turtle crunch. Fill up bowls with the topping and have spoons available for easy coverage!

chocolate-covered-apples-toppings

Setting Up the Buffet

With All the Bells & Whistles
Thinking about the idea of an apple for the teacher, I went for a bit of vintage school house charm here. An old wooden framed blackboard sets the tone; To carry it through, the topping signs and apple ID tags were made to look like chalkboard signs but were actually made on the computer!

And what else brings a smile to the teacher – a pretty bunch of flowers! To match the rest of the look I combined red roses, spray roses, and rose hips in a simple mason jar tied with a red gingham bow.

chocolate-covered-apples-bar

How-To's

Take Home A Treat

November 12, 2014

As soon as I spotted this fantastic old wooden crate at one of my favorite antique spots, I knew that there were tons of fun ways that I could use it!

I had friends over recently for our first fall get-together and treated my guests to a pretty bunch of flowers at the end of the party. They had to wait until they were leaving because I used the crate with all of the paper bag bouquets as a decoration on one of the buffet tables!

How to Make a Paper Bag Vase

paper-bag-bouquet-decoration

What You’ll Need:

* Fresh Flowers
* Kraft Paper Bags
* Cellophane Bags
* Floral Foam
* Raffia or Ribbon
* Water
* Floral Scissors or Shears
paper-bag-bouquet-supplies

Step-by-Step:

floral-foam-supplies
Step 1. Cut a third of the brick of floral foam.

Step 2. Put it in a sink or a bowl filled with water and gently drop the foam in, allowing it to naturally absorb the water. Wait until it is completely soaked before removing.

Step 3. Place in a cellophane or plastic bag that will fit into the paper bag and completely cover the foam.

Step 4. Insert the flowers one at a time giving each one a fresh cut, on an angle, before inserting into the wet foam. You only need a couple of stems for this casual bouquet.

Step 5. Place in paper bag.

Step 6. Tie with ribbon or raffia.
DIY Paper Bag Vase - Flowers in Floral Foam and Cellophane

Step 7. Share with a friend to make them smile!

paper-bag-bouquet

Julie's Blog

Vacation Memories

November 12, 2014

Turn Vacation Souvenirs Into Home Decor

Part of the fun of traveling and visiting new places is sampling the local foods and beverages.  In California I enjoyed locally brewed beers and home grown wines.  I enjoyed the artwork on the various labels as much as I enjoyed what was inside of them!  I kept a few samples and brought them home with me to enjoy and to keep my vacation memories alive.

To stay true to their California roots I popped a few stems of California grown seasonal flowers and placed botanicals into the bottles. I lined my new floral arrangements up on the windowsill right over my kitchen sink. They certainly made doing dishes a nicer experience!
beer-wine-bottle-floral-arrangement

California Grown Flowers

Flowers Grown in California

Julie's Blog

Trend Spotting: Copper

November 12, 2014

Copper is the Look for Fall

Copper has an ageless appeal that has transcended centuries. And as the saying goes “everything old is new again!” Copper seemed to start popping up everywhere this spring, and now it truly is “the” metal for Fall!

You can find old pieces such as the Old Dutch teapot or the hammered water pitcher in antique stores and flea markets. Due to the renewed popularity there are many new items that you can pick up to add warmth and an elegant glow to your home this holiday season.

Of course as I always say, if it can hold water it can hold flowers so here’s a little inspiration for making your copper accessory uniquely yours.

I love the combination of these beautiful roses in shades of lavender in a hammered copper water pitcher.  The rose varieties that I used here are Cool Water roses and Moody Blues roses with sprigs of wax flowers and seeded eucalyptus completing the bouquet.

copper-vase-rose-arrangement

I love the warm rosy glow of the copper perfectly complemented by the mango calla lilies and Free Spirit bi-color roses. Hypericum and tinted solidago add the finishing touch.

copper-water-pitcher-rose-arrangement

These “Shocking” lilies are like fireworks in the fall. They are part of the Sonata variety of lilies and are grown in California by Sun Valley Farms. They are very seasonal and available for just a few weeks each year. You can get yours now while they last at 1800Flowers.com!
copper-vase-lily-arrangement

The chrysanthemum is a flower that falls within the “everything old is new again” group, just like copper. For whatever reason, the mum fell from grace in the mind of the consumer. I am here to champion the simple beauty and longevity of the chrysanthemum. They are available year round in many different shapes, sizes, and colors but I think that Fall is their season to shine. Drop a few stems like I’ve done here in a container that you wouldn’t normally think of using as a vase and you will be able to enjoy their beauty in your home for 3-4 weeks.
copper-chrysanthemum-flower-arrangement

1800Flowers.com has a nice bouquet of mixed mums available called the “Fall Mum Medley.” It’s robust enough to be able to make a bouquet for yourself and one to share with a friend – just because!
Fall mums in an amber glass hobnail vase

Entertainment, Julie's Blog

The Moscow Mule: A Delicious & Inspirational Drink

November 11, 2014

There are a few themes that you will see weaving throughout my latest posts – what’s trending now, everything old is new again, my recent vacation in California, and California grown flowers.

moscow-mule-copper-mug Here’s one that covers them all – The Moscow Mule. A drink that was first created back in the 1940’s. Legend has it that it was first created in the Cock ‘n’ Bull bar located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. As with any legendary story there are a few slightly different versions, but to sum it up – vodka was just being introduced to the U.S. market and the salesman was struggling. He stopped in to see his bartender friend at the Cock ‘n’ Bull who was frustrated by his efforts to sell his homemade ginger beer. Get where we’re going here? The two beverages were mixed together with a little lime and a new drink was born! To market the new drink, the two turned to a friend with a copper factory who happened to have too many copper mugs in inventory and they engraved the mugs with the names of famous celebrities who frequented the Cock ‘n’ Bull. It didn’t take long for word to spread and everyone wanted to drink what the celebrities were drinking! Sound familiar? Everything old is new again!!

I had my first Moscow Mule at my sister’s suggestion who just had her first in Austin, Texas, at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch in Carmel, California. Perfection – the setting, the company, and the drink! Needless to say I had one in every town we stopped in along the coast on our way down to San Diego. I am personally responsible for the growing popularity since I’ve been back in New York. Just working on this post created quite a few fans.

Where did you have your first Moscow Mule?

Moscow Mule Drink Recipe: Mix It Up!

The Moscow Mule is very simple to make!
moscow-mule-drink-ingredients Drink Ingredients:

      * Copper Mug
      * Vodka
      * Ginger Beer
      * Limes
      * Ice
      * Mint Leaves

How to Mix It Up:
Step 1. Fill your mug with ice.
Step 2. Add 2 oz. of vodka.
Step 3. Fill the rest of the mugs with ginger beer.
Step 4. Squeeze the lime wedge in to the drink before adding it to the drink.
Step 5. Garnish with mint.
Step 6. Enjoy!

Moscow Mule Drink Recipe with Vodka, Lime, and Mint

Flower Inspiration from the Moscow Mule’s Copper Mug

Of course I see the copper mug as a perfect vessel for flowers or a plant. Here are a few photos to inspire you to create beauty in your life everyday.

Coffee break roses, sprigs of bittersweet, and liquid amber.
copper-mug-rose-arrangement

Peony – Red Kansas – imported from Chile. Simply beautiful. Limited availability and expensive but I couldn’t resist.
copper-mug-peony-arrangement

I love succulents. They look good anywhere and are so easy to care for whether as a potted plant or as a cut flower.
copper-mug-succulent

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day Wine Tasting

May 9, 2014

A Unique Mother’s Day Activity to Wow Mom

Spring is here and Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Have you started to think about how you can show mom just how much you love her and how special she is? How about getting together with a few of your friends to plan a Mother Daughter Wine Tasting party. The planning and preparation can be as much fun as the event itself.

mom-cheese-fruit-wine-hedge
A rustic, natural Napa Valley-inspired wine tasting is the perfect setting to incorporate so many of the most popular trends: burlap, chalkboard, mason jars, monograms and Made in America!

Of all these trends the one that will no doubt continue to grow, as it should, is “Made in America”. We carry many wonderful products throughout our family of brands that are American made or grown.

• All of the flowers are from our friends at Sun Valley Farms in northern California, many of which are available at 1-800 Flowers.com.

• The Rogue Creamery cheese and Royal Riviera Pears are both from beautiful Southern Oregon and available at Harry & David. Also available from Harry and David are the delicious California wines we chose to feature.

• The moss letters are from the Magnolia Company located in Florida, and are available as individual letters at 1-800 Flowers.com.

THE INVITATION

wine-tasting-invite

I found this invitation at Fine Stationery. I love the hand painted look, and the fact that it is called Russian River invitation sealed the deal. Order a few extra to be able to repurpose the artwork into the décor.

invitation-diy

DÉCOR AND ACTIVITIES

mom-hedge-flowers

I wanted to create a statement piece that would set the stage as soon as the moms arrived. This day is all about Mom! Monograms and initials are literally everywhere – on shirts, bags, front doors, jewelry, iPhone cases, bedding etc. I thought that having the moss-covered letters spelling out mom and “growing” up from a moss planter brimming with vibrant garden blooms would be a spectacular backdrop for a buffet table.

moss-box

I didn’t have a planter as big as I wanted this piece to be, so I made it from the box that the flowers were shipped in! I used Instant Green by Super Moss to cover the outside of the box. This stuff is great, inexpensive and easy to work with. I used the premade letters but you can use the same moss to cover letters that are available at most craft stores.

moss-letters

Before creating the arrangements, put plastic liners with soaked bricks of floral foam in water into the box using as many liners as needed to fill the length of the box. Add sticks to the letters and position them in the foam first and then create your floral arrangement!

FLORAL DECOR

floral-decor

Think about the overall theme and the look and feel of your event when creating your flower arrangements. Use various sizes, shapes and materials for the containers to add delightful and unexpected elements throughout the room. I love incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables along with the flowers in my designs. All of the different textures work so well together.

This “up cycled” glass jar wrapped with burlap and lace ribbon is the perfect container for a sweet gathering of fragrant spring hyacinth. Adding a vintage style enamel brooch makes it even more perfect for Mom!

PERSONAL TOUCHES

The key to making this a memorable day for Mom is all of the personal touches weaved throughout. Coming up with the ideas and getting together with your friends during the planning and preparation process is all part of the fun!

“Private Label” Wine

Create a wine label that is inspired by your mom! You can do it all on the computer or you could go old school and cut and paste using actual paper, scissors, glue etc!
Make the new label the same size as the label that is already on the wine bottle and just glue the new label over the old. Be creative and have fun with it.

custom-wine-labels

Here are two examples that I made to get you started. My mom—the original silver fox, inspired the Silver Fox Chardonnay! I came up with A Beautiful Mess thinking about one that my daughters might create for me!

Wine Totes

wine-totes

Keep the surprise hidden until it is time for each daughter to present her bottle to her mom inside a wine tote that is also personalized and decorated by you specifically for her. Again, be creative and have fun with it. There is no wrong or right here; you can use whatever materials you want. I save the front of pretty greeting cards I receive to repurpose and pay forward.

tote-tag-close-up

The pretty card on “Margaux’s” bottle was made for me by my friend, artist Sandra Magsamen, who made it with pieces from her life. When you put your heart into something that you give to someone else it doesn’t matter what the actual monetary value is—to you it is priceless!

wine-tote-floral

Staying on this track, the wine bottles themselves and/or the wine totes can be repurposed as vases for a single stem or a petite bouquet.

oasis-bouq-holder

Here’s a little florist tip. Use a bridal bouquet holder like the one here from Smithers Oasis to create a large bouquet in a container with a small opening like a wine bottle. Soak the bouquet holder in water first and place into the top of bottle. Put some sand or small rocks in the bottle first to give it some weight and prevent tipping. Cut your flower stems short and inset in foam to create the arrangement.

Plan a Hands-On Activity

paint-your-own-wine-glass
Have you noticed how painting and drinking wine has become such a popular activity lately? I can certainly see why! Getting together with friends, crafting and drinking wine sure sounds like a perfect way to spend some time to me!

Set up a station with inexpensive clear wine glasses, paints and brushes. If none of the daughters feel qualified to lead this activity you could hire someone. Or even better, ask around or use social media to fine someone who might be interested in doing a little barter deal.

And of course, the finished product could be used as a vase as well as a drinking glass. You know my motto—if it can hold water it can hold flowers!

Holiday Decorations, How-To's, Mother's Day

DIY Mother’s Day Craft: How to Make a Floral Hot Air Balloon for Mom

April 25, 2014
Mother's Day DIY Craft: How to Make aFloral Hot Air Balloon Arrangement for Mom

Pink and Orange Hot Air Balloon Place SettingMom does so much for the family throughout the year: No matter how long her to-do list is, you know you can always count on her for anything. Because she means so much, let her sit back and enjoy herself on Mother’s Day, and show her how appreciated she is. Treating your mom to a nice brunch is the best way to make her feel like a queen bee: Since you’ve already taken care of everything, Mom doesn’t have to lift a finger. To make her day even more special, pick a fun and truly original theme for your luncheon: hot air balloons!

This beautiful hot air balloon arrangement adds a whimsical take-me-away touch to any Mother’s Day table setting. As soon as she sits down, Mom will feel like she’s floating among the clouds without a care in the world! This Mother’s Day craft is really simple to make, so you can make a big, loving statement with minimal effort. Here’s how to make a floral hot air balloon for Mom on Mother’s Day! Continue Reading…

Holiday Decorations

Create Fun and Simple Easter Decorations

April 7, 2014

Easter Tree with Egg Ornaments
You can create simple Easter decorations that are simply beautiful and inexpensive by using seasonal flowers and re-purposing hard goods that you already have around your house or from other holidays.

Easter Tree

Easter Egg Tree
Making simple Easter decorations couldn’t be easier! Take out your tabletop faux “Charlie Brown” holiday tree and dress it up with Easter egg ornaments and fresh flowers. For this arrangement, I placed floral foam around the base of the tree and created a burst of spring with hydrangea and statice. I then used floral adhesive to attach individual blooms of lavender stock to the hydrangea florets. I did the same thing with little clusters of baby’s breath. Bring a little bit of the color and texture of the fresh flowers up into the tree in the same way or attach with small pieces of craft wire. I included petite sprigs of solidaster into the tree branches for its sunshine yellow color. All of these flowers will air dry nicely, so you will be able to enjoy your Easter tree for a few weeks.

Blue And Green Floral Cornucopia

Spring Cornucopia

Who says a cornucopia is only an autumn decoration. I love the beautiful blue color of this vintage ceramic cornucopia. To make it a truly spectacular vision, all you need are a few stems of coordinating blue/green hydrangea. First, place a piece of wet floral foam in the cornucopia and insert the hydrangea stems into the foam. The foam will keep the hydrangea fresh for about a week – you can add water to the base and sprits the flowers with water to help them stay fresh longer. After about a week or so, let the hydrangea air dry and enjoy for a few more weeks.

You can also incorporate some decorative Easter eggs and seasonal fruits and veggies into the design. Just use your imagination!

Easter Still Life

How sweet is this Easter display! And it’s easy too. To create the hydrangea eggs start with a faux egg (plastic, wood, ceramic) and spray it with craft adhesive. Snip individual florets from a hydrangea and attach to the egg. This project hardly uses any flowers – you can make it with florets snipped from hydrangea that you have used in another project such as the cornucopia!

Easter Flowers in Egg Holders

Egg Cup Place Setting

I believe you can make a big difference with little details. Use an egg cup filled with sprigs of fresh flowers to decorate each guest’s plate instead of or in addition to a traditional centerpiece. This is especially sweet for an Easter brunch.

Yellow and Blue Flowers in an Easter Egg Cup

Fall Decor

Festive Fall & Thanksgiving Table Settings

November 1, 2013

Creating a decorative detail on each dinner plate is an easy and inexpensive way to add a personal touch to your Thanksgiving table. While you don’t necessarily need to add a place card, it is a nice touch to create a more formal sit down meal for you and your guests. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices going.

Savory Succulent Table Setting

Succulents are on trend right now in gardens, home décor and even for weddings. You can enjoy these luscious plants either potted succulents or as fresh cuts. The plant is so easy to care for and the cut version lasts for weeks!
Elegant name cards for fall table settings with succulents!

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