Eco-friendly arranging with farmers market flowers

I hope this post finds you well on this Memorial Day.

I’m trying a new approach to playing with flowers… a more eco-friendly approach.  That means no more wet floral foam (very toxic) and using more locally grown flowers. So with this in mind I took a trip to my local farmers market (rather than my corner grocery store) to see what kind of floral beauty was offered.  I was so pleased with the variety. Everything from carnations to Dahlias and roses … and an abundance of other seasonal local flowers.   And the price?  More affordable than my corner grocer…

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I picked out some cymbidium (sym-BID-ee-em) orchids and some pretty purple mums.  I decided to practice using a floral frog again instead of the wet floral foam.

This time I used a smaller vessel (a cute thrifted tea cup) with a small, circular floral thrifted floral frog.  I simply snipped the orchid stems and pressed them into place on the floral frog …

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Yay.  I think I’ve made friends with the floral frog …

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I also had some pinkish, purple cymbidium orchids and combined them with the white ones into a large, low bowl with a larger floral frog.   I tucked them in tightly …

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For the mums, I just gathered them into a tight bouquet in my hand and trimmed the bottoms the same length.  I wrapped a rubber band around them and placed them in a mason jar tied with ribbon (super easy hostess gift idea)…

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Tuesday evenings at the farmers market might have to be my new ritual.  Maybe next time I’ll pick up some farm fresh produce for a farmer’s market inspired dinner…

Until next Monday!

jennifer

A new perspective on flowers

After discovering that the wet floral foam that I  loved using for flower arranging is actually quite toxic and not biodegradable at all, I started reading about what today’s florists are using in lieu of floral foam in arrangements.  Many of them have done away with using floral foam all together and use things like pebbles or curly willow or floral tape or floral frogs.  Many of them are also just using more locally grown flowers and less imported flowers.  This article was particularly informative, as was the video.

So I decided to try my hand at using a floral pin frog.  These I picked up at a garage sale.  3 for 6 dollars…

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They are metal and heavy.   Secure them in your container with floral clay and just poke the stems of the flowers into the pins.  Martha Stewart has a helpful little video all about floral frogs.

I also decided to keep with this eco-friendly theme and purchased a “doesn’t-offend-anyone-on-the-earth”  bouquet of flowers from the organic grocery store.   But they were offensive to me at $17 for one small bouquet.  Yikes!

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On top of that they were in sad shape… (it was hard to tell thru the cellophane)

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So I found myself tearing away lots of browned petals….

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Then I got the stems all trimmed  and organized and ready to be arranged…

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I started with the largest stem first (hydrangea) and just worked around it…

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Woops.  Guess I ran out of flowers.  Even the filler in this bunch was sad and mostly not unusable.   So I took a peek out at my rose bushes and spotted two roses that still had some life in them and used them to fill the space…

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What a difference a good flower makes …

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Well this particular arrangement was a real learning experience for me:

  1. I’m not such a fan of the floral pin frogs (yet.)  All the flowers just want to point straight up, kind of unnatural looking.  I need more practice.
  2. I think I just need to buy flowers from the farmers market.  They are local and affordable.  Not as conveniently located for me or with as much variety but  I’ll give it a whirl.

Until next Monday :)

Jennifer

Pretty simple gift of flowers

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A while ago I started to save the empty jars of almond butter I used for the toddler plumping shakes I was making for my little girl.   It felt like a waste to just keep tossing them in the recycling.  Now I have a little stock pile of “go to” vessels for impromptu flower deliveries for friends or family.  Adding a simple ribbon or even some yarn can really dress up this repurposed jar.

All you need is

  • a jar
  • ribbon, twine, yarn, or even paper
  • flowers
  • scissors

It can be tricky to get those labels off after you wash out the jars, so just soak them in very hot, soapy water for a couple of hours or overnight.  Most of the label will fall off.  I use rubbing alcohol to get rid of any of the sticky residue.  Works like a charm.

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I cut six pieces of yarn long enough to fit around the jar and to be tied into a bow.  The bow knot would have been a bit too bulky if I used more than 6 pieces..

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Then lay the pieces of yarn flat and tie your best bow….

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Then trim your flowers to fit the jar.  Just size them up next to the jar.  I like the blooms to be just at or slightly above the lip of the vessel.  These flowers are called Anemones.  I like their rustic look …

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This was strange, there were two stems fused together . . .

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And here you have it…

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These jars also come in handy if you wan to break up a larger bouquet of flowers and divvy them up.

P.S.  I only had one tiny project in mind a couple of years ago when I bought this yarn, but I’ve used it in so many other projects since then.  . . .the hair from the Friendly? Doll, the swing from the yarn wrapped tree, the fishing pole from fishing for fishies, the birthday banner from the Dora birthday brunch.  I’m sure I’m leaving a few others out too.

Also, saving jars is not a form of hoarding (I don’t think?)

Until next Monday,

Jennifer

*video* Got leftover grilled beef and burgers? Make chili

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Nothing beats steak or burgers fresh off of a grill.  But what happens to all of the leftover meat once the eating is done?  You pile it on a plate, cover it with foil, and put it in the fridge knowing that the steak and burgers just won’t taste the same once they are reheated.   I ran into this problem when I made those tender beef fajitas a couple of weeks ago.  I thought maybe the steak leftovers could work well in a beef chili, and they did.  Yum.  The key is to create a deep flavored and thick sauce by toasting the spices and tomato paste . . . unless you burn it, so be careful of that.   Another key to this beef chili is to simmer low and slow after you add the meat and stock.  Don’t let it come to a boil.  This could toughen the meat.

Here’s a very short video of how I do it (recipe below too)

Beef Chili with grilled steak and burgers (serves 4-6)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup juice from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  (adds a smokey and spicy kick)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 to 2 cans kidney beans (I ended up using 1 1/2 cans.  Depends on what kind of meat to beans ratio you prefer)
  • left over steak (chopped into very small cubes.  I used about 2 cups)
  • left over burgers (crumbled.  I used about 2 cups)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start with pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add onion and cook for a minute or so.  Add green chiles and cook for 3-5 minutes or when onions begin to brown slightly.  Add spices and stir the pot for about 3 minutes to toast the spices.  Once the spices start sticking to the pan quickly add the chipotle juice.  With a wooden spoon stir and scrape bits of spices from pan and add the tomato paste.  Combine tomato paste and stir for another 3 to 5 minutes until the tomato paste begins to stick to the pan and darken.  Add the crushed tomatoes and scrape remaining bits off from the bottom of the pan.  Add the meat and beans and combine into the mixture.    Add beef stock, stir to combine and turn heat to low.  Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Careful not to let the chili boil, this could toughen the meat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If you prefer a thicker chili, uncover the chili after 30 minutes and cook longer.  Serve with favorite toppings and enjoy!

Until next Monday!

Jennifer

Iceberg roses in bloom

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We have some sweet smelling Iceberg Rose bushes that line part of our patio.  When they bloom they look so pretty and are super fragrant.  They are blooming out of control right now and I thought I could snag a couple of bunches once and for all to make a pretty arrangement.

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In the past I’ve hesitated to cut these and use them in an arrangement because they are really crawling with itty bitty aphids and other critters like spiders and even mini snails.  But I decided to clip them and dip them in and out of a utility sink full of water to clean the guys off.  I also sprayed them with a little bit of dish soap and water solution:

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Ew.

Well after I felt guilty (and creeped out) about the real condition of my roses I finished bathing them and trimmed them to size for their pretty vessel and soft bed of wet floral foam.

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A while back I found this silver plated bowl at a thrift shop for a few bucks.  I polished it up a bit and thought it would make a perfect home for these delicate beauties.

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I used a plastic bowl inside the silver bowl in which to place the wet floral foam.

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These iceberg roses have several blooms coming off of one main stem.  Rather than cutting each little stem (which are pretty delicate) I just kept them intact on the main stem and bunched them together slightly and pressed them into the foam.  These roses have tiny little thorns that don’t hurt too bad, but I didn’t want to take my chances:

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After I pressed in all the stems to fill the arrangement I added a bit of greenery from the rose bush…

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A delicate and soft looking arrangement even though I used wet floral foam which can provide a lot of structure for an arrangement…

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Also, in doing research for the roses in this particular post I learned that wet floral foam contains toxic elements and is really bad for the environment.   GREAT.  So I’m going to have to give those other floral arranging supplies a try.

Until next Monday.

Jennifer