preserving a special garden

In April I helped my little girl plant her first flower garden from wildflower seeds.

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It’s been such a fun process and a great learning experience for both of us!  It has been sweet to watch her water her garden and ask curious questions.  We’ve seen bees come and go collecting pollen on their legs.  Butterflies too.  She’s picked some of the flowers to make adorably messy bouquets.  It’s been great.  Now the flowers are slowing their bloom and leaves are starting to turn a bit brown.  I’ve taken a ton of pictures to preserve these special moments, but I thought I would take it a step further and preserve some of the flowers by pressing them in a book and framing them.  I took some tips from Martha and I’m so happy with the results.

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I snipped some of the flowers that looked “press-worthy”

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Then I sandwiched them carefully in tissue paper between the pages of a heavy book.  I put additional weight on the books and let them sit for about five days.

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Before and after pressing.  It was interesting to see how the colors changed after pressing.  The red flower turned indigo blue.

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The green leaves pressed well too. I’m glad I included those.

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There seems to be a messy side and not so messy side to the pressed flower. I decided to arrange them on the paper with the not so messy side facing up.

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I arranged the flowers on acid-free craft paper. I did not use any adhesive to secure the flowers. For framing I worked top-down and took the frame backing and put a couple of thick pieces of paper in place (for a tight fit). Then I carefully laid my arrangement on top (face up). Then the glass on top. Then the frame on top.

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Aaah.  I can breathe a satisfied sigh of relief that I was able to preserve (literally) memories of Lily’s first flower garden.  Hmm.  I wish I could do that with all the special moments.

Until next Monday!

Jennifer

displaying found objects

I’ve had some neat little nature finds from the beach sitting on this paper towel on a shelf for the longest time:

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Just some dried sea plants and an almost perfectly round rock and a small piece of driftwood.

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Month after month I’d see them, just laying on that paper towel and think, “gosh I should really do something special with those.”  Sidenote:  Great thing about having a little blog is that it actually gets me to do many of those little things that I’d otherwise procrastinate (forever) about.

I remembered that I came across some shadow boxes on sale (a couple of years ago) that I hoarded in the garage.  I thought that I should finally give these nature finds a more suitable home in my house.

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The shadow box came with a white cushioned backing that works with push pins.  Before I adhered them, I toyed with the idea of using some drop cloth remnants (from some previous projects) for the backing to give it a more rustic feel (hard to see in these pics)  But I opted for the clean, white backing.  It looked more museum-like I suppose.

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I was hesitant to use good ol’ hot glue to adhere the objects especially the dried sea plants because they are so pretty and delicate.  So I decided to try and sew the wooden sea plant onto the cushion backing with clear filament line.  I was able to do that, but it was tricky enough that I decided I would go ahead and just hot glue the other items down which worked out nicely (and way more easily):

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All done . . .

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That took no time at all.  Of course now it has got me thinking about other special items that are shadow box worthy.   I could easily see it going down this road:  “Wow Jen.  I like what you’ve done with the place.  I guess you REALLY like shadow boxes.  What’s this, a shadow box for parking garage receipts?  That makes sense.”

The nice thing about shadow boxes is that you don’t necessarily have to mount them to the wall, you can rest them on a shelf or bookcase, or an old timey radio . . .

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Until next week’s shadow box project!  Just kidding.

Jennifer

White florals with a subtle valentine wish

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I seem to be more and more inspired by the holidays these days . . . I think my little one has something to do with it (and this little blog.)

Hearts, hearts, everywhere hearts.  Initially my inspiration for this blog post was a brown bag from the grocery store.  The sides of the bag were covered with cute little red and white hearts of different shapes and sizes.  The crafter (slash hoarder) in me thought, “hmm, I could craft something out of this.  Possibly incorporate it into a flower arrangement?”  Well as it turns out, after buying a couple of white flower bouquets from the grocery store I ended up being most inspired by the huge banana palms in our backyard. . . I’ll let the photos do most of the talking . . .

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(The beautiful flowers were inspiring too of course . . .

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I started with a short, round glass container from my stash in the garage.  I cut the banana leaf to line the inside of the container.  Then cut the wet floral foam (half dome) to fit. . .

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Now for the arranging.  I start with the fullest flowers and cut the stems short and at an angle to push into the wet floral foam. . .

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PS our neighborhood trees are blooming with this white flower (Manchurian Pear tree) so I thought I could incorporate that too . . .

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I also couldn’t help but notice the abundance of this cute little weed with heart-shaped leaves growing everywhere.  So I incorporated it into the arrangement.  It’s called Shepherd’s purse  . . .

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After all of the flowers were arranged, I simply hand cut a few heart shapes from the banana leaf and kept them soaked until I was ready to use them.  They seem to get brittle pretty quickly.  Then I used floral tape to attach the heart to a bit of floral wire . . .

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After I tucked the hearts into the arrangement it seemed that the hearts looked a little dull.  So I just rubbed a tiny bit of olive oil on the surface and edges. . .

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So it’s not your standard red and white Valentine color scheme.  But I think it still kinda says “pssst, Happy Valentines Day.”

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I’m glad I have this little blog.  What a great excuse to take the time to do little things like this that make me happy.  I get a kick out of taking affordable grocery store flowers and doing something special with them (exhibit A, B, and C to name a few).  My 2 year old daughter saw it and said, “it’s art mama.”  My best critic!

Maybe next week I’ll do something special with that brown bag.

Until next Monday !

Jennifer

linking with Skip to my Lou

My favorite houseplant

I wish I had more plants around the house . . . but the truth is I either over water or under water them.  Neither is good for the plant and they end up looking pretty sad and can actually make the room feel kind of sad too.  I don’t have the heart to just toss them away so the sad plant will usually end up in a special “holding area” in the backyard for a while.  Then I suppose I eventually get the nerve to put them in the green waste bin.  I’m sorry plants.

But the good news is that I have actually found a plant that I’ve managed to keep happy for quite some time now.  It’s been thriving happily in my bathroom for almost a whole year.  It’s a plant named  peperomia obtusifolia ‘variegata.’  The common name is rubber plant.  I picked a couple up a the local Ace hardware store for about $10 each.  For more info on this type of plant, the National Gardener’s Association website lists all varieties with photos.

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Its partner grew a bit taller not as full. . .

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For the longest time it sat kind of naked-looking, like this . . .  dirt all exposed . . .

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Then I remembered that I had some spanish moss tucked away in my special hoarding section of the garage and used it to cover the plants naked parts.

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So if you are looking for a low maintenance houseplant.  This variety could work for you.

Upon doing my research for this post, this plant is very tolerant of a moist environment and does well with indirect sun (full sun too.)  Since these plants are in my bathroom it’s pretty easy for me to remember to water them.  But I do have to remind myself to tone it down a bit with the amount of water.  Also, my bathroom gets really good indirect sunlight and the steam from shower is good for this plant too.

They have been in my bathroom for almost a year now and seem to still be happy.  There was a point where they were starting to look a little sad (probably  because I forgot to water them before leaving on our summer vacation.)  But I pulled off the leaves that looked droopy and watered it a little more here and there and they sprung back to life.  Phew!

Here’s a tip:  Call your local garden center or nursery and ask when they get their weekly shipments of indoor plants.  That way you can go on delivery day and get your pick of the litter.

If you want a quick overview on the MOST proper way to water your houseplants, Martha Stewart has several good videos on her website like this one here.  Man she’s passionate about her houseplants!

Until next Monday!

Jennifer

Fun with yard clippings

I had so much fun playing with flowers for last week’s post that I decided to have fun again with some more arranging.  This time I thought I’d see if I could make clippings from plants in my yard look pretty.  Below is a bright green shrub sandwiched between two succulent bushes from our front yard.  I often look at them and think “I wonder what I could do with those . . .”

We also have plenty of “Birds of Paradise.”  I think this is the only (almost) blooming one in the bunch. . .

Then of course there are the lovely roses.  They grow really well in this Santa Barbara climate.   I live in Santa Barbara.  I don’t think I have really ever mentioned that?  It’s pretty close to perfect here, but I do miss Texas.  Anywho, these roses actually smell even prettier than they look . . .

Originally I was super excited about clipping away in my yard, but I soon realized that there are LOTS of bugs all up in these bushes.  Ugh.  I was completely paranoid the whole time.  Why?  See below . . .

I know, he’s a friendly little grasshopper type bug.  But there were plenty-0 spiders and tiny weirdo bugs too.   So I spent a decent amount of time rinsing off the clippings.  Being careful with the roses of course.

The clippings . . . interestingly enough it seems the bird of paradise bloomed after I clipped it.  This made me “feel sorry” for it.  Like, did I hurt it or something, and it bloomed out of pain?  This feeling probably isn’t normal.  Then I started to worry that the bugs work in cahoots with the plants and they will get revenge on me this evening when I sleep.  Again, not normal.  Back to the clippings . . .

For the shrubs I used a cute little silver container I picked up a while ago at a thrift shop.  I thought maybe the unique container would make the simple shrub a little more interesting.  For the inside of the container I used a (cracked, whoops) plastic cup lined with a sandwich bag.  I wasn’t sure if the container would leak water or not.   I used three small clippings and arranged them a little to one side so it didn’t look like just one big poof of shrub.

Now for the roses.  Usually I like to trim most excess leaves.  These clippings had a few other buds attached so I kept this one natural looking.  I think the Barefoot Contessa would be proud of this one.  Nevermind the couple of leaves submerged in the water.  You should avoid leaving leaves submerged. It murks up the water pretty quick.  This container was a wedding gift.  It’s fun to whip out the good stuff too.

And the little succulent bush clipping.  So simple.  I just clipped it and put into a little vase.  This container is a thrift store find too.  This would be cute for the bathroom counter. . .

And the birds of paradise . . .

Actually, this arrangement feels borderline 80’s to me.  But the wood table adds a bit of warmth to bring it into 2008 at least.  I knew I would need to use a tall vase to accommodate the long sturdy stems.  You could probably make this a shorter arrangement too.   I might try that next time.

Below, just some rocks from our back patio.  Woops, how did that big one get in there.

Once I got to arranging the clippings in the containers I started having fun.  The clipping outdoors part, not so much fun.  I could have done without those buggers.

Here are just a few things that I keep in mind when I’m arranging flowers (I may have mentioned this in a previous post):

  • For me, it’s all about the container or vase.  That’s usually what inspires me when I’m playing with flowers.  Maybe it’s like the shoes to the outfit?  The outfit being the flowers of course.
  • Don’t over think it like, “One flower here, one flower there.”  I like to cluster flowers in groups rather than evenly intersperse the different varieties.
  • I like to keep the stems short so that you can’t really see them sticking out of the top of the container.  (Well, except for those Birds of Paradise)
  • Just experiment and have fun.  If it doesn’t look right to you, just start over.  Maybe only start over once.  You don’t want to lose patience and take it out on the poor, pretty flowers.

Until late next Monday evening,

Jennifer