Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Light and Bright Hand-Made Bouquets for the Home

White Roses and Lilacs by Raoul de Longpre, French 1859-1911


In the previous post I shared home-made versions of high-quality and high-priced floral bouquets in interesting containers. The catalog versions of these artificial florals are made of sturdier materials by special designers and that probably accounts for higher prices. The recent Victoria magazine features a lady who makes delicate floral bouquets from clay, pictured, above.


Here is another catalog bouquet that is held in acrylic. The price in this catalog was much lower than those in the previous post - only $20.00

With a few silk florals that had detached from a vine, I created a similar bouquet in a round jelly jar. The flowers are placed on pieces of wire stems from old fake flower bouquets. If you do something like this, you may have to anchor the lightweight stems by filling your vase with clear glass stones from the floral department of the dollar store.
Look at paintings and catalogs to get ideas for bouquets and the. Head to Goodwill or the dollar stores and other places having clearance sales and buy the lilacs and roses you need.

Recently in blog-land there was link party to share what you had done with one of the glass candle holders from the dollar store. I did not join the party because I was not sure I could make the deadline, but I want to show you what I did with my dollar store candle stick. The candle in the round ribbed glass jar is a linen scent, also from the dollar store. The jar has to be affixed to the candle stick with a special glass glue or a type of clay, which you get at fabric and craft stores. I placed a led tea light on top of the candle.

In keeping with my previous post I have made a topiary arrangement on top of the candle holder, by taping a piece of floral foam on a juice-can lid and then taping it to the candlestick. I put small flowers and leaves into the foam to create this bouquet.


I spent the entire day in the kitchen with cleaning and then baking and of course one thing leads to another in homemaking and then the kitchen towels needed laundering. The entire time I was thinking about how hard it might be for a new homemaker to adjust to working all day alone at home.

You may have done a lot of things in schools you attended, as a group,and if you were ever employed elsewhere, there often would other employees around. Homemaking can be a lonely job sometimes and you have to be self motivated and arrange your time to get things done. You might need to have some goals and some rewards as incentives.

One of the best rewards is seeing your house looking orderly at the end of the day. Another incentive to complete tasks is to have interesting things you like to do. I like to choose some small thing that is not really practical or necessary but artistic and relaxing, so the last couple of days I have enjoyed creating florals and centerpieces with things that I believe most people have already or can find very inexpensively.

The other reward, truly an incentive, is knowing the work will not pile up and you will not have twice as much to do the next day and not be twice as tired.

One of the best ways of organizing housework and completing it is to list daily items that must be done every day. And add one extra thing each day that is not something that needs done daily, such as cleaning the fridge, the laundry room, a closet, a drawer or decluttering the front porch. This way, the daily job of dishes, meals and general room-cleaning get done and you make further progress by having one additional thing on your list. I like to include one leisure item on my list, such as reading time or sewing. I have a notebook in which I keep a list of all the things I would like to do, so I am never at a loss for creative or leisure ideas.

I think in all this, there has to be an attitude of contentment and a thankful heart. I am always glad to have heat and lights and hot water. They seem like such luxuries. A sense of thankfulness can create contentment in your life at home.

I was looking at some of the fashions that are coming in the next season, and thinking that many homemakers would want something prettier, so I am working on a sketch of my new "line" of clothing. I expect if I sew it all, I will hang it on the line for a picture.

This is the view from the living room window today.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter Bouquets

Flowers in a Poecelin Vase With a Candlestick and Silver Vessels
These paintings are by Ferdinand Georg Waldmuller, Austrian, 1793-1865


Bunch of Roses

I always look forward to blogging after I catch up on housework and various things like correspondence, grocery shopping and unfinished projects. There seems to be so much to do at home, and if I must go out for some reason, half the day is gone. When I do not post in awhile, people start asking if everything is okay and my phone rings with overseas calls, checking up on me with encouraging words.

It is still quite cold outside and there is not a flower in sight.

Today I was looking at a catalog that came in the mail that had pictures of beautiful artificial flower bouquets in the Victorian style. I do not like to spend money on things that I do not need and are not necessary, but I do like pretty things, so I try to make them if I can, with inexpensive or free materials. I decided it might be fun to scrounge around in that yard-sale of mine that has never taken place, and see if I could imitate the bouquets that I liked in this catalog.


Here is the first one. The floral piece came from an old Home Interior bouquet that I kept for decades - I do not want to tell you how long - and the candlestick was from a thrift store. The rose vine piece is attached with two-sided sticky foam floral tape. I would estimate the cost would be about $3.00 if using dollar store or Goodwill purchases.

The silver coated vase in the next bouquet I used was from one of my grandmothers but there are some just like it in Goodwill. The vine was broken off one I got many years ago.

I must digress and tell you that I did not want to go to the dollar store just to get some of this special tape, so my husband hunted around in his office and found some. He has everything so orderly in his office and his paper clips, tape, pens, and every office thing you can think of, is there. The family members have always gone to him to get something they can't find, and he comes up with a rulers, pencils, erasers, chalk, and even ink cartridges for old fashion fountain pens.

We have, over the years, borrowed paper and blank notebooks and felt markers from him, so, when his birthday comes around, we gather up all those borrowed items, wrap them up and make a huge pile if gifts on the table for his birthday party. He enjoys saying things like, " I wondered where that thing disappeared to" or " I have not seen that black marker in a year" and when he unwraps something like a three hole puncher or a postal scale he always acts surprised.


The bouquet on a candlestick that I created had three main ingredients: a latex vine pressed into some floral oasis foam, and a candlestick. If using Dollar Tree products, this would cost about three dollars. If your husband does not have the double sided sticky foam tape in his office, it will cost an extra dollar at the dollar store. Most ladies today have a glass or a jar and something they can use for flowers, even floral package toppers saved from presents, that can be used to create things without having to spend.


This is the one in the catolog. It costs $200.00! (I am hoping they really meant $20.00.). I have seen these at weddings cleverly made with candlesticks from Goodwill, all painted the same color and topped with exquisite silk bouquets. The cost is minimal when you use items you may already own.

Next is a bouquet made from some old silk foral vine that I had painted white glitter on. Since the vine has no stem, a clothespin is attached to it and pushed into the vase. It is a home-made copy of the catalog item below:

The one in the catalog, above, has a price tag is $400.00! I am hoping it is a typographical error and they really meant $40.00.

This one, above is also listed in the catalog as $400.00. The bouquet rests in a wrought iron piece that looks a little like a carriage.


Using the wrought-iron candleabra from my yard sale-to-be, and an old vine also in the yard sale pile, I tried to imitate the catalog bouquet. Since these two items were from a yard sale in the first place, the cost was less than a dollar, total. I did spray-paint the candleabra. You should not hesitate to paint your wrought iron. If it is black, it is just painted. Beneath black paint, wrought iron is just rust. Of course black is nice, to, and black paint works especially well on wrought iron.
When we were growing up in the 1950s, we liked to freshen up old furniture and shelves and just anything, with white paint to make it look shiny, bright and new.


I noticed when I was peeking at a home dec magazine at the grocery store, a few pages of centerpiece ideas. They were quite beautiful and very simple, much like women used to make a long time ago. The centerpieces consisted of a bowl with a candle in a cup, surrounded by fresh or fake florals. I have made one using Grandma 's bowl, above, with a led tea-light.
Here is one more floral piece I tried today, using tissue paper carnations in a blue canning jar. I really do intend to get rid of all these garage sale and yard sale items I have piled in a corner. I just wanted to play with them one more time.


I noticed some glittery tin vases in the floral department at the grocery store in several colors. You could easily imitate these by using a large plastic cup and covering it with glitter paper or metallic paper. I have put the tissue paper flowers in mine. Hunts spaghetti sauce cans have a nice white interior and can be covered in papers or painted to make pretty vases. I don't really need a vase but I needed to have creative time, and Put something on the blog.

If you pay much attention to the creative things people are doing with fresh plants and flowers these days, you may have noticed the cute wooden boxes with drawer handles or rope handles at each end. Some of them are replicas of old sewing machine drawers, and like the other floral things, they are quite pricey. Since I have no way to make a wood box, I tried my hand at a cardboard one.


Tape the ends of the box. Cut open one long side and fold it down into into the box to create an opening.
Glue some scrapbook paper on the outside. Fold a little of the paper to the inside edges of the box.
Slice off a piece of florist foam (available at dollar stores, two in a package) to fit the box and tuck it inside.

I added moss, but found it was not necessary.

Place silk flower stems in the florist foam and add green leaves. Punch holes in the ends of the box and, using jute rope, ribbon, string or wired ribbon, tie little handles on each end.

You may think you have no talent to arrange a fake flower bouquet, but just look around the house and you will see containers like this. These held bath products at Walmart one Christmas. All I did was wrap a dollar store ivy vine together and and put it inside the container. Of course this will go back I to my yard sale collection...I think.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Strawberry Tea and Heart Box

Victorian Lady With a Parasol Showing How to Make a Strawberry Barrel, by Percy Tarrant, England 1881-1930
Most of my day is spent in various aspects of housework and homemaking. I try to do something creative and pretty every day, if I can, and I try to make something that does not take a lot of time. I do not enjoy finishing projects left over from the previous day, and cannot leave things out, so I choose things that can be completed quickly.
The scrap papers used in this project came from Walmart.
In the U.S., Valentines Day is for everyone; for the whole family, and so we have special teas and lunches for friends, give token gifts to relatives, make things from paper and fabric, and decorate our tables with special candles and rose centerpieces. Shops are full of cards for every person you can imagine, including nieces and nephews, grandparents, friends, neighbors. It provides much needed color and sparkle on some of the darkest winter days, so I have started early. I have already had a tea luncheon for a couple of ladies but I forgot to get pictures.
Today I have set up a tea for two with a box of sweets. Take a look inside:
The produce at our local Safeway grocery store is always fresh and crisp, and this week the strawberries from California are very sweet, so I have presented them in a handmade chocolate box. There are directions for this on the web, but I will show you how I did it.
With a paring knife, make a cut from the tip of the strawberries a little over halfway to the cap. Each one is carefully placed on the edge of the teacup.
The tea is made with berries also and tastes good with a little cream, like strawberries and cream. Just mash berries and put in a strainer that sits inside the teapot, pour boiling water over it and let it set for a few minutes.
The tea is very fragrant and is tasty with a drop of honey or maple syrup or turbano.

The tablecloth is a small blanket, called a "throw" and when I actually serve the tea, I put a piece of clear plastic over it. I removed the protective plastic for the pictures.

The heart shaped box looks good plain, as you see, above.

I wanted to use the miniature baking cup liners but they are hard to find in stores, so I analyzed what the paper cupcake liners looked like, and tried to make my own with parchment baking paper. You can get this now at the dollar stores. I remember when this baking paper was so expensive I rarely bought it, and when I did buy it I was reluctant to use it. The dollar store makes it easier for women to have luxuries to use in the kitchen, without the price tag

If you are a paper-crafter and have a special cutter, you can make circles really quickly, but if not, just trace around a small saucer.

I used a tiny little glass to make the miniature cups for the chocolate box.

Just center your circle of paper on the bottom of the glass and press a shape.

Move your fingers around the paper, pleating it as you go,


To secure it and make the pleats a bit more permanent, wrap a small rubber band around it and leave it on the glass for awhile.


As you can see, these hand made cupcake liners look pretty good. You can also make your own baking cups this way, to insert in the muffin tins when you are wanting to make miniature or regular muffins.


Filled with strawberries and arranged in a heart shape.

To make the box, I first placed the arrangement of muffin liners on a piece of scrap paper, and drew a heart shape around it. Then I folded the paper and cut half a heart and opened it up.

I used this as a pattern and traced three card stock hearts.

With a ruler I made strips from the card stock, cut them out and joined them with tape
And then taped them to one of the hearts.
You need to place the project on a round box to balance it while you tape the strip of cardboard around the heart shape.

Then, because I did not have time to find crepe paper or lace, I used more of the parchment baking paper to cut in strips and join together with tape for the pleated ruffle. Pleat with your fingers by folding and taping it around the box.

Cover the edges and tape by gluing another heart on top, so that it looks finished.


Tape the lid onto the box in two areas to make a hinge, as you see below. You can also make another box a little bigger, that will fit over the bottem box, but I wanted to make something more simple.


Decorate both sides of the lid with cut-outs from scrap papers, or leave it plain.

Glue strips of scrap paper to cover the tape on the sides of the box, or use other types of embellishments.

After experiencing the length of time this took, I would recommend making a tiny box with one strawberry. If you are a busy homemaker, sometimes a craft that takes too long will end up being less relaxing and more stressful to finish. I do not expect any reader to think they have to make this, because it was simply something I wanted to try. Sometimes reading about it and watching someone else do it is just as enjoyable as doing it.

The parchment paper can be used as a vellum paper for an invitation,place card or menu. I found colored staples at the dollar store a few years ago.


Instead of using staples, Punch holes with a hole-punch and tie ribbon through the vellum and card board, to make it even prettier.

In other news, I have been thinking more about stress. It is important to develop good health habits when you are young, in preparation for the life ahead when you might not have as much energy to handle a lot of stress. Someone recently sent me an article about learning to breathe more healthfully. It is done by breathing deeply through your nose, and out again slowly. This makes the sinuses and lungs work properly and is very good for your heart. At the slightest indication of tension, breath in slowly to the count of ten and out again slowly. Do it as often as you like and you might see a change in the tension all over your body.

You might find as you remember to breathe better, that a whole day can go by without a bit of tension, no matter what you hear or what happens.

I took a moment today to search for themes for Special events for ladies, and came upon a wealth of ideas from this site which has theme ideas using seasons, spiritual subjects, and objects from the Bible that apply to women, using hearts, crowns, food, clothing, lights, and dozens of other things.

I hope you have a lovely, productive and stress free day.