August 29, 2013

Florist For A Day

You may have figured this out by now, but I absolutely love flowers. Especially roses. The smell. The soft petals. The brilliant colors. They are on my top 10 list of my favorite of God's creations.

I recently had the honor of doing the flowers for my aunt's wedding. I've found that it's incredibly less expensive to do wedding flowers without a florist, and my aunt trusted me enough to give me the challenge. Seriously. It's an honor.

So, she ordered the bulk flowers and had them delivered to the church. We then turned the kitchen into a makeshift florist shop.

It was SO FUN!

If you are interested in doing wedding flowers yourself, you might find this post helpful.

A few things to know first:

  • You will need helpers (at least 2).
  • To keep bouquets in place, you will need to purchase corsage pins and green florist tape (find these at any craft store).
  • You will need sharp scissors and pruning shears. Key word: sharp. Have enough for you and all your helpers. Don't forget gloves if you have thorny flowers.
  • Make sure your facility has a large enough kitchen to house your makeshift florist shop (see pictures below).  Large sinks, large pots (for water & storage), large trash cans, large refrigerator, etc...

In the picture below, do you see those tall cardboard boxes on the far left? That's how roses are shipped. When they are delivered (1-2 days before the big event), the boxes must be placed in a refrigerator for preservation until you have a chance to put them in water. We put room temperature water in large pots, added the flower food, and set them in the sink. Thankfully, this church had an incredibly useful kitchen with 3 large sinks.

You will want to wear gloves when working with roses. The thorns will get you. It hurts.

The next step is to take the stems, one by one, and remove the leaves and any damaged petals from the outside of the flowers. Don't worry about removing the petals, there are plenty more that will open up beautifully in time. Have another container with room temperature water and flower food ready for the prepared stems. Then you will be ready to make the arrangements.

You really should play with some sample flowers before the big day to figure out exactly how you want your arrangements to look. Just get some cheap flowers from your local grocery store and have fun arranging them in the same vase/container that you plan to use at the event. When you purchase your bulk flowers, you will have an idea of how many stems you will need based on your sample. Remember to buy plenty of filler, like Baby's Breath, for example.  You can see in the picture below that we used small vases and put 5 roses in each vase, using the Baby's Breath and greenery to make it full and keep the flowers in place.

We finished the centerpiece flowers two days before the wedding and put them back in the refrigerator to keep until the big day. It's really not difficult and will cost you about 1/5th of the cost of hiring a florist. I did it for my wedding and I don't regret it for a minute. It's the only way I could afford having hundreds and hundreds of roses.
If you look on the bottom shelf of the fridge, ^ you can see the large pot full of stems we were saving for the bouquets.

To make a bouquet, start by placing three flowers in a triangular shape and wrap the stems with the florist tape to keep them in place. Then add flowers around that. Tape them in place. It's like adding one layer at a time. You can make your bouquet as loose or tight as you'd like, but I have found that wrapping tighter keeps the flowers in place better. Keep adding flowers around the bouquet until you get the look you want. To finish off, add some greenery around the stems and wrap them together with florist tape. The length of the stems where your hands will touch the bouquet should be wrapped in florist tape.  Use a corsage pin to hold the end of the tape in place. Cut the stems to be level and you're done!

This is how some of the bridesmaids' bouquets turned out. Behind them you can see the larger arrangements that we placed at the altar.

And this was the bride's bouquet. I think we used 4 different types of roses and 2 fillers, around 3 dozen roses!

And I loved the vases. We added some "bling" using a product called Bling on a String and hot glue.

So there you have it: DIY wedding flowers for a fraction of the cost.

Have a great day!

August 21, 2013

Baby Boy's First Birthday!

We celebrated one year with our Bundle of Joy this summer. I still can't believe how fast the first year went by!

Anyway, I wanted to have a themed party that was cute, cheap and fun but not overdone. You know what I mean? I browsed Pinterest, like any mom would do for ideas...
And here's how it turned out:

Baby Boy loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (who doesn't?) and the theme was born. I made the caterpillar using a few sheets of scrapbook paper. I used a bowl to trace the circles and used the book's cover as a guide to finish him off.

My sister gave us a wonderful photo shoot (lots of balloons involved) and I was able to reuse the balloons for this! So fun!

I just so happened to have this little I had to make another caterpillar friend for the table. Find the directions here.

Since the party was small (just us, grandparents, and one uncle), we had foods that the grown ups would enjoy, but also that fit the theme. I tried to incorporate foods from the book, thus the watermelon, "green leaf" salad with apples, berries, candied nuts and strawberry dressing, and then some crackers, meats and cheese. It was tasty.

Call me old fashioned, but I really wanted to make the cake myself. Sure, it would have been prettier coming from a bakery (and I have some friends who put me to SHAME), but I remember how much I loved my mom's homemade birthday cakes. They were so special, made just for me. And I want to continue that tradition with my son. Behold: the (cup)cake(s).
Maybe I'll aim for something more challenging on next year's cake...

So there you have it! We had a blast. :-)

Growing So Fast!

My baby boy is not so much of a baby anymore.

It hit me today like a ton of bricks.

First, he turned the channel from HGTV to the Little League Championship on ESPN. Even if he doesn't understand baseball yet, he still preferred watching it instead of my show.

Then he brought me the dog's leash. And the dog. Entertaining him, I put the leash on the dog. He took the leash, looked at me and waved goodbye.

We went to the grocery store and I decided to stroll down the baby isle, just to see if we needed anything. We didn't. In fact, all my baby boy will ever need from that isle again is diapers and wipes!

Later, he climbed onto the couch all by himself and started turning lights on and off, on and off, on and off...and so on. Since when could he reach that switch!?!

Tonight at dinner, he clearly shook his head in disgust when I offered him more food.

And then, to top it all off, I asked him if he wanted to get out of his crib tonight. Clear as day he said, "yeh" and smiled.

I am LOVING this stage. He is so much fun to play with and watch. I absolutely adore him! But at the same time, I am sad to realize how fast the time is passing. Tomorrow he will be off to college.

I am going to savor every moment, for even all the ones that I have don't seem like enough. 

I love you with all my heart, Baby Boy! 

August 15, 2013 a Name?

Jesus Christ

Jesus, who lived about 2000 years ago, is still causing controversy all over the world today. Love Him or hate Him, the mention of His name evokes powerful emotions from virtually every walk of life. To me and fellow Christians, we find comfort, peace and rest in the name Jesus. Others are immediately on guard, defensive, obviously uncomfortable upon hearing His name. All around the world today, people are being persecuted and killed simply for professing faith in Him. Have you heard about the American pastor in Iran? How about the little girl shot for attending a Bible study in Egypt? How about the American  missionary imprisoned in North Korea? Perhaps you've heard about the churches burned in Sudan? Maybe you're aware of the attacks against Christians serving in the U.S. armed forces?

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? -1 Peter 4:12-17

Unfortunately, there are many more current stories of persecution going on today...all because of Jesus Christ, a man who lived and died nearly 2000 years ago. Why on earth is He such a big deal? Why do some people try so hard to get Christians to shut up about Him? Why do some people allow themselves to be tortured, imprisoned and killed for believing in Him? Why not just renounce Him and live? What's to lose?

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:8-11

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, "God is too big for any one religion."  Interesting thought, right? If it's true that all religions are just different paths to the same end, why are Christians targeted so violently and relentlessly through history?  Who is waging such wars on the Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists...?

Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”-Acts 4:11-12

All of this stuff going on in the world today makes me even more confident that my God, Jesus Christ, is the One True God. It affirms my faith that He died and rose again, and lives today, just as the Bible has recorded.  His name is more powerful than any other name. He is God. I believe that every knee will bow and every single tongue will confess that He is Lord. I can't wait for that day! I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Persecuted Christians around the world are willing to die for the cause of Christ because they know what I know, that they are gaining eternal life. They know that their suffering will end and they will be welcomed into Heaven by Jesus himself, made new, and will never suffer again. They have received His love and guidance and know Him personally, just as I know Him.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25-26

Well, do you?

Read another way more thorough and interesting article about Jesus' name here.