Feeling Halloweenie

Halloween light display at Farmhouse38.com

As usual, we’ve got to keep up with the Joneses for Halloween. Our little town goes crayons for Halloween, so we always feel ‘pressured’ to assimilate. It’s the town’s fault. Fer shure.

Man, how I love those purple LED lights in the wisteria. I wish I could leave them up all year without being that person. Photos just really don’t do them justice. They are magical.

Purple and orange Halloween light display at Farmhouse38.com

 

Halloween lights at Farmhouse38.com

Lots and lots of lanterns help set the mood.

I love lanterns with flickering candles. I am all about the battery-operated timer candles that turn themselves off and on; their lovely amber light is the perfect complement to the purple LEDs. We also swap out the bulbs in all our permanent light fixtures to orange/amber bulbs so that they coordinate, as well.

One of my favorite, favorite things to put out are our blinking eyeball lights in the hedge. They’re called Peep’n Peepers and you can now get them on Amazon.

Blinking googley eye hedge lights at Farmhouse38.com

Blinky-blinkertons.

Our hedge eyeballs in action:

Halloween wreath and decor at Farmhouse38.com

A few orange battery-operated lights illuminate a black wreath. Our orange front door really loves this time of year.

Halloween decorations at Farmhouse38.com

A tree branch, spray painted black and decked out in lights. And a couple of lurkers.

Clearly things are a little more exciting at night, but there’s plenty to see during the day, too:

Halloween front porch at Farmhouse38.com

Love those amazing scarab pillows from Ikea.

Front porch Halloween decor from Farmhouse38.com

That orange front door just begs for a black wreath, doesn’t it? This one is available seasonally from Grandin Road. The raven doormat is from World Market (also only available when Halloween swag first hits the shelves. So…June).

But yeah…the nighttime really is the righttime.

Halloween light display at Farmhouse38.comHope everyone has a fabulous Halloween!

Halloween Mantel Makeover

A Halloween fireplace mantel makeover from Farmhouse38.comLet me start by saying that our living room mantel situation is and always has been kind of the bane of my existence. I am a big fan of the fireplace. In fact, this is the first house that we’ve even had one in (and we had to put it in) and I was SO excited for that mantel to decorate! But you know what I am not a big fan of? The TV hung in prime position over said long-pined-for fireplace mantel. It really sucks the focal point joy out of the focal point, ya know? But, unfortunately, in our teeny little house, there is just no other place to put it. Trust me, I’ve tried. Oh, the brain cells I have lost thinking and rethinking the floorplan to get that darned TV off my fireplace. To no avail. So…BEHOLD: giant, glaring TV.

Now that I’ve brought your attention to it and it is all you see, let’s ignore it and look at the mantel, shall we?

A Halloween Mantel Makeover at Farmhouse38.com

The ‘Before’ mantel. Or let’s just go ahead and call this the ‘Usual’ mantel.

The ‘usual’ mantel decor tends towards a little bit of a mess; a rather haphazard collection of objects and books that I’ve really only stuck there temporarily. This is because we aren’t actually finished building our mantel ‘situation’. The intention is, and always has been that we will be building shelving all the way up to the roof on both sides of the fireplace. But we just haven’t gotten around to it. For six years. It’s on our list for this fall…but until then, let’s Halloween it up in here a bit, shall we?

A Halloween fireplace mantel makeover at Farmhouse38.com

Ah yes. Much bettah.

First and foremost, I needed to get those bookshelves handled. I’d been wanting to swap out my odd assortment of coffee table books for a display of my antique and reproduction book collection. It just so happens that the jacket covers on these books play towards a much more somber color story. Perfect for Halloween.

Vintage book collection at Farmhouse38.com

I love vintage books (and vintagey-looking books), and they are rather inherently haunted-mansiony, don’t you think?

And then, of course, I had to have some miniature bunting…

Simple, miniature halloween fireplace mantel bunting at Farmhouse38.com

Bunting is always essential. This is just black and white grosgrain ribbon bits hot-glued to white, cloth-covered wire.

And an odd assortment of bottles, lanterns, candlesticks, and mercury glass.

A Halloween-styled mantel at Farmhouse38.com

Halloweeny odds and ends.

My “fresh picked” sign above the TV is now replaced with a handmade “Nevermore” sign, with a few accent wall spiders (plastic spiders just stuck on with earthquake putty).

DIY Halloween Nevermore chalkboard sign by Farmhouse38.com

This sign was a snap to make: a reclaimed piece of MDF board coated in spray chalkboard paint. Then, using the Farmhouse38 Sign Painting method, I transferred the lettering and then colored them in with white grease pencil for a permanent ‘chalk’ look.

A tree branch spray-painted black is a perfect perch for craft store crows. I love how the clock face kind of winds up looking like a full moon. I meant to do that. Yeah, totally.

Halloween Mantel Decor at Farmhouse38.com.

 

Underneath the tree branch is one of my favorite little things: my terrarium that I like to mess with every season. Time for a tiny Halloween scene!

A Halloween terrarium featuring tiny skeletons, a tiny graveyard, and tiny tillandsias at Farmhouse38.com.

Tiny skeletons emerge from a tiny graveyard amongst tiny tillandsias.

The rest of the room has gotten Halloweened, also.

I swapped out some of our more colorful throw pillows for darker tones:

Throw pillows and misc. Halloween decor at Farmhouse38.com

The lefthand pillows are from Pottery Barn and the green stripe is from Ikea. I don’t remember where I got the cute, framed Trick-or-Treat embroidery, but it is one of my favorite things. Another craft store crow sits on top of the mirror.

Chalkboard black-painted pumpkins with black glittered stems at Farmhouse38.com

A simple coffee table centerpiece of tiny punkins painted matte black with black-glittered stems.

A Halloweeny collection of thrifted brass candlesticks with glittered black candles at Farmhouse38.com

My odd assortment of thrifted brass candlesticks look very fun with black, glittered taper candles.

A Halloween floral centerpiece of black silk flowers in a silver urn at Farmhouse38.com

An all-black floral centerpiece sits in the middle of our table. And hey…what’s dropping out of the light fixture?

Faux spiders dropping down from a light fixture for Halloween at Farmhouse38.com

Spiders. Spiders are dropping out of the light fixture.

Faux spiders hanging out in a light fixture for Halloween at Farmhouse38.com

Oh. Oh there’s more spiders.

Halloween spider surprise on the inside of a light fixture at Farmhouse38.com

Surprise!!! There’s a lot more spiders. (cheap plastic spiders rings–with ‘ring’ removed–hot-glued to small magnets and stuck to the metal fixture).

Gosh darnit, I love me some Halloween.

A Halloween fireplace mantel makeover at Farmhouse38.com

 

 

 

 

Oh, Sierra Water Gardens, You Complete Me

Reno's SierraWaterGardens.com

I’ve been hearing about this place for awhile now. My Reno friends visit often, and talk it up. They bring home the loveliest little garden bits every time that they go. So, I started following Sierra Water Gardens on Instagram, and then on Facebook…and there was no turning back. On my latest trip to Reno, I had only one request: I. Must. Go. To. There.

And you know what? If you are ever in Reno, I’m telling you, you must, as well. Take a little swing down Dickerson Road…you’ll know where to park: right next to the old Hudson. The one with plants cascading out the windows.

Old Hudson turned into a planter at SierraWaterGardens.com

This is taking upcycled garden art to a whole new level of awesome.

Through the wisteria-covered steel beam archway (you know I love me some rusted steel, people), is a secret botanical wonderland. You just don’t see it coming; the loveliness that unfolds in front of you as you step off the road and through that entrance.

Visiting the magical Sierra Water Gardens. sierrawatergardens.com

Immediately, you are immersed in container-garden and water-feature heaven. Everywhere you look are pots overflowing with lush greens and splashing water. My eyeballs could not even keep up.

Lovely water feature at SierraWaterGardens.com

Potted water feature at SierraWaterGardens.com

 

A mosaic succulent wall hanging at SierraWaterGardens.com

There is just something wonderful about the variegated green mosaic of a succulent wall hanging.

Sweet resident garden doggie, Copper, at SierraWaterGardens.com

It’s at about this time that you’ll probably get greeted by the resident garden dog, Copper. As if I didn’t love this place enough! Sweetest boy.

Stop by the Succulent Bar and find all sorts of goodies to create a DIY garden in a found object container:

A rusted toolbox succulent planter at SierraWaterGardens.com

More upcycled container-gardening. Rust and succulents are always a brilliant combo.

Succulent display at SierraWaterGardens.com

Succulents waiting for their turn at the Succulent Bar.

Once you have wound your way through the container garden moment at the front of the property, the true magic of Sierra Water Gardens unfolds:

'Hello Love' letter succulent planters at SierraWaterGardens.com

The main pond at SierraWaterGardens.com

Water lilies at SierraWaterGardens.com

Gotta take a Monet moment here.

The main ponds at SierraWaterGardens.com

Lush, vine-covered seating area at SierraWaterGardens.com

Koi fish at SierraWaterGardens.com

Happy koi.

It is simply breathtaking to stand and take this all in; the ponds, the waterfalls, the bright koi fish, the lush greenery, the secret little nooks and seating areas. And all the while you’re wrapped in that yummy hum of running water. No joke, I could just stand still and look for hours. It’s one of those places that you just want to be.

But, wait. There’s more!

Reclaimed wood sliding barn doors on the adorable potting shed at SierraWaterGardens.com. Doors by BoneyardDesigns

Check out the UHmazing doors on this potting shed. Reclaimed wood gorgeousness designed and built exclusively for SWG by Boneyard Designs.

Let’s just talk about this shed for a moment, shall we? Those salvaged wood sliding doors are phenomenal.

Detail of salvaged wood design in the potting shed doors at SierraWaterGardens.com

Perfection.

And the reclaimed, rusty corrugated metal roof is killing me. Killing me.

Phenomenal reclaimed wood sliding barn doors and vicious guard dog at SierraWaterGardens.com. Doors are the creative genius of BoneyardDesignsReno.com

Copper digs it.

But also–the inside of that shed is not to be missed. Treasures!!!

Tillandsias displayed in rusty old tool bin drawers at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Tillandsias displayed in rusty old tool bin drawers.

The mouth of a big, glass terrarium with a belly full of lovelies at SierraWaterGardens.com.

The mouth of a big, glass terrarium with a belly full of lovelies.

Tillandsias displayed on a rusty mattress spring at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Tillandsias displayed on an old mattress spring. Joy.

Stained glass window in the potting shed at SierraWaterGardens.com.

A reclaimed stained glass window glows in the back wall of the shed.

Potting shed light fixture at SierraWaterGardens.com.

I’m in love with the shed ‘chandelier’. Casual, industrial, and so delightfully colorful!

A giant tillandsia at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Excuse me, Miss? There seems to be a mistake. I believe I ordered the *large* tillandsia. Laura of Olive and Love displays the newest addition to her airplant family.

Reclaimed wood and chalkboard potting shed side door at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Look at the side door to the shed. Just look at it! GAH!

Back outside, I fell in love with these:

Succulent heart planter at SierraWaterGardens.com.

And took one home. :-)

I also fell in love with these:

Shop kitty Fig at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Shop kitty #1. I disturbed Fig’s catnap.

Shop kitty, Newt, at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Shop kitty #2, Newt, assists me in exploring the gardens.

I thought about taking them home.

Oh, and when you wander to the back of the property, you find that the whole thing backs right up to the Truckee River:

Reclaimed wood garden gate leading to the Truckee River at SierraWaterGardens.com.

I love that charming reclaimed wood gate, too. The river’s not bad, either.

And, in addition to the all-around awesomeness that is Sierra Water Gardens, they also do live music on Saturday nights during the summer season, featuring independent local musicians. You bring your wine, you bring your cheese, and you sit and soak it all in.

Summer Saturday night live music at SierraWaterGardens.com

The vibe on a summer Saturday night is absolute bliss.

Shop doggie, Copper, loves live music night at SierraWaterGardens.com.

You may get some Copper love while you’re enjoying the music. Especially if you have cheese.

Musician Tyler Stafford (TylerStaffordMusic.com) plays at SierraWaterGardens.com's Saturday summer live music event.

Musician Tyler Stafford was the incredible talent for the night. Check him out at TylerStaffordMusic.com.

A blissful evening of live music at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Like I said: BLISS.

Undoubtedly, you’ll meet these two smiley faces:

Sam and Sutter of SierraWaterGardens.com.

Sam and Sutter; they run the joint. Oh, and they also live there. Oh, and they’re also the cutest couple EVER. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Stremmel).

So YES. Put this place on your must-stop list if you are in Reno (between April and October, they are understandably closed in the winter). Sit a spell and soak in the tranquility. Hit the succulent bar and build yourself a sweet little garden somethin’-somethin’ to take home with you. Buy a couple of koi for your pond. And say ‘hi’ to Sam and Sutter for me. And Copper, Fig, and Newt, too.

Oh–and you simply have to find them on Instagram and Facebook–two of my favorite feeds. A lot of gorgeous photos getting got over there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phoebe’s 1st Birthday

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

I cannot believe this little lunatic is a year old! And in true Farmhouse38 fashion, we couldn’t let this moment slip by without a little party. So Phoebe donned her finest tutu and tiara, and I whipped up a really simple and adorable layered pupcake. And before anyone freaks out, the flame on the candle in the above photo is photoshopped in…a tutu on a tasmanian devil next to an open flame: how’s about NOPE.

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

I do have to say: for a tasmanian devil in a tutu and tiara with a tantalizing snack right in front of her nose…she was so super patient and obedient while I took hundreds of photos.

After a successful photo shoot, it was time for cake:

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

Ingredients:

-1 can of wet dog food of your choice that keeps its ‘can’ shape (I use Blue Buffalo brand and it really doesn’t keep its shape too well, so you gotta sorta improvise)

-3 slices of whole grain organic wheat bread

-Approx. half cup of organic, no salt creamy peanut butter

-a thin sheet of cardboard or cardstock

-some cute, heart-shaped training treats or kibble as decoration

This cake was super simple to make. I started with a can of wet dog food: the gross, meatloaf-y kind that sorta keeps it’s shape when you shake it out of the can. Before I removed said gross dog food from the can, I actually used it to trace a circle on a thin sheet of cardboard (I stole a piece from the back of a notepad…none of my notepads have cardboard backing anymore-I always steal them for random projects like these). Cut out this circle and build your cake on it–this makes it easier to slip a spatula under it and move the cake around when you are done (you know…in case you are doing a long, drawn-out photo shoot with it).

Open your dog food and shake it out onto a plate so that it preserves its ‘can’ shape (Thanksgiving cranberry dressing-style). If it doesn’t keep its can shape, you can still kind of cut a piece and smush it together. Now use the opening of the can as a cookie-cutter to cut three crustless circles of bread.

Place your first bread circle directly on top of the cardboard piece and center. Now, using a sharp knife, carefully cut a slice of wet dog food (I cut mine approx. a half inch thick) and gently set it on top of the first bread circle. Follow that with another bread circle and press the layers together gently. Add another layer of dog food and top with the final piece of bread. Again, press all the layers gently together.

Now, ‘ice’ your cake with the peanut butter. It may help to heat the peanut butter to a consistency that allows you to easily spread it without mauling the cake structure. Once you have it iced, top it with a few kibble or treat ‘sprinkles’.

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

This actually cuts very nicely into cake slices.

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

Brown dog and white dog wait patiently for their cake.

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

Those slices didn’t stand a chance.

Each of my dogs was only allowed one slice of cake–I think it goes without saying that this is a once-in-a-blue-moon treat and not something they should be fed frequently (and I don’t recommend that anyone feed this whole cake to one dog). Bread isn’t that good for dogs. In small doses, it can actually be a good source of fiber–but please don’t make it a habit to feed your dogs this on a regular basis. Most bread has added sugar and salt and all sorts of stuff that is just not good for doggie tummies. Raw, unsalted peanut butter is considered by most to be a healthy treat, but also proceed with caution. Just like people, some dogs can be deathly allergic to it. But…ya know…sometimes even doggies gotta treat yoself!

Phoebe's 1st Birthday at Farmhouse38.com

Happy, happy birthday to this silliest little girl. Never a dull moment.

 

A Quick, Lush Mason Jar Arrangement

A quick, lush mason jar arrangement from Farmhouse38.com

 

I think we can all agree that flowers in mason jars are pretty much the bee’s pajamas. The cat’s knees. Yah. You get what I mean. Sometimes, though, I see mason jar arrangements that are pretty sparse and vertical: too tall flowers being shoved in to what amounts to a pretty small container. There’s a better way…I’m gonna show you how to get a lush, mounded composition easily. The secret? You gotta make a bouquet (check out my bouquet-making tutorial here).

STEP 1: I selected a wide-mouthed quart-sized jar (courtesy of the Ball® Canning Heritage Green Collection). If you want to do a pint-sized arrangement, just scale it down accordingly. Start by filling whatever jar you choose 3/4 full of clean, cold water.

A quick, lush mason jar arrangement from Farmhouse38.com

Love them green jars!

STEP 2: Select and prep your ingredients. Have a wide variety of materials to choose from, and clean and strip the stems of all leaves, thorns, and misc buds and stems that might fall under the water line. If you like the look of leaves and buds in your arrangement, allow a few to remain attached close to the blooms.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

Strip your materials and return them to their buckets.

STEP 3: Begin assembling. Gather a few blooms in your hand to act as the ‘center’ of your arrangement.

How to make a hand tied bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

 

Randomly add other blooms and fillers working in a circular pattern around the center blossoms.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

Keep working until your bouquet is approximately a foot in diameter (for a pint-sized arrangement, work towards about a 6 inch diameter):

A quick, lush mason jar arrangement from Farmhouse38.com

 

Step 4: Clip your stems. Hold the bouquet in one hand, and in the other hand use good, sharp shears to cut the stems straight across. You want to cut them so they are just shorter than the height of the mason jar (which is about 6.5 inches for a quart jar–so cut the stems to 6 inches or shorter. For a pint-sized jar, cut stems to 4.5 inches or shorter). When you insert them, you want to flowers to be resting on the edge of the jar, you don’t want the stems to be holding the arrangement up away from the jar.

Optional Step 5: You can wrap a single strand of waterproof florist’s tape just above where your hand holds the bouquet. This will ensure the arrangement holds its exact shape. Be sure that the tape wraps around and adheres back onto itself.

Step 6: Carefully insert the stems into the mouth of the jar and drop the entire bouquet into place. If you don’t tape it, you can play with the blossoms a bit to make them fuller or correct any pieces that might have gone wonky.

A quick, lush mason jar arrangement from Farmhouse38.com

Step 7: Now, you can assess the entire composition and decide if you want to add a few more things, which I did. I added some geranium leaves after the fact. I do what I want.

A quick, lush mason jar arrangement from Farmhouse38.com

 

 

Don’t forget the old adage ‘The thriller, the filler, and the spiller’ as a general guideline for your composition. Choose anywhere from one to three ‘thrillers’ (something eye-catching and bold), anywhere from one to two ‘fillers’ (something less showy to fill the space between thrillers), and one to three ‘spillers’ (something drapey or spiky to create movement). You’ll notice I did no ‘spillers’ in this arrangement. None of these rules are set in stone. And I like to break my own rules.

Now go! Make some gorgeous centerpieces! I’ll wait here.

Boutonnières Made Simple

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.comSince we had the bouquet how-to, let’s round it out with a boutonnière tutorial. A tutonnière. Sorry. I’m awkward. Sorry.

Boutonnières really are a very simple thing to make–which is awesome, since bouquet-making tends to be fairly taxing on the old creative juices. The bits and pieces of scrap flowers and greens leftover from bouquet-making are the perfect things to make your bouts from. Don’t get too hung up on trying to make your bouts match your bouquets–they only need to reference each other with a few similar materials.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

When you strip away the leaves and misc. branches from your bouquet materials, be sure to keep them for use in other small arrangements, boutonnières, and flower crowns. I keep a mason jar with water handy to drop any useable bits into.

It is very important to select really strong, hardy materials for your bouts–as these flowers will be out of water the duration of the event, and are always subject to extensive hug-abuse. You want to pick materials that don’t wilt easy–in fact I highly recommend testing a piece of your prospective materials by leaving them out of water for several hours before you start assembling. Do they get super droopy and flimsy? Pick something that holds its shape better. Marigolds are great, so are roses, and so are a wealth of other flowers and greens.

Much like the bouquets, I would recommend assembling one day prior to the event.

To assemble a simple, single-bloom bout, you will need:

-One large, sturdy bloom (I used a marigold)

-One large, sturdy leaf (I used a scented geranium leaf)

-Light green floral tape

-Baker’s twine

-And don’t forget your boutonnière pins (they come in every color of the rainbow, so be sure to coordinate)

Cut your marigold and leaf so that the stems are about four inches long each (this is much longer than the finished size will be, but there is a method to my madness, I promise). Arrange them so that the blossom sits comfortably atop the leaf, and then wrap the stems tightly with floral tape. Make sure to stretch the floral tape a tiny bit first, this activates the stickiness of it.

Boutonnières Made Simple from Farmhouse38.com

Similar to the bouquet process, only put as much tape on the stems as can be covered by your decorative twine.

Now, tie your baker’s twine just above the top of the tape and wrap it solidly down the stems until it covers the bottom tape edge. Tie a knot, and cut off all loose ends. Take another piece of twine and tie a bow at the top.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

 

The stems should still be too long. I usually keep them that way until the day of so that they can sit in a shallow bit of water and stay as fresh as possible.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

Keep the bouts in water in a dark, cool place until they are ready to be cut a few hours prior to the event. They can be laid flat until they are ready to be pinned onto their victims. Don’t forget to label who gets what!

So there you have a very basic, but adorable boutonnière (and frankly, just doing a single bloom is even easier–don’t underestimate it!). But…well…what if you want to get a little more creative? Here’s some inspiration:

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

A sprig of succulent, a petite rose, and some hypericum berries make a nice little shot of color all finished with a wrap of copper wire.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

Orangey-red gomphrena, yellow goldenrod, and lavender leaves wrapped in paper-covered wire.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

Orchids are a fantastic choice for bouts, as they hold their shape out of water for a very long time. This cymbidium is pair with green hypericum berries and wrapped completely in raffia-covered wire.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

More sturdy ingredients include fern shoots, spiky sea holly, and lemon leaf.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

I’m a huge fan of using non-botanical materials in bouts and bouquets. It’s pretty great to know that they’re not going to wilt. Here we have some feathers tucked behind a bright zinnia, a sprig of eucalyptus, and a few sprigs of caspia. After the tape-wrapping, grey grosgrain ribbon was hot-glued in place, and topped off with a small steel star (also hot-glued into place). This is a good example of how a bout looks when you trim the stems flush with the wrap for a tidier look.

Boutonnières made simple by Farmhouse38.com

Here’s a great example of why labeling your boutonnieres on the day of is so important. Be sure to provide plenty of pins, and always make one or two extra bouts, just in case.

***Things to remember*** 

-Choose the sturdiest materials available to you. Incorporating non-botanicals is a fun way to make sure your bouts don’t droop.

-Keep your materials in water for as long as possible–often this means keeping the stems long and clipping them just before showtime.

-Experiment with added decorations; don’t be afraid to pull out the hot glue gun and glue fun things into the mix. Don’t be tied (see what I did there?) to only finishing off with ribbon: use wire, twine, beads, etc.

-MAKE EXTRAS!!! Accidents happen, and it’s nice to have replacements.

 

 

 

How to Make a Hand Tied Bouquet

The easy way to make your own hand tied bouquet from Farmhouse38.comWedding flowers–huzzah!! This is for all you DIY brides out there (I’m looking at YOU Garlic, My Soul).

But let me start by stressing a little bit of advice here stemming from (ha! See what I did there?!) my experience in the wedding floral business: it’s all well and good for the bride to intend to get her hands dirty with this kind of project, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have several friends or family members on board to help you out. I have pre-wedding jitters about your flowers. Things get crazy in the hours leading up to a wedding.

Now that we have that one tiny little bit of ominous warning out of the way–on to the fun stuff! Flowers–YAY! You guys know I am a cheerleader of the Slow Flower movement (read what I wrote about it here); I am all about using what is local, seasonal, and fresh. Whether the materials are from your own garden, foraged (legally) from the wild, or purchased from your most local flower farmer, it’s all amazing in my opinion. Visit slowflowers.com to learn more about all this and to search for flower farms, farmer-florists, and locally-sourcing floral designers near you or your wedding venue. There is something truly magical about seasonal flowers.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

Garden and #CAgrown gorgeousness.

The best time to assemble flowers would be the morning of the event–but…ain’t nobody got time for that. So I recommend doing the flowers the day before. Store them in the coolest, darkest place you can find overnight, and make sure they are all in clean, fresh water.

Material selection is, of course, really important, and sometimes rather daunting, and so I have a few rules I like to stick to. Are you familiar with the container-gardening guideline: ‘The thriller, the filler, and the spiller’? No? Read about it here. This is a cute little reminder that for a fabulous container garden, you need a ‘thriller’ (some sort of eye-catching superstar), a filler (something that fills space around the ‘thriller’), and a spiller (something that hangs down or sticks out from the overall arrangement to add movement and interest). Yeah. I like to apply this rule to my bouquets and flower arrangements, too. It’s super helpful, because it reminds you to keep things simple. As little as three materials can look fabulous (frankly, just one material in abundance can look pretty amazeballs, too–but I digress). You don’t need 25 different flowers in your bouquet. In fact, I beg you, do not put 25 different flowers in your bouquet. You only need anywhere from three to five different materials to make a really great arrangement. I promise. For this bouquet, I bought some gorgeous marigolds and dahlias from a local farmers’ market (because all the flowers in my garden are so scorched right now from record-breaking temps combined with severe drought–GAH!!), and pulled some scented geranium leaves and amaranth from my yard. So that’s four different things–but because I used two different, vibrant colors of dahlias, I like to count those separately–so really, this is five materials. Makes perfect sense, right? In my head, at least.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

So if we are applying the ‘thriller, filler, spiller’ rule to this bouquet: I see the dahlias and marigolds as the thriller (so that’s THREE thrillers), the geranium leaves as the filler, and the draping amaranth as the spiller. Frankly, the little dahlia buds poking up from the bouquet are kind of ‘spillers’, too. But often they come along with the dahlia blooms and instead of stripping them away, I sometimes like to let them come to the party, too.

Don’t ever get hung up on ‘rules’, though. These are just helpful guidelines. You want that sixth material in your bouquet? You go girl. It’s gonna look awesome.

To make a bouquet, you will need:

-a healthy selection of sturdy, straight-stemmed flowers and greens of your choice (I used approx. 11 dahlias, 9 marigolds, five stems of geranium leaves, and three stems of draping amaranth).

-good, sharp scissors to cut stems with

-some sort of water-proof tape (I recommend this, but narrow duct tape would work just as well, too. I was out of both, so I used this, which works in a pinch, but I really don’t suggest it)

-ribbon or other such decorative material to ‘tie’ your bouquet with

-sharp ribbon-cutting scissors

-pearl-topped boutonniere pins (such as these)

-it’s also helpful to have another set of hands standing by, but not 100% necessary

Building a bouquet requires four fairly simple steps:

1) Clean and prep your materials

2) Assemble your bouquet

3) Tape your ‘handle’

4) Pin ‘handle’ ribbon

Now, let’s elaborate:

1) Clean and prep your materials

Whatever flowers and greens you wind up choosing, the very first step is that you must strip any leaves, thorns, or satellite stems from the main stem. You can do this with your fingers (not what I recommend if there are thorns), scissors, or with a stem-stripper. Cut the length of the stems, also. You want to leave them longer than what the eventual bouquet length will be, but you want them short enough that they are easy to handle as you assemble. I usually leave mine about 18″ long at this point.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

You want clean, straight stems. Strip all materials that are within the possibility of using, and set aside in their own bucket or basin of water. If a few tiny leaves miss the stripping process, it’s aw-rite.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

When you strip away the leaves, buds, and misc. branches, be sure to keep them for use in other small arrangements, boutonnieres, and flower crowns. I keep a mason jar with water handy to drop any useable bits into.

Before you begin, cut about three or four six-inch lengths of your waterproof tape and stick one end of each to the counter where they’ll be handy, but not in your way. Fill a quart-sized mason jar about one-quarter full of water (this will be for your bouquet to sit in when you are done).

2) Assemble your bouquet

Gather a few stems into your hand to start the bouquet. I like to start with some thriller. And I always start with an odd number–usually three or five. Hold the stems where the ‘handle’ of the bouquet would naturally fall.

How to make a hand tied bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.comAdd a few more thrillers working around that center cluster in a circular fashion. Add a few pieces of ‘filler’. Be random. Don’t work with an eye toward symmetry. The flowers won’t let you win that one. A good rule of thumb is to stick to clustering materials together in odd numbers–those always seem to appear more natural.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

Keep adding thrillers and fillers at random. If you’ve got some spiky spillers, pop those in here or there.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

 

***Helpful Hint***As you add materials, you may find that certain pieces back towards the center of the arrangement have slipped down. Never fear! Loosen your grip just slightly, and then gently push or pull the offending blossom into a better position (it’s best to try to grasp the blossom by the stem just under the bloom). You want the overall shape of the bouquet to be a natural mound.

Once you have the bouquet to about the size you want, add your ‘spillers’, if you have them. You want the drapey bits to fall here and there from the outside edges of the bouquet.

How to make a hand tied bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

3) Tape your ‘handle’

Now your bouquet should be more or less how you want it. Go ahead and grab a length of waterproof tape and wrap it around the ‘handle’ of the bouquet just above where your hand is holding it. Wrap that tape TIGHT. Cinch that sucker. Make sure that the tape wraps around and over itself to adhere it snugly.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

You can wrap tape as far down as you want the ‘handle’ of the bouquet to be. The idea is that whatever tape you put over the stems, you will cover it with some sort of ribbon or decorative material to hide the tape. So how much or how little you use depends on how much stem you want the bouquet to be showing. I like to see a lot of stem (seems more natural to me), so I don’t use much tape.

Now you basically have your bouquet assembled.

***Helpful Hint***If you’re looking at it and thinking you need to add a few more stems, go ahead. Just place them and then wrap with another layer of tape. Only do this once or twice–after that, it will start making things look wonky in the ‘handle’ area.

At this point, it’s a good idea to go ahead and cut your stems to the finished length you want them. Use good, sharp scissors or clippers and get a nice, even cut across all the ends.

4) Pin ‘handle’ ribbon

I chose to use ribbon for this, but you can get creative and use just about any sort of binding material: twine, rope, wire, raffia–almost anything you can dream up. Ribbon is the only material that requires this pinning step, anything else would just need to be tied or twisted.

Choose your ribbon and unravel a piece that is much longer than you assume you need (just how much depends on how much of the stems you want covered by the ribbon).

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

 

Start at the bottom of where you want your ribbon ‘handle’ to fall. Pin the ribbon end securely to the stems by inserting the pins at an up or down angle into the stems (obviously you want to avoid sticking them straight in or any other angle that might result in pins sticking out and turning your beautiful bouquet into a booby-trapped device of torture and pain).

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way by Farmhouse38.comNow you are ready to wrap the ribbon. First wrap down one rotation so that you are sure to cover the pins and ribbon edge, then proceed to slowly wrap the ribbon snugly up the stems. I like to overlap the ribbon on itself as little as possible in order to show more of the pattern–but that’s a personal preference. When you get just past the top of the tape, cut your ribbon (this is where it might be prudent to have an extra set of hands), fold the loose end into a point, and pin it with one pin.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

Be sure to slide all pins in completely–this photo shows it in process so that you can see the angle.

Now, you can call it a day, or you can choose to cut another length of ribbon and tie a bow around the top to hide that final pin.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

 

Place your finished bouquet in the quarter-filled mason jar you prepped earlier, taking care to not get water on any of the ribbon. The stems should be submerged so that the water level covers the ends and not much more. Make sure every stem end is underwater.

How to make a hand tied bridal bouquet the easy way from Farmhouse38.com

 

***Helpful Hint*** To prep for transportation, place a bunched up sheet of paper towel in the bottom of a mason jar and fill with enough water that the paper towel becomes super-saturated and there is a tiny bit of loose water above the soaked towel. Just a tiny bit. Insert your bouquet so that the bottom of the stems firmly touch the paper towel. This will give your bouquet the moisture it needs for a few hours on the day of, but will prevent water from sloshing up onto the ribbon during transport. HEADS UP: always remember to dry off the bottom of the bouquet whenever you remove it from the water–water stains on wedding dresses are no bueno!!

***Helpful Hint*** Have mason jars or vases quarter-filled with water sitting on the head table for all the bridesmaids and the bride to be able to place their bouquets in during the reception. This helps keep the bouquets fresh all night (and keeps them from getting smushed by laying them on the table), and actually serves as makeshift centerpieces for the head table.

And there you have it: your very own handmade bouquet!

For more information on where to find locally-grown flowers, please visit slowflowers.com.

Stay tuned for imminent tutes on boutonnieres, flower crowns, and simple mason jar arrangements to complete your wedding DIY!

 

 

 

 

 

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