Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life Hack: Cheap Luxe

One bouquet = 3 arrangements
I love little things that come together to make a rich, happy existence, and I don't think having that kind of existence needs to be expensive. I'd like to share something I call a "life hack" that I enjoy doing from time to time. 
I love having fresh flowers around, but as a self employed artist, I don't devote much of my budget (or time) to rolling in blooms everyday. When I do treat myself to flowers (or receive some as a gift), I like to max them out. Here are some examples.
Grocery stores and markets are often looked upon with disdain when people think of buying fresh flowers. But I love finding pretty blooms to take home with my groceries. Places like this will often mark down bouquets to move out the older ones and make room for fresher buds. When I'm already stopping for groceries, I cruise by to see if any of the discounted bouquets appeal to me. Sometimes I find bunches of a single type of flower. Often, they are assorted bouquets like the one I used to make the arrangements pictured (right). To make the most of whatever I have, I divide them up into several small vases or other pretty vessels. Florists recommend cutting ends prior to putting them in vases anyway, so I go ahead and pick my containers, and trim my flowers down to fit the containers. I like to pick containers that are unexpected and compliment the flowers, so for these, I used a teacup that belonged to my grandmother, a little glass bowl, and a white ceramic bowl. I would have preferred to use a piece of silver from my other grandmother for the roses, but I didn't want to go searching for it, so I chose a white ceramic bowl. Here's another example of the same approach, different assortment, shown in steps:  
from left (click to enlarge): BEFORE, an assortment from a florist, various small containers, screw on jar top, helpful for arranging in mason jars, water additive, trimming stems underwater (cut at an angle)
AFTER: same flowers, sorted into mini arrangements
The trick is to use several small containers that will end up looking full and vibrant, rather than one big vase that might look lackluster and sparse. I trim them underwater in a sink, as recommended, then arrange them into pretty bursts of color.
I often group like flowers together for visual impact. I try to find ways to use most of the pieces in a bouquet, including the leaves, which helps each arrangement look lush and plentiful. Here's an arrangement I did in an old glass jar I saved after I used up the candle inside:
flowers arranged by Renee Parker
An empty candle jar, repurposed
The size and shape of the jar and its mouth make 5-6 grocery store blooms and their leaves look much grander than they did in the refrigerated case at the store. Use your imagination and what you have on hand!
If I'm using glass or crystal, I will sometimes use leaves, small fruit (like cumquats), or glass gems inside the container to hide the stems and make the arrangement look extra fancy. When I've finished arranging them, I add a little of the fertilizer packet that usually comes with the flowers, to the water in each arrangement. Finally, I put the arrangements in various spots around the house, so it feels like I have flowers and pretty pops of color everywhere.
That's one of my favorite cheap and [I think] easy life hacks. Hope you try it, and I hope to share more of these soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Makeover Monday: Long Necklaces
Click to view this necklace in my shop.
So I'm declaring this Makeover Monday, to address a pressing style issue. Underused adornment. Okay, how about "stuff we only wear in default mode, without adding our own flair".  Specifically, long single or multi-strand necklaces.
How do you wear a long, rope style necklace? Do you simply wear it as is, or do you experiment with different ways to adorn yourself?
I recently finished a new necklace for my shop on Etsy. It's a piece that's only been a picture in my mind, taunting me for months, until I finally found time to sit down and get it out of my head. I enjoyed creating this piece! It consists of five strands, with a lobster clasp and an extension chain, which allow adjustment of length and fit. 
As I was taking  pictures of the finished piece, I began finding more and more ways to drape, wrap, and knot it, to the point where I kept saying to myself "one more!". I was really inspired by the endless ways a long necklace can be worn, whether it's multi-strand like this one, several necklaces grouped, or a single strand. These are only some of the ways you can wear long pieces. I'm seriously still thinking of more! So I may have to add more pictures later, lol.
Click to enlarge image.
I had fun with this, and I will definitely be trying this with some of necklaces in my own closet! Hope you're inspired, too. Find more info on the necklace pictured here.

    Etsy shop