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1  COOKING / Dessert / Re: Beetroot white chocolate truffles on: March 04, 2011 08:24:59 AM
I love that colour - and I'm pretty sure I have some of these flowers growing in my garden...
2  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Understated bling: tutorial for a Gumnut Rose Wedding Bouquet on: March 04, 2011 05:23:24 AM

I am an unapologetic hoarder of Martha Stewart Wedding magazines.  I pull them out of the bookcase again and again - they are so beautifully crafted and have wonderful ideas in them time and time again.  I got the urge to make a hand-tied wedding bouquet, which I haven't done for a while.  Hand-tied bouquets have been the most popular style of floral arrangement for brides for a while now and they look just as at home in a vase as they do accompanying a bride down the aisle (minus the ribbon of course).

I managed to purchase these lovely large roses for a very reasonable price at the markets as they were on their way out.  Good for practicing, however I definitely recommend buying as fresh as you can if it is for a special occasion.  I actually removed about a quarter to a half of all the rose petals from every rose as they were going brown and deteriorating.  The buds that were uncovered underneath were lovely, full and happy to oblige for this project.

Gumnut Rose Wedding Bouquet Recipe

   * 20 full soft pink roses
    * 20 full butter-coloured roses
    * 12 to 15 sprigs of gum-nuts or other types of nuts that can be wired and used as vessels for your diamantes
    * roll of string/twine
    * 15 green stem wires (craft or florist suppliers) or similar guage wire purchased from hardware for the gumnuts
    * green stem tape to cover wires on gumnuts
    * small packet of diamontes (dicount/craft stores)
    * floral tape or gaffer tape - silver or black (discount/hardware store)  for attaching ribbon to stems
    * roll of brown satin ribbon or colour of choice
    * 6 coffee coloured pearl pins (just everyday sewing pins) to match in with and secure the ribbon at the top and back of bouquet)
    * 2 decorative appliques for the front of the bouquet handle
    * flower scissors
    * stem cleaner (plastic yellow flower-shaped tool in the picture, used to strip leaves and thorns from stems) or a small sharp fruit knife to nip the leaves and thorns off, OR if you have neither of these and you are feeling brave you can carefully pinch off the thorns and leaves with your nimble little fingers
    * hot glue gun with glue sticks.

Before you wire the gumnuts fill the cavity of the gumnuts with hot glue right up to the very top  (glue gets very hot so be  careful) and drop a diamonte in, this process gets easier with practice.  You could use tweezers to place the diamonte if you''re worried about the hot glue however doing it that way may take an eternity and send you batty at the same time! With this process you can only do one at a time as the glue dries very quickly.  Clean up any bits of dried glue that are outside of the gumnuts and you're ready to wire.

Thread the stem wire through a little branch in the gumnut twig.  Keep one end straight and wind the other around the twig and all the way down.  I've looped it over the branch quite loosely as they are quite brittle and you don't want to snap them.  Starting at the point on the twig where there are no little branches that will snap, start wrapping the stem and wire in green stem tape gently stretching the tape and winding down as you go all the way to the end.

Select your central flower - usually the best in form and colour.  Pick your next flower and, pointing the stem away from, you place it to the left of the main flower so the stems are crossed over one another at the point you will be binding them with the string (which will be fairly high on the bouquet as pictured below).  At this point you can add one of your gumnut diamonte sprigs.  Then place the next rose to the left of this, with the stem crossing to the right.  Turn the whole bouquet a little.  You are basically making a spiral with the stems and turning the bouquet bit by little bit as you go, making sure the stems are crossing over from left to right (or opposite if you are left handed).

Make sure that when you are turning you keep a firm hold on the flowers you have grouped so that they don't move from the position you have placed them.  If this sounds tricky, which it can be (was for me), at first you can practice with skewers.  Stick some marshmallows on the end of the wooden skewers and spiral them evenly around each other, one by one, crossing over the sticks from left to right, continuing to turn the whole bouquet bit by bit as you go until you have a bouquet of marshmallows with a gentle dome.  Sounds like an idea for a bonfire!    
For this bouquet it is important to place the gumnuts at equal intervals amongst the roses.

Tie off your bouquet with string by holding the bouquet and end of string with your left hand (if right handed). Cut enough string to wind around three times quite firmly.  Place the bouquet on a table whilst still holding the string firmly.  Tie a knot with both hands and knot, then cut any excess string.  Hold the stems together towards the base of the bouquet, decide how long you want your stems to be (taking into account the desired length of your ribbon handle and green stems showing below ribbon - this will depend on how tall the bride is) and cut.

Take your florist or gaffa tape and, starting at the top, wind around the stems once then turn the tape back on itself so the sticky side is facing out and wind down as far as the ribbon will be wound.  Twist the end of the tape back, stick down and cut.  Taking the brown ribbon, start winding it from about three-quarters down the sticky taped part of the stems.  Continue down to the bottom of the sticky tape and then back up again to the top with the end of the ribbon finishing at the back of the top of the bouquet.

Before you pin your ribbon in place at the back, turn the bouquet around and decide which is the most attractive side of your bouquet and make that this is at the front (that which will be facing outwards for all to admire).  Tuck the end of the ribbon under and secure it with the coffee coloured pins on an angle so that the sharp ends don't go through to the other side.

I found these beautiful brown, gold and diamonte appliques, which have been hot glue gunned onto the front of the bouquet's handle, at an Indian stand at a craft fair a few years ago.  I think they give it a little bit more bling for a special occassion.

Make sure that when you first bring your flowers home, cut two inches off the stems and place in a bucket of water in a cool room until you are ready to begin.  When you have completed your bouquet you can place the bouquet in a vase with a little water at the base so that the ribbon doesn't get wet - keep an eye on the water level just in case the flowers get thirsty.

I'm going to have a nice cup of tea now and look at my latest Martha Stewart Weddings!

Virginia @ spider flower

See this post in full with step-by-step photographs and more at my blog:
3  COOKING / Dessert / sour cream/ beetroot/ white chocolate truffles on: February 22, 2011 07:18:21 AM

Cute truffle recipe for Valentine's... they look more like jewellery beads than chocolates!
4  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / got balls? vegan sundae: raspberry/ melon/ coconut/ tapioca on: February 22, 2011 07:14:28 AM


I love this from foodieandthechef.com - I've tried the recipe for the instant berry sorbet and the coconut tapioca = YUMMY.  

Mine weren't as pretty as these ones though Smiley  I guess I ate them too quickly to worry about all that!
5  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Summer's End Tea Party: floral table centrepiece tutorial on: February 22, 2011 03:10:32 AM
See this post in full with step-by-step photographs and more at my blog:

I walked out the back door yesterday morning with our dogs and pussy cats in tow.  As we wandered around the backyard, looking for some flowers for my next project, I realised that summer is coming to an end.  Not a flower was in sight except for some ground cover primulas so I went out to the front of the house where the roses reside - not a single bud.

Well, there was one more little garden that I hadn't checked - the vegetable garden.  Admittedly it has been a little neglected, but the sturdy little herbs and leafy greens have soldiered on despite the lack of water.  So I trotted back around to the back of the house and found miracle of miracles: the only flowers with stems in the whole garden.

Can you see the little froggie sitting on the pebble?

The baby spinach leaf provided me with a lovely purple daisy-like flower and the mint bush had a cone shaped end full of minute little flowers - very sweet.  What to do, what to do....

They kind of reminded me of something you would find in an English field, growing wild.  Inspired, I dug out the assortment of butterflies, frogs and ladybirds I had in my little nature drawer, collected from various craft and discount stores over the years.

The Japanese box hedge was perfect to make the greenery for the 'ground cover' of the arrangement (and it was due for a mini trim anyway!).  

Summer's End Table Centrepiece Recipe:

    * 3 stalks of baby spinach with mauve flowers.
    * 4 stalks of mint with flowers
    * Japanese box stems (as many as you need to cover the bottom of your container) - or any shrub with a small leaf
    * artificial butterflies, frogs and ladybirds (discount/floral supply/craft stores) or whatever appeals to you in the small insect/amphibian/mini bird category.  You can often find plastic frogs etc. in the toy area of discount stores at a very reasonable price.
    * 2 pieces of floral foam (discount/floral supply/craft stores), or as much as you need to fill your container.  You can use small pebbles instead to fill the dish and stick the stems into.
    * low ceramic waterproof dish (could be a small baking dish - or large if you want to make a statement).
    * couple of smooth pebbles for the frogs to sit on.
    * knife to cut the foam to size for the dish
    * scissors
    * floral adhesive - which is basically a very strong blu/glue tack for attaching insects, frogs etc.
    * green stem wires (floral supply/craft stores) for attaching the butterflies.
    * a wooden skewer to make holes in the floral foam for the softer stems.

Drop your floral foam into a bucket of water and let it sink to the bottom.  I've noticed that some foam blocks sink faster than others - depends on the brand.  When you cut it open it should be wet through.  Cut the foam to fit your receptacle and just cut extra little bits to fill in any gaps.  It doesn't matter if it looks messy, it will all be hidden.

Cut your Japanese box stems down so that each stem looks quite short.  Really you are making many little sprigs out of the stems.  You may need to use your trusty skewer to make holes for the cuttings of newer growth as they tend to be quite soft.

Once you have covered all the floral foam with the mini box leaves, start placing your flowering spinach stems and mint stems where you think they look aesthetically pleasing, taking into consideration where all the other elements will be put.  

Put a little floral adhesive/blu tack on the back of the frog and attach to a stone that you have placed in amongst the leaves on the bottom of your receptacle.  Attach the butterflies to the upper part of the stem wires and arrange upright amongst the mint and spinach stems so that the wires aren't too obvious.

If you don't have blu tack you can attach the butterflies by firmly winding a bit of cotton around the middle of the butterfly and the stem wire.  My butterflies had magnets already attached to their backs so they attached easily to the green metal wires.  You could probably getaway with wedging the butterflies between the leaves and flowers if you wanted to.

Remember to top up the water in your receptacle once you have it in place.

The baby spinach leaf plant had grown quite high and collapsed so that it had an interesting curve to it when I took the cuttings - it looks quite wind blown.

Here is my little lady bird friend which I also attached with floral adhesive/blu tack.

If you can't find any little creatures in the craft stores that take your fancy, you could always colour and cut out your own insects for the summer 'field''.

Farewell summer.

6  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Re: We dare not stop or waste a drop (Wedding Bouqets) on: February 15, 2011 06:11:51 AM
You've put together the most beautiful, soft colours for the bouquet - very creative!  All the best for the big day Smiley
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Re: I did it: felt owl decorations on: February 13, 2011 07:03:50 PM
These are beautiful little owls... I love the different expressions in their eyes!
8  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Valentine's Day / Be My Valentine OR ELSE: double decker heart bouquet on: February 13, 2011 06:56:02 PM
Drop by my blog for the full post and step-by-step photographs:

Valentine's Day is on the 14th and this year I've decided to love me.  My husband brought me home a lovely box of chocolate truffles yesterday (he figures better too early than too late).  I excitedly helped myself to pink champagne, leatherwood honey, tia maria... only to wake up the next morning with a headache to rival any cocktail-induced hangover.  Poor hubby.

For a change I'm trying red Celosia and hot pink roses on split levels this year.   It almost looks as if they have braces on.  The Celosia bloom is very heart/organ like, so it makes a cool high-school-biology twist on traditional bouquets.  I've paired them with the classic flower of romance: the rose.

'Double Decker' Heart Bouquet Recipe

  • 10 long stemmed hot pink roses (if your roses are tight buds you may need of each rose to fill the hearts).
    12 red celosia stems (you can use red roses if you prefer, they are easier to work with).  In that case you would need about 20 long stemmed roses.
    1 medium and 1 small heart shape in galvanised steel (from craft store).  If unable to obtain these, you can shape your own hearts from the 2.00mm diameter wire, securing at the base with silver gaffer tape. (hardware/discount stores).  Mine measure: small heart: 6" at the widest point
    the small heart measures 6" (15cm) across and the medium heart 8" (20cm) across at the widest point.
    small roll of galvanised steel wire 2.00mm diameter ( local hardware or discount store in hardware section)
    small roll of very fine galvanised steel wire for securing the wire 'legs' to the wire hearts.
    wire cutters
    satin pink and burgundy organza ribbons/ or of your choice
    silver gaffer tape if making your own hearts with the wire
You'll need three 12" (30cm) lengths of the 2.00mm wire to attach to the large heart and three 17" (43cm)lengths of 2.00mm wire to attach to the small heart.  You want the small heart to sit above the large heart's flowers in your bouquet, so make sure you attach the longer wires to the smaller heart.

When cutting the thicker wire, you'll need to put a bit of effort into snipping it.  Measure how much you'll need and grip this point firmly with the wire cutters/pliers.  Grasp the middle of the length you are cutting and rotate the wire in big circles until it snaps at the point the pliers are gripping.
Attach the a wire 'leg' to the right side, left side and base angle of each heart.  Do this by winding the end of each wire on to the heart a couple of times (using your pliers). You might want to sit in front of the television (or a glass of wine) while you do this as it takes a bit of perserverance.

Once you have firmly wound the thicker wire around the attachment points on the hearts a couple of times with the pliers, use the fine wire to secure the joins in place so they don't move.  This also helps to hide the lumpiness and to give it a more interesting/refined look.

Sit the small heart with its attached three legs inside the large heart so it is sitting 5" above.   Tape all six legs together .  Gaffer/florist tape all the way down to the bottom and tape over the end so it can't scratch anyone.

After you have finished the 'mechanics' of the flower design fetch your flowers and remove at least three quarters of the leaves off the stems.  Holding the taped wire 'legs' of your hearts, start by placing the bulk of the red Celosia blooms in the bottom large heart, staying within the shape.

Cut some string and firmly wind this around both the stems of celosia and the wire 'legs'.  Wind three times and tie off to make your life a little easier when you start placing your roses in the top half.

One you've placed your roses inside the heart shape, tie the stems off again with string, being sure to include the Celosia stems and wire 'legs' while you are winding.

Add a few extra celosia around the perimeter of the lower heart to finish off your design and tie off with string for the third time, trimming the ends.  Trim the stems to the same length as you wires.

Add  two yummy, scrummy ribbons and tie a big trailing bow or a florists bow as described in Sunshiny Sunflowers http://spiderflower.blogspot.com/2011/02/sunshiny-sunflowers-floral-bouquet.html.

Push in the top of the wire 'legs' a tiny bit so they have a gentle curve inwards.

This would make a very cute dinner table decoration if you made it as a VERY short bouquet with much shorter wires.  You would need to push the stems into a shallow bowl full of floral foam/pebbles to hold the weight of the bouquet (topping the bowl up with water).

I hope the recipient is deserving of all this effort!

I think I'll go and have a lie down (and maybe eat some more choccy truffles.....)

Virginia @ spider flower
9  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Re: Dreamcatchers (Serious Pic OBESE) on: February 13, 2011 09:21:54 AM
These are just stunning, thanks for sharing.  I've always wanted to learn how to make these.
10  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Re: Circle Tree Modern Art on: February 13, 2011 09:18:22 AM
This is so stunning, what a lucky daughter!  You're very talented Smiley
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