Thursday, September 1, 2011

Making Guests Feel Special

It's the first day of September and I am already wondering how the summer has slipped away so quickly.  School is in session and the carefree days of summer vacation have passed.  Families with children are back in the school day routine.  And somehow, it is Labor Day Weekend already.  

September always makes me wistful for many reasons.  It makes me think of waiting for our children to be born.  We have 3 fall/winter children and one early summer child.  There is something about the way the sun sits in the sky,  the dryness of the leaves, the feel of the air and the subtle hints of fall that makes me long for those days - the wonderful anticipation of babies and things to come.

This Labor Day, we are in a new city and a new home.  I was born and raised in the same town and this is such an adventure for me.  We are having guests this holiday weekend and we can't wait for their arrival.  I spent the day cleaning and making the house ready.  I had to make a run to the grocery to pick up a few things and when I walked through the door, the beautiful array of flowers in the floral department beckoned to me.  Their color, texture and fragrance called to me, speaking of the waning days of summer and flowers in the yard and on the deck soon to be gone.  That is one thing I truly miss about summer.  I don't miss the heat and humidity, but I miss the luxury of pots overflowing with beautiful blooms and beds filled with the glory of nature arrayed in it's finest.   

Needless to say, I could not walk away empty handed.  I knew I could make a simple arrangement to go on the bedside table to brighten their room and one for the kitchen table.   Fresh flowers are the ultimate luxury as far as I am concerned.  I chose alstromeria (Peruvian lilies) in a color called red bronze and red hypericum berries for filler.  The color of the alstromeria was so beautiful it took my breath away.  If you are not familiar with alstromeria, it is one of my favorite flowers because it has many blooms per stem and lasts for a good while.  

Hypericum berries are another favorite and are long lasting.  I purchased one bouquet of the alstromeria and two smaller bunches of the hypericum berries.  I could not wait to get home and go to work. 

There are a wide variety of vases kept in my cabinets.  I chose a 10 inch cylinder vase to use in the bedroom and a 5 inch cylinder vase for the dining table so that  we would be able to see over it with ease.  I filled the vases with water and added the preservative that came with the flowers to each vase.

Always use the preservative as it makes your flowers last much longer!

The flowers had very long stems, at least 24 inches and I did not want them that long.  When making an arrangement, you want it to be approximately 1 to 1.5 times the height of the vase for good proportion.  The best tool to use to cut flower stems is a sharp knife.  I used a paring knife and cut my stems at a slight angle.   This allows the flowers to take up water.  Using scissors can pinch the stems and keep them from taking up the necessary water.

I made the arrangement in the taller vase first.  First, remove all leaves that will be below water level.  This causes bacteria in the water a reduces the life of the flowers.  Start by putting several stems of the fuller flower in first, arranging the stems at interesting angles.  For this arrangement, the alstromeria went in first.  Next, fill in with the smaller flowers which were  the hypericum berries.  
Continue filling in until you have achieved the look you want.  I  placed the arrangement on the bedside table and it was like adding sunshine to the room.  A fresh flower arrangement adds so much.  It says "you mean a lot to me" and "we are so happy to have you share our home."  The picture at the top shows the arrangement on the bedside table.  It is so cheery and welcoming.

Next, I made the arrangement for the dining table.  I used the shorter, wider vase for this arrangement.  Again, I started by placing several stems of the alstromeria in the vase.  By placing 3 stems in a triangle configuration, you have a good start.  Next,  fill in with the hypericum berry and finish with the rest of the alstromeria and berries.  

For $12.00 I have two beautiful flower arrangements that will last for at least a week.  If you change the water when it begins to get cloudy and recut the flower stems, you can extend the life of the arrangement by several days.

This is the finishing touch for the table taking it up a to another level.  It's makes eating so pleasurable, like you are at a really fancy restaurant or at an upscale party.  Why shouldn't we enjoy these simple pleasures in our own home?  Give it a try, it will make everything nicer.  You can also use flowers from your garden if you have them.  Bring the beauty inside to enjoy!  You will be glad you did.  Let me know if you try your hand at arranging flowers for your home and how it goes!  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain so yellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a young and a callow fellow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow--follow, oh-oh."
- Try to Remember, Lyrics by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

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