Tag: sunflower

Preserving the last of summer…

After all the HEAT we have had well into October, I must say I’m happy for a chilly day today!

I will greatly miss my fresh flowers during the months ahead, though, so I have been researching the topic of preserving flowers!  I planted some Eucalyptus this spring and knew that preserving some mature branches of that plant (which did very well in my flower bed) would be on my fall ‘to do’ list.

Today was the day to begin the first stage of this preservation project! I harvested my Eucalyptus and also experimented with selected stems of assorted color zinnias, lavender, one sunflower, one cone flower, fern leaves and some cork screw type grass.  While I’m not sure how the preservation of these selected flowers will go, I am quite hopeful about the Eucalyptus branches! I had planned on cutting some juniper to preserve for Christmas, but my son didn’t know my plans and he tore out and burned the juniper bushes at his house a few weeks ago!

Today’s steps in the preservation process were very easy…you may want to give it a try!

For this project you will need: water, vegetable glycerin, vases/containers and your flowers or greens. *Vegetable glycerin is the same type of product used to make soaps and lotions and can be found at Amazon.com.

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Following are directions to begin the preserving process:

  1. Select some sturdy containers to use for this project. I used both glass jars and ceramic vases. If your stems are longer, you’ll want to use a taller container to support the branches. Plastic containers won’t stand solidly and will loose their shape when you add the hot water. One of these days I will find a use for those saved containers!
  2. Measure the amount of water you’ll need to insure ample amount for your containers. *Add extra so you will have some prepared mixture to use when you need to refresh the liquid in the vases. The process will continue for 6 weeks. Keep in mind, as you estimate the water you’ll need for your vases, that you’ll be using 2 parts water to 1 part glycerin.
  3. Place the WATER ONLY in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off burner or remove from stove.
  4. Add the correct amount of glycerin to the boiled water. Remember…2 parts water to 1 part glycerin. (So, for every cup of water you use, you’ll need to add 1/2 cup of glycerin.)
  5. Stir this mixture for a while to make sure the glycerin is well dissolved in the water.
  6. At this point I transferred the mixture into the jars/vases that I had set aside. I thought doing this may speed up the cooling process. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you transfer into your containers.
  7. Allow this mixture to cool. (I added a few ice cubes for faster cooling because I was impatient! If you plan to add ice, use a bit less water to account for the melted ice. I forgot this part!)
  8. While your mixture is cooling, you’ll need to cut your flowers and foliage. Cut your specimen stems (on an angle) and trim off all lower foliage, as you would do to arrange cut flowers. I had many branches of Eucalyptus so as I cut, I stripped the lower leaves and laid them out according to size and stem width.
  9. Bunch the stems of similar sizes together and secure with a rubber band twisted onto the bare stems. I placed about 8 cuttings of similar sizes together.
  10. After your flowers/greens are bunched, you simply place them into the containers of water/glycerin mixture. *Make sure the stems of all the branches are placed way down into the container (touching the bottom) so that the liquid is easily absorbed through the stems.  20171013_143203-1
  11. This step may be challenging, depending on your home, but you’ll need to find a cool, fairly dark and somewhat accessible location (so you can check frequently) to store your vases. The preserving process will take about 6 weeks! I have a laundry room that I walk through to the downstairs powder room but other than that, is used about once a week. My laundry also has a sink and counter so my preservation location was a ‘no brainer’!
  12. Next step is to WAIT and WATCH! Research indicates the process takes about 5-6 weeks. Indicators of a completed preservation are darker colored leaves and a smooth glossy feel to the leaves. *It is suggested is that you check the process from time to time as more water/mixture may need to be added to the vases or changed entirely if the water turns a nasty brown.
  13. The process was a bit messy, so I’m pretty sure clean up will be your last step!

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That was my early afternoon project today! I will anxiously be watching and waiting as my Eucalyptus and cut flowers go through the preservation process. *An added bonus…My laundry room smells wonderful!

I will be back with an update sometime in November! “Til then, Happy Fall!

*If you try your hand at the art of preserving flowers or greens, please leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to follow your progress also!

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A successful event!

Our 45th Class Reunion was a success! It was such a nice evening to catch up on news and faces of former classmates. In 45 years, our lives and faces sure have changed, but so  much of us remains the same! It was easy to “pick up where we left off” the last time we met! It was a fun event!

The table centerpieces, that I mentioned in my previous blog post, came together nicely and, though they were simple, they were a nice touch to the tables for our guests. I made six of these wine bottles wrapped with old class photos and another bouquet of zinnias and other garden flowers for our ‘Memorial Table”. I really enjoy decorating and ‘fussing’ over events like this and was happy to do this. Also glad that some of the classmates took these bottles home so they could enjoy the sunflowers a bit longer!

The past six months of planning meetings for this reunion were especially enjoyable for me and I’m looking forward to our ‘post reunion’ meeting in two weeks!

Our class always includes a ‘blind’ or ‘white elephant’ auction to add a little $$ to our class treasury. I was so happy to win a bag of ‘goodies’ from Pompeii Street Soaps in Mifflinburg, PA. Thanks, Sue for bringing this great gift! I also won a beautiful chrysanthemum. I’m not sure who brought this, but I love it and it will be a great addition to my fall decorating!

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Speaking of fall decorating….I need to get busy with that undertaking soon! What’s your “Method of Operation” when doing tasks like this? Do you FORCE yourself to “get it done” or do you wait for inspiration? I tend to wait for inspiration then work like a ‘mad woman’ to get the job done! So far this season, I’ve only been inspired to buy a flannel shirt for a scarecrow that I hope to make! The inspiration will come eventually!

in·spi·ra·tion

/ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/

noun

  • 1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative: “Helen had one of her flashes of inspiration” synonyms: creativity, inventiveness, innovation, ingenuity, genius, more
  • 2. the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

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DIY Easy Table Centerpiece

How have 45 years flown by since I graduated from high school? This Saturday, my small class is having a reunion to celebrate this eventful year! For some reason, it turns out that few of our classmates want to celebrate, but for those who DO, we are resolved to have a good time!

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I’ve been serving on the committee that has made the plans for this event. It will be a humble affair; a meal catered at a local restaurant, a tour of our former school (that is now a completely remodeled elementary school) and a campfire, dessert and more fun at the home of two of our class members.

I’ve been thinking about some table decorations and think I have a plan! I just realized I have 6 empty wine bottles sitting around (I KNEW I was saving them for something special!) and because the neck is so narrow, they will be perfect to showcase a single (or few) pretty yellow sunflowers from my garden. A friend was kind enough to copy some photos from pages of old school yearbooks so I will wrap the pages around the bottles, secure with Mod-podge and embellish with some raffia, jute or ribbon. That should be an easy Friday project! Here are some ideas for my inspiration! I’ll keep you posted on the ‘finished product’!

 

I love to be working outside in the garden! This morning I cut some fresh Zinnias, which I love! Here they are, brightening my kitchen!

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After I cut the zinnias, I decided to snap some photos of my garden to share with you today. I worked for a few hours last night, cleaning out some ‘spent’ flowers, weeding a bit, moving some plants to make room for fall flowers (and a scarecrow that I am working on!) and planting some new additions that I purchased yesterday at Reiff’s Greenhouse in Vicksburg, PA.

 

Pictured are morning glories, which really haven’t bloomed this summer like I had hoped, but are pretty, nonetheless. Also my front flower bed (street view) and some new additions that I thought might look nice with chrysanthemums this fall. (very soon, actually!)

And last…is the mess that I am going to tackle today! Next summer I will NOT plant veggies with my flowers! I’ve already begun planning new raised beds for veggies next year! I didn’t realize how LARGE the zucchini, cucumber and tomato plants grow! I have sunflowers that are so heavy with flowers I need to tie them against the fence, zinnias that seem to be ‘wild’ and tomato plants spilling over with tomatoes! Mixed in with all that are a lilac bush and red bud tree that I temporarily planted in these raised beds this spring and must now move to a permanent location.

It’s work….but I love it and doubt I’d rather be doing anything else today! Share some stories of your garden if you care to leave a comment!

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Happy Friday!