What to Buy: February

Happy February Readers!

Although I do hate to wish time away, as I feel it speeds along so fast at the best of times, I’m glad we are now firmly in to 2015, and thoughts can be turned to Spring, and all the new-ness that comes with it.

The January sales seemed to last forever, and it’s really nice to see the new season stock coming in, especially when the trends for SS15 are not only beautiful, but really quite wearable too.

It’s a tradition of mine since I was at school to buy a copy of Vogue for my Mum twice a year for their Catwalk Report, and this still continues 20 years later! When I was living at home, I used to earmark the pages for Mum who would then make me something from the season (she’s a Bio-Chemist but loves to dress-make in her spare time), and she still uses the pages for her inspiration now.

This issue didn’t disappoint, and here is a round up of my favourite trends of the season.

Denim with a Difference

ASOS Dress / H&M Girlfriend Jeans

This take on the Denim trend takes me back a little to my late teens, when I LIVED in a Denim pinafore dress that Mum had actually made me. There’s an M&S Full Skirt that I’m waiting to come into store which looks perfect, but in the meantime, I love the easy look of this ASOS White dress and the patchwork pattern really lives up to the “with a difference” tag. H&M are also on fire with their jeans selection at the moment. If you haven’t tried their “girlfriend” fit I urge you too. Skinner than Boyfriend, but a slightly higher cut (something I prefer now I must admit!) and not too tight on the leg, the silhouette they give is great with flats or heels. This distressed pair would look great with a sweatshirt now, or strappy cami come the warmer weather.

It’s all about the Stripes

Next Skirt / Boden Top / M&S Shoes / TopShop Dress

I really never do tire of a stripe, and they are set to be big this season on everything from clothing to accessories. Bold colours, monochrome or the classic Bretton, anything goes really. This is good news for me, as a LOT of my wardrobe is already stripes, but I am drawn to these M&S shoes (sold out in my size, BOO!) and also this Boden top is very like the Karen Millen dress I’ve been living in this winter. I also love the way that some stores have styled stripes with other prints in this summer – Next, I’m looking at you 🙂 There’s lots of choice out there so just go for a colourway and size that you know suits you.

Fancy Florals

Next Shirt / H&M Trousers / Boden Trainers / TopShop Trousers

As the Vogue supplement suggests, flowers are big news in SS15 and what I really love is that it’s not just one particular print. From big and bold cartoony type prints, to the more chintzy Liberty-esque styles, again, there is something to suit everyone. I personally think the bolder the better, but I think I’m in the same camp as Rebecca here – having grown up with Rainbow Bright as a style icon 😉 I love this Next shirt, especially teamed up with the stripe pencil skirt, and these Topshop trousers, although not strictly floral, really drew my eye in the iciness that was NYC last week. I may just have to get these and store them in my post-baby box to wear come the late Spring.

On the Fringe

J.Crew Top / H&M Bag / Zara Boots / ASOS Bag

Fringing was around last season, but it’s not going anywhere fast, and you can now find it not only adorning accessories, but clothing too. Although I’m not what you’d class as a hippy chick, there are ways to nod to this trend. These Zara boots are a nice way in, as is this J.Crew top, which when worn with slim trousers or jeans, gives just enough movement to satisfy that swish. For something a little easier to wear, the blogger-favourite H&M bag is now back in stock, and although I know this isn’t actually fringing per se, the ASOS clutch has a gorgeous tactile look to it.

Jump to it

H&M / Zara / Mango

It’s so much more commonplace now to see a Jumpsuit in your favourite shop. Actually really easy to wear (although granted, NOT that easy when nature calls) they can be dressed up or down depending on the look you are going for. These three jumpsuits really stood out for me, mostly down to the print on the first two, and the shape of the third. Personally, I prefer a jumpsuit that looks less like a boiler suit, but that’s because I’ve not found a “boiler-suit” one that suits me. I’d be interested to know if any of you guys have.

Now, this is a fashion column I know, but I wanted to just touch a minute on a couple of beauty buys I’ve found and wanted to share, hope you don’t mind. I’m not saying they are must buys, but I’ve certainly found them revolutionary. First up with Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. I bought this on a flight back from the US towards the end of last year, and have used it nightly, give or take a few misses, ever since. It smells wonderful, and really moisturises my skin. I’ve found with about three months use, texture is better and I do actually look less tired and worn out without make it – a big achievement!

The other is the lip products by Bite Beauty. Now Rebecca mentioned these a while ago on this blog and I bought a couple then (when Cocosa was selling them) and ever since, I’ve picked one up in the US (they are sold in Sephora) when I’ve been there. You can pick them up on eBay, and Sephora now ship to the UK, but my favourites are the High Pigment Pencils (Zinfandel is my go-to) and the Matt Creme Lip Crayons. The colours are mostly bold (which I love) but it’s the fact they are made with natural ingredients, and don’t make my lips feel dry at all that I like the most.

So that’s my tips for February readers. I’d love to see if you bought something from here, or from one of the trends above. Do share if you do, by using #ffWTBFeb on Insta or Twitter.

Until the end of the month… 🙂

Erin xxx

Decorate with Flowers: Reviewed

At this time of year as spring blooms come into stores I’m always looking to brighten up the house with fresh flowers. Add to that the instantaneous transforming effect they have on any space means I’m using them more than ever at the moment to improve some of our work-in-progress rooms. As a result I was delighted to be asked to review and share with you the new book by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring, Decorate with Flowers.


Now, I am an absolute sucker for a coffee table book and this one is so pretty it is definitely deserving of the title. The photography is beautiful, the colours and the flowers are super pretty and the best thing about it is that the ideas are accessible.

There’s no stuffy flower arranging tutorial here, just loads of simple ideas for displaying fresh flowers in your home and inspiration for using many items you might already have as containers. It’s a fresh look at flowers.

Holly and Leslie have used the homes of some famous bloggers (like that of Victoria Smith of SFGirlbyBay shown above,) and some of the photography is studio shot, along with some simple DIY’s the help you make the most of your blooms.

I loved the book – every thing from the design and photography to the friendly accessible tone and easy to implement ideas. It’s definitely worth treating yourself to and would make a gorgeous Mothers Day gift too.

DISCOUNT:
To order Decorate with Flowers at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG109.

I hope you like it readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Decorate with Flowers by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring, published by Jacqui Small @JacquiSmallPub

Florence’s Florals… The Seasonal Series [Autumn]

I don’t normally butt in on Becky’s posts these days – having been here from the beginning of Florence Finds, you have all gotten to know her and her inspiring floral posts at the beginning of each month. However, this is Becky’s second to last post as she is expecting a baby in October! As a result, Becky would like to go out with a bang – so please help her with her request in the comments box today. 🙂

Hopefully, this won’t be the last you hear from Becky as she has agreed to bring us some insights into her first few months of motherhood and I’m really excited to have an authentic voice to bring a little bit of what is such an important part of women’s lives and clearly on the radar of many of my readers in one form or another. I can’t wait! But for now I’ll hand you over, for this month’s instalment of Florence’s florals.

Afternoon everyone, you’re not really due this post until September but as things are going to be a little different for me very soon, I thought I’d post Part 3 of my Seasonal Series early so that my final floral post before I head off on maternity leave can be a readers request. To do this of course, I need your help in the form of feedback. Just let me know what you’d like to see/know/learn about flowers in the comments box and I will try to oblige next month.

Back to today, and Part 3 of the Seasonal Series. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Hopefully you’re all enjoying some warmer weather at last (fingers crossed) but as soon as the kids go back to school, my thoughts turn to Autumn colours and dare I say it (whispers) Christmas. Unless you’re planning a wedding, there’s no need to think about these seasons yet. Instead, I suggest that you bookmark the page to refer back to for some seasonal inspiration once you’ve finished lusting after the new berry shades in the fashion and interior magazines.

The flowers marked with an * are the ones that you should find readily available from your local florist. The others are certainly available but you’re likely to have to order them a few days in advance.

Late Autumn/ Winter (November & December)
Amaryllis* // Anemone // Chrysanthemum* // Crab Apple // Cotinus* // Cymbidium Orchid* // Euphorbia // Hellebore // Holly* // Hyacinth // Hydrangea* // Hypericum* // Ilex verticillata* // Ivy berry // Misteltoe* // Nerine // Oak leaves // Paperwhite Narcissi // Physalis // Pussy Willow* // Ranunculus // Rosehips // Snowberry* // Spruce* // Skimmia

Winter & Early Spring (January & February)
Amaryllis* // Anemone // Blossom // Contorted Hazel // Daffodils* // Forsythia* // Freesia* // Guelder Rose // Hellebore // Hyacinth* // Iris* // Lilac // Muscari // Narcissi* // Pussy Willow* // Ranunculus* // Snowdrop // Tuberose // Violet

As you can see, there are lots of beautiful flowers and foliage around for even the darkest winter days so there’s no reason not to have seasonal flowers all year round.

As always, I love hearing about your favourites and please don’t forget to let me know what you’d like to see here next month.

Becky

Florence’s Florals: A Jubilee DIY

This afternoon, Becky Hay from Blossom, our resident Florence Finds Floral expert, is swooping in with a patriotic floral DIY to celebrate the jubilee. I know loads of you are having parties or attending them and this would make a lovely centrepiece or gift for the hostess. As Becky quite rightly points out, if you’re over the Jubilee already then switch the shades and save it for another occasion.

I thought the weekend of celebrations the country is about to embark upon deserved a DIY post. It’s Jubilee themed, obvs!

Now I know that not everyone wants to celebrate so if that’s you, forgive the red/hot pink, white and blue overload, and think of this as a summer fete inspired arrangement which you can make in any colours you desire.

What you’ll need for the mini bunting:

  • 2 lengths of string or wool – each the length of half of your table
  • Ribbon to co-ordinate with your colour scheme – mine came from John Lewis.
  • Thin double sided tape
  • Sharp ribbon scissors

How to make the mini bunting:
Cut off short strips of ribbon, double the length of the final flag size you want to finish with.
Fold each strip in half over the string and secure in place using double sided tape. Make sure you leave a length of string at the start and end of your length of string to secure the bunting in place.
Once you’ve attached all of your flags, shape them by cutting a triangle from the base of each flag.

What you’ll need for the arrangement:

  • A cake stand – I’ve used a 3 tiered stand but the same principles apply to a 2 tiered or single tier stand. You’ll just need fewer flowers.
  • Soaked floral foam – I used one and a half blocks.
  • Plastic frogs (available from all florists & garden centres)
  • Oasis Fix
  • A selection of foliage – I used Peony & small Hydrangea leaves with soft ruscus.
  • A selection of flowers – I used Peonies, Hydrangea, Double Lisianthus, Sweet William, Pinks (Scented Spray Carnations), Black Scabious, Cornflower, Gypsophilia, Alchemilla Mollis, and Thlaspi

How to make the arrangement:
Stick a small piece of oasis fix to the base of 6 plastic frogs and stick 2 frogs onto each tier of your cake stand. You’ll use these to secure your oasis in place.
Cut two semi circles of oasis to fit each plate and push down onto each frog to create a circle of oasis in the centre of each tier.

Create the outline of your arrangement using your foliage. Trim the end of each piece at a 45 degree angle to help it glide into the oasis and allow maximum surface area for taking up water.
Start arranging your flowers using the largest heads first which will be the focal points. Make sure the end of each stem is cut at a 45 degree angle.
Keep adding until you’ve used all of your flowers and hopefully hidden all the floral foam. It’s a good idea to keep turning the cake stand as you add to ensure you’ve got an even distribution of flowers throughout.
Leave any fluffy flowers and foliage (in my case Gypsophilia, Alchemilla Mollis & Thlaspi) until the end. These are great at filling any gaps and will give your arrangement a more natural look.
Finally, place your arrangement in the centre of your table and tie each length of bunting to the top handle, draping it in each direction along the centre of your table. You can either tape the opposite ends to the underside of the table or tie them to a wine glass stem.

To keep your arrangement fresh, keep the oasis damp by trickling a little water onto each tier. You can also spray the flowers with a water mist.

As always, I hope this inspires you to create your own masterpieces. I’d love to hear your comments or answer any questions.

Have a great Bank Holiday everyone,

Becky xx

Getting Pretty on the Cheap

This afternoon you’re in for a treat readers. Kimberly is back and with a bang. Her home was a huge hit when it was featured on FF a while back but now you get the real scoop, how she got it that way and without splashing too much cash. Thanks Kimberley!

Why hello gorgeous Florence Finders! I’m Kimberly from Swoon Worthy and I’m more than thrilled that Rebecca has asked me to fill in whilst she’s off on her travels. I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with you lovely lot in the past when Rebecca shared my home in progress a few months ago and I’m back again to share with you one of my most favourite topics: how to make your home gorgeous without spending bucketloads of cash.

It’s easy to think that in order to have a beautiful home, you have to have loads of money to throw at it. But who wants to spend more money than you have to? Why not save that cash for globe trotting, pretty shoes and going out with your mates? (See, when I put it like that, it sounds so much more useful, doesn’t it?)

In the last 2 years of owning our home, we have stretched every last penny out of getting this place up to scratch (and still going). We have bargained, searched, learned loads of new skills and made bargain hunting into an art form. So I’m here to share with you my Top Tips for Getting Pretty On the Cheap. Let’s get started, shall we?

eBay’s “Saved Search” is Your New BFF

This is by far my top tip. Thrift shops around my way aren’t too great although you can of course find bargains if you persevere. Personally, I like to shop from the comfort of my own pyjamas and home, and the beauty of both the eBay website and the eBay mobile app is that I can do it anywhere. Learn what you are searching for and then don’t assume that everyone knows how to list items properly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen things listed as ‘Shabby Chic’ that weren’t even REMOTELY in that genre. Consider searching common misspellings as well – so if you are looking for a chest of drawers, be sure to search ‘Chest of Draws’ as well!

Now, eBay has a little feature called ‘Saved Searches’ so if there’s something in particular that you are looking for, set one up. It will email you every day that there are new items listed that meet your criteria. I always have about 4 or 5 big ticket items that I’m looking for at any one time so it’s much quicker and more efficient to have eBay do the work for you and you’ll learn not only how often these items come up but also how much the going cost is.


I scored the vintage coffee table and white cowhide rug using Saved Searches and saved 50% on the cost of the rug (it was new) and only paid £30 for the coffee table.

For furniture, be sure to set your search results so that it only shows you items that you can reasonably drive to to pick up. If you know you won’t drive from Portsmouth to Leeds to pick up a tulip table, there’s no point in the search results bringing these ones up. Create your search specifically to your needs. At a bare minimum, be sure to enter Location (25 miles to my postcode works for me but you can go as near as 5 or 10 miles away) and the maximum price you are willing to pay. No point in the search bringing back items far above your budget and you’ll be less tempted to spend more than you intended.

Understand the Power of Paint

You’ll never feel more immediate gratification than painting a room. The impact a tin of paint can make is far greater than any cost to you. Bear in mind one thing however… cheap paints are a false economy. Spring for good quality paints and you can finish a room in two coats. Avoid the single coat stuff, it’s usually very thick and gloopy and it just doesn’t have the coverage nor does it go as far as the normal stuff. I tend to use Dulux the most often – it’s not as cheap as some of the own-brand paints and not as expensive as some of the higher end ranges but it gives brilliant coverage and Dulux will colour match to anything at all. The range of existing colours is truly never-ending.

The bathroom went from boring white to peacock blue – it’s saved me a bundle because I originally wanted to rip the whole thing out but this has bought me time to save before I look at a complete remodel. The full ‘makeover’ cost around £50 including the new hooks.

Learn How to Wield a Spray Paint Can

Spray painting is the perfect way to enliven any older piece or give something a new lease on life. I use it for any small projects, especially on those where I don’t want to see any brush strokes. Pretty much anything can be spray painted although bear in mind you may need a primer coat for things like plastics or anything with a glossy finish. In terms of technique, stand about 20cm back from your object and using steady strokes, move spray back and forth across the object, never resting it on any one place. A single thin coat is MUCH better than a single heavy one (think drips) so let it dry between coats and try at least one or two for even coverage. My go to spray paint? Montana Gold. It comes in lots of colours and is actually cheaper than the stuff you get in B&Q or Homebase. It also gives fantastic opaque coverage.

My vintage faux bamboo chairs were another eBay bargain – just £90 for four of them. They were an ugly dark green with beige seats when I found them but spray painting and recovering them gave them a new lease on life! The mirror was originally a grey wrought iron. Spray painting it gold and giving it an antique finish now makes it stand out on the bedroom wall.

Learn to Sew in a Straight Line

I know a lot of people are scared of sewing machines but honestly, with a few basic skills you can make so many things. Cushions, curtains and table runners? No problem. If you have a friend or relative that sews, ask for them to show you some tips and then just practise. There’s really something very satisfying about sewing your own soft furnishings and it’s not difficult at all!

After failing to find nice cushions in my red and white palette, I decided to simply make my own. Cost? £10.

Learn how to paint furniture

An old piece of furniture from eBay or a hand me down from a relative can be completely revitalised with a bit of paint. There are a million tutorials for painting furniture online, no matter what kind of a finish you would like. Do a search on Google or You Tube for lots of tips from lots and lots of bloggers. Preparation and oil-based primer is your friend here. Look for items that are in good overall condition and have good lines.

This chest of drawers total cost was around £55. It was originally an orange-y brown eBay find for £30. Painting it cost me another £25. The sideboard cost me £50. A coat of oil-based primer and a couple coats of white paint gave it a much-needed refresh.

Get Comfy With Basic DIY Skills

If you are not afraid to wield a tape measure, a hammer, a screwdriver and a drill, you’ll be fine. Depending upon others just doesn’t do in this age of women being able to do it as well as the guys. Again, if you are unsure, check out tutorials online – there are video tutorials and brilliant blogger step by steps everywhere if you look. Most importantly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Honestly, if I can tile a kitchen, anyone can do it.


My boyfriend learned to plaster, lay underfloor heating and install lighting via the internet.

Flower Power

Don’t be afraid to scatter cheaper blooms around a room. I always have fresh flowers and have no problem buying £3 packs of roses or carnations from Tesco or Aldi – single blooms work better so you can throw a few blooms in various containers and group them randomly. Fresh flowers just add a natural touch, colour and texture that simply can’t be replicated any other way. Ever better? Grow your own and during the spring and summer, you won’t have to spend a dime!

All these flowers were from my own garden and the ‘vases’ are simply empty alcohol, vinegar and oil bottles! Cost? Free.

Give Yourself Permission for 1 Splurge Per Room

If you fill a room with only cheap disposable things, you may be less inclined to truly take care of it. Save your money for the really special stuff and when you are ready, go for it. There are certain things like sofas and bed linens that are a false economy. Buy the best you can afford and take good care of it. It’ll make a room that much more special to you.


The sofa has been our biggest splurge to date but after 2 years, I am still utterly and completely in love with it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top tips today! Now it’s your turn! What are your best bargain ideas? Have you got a great eye for a bargain? Any favourites in the list I created? Anything you feel I’ve completely missed out on? I would love to hear your ideas for Getting Pretty On The Cheap and keep the blog warm for Rebecca while she’s gone.

Remember, if you want to follow along our adventures for Getting Pretty on the Cheap, come pay a visit to Swoon Worthy, it would be lovely to have you! And thank you, Rebecca, for having me!

PS Like the cushions? You can buy them here in Kimberley’s shop – Swoon Worthy Homewares

Friday Frock O’clock

This week’s Friday Frock is from a shop that I don’t think I have featured before on Florence Finds, but for one reason or another I was browsing online recently and spied this bright and breezy summer dress.

When the weather is as bad as it has been recently there’s only two options when it comes to fashion. You can snuggle down in extra layers and sink into a depression about the falling temperatures, or dream of summer days, picnics, seaside trips and country walks. This dress belongs to my preferred option, the latter.


Jersey print and spot dress – Wallis £40 (now in the sale at £32)

I’m imagining it with wedges, a cross body bag and a bicycle, with an ice cream balanced in one hand and a vintage camera in the bike basket… Oh summer, where are you?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s book club: The Language of Flowers

This afternooon it’s Florence’s book club, returning with Rachel’s review of The Language of Flowersby Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I have a copy at home waiting for me to have spare time to read it and I’ve got high hopes so I’m looking forward to hearing what any others of you might think who have read it.

The next book is introduced at the bottom so make a note of it!

I really wanted to read this book. I’d heard lots about it, read good reviews by people whose opinion I trust plus a book about flowers and language, perfect. Yet…Like Victoria, our heroine, I was a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes loving it, sometimes bored, sometimes wondering what on earth could happen next and why was she spoiling something good in her life? It often felt that Victoria’s life seems to be getting better, have shoots of promise, making friends, working as a florist and then bang! Something else comes along and throws her story into another direction.

“I had loved, more than once. I just hadn’t recognised the emotion for what it was until I had done everything within my power to destroy it.”

The Language of Flowersis set in present day America, somehow I’d miss read the name Victoria and the role of the language of flowers in Victorian times, to think this would be a story passing between today and the Victorian era. It moves between the present day and probably 10 years earlier. Victoria’s traumatic life, unwanted from birth, sent from foster home to foster home until she turns 18 and has to fend for herself. From the beginning we know that she has been loved once but something terrible happened, this part of the story is slowly unravelled for us. We also know that somewhere along her journey she has discovered flowers, and the language of flowers.

“Now, as an adult, my hopes for the future were simple: I wanted to be alone, and to be surrounded by flowers. It seemed, finally, that I might get exactly what I wanted.”

I absolutely loved reading it in spring time as my new garden was coming to life. To feel and smell the flowers, see the buds of new life popping out whilst reading about characters who live, breathe and love flowers. To learn about the different meaning of flowers, at the back of the book is ‘Victoria’s Dictionary of Flowers’. Victoria uses flowers to communicate. Her skill as a florist is partly in understanding her customers, their loves and lives, and choosing the flowers to express their hopes and dreams for when words have run dry, or when planning a wedding. There is a recurring theme about misinterpretation of definitions, how things aren’t always as they appear, meanings, and life, are not all as they seem. A rose is a rose is a rose…

“What does she mean, ‘A rose is a rose is a rose’?” I asked….
“That things just are what they are,” he said.
“’A rose is a rose.’”
“’Is a rose,’” he finished, smiling faintly.
I thought about all the roses in the garden below, their varying shades of colour and youth. “Except when it’s yellow,” I said. “Or red or pink, or unopened or dying.”

If you are planning a wedding, or recently have, flowers are important to you and are perhaps a worrier, now may not be the time to read this book. Some of our favourite wedding flowers appear to have uncomfortable meanings. This could also make planning your wedding flowers more fun, interesting or just add a different dimension. Or you could keep this in the world of fiction.

My final thoughts, when I was enjoying the story, had had a tough day at work, my brain and emotions ached from working too hard my first thoughts on commuting home were ‘oh good I can escape into The Language of Flowers – above twitter, blogs, and that says a lot about a book.

To try a development of Florence Finds Book Club and following on from conversations at Florence Finds London Afternoon Tea I wondered about whether to open up the discussion more. Please share your thoughts on this book but also any other novels about flowers or gardens that you’ve read and we can create a selection of recommended novels about flowers and gardens.

I don’t know about you but I like to read books about men and women, books set in the modern day to the distant past. I like reading a book that then prompts me to find out more about the subject by reading other books. This leads to our next Florence Finds Book Club. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I don’t know very much about it but do know it’s about Ernest Hemmingway and his marriage, written from the perspective of his wife. I’m looking forward to finding out more about him, being tempted to perhaps read his autobiography A Moveable Feast and maybe being nudged into reading one of his novels. If reading this book doesn’t appeal then please think about fictional books you’ve enjoyed that are based on real people for when we meet again.

So, it’s time to hear from you! Have you read The Language of Flowers? Or can you make a similar recommendation? Maybe you love a certain flower for it’s meaning or chose/are choosing your wedding flowers for that reason? I’d love to hear…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Florals: A DIY Easter tree

Yay! Just half a working day before the long Bank Holiday weekend and I hope you all gain some inspiration for easter decor and general floral loveliness from todays post by Becky Hay from Blossom

Hello Findettes, I hope this DIY post will bring a Bank Holiday weekend full of sunshine your way. Last month I mentioned that spring in the shop heralds the arrival of the Easter window. It’s one of my favourite displays of the year. A tree of branches decorated with colourful eggs, rabbits and chicks.

I can’t remember how old I was when my Mum first brought home the box of tiny carved wooden decorations to hang, but it has become as much a family tradition as the Christmas tree and I now uphold the tradition in my own home.

I’m not religious, more of a ‘Mother Nature’ kind of girl which is why I think the pagan tradition of the Easter tree appeals so much. The trees originate from Europe, most likely Sweden, where they are often decorated with feathers and eggs. Although decorations are widely available in the UK now, look out for the more unusual and intricate ones if you’re on holiday in Europe. I purchased the white eggs in the DIY photos below in Prague one November.

The two DIY’s I’ve created for you are, as always, to inspire you. There are no rules, just make what you fancy out of whatever you can find easily to hand. I’ve included some additional Easter tree images to give you even more food for thought as well.

DIY 1 – The Anything Goes Tree
What you’ll need:

  • A vase/ jug/ urn/ pot – choose something with a wide neck if you want to fill it with lots of flowers as well as the twigs.
  • Twigs – I used white Blossom in bud
  • A selection of mixed Spring flowers – I used Hyacinths, Narcissi, Tulips and Roses
  • A small piece of florist’s foam – soaked.
  • Decorations to hang

What to do:

  1. Wedge the florist’s foam into the base of your container before filling it with water.
  2. Arrange the twigs in the centre of the container using the florist’s foam to secure them.
  3. Take your largest flower, in my case, the hyacinths, and arrange them amongst the twigs.
  4. Next I placed the narcissi through the twigs and other flowers, cutting them at very different lengths. Florist’s tip – pick off the dried papery protective hoods from narcissi or daffodils before displaying them. Your design will be a little more polished.
  5. I cut my roses short and used them at the very neck of the container and finally added the tulips. Tulips continue to grow even after they’ve been cut so use them to flow through your arrangement. You can support their heads with the twigs.
  6. Once you’ve placed all of your flowers, make sure your container is topped up with water and have fun hanging your decorations.
  7. Keep the water level topped up and remove individual flowers as they wilt.

DIY 2 – The Simple Option
What you’ll need:

  • A vase or Jug
  • Twigs of your choice – I used contorted Hazel twigs which don’t need water and can be stored away and re-used next year.
  • Real eggs
  • Thin ribbon or very fine string
  • I used the small headed Narcissi Soleil d’Or but regular Daffodils will have a similar effect

What to do:
Firstly, I hold my hand up and admit that I didn’t make the hanging egg vases. I cheated and bought them. That’s not to say that you can’t make them yourselves with a little patience and a gentle touch!

  1. To make the vases you will need to gently take the top off your eggs, empty the contents out (I suggest into a mixing bowl, ready to be baked into a delicious cake) before rinsing the shell out. The tricky bit will be piercing the holes in the sides of the egg to thread a thin piece of string or ribbon to create your handle. I suggest using a pin and a cork to press onto.
  2. Alternatively, if you’re a boiled egg fan, just save the shells once you’ve enjoyed your breakfast!
  3. Hang your eggs and fill each of them with a little water.
  4. Cut your narcissi very short and place them into your egg vases.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter break and that this will inspire you to bring some Easter cheer into the house. Do let me know if you’ll be creating an Easter tree this year.

A display that cheerful can’t fail to warm your heart and home for Easter – I’m inspired to go and make something beautiful for my easter table now.

As always, Becky is around if you need to ask any questions, fire away and let us know if you’ve been inspired by her Easter tree.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Florals: The Seasonal Series [Spring]

It’s the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to welcome Becky Hay from Blossom, with her visual feast of flowers. I’ve always wanted to do a piece on the best seasonal flowers, for a wedding, or just your dining table. Becky is the perfect person for the job and I hope you next visit your florist armed with new knowledge and inspiration….

March is here at last. It’s the month when spring firmly kicks winter’s backside. In the shop it brings with it Mothering Sunday (18th March) the excitement of the Easter window (more of that next month) and the start, in earnest, of wedding season. To me, the start of any new season is the most exciting time, and a big part of that comes down to the new arrivals of flowers that I see in the shop as well as in my own garden.

It dawned on me recently that like most people, I take the knowledge gained from my job for granted. When you do something for long enough, it becomes common sense doesn’t it? So this month I thought I’d start a little ‘Seasonal Series’ in order to share some of that knowledge with you.

There are many flowers that are available all year round thanks to the Dutch growers (Roses, Lilies, Gerbera, Carnations….the list is endless). And if you’re prepared to pay for it, you can get hold of almost any flower at any time of year. But what I’m talking about here are truly seasonal flowers, the ones that would grow in your garden if you had green fingers and time to nurture them. Even the flowers that are grown all year round have a proper season when they’re at their strongest, most beautiful, and have the best scent.

So, whether you’re planning a wedding, hosting a party, or just want to know what to spend your hard earned cash on for ultimate seasonal joy, here’s my guide to spring and early summer cut flowers. The flowers marked with an * are the ones that you should find readily available from your local florist. The others are certainly available but you’re likely to have to order them a week or so in advance. I’ve referred to each flower with the name most commonly used in the shop. This varies from the Latin to the common names so apologies to the purist horticulturalists out there.

Spring (March & April)
Anemones*, Black Iris, Blossom, Daffodils*, Forsythia*, Fritillaria, Forget me Not, Foxglove, Freesia*, Genista* (Broom), Grape hyacinths, Hellebore, Hyacinth*, Iris*, Lilac*, Lily of the Valley, Magnolia, Mimosa*, Narcissi*, Pussy Willow*, Ranunculus*, Snowflakes, Scillas, Tulips*, Viburnum opulus* (Guelder rose), Violets.

Early Summer (May & June)
Astilbe*, Allium*, Alchemilla mollis*, Aquilegia, Achillea, Brodea, Delphinium*, Hydrangea*, Larkspur*, Lily of the Valley, Lisianthus*, Nigella (Love in the Mist), Peonies*, Ranunculus*, Snapdragon*, Solomons Seal* (Polygonatum), Scabious, Stock*, Viburnum opulus* (Guelder rose).

The most important thing to me about all of these flowers is the fact that they’re not around all year long. If they were, would our love affair be so strong? I don’t believe for a second it would.

Please do leave a comment to let me know your favourites, tell me I’ve missed something, or ask a question about a party or event you’d like to arrange flowers for.

Becky

Florence’s Florals: A DIY Christmas Berry Wreath

Good afternoon readers!

This afternoon we have part 2 of Florence’s Festive Florals with Becky from Blossom. It’s the second of her 2 wreath tutorials, this one is still rustic but more traditional and includes living elements, hence us deciding to post it closer to Christmas – it will last through the holidays if made this weekend. Enjoy!

Hello again, and welcome to version 2 of the festive wreath tutorial. If you haven’t already seen the rustic winter owl wreath, pop over and have a look, as the principles for making them both are identical. I’ve used fresh materials in this version which will look good for a couple of weeks if you keep it somewhere cool. Please don’t be put off by the amount of text below, once you’ve mastered how to wire each piece, it really is very easy. And once again, please remember that there is no right or wrong addition to a wreath. You can add as little or as much as you want, of whatever takes your fancy.

What I used:

  • Large ready made willow wreath
  • Fresh ivy trails
  • 2 x stems Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ – this is also available in bright red from all good florists
  • 8 x natural pine cones
  • 3 x whole dried oranges
  • 6 – 9 x dried orange slices
  • 9 x cinnamon sticks
  • Natural raffia
  • Medium – thick gauge florist stub wires

What to do:
1. Wrap pieces of trailing ivy around and through the wreath. Secure it by tucking into the gaps in the wreath frame.

2. Wire each item that you want to attach to your wreath. You may find it easier to wire everything first and attach the pieces to the wreath afterwards.

  • To wire the Ilex: Cut each piece of Ilex down to approximately 2 cm below the lowest branch of berries. Fold a piece of wire in half to form a hair pin shape and hold it against the base of the piece of Ilex. Wrap one half of the wire around the base of the stem and the other end of the wire to secure.
  • To wire the pine cones & whole oranges: Take a single piece of stub wire and dig the middle part of the wire in between the scales at the base of the cone (the fatter end), pull each end of the wire down, and twist them together as close to the bottom of the cone as possible. Pull each end of the wire back together and straighten. In floristry terms this is called a ‘double leg mount’ – the two stems of the wire are known as ‘legs’.

Use the same principle to wire the whole dried oranges, piercing the base of the fruit with the wire.

  • To wire the orange slices: Group 2 or 3 dried orange slices together, overlapping them so that you can see the segments of each slice. Pierce through both of the slices at the base, pull each end of the wire down and twist the wires together to secure the slices.
  • To wire the cinnamon: Make 3 bundles of cinnamon sticks by wrapping a wire around the middle of 3 sticks and twisting the wires together. Don’t worry if the wire feels quite loose, you can secure the cinnamon by using a piece of raffia to wrap over and around the wire. It not only secures the bundle, it also hides the wire in your display. Tie the raffia in a bow or knot on the top of the bundle (the opposite side to the twisted wire).

3. You can now attach each individual piece to your wreath by pushing the wires through the gaps in the wreath and twisting them together at the back of the wreath to secure. Tuck the excess ends of wire back into the back of the wreath so they don’t scratch your front door.

4. Tie a big bow using the raffia and pierce through the back of the bow with a wire. With the bow at the centre of the wire, pull the two ends of wire together and twist together. Use the wire legs to attach the bow to your wreath in the same way you’ve attached everything else.

5. If you need to create a hook to hang your wreath from, you can use a piece of raffia or a piece of wire.

I’ll be on hand later to answer any questions. Just leave a comment below 🙂

Thank you Becky!

Did you have a go at last week’s wreath, or will you be attempting this one – perhaps this is more up your ‘Christmas Street’?

Do leave a comment if you love it, or if you have any questions as Becky said – Becky will be back in the New Year with more Florence’s Florals!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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