Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WFT Extra 006: Christine Noelle Design

Here is another great neighborhood flower shop that I would like to share with you.  Christine Noelle Design is located on 106 West Oak Street in Chicago (Oak St. & Clark St.).

It's on the first floor of a 6-story historical brick building.  They have a nice tall storefront facing Oak Street with modern arrangements in the show-window and full of bright colored flowers in the background.  When you get into the store the bright white walls capture the colors of flowers which they display on a large farm table.  The super high ceiling at the top of the walls, have old crown mouldings that were originally in a theater in Paris, one of the shop persons told us.  They have two custom suspended light fixtures that look like wire hoops of a petticoat.  The whole store interior is a modern French country style, I would say, and I can see the owner's meticulous design vision throughout.

They even offer classes on a variety of topics, from floral arrangement to bath bomb making, which sounded like a lot of fun.  I would love to try them sometime.  There were two people at the store getting ready for a class that afternoon, and they were so nice to take their time to chat with me and my husband.  I haven't purchased any flowers from them yet, but I will try to go there soon, when it's nice out, to take a long walk with my son. I'll be sure to write about the beautiful flowers from this beautiful store!

Monday, March 28, 2011

008: March Sadness / Orange Crash

It's the season of NCAA, March Madness.  This year, I was doing great up until Ohio State totally screwed me up followed by Florida and Kansas.  I even called out Illinois going through the first round.  I picked U Conn to go to the final four and I am still proud of that.  However, I am extra sad this time.  Every year, I was way off from the beginning and it never bothered me all that much, but when you do pretty well and lose it after a while, you get extra depressed, don't you?  That's how I feel right now.  I was in a pool with 180+ people and I was in 6th place at the beginning of the weekend and now I don't even know where I am...  Who would have ever thought that Butler and VCU would make it to the final four?  Well, enough with the basketball crap, I presume.  Let's talk about the flowers.

So the theme of this week's WFT is "March Sadness" or "Orange Crash".  Obviously, "March Sadness" is my feeling right now knowing that I am so out of the pool.  And "Orange Crash" is a parody of my dear team, U of I's "Orange Crush".  The Orange is Crashed out of the brackets.

So I didn't go to a florist this time.  Instead, I went to a grocery store and bought a stem of green Hydrangea and a bunch of white Snapdragons (Antirrhinum) and some oranges.  I kept the whole color scheme white and serene to emphasize a empathetical appearance and add bold orange items; mandarin and kumquats, for the "crash".  It actually looks pretty nice.  It's a nice volumetric technique to use fruits and veggies when you have a tight budget.  It's ironic how sometimes sadness can make such a beautiful creation.  After the therapy, I feel a bit better:)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WFT EXTRA 005: Eco Friendly Spout

Here's an eco friendly spout which you can attach to any regular plastic bottle.  It is designed by a Swiss product designer Nicolas Le Moigne.  I got it from my sister in Japan as a Christmas gift last year and I love it so much!  It's actually perfect for watering my moss ball.  It's small and easy to store. 

It was introduced a while ago (in 2005, I believe) but unfortunately, I don't think it made its way out to the US yet.  I hope somebody will carry it soon because it is a very nice product. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

007: Spring Wedding

This weeks WFT is dedicated to my little brother and his wife.  They got married this weekend in Japan.  Since I couldn't be there for them to celebrate together, I decided to use this perfect opportunity to arrange the flowers for them. 

Of course I got the most popular flower for wedding, roses.  I got perfect spray roses that are royal pink.  It was $3 a stem and had four blossoms on it.  Since I went a bit over budget last week, I tried my hardest to be under this week.  The challenge was that a wedding arrangement had to have a large volume to accentuate joy and happiness.  So I got a stem of Mountain Heather and some white flowers that cascade down like Willow (I don't know the name of it, sorry).  The total this week was only $8!!  I also had some leftover Lilly Grass from last week that I could incorporate in.  I used a simple cereal bowl for a vase for the arrangement.  I started with the backdrop, which was the heather flowers, then made a trail with the willow-like flowers and Lilly Grass off to one side.  The main items, roses, were placed at the center where the two supplemental volumes met.  I originally had four roses placed but my husband reminded me that four is not a good number in Japanese culture since it sounds like "death" ("shi" in Japanese) especially for a celebratory occasions like a wedding.  So, I took one out and made another small arrangement with it for our bathroom:) 

We were supposed to attend the wedding that was held in Yamaguchi, Japan (south west of Tokyo).  Unfortunately, we decided not to travel there because of the disaster that happened about 10 days ago, especially with our young son.  It really hurt all of the family's feelings but they totally understood our concerns and supported our decision.  But it turned out to be the most memorable wedding I've ever attended except for my own.  We got a live feed of the wedding via Skype and felt like we were there.  There was one problem though - that it started at 12:30 AM CST and lasted until 2:30 AM when we hung up because we started passing out in front of the camera.  Anyhow, it was really fun.  Modern technology rules!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

006: Happy St. Pat's Day!

St. Patrick's day is almost here!  This week's WFT is all about green.

My husband's father's family has an Irish heritage and we celebrated an early St. Pat's day on Sunday -  of course with corned beef and cabbage!  I thought it would be nice to bring some gifts for my loyal WFT readers (my in-laws) to thank and celebrate their holiday.  I needed to make two arrangements, so I went a bit over budget this time with extra stuff like boxes.  But I managed to do two under $15.

I got two stems of light green Rose and one stem of green Mum for the main flowers.  Because I had a tight budget, I needed to get something that fills up the boxes, so I got a green Dianthus.  It is a type of Carnation and the one I got is all green, which makes it look similar to moss.  I also got Lily Grass for an accent. 
First, I placed floral foam wrapped with tin foil in the boxes and started placing the Dianthus.  I got two stems of those assuming not being able to separate the leaves into smaller pieces, but I could.  So, I spread them in the parameter of the boxes.  Then moved onto the main flowers: roses and mums.  I added those in pretty much the center of the arrangements.  Then at the end, I sculpted Lily Grass crossing over them to make an illusion of a "dome" or "basket".  My inspiration was flowers in lawn.  I made them exactly how they wanted to look like, but the Lilly Grass accent totally made them look more sophisticated.  I hope the recipients enjoy them as much as I enjoyed arranging them:) 

Monday, March 7, 2011

005: Moss Ball

I've been wanting to make a moss ball for quite a while.  It has been booming in Japan as a "calming" object, as it looks like a Bonsai but is really easy to make and maintain.  Here is how you do it.

You only need...
- Peat Moss
- Live Moss
- Black String
- Whatever Plants You Like

Take out the plants from the pots and carefully mould the soil into a ball shape.  Use moist peat moss to shape a perfect sphere.  Then, wrap the ball with live moss and put black string around tightly to fasten the live moss.  That's it!  I placed it on a ceramic saucer that my husband made in Japan.  To water the ball, just pour water into the saucer so that the moss absorbs it to keep it moist.  Also, I elevated it with pebbles so that any excess water will drain. 

I went to a nursery in Andersonville to get some potted plants.  They have a big green house and have a large variety of tropical and desert plants.  I was intending to make it have more of a Bonsai look originally, so I wanted to get something like Japanese Maple or Pine.  They did have a good amount of small trees in their Bonsai section but they were totally out of my reach in terms of budget.  So, I got a 3" Foliage.  Then I realized that this is for Weekly "Flower" Therapy, so I needed to add flowers.  Luckily, I found a teeny tiny African Violet pot.  It was so cute.  People don't include flowers in their moss balls that often, but it totally worked fine.  It added a splash of color and made it look more cheerful and joyous.  My moss ball may not to be a "calming" object, but that's OK.  That's the beauty of a moss ball.  You can choose whatever plant you like and make your own.  Please try it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

004: Wild Flower Boat

This week's WFT, I went back to my favorite neighborhood flower shop, Fleur de Lis again.  I had some idea for an arrangement w/ roses prior to going in since I loved the roses they had last time I was there, but I came home with a whole bunch of different flowers.  It is just like cooking.  I usually have some ideas of what to cook for dinner before going to the grocery store.  But often times, I see what's fresh and appetizing at the store and change the entire menu.  So this time, that's what happened.  They had wonderful Daffodils for only 50 cents a stem!  I got three to use as a backdrop, then I got a stem of chic purple Lenten Rose and lighter purple Anemone.   So the whole scheme all the sudden became more wild-looking arrangement than I originally planned.  I also got a stem of green that is apparently a family of Orchid, which has tiny cute flowers on the tips.

I wasn't sure which vase I should have used at that time when I was picking these flowers but I was sure I could find something.  It turned out it was pretty hard to find one.  I spent a good 30 minutes searching for the best vase and I ended up using a sauce boat by Eva Zeisel that we had potpourri in.  I love the shape of this bowl.  However, because it has a "handle" in the middle, it was quite challenging how to balance the front and the back.  I eventually managed to put everything in after a couple of attempts.  After the struggle, the Lenten Roses started to bend over.  Apparently, they are not very good with absorbing water...  I looked it up online and found a very easy fix.  Just wrap the flowers with newspaper and cut the stems in warm water (about 120F) and let it sit until the water gets cool off.  And it worked!!  I love the color of the Lenten Roses that I got.  It's very "mature" color.  They come in different colors like green and white as well.  My mother grow them in her garden and told me it's very easy to handle.  I would like to try planting in my terrace for the next season.

The finish piece really looks like a boat of freshly cut garden flowers.  I enjoy a small "garden" in my living room a lot:)