Friday, February 12, 2016

Flower Arranging Hacks You Need To Try!

Seems like so many of the popular web posts I read have the word HACK in them.
Seems like that word can make a post popular!
But what exactly is a HACK?
Inquiring minds want to know!

A hack is an easier way to do something, a shortcut.

Sweetwater Style is all about making things easier and taking some thrifty shortcuts! 
For your viewing enjoyment, here are my favorite Sweetwater Flower Arranging HACKS!
Buy Inexpensive Flowers
You don't need to go to the florist to purchase flowers.  
My favorite places to buy my blooms are grocery stores!  Cost Co, Cub, and Trader Joe's have wonderful selections at bargain prices.  
These three bundles cost a total of $10 dollars and will make at least two lovely arrangements!
Use Fresh Floral Foam

Floral Foam or Oasis makes arranging your stems simple.

Be sure to buy "WET" foam.
Wet foam absorbs a lot of water to keep the arrangement fresh.

DO NOT use dry foam for fresh flowers!  This is the stuff you use for artificial arrangements!

Simply cut a chunk of foam the size of your container and soak it thoroughly in a sink full of water.  You know it is completely saturated when no air bubbles come out anymore.

Floral foam can be purchased at any craft store for around $2 a block.  You can also buy in bulk from Amazon.  

Condition The Water

  There are all kinds of "tricks" to condition the water in the container.  I have heard of putting a penny or an aspirin in the bottom of the vase.

Since most flowers you buy come with the little pack of floral conditioner....I think the HACK here is to use it!

I sometimes add a tad of regular chlorine bleach too.  It keeps the water clear in a transparent vase!

Prepare Your Flowers 

DO NOT skip this step! 

 Before you put any bloom in your vase you need to strip away any foliage that will be touching the water.

You also need to make a fresh diagonal cut using a really sharp knife.

The diagonal cut will give more surface for the stem to absorb water.

Choose and Plan The Shape

Once you have decided on the container for your flowers, you can decide on the shape your arrangement will have.  
This decision is totally your call....but the flowers may help you make the choice.
Here are some basic diagrams of the possibilities.


Use Flower Frogs 

Sometimes floral foam doesn't work for the container you are using.

The use of a flower frog to stabilize the stems is a great way to go.

You can buy metal frogs at the craft store.


Many times there are glass frogs at the thrift store.  Keep your eyes open for these beauties and buy them when you see them.

A glass frog is a great way to support thick stemmed flowers in a low vase.  Great for Daffodils, Tulips and Irises

Other Clever Hacks to Support Stems

Handtied bouquets are a nice way to help flowers stand up in a vase.

Simply gather the stems by over lapping them.

Wrap some raffia around the center up close to the flower heads.

The whole thing can be dropped into the vase.

Using this technique is great for  long lasting flowers because the bottom of the stems stay straight to absorb lots of water.

Yes....the hack here is plain old paper towels!

Stuffing some of the toweling into a vase to support large heavy stemmed blooms like Sunflowers is a great way to give them stability.

Use the hand tied technique to arrange the heads of the flowers in a pleasing way. The raffia tie becomes part of the charm of the rustic arrangement.

Use Interesting Add Ons


Seed pods, branches, and grapevine can add visual interest to your centerpiece.

Use hot glue to attach a skewer to a fun pieces of potpouri for interesting pops of texture.

Thrift stores are a good source for these items.  Remember to keep them when you discard your arrangement and they can be used over and over again.

Camouflage Tricks

Use a large leaf like Hosta to line the inside of a clear vase.  This a clever way to hide the stems.

Spanish Moss or moss from the woods is a great way to finish off the top of your vase.

This hack can also be used as a disguise for a basket of small plants.

Moss harvested from the woods is great camouflage in this Birch arrrangement.

Enough for now, I will leave you with a look at the centerpieces I made using those flowers from Trader Joe's.

Take a minute to comment and add your favorite Hacks for flower arranging.

Have A Great Day!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How to Make a Birch Branch wreath. Repost

For your reading and crafting pleasure I am reposting the directions and inspiration for the birch branch wreath that was a feature in my Minimal Valentine Decor post. 

This Birch Branch wreath in this photo is one that the Sweetwater Sister-in-Law made for me long ago.  It is a perfect accent for any Valentine display.

(BTW..I found this photo on last year's post with a round up of other people's Valentine Ideas....VALENTINE IDEA POST)

 Back to the wreath tutorial....

I have a whole bin full of birch branches leftover from Christmas....
They are cluttering up the garage.....

HMMMMM....I was thinking I could make a smaller version of the Heart Wreath...

How hard could it be???
Well it turns out it was a tad bit harder than I thought....but I did figure it out (with a little help from a friend)!

 I went looking for some other versions of branches shaped into hearts...!

This one is so simple and clean looking!

I couldn't find the original website...but it looks like it is from an Etsy Shop.

This would be something fun to make with kids!

This is very similar...the little stuffed embroidered heart and ivy are sweet additions.

If you have access to Red Dogwood branches.....this would be something stunning to hang on your door....

Check out the tutorial here for this one.....

This is the Sweetwater Birch Branch Heart!
It fits perfectly in the kitchen window!
When I made this yesterday.....I didn't take any I did another one this morning to show you the step by step process.

I started with six branches.
They are about 2 1/2 feet long....but obviously the length of the branches will determine the size of the you decide how long to make yours!

Separate the branches....Three to a side!

Cross the bottoms of the branches over  each other and wire them together with paddle wire.

Make sure the wire is VERY secure or your branches will be too floppy for you to manage the next steps.

Take the tops of each side.

I twisted and shaped each side into an will want to pull back straight....but by doing this you create some bend in the branches.

Then bring the tops together in the center top and pull down.

Wire this together too.

Here comes the tricky part....

After I wired this together....the top kept springing up and not staying in a heart shape!

I had pretty much given up....
I was considering trying to shape it by soaking the branches or steaming them...


I showed her the dilemma...
I showed her the original heart wreath....
SHE NOTICED....that there was a WIRE running from the top of the heart to the bottom!

 SEE.....a piece of wire from the center top is pulled down and wound around the bottom.

Now the branches make a nicely shaped heart!

The extra twigs on the branches are woven into the heart.

I did put a couple of pieces of wire around the sides to secure the branches.

Since the paddle wire is green....and...I had some red raffia....
I tied some at top and bottom to conceal the green wire!

These hearts could be made in any size.....
....maybe a row of small ones propped on a mantel
....really small ones tied into a garland!

  I hope YOU have good friends who help YOU solve YOUR Problems!
Have A Great Day!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Minimal Nod to Valentine Decor

Here is the great question I pondered as I wrote this post title.
Is it Valentine or Valentine's???
I think it is properly Valentine's.....but that sounded I went with Valentine!
All you grammarians out there need to weigh in on this and help me out!

In any case, Valentine's Day is only 10 days away.

Somehow, in our empty nest, all out red, pink and purple hearts and streamers seem a bit much!  

I have been adding a few touches of the season.  
I am going for a minimalist theme here.
  • The chalkboard easel (a thrift store find) has a simple message.
  • The grocery store bouquet got the addition of some greenery spikes from the dollar store. (hard to tell they are artificial!!)  
  • A little punched tin heart is tied to the handles of the little french flower bucket (from Good Will of course)  The shape of these containers is a favorite of mine.  

This is the vignette in the front hall.  I was on the way out the front door to put the willow heart outside when I had a HMMMM moment.  I propped the wreath at an angle in front of the mirror.
  • The two lanterns have a subtle look with flameless candles that are set to light in the evening.  I especially love the "lovebird" perched on the top.
  • The stack of books is a simple trick.  Good Will books with the covers removed and tied with a burlap knot.

When I scored this small grapevine wreath at the thrift store....I knew it would be a perfect minimalist addition to the copper collection over the kitchen desk.

If one propped up willow wreath is good....two must be better.  I will probably move this outside, but for now this works.

The sunny exposure in the living room is perfect for coaxing these orchids back to blooming.  The silver tray protects the wooden desktop and the little silver containers bring the look together.  I found these little red heart ornaments at IKEA years ago.  The bring just the nicest small nod to the holiday.

 Would you believe these cherries and pomegranates are artificial?

Good looking artificial stuff is something that I always look for at thrift stores.

These cherries have fooled more than one person looking for a tasty treat!

I simply added them to the Baker's rack in the kitchen for a spot of subtle red!

I still want to do something on the big chalkboard.....maybe replica vintage flash cards...
or...maybe I will keep it simple with something like this.

Did you notice the gorgeous stock photo at the top of the post?
And this one....well
if you hop over to Rekita Nicole's Website and sign up....she will send you free downloads! 
Just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on freebies!
Oh to be able to make pretty pictures like this....sigh!
Have A Wonderful Day!

Share it one more tie=me 


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