Sunday, August 7, 2011

Polish it up

There is something oddly satisfying about polishing silver… Maybe it’s the instant gratification of taking something from oxidized to shiny in less than two minutes. Or maybe it’s just seeing a bunch of bling bling in your house after you’re done. In any case, it’s an obsession of mine, so today I busted out the silver polish, and went to work on a tea set I had purchased at a consignment shop 4 years ago. After self-indulging in my OCD silver polishing habits, I decided to use the silver tea pot, coffee pot, and dish as containers for this week’s floral arrangement.  
A little spit and polish goes a long way! ;) 
The SF Flower Mart was bursting with all different types of Dahlias.  Since I have a weakness for Dahlias (especially in crimson) I grabbed a bunch, along with a couple stems of blooming Artichoke, some Queen Annes’ Lace, and Sedum.  The floral palette I chose had a very English-summer-in-the-country feel to it, and fit perfectly in the containers I had just polished up.
Varying heights in centerpieces help add to the visual interest
The moral of the story is, get creative with your containers, and NEVER say “no” to your Nana’s silver tea set, because no matter how modern our lives have become, you can always reuse vintage items in a modern way! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Best Mom Contest!

For the past week cyberspace has been flooded with love-letter-status-updates for “The Best Mom in the World!” Profile pictures on Facebook have been changed to show photographs of millions of lovely mothers, and I have to say it truly is heartwarming.

This year, I was commissioned by a soon-to-be dad and very good friend to create two mother’s day floral arrangements; one for his lovely lady, and one for his lovely mother.  So, off to the flowermart I went where I picked up a two bunches of pink Snap Dragons, one bunch of pink Wax Flower, one bunch of Snow Flower that had been enhanced in the color department to give it a very light purple hue,two bunches of Crespedia (Billy Balls),  and two black bowl vases.
 These arrangements were begging to look whimsical yet to have an organic look and feel to them.
Since these arrangements were going to be picked up, I needed to create a safe way for them to travel in the car without the vases breaking. So I decided the best thing to do would be to dress up the boxes that the vases came in.

Tools: Boxes, Wax Paper, Scissors, Tape, and Ribbon

I cut the flaps off of the boxes, wrapped them in wax paper, secured the wax paper with scotch tape, and tied ribbon around them… Voila!  The prettiest carrying case you’ve ever seen!
Happy Mother’s day to all the “Best Moms in the World”!  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cook Off!

We had a one of a kind cook-off at Phantom Floranista headquarters this weekend! Spanish cuisine vs. Persian Cuisine. Everything was absolutely delectable! Gazpacho, Paella, and Persian Sour Cherry Rice were just a few of the dishes that we devoured during the course of an 8 hour ordeal!

As you all know, every time we have an event at HQ, I go all nuts with the flowers, and this event didn’t prove to be any different. I allowed myself to go a bit crazy with the floral budget and ended up spending $44.00 dollars on flowers at the SF Flower Mart. Purple Pride of Madeira, purple Anemones, Waterlily seed pods, some green filler, and finally a couple of bright yellow bunches of Crespedia completed my shopping list.  

 I pulled out a couple of vases I had used for past events, and decided that I would create a tiered look by using one 12” tall vase, and one 5” tall vase for the center of the dining table that all the food would be served.
 When putting together an arrangement that is in multiple vases, be sure to think of the design as something that could work separately in two different rooms, but also something that will look good together on one table as a center piece. Juxtapose placement of focal and accent flowers to create interest, and finally don’t be afraid to be bold! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Can" Do!

I enjoy collecting cans and tins. They have a multitude of functions, and are really fun and easy to dress up in different skins.
 I sauntered over to the San Francisco Farmer’s market this weekend, and paid $22 dollars for 3 bunches of Rununculus, and 2 bunches of Tulips. These flowers bring complete spring joy with all their color and texture.
Once I got home, I gathered my tins, cans, left over ribbon, and wrapping paper, and started to play dress up. This is the part that I love getting creative with. Mixing and matching papers and ribbons to my heart’s desire to come up with some fun designs.
 A word of caution; some tin cans are not sealed, so make sure you test them before you dress them up to avoid any leakage or spillage. If the tin cans are not sealed, you can create a simple lining with a  ziplock bag and a rubber band:
 Once the cans were dressed to my satisfaction, I started to play with the floral array that lay ahead of me.
The moral of the story is, with a little bit of mix and match, you too “can” create great arrangements for any occasion!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Norooz Pirooz

Spring is here with promises of longer days, an awakening of the earth from its winter slumber, and with it another “Norooz” (Persian New Year). Norooz is celebrated among people of Persian descent on the first day of Spring and is a tradition that dates back three thousand years.

On this day, Persian families gather around their ‘Haftseen’ (Table of Seven S’s), embrace the New Year together, while the children await the crisp money bills they will receive from the elders in the family. (I have to admit, I still await that last part just as impatiently as when I was 7!!!)

Each item that is placed on the Haftseen table has symbolic significance, and embodies all things good and pure.  This year I chose the following Seven S’s for my table;

1.       Sonbol – Hyacinth flower – Symbolizing the coming of spring
2.       Sabzeh – Wheat Grass – Symbolizing affluence
3.       Somaq – Sumac – Symbolizing sunrise
4.       Seer- Garlic – Symbolizing medicine and health
5.       Seeb- Apple – Symbolizing beauty 
6.       Sekke – Coins – Symbolizing prosperity
 7.       Serkeh – Vinegar – Symbolizing old age and patience
Other items that are placed on the table include:
·         Painted eggs – symbolizing fertility 
·         Lit Candles – symbolizing enlightenment and happiness
·         A mirror – symbolizing truth and the reflection of the real world
·         A book of poetry such as Rumi or Hafez, or a religious text such as the Qoran or Avesta 
·         A bowl of gold fish (no, not the crackers) – symbolizing life and the constellation of Pisces which the sun is leaving while making its way into the constellation of Aries.(I didn't have the goldfish on my table this year, since I'm not so great at taking care of pets ;) )
This year, I decided to create a mini Hyancinth and Wheat Grass garden as my Haftseen focal point.  I placed my flower pots and wheat grass pots inside a mirrored tray, and packed it in with Spanish moss to help cover the plastic pots. Afterwards, it was time to adorn the tray with some white pearl strands to give it a little extra umph. 
After the Hyacinth garden was placed on my mirrored coffee table, the rest of the Haftseen items found their place. With a little re-adjusting here and there, the table was set and ready to receive friends and family. 
I hope that this new year fills your homes with laughter, your bodies with health, and your hearts with love! Have a glorious new year! Norooz Pirooz!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I've been on a baking binge lately. Italian Chocolate Almond cake, Berry Cobbler, Pear Tart, and Red Velvet Cupcakes have been regulars. I take pleasure in reading recipes and figuring out what I can do to change them… Yes, I have bastardized Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cupcake recipe to perfection, and I’m damn proud of it!

This weekend was a gloomy one here in San Francisco. With the rain coming down steadily the cold stalls at the flower market weren’t exactly calling, especially since my cupboards were chock full of all the necessary ingredients to make a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing. Mmmmm… So, I got to baking, and about an hour and a half later I had two dozen cupcakes staring up at me in all their caloric glory going: “EAT ME, EAT ME!!!!”  Well, I am happy to say that I beat the urge to gorge on all of them simultaneously, so I decided to play with the cupcakes as a centerpiece.
Main platter full of cupcakes
use different glasses/candle holders at varying
heights as bases to add interest to the setup
“Sweet-tooth tables” are all the rage recently. Most weddings these days will have a candy station, while some will even have cupcakes instead of wedding cake. If you have an upcoming afternoon tea party, a book club gathering, bridal shower, or even a baby shower consider setting up a cupcake-scape of your own. It’s a less expensive alternative to flowers, and everyone will enjoy eating a cupcake or two (maybe three…ok, Four!)  

Since I can’t send each one of you lovely readers a cupcake, I’ve decided to share the recipe in hopes that you too will have as much fun baking and decorating as I do.

Chemical Make-up:
Cupcake Ingredients (all organic):                                                 
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour                                           
1 ½ cups sugar                                                            
1 tsp baking soda                                                        
1 tsp salt                                                                    
2-3 tsp cocoa powder
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tbsps red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients (all organic):
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Lab Process:
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2.  Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
  3.  In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a separate large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.
  4.  Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake papers (about 2/3 filled)
  6. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes. Test the cupcakes for “doneness” with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean, it’s ready!
  7.  Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
Frosting Mix:
a.     In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluff
b.    If you don’t actually have a frosting cone, use a Ziploc bag that has been pierced on one corner as a frosting cone and apply your desired frosting designs
c.     Sprinkle on some chopped pecans and BON APPETIT!