Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

One of my favorite scenes during the winter months is that of barren trees in the midst of ice and snow, while little birds flit from branch to branch. This year I decided I would recreate this winter scene in my living room with a slightly modern twist.

So what if I told you that there is a new form of Christmas Tree that is re-usable yet not made of plastic, and costs only 35 dollars total? Crazy talk? Absolutely not!

Tools of the trade: Manzanita branch, floral oasis (for dry flowers), A square ceramic vase, one bunch of Cedar branches (Cedrus deodora….for you horticultural nit-picky types), and ornaments (in my case, little red birds and crystal garland)

I stuffed the base of my black ceramic vase with floral oasis, placed the Manzanita branch in the center and secured the sides of the branch with more oasis to make sure it doesn’t topple over.  Once the base was ready, I covered it with some moss and Cedar branch to give a full look. Finally it was time to place the little red birdies in the branches and to hang the crystal garland at varying lengths to give it that icy feel.

I placed my tree on my black consul in the living room to make sure it doesn't poke anyone in the eye, while giving more height to my Christmas tree. A few candles here, a little Cedar branch there, and my recreated winter scene was complete!
Tip: After Christmas you can store your potted Manzanita tree away for all different seasonal holidays. Remember that just by changing the base foliage and ornaments on the tree, you can make it a decoration for any occasion.

How are you decorating your tree this year? Send me photos of your Christmas trees for a holiday spread of Phantom Floranista’s “Favorite Things”! Email your photos to get a place on the upcoming holiday blog…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around food, food, and more food (in addition to the occasional drunken family member that makes it an awkward time for everyone… yep, you know who I’m talking about!). 

All joking aside it is a time to be thankful that your loved ones are near you, and that you are able to spend precious moments laughing and enjoying each other’s company (while sneakily gossiping about the hideous turkey print sweater that your Auntie has on....emmmm... uh.. seriously, why she would buy something like that is beyond me!?!?!)

The table setting for this day of feasting is as important (if not more important) than the bird itself.  One of my dearest family members always says “it’s all about the presentation!” and I couldn’t agree more, as the presentation is half the experience.

Early last week I received an email from resident SF Foodie Nimisha Ghandi of Club Dine In! to collaborate on creating the picture perfect Thanksgiving table centerpiece. So, on a sunny yet crisp Fall morning I gathered my $50.00 worth of Viburnum leaves, California Pepper Plant, Bright Orange Cockscomb, Pomegranate Bush bundle, candles, and ribbons and headed over to Club Dine In! HQ to set a gorgeous rose wood dining table. When I arrived I was thrilled to see that the host had set out a large pumpkin, mandarin oranges, decorative garland, maize husks, and other knick knacks to incorporate into the design.

As we chatted away, we each took on different aspects of setting the table, I snipped, tucked and placed flowers and foliage while Nimisha helped wrap recycled cans and yogurt tubs in wax paper that were to be used as our vases.  An hour and a half later, Nimisha’s husband walked over, took one look at the table and said: “I feel like we should be inviting Mayor Gavin Newsom over for Thanksgiving! This looks awesome!”

The perfect blend of simplicity and sophistication!
Don't throw out your wine bottles. Save them to use as candle holders!
Knick knacks from around the house (i.e. decorative balls) help fill in gaps
 This centerpiece is fully recyclable/compostable! (Some parts are even edible!!!)
Mini Apples and Pears are perfect accents for each place setting
As I finish typing up this entry, I am thinking of my loved ones near and far, and am thankful to have them all in my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for your presence in my life. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Urban Glamor

The Sir Francis Drake hotel is smack dab in the middle of San Francisco, around the corner from the historic Union Square, and right next door to Saks Fifth Avenue (the mother ship of all high fashion!). Sky scrapers, Tourists, cable cars, shopping, and gorgeous display windows surround this beautiful hotel built in 1928. When I received an email from a lovely bride-to-be about designing her wedding flowers at this venue, I was jumping out of my skin. This was going to be the perfect mixture of urban living and glamor!

The first time I met with the bride, it was obvious that we were on the same wavelength. She wanted centerpieces with sculptural branches, and was envisioning dark purple, cream, and yellow as her colors. After seeing the two gorgeous rooms in which the couple was having their ceremony and reception in, my creative juices were flowing and I started to sketch out the entire mood of the event in my head.

The Ceremony: The ornate and high ceiling in the Franciscan Room along with the decadent floor to ceiling Navy blue draperies called for a lot of height in the altar arrangement. The table where the candle lighting ceremony was to take place was the focal point of the room and was flanked by a trio arrangement of curly willow, white calla lilies, and roses which flanked either side of the table.

The Bridal Party: The bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere were in dark shades of purple, while the bridesmaids and groomsmen had bright yellow rose arrangements. Parents and grandparents of the bride and groom were each given a deep burgundy orchid boutonniere to set them apart from the rest of the bridal party.

After the ceremony, the guests sauntered on upstairs to the Empire Ballroom where they were greeted by a forest of jewel adorned Manzanita branches potted to perfection in a bed of white Hydrangeas and Lisianthus.

The bride and groom’s sweetheart table was the focal point of the room and was decorated with a Grape wood branch, Eucalyptus leaves, white Freesia, Purple Lisianthus, and couple of floating candles. This was the perfect complement to the bride’s bouquet which sat in a vase on the table. 

As my brilliant team and I were finishing the final touches to the centerpieces, the pastry chef rolled out the gorgeous cake for which we provided a floral topping. 

Another successful wedding,and another happy couple and we’re ready to take on the next special event! Congratulations to Susan and Christopher! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crimson Dahlias!

Over the Summer I had the opportunity to do flowers for an awesome Bride and Groom that were having a very intimate and beautiful ceremony at Mt. Tamalpais. When the bride contacted me again to put together a few arrangements for the reception she and her hubby were hosting at Café Du Nord, I was super flattered!

If you haven’t been to Café Du Nord in San Francisco, it’s a classic SF joint that hosts all sorts of awesome bands and events. With its dark woods, and red accents, it has a very speak-easy/ prohibition era feel to it.

Crimson colored Dahlias were the flower du jour! Other flowers that the bride wanted included: Crespedia (Billy Balls), Succulents, and Fig Branches. I threw in a bunch of white/green Hydrangea, and some green filler to help fill in the gaps. (I hope you’re all memorizing these plant names, as I will have a pop quiz at some point…. ;) )

 The main arrangement was tall as it was going to be the centerpiece to the buffet.

The Bride asked for a small bouquet that she could hold on to for some of the special moments at the reception. She was provided with a classic Nafis Designs yogurt tub holding vase for the moments that she didn’t want to hold on to her bouquet. 

The Groom received a small boutonniere made of a couple of Billy Balls, a Quail feather, and a sprig of green filler

After all the arrangements were complete, there were enough flowers left for an accent arrangement that could either help amplify the table centerpiece, or could be set aside as a separate arrangement.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Project Jack-O-Lantern

Ok my little Ghouls and Goblins; it’s time for your favorite holiday! Halloween!!!! Get out your knives, and start carving your Jack-O-Lanterns.

I have a little confession to make…I spent $50.00 on this week’s arrangements. I couldn’t help myself! IT’S HALLOWEEN!!!!! My favorite time of year!!!!! Surely you can understand?!?! 

So here is what $50.00 bought me at the SF Flower Mart: Three Medium Sized Pumpkins, a huge bunch of Red Robert, dried Reeds, two bunches of Rice Stalks, and a bag of dried Water Lily Seed Pods.

Utensils: Pumpkin, sharp knife, metal spoon, two yogurt tubs, and a bowl to hold all the goop that comes out the pumpkins.

How to make a pumpkin vase:
1-   1- Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin that is equal to the diameter of the top of the   yogurt tub. You can be very precise about this and measure it, but I just eye-balled it. What’s life without a bit of human trial and error, eh?

2-   2- Empty out the goop inside the pumpkins with the metal spoon, and be sure to scrape the insides well to ensure that your pumpkin lasts a while.

3-   3- Once the pumpkin is emptied out, slip the plastic yogurt tub inside so that the rim sits right at the opening of the pumpkin.

4-   4- Pour water into the tubs, and start to get creative with the flowers. A good way to gauge how you’d like your flowers to be placed in your vase is to know how and where you’re going to use the centerpiece. This will determine the shape of your arrangement; tall and columnar, spherical and short, or natural and sprawling. 

For those of you that haven’t carved a pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern before, here are some easy tips on how to carve one:

1-   1- first two steps are identical to the pumpkin vases
2-   2- Once you have your hollowed out pumpkin, using a sharpie pen, draw your design onto the pumpkin and with a sharp paring knife cut outside the drawn lines until the pieces pop out.
3-   3-  Place a tea light inside the pumpkin, and light it up! 

Once the arrangements were complete, I took them down to the courtyard and set them up beside the fountain to help accent the entry. Happy Halloween!