Monday, May 31, 2010

Go Wild!

Sometimes you have to go Au Naturale! So, I packed my bags and headed to Mt Shasta in Northern California with my friends, and spent a weekend in the great outdoors. We hiked along the McCloud River, went out to Lake Siskiyou that provided great views back to Mt. Shasta, and even headed to Burney falls where we hiked among the gorgeous California Native flowers. Dogwoods were in full bloom, the maples were growing green leaves by the minute and the hillsides were covered in gorgeous, pinks, blues, and yellows….

Now for some floral news; I have been collaborating with a lovely young lady that has a blog named Club Dine in!Club Dine In!’s purpose is to build a strong community of foodies who love to socialize around food and still want to be healthy and fit. Club Dine In! strives to connect local businesses, farmers, chefs, winemakers, mixologists, and fitness professionals to the community in a social environment.

This Thursday, Club Dine In! is having a fun Happy Hour, and I’ll be providing one of Nafis Designs' sustainable $20 floral arrangements as a raffle ticket prize! Stay tuned on Thursday to see what the arrangement looks like, and to get a play by play on the great Happy Hour that is going to take place.

As I finish up this week’s blog, I highly suggest that you all go a little wild, and take a trip of your own to visit Mother Nature in her natural habitat!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pretty in Pink

This weekend I was commissioned to do flowers for a wonderful afternoon tea party in the Oakland Hills by a brilliant Poet, Writer, and Artist, Katayoon Zandvakili. The invitations that were sent out invited everyone to a “Glorious Celebration of Friendship & Beautiful Springtime.”

I had a half hour phone conversation with the lovely host of the party last week, in which I realized that she wanted flowers in pink tones that looked romantic, soft, and lush. I was getting a total English garden meets Coco Chanel vibe; Lots of texture (yet not frou-frou), while mostly monochromatic (pink) with enough tonal variation to make it interesting. In one word: Chic!

So, I set off to the SF Flower market to choose my palette.

Shopping List: Dark pink Peonies, light pink Esperance Roses, white Lisianthus, miniature Ivy, and a box of beautiful little decorative birds.

There were a total of 5 arrangements; 4 of which were to be dispersed throughout the house, and a dining table arrangement. The dining table was going to be the host of some of the most scrumptious looking cakes, tarts, berries, and cupcakes I had ever seen! (It was hard not to lick the icing off the cupcakes while I was working!!!) I decided that the yummies would sit atop a garden of trailing Ivy and the small decorative birds, to allow the cakes to speak for themselves.

We chose clear Chrystal vases for the rest of the arrangements that found their place on a French console situated right by the window with a view looking towards San Francisco, the glass living room coffee table, a side table, and a console off the dining room with a fantastic Buddha statuette.

The party was a total success! Everyone had their cake and ate it too!!!!

Tip of the Day: If you buy Peonies and Roses that are still buds and you want them to open up to full bloom for your event, cut the stems a good 2 inches when you bring them home, place them in luke warm water and add a spoonful of sugar to it. You will have blooming blossoms in no time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life” is the credo of the man that built a beautiful estate in Woodside, Ca; FILOLI. This estate is an historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is open to the public from February – October. Gorgeous gardens, beautiful hikes into the hills, and an amazing 1920’s mansion are only some of the things you can enjoy there. Whenever I have someone visiting from out of town, Filoli is one of the places that I have to take them, or sometimes when I’m feeling like Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, I make a trip out there and stroll the gardens (No, I don’t dress up in costume!)

I was perusing their website last night planning my next jaunt over there, and noticed they have volunteer opportunities listed on their website for Floral Arrangers. Naturally, I filled out their application, and included the Nafis Designs blogspot, and website address in my email. This morning I received a lovely email back that read:

Hi Y,
I LOVED your blog!! Great ideas for low-cost, quality arrangements anyone can do. That's the Filoli spirit we're looking for in volunteers-- the ability to use those things around us that give ourselves and others joy.

I will forward your message and application on to the Chair of the House Arrangers. She will contact you about the audition for her committee.

I do hope you can make volunteering a part of your floral life. There are opportunities to design and decorate with flowers at Filoli that you will not find anywhere else in the Bay Area.

Good luck and I hope to see you at Filoli soon.

Can’t wait to audition and hope I get picked to be on their team of House Floral Arrangers!!!! WISH ME LUCK!!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


My uncle is one of the most encouraging and kind men I know. While chatting over the phone with him last week he said: “I love your blog idea, and I’ve been following you. I have a question for you though; where do most Americans buy their flowers?”

It took me a split second to respond: “Grocery Stores!”

So, this morning I decided to take a nice brisk walk to Coit Tower with a dear friend (gotta get the cardio workout in), then head to the local Trader Joe’s in our neighborhood to see what my $20 budget could buy me. After scanning the selection of flowers and calculating prices with our fingers, my friend and I walked out with a great bunch of Parrot Tulips, Yellow Asiatic Lilies, and Purple Snapdragons.

(Props to my incredibly talented friend (founder of for helping me set up the still life photo shoot in the parking lot under the doggie bowl sign!)

The great thing about Trader Joe’s flowers is that they’re great quality and are locally and sustainably grown! Go Joe!!!!

Cost: $20.22 (Yes, I was over budget by 22 cents, however –for those of you that are paying attention- last week I was under budget by 50 cents, so it evens out.)

Tools: Keeping with the theme of what everyone can use that is local and accessible; I started to rummage around in my kitchen to see what I can use as vases for the arrangements. POTS! The rest of the list included a shawl I had in my closet that was the same color as the Snapdragons, rubber bands, and scissors.

I placed the two pots close each other, then wrapped my shawl around them and secured them to the pot with a rubber band around the rim of each:

I then started to arrange flowers in both pots simultaneously to ensure that the arrangement looks in sync and that they don’t look disjointed:

Remember that an arrangement for your table can easily be turned into small gifts for friends, family, or totally random strangers in your neighborhood. Just transfer them to recycled jars, containers, or bottles, wrap them in some left over gift wrap paper or wax paper, slap a bow on it, and you’ve got yourself a lovely gift arrangement.

Off I go to places these ones on doorsteps in the neighborhood…..

Saturday, May 8, 2010

For Mom

“Roses, 5 Dollars” “Tulips, SPECIAL 6 Dollars”, “Hydrangeas for Mom”….These were just some of the signs that were lining the entries to the wholesaler stalls this morning at the SF Flower Market. Vendors were helping customers decide if they should get roses or tulips, while children were picking up what they could from the floor and arranging mini bouquets as they were waiting for their parents to pay. The vibe at the market reminded me of the scene out of “My Fair Lady”. I felt breaking out in song and belting out “Now woooooooooooouldn’t it be loverrrly?” (Audrey Hepburn would NOT be pleased with my singing!)

As I walked among all the gorgeous flowers, I thought that roses and tulips have been done 1,000,000 times over, and that I would work with Kale for Mother’s day. Yes, that’s right, KALE!

So here we go…

Shopping list: Flowering Kale (and you thought I was kidding), Bells of Ireland, Tritoma

Cost: $19.50

Tools: Flowers, Scissors, Recycled Containers, All Natural Wax Paper, Rubber Bands, Raffia:

Step 1: I grabbed a Trader Joe’s Hummus container, a Pavel’s Yogurt container (Low Fat of course), and a couple of Folger’s Coffee/Del Monte Peach Mason Jars and wrapped them in all natural wax paper. To make sure the paper held, I secured them with a rubber band around the top:

Step 2: Since Kale was at the top of my shopping list this week, I decided that the it would be the focal point of my arrangements and made sure that the Tritoma and Bells of Ireland accented it in all the right places:

Step 3: This is the first week that my alter ego “Phantom Floranista” and sidekick sister “Fish” dropped off the flowers at people’s doorsteps with a sign reading:

As I finish up this entry, I’m wishing that my mom was here in the US so I could gift one of the arrangements to her. Seeing as she’s thousands of miles away, I dedicate this week’s blog to her. I LOVE YOU MOM! (P.S. Thanks for all the Kale soup when we were kids…)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Phantom Floranista

The Mission: To create inexpensive arrangements using recycled materials from around the house that will fill your home with beauty, your heart with joy, and leave a smile on your face.

Every Saturday at 8:00 am (PST) I will be venturing to the San Francisco Flower Market where I will be purchasing between $10 -$20 worth of flowers. I will then arrange these flowers in recyclable/reused containers that accumulate from a weeks worth of grocery shopping, and will design arrangements that can be used as centerpieces for dinner parties, accent pieces for the house, or just a little gift for a friend. I'll be photographing, documenting, and blogging about every step to prove that floral arrangements don't have to be expensive to be beautiful.

Phantom Floranista Project: Once I've shared my ideas with the cyber world, i'll be dropping off the arrangements at random doorsteps in my neighborhood with the hope that the people who receive them will smile. It's kind of like the "Free Hugs" project, except with, well, flowers!

Who knows, maybe I can even inspire you to do the same in your neighborhood....

So, here we go.... Today's inspiration was France. I just got back from a killer trip in Paris, so naturally when I saw the gorgeous French Tulips at the SF Flower Mart, I just HAD to buy them!

Shopping List: French Tulips, Snowball Tree Flower, Water Lily Seed Pod

Cost: $20.00

Tools: Flowers, Scissors, Recycled Containers, Recycled Gift Wrap Paper, Recycled Ribbon:

Step 1: I used a Philadelphia Cream Cheese container, and a Trader Joe's Hummus container wrapped in some saved gift wrap paper, a few jars, and a wine bottle I had kept to create the "vases" that will hold the flowers:

Step 2: I arranged my containers to get an idea of what the centerpiece heights will be:

Step 3: Placement of the flowers is my favorite part. Let your creative juices flow freely, and place your flowers as your heart desires, and VOILA!

1) Working in odd numbers is always best. It adds a level of interest to an arrangement that even numbers wont. for example, try to place 3 blossoms of a flower in the same vase instead of 2 or 4.
2)Remember that when you're placing flowers in containers for a centerpiece, you want to keep in mind that the centerpiece will be viewed from all angles, so keep it interesting all the way around.