Thursday, February 25, 2016

bloom with me (on a budget!)

Here in NYC, despite a mean streak of rainy days, the temperatures have been unseasonably warm and the air is filled with a faint but lovely smell of spring. Though I don't trust Mother Nature not to hurl another blizzard our way (it is only February 25th!), it's been nice to shed some layers and consider the possibility that the dark and cold winter is ending.

These spring vibes go perfectly with the arrival of spring blooms at all the bodegas and sidewalk flower shops (a favorite NYC-ism of mine!) and even my beloved Trader Joe's is looking spring-ified! Since we all know that fresh flowers improve your mood, I thought I'd share some of my tips and tricks for always having beautiful blooms on a budget!
* Keep it healthy
Since the reason grocery store and bodega flowers are usually cheaper presumably has something to do with their freshness and quality, you've got to put in a little extra effort to make them last. This isn't foolproof, but some of my best tips are:
- always cut each stem after you buy it and before you place it in a vase
- change the water frequently or at least don't forget to add fresh water every day or two
- put a penny in it! Seriously, if you want your tulips to stay standing for longer and bloom more boldly, put a penny in the bottom of the vase. I don't know why, but it works!
* Arrange it!
It's tempting to purchase prearranged bouquets, but I find that you often see a decrease in the quality of bloom (because they may not all be equally fresh) or you end up with something that isn't quite what you were hoping for. Often you can create your own arrangement for less than the pre-made ones and they come out even more lovely. HERE, HERE and HERE are some great tips for making your own arrangements, but some of my biggest suggestions:
- think about a variety of size, color and texture, even if you're only buying 2 blooms to combine. If you're buying different flowers, mix big and bold with something small and soft. 
- cut them at different lengths; this allows the arrangement to look more dynamic
- remove the leaves; I learned this one online and it works like a charm... when you strip off most of the greenery on each stem the arrangement instantly looks more professional
- consider an unusual vessel. It doesn't always have to be a vase, maybe it's a cool jar or 2 or 3 small vessels placed next to one another in an "arrangement of arrangements". 
* Think long term
Though it's tempting to purchase a bundle of flowers that's in full bloom, unless you are in need of a pretty display immediately, resist the urge. Buying flowers that are mostly unbloomed means they are fresher and if well cared for will literally blossom before your eyes. Not only is it fun to watch the flowers "perform" but it means they'll stay lovely on your table for a few days longer than if they were already in full bloom when you bought them.

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