Saturday, December 31, 2011

sparkle & shine

Now that the Christmas trees are coming down and it's time to start thinking about how you'll celebrate New Year's Eve (and who you'll kiss at midnight!), here's an idea for re-using some of those holiday ornaments to decorate for a New Year's celebration:

Tuck wintery, glittery stars and snowflakes into arrangements and vases for some sparkle!

Hope you all have a wonderful night and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Arrangements

The La Fleur website is getting a snazzy new makeover! We'll be featuring updated photos of our arrangements - here's a sneak peek of some of the flowers we've been working on lately:

This bright, seasonal arrangement includes ilex berries and clematis.

These hydrangeas, scabiosa and delphinium will be available all year round.

This is a winter arrangement that includes kale and poinsettia.

This winter arrangement features purple kale alongside a purple and white flower theme.

This is for the man who wants to order for his wife our version of a dozen roses.

This sweet spring arrangement features amazing roses - not always available, but stunning when they are!

Because we specialize in stocking the freshest, most beautiful flowers available from our suppliers each week, these arrangements are only examples of the styles we can create - each order is unique and individually designed according to what's in season and what your preferences are. Take comfort in knowing that anything you order from La Fleur will be special and specifically suited for your event.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Feathered Affair + Allan House love

Recently we were happy to be a part of A Feathered Affair at  The Allan House. This peacock feather themed event featured several local vendors and we provided the flowers and table arrangements.  

The Allan House exterior. Image from their website.

The Allan House sets up this heated tent for outdoor winter weddings - isn't the setup pretty, with the vibrant colors and fairy lights on the trees? This is one of our favorite Austin wedding locations - not only are the outdoor details beautiful, but the house itself is a wonderfully restored Victorian mansion. Built in 1883 by John T. Allan, the house has been home to several Austin families, a public school and in the year 2000 was reopened as an event center that is now host to celebrations of all kinds.

One of the table arrangements - we included lots of color and texture!

 A feathered bridal bouqet

We've done several events at the Allan House, and are always happy to work with them! They're definitely a must see venue  if you have an upcoming wedding an Austin.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Flowers in Season December 25 - 31

Via Garden World Images

The flower symbolism associated with cyclamen flowers is resignation and goodbye. This symbolism makes cyclamen especially appropriate for gifts for friends who are retiring or relocating. [2]

The most difficult thing to do is to say ‘goodbye’. Parting and separation are an integral part of life, yet, how often we cower away from the thought of saying goodbye to someone we love! At times such as these, offering a cyclamen often shows greater sentiment, a more valuable emotion than bombastic words of farewell. 

The cyclamen is one of the most popular Christmas plants in Europe, but it lost its place on the pedestal to the poinsettia here in the United States. Poinsettias may be the premier holiday plant, but if you are not growing cyclamen, too, you are missing out. [4]

Cyclamen is a genus of 23 species of perennials growing from tubers, valued for their flowers with up-swept petals and variably patterned leaves. Cyclamen species are native from Europe and the Mediterranean region east to Iran, with one species in Somalia. In most species, leaves come up in autumn, grow through the winter, and die in spring, then the plant goes dormant through the dry Mediterranean summer. [1]

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eat, drink and be married.

Holiday season, with all its merriment and extravagant gift-giving, is also prime engagement season. We love gazing at beautiful pieces of jewelry, so without further ado and whether you're getting engaged this Christmas or not, here are some gorgeous and unusual engagement ring options that you won't see your hoards of newly betrothed high school friends flashing on Facebook:

Elizabeth Street grey diamond ring , from $1100

Bittersweets NY rose gold diamond twig ring, $2800

Erica Weiner late Victorian diamond ring, $1400

black diamond and green amethyst ring, $435

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Expert Advice from Elizabeth: the Perfect Christmas Bow

With Christmas almost upon us, it's time to wrap up our holiday shopping and get those gifts wrapped and under the tree! Using fabric ribbon is an easy way to add an elegant element to your holiday gift wrap. Here's how to tie the perfect gift bow:

Lay a length of ribbon down on a flat surface, with the bottom of your wrapped box facing up.

Bring the ends of the ribbon in towards the center...

And cross them over one another, then flip the box over.

Tie the ribbon together once in the middle.

Using a separate, longer piece of ribbon, fold it back and forth over itself several times (we did three folds).

Carefully pick up the folded ribbon and place it in the tied center of the box.
Here you may need to enlist an elf to hold it down with one finger.

Tie the ends of the first ribbon around the center of the  folded piece twice to create a pretty knot.

Fluff, fold and arrange the pieces to your liking.

And voila! This whole process takes approximately one minute and turns a simple box into a beautifully wrapped present.

Happy wrapping!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Elizabeth's Favorite Pie

With Christmas less than a week away, we're sure you're all in the midst of menu planning and hunting for the perfect holiday desserts to include on your table. This pie is one that Elizabeth makes every year, and can be found in  vintage cookbook  Under the Mushroom, from an old Dallas restaurant, The Little Mushroom.

Little Mushroom Coffee-Toffee Pie

Pastry Shell:
1/2 pkg pie crust mix
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 square unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tsp instant coffee
2 eggs

2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Chocolate curls (to make, shave unsweetened chocolate with a potato peeler)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine the pue crust mix, brown sugar, walnuts and chocolate. Add 1 Tbsp water and the vanilla, using a fork until well blended. Turn into a greased 9" pie plate. Press firmly against the bottom and sides of the plate. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light. Blend in the chocolate and coffee. Add 1 egg. beat five minutes, and add remaining egg, then beat for an additional five minutes. Turn filling into baked, cooled pie shell. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

In a large bowl, combine cream, coffee and sugar. Refrigerate, covered, for one hour. Beat cream mixture until stiff. Spread on pie filling and garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

This is what your end result should look like! Image via Flickr.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Flowers in Season, December 18 - 24

Christmas Cactus

Native to Brazil and the South American rainforests and not actually a cactus, the Christmas Cactus is named so due to its ability to thrive during the holiday months and the custom of decorating a cactus instead of a tree in warmer countries where cultivating evergreens is not possible.

Due to their popularity, Christmas Cacti have been bred to bloom in a variety of different colors, and are a wonderful way to add a little nontraditional holiday cheer to your home.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ribbons & Curls

We have a wall of ribbon in the workroom, and rolls and rolls of it floating around in every corner - it's really a delight to take in all the colors and textures together.

This floral patterned ribbon is one of Elizabeth's favorites.

Dasher & Dancer leap their way through a basket of glittering stars

Elizabeth found this leaf ribbon on Etsy - makes us look forward to spring!

The ribbon wall sometimes gets to be a messy riot of colors, but we love it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Expert Advice: Orange Clove Pomanders

Orange Clove Pomanders are an old-fashioned holiday tradition that are cute as can be and fill the whole room with a citrusy-spicy-cozy scent. Read on to learn we made them!

We picked up a bag of medium-sized navel oranges and this small jar of cloves from the local grocery store. You can find whole cloves in the spice aisle for a few dollars  - one jar or bag will get you through 2-4 pomanders, depending on how many you apply to each orange.

You can freehand a design or ...

Use a stencil! We just resized this simple fleur de lis outline so that it was orange-sized, cut it out and punched holes around the shape for reference. Punching or marking holes in advance makes applying pretty designs a snap.

Whether you decide to wing it or use a specific pattern, use the end of a pen or a similarly pointy object to press a small hole into the orange's skin before inserting the clove. Whole cloves are both delicate and sharp, and pre-poking holes in the orange will make your life easier and save your fingers a little bit of pain.

Then, gently press the end of the clove into the orange, being careful not to damage the center, which is where the wonderful scent comes from as the spice mingles with the citrus oils. Repeat until your pomander is covered. These will dry out and keep for several weeks, leaving your home smelling seriously fantastic.
Fleur de Lis, dots and bows, a welcoming pineapple, a Christmas octupus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shine, Give, Share

We look forward to seeing what the White House and the First Lady will unveil for Christmas decoarions every year, and Mrs. Obama did not disappoint this year. The White House Christmas decorations have been up for a few days now, and they are absolutely wonderful. Our new favorite florist, Brooklyn's Emily Thompson, was responsible for the arrangements, and we are totally inspired by her lovely and creative works of art! The many trees, wreaths and arrangements are beautiful but not opulent or over the top, and feature lots of creative, crafty details that you can incorporate into your own holiday decor.

The Library Christmas tree proudly proclaims this year's theme.
A simple wreath made of greenery is decorated with cut-out paper flowers - proof DIY details can be beautiful and elegeant.  

These ornaments and garlands are made of simple felt - a snap to make and string on your own tree

In every room you'll find a model of the First Family's furry friend Bo - here he sits alongside trees crafted from construction paper, instructions for which are included in the official guide to this year's White House Christmas.

We took a stab at making some of these little trees here in the shop, using the template in the White House Holiday Book. 

Leaves and treetops, cut from a book of Christmas-patterned scrapbook paper.

These trees are a little more precious than the White House trees, but don't they look cute on display with these bright vintage boxes?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

a Victorian Christmas

Is there anything more beautiful to daydream about than the Victorian age, La Belle Epoque or America's Gilded Age? The influence of Victorian traditions can especially be seen around the holidays. Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) marked a period of romanticism in the arts and social culture, and many of our Christmas traditions can be traced back to her influence.

Queen Victoria popularized the tradition of lighting a Christmas tree upon her marriage to Prince Albert, who hailed from Germany where Christmas trees were already common. The above image, which depicts the Royal Family with their tree, was published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1850 - art historian Karal Ann Marling called it "the first influential American Christmas tree". Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850-60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America. Tannenbaums were decorated with sugar treats, lighted candles, ribbon, paper and wax ornaments, and  sometimes small gifts were wrapped and hung from the branches as well.

A Christmas postcard from Elizabeth's collection, dating from the early 1900s.

Queen Victoria also began the tradition of sending a yearly Christmas card, and in 1843 the first batches of commercially printed cards were sold and sent through the Penny Post, a system in which families could send a piece of mail to any location in England for one cent. The tradition came to America in 1875 when Louis Prang became the first man to print and sell Christmas cards in the US.

A tabletop tree in one of Biltmore's many beautiful dining rooms. Image via Victorian Magazine

If you want to see what grand Victorian traditions looked like on an enormous (and expensive) scale, Biltmore House in Asheville, NC is an absolutely magical place to visit during the holiday season. Built by George Vanderbilt in 1895 and now open to visitors, it is a magnificent example of what life was like for the wealthy during the Gilded Age, and every year features incredible Victorian-inspired decorations at Christmas. They are enchanting to see in person, but in case you don't have a spare weekend to traipse off and gawk at lavish Christmas decorations, here's some eye candy instead:

the Biltmore Library fireplace, decorated with garlands and beribboned trees. Image from Great Drives: Christmas at Biltmore

The Biltmore library in all its splendor. Image from Romantic Asheville.

Images from Romantic Asheville
Incredible, right? Do you love the Victorian era as much as we do or is there another time period that captures your imagination? Let us know in the comments!
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