How to dress up a grocery store orchid in 15 minutes

Who is the first person who decided to sell orchid arrangements held together with pink butterfly hair clips? I would like to know.

But a $12 orchid from the grocery store is still a beautiful thing, and I have a few easy tricks for making it look like a $90 orchid from those flower shops we all wish we could purchase from daily. (“Jeeves, please deliver the hydrangea bouquet for the center hall by 1 p.m. I have the gala committee coming at three. Thank you. Give the invoice to my assistant. Mwah.”)

Yep, so, the $12 orchid.

Yesterday, from Trader Joe’s, I brought this beauty below home. The pot is too small, and the plant topples over at every opportunity.

Also, this:

Ugh. The orchid does need something to secure the plant to the stakes so that it doesn’t fall over, but might I suggest using natural materials instead?

To rescue your orchid, take a trip to Michaels and  gather some supplies. The sticks on the left are curly willow, which we’ll use for decorating our plant, and a bamboo stake leftover from a $90 orchid I had. All orchids come staked, but I don’t always like the stakes I am given.

You’ll need a larger pot with stones to keep the plant in place. Get out some raffia and some moss as well. Ignore the cool bark-wrapped wire. We didn’t need it, but it wanted to have its photo taken. All of these supplies are available at Michaels. And all of these supplies can be reused over and over and over again.

Free your orchid from its terracotta chamber and place it in the new pot.

Stick the curly willow branches into the soil — anywhere you put them will be good. They add airiness to the finished arrangement. And replace the store-bought stake  with bamboo if you are so inclined — just push it into the soil right next to the stem.

Fill the pot with rocks to secure the orchid. Also, it looks pretty.

Now, choose a few tufts of moss. They’re going to become cushions for the raffia bindings that will secure the plant’s stem to the stake.

Place the cushion against the plant stem and the stake. You’ll probably want to do this in the same location where there used to be a butterfly hair clip. Let’s all pretend that I’m one of those women that always has a manicure.

Wrap with raffia and tie a knot. Messy is fine. Precision is not necessary. It’s supposed to look organic.

Throw the butterfly hair clip in the trash.


I usually do two bindings per stem.

Step back and admire your 15 minute orchid rescue project.

Doesn’t that look better?

PS I give my orchids 3-4 ice cubes per week, per stem. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I can keep them alive for ages. But a $12 orchid will live for at least a month or two, and that’s long enough to make me happy.

Oh, and did you see yesterday’s post? Homemade Cherry-Almond Muffins. With Streusel on top. Oh, baby.


By |2012-08-15T08:23:12-07:00August 15th, 2012|DIY + Projects|4 Comments

My $1 flower arrangement for spring

It was bad enough when I told the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s that I loved the TJ’s frozen lemon bars because they were pretty. “Pretty doesn’t matter,” he said. ” I like them because they taste good.”

Uh-huh, sure, whatever you say, I mumbled. But I think this might be a higher achievement in nuttiness: at the Old Town Farmers Market on Saturday, I spent a good long while picking out the two prettiest pots of wheatgrass to bring home — not to drink (but i should), not for the pets (don’t have any), but because they were gorgeous and the best $1 flower arrangement I can imagine.

That’s right. This happy little piece of spring was $1.

I tucked mine into my new treasure:  vintage trophies I scored at a Phoenix antique shop — a coup, as I’ve been lusting after the idea of vintage trophies ever since I saw them in a California shop for $400. Mine didn’t cost $400, not anywhere near it. (I now can pretend my imaginary grandfather the track star swept the high jump in Boston in 1917 and 1922. Go gramps.)

Rhibafarms also sells the wheatgrass in awesome square flats for $10 (seen below in a pic from Rhibarms’ blog) that would make gorgeous centerpieces for a spring party. I told the very kind woman in charge that I’d be back for some just as soon as I found the right size vase. She smiled and nodded and looked at me like that made perfect sense, which was kind of her, you know.

By |2012-01-15T20:19:07-07:00January 15th, 2012|Style|0 Comments

D-I-Y Numbered Napkins

I dreamed of numbered napkins available only through H&M in Europe. Humph. So here’s how to make our own:

The inspiration:

It wasn’t THAT bad, although I will admit that on number six I was cursing myself for not telephoning Sweden and having them sent to me instead. Here’s how:

First, gather the supplies: black fabric paint, a small brush with an angled tip, a fabric marker, and an embroidery hoop — all available at Michaels. (Don’t buy the wood hoop in the first pic. It broke right away, and I had to go back for the plastic one. Grr.) You also need a sheet of blank label paper from Staples or Office Max and 8 napkins. (Mine are from Pottery Barn, here. Use whatever you’d like. Cotton or cotton/poly works best.) Before you start, be sure to wash and dry the napkins to remove sizing, and do NOT use fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Next, print out your numbers onto the label paper. Are you ready to love me? I made a template and you can download it right here. You’re welcome.

Carefully cut the numbers out, leaving the label backing intact.

Next, peel off the label backing and affix your number on the napkin, wherever you’d like it to be. It helps to fold them exactly how you plan to in the future.

Center your number in the embroidery hoop to give yourself a taut working surface. Using your fabric marker, trace the number. (Fabric markers are glorious. They rinse out with just a little water — a magic disappearing act.)

When you’re finished, peel off the label.

Here comes the hard part. Carefully fill in your number with black fabric paint. I will tell you that I did this s-l-o-w-l-y. And that a small, angled brush is the key to your happiness. And that I turned this thing every which way – upside down, sideways, whatever — to get it all filled in. You’ll want a heavy coat or two.

When you’re finished, let it dry flat overnight.

In the morning, rinse out the marker, iron the napkins, line them up, and feel very smug. You have outwitted H&M and their annoying reluctance to share their home collection with the U.S.A.

Set the table. Dream up dinner parties. Ask your boyfriend to model the matching glassware you bought long ago at Macy’s. Feel quite proud.


By |2012-01-14T20:33:58-07:00January 14th, 2012|DIY + Projects|1 Comment


Go to Top