Do It Like A Florist – Ariella Chezar

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When we were preparing for our flower arrangement workshop a couple of months ago, I went to Amazon and found “The Flower Workshop” book by Ariella Chezar, and I went nuts. It looked divine. (I know divine is a cheesy word, but there is only so many times you can you use words like amazing, awesome, great, and wonderful in a blog before you start to sound brainless).

I pressed the BUY IMMEDIATELY button, and then proceeded to wait next to my door for the flower bible to arrive… but days went by and nothing happened. I started to freak out and signed in to Amazon again only to find that the book was available for PRE ORDERS ONLY!! Can you believe it? Has this ever happened to you???? I felt deceived and angry, so I closed the computer, ate some candy and went on with my life.

The flower arrangement workshop we did for our friends came and went, and days later, without trumpets nor drums, a box from Amazon arrived. I opened it (…be still my heart… ) and found the best book about flower arrangements that I have ever seen in my whole entire existence. Here are a couple of pictures because this is so cute!

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Every page of this book is amazing, awesome, great, wonderful and divine!!! The only problem is that now I HAVE to replicate every single one of these arrangements, and talent is not on my side.

With this in mind, and a lot of wishful thinking, I went to the flower market in DTLA last Saturday. I took Víctor with me. Big mistake. Children and flower shopping don’t go together without a high dose of stress, so I had to hurry and buy whatever flowers looked good with the hope that I could make them work later.

Once at my place, I got some vases, a pair of clippers, and sat in our outdoor room to do arrangements all afternoon while listening to music. Dream. (This also happens to be my father’s favorite activity, so I thought a lot about him while doing this.)

The results looked nothing like what Ariella did in her book. I did not try to replicate any of her arrangements, but went with the flow and did what looked good to me. Also, I wasn’t thinking about doing a post about this, so I didn’t take photos of the whole process. If you are a blogger, you know it is nice not have to capture photos of everything you do sometimes.

At the end of the day I had three flower arrangements. The first arrangement was the one that took me the longest. Here it is:

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It turned out kind of cute. Organic, with flow, and nice colors.

Flower ingredients:

  • 4 yellow and pink dahlias.
  • 5 white and pink alstroemeria
  • 8 short yellow acacia tree
  • 1 pink snapdragon flower
  • 30 purple Astrantia flower
  • 2 White wax flower branches

Here is the second arrangement:

jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements44jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements40jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements48 jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements45 jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements43 jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements42 jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements41 jestcafe.com-flower-arrangements47Kind of unusual, but I really liked it.

For this arrangement I used:

  • 10 Cherry blossoms branches
  • 40 pink carnations

And here is the third arrangement, or, what I like to call the “leftover” arrangement, where you use any flowers you have left, and don’t worry about the consequences:

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For this arrangement I used:

  • 7 pink Snapdragons
  • 4 white wax flowers branches

Lessons learned:

-To do a full arrangement you need a LOT of flowers. Don’t underestimate the number of flowers you will need if you want to go big.

-It is very important to look at the shape of the flowers when you are buying them. Make sure you don’t only get flowers that go straight up. You need flowers or branches that fall too.

– Start with the bigger flowers that are the center of your piece.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It gives great tips, it has beautiful pictures and it is a pleasure to look at. Also, it inspired me to do all these arrangements. In little words, it made me very, very happy. The only thing I wish it had is more step by step instructions for the arrangements.

(This post is not sponsored, though I wish it were. :))

 

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That Flower Arrangement Workshop

jestcafe.com-flowerarrangement-workshop-48 As I mentioned before in this post, I decided to start doing DIY workshops for friends. The wreath-making party we did last December was so much fun that I wanted to repeat it, so my friend Charlene and I decided to do a flower arrangement workshop and it was perfect. jestcafe.com-flowerarrangement-workshop47 We met the weekend before to go to the flower market in DTLA to see what was in season. We bought a lot of flowers and created this arrangement:
jestcafe.com-flowerarrangement-workshop-49Cute, don’t you think?

The idea was to try and copy it, while giving tips in the process.

We invited 10 friends to the workshop and got the flowers, clippers, vases, and wet foam blocks. At the end of the day, each one of us took their own arrangement home.

Everybody contributed some money and brought food to the gathering. I went to the flower market the day before to get all the flower supplies. On Sunday we set up and everybody came over at 11 am for brunch and DIY fun. It was amazing!
jestcafe.com-flowerarrangementworkshop1jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop9jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop10Ranunculus galore!jestcafe.com-flowerarrangementworkshop5 jestcafe.com-flowerarrangementworkshop4jestcafe.com-flowerarrangementworkshop7jestcafe.com-flower-arrangement-workshop47These two rascals getting into those foam blocks before the workshop started:jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop8 jestcafe.com-flowerarrangementworkshop6 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop11jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop16 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop15 My beautiful friend Charlene taught the workshop. She has a special gift for finding beauty in everything she does:
jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop14jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop13 We wanted to use edibles in the arrangement, so we bought kumquats. For flowers, we got pincushions ranunculus and anemones. We found that 2-3 pincushions, 5 ranunculus and 2 anemones was enough for a frontal arrangement. Everybody ended up using more flowers because they decided to do centerpieces that could be viewed from all sides, this meant that a lot of people ended up cutting greens and flowers from my garden to be able to fill up the whole vase! That was probably the best part: foraging for beauty. Here are more pictures:jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop12jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop17jestcafe.com-flowerarrangementworkshop2jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop18 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop20jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop19 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop21jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop26 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop25 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop37jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop24 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop23 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop22jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop27 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop31 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop30 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop28jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop29
jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop32jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop34 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop33It is unusual to have these kind of meetings for friends. I think that is the reason why everybody was so happy to participate in this workshop. It is nice to do something different that is DIY related, don’t you think?

Originally, we wanted everybody to do asymmetrical and organic arrangements, but, in the end, everybody took their own creative path and followed their own vision. Here are the results:jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop35jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop43jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop38 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop46 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop44jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop45 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop42 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop41 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop40 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop39 jestcafe.com-flowerworkshop36The end.

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Do It Like A Blogger – Paint Your Own Walls

jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-7v2There are so many DIY bloggers that give instructions on “effortless” projects that seem to be so easy and simple to follow, or, so it seems when you are reading about them on the Internet. Replicating them, though, is a different story. For us, mere mortals with limited talent, these projects can be much more difficult than what they seemed initially.

One of my favorite design/DIY bloggers is Jenny Komenda, from Little Green Notebook. She is insanely talented and handles projects like they are nobody’s business. To give you an idea, look at this project she did on a weekend with her parents, and be prepared to “fall right out of your pants” (this is Victor’s favorite phrase lately).

Well, in my search to update some rooms of my house, I decided to paint our hallway a dark gray, so I went to Jenny’s for advice on painting walls, and found this post of hers.  After reading it, I decided to follow her instructions and start a series for this blog called “do it like a blogger,”  where I try to replicate DIY bloggers’ projects to see if I am able to pull them off.

Here are the steps to paint your wall, per Jenny.

Step 1: Pick Your Swatches

Her first advice is to find a picture to use as inspiration for the color and space. Here is mine:

jestcafe.com-grey-inspiration-1Here is my hallway before painting it:
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As you can see, it needed at little life. My next step was to pick the swatches. If you follow my blog, you know that I already had a bad encounter with choosing a gray color a couple of months ago (though, I have to say, I am liking the exterior of my house more and more as time goes by).  For that project, I had 36 hours to choose a color, so,this time,  I gave myself plenty of time to choose the right grey. No need to hurry.

I decided to choose Benjamin Moore’s swatches. All bloggers I follow love this brand, and I wanted to know the reason why. Here are the swatches I chose under different types of light:jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-6 jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-8

Here are the final contenders:Brewster-GreyBrewster Gray – Benjamin MooreStonybrook

Stonybrook – Benjamin MooreQuarry-Rock

Quarry Rock – Benjamin Moore

The Quarry Rock was my favorite, but it was too dark, so I went to get samples of the Brewster Gray and Stonybrook, plus the Quarry Rock in a base 2 (for lighter colors), and another Quarry Rock with 50% less saturation. Did I learn my lesson or what?

As a side note, colors come in base 1 through base 4. Light colors are mixed in base 1 or 2 while darker colors are mixed in base 3 or 4. This means that, if you have a dark color mixed in a base 1 or 2, the color will come out much lighter.

Step 2: Paint Sample Boards

I painted the samples directly to the wall instead of using sample boards because the wall was white, so I could get a true color.

Here are the samples from top to bottom: 1) Brewster Gray; 2) Stonybrook; 3) Quarry Rock in base 2; and, 4) Quarry Rock with -50% saturation:
jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-1I loved the Quarry Rock with -50%  saturation (the darker one at the bottom and the one in the left picture). Here is that color on another wall under a different light:jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-9I bought a gallon of Quarry Rock (-50%)  in eggshell finish. You need approximately a quart per 100 sq feet of surface.

Step 3: Gather Your Supplies

I did not gather as many supplies as Jenny recommends. For me, these ones were enough:

  1. Roller + 1/2″ Nap Length Foam Roller Cover
  2. Blue Scotch Tape
  3. 2 Step Stool (I am tall, so a 2 step stool was enough to reach the ceiling)
  4. 1.5 Angled Purdy Brush
  5. 5-1 tool
  6. Baby wipes (THE BEST!!!!)
  7. Drop cloth

I didn’t do any nail or trim fixes, so, I didn’t need materials for that.

jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-11Step 4: Prep Your Walls

I cleaned the trim and used blue tape on some places. jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-2jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-10 Step 5: Paint Trim

My local paint shop didn’t have paint shield to help me with the trims, so, they convinced me to go ahead and paint the trim by hand without tape or shield. I decided to take the challenge. I am here to learn, ain’t I?

Here is a practice run to see how steady my hand I was. The line is kind of straight, but not great.

jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-13Even thought I wasn’t able to do a straight line, I went ahead and painted the trim by hand. Am I a hero or what!?  I did it with the shorter part of the brush on the bottom, and the longer on top. Then, I just drew a line straight down next to the trim. It was HARD!!!! Here is a picture:jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-14Then I painted the corners that had blue tape, but I forgot to take out the blue tape right after painting.  In her post, Jenny recommends to do this as soon as you are done with painting, but I forgot. By the time I took out the blue tape, the paint had bleed into the other side of the wall. Argh!! Luckily, I had those baby wipes to clean off the paint. They worked!jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-3 Here is the result after cleaning. Pretty good, indeed:jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-12Prepping the walls took me 3 hours. It was SO hard, because I painted the trims by hand and I am no expert. I do not recommend doing this, unless you have experience or have the time to practice. Here are the prepped walls:
jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-16Step 6: Roll On Paint

This is the fastest task. Ms. Komenda recommends loading  “your roller, then starting at the ceiling and working your way to the floor, paint a 3×3′ “W” and then fill in the in between also at an angle.” I tried following this technique but it did not work for me.  I didn’t understand the “W” instructions very well and my wall wasn’t big enough to do it. I get that this technique helps getting an even coat, but I was able to get the same result by not painting double layers. Here is my “W”:jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-15

I only applied one coat of paint. The color was dark enough so I didn’t need two coats. Also, Benjamin Moore is a high quality brand of paint. It is thick and covers the wall very well. It doesn’t drip easily and I am very happy I used it instead of other brands. I highly recommend it.

Step 8: Clean Up

Boring! But, necessary.

Here are the before and after pictures of my hallway:
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About that trim line,  when you take a closer look you can see that the result was not great (see below), but in the big scheme of things, nobody has paid attention to these details, and the paint job looks pretty good (from afar). You get what you pay for, people!

Take a look:jestcafe.com---painting-hallway-18

Lessons learned:

  1. I wish I had the little sash brushes to paint the details. Get them if you can
  2. I should have had a shorter nap length for the foam cover. I had 1/2″, but it grabbed too much paint. Benjamin Moore Regal base 3 is thick to begin with, so, I think a 3/8″ would have been a better nap length.
  3. When you apply the paint with the roller, do it SLOWLY! Do not hurry. If you try to speed things up, you will leave some surface without paint. At least, that is what happened to me. My walls are very uneven, and that made the paint job more difficult.
  4. The baby wipes will become your best painter friends. Don’t forget them.
  5. I am not Komenda, but I was able to finish this job by myself (no husband’s help here), without major difficulties. I saved money, it gave me something to do during the weekend (aside from childcare), and, it felt very rewarding.

Here are some more pictures of the details, if you want to take a look:
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So, what do you think? do you like it as much as I do?

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House Exterior: Choosing The Right Color

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Four years ago, we bought our first house. It was for foreclosure and we were lucky enough to snatch it. When we got it, it was a piece of trash and, in many ways, still is. We would like to completely remodel it, but we don’t have the money to do that right now.

Before we moved in, we did minimal changes that made it livable, and, since then, we have been doing small fixes here and there. I love the location of our house, it is within walking distance of shops and restaurants; I love how big the lot is: 7,500 sq feet (HUGE for LA!); what  I don’t love is how ugly the house is.

One of the things that has been bugging me since day one is the exterior of the building. The color is (was) hideous, a horrible “chick” yellow; and the stucco was in terrible shape. See pictures below.

Can you spot the different shades of  yellow? And the nasty cracks? Just be thankful I am not showing you the big holes on the back wall of the house.
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Thinking that we were going to fix the house some time soon, we decided to wait and repair the exterior when doing the whole remodeling. Well, four years later I ran out of patience. The remodeling was not happening and I got sick of having to wait for the exterior to be presentable. I found a cheap painter that also did stucco repairs. He came by to give us a quote on a Monday. The quote was very reasonable so I asked him to get started. He said he was traveling during the Holidays and that he could start mid-January… ugh!!! bummer…I did NOT want to wait that long. Then he gave me another option, if we chose the color fast,  he could start on Wednesday. SCORE.

My husband tried to persuade me against such a fast timeline. He was worried about finding the right color, but I was afraid about delaying the job and having to stare at those “chick” color walls for another year.  I went for Wednesday. I had 36 hours to choose a color. The clock started ticking. I was naive.

I knew I wanted to use gray paint for the walls and a bright color for the door. The problem is that our roof is brown, and it doesn’t look good next to a lot of gray colors. That same day I went to get color samples. It took me 2 hours and I came back with these three:

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This picture was taken 20 minutes before the sun left the sky. Not the best time to make color decisions.

Painting a swatch on the wall really helped, but I knew the colors would change once we painted the whole wall. I found it difficult to visualize the final result. The whole task was a learning crash course about the infinite possibilities of color. Colors that might seem so similar in small quantities, might look completely different once you apply them on larger walls.

None of the three colors above were what I wanted because I didn’t like their darkness against the brown roof. In an ideal world, I would have a gray roof and a dark gray house, but the bad quality of my stucco and color of the roof didn’t allow for that. From the three colors above, the one on the left was my favorite. Friends and family agreed. 24 hours to go.

The next day, I went to buy that color on the left but in lighter shades. I know people are not into Behr paint, but I found an application they have at our local Home Depot that helped me visualize how different colors would look when the whole house was painted. I was using that application/screen for 2 hours trying different grey colors. Finally, I kept coming back to the same one: Silver Bullet. jestcafe.com-paint for house-exterior-30

I bought a sample of the original silver bullet color and another one with 25% less saturation. I did not know that you can ask for different color saturations that can give you a color that you like in a darker or lighter shade. How amazing is that? and, how ignorant am I?

12 hours to go. Here is a picture of the colors I brought home:
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Finally, we decided to go with the one on the left. The original color without desaturation. Our painter took the sample and had it matched by the Dunn-Edwards local dealer. The color is very similar to the half moon crest of the Benjamin Moore exterior line, in case you want to spend $50 for a gallon of paint.

Initially. I wanted an orange or yellow color for the door, but I didn’t think those colors would look good next to the brown roof, so we decided to paint the door a bright red called Hot Jazz. I like how it looks, but I don’t like how unoriginal the choice is. Here is the result:
jestcafe.com--paint for house exterior-15Much better, don’t you think? But then again, anything would be better than that “chick” color.

In hindsight, I wish we would have taken our time to choose a better color. Having to do this in 36 hrs while working full time and taking care of two children was stressful and unrewarding. Also, I am not 100% happy with the choice, but I am 100% happy that “chick” yellow is out of my life.

Tips for the future:

  1. Give yourself time when choosing a color. Remember you will have to stare at it for a long time.
  2. Make sure you look at the color during different times of the day. Color changes dramatically depending on the location of the sun.
  3. Paint large swatches to help you visualize the final result.
  4. Breath
  5. Listen to your significant other’s advice, because he/she knows you better than you do yourself.
  6. Even if you don’t love the color, pretend you do and everybody else will like it too. Ha!
  7. Laugh

 

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Why I Am Pissed at Martha Stewart

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Martha Stewart posted the following on her Instagram account.
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Her post promised to regram a table setting that she considered worthy of her Instagram account. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have one of your pictures regrammed on Martha Stewart’s Instagram account? It means having your work exposed to millions (or 796 thousand) people that actually care, having the queen of the DIY world give you recognition, AND feeling really proud of your accomplishment!  So, after I read this post, I had a meltdown of excitement and then decided to try and win the darn thing. I mean, why not? There is nothing to lose aside from hours of life and effort. So, on Thursday morning, I asked my friends for help  and, 2 hours and 200 shots later, I posted this.

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Not bad, don’t you think? I hoped I had a decent chance at winning this thing. Well, a week has gone by and I am pissed at Martha Stewart because, not only she did not choose mine, but she didn’t choose anyone’s!!!!! Zero-None-Nil-Nada.  Can you believe it? Are you even allowed to promote a competition and then flagrantly forget about it? What upsets me the most is the amount of hours I lost working on this picture. I wouldn’t have minded if I had lost, obviously, but I do mind that nobody even bothered to look at the pictures that so many of us posted. It upsets me that I spent 2 hours of my Thanksgiving day trying to get the perfect shot, and it upsets me that I recruited my two friends for nothing. So, there you go. I am pissed at Martha Stewart.

Also, instead of posting a picture of somebody else’s table, she posted a picture of her own table setting, which made me even more upset because the darn thing looks a million times better than mine. Cuek!jestcafe.com-martha stewart2

Am I over-reacting or is this a real reason to be upset? Well, I am sure Martha won’t care, because I will be back in love with her by tomorrow morning.

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