Hydrangea Tricks and Tips

Everybody loves Hydrangeas!
They put on a wonderful show in almost any floral arrangement.
These pretties also have a reputation for being almost impossible to keep for any length of time.
It used to be that I dreaded getting a request for Hydrangeas in our floral work.
Not anymore……I know “Hydrangea Stuff” now!
AND I am going to share that stuff with you!

On Thursday the wonderful folks at Koehler and Dramm delivered 125 Hydrangeas Sweetwater.  Yikes….that is a lot of flowers.
What ever would I need 125 Hydrangeas for?
Why….to make popcorn centerpieces for the Chaska Rotary Circus Themed Gala of course!

Popcorn boxes from the dollar store were stuffed with white Hydrangea to mmic popcorn.
The gala decor is the genius work of the Sweetwater Daughter…..and I got to help!

I think she nailed it…..
Enough bragging on my kid…

I am here to share some tips that will ALMOST guarantee success and a long vase life for Hydrangeas.

TIP #1
HMMMM…..did you know that Hydrangeas take in water from their petals?
So…when I unpacked the 125 flowers….I immediately plopped them all upside down in bucket (or in this case the bathtub) of cold water.

Each flower comes with it’s own little baggie of water. This keeps the flower stem hydrated while the flowers soak.

If your flowers don’t have this, you can concoct one with by bunching the stems and wrapping a water filled baggie around them with a rubber band.

OR… really can submerge the whole flower stem and all in the water.

I didn’t take photos of my process…so here is an image from the Flower Muse

I soaked these overnight.  You really only need to do this for a couple of hours.
Give them a fresh diagonal cut when you take them out of the water.  Immediately get them in buckets of water.
The flowers will be really wet when you take them out…DUH!….so they will need to dry off before you arrange them.

TIP #2

Alum Dip

When you cut hydrangeas they can form a sticky substance over the cut that prevents the flower from sucking water up through the stem.  There are a couple of ways to prevent that “sticky stuff” from forming: dipping the stem in boiling water….putting the end of the stem in an open flame….OR this! Dip the freshly cut stem in ALUM(A common ingredient used for pickling, find it in the spice aisle.) 

French Country Cottage

When you are arranging your hydrangeas re-cut the stem  about an inch above the previous cut and immediately stick the bottom 1/2″ of the stem in the alum to coat it, then arrange as usual.

 I learned this trick at a workshop given by a wedding designer who does those really spendy weddings that budget upwards of $15,000 for FLOWERS.
I figure that if he relies on this method, it must be pretty fool proof!

TIP #3

Finishing Spray !
This is my new favorite “secret sauce”.  Once this is sprayed on your Hydrangeas or other flowers, it keeps them looking fresh for a really long time.

It might seem like a lot to spend…..but if it keeps your expensive flowers looking good for more than a week….it is worth it.  A little goes a long way too.

Tip #4

You can revive a droopy Hydrangea!  Sometimes all the tricks don’t seem to work and a flower will wilt anyway.  It is worth trying to revive your Hydrangea….you have nothing to lose!  Just cut the stem again and fully immerse the flower head and stem in cold water for a few hours.  In many cases, the flower will perk right up!

So the proof is in the photo….right!?

Here are the Hydrangeas from the Gala last weekend.
They were arranged on Friday….
Now it is Tuesday…..
They look pretty good and probably will for at least another 4 or 5 days!

 Now….go buy yourself some Hydrangeas and enjoy them with no worries!!

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Happiness is Homemade


Dollar Store Tips

I have only recently become a Dollar Store shopper.
And….I am not exactly a fanatic about shopping there. 

Face it….some of the stuff in there looks exactly like it cost a dollar!


there are some things to be found that are really pretty good bargains.

Since I am pretty new to the Dollar Store scene, I only have a few tips to share about how I shop there.  But, you know me, I always do my research to see what other people know about a subject and I will share a bunch of links from folks who are far more expert and perhaps a bit more fanatic about Dollar Store shopping.

These are some things I shop for at the Dollar Store:

Poster Board is a staple at Sweetwater.
I use it for backgrounds when I take photos.
I use it to back framed art.

Poster Board at the art supply store is super expensive.

At the Dollar Store….it is 2 for $1

That is a super good deal.

There are always some fun flower picks to look through.
I like the baby’s breath and especially the faux bear grass sprays.

Marvin the Sweetwater Cat eats any real bear grass in my flower arrangements…(and then of course proceeds to hack it up).

I fool him by using these Dollar Store picks mixed in with the real blooms. 

They can be used over and over! 

I think I must be harder on gardening gloves than anyone I know.  My fingernails go right through the ends after only a few days. 
Garden gloves from the garden store are super expensive.

Imagine how thrilled I was to find these latex grip gloves for $1!

I could by 6 pair for the price of one from the garden store.

I have also found that cool mesh ribbon and burlap ribbon.  These are real steals for $1.

When all but one of the real succulents in my planter bit the dust…..I headed to the Dollar Store for a fix.

Would you believe that the succulents in this garden are FAKE?
Would you believe that they came from the Dollar Store?
I did add a bit of craft paint to soften the obvious fake colors….but hey…I think they could fool a lot of people.

Now as promised, here are some Links to other tips about Dollar Store Shopping.

Bargain Babe has a list of 10 Things You Should Always buy at the Dollar Store.

She also has a list of 67 things….here

Can you imagine buying 67 things at the Dollar Store?  I can just hear Mr. S……”you bought what?”

Did you know that the Dollar Tree actually has a BLOG?

And for a giggle…you really need to go see all of these Dollar Store Hacks that some kids did as an assignment for a class.  They are really a hoot

Well that is all for now….I guess I could head to the Dollar Store….but my first love is still Good Will…so I am off to find some thrifty bargains there…..

Have A Beautiful Day!

Children First….Isn’t It Enchanting?

It wasn’t hard to choose what I am enchanted by this month.
I had the pleasure of attending an “enchanting” event this past week that was the epitome of finding enchantment in a disenchanted world.

Children First is an amazing community initiative.

  • It is a philosophy rather than a program.
  • It focuses on positive character-building traits.
  • It targets all St. Louis Park youth, birth through 18 years old.
  • It calls everyone to support our young people.
  • It is a partnership among the business, city, faith, health and education communities bringing the community together to support youth—intentionally making connections and building assets.

I am proud to be a trained asset champion in the Children First program.  Learning how to foster assets in our young people has been very rewarding.

Now….on to the 25th Anniversary Champions Breakfast celebration that was so enchanting.
Imagine a room filled with a virtual community wide “who’s who”….all in attendance to support kids!

Take a moment now to watch this video clip that tells the story of Children First!

Now…you have to agree that this is truly “enchanting”….as were the other speeches and stories that were shared.  The result was some pretty amazing contributions to the cause.

Sweetwater Floral was proud to provide the decor for the event.  Check out these photos….

Here is your homework for the day….Check out the 40 Developmental Assets that are proven to help kids….then think of a some ways that you are already providing these….even better….do something to develop more assets.

It truly does “take a village”…or in the case of SLP…a community!
Hats off to all involved.

Have A Wonderful Day!

Flower Arranging Hacks You Need To Try!

Seems like so many of the popular web posts I read have the word HACK in them.
Seems like that word can make a post popular!
But what exactly is a HACK?
Inquiring minds want to know!

A hack is an easier way to do something, a shortcut.
Sweetwater Style is all about making things easier and taking some thrifty shortcuts! 
For your viewing enjoyment, here are my favorite Sweetwater Flower Arranging HACKS!
Buy Inexpensive Flowers
You don’t need to go to the florist to purchase flowers.  
My favorite places to buy my blooms are grocery stores!  Cost Co, Cub, and Trader Joe’s have wonderful selections at bargain prices.  
These three bundles cost a total of $10 dollars and will make at least two lovely arrangements!

Use Fresh Floral Foam

Floral Foam or Oasis makes arranging your stems simple.
Be sure to buy “WET” foam.
Wet foam absorbs a lot of water to keep the arrangement fresh.
DO NOT use dry foam for fresh flowers!  This is the stuff you use for artificial arrangements!

Simply cut a chunk of foam the size of your container and soak it thoroughly in a sink full of water.  You know it is completely saturated when no air bubbles come out anymore.
Floral foam can be purchased at any craft store for around $2 a block.  You can also buy in bulk from Amazon.  
Condition The Water
  There are all kinds of “tricks” to condition the water in the container.  I have heard of putting a penny or an aspirin in the bottom of the vase.
Since most flowers you buy come with the little pack of floral conditioner….I think the HACK here is to use it!
I sometimes add a tad of regular chlorine bleach too.  It keeps the water clear in a transparent vase!
Prepare Your Flowers 

DO NOT skip this step! 
 Before you put any bloom in your vase you need to strip away any foliage that will be touching the water.
You also need to make a fresh diagonal cut using a really sharp knife.
The diagonal cut will give more surface for the stem to absorb water.

Choose and Plan The Shape
Once you have decided on the container for your flowers, you can decide on the shape your arrangement will have.  
This decision is totally your call….but the flowers may help you make the choice.
Here are some basic diagrams of the possibilities.
Use Flower Frogs 

Sometimes floral foam doesn’t work for the container you are using.
The use of a flower frog to stabilize the stems is a great way to go.
You can buy metal frogs at the craft store.
Many times there are glass frogs at the thrift store.  Keep your eyes open for these beauties and buy them when you see them.
A glass frog is a great way to support thick stemmed flowers in a low vase.  Great for Daffodils, Tulips and Irises

Other Clever Hacks to Support Stems

Handtied bouquets are a nice way to help flowers stand up in a vase.
Simply gather the stems by over lapping them.
Wrap some raffia around the center up close to the flower heads.
The whole thing can be dropped into the vase.
Using this technique is great for  long lasting flowers because the bottom of the stems stay straight to absorb lots of water.

Yes….the hack here is plain old paper towels!
Stuffing some of the toweling into a vase to support large heavy stemmed blooms like Sunflowers is a great way to give them stability.
Use the hand tied technique to arrange the heads of the flowers in a pleasing way. The raffia tie becomes part of the charm of the rustic arrangement.

Use Interesting Add Ons

Seed pods, branches, and grapevine can add visual interest to your centerpiece.

Use hot glue to attach a skewer to a fun pieces of potpouri for interesting pops of texture.
Thrift stores are a good source for these items.  Remember to keep them when you discard your arrangement and they can be used over and over again.

Camouflage Tricks

Use a large leaf like Hosta to line the inside of a clear vase.  This a clever way to hide the stems.
Spanish Moss or moss from the woods is a great way to finish off the top of your vase.
This hack can also be used as a disguise for a basket of small plants.
Moss harvested from the woods is great camouflage in this Birch arrrangement.

Enough for now, I will leave you with a look at the centerpieces I made using those flowers from Trader Joe’s.

Take a minute to comment and add your favorite Hacks for flower arranging.
Have A Great Day!

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Great Kids Books

Next Monday is Martin Luther King Day!

In honor of the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I usually share a list of my favorite read aloud books that encapsulate the ideas we celebrate on our day of recognition of the life of this American Hero. 
Here is a link to one of those old posts. 

This year I decided to go out and look at what kind of lists that other “experts” have put together.
WOW!  There are so many great titles….and I am happy to see that many of the books I recommend are included on many lists.

So enjoy your journey to find some great reads!
Remember…..this isn’t a subject that should only have ONE DAY to explore. is a great pinterest board that has a variety of books relating to many cultures.  Worth a look!

 This link will cover the basics for you.  The books are current and well chosen.

This site is so worth checking out.  Rebecca over at A Book Long Enough has curated an amazing and broadly scoped list of books. You should also check out her post about WHY multicultural books are so important.


Would you believe that the PRAGMATIC MOM has put together 60….yes 60 lists of multicultural books broken down in some great common sense categories!

I am always amazed by the wonderful insights that children have about the “dream” that MLK had.

I always asked the kids to look around the group of kids that are sitting together listening to the stories…..

Then I asked  if they believed that Martin Luther’s Dream has come true….

Isn’t it wonderful that our kids are in fact living in a world where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers”….as they sit side by side with children of all colors.  


We know that the issues of racism, discrimination and diversity will continue to be something that we struggle with.  The news is filled with the “bad news” related to these issues.   It is critical that our children are exposed to thoughtful and carefully guided “Courageous Conversations” surrounding race.

I believe that well written children’s books are a wonderful way to start. 

I am now heading back to look more closely at all these lists!

Have A Wonderful Day!




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