Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to Arrange Flowers Using Grocery Store Flowers

Our January program was a terrific and fun meeting!  Snow flurries and cold weather greeted the day, but warmth and good cheer were inside at our meeting.  This program would make a great program for any garden club!  If any readers from other clubs have tried this before, please do comment at the bottom and let us know what additional things you may have done.  This is a joint post by our Program Chairman (Lynn) and Flower Arranging Chairman (Beth).

"As 2nd VP for Kanawha GC, I am responsible for planning the programs for the entire year of monthly meetings.  We have a committee that makes program suggestions as well getting input from  members from the previous year's committees and random suggestions  fom other members.  Since Kanawha GC members love hands-on workshops and fun, we needed a different type of meeting than a speaker.  We have several members that plan out of town trips around Flower Shows (translate to nervous/fearful!) and have, in the past, tried to take the mystery out of flower shows with flower arranging workshops. 

Looking for new and innovative ideas for meetings, I read the GCA webpage that suggested and evaluated speakers to see what other clubs were doing. 

I ran across a blurb written by another club about videos on YouTube that dealt with taking the mystery out of arranging grocery store flowers and that gave me a fun idea.  Since our Flower Show Committee is responsible for the meeting, I called Beth and passed along the suggestions.  I also suggested that we show several videos and then have different members arrange the flowers.  My suggestion was to keep the program a secret so that our 'fight or flight' members would not plan a trip.  I suggested that we pull members' names out of a hat to do the arranging.  Had I been diabolic, I might have suggested that we 'stack' the deck with those 'flight risks'!


At Lynn's suggestion, the Flower Show Committee presented a program "Flower Arranging Using Grocery Store Flowers" with a surprise participation segment similar to the competitive cooking show "Chopped" - without the Chop!  She requested that planning for the meeting should remain a 'secret', which we honored as best we could.  I, the Flower Show Chairman, opted for a little help from about 4 members of our committee. 

This is what we did.

First, we viewed several YouTube videos on "How to Arrange Flowers Using Grocery Store Flowers".  There were lots to see and lots of fun personalities.  We chose three that we thought were entertaining, not too long (2-3 minutes) and demonstrated distinct arrangements our club might be interested in.  This would be the foundation for our competition.

We introduced the program by engaging in a short skit that went somewhat like this:

Beth:  "I'm going to talk about Flower Arranging today. "
Anna: (with a loud, panicked shriek from the middle of the room that snapped us all to attention!) "Whhaaaat!!!  How do I arrange flowers?  I can't do it very well, and it is always so intimidating!?  I shouldn't have come today." (much laughter from the membership as they realized what was happening).
Beth:  (reassuring voice) "Stay calm, Anna.  We will make this easy!"
(More back and forth panic by Anna and reassurance from Beth).
Beth: "How about if we watch a few YouTube videos to help with this problem...it isn't hard...you can do it!"
Anna: (who was trapped at the front of the room; resignedly)  "Well, OK."

The first video (1:47 minutes) highlighted using a large mixed arrangement (both flowers and color) and made 7 arrangements.  We selected a taller thin rectangular vase.  (Re)Arranging Grocery Store Flowers with Oscar Mora | Architectural Digest.

The second video (6 minutes) highlighted 4-5 small separate flower bouquets with complimentary colors using a smaller/tighter vase, Arranging Store Bought Flowers (Fusion/Kim Foren/Geranium Lake)


The third video (3 minutes)  highlighted white and green flowers using an approximately 8" tall cylinder.  Uses flowers of just 1-2 colors and fairly monochrome.  Easy Grocery Store Flower Arranging | Home Hacks | Theodore Leaf

All vases were of clear glass.  Each arrangement was to be based on one of the above videos. competitions. 

After watching the videos, we presented the group with a 'take-home' sheet of "Top Tips" for arranging with ideas that we learned from the videos.

Then the 'SURPRISE' and the competition began...three teams of 2 members each whose names were randomly drawn from a basket were assigned the task of arranging one of the above arrangements.  The supplies for each arrangement were all ready to go on tables and covered by a bedsheet to keep the secret during the meeting that was held before the workshop.  The three teams were given 10 minutes to complete their arrangements  The arrangements were beautiful!  We decided to have NO JUDGING!...just FUN! 



Congratulations and a big thank you to all the participants.  In addition, a prize of a $5 grocery store gift card (in our case, Kroger) was given to each participant.  Then, off to lunch!  Everyone seemed to enjoy the fun interactive program.
Supplies  & Equipment Needed: 
 Flowers from the grocery store
Screen/computer/video equipment to show the videos
Two 6' tables
Plastic drop cloths (cover tables for easy clean up)
3 vases
3 lazy Susan's
Water pitchers and water
1-3 frogs (depending on arrangements)
Kitchen timer
Floral tape (taped to the needed vases prior to the meeting and had all ready0
Bedsheet to cover the floral supplies and set ups
Basket & member names already prepared
Gift certificates
Trash bag

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tips & Tricks to take better iPhone photos!

Mary Payne presented a large number of helpful tricks and tips that can be found at: http://iphonephotographyschool.com/.  On YouTube search for Emil Pakarklis and you can view several videos from the founder of the iPhone photography school.  Try googling iPhone photography and there will be lots of reading for you.

Marjorie Cooke presented an overview of the iPhone basic editing tools within the Photo App itself, including crop tool, exposure, color enhancement, filters, and such.  She shared a list of three popular photo editing apps. 
(Note:  The links here go only to web sites.  For apps go to the app store on your phone)

1.      SNAPSEED – if you only download one app for photo editing, let it be this one!  It is FREE to download from the APP store and you will have fun with it, now that we have reviewed some editing basics.  This app even has a “healing” tool that allows you to remove unwanted objects from your photos!  Snapseed has a skin smoothing editing tool!

2.      VSCO is considered a stylish editing app with built in camera and photo sharing community – a fun bonus.  VSCO is FREE from the APP store and has an incredible range of preset filters.  Think iPhone filters x twenty! 

3.      CAMERA+ is another very popular editing tool and camera app.  It costs $2.99 from the APP store and is an incredibly powerful app with precise control over manual camera functions, including ISO, Shutter speed, white balance and focus.  It has a 30 second timer, and lots of handy layers of editing. 

Start with a good photo: 
  • subject matter
  • light
  • exposure
  • composition
Next, have fun manipulating and/or bringing out the best of your photo!


Sharing photos/Storing photos/Managing photos – the challenges!

Anna has agreed to give us a program on LIGHT and its importance in PHOTOGRAPHY!

Consider entering a photo in one of the two online photography contests discussed!

Other apps worth taking a further look:  WaterlogueFilter Storm, Play Memories Mobile, Obscura, Pinterest (google flower photos and be amazed!) & Instagram
Some fun iPhone things we tried at our meeting!
Still Life


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Metamorphosis: The remarkable life cycle of a Monarch

“When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.” - John Muir 

Nature, a symphony, a beautiful piece of art, family and friends are all things that spiritually nurture and refresh me.  Seeing the amazing transformation of an insect from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult is one of those amazing miracles of nature that is definitely a WOW moment.

As part of our club's Pollinator project, I added milkweeds to my urban yard.  My front yard has morphed also from a hillside of creeping juniper (which did harbor snakes and frogs and provided habitat for the food chain) to a yard of black-eyed Susans, asters, milkweeds and other perennial pollinators. 

The first year that I added milkweeds (Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed), caterpillars showed up in the fall.  I was hooked.  Lots of caterpillars and lots of eggs.  I anxiously watched for the chrysalis, but none appeared.  I have seen so many in the Canaan Valley area of WV right on the milkweed plant itself.  Where were mine?  Must because of the sheer volume of them at Canaan.  I emailed the Monarch Lab at the Univ. of Minnesota; one of many of my go-to Monarch sites.  A reply was received the next day that the caterpillars can crawl as far as 40' away and equally as high to form the chrysalis and I may never spot one.  I could, though, bring one indoors and watch the metamorphosis.  I knew about how many days it would take for the egg to caterpillar to chrysalis stage, so I just had to get one at the right time.  Big, fat and about 10 to 14 days as life as a caterpillar (5 to 10 days from egg to caterpillar). 

Canaan Valley Monarch

Two small eggs among the aphids
and dirt.  Look for the two small pearly
white circle on the right side of the leaf.

New baby caterpillar.
Look closely to find them.
Look at all the caterpillars on just a few plants.

There are caterpillar castles, caterpillar hatching kits and many other aids.  All that is really needed though is a clear container or some sort and some screening on the top. And milkweed leaves!  I found a small (about 6"x6"), deep (6"-8")container and some screen in my basement.  I waited for the next batch of caterpillars and grabbed one at what I thought was the perfect size. 

This is Chrys - notice his size.

Day 1:  Beginner's luck as during the night after I brought him in(for some reason Anna and I decided this was a 'he' named Chrys), he climbed to the top of the box and attached to the screen.
Days 2 & 3:  Lots of frass (monarch poop) on the bottom of the container.  At the end of Day 3 the caterpillar started to curl.  I don't think he ate any of the milkweed leaves that I put in the container once he got to the top and attached to the screen.  I left the house around noon and returned by 4.  The caterpillar shed his skin and formed the chrysalis in that brief time.  I hope to actually see this transformation another year.

The caterpillar has climbed to the top of the box and preparing
to attach to the top.
Caterpillar frass (poop) in the bottom.  I kept a clean paper
towel on the bottom of the container.

Caterpillar starting to curl.
Notice the spot where it attaches in the red circle.

Day 4: The chrysalis is beautiful!

The chrysalis 2 days after formation!
Beautiful.  Love the gold dots around the top.
Botanical jewelry?

Day 5:  I have to go out of town, so with not much urging Anna takes over.  Anna is a beautiful photographer and the rest is her story!
Days 6&7: No change
Days 8&9: The top of the chrysalis is beginning to darken slightly.
Day 10: Faint, light gray lines rising up in a vertical path (wings?)
Day 11: Faint gray/black lines are more visible; definitely wings.  The top of the chyrsalis where it attaches is black
Day 12: Same
Day 13, 14 & 15:  More darkening of the lines.

“Copyright by L. Anna Forbes.  All rights reserved.”  

Day 16:  WOW.  Anna even delayed her departure to the Zone meeting so she could watch and photograph this amazing transformation.

“Copyright by L. Anna Forbes.  All rights reserved.”  
Full instructions can be found on the Monarch Lab's Rearing How-To's page.