My friend Jen hosted a 40th birthday party over the weekend. Originally I planned to do a small floral arrangement and give her privately. Somewhere along the way we were talking flowers and she asked if I would do the party arrangements. I was honored. Actually more than honored, full-on excited. I asked her to send me pictures of what the cake would look like as well as the tablecloths to be used.
Friday afternoon I figured that Trader Joe's had restocked for an expected mother's day rush of flower buying and that I would have plenty of choice.
This was the starting point on Friday night as I stripped leaves, thorns, trimmed stems, and pounded woody stalks for maximum water uptake. While you can't see the cooler, I joke that that my blue cooler emblazoned with "South Carolina" on the side my dad got for a safety award at his job as BellSouth has been used for more times than I ever guessed. Sadly, it doesn't have a Confederate flag to commemorate the great state but I did get some stares when I was traipsing around the store, stocking it full of flowers. I settled on bouquets of lilies, roses, snapdragon, daisy, tulips, hydrangea and tons of filler in unique textures. I added cut bearded iris from my yard as well as some vines to trail.
*Disclaimer, I cut one stalk of iris from my neighbors yard. It was perfect in color I lacked and yes, I should have asked, but I kinda didn't. It was waaaay early Saturday morning when I was up normal weekday time attempting to get ahead on a busy day. I'll make it up to my neighbors by mowing more of our communal yard later this week.
Jen had told me that she wanted to match the flowers to the cake that our friend Eileen was making in hues of purples and pinks. Here was the cake that Sugar Mama made. The cake which was strawberry on the inside and had lemon frosting to be tinted lavender. I LOVE this cake, think sunshine in your mouth it is so sweet and tart. Eileen used real lemon juice in the frosting only to find it changed to smurf blue over night when exposed to refrigeration resulting in her last minute having to remake the cake. The final result was gorgeous and so romantic.
I made three arrangements, the first I'm calling "large and in charge" as it was about 3 ft in height including a heavy cut crystal vase.
Arrangement two used one of Jen's own vases so I tried to make the vase a focal point and pull out the orange/pink accents with variegated tulips and pink edged white roses (in the back left.)
The third arrangement, while the smallest was my favorite. I borrowed the ribbon idea from something I once saw at Southern Season. Outside of stealing neighbor's flowers, I also snap pictures obsessively of ideas I like and then attempt to recreate. Everything I've ever arranged is self taught. I'm in need of some actual technique lessons if I ever want to be legit!
I totally concede that if I arranged flowers day-in, day-out that it would become routine and monotonous and yes, like any job it would be just that, a job with deadlines and requirements and unhappy customers. As I round out this school year I am determined to figure out a way to make this a second career. I never did contact the local florist that I know about apprenticing with her this spring and summer busy season. Frankly, work has not let up and with soccer on the weekends, it would be be hard to be available.
I do think I am going to forward the following picture and ask if it's too late for work with her over the summer. By age 50 and 20 years of service to the state I can retire with partial benefits. If ever there was a "I think I can" mantra to make it for the next decade of teaching, the potential of a job career switch that involves being surrounded by flowers, doing something I love, would be a reason.
Thank you Jen for the opportunity. Happiest of 40th birthdays, dear friend.