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learning how to be kind to myself

Be Kind chalkboard art in kitchen / jones design company Be Kind. 

The quality I admire most in others, the one character trait I wish for our children and the word I’d love for our family to be defined by is kindness.

My friend just told me this weekend that in a study of what makes marriages last, the biggest factor was kindness. Honesty, communication, love – these are all good things. Kindness is like all of these wrapped into one. It’s defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Isn’t that the type of person you want to be around? That you want to be married to? That you want your children to be?

Flowers from The Bouqs / get $10 off your first order at jones design company I would say I’m a kind person – at least most of the time. I am friendly. I am mostly generous. I try to be considerate.

orange ranunculus and kale flower arrangement / jones design company At barre class a few weeks ago, I had this sweet moment with God. I became aware that although I am kind to others, I am terribly mean to myself. I say critical, inconsiderate things in my head without even realizing. I tell myself I must be perfect. That if I’m not perfect, I’m a failure. That I need to do more and strive more and work harder to prove my worth. That if I’m not able to do it well, I should not even try.

I actually say these rude things to myself! Things I would never say to a friend and words I don’t even believe to be true.

Orange ranunculus flower bouquet on desk / jones design company I love that the Lord opened my mind to recognize the ways I am unkind to myself. It has become a theme these past few weeks and a message I keep seeing/hearing time and time again.

Be kind. To others. And to yourself. 

orange ranunculus flower arrangement and yellow mums / jones design company Being kind to myself looks like a lot of things:

+ speaking truthful words to myself instead of critical lies

+ accepting my body and being grateful for strength and health instead of focusing on the flaws

+ filling myself with healthy, nourishing food instead of eating junk and then feeling even worse

+ taking time to quiet my soul instead of rushing through and keeping busy

+ laughing instead of taking life so seriously

+ spending quality time with my family instead of being half-engaged

orange ranunculus flower arrangement and yellow mums / jones design company While ordering flowers for my grandma last week (I like to do this for her every few months just to make her smile. See?! I can be kind!) I saw these orange ranunculus.

Orange ranunculus would look so bright and cheerful in our house, I thought. It’s so gray and gloomy outside and a bouquet of pretty flowers sure would make me happy.

So you know what I did? I decided to splurge on myself as an act of kindness and I ordered those orange ranunculus. It was such a good decision.

Just one little way I’m learning to be kind to myself.

I think I could get used to this.

What have you done for yourself lately as an act of kindness? I’d love to hear …

double-line-tiny P.S. I ordered the flowers from The Bouqs. This is my second time ordering from them and I’ve been so happy every time. Sending flowers can be ridiculously expensive and the arrangements are not even good! This is not the case with The Bouqs. They have classy bouquets and pretty flower/greenery combinations and shipping is free. So the next time you need to order flowers for a friend, your grandma or yourself, The Bouqs gets my stamp of approval.

Get $10 off your first order with this link.

(I spent my own money on the flowers and will definitely order again. These links are referral links so when you click on the link, I’ll earn a small commission. Much love to you if you do :) )

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a naked birthday cake

deliciously-naked-carrot-cake

Sounds like a bit of a risque title, yes?!

No, none of that here. Just a gorgeously rustic, very delicious carrot cake.

carrot-cake

Have you seen this trend of naked cakes (basically a cake that is not covered in frosting)? I find them to be so pretty and wanted to give it a try for my birthday cake.

naked-cake-top

It was so easy and looks so fancy (but it’s not!).

cake-vines

I used Ina Garten’s carrot cake recipe (found here) because everything she makes is golden.  She uses fresh pineapple in hers; I substituted crushed pineapple and it works great.  The cake is so moist and chunky and delicious (did I mention delicious?).

naked-cake-hydrangea

I baked the cake in two cake pans, then cut each one in half to make a thin layer (and just used three of them rather than four). The cream cheese frosting in between layers is rich and buttery and my favorite of all.

decorating-cake

And for fun, I added my last hydrangea bloom, a few lingering petunias and wire vine from my summer planters.

cake
Mmmm.

naked carrot cake / jones design company
We thoroughly enjoyed the cake last night and will be snacking on it for breakfast for the next few days. Because carrot cake with it’s vegetables and fruit is practically healthy (or at least that’s what I tell myself).

*NOTE: turns out hydrangeas are a toxic flower (oopsies). Don’t put it on your cake. Or at least wrap the stem in plastic before putting on your cake. 

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how to make grocery store flowers look fancy

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

If I could, I would have fresh flowers in every room of my house. They add color and texture and scent and life and always make a room feel more lived in and complete.

Gorgeous flower arrangements can be super expensive so I typically just find what I like at my grocery store and use a trick my mother-in-law taught me about making inexpensive bouquets look fancy.

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

This bunch of fall mums was on sale for $2.99 and just too good of a deal to pass up.

The temptation is to just cut off the ends of the stems and plop them in a vase, like this:

in-vase

But resist.

With just a few extra minutes you can instead get this:

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

Cut short and bunched closely together, these mums look elegant and the blooms become the stars of the show (rather than the distracting stems).

Start by choosing your vessel. I used an old silver sugar bowl from the thrift store (my mother-in-law is the thrifter and she passes her finds on to me. I’m one lucky lady). I love using unconventional vases – especially short ones with larger openings for this mounding-of-blooms look. Scavenge through your cabinets to see if you have anything that will work or head to the thrift store and you’ll likely find something clever. And if all else fails, a quick trip to a home store (home goods, target, etc) will likely provide you with a vessel just right.

Fill it with water. Someone once told me lukewarm water was the way to go with flowers. Not sure if that is true, but I always stick to it.

Now trim the stems way down so the blooms hit just to the top of your vase.

cut-stems

It will feel like you’re cutting off half of the bouquet you just spent your money on, but do it anyway.

Gather up a bunch and add them to the vase. Adjust the blooms until they create a mound, adding in extra blooms to fill in.

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

See?! Super easy. Suddenly a $2.99 grocery bouquet becomes and intentional, delicate arrangement that makes a statement.

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

I added these to my office and as I sit at my computer, I am cheered by their beauty.

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

(and how cute is that little drawing Audrey made?!)

How to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Fancy / jones design company

Maybe today you can treat yourself to an inexpensive bunch of grocery store flowers and make them look fancy with this cut-and-bunch arranging trick.

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Springtime Succulents (planted in an unexpected way)

Try this unexpected springtime arrangement: plant a succulent in an eggshell / jones design company
Succulents are having a moment right now, and rightfully so. They are uniquely interesting, drought tolerant and rather inexpensive – a great combo if you ask me. When in Austin, Texas last month, we ate at this darling restaurant/flower shop and right away I was taken by the display of pretty succulents in brown paper. I wanted to try a similar arrangement at home, so I dropped by my local home depot and grabbed a bunch of little plants.

succulents Once home, I changed my mind. The brown paper – as cool as it looks – probably isn’t very practical for watering and I wasn’t sure how to get around that issue.

Then one day, I had this weird idea: plant the springtime succulents in eggshells! I know, strange. But I’ve seen wheatgrass grown in shells for spring and thought maybe my cute plants would be a fun twist on that idea.

planted-succulents The process is a bit self-explanatory, but I took photos as we planted with a few tips. I did this one with my No.2 and it was a great Sunday afternoon let’s-get-our-hands-just-a-little-bit-dirty activity to do with him.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’ll NEED: planting-succulents-in-eggs-supplies cracked eggs, washed out and dry / small pebbles / needle / small succulents

STEP ONE: poke hole in bottom of egg

poke-hole-in-egg-with-needle I just used a regular needle, but I remember doing this with my mom to blow eggs and we used a large upholstery needle. Whatever you have on hand will be fine. If you’re using a small needle, wiggle it around to open up the hole a little bit. Beware: the eggshells are thick at the bottom and so you may wreck a few while poking the holes. I suppose you don’t even have to do this step, I’m just assuming it’s a good idea for drainage. Up to you.

STEP TWO: add small pebbles to the bottom of egg

put-small-pebbles-in-bottom-of-egg This will help with draining (in theory).

STEP THREE: pull apart succulents

planting-succulents-in-egg The little plants usually come in groups of three or so in each small pot. Just gently pull them apart, keeping roots intact.

STEP FOUR: place plant in shell + fill in with soil

planting-with-kids succulent-in-egg And that’s it!

succulent-up-close

succulents-in-egg-carton It was fun to try out all the different shapes and textures of plants.

succulents-in-egg-carton2 I kept the original egg carton to display them in (I just lightly water the whole thing in the kitchen sink and the egg carton does fine), and also put a few in a ceramic egg carton (from Anthropologie). succulents-in-eggdish succulents-in-eggs-close

Cute, yes? And maybe a little odd. But I’m okay with that.

double-line-tiny
Succulents are supposedly very low-maintenance, but I have a way with killing most plants that I bring into our home. I did a little research and here’s what I found to help us keep these beauties happy:

TIPS FOR KEEPING SUCCULENTS ALIVE INDOORS

1. Keep in sunny places – they are a desert plant and thrive in sun and dry climates.

2. Let them dry out completely before watering.

3. Bright green plants are easier to keep alive – steer clear of the purple, grays and oranges if you’re looking for indoor success.

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how to keep cut hydrangeas from wilting

how-to-keep-cut-hydrangeas-from-wilting

I learned the best secret for keeping hydrangeas from wilting and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Ryan brought me home these gorgeous white hydrangeas a few weeks ago. I would have been thrilled with roses or tulips or whatever flower he presented, but I love that he chose hydrangeas. They are my favorite.

hydrangeas-and-berries

The problem is, they never last long. After a day or so of being cut, the blooms begin to wilt. About three days later, they are completely done.

white-hydrangeas

But guess what I just learned (from an instagram conversation)? Hydrangeas take in water from their PETALS! I had no idea.

purple-hydrangeas

So here’s how to keep cut hydrangeas from wilting:

1. Cut stems at an angle

2. Put cut stems in water right away

3. Once per day, gently mist petals (I use a spray bottle like this but have been eying a pretty one like this)

4. If the blooms start to wilt, shock them back by dunking the whole flower head in warm water for a few minutes

The bouquet of white hydrangeas Ryan brought home lasted for just over two weeks when watered this way. For real. This new way of watering the flowers has changed my hydrangea-loving life.

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The time I was going to show you how to make paper dahlias

I was joking with my family just the other day about how I use the word favorite quite liberally.

flowers-on-coffee-table

My favorite candy? Good & Plenties. Sour Patch Kids. Hot Tamales. Fruit Mentos. Twix if I’m feeling chocolaty.

Favorite color? Blue – all shades – or sometimes just the jeweled tones. Green. White – ah, I love white!. Gray.

My favorite season? Which ever one is up next.

See? Lot’s of favorites. Don’t try to stick me to only one from each category because I just can’t decide. There are just too many great things to choose between. Continue Reading →

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crepe paper poppies (tutorial)

Paper flowers are just so pretty. There are many different versions, different materials, different methods and each one is as charming as the next.

crepe-paper-poppy

(via instagram)

Yesterday I pulled out my very old crepe paper flower kit that I bought as a college student from a mail-order-catalog called Martha By Mail. Remember that little gem of a business? Loved it. (here’s a fun blog post memorializing the catalogs)

marth-by-mail-flowers

The kit came with crepe paper, flower templates and a booklet with instructions for several types of flowers.

martha-by-mail-flowers

Yesterday, I spent some time making poppies and they turned out so pretty, I thought I’d share how you can make them, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

crepe-paper-flower-supplies

crepe paper / petal template (see below) / floral stem wire / floral tape / scissors / glue

Let’s talk for a second about crepe paper: you’ll want a few complimentary colors in varying shades. Each flower uses two colors for the petals, plus brown for the stamen and green for the leaves. You can find crepe paper at your craft store, or online here or here.

STEP ONE // make the pistil & stem

make-flower-pistol

Roll a piece of crepe paper into a small ball. Place wire at base of ball and wrap it in a square of paper, gathering corners together and twisting down the wire. Wrap with floral tape to hold together.

STEP TWO // add stamen

steps-to-make-stamen

Cut a 1 x 2 strip of brown crepe paper. Fold in half and again. Snip a fine fringe and unfold. Repeat with cream colored crepe paper, making it slightly longer.

making-stamen

Dab glue on brown fringe and wrap around pistil. Continue with cream fringe.

STEP THREE // make petals

cut-out-flower-petals

Make four double layer petals with peach and cream paper (peach on top).

ruffle-petal

Layer one peach petal over one cream petal. Sculpt petals by gently pinching and pulling the top and through center.

STEP FOUR // Add petals to stem

attach-petals

Dab glue at base of each petal. Wrap around stem. Add next petal opposite and then fill in with last two.

wrap-floral-tape-around-base

Wrap base with floral tape to secure.

STEP FIVE // add leaf

add-leaf-to-flower

Cut leaf out of green crepe paper. Sculpt gently. Attach to stem with floral tape.

Finished!

crepe-paper-poppy-with-leaf

orange-crepe-paper-poppy

A whole bouquet in varying colors looks so sweet in a little jar.

crepe-paper-poppies

I’ll be using a few of these poppies to give to the kids’ teachers for teacher appreciation week next week and as a gift topper for mother’s day gifts this weekend.

crepe-paper-poppy-on-gift

crepe-paper-poppy-bouquet

Just one more way to make dainty paper flowers!

For more flower inspiration, this book is on my must-buy-very-soon list.

tf-paper-to-petal-cvr

It’s so beautiful. See more details here.

If you’d like to make a bouquet of poppies, feel free to use my pattern.

paper-poppy-petal

The template for the poppy petal is found in the Archive (our library of downloads, freebies and templates). Please sign in (or sign up!) to the archive for instant access.

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