How to Arrange a Farmhouse Bouquet

This bouquet gets a touch of farmhouse character, courtesy of a pretty enamel pitcher.

How to Arrange a Spring Farmhouse Bouquet

“Flowers make a room come alive and are small in size yet big in beauty,” says Janet Coon of Shabbyfufu. “There is nothing as elegant as a bare table with a large bouquet of flowers simply placed randomly to please the eye in a vessel.”

This simple aesthetic is unfussy and allows natural elements to speak for themselves, as demonstrated so eloquently in this bouquet arranged by Janet, and featured in the February 2017 issue of Romantic Homes.

Elements of a romantic bouquetThe floral elements in this bouquet of the month include:

  • Seeded eucalyptus
  • Baby blue eucalyptus
  • Pink peonies
  • White ranunculus
  • Sword fern
  • Agonis
  • Queen Anne’s lace
  • Kale variety

To make the bouquet of the month, fill a pitcher or other tall vase 2/3rds full of fresh water and add plant food. Trim the ends of the floral stems at an angle, but don’t cut them short.

No floral foam is necessary for this arrangement. Start by adding bunches of eucalyptus and argonis, allowing them to drape over the side of the container. Then fill in with additional flowers as desired.

Forcing Peonies to Open:

If you buy your peonies from a flower market or grocery store, they will probably arrive with the buds in tight balls. If you’d like to enjoy the lush, full blooms now instead of waiting, follow these steps to force them to open up:

Romantic bouquet elements including peonies, eucalyptus and Queen Anne's Lace

  1. Cut off all the excess leaves from the stem.
  2. Hold the stem under warm water and make a 45-degree cut.
  3. Keep the flowers in a warm room and replace the water with warm water at least 3 times a day.
  4. (Optional) Put the flowers in your car for a few hours – it will function as a hothouse.
  5. (Optional) Put a plastic bag over the heads of the flowers and seal it, trapping in ethylene gas and encouraging them to open faster.
  6. (Optional) Submerge the flowers face down in warm water for about five minutes.

 

Flowers provided by Miami Flower Market

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Seven Valentine Treats for a Sweet Holiday

Make something beautiful and delicious for someone you love this year.

Valentine's Day lace cookies
Recipe and Photography by Ayda Algin

A candy box at the grocery store can borderline tacky. The love you have for your significant other is beautiful—so your Valentine’s Day treat to him or her should be too. But you don’t need to phone the local bakery for a flashy cake wrapped in layers of expensive fondant. We’ve compiled a list of recipes you can do yourself that will make any pastry chef’s head turn!

Lacy Valentine’s Day Cookies

Make sure your cookies taste as good as they look! This sugar cookie recipe serves as the perfect base to royal icing imprinted with lace.

Recipe here.

Pink champagne cake
Recipe and Photography courtesy of Olivia, Liv for Cake.

Pink Champagne Cake

Want to rekindle the spark in your relationship? This cake will do just that—and not just because it’s topped with lighted sparklers. With an exciting kick of champagne and the dreamy taste of vanilla buttercream, you’ll float higher to cloud nine with each bite.

Recipe here.

 

Pecan Linzer cookies
Recipe and Photography Courtesy of marthastewart.com

Pecan Linzer Cookies with Cherry Filling

Love can sometimes drive you nutty—which is why these pecan-flavored cookies are appropriate for the occasion. But with an oh-so-sweet cherry filling, the soft touch of confectioner’s sugar and adorable heart cut-outs to top it all off, these charming cookies will only bring back sweet memories of love.

Recipe here.

rose petal chocolate bark
Recipe and Photography Courtesy of Ella Leché, Pure Ella

Rose Petal Dark Chocolate Bar

This recipe combines the world’s most popular aphrodisiacs—chocolate and roses—for the ultimate Valentine’s Day delicacy. Not only does the ingredient list call for dark chocolate, but it asks to include a secret, adults-only flavor: raw maca powder. No store-bought box of chocolates can inspire the same romantic feelings this chocolate bar will bring.

Recipe here.

red velvet heart cupcakes
Recipe and Photography Courtesy of Steph, Raspberri Cupcakes

Red Velvet Melting Moments

If you’re not fond of desserts heavy on the sweet side, these shortbread biscuits are your saviors from the usual Valentine’s Day cookies and chocolates. The biscuits’ red velvet flavoring and the cream cheese icing smushed between them will still give you a reasonable amount of sugary goodness.

Recipe here.

strawberry pops
Recipe and Photography Courtesy of Sommer, A Spicy Perspective

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Pops

Chocolate-dipped strawberries are cliche. Reinvent these classic Valentine treats by turning them into strawberry pops! Add stripes of red, pink and white with melting candies, and adorn the cute pops with ribbons and sprinkles. These adorable pops are especially perfect to serve at parties.

Recipe here.

heart cake roll
Recipe and Photography Courtesy of Tasbih, Cleobuttera

“Love is All Around” Cake Roll

Wow your significant other with a dessert that looks like it came straight out of Food Network. This patterned cake roll may look complex, but the recipe actually requires boxed cake mix. Not only is it the epitome of a Valentine treat with its sprawl of hearts and bright pink hue, but this cake roll is the perfect introduction to tackling the often daunting realm of patterned baked goods.

Recipe here.

 

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We Love Vintage Valentines

They're a classic way to say "I love you!"

What started as the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia that celebrated fertility has now evolved into a holiday during which one billion cards are sent, according to the Greeting Card Association. But wooing loved ones with cards brimming in cute verses is not just a 21st century tradition—or a 20th century tradition, either. Since the Middle Ages, Europeans have exchanged handmade Valentines, eventually turning over the duty of making cards to factories in the 1800s.

You can still collect these relics of romance today! Nothing is more sentimental than a literal piece of history. The often elaborate designs on these cards also serve perfectly as vintage decor.

History of Valentines Cards

Although written verses of ardor had been exchanged in Europe for awhile, Valentines cards really took off in popularity when industrialization hit Britain in the early 1800s, allowing for the mass production of cards. Dwindling postal rates in the 1840s due to the Uniform Penny Post only kindled the printed Valentine’s Day greeting fervor.

Valentines Day ephemera
These factory-produced Valentines started off modestly—they featured black and white pictures, which factory workers painted. But when Queen Victoria took reign and the Victorian era ensued in the mid-1800s, Valentine’s Day received a new surge in popularity and subsequently more ornate cards.

Artwork on these greetings commonly featured flowers, love knots, Cupid, real lace, paper lacework, embossing, ribbons and more: all these materials were referred to as “Victorian scrap.” The traditional folded greeting card that most people exchange today did not take form until offset lithography became a cheaper method for producing Valentines in the late 19th century. But not all cards were a standard rectangular shape: through die-cut techniques, cards were made into shapes like crescent moons and hearts, and sometimes even had characters and shapes pop out.

The Valentine’s Day greetings craze transferred over to the United States in 1849 when Esther Howland, an American printer and artist, published and sold Valentines. As one of the first to commercialize Valentines in the US, she became known as “Mother of the Valentine.” Renown company Hallmark Cards sold its first Valentines in 1913—American Valentine’s cards sometimes boasted more intimate artwork than on European card fronts.

Valentines Day collectibles and ephemera

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Where to Find and Collect Valentines

A quick eBay search for “vintage Valentine’s Day cards” leaves you with an almost limitless offering of old greetings to choose from—with most of them ringing below $10! The same search on Etsy also produces an impressive amount of vintage gems. Ruby Lane, an online marketplace for antiques and vintage finds, is another great source for collectible Valentine’s Day cards.

If you are willing to hunt for an especially old greeting card, attend antique shows and auctions!

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13 Elegant Ways to Wrap Presents this Holiday

Turn your presents into holiday decor with these elegant gift wrapping ideas.

 

With these gift wraps, friends and family won’t mind waiting until Christmas to open their presents. Here are some ideas on how to transform your gifts from merely presents into holiday decor.

Decorative Wallpaper

You don’t need to cover presents in traditional gift wrapping paper. Vintage wallpaper is a creative substitute and has that classic romantic look that most gift wrapping papers today can’t replicate. You can shop online for retro wallpapers on Vintage Wallpapers.

 

giftwrap floral

Vintage Patterns

“Use vintage wallpaper, gift wrap and old fabric scraps to create beautiful and unique wrapping. Scan or copy original pieces in 11 x 17-inch sizes. You can alter the color and saturation in a photo editor, if desired. Wrap packages and trim them with ribbons, twine and millinery flowers,” says Matthew Mead of Holiday…with Matthew Mead.

giftwrap paper

Simple Paper

Are you often hesitant to top off presents with ribbons in bolder colors or daring textures in fear that it will clash with the wrapping paper? Go with plain brown paper. The simplicity will give you an excuse to get extra creative when embellishing your gifts.

giftwrap vintage

Stationary

“Old Christmas cards, scissors, glue and access to a computer and printer are all you need to fashion thoughtful and one-of-a-kind holiday accents,” says Melinda Graham of Surroundings by Melinda.

old boxes gift wrap

Old Boxes

“Old boxes make wonderful containers for small gifts. Use scraps of fabric or lace to four-way tie the boxes shut. Take the presentation (and gift) one step further by tying a vintage ornament to the lace….Gently clean old boxes first. Spray a thin layer of matte polyurethane over the inside and outside of the box. Allow to dry completely,” Melinda says.

doily gift wrap

Doily and Costume Jewelry

“Old tablecloths, linens and lace are a perfect finishing touch for a package. After wrapping the gift, find a scrap of lace or a doily larger than the box. Lay the box in the center of the linen and gather the four corners into the center. Use a piece of ribbon or twine to tie them together. Most laces have an “open weave,” which will allow you to lace them together. Finish by pinning a piece of inexpensive costume jewelry to the package…You can also make the doily and jewelry part of the gift by using pieces in pristine condition,” Melinda says.

candle jar gift wrap

Candle Jars

“A creative way to recycle old candle jars is to use them as “gift boxes.” Fill candle jars with an assortment of tiny gifts or place one spectacular ornament inside. Finish with scraps of ribbon, buttons or homemade gift tags…To remove wax residue, place the jar in the freezer for a few hours. This will make the wax easy to remove,” Melinda says.

paper towel tube gift wrap

Paper Towel Tubes

“To turn these mundane tubes into clever gift containers, first cut them in half. Tuck the gift inside the tube and wrap, leaving a three-inch length at the ends. Twist the two ends and tie closed with decorative ribbon to resemble old-fashioned candy,” Melinda says.

take out carton gift wrap

Take-out Food Containers

“Simply place the gift inside and embellish the containers by tying five-inch strips of fabric in simple knots to the handle. Hang a hand- made tag and “Your order is ready!”…Take-out food containers are available online at the Oriental Trading Company and amazon.com for as little as 50 cents each. Keep some on-hand for gifts and party favors,” Melinda says.

scrapbook cones gift wrap

Scrapbook Papers

“For this project, simply curl the scrapbooking paper into a cone. Secure the edges with double-sided tape or glue. Then, measure the diameter of the opening and cut a circle out of another piece of paper. Place the gift inside and glue the circle over the opening. Decorate the top of the cone with ribbons to create a custom tree-shaped gift box,” Melinda says.

paper lunch bag gift wrap

Paper Lunch Bags

“Transform an ordinary paper bag into the perfect gift bag. Tuck the gift inside, then fold the top over to close. Use a hole-punch to make two holes two inches apart at the top center of the fold. Lace a ribbon through the holes and tie a bow. Raid your jewelry drawer for odds and ends like single earrings to add a special touch to the bow…Create a custom vintage look by adding a piece of ephemera to the package. Visit the graphicsfairy.com for free vintage-style clip art you can print from your computer,” Melinda says.

galvanized tin gift wrap

Galvanized Tin

Small galvanized tins serve as unexpected gift baskets. If the tin is large, fill the bottom with crumpled newsprint, then add craft crinkle-paper on top. Place the gift into the tin so it peeks over the rim. Secure by wrapping the entire package in cellophane. Tie a ribbon and finish off with a small ornament or gift tag…Galvanized tins are available at garden centers, hardware and craft supply stores. You can also use empty paint cans, available at airseacontainers.com for as little as $1.70 each,” Melinda says.

picnic baskets gift wrap

Picnic Baskets

“A fun alternative to a gift basket is a picnic basket. Tuck in a little something special or a variety of themed items for a spectacular and unexpected gift. For an added bonus, fashion a belt using a vintage buckle and burlap around the basket…If you can’t raid your own attic for baskets, visit save-on-crafts.com. You can find 10-inch baskets for only $6,” Melinda says.

 

Planning on tackling these DIY gift wrapping projects? Share pictures of your work on our Facebook and Twitter, or tag us on Instagram!

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Make It: DIY Crystal Chandelier

Create a home accessory from an old lampshade and crystal garlands.

DIY chandelier from lampshade
Stunning, yet deceptively easy to create!

 

No romantic home is complete without at least one chandelier to add the shimmer of crystal to your elegant space. While there’s no denying the appeal of a vintage piece, creating your own crystal chandelier to give your home a little personal charm and character. It’s not only a fun project, but it’s easy too! Keep reading to find out what you’ll need, and what to do.

Detail of cord and crystals from a diy chandelier

DIY Chandelier: What You’ll Need

  • 1 lampshade
  • Gold spray paint
  • Gold metallic cord – about 5 yards, depending on size of lampshade
  • Variety of acrylic chandelier bead garlands
  • 3 Acrylic candle bobeche
  • 4 Glass votive holders
  • Thin gold-toned wire
  • Jewelry chain
  • Hot glue or other adhesive

Chandlier crystals on a diy project

DIY Chandelier: What You’ll Do

  1. Cut the fabric cover from the lampshade and remove all the glue remnants. Spray with gold spray paint.
  2. Wrap gold cord around the bars of the lampshade frame, making sure it is evenly spaced. Secure using hot glue or other adhesive.
  3. Use the wire to attach the strands of crystal to the lampshade.
  4. Using hot glue or other heavy duty adhesive, attach the bobeche to the frame. Make sure they are secure, and then glue the votive holders on top of the bobeche. Glue the fourth votive holder inside the shade, where the light bulb would sit.
  5. Attach three equal lengths of jewelry chain to the top of the lampshade, joined together with a large jump ring for hanging.

If you like, you can leave off the bobeche and candle holders and use it on an electric lamp. We chose to add gold tea lights for an extra bit of bling.

You can also use vintage chandelier crystals (rock crystal or leaded glass) to create a unique, one-of-a-kind treasure for your home.

Close up of diy chandelier

 

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The Ultimate Christmas Wreath

This Christmas wreath holds more than just a few of our favorite things!

This DIY Christmas wreath will have you scrounging in your craft supplies.
I spy… Tea cups, craft supplies and an assortment of vintage ornaments!

As the holidays approach, many restless crafters will have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads—along with lace, ribbon and vintage ornaments.

This DIY Christmas wreath will have you scrounging in your craft supplies.
A close-up shows the wreath’s dense detail. Birds perch on demitasse tea cups while strings of buttons weave around christmas-themed odds and ends. 

This festive dance should be done to the tune of “My Favorite Things,” as this is the time of year to be surrounded by all of our favorite things that remind us of the past and warm our hearts.

So what do you do with all those special odds and ends?

This year, deck the halls with all the things that bring you joy by creating a one-of-a-kind wreath!

Gather a few sentimental odds and ends; then incorporate other items that make you smile.

They don’t have to be Christmas-themed items, just pretty little treasures that tell the story of you and your loved ones.

Soon your pile of goodies will become the makings of a fabulous holiday wreath.

Materials:

  • Artificial pine wreath form, with a sturdy metal base
  • Misc. odds and ends
  • Vintage ornaments
  • Photocopies or downloads of vintage ephemera
  • Ribbon, buttons and spools of thread
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Vintage lace
  • Miscellaneous small holiday decorations
  • Bottlebrush trees
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Small teacups
  • Children’s mittens
  • Hot-glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Florist wire and snips
  • Scissors

This DIY Christmas wreath will have you scrounging in your craft supplies.

Instructions:

  1. Cover your worktable or surface. Make a sturdy wire loop on the back of your wreath form strong enough to support the weight of the finished product. It is best to prop up the wreath to see the entire form as you are working.
  2. Add the heaviest items to the wreath first. Wire teacups firmly to the base and space them equally.
  3. To attach handkerchiefs, hold the handkerchief in the center, allowing the edges to hang down. Tightly wrap a wire around the center and leave the ends long. Turn the hankie right side up and wire it into the wreath. This will create the look of fabric “flowers.”
  4. To attach the ornaments: Old glass ornaments are very fragile, so handle with care. Use florist wire to attach them to the form between the teacups.
  5. Make paper cones out of the photocopies of old cards or the downloaded images. Simply form a cone with your hands, and glue or tape the edge. Tuck the cones into the wreath and secure with a dab of hot glue. Make sure to position them upright.
  6. Birds’ nests are easy to make by cutting long strips of vintage fabric. Wrap a strip in the palm of your hand to create the basic shape of a nest. Use fabric glue or hot glue to stick the ends together; then add a small artificial egg and tuck the nest into the wreath.
  7. To attach odds and ends, determine which pieces require glue and which require wire. Wooden spools, buttons and bottlebrushes can be easily attached with wire, while items like silk flowers, berries and colored pencils are best attached using hot glue.
  8. This is your story told in the nooks and crannies of a festive holiday wreath—there are no rules! Fill the wreath to maximum capacity with all your favorite things. Tuck in a few telltale Christmas items like ornaments and holly, and the results will be magical. You will be creating tomorrow’s heirloom to be appreciated and loved for years to come.

Like this project? Check out our other Christmas DIY wreaths, here and here.



Delft Pottery: The Dutch Version of Chinese Porcelain

Delft blue and white pottery is a beautiful and collectible addition to your home decor.

Do you admire Chinese porcelain, but scared it will clash with your country cottage? The Asian pottery’s European cousin might be the answer to that empty fireplace mantel begging to be decorated. Delft pottery, also known as Delfts Blauw, is the Dutch successor of China’s iconic blue and white porcelain.

Blue and White Dutch Pottery
Instead of porcelain, Dutch Pottery was manufactured from earthenware clay.

A Treasure Brought from Overseas

Europe fell in love with the porcelain coming in from China when the Dutch East India Company began to import it. Dutch potters decided to mimic the pottery beginning in the 16th century, but swapped the porcelain material for a less expensive clay called earthenware.

A colorful version of Delftware was also produced that featured muffled reds, greens and yellows; the enamels were labeled polychrome Delft. The Delft Blue and Makkum earthenware were shaped into urns, decorative plates and vases that featured hand painted art. Instead of dragons, cranes and Chinese architecture, the Dutch painted florals, birds and Dutch scenery for a more European touch.

Colorful Dutch Pottery
The counterpart to the famous blue and white pottery is Delfware that is made out of toned-down enamels known as polychrome Delft.

This new art form was not just limited to the classic plate. Tiles were particularly popular amid the spectrum of Delftware, and 400 factories in Holland produced Delftware tiles during the “golden age.” Now, only three factories—the Royal Delft, De Delftse Pauw and Royal Tichelaar Makkum—manufacture the pottery.

Finding Your Own Dutch Pottery

Beware of souvenir stores that sell pretty knockoffs of true antique Delftware. Check out the following  pointers to ensure you are buying an authentic piece of Dutch history:

Look for the underglaze marks. Factories hand painted these marks.

Don’t shy away from a few chips. A chip in a Delftware piece shows it is genuine.

Examine the design. An intricate and precise painting means that a real Dutch hand from long ago handled the pottery.

The stranger, the better. Hold on to it if you find a more peculiar piece like a tea canister, cow figure or cruet set. Unlike tiles, these pottery antiques are harder to find and therefore have a higher value.

Delftware Cow
Quirky pieces like this cow figurine are rare and valuable.

 

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Give the Prettiest Presents: DIY Gift Tags

Create presents that are just as special as what's inside with handcrafted gift tags.

romantic_crafts_presents
A fancy first initial is simple and elegant.

Early bird gets the holiday shopping stress out of the way. If you do your gift rounds in advance, don’t finish them off with generic sticky “to and from” tags. You have extra time to make your presents more charming than the others—here is some inspiration to get you started.

DIY gift tags tableWhat you’ll need:

  • Cardstock such as Bristol Smooth
  • Calligraphy pen and ink, or any favorite pens
  • Decorative-edge scissors
  • Small hole punch
  • Round punch with smooth or fancy edging
  • Ribbons
  • Baker’s twine
  • Faux rhinestone jewelry adornments
  • Watercolor paints and paintbrush
  • Watercolor paper
  • Small container of water for paints

 

DIY tags trayReplace your sharpie with a calligraphy pen

Using a calligraphy pen will upgrade your gift tag from tacky to elegant—even more so if you write your names in cursive! The fancy penmanship won’t even break the bank. You can purchase an inexpensive calligraphy pen at craft stores such as Michaels.

If you want your presents to be especially posh, top them off with an initial instead. A gift tag bearing a single letter is more suitable for a smaller gift like a jewelry box.

 

Flower vases with tagsAdorn your tag

Paint a thin stripe at the edge of your tag, then tie color coordinated baker’s twine through a small hole on the opposite end. Make sure you are using watercolor paper when working with paint. Bristol smooth paper is a desirable alternative if you want to just stick to calligraphy.

Finally, grab your decorative-edge scissors to cut scalloped or diamond edges on your paper tags for an extra pop of fun. Consider cutting initial-only tags into circles. A rectangular shape swallows a tag with only one letter.

 

DIYt tags on suitcasesFor the presents themselves

Your pretty tags don’t need to just sit on presents! Incorporate them into the actual gifts themselves. Instead of giving someone a bouquet of flowers, spread out your favorite saying onto different tags and attach them to flower vases. Place the vases into a tray like the one above for a romantic piece of windowsill or vanity decor, an easy DIY gift for loved ones.

Another idea is to make suitcase tags—a smart gift choice, since many people flock to airports during the holiday season. These delicate tags will especially complement a vintage suitcase or storage chest.

 

 

 

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Coastal Style Underfoot

Decorate in summery, coastal style using a rug as a base—inside or out!

Decorate in summery, coastal style using a rug as a base–inside or out!

Summer thoughts inevitably turn toward the beach. Even if you can’t make it to the beach this season, it’s easy to infuse your home with romantic, coastal decor. With neutral colors and pale blues, coastal themes will likely fit right in with the soft, inviting hues you love. Your key ingredient for a coastal look, whether for a living room, bedroom or patio, just might be a rug.

Coastal style patio with turquoise rug
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This turquoise rug sets the tone for the patio, making it feel like a welcoming, homey space as well as a coastal one–no matter how far away the ocean may be! The pattern also injects some fun and visual variety while echoing the linear patterns on the cushions and throw pillows.

Coastal style patio with neutral rug
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Go for an even lighter, softer palette using a neutral rug for the base of your color scheme. The subtle pattern of this Dash & Albert rug sets a subtle, elegant yet easygoing base. Its neutral platinum and white is perfect for layering tone on tone beach neutrals and helps the pops of pink stand out even more. Woven textures are another way to layer on top of the the rug for a tactile seaside feel.

Coastal bedroom with neutral rug
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The great thing about rugs is you can use them inside and out. (Even if they’re not labeled indoor/outdoor, feel free to use them as you see fit.) See how the exact same Dash & Albert Diamond-patterned rug still helps accomplish a coastal base in a bedroom. It’s also a great example of why neutral rugs are so versatile since here it pairs beautifully with soft blues and greens.