DIY Wedding flowers

I know this is a pretty drastic detour from the baby posts, but this is something I really wanted to share with you all.

When my husband and I got married, I decided to do a lot of the more decorative components myself.  Partly to save money, and partly because I can get really particular about these kind of things, and was really concerned about the idea of somebody else getting it wrong, and getting paid for it, when I then wouldn’t be able to fix it and have it exactly the way I wanted.  I know… bridezilla much?!

Anyway, our whole color scheme was determined when I found one flower that I decided I absolutely HAD to have – these stunning blue dendrobium orchids.

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I had a couple of concerns with using these for DIY flower arrangements.  How would I get them into the foam so that they can get water?  Would they end up being so fragile that I had to buy twice as many, to account for all the ones I destroyed in the process?  So let me start by laying those concerns to rest.  They are not that fragile – we broke each flower off of the main stem, and they all survived just fine.  The small flower stems separate very easily from the main stem.  The water issue we solved using water picks.  If you’ve never seen them before, they’re basically small plastic tubes with a lid to keep the water in and spike to insert into the floral foam.  One per flower – honestly, a monkey could use these with complete success!

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With the major logistics figured out, next came a test run.  I had already decided to offset the blue with white roses, so I went to my local grocery store and bought a couple of bouquets each of orchids and roses.  I soaked the floral foam in the holder I was planning to use overnight, and then set to work inserting flowers, one ring at a time.  Since I had a couple of friends offer to help assemble the real ones, I was organized enough to take photos as I was going for instructional purposes!  I started with a complete circle of roses, then filled in the spaces in between them with orchids, another circle of roses, more orchids to fill the gaps, and so on until the whole thing was full.

Surprisingly, my first run at these went pretty well.  If you’ve ever considered doing your own wedding flowers and have been too afraid of how complicated it’ll be, let me assure you that this truly couldn’t have been easier.  From my trial run I figured out that I definitely needed more roses, and that each bouquet would take me about 30 minutes to put together.  In the grand scheme of wedding assembly, 2 hours for 4 bouquets was totally manageable for me, even without help.  So when it turned into 5 bouquets and 3 of us to put them together, it really wasn’t a huge amount of work.

 

Now, I will stress at this point, that this was 90% of the work we did on flowers.  We had a beautiful venue, the majority of which was outdoors, and so we could get away with doing very little in terms of floral arrangements.  It ended up being 4 small bouquets, 1 larger bouquet, 8 boutonnieres (which were even easier than the bouquets!), and 8 centerpieces.  This amounted to a total of 159 roses (of course, the exact number will depend on how big they are), 18 orchid stems (assuming they each had 6 usable flowers on them) and 32 stems of bear grass.  And so, a few days before the wedding, large volumes of flowers arrived at my apartment, and I spent several days trying to keep the cat from destroying them!  The bouquets were assembled just like we did with the practice one, just making sure all of the gaps were filled.  You really don’t want to overdo it with the orchids here – a little goes a long way.  The holders that we used had a hole in the end of the handle, so we took the 4th of the small bouquets (I had 2 bridesmaids a maid of honor, so the 4th was spare), and hung it upside-down from the archway that we used for the ceremony.  I would suggest if you plan on doing this, to fix the flowers in with floral adhesive, as a few of them did fall out over the course of the day.  And I warn you, these are heavy, so if you plan on throwing a bouquet at the end of the night, make an additional hand tied one so that you don’t give anyone a concussion!  Please note:  all of the photos of the finished flowers were taken by our wonderful photographer Johnny Dao (http://www.jdaophotography.com) and as such I ask you not to republish them elsewhere.  Thanks!

For the boutonnieres, I started with a rose, laid the orchids on top, wrapped a stem of bear grass a few times until it formed loops, and used floral tape and color coordinated ribbon to hold all of the stems together, which itself was held in place with pins.  These I didn’t put together until the day, so that the orchids wouldn’t die, and we stored them all in water picks to keep the roses hydrated.

The centerpieces were incredibly simple but really beautiful.  We took large glass bowls and put in a couple of bags of small stones which I got at the dollar store.  We wrapped 3 stems of bear grass around the inside of the bowl and filled it around 2/3 full with water.  Then, just floated 2 rose heads and 2 orchids in each.  Seriously, they were so easy that even with all of my bridezilla-everything-must-be-perfect-or-I’ll-have-to-punch-someone things going on, I entrusted these to other people.  There’s honestly no real way to mess it up at all.

And that’s really all there was to it.  Yes, it takes some time, but it honestly doesn’t have to be the all consuming, will take you a month if you haven’t had years of training, type thing that a lot of people think it is.  So if you’re thinking of maybe doing your own wedding flowers I would love to encourage you to at least have a practice run and see what you think.  And before you start with the “oh, but I’m not artistic or creative enough” lines, let me tell you that I have the artistic skills of a 3 year old!  As long as the colors work together and you don’t try to do anything horrifically complicated, a few hours and a few friends is plenty to make it work.

All purpose baby balm

While writing my post on my homemade baby wipes, I mentioned my love of coconut oil.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many things I use this stuff for!  I love it for moisturizing my skin, my hair, my child, not to mention cooking and baking.  In part, I love only having to buy one thing instead of 6.  Especially when that one all-purpose thing actually works!

Since my son hit around 3 months old, he started drooling.  I know, big shock!  There are days when we’ve gone through 2 or more bibs just trying to keep his clothes dry.  My big concern here was obviously not his clothes – it’s really not a big deal if they get wet.  They’ll dry, and no-one will ever know the difference.  The thing I was concerned about was his skin.  In the same way that babies get diaper rash from having wet diapers in contact with their skin, they can get drool rash from having the skin on their face and even their chest (if they drool like mine does!) wet for too long.  So, once I saw a red bump or two starting to form on his face, I felt a need to jump into action to make something to treat it with.

Enter my favorite coconut oil!  In this instance, coconut oil provides a couple of benefits.  Firstly it acts as a barrier to keep moisture away from the skin.  It also has antimicrobial properties to help clear up any infections that might take advantage of damaged skin.  You can read some of the research on this here.  I added some aloe vera gel and a drop each of lavender and chamomile essential oils and there we have it – a balm that works wonders on his drool rash.  Just make sure you dilute the essential oils enough – 1-2 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil for babies.

Now, you’ve probably noticed that I call this stuff “all purpose baby balm”, but all I’ve talked about so far is drooling.  If you have babies you’ll know how sharp their little nails are, and have no doubt felt the pang of guilt when you get them up from a nap and see yet another scratch on their face, since they managed to wriggle their way out of the mittens you so diligently put on them when you put them in the crib (side note – I’m thinking of trying to “alter” a pair of our mittens to see if a homemade addition will make them slightly more baby-resistant, so stay tuned for that!).  Well, this stuff really helps with healing those little scratches.  Because the products are natural, there’s no concern about putting them on open scratches, and the moisturizing and antimicrobial properties of it help to speed up the healing process.  The healthier the skin is, the faster it will heal.  We haven’t had any diaper rash since we started using the homemade wipes, but if I see so much as a hint of it, this stuff is going straight on there too!

 

Update:  We started using this on our son’s cradle cap, and it worked wonders – put it on at night, and then brush it out in the morning.  It also worked really well treating some dry skin that he got from sweating in his sleep sack overnight (we had the swaddle ones, but were just wrapping the swaddle around his abdomen because he started rolling so we can’t swaddle his arms anymore).  We just applied a small amount a couple of times a day (typically when getting him dressed in the morning and undressed in the evening), and it cleared up the dry skin in a couple of days.

Homemade baby wipes

Welcome to homemade mama! Please join me on my journey as a mama who loves to make things herself, from baby wipes to family meals and everything in between.

Welcome to homemade mama!

As the name suggests, I’m a mama who’s basically obsessed with homemade stuff!  This site is where I will post my favorite tips, instructions, recipes and basically anything related to things that I love to make.

I always loved making things myself, but since I got pregnant with my son, it has really become something of an obsession for me.  Where most women seemed to get their “nesting” drive to deep clean the house and organize baby clothes, the only thing I wanted to do was make things for the baby.  Literally, day and night, I would think about things to sew and crochet, and the two weeks before I went in to labor was almost entirely spent on baking and preparing slow cooker meals until we couldn’t fit one more thing in the freezer!

I’ll be honest, a big part of my inclination towards homemade products is to save money. Pre-made stuff can get so expensive, that I often wonder how much I could save if I did it myself.  The rest of it was inspired by my parents.  Even as a child I loved baking with my Mum – not the cake in a box style (not that there’s anything wrong with that if it works for you), but what I consider to be real baking, from flour, eggs, butter etc.  She would knit sweaters for me and my sister, sew things for us, and even my Dad, who worked crazy hours, would find time to build things for us.  As a child I sometimes wondered why you would do that when you could just buy things, but now I really appreciate the love and care that went in to everything that my parents did for us.

I know that diaper rash is a pretty common occurrence with babies, but the day that my son started to get it, I started wondering whether we could use something other than those expensive store bought wipes to get the job done.  Looking around the internet, I found a lot of tutorials for homemade wipes using tolls of paper towels, and while that was a huge step in the right direction for me, I wanted something reusable.  At bath time one day, I realized that we had a drawer absolutely full of washcloths, and since he was only having a bath 3 times a week (at most), we probably didn’t need that many.  And so began our journey into the world of homemade, reusable baby wipes…

For the liquid, I figured we really needed very few components – something to clean his skin, something to moisturize his skin, and something to make it smell good (especially given the end of the baby we’re putting it on!).  At one of our baby showers we were given a huge amount of Johnson and Johnson baby bath products, including the bedtime bath soap.  Hmm… stuff for cleaning the baby…!  It’s also lavender and chamomile scented, so that kills 2 birds with one stone!  If you were specifically looking for something to reduce the number of chemicals you use on your little one, castile soap would be the way to go, with essential oils to add some fragrance and some additional benefits like lavender to reduce skin irritation (see where we’re going here?!).  Just make sure if you add essential oils to really dilute them for use on babies (1-2 drops per tbsp carrier oil).  For the moisturizing aspect, my favorite product without a doubt is coconut oil (I actually like it so much that it also forms the base of my all purpose baby balm and homemade baby lotion, but those are posts for another day), and I also decided to add some aloe vera for some added skin care.  3 ingredients = happy mama!  I added these to boiled water while it was cooling but still warm enough to melt the coconut oil, let it cool, and then poured it over a stack of pre-folded washcloths inside of our wipes dispensing box that we had on our baby registry.  I kid you not, he hasn’t had a hint of diaper rash since I started using this mixture, and we obviously haven’t had to buy a pack of wipes again!  Since pre-soaked wipes would be likely to dry out in the diaper bag, I keep a few dry cloths in there with a small spray bottle containing at most 1/4 cup of the mixture.  It just needs a quick shake before use, and then I spray it directly onto my son’s skin (you could spray the cloth if you prefer).  The portable box I have for the wipes is one that was given to me by a friend, but it’s so beautiful that I’ll post a tutorial soon for you to make one yourself.

Here’s my homemade wipe recipe:

1 cup cooling boiled water

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp baby bath soap (or other soap of choice)

1/2 – 1 tsp aloe vera gel

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This quantity is enough for 25 – 30 washcloths without leaving them dripping wet.  Once we figured out that this was definitely going to work for us, I stocked up on extra washcloths with some from our local dollar store – they come in boxes of 4 for $1!  If you’re concerned about using cheap ones, we also really love the bamboo ones that we were given.  The washcloths are folded so that they pop up in the dispenser.  To do that, lay one on your surface and lay the next one on top so that they overlap by half.  Fold the bottom one over the top one, then add another one on the same side as the first one, again overlapped by half.  Continue this process until you have a stack of your required size.

The main issue I foresaw with this was washing them – would we be doing it every day, would they all end up stained bright orange (as baby poop tends to be)…?  Our solution to this is a very simple one – cold water and baking soda.  I keep a bowl of this next to the changing table, and just dropped the used wipes in it.  Then once the box is almost empty, I wash them by hand.  I know it sounds gross, since they’re actually used for wiping up poop, but the baking soda handles pretty much everything.  I just use hot water and some soap, and voila!  Clean washcloths that don’t look like they’ve been anywhere near baby poop!  Since we live in an apartment and don’t have the means to dry them outside, I hang them to dry in the bathroom on this wonderful octopus looking thing that I got from ikea!  And then we start the process all over again.  And again, and again, and again!

If you try these, let me know what you think!