Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Home Sweet Home: Preserving Peonies

This post is a little out of season... just the like the peonies in these pictures.

My mother-in-law has an abundance of tricks up her sleeve for all sorts of things, but recently I was awed by her ability to make peonies bloom about 6 weeks after she cut the flowers off the bush. These flowers we re cut in May, and the photos were taken midway through July. Unbelievable!

How did she do it? I had to ask too. Apparently a crafty friend of hers had used this same trick to preserve peonies for her son's wedding that was taking place a couple of months after peony season in lower Michigan. She cut the peony bloom just as it was beginning to show some pink between the green leaves surrounding the "cotton ball" sized bud, as below.

She left the stem 12-14 inches long, keeping leaves near the top but trimming the lower leaves, just like you would to put it in a vase. She then wrapped each stem in a piece of newspaper, then plastic wrap. All piled together after wrapping, she put them in a plastic grocery bag in her vegetable drawer. Pull them out 2-3 days before you want them in full bloom, unwrap, cut the end of each stem before putting them in water and, just like magic, they will bloom! The scent seemed a little less potent than fresh cut, but the blooms seemed to last even longer. I will be trying this next year, and I had to share!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Get Crafty: Silhouttes

My mother in law loves silhouettes, and had a couple sets made of her children when they were young. Apparently there was a woman at the local Jacobsons who did silhouette cutouts at the time, and she was glad to have them done even though they were pricey.

She just had a birthday, and a set of silhouettes of the grandchildren seemed like a nice gift. These were not cutouts, but rather altered photographs. I took a profile picture of each child separately, then used the latest version of The Gimp to get the shape. I use the smart scissors to get a general selection, paint-bucketed the shape black, copied, pasted into a new file, then smoothed out the jagged edges with the paths tool. If I had them to do over, I'd probably like them a little more, but I think they're pretty close to the real thing and no one but their own mother would notice the slight flaws (a nose not quite round enough, a too prominent forehead, and the like). It was fun to do, if tedious, and I think it was a very successful gift for a very deserving grandmother.

Aww.... now go make your own!