My sweet husband brought home the Week Twenty-Four bouquet and it was a bounteous beauty, bursting with several different types of blossoms that I hadn’t worked with much before. These included a vivid blue hydrangea, one huge scarlet dahlia, and three daisies with fuzzy faces that seemed to smile at me from the perimeters of the bouquet. Here are the fresh flowers from the Pike Place Market for the Bouquet-a-Week Project, Week Twenty-Four, which cost $15.
The gorgeous glob of pink Stargazer lilies caught my eye first, and I knew they would pair dramatically with a single sprig of kangaroo paw.
Next I made a grab for all the purple-and-yellow irises and the single crimson lily. I like the way the lacy shapes of the irises contrast with the strong horizontal lines of the vase.
What to do with the single hydrangea? I thought my Asian-inspired celadon vase would form the perfect foil for such a singular bloom, especially when paired with pink sweet peas, two of the pink petunias, purple flowers, and a single spear of bear grass.
Here’s another design using a pink lily and a huge sunflower (left over from a prior bouquet) in my swooping robin’s-egg-blue vase, my ode to Vincent Van Gogh.
Sweet peas, that single crimson dahlia, and more purple flowers for contrast look fetching in a pink Buddha vase backlighted in fuchsia.
There rather droopy snapdragons and lively purple flowers look jaunty in a squatty, clear-emerald vase backlighted in green.
As I always do, I released the blossoms from their white butcher-paper wrapper, unwound the bouquet’s rubberband-bound plastic bags and moist newspaper, and placed the flowers back on the stretched-out butcher paper. I made sure the stems were cleared of small leaves and recut the ends, then stuck all the flowers in this shiny black vase so I could figure out exactly what I had.
I snapped a photo because I was so taken with the result of this impromptu bouquet. Glorious!
But I knew that I didn’t want to use all of the Week Twenty-Three flowers in one arrangement. So (rather sadly) began to design individual bouquets. Here is the first one of those.
The second one is an ode to the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. BRIGHT COLORS!
My favorite colors came into play in the arrangement below, which includes a single intoxicatingly fragrant Stargazer Lily (rife with blossoms that I could hardly wait to watch bloom over the coming days), and selected greenery to create a fluffy frame.
The “Bold” setting of the Waterlogue app created this dramatic version of the same vase with only the greenery from the Week Twenty-Three bouquet.
My favorite small blue-glass vase forms a fitting contrast when planted with red sweet peas and purple flowers.
I love the romantic way the red and purple flowers drape in the two small bouquets below.
And here are the small bouquets from Week Twenty-Three. These miniature arrangements decorate the twin vanities in our bathroom and one sits next to the television in the bedroom.
I bought my Week Twenty bouquet for the Bouquet-a-Week Project from Erlinda, one of the long-time and most talented designers in the entire Pike Place Market. Here she is proudly displaying the flowers I chose.
I’ve known Erlinda for years and always appreciate the fresh and clean bouquets she crafts at Flower Garden in the Pike Place Market’s Main Arcade. You can find Flower Garden under the Market clock, just a few steps away from Pike Place Fish (which tourists often refer to as “the place where they throw the fish”).
I was drawn to this lush bouquet, rife with vibrant contrasting colors, because of several “new” varieties of flowers. I use the word “new” loosely here, simply because the names of the “new” flowers were hitherto unbeknownst to me. More on the “new” varieties that I discovered thanks to the PlantSnap app later on in this post.
Here is the fresh bouquet of Pike Place Market flowers that cost $15.
And here is the same bouquet “painted” in “Natural” mode using the Waterlogue app.
This was not only a visually opulent bouquet, but it smelled great, thanks to the peonies and one of the “new” flowers I discovered on PlantSnap called Golden Arrow (Plumeria Pudica).
Here is the first major bouquet I created using the single orange Asian lily and two of the graceful Kangaroo Paws (Anigozanthos) positioned so perfectly in an Asian-leaning vase lined with smooth black rocks. Although I had worked with the lacy red flowers for years, I never bothered to learn their name until now. Good to know!
Here is the same arrangement shot at night with ivory backlights. Magical!
I knew that the dark-pink peonies and snapdragons would look pretty in a Waterford cut-glass vase. I love using this vessel because it was a wedding gift when my husband and I married 36 years ago.
I really wanted to use this interesting art-glass vase in a muted burgundy color. Orange canna lilies and purple flowers and greenery are so dramatic.
My favorite blue Buddha vase backlighted in blue looks royal with the addition of White Golden Arrow and purple flowers.
A single Kangaroo Paw in an Asian celadon vase is the spirit of ikebana.
The three small vases for Week Twenty of the Bouquet-a-Week Project made use of a single pink peony, Golden arrow, purple flower, and a couple of lilies left over from Week Nineteen.
Week Eighteen of the Bouquet-a-Week Project began under a cloud since it also marked the date for my five-year routine colonoscopy procedure.
For anyone who has ever undergone this experience, you know that the preparation is worse than the actual procedure, which takes just half an hour and is performed under “twilight sedation,” which essentially means strong knock-out drugs.
Preparation begins about a week before you go into the hospital, when you are strongly advised to go off any vitamins or supplements that contain Vitamin E, fish oil, or anything else that keeps your blood from clotting. Alive and Ibuprofen are also verboten for the same reason; Tylenol is okay if needed.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. Three days before the procedure, you have to stop eating nuts, seeds, and popcorn. Fiber supplements are also off the table (or, more correctly, out of your system). Going off fiber supplements certainly wasn’t a problem, but the other three forbidden items were more problematic, especially since I practically live on nuts and nut butters.
Twenty-four hours before the big procedure, I had to stop eating solid foods entirely. So on Wednesday morning, the 13th of June (aptly named, since it was definitely not my lucky day) I ate my last bite of Dannon Oui Vanilla Yogurt. I had chosen this particular brand of yogurt since it comes in an old-timey glass cup (civilized!) and is especially thick and pleasant-tasting.
I ate the cool, creamy yogurt with a small spoon in tiny bites over 1 1/2 hours. I wanted to make my final tastes of solid food last as long as possible.
From then on, until 7:30 on Thursday morning (two hours before the procedure), I was allowed to consume only a clear liquid diet, things like bouillon, Popsicles, Jell-o, and fruit juices. Caveats included no milk or dairy products and no red or blue-hued liquids, since those colors could mimic blood, confuse the doctor, and negate the test results.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., I had to drink two (yes, two!) liters of what I rather derisively refer to as “the solution.”
Said “solution” is officially called Golytely or GaviLyte–a polyethylene glycol and sodium solution. You mix the fine white powder with four liters of water plus a packet of Crystal Light drink mix, shake well, and refrigerate.
“The solution” tastes strongly, and strangely, of salt, rather like diluted Thai fish sauce. The packet of Crystal Light is supposed to mask the bad taste. Trust me, it doesn’t.
From the first cup of “the solution,” the stomach begins to roil and rumble, rife with cramps and spasms. And then the bowel movements begin.
The more you drink, the more you go to the bathroom. And go, and go, and go.
I went to bed that night around 11:30, after my daily dose of the Trevor Noah show. But sleep came slowly as I focused on my turbulent tummy, deciding whether I needed to jump up and run to the bathroom one more time, or whether I could catch a few hours of shut-eye.
My alarm clock was set for 4:15 so I could stumble out of bed and begin drinking the final two liters of “the solution.” Strangely, although I was sleep-deprived and starving, I was almost looking forward to drinking the last two liters of “the solution,” more than ready to finish cleaning out my bowels and head to the hospital to undergo the actual procedure.
I wrote this blog while drinking the final two liters of “the solution.” My writing flowed quickly, as if an invisible hand was guiding my fingers over the keyboard. I stopped briefly every fifteen minutes to drink a cup of “the solution” until finally. . .mercifully. . .thankfully. . .the giant jug was empty and I could place it in the recycling bin. Victory!
My dear husband drove me to the hospital. I felt dizzy and had a splitting headache, a combination of low blood sugar and dehydration. I felt as though I had been reduced to a bag of blood and bones, a mind and body that just wanted to get “the procedure” over and done with.
I checked in without incident–thankfully all the paperwork was in order–and the receptionist encircled my left wrist with my patient ID. My husband got his marching orders as well, told to stay in the waiting room and monitor my progress on a color-coded overhead monitor using my secret patient number.
A male nurse prepped me for the procedure. I stripped down to my bra, put a cotton robe over my head, and arranged myself over the sheet-draped gurney with a warm blanket over my body.
The nurse inserted an IV drip into my arm and taped it down. My husband and I waited an hour, making small talk and gazing out the window, before I was wheeled into the operating room.
The doctor introduced herself and we discussed the impending procedure. The nurse attached the monitors and the anesthesiologist began the job of sending me off to dreamland.
The next thing I knew, I was being gently shaken awake by a nurse. I had survived. I was awake. I was alive.
My husband looked as relieved outwardly as I felt inwardly. Soon, the doctor arrived and informed us that my bowels looked normal and I didn’t have to have another colonoscopy for five more years. In addition to that most welcome news, she said I could go home and eat a simple meal.
The point of all of this way-too-graphic reporting on my colonoscopy is that the one bright spot during that otherwise horrible week was when my dear husband brought home a fresh Pike Place Market bouquet for me to play with.
The beautiful blossoms filled my senses and brightened my outlook. For at least a few hours, while arranging the beautiful blossoms, my mind was happy and free.
Afterwards, as I admired the resulting bouquets, I was relieved from the ugliness of sitting in the bathroom, drinking copious amounts of a gag-inducing liquid, and worrying about going to the hospital.
In short–flowers saved me.
Here is that beautiful bouquet–a medley of oranges and purples–that cost my husband all of $15.
And here is the bouquet “painted” in Waterlogue.
I knew that a handful of deep-pink peonies, and a single white one, would look scrumptious in one of my favorite vases.
I have never used this rustic clay vase, but orange Asiatic lilies and purple-and-yellow irises fit it perfectly.
This may be my favorite creation from Week Eighteen–pale-pink sweet peas, a single purple sweet pea, and a Perennial Cornflower. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with the latter, but figured out its correct name thanks to the amazing SnapPlant app. If you’re not familiar with this useful tool, you should be. Simply snap a photo of the plant in question and several possibilities pop up on your iPhone or iPad. Choose the correct one, then archive it in your Recent Snaps gallery for future reference.
An ikebana-inspired design using my favorite “jelly-bean” vase features deep-pink peonies and the above-mentioned Perennial Cornflowers.
More of the spiky blue cornflowers look gorgeous in a clear cylindrical vase with gray-glass decorative filler. The vase is lighted from behind with blue candle lights.
Here are three small bouquets I made using Shrubby Yellow Crest and irises. I love the color play between the yellow and deep purple flowers.
In Week Seventeen of the Bouquet-a-Week Project, I returned to my tried-and-true formula of buying a prearranged Pike Place Market bouquet, then rearranging it using my own vases and decorative fillers.
This was a very special week since we had just returned from 21 days out of the office, during which we enjoyed a cruise from Dover, England, to Reykjavik, Iceland. It was an amazing journey during which I took hundreds of photos. I can’t wait to start editing and posting the best images on this website for you to enjoy!
We returned from our trip with renewed energy and vigor–refreshed, relaxed, and rarin’ to go.
I bought the Week Seventeen bouquet from one of my long-time favorite farmers who sells in the first section of the Market’s Main Arcade. I was drawn to this lush bouquet, rife with white, plus several different shades of pink peonies; sweet-pea sprigs vibrant purple-and-yellow irises; shrubbery yellow crest; fresh mint; and pretty greenery.
Here is the fresh bouquet of Pike Place Market flowers that cost $15.
And here is the same bouquet “painted” using the Waterlogue app in “Natural” mode.
This was not only a visually opulent bouquet, but it smelled great, too! The frilly peonies oozed a rich aroma, while the scent from the sweet peas was milder and less complex. The fresh mint sprigs provided a sharp top note. I didn’t know whether to arrange this bouquet or simply smell it!
It was May Day, which also happened to be the official launch date of this website! My labor of love, which I had been working on since January, had finally come to fruition and I was ready to share it with the world.
At nine o’clock that morning, I had sent out a Constant Contact newsletter to my subscriber list that resulted in many congratulatory emails and positive feedback. Hooray!
To celebrate, I headed to the Pike Place Market for my weekly flower haul. Still under the spell of the monochromatic bouquets I had created during Week Eleven, I decided to try that concept again, but with darker-colored blossoms.
Once inside the Main Arcade, at the very first farmer’s stand, I spotted some deep-pink, almost purple peonies at the very first stall. The fluffy heads appealed not only because of their dense, lush petals, but because I hadn’t yet worked with peonies this spring.
I asked the flower farmer, a congenial man who aimed to please, for four of those blossoms, which cost $2.50 apiece. Next I spotted some dark-burgundy tulips with spiky petals that I knew would coordinate with the peonies and asked for six of those. Finally, some “parrot” tulips with red petals and green stripes caught my eye.
The tulips cost $10 a dozen, so I had reached the $20 maximum for my weekly flower budget.
The affable farmer, Eric Santos, insisted on creating a bouquet, even though I explained that I was heading right home to create my own designs. He wanted to trim the stems of the blossoms, but I told him to just leave them like they were. Here is the lovely bouquet he offered to me.
Here are the raw flowers from that celebratory Tuesday afternoon.
And here is that same jaw-dropping bouquet “painted” in Waterlogue.
The moment I saw it among my collection of vases, I knew I had found the perfect vessel to display the spiky burgundy tulips and greenery. Talk about color-coordinated!
The “parrot” tulips didn’t need much to highlight them, so I chose a clear glass vase and smooth black stones.
I saved the four peonies for Week Twelve’s smaller bouquets. Here is a dashing trio with a clear glass cylinder flanked by my beloved Buddha vases.
And here is the same photo with the addition of the fourth small bouquet (green vase). There was hardly enough room on the etagere to make them all fit!
I followed my now-predictable pattern of buying Pike Place Market flowers late on a Thursday afternoon. But this week I decided to follow the previous week’s initial idea of a monochromatic bouquet.
Bound and determined, I headed to the Market and spotted some gorgeous “parrot” tulips that were mainly white, but with green markings. On the other side of the flower farmer’s stand stood tall, pristine white tulips that I knew would pair perfectly with the parrot tulips.
Here are the raw tulips from Week Eleven.
And here are those same tulips “painted” in Waterlogue.
I busily set about figuring out the best vases for such pure and majestic blossoms and decided that stark black would form a fitting contrast.
Here is the first major bouquet I created during Week Eleven.
As an experiment, I took the same shot in the late afternoon on a sunny day, known to photographers as the “golden hour.” I was really pleased with the moody shadows that led to such a dramatic result.
Returning to brighter lighting, here is another major Week Eleven bouquet in an all-time favorite vase. The small stand is something new that I picked up for $1 (!) a few weekends ago at the annual Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival at Seattle Center. I’m sure you’ll be seeing the stand in many upcoming photos.
As an interesting contrast, here is the same bouquet, but with the two white tulips after the blooms were fully opened. I love this “fluffy” look (in which the tulips look more like magnolias) almost as much as the more austere tulips above. Both bouquets display the Japanese concept of minimalist flower arranging, called Ikebana.
But this was only the beginning. With so many beautiful blossoms at my disposal, it was now time to begin working on the smaller bouquets, starting with my lovely blue Buddha vase, a former sake bottle (!).
And here is a bouquet in my pink Buddha vase.
Another favorite vase, which curves so gracefully and makes any flower look sexy.
To finish off Week Eleven with a bang, here is a trio of smaller bouquets to enjoy.
I went a bit wild in Week Nine, deciding to buy flowers early in the day and hoping to get to the Pike Place Market earlier than usual.
But the work gods didn’t cooperate, and I didn’t make it to the Market until close to 5 p.m. on a chilly Thursday afternoon when I wasn’t even sure many flower farmers would still be there.
But thank heavens, several hearty farmers were still creating bouquets and happily hawking their wares under the Market Clock.
I walked up and down the aisle in the Main Arcade, comparing and contrasting the pre-made bouquets. But, unlike in weeks past, nothing really caught my eye.
Instead, I spotted a white-plastic bucket jam-packed with spiky purple tulips and another that contained ruffly daffodils with tiny heads.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that the there were two or three small daffodils on each stem. Quickly, I asked for 10 of them, along with six of the purple tulips.
The rather unfriendly farmer (I think she wanted to go home–and who could blame her, it was cold and late, after all) handed me my flowers and asked for $11.
Right next to that farmer, I saw another woman with a bucket full of beautiful branches that I thought might be from a dogwood tree. But the delicate flowers were pale yellow, and I’d never seen a yellow dogwood. When I inquired, the farmer said they were branches from a magnolia tree, my late mother’s favorite. I asked for one branch, which cost all of $3.
I felt like a queen as I walked along First Avenue to our condo with two bouquets in hand that cost a grand total of $14. When I got home, I realized that, consciously or subconsciously, I had chosen blossoms in my husband’s and my favorite colors (yellow and purple, respectively).
Here are the raw flowers from that wild Week Nine.
And here are the flowers “painted” using the Waterlogue app.
Here is one of the major bouquets I created that week using only three of the spiky purple tulips and the magnolia blossom. To me, this bouquet is the essence of the principal of ikebana.
Here is the same bouquet, after one of the tulips had broken in the middle and (oh, so sadly) had to be pulled out and reused in a smaller bouquet. Since the base photo was taken at night, the background became all dark and moody, with intriguing shadows at the top.
This bouquet (which really isn’t so much a bouquet as the positioning of two of the purple tulips in a vase!) is so sexy. I love it when my tulips behave just as I want them.
Here are the same two tulips in a tall “vase” that was originally a water bottle (!). It isn’t nearly as sexy, but fun to see how different it is than the arrangement above.
And here are some of the smaller bouquets from Week Nine that make use of the gorgeous multi-headed daffodils and pussy willows (left over from a prior week).
Here is the vase that I most often use in our bedroom since shelf space is limited. I am a new convert to these double- and triple-headed daffodils and plan to seek them out next time I’m at the Market.
Have you ever had that experience where you walk by a storefront and realize that something just caught your eye? You think about it for a moment, then just know that you have to go back and find out more about the object in question.
That happened to me on a recent Sunday-afternoon stroll down First Avenue in downtown Seattle. We walk there often since it is part of our neighborhood, which is known as the “West Edge” because it is on the western edge of the city adjacent to Elliott Bay.
The store in question was Design Within Reach, a long-time favorite. We have purchased everything from flatware to bath towels and even our living-room sofa there over the years!
The object that caught my eye was a vase with a clear-glass bottom and a brass circle rising from the center. Various dried flowers stuck up from the holes in the brass circle forming a pleasing pattern.
Once inside, the salesperson informed me it was Design Within Reach’s brand-new “Ikebana Vase.” Imagine my delight to learn that a principal I often use in my flower arranging (ikebana) was now incorporated into an actual vase sold by one of my favorite retailers.
I learned that the vase comes in a large size (like the one in the window) and a smaller one. Knowing I would want to photograph the vase on our metal etagere (where I take many of my flower photos for posting on the Braiden Blossoms blog), I chose the smaller version because I knew it would fit better and be a better scale for the space.
According to the Design Within Reach website, the vase was designed in 2016 by a young Spaniard, Jaime Hayon. Ikebana is Japanese for “making flowers live,” and Mr. Hayon designed the vase to “honor your flowers from top to bottom.”
In other words, unlike more conventional vessels, the Ikebana Vase honors the whole flower and not just the crown.
The two drilled plates are made of stainless steel covered with brass. They will scratch and age and develop a rich patina over time.
The brass plates are designed for exact positioning of each blossom (in order to create precise arrangements).
I was sad when the salesperson informed me that there was no small vase I could take home with me that day. Rather, as has become customary with many retailers in the modern world, my merchandise would have to be ordered from the Design Within Reach warehouse in Kentucky.
The salesperson said the delivery would take five to seven business days. Disappointed, but excited to see the Ikebana Vase whenever it arrived, I put my new purchase out of my mind.
Several days later, on the Saturday before Easter, I got notice that a package had arrived at our condominium’s front desk. When I saw that the big box was from Design Within Reach, I got really excited and hurried to cut it open.
The Ikebana Vase itself came in a gorgeous robin’s-egg blue box, similar to those from Tiffany & Co. A good beginning!
The glass base was thick, well formed, and beautifully crystal clear. It reminded me of a giant camera lens. The brass circle insert where the flowers would stand was easy to put together and felt strong and solid as I carefully positioned it in the base of the vase.
Luckily, I had some fresh pink tulips on hand that I knew would work well in my new vase. Here is the photo of the fresh tulips in the new vase.
I could hardly wait to “paint” my original photo using my beloved Waterlogue app. Here is that image in Waterlogue’s Vibrant mode.