Brown bag it: DIY paper bag roses


I’m not wild about silk flowers. They scream “grandma” to me. (Sorry, bubbe.) But I do love artificial flowers made from paper. Because they are so stylized, they are more of an art piece than “fake” flowers. The fact that they obviously are not real makes them glorious.

Among my favorite artificial flowers are giant cabbage roses made from brown paper bags. They look dramatic, and no one would believe they’re actually brown bags.

What you’ll need:

– Lunch-size brown paper bags
– Rit dye
– Rubber gloves
– Scissors
– Hot glue gun
– Wood skewers

bag roses1

1. Place the paper bags one at a time in a dye bath of about 1 part dye and 2 parts water. I selected red dye for the petals and green dye for the sepals. (Oh, remember that rubber gloves are your best friend here.)

bag roses2

2. Lay the paper bags out on plastic covering to dry overnight. For each rose, you’ll need four bags of the color of your choice and one bag that’s green.

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3. You’ve heard of double bagging. Here, you will be “quintuple” bagging, with the green bag on the outside and the four red bags on the inside.

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4. Twist the bags together tightly so you have what looks like a handle. It should be starting to resemble a rose, or at least the torch the Statue of Liberty holds.

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5. Peel back the green bag. Tear it in a few places so that it looks like the sepals of a rose.

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6. Peel back the red bags one at a time, starting from the outside in. You can leave the layers as is or tear them to create petals. And just as the inner petals of real roses are more closed, keep the innermost red bag scrunched up.

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7. The rose looks finished — but wait! There’s a second rose hidden in there. Cut the green stem at the base of the rose with a good pair of scissors. Seal the cut edge with hot glue. Then put a wood skewer into the base for a stem if desired.

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8. And that piece you cut off? As with the first rose, unroll the layers and make another rose out of that. Yeah, you’ve got this project in the bag.


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You  can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.

Photos by Jonathan Fong

DIY: Easy coffee filter flowers


I may be dating myself, but the first record I ever owned was Marie Osmond’s “Paper Roses.” To this day, I’m still obsessed with flowers made of paper. They add a festive touch to home décor, parties or even gift packaging. And they last forever.

I’ve made flowers out of tissue paper, book pages and comic books — they all have their unique charms. But flowers made of coffee filters are all the rage on craft and lifestyle blogs, so I thought I’d give them a try. I can see why they’re so popular. Coffee filters are cheap (150 of them for a dollar at 99 Cents Only Stores), durable even when wet and easy to dye.

This being my first time working with coffee filters, I experimented with a method that would be easy, yet still produce big, fluffy flowers. And it worked! The ones pictured here are the real honest-to-goodness first coffee filter flowers I’ve ever made. It shows that if a novice like me can do it, anyone can.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Coffee filters (basket style, 8-12 cup size)
Dye or food coloring
Scissors
Masking tape
Skewer or chopstick

1. Dye the coffee filters

coffee1

Using a liquid dye (such as Rit) or food coloring, tint the coffee filters with the hues of your choice. Wring out excess moisture from the filters, and let them dry in the oven set at the lowest temperature. Even stacked up, the filters will dry completely within about 15 minutes. You also can leave the filters white if you wish.

2. Fold the coffee filters

coffee2

For seven of the coffee filters, fold them in half, then into quarters, and then into eighths. (In other words, fold them three times.) For two of the coffee filters, fold them in half, then into quarters, then into eights, and then once more into sixteenths. Cut the top of each folded filter into a curved petal shape.

3. Line them up on masking tape

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Tear off a piece of masking tape that is about 12 inches long. Place the strip of tape on your work surface with the sticky side up. Then line up the folded coffee filters with the pointed end on the sticky side of the tape. Working left to right, position the two filters folded into sixteenths first, and continue with the other seven. They should overlap, with about a half-inch space between the pointed ends.

4. Roll up with a skewer

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Place a skewer or chopstick on the left end of the tape and start rolling it up in the tape. As the skewer gets rolled up, the coffee filter petals also roll up in the tape. Pinch the tape into the petals as you go to make sure they stick really well.

5. Finish taping the petals

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With any extra tape, secure the bottoms of the petals so they don’t flop down. You can also add additional tape if you need it. The folded coffee filter petals look a little funny at this point, but the flower will blossom in the final step.

6. Fluff the petals

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Spread out the petals with your fingers to add volume. Push the pedals in different directions — there’s no right or wrong way for how they should look. Don’t fluff up the two folded coffee filters in the center of the flower. Those petals should stay closed. Place the finished flowers in a vase, and sit back to admire your handiwork while enjoying a cup of coffee.


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.

Florist secrets for a perfect Mother’s Day arrangement


Mother’s Day is this Sunday, which means many people will be making a trip to the florist. Or, because of the lower cost and greater convenience, some of us will be picking up flowers at the supermarket instead. That’s what I do. But rather than presenting the flowers in the cellophane bag they come in, I arrange the blooms in a vase so it looks like I ordered them from a high-end florist. 

Creating your own floral arrangement from supermarket flowers can save you a lot of money. The flowers for this project, which I bought at Trader Joe’s, cost about $20, and the glass vase from Michael’s was less than $3. Yet the finished arrangement could easily retail for $80 to $100 — or even more — at a florist. 

If the thought of putting together your own floral arrangement scares you, don’t worry — it’s pretty easy. I learned by sticking my fingers into arrangements florists delivered to the office where I used to work to analyze how they were assembled. I’ve also had the privilege of working with several top-notch florists in Los Angeles, who have shared their tricks of the trade with me. They swore me to secrecy, so, naturally, I’m passing their tips on to you. 

Get the right proportions

One secret very few people know is there’s an ideal proportion of vase size to number of flowers. I usually work with a 1:4 vase-to-flower ratio, meaning the diameter of the flowers should be approximately four times the diameter of the vase. For example, I wanted the flowers in my arrangement to be about 12 inches across, so I selected a vase that is a little more than 3 inches in diameter. This ratio makes your arrangement look full. If you use a larger vase with the same volume of flowers, the arrangement can appear skimpy. 

Create a support grid

Go monochromatic

Mix textures

Prepare the stems

Separate flowers by type

Another trick I use when arranging flowers is to keep the different types of flowers separate. Like the child at mealtime who won’t let his potatoes touch the peas, I keep each kind in its own section in the vase. This makes floral arranging so much easier, because it takes the guesswork out of how to combine the arrangement. And again, I find this type of arrangement also looks more modern and high-end.

Fill in gaps with greenery

After you’ve filled the vase with flowers, you might still see a few empty spots here or there. Fill these gaps with greenery, using leaves or succulents from your garden. (Just be sure that only the stems are submerged in water.) Bushy blooms like hydrangeas also make great fillers. 

Hide the stems

If your vase is transparent, you will see the stems in the water, and seeing submerged stems is a no-no in professional arrangements. They need to be covered up. One florist friend calls this “hiding the underwear.” Many florists cover the stems by lining the inside of the vase with large leaves. It’s a great look, but the leaves will contribute to bacteria growth. The simplest solution is to wrap a ribbon around the outside of the vase, adhering it in place with double-sided tape. Of course, if your vase is opaque, you don’t need to hide your stems. Still, wrapping a ribbon around the vase can add a nice finishing touch.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at

Fresh, local blooms sprout from the Web


For Gregg Weisstein and David Daneshgar, sending flower arrangements to girlfriends and mothers had long been a disappointing experience. 

“Sometimes the flowers came wilted. Sometimes they didn’t come at all,” Daneshgar said recently. 

Weisstein commiserated: “You have a couple of bad experiences and it’s not worth your effort, time and money anymore.” 

That excuse is now gone, since the two Jewish bachelors have partnered with Farbod Shoraka to found a one-year-old online floral marketplace called BloomNation, based in Santa Monica.

“BloomNation lets the customer shop directly with the local florist,” Weisstein explained. “If you want to send flowers to New York, we show you florists available there, with photos of their actual products. We have well over 2,000 florists across the country, delivering to over 3,000 cities.” 

In the greater Los Angeles area, there are more than 100 participating florists, both retail and studio designers that specialize in events like weddings and b’nai mitzvah.

“Like JDate, we’re the platform, a software that connects two parties that never would have found each other otherwise,” said Daneshgar, head of sales and business development.

He said that unlike well-known flower brokers that act as middlemen, matching buyer and vendor anonymously — think FTD or Teleflora — BloomNation keeps transactions transparent, which benefits the consumer. 

“You can see the pictures, reviews, what other people are saying about [the vendor]. And you know exactly who you’re buying from, so if they do great, you’ll continue buying from them,” Daneshgar said.

He said there are incentives for the florists, too. First, they get 90 percent of the purchase price, more than when dealing with other brokers, some of which take 50 percent. BloomNation also offers free promotion.

“We help them build their Web sites for free, give them their own Facebook store, get them publicity in magazines like Elle Décor,” Daneshgar said. 

Customers can choose among 32,000 arrangements, filtered by location, price and type. Consultants are available for live online chats on the Web site (bloomnation.com). A feature called BloomSnap lets the buyer see a photo of the arrangement before it ships.

“Now no guy has an excuse not to get his wife, mother or girlfriend beautiful flowers,” Daneshgar said. 

While women tend to purchase flowers throughout the year, there’s an uptick in male customers for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, said Weisstein, the company’s COO. For the latter — May 11 this year — “We’ve been preparing since Feb. 15,” Weisstein said. 

“But we want people to know that they don’t have to wait for a holiday to send flowers. We make it super easy and convenient to send a bouquet.” 

Weisstein, who is partial to longer-lasting orchids, lilies and hydrangeas, suggests that recipients who want to extend the life of their flowers trim the stems, change the water daily and add an aspirin or a drop of bleach to the water. “It does work,” he promised.

Daneshgar said he and his family now send arrangements for Passover seders and Shabbat dinners instead of bringing wine: “Before we even get there, we’re the talk of the dinner.” 

A native of Granada Hills and current Santa Monica resident, Weisstein, 33, studied business and economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and spent eight post-grad years helping to restructure failing companies. 

“We’d go in and act as interim management. It was challenging and exciting and very rewarding. But it made me think about wanting my own business,” he said.

Daneshgar, 32, born and raised in Westlake Village, is an alumnus of  UC Berkeley, where he met fellow grad Shoraka. He was introduced to Weisstein by mutual friends. 

While he was a student, Daneshgar’s expertise as a poker player earned him an invitation to teach a class in statistics and probability in gaming at Berkeley. He turned pro after graduation, becoming a World Series of Poker champion. 

Jetsetting around the world to tournaments was fun and lucrative, and even his conservative Persian-Jewish father, a physician who had hoped he’d be a doctor, warmed to the idea. But after five and a half years, Daneshgar began to think about his next move, which turned out to be the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. 

The school holds a competition called the New Venture Challenge, and Daneshgar decided to enter with the BloomNation concept, which he developed with Weisstein and Shoraka, the latter now CEO. It was inspired by the complaints and challenges faced by Shoraka’s aunt — a florist. 

“We were one of the winners, and through that, people took interest and introduced us [to investors],” Daneshgar said. “They really believe in what we do.” 

The company also got a boost after Daneshgar entered a local poker tournament at a casino in 2011 and won — collecting $27,000.

At first, BloomNation outsourced its Web development, but the partners later decided to bring everyone in-house, for every department. The result has been striking.

“It’s like a family,” Daneshgar said, noting that more than half the employees are Jewish. “I’ve invited a lot of them, Jewish or not, to Shabbat dinner.”

Daneshgar grew up attending Temple Etz Chaim, a Conservative synagogue in Thousand Oaks, and had his bar mitzvah in Israel at the Western Wall. Now he occasionally attends services with his widowed grandmothers — who live in neighboring high-rises — at Sinai Temple in Westwood. They often ask when he’ll get married, and he doesn’t have an answer but confides that he’d like to find “someone who’s really motivated and working at something” with whom he can raise a family.

Weisstein gets the same nudging from his Jewish grandmother, to which he replies: “I’m really focused on flowers right now.”

Not feeling the candy hearts and kitsch? How to turn around 50 shades of abysmal gray


It’s that time of year … chocolates, flowers, jewelry. Sappy advertisements and red and pink store displays. There are reminders everywhere. It’s Valentine’s Day.

Sure, it’s a bit commercial (understatement) but it’s all good. We know that. It’s beautiful to celebrate love.

But what about if you don't have a special someone or even your favorite chocolate already lined up for a great Thursday night? (Or perhaps you have a loving companion but you've somehow lost yourself in the relationship.) Whatever the reason, this day, with its cards and balloons, candy hearts and kitsch, is turning your mood fifty shades of a rather abysmal gray. Instead of bringing you a great sense of joy and intimacy, this so-called celebration feels more about absence or loss. And over the course of a day that seems to have somehow overlooked your very own precious self, you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have a valentine.”

To which we respond, what do you mean you don’t have a valentine?

Of course you have a valentine.

Walk right into the bathroom. Grab a hold of the sink and look up. Yours will be right there waiting, looking you straight in the punim.

Even if you feel very alone at times, you always have a valentine. It’s you.

That’s right. No matter who is or isn’t in your life, you are your own ultimate bashert.

And naturally, you’re fabulous. How lucky you are to have you for a valentine.

Because when you’re very your own valentine, you can celebrate any way you want.

How romantic it would be to buy yourself one perfect red rose. Not a whole bouquet. Just one perfectly closed bud representing your love for yourself. Take this vulnerable darling home and place it in a vase. All it needs is just a little bit of water.

Over the course of a few hours, watch your flower bloom as a symbol of you opening up to the undying expression of your own self love, showing yourself the greatest kindness, compassion and understanding, no matter what life brings.

Choose a song that opens your heart, and helps you dream a little dream, and dance with yourself. That’s right, ignite your own boogie fever. Don’t worry what it looks like. There are no rules here. You don’t even have to watch.

Yes, it's scary to be vulnerable. Even to yourself. But it’s also easy to be your own best valentine, the kind that promises extreme self care, extreme self empathy, extreme self respect. Because when you truly love yourself, every day is Valentine’s Day.

So when you're ready, grab a pen and some paper, or maybe even some broken crayons, and make yourself a good old fashioned valentine. That’s right, make some vows to yourself, to be true to yourself, and be your most authentic self. If you find yourself suddenly tongue tied, feel free to borrow these “Marriage Vows to Me” taken straight from the pages of my book, Hot Mamalah.

It’s true, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of sweethearts. Of relationships. Of your chocolate tooth. We're not denying that. But that doesn't mean it can't also be about celebrating the sweetness of your own life and the most intimate relationship you always have, the one with yourself. Isn't it about time you commit to love, honor and cherish?

Now go on. Get real with yourself and bring a little romance to your game. Valentine’s Day with yourself is EVERY day, forevermore.

That certainly sounds like a great romance to me.

Marriage Vows to Me © Lisa Alcalay Klug, 2012, Hot Mamalah: The Ultimate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe

Mazal tov, now you’re a hot mamalah!

How do you know you're a hot mamalah?

Because you don't have to work hard to be hot. You just have to be you. Your most authentic self is the hottest thing of all.

How can you be sure you’re a hot mamalah?

Because a hot mamalah loves and respects herself.

How can you be positively certain you’re a hot mamalah?

Because a real mamalah is her own best valentine, today and every day.

And when you wake up the morning after, how do you remember you're a hot mamalah?

You. Just. Do.

Happy Valentine’s Day, You!

How sweet it is: behind the buzz at two of California’s hives


Bzzzzzz.

 
I’m trying not to freak out at the high-pitched scream of the bees. See, I’m wearing full protective gear for the honey-making process — a white jumpsuit, a netted straw hat affixed to me with a series of complicated rigmarole of strings (the zipper ones had run out), long tan-leather gloves that reach past my elbow, and socks as high as my knees, with the pants taped down over them. Not an ounce of my skin is exposed, but still I can’t help but feel nervous — it’s Hitchockian, really — as thousands of bees swarm around me.

 
They’re doing this because I’m standing in the beeline — literally the line of passage of bees swarming from the hive because they have been smoked out of there; it’s kind of like the 405 during rush hour, except faster, as they stream out of their man-made hives and into the countryside of Northern California.

 
Call this my week of honey. As the High Holidays approach, I’ve embarked on a two-part honey tour: First, traveling to a friend-of-a-friend’s private honey extracting pre-holiday party at his family villa in Sonoma, and next at a commercial honey farm in Southern California.

 
For as long as Jews have been eating on holidays, it’s been customary to eat honey on Rosh Hashanah, as a symbol of hope for a sweet new year. The tradition of eating honey is ancient, recorded as early as the Babylonian Talmud in the seventh century. There are also many mentions of honey in the Bible, most notably in Exodus, when the land of Canaan promised to the Israelites is called “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Although that honey is thought to be fig or date honey, by using honey on Rosh Hashanah we are remembering Israel, no matter where we are.

 
It is also noted in Psalms that God’s commandments are “sweeter than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb,” and “sweeter than honey to thy mouth.” The High Holidays, which are a time of judgment and preparation for the upcoming year, should be filled with mitzvoth, and honey reminds us of that.

 
We usually eat it with apples, as well as challah, and for many, as part of every recipe on the table. (See recipes throughout this special Rosh Hashanah section.)

 
But where does the honey itself come from? I’d always known generally, on a third-grade science-class level, that bees make honey from flowers, but I’d never really thought about the complicated process that bees go through to make honey, or the complex operation that people go through to get that honey to the table. Until now.

 
It’s Labor Day weekend and instead of lounging out at some pool, I’m standing in a buzzing field, sweating profusely in my mad scientist/spaceship/safari outfit, invading the bees’ habitat in order to help take honey from their hives. These hives are not like I’ve imagined them: those brown, hairy ovals found in trees at summer camp and replicated in ceramic honey holders. Man-made hives look more like small armoires, a short stack of wood dresser drawers, called supers. Each super has about 10 frames, long rectangles dotted with the geometrically perfect honeycombs, the octagons where the honey is deposited. Our goal today: to remove the frames, bring them to the farm, extract the honey, then filter, bottle and label it.

 
They say it’s easier to catch flies with honey, but how do you catch honey?

 
The first thing we have to do is light a fire in the smoker, a can with an accordion-like pump that produces, eponymously, smoke. Bees hate the smell of smoke, so we pump smoke into the top drawer, close the lid and the bees make a mad dash out, which is when I discover, standing in front of the hive is probably not the best place to be.

 
Then we take the frames out of the drawer, brush off the bees and run it over to the car for transportation. (Walk is more like it; it’s not easy to run in this jumpsuit, nor is it smart to make sudden movements near bees — although swarming bees, rushing to get out of their smoky hives, don’t often stop to sting visitors). We have four hives here today — some 40,000 bees — but only two are producing honey. It’s tedious work, this smoking, brushing, transporting of the frames — and it’s only the first step. (I suppose that our job is nothing compared to that of the worker bee, who makes about 40 trips a day to the flowers).

 
Finally, we can take off our paraphernalia for the rest of the process and get out of the hot sun to go to the honey “farm”: It’s more like a high-ceilinged garage structure containing honey extracting equipment.

 
If you’re a good turkey carver, you’d probably be good at scraping off the capping, the layer of capped wax that seals the honey in the frames. But if you’re like me — someone who cooks the bird but never carves it — handling the hot knife turns out to be quite tricky. It’s easy to tell which rectangle frames hold honey — the combs are darker, heavier. I hold the frame diagonally over a container that will catch the drippings, and try to shimmy the knife at an angle. Oops! No, I didn’t slice my finger, just cut too deeply into the combs.

 
I uncap the other side too but my wrist aches and I feel kind of sorry for the poor bees that will have to rebuild the combs just because I’m a lousy home destroyer — I mean carver.

 
I decide to move over to the next step in our human assembly line: combing the frames. I use what looks like a hair pick to scrape off the last remaining wax.

Yeladim


Oh Jerusalem

On June 6, or Iyar 28, we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in honor of the day Jerusalem was reunified during the Six-Day War in 1967.

An Original Word

Etymology – this means “the origin of a word,” or where the word came from. For instance: the word “cap” comes from the Latin word caput, meaning “head.”

Answer these etymological questions:

1. The Assyrians called it Ursalimmu; the Greeks and Romans called it Hierosolyma. What do we call it today?

2. If you got the first question right, answer this one:

The last part of the word is oka.

What does this word mean in Hebrew?

3. And finally: did you answer the second question? So, what does the name of the city mean? It is the city of ________.

Unscramble these letters to get the name of a town in Massachusetts that has a similar name to Jerusalem. (Hint: it wasn’t a very “peaceful” place. They had witch hunts there in the 16th century.)

M L A S E

Why are so many weddings in June?

Fill in the blanks with the following words to get some interesting information about the month of June:

bath, custom, May, flowers, good, smell, married

Next time your Mom reminds you take a bath, think of this fact: back in the 1500s, most people got ______ in June because they took their yearly ____ in _____, and still smelled pretty ______ by June. However, they were starting to ______, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

That is how the _______ of a bride carrying a bouquet got started!

 

Yeladim


 

Inch by Inch, Row by Row!

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, means: “If a woman gives birth,” but it can also mean “plant.” And so, being the beginning of spring, that is exactly what it is time to do!

Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah – One Mitzvah Creates Another

It’s time to plant your mitzvah garden. Create a patch in your garden at home or at school and designate it The Mitzvah Garden. Plant flower seeds or bulbs, and then water and care for them. In about eight weeks, when your flowers have bloomed, clip them and take them as gifts to a hospital or senior center. What a beautiful spring gift.

A Bit of Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22. For ideas of what you can do to celebrate this day, visit www.earthdayla.com. Here are just two of the events:

Earth Day on the Promenade, Third Street Promenade,

April 16, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

WorldFest, Woodley Park, Van Nuys, April 17, 10 a.m-6:30 p.m. $5 (adults), free (kids 12 and younger).

Solve this puzzle to see what you will find there:

1. The largest mammal: (__) __ __ __ __

2. Has two wheels: __ __ (__) __ __ __ __

3. Forest fire bear: __ __ __ __ __ (__)

4. Sun energy: (__) __ __ __ __

5. Makes magic: __ __ __ __ (__) __ __ __

6. Move with music: __ __ (__) __ __ __ __

7. They have eight legs: __ __ (__) __ __ __ __

Figure out what the word are. Then take the letters in the boxes and put them in order here:

__ A __ K __ __ __ I E __ T __ S T

Unscramble the words below for some of the cool things you can do

1. You can POTAD a TTIKEN

2. Help save an AGUTNORAN

3. Eat IOPETHINA food at the international food court.

 

B’nai Mitzvah Planning 101


So you’re going to have a mitzvah — whether it is a bar or a bat, the planning begins early. Way before Hebrew school age, you will hear at least one grandfather wistfully thinking aloud at about age 5, "In eight years, we will have a bar mitzvah."

From there it continues directly to the child. "You’re 7 years old? Why, in only six years, you will become a bar mitzvah."

As the months go by, there will be similar remarks followed by, "I know, papa. Only six more years."

About two years before, the parents will begin to pay attention. The first thing to do is set the date. Once the community calendar has the date, usually around the child’s 13th birthday, you are on your way.

Never had a bar or bat mitzvah before? It’s a piece of cake (usually pareve, even if you don’t keep kosher, in the case of a meat meal).

First you have to decide: Do you want to do what everyone else is doing, or are you going to be different?

The next step is to choose the caterer. If the affair will be held at the synagogue, you will need someone approved by your board. Set those dates and choose your menus. You will usually need something for after service Friday night as well as Saturday noon. Some choose a Saturday evening meal as well.

The bar mitzvah usually consists of a Friday night service and kiddush afterward. Held in the synagogue, we usually assume the people have had a meat meal for Shabbat and will prefer a pareve dessert. The caterers have a wonderful selection of pareve desserts — gooey or not. Along with this, the actual bar mitzvah cake might be on display. Most popular are trays of fruits and small cakes, cookies, cupcakes.

Friday night, after services, also includes coffee, tea and sodas.

Some people have a luncheon and others have a dinner; some have both. For example, some synagogues allow music during the day. In that case, you might have a very celebratory luncheon, along with a band or DJ, and cut the cake along with cutting a rug.

Where music is not allowed in the synagogue, some people choose to take the affair to a restaurant, in which case the rabbi and teachers probably cannot participate. Others wanting to celebrate the bar mitzvah with everyone will have a quiet luncheon and come back to the synagogue — after sundown — for the big celebration with music.

For the luncheon or dinner, after the menu with the caterers is selected, the next step is flowers. You should offer one or two arrangements for the bima. After services, they can be brought down by the caterer or florist to be placed on the stage of the banquet room. Instead of flowers, some choose to have two big baskets filled with food items for the local food bank. What better time to do a mitzvah than when you are having your own mitzvah. Count your blessings by sharing with others.

Are you going to spend a fortune on centerpieces? Does your 13-year-old care about the flowers? Some choose to have the boy or girl’s favorite cake as a centerpiece. You can be sure that a centerpiece of a strawberry shortcake or a half sheet cake of a baseball diamond with bases loaded is very well appreciated by the teen set. When you use the cake theme, each table has a cake big enough for the people at that table.

You can choose to have music or not — and, most important, you can dance to your own tune.

Flowers Make the Wedding Bloom


Flowers are often a big part of anyone’s wedding day, from the bouquets the bride and her attendants carry to the chuppah decorations and the table centerpieces at the reception hall. Many times the flowers are what the guests remember about the wedding (unless a minor disaster strikes). Deciding which flowers to use for what arrangements, though, can be a dizzying experience, thanks to the availability of different types and colors of flowers at all times of the year.

Choosing Flowers

“Using flowers that are in season will help keep the costs down,” says Chris Kuhlman of Tioga Gardens in Owego, N.Y. “Many flowers are in season all the time, as flowers come from all over world.” Some, he said, are very expensive regardless of the time of year, such as lily of the valley and calla lilies, because flowers like that are not used as much, so the supply and demand cost is higher.

Florist Pat Van Tuyl said, “What seems to be popular these days are the Asiatic lilies, the Oriental lilies, the Stargazer lilies, which are pink, and the Alstroeneria lilies, which come in yellows, lavenders, whites, pinks and reds,” he said. “Roses are still real popular too.”

Good choices for spring weddings, Kuhlman said, include tulips, irises, daffodils and other bulb flowers. In the summer and early fall, though, those aren’t such good choices, even thought they may still be available, because the quality won’t be as good, and those flowers can’t handle the heat as well.

For mothers’, grandmothers’ and aunts’ corsages, sweetheart roses, cymbidium orchids and gardenias are still popular, although Van Tuyl notes that the last are often delicate, turning brown if brushed against.

Decorations

Using similar-looking flowers throughout the wedding ties everything together, Scott MacLennan, of MacLennan’s Flowers, noted. “We coordinate the flowers with the bridesmaids’ dresses and the bride’s bouquet, and carry that through to the reception,” he said.

Kuhlman thinks there should be some coordination between the flowers used in the ceremony and the reception. For example, the bridal bouquet and synagogue flowers may use softer or fewer colors, while at the reception the colors go brighter, he says. “Going from an afternoon ceremony to an evening reception might also include a different look for the flowers.”

Some brides do ask for pew decorations, MacLennan notes, “depending on how elaborate the wedding is and the finances, who’s paying for it.” Flower arrangements for the wedding can cost $100 to $3,000, again “depending on whether 50 people are coming and the reception’s at the Legion Hall, or if 300 guests will be attending the reception at the country club,” he said.

Another thing Van Tuyl sees is a move away from table centerpieces at the receptions. “They were hard to hold conversations around,” he said. Instead, there is now a new container which has a large base and a center-holder that puts the flowers up 32-36 inches, enabling conversation to flow more freely at the tables.

Floral Wedding Themes

A lot of times, Kuhlman said, “We do a theme all in one color. White can be a very striking color visually, and we do the bouquets and decorations with some greenery” for a splash of color. For instance, “a New Year’s theme could be done all in silver with accents,” he says.

Basically, the theme depends on what mood the bride wants to create — classic and subtle or a little wild, Kuhlman says. “If they want a taste of glitz we can do that, and it can be fun. Often, though, we do something elegant, not so bright or glitzy. All weddings have some look, for instance, Victorian or more modern, or even tropical, which can be dramatic and bold.

“Sometimes,” Kuhlman continued, “we’ve done harvest themes in the fall. That look can be very gorgeous, with fruits put in with the flowers in the centerpieces.”

Bridesmaids’ Bouquets and More

If a bride wants her bridesmaids’ dresses to match their bouquets, Kuhlman stated that he needs to see the color of the dress. “Often there needs to be some contrast,” he said. “If it’s subtle, we can do shades of flowers similar to the dress. But if you have a little contrast the flowers show up better in the pictures.”

The attendants’ bouquets really should complement, rather than match, their dresses, Van Tuyl states. “Brides come in and try to match the flowers to the dresses, but then they won’t show up well in photos,” he said. “For instance, if the dress is blue, then maybe a few blue flowers could be used mixed in with pinks and whites, which will look much better.”

The Bride’s Bouquet

Many brides these days are having two bridal bouquets made, one to walk with and keep for themselves and the other to throw.

“We’ve been doing toss bouquets for a long time,” Kuhlman said. “Usually the toss bouquet is a miniature version of the main one. The bouquets do keep for a while, and now flowers can be preserved through freeze-drying. People can go to Precious Petals for that. Some flowers freeze-dry better than others, though,” he warned.

Van Tuyl said he will often include a free, smaller throw bouquet for the wedding, as many brides today want to keep their bouquets and have them freeze-dried.

The Consultation

MacLennan said the first consultation could take up to an hour and should be three to six months ahead of the wedding date, “after the dresses are chosen and a color picked.” There might be a few other times where the flower order is fine-tuned, based on the number of attendants, the number of tables at the reception and how many people have RSVPed. “Sometimes the bride will call with a question or we’ll call her with a question, and then the answer needs to be researched,” he said.

For consulting on the flower arrangements to be used in any wedding, Van Tuyl said he needed at least three weeks’ notice, although more time is welcome.

“For instance, if the wedding is in October, they should come in during July or August, which provides plenty of time. If they want gardenias, calla lilies and others, I need three weeks to special order the flowers. It usually only takes [about] an hour to discuss the wedding orders,” he noted, adding that he does have a book with photographs of different arrangements for couples to look through for inspiration.

Overall, the choice of flowers comes down to what the bride wants, what her tastes are, what colors she likes and what look she wants to create, Kuhlman said. “I need to meet with the bride, the parents and the groom to find out what they like.”