Thursday, March 5, 2015

how to make your own succulent wreath

Have you ever wondered if you could make your own succulent garden wreath?  It's really not that hard!  And, the Garden Apothecary is sharing her 5 simple steps with us today!  Here's what you need to start creating your very own custom, healthy and gorgeous succulent wreath.
 Step 1 – Gather Your Goods.
All you will need as a base  is a pre-made wreath form.  Here is an inexpensive but super durable form, from this company on amazon.  Once you have your wreath form and pins (pins are not necessary if the cuttings have been inserted properly, but they help), it’s time to gather your succulent cuttings. The easiest way to do this is to simply pluck cuttings that are thriving in your garden, or purchase some at a local nursery or flower center. Cut the stems about 3 in length.  You will need about 12 medium to large (2-3 in diameter each) pieces of succulent cuttings, and about 10 – 15 smaller pieces. Pieces that have woody, strong but thinner stems are the best. If you are ordering online be sure to ask for those characteristics in the cuttings.
Favorite varieties to use in wreaths are:
Echeveria (use multiple types)
Sedum (the smaller kind cascades nicely)
Jade (variegated if you can find it)
Aeonium (black is always gorgeous against the green/blues)
 Step 2 – Soak.
Next, you will need to prep your goodies by soaking them in water. Use a bucket to soak the wreath or use a hose. Be sure to lay the wreath flat and fully saturate with water. This should take about 1-2 minutes, no more. Don’t over saturate, as the moss will start to become soggy and messy – too hard to work with.  If you have over saturated, just let it dry out for about an hour or so.  Next take your succulent cuttings and clean off any excess dirt, debris and dead or yellowing leaves from the stem and the base of the “head”.  You will also want to wash off and soak the cuttings in order to clean and hydrate them. Again, in a bucket for a minute or so. Give them a good shake to whisk away any excess water. Once the wreath and cuttings are watered, lay them flat and organize by variety and color.
 Step 3 – Arrange.
Think of this step as you would a flower arrangement.  Where will the wreath live?  Is it for a party or holiday?  What type of exposure will it get?  Make a note on your calendar to take it down and water it twice a month.  Arrange the larger succulents into groups towards the bottom of the wreath, eying where they would look nice. Then roughly arrange the smaller cuttings around the rest of the wreath form, generally placing them where they might look best.
 Step 4 – Install cuttings.
Once your prep is complete and you have roughly eyed where you think the cuttings will look the best, you can get started planting! Start planting the larger cuttings first by inserting the wreath with a sharp, clean pair of clippers (the ones used on the cuttings). The secret is to not make the hole too big, make it just wide enough to get the stem in. Once the stem is in the moss hole, you can twist it fully in, securing it down with mild force. A large nail to make the holes will work, too. Make the holes per the size of your cuttings, one at a time.  Be sure to cut the stems if they are too long, and hold them by the head gently to twist them into the hole. If you made a mistake, or the hole is too large and the cutting isn’t staying in – simply remove it and start a new hole in a different part of the wreath. Give the wreath a bit of time to recover that hole (it’s a bit mushy and will bounce back) and go back to it in a few minutes.  Continue to turn the wreath and look from all angles so that you have fully planted the entire form.
Step 5 – Finish and hang. 
Your wreath is now almost complete!  For the last step, you can hold the wreath up to make sure nothing is falling out from being too heavy or not inserted enough. If you need to pin some of the cuttings you can do so – but don’t stab into the leaves, pin around them. Your wreath should lay flat in a sunny location for about 4 weeks before you hang it, but  if planted correctly, you can hang right away.  Feel free to add a lovely silk ribbon or twine hanger to the wreath for some added color and hanging support.  Depending on your exposure and weather, water about 1-2 times per month, until it’s fully saturated. Your wreath is living – so mostly keep them outside in full to part sun. and treat it with loving care! Once it grows too big for the form or for your aesthetics – simply pull it a part and start again! You will find the wreath should hold up fine and you will have a lot more cuttings then when you started.
Thank you to the Garden Apothecary, in Half Moon Bay, California for sharing your fun project with us!

ciao! Fabiana

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

roasted tomato basil soup

Nothing surpasses the combination of fresh tomatoes and basil. On the menu tonight, Ina Garten's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, with grilled cheese sandwiches of course.  Look at how yummy the roasted tomatoes are!  Imagine them in a soup, heavenly!
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten


3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

ciao! Fabiana

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

weekend getaway essentials

Packing for a weekend getaway is not that difficult, if you remember to include some of your favorite goodies.   For me, it’s my favorite Guess jeans, a few comfortable and cute tops and my favorite Tieks, which are foldable adorable flats that come in the most gorgeous colors and patterns.  My current favorite is my pair of leopard Tieks.  Leopard seems to go with just about everything!  A must-pack item is a travel size of Downy Wrinkle Releaser.  Once you have tried this product, you will see what I mean about it being a necessity for any trip.  I just leave one in my bag!  Just spray and forget about it!  No ironing required! I also coordinate any jewelry I am bringing.  Either all gold, or all silver makes it easier to throw on.  And, I always bring a scarf or two in case it gets chilly.
Look at how easy it is to pack jewelry and other small items in this Stella &Dot “Hang On” travel case.  Everything is now visible and ready to hang at my destination! 
And speaking of Stella & Dot, I can’t forget my favorite “Getaway” bag.  Look at how it expands for all the extra shopping I will most likely do.  It’s so pretty and practical!  
With Tieks, there are so many possibilities!

I always bring a good book or two.
Two of my beauty essentials are a good lip balm and my treasured rose water spray!  I have a bottle of rose water and lip balm on my night stand, in my bathroom, in my car and on my desk.  I am always ready for a spritz and a dab!  The rose water is perfect for spraying on before applying lotion on your face and body.  I love Burt's Bee's tinted lip balm for any trip.
I must have a sleep mask too, ear pugs are optional.  
Here's one like Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Of course, room service is always fun!

ciao! Fabiana

(rings and bracelets by Stella & Dot)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Downton Abbey's alternate finale

Did you know there's an alternate 
ending to the Downton Abbey finale? 
This is hilarious! (and there's a part 2)

ciao! Fabiana

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday home tour in Hollywood

Inside the historic Hollywood home of
the creator of Mad Men.


for details, visit luxe

ciao! Fabiana

Saturday, February 28, 2015

make your own terrarium

Doesn't this sound like a fun DIY class?  You will be able to create your own terrarium at Roger's Gardens here in Newport Beach! This is a really easy  workshop where you will walk away with your very own 'Garden Under Glass' creation. Create your own terrarium with a collection of compatible plants featuring indoor foliage for a natural woodland scene or a beach cottage design. There is a registration fee that includes the glass terrarium, soil, plants, and instructions. Go to for more info.
Terrarium Workshop
Saturday, March 14 at 11 AM & 2 PM

ciao! Fabiana
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