Mailbox curb appeal.

April 11th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. They are tall or short, wooden or brick, country and modern. Some look like miniature replicas of our house. Others like John Deere tractors. But most look like the traditional box and red flag that we all know so well. They often don’t look a thing alike, but they all have the same purpose: to hold the mail.

Without many of us realizing it, our mailboxes are actually the first impression of our homes. They stand proudly at the end of our driveways greeting our guests as they arrive. With just a bit of creativity and some maintenance put into the landscaping of this small area, the paybacks can be quite rewarding. Consider using silk flowers and artificial vines or plants to reduce maintenance.

Here is a short list of easy ideas for the mailbox area:

1. Used like a trellis, a mailbox can be a great place to add some green. Creeping plants such as clematis, moonflower, Virginia creeper, kiwi vine, and bougainvillea are nice plants for such uses.

2. Make an even circle around the base of the mailbox and remove grass. Fill in with rich soil and use the area to plant flowers and small shrubs. For a nice finishing touch, add mulch or decorative smooth stones. For lower maintenance with the same impact, use artificial plants designed for outdoor usage.

3. Not only will adding house numbers to your mailbox add to its curb appeal, it will also make your home much easier to find.

4. With a sanding block, a half gallon of fresh outdoor paint, and an hour or two of elbow grease, your old wooden mailbox post can look like new again. If necessary, replace or paint the box as well.

5. People with large brick homes often build large brick mailboxes for a very rich and refined first impression. This can get expensive, but the upkeep is minimal and the effect is well worth the extra cash spent.

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Window boxes.

April 10th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Adding window boxes do for a home what a beautiful frame does for a print… especially for homes where landscaping is sparse.   It’s amazing what that small rectangular box of greenery and flowers will do for the first impression appearance of your home’s exterior.

Window boxes themselves come in a broad variety of materials.  Vinyl, aluminum, brick, pottery, hayrack trough, wood, copper, and bronze name just a few.  However, use care when picking the.  Don’t select it just because you like it – be sure it is made of a material that compliments the structure and decoration of your home’s exterior. 

Start by finding a lightweight potting mix for container gardening. Soilless planting mixes provide excellent drainage, water-holding capability, and aeration.  Do not place pebbles in the bottom of the container.  This will allow for better drainage.

Add your foliage first and then your flowering plants last.  It is highly recommended to use a combination of live and artificial plants for creating your window boxes.  A box on the side of your house, often 10 or more feet in the air, is not the easiest place to access for weekly maintenance.   Also, that way, when the live plants are doing their live plant thing and shedding brown, crinkled leaves or losing blossoms, your arrangement doesn’t lose its luster until the next batch of blooms come along.  By facilitating the use of silk flowers or artificial plants, you can cut your work in half or eliminate it altogether if you’d like.  With hypoallergenic benefits, this is also a favorable option for seasonal allergy sufferers. 

Once your arrangement has been made, fix the box to the intended area and water weekly.  Apply pesticide to keep plant bugs from entering your home through the windows where they are hung.  This is another benefit of choosing to use artificial flowers and silk plants.

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Low maintenance sunroom gardens.

April 9th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Adding a sunroom this year? Already have one? Having a sunroom keeps summer and spring alive in your home year round – regardless of snow, sleet, or cloudy days. One doesn’t need to be a green-thumb to accessorize with flower blooms and bright vibrant greenery. Instead of live plants that require intense maintenance and tending, consider silk flower arrangements and artificial plants.

Silk flower arrangements and artificial plants have certainly come a long way in the last half decade. To look at them now, you’d have to double or triple check to be sure they actually aren’t live. With extremely lifelike blooms, leaves and branches, you’re sure to have your own garden in no time. Their hypoallergenic benefits and extremely low maintenance make shopping for high-quality artificial plants simple and enjoyable.

Start with a mix of tall potted artificial trees. Depending on the atmosphere you are trying to create, trees such as bonsai or ficus bring a certain oriental flare. Of course, there are the more traditional options as well – palms of many varieties, bamboo, maple, flowering trees, and tropical silk trees name just a few. Add depth and height to corner spaces of your sunroom with tall trees.

Then fill in the room with tabletop potted plants. Sticking to artificial plants will mean very little maintenance for you. Just a weekly dusting and they will fool even your toughest critics. Select items already in beautiful pots that coordinate with your décor. Bromeliad, wild grass, cycas palm, Athenian, laurel, ivy, ferns, wild onion grass. Choose large greenery arrangements.

And last, select an array of bright blooms. Silk flowers in acrylic water are a nice table centerpiece. Consider a lovely hanging basket of impatients or geraniums to add more height or a wreath of magnolia, daisy, hydrangea, or roses to hang on the wall behind sun room furniture or on the patio door. You can even fill in with some live plants as well to enjoy their scent and oxygenation benefits.

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Office decor.

April 8th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Bringing warmth and atmosphere into the office area will benefit not only the mood but also, as a byproduct, your production level.  Happy, comfortable employees are more enjoyable to be around and more likely to enjoy their work.

Decorating the office is simple.  To maintain a professional standard, one of the best ways to liven up your environment is to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside.  Selecting artificial plants and silk floral arrangements instead of live ones will greatly reduce any maintenance required and completely eliminate all adverse allergic reactions that some of your employees suffer from. 

In recent years, the artificial plants and silk flowers industry has come a long way from its plastic ancestors that our mothers would know about.  High quality silks are so realistic and life-life that even green-thumbs are known to stop for a smell test.  This is also a great way to get more long-term “bang for your buck” as live trees, plants, and flowers are quite pricey and need to be replaced often.

Here is a short list of ideas to bring life to your office:

  • Add a burst of color and life to each desk with a small silk flower arrangement and greenery.  For a true-to-life affect, change the silk flower arrangements as the seasons change.  Daisies in winter-time will seem as odd as poinsettias in summer! 
  • Add beautiful arrangement of miniature silk topiaries to your bathroom counter or ledge. 
  • Place a hanging basket in the break room and in the lobby of the office. 
  • Plants and flowers also make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries at the company, or promotions. 

Please visit our vast selection of exquisite silk plants and silk floral arrangements.   Each of our arrangements is designed meticulously by hand and we’re so certain that you’ll love them as much as we do that we back our commitment to you, the customer, with a satisfaction guaranteed, money-back policy.

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Gifts for teacher.

April 7th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

They taught us to read and write and count and spell.  They taught us manners and how to interact with other children and how to respect the authorities in our lives outside of mom and dad.  Their contribution to our lives is immeasurable.  To say we wouldn’t be who we are now without their investment into our earlier life is an understatement to be sure.

Now the years have passed and it is our son or daughter now heading off every day to grow and learn and be shaped into the educated adult they will become.  Each day, we pack their lunches and tie bows in their curls before sending them off for another day with their teachers.  We place all of our confidence and trust in the skills and love of these special women and men who’ve chosen to dedicate their life’s work to our children.  Some of us even grew up to become teachers ourselves – often inspired by to do so because of a long-lost but well-remembered teacher in our elementary years that left a remarkable impression on our young life.

Precious few opportunities arise each year to give teachers the proper praise the are due.  When one such occasion arrives, this year, leave the red shiny apple in the refrigerator drawer and give them a gift that truly lets them know you appreciate how important they really are.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

Crafts made by their own students are often the most love gifts by all teachers.  The time and creativity exerted shows them that not only are they appreciated, they also see that the gifts and talents they are bestowing upon the children are coming back to them in tangible form.  Wooden calendars are nice gifts because they can be kept in the classroom and enjoyed by all.

Teachers aren’t teacher 24/7.  When they go home at 3:30, they become normal people with normal lives and normal interests.  Find out what your teacher’s favorite foods or forms of entertainment are and then surprise them with a gift certificate.

A homemade craft to be used as décor for teacher’s desk is always a big hit as well.  A quick visit to the local hobby and craft store will render countless ideas that any child can complete on his own.  Frames, decorated boxes for pencils, flower-pen/pencil bouquet, or a change dish to be used for paper clips and erasers are nice examples.

Gifts of flowers and plants are exception ideas because the teacher can choose whether to enjoy them at school or to take them home to keep there.  For a plant gift offering a longer-term enjoyment, consider an artificial plant, decorative wreath, or silk flower arrangement.  With extremely life like blooms, leaves, and branches and very low maintenance, it’s the gift that just keeps on giving.

Gift baskets have become quite popular in the past decade.  All you need to know are just a few personal tidbits of information about your lucky recipient and you yourself can design a basket for their exact likings.  What better way to tell them that they are special than to notice the small details of their likes and dislikes.

Never give a gift without taking the time to pick up a real pen and a real paper and write a real note.  In this era of technology, we forget the powerful impact of person to person contact that a hand written card can afford.

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Sympathy flowers and plants for funerals and graveside memorials.

April 6th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Funerals are a time of sadness, mourning, and silent contemplation.  Our most dearly loved friends and family gather to celebrate a life lived and the grief of our loss.  It is traditional to express our condolences to the immediate family of the deceased with gifts of plants and flowers.  On the anniversary of death, it is also customary to visit the final resting place and leave a memorial wreath or bouquet.

On both such occasions, gift givers often don’t think of the time and skill required to maintain live plants or of the short lived enjoyment of fresh cut flowers.  Instead of giving a live gift, why not consider a gift of an artificial plant or silk flower arrangement.  Not only are they hypoallergenic – making this a friendly gift for allergy sufferers – they are extremely low maintenance and will last year after year. 

Here are some examples:

For funerals, lilies are traditional flowers to give as gifts to the immediate family of the deceased.  Lilies symbolize new beginnings, change, and fresh starts.   In the midst of sadness, they offer a burst of joy and hope.  Other flower arrangements suitable for funerals would be:  roses, stargazer lilies, azalea, and white gerbera daises are just a few.  Potted plants are another appropriate gift – spathiphyllum, ferns, variegated ivy, dieffenbachia, and any combination of potted greenery.

For a graveside memorial piece, consider a decorative wreath with beautiful silk flowers and greenery.  Wreath stands can often be purchased wherever wreaths are sold.  You can also select a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a potted plant, or even an artificial plant or flower to plant into the ground.  Selecting a silk plant means that it will endure the elements and require no maintaining, however, live plants are just as appropriate for the occasion.

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April showers bring spring flowers.

April 5th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

It is a time of new beginnings.  Spring is making her first appearance onto a landscape still browned from the frozen months of winter.  Bulb plants burst through the soil, begin to grow, and bring with them warmer shades of green grass and blue skies. 

Decorating for spring might be one of the easiest and most natural of all holidays.  A lush bouquet of iris, lilies, or tulips evokes happy thoughts of winter being nearly over.  Baskets overflowing with greenery and brightly colored blooms seem as natural as the transformation taking place just outside the window.  Nothing says spring like the presence of flowers and plant life bursting through your home and office.

Creating spring ambience can easily be done with flowers and plants. 

          Add warmth to your patio lunch with a stunning arrangement of calla lilies in a crystal vase. 

          Bring spring to your office with a large bountiful arrangement of greenery and tulips arranged beautifully in an urn. 

          Grace your outdoor celebration with a palm artificial tree and a few spring bulb silk floral arrangements such as iris, daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth, and many more.

Now that spring has arrived consider an arrangement of silk flowers in acrylic water or an artificial plant designed especially to bring spirit of spring into your home – not just this year, but many more to follow.   Each plant and flower is arranged by the hands of our talented designers.  Contact one of our professionals for more suggestions and excellent customer care.

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The overnight home renovation: Presto Chang-o!

April 4th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Changing a space from boring and outdated to sleek, comfy, and modern is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3.  Well, and four.
#1.  Paint
#2.  Trim
#3.  Light
#4.  Accessorize

This formula isn’t news by any means, but its true simplicity is often over looked.  Updating a living room, bedroom, or entire floor seems like something that could cost tens of thousands and take months on end.  And while it certainly can be a project of that magnitude, so long as you have a few essentials, such as decent cabinetry and doors, with a few hundred dollars and two to three concentrated weekends, you can be enjoying a seemingly brand new area in no time.

#1.  Paint:
Paint selection should bring corners and bends to life with a combination of contrast and blend.

Paint application is not meant to be a cover-up – it is meant to enhance the existing elements of your room.  In other words, don’t use paint in place of spackle.  Take the time to prep your walls by hand.  Use a six inch carpenter’s tape knife and run across the entire surface of the room to remove nicks, previous paint drips, and unwanted nails and screws.  Remove unsightly baseboards and trim during this step.  Then, using the same knife (or larger, depending on need), apply joint compound to holes and areas where defects were removed.  Add strength to corners by applying coats of compound to both angles.  Allow to fully dry and hit each patch with a 220 grit sanding block (or if necessary, such as for ceilings, a sanding pole).  Repeat process until walls are completely ready for paint. 

Blue painter’s tape is the 8th wonder of the world in my book.  With extra care given to precise application, tape desired corners and seams.  Cut-in first with a wedge brush and then roll the room to perfection.  Use up and down motion when rolling.  Floor to ceiling, ceiling to floor.  This will help you avoid the “sectioned” look when your paint has dried.  Remove blue tape immediately.  Never allow tape to be left on longer than 24 hours after paint application as adhesion to tape may occur and cause the paint to lift from wall when later removed.

#2.  Trim:
Once paint has dried for 3 to 4 days, add new baseboard and trim.  For a modern look, select a wide variation in paint grade wood and apply a white primer coat before hanging.  Touch up with semi or high gloss paint and caulk.  Be sure that all trims in room are the same color of paint or shade of stain.

#3.  Light:
Consider replacing existing light fixtures with updated models for a quick and painless way to complete your work.

#4.  Accessorize:
Like a great frame on a beautiful print, no room is finished until properly accessorized.  Depth and texture can be easily accomplished by exercising care with the placement of furniture and using plants to give height where it is needed.  But don’t get carried away: “less is more” is a great rule of thumb when it comes to interior decorating.  If space permits, consider positioning just one item of large furniture (preferably a chair, love seat, or table) at an off angle from the rest of the arrangement.  This gives the illusion of a much more spacious area.

Remember the three P’s of accessorizing: 
– pictures
– plants
– pillows

Pictures should be hung at eye level and if furniture is all the same height, consider adding a floor lamp or tall candle sticks next to them to break up the height monotony.   Plants will add a boost of fine elegance and refinery like no other accessory.  Consider purchasing upscale silk plants and silk flower arrangements as a long term investment.  The only thing that looks worse than no plants is a dead and wilted one with brown crispy leaves.  Pillows are such an inexpensive accessory, yet, take them out of the room, and most of the color goes with them.  Determine the colors you intend to use as accents to your walls and furniture and select six to eight pillows of varying size and pattern and place them as you wish, randomly or uniformly, on your couches and chairs.  A rug that coordinates with your pillows will be the perfect “tie together” for the whole room – especially if it carries the main accent color of the room.

And there you have it, the “few hundred bucks PRESTO CHANGE-O”!!  Now all you need is an excuse to throw a bash so you can share your enjoyable results with your friends and family.

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Orchids.

April 3rd, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Very possibly the most romanticized flower of all, the orchid stands on its own when it comes to stunning color and breathtaking beauty.  Most often thought of as a spring flower, orchids actually bloom year round – those blooms often living for up to four months.  Because of their somewhat picky taste for high maintenance, orchid lovers have turned to the designer silk plant industry and found lifelike and realistic duplicates that require no maintenance and no naturally acquired green thumb.

Orchids come in several shapes, colors, and sizes.

Tall and slender:  Cymbidium, Moon, Odontoglossum, Spider
Large and spectacular:  Dendrobium, Plalaenopsis
Small and delicate:  Oncidium, Lady Slipper
Full and graceful:  Cattleya, Vanda

These are just a few of the orchid family’s popular pleasers.   Each blooms in nature in an array of colors ranging from light lavender, rich red, exotic orange, and the stun and simplicity of pure white.

A silk orchid arrangement can be purchased in several forms.  Because of their one-of-a-kind style and beauty, even a handful of orchid stems arranged gracefully in a tall crystal vase can add a breath of romance and elegance into any room in your home or office.  Visit our assortment of silk flowers in acrylic water to see examples of prearranged orchids set in Liquid Illusion.  They also come prearranged by our professional design team in pleasing potted arrangements complimented with greenery.  

Like fresh cut flowers, no two orchid arrangements are the same.  Use these showy flowers anywhere you’d like to add a boost of glamor and intrigue to your environment.



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The front porch: as American as apple pie.

April 2nd, 2008 by Heather Dyer

One of the most relaxing places of the home is the front porch.  Whether enjoyed during a quiet morning moment sipping hot tea or during a luxurious moment of dark silence admiring the wonder of the open night sky, a front porch is an American symbol of home, family, and prosperity.

A front porch is relaxing and cozy enough that very little effort needs to be exerted to turn ordinary into extraordinary.  Here are a few inexpensive solutions that can be used and repeated year after year.

For as long as there have been front porches, there have been front porch swings with which to enjoy them!  Select a sturdy, high quality swing that will endure the elements well.  If a swing isn’t an option, consider a glider bench or rocking chair – or both.  If possible, choose a piece that will match the wood of your porch or the trim of your house.  Add to your furniture with a side table for flowers or potted plants and a long narrow table for books, magazines, and pitchers of homemade lemonade.

Don’t let your beautiful porch look neglected with old and peeling paint.  With a few gallons of primer and paint, a few heavy duty sanding blocks, and a concentrated weekend of time, one can easily bring their beloved front porch back to life.

Display the stars and stripes with pride.  It doesn’t get more American than that.

During summer, have a handful of pillows or cushions of varying size and shape to help yourself or your guests make yourself cozy and comfy.

Accessorize according to season.  In spring, fill large pots and planters to overflowing with spring bulb plants and flowers.  In summer, more greenery and blooms, plus – space permitting – perhaps a small table to display a vase of fresh cut flowers and to hold a pitcher of iced tea.  In fall, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, bound straw, and potted mums are a definite pleaser.  In winter, while furniture is stored indoors, consider a lit artificial Christmas tree, a decorative wreath hanging and a silk poinsettia potted next to the front door, and the porch and house trimmed with lights.  Consider the use of artificial plants and silk flower arrangements in your front porch decorating.  They require little to no maintenance and are so lifelike and convincing that even the most experienced green-thumb often needs a touch-test to be sure.

In our busy, non-stop, go-go-go world, carving out times for relaxation will reduce the adverse health affects of stress and make you more enjoyable to be around.   Put your own front porch to use this year and live at a slower, more relaxed pace.

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