Before our good friends Monique and Jay went back to the States to both marry and relocate to their mutual hometown area of Chicago, we hosted a little send-off dinner for them.
The bride-to-be’s favorite color is purple, so I wanted to highlight that, but also mixed in some yellow to make things a little more summery.
Although, I’m a huge fan of professional florists, they’re not always in the budget… and so I often turn to bulk flowers.
In Hong Kong, I’ve had excellent luck with HingFatFlora: firstname.lastname@example.org. I know my sister-in-law Rosie is a big fan of BloomsByTheBox in the US.
In this ridiculous heat, the first thing I did was get those steaming flowers right into ice water and stuck them all right under the AC!
And then the pruning begins. I am far from a brilliant floral arranger, but one thing I do know is you have to get rid of a LOT of those leaves… you really don’t want any leaves below the water, or really the vase, line.
The one ESSENTIAL tool for DIY-flowering is Japanese (yes, they make the best ones) floral shears. They are super precise and last forever. If yours get a little rusty as mine have from time to time–although I do try to wipe them down after using them–a little WD40 will do the trick.
I really like these Ohkubu shears from Korin. Floral shears also make lovely shower or birthday gifts by the way… even if you’re not DIYing your flowers, you should always trim any flowers you receive on a bias for a longer life!
I don’t have seating for 15 so I ended up renting tables and chairs from Relish Kitchen. I used some purple cloth napkins underneath my arrangements so they would really pop off the long table.
The one thing that is helpful with flowers by bulk is to know the names of flowers you like so you can order appropriately, but it’s easily remedied… sometimes I start with a simple ‘purple flower google’ and lots of pretty things pop up.
The guests of honor are both vegetarians, I served a chilled gazpacho and coordinated another vegetarian salad bar–see one from May here!–and had several guests brings salads to round out the menu. Even with 15 guests, I think everyone still managed to get very full even without meat.
Oh and then there was the cake! I made Sweetapolita’s lavender and lemon cake.
I was really happy with how it turned out. You basically soak lavender in milk for the cake and then you also make a frosting with lavender infused milk. In between layers goes fresh lemon curd.
Personally, I can find lavender in food to be a bit too cloying and soap-like, but the acidity of the lemon balanced that out perfectly.
I think everyone had a nice time and enjoyed getting to spend some real quality team with the departing guests of honor.
I especially loved when we were all sitting around the table toasting and roasting them!
Meeting fascinating new friends is the best part of living abroad. Saying good-bye to them is the worst!