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If you’re like me, building even just one bouquet can take on the upwards of a half an hour, trying to piece together flowers that complement one another, constantly adding and subtracting for just the right look. However, after recently taking a local cut flower workshop, I realize it actually is possibly to build several bouquets, even enough to take to market, within a much more reasonable time. In fact, treating your bouquets like any other end-product, there is a clear and simple recipe for constructing the most beautiful market arrangements without stumbling over aesthetics as each new flower is added to the bundle. Try this “recipe” to start building your best bouquets yet!

All bouquets should have the following ingredients. It’s important to note that these ingredients should be added to the bouquet in the sequential order as well.

Focals

Focal flowers are the largest, most eye-catching flowers in the bouquet. Choose just one focal, adding in one stem for a small bouquet or two stems for a large bouquet. Some popular focals include sunflowers, zinnias, dahlias, and ranunculus.

Spikes

Spikes should be added just after the focals. Spikes get their name simply from the actual shape of the flowers. Spike flowers are often quite colorful, adding a vertical dimension to the bouquet and attracting onlookers. Experiment with snapdragons, stock, lupine, or foxgloves to add this necessary element to your bouquets. Three stems often suffice; however, larger bouquets might have five spike stems inside.

Disks

Disks are flowers that are similar to focal flowers but are often smaller in size and take on a nice rounded shape. Disks are essentially bouquet bulk builders, filling in empty space and increasing the lushness of the bouquet. Common disks include perennial rudbeckia, asters, crested cockscomb, and cosmos. Try 3-5 disk stems for your bouquet.

Filler

All bouquets have filler–the green foliage that adds life and texture to the bouquet. Fillers can also act as a border for the bouquet, offering more of a color “pop” with the accented green. Traditional fillers include amaranth, basil, raspberry, or apple mint, just to name a few! Here you’ll need about 3-5 stems to complete your bouquet.

Air

Adding flowers that have an airy-like quality are attractive with the added element of movement and lightness. Bachelor buttons, Chinese forget-me-nots, scabiosa, some grasses, and even poppy pods are an excellent place to start! Adding this final element to your bouquet will certainly boost your market appeal. Just 2-3 stems per bouquet should do the trick!

Prepare yourself by laying each of the flower types into its own pile in sequential order from focals through air elements. Just like an assembly line, starting with your focal, add the allotted number of stems to your bouquet until to the end, gently turning the bouquet as your move down the line. Try not to get too caught up in what it looks like during the process as this will slow your productivity! Enjoy the surprise of the beauty of this recipe will naturally create. Tie off the stems with a rubber band, chop the ends of the stems, and package in a nice floral sleeve. With this process, you’ll never spend more than an hour on your entire market share of bouquets!

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Oh, we are all about…




The Business Gal

Yes, the point of building a homestead is to be self-sufficient, healthier and live a good life that we can be proud of. And yes, somewhere along the way, I want it to be more of a business – making money from the land too. What can I say? My husband and I are also business people and have had very successful home-based businesses in the past, so why not use the skills we have to help the homestead along?

The business application: What skills do you have?

I had a home-based web design business. I LOVE web design. I went in head first and my heart has stayed there even to this day. But I had to let it go since running a (mostly) one-woman show took all of the time I had and more. I didn’t have the drive it takes to fully devote my entire life to it, since my life was about my family. So I do it for fun now.

And then there is the hubby’s business: construction. He is a general contractor that usually subs out any work that he can’t do himself. That was all fine and dandy until the day we decided to build our own home. I suddenly found myself an employer with employees. Wow! What a whirlwind of rules and regulations that was! I can now say that I am an authority on graciously firing numskulls, jumping through hoops for the Feds, and handing over payroll tax money without crying.

And speaking of taxes, I taught myself how to prepare our personal taxes and did them for several years. We used to have our taxes prepared by a professional until I got the bright idea to save money and volunteered to do them. “How hard could it be? We have Turbo Tax!” The hubby took over when I could no longer speak, only babble, come April 15th.

And finally, I used to manage an apartment building and still manage our rental home to this day. I know the California Tenant-Landlord Handbook like the back of my hand. I have a smart-looking suit and sensible shoes (ready to wear) for the moment I have to go to court on any problem that may arise. My management style is to the point, reasonable and most of all it’s fair.

Old Homestead Hideaway: Your lifestyle is your business?

So, with all of the above experience, why not continue to use it right? Seems logical to me. I can see myself sitting at a farmstand or selling our goods online or at the Farmers’ Market downtown. I can see us teaching others the how to’s of homesteading. But as with any business I know the importance of protecting yourself. I did a bit of homework and decided to create a “homestead”. Literally. The idea came to me because of my web design business. It was run under an LLC, which protects your personal assets and family from a business attack. For example, if you do business with someone who in turn decides to sue you, that person cannot include your home or personal assets in the lawsuit. So I started thinking of how I can protect all that we have put into our property from such attacks, because you never know what could happen! The problem I was having is that the business IS the personal asset. It turns out that the answer is to file your home as a homestead, turning it into something that has limited protection against a lawsuit, creditors and sometimes even the government itself. There are specific requirements that allow for a residence to be viewed as a homestead (primary dwelling, must have a fence, etc) which isn’t hard to meet. (varies from state to state)

If you decide to go for it, my best advice is to get a service like legalzoom.com to help you. While I saved money the first time around creating my LLC on my own, I felt waves a nausea come and go from all the ups and downs and ins and outs of starting it. I don’t have any problem asking (and paying) for help this time around. And they were happy to help – sending me every possible form I’d need to start the homestead and run it as a business. They will ask you to describe what you want, and this is where you have to be specific even if it sounds stupid. There are different requirements for every little thing, so you must have a clear description ready for them. I had no problem telling them what I envisioned for the future. In fact, I think one of the things I wrote came across as confrontational. (I may want to make glycerin soap and sell it, got a problem with that?) They took it like the professionals that they are.

Cost breakdown: Is all of it worth the trouble?

I have faith that running a homestead will eventually make up for the initial start-up costs. I liken it to making cheese. You can pay around $4 for a pound of cheese. If you buy cheesecloth (in bulk) and make your own cheese from cows milk (a gallon of milk costs around $3) you will eventually pay for the initial cost and then slowly start saving money. And there is a side bonus: The leftover whey can be used in other dishes and provides added health benefits as well. Now apply that to our homestead plan, where every investment will eventually be paid back and we may even have a few added bonuses to boot. (These do not include time/wages.)

Biodiesel

   » Investment:

$1,000 – $3,000 for biofuel production equipment, and $1,000 – $3,000 for two vehicles that run on diesel (after selling our current vehicles)

   » Immediate benefit:

Paying about .80¢ per gallon instead of $3.60 (average in California)

   » Investment return:

Paid for in about two years (only one if we already had diesel cars!)

   » Bonus:

The byproduct of biodiesel is glycerin… so we’ll be making soap and/or adding it to the garden for free

Kitchen and Market Gardens

   » Investment:

About $2,500 in setup costs which includes compost, misc gardening tools and travel expenses when gathering the trees used to make raised beds

$400-$500 for a greenhouse and supplies for starting seed.

About $1,500 paid out to a laborer for help during the heaviest work months. (setup only, about 5 hours per day for a total of 30 days)

About $500 for seed/garlic (first year only)

   » Immediate benefit:

Knowing where our food comes from, gaining control over our health and well-being and eating organic, heirloom varieties not available anywhere else

   » Investment return:

 (Future) projected profit for selling at the farmers markets is $2,500 a month. (weekends only, spring to fall only) Initial investment should be returned the first summer after established at the markets (does not include heavy equipment, see below)

   » Bonus:

 Compost will be free thereafter

 

(working on the numbers, but you get the idea)

 

Livestock

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Energy Production

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Machinery

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Homemade Goods

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Business Startup

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Selling: Using an old-fashioned business model.

When someone tells you they run their own business you might picture them renting a large building, hiring employees, buying wholesale products for retail sales (or creating a product at high costs and high sales rates), and tearing their hair out trying to hold it all together. (That poor soul! Ruining a perfectly good head of hair.) But do you ever think about the guy on the corner selling children’s wagons he hand-crafted himself? What about the woman at the neighborhood flea market that is surrounded by her own expertly sewn quilts and knitted socks? In my opinion, these people have a leg up on how to run a business, because they’ve cut out all the red tape that many believe to be necessary in life. It’s like the two (very different) homes my family has lived in: One was modest and needed repair but we were happy to be together, and the other looked like it came right out of a magazine but we would have to work ourselves to death to keep it. Which one is worth the trouble? Yep, you know the answer. I’d like to keep my hair please. I plan to use what I have to make what we need. And that includes experience, skills and of course, my own two hands.


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