Inexpensive Trader Joe's flower display

February 22, 2012

white pitcher as vase

I love adding fresh flowers where I can in the house, but it’s usually in the kitchen, where we can enjoy them best. I have a couple places I love to keep flowers in there, no matter what time of the year. They just make me HAPPY.

I’ve shopped a few places over the years, and our local florist has an incredible selection, but they are not cheap. I always end up going back to Trader Joe's – their fresh flower prices can’t be beat! 

For years I wasn’t great at arranging flowers, but over time I’ve figured out tricks that work. 

Here are my simple tips! 

My first step is always to use the floral “food” they put in with the flowers. Although I’ve heard if you just crush up regular aspirin -- it inhibits the growth of bacteria and keeps them pretty longer. 

I can usually keep flowers for about two weeks, and even then they are still looking OK, they just kind of start falling apart.

My Trader Joe bouquet was only $4: 

And 90 percent of the time, I’m a all one flower kind of girl – I think an arrangement of one type and color makes a BIG impact.

I used to just take them out of the package and plop them in:

But really, they don’t look too happy that way. ;)

So I start snipping (I hear cutting them at an angle under water is best) until they are the height I want. And I separate each stem so I can put each one individually:

tips for arranging flowers

I like to cut the ones in the middle a bit taller than those on the sides, so they make a nice mound of flowers. :)

I also pull off most leaves, at least those that will be under the water:

how to arrange flowers

I heard once that it helps the water from getting mucky and it works well for me.

A few minutes of cutting and fluffing, and you’ve got a perfectly lovely little arrangement:ball jar vase

But this time, I had some green mums I was going to use elsewhere, and decided they would look pretty perfect combined with the purple (say that three times fast):

green and purple flowersNow it’s even MORE lovely!

Obviously I changed out the vase to my pretty white Target pitcher. :)

I absolutely love this pitcher for flowers: 

butcher block island counter

I also picked up some forsythia at Trader Joe's, which I’ve never tried. 

I wanted a tall skinny vase for that one and remembered a cheapy one I’ve had in my stash:

floral vase redo

I think it came with Valentine’s flowers (thanks dear!) and I’ve always loved the lines of it. It just needed some updating.

I primed it once, and then used my gold spray paint to give it a little makeover:

gold spray paint

I think the design is just the coolest!

I’m not sure how long it will take the buds to open, but you can already see the yellow peeking out a bit:

forcing forsythia

I’m hoping in a couple weeks the blooms will open up! 

Have you ever tried forcing forsythia?

When it’s in the budget, a few flowers go a long way to making me and our space happier. ;)

It also helps when I clean off the MASSIVE PILE on the island too:

butcher block island

Just sayin’. And that’s totally free. Gah.

Another little trick I sometimes use is to put a plastic grocery bag down in the vase if the flowers are too short. It gives them something to “stand” on and makes them even fluffier. :) And I love me some fluffy flowers.

Do you treat you and your house to flowers every so often? Do you have a favorite?Any floral arranging tips? Do tell!!

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  1. 1. I love you b/c I have the same pile in my kitchen, 'cept it's on my sideboard. ;)
    2. LOVE the spray painted vase...very very nice!
    3. The weather in VA is crazy. Snow over the weekend and possibly 70 tomorrow?? And I can't finish my DIY project in that awesome weather 'cause I'm waiting on some guy with a paint sprayer.

  2. Love your arrangement! I actually was in Walmart tonight and they are selling their red tulips (from V-Day) in pots for $1! So brought a pot home with me.

    I absolutely love the gold paint on that vase! What a statement piece! Thanks for all the amazing tips, too! Had no idea about using aspirin!

  3. I love splurging on fresh flowers for the house. I live in Lafayette and we have a flower market that has half off happy hour on Fridays. I am usually able to find really fantastic flower bargains. We plan on moving to Indianapolis in the next year and I will be sad to leave the flower market behind.

  4. I'm your neighbor over here in IL and this has been the crazy mildest winter I can remember and they kept saying it was going to be the worst.... HA! Suckers!! Anyway, the nice weather puts me in the mood for flowers too, I'm going to have to treat myself I think. ;) Yours turned out very cute in your white pitcher.

  5. like kate, i'm your neighbor in chicago too. weirdest winter I can remember. the year without a winter, really.

    i freaked when i saw buds on trees. last week. in februray. and tulips coming up. nature knows when, I guess...

    well, it is 2012, right?

    I love gerbera daisies in the home, especially potted. they were my wedding flower, and they are really known to purify the air.

    thanks for the inspiration to kick winter out. less than 3 weeks til daylight savings!

  6. The flowers are pretty, but the before and after on that island would really put a smile on my face!


  7. So pretty! I love how a vase of flowers can brighten a room.

  8. I have peppermint plants and i like to add cuttings from them to my flowers! They don't seem to last very long, but if you know how peppermint grows, it's easy to go get more if you want! ;)

  9. My cheapo hint for fresh flowers is to just buy a small bunch or even a single amazing stem of something special and then bulk it out as needed at home with fresh (free) greens from around my yard. Hydrangea leaves are great long after the blooms are gone, and there are always tons of random bushes with pretty greenery. Makes for a more interesting arrangement too!

  10. I love flowers in white pitchers! I have one that I fill with lilacs for their short season. Pretty post - thanks for inspiration!

  11. nice blog...visit & follow here.

  12. That pile of stuff looks familiar, I have several around my house, lol.

    Love the flowers and your vase! Even though I live on the rainy (rainy, rainy) Oregon Coast, I truly felt "springish" today. I felt it in the air and it was wonderful.

    I love fresh flowers! Any kind, any type. I love how you can use them to match decor, or as an added bit of contrast.

  13. I just love how your blog inspires me each and every time I am on here! You rock! That gold vase is beautiful and I am ready to get some flowers going round here! Happy Thursday!

    Michelle@Teagan's Travels

  14. I love having fresh flowers in the house! I keep a pitcher of flowers set in a tray with a few ink-naks on my kitchen island. And I've also started to keep 3 bud vases of tulips or daffodils on my kitchen table. For my pitcher, I get my flowers at Costco ~ and they almost always live 2 weeks. The tulips I pick up at Target. PS ~ Do you think Indy will get hit with "real" winter before it's over? Oh, I am LOVING this warm weather!!! :-)

  15. It's been a mild winter for us in the South as well. So happy that we haven't missed school due to snow. Keeping my fingers crossed that we'll not have any snow days this year!

    We're getting a Trader Joe's in the spring and I've been so excited about it! I look forward to checking out their flowers and bringing some home.

  16. I love your tips! We are not lucky enough to have a TJ, but flowers are reasonable at our local grocery store. I am in love with the gold!!

  17. Oh man, now I'm feeling super guilty for not doing this more.

    I used to buy flowers for our apartment fairly often. My wife does wedding and event flowers as a side job (she's amazing), so she loved having them home.

    From watching her do it, you seem to be hitting most of the basic "rules" when it comes to arrangements. Chief among them, in my book, is don't over do it. Flowers are pretty on their own. Nature has already done most of the work for us. Our job is to give them a nice vase and an opportunity to shine. Sticking with one or two varietals is usually more than good enough for showing in the home. Especially for a novice.

    Here in DC we're seeing forsythia and even some of the cherry blossoms blooming already. Daffodils are too. It's crazy, but I'm not going to complain. Bring on spring.

  18. Those flowers are makng me yearn for Spring! I'm in The Maritimes in Canada, and although we haven't had much snow this winter, we've still had our share of cold. I'll put it to you this way, with the pile of snow we do have, on my lawn, no tulip heads are popping up in my flower bed yet, if ya' know what I'm talkin' about?! Enjoy your weather a little bit extra for me, please!

  19. I love your gold vase! I neve would have thought of doing something like that. Do you think it would look good with a plain vase, too?

    I usually just plop the flowers in the vase, too, so thanks for the tips. It really does make a difference in how they look.

    No, I never buy flowers like that but we are getting a Trader Joe's! It opens in about 2 weeks which is really exciting! I like to buy their basil plants in the Spring for my garden.

  20. In my perfect world I would have fresh flowers in my house every week! I have that pitcher and it's so beautiful (got it on sale for less than $10!). My tip for flower arranging is adding fresh greens from your yard to add to your "bargain" flower bunch to make it bigger and grander. I've even been known to add fresh herbs (Rosemary looks and smells great!)

    Robin Flies South

  21. Peonies and lilac...they just smell the best in a home and they are so cheap and easy to grow.

    I just love the gold vase transformation! That was truely amazing. Most folks dont have that vision or imagination.

    Last time we had 60 degree weather in feb, on the east coast, was 1997 when we were hit with a blizzard on April 1st dumping 33 inches of snow! I'm enjoying the weather now but who knows what march will bring. ;)

  22. I'm with everyone else, I totally LURVE (yes I stole your word!) your flowers, but luv you even more because you were real enuff to post the pile picture. Makes me feel so much better about my pile! thank you!

  23. Pretty arrangement in the pitcher. Love the flowers. I am ready for spring.

  24. That gold vase is spectacular! Love it.

  25. So Pretty! Love the fresh flower combo of bright green and purple! So vibrant! To make a few flowers go along way for weddings my sister and I put a few blooms in mason jars and hang them various places for pops of color...they would also be cute lining a table...or a cleared of island..check them out!

  26. I love having fresh flowers at home! I scour the clearance flowers at our Kroger and usually find something that is beautiful and not wilted at all!
    For Valentine's Day my dad got me a vase filled with tulip bulbs that grow and bloom in the vase! Once they bloom, you plant the bulbs in the ground and they come back next year! I thought that was such a cool idea.

  27. Please tell me that the massive pile on the island is a regular happening! LOL

    I thought I was the only one in the world that battled these piles that seem to grow in the middle of the night.

    Thanks so much for your wonderful posts. You inspire me so much.

  28. Hello, I just found your blog from A Woman at the Well blog! I love it here! I am your newest follower!! :) I started a blog last spring, if you have time feel free to come by for a visit!! :)

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  30. I am in awe of painting the glass vase. What a great idea! Looks fabulous.

    And I do miss forsythia, I grew up in NJ but have been in FL for 40 yrs. Of course, I don't have to wait for spring to see blooms :)

    Love your blog, it's actually the only one I follow, but it leads me many other places.

  31. My favorite grocery store always has an affordable selection of beautiful flowers. I like to pick up a bouquet every so often. Like you... I can usually keep one about 2 weeks and they just make me happy.

    It's been Spring like here too... which is giving me the fever. Over the weekend I had this overwhelming need to add some color to my house... so I bought some gorgeous orange tulips.

    Now I'm itching to start putting some flowers outside. LOL

  32. I love flowers in a white pitcher, and your painted vase is very cool. I've never used forsythia inside, but I have stuck a branch in the ground and it rooted- how easy was that! I'm NOT a green thumb-er, so that was like a little miracle to me. :)

  33. When we're done our bathroom reno and our house is back in order, I plan on buying some flowers every time I go to the grocery (which is usually every week or two). I can't wait to have fresh flowers on my bathroom vanity and on my kitchen table!

  34. Girl I love the last pic of you keeping it real!!!

    I love having fresh flowers in my home. They make me happy when I see them or walk by them. Ever since I saw on Oprah that she used to always buy herself fresh flowers, even when she was poor b/c they made her happy, I've started to do the same!!!

  35. I have question. Does your cat try to eat your fresh flowers?? Mine will not leave them alone! I keep a small vase full in my kitchen windowsill, but I can't have any anywhere else or the kitty eats them right up (and then promptly pukes on the carpet). Maybe my cat is just a weirdo.

  36. I do! I also told hubby it is a very easy way to make me smile....noticing my two week flowers need refreshing.....I go to Walmart and really they are great! I love em in the kitchen, and the entryway from the garage to the kitchen.....they DO make me keep the space clean and make me happy!!

  37. I LOVE your vase transformation. And I look forward to hearing how the forsythia do. I'd love to try some myself but I'm not sure if they'll end up pretty or not.

    My favorite thing about this post has to be your target pitcher. I have had my eye on that pitcher for weeks but with moving and looking for a job and other stuff, I have not been able to justify buying it. I want it soooooo bad though. I have searched high and low in thriftstores for something similarly gorgeous but no luck. I think I ought to just treat myself, right?

  38. Two things.....tulips this time of year in the house are amazing. Kroger had 20 stem bunches for 9.99 a couple of weeks ago. I brought those suckers home and put them in the felt like spring right away. Second, I can't tell you how many people have been amazed by how I can make a bunch of flowers look by just putting them in one by one. Make all the difference. I also cut all of the leaves off. My mother loved me for this when I did it to my wedding roses 5 years ago. She couldn't believe I was doing it, but in the end it looked so amazing. The flowers look great!

  39. Yup! We do treat ourselves to fresh flowers now and then. The last three winters here have been getting some fresh blooms at the grocery store helped keep things from feeling so drab. We just held an open house for our new home and I got the prettiest orange tulips for the table. Arranged them in a gorgeous white vase and it was heaven! I was fortunate to take flower arranging as a kid so I've been doing flower arranging for years...everything from "store bought" blooms to native grasses and flowers. Love 'em all! I'm awaiting spring eagerly too! Thanks for the beautiful post...reminds me to get some flowers today when we grocery shop.

  40. I also like Trader Joe's or Costco for nice inexpensive flowers. My one tip is for mixed flower bunches... They are usually packaged with three of each type of flower. If you start by putting the fullest floppy greens in the vase first, then add the flowers one in each third of the vase, you will get a nice balanced look in the end. Here again, it looks best to put the taller stems in the middle, and graduate cutting them down a bit as you reach the outside. Love your DIY vase. I shop the thrift stores often to recycle vases!

  41. Yes, I have forced the forsythia - but it blooms early anyway here in north Texas. I love love LOVE the vase painted gold! It was pretty clear - it is AMAZING after you painted it. I'm going to go dig through my cabinet for a non-descript vase and head out to the garage for the gold paint now. Thanks for sharing!

  42. It's nice to see that someone else has a pile o' stuff on their island!

    I do love fresh flowers, and during the Spring and Summer I splurge when I'm grocery shopping. Flowers just make me feel better. My favorites are daisies, but any flower makes me smile.

    I bought a big ol' bouquet for my hubby for Valentine's Day, and I immediately got a fever for's been very Spring-like here, also (80 degrees out today!) so I might break down and get some when I'm at the grocery store later!

  43. Love the sprayed gold vase! Perfect amount of glitz. And you are right, it has awesome texture!

  44. In the spring and summer, I just cut whatever is out in the garden (I have perennials all over the place and lots of nice shrubs). For the office I love closed daffodils - there is a florist downtown that sells them for $3 a bunch. Stick them in a cup of water and over the next few days their 'wrappings' (don't know what else to call them) crackle and crisp and sometimes pop! It's rather spooky, sometimes, as I'm working away on my computer and out of the corner of my eye I notice one of the daffodils start to "move"... And voila, out emerge the gorgeous daffodils one by one!

    I only rarely buy flowers for myself at home. This year, however, I was inspired to dig out from storage an old but still in great shape bouquet of silk roses in a lovely dark rose color. They are in a nice vase on my dinette table on top of a dark red tablecloth I put on to celebrate Valentine's Day and February in general, and I love how they look! BTW, SE Wisconsin winter has been very mild too - and not a blizzard this season. Not over yet though; we have gotten blizzards in March and April too! Keeping my fingers crossed that all the trees I see budding out here already are right in forecasting a very early spring instead.

  45. hi. I love your header text.
    I do all the diy in our house and at low cost. I love the feeling when things turn out great low cost.

    You have a wonderful home and write funny and true.

    Nice to visit you
    I will follow you on FB :)
    Randi from Norway.

  46. even though these are the cheapy (= good) flowers are the store - they last forever & when you take the bouquet apart & redo it like you did - they add such a WONDERFUL addition to a room! nice! can't wait for spring! xo

  47. Flower advice? Two words: WINTER SOWING - for tons of flowers you can pick right out of your garden for free all the way until the end of fall. Best small amount of money you will ever spend. :D

  48. Your flower arrangement is so nice. It's so nice this time of year to invite spring to come early. I have that same white pitcher from Target too!

  49. I love fresh flowers as well. My most favorite are tulips, but they don't last long :( I often fill in my flowers with ferns and hosta leaves from my makes for a great arrangement.

  50. Lovely!
    ... I'm your newest follower, would love if you would follow my lil'blog ;)

    Greetings from Australia♥

  51. I'm loving the warmer weather right now, I'm just afraid of what summer has in store for us, since it is already warm.

  52. I love fresh flowers and like you I get them at the grocery. I was so excited to see this post about arranging them. I love ideas for flowers!

  53. Love that gold vase!! I did something similar last week here:

  54. Love that gold vase!! I did something similar last week here:

  55. I tried pinning this but it wouldn't pin...hmmm. Oriental Trading has what I like to refer to as "Flower Arrangment for Dummies" tool. I found these when browsing for ideas for my wedding bouquets. They have them for $7 for 2.

  56. Just had to share my favorite arrangement style. I like it because it is so simple, yet so chic! It was one of the ideas I had for our reception tables. HOWEVER I soon found out that these jars are scarce and expen$ive! Oh well, it was cute.

    We also considered these other options.

  57. I love fresh flowers too! They seem to make it feel like home. Spraying that vase gold? Brilliant!

  58. Painting that vase was GENIUS!!! Love it! Last night I was at my local grocery and they had tons of Daffodils!! Bought two big bunches!!

  59. Those are beautiful.
    Thanks for the pic of that PILE. I love me a a few! ;)

  60. Oh no, I just gave a bunch of those vases to good will :(

    Thank you for your visit today, means a lot!

    Have a great weekend

  61. Love fresh flowers in my home!! Here is an easy way to force the forsythia flower.

  62. putting flowers in warm [not hot] water helps them open faster. also keeping them in a warm room will help as well :) flowers are my favorite!

  63. i LOVE sticks. I miss them so.

  64. Oh, yes. I must have fresh flowers on a regular basis. They add that touch of cheer that cannot be duplicated.

  65. You never cease to amaze me! Your blog was the first one I found a few years back. Before that I didn't know they existed. lol. And to this day, it is still my favorite! That vase! Wow! Who would have thought it could be so awesome? And I love your kitchen counter. haha. Mine is the same problem. We even have an appliance garage at the end of ours that was put there to be used specifically for that clutter and it is still a constant mess. I did just buy some metal mesh countertop files that I am going to put in there and put hanging folders in for all of the paperwork that seems to end up on there. We will see if that helps any. Also, is the forsythia just in water? Keep up the awesome posts!

  66. I'm loving your blog. I'm putting together deco ideas for my new place on the budget and yours is just the kind of advise I need being new at it and all. I love flowers and buying them when I can afford but it never occurred to me that a specific type on it's own could look so beautiful and I'm sure it's much more affordable this way.

  67. love your blog site! i love crafting too! i make one of a kind sea shell earrings...check out my blog

  68. This might be a silly question, but after you spray paint the vase, can you put it in the dishwasher?

  69. I love that gold vase! I recently featured it!

  70. Beautiful arrangement!! You have a really great blog!! :)


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