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halfway through 2020 …

Be sure to read to the end. I have a tip that will change your life if you love fresh flowers in your home!

Remember back in March when we were all stuck in our homes and cooking became THE thing to do? I was cooking, writing, snapping photos, and blogging like a madwoman.

Well here we are at the beginning of July, still, or once again, stuck in our homes but now it’s over 100 degrees outside and the last thing I want to do is cook. I’m only selling Harmony Boards from Thursdays – Sundays, so there are often fruits and vegetables that must be used up on Monday. The solution to that is smoothies, soup, soup, and more soup.

At last count, I’ve posted over 80 soup recipes, so adding several more doesn’t seem like the thing to do. As I’ve shared before, to make a smooth and creamy soup with any vegetable; simply sauté some diced onion with diced celery and carrot, add the main vegetable of choice, such as asparagus- basil (photos above), and pour in a box of chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until said vegetable is tender, season, blend and enjoy.

I can’t have people over, so no use in firing up the grill, it’s too damn hot to turn on the oven and I’m still not 100% sure if I’ll be able to escape this nearly surface of the sun local on the 1st of August as I usually do. California may or may not allow us “Zonies” in and I’m not yet certain if my timeshare in Carlsbad will shut down again before I can get there. Yes, things are feeling not so wonderful here in the Hopkins’ Cave.

The one thing guaranteed to always make me feel better, feel loved, and feel human, is to have fresh flowers in my main living area. In the kitchen, breakfast room, and living room. If there are pitchers filled with gorgeous blooms, Arizona summers are tolerable. Barely, but barely is better than nothing!

I buy all of my fresh flowers at either Costco or Trader Joe’s, which makes perfect sense since I am at those two stores at least twice a week and they have the best prices. My favorite summer flowers are peonies, sunflowers, and hydrangeas. Trader Joe’s is THE place to find peonies. You can also count on them for sunflowers and hydrangeas. Costco is hit or miss on these specific varieties, but when they have them, the prices can’t be beaten.

As long as you keep on top of changing the water and trimming the ends every day, sunflowers and peonies will last a week or more. Hydrangeas on the other hand … oy vey! But I have found the absolute perfect, fool-proof, guaranteed solution to the problem of wilting hydrangeas! (sometimes the same day you’ve brought them home)

The Solution? Alum!

Alum is a pickling spice that comes in a powder form. You find it in the spice aisle of any major grocery store.

Culinary Uses of Alum:

1. Alum powder, found in the spice section of grocery stores, may be used in pickling recipes and as a preservative to maintain fruit an vegetable crispness.

2. It is used as a water purifier since it makes solid impurities settle at the bottom of a container.

3. It can also be used to curdle milk if you happen to have a recipe that calls for that.

When using alum for hydrangeas, the trick is to cut the hydrangea stem at a sharp slant (it will even work if you cut it bluntly although at an angle is better) and immediately dip the end in the alum powder before placing it in water.

The coating of alum makes the hydrangea draw more water. Once you have dipped the flower stem in the jar of alum, do not use the alum for anything else.

As you can see from the receipts below, these two bunches of hydrangeas were purchased nearly a week apart. The ones on the right were purchased on June 19th and those on the left on June 25th. The newer stems on the left are brighter, but neither of them is drooping or wilted. This is what the blooms look like today, two full weeks for the older two and more than a week for the three on the left. Amazing! Alum to the rescue!

I hope this easy tip helps make your summer brighter and more tolerable too. xoxo

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1 Shelley J { 07.03.20 at 6:28 AM }

Thanks for the wonderful tip about hydrangeas! I love them but was always sad about how quickly they wilt in the vase. I also just learned earlier this summer that potted hydrangeas keeps blooming all summer. I bought one from the big Fry’s on Tatum and Shea, and it really brightened my kitchen for weeks, until we had to go out of town. My hydrangeas and the plant sitter didn’t get along.

2 Ann McGrath { 07.03.20 at 7:42 AM }

Thanks for the alum tip – I have stopped buying hydrangeas because of ‘instant’ wilting. And I, too, love them with the peonies. Stay Cool!

3 Lina Austin { 07.03.20 at 8:32 AM }

Thx for the alum tip. You are so clever!

4 Lisa James { 07.03.20 at 9:06 AM }

Amazing tip!! Thank you!

5 Linda Hopkins { 07.03.20 at 10:29 AM }

Shelley, I hear you. Even though I love the people who watch my house when I leave, the flowers always seem to bite the dust. As long as the cats are taken care of, I’m happy. xoxo

6 Anne { 07.03.20 at 11:13 AM }

Alum! Who knew?! You’re the BEST! Stay cool my dear friend! XO

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