Thoughts: Yellow Mustard Field

Happy Monday! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. April is upon us and spring is in full bloom. Sometimes the most beautiful things can be right under your nose and all you have to do is take a moment from your busy life and actually look at your surroundings. Spring in California is a great time to do just that. Last week as I was driving my son and a couple of his classmates to Half Moon Bay for a 2nd grade field trip, I came across the most yellow and fantastic field of mustard. I immediately told myself that no matter how busy the next couple of weekends, I would make the time to bring the family back before it stopped blooming, and a few days ago, we did.

What are some things about spring that really move you?

SO. AMAZINGLY. YELLOW. / Kiana Underwood

We even spotted a hawk flying nearby. / Kiana Underwood

The kids had a lot of fun getting lost in the field and running around. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

What better setting could there be than this to take some family shots in?! / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

The Arrival of Spring

Happy spring friends! In addition to being a fantastic season for beautiful flowers, the first day of spring has a special significance to me as it is also Persian New Year (Norouz). So, between work, getting ready for our new year's celebrations, and having my sweet aunt visiting me from Iran after 23 years, it has been quite busy in my home. But, truth be told, I couldn't ask for a better way to be busy. Here are some pictures showing how we began preparing for Norouz in my home this year. First, we colored some eggs for a table (the "Haft-Seen") that we decorate in anticipation of the new year. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

The one quality I love about our new year is that it has no affiliation with Islam, and it is purely a tradition that has been passed down from one generation to another since the time that Persians were Zoroastrians. Every thing that you see on my table has a meaning and symbolizes the wish(es) that we have for the new year. The apple represents health, the goldfish symbolize good fortune, the hyacinth is a symbol of beauty and rebirth, eggs stand for fertility, and the vinegar is a symbol of patience and wisdom. / Kiana Underwood

Say "hello" to Bobby and Strawberry - the newest members of the Underwood family (although we're not sure how long they will last). / Kiana Underwood

To me, tradition is everything and I am so glad to be able to pass down such a beautiful custom down to my children, and I am hopeful that they cherish and honor it for many years to come! / Kiana Underwood

A Family Affair - Valentine's Day Topiaries

Valentine's Day is a fun holiday to do activities with the kids. Many people bake or make artwork with their children, but here in the Underwood household, we make flower arrangements! Even the dog (Charlie) got in on the action. This past weekend, my daughter and I had a blast making some Valentine's Day topiaries. Here is how we did it. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

What you will need:

  • Four dozen Roses - 24 for each topiary (any color you like)
  • One Azalea plant
  • 4 branches Japanese Quince
  • 5-6 branches of lemons
  • 2 Pedestal vases
  • 2 10-12" bamboo sticks
  • Any decorative wire or ribbon to cover the bamboo sticks with
  • 2 3" round floral foams (soaked in water)
  • 2 5" round floral foams (soaked in water)
  • Floral shears and scissors
  • Glue stick - permanent / Kiana Underwood

Guest floral designer - Charlie / Kiana Underwood

Getting started! / Kiana Underwood

Start by wrapping the bamboo stick with the wire or ribbon of your choice. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Push the wrapped bamboo into the floral foam, ensuring that it is secured. Add the smaller floral foam ball to the top of the bamboo, again ensuring that it is secured. Start by trimming and placing the Azalea into the lower ball. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

We chose flowers that were hardy yet beautiful for a long-lasting topiary. Roses, as well as Azaleas, do quite well in floral foam. Next, trim the Roses to a 1-2" long stem and place them one by one on the top floral ball. Surprisingly, it will take the full two dozen to achieve the necessary coverage, even on such a small ball. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Voila. / Kiana Underwood

The guest design team resting after a job well done. / Kiana Underwood

Moving on to the second topiary, begin by wraping the bamboo stick with your ribbon. / Kiana Underwood

Place the bamboo stick in the center of the bottom ball. / Kiana Underwood

Start by placing lemons in the ball. Be careful as the lemons are very heavy, and need to be distributed around the ball so that your topiary keeps its low center of gravity. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Trim the Quince branches to approximately 5-6", selecting sections that have an abundance of opened buds, and place them in gaps between the lemons. You want to use enough of the Quince flowers so that you cannot easily see the green floral foam once finished. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Finally, trim your Roses, and add evenly to the top ball. Again, it will take the full two dozen to get complete coverage. This was a really fun project, and it was great to have a bit of 'kid help' to get it done. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

All photos by N. Underwood for Naked Bouquet