Hint: No trip to the crafts store necessary.  

Hint: No trip to the crafts store necessary.
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Wouldn't it be lovely if we could keep our favorite flowers alive forever? Maybe it's a bouquet from your best friend's wedding or an arrangement sent by someone special—it's preserving not only the beautiful blooms but also the beloved memories behind them. An easy and popular way to save sentimental flowers is to dry them. (Hang them upside down in a cool, dark place like a closet for a few weeks until dry.)

Another easy way to preserve flowers is by pressing, and there are a few different methods you can use. A trip to the crafts store for supplies isn't necessary; the materials are probably already sitting around your house. You'll need absorbent paper—like parchment paper, coffee filters, or noncorrugated cardboard—and some heavy books. Display pressed flowers in picture frames, or use them to adorn notecards or place cards.

Pick the flowers right after they bloom; the petals will be at their brightest and not yet blemished or torn. Collect them on a sunny day when they aren't wet from rain or dew (pressing wet flowers can result in mildew). The best flowers for pressing are ones that lie flat: violets, daises, poppies, pansies, cosmos, delphiniums, geraniums, forget-me-nots, and greenery. Fluffier flowers such as roses, lilies, or peonies have thicker petals that hold more moisture and are difficult to press; but if you're dead set on preserving these blooms, cut them in half so they'll be thinner and easier to press.

The easiest pressing method calls for absorbent paper and heavy books (like an old telephone book). Measure a piece of paper so it fits inside the book. Place flowers on the paper; cover with another piece of paper. Close the book; weigh down with a heavy stack of books or a few bricks. Leave undisturbed for a couple of weeks or until all the moisture is gone and the flowers are papery.

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Bring the heat for a faster pressing method. Start by pressing the blooms between two absorbent pieces of paper and then flattening with a heavy book. Heat an iron on low (make sure there's no water in it—you don't want to add any moisture to the flowers). Remove the book, and press the iron on the top sheet of paper for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat until the flowers are dry and papery.

An even quicker technique? Use a microwave. Place the flowers between two absorbent pieces of paper, and press them between two ceramic tiles. Secure the stack with rubber bands. Microwave for 30 to 60 seconds, allowing tiles to cool before microwaving again.

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