Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Planning My Vegetable Garden

Home Grown Goodness! 
One of my favorite garden activities in the winter time is planning out the plantings for spring and summer. This year I'm getting more serious about the vegetable garden. That is because I'm eating lots more veggies this year :) and my neighbor cut down mature ash/elm trees which were along the property line and reducing the sun available to my garden.

Last year I broke my wrist in the spring so the vegetable garden never really got planted. It sat fallow all year. So this year it should be ready to burst forward with an abundance of produce!

There are many great resources for planning a vegetable garden. Advice for site selection, soil preparation, and more available. My task was selecting the plants and arranging them.

Monday, December 8, 2014

DIY Upcycled Coffee Bags - Gunny Fashion

DIY Upcycled Coffee Sack Pouf (Footrest)
I have a few friends that are just head-over-heels for burlap. One is doing her whole wedding around this fabric - yes, it's even in her bridal bouquet! Thus, when I came into a large supply of jute coffee sacks, I just had to explore the opportunities to up-cycle, recycle, reuse and repurpose them!

Gunny sacks, Burlap, Jute, all very fun to use for crafts and DIY projects.

Coffee sack burlap/Jute is a great sustainable material. It’s a natural, biodegradable, and strong fabric.  In my garden I use it to layer-in a weed barrier prior to planting in the flower beds or vegetables. I use it for mound gardening and mulch with it too.  I drape some of the old fabric and threads on shrubs for birds to use for nesting. Using the coffee sacks for crafts was a little messy - so I have been cutting it outside. 

The most ambitious project was the creation of the burlap pouf - footrest shown in the photo on the right. I really like the look of the item and custom made to just the right height. This project required precision so that all the pieces matched up and the writing on the coffee bags all faced the same direction :) (BTW that beige chair was rescued from curbside and my neighbor reupholstered it!) 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

DIY Holiday Ornaments

Folded Fabric Ornaments
Over the years I have been inspired to create homemade holiday ornaments. My grandmother was exceptional at this creative effort! I think this year it was a combination of things - first I'm feeling nostalgic, next I continue to want my children to have reminder each Holiday, and lastly, I wanted to clean out my craft room :)

Please see below come of the items created! All are fairly easy to make with simple tools such as glue gun, sewing machine, and scissors!

Transplanting Large succulents: Christmas Cactus

My Great Grandmother's Christmas Cactus,
ready for repotting
I have been graced to own my great grandmothers Christmas cactus.  I tell myself that it’s over 100 years old – but I have no idea of its age, only it’s provenance. As a mature succulent, it needs to be transplanted periodicaly without increasing the post size. Most cacti and succulents do best in pots that are quite small in proportion to the size of their top growth, my Christmas Cactus is no exception.  The plant grows over 8-10 inches over the soil top, and a 18 inches wider all around the container. It’s already so big and heavy – there is no need to increase the container size. If you have a smaller succulent, when you decide to repot them, move up one size larger than the one they are in. always use plenty of drainage material in the bottom of the pot.  Leaving succulents in small containers works  - they may dwarf and slow in growth.
How do I know when it’s time to repot my succulent?
I have a few general rules I use to determine when to repot my succulents.
- When roots come out of the bottom of the pot. However note that many succulents have shallow roots to this is not always going to happen.  
- When the succulent start to pup (put off new growth/plants at the base.
- When the plant growth slows down or the health of the plant wains – perhaps root rot or 
- It flowers off cycle (last hurrah)

Failing health - time to repot!
As you can see in the photo above - my cactus was failing to take up water and getting very pale in color. It also started blooming off cycle. So many signs that it was unhappy.

New Year's Resolutions - Avoiding the Epic Fail

Silver Linings - Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago 2014
I have been pondering the "New Year's Resolution" history and success rates. Very interesting reading on history from my sites. 

New Year's Resolutions track to the Babylonians who used the new year to try to make amends for their wrongdoings of the past year or to purify themselves for the new year. These days New Year’s celebrations are elaborate parties and drinking, as well as the custom of making resolutions for a fresh start the next year.  More people make New Year's Resolutions than ever before. 

Here are the most resolutions that I've made in the past that have actually stuck! 
- Become more involved in volunteering
- Become more environmentally responsible
- Taking a trip (usually expeditions :)
It's very interesting that with all the intentions and "shoulds" not many people actually succeed. Wiki says "88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning."  Other studies say 92% fail. Success comes when the resolution is paired with a measurable goal and when the goals are made public and involve support from others.
What's in the cards for me this year?
Stay Tuned.
Singing Christmas Carols :)

Teresa Marie