Living Wall || Phase 2

Earlier in the summer, I posted about beginning the realization of a longtime dream of mine... constructing a living wall.  It started out with a birdnest fern mounted on a tree cross section, and then I mounted some small staghorn ferns to hang on either side across from a big picture window in our living room.  It's a pretty slow process, but adding to the wall is very satisfying - like finding the perfect piece for a gallery wall. For my birthday in August, I got some Woolly Pocket Living Wall Planters to add to the mix.  I've had my eye on these for a while - they've got a nice modern design and address some of the issues that I have always had with indoor plants (particularly those that hang).  How do you avoid water overflow?  How can I mount the planter so that it is adequately supported?  To hang, you mount an anchor in the wall and the planter slips down over it.  I really like this feature, because it makes for easy replanting if necessary... you know, if you're still getting used to the ins and outs and accidentally kill something...  Ahem.  For watering, there is a reservoir on the wall side that you fill and it percolates through tiny holes into the soil.  All of the water is contained, but the roots do not sit in saturated soil unless you just water way too much.  I've found that I need to water less than I anticipated that I would (which wasn't very much to begin with), so that's been something to get used to.  Unfortunately, as I figured this out the string of pearls there in the center became a casualty.  The pothos are doing great though!

I installed my planters at the top of the wall so my vining plants can hang down.  At some point I would like to trellis these across the ceiling or further out on the wall, but it won't be that necessary until I add more to the installation.  Around the time that I was adding this phase, my birdnest fern started to look pretty sickly, and after some research I came to the conclusion that the temperature in the room was just too high for it during the day. We use an energy conservation thermostat and participate in a program through our local utility that basically leaves the house pretty warm in the afternoon.  Since that area is exposed to sunlight more than other parts of the house, it tends to be the warmest.  Sadly, the fern didn't make it, but I plan to get a larger staghorn to attach to its mount and hang in its place.

living wall update


living wall update 1

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June Garden

All the rain we've had this summer has really helped the garden take off.  It was a little slow to start, because it was, well, underwater... but after a little compost and some sunshine it's pretty thick!  With whatever space I don't take up with my veggie plants, I like to plant zinnia and cosmo seeds, and also allow all the basil germinate from plants that bolted in the garden last fall.  

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Fennel is a new one for me, to grow and to eat.  This bronze fennel is really striking in the garden though, and I'm excited to harvest both seeds and the bulb before long.


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Last year's oregano made it through the winter and decided to bolt (along with the sage and parsley) this past month.  It's huge and smothering the peppers at the moment, but the flowers sure are pretty (and pollinators are loving them)


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My reasons for loving zinnia are pretty much apparent here - there is so much color variation!  Each new bloom is a pleasant surprise with an unexpected hue.


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At our previous house, I had a butterfly milkweed plant growing in my flower bed that just randomly germinated in a gaillardia plant I brought home one year.  Every time I drive by that house I'm sad that I didn't bring it with me, along with the purple coneflower that I moved back from Austin with.  Both are huge and nicely established now, covered in blooms all summer long.  Hopefully they are being enjoyed by the new tenants and passersby!  In any case, I planted a few different types of milkweed throughout our yard with hopes of enjoying these plants once again.  The one above is tropical milkweed.


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My niece helped me build this herb bed in the spring.  It needs to be weeded, but is otherwise flourishing.


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First little pumpkin of the season!  (first one ever, for me)


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Living Wall || Mounted Staghorn Ferns

I first became acquainted with staghorn ferns when living in Austin - a good friend who was also a coworker had one in our office, but it had unfortunately seen better days by the time I arrived there.  I tried to revive it, but really didn't know much about the plant despite my otherwise green thumb.  All I knew was that one of my favorite garden centers down there, The Great Outdoors, had a giant staghorn hung from an old live oak tree, and there are few non-tree plants that have had that kind of impact on me.  Every year, the Zilker Botanical Gardens host a garden festival, which was where the office plant originated from.  I picked one up that year only to experience the same failure and disappointment at my inability to get one of these interesting specimens to thrive.  Now several years the wiser, I have realized after many house plant casualties the phenomenon of "loving a plant to death".  Too much water, folks.  It's one of the main reasons that people kill indoor plants!  Once I learned to be patient about plant care, I found that I had much greater success with long term health of indoor greenery.
Living walls have interested me for a number of years now.  With the exception of my studio, much of our house is pretty dim during the day.  However, the living room boasts a large window facing the east, and the room is bright in the morning hours and lit indirectly in the afternoon.  The wall facing the window is long and from the get go I saw it covered in plants when envisioning our new home.  Last year for my birthday, J gave me a birdnest fern, mounted on a tree cross section by a local business, Ghostcat Botanical.  This winter I found a couple of stag horn ferns in 4" pots and finally found a couple of pieces of wood to mount them on at an antique mall over Memorial Day weekend.  One is a box built from old barn wood, and the other is a hand carved panel, presumably from some type of cabinet door.
Mounting staghorn ferns is actually pretty simple.  Supplies include a mount such as a board or tree cross section, sphagnum moss, nails and hammer (or screws, your preference), and fishing line.  Staghorns are epiphytic plants, which means that they do not actually need potting medium - the roots will just attach to the surface that they are mounted to.  Since mine were started in the 4" pots they did have a little soil around the roots, which I wrapped with moist sphagnum moss.  I then set the root ball on the mount to determine where to place my nails.  Using about 6 nails around the perimeter of the root ball, I drove them in about an inch from the edge of where the root ball would be.  You can mark these spots and remove the plant while hammering.  Once nails are in place, position the plant again and make sure the moss is covering all surfaces of the soil.  Tie the fishing line to one of the nails and bring it over and around the root ball in a clockwise direction to a nail on the opposite side and wrap the line around it a couple of times.  Be sure to take the line underneath the flat fronds at the base of the plant and be careful not to damage or remove them, even if they are brown.  From here, take the line clockwise across the root ball again, to the nail just past the first one you tied on to (in the clockwise direction).  Wrap a couple of times, and take the line clockwise to the nail just past the second one you wrapped.  Continue to wrap, bringing the line just past the opposite nail that was previously wrapped until you have gone around the whole root ball a couple of times.  It doesn't necessarily matter exactly what pattern you wrap in, as long as the line is consistently supporting the root ball on all sides.  I wrapped around the base a couple of times as well, before tying the line off to the tail of line where I started and tucked both ends behind the moss. Gardenista has a great tutorial on mounting staghorn ferns as well, which I definitely recommend checking out if you're interested in trying it.
I know it's not exactly what one would call a living wall just yet, but it's a start!  I can't wait to keep adding to it over time and watching these babes grow.  On another note, I'm in the process of harvesting spores from the birdnest fern and plan to try my hand at propagating them.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Unpacked Studio!

Summertime, always a busy time, has seemed to fly by this year.  I've had multiple projects going, although not a lot to share just yet.  One big milestone occurred this weekend - my studio is finally fully unpacked and set up.  I've figured out an effective yarn storage method, bought a comfortable chair, and prepared my space in a way that is very minimalistic, inspiring to me, and open to a variety of uses.  So far, I'm pretty happy with it!
Last week I entered my 31st year, a pretty low-key event.  The chair was a birthday gift to myself, so I can start out this new year of life with vigor (and comfort) in my artistic practice.  Beyond that, life is full of ripe tomatoes, hot yoga, and finally making some headway on our home projects.  I'm looking forward to this fall and some possibilities on the horizon.

Harvested || Dye From Red Bud Blossoms

Back in April, I did some solar dyeing demonstrations for Earthfest at Martin Park Nature Center, in conjunction with my outdoor exhibition, Niche.  Oklahoma's state tree is eastern red bud, and they are abundant here.  Funny enough, our climate tends to be a little hard on these little trees in the summer - they often have sunscald, splits in the trunk and decay, especially when growing in full sun.  The 'Oklahoma' variety has a thicker cuticle on its leaves and tends to be a little more tolerant of heat and drought.  In any case, red bud puts on quite a show in the spring with the small purple blooms lining its branches.  We have a few fairly mature specimens in the back yard, and I decided to try a little experiment this spring.  I collected a bagful of blossoms to use in one of my demonstration jars, unsure of what the outcome would be.  Flowers can be deceptive when it comes to dyeing - I learned that when I got a lovely sage green from prairie coneflower last summer.  While I would have been delighted with a purple hue, I went into this experiment without expectations, and I was wowed by the result.  After two and a half months in the dye jar, I finished with incredibly vibrant, golden yarn.  It's beautiful!  Next year I will definitely make more, and try it out with different mordants to see the variation.
This yarn was dyed using red bud blossoms with an alum mordant and a splash of vinegar.  I boiled half of my blooms to extract color before putting water in the jar with the yarn, and added a handful of fresh flowers to the jar as well.

Harvested || Golden Currant Scones

This spring was a joy, uncovering all of the unique flora growing in our new yard.  A horticulture professor previously owned our property, so there are many unusual and exciting things planted on our half acre lot.  I intend to add to that as well!  I've recently become more interested in wildcrafting - harvesting plants for various uses from food to medicinal properties and home use.  Last summer I started doing this for dyeing, but its becoming something that I would like to learn more and more about with our local plant life here in Oklahoma.  I decided to start this column on my blog, to document the plants that I harvest from, the ways that I use them and their outcomes.  For now I would like to stick to things harvested from my own yard, but I imagine that I will expand to general wildcrafting.  The first installment revolves around the golden currant shrubs growing at the back of our property.

I posted about these earlier in the spring, after I first found them.  Unfamiliar with this particular plant, I had to seek out some ID help and have been monitoring them ever since to make sure I got to try some of these mysterious currants.  Last week they started to ripen, so I gradually collected them throughout the week to make some kind of treat with!


I ended up settling on a paleo version of a lemon blueberry scone, replacing the berries with currants.  The recipe uses almond flour, and this is my first try at baking something paleo compatible (the first time I've baked anything in forever, really).  This is the recipe that I used.




They were delicious!  The almond flour gives them a nutty flavor, and honey is a very subtle sugar substitute that toned down the sweetness a bit.  The currants themselves are a little tart to eat raw - my husband actually didn't like them very much when we tried them off the bush, but baking made them much more enjoyable to eat.  I would definitely try these again!  The currants are still ripening, so if I have enough I want to try using them for ice cream soon.  If you have any suggestions for other uses of currants, let me know!  I'd love to give them a try.

A New Adventure

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to post anything about this here, since this is a new endeavor that I am very excited about… but if you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen the many honeybee photos and videos.  I am now keeping bees!  The video above shows the entrance of the hive within a couple of weeks of receiving them, and the photos below depict the installation process.  My apiary consists of a Langstroth hive, with Italian bees that arrived by package.
Beekeeping has interested me for a number of years, since I worked a plot in El Jardin Allegre, a community garden in Austin, TX.  That was really the beginning of my gardening experience, and I cannot recommend enough to get involved with a community garden--- it was probably one of the most valuable things I did while living in Austin.  Over in the corner near the compost station were a few honeybee colonies, and at that time the beekeeping coordinator position was vacant.  I spent a lot of time in my post of managing the compost and was always going past the hives, surprised at how little the cared about my presence and thrilled at sightings of pollinators visiting my plot.
Fast forward a couple of years, when I first learned of Colony Collapse Disorder.  Since the beginning of my gardening days I've felt very strongly about chemical free growing, and found CCD frightful upon first hearing about it.  Aside from the effects of harmful substances making their way into colonies and emergence of difficult to control pests and diseases, the number of managed honeybee colonies in the United States has dropped drastically since the 1950's.  With the size of our lot, our interest in gardening and native plants, and a continued concern for the impacts of human actions on the environment it seemed natural to add an apiary to the family.

I knew it would be a fascinating experience, but I had no idea how much I would love this new endeavor.  Coming home to go watch the bees and inspect the garden are the highlights of my day!  I still feel very intimidated when inspecting the hive, but have learned so much through books, Facebook groups, web sites and gaining experience through attentive beekeeping practices.  I hope to share more of this journey with you over time - this is just the beginning.

A study just came out confirming that plants treated with neonicotinoids to ward off pest problems are a major factor in CCD.  These plants are sold in many of the big box garden centers, including Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart.  Check out more about this study here.

Removing the can of sugar syrup from the opened package
Placing the package inside the hive.  After a few days I opened it back up and removed the emptied package to lean against the outside of the hive.  Any bees left exited and went in the hive entrance.

Spring in the New Home

The first spring in our new house, it's been fun watching the yard come to life.  Between finding the golden currant and more recently some lilac out there, I'm always intrigued when I spot something new for the first time.  We somehow have tons of wild violets lining the back porch, and new plants are sprouting in the bed along the side of it.  I can't wait to see what else shows itself, and to add to it myself.

Mystery Plants Galore

A couple of owners back, a Horticulture professor lived in our house.  Fitting, huh?  I'm rather thrilled by it, as we've got quite the assortment of trees that I've always wanted to grow, in addition to many plants that I am not so familiar with.  Now that springtime has arrived, things just keep popping up -- first a chorus of daffodils, and then earlier this week I noticed all of these little yellow flecks from across the yard while I was observing a fruit tree (plum, I think) with bees collecting pollen to their little hearts' delight.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered these beautiful little shrubs - tons of them, all lining our far back fence and smelling sweeter than I ever could have expected.  And I will admit, I had NO idea what they were.
Fortunately, my fellow nature lover Misti, who is far more knowledgeable in non-tree plant species than I am came to the rescue… and identified it as golden currant!  We have currants!  I will admit that while I know what currants are, I don't think I've actually eaten one… but I do intend to try my hand at making some preserves this summer!  I know that mystery plants abound in our half acre yard, but I'm really looking forward to discovering more of them… and adding more unusual varieties as well.
Have any of you grown golden currant before, and do you have any good recipes to use them in?

Cleaning Knits at Home Using Eucalan

It happened.  We finally broke 90 degrees.  I know Oklahoma's summer was particularly short this year (jump for joy), but to be honest, I LIVE for the milder seasons of fall and spring.  Crisp evenings with a hint of chiminea smoke in the air?  Of course!  Long sleeves and scarves and pumpkin everything?  I'll take it! One of my favorite parts about fall is the wardrobe changes and the shift from wearing as little as possible without looking indecent (ahem), to carefully selecting the layers - texture upon texture, solids with patterns - warm and cozy all the way.

In preparation for this exciting time of year, I recently brought out my sweaters to start getting them ready for wear.  Woolens don't typically need as much cleaning as other types of garments, but they are also a little more finicky than your every day cotton top or pair of jeans.  So for the most part, I err to my laundry motto:  "When in doubt, DRY CLEAN".  However, when one has as many sweaters as I do (which is a lot), this can quickly add up to a costly visit.  Clearly, some alternatives are needed.


Love Knitting offered to send me some Eucalan to try out, which is a delicate, no rinse wool wash intended for cleaning a vast array of garments, but of most interest to me: knits!  It's an eco-friendly product containing lanolin, which is a natural conditioner for wool that reduces static and makes the fibers softer.  Eucalan comes in a variety of fragrances, including eucalyptus, lavender, grapefruit, natural scent, and Wrapture, which contains jasmine oil. (I'm refraining from jumping down the rabbit hole that is reminiscing about the intoxicating jasmine bush in my childhood back yard.  Mmmmm).  Once I received my package from Love Knitting, I set to work and washed literally every sweater that I own.  Yes, every one.



For the garments that specified "hand wash" or "dry clean only", I soaked them in my kitchen sink after adding one tsp of Eucalan per gallon of cool water.  Each sweater was washed separately unless I had another one of similar coloration.  After soaking for about 15 minutes, the instructions direct you to squeeze the garments gently in the water in order to make sure the lanolin oils get to all of the fibers.  Then drain the basin, squeeze out what water you can without wringing, and reshape and dry the garments flat.  After I drained the water each time, I rolled the garment up in a towel and pressed on it lightly to soak up some of the excess water before laying out to dry.




I felt comfortable washing my less delicate sweaters in my front loading washing machine.  To wash with Eucalan in this type of machine I added 2 tbsp to the fabric softener compartment and set the machine to rinse and spin only with cold water.



Both washing methods worked great for my garments.  While a couple of the fragrances sound like they might be a little overbearing (i.e. grapefruit and eucalyptus), they are actually quite pleasant.  Each scent  lingers on the garments mildly, adding just enough aroma to be rendered enjoyable without even coming close to overdoing it.  I noticed a stronger scent in the garments that I soaked in the basin than I did on the ones washed in the machine.  Despite the faintness, I think they will be very soothing in wear.  Overall, I loved the Wrapsody scent the most - very feminine and romantically perfumy without disappearing into old lady-ness or obnoxious odor.



One of the great things about the product is that since no rinsing is required, you run less of a risk of felting or agitating the fibers on your more delicate knits.  In addition, I especially loved that the wash seemed to moisturize my hands instead of drying them out.  One thing I used to hate about my barista days was the dry skin and split fingers from washing sinks full of mugs.  Despite the constant rinsing of my hands during this process, it really felt like it was conditioning my skin in addition to my woolens... Win-win?

Overall, I'm excited about the quality of washing I observed from using Eucalan, the pleasant aromatherapy I will enjoy when donning my favorite cardigan next month (!), the lovely skin treatment my hands got out of the deal, and how much I am going to save on dry cleaning bills this winter (!!!).  Now I just need to take a pill remover to these babies and they'll be good as new!

You can purchase Eucalan products from Love Knitting here.

Love Knitting provided the products for this review; however, the words and opinions are my own.

Infused Witch Hazel Yoga Mat Cleaner

It was time to retire my dingy, rubber yoga mat, discolored from afternoons of after work class days in the back seat of my car (don't judge) and crumbling into lace like patterns on the corners from the teeth of an overzealous cat who just can't seem to leave my things alone... even if they are hidden in the closet.  Oh, faulty old house closet doors that won't fully shut for portions of the year.  Needless to say, it was time to start anew.  With a brand new yoga mat.  On my 30th birthday this month, I received such a luxurious gift (thanks Mom and Dad!).
I resolve not to let this mat fall into disrepair in the manner that my last one did.  (I swear it's not my fault!  If only you knew this cat!)  One way I have planned to go about this is by making some delicate cleaner to use on my mat after home use.  At home it's easy to get lazy.  I wanted to use ingredients that are eco-friendly, not harsh on my mat, and that smell nice, a rejuvenating fragrance to keep that post yoga euphoria going for a while longer.
After a little research, I discovered that the Lululemon mats have pores that can become clogged from popular DIY cleaner additives such as essential oils or tea tree oil.  (Sigh of disappointment as the "rejuvenating fragrance" criteria flies out the window.)  However, I came up with an alternative to solve this problem - infusing the other ingredients with herbs.  Clearly I have solar dyeing on the brain. Infusing with pigment, infusing with fragrance.  Whatever.  As long as it works, right?
This is an incredibly simple mixture that I based loosely off of this one here.  Initially, you will need a mason jar, lavender buds (or herbs of your choice) and a bottle of witch hazel astringent.


Empty the witch hazel into your jar, and add some lavender.  It really doesn't take much - I think I used about an ounce.  Seal the jar and let it sit for about a week.  You can check every few days to see how strong the scent is becoming.  Witch hazel has a unique soapy odor of its own, which will probably not be overpowered, but you can get a mixture of fragrances in there.  This is what it looks like as its infusing, below.


Once you determine that the witch hazel is ready (I went with about 7 days of infusing), strain the liquid from the buds and return to the jar.  Now you're ready to mix your cleaner.  And when I said this was simple, I really meant it.  Fill a spray bottle 3/4 full with filtered water, and then top off with the witch hazel.  Apply to a clean, soft rag and wipe down your mat after use.  I would recommend not spraying the mixture directly onto the mat, because it will absorb into the pores and really won't do much good when it comes to wiping down the surface since it is infusing into the mat (see what I did there?).  If you spray down the rag a little bit, it's much more effective at cleaning off the mat.


Now to be fair, if you aren't interested in going through the trouble of infusing your own witch hazel, you CAN go to Whole Foods and buy a bottle of lavender scented witch hazel.  I discovered this as I went to buy supplies and was slightly annoyed since I thought I had a brilliant idea... but you know what?  It's about the journey, and INFUSING THINGS IS FUN, dang it!  So there you go.
Also, I realize that a tiny mister like the one depicted above will not go very far in cleaning a yoga mat on a (hopefully) daily basis, but let's be honest here - who really wants to look at photos of a cheap plastic spray bottle?  You're welcome.  Let's just infer that you can use one of those big ol' guys for real life purposes if you want to.

Tutorial || Washi Tape Pennants - Knitting Needle Organization

When setting up my new studio space, one thing of importance to me was making my knitting needles easily accessible.  Up until now, my double pointed needles have been stored in their original packaging, and grouped together with all the other double pointed needles in an inconvenient pouch.  Every time I go to look for a certain size of needles, I have to sort through this pouch and then put it away in the organizer on top of my bookshelf. Now that I have a desk to work at, it makes sense to display these in the open, which also makes each size easier to find!  I organized my different double pointed needles by their US size, although you could easily organize them by millimeter size if that's easier for you.
A roll of washi tape,
A paint pen (I used white, but a metallic one would look really great too!)
1+ sets of double pointed knitting needles
Copper wire
Wire cutters
Not shown: a mug or vase to display them in


To begin, take a set of double pointed needles and wrap them with the copper wire, enough to hold the needles in place without any slipping out.  At the top, leave a "flag pole" of a few inches and cut with wire cutters.
Take the washi tape, and wrap the top of the "flag pole" with it.  Wrap about 1.5" around one side, and stick the back of it to the other side of the tape, lining up the edges so the front side of the tape is showing on both sides forming a rectangular "flag".




Cut at an angle twice to make a triangular pennant shape out of the washi tape rectangle.



With the paint pen, write your needle size on the pennant and place it in the storage container!



Done!  A nice and easy way to display your double pointed needles while still knowing what the heck the size is when you need to use them!

Dye Jar Progress

Since summer is now in full swing here in Central Oklahoma and we've been hitting heat indexes of over 100 degrees, my solar dyeing projects are coming along nicely.  The one on the far left, I started about three weeks ago using prairie coneflower bloom heads and petals.  The center one is osage orange extract, and the one on the right is bald cypress leaves.  These two on the right are for a big project I'm working on to show this fall.  All are mordanted with alum and vinegar.


As you'll notice at the bottom of the jar, after a day or two in the sun (or submerged, one or the other), the leaves start to lose their green hue and take on more of the copper color that you see in the fall.  I just removed the dye stuff from the top of the jar this morning and added some fresh leaves to get some additional pigment.  It seems to be coming out a bright yellow color.



While I would love to try dyeing with actual osage orange root, I had this extract and for the sake of getting some of these jars going I decided to go ahead and use it.  The shade is a beautiful, burnt orange.  Less red than the madder that I used last month.  It's going to add a lot of brightness to the project I'm using it for.


I've really loved watching the evolution of this jar.  After the first week in the sun, the water took on a deep purple hue.  When I started noticing the yarn taking on color, however, it looked more green.  Now, it almost looks like the coneflower heads have produced a blue-green color in the yarn.  I removed the dye stuff from the top of the jar and topped it off with water this morning.  It was a little cramped in there so the yarn was stuffed into the center... Hopefully this will allow it to spread out some and absorb more color in the center section.  This yarn has no project slated for it yet, so I will likely let it sit until the water looks clear and there is no more pigment to be absorbed.


On a side note, check out these stalks that one of my succulents is putting out!  I love watching these guys grow...


And finally, I'm happy to report that the bottom tier of the copper/moss tiered planter that I made last month is putting on new growth!  This dude will be cascading down the sides of the moss ball in no time!
I've got family visiting for the next few days (hello, three day weekend!) and am looking forward to some quality time and doing some fun things.  I hope you have a lovely weekend as well and I'll be back on Monday with a DIY!

Tutorial || Tiered Moss/Copper Hanging Planter

I'm all about a great way to display plants, and this planter idea has been floating around in my head for a while.  I'll try to keep it from making me want to buy ALL OF THE SUCCULENTS, but that's no guarantee.  This project only took a couple of hours and it's perfect for cascading succulents that like to dry out a little bit in between waterings.  The moss holds in moisture after you water it, however.  You can either hose it down gently (this is what I've been doing when I water my other containerized porch plants) or soak it in the sink or a bucket.  If you put this indoors, make sure that you hang it over the bathtub or something after watering to let it drain out completely... unless you just like having water all over the floor.  Just sayin'.


Materials needed:

A bag of sphagnum moss Needle-nosed pliers Approx. 50 feet of 14 gauge copper wire Three plants (cascading types that can handle drying out will work best) A bucket for soaking the moss, filled halfway with water Yarn/twine is optional if you would like to tie up the moss ball while you wrap your wire.




1.  Begin by cutting the copper wire into lengths of about 36 inches.  You will need five pieces of wire for each tier of the planter.  Meanwhile, soak the moss in a bucket.


2.  Take five pieces of cut wire in a bundle and find the center of the length of wires.  Using the pliers, twist the wires around each other to form the center of the bottom of your planter.  Spread the wires apart in a circular/sunburst fashion.  You now have ten wires around the circumference of the center twist.


3.  Place a handful of wet moss in the center of the wires to form the foundation for your plant.
4.  Take two adjacent wires and twist them at the edge of the bottom of the planter.  They should still be spread apart from each other on the bottom to provide more support - just bend them toward each other at the corner to twist.
5.  Go all around the edge of the planter twisting sets of two wires to begin the side supports of the planter.
6.  Next, bend each wire in a set away from the other toward the wire on the other side.  Now twist these two wires together forming five new sets of wires.  Continue to repeat steps 5 and 6, adding moss around the edge as you go and leaving a pocket in the center where your plant will be inserted.
7.  Place the plant in the center pocket, and add more potting soil if needed.  Cover the top and sides with more moss.
8.  Continue twisting the wire at the sides until you have reached the top.  Gather all the wires, centered above the plant about 4 inches and join them together.  Using the pliers, twist the wires into one coiled wire.  For the top tier of the planter, make a loop with the coil and then twist the ends around the coil below the loop.  You can then hang it from a plant hook.  For the lower tiers, you can join them to the tier above by wrapping the ends of the coil around the wire twist on the bottom of the planter tier, and then securing it by wrapping the ends around the coil.



That's it!  Water once you notice the moss going dry.  What do you think?  Anyone want to make a guess at how many of these will be hanging on my porch by the end of the summer?!  :)

Tutorial || Ombre Jersey Rug

A few months back, I made a rug as a going away/housewarming gift for a couple of friends moving to Seattle.  The good thing about an ombre or variegated accent piece is that it brings out all shades of a main color and ties in other similarly hued accessories.  In the words of The Dude, "That rug really tied the room together!"  And it's true.



All you need for this DIY is a minimal knowledge of crochet stitches, a pair of scissors, a giant crochet hook (I used size 19, the largest I could find at the time) and a ton of t-shirts.  Buy all the same color (such as green, or red) and then get as many different shades as you can - light, dark, dull, bright, just as many shades as you can find of the particular color you are going to use.  Larger t-shirts are better, since you get more material out of them also.  Once you get all of your t-shirts, I would recommend stacking them or laying them side by side in the order that they will be used.  Line them up from light to dark, to light to dark, etc.  Since some of the shirts will be similar shades you can fade in and out a couple of times and probably get to use all of them.  As far as where to purchase your shirts, I got all of mine at Goodwill.  It's true that this can get expensive quickly, but if you're making a humungous rug is it going to cost more than you would pay to buy one?  Probably not.


Start out by cutting your shirts into long strips, about 1 inch wide.  I typically just cut down the shirt length-wise, from the neck to the bottom edge.  Next, you will attach these strips to each other to make t-shirt yarn.  Here's how:
1. Cut a slit in the end of your first strip.  Take a second strip, and slip the end of it through that slit.  Now you have to secure the second strip so that it does not come out of the first one.
2. Cut a slit in one end of the second strip (while it is still through the first strip).  Take the opposite end of this second strip and place it through the slit on its first end.  Pull to tighten at the joining end.



Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have enough yarn to make a rug the size of your choice.  I usually just add strips as I go, making yarn for one shirt for instance and balling it up, then making more when I get to the end of the ball.  Now you're ready to start crocheting your rug!
Start out by crocheting a chain that is as wide as you would like for the rug to be (or as long, just depending on which direction you want your stripes to go).  Here is a video tutorial on how to make a chain.
This chain is your first row.  Turn and continue down the chain making a single crochet stitch into each stitch of the chain.  Here is a great video tutorial on how to make a row using single crochet.  Once you get to the end of the row, you will need to chain one more stitch as you turn, then begin to single crochet into your previous row of crocheted stitches.

When you get to the end of your second row, turn and stitch back down the row again as established.  You will keep doing this until the rug reaches your desired length.  It's fun to watch the fade in color unfold!  Here's what it will look like when you're done...


This last photo is by courtesy of Sharalee, one of the owners of the rug.  They had a rectangular space, which is why I made it in rows.  However, I've made one in the past that was circular and it looks amazing in that shape!  Unfortunately I have no good photos of that one and it is no longer in my possession because my cat.. ahem.. became a little too fond of it... But to make a circular rug, all you really need to do is chain about 6 stitches, and then begin your single crochet stitch from there in the very first stitch of the chain to join it in a loop.  You will crochet once into each stitch for the most part, but will need to crochet twice into every 3rd - 5th stitch or so to make it lay flat.  As you go along it's easy to gauge if you need to do that more often or less often, as the rug will curl if the outer round has too few stitches or it will bunch up if you have too many stitches.
This is a pretty easy and affordable project that will add some color into your home!

Greenhouse Blues

I've dreamt for as long as I can remember of constructing my very own greenhouse, curating it with the most intriguing and exotic of plants and, of course, managing to keep them all alive.  That day has yet to come, but every fall when the mornings get a little more crisp and my bare arms tingle in call of a sweater I realize.... pretty soon the jungle on my front porch will have to come indoors.  This is when the longing for a greenhouse stabs me the most, but as a renter I must concede and bring my plants into the living room where they will face such adversaries as low light, dry hot air, my ever improving sense of how much to water an indoor plant, and perhaps the most fierce and fearful.... the cat.
My houseplant skills have gotten much better over the years, and I actually have a pretty great little chorus of plants going in the living room.  The cat seems to be losing interest with age, or maybe its just that as he grows older he becomes less sprightly and more like a cat... lazy and apathetic.  Either way works for me.
This year when the flora was brought inside we added some air plants to the mix, hung across the ridiculous expanse of a doorway that separates (if you would call it that) the living room from the dining room.  I guess poorly laid out floor plans are good for something, after all.  I am excited to share the air plants with you in just a few days time...
As I tend my leafy friends this winter they will serve as a reminder of what we hope to achieve in the coming year, just contributing for my overwhelming need for a garden.  With a garden, even a greenhouse can wait.