Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update on House Plants

It has now been nearly 6 weeks since I brought home these New House Plants and I am happy to report that they are all doing well so far!

Umbrella plant seems quite happy where I placed it and is growing lovely new leaves.

Umbrella's new leaves

Not only did the Ficus tree not even seem to suffer a shock (as is common with ficus that are moved to new locations), it is actually doing very good as well. It has not lost any leave and has kept its nice green shades. It is a little hard to tell if it grew. It didn't change that much since I got it, but just the fact that it kept its leaves is a good thing. As I said, Ficus trees are quite sensitive about changes.

Ficus is doing well
Jade plant is thriving. It is growing new leaves and enjoying its location.  I do need to find a way to clean its leaves, as there are water stains on them. They have a small duvet on them so I'm a little afraid to "scrub" them. I obviously don't want to cause damage! Oh, and I have to mention that it survived a fall when Tiana decided to try to walk between the plant and the window and pushed the plant down. I was JUST in time to catch the plant in its fall. It felt head first in my hand and lost a few leaves, but recovered quickly. :) Whew!

Jade Plant is happy
Wandering Jew is still pretty and is also growing, although not as fast as Umbrella or Jade. Unfortunately, it had a scary meeting with Kashew and got a little chomped. :( I had to move it to a cat-proof filtered window-sill. It survived well and is happy in its new location. :)

Wandering Jew got a few cat bites, but is healing well and happy in its new cat-proof location
So far, I'm really happy. With my history of killing plants, this is already an improvement! I'll update again in a few weeks. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012


Happy Friday!

I'm so excited! Ok, I know this is not much but hey, I gotta start somewhere! I recently sowed tomato, cucumber, chili pepper, cape gooseberry and squash. I've tried growing tomatoes before, but the 4 other ones are new experiences to me. I'm so happy to see that tomato and cucumber plants sprouted nicely. I am still waiting on cape gooseberry and chili pepper.

The trays are currently on the windowsill of my hobby-room. Even though there is plenty of sun during the day, I find the seedlings still lean towards the window, as opposed to growing straight up. I read a trick to put white paper behind the tray (opposite to window side) so that the light would reflect on the paper and help the seedlings grow straight by having light from both sides. I tried it a few days but after seeing no difference on the inclination of the seedlings, I decided to take down the paper wall and turn the trays in stead. I will turn them every couple of days and see if that helps better.

Does anyone have experience with seedlings on the windowsill? How do I get them to grow straight up?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tiana's time

The weather here has been absolutely perfect for some early garden preparations and such. It has been sunny and comfortable. I have spent SO much time in the yard in the last few days and accomplished so much! I just love that time of the year where I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and start trading my winter jacket for a simple fleece vest. :)

But I'm not the only one here who really enjoys sunny days. My cats are also especially lively and affectionate when the sun is shining onto our patio and into our dining room. I guess the sun really is important to all life and really does play a role on the mood, no matter who or what you are.

Tiana's ultimate happy time is when my husband gives her a massage on the sunlit patio. This especially happens on Saturday or Sunday mornings from Spring to Fall. Not only does Tiana love it, she asks for it! She meows and "calls" my husband until he goes to her for massage time. He then starts caressing her fast and quite strongly from head to tail, with the tip of his fingers. This causes Tiana to "bruuu", purr, roll and twist in pure enjoyment.

Sometimes, she sounds almost angry, so you would think she doesn't actually like it, but if my husband stops, Tiana runs after him, meows and "talks" as to get him to start again. It's quite a cute sight! The massage also removes a lot of loose fur, which stays outside instead of falling inside on our floors! At the same time, we help the birds build a cozy, soft and warm nest for their little ones to come. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Plant Markers

Yesterday, I sowed 4 different kinds of seeds and set them on a windowsill. I searched for something to use as plant markers, but nothing I came up with was satisfying. I've used popsickle sticks in the past, but I always find that the wood drinks some of the water in the soil, and becomes ugly and mossy really fast. I wanted something more durable and maybe more fun to look at. 

So I took out my polymer clay and made these easy to make plant markers.

It's basically just a rolled piece of clay which I flattened on one end and rolled to a point on the other end. I then shaped the decorations and engraved names. I put everything together and baked the clay. 

Once baked, I washed white acrylic paint over the engraved names and wiped to leave only the words in white. When the acrylic was dry, I finished with 2 coats of varnish.

I had fun doing this project. Now, I just hope my plants will grow well, so I can actually use the markers, and, more importantly, savour freshly picked tomatoes, cucumbers, chili peppers and cape gooseberries!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A touch of lavender

When we first moved into our house in 2010, the backyard was filled with the lovely and soothing scent of lavender. There was indeed, and still is a lot of lavender growing on our lot. At the time, I picked a good amount of the pretty lavender flowers and hung them to dry. I then placed them in a box for later use.

It is nearly 2 years later now and I finally used a little of my time to make some First-summer-in-our-house-reminders in the form of scented crocheted balls. It is amazing how many memories can be associated to one single fragrance. Dried lavender can keep their scent for many many years, keeping your memories alive at the same time. :)

If this simple but fun project interests you, here is how to proceed:

You will need:
a crochet to fit your yarn size,
a yarn needle,
a stitch marker,
a small amount of polyester toy stuffing (not on picture),
dry lavender flowers.

Crochet about 3/4 of a ball.
Don't know how? go see the Ball tutorial at Greedy For Colors
Here, I chose to use 3 different colours.

When you are almost done forming the ball, put a little bit of stuffing inside it to give it a "bottom".
Place 2-3 dry lavender flowers into the ball.
Stuff with stuffing until you obtain a nice round ball.

Finish the last row or two and fasten. 
You now have a cute little ball with a piece of your garden in it! :)

These can be used in drawers, wardrobes or linen cabinets to give clothes and linens a fresh fragrance. They can be hung in a room as decoration. With the lavender's soothing and calming effect, maybe it would be worth trying to slide one or two of those little balls at the bottom of a pillow case, if falling asleep is a problem. I am also thinking that the colors, scent and size can be adjusted depending on the season and occasion.

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Root Aphids

Do you remember my small Euonymus Fortui - Emerald Gaity? (Plant Needs Help)

Well, it has now been 2 weeks since I tried to help it gain some strenght. At first, it was encouraging, because I could see new leaves starting to grow, but then, it started to go south again. :(

While some new leaves continued to grow, some of the already existing leaves started to look very unhealthy. They pointed down, even though there was no lack of water, nor was there too much of it. They started to get brownish. Now they are pretty much withering and falling off.
The new leaves are still growing, but they are quite fade in colour. The growth is also uneven from stem to stem.

After researching some more, it appears my poor little plant might have root aphids. :( That is a tiny little bug that lives at the root and gets all the nutrients before the plant can absorb them, resulting in stunted growth, unhealthy coloured foliage and premature loss of leaves. All the symptoms fit.

So I took it out of its pot to take a closer look and, sure enough, there's a colony of little crawlers in there. :( It's unclear to me how to treat this problem. I am also afraid that my other plants will get affected.

So after a good run with us, out it is for Emerald Gaity. Sorry little plant, I really tried...

That said, any advice is welcome! Does anyone know how to treat this issue? Better yet, how to avoid it?

Saturday, March 03, 2012


I enjoy painting skies and backgrounds. Hmm. That's fair enough, right? But now I have projects starting to pile up because I paint the backgrounds but don't always get around to finishing the whole painting. This can be because I have a background idea but not really a foreground one. Or it can be because the foreground idea is more complicated and I don't really know how to do it. It can also be that I try mediums or a new paintbrush out and end up with a lonely background.

These canvases are just leaning against the wall of my hobby room, waiting to be given some much awaited attention. Perhaps I should give myself the goal to finish the 3 following ones before I start anything new. :)

This painting is supposed to go on the wall over the sofa-bed in our guestroom / my hobby room.

I was testing the use of flow improver and slow drying blending medium. I could definitely do something with this, but my conclusion still is that nothing flows, blends and mixes as well on canvas as oils. (while keeping their vibrant colours, that is)

This has been in my pile for well over a year. I really had never tried watercolours at all and just decided to see how it works. I can't say I pushed the experiment very far at the time. I ended up with a very deserted desert. Maybe it needs a cactus and a camel. teehee :)