Tag Archives: Houseplants

Work in Progress

Amid all my other projects, I decided to create a houseplant-themed mural in my office to use up some leftover paint. I’ve been working on it, a few minutes here and an hour there, for about a week and a half. Here’s how it’s been going so far:

The big challenge of painting in the desert is that acrylic dries almost instantly, so you have to work really fast and do really small sections at a time to keep it from drying before you finish blending it. It doesn’t help that my office is hot in the afternoons, and most of the paint is several years old. The latex tends to get thick as it ages, which makes it dry out even faster. Still, it’s been a while since I painted a mural solely for my own enjoyment, and this is a pleasant way to use up some leftover paint I’ve had on hand for upwards of 10 years.


Planning ahead

“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa

During this pandemic, I’ve thought a lot about the best way to leverage the resources I have to bring the greatest possible benefit to the greatest possible number of people.

Three resources I have at the moment are surplus craft supplies, creativity, and time. I am using those resources to stock a sort of free gift shop that will launch in October to make Christmas a little easier for people in my area who may be struggling financially.

My goal is to create classy-looking gift items in a range of sizes/types/apparent price points and distribute them at no charge to anybody who needs them. If people want to pay for the items, I will encourage them to donate whatever amount they deem appropriate to a local nonprofit, but it won’t be required. The fundraising component is mostly just there to provide cover for folks who can’t afford to buy gifts but don’t want anyone to know, and to give them a way to pay it forward if they wish. I use a similar approach with my obedience classes, and it seems to work very well.

Today, I took some small terra cotta flowerpots and dressed them up with leftover paint from other projects. I’m making little macrame hangers to go with them, and this fall, I’ll fill them with potting soil and tuck baby spider plants or burro’s tail cuttings into them.

I watered down some paint to get the weathered effect.

I really like this Southwestern color scheme.

Propagating plants. These will be pretty big by Christmas, but I’ll have more little ones by then.

I hope to offer at least a dozen different products, including houseplants in cute containers, spice mixes, mug-brownie kits, lotion bars, sock monkeys, bead jewelry, paintings, garden kits, hot-process soap, bath bombs with small toys hidden inside, and a few other items.

I’ll be posting recipes and tutorials as I go.

This won’t cure coronavirus, fix the economy, or end racism, but it might make life a little easier for somebody, and that’s all I really need it to do.


I do not fear the time

“So come the storms of winter,
And then the birds in spring again.
I do not fear the time…”
— Sandy Denny

I turned 45 today. There’s nothing especially magical about that, but it’s a comfortable age. Five years into it, I’m still thoroughly enjoying my 40s, despite my elders’ assurances that I wouldn’t when I was a kid.

I have everything I need and most of what I want. Thanks to the surgery I had last summer, my most obnoxious and persistent health problem is gone. I have a rewarding career; supportive family and friends; a house full of pets and plants and mid-century furniture; a schedule that leaves time for creative pursuits; and a view of Tucumcari Mountain out my front window. I feel productive and appreciated — a feeling that was only reinforced this evening when three of my students were out for a walk around town and just randomly showed up in my front yard to say hello. (I don’t think they knew it was my birthday, but after all this social distancing, their unexpected visit was definitely a gift.)

I spent this morning celebrating the decade in which I was born by listening to the ’70s channel on Sirius while repotting some new houseplants and moving some old ones outdoors to give them better growing conditions.

I had a good day. I hope you did, too.


Welcome to the jungle

As longtime readers know, I am powerless to resist an opportunity to meander through a greenhouse. If it’s cold or overcast outside, or I’m having a hard day, or I just need a little boost in some direction, meandering around a nursery works wonders on my mood. There’s something about the warm, moist air, the vibrant colors, and the smells inside a greenhouse that energizes me.

This fall, I found two nurseries worthy of a wander: Coulter Gardens in Amarillo and Rehm’s Nursery in Albuquerque.

Both businesses carry a pretty nice assortment of houseplants, and I’ve spent the past three or four months rebuilding the collection of plants I had to rehome when we moved.

Above are a few of my recent acquisitions, which I’ve already had to repot a time or two. My long-term goal is to turn my office into a veritable jungle, with hanging baskets, terrariums, and shelves full of plants everywhere. I think I’ve got a pretty respectable start on that project now.


Make-It Monday: Propagating African violets

I have no idea whether this will work, but I found instructions online for propagating African violets, and since I had a violet growing and blooming like mad, half a bag of leftover potting mix, and an empty plastic salad tub, I thought I’d give them a shot.

Here's the tub. It creates a mini-greenhouse to keep them warm and moist. The mother plant is in the background.
Here’s the tub. It creates a mini-greenhouse to keep them warm and moist. The mother plant is in the background.

I had several plants that needed to be repotted, propagated, or both. My aluminum plant — which was rootbound and suffering terribly in the dry air in this house — went into a bigger pot, with a plastic bag over it to keep the leaves from drying out. Meanwhile, my spider plant needed a bigger pot for itself, and I snipped off a couple of its babies and transplanted them while I was at it:

This was the pot that originally held the mother plant. I expect this baby will outgrow it quickly.
This was the pot that originally held the mother plant. I expect this baby will outgrow it quickly.

Another baby I planted. I love this uber-'70s, avocado-green pot I bought from the Plant Lady.
Another baby I planted. I love this uber-’70s, avocado-green pot I bought from the Plant Lady.

We’ll see how they do. They look cool on the credenza, where I put CFLs in a couple of faux-mid-century lamps to supplement the decidedly inadequate natural light coming in the front window.

I developed a new appreciation for African violets after a conversation with a young friend in California who messaged me on Twitter to ask what sort of plants would do well in her dorm room. I suggested several species, including African violets, and after looking at some pictures online, she was quite enchanted with them and was looking forward to a plant-shopping trip with her dad. (Good luck, Kadijah! If you ever make it to Missouri, we’ll spend an afternoon poking around the Plant Lady’s shop and Mother Earth Plants.)


Mid-century madness

It’s not quite finished (I still have a set of storage cubes to buy and turn into a quasi-credenza next paycheck and a couch to buy as soon as Ron and I can agree on what constitutes an appropriate price for furniture and an appropriate means of financing it), but my interior-design project is coming along very nicely.

I discovered a problem recently: Because I’m about four inches too tall to sit in it without holding my neck in an awkward angle, my beloved ball chair was contributing to chronic tension headaches.

Fortunately, my nephews think the “Space Chair,” as they call it, is the one of the coolest things in the known universe, so they were more than happy to take it off my hands. My parents came by a week ago and picked it up for them, and a few hours later, I was rewarded with a hilarious photo of Ollie lying in it more or less upside-down, giggling.

I discovered the perfect replacement on Target’s website: a Zuo knockoff of the famous Eames rocking chair.

Look at that fabulous chair. This was before I removed the futon cover and rearranged the furniture.
Look at that fabulous chair. This was before I removed the futon cover and rearranged the furniture.

I also picked up a couple of guitar hangers at Hastings’ going-out-of-business sale. My acoustic guitars are now out of the way, within reach, and pulling double-duty as visual accents on my faux-stucco walls.

We can’t replace the futon just yet, but I removed the Route 66-themed cover to reveal the black pad underneath and threw a falsa blanket over the back to give it more of a Southwestern look, as you can see in the top photo.

Walter approved of this move:

Sleepy kitty is sleepy.
Spoiled cat.

On Friday, Ron and I went wandering around the little antique stores downtown in search of mid-century pieces to go with the rocking chair and living-room tables.

By rearranging the furniture in several rooms, I managed to free up space for a bigger dining table and a couple of shelf units — a small, sturdy bookcase I found at a shop on Main Street, and a 1970s metal, faux-woodgrain shelf I found at a shop on Spanish Street. I filled the wooden shelf with books and started a bunch of herbs and cacti in pots on the metal shelf.

Metal shelves full of potted plants were popular in the ’70s, so to go with them, I went to Annie Laurie’s Antiques and bought a dining set straight out of the early 1970s:

Hello, 1972.
Hello, 1972.

It needed an appropriate centerpiece, so I recycled an old wooden salad bowl into a miniature cactus garden:

The bowl has a crack in it, but it works just fine as a planter.
The bowl has a crack in it, but it works just fine as a planter.

I still have a couple more little projects to do, but I’m really pleased with how this is all turning out.