January Houseplant Review

by Kayla K on February 3, 2015

As I write this post on February 1, there are seven inches of snow outside and it is still going. I don’t mind Iowa weather so much, but I think my ever-growing houseplant collection has a lot to do with beating the winter blues.

propagate succulent leaves
Last Thanksgiving break I tried a new way to propagate succulent leaves. I pulled some leaves from my groomed succulents and set them out to scab for about a week. Then I set them in this shallow tray (the lid to my baking sheet) filled with 50% perlite and 50% cactus mix. I spray them generously with water every two days or so and have had fantastic results.
propagate succulent leaves
In the past I have stuck the leaves into dirt, but I would lose more than 75% to rot. I think the trick here is a fast-draining mix and just arranging leaves on the surface. I have had about a 75% success rate with this method, so it is here to stay!
succulent Haeger
Here is the mamma succulent arranged with some babies in one of my oval Haeger planters. This is the most prolific succulent I have ever seen. It reproduces so easily!
hobnail milk glass succulent pitcher
I am most excited to see this hobnail milk glass pitcher arrangement take shape. Leaves from my draping succulents are placed toward toward the front and larger succulents are towards the back. When they are full grown it will give the effect of plants pouring out of the pitcher.
propagate geraniums
I trimmed my attic geraniums to make babies for hanging baskets. I plan to do geraniums and nasturtiums in my planters this spring. Toilet paper tubes are great pots for the cuttings because they are tall enough to cover at least two nodes, but narrow enough that I don’t need a lot of dirt. (See this Mother Earth News article for a tutorial). I found that putting a little rock in the bottom of each container helps keep them upright.
propagate Swedish ivy
The day after Christmas my husband took me to Earl May and said I could have anything I wanted. I picked a Swedish Ivy because I adore the beautiful one that my Aunt has from my grandmother. I trimmed it up when I got home and made this little planter for my mom. It is already well established, just in time for a housewarming gift.
pothos christmas cactus ivy hoya
The beautiful Hoya I got around Thanksgiving time brought fungus gnats with it. I isolated it from my other plants, made a trap out of Kombucha and dish soap to kill the adult gnats, and stopped watering it to kill the larvae. In the end only two branches made it through, but they are looking great.
I was inspired by this blog post to trim up my Pothos baskets. The cuttings established well (of course… Pothos…) and filled this cool teacup planter. In the middle of the picture is my Christmas cactus, and on the right is some ivy leftover from a Christmas centerpiece.
On New Year’s Day I forced some tulip bulbs. They are coming along very well.
Tulips need at least a two month dormant period to bloom, which you can replicate in a refrigerator. I had a bag in my garage which is cold enough.
From what I’ve read they should be blooming in another month. On Ash Wednesday I will do another set so I can have centerpieces for Easter.
I’m looking forward to my seed purchasing party on Valentine’s day. I’m running out of surfaces for plants in my home and am anxious to expand to the outdoors. 


New Swedish Ivy and Cake Stand Greenhouse

by Kayla K on December 27, 2014

Our trip to Cedar Rapids yesterday included a trip to Earl May where Spencer encouraged me to pick a new hanging plant. He didn’t have to work too hard, of course, but choosing one was a challenge. My plants are usually impulse or clearance picks.
I ended up with a great big Swedish Ivy because my aunt has one that I admire. I hope it is as prolific as the mint it looks like so I can easily share it with my mom.
I trimmed it up and have some cuttings in my new “greenhouse.” Most sources suggest keeping the cuttings covered until new growth shows. This was challenging because the cuttings should not touch the plastic. I solved this by putting the planter on a cake stand. The stand holds the plastic away from the plant. 
Full disclosure: I couldn’t pick just one plant and brought home a tiny Wandering Jew as well. The little ivy in the picture is a cutting from a Lowe’s clearance plant and the big one is repotted from my Alidi poinsettia arrangement. 


Can we all just pause and adore my amazing husband?
Our insurance company paid us $200 to replace our west-side window screens after our June hail storm. Mr. Brilliance bought a roll of screen and a cheap tool for $19 and replaced all four screens in about an hour. 
And because I am shamelessly bragging about my adorable family, here are some perfect dogs to complete the post:


Thrift Fix Favorites

July 25, 2014

I enjoyed all that Goodwill has to offer on my way home from Tuesday’s conference. There were three shops on the way home and each had something to offer my glassware collection.  These cups and saucers were unmarked, but I liked the pattern and the similarity to hobnail, my favorite.  I found this matching serving […]

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Garden Progress

July 23, 2014

I got back from my fantastic IFCSE Conference yesterday and was greeted with a bounty of vegetables:  Pickling Cucumbers,  Zucchini, crooked neck squash,  Chard,  Beans, tomatoes, And a lonely beet. I’m looking forward to the next few months were I can enjoy all of my hard work!

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Happy Random July Day!

July 16, 2014

Yesterday I delivered sunflower bouquets to my friends Liz and Kylie at work. (They work at the same company here in town.) They were surprised and asked the occasion. Well, I was working in my garden. And I have lots of sunflowers. So I picked them. And I made two bouquets. And doesn’t everyone love […]

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The one where Kayla’ destroys Spencer’s front yard while he is at work.

July 8, 2014

The sitcom in our home revolves around my husband’s desire (and ability) to keep a neat and orderly home, contrasted with my talent for exploding wherever I land. We demonstrate the complementary needs theory of attraction VERY well. Okay, so taking the doors off of the kitchen cabinets to display my Pyrex collection was a little… […]

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Some New Faces

July 7, 2014

I hope you had a fantastic Independence Day (USA!) weekend! The stormy Iowa weather took a break and we were able to enjoy a day antiquing in Mount Vernon and Solon, Iowa with my brother, Kasjen (Buck), and sister-in-law, Jen. My husband is a very serious WWII collector. He carefully looks over e v e […]

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Whole Grain Pizza Crust

July 3, 2014

The Pins home has passed sweeping legislation outlawing the use of refined white flour and sugar. In other words, I ran out and am trying to get by without. Probably for the better. I also didn’t realize just how much spelt flour makes 25 pounds and got overzealous with my last Azure Standard order. I […]

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Farmer’s Market Bounty

July 2, 2014

Kayla cannot live on kale alone, so she goes to bible study and shops at her local farmer’s market. Although my garden is overflowing, the only thing to harvest right now is enough kale to turn me green. I supplemented with this farmer’s market bounty. The small-town Monticello market is really stepping things up! I […]

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