Sunday, March 19, 2017

indoor trailing succulents

Indoor plants are a great way to liven up a living space and add some green to the scene (I'm sorry I can't help rhyming). When I was in high school and living with my parents, my inner grandma really unleashed herself and I got into gardening a lot. My parents have a huge yard in the back so the highlights of my weekend mornings were planting beds of flowers that my dad would buy from Home Depot. My after-school plans always involved watering the plants, and I loved just standing there with the hose for 15-20 minutes every afternoon, letting my mind wander. Now that I've painted a somewhat depressing image of my total 16 year old homebody self, it should come as no surprise that 10 years later, not much has changed. I still love gardening and greenery. Living in an apartment takes out the option of having a huge garden like I had when living with my parents all those years ago, but there are still other ways to accommodate my love for plants. The unfortunate reality of life now is that I hardly have time to water plants daily or even weekly. After a few pathetic failed attempts to grow a basil plant (my high school self would be so disappointed in me), I knew I had to find something that would be difficult to kill. What better plant group than the popular, hipster, cool succulents?

I've gathered some of my favorite trailing succulents here. These plants are perfect to have in a pot on a counter, or a hanging basket because they grow beautiful trails. 

Fishhook succulent or String of Bananas (senecio radicans)

Native to South Africa, this specie can't tolerate temperatures below freezing (not ideal for outdoors if you live in a cold place). Of note, this plant is toxic and should not be consumed- keep away from pets and kids (and curious, hyperphagic, hyperoral adults). 

String of Pearls (senecio rowleyanus)

Native to parts of southwest Africa, this plant is also toxic when consumed.

Ghost Tail (graptopetalum paraguayense)

Native to Mexico, and not Paraguay as the name would suggest, this plant can tolerate freezing temperatures. If you decide to plant it outdoors, it is "deer resistant".

Donkey Tail plant (sedum morganianum)

This plan is native to Mexico and Honduras. It's leaves are extremely delicate and will fall off at the slightest touch. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

wax seal for snail mail

While in New Orleans for a quick New Years trip back in December, H and I stumbled upon a writing supplies store while walking around the French Quarter, Papier Plume. Seeing different calligraphy inks in the window display obviously sucked me in immediately, and while perusing the store, I found an array of sealing wax and stamps. After seeing the sealing wax and stamp used in action during a demo at the store, I purchased them. Excited to finally use it, I sealed a wedding card envelope I recently sent to a friend.

The composition of sealing wax has changed over time. In the Middle Ages, it was largely composed of either beeswax or extract of the European Larch tree. Later, resin and shellac became more common. Unfortunately, by the mid-nineteenth century, pre-gummed envelopes made their debut and thus wax seals lost their appeal. Nonetheless, wax seals remain a timeless extra to personalized snail mail. I've put together a quick how-to if you want to try using your own wax and stamp to seal envelopes, letters, or ribbons.

Step 1: Light a candle. Dip the end of your sealing wax stick into the fire to melt some wax. When it looks like the surface of the tip has melted (should take less than 5 seconds), you're ready to place the wax on your paper. Be careful- leaving the wax in the fire too long will cause the wax to start dripping everywhere. 

Step 2: Place and very gently press the melted wax tip onto your desired stamp location. Hold it there for just as long as it takes to get a puddle of wax onto the paper.

Step 3: After removing the stick of wax, let the wax puddle sit for about 2-3 seconds and then press the stamp onto the wax. Hold the stamp firmly there for about 5 seconds. Remove stamp and you're done!

Friday, March 3, 2017

blueberry oatmeal muffins with granola topping

If you've read some of my other muffin recipes/food entries on this blog, then it should come as no surprise when I say I love blueberries. They're full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, and when they're baked into foods, they taste even better. This blueberry oatmeal muffin with granola crumb topping recipe adds an extra crunch thanks to the granola on top, with a boost of fiber thanks to the oatmeal. It's a healthy on-the-go breakfast (my favorite type) that goes great with a cup of coffee. 

The only small change I made to the original recipe, which can be found here, is that when it came to sprinkling the top of the muffins with granola just before putting them into the oven, I used my favorite KIND banana nut granola clusters that were broken up into smaller pieces. The banana nut flavor is almost unnoticeable and didn't mess with the overall flavor of these delicious muffins. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

watercolor teapot + discovering watercolor paper

It's been a while since I've had the time/chance/patience to sit down and actually work on an art piece. At some point in college, I became more attracted to little DIY crafts and projects because I found them to be much faster than completing artwork. A good art piece can take me weeks to finish if I'm spending a solid few hours a day, and even longer depending on my work schedule. This watercolor teapot was something I was able to quickly accomplish one recent afternoon (turned evening), and it reminded me of how therapeutic painting can be.

I used my Winsor & Newton watercolor set on a new watercolor paper journal I bought from a local art store. For the longest time, I had been using watercolors on any paper and would get so frustrated when the paper inevitably became wavy from the watercolors. Enter watercolor paper- the texture and weight of the paper sparked a whole new level of love and appreciation for the versatility of watercolors. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

DIY social media pillows

As promised almost 1.5 years ago in my post on the DIY Facebook pillow I created for my brother here, I finally got around to making the remainder of the pillows for a full collection of four social media pillows. Although I made these Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram pillows a while ago during my pillow sewing phase (see my donut here and my strawberries here), I finally got around to editing the photos and posting about this project. In my DIY Facebook pillow post linked above, I included step-by-step instructions on how I created the pillow. The remaining three pillows were constructed using the same concept. For ease of access, I have reposted the basic instructions below. Keep in mind the instructions regarding the logos will be different depending on the logo, but overall it will involve tracing and cutting felt paper.

1. 1/2 yard fabric per pillow in desired color
2. Sewing thread in desired color
3. Felt paper
4. Poly-Fil pillow stuffing 
5. Sewing machine

1. Trace the desired logo onto your felt paper. Cut out the logo and be careful to not have any pen/pencil lines showing. Set aside.
2. Cut out 2 equally sized squares of fabric for your pillow. I made mine 13" x 13"
3. Using the sewing machine, sew the felt  logo onto one piece of the fabric
4. Place the 2 sheets of fabric together so that the side with the logo is facing the other piece of fabric. We will be sewing the edges like this because we will eventually flip it all inside out.
5. Sew 3 sides of the squares together using the sewing machine . I gave myself 1" margins all around so the final product would be ~12" x 12". You should now basically have a big square pocket with only one side open.
6.  Sew the open side halfway. You don't want to sew the whole thing because you still need to stuff your pillow
7. Turn the pillow inside out. You should not be able to see any of the thread, and the logo should be facing outside now
8. Stuff the pillow to your desired fluff level
9. Hand sew the remaining open part with a hidden/blind stitch

In order of increasing complexity/work, first up is the Twitter pillow. This was a simple 2 pieces of light blue cotton fabric and white felt. Sewing the perfect curve around the head of the bird was not my strong suit, as seen in the above picture. Still, I was satisfied. Up next was the Snapchat pillow.

This was essentially the same thing as the Facebook and Twitter pillows. The only difference was tracing the ghost logo onto both white and black felt, since the logo has a black outline. I first sewed the white onto the slightly bigger black ghost outline, and then sewed the ghost logo as a whole onto the pillow. The last and most challenging pillow was the classic, old Instagram logo pillow (thank goodness I did this before they changed the logo). 

The logo here ending up taking up the entire front of the pillow. Although it appears complicated, creating this logo was just a matter of cutting out all of the individual felt components, sewing them together in the correct order for layering, and finally sewing the logo as a whole onto the pillow. I started with my two circles for the camera lens that were sewn together. Then I sewed the light brown and dark brown of the camera body together. The "Insta" wording was done with white fabric paint, and the multicolor stripes of felt above the "Insta" were simply cut out and sewn on. 

A perfect gift for the internet addict in your life!