Pin accomplished -- succulents in vintage planters


I got the idea to plant succulents in vintage planters on Pinterest, my latest addiction (yes, I'm late to the party as always). Here's the pin that inspired this project. I was snowed in, so it's a little half-assed. I scavenged stuff I already had on hand. Took me about an hour to do three. 

First I took some of the "chicks," which grow on runners leading out from the "hens." I didn't have to cut them, they just pop right off with a gentle tug at the base. That tiny little root in the center, hanging down from the stem, is a good thing. 

Succulents like well-drained soil but this little blue McCoy butterfly pattern jar has no drainage holes. So I used bit of "beach pottery" instead of river rock or pebbled. They'd be covered up but I have scads of them so I won't miss these few. 

You can buy special potting soil for succulents, which is kinda funny because they grow in the absolute worst soil and conditions. So I just used some soil I had leftover from something I re-potted earlier.

I didn't plant the chick very firmly. I put the spike and its root under the soil but the head of the chick is just sitting loosely on top.

The little chick looked lonely, so I played around with some fillers--beach glass, marbles, polished stone--till I found a look I liked.

And then I did two more: 


White is one of my favorite colors

I recently put much of my art, pottery and other collectibles in storage (long story) and I'm going to be selective with what I put back. I love opening boxes of things I haven't looked at in a while. It helps me look at and display them new ways--such as grouping them by color instead of type. (Is white a color?)

Some or maybe all of the items in the ironstone pitcher will soon be raided for a project based on two driftwood mobiles I found on Pintrest -- here and here.

I'm naming it the 'Decade Garden'

As I mentioned in my previous crazy neighbors post, things are happening in the garden.

Fortunately, some of them are good things!

I bought my condo maybe 10 years ago now and I have been battling the crappy soil, demonic weeds, tenacious tree roots, grubs and slugs and snails and other creepy things ever since.

I've focused most of my attention on one spot near the driveway. The first year I whacked down weeds that were growing above my head, cleared it of construction debris, dug out old chunks of concrete buried in the ground, and cut down "weed trees"--those effing maples that grow anywhere and everywhere.

Every year since, I've pulled weeds, dug up roots, laid yards and yards of weed barrier and put down bag after bag after bag of new soil and enough mulch to fill a truck or two (lugged bag by bag weekend by weekend from Home Depot).

Over the years, my mom donated some healthy plants and rich soil from her own garden, supplemented with some plants I bought ... although none of them lasted and they're all dead and gone now.

RIP, good intentions.

It is a tiny space and yet it's been a huge job. But this spring I think I've (mostly) got the decade garden under control.

First, the before pictures from this year--I really wish I had thought to take before pictures starting that first year):

Pretty effing bleak.

I kind of skipped the fall clean-up last year. 

I split one of my hostas, which for some reason I thought would be a half hour job at most. Not so much--it took almost three hours and I broke my spade and nearly broke my back. The other one will have to wait till next spring to divide and multiply.

Here's the "during" photo at the start of day two.

Not a big fan of raking leaves--the mess on the left of the pic looks exactly the same four days later.
That's what next weekends are for.

Three bags of mulch--and it was barely enough for this small space.
Seriously--there's never enough effing mulch. 

Made a Home Depot run to replace the spade, buy mulch, gardening gloves, a heather plant and some other odds and ends. 

Will the heather live or die? Too soon to tell. 
Every time I go to Home Depot for a couple of things I end up spending $110--it's as bad as a trip to Target. 

I can't help it--I'm a good shopper. 

I got this bird bath (or feeder--it's pretty shallow) from a local  guy who makes them out of old dishes and  table legs.
Below it is one half of the split hosta.  

Got the little bluebird bird bath on Amazon last summer.
The birds have ignored it for a year but I saw one land on it today.
And below it is the other half of the split hosta. 

Cement shell planter on the left was an estate sale score.
Solar lights from Target.
Slate in the foreground and mulch, mulch, mulch from Home Depot.
Wait, where was I before I started going on about shopping?

Ah, yes, my little "decade garden." Spring clean-up this year took me about four hours and half a vicodin on Saturday and another three-ish hours on Sunday (not counting the Home Depot run) to finish up.

Here are the after photos:

Well, mostly after ... if you ignore the leaves on the left and pretend I don't still have a couple of hours' worth of edging to do. :(
Also, it will look better when some of the plants fill in--but I'm still pretty pleased with myself.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of projects on my to-do list, none of them nearly as "easy" as this was.

Take my lawn ... please:

My entry into the World's Shittiest Lawn competition. Front, back, side--they all look like this.
Honest to God I have no freaking idea what is wrong with my lawn. I may have broken the rules and let Sadie pee on it a few times over the winter--but only when there was so much snow I didn't have any other choice but to shovel out a little square for her.

But that doesn't account for the fact that it's 72% weeds and crab grass. The rest is dirt. And grubs. I actually mow this shit! I wish I could just lay down new sod. It's pretty expensive, though, and not exactly a DIY project.

Some other areas in need of a little improvement:

In case there's any confusion, our house is not the one on the left, with the nice raised flower bed.
It's the one on the right with the nice strip of weeds. 

Um, it looks better in real life?

This one actually looks worse in real life.
I know--wah, wah, poor me. I guess I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it a little. Being out in the sun, getting some exercise, shopping, a sense of accomplishment, etc. These are all things I like. Honest. But I do get overwhelmed--I don't know how I will get it all done. (Does anyone know any nice, single landscapers?) 

But imagine how awesome it will look in 2023!

Other stuff:
I first met mulch in 2007. Our relationship has not matured since then: Look what the cat dragged in.

Still crazy after all these years

This year I'm celebrating seven years of crazy upstairs neighbor stories.

This special anniversary edition is brought to you by the latest tenants. For about a year I've suspected they were throwing cigarettes off their back porch and into the back yard, although they denied it.

I picked them up, threw them away, and told myself that maybe the squirrels were smoking in the trees. (I like to give people the benefit of the doubt--which my mom has recently informed me is my worst quality.)

When the snow melted, the sheer number of butts on the ground made it clear that if the squirrels were indeed smoking they would be dead from cancer by now:

Fun with Photoshop. Sadie is not amused.

The arrow points to a tree that blocks this area from the other yards.  The only way these got here was if saomeone walked into our back yard and deposited them there ... or if someone threw them off the back porch. As the woman next door said while we were chatting the other day, "It's not exactly a mystery."

Anyhoo ... I finally managed to catch the upstairs neighbor in the act--watched the lit cigarette sail off the upstairs porch and into the dry leaves and mulch in the ground. Freaking awesome.

I am such a good photographer! I managed to catch the burning cigarette and the inch-long ash and if you look closely you can actually see the smoke wafting off of it (to the left). The dry leaves on the right-hand side make the photo, though. Fine art!  

Seriously, WTF.
Ah, but apparently I am the liar. Even though I saw him do it, the faux-hawked asshat upstairs told the unit owners he is absolutely positively 100% innocent.

And so it continues.

I was going to make a list of all the previous installments of my upstairs neighbor stories, but there are way more than I even remembered--and I even skipped most of the stories from when the three boys lived upstairs--they were also big fans of flicking cigarettes all over the back lawn and had really classy girlfriends, such as the one who challenged me to a fight.

A search of "upstairs neighbor" on Gienna Writes returns a lot of horror stories. So here are some of the best of the worst:

In which my upstairs neighbor dies.
In which my upstairs neighbor comes back from the dead.
In which the bank spends all my money and I still don't get the gay boyfriends of my dreams (long).
In which I am scolded by the Keyspan lady.

Looking back at them, I realize that I've never had it so good.

And finally ... Famous last words from "Auntie A" in this comment on on of my earliest crazy upstairs neighbor posts from 2006.

Happy anniversary!

100 Strangers Project (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am both intrigued by and terrified of the 100 Strangers Project, in which you not only walk up to perfect stranger and ask to take their photos but also engage them in conversation and tell their story.

I joined the 100 Strangers Group on Flickr and planned to start the project in Ireland, but was too scared to do it on the first half of the trip, even though I met so many lovely people and had such great conversations with them. I just couldn't bring myself to take that additional step of asking to take their photo.

As the days went by I became increasingly aware of all the opportunities I was missing.

And screwed up my courage enough to ask three people if I could take their picture.

It was only when I got home that I realized that I was so nervous that I not only forgot to record their stories but also in some cases didn't even get their names. And forgot to focus. Other than that, awesome.

So I won't be counting any of these as part of the 100 Strangers Project. But for the sake of learning from my mistakes, I figured I'd share them anyway.

Stranger #0: John O'Neill
Stranger #0 John O'Neill
This is John O'Neill, our guide on a day tour of Connemara. A funny, extremely flirty fellow who happens to be in love with Noreen, the equally funny and wonderful woman who owns the B&B where we stayed in Killarney. (I didn't take her photo either.)

He claims to have been married briefly, but I cannot imagine him as anything but a dedicated bachelor. Aside from the usual tour guide info, he talked a lot about the economy in Ireland and pointed out to us an entire development of beautiful houses that stand empty because the builder ran out of money.

He believes that putting your hat on the table is bad luck and, as a result, leaves many hats behind in restaurants, pubs and cafes. Luckily, he has lots of hats.

I could almost count this as my first "stranger" photo, except that by this point he was hardly a stranger. I had, in fact, kissed him several times (on the cheek). It was part of his bit: The last person on the bus at each stop had to kiss him. Unless the last person was a dude, in which case he'd steal a kiss from the nearest female.

Stranger #0 George Ralph
Stranger #0 George Ralph

Like my photo of John O'Neill, this almost counts as a 100 Strangers Project photo, but falls short in one critical area. When I got home and looked at the photo, I realized that I remember absolutely nothing about him aside from the fact that he owns a fabulous antique store in Kilkenny. I didn't even remember his name. 

The point of the 100 strangers project is that you not only have to ask a stranger if you can take his or her photograph, but you also have to engage them, learn something about them, and include that information with your photo. It's not that I didn't talk to him--we chatted for at least 10 or 15 minutes. It's just that I was so nervous about asking to take his photo and then taking his photo that every detail of the encounter left my little brain the moment I walked out of his store.

Now, if I was going to cheat, I could pretend that I remembered that his name is George Ralph and he owns D&R Antiques on Rose Inn Street in Kilkenny, Ireland. But I'm an honest kind of gal, so I'll admit to you that I had to Google that.

Further evidence of how nervous I was--there is nothing in focus in this picture! Adding to the technical difficulties--he kept chatting while I was snapping and so in all the other photos his mouth is open. I swear to God, this "strangers" thing is even harder than I imagined.

Stranger #0: Klaus Hartmann
Stranger #0 Klaus Hartmann

Yet another potential photo for the 100 Strangers Project that falls short in that I probably didn't talk to him long enough and also I bribed him to let me take his photo by buying about 50 Euros' worth of his gorgeous pottery.

And, again, I was so nervous I forgot to effing focus. Oh, and of course although I thought I got his name now I can't find it. So that's strike three.

Once again, I had to Google: His name is Klaus Hartmann. I met Klaus at his booth in a small market outside of Kilkenny Castle. He is a potter who lives about 10 miles outside of Kilkenny with his wife, who makes the baskets you see in the background of the photo.

Have I mentioned that this "strangers" thing is really hard?