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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

September 11, 2015Butterfly bushes hang limp in the breeze. Dead grass crunches when walked upon. It’s obvious that the drought conditions in California have wreaked havoc in my yard. The only things flourishing in it right now are the spiders. In lieu of masses of pretty white flowers, I now have a generous sprinkling of white spider webs. With its areas of tight gossamer weave and its immense size, this spider web is a masterpiece – a different type of gift from Mother Nature.

#1 – Bioinspiration
Strongest Natural Material Spider webs have long been considered to be the strongest organic material, but now a challenger has arrived on the scene – limpet teeth. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have found that the material in tiny limpet teeth “contain a hard mineral known as goethite, which forms in the limpet as it grows.” Engineers will try to mimic the structure and find practical applications for it. The article Scientists Find Strongest Natural Material describes bioinspiration as “Finding out about effective designs in nature and then making structures based on these designs.”

#2 – Glamorous Decorations
20 Glam Halloween Ideas If you don’t have fancy spider webs like mine, you can make your own decorative ones in time for Halloween. Check out these 20 Ideas for Glam Halloween decorations.

#3 – Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom from Author Kurt Vonnegut Eight years ago, some students in a high school class wrote letters to their favorite authors. Only one author replied. To see which author took the time to respond to them and to read the inspirational words he shared, click on the photo to enlarge it.

#4 – Tips for Life and for Traveling
99 Travel and Life Tips Having traveled around the world for the last nine years, Sherry of Otts World offers a plethora of great life and travel tips in her blog post 99 Best Life and Travel Tips.

#5 – Bound Together
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle

Now go and spread joy!

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September 4, 2015 EditionSucculents don’t suck. They just suffer from a lack of appreciation. However, all that is changing. With drought conditions existing in the United States, versatile succulents are rising in popularity. Sporting a wide range of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, succulents add striking beauty to gardens. In an effort to cut back on water usage, I replaced almost all of my potted plants with succulents and I am so happy that I did. Succulents also produce spectacular flowers, like the trumpet-shaped one above that graces my front porch.

#1 – Crayon Initiative
Saving Crayons: Crayon Initiative While celebrating his birthday at a restaurant, Brian Ware learned that the crayons given to his children to occupy themselves were discarded after use. This led to the formation of the Crayon Initiative. Mr. Ware collects used crayons from schools and restaurants, melts them down, remolds them, and distributes them to hospitals throughout California for young patients to use. Says Mr. Ware, “If these crayons give them an escape from that hospital room for ten minutes, we did our job.”

#2 – Where Magic Happens
Visiting Illustrators' Studios A while back, when I chaired Author Day programs for my children’s schools, my family had the privilege of visiting the studio of Ruth Heller, children’s book author and illustrator. That is where magic happened, where her books came to life. Photographer Jake Green visited the studios of well-known illustrators of children’s books. Here’s a peek at some of his notes and photos from his visits in Where Magic Happens: Children’s Illustrators Open Up Their Studios.

#3 – Who’s the Cutest?
Who's the Cutest? Zoologists and animal experts from around the world took to Twitter to compete in a “cute-off” to determine which animals are scientifically the cutest. To see photos of some of the entrants, check out Scientists On Twitter Agree: These Are The Cutest Animals That Exist .

#4 – Propagating Succulents
Propagating Succulents Whether you plant succulents in the ground or in pots, you will need to keep them in shape. Many varieties can get “leggy” and need to be pruned back. Almost every part of a succulent can be used in propagation, so why not propagate while pruning? Needles + Leaves has an great tutorial on Propagating Succulents. You’ll be amazed at how easy the process is and how many plants you can get from one “mother” plant.

#5 – To Plant a Garden
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Audrey Hepburn

Now go and spread joy!

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Planting succulents A centerpiece using teacups and terrarium-sized plants gives my dining room a light and whimsical feel. So, why stop there? Teacup Floral CenterpieceRecently, I came across some hand-painted rice bowls and teacups that belonged to my grandmother. Noticing that a rice bowl and a teacup each sported cracks, I decided they would make perfect containers for succulents, my new obsession. Sorry Grandma, but it’s a great way to repurpose unusable china. I think my new little planters are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. Planting Succulents in Vintage China

SUPPLIES
Containers: teacups, bowls, ceramic pots, etc.
Succulent cuttings or small potted succulents, proportionate to the size of the container.
Lightweight potting mix for cacti and succulents or a 1:1 ratio of high quality potting soil and Perlite
Aquarium gravel or small pebbles

DIRECTIONS
1. If the container you are using does not have drainage holes, pour a good layer of gravel in the bottom of it to enhance drainage.

2. Fill the container with potting soil to within 1/2″ from the top edge, allowing enough space to plant the cuttings without the soil overflowing.

3. Plant the largest specimen first and then working your way down size-wise, fill in the remaining areas. Remember to balance your arrangement by height, shape, texture, and color.

4. Top dress with aquarium gravel or pebbles. This prevents the Perlite from floating away, helps the cuttings stay in place, and keeps moisture away from the base of the plants.

Enjoy!

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Water Drops on Succulent Cradled in the leaves of a succulent, drops of water shimmer like jewels. Throughout time, succulents have survived their arid conditions by adapting. They store water in their fleshy parts – leaves, stems, and roots. They evolved to survive. Will mankind evolve quickly enough to survive a potential megadrought? Will mankind learn to value water and treat it like the life-saving, shimmering jewel that it is?

#1 – What’s The Difference?
The Difference Between Cacti and Succulents Do you know the difference between a cactus and a succulent? Just in case you need to know, here is what U.C. Master Gardner Denise Levine wrote about the topic:

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Succulents (from the Latin word “succulentus,” for juice or sap) are defined by their moisture-storing capacity and come from many botanical families. Medicinal aloe veras and familiar Chicks and Hens are two examples of succulents many of us are familiar with.

Cacti have small, round, cushion-like structures called areoles from which spines, branches, hair, leaves and even flowers grow. While many succulents may look like cacti in every other respect, if they don’t have these circular areoles, they are not in the cactus (Cactaceae) family.

Another distinction is that succulents are native to most parts of the world, but cacti are only indigenous from Alaska to Chile in the Western Hemisphere. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have never found a native cactus, but Canada has found several that have evolved to survive Canada’s freezing winters.

#2 – Oldest Living Things
The Oldest Living Things in the World With my birthday approaching next week, I started searching for other old living things. This search led me to Rachel Sussman’s photographs of “The Oldest Living Things In The World.” After viewing the photo of 12,000 year-old Mojave yucca plants, which are succulents, and her other incredible photos, I suddenly felt very young. Everything is relative.

#3 – Miniature Fairy Gardens
Miniature and Fairy GardeningHere’s a project for the young-at-heart. Check out Naturework’s photos of Miniature and Fairy Gardening. You’ll put transforming a broken clay pot into a fairy garden on your “Creative To Do” list.

#4 – Rock Cacti Garden
Cacti Made Of Painted Rocks This cute and clever idea suits people like me who have sparks of creativity, but also have brown thumbs. Be on the lookout for perfect rock formations, so that you can make your own Cactus Made of Painted Rocks.

#5 – Sit or Don’t Sit
“The world is full of cactus, but we don’t have to sit on it.”
Will Foley

Now go and spread joy!

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Teacup Floral Centerpiece When looking for ways to decorate your home, look no further than your own collections. Whether your collections consist of books, copper molds, or vintage dolls, try incorporating them into your seasonal decorating. Two years ago, I wrote a post on Decorating With Egg Cups. Placing tiny sprigs of greenery and petite flowers into some of my favorite egg cups always brings a feeling of springtime into my home. Egg Cups As Mini Vases Having collected a lovely assortment of teacups, too, I decided to show them off by using some of them to create a floral centerpiece for my dining room table. My dining room table is long and wide, so I designed a centerpiece that is a little over 5-feet-long and about 18 inches at its widest point. After selecting a complementary assortment of teacups and a teapot to use as a center focal point, I went to a nearby nursery and looked for appropriate plants. Specimens grown for use in terrariums fit the bill; they come in many different plant varieties and are grown in small plastic pots that fit very nicely into teacups. Plus, at $2.95 each, they were relatively inexpensive. After tucking a little green moss here and there to hide the plastic pots, my easy teacup centerpiece provides a light and cheerful counterpoint to an otherwise formal room.

SUPPLIES
Teacup Centerpiece Table runner or piece of fabric
Small box
Assortment of teacups
Terrarium-sized plants, as many as the number of teacups you will be using
Bag of green moss
Teapot for focal point

DIRECTIONS
1. Arrange the fabric down the center of the table. I used a sheer fabric and made it appear billowy by tucking the edges under and creating soft folds. I tapered the ends of the fabric to within 13 inches of each end of the table.

2. Place a small box under the fabric in the center of the arrangement. Place teapot on top of fabric-draped box for height.

3. Do a preliminary arrangement of teacups and saucers, evenly distributing colors, shapes, and heights. I fashioned an alternating right-left-right or zigzag pattern.

4. Temporarily place the plants, while still in their containers, in the teacups, evenly distributing colors, textures, and heights.

5. Once the arrangement is to your liking, take the teacups (leave saucers behind as place markers) to an area for assembling.

6. Stick whole potted plant in teacup (do not remove the plant from its plastic pot). Do the same to the other plants.

7. Arrange moss in between the plastic pot and the teacup and also above the plastic pot to hide it. Do this with all the other potted plants in teacups. Teacup Floral Centerpiece

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used 14 sets of teacups and saucers; seven on each side of the teapot.

2. Please note that because I want to reuse the teacups for their original purpose, I did not permanently plant the plants in the cups.

3. Working with moss is messy. You can cover your dining room table with paper, if you want to work with it there. I found it easier to assemble the pots near my kitchen sink, where I could wipe any dirt, moss bits, and twigs into the sink.

4. Don’t forget to water the plants. Because they are potted in small containers, they will dry out quickly.

5. When the time comes to dismantle this centerpiece, I will plant the plants in a terrarium.

Teacup Centerpiece

Enjoy your springtime centerpiece!

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March 6, 2015 Edition Model Tyra Banks coined the word “smize.” According to one of her websites, the word means: a fierce, sizzling eye expression, typically with the eyes squinting with maximum focus and intensity; the art of smiling with one’s eyes. So what’s a girl to do when she has a camera-toting grandmother? Why, she poses, of course! As I propped up six-month-old Charlotte on a chair for a 30-second photo shoot, she “smized” into the camera. I told her, “Tyra Banks would be so proud of you!” Life flies by and babies grow up fast. Don’t forget to smile through your eyes and take photos of your journey!

#1 – Photographing Kids
13 Tips for Better Pictures of Babies, Toddlers and Teenagers Photographing kids takes skill and a little bit of luck. For those of you who take photos of your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews read professional photographer Brett Harkness’s 13 Tips For Better Pictures of Babies, Toddlers and Teenagers.

#2 – Easter Crafts
Upcycling Empty Egg Cartons Easter is a month away. As you think ahead to dying Easter eggs, also think ahead to what you will do with the empty egg cartons. Discard them? Never! Here are a few cute ideas for upcycling those cartons.

#3 – Those Downtime Thoughts
Bizarrely Odd Shower Thoughts Some of my best blog ideas come to me while I blow-dry my hair. It’s a mindless task, so my mind wanders freely. Bizarrely Odd Shower Thoughts is a compilation of those types of wandering thoughts. Where do you do your best and most creative thinking?

#4 – Flowers, Flowers Everywhere
Flowers Surviving Daffodils in full-bloom sprinkle the slope of my front yard with cheerful color and Daphne blossoms near my front door provide a heavenly fragrance to those who come visit. Plants bring so much joy to our world, especially those that manage to thrive in unusual conditions. Check out Life Finds A Way: 25 Plants That Just Won’t Give Up.

#5 – Smile
“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Now go and spread joy!

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Delightful Address What if letters or packages sent to people used complimentary adjectives in lieu of proper titles? For example, a letter to Mrs. Abigail Jones, might be addressed to “Lovely Abigail Jones.” A package I received in the mail the other day made me think about this concept. The package was addressed to “Delightful Linnell.” It made me smile, and if I was not in a delightful mood a moment earlier, I was surely in one after reading the label. The takeaway from all of this is: as you go about your daily interactions with family, friends, and other people, try paying them sincere and heartfelt compliments. By making them feel good, they may, in turn, be kinder to someone else and you will have triggered a ripple of smiles.

#1 – One Compliment
How to Give a Compliment Would you be able to pay one compliment to every person you spoke with during the day? In A Life-Changing Challenge: Add One Compliment, Joshua Becker writes about how including “one compliment in every conversation” began, and in doing so how his life changed. In addition, he suggests ways to make paying compliments easier.

#2 – Paws on the Bus
Bus Riding Dog If you live in the Seattle area and ride the bus system, you may be surprised one day to see a dog sitting next to you. When Eclipse, a black Labrador Retriever, wants to go to the dog park, she hops on a bus with or without her owner and heads over there. As the bus moves along, she looks out the window and knows exactly which bus stop to get off at. Read more about Eclipse here.

#3 – Stone Art
Stone Art When discussing stone work for the home or garden, the average person probably thinks it refers to either installing granite counter tops or a garden pathway. Andreas Kunert and Naomi Zittl, owners of the Ancient Art of Stone, design and install unique works of stone art that add textural and natural beauty to homes and gardens. Andreas says of his work, “I am deeply passionate about creating something intimately powerful for my clients, something I feel is a channeled reflection of their soul . . . I am a conduit giving shape in stone to the visions and dreams that assist us to remember our greater purpose and connection to the whole.”

#4 – Improve Your Vocabulary
Improve Your Vocabulary It might make it easier for you to pay compliments, if you built up your vocabulary. The website for Vocabulary.com states, “Regardless of your education level or age, Vocabulary.com will help you to master the words that are essential to academic and business success.” Windows pop up on your computer screen with specific words and ask you to choose the best definition. The words become increasingly difficult. I found it to be fun and challenging.

#5 – Sincere Compliments
“Sincere compliments cost nothing and can accomplish so much. In ANY relationship, they are the applause that refreshes.”
Steve Goodier

Now go and spread joy!

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