Playing With Bonsai Trees

Despite my family’s greenhouse knowledge, I seem to lack the green thumb. I’m not sure if it was a lack of patience or if my skills just never blossomed. Either way, I’m still trying to be the gardener I know I can be.

After creating a make-shift greenhouse in my office and planting a few flower/herb seeds in creative pots, I decided to take my indoor gardening experiment a step further by adding bonsai plants to the mix.

The first thing I’ve learned is that there are no special bonsai seeds. What defines a bonsai tree from a regular tree is size, not type. Almost any tree or plant can be made into a bonsai. Awesome.

With this tid bit of info, I went in search of trees I’d love to have in miniture version. I checked out SeedMan, which had a very nice selection and details on every plant. The prices weren’t bad either, with extremely fair shipping. Additional bonsai research would tell me it’s easier to pick out a small plant or tree from a local nursery, but I love to watch new sprouts grow. Most likely I’ll be buying a plant or two from a local greenhouse in addition to the seeds I already bought.

Another thing I stumpled upon was a nifty (and cheap) Kindle book from Amazon called Bonsai Trees for Beginners . It has extremely useful information which I’m sure I’ll be referencing in the future. The history of bonsai trees included in the ebook was also an interesting read.

Overall I believe this will be a fun experience, and an interesting hobby that’s not very time consuming. Wish me luck!

Sewing Jean Purses – Blue Jeans Recycling

A few years back, I became flat-out too busy to sew. Plus I never did get the hang of using a sewing machine (didn’t help my only two sewing machines are older than I am!), and my attempts at clothing weren’t so great.

But a few weeks ago I was cleaning closets and sorting clothes, when I came across an old pair of jeans I deemed my favorite ever. Sadly, they are torn to the point they just aren’t wearable anymore. I’ve never been able to find a suitable replacement for them, so for the last several years I’ve hung on to them for some unknown reason. I’m so glad I did. Since these were my favorite jeans, I decided to give them a second life by making a purse.

I made one long ago for my mom, which she used for years and got a ton of compliments on. I figured it was time to make myself one, especially since I’ve been on the hunt for a perfect purse to fit my netbook.

I started by cutting the legs off the jeans like so:

Now you can see, I don’t cut as straight as I could. The jeans were torn in weird places, too, so this was about as good as I can do.

Next, I cut a piece of fabric that will be used as the lining. Again, I did the best I could cutting it, even though the jeans were an odd shape….

The fabric my daughter found at Wal-Mart one day, with a request for a pillow, that I figured I’d get to someday. She’s a little mad I made my purse out of it first instead of her pillow, but I’ll make up for it soon (more on that project in a bit).

Very carefully I folded the edges back and pinned them to the inside of the purse. Then I sewed the fabric to the jeans by hand, followed by the edges. For a strap, I used a piece of the legs from the jeans. I still have a few embellishments left to do, but here’s the mostly finished purse…

These are so super easy, it makes me want to make more. We have no shortage of worn jeans around here what with two kids, that’s for sure, so why not make something useful with them?

This project has made me want to sew more, too, and I’ve come to realize there is nothing wrong with hand-sewing everything. It gives me a greater sense of accomplishment when I don’t use a sewing machine, and I don’t have to fight when the machine gets jammed. Also, my significant other and I have a new habit of watching instant-play TV shows on Netflix in the evening, so I’ve got the perfect time to sit and sew.

Right now I’m working on a pillow-case of sorts, made using the zipper bag a new pillow came in. Next up will be a few pillows made with regular cotton prints (including the fabric I made the purse with) and really cool fuzzy and snuggly black fabric I found at Joann’s over the weekend.

I absolutely love Joann’s, and it’s a miracle I made it out of there only spending $25. The upside was we got a yard of the expensive-ish black fabric, and a yard each of 4 cotton flannel prints for a blanket my daughter requested. That’s less per yard than we spent at Wal-Mart, and most likely better quality. Hurray Joann’s!

What projects are you working on? What else have you made with old blue jeans?

Rainy Day Activities for Families

The thunder is booming and the rain is pouring down. Obviously the kids can’t play outside today, and the adults just don’t want to.

I could just let the kids veg out in front of the TV and computer, but I’d rather make today productive. Since everyone is stuck at home, it’s a great day to get those “will get to it someday” chores done.

We’ll start by making a list, breaking it up into two categories: work and play. This is just a tentative list, and you should make your own based on the ideas we’ve listed here.

Work

Sorting Clothes
Lots of clothes need to be sorted and put into bags to give away. It’s one of those never-ending projects, so best to keep on top of it at least a little. Today is a great day to work on it.

Cleaning Rooms
Even my room needs to be cleaned. By “cleaned” I mean laundry picked up, floors vaccumed, and toys all put away. Walls also need to be washed and furniture dusted, but we’ll get what we can done as a family.

Dusting and Deep Cleaning
The entire house is in need of a good deep cleaning, so hopefully we can take this rainy day and turn it into a cleaning day. Floors are in need of mopping, doornobs need wiped down, and stuff needs to be organized.

Play

Family Wii Time
I knew there was a reason I justified the cost of our Wii. It was for days just like this! In between cleaning, I’d like to play a few rounds of Just Dance 2 or We Cheer 2 with the girl, and Wii Sports with the boy.

Movies
What better activity for a rainy day than to watch a few movies? We don’t spend nearly enough time together as a family, and I believe this would be a fantastic activity. The cool thing is the kids are old enough to watch movies the adults are interested in, too.

Story Time
I love to write short stories, even though I haven’t done it much lately. My son, age 11, likes to write stories as well. It’s just a matter of pulling him off the computer and actually writing. If we each work on individual stories, we can read them to each other and have a nice family story time.

Repurposing Candle Holders

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “repurposing” items. Why not? It saves money, and it cuts down on the junk in our landfills, and is best for the environment.

Since I’ve begun a little indoor gardening, I was recently checking out flower pots for my new office garden. While there were some really cool flower pots at Amazon for relatively cheap, I really didn’t want to pour a whole lot of money into this projects. Although I still may get the LED flower pot regardless. 😉

Instead of spending money on a dozen or more flower pots, I went digging through closets looking for old items. Being a candle-maker’s daughter, I have plenty of candle holders around the house.

This particular holder pictured is one I’ve had since my high school days (I won’t tell you just how long exactly, but let’s just say it’s at least 10 years old). Unfortunately, it’s developed a large cracked and can no longer be used for melting wax. It is, however, just perfect for indoor flowers.

Other items I found included small containers from a fondue set we never use that my daughter painted, an old bank, generic pots that we’ve decorated, and a few other miscellanous containers we weren’t using.

Overall, we’ve had a lot of fun finding items and decorating them to be used for something new, and have made plans for other “repurposing” projects we hope to post soon.

What items have you used in the past to make flower pots from? Do you have another use for your used candle holders?

Looking forward to seeing your responses!