Monday, March 9, 2015

DIY Succulent Planters


Last summer I was determined to prove(to myself) that I was capable of growing plants. So, unlike all the other times, instead of going crazy with exotic plants and going overboard with the number of plants, I decided to focus on just few  plants especially succulents. 

The first few successes with succulents really encouraged me. Now, some people may think that growing succulents is easy, as these are generally hardy plants. But in the past, on multiple occasions, I have managed to kill succulents, either by over watering or by drying it out for too long. So, it was a major feat when for couple of months I managed to sustain the few varieties of succulents I had. 

With this success, I decided to propagate from leaves. It was a slow process but was quite enjoyable. I really went crazy and tried to propagate all the varieties of  succulents I had plus some  more that I could find in the neighborhood and from friends. Needlesandleaves has a nice article which explains in detail this process of propagating.  With quite a large number of babies, I found myself in need of more pots for my new plants.

I decided to create the DIY concrete planters at home. I used plain cement/concrete mix from the store and followed the instructions on it to make the concrete mix. There are many different versions on the internet to mix other stuff in cement/concrete mix to make the planters light. But I decided to keep things simple(and heavy) for this time.

First we needed various containers in fun shapes and sizes. My son K was responsible for this one. He not only came up with ideas on what we could use, but also cut the containers to desired height.

For one pot: 2 containers are needed: a bigger outside container, and a small container that would fit inside the outside bigger container.

Ideas for outside container:
Milk carton cut to half
Small beach buckets/pail
Plastic Jug

Ideas for inside container:
Thick water/juice bottle
Milk carton
Plastic cups

Here are the steps we followed:

Step 1: Choose a bigger outer planter, and a smaller inner planter. Spray the outer bigger bowl with cooking spray.

Step 2: Drill/Poke a hole in both outer and inner bowl.

Step 3: Insert a straw (thick) between both the inner and outer planter and align them. The straw will ensure that the hole(for drainage) does not get filled up with concrete mix.

Step 4: Pour concrete mix in the outer bowl only, and press the inner bowl into it.  Let this dry for over a day or two.

Step 5: When the concrete has completely dried, remove or cut off the outer and inner planter bowls.

To be safe, I used succulent potting mix for all my succulent babies.  I plan to make many more of these pots once the spring is here.

Happy Planting!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rustic Log Succulent Planter

This summer was one of my most active ones, especially when it came to maintaining my garden. My mother would be so proud of me :). My OH is actually very impressed this year because until now, he was convinced that I had a black thumb. So, as I saw my plants doing well this summer, it gave me motivation to make some interesting planters especially for my succulents. 

I had this log with me from over an year, all polished and ready to go. It has a finish of polyurethane on it, which protects the bark. For converting it into a succulent planter, it needed a 2 inch deep hole(as per some sources online). But without proper tools, I could only make it as deep as 1 inch. We shall see in due time if this was deep enough or not.

Added some cactus potting mix, and a baby off one of my hens & chicks plant.

Happy Gardening! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wild Kratts Rakhi

Rakhi or Rakshabandhan is just a day away. Rakhi is an Indian festival in which a brother and sister celebrate their love and strong bond. Sister ties a Rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother's wrist, and brother vows to protect his sisters lifelong.

This year, I was struggling to come up with some fun idea for younger kids in our family, until now. Oh, I am so excited. A Wild Kratts Rakhi with a creature power disc on it. Which Wild Kratts fan would not love it.

There were still some creature power discs that my son did not already have. I looked for them online and found most, except for the Tasmanian Tiger. So, I ended up making just that one, rest pulled from the internet.

Took a print out of all the discs on a thick cardstock, and got it laminated from a store nearby. These discs were smaller(1 1/2 to 2 inches) than the regular size. Using a glue gun, attached the discs to a ribbon or thread. And its done. 

Well, my brothers and cousins got a much simpler Rakhi this time.

A very Happy Rakshabandhan to all my dear brothers and cousins.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer/Pool Birthday Party

My little munchkin turned 2 last week. She is one girl who has been preparing for her birthday for a very long time. Her favorite pretend play is to build a birthday cake with lego blocks and repeatedly blow candles, and at the same time, singing the birthday song for herself. 

With just a week to prepare for her party, and after some brainstorming with her brother, we finalized the fish/ocean theme for the party based on her favorite sleep buddy: clown fish, and decided to add kiddie pools and slip & slide for summer fun. 

With not much time at hand, it was the first time I did not post the invites for the birthday party. We just did a simple evite. Well, there is always a first time. 

On the day of her actual birthday, I baked a small cake, and her brother decorated it with air filled water balloons while she was taking a nap. Its a different thing that the balloons started popping when we lit the candles. By this time, Miss M did not care about the candles or the balloons and all she wanted was to take a big bite of the cake. So much that her brother got worried that she would not let anyone else have that cake.

For the party, which took place in our backyard, I had big plans of decorating. I thought I would start the decorations a day in advance, but the rain gods decided to bless us until few hours before the party. So, I did whatever I could in an hour. Reused the paper lanterns and some felt bunting.

Here's the cake table.

For the cake, I made the clown fish topper out of fondant along with some sponges and corals. There was also a star fish, but it did not make it to the party. K (M's brother) decided to check it out a day before the party, and it broke into pieces. One of the fish's fins also broke at that time. I did make another one before the party, but it lost in between the party chaos. So, our little topper has one missing fin. I am sure M did not mind.

Another look with some shells and coral decorations.

I wish I could make the fish smile a little bit more.

Maya's favourite marshmallows: coated with candy melts, brown sugar(for sand) and gold fish.

Chocolate cupcakes. I decided to go with the mini cupcakes to avoid any wastage.

Fun Fun

Birthday girl enjoying the fish suckers. I really doubt if any other kid got to try one as I think Miss M ate most of these.

Ice Cream time

Party Favors: Swim Goggles, stcikers, bubbles in watering can

Back to more fun...

This was by far the most fun birthday party. The moment the party started, I did not hear much from the kids. I did not organize any games as there was plenty to keep the kids busy. We literally had to drag the kids out of the pool and trampoline to cut the cake. 

A very Happy Birthday to my little dare devil.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Berry Cake

Today we celebrated our 9th Wedding Anniversary. It was a nice relaxing day(after a very long time), and we ended it with having this beautiful cake which my older son baked for us(with Mommy's help of course). I had almost given up the idea of baking today, but he did not. Right after my little one slept, he reminded me that we still have to bake the Anniversary cake. I could not bring myself to say no, and I am glad I did not, because it were the best 2 hours spent. He wanted to do everything on his own, from measuring the ingredients, mixing the batter, some licking in between, and of course his non stop commentary. My husband sat in the background enjoying the whole show. 

We still had some strawberries left from our last week's Strawberry picking at a farm. So, this cake from my favorite cake blog Call me a cupcake, fit our need perfectly.

My boy getting the mixer ready.

Adding the berries.

Waiting after the cake went in the oven.

We had to eventually convince him to go to bed as it was getting late in the night, and he could have it as his breakfast tomorrow morning. He was not really happy about it, but 'being difficult' is not a word in his dictionary, so off he went. 

Rohit and I could not wait until tomorrow. After all, the anniversary is today.

I cannot wait to share this cake with kids tomorrow morning.

Looking forward to getting older with my best friend, and hopefully enjoying kids baked cake every year.

Happy Baking!
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