State of the plants, or how not to care for your vines.

Right now I have three living plants in my possession. That is the least amount of plants I’ve had in my entire adult life. I feel quite sad about that, but I’m sure I will make up for it once we get settled into our new place and I have a handle on the lighting situation.

IMG_7343

In the meantime, I’m trying to give my remaining plants a little extra TLC. The only outdoor  plant I have left from when we first moved in here two years ago is my pink plant. She went through some rough times this winter and was quite neglected. Amazingly she’s bounced right back to the point that we call her the Resurrection Plant.

My peace lily is the one I’ve had the longest- well over 10 years. She is going through a transitional time right now so she looks lopsided and a little sad. But there is a whole lot of new growth popping up, so in a couple of months she should be back to normal. And hopefully producing blooms again.

IMG_7411

And yes, she lives on my shoe rack. Lilies are very toxic to cats. Miss Kitty has never shown any interest in chewing my plants, but I keep this one barricaded on all sides in case she gets the munchies. It’s not super aesthetically pleasing, but it gives me peace of mind.

IMG_7413

Now for the saddest plant of all, my poor vine. I took her off the bookshelf this week to give her a trim and this is what I found.

IMG_7398

A hot mess of dead brown vines twisted around the pot. At our last place, she had a whole staircase to climb, but we live on one floor here. When we moved in I twisted all the vines around and set her on a bookshelf. Then I did absolutely no maintenance other than watering. Clearly that was a bad idea.

IMG_7399

I started carefully untwisting everything and separating the dead bits from the healthy bits. Then I cut away all the brown vines. Weirdly many of them still had a few green leaves clinging to life at the ends.

IMG_7401

After a quick google search, I realized I needed to do more trimming. I made cuts to the longer vines and stuck some of them back in the dirt. Hopefully they’ll take root. I took a couple more cuttings and put them in water to see if they’ll root that way.

IMG_7402

My vines look so much happier now! And I have a much better understanding of what they need to stay that way.

IMG_7404

Here are a couple of the sources I used to figure out how to fix things.

How to Prune an Indoor Vine from eHow
How to Prune an Indoor Vine from SFGate
Pruning Houseplants from Green Connection

As for future planty plans, I’m really looking forward to our move when I can start collecting  green things again. Basically I want All The Plants. Our new place is supposed to have great plant shelves built in. I can’t wait to fill them up. And of course our balcony will be over-run with whatever I can manage to get growing outside. I’m a little giddy just thinking about it. Crazy Plant Lady Lives!

Good Reads vol. 5: Holiday Murder Mystery Extravaganza, Part 1

I’m playing catch up talking about the books I’ve read lately. Back in December, I took a break from my regularly scheduled books to try something different. To get into the holiday spirit, I decided to devote December to only holiday themed mysteries. You’d be surprised how many of those there are! I’ve barely scratched the surface of this sub-sub genre (is that a real term?) I still have a pretty long list of books I didn’t get to, so I can see this becoming a yearly tradition for sure.

First up were a couple of oldies but goodies.

Kissing Christmas Goodbye (Agatha Raisin #18) by M.C. Beaton
English Cotswolds. Wealthy matriarch Phyllis Tamworthy, suspecting that a family member is trying to kill her, hires detective Agatha Raisin. Soon after, Phyllis is fatally poisoned. Agatha investigates while planning a holiday dinner to woo her ex, James, and training a teenaged new employee who makes her feel old.

I’m a bit torn on this one. On the one hand, this is one of my least favorite Agatha books as far as the mystery goes. The victim is so horrible, you kind of wish you’d had the opportunity to kill her yourself. The more you learn about her, the more sympathy you have with the killer. So much so, that by the end you don’t really even care who actually did it.

On the other hand, I really love Agatha in this book. As prickly and unlikeable as she can be, she really shows a softer side in this book. She really does a lot of good here, even if it’s in her own self interest. I know a person or two who can’t get past Agatha’s abrasive personality, but Christmas brings out the best of her here.

Agatha Raisin and the Busybody (Agatha Raisin #21) by M. C. Beaton
PI Agatha Raisin assists Miriam Courtney, a suspect in the murder of health and safety officer John Sunday–universally despised for banning the traditional village Christmas tree. When Miriam’s mansion burns down with her in it, Agatha continues investigating the case on behalf of Miriam’s grown children.

I can’t say much about the actual mystery without getting too spoiler-y. Overall I liked it. This story spans a whole year, which is unusual for the Agatha books. I worry a bit when I see authors do this with older characters. It stretches plausibility to have a heroine in her 50’s at the beginning of a 20+ book series where each book takes place during several months to a year. The author also uses a plot device that I find pretty tiresome which I can’t go into. Which is also tiresome. But trust me, everyone has used it.

The Christmas Thief (Regan Reilly #9) by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
During a vacation weekend in Stowe, Vermont, lottery winner Alvirah Meehan and her friend private investigator Regan Reilly become involved in the case of a stolen Christmas tree. The tree, designated for Rockefeller Center, connects a scam artist, a swindled waitress, and a sparkling treasure.

I don’t love MHC. Every ten years or so, I pick up one of her books to make sure I still don’t like them… Yep, still don’t. I think the characters have the potential to be interesting. But I can’t get past some of the writing. There are a few phrases in the English language that make me grind my teeth, and I think MHC used most of them here. I don’t mind a sprinkling of “Little did she know…” but pair it with “She didn’t realize how beautiful she looked”, and you’ve lost me. If MHC had used the phrase “As a mother…” she would have inadvertently stumbled upon my Trifecta of Annoying Phrases. And caused my head to explode.

Hard Christmas (Cat Marsala #6) by Barbara D’Amato
Researching a feature story on the Christmas-tree industry, Cat spends Thanksgiving with the DeGraaf family near Holland, Michigan. The beauty of the rural landscape and the clan’s warm welcome mask growing tensions until someone puts a young farm worker through the tree baler.

Every time I read a Cat Marsala mystery, I learn about something new that I thought I had no interest in before. I love that about this series! This time around Cat delves into the world of Christmas tree farming, which a lot more complex than you’d think. In doing so, she inadvertently stumbles into a family full of secrets. Though the reason for her researching this industry is not necessarily in character for Cat, if you get past that, the rest of the book is very good.

Definitely a favorite new-to-me series this year.

The Body in the Sleigh (Faith Fairchild #18) by Katherine Hall Page

It’s Christmastime, and the Fairchild family is spending the holidays on idyllic Sanpere Island in Maine while the Reverend Thomas Fairchild recuperates from surgery. His caterer wife, Faith, is rejoicing in the rare, holiday family-time together—watching ice boaters, snowshoeing, and doing plenty of reading in front of the fire.

But Faith’s high spirits are dampened when she discovers the body of a young woman in an antique sleigh in front of the Sanpere Historical Society.

I generally like the Faith Fairchild mysteries. I’ve been slowly working through the series for years. I skipped ahead in the series a bit to get to this one, to keep with the holiday theme. The Body in the Sleigh was good but quite sad. The backstory of the murder victim and the secondary mystery of an abandoned baby were well done, but the ending wasn’t clear cut by any means. I think this book will have repercussions later on in the series.

I have many (many) reviews to catch up on. And by “reviews” I mean “longwinded blatherings”. I’m going to try to blog these once or twice a week until I get caught up.

*Book blurbs taken from Goodreads.

See more natterings about books here.

Workspace Wednesday: Save It action by Wendy Zine

Screen-Shot-2014-02-12-at-2.12

I follow quite a few paper scrapping blogs, and I’ve noticed a lot of “Workspace Wednesday” posts popping up lately. I’ll never need to know how to organize rolls of wash tape, but it’s interesting to see how other people set up their creative spaces. Since my creative space is my computer I didn’t think I would have anything to offer in that area.

But then I thought, why not do a Workspace Wednesday… digi style?

So for my first WW post, I want to share a tool that I use on every single page I make. It’s the Save It action by Studio Wendy. I have several of Wendy’s actions, but this is the one I use the most.

Here is the product description-

“This combo set combines some of my favorite save and resize actions. It deletes unused layers and saves a layered TIF or PSD (you choose), then flattens and saves a JPG with color pop and sharpen in both print size and gallery size (600px). You save a few clicks, and time as the action does the work for you.”

This action saves me so much time! When I first started scrapping and sharing in galleries, I saved files in all kinds of haphazard ways. But since getting Save It, my file naming makes so much more sense and things are much easier to find.

Here’s how I use the action. After saving my layout in psd form, I click on the icon to start the action. (Note that you have to have a layer selected in order for the action to run). I always use the Save Auto action, but you can use the other actions in the bundle to save files in individual formats. The action starts out with a description of the action and you’re given the option to continue or stop.

It then opens up a new document with the flattened jpeg image. This is where you can manually adjust the sharpness. I always move the slider to the lowest point, then click ok. At this point you can stop the process to make any adjustments to the color pop, then click ok to save the jpeg. The next screen gives you the option to change the name. I always leave it the same. The “copy” at the end of the original name lets me know that’s my high-res print copy. Next, you can choose the quality of your saved image. Since these will be the files I use for printing, I bump this up to the highest resolution. This increases the file size considerably, but you want your print copy to be good quality, especially if you print in 12×12.

The action then continues through the same process, this time making a copy of the image for saving to the web. You go through the same sharpening and naming steps. This is where I always change the name to “Layout Name web”. This just helps me keep things straight in my head. And it’s easier to find files when you’re uploading to galleries. The next screen allows you to choose the quality of the image. This is important because most galleries won’t let you upload files beyond a certain size. 200k seems to be pretty standard, so I adjust the slider to get the highest quality while staying under 200k.

Press ok one last time and you’re finished! This may seem like a lot of steps, but believe me, once you’ve done it a few times, the process is very fast. And if you find that you’ve made a typo somewhere, it’s a snap to re-run the action and replace your files with the fixed ones.

Do you use actions to streamline your workflow? Or do you know of anyone else doing a Workspace post from the digi side? I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Project Life 2014- Week 8 (and a progress report of sorts)

week-8

2014PLWeek08 web

Journaling reads- This was the first week I’ve felt “normal” in awhile. I scrapped 16 pages and read a lot. I did some deep cleaning and packing too. On Saturday we had Antoine and Heidi over for some pre-wedding fun. We made them work for their presents by competing against each other in games. It was a lot of fun! We also got a great pic of the Little Man sledding!

A few thoughts on my first eight weeks of minimalist Project Life-ing.

It’s nice to get back to one page LO’s for Project Life. Not many photos this week. We did get a fantastic pic of the Little Man sledding, which I used for the title block. I can’t believe it’s eight weeks into 2014 and this is the first pic of him we have! Which I am actually grateful, because there were years that we would only get two or three all year. I need to harass him for more pictures!

That made me wonder how the rest of us stacked up picture-wise in PL this year.

Jen- 12
Jason- 14
Us together- 10
Miss Kitty- 8
Family & friends- 13

I think that’s a pretty decent mix, though I know the family and friends count would have been much lower if we hadn’t gone to Nashville last month. I’m very happy that we have that many. Usually at this point in the year it’s page after page of Jason, MK, and me. I am glad to have an excuse to snap a pic of Jason and me together each week. I’d like to start getting a little more creative with those.

I’ve noticed a couple of things that have changed over the past couple of months with PL.

This way feels much more sustainable. As much as I love getting all fancy with my Project Life, it’s a huge relief to go simpler this year. I save so much time and I’m actually looking forward to working on it each week again. I got really burned out last year.

Having RadLab to edit my photos has made a huge difference this year. The photos I’m taking aren’t any better, but they look So Much Better. I’m also using more black and white photos for the really not-so-great ones. I’ve probably used more b&w photos in two months than I did in all 3.5 years previously. RadLab is one of the very best investments I’ve made in my scrapbooking. Ever.

I really like doing the Week in Review blocks. I don’t always love giving up that much space to words, but I think it’s worth it to have a little summary of our week.

On the other hand, I feel like having my weeks condensed into smaller spreads makes me leave out details. There are several things that were staples of my PL in years past that I just don’t have room for in this format. A few examples are books we’re reading, TV, movies, weather, and current events. I do miss having those in my Project Life, but I think I’ve figured out a way to include them in my documentation process. I’ll share that next month.

All in all, I’m still loving doing Project Life this way!

*Project Life was invented by Becky Higgins. You can learn more about it here. My Project Life pages can be found here.

Project Life 2014- Week 7

week-7-web

For this week, I did three pages- one for my birthday and Valentine’s Day, plus one extra page with pictures from the rest of the week. Still loving the minimalist pages.

2014PLWeek07a web 2014PLWeek07b web 2014PLWeek07c web

Journaling reads- This was the week of my birthday and Valentine’s Day. Jason surprised me with a trip to Sushi Jo and flowers. I started the Romantic Scrapbooking class. I made Jason a special meal for Valentine’s Day with dishes from our first year together. We had a lovely relaxing weekend of gaming, scrapbooking, and watching the Olympics. On Sunday Jason got fitted for his tux for Antoine and Heidi’s wedding.

*Project Life was invented by Becky Higgins. You can learn more about it here. My Project Life pages can be found here.

I Heart You by Mandy King

I super love this kit! Romantic without being too cutesy. (Although I love cutesy too)

I Heart You by Mandy King

This is one of my favorite pictures of Jason and Little Man. It was taken by Jason’s dad in St. Augustine the summer before last. And yes, the LO is super girly with not only flowers, but doilies too! But it’s my page and I like it, lol.

I Heart You by Mandy King

The colors in the kit reminded me of Christmas, so I thought it would be perfect for the little impromptu photo shoot we had in December. We did something similar a few years ago and I wanted to see if we could recreate it- with Santa hats! I love that he’s a good sport with things like that.

*I am a Creative Team Member. This means that I receive free products in exchange for making and advertising layouts for designers. However, the opinions expressed here are my own. The enthusiasm expressed here is definitely my own. See more of my CT layouts here.

Love Me by Ohana Designs and Romantic Scrapbooking class!

Michelle has some lovely paper packs for this month’s Grab A Byte at Scrapbook Bytes.

Love Me by Ohana Designs Vellum styles by Mommyish

For my first LO, I made a page about Jason using words from this post I wrote last year. I love it when half the work for the LO has been done for me already 🙂 Well more than half, because I lifted this beautifully simple page by Melanie Louette. Love those sweet vellum hearts! I got the look in digital form by using a Vellum Style by Mommyish.

Journaling reads-  You are the best. Best friend. Best listener. Best encourager. Best analogy maker. Best IT guy. Best sunset photographer. Best pancake maker. Best driver. Best planner. Best hugger. Best keeper of my heart. Just the best.

Love Me by Ohana Designs

My second LO was inspired by the Romantic Scrapbooking class taught by Noell Hyman. (That was Jen’s birthday present to Jen). I’ve only watched the first couple of videos, but I have several ideas for pages I want to scrap. My “Jason and Jen” scrapbook has the most pages of any of my others, but there are still a few holes in our story that I’d like to fill. And I think this class will help with that.

I did a “How We Met” page a few years ago, but it was kind of an overview. I’d like to do a few pages giving more of the details. One of the suggestions in the class was to do a page about your first impressions of each other, or those first early feelings. So I did a little journaling about what it was like after our first big, day long conversation.

Journaling reads-

Jason and I “met” each other in Second Life, but it wasn’t until we started IM’ing in Yahoo that we really started talking. That first day we talked about all kinds of things. I wish I could remember them all. But what I do remember is that we talked all day long that first day. And that he made me laugh so much. The biggest thing that I remember that day, after hours of talking, walking into my kitchen to start dinner. I thought to myself, “We will be great friends”.

And we are.

*I am a Creative Team Member. This means that I receive free products in exchange for making and advertising layouts for designers. However, the opinions expressed here are my own. The enthusiasm expressed here is definitely my own. See more of my CT layouts here.

Life Unscripted layouts

I’m slowly getting a little mojo back after a rough few weeks. I’ve been neglecting my CT’s, so I will have a lot of catching up to do. But I’m looking forward to getting back in the swing of things. Life Unscripted kit, stacked papers, and hodgepodge by Mandy King

My dad gave me a ton of old family photos from the 60’s that I can’t wait to dive into! Along with them, I got this fantastic photo from 2001 showing my grandfather and several of his cousins. This is really special because I don’t have any other pictures of them all together. (And I just realized I have the date wrong. Need to fix that!)

One of Mandy’s CT members, Rebecca, makes the most gorgeous stacked papers, which I don’t use nearly enough. As soon as I saw this one, I thought it would be perfect for this photo. I added a few ellies and journaled the names of everyone in the photo. The whole process took hardly any time at all, but I’m left with one of my favorite pages so far this year.

Life Unscripted by Mandy King (alpha altered) Cozy template by Connie Prince

Y’all know I am not a pink person. But it was a lot of fun to get in touch with my girly side for this page. I even changed the alpha color to get a little extra pink in. The original alpha from the kit is multicolored. I used the color picker to choose the pink in the “p”, then created a new color fill layer on top of my title. Then I merged the two layers. The result was a little bland, so I added a “liquify” style by Mommyish that was similar to the original alpha. I am loving her styles right now!

Journaling reads- It was such a relief to get to Melissa’s house after our long drive. We took our stuff into Aaliya’s room. Melissa had warned us that it was a Hello Kitty room, but the sheer Pinkness of it was pretty great. Pink bedding, curtains, even pink walls with sparkles.. This is more color in one room than we have in our whole house!

Credits:
Life Unscripted by Mandy King
Template by Connie Prince

*I am a Creative Team Member. This means that I receive free products in exchange for making and advertising layouts for designers. However, the opinions expressed here are my own. The enthusiasm expressed here is definitely my own. See more of my CT layouts here.

Project Life 2014- Week 6

week-6-web

2014PLWeek06 web

Journaling reads- This week was pretty stressful. We had expensive work done on the car. It took a few days to get unpacked and back to normal after our trip. I felt blah most of the week. But the weekend brought some much needed R&R. We went to Rorabeck’s on Saturday. On Sunday we saw Vampire Academy, ate at Golden Corral, then walked in the park. It was nice getting out together. We watched a ton of Olympic coverage too.

*Project Life was invented by Becky Higgins. You can learn more about it here. My Project Life pages can be found here.

Project Life 2014- Week 5

week5 web

Project Life seems to be the only thing I’m keeping up with so far this year. The simpler approach is the ONLY reason for that, I’m pretty sure.

Last week we drove up to Nashville for Jon’s memorial service. We weren’t sure we’d be able to make it, but I’m so glad we could. It meant a lot to me that I could be there. Also, I have the Best Husband Ever. Seriously. It was a long trip and he drove the whole way. There is no one I’d rather be trapped in a car for 17 hours with.

I made four pages for this week, roughly one for each day of our trip. When I was doing double page spreads each week, I’d make a page for each day. Then on the facing page, I would use one large photo taking up the whole page. I decided to do away with the large photos this time around and just focus on photos and words. I cannot tell you how nice it is not to have to worry about papers and embellishments for these pages!.

2014PLWeek05a web

The first page is about our trip up. I always take a lot of pictures at the beginning of trips to keep myself occupied in the car. I used all instagrams, except for the last one.I think that’s going to be my go-to method for doing pages this year with big events/ trips. Photos that I post on instagram tend to be my favorites. I did the same thing a couple of weeks ago when we went to the Morikami.

Journaling reads- This week we drove up to Nashville for Jon’s memorial service. It was a sad reason to go, of course, but it was really great seeing family and friends. We drove up on Thursday and stayed with Melissa. We packed a lot of visiting into a day and a half. I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in years. We left right after the service on Saturday and drove to Macon. We finished the trip on Sunday and got home in time to watch the Super Bowl. We also got approved for the apt. this week!

2014PLWeek05b web

Friday was the busiest day of the trip. Lots and lots of visiting.

2014PLWeek05c web

Saturday was the day of the service and the start of our trip back home. We decided to split the trip down into two days, since Jason had to go back to work on Monday. It made things a lot easier.

We tried to get a lot of group family photos this trip. Candids are my favorite, but these are very special. It’s a tricky situation because on one hand, we were there for a very sad reason, but I was also really happy to see family and friends. Lots of mixed emotions. And of course you don’t want to shove cameras at people who are grieving, so there are several people I didn’t get pictures of at all. And I’m rambling….

2014PLWeek05d web

I was going to use the last page for pics from our trip home, but I had a few random photos I wanted in there too, so it’s a mixture of both. This page doesn’t flow chronologically with the others, but I don’t care. We took a little over 600 photos that week and I wanted to include these even if they don’t make sense to anyone but me.

*Project Life was invented by Becky Higgins. You can learn more about it here. My Project Life pages can be found here.