How to Care for Succulents

I’m a little obsessed with succulents. I’ve had quite a collection over the years and I’m finally taking care of them the right way, so that they grow and thrive during all seasons.

When I was younger, my grandmother was quite the gardener. I remember her spending her days out in the yard in her ratty tennis shoes, pulling weeds, dead-heading her flowers, and buying iris bulbs. She even had a little song and dance about portulacas. She passed away when I was young, but I like to keep her memory alive by gardening, too. My first experience with succulents were her hens and chicks, probably echeveria imbricata.

There are many different varieties of echeveria/hens and chicks, they are most known for growing cute little baby succulents from the “trunk.” When you remove the dead or dying lower leaves, little babies can grow from those spots that once were occupied by the succulent petals.

Other popular succulents include the different varieties of sedum and sempervivums. Sedum is great for hanging over a pot or spreading over a space. Sempervivums also have a lot of character and can make babies. I personally find them a bit harder to care for the sedum and echeveria.

Here are the three most important tips (in my opinion) for caring for succulents

#1 – Make sure they are in the right soil and have the right drainage. Succulents don’t like to sit in moist soil all day. If you keep them too wet, you can make them rot and kill them. Cactus soil is easy to find at nurseries and home improvement stores, use that kind of soil, versus regular potting soil. Make sure your container or yard can drain properly. Some succulents can stand more water than others. I have some sedum, for example, that are thriving in a wet shady spot in my yard.

#2 – Succulents need to right light. In general, succulents usually need about 6 hours of sun, but too much sun is a possibility! In winter and Spring, my succulents really like being on my full-sun, South-facing, back porch. In summer and when it starts to warm up, they prefer shadier areas! Currently, they are loving my North-facing front porch that is almost all shade. Where I live, summer is easily 100-115 degrees, and full sun is just too much for my succulents. Some varieties are hardier than others, but mine like to be shaded in the summer, at least for the hot afternoon sun. Morning sun is friendlier. You might live in an area where your succulents prefer all-day sun in the summer – experiment! If your plants are getting sunburnt and crispy, move them to more shade. See my little Turkish Hens and chicks (some of my favorites) below? They love shade in the summer! They are growing and thriving on my warm, shady, porch.

#3 – Water your plants directly, and when needed. When you water succulents directly, you are getting their roots wet, and not the rest of the plant. I find sempervivums especially vulnerable to being watered from above. If I spray them with water and they don’t dry out before the sun shines on them, or they stay too wet on the top, they either rot from the top, or they get burnt from the water and the sun. My shaded plants don’t mind being sprayed as much as my more full-sun ones, but my sempervivums aren’t all fans. Succulents may get grouped together with cactus, and you may think they can go long bouts without water, but many actually love to be watered frequently – if you at least let the soil dry out between waterings. If your succulents are wilting and getting crispy, they need more water. If they are getting brown and squishy, they need less water.

Other things to remember –

Succulents also have seasons where they are dormant. If your succulent isn’t producing babies or seems to not be growing, they may be waiting for the next season.

Most succulents can be moved around pretty easily. If where they are at isn’t working, move the pot or pull them out and plant them somewhere else.

If your succulents are growing and running out of room, thin them out. Pull some of them up and plant them elsewhere, or give to friends. Babies will often start rooting when they grow, these can be stuck right in the soil. Some babies need to be carefully pulled off from their mother. I take these and pop them in the soil, too. They generally will start to root and grow.

Many of my upright sedum (like in the first picture above) are SO EASY to propagate. Their leaves fall of easily and often root and grow babies all by themselves. My neighbor has a whole flower bed full of them, because they multiply so easy.

Beware of frost. I had a beautiful “mother of thousands” plant. It’s large, broad leaves sprout little babies all along the edges, and I left her out during the 1 day of frost we got this winter, and it killed her. I’m still not over it.

Succulent babies can be more sensitive to sun and water. when little babies are sprouting from leaves, I try to keep them in warm shade, so they don’t burn.

What are some of your favorite succulents?

What do you do to make sure they thrive?

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A Trip to LEGOLAND

Last Spring we decided to surprise the kids with a trip to LEGOLAND. I had never been to the park and neither had my husband, so this was everyone’s first time. The Castle Hotel was almost about to open, so we stayed at the LEGOLAND hotel. We also decided to road trip it, since we live in driving distance. It was a long drive, but it was worth it! I’m not getting paid or anything for this review, I just wanted to share a fun place to go with your family.

If you are going to LEGOLAND, I would highly suggest staying at one of their hotels! First off, the park and hotels are kind of set away from everything. Any other place you would stay is probably 10-15 minutes away. Second, the hotels are amazing! We decided to stay in an Adventure room (there’s also now Pirates, as well as Ninjago, Friends, and kindgdom). All the rooms are amazing and perfect for families, with spaces separated for kids and adults and kid sized toilet-seats! The kids area has a bunk bed and trundle, and a TV and the adult sleeping area is on the other side of the bathroom.

Each night you stay at the hotel, you get a day of a scavenger hunt and free Lego goodies. Not to mention, lots of fun little surprises throughout the hotel, like a disco elevator and other secret funny things. There’s also a play area and of course, lots of Lego (who else want to call it “Legos?”)! We also went to a dance party at night and there was someone creating balloon animals in the lobby. They even have other kids activities, too. Oh, and the walk from the hotel to the park is very short. Probably not even as far as the walk to Disneyland from the Disney ticket Kiosks, the hotels and park and right next to each other.

Our room had Lego hieroglyphs all over. There is a key in the park, I wonder if they say something?!

The only downside we experienced was the line for breakfast. The hall is a bit cramped, so you line up outside. We went in March, during off-season. The park was near empty, but the breakfast line was still quite long. One day we skipped it, the next day we stayed in line. The line moved pretty fast and we enjoyed their breakfast, but it was a little cramped. There’s also only one other restaurant in that hotel with a handful of tables, so meal-wise, there aren’t a TON of options, but we enjoyed the food we had.

The park in March is perfect. It’s not busy at all, we even stayed on a couple of rides and road again without standing in line. The weather was mild -a light sweater and a short sleeve shirt was perfect.

My son was 6 and my daughter was 3 and they both had a great time. My son could ride all but one or two rides, my daughter was too short for a few. BUT, the rides aren’t the majority of the fun! Scattered throughout the park are numerous areas to play and build, from a rockwall to a lego boat station, to a dinosaur dig area. My kids had a blast building and playing. In March, the waterpark isn’t open, but they still happily kept themselves occupied. It’s nice to be able to go into a cool place and sit down and build with legos before going back out and riding more rides.

My son even had a fun time identifying the various historical monuments that he learned about in kindergarten, and both my kids enjoyed the Starwars displays and Lego Characters.

Another area is the aquarium. Technically this is separate, but often entrance is included in your tickets. This kids had a good time exploring the aquarium and finding the Lego characters and watching the ocean creatures. There was also a part where you could touch sea stars and other tide pool critters.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring your extra Lego men to trade! Different shops, kiosks, and employees have Lego people to trade with you! Truth be told, I think I enjoyed it more than the kids!

Overall, we had a great time. My 6 year old actually said he preferred LEGOLAND to Disneyland! Ages 3-6 were perfect, even a little older would be fun, too. My kids are wondering when we will be back!

20 Ways to refresh your wardrobe with lace

20 ways to refresh your wardrobe with lace

Do you have a piece of  clothing that needs a little revamping? Instead of throwing it out, add a bit of lace! There are so many different ways to refresh your wardrobe with just a little bit of altering. Here are some great free tutorials to upcycle and refashion those worn jeans or misfitting top.

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DIY succulent planters and gifts

I know succulent projects are everywhere, but I just can’t get enough! I probably have 10 pots of succulents in the backyard and I started a succulent garden in the front yard, but I still bought several different varieties when I went to the home improvement store this weekend. My husband doesn’t agree that you can never have too many succulents.

Forget flowers and chocolate, I would much rather have succulents! In fact, that’s what my husband brought me for Mother’s Day; the large hen he bought is now finally producing chicks! I’ve surpassed my exclamation mark limit, but I really love succulents, especially sempervivums (the “hens and chicks” that produce babies). They are easy to grow, and the babies they reproduce are easy to replant. This makes succulents great to cultivate at home then make gifts and creative planters. Need a hostess gift? New neighbor? A friend’s birthday? Grab some succulents and throw them together in a cute way and you have a unique gift that will literally, keep on giving. The hard part is figuring out exactly what to do with your plants.

So here are just a few ideas!

DIY succulent planters and gifts

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Friday freebie – Comic book super-hero party printables

For my son’s first birthday, we did a comic book super-hero theme in primary colors. I spent hours looking online for printables and party ideas, but I didn’t find much that was free and I didn’t feel like paying. The solution? I made my own printables; cupcake toppers, food table labels, conversation bubble labels for the picture board, and a few fun graphics for decoration. It was easy enough, so I thought I would share. There is also star cupcake toppers, so they are really quite flexible to use for different parties – super hero, comic book, action movies, 4th of July, stars, primary colors, boys, girls, etc. When you can alter the colors, it can fit all sorts of needs.

free comic book printables

How to use these customizable printables:

  • Printables are in PowerPoint (you must have PowerPoint on your computer to customize)
  • Download the free fonts Zud Juice and International Super Hero (or you can use your own, but they won’t look like the picture)
  • Follow the directions to install fonts (easy, I promise!)
  • Download the printables and customize – Here is the link: free super hero printables
  • I like to save in PDF and print the PDF instead of the PowerPoint file, but that is up to you

If you do not want to customize, here is the PDF file, ready to print: Free comic book super hero printable

If you have any troubles, feel free to leave a comment or send an email, and I will try to help!

Global Sugar Art

MelissaAndDoug.com- Over 2,000 Unique and Exciting Toys for Children of All Ages! Click here!

Thrift-shop terrarium centerpiece

terrarium

Last week, for the first time, I ventured into a thrift-shop that was literally around the block from my house. I’m not sure why it took my so long to go inside, but I was pleasantly surprised and took home an armful of puzzles, a vintage top, an awesome purse, and a bag of Mega Blocks. I also found out that on Tuesdays, everything is 50% off! This week I went in there and bout a vase, a glass bowl, a crystal tea cup, a wicker platter/basket, and some odds and ends. I knew exactly what I was going to do with the glassware – make a terrarium!

Terrariums have been a trendy DIY project for a while, but I hadn’t participated in it as of yet. Finally, with an abundance of baby succulents growing in my garden and a renewed interested in pinned terrariums, I decided to look into it a bit more and give it a go.

Directions and care instructions after the jump!

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Crustless pesto mini-quiches with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes

I’ve never been a huge egg fan, but they are pretty much the perfect food, so I am learning to like them, especially since we eat them pretty much every day. For our household of 3 adults, we usually go through about 4 dozen eggs a week! In my quest to cook some things out of our normal routine, I thought that making mini pesto quiches would be a good idea. And you all know I love pesto. Making these quiches was also a good way to use the leftover goat cheese/pesto/spinach mixture from the stuffed chicken breasts I posted yesterday.

I looked up a million different quiche recipes, all different, yet all very similar, so I just winged it. One recipe said to add Parmesan cheese at the bottom of the cups, as it acts like a little crust, but I was all out. I meant to add a little heavy cream, but I totally forgot about it and they turned out fine. So fine I actually ate two out of the oven the night I made them instead of waiting until the morning. My favorite were the ones with the sun-dried tomatoes. These were great to make ahead. I wish I would have made a few different kinds for Lenten Fridays. The next morning I popped a few in the toaster oven and they were just as good as they were fresh! I really loved the ones with the sun-dried tomatoes, so I think I will make another batch and put in the freezer for weekends we don’t feel like making breakfast… or if we don’t feel like cooking dinner, either.

mini quiches

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Pesto, spinach, and goat cheese stuffed chicken and garlic asparagus recipe

I am working on growing an herb garden in our new house, but birds keep eating my herb sprouts. I put out a bird feeder, so hopefully that will deter them. Along with fresh cilantro and chives, I am really looking forward to fresh basil! I love making pesto and I enjoy eating it even more. This week I was craving some pesto goodness so I decided to pick some up and use it for a stuffed chicken recipe (and maybe a quiche recipe too).

I haven’t made stuffed chicken in a while, and it did not disappoint! This pesto and cheese and spinach stuffed chicken is a yummy and rich meal. Whoever said you can’t eat delicious food while still eating healthy doesn’t know what they are talking about! My husband was happy that it was grain-free and had goat cheese, and I was happy merely because it had pesto.  It may seem like too much work, but it’s all in the preparation. After you put it together, you can stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while!

I paired the chicken with a garlic asparagus side, recipe below as well.
stuffed chicken

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Free printable tag for your lemon curd

Have I mentioned that I LOVE lemon curd? I really do. I need to find a healthier option, but until then, I will enjoy it as a special treat. But seriously, it is one of my most favorite things ever.

I canned a few jars of it this week and needed a nice little gift tag for it. Fold it in half and write a nice message inside the card. Lemon curd should be consumed no later than a year after it’s been canned (who would wait that long?!), so make sure you write the appropriate dates on the back.

Fold it, punch a hold  towards the top fold, and hang by a pretty ribbon or bakers twine.

lemon curd tags

*Will post a picture soon, my printer is out and I need to get them printed. If you are having problems with the quality, email me or leave a comment.

20 Ways to get into the holiday spirit

Christmas can a happy time for many, but sometimes it can be hard to get into the happy holiday mood. Amidst cheery songs, sparkly lights, and sugary treats, sometimes it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit.

I suppose in order to “get into the holiday spirit” you need to figure out what holiday spirit means to you. To me, it means the birth of my savior, spending time with family and friends, and giving to others. Even if you don’t have a religious reason to celebrate the holidays, giving to others and spending time with family and friends can be an important part of celebrating this time of year. I think it is a great time of the year to bless others and be thankful for all that you have.

In a nutshell, what puts me in the holiday spirit? Reacquainting myself with the real reason for Christmas, connecting with others, and giving.

And please, if you are depressed and having thoughts about harming yourself or others, please get help. The holidays can be a tough time for many and you are not alone.

20 ways to get into the christmas spirit

  1. Take a walk or drive down your local Christmas Tree Lane
  2. Drink hot apple cider or hot cocoa and listen to Christmas music
  3. Watch Christmas movies
  4. Volunteer at a food bank or shelter
  5. Attend church service
  6. Attend local holiday plays or musical events
  7. Read about the birth of Jesus
  8. Read Christmas stories
  9. Host a holiday party with friends and family
  10. Volunteer to wrap donated presents
  11. Bake goodies for your neighbors, friends, or family
  12. “Adopt” a family or child to buy presents for
  13. Jingle” or “Elf” your neighbors
  14. Perform random acts of kindness
  15. Do Christmas crafts
  16. Gather a caroling group to sing at retirement homes
  17. Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru or at the cash register
  18. Make a list of what you are thankful for
  19. Wish everyone you meet a happy holiday or tell them “merry Christmas”
  20. Send family and friends Christmas cards

What do you do to get in the Christmas spirit?