Friday, August 26, 2016

Meet Izzy.

 Last week my husband surprised us with a new kitten. It had been living under my neighbor's house and surviving on dog food. The neighbor didn't want it and had been trying to find someone to take it, so Kenan brought it home.  It's about 8 weeks old.

The kids named her Izzy.  Short for Isabelle Mae. i call her little Pip.  Banjo was completely intrigued with her. He stalked her around the house and watched her from a distance. 

By the end of the day they were friends.

Our other cat,  Tallulah, will have absolutely nothing to do with her.  Tallulah stays outside almost all day just to avoid the kitten.  i'm hoping she'll warm up to her eventually.

 Banjo took to her right away and now they are the best of friends. We've had her about a week and she is unbelievably sweet. She was pretty much feral when Kenan brought her home, she had even bite him when he tried to get her from under the neighbor's house. 

Her and Banjo play all day together and snuggle up at nap time. Hopefully Tallulah will get over her jealousy soon. It didn't take her long to accept Banjo when we brought him home, so i'm not sure why she wants nothing to do with this new little kitten. The rest of us all completely in love with her. She seems to like us too. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Koram Grow Bag for Vertical Gardening

i was really excited to review the #Koramgrowbag ! The images from the listing make it look really neat.  However, when i received it i was a little disappointed in the size. So make sure and pay attention to the actual size of the bag.  These images show multiple bags connected together.

i really wanted to love this vertical garden bag, but i don't like it as much as i thought i would. The pictures in the listing are misleading. They must have multiple bags put together in order to create that look. It's much smaller than i expected (approx 3 ft x 11 inches), which is actually okay because once it's filled with soil and watered it's really quite heavy. It's made from heavy duty felt and has loops for hanging and grommets to secure it in place.

i have it hanging in my greenhouse with some lettuce starts and nasturtium planted in it. i think it would look awesome if i had done all nasturtium. It's really not big enough for veggies (in my opinion). So i may replant it with just flowers. i put the plants in a few days ago, and they are doing well. The lettuces wilt a little if it gets too hot in the greenhouse but is otherwise growing well in the bag.

The descriptions shows it being used inside, but the felt gets really wet when you water the plants and so the whole thing becomes quite damp. You wouldn't want that up against a wall without some type of protection behind it. i like the idea of vertical gardening though, and think these could be useful for those gardening with limited space. i attached a picture of me next to the bag so you can get an idea of it's true size. i think it would look awesome on a deck with cascading flowers in it.

Overall, it's not a bad product, but be sure and read the description well and don't assume it's going to be the size of the ones in the photos. The stitching is good, and the felt does appear to be heavy well made and good quality.

i received this product for free or discount in exchange for my honest review. i was not compensated.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Jewelescent Gel Pens by US Art Supply- product review

  My kids and i both love gel pens. i use them in many of the crafts that i do, and we both like them for coloring. There are so many great colors in this set! It has 72 pens!! i don't think i've ever seen so many pens in a set before.

These will work great for adult coloring, scrap-booking and writing. i like to use them on chalkboards, when i have something that i want written/drawn permanently. They really pop on a black background. They are non-toxic and acid-free. All of the US Art Supply product line is really good and inexpensive. i've been very pleased with every product we've tried from them. i'll be review a set of 100 double tipped markers next!

 This set has 3 classic, 12 glitter, 10 metallic, 6 neon, 9 pastel, 12 glitter neon, 12 dye, 2 black and 6 swirl pens in it. They are smooth rolling pens, although some of the stuck just a little when i first tried to use them. They rolled perfectly after that though. They do not write quite as smooth as gelly rolls (my absolute favorite brand), but for the price and the amount of pens it's still a great deal.  The pen barrels are clear so you can easily tell when you are running low on ink. The caps click on the pen securely, so you don't have to worry about your pens drying out because the cap didn't click. . 

 The color choices are amazing, although i couldn't tell exactly what was what with some of them. i love all the glitter and metallic pens the best. The neon and pastel pens are easy to identify, but i wasn't sure what the difference was between the classic and the dye. i also really like the swirl pens. The pens come in a clear plastic box and they snap into a try, making them easy to store. My daughter has been busy drawing with these. This is really a great set for anyone that loves gel pens!

 i received this item for free or discounted in exchange for my honest review. i was not compensated. All opinions are my own. #usartsupply

Raising Monarchs

Every year we walk down the road to collect the monarch eggs and caterpillars before the county mowers mow down all the milkweed. 

The eggs are extremely tiny, but we've learned to spot them easily.  We remove the leaf with the egg and bring it home. We use to leave the eggs and only collect the caterpillars, but the eggs kept disappearing. i don't know where it's ants or something else that carries them off, but something seems to eat them. 

The newly hatched caterpillars are extremely tiny. After they hatch they eat what is let of their egg and then begin to munch on the milkweed.

As the caterpillar grows it sheds it's skin several times. These are called instars.  

When the caterpillar reaches it's final instar (#5) it stops eating and find a quiet place to rest. It spins some silk to create a sling for it's back legs, then it hangs upside down in a J position. It will shed it's skin a final time and underneath is the green chrysalis. 

In this photo you can see the green chrysalis and a newly eclosed Monarch.

When the Monarch is ready to emerge from it's chrysalis, it is visible inside. Sometimes it's gets very dark, almost back a day or two before the monarch is visable.

When the monarch first ecloses, it's wings are crumpled and it's abdomen is swollen. It's body contracts and pushes the fluid from the abdomen into the wings. The sit and let their wings dry for a few hours after they have eclosed. When the wings are dry they will begin to open and close them, signaling that they are ready to be released.

So far we have raised and released 4. i have another chrysalis, a caterpillar in it's final instar and a few newly hatched caterpillars. In the wild only 1 in 10 monarch caterpillars survive to adulthood, so raising them inside in a controlled environment is really important for their survival. Monarch populations have been declining for years because of the use of pesticides and loss of food source (milkweed). This year the monarch population has started to increase and i truly believe that is in part due to the efforts of all those planting milkweed and raising caterpillars inside. 

i truly feel that it is not only beneficial to caterpillars, but also to me and my children. Watching the process and knowing that you are helping to make a difference is a wonderful feeling. Seeing our monarchs fluttering around the herb garden, tasting the flowers and leaving tiny new eggs on our milkweed plants is so incredibly rewarding. 

The movie Flight of the Butterflies  is currently streaming on Netflix. It's a visually stunning documentary that follows the yearlong migration of the monarch butterfly from the volcanic forests of Mexico all the way to Canada. Definitely worth watching. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mini Floating Moss Gardens

Took a walk in the woods yesterday and could not resist coming home with a basket full of beautiful moss. A few years ago i made moss fairy garden inside jars. i'm always looking for interesting jars and containers to create them in.  i recently had the opportunity to review some Glass Bauble ornaments and i knew they would make the perfect terrarium/ moss gardens!! We have so many beautiful types of moss growing in our woods, i knew they'd be easy to make. 

The glass bauble/ terrariums i received come in a set of 4.  They were packaged well, wrapped in bubble wrap and separated inside a box.  They arrived in perfect condition.  They are very lightweight and have a thin hoop with twine attached. They also have a flat bottom, so they can either be hung up or placed on a shelf.

To make a moss terrarium you'll need - 
Glass baubles (you can purchase them here)
 - potting soil mixed half and half with vermiculite
 - Activated charcoal (You can get this at a pet store or garden shop)
 - Gravel, rocks or those pretty flat marbles for fish aquariums. (this is for drainage) 
- Moss, small plants or succulents
- Decorative items-  mini-toadstools (purchased at Michael's), crystals, stones, marbles etc.

These are super easy to put together. You put your rocks/gravel in the bottom, then put a thin layer of the activated charcoal over them. Then you want to add your soil.  Now add your moss down and plants and give it a misting of water.  i use a chop stick to push the plants/decorations in place. Long tweezers would also work. 

i like to add hens and chicks and sedum.  They are very easy to keep and require very little maintenance once they are set up. 

These are super easy to make and they really look pretty a long time. You'll want to place the garden in a spot where it will receive indirect sunlight and mist it now and again to keep it moist, but not too wet.  i love to make these, and they make wonderful gifts. 

i received the #HangingClearGlassBaubleSphere for free in exchange for my honest review.  i was not compensated.