Woodland Terrariums

005

Are you looking for a Free fun nature activity for the kids that can be done with a few items from around the house?  Or are you looking for an artistic centerpiece for your table?  Or are you dying to plant your garden but the last frost hasn’t come yet?  Try a terrarium!

I live in the Pacific Northwest which is a green and verdant place. It is the sort that vegetation will reclaim quickly if man neglects their taming of it. It is called the Evergreen State for our beautiful conifers, but the greens of the rich things that grow here would rival emerald Ireland when the clouds part and the blue skies shine. There is nothing like a NW sky when it clears on those first spring days for the rain can seem ceaseless in the wintertime. It rains here enough that nearby we have our very own Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest is a soft dripping place with mosses a plenty, and alluring scents of dank rich earth. The rainforest has led me to a strange moss obsession. I gather these things up in terrariums and foster them and create tiny rain forests in my living room.

When I can’t be out of doors… I keep it nearby in a terrarium.  This is  a fun and free form of indoor art and it has the added bonus of helping to keep your indoor air filtered naturally, and when you tire of it you can return it to the forest from whence it came.  I make my terrariums with things dug up around the property like mosses, lichen encrusted limbs, licorice ferns, and perennial sedums and ground covers from my garden.  I try to only dig up mosses where they are plentiful and won’t be missed or if they are growing in what should be a moss free zone (like the roof).  I like to use outdoor plants that I can keep indoors for a season but will be just as happy out in a shaded patio.

Shop pics 008

All you really need for this project is Sand (I use old sand from the sandbox), potting soil, a glass vase, bowl, or jar and a variety of mossy covered things found in the woods.  You may use small figurines or toys, pretty rocks or shells to add to the effect of a little world.

First, put a little sand at the bottom for drainage, but also for visual interest.  Sometimes I will just put the sand on one side of a vase and soil on the other to create a little beach. If you have activated charcoal it is also beneficial in a terrarium to retain moisture while keeping the roots from rotting, but a terrarium can be happy without it.  After soil is added, place a plant of interest like a little fern or sedum or a small mossy branch.  Then cover the remaining soil with mosses.  It is fun to find more than one kind of moss.  Add your figurines or rocks if desired.  Then give it a thorough watering.  Mist your terrarium with water as needed to keep the moss happy.

 059

If you have grown tired of your terrarium or it is looking unhappy, just take it out in the woods and set the native plants free.    Warning, if you do add little branches or rotten wood to your terrarium it may sprout mushrooms, which may be poisonous.  Unless you are an expert in mushrooms it is not advisable to handle them.  If you are doing this project with small children who could be tempted by mushrooms you may want to steer clear of old branches in your project, and to be safe check your terrarium routinely and discard it’s inhabitants if mushrooms should appear.

058

Advertisements

The Clean Regime…it doesn’t have to be complicated.

002001

I thought today I would share my simply kitchen and bath cleaning regimen.  For bathroom and kitchen cleaning I use primarily two ingredients: Baking Soda and White Distilled Vinegar.

Baking Soda is great for toilets, sinks, bathtubs and anything that needs a good scrub.  I buy most things in bulk and consequently a bag of Baking Soda may be used for both cleaning and cooking.  I didn’t want to always be dipping into the same bag for grossly different tasks.  So I “decant” into jars.  I keep a jar in the baking cupboard and another jar in my cleaning kit.  The cleaning jar is a regular canning jar that has holes punched in the top (with a nail and hammer)  to make my own shaker.  As a side not I like Classico jars for this, in fact if I have to buy a can of pasta sauce I usually buy Classico because they use real Atlas jars that can be reused to can your own pasta sauce.  Now you can simply pour your Soda and scrub.

For a simple spray I find an old spray bottle.  Be sure that your bottle is clean and fully rinsed.  It is not advisable to mix vinegar and bleach as it creates noxious fumes.  My cleaner is one part water and one part vinegar.  I also add to this a few dashes of lemon juice and occasionally some scented oil to make it more pleasant.  But remember the vinegar smell evaporates quickly when used.  I use this mixture for countertops, fixtures, appliances, toilet seats, linoleum floors… just about anywhere.  Vinegar is a natural antibacterial agent and it’s cheap!

Another use for this mighty duo is a good sink cleanse.  According to my roto-rooter guy it is a good idea to flush your sink drains once a month to prevent build up.  Go ahead and pour some baking soda down the drain, then chase it with a cup of vinegar.  It will make a satisfying fizzing noise.  Then after your solution has sat for a bit boil a kettle of water and pour it down your drains.  That should keep things running smoothly.

Don’t forget to use baking soda and vinegar in your laundry.  Baking soda in the wash cycle will freshen clothes and vinegar in the rinse will do the same as well as soften fabrics….this is a great safe option for cloth diapers, but NOT if you use Bleach.

I could go on, because the uses seem endless, but just these little ideas will make a big difference on the pocket book.

Alive!

Every once in a while our steady Pacific Northwest rains and mists turn into storms as they did last night. It was near dark and the winds were whistling down our chimney and I thought, “Time for a walk”. So I bundled up and grabbed my reluctant husband and headed for the hill for a bit of exercise. The hill is the road stretching up behind our house. It’s long and it’s steep and from up there the hills beyond stretch on and on to the horizon. Last night the Douglas Firs, straight and fearfully tall swayed drunkenly in the high winds. The rain coming in sideways blasted my face and when we reached the top I threw off my hood and thought of Whitman:

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15755#sthash.or3dDIsf.dpuf

It was dreadfully exciting. There was a moment that I looked up into the trees and envisioned a widow maker careening down on us, and that maybe Josh and I shouldn’t walk so close together, you know, so our children don’t become orphans. So I ran down the hill like a reckless child, just this side of maintaining control. I love free entertainment. Free as the air we breath and my two feet beneath me.