Calm Spaces for a Calm Mind – Tips for Cord Management

I want to be very clear that I’m no minimalist, but I’ve definitely been working hard on taming the clutter in our house. In the process, I’ve really noticed how calming it is to see a formerly-cluttered space all cleared … Continue reading

Repotting Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant

After years of professing to have a black thumb, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover over the past couple of years that fiddle leaf figs seem to love me as much as I love them.

Other posts in my fiddle leaf fig series are:

Today, I’m sharing tips on repotting your plants. I just repotted my two largest plants, which actually turned out to be a serious workout! (Or so I told myself when I had dessert later…)

What are some signs it’s time to repot your plant?

  • You just bought a new plant – most new plants from the nursery have been in their small pots for a while and should be repotted.
  • The soil isn’t holding water – water runs through more quickly than usual, because much of the soil is filled with roots
  • You see roots coming out the bottom of your pot (see below!)
  • It’s been a couple of years since you repotted. The timing depends on how fast your plants are growing. I’ve had to repot every 1-2 years

This plant had been in the same pot for about 20 months, and it was definitely time to repot it!

Tips for repotting your plant:

Ideally, try to repot in the spring or summer, when your plant is growing fastest, as this will help it recover more easily. Since we’re in California, where winters are shorter and milder, I’ve been able to repot in winter without issues – this was out of necessity, when I suddenly realized my plants were suffering from outgrowing their pots.

Pick a pot that’s a few inches bigger than the previous pot. Going up too far in size will leave too much empty soil and risk overwatering. Ideally, use a pot with good drainage, though I have do have several growing successfully in pots without drainage holes – I did put more rocks at the bottom of those, to create a space for water to drain within the pot.

If the roots are really matted and tight (left picture below), you can gently loosen and trim them (right picture below). If you can’t or don’t want to use a larger pot, you can also gently trim the roots, brush off as much of the soil as possible, and use the same pot, though this might limit your plant’s growth overall. I’ve just put my biggest two plants into 24″ diameter pots, which I think is as big as I’ll go, so I’ll need to try just trimming the roots next time. I had to look in a few places before finding this size at Flowercraft in San Francisco.

Line the bottom of your pot with small rocks to keep the soil from leaking out and add extra drainage. Add a layer of fresh potting soil on top of the rocks, and put your plant back in. Adjust the height by adding or removing soil until the top of the root ball sits a little below the rim of your pot, remembering that the soil will compact a bit over time.

Fill in soil around the root ball until about two inches from the top. Add some slow release fertilizer pellets – I use this one from Osmocote – and the continue filling in soil until it’s even with the top of your root ball.

Give your plant a good watering, and watch it grow!

Here’s a picture of the craziness while I was in the middle of repotting the two big trees – it’s a jungle in here!

My plants sure seem happy in their new pots! I have a plan to sew some giant planter bags for them, similar to this one, which is now going to be handed down to a younger FLF! UPDATE: Here are some pics of the plants in their new planter bags, and here’s a link to the tutorial for the new giant planter bags!

Let me know if you have any questions, and happy gardening!

Julie aka “Jewels”

Tips for Hosting a Clothing Swap Party

I know I’m not alone in starting this year with a real fire lit under me to start cleaning and de-cluttering our house. I first read Marie Kondo’s book a few years ago, but with her new show, she’s somehow getting even more popular, and I am on the wagon!

After doing a major closet cleaning, my friends and I decided that we would have a little clothing swap party to see if we could find some new items that “spark joy,” all without spending a penny! It was SO MUCH FUN!

I ended having a small get-together, which was just as much for the company as for anything else. A couple of my close friends from work and I are always admiring each other’s style and wear similar sizes, so this was an easy guest list to put together.

Admittedly, I would have fun doing just about anything with these girls, but the clothing swap was truly a blast! Of course, there was the excitement of getting something new for free! But on top of that, it was a great feeling to see things that I really liked but just didn’t work on me fit perfectly on my friends. Not to mention, there were some good stories behind some of these items!

A couple of my favorite “new” items are this leather tote bag and the little pendant necklace on the dresser.

Even though our party was small, I take party planning seriously, so I’ve gathered some of my best tips for a clothing swap of any size!

Before the party

  • Choose your guest list, considering people’s styles and sizes. Your guests don’t all have to have the same style or size, but it helps if everyone has at least one or two people who would be good matches
  • Choose the types of items to include – besides clothes, consider accessories, such as scarves, bags, jewelry, and shoes. Set guidelines about quality and condition of items, as well as how many items you want to include
  • Prepare your space with room to display clothes, as well as places to try things on and a mirror – since I invited just a couple of close friends, I actually hosted in my bedroom, which was the easiest place to find hanging space and mirrors!
  • Provide snacks, keeping in mind things that can be eaten while shopping
  • Consider adding signs and cute shopping bags as decorations

At the party

  • Arrange items neatly by category to make it easier to browse
  • Allow a window-shopping period, so everyone gets a chance to discover their favorite finds
  • Decide on an order for “shopping,” for example by drawing lots or based on how many items each person brought
  • In a larger group, allow one person or a small group to shop at a time, and decide on a limit for each group – either a maximum number of items or a fixed amount of time
  • Since there were just three of us, we just tried things on and checked in with each other before claiming an item – it was so easy and fun!

I’m a little sad it will take us years to accumulate enough stuff for another swap, but we’ll definitely find another excuse to get together and have fun soon!

Julie aka “Jewels”

Valentine’s Day Pennant Banner

I’m not usually a big Valentine’s Day person, but then again, a holiday built around chocolate can’t be all bad! Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, I got the urge to make something – anything! – and I put together … Continue reading

Recipe Tea Towels

If you’re already familiar with Spoonflower, then you know how amazing their site is. If you haven’t been introduced to them yet, be prepared to be completely addicted! They can custom print anything on fabric, and you can design your … Continue reading

Shibori-Dyed Zipper Pouches

Every year, I make a handmade holiday gift for my coworkers and our kids’ teachers. I love bringing them into school and the office and spreading joy! I’ll list all the past ones at the bottom, so you have more … Continue reading

DIY Hand-Painted Chinoiserie Christmas Ornaments

For this year’s Chinoiserie Christmas, I mostly used decorations I already had from our “white and woodsy Christmas,” with the addition of these hand-drawn ornaments! This post is coming late, because it took me all month to finish these ornaments, … Continue reading

I’m dreaming of a (Blue and) White Chinoiserie Chic Christmas

It has been a busy few months here, but I’m sitting by the fire and finally have a minute to share our Christmas decorations – just under the wire this Christmas Eve. If there were a graph showing how many … Continue reading

DIY Decoupaged Tile Coasters

I have a lot of craft projects “incubating” – I get excited, I buy supplies, and then… I wait for the perfect moment to create them! We could also call this hoarding of craft supplies, but that’s not in the spirit of the season!

We’ve got an enthusiastic new social committee at work, and they organized a “Secret Snowflake” exchange for the holidays. “Handmade is encouraged,” they instructed. Now that’s my kind of challenge. My gift recipient loves to host dinner parties, so I found her a cute serving bowl, some holiday dish towels, and I am finishing off the package with these DIY coasters!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White 4″ square tiles – very inexpensive at the hardware store, or you can order online
  • Decorative paper – choose thinner paper that absorbs the adhesive and molds to the tile
  • Mod Podge
  • Water-based varnish
  • Paintbrush
  • Silicon bumpers

Here’s how to do it:

  • Cut paper to fit tiles
  • Paint a thin coat of Mod Podge on tile
  • Lay down paper and smooth out
  • Paint a thin coat of Mod Podge over paper
  • Letting dry between layers, add one or two more coats of Mod Podge
  • Add three or more coats of varnish, for a more durable finish
  • Add silicon bumpers to bottom

Here they are in my home and getting ready to go spread cheer in my friend’s home!

Next time, I’d like to try making these coasters, with the paper sandwiched between glass, because I think they’ll hold up even better. Next year’s teacher and coworker gift? Maybe!

Hope you are having fun sharing treats and gifts this season!

Julie aka “Jewels”