Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fish Tank turned Terrarium - craft post

Hi Guys,

Today's post is pure 'craft' with very little (actually no) vintage.  Although I do promise to make a few references that people under 30 will have a hard time getting.

I have a few fish tanks around my house.  You never know when you will need to house a mouse or hamster or something else (to those that know me and my penchant for taking care of small furries, this will make perfect sense).  For those of you that want to play along at home,  you can usually find fish tanks at tag sales for under $10.    Tanks that have developed (water) leaks are also great to upcycle into Terrariums.

One thing I will mention if I haven't before - I am frugal when it comes to crafting. That is to say I don't like to buy anything new I don't have to. (up and up Yankee thriftness!)     At some point I will do a post about how I source some things for gardening without paying a lot, which may or may not end up being helpful.

1) Assemble your ingredients

  • Drainage material (I used small white crushed stone )
  • Charcoal - this helps with filtration and keeping the soil fresh
  • Potting Soil  - should be self explanatory (though if you are planting cactii or succulents, you should get a soil suitable for those).
  • Sheet moss (helps retain the moisture for the plants and prevent soil erosion)
  • Plants & Decorations

"And Everyone wanted to get in the newspaper story about it..." (Arlo quote!)

So the above couple pictures are basically the kittehs checking out all the neat stuff I have assembled for this project.  Note, I am doing this in the middle of the living room rug, so have put a towel down to make things a little easier for cleanup.  Newspaper works well too,  but the cats tend to like to play (*read* shred) it.

2.  Creating the drainage layer.  - I used white crushed stone.  I had bought a few bags a couple of years ago and had half a bag still sitting around. I rinsed it a few times and soaked it overnight so as to remove any extra chalky residue and creepy crawlies that may have moved in while it was sitting around.

3.   Charcoal layer   - Sadly I forgot to get a picture of the charcoal layer, so imagine it in your head.

4.  Spread out the Potting Soil. ( Note the Quality Control Dachshund making sure I am doing it correctly.)  There should be a 3" to 5" layer of soil, at least deep enough to put the root balls of the plants you are planting in.  Note-  pack the soil down so there aren't any air bubbles.  This will keep the soil from settling too much later and exposing the plant roots.

5.  Figuring out the placement of the plants.   I left them in the pots and moved them around a bit til I felt I liked the arrangement and each plant had enough room.    The plants I chose for this terrarium are: Fancy leafed coleus, Polka dot plant, African violet, and Cock's comb.

6. Planting the plants - make sure they are spaced out enough so they have room to spread a little. You should have put enough soil down so that the root balls are not sticking above the soil level.

Investigating kitty

7.  I put sheet moss around the bases of the plants sort of sporadically. I have seen terrariums that have it covering the entire potting soil layer, but I didn't want to do that.  The sheet moss will help the plants retain moisture, as well as keep the soil from eroding down around the roots.

8. Decorate!   - Colored Gravel - you can categorize this under 'decorations'  I sprinkled some handfuls of colored aquarium gravel around because I thought it looked nice.

More Decorations - couple of plastic cows (Note the 'walking dead' cow on the left - Calvin (my dachshund) started chewing the cow's face before I realized what he was up to)

"A little Birdhouse in your soul..." (They Might Be Giants)

A small set of twinkle lights.  Yes, I am a sucker for twinkle/fairy lights and will add them to just about any craft I can.   I got this set at the dollar store - it is about 2 feet long and has a waterproof battery pack (takes (2) AA batteries)  so perfect for this environment.  (I taped them to the upper wall).

 The final masterpiece!  

Here is Lightning kitty relaxing on the top of the finished terrarium.   I had a screen top that goes with this size aquarium that I am using because well ...cats...plants..... 

Update - After about a 2 weeks, the cocks comb died.  The polka dot plants (there were 4 ind. plants in the container, and they were a little on the ragged side when I got them)  one of the 4 has also died.  The African Violet seems to be faring the best.   I think maybe I need to move the whole terrarium to where it gets a little more light.

Thanks for reading!
xo Yvonne

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vintage Car Spotting of the Week- Spotlight on an late 60's model Ford Galaxie

Hi Friends on the Interwebs!

One of the things I enjoy about this time of year is that car buffs bring out their 'pride and joys' taking advantage of the beautiful weather. My son, Peter, is a classic car lover and a virtual encyclopedia of all things Automobile. We will be driving around and see a vintage beauty.  (Often we chase them down through parking lots or follow them for a couple miles to get a better look!) Peter will comment about how a specific year saw the last of the large engines for that manufacturer, or when emission savings devices were introduced on a certain model so the gas mileage drastically improved,  what year the tail fins were especially large, or the details about a trim package that was offered on some models.     His absolute favorites are the old Cadillacs.  His dream car is an Eldorado from the seventies,  you know - the kind where you can fit your entire extended family in and still have room for a couple of Great Danes or perhaps a VW Beetle.
 Some of these land yachts rival the length of modern day RV's, believe it or not.  (unfortunately, a lot of them get about the same amount of mileage per gallon as RV's do, too :(   Only 7 or 8 miles per gallon.)  He is saving for a fixer upper one of these now, so I will probably be continuing the saga as time goes on.

Peter's dream car - a seventies Eldo

So, I thought I would start a new feature on  'Tea & Cat'  of Vintage Car spotting. That is to say when we cross paths of a Vintage lovely,  I will post some pictures and a little about the car in its heyday.
(with Peter's help on the specs and details).  So here is today's car,  The Ford Galaxie.

We estimated this one to be from the late 1960's.  It was in awesome condition. I snapped a couple of pictures while at a red light.

This isn't your Grand-dad's car....oh, wait, yeah maybe it is
 The Galaxie was made as an answer /competitor to the Chevrolet Impala.  It's first year was 1955. Naming convention of the time was the space age fervor that wound it's way into many aspects of our Culture.  Most of the Galaxie's were of the 500 or 500 XL designation, but later, They had cool names like "Starliner" and "Sunliner."    Wikipedia does a nice job of going through the model years and different versions here.

Even though the body did not change significantly during the 1960's, we know that the car we saw was a late '60's model by the square tail lights (the earlier 60's ones had round tail lights, they changed over in '67)

The list price for one of these new in '67 or '68 was about $4200. (the average US household income then was around $8000.)

They even have a club for Galaxie owners & enthusiasts: /

Do you have a penchant for classic cars? If so which is your favorite?  Please comment below!
Thanks for reading
xo Yvonne