Recently Researching: 2015 Goal House Plant Edition. Part One.

I wasn't sure where to put this blog topic... I could put it under 2015 goals bc taking care of my house and plants is a big goal for me this year. Or I could put it under Recently Researching bc, well, it's something I've been researching lately... So I kinda did a mash up of the two! I couldn't think of a super catchy name for it, tho. 

I think every house should strive to have three things: cats, musical instruments, and plants. Luckily, I've got all three covered. 

In effort to take better care of the plants I have (and therefore feel justified in getting more!), I've been researching my house plants. This is something that seems like a no brainer, but I've never actually done it before. I always claim to have no green thumb and maybe this is partly why. 

Here's a rundown of some of the plants I have, as well as some facts, and care for each. 

Aloe - This guy's a succulent, but I often forget that. That means that this soothing medicinal plant should be watered well, then let to dry completely before watering again. Aloe should be kept in bright light and a small pot, as it enjoys being root bound. Aloe's healing properties are well known, but I can never bring myself to break the leaves when I need to treat a burn or scrape. I keep a bottle Aloe Gel in the house for that instead.  Did you know that Aloe actually refers to a whole genus, so the typical plant we see is sometimes called "true" aloe. 
I've had a few different aloe plants, and I think my problem is that I over eater them. I moved my current plant to  the brightest window, and am trying to make it flourish, but at the moment, it's kind of languishing. 

Schefflera/Umbrella Tree - Again we have a plant that is commonly called by it's genus, but the big type we see in pots are usually the Schefflera actinophylla. This plant can grow quite large and full and flower when in the right environment. It can live in medium indirect sun, but prefers bright light. This plant should be watered well, then it's upper soil should be let to dry before watering again. If it's leaves turn yellow and fall off, it's under watered. If they turn black and fall off it's been over watered. (Mine tends to have the former problem). 
When we moved to Park Slope and into a larger apartment, I searched Craigslist for some larger plant and found the schefflera I currently have. We had a harrowing but memorable drive thru the neighborhood with it propped in the back of our truck. I call it our "bedroom tree" (every bedroom should have a tree!) and it's about 7 feet tall. The family we got it from said it was about 8 - 10 years old, then, so now it must be about 12 years old or older! We repotted it once, and it's not living it's best life. Sometimes it grows the cutest little baby new leaves, but mostly it just hangs around looking droopy. I've been trying to water this guy more regularly and I think it'll benefit when we open the windows so it can get fresh air and more light. 

Pothos Epipremnum Aureum - This is the most commonly seen Pothos, which has shiny light green, or variegated light and dark green leaves. The standard pothos grows well in low light, and is super easy to maintain, needing water only when it's soil is about 50% dry, or even dryer. Leave will yellow and fall if left too dry for too long. These plants prefer warm climates and will die if left to get too cold. Pothos prefer to be root bound, sending out long tendrils which can be pruned, or coiled to keep the plant bushy. These easy houseplants keep the air clean, so are good to have on hand, but can be poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep in a safe place!
I have quite a few of these guys, and most do really well. One was left by an open window, got too cold and is on it's last legs. One has some sort of white mildew which my schefflera also gets. I've found that giving it more sun after gently wiping away the white powdery substance usually solves the problem. Sometimes I forget to water them until I see the leaves start to droop. I'm trying to avoid this, but haven't had any dies like this. I've tried to propagate cuttings from some of my Pothos with mixed results. Some start growing roots right away and live long lives, but others fail completely. Growing new plants from cutting is a goal for me with these. My cats don't bother these plants much, so I don't worry about them, but I do try to keep them in higher places, if possible. 

Rubber Plant - This plant (ficus elastica) used to be grown for the rubber that could be made from it's latex which is like sap, but separate. Now it's mostly a decorative plant and it's cousin the Para Rubber Tree is grown to make the rubber we use today. These two trees actually have a different genus and the house plant is more closely related to the fig tree. It likes indirect light and does well in low, medium or bright as long as it's not direct. They don't need too much water and prefer it a little dryer in cooler climates. The leaves can yellow from being over or under watered but usually fall off if overly saturated. Rubber trees can grow quite large and get nice think trunks. This plant prefers warm temperatures and will die in cold weather, but overall I've found them to be quite hardy!
My rubber trees are my longest lived plants and I always have to stop myself from getting more and more of them. They are so easy to care for and lovely to have around. I do need to tie them up better as their branched can start to get wild and out of control. And I need to dust their leaves more often (or ever) bc it's better for them to be dust free. 

I've learned a lot about how to care for the house plants I currently have. And this is only the first installment. By my count, I have 9 or 10 more varieties to learn about! I feel that when I am better able to take care of my plants, I will be ready to get more. Hopefully by that time, we will be living in a more light soaked home and one where my plants can spend some summer days outside. Even house plants like a field trip!

Do you have an tricks or tips for these house plants? If so, I'd love to hear them in the comments! 

Check out my pinterest page for more on these and previous Recently Researching topics. 




Recently Researching: Jackfruit, Fabric Boxes, Wheat Pennies

It's been pointed out to me that I have a lot of (useless) knowledge about a variety of things and subjects. It's also been pointed out to me that I'm a nerd. 
If I hear or see something that I don't know about, I love to look it up and learn as much as I can. It seems to be a slightly rare thing to do. But it's so fun!

Here are some things I've been learning about in the past week or so:

From Google image search

From Google image search

Are there more fruits nowadays? I'm always hearing about some fruit I don't recognize. And it makes me want to try all of them!! 
I had heard of jackfruit but didn't really give it much thought until I saw this recipe on The Minimalist Baker. This sandwich looks amazing! But what exactly is jackfruit? Well, I've learned it's a large fruit that's a cousin of the mulberry. It kinda looks like an unripe mulberry, but much bigger! According to Wikipedia it's the largest tree grown fruit and can reach up to 100 pounds!.  It grows in moist warm flatter areas of Asia, India, the Caribbean, Brazil and Mexico. The tree is cultivated in many of these nations but can also be considered an invasive species due to the fact that they are tasty to many animals who will eat the fruit and spread it's seeds.  The fruit apparently tastes both sweetly tropical and substantial, can be fibrous, or "custard like" with a musty smell. Every article comes with it's own vague description of the taste, but all can agree it's unique. The fruit has a bunch of goodness like dietary fiber and vitamin C and even a little bit of protein. And some think it would make a great food source for places where food is a scarcity. It seems to be readily available frozen or canned in Asian grocery stores but can also be found fresh in big cities. Even Amazon has it. Although these fruit seem a little hard to handle, they are a vegan favorite as they are versatile and can have a meaty texture. I'll be on the look out for these monster fruits, both fresh and jarred, and for more easy yummy looking recipes. 

From Fall for DIY

From Fall for DIY

Fabric Boxes
I don't like to sew on the machine, but I've been seeing fabric boxes that makes me want to try! These little boxes seem fun and cute and pretty easy for a sewing machine novice. Here are some of the patterns I would like to try:
Fall for DIY suggests using these boxes to cover plastic plant pots. What a neat way to spruce up those ugly plastic pots!
Noodlehead makes a fabric box with a sliding cover that would be awesome for organizing so many things! I could see this being great to take along on a car or plane trip. 
I have to find the first blog where I saw some cute fabric boxes, and what inspired me to look for more. The most simple design, but so useful and pretty! now I can't find it!
So now I've done my research, all that's left is to try Something New!

From Google image search

From Google image search

Wheat Pennies
I love to find old coins! I'm no numismatist but when I see an old or foreign coin, I can't resist keeping it! Wheat Pennies might be some of the most recognizable collectible American coins, as there are still many in circulation. But what makes a Wheat Penny a What Penny? And why don't they make them anymore? Recently I started wondering and had to find out more! 
When it came time to redesign the cent in 1905, the US Mint hired a sculptor to create the new images. To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of his death, the new cent was issued with the now familiar portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the front in 1909.  This coin features shafts of durum wheat, now popular for making pasta, surrounding the words "One Cent" on the back, and the Wheat Penny was born! The coin originally had the designer's initials on the back, as well, but was quickly changed. Few of the coins with the initials VDB still exist, and these are rare and expensive, possibly fetching up to $50. Through it's history, there were several changes made to the wheat penny's composition. Only one bronze penny is thought to exist and it sold for 1.7 million dollars in 2010 (the seller was from NJ, BTW.). The Wheat Cent was produced from 1909 until 1958 but the wheat shaft design was replaced with the portrait of the Lincoln Memorial the following year. 

From Google image search

From Google image search

You can find out more about these Recently Researched items on my Pinterest board! Or if you have an idea for a Recently Researching topic, leave it in the comments!

Recently Researching: An Introduction

It's been pointed out to me that I have a lot of (useless) knowledge about a variety of things and subjects. It's also been pointed out to me that I'm a nerd. 
If I hear or see something that I don't know about, I love to look it up and learn as much as I can. It seems to be a slightly rare thing to do. But it's so fun!

Since I love blogs that have regular posts with links or likes (check out this one, this one, or this one if you need examples), I thought I'd try my hand at creating a series of posts like that for my own blog. But a nerd version, of course. 
I plan to share what I've been researching of late. Perhaps some readers will find the subjects as interesting as I do. Sometimes the items may be in depth, sometimes just a little something I recently learned, sometimes research on what I want to learn. 

In this introductory post, I'm gonna start with some things I've already looked into earlier this year. In the future, it might be things that I was interested in that week, or month, or something I want to research and haven't had the time yet. These posts will be a good excuse to do so! Going forward, I hope it will be a regular addition to my blog. 

Image found via google image search and linked to  here . circa 2010.

Image found via google image search and linked to here. circa 2010.

That Building on 3rd and 3rd in Brooklyn.
Pretty much anyone who lives in Brooklyn has seen and wondered about this strange little building on the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Ave in the Gowanus area. When I first moved to Brooklyn it was surrounded by an empty lot that backs up to the famed Gowanus Canal (another story for another day, perhaps). But now the building is cornered by a Whole Foods store that took more than 8 years in the making. Apparently it was built around 1872 to house the Coignet Stone Building showroom for the new (to the USA) and revolutionary building material reinforced concrete. The building was made using new techniques for molding reinforced concrete to showcase the material's versatility (now removed and bricked in the 1960s). After the Coignet Stone Company went bust (around 1876), the building was taken over by Edwin Litchfield from whom the land was leased. Litchfield owned a ton of land and buildings throughout Brooklyn, many of which are now local landmarks. It was sold in 1957 apparently to current owner Richard Kowalski, a Brooklyn native who later moved to Beach Haven NJ. He owned the building and surrounding land. In 2005, he sold the land to Whole Foods (for a reported $4,945,200) with the promise that they would restore the building that was to be granted Historic Landmark stasis in 2006.  From 2005 until 2013, the Whole Foods development was under high controversy in Brooklyn and the building on 3rd and 3rd remained abandoned and in decline. Around 2013, the supermarket chain started and finished construction on the "Greenest Supermarket in the Nation" and scaffolded it's new project. Progress can apparently be seen on the building today and it seems that Kowalski plans to lease or sell the building upon completion of it's renovation.  
Bc it's a Historic Landmark, this building will remain, but it's fate still seems to be quite up in the air. 

Image found via google image and links to  here . circa 2014

Image found via google image and links to here. circa 2014

I'm just one of a long line of people interested in this place, all of whom have an opinion on it, it seems. I'm sure we will all keep out eyes on it and it's future. An interesting article about this building, with many more facts about it's history, can be found here.

The California Raisins
I was never that interested in these motown-esque singing raisins, although I do remember them from the tv commercials. But for some reason, my husband and I were discussing them the other day and I was compelled to look them up. 
These anthropomorphic claymation raisins got their big break in 1986 when they first appeared on tv in commercial form. But they went on to put out four albums, a tv series, multiple specials and numerous merchandise endorsements, and a video game. They even won an Emmy.  Who knew?

Image via The  Telegraph .

Image via The Telegraph.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry is an English actor and comedian who was born in 1957.  I first became aware of him when I discovered Jeeves and Wooster on PBS. He's been in a slew of things before and since playing PG Wodehouse's all knowing man's man. Fry has sort of a reputation for being a smarty-pants, as he also hosts the BBC's wacky quizshow, QI. I'd currently enamored of this show and it was bc of that that I came to dig into the actors biography. From troubled teen to award winning actor, he's been in the news more recently for dismantling some of his social media on the grounds it can be a hostile environment. I found it interesting that he battles with severe depression and bipolar disorder, even attempting suicide as recently as 2012. But earlier this year he got married and tweeted about it, so hopefully his happiness is on the upswing!  Some of the other roles I enjoy him in are as the older (wiser?) Holmes, Mycroft, a wry psychologist in Bones, and a heart breaking role in V for Vendetta. All worth a watch, if you haven't seen them before.  

To accompany my Recently Researching posts, I've made a special Pinterest board with more images and links for the things I write about. I'll be adding new images each post, so keep a look out!

Have an idea for Recently Researching? Leave it in the comments!