Teal Pots Project

Garrett and I couldn’t help ourselves at the garden center the other day. We had a few projects in mind as we shopped, but spotting the teal pots that perfectly match our front door color caused a fervor for a new curb appeal project.

By the time we left, we had two carts’ worth of soil, plants and pots, and rain had begun to pour. The rainfall recently has been rather heavy and had knocked off many of the blooms of the garden center plants, so I was concerned for my own new plants being thrashed and beat up on the journey home. We spread plastic sheets over the truck’s interior and set the plants inside. The rain halted when we got home and as we began working on our potted arrangements, but sprinkling occurred regularly the rest of the day.

We planted the small pots with two plants: cordyline australis and portulaca. The portulaca have juicy stems and leaves, a pretty texture next to the dry jutting blades of the cordyline. We chose flowerless portulaca that seemed healthy and large rather than smaller plants that already had the pretty flowers, so we are not sure what color we will have. Their water requirements slightly vary; lava rock rests in the bottom of the pots to aid drainage, and the cordyline’s roots are planted deeper than those of the portulaca, smaller plants. The pots are, obviously, mobile in case we need to move them for failure to thrive. We could also transplant either plant if they don’t seem to get along well.

I hope to see the cordyline’s red color deepen, and I expect the portulaca, which I haven’t planted before, to trail out of the pots. We’ll see how they fare over the next few weeks. There is more rainy weather in the forecast.

Edible Flower Cucumber Sandwich

I had cucumber sandwiches the first time as a little girl, about 8, at a Mother’s Day tea party. They were very good, a somewhat unusual fare to me, leaving an impression–yet for some reason, I failed to eat them again for perhaps almost a decade after, until I had read The Importance of Being Earnest. Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde and one of the funniest pieces of literature I have ever read. There’s a bit about cucumber sandwiches when the character Algernon manages to eat a platter of cucumber sandwiches prepared for a guest, and then cannot procure any more cucumbers as there are none available, “not even for ready money.”

My mother was recently telling me the ways I could use edible flowers in food preparation and mentioned a friend of hers who liked to put edible flowers on cucumber sandwiches for an added pop of color. I decided to give it a try.

My cucumber sandwich is a departure from the teatime favorite in several obvious ways, including the thickness of bread and crusts left on (I actually do despise bread crusts for being too dry but sandwiches look pathetic without them). I also prefer the skin on the cucumber–that’s where the nutrients are concentrated, and it has a nice crunch. And, since I was adding flower petals anyway, I threw on some spinach leaves as well.

The taste of petals and spinach was negligible in the mild sandwich; the creaminess of the cream cheese and butter and the refreshing melon flavor of the cucumber were chief, followed by the wheat bread taste. I enjoyed the sandwich with a cup of tea (of course!) as I listened to the audiobook The Silkworm.

HBD Photo Void

Hey, happy birthday to me!

Something I learned today is that I do not take photos on my birthday. It’s a historical fact.

Garrett and I met friends at the lake and kayaked. I loaned out my drybox and once again had forgotten the GoPro, so I didn’t take pictures.  For the first time kayaking on the lake, I got soaked as wakes from passing boats slammed into my blue Tupperware kayak and broke against the sides. I didn’t take any pictures on land either, not even of the Hello Kitty cupcakes or the princess in her pink booty-ruffle pants. It was a beautiful day, but you’ll have to take my word for it in lieu of photographic evidence. The rest of the day we saw a movie (the wonderful Lynell watched the baby) and had sushi.

I love looking at the “today last year” pictures. Mine go back to 2008. An average day yields several “today in X year” photo clusters. The days before and after my birthday are represented by five years, but my birth date only has photos from 2010. That day, Garrett had my roommate sneak red roses into my dorm room, and later we had a picnic at the park. He had a curly afro and I had braces.

I expect the missing years of birthdays are documented in my Moleskines in some form (like with the movie tickets), but it’s interesting that I historically do not take photos on my birthday when I take photos all the time otherwise. It wasn’t even aware that I haven’t been taking photos on my birthday. Maybe I was intent on enjoying the day and declined trying to capture it, but it wasn’t intentional.

Gold Crystals in Nenive’s Nursery

My first post for this blog was the YouTube video showing some of the tape reveal for this pattern. I also took step-by-step pictures of the project, so I’m sharing those pictures today.


A few notes:

I got the idea to do this from seeing different graffiti artwork on building exteriors, and the way it transformed a wall and space. I saw a small, bad quality picture somewhere of long silver-colored natural crystals painted around a door, and I liked that for edginess as well as prissiness.

I drew a design in my moleskine of crystals and mapped it on the wall with painters tape. The design I taped is almost the same as what I drew. 

The painters tape I used was Scotch Tape brand and did not stay stuck down smoothly to the walls! I had to keep smoothing it with my hand and that’s why I painted over part of the taped design before finishing taping the whole thing, because I was afraid of it all peeling before I could even finish it.

I bought a gallon of gold paint, Ralph Lauren metallic, because I wasn’t sure a pint would be enough and, well, the way paint is priced, better too much than too little, right? Anyway, I have a half-full (or more) gallon bucket of gold paint left.

I wasn’t sure the project would turn out the way I envisioned. It also took a lot longer than I expected (painting always does!) so instead of having a finished design to show Garrett (if it was good and I wanted to show him), he caught it when I had painted gold jagged shapes over the grey, and he had serious doubts that increased my own doubts.

In the end he and I were both pleased. It turned out better than I had imagined!

I only wish I had done the design higher up, from the ceiling, instead of the floor, because the furniture covers part of the design.

FPV Miniquad Build: Part 1

Garrett and I have been planning this build for a while and slowly collecting components. We found many of the items through Amazon, which was convenient for purchasing and shipping even if we do have to pay Arkansas state sales tax now.

Above are a few of the parts. Top center is the tiny camera that will allow me to see from the perspective of the drone–in other words, First Person View. Beside and under the camera are the four motors that will attach to each of the frame’s four arms, and to which the propellers will be affixed. The pieces beyond the motors build together to create a tower in the center of the quad frame for all the components to fit in and around. Finally, in the front is the vtx or video transmitter–it will connect to the PDB, power distribution board, which regulates the flow of battery power (voltage) to the various components, and to the FPV camera in order to transmit the signal and info from the camera back to the pilot (me) on the ground, specifically communicating with my goggles headset.

Pictured above is the frame, 130 mm. On its left is a motor, and on its right is an ESC, electronic speed controller, which draws power from the PDB to the motor–there are four ESCs, one for each motor–and connects to the flight controller. In the center of the quad frame is the PDB, which looks like an owl, topped by the flight controller, which looks like the Big Hero 6 guy.

Those are descriptions of two pictures’ worth of components. We’re ready to start putting it all together! This project involves a soldering iron, wire cutters and strippers and heat shrink to complete some basic electrical connections. The parts will be connected to the frame by screws, heatshrink and zip ties.

Palm Sunday

This story is actually about the princess but I’ll let old Shadowthief claim the banner photo for herself and her palm branch toys.

There’s the princess. She wasn’t interested in letting me get ready for church, and once we arrived she began crying during the opening prayer and I had to step out to the cry room.

She was wearing one of Cassie’s baby dresses. Its collar kept flapping up around her face, making her look like an Elizabethan wearing a crinoline. The Vera Bradley shoes were a gift from her cousin Mabel.

We returned to the auditorium for the song before the sermon–it was “Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand,” which happens to be one of Nenive’s favorites because Garrett and I sing it to her often. Despite Ken’s comment that he wasn’t discussing Psalm 4, which contains the root of the Children’s prayer “now I lay me down to sleep,” in order to put the congregation to sleep, Nenive balled herself up against my chest and slept the whole time. She afterward allowed herself to be held.

When she’s quiet during church she’s a lot of fun to have and cuddle, but there have been a couple times that’s she’s been noisy and difficult. Once I gave her a bottle and she caused a major disturbance to the pews around us, gulping and making a big scene like she was starving, then gasping for air with a sound like a death rattle, then sputtering and coughing… I learned my lesson there.

Taking the “Poison” out of Poison Dart Frogs

Several people who had read about the vivarium expressed concern about the baby coming into contact with or being harmed by the frogs.

To be clear, the frogs are not poisonous.

Yes, they’re called poison dart frogs. Technically they may possess the capacity to be poisonous, but they are not currently poisonous and never have been.

What causes the frogs to be poisonous (or rather, toxic) is their diet of ants and certain other insects in their native habitat, Peruvian tropical forests. They aren’t fed those insects when they’re in captivity or captive bred, so they don’t produce the toxin.

The frogs aren’t likely to escape the vivarium, but if they did they pose no threat to anyone. They would not survive long outside of the custom environment of the vivarium–they require warm temperatures and high humidity. Our house stays a comfortable temperature but the floor tiles around the vivarium might be rather chilly and the froglets would dry up fast in the house–that is, if the cats didn’t find the sweet little guys first! I shudder to think of it, but the teensy frogs would be irresistible to one Kitty Diggins. He attacked my hand the other day while I was patting the baby, burping her, and he eats plants on a daily basis. There is no reasoning with him. Hopefully we never have a prison break from the frogs! They’re very satisfied with their vivarium accommodations–always singing five star reviews praising the sauna and continental breakfast–so they seem unlikely to stage a breakout for now.

Concluding with complimentary Nivvy smile & stretch sequences:


Garrett and I have a vivarium that we established last year in March. We both grew up in tropical climes and despise the cold and dark wintery days, so the vivarium is one way we keep our home summery and cheerful year-round. The vivarium is home to four precious poison dart frogs, each smaller than a fingernail. The frogs, which are nearly extinct in their natural habitat, are living the dream, and they let us know they’re happy by chirping and making periodic appearances.

Above is a picture from April 8, 2016 when the vivarium was fully set up after weeks of work. The project had started with Garrett building the cabinet that the vivarium rests on; the cabinet houses the controls and reservoir for the water system that mists the enclosure throughout the day. There is also a fogger to simulate morning fogs. Above the vivarium hangs a light system that provides full-spectrum light and is programmed (by Garrett) to simulate sunrise and sunset, and LED strip lights on top to add effects. 

We ordered the front-opening enclosure from Josh’s Frogs and sculpted and designed the interior with mixed media to create a base for life to cling to and grow in. The entire back wall and most of the sides was built up and now holds moss, vines, bromeliads and tillandsia among other plants. The forest floor was built up with a substrate that layers stones for drainage under organic mixes. Over everything was sprinkled small live oak leaves, leaf litter that I painstakingly collected from my grandmother’s yard in St. Augustine. The four frogs also came from Josh’s Frogs.

What we have in our living area is a little slice of life, a bright cube of the rainforest, a living, thriving, self-contained ecosystem. I love hearing the little frogs’ trills, and it’s a delight to see one of them. They’re yellow and black, with striped bodies and leopard-spotted legs like they’re wearing leggings. Despite being enclosed, they can tell when the weather in Mountain Home is rainy or stormy–it makes them excited and they chirp like crazy and become very active.

The vivarium is just over a year old now and remains a delight to us and a focal point in our home. Apart from initial startup costs to establish it, the only expense has been distilled water for the water systems, food for the frogs and a recent lightbulb change, and of course the electricity the enclosure requires. Little maintenance is required, but recently we decided to change out the substrate because it was holding too much moisture. We spent half a day working on redoing the forest floor in the vivarium, which is why I write about the vivarium now…

More to follow later.

Early Rolls

Yesterday morning I was doing a yoga flow inside because winter had suddenly returned. Nenive was watching from her rocker but a few songs in started to sputter, flail and cry a little. I walked a plank forward to kiss her toes and hands and talk to her, and she quit crying and lit up. When I returned to my mat, however, her spirit of dejection returned… so I called quits to my workout.

After she settled down I took a shower, but when I emerged from the shower she was crying. I retrieved her from her rocker and set her down on the bed to keep an eye on while I finished dressing. I put her down on her belly, thinking she might prefer that. She resumed crying after I walked away, and when I looked at her next she had rolled over onto her back. I wish I had seen it happen because she’s a little young yet to be rolling over. She was crying and squirming and kicking, wearing a long sleeved onesie, and on top of a comforter, so maybe it was just a coincidence that occurred in the right circumstances.

This evening I snugged her up in a sleep swaddle and put her down in the crib on her back. At some point she rolled from her back onto her left side. I had read babies don’t roll from their backs to their bellies until they’re five months old or so, and I don’t know about side rolls but it seems that from her side it’d be easy to roll to the belly. But it’s a baby mattress and she was snugged up, so maybe by squirming she could get a momentum to carry her over… I don’t know. Once again, I wish I had seen it happen.

Pictured, Nenive this morning. She’s wearing one of Cassie’s baby dresses (the tag says 3 mo) and a pair of joggers Cassie gave her (6 mo size…a little too long and a bit too big in the waist) with a pair of shoes that her cousin Mabel’s Grandma Greta (my sister’s mil) made for baby Mabel. They are a smidge too tight but I got them on–Nenive kicked them off pretty quickly.

Nenive at Two Months

Precious Nenive had her two month checkup today. She had an 11:10 am appointment and a friend was going to visit us for lunch after noon, so I spent the morning cleaning the house. It’s funny that so often when I clean a space it involves creating a “pile” somewhere of things whose final resting place in the house is unknown or undetermined. Today’s pile included tools, camping gear and a collection of organic materials to be used in creating a fresh layer of substrate in our poison dart frog vivarium.

I arrived at the doctor’s office at 11 and checked in at 11:01 am. I wasn’t taken back until 12:13 pm, by which point the previously crowded waiting room was empty except for me and the princess. Oh, and she had insisted we dress to match today so…

Leopard print ladies. Or cheetah? I never know.

Anyway, over an hour wait. People with babies in other cities tell me their doctors are good about seeing babies on time, but today and on my first visit with Nenive it’s been at least an hour wait. I don’t have a tight schedule like some people and I can be flexible, but it’s not ideal to wait that long with a baby. She did okay though.

At two months old she weighs 11.9 pounds and is now 23.5 inches long. The nurse called her chunky, which is going a bit far I think because Nenive has a slender torso (but, yes, what might be called thunder thighs). The doctor said she was good and then ordered a round of shots–immunizations I mean. Nenive swallowed a chilly oral dose and then got two shots in her right thigh and one in the left. At the second needle insertion, she felt either the needle pinch or the fluid and started to cry, but she only cried for about two seconds until the third immunization was administered.

We missed out on our lunchtime visitor because the appointment was late. Nenive was perhaps more sleepy than usual the rest of the day. It’s still hard to use an expression like “than usual” to describe her… so many variables and new experiences make no two days enough alike to know what can be considered normal for her. At church she was a little noisy in Ken’s auditorium class but quieted every time I took her out, finally falling asleep. Ken was discussing (from what I gleaned) one of my favorite stories, about the laborers hired at different times but paid the same amount. Nenive and I missed Ken’s lesson but ended up catching some ladies’ class discussion on Proverbs 30, though she quickly fell asleep and checked out.