Around the House

One of my Christmas gifts from Cute W was this extremely adorable miniature kit that makes a garden house designed to perch on your bookshelf and look adorable. It even lights up! I took this picture mid-assembly, because it was a lot of different little pieces.

But it was absolutely very fun and relatively easy to put together, and it was a nice change of pace from my typical relaxation-mode activities. It’s also an excellent little melding of my plantiness and my bookishness. So: go Cute W!

Filed under miscellaneous, this is our cat Ruth. She and Dave both really love catnip, and sometimes we’ll pour a little pile onto a paper plate to give them a treat and contain the mess. At this moment, Ruth wanted to make it clear that the catnip plate was entirely hers and she was not interested in sharing.

What am I doing when I’m not putting together miniature structures to reside on my bookshelf? Well, I’m still house plant-ier than ever. I definitely have some plant babies that make me particularly proud. Like this one:

Here is my ficus moclame from early 2021 on the left, and how she’s looking today. Not only is she big and gorgeous, but I’ve propagated two babies from her. And they are thriving and look like fully-actualized young adults now.

I’m also proud of my pilea peperomioides.

Here’s she is from a couple of years ago and how she’s looking these days.

Just to be clear, I am not a green thumb. If you look back at this old post from a couple of years ago, you’ll see these two same two lovely plants, but the bottom three? They are all in the Great Hereafter. The two bigger ones were targets for the cats, plus I think I vastly underestimated how much moisture the moss would want. I believe I condemned the little one to death by putting it into a small bowl that was super-adorable but had zero drainage.

I have learned.

For example, I can now drill extra drainage holes into pots without asking Cute W for any help. And I have a plastic tub full of supplies so that I can whip up a special potting mix concoction with extra perlite or cactus-specific soil or whatever. I am much better at assessing each plant’s needs instead of trying to follow a schedule.

I’ve also learned how to propagate plants! Which is excellent, because, pro tip: propagated plants are free. I received this freakin’ charming propagation station as a gift from my sister. It’s encouraged me to do more propagating, if only because it looks kind of sad when it’s empty.

In addition to being cute, this little station is extremely effective. Here’s another picture of the two babies on the left above:

This cute little pilea baby has now been relocated into soil, so cross your fingers that things continue to go well. On the right, that’s a cutting of a pothos that was one of the first babies I started in the lovely plant starter. I have two pothos that date back to before my actual interest in house plants (yes, they will tolerate neglect) and also before we acquired plant-interested cats (they are actually poisonous, and while I’ve given away most of the poisonous houseplants I’ve owned (the scheffleras were a particularly huge loss for me, since I loved them long before I loved plants in general–they are another fantastic “newbie plant” if you are sure no one’s going to try to eat them), these pothos have survived both because they’ve historically lived in hard-to-reach places and the cats haven’t show too much interest in trying to get to them. So cutting off a piece when I wasn’t sure what I was doing felt like a low-stakes issue, since part of me thinks I should get rid of them entirely. But it’s got such nice pretty roots that I’m psyched, and while it outgrew its little test tube thingy, I wanted to give it a chance to develop roots a bit more before I put it into soil.

The problem with houseplants is that I’m pretty limited in what I can get with our kitties. Of course I’m not buying any poisonous plants, but in addition, I’ve learned that it’s just not worth it to buy “cat-attracting” plants. A spider plant literally looks like spiders, and I have a happy one hanging in my bedroom right now, but whenever it tries to send out some babies, they are low enough for a cat to reach. Right now I’d love to relocate it, but I haven’t figured out quite where yet. Frilly ferns and basically anything that has small leaves that would flutter in a draft are just not worth getting, because with the slightest movement, some cat will imagine that it’s alive and needs to be stalked and killed.

Most recently, now that I’ve mastered a short list of plants that I haven’t killed and the cats won’t try to kill and I’ve hopefully gotten to be a slightly better Plant Mama, I’ve wanted to “diversify my holdings” a bit more. That ficus is fantastic, but how many of the same plant does a household need? So I’ve gotten daring and circled back to some plants that I’ve killed in the past. I’m hoping that with my greater skills and a little extra vigilance, the second time will be the charm. I’ve taken my “before” pictures, and hopefully, hopefully, someday I can proudly share how they’ve grown.


  1. Nana in Savannah

    The little garden house is super cute! It looks like it would be hard to put together with all those little parts, but you obviously managed quite well. Ruth, like the rest of the family, certainly knows how to communicate.

  2. Aliza

    I would LOVE one of your ficus babies if you’re amenable to sharing. You must refuse me though if it would break your heart if the ficus fledgling failed to thrive in its new environs.

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