To say I’m a little obsessed with houseplants would be a major understatement. Because I love plants. And so do YOU. And we all have information and questions. Stories and tidbits. Successes and struggles.
Winter was long. Stress levels were high. And Bailey and I needed a serious dose of beach therapy. So enter Beaufort. And her cousin, Hunting Island. Beach mission so accomplished.
Now chances are good that you’ve seen Beaufort, South Carolina. And you probably didn’t even realize it. Because it has that quintessential Southern vibe that Hollywood looks for. And then showcases in box office hits. Like “The Big Chill” in 1983. And the “Prince of Tides” in 1989. And “Forrest Gump” in 2001. Yep. All filmed in Beaufort.
So this charmer was founded in 1711 on Port Royal Island and is the second oldest city in South Carolina. Antebellum architecture, historical residences, and secret gardens are found on every city block. And they’re surrounded by moss-covered live oak trees that have lived here for centuries. Just magnificent.
But don’t get me wrong. Because this classic Southern beauty lives in today’s world with her restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. And she has something for everybody. Your four-legged friends included.
And by the way, every Marine that enlists east of the Mississippi goes through Parris Island, a Marine Corps Recruit Depot a few miles outside of Beaufort. The few. The proud. The Marines. Many thanks to those who serve in all branches of our armed forces.
So our first stop when we arrive in Beaufort is always at the Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe. Sometimes we dine inside so we can enjoy the ambiance of the former United States Post Office. Other times we get our lunch to go and sit in the shade of a cozy corner park. And while we’ve tried several many menu items (and they are all delish), our absolute fave is the Oooey Gooey, a grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bacon and house-made pepper jelly on crispy sourdough. My inner foodie is currently doing the tango.
And while we usually take day trips, we spur-of-the-moment decided to stay overnight on one particularly fun visit. With our two doggies in tow. And the City Loft Hotel was a dog-friendly slice of heaven. The city’s first upscale, boutique hotel with a decidedly urban feel. Where retro meets modern and beckons you in. My inner hippie calls dibs on the front porch chair.
And now that I’ve gushed on Beaufort, please let me introduce Hunting Island. After all, beach therapy was our mission. And Beaufort itself is not actually a beach. But a quick 15 minute drive leads to a seemingly south-seas paradise. Be still my heart.
Hunting Island State Park boasts pristine sandy beaches in a natural setting and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Because pines and palms grow to the edge of the dunes with majestic beauty. But, sadly, since Hunting Island is a barrier island, its topography is constantly changing due to weather. And hurricanes in 2016 and 2017 closed the park for two years with their shear amount of damage.
Hurricanes Matthew and Irma should be ashamed of the havoc they wrecked on this lovely island. The changes are staggering. Yet the natural beauty still takes my breath away. My inner tree-hugger is fanning on her chaise lounge.
Their big, violin-shaped leaves grace every Pinterest feed and magazine spread out there. They’re some serious eye candy for us houseplant lovers. The “it” plant of the year. And last year. And next year. We all want them. Or have them. But are we caring for them properly? Are we creating a proper environment for our fiddle babies to thrive? Let’s ask Claire Akin for help in answering these fiddle leaf fig growing questions. So check out her WEBSITE and her new book, The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert. Both are amazing resources for all things Ficus lyrata related.
Our fiddles may just be the ultimate statement plant. Their large, glossy leaves create quite a memorable silhouette. But these babies aren’t just beauties to behold. Because they can actually make us healthier and happier whilst they’re sitting pretty in our homes. If we know how to take care of them. So no stress necessary, my friend. Because growing a fiddle leaf fig is among the easiest and most rewarding of plants.
I know. You hear they’re finicky divas with a bad attitude. So. Not. True.
So don’t shy away from these natural works of art. Instead, head over to Claire’s website or grab a copy of her book and then feel confident in your fiddle leaf fig skills. Because you’ll have all sorts of of helpful growing information, tips, and tricks at your garden-glove-covered fingertips.
How much water do I give my fiddle? What type of light is best? Why does this leaf have a damned brown spot? Visit Claire at her WEBSITEand go on your own fact finding mission for how to grow a healthy fiddle leaf fig.
She’s got everything from the fiddle leaf fig origins (think West Africa) to light requirements (again think Africa) to watering schedules (should we again think Africa, perhaps?). If you have a question about propagation or where to find your own self a fiddle, Claire’s got you covered.
And by the way, Claire suggests giving your fiddle leaf fig a name. And then talking to her. Perhaps playing her some of your favorite music. And I agree completely. Just ask my little darlin’s, Figgy Pudding and Aunt Myra.
‘Tis the season for overindulgence, amirite? That extra glass of wine. A handful of cookies. And chocolate-dipped everything. So a little splash of bourbon in the traditional caramel latte seemed very apropos. Besides, a Caramel Bourbon Latte is the perfect accompaniment to all of those Christmas movies we’ve been binge watching at my house. A drink all warm and comforting.
And they’re so easy to make at home. Especially when you use a quick version of caramel sauce that you can whip up in the microwave. I know it’s not actually caramel, but the flavor is, and that’s all that really matters for this Caramel Bourbon Latte.
Caramel Bourbon Latte
makes one latte
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup coffee
1/3 cup milk, warmed
2 pumps vanilla syrup
1/2 ounce bourbon
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on half power until butter melts, and then use full power for another 15 seconds to let the butter and sugar bubble and mix. CAUTION – this will be very hot. Set aside.
Put 1 tablespoon of the buttery goodness into a Christmas mug and add 1 cup of coffee. Stir until the caramel is melted. Then add 1/3 cup of milk, 2 pumps of vanilla syrup, and 1/2 ounce of bourbon. Stir until well combined. Then sit back with your hot toddy and let the Christmas movie marathon begin.
Store extra caramel sauce in the fridge so you can whip up another Caramel Bourbon Latte at a moment’s notice. Good golly do I love to plan ahead.
And just as a side note, rumor has it that Santa is going to bring me a fancy coffee maker for Christmas that will froth and foam. And every latte needs a little frothy goodness on top.
Since green IS one of the colors traditionally associated with Christmas, I’m going out on a limb this year and leaving most of my houseplants in their preferred location and simply building my holiday decorations around them. Yep. They can mix and mingle with all things merry and bright while I deck the halls. Because houseplants and Christmas trinkets shape up to one sparkly-ass urban jungle. But tis the season, amirite?
And we all know that absolutely no holly jolly Christmas could ever be complete without Christmas music playing 24/7 in the background. And boy do those songs get stuck in my head!
So in honor of the wonderful classic Twelve Days of Christmas and the hilarious new Twelve Redneck Days of Christmas (by Jeff Foxworthy), I decided to create my very own Twelve Plantie Days of Christmas. Because us plant parents gotta holiday!
So grab your cocktail and sing along, my friend. Really, get that music goin’ in your head. You’re gonna need it right here.
On the first day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, an extra large Christmas tree.
On the second day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, two Santa mugs and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the third day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the sixth day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, six music books, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, seven bits of sparkle, six music books, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, eight la la las, seven bits of sparkle, six music books, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the ninth day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, nine mini trees, eight la la las, seven bits of sparkle, six music books, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the tenth day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, ten feet of tinsel, nine mini trees, eight la la las, seven bits of sparkle, six music books, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my houseplants shared with me, eleven reading choices, ten feet of tinsel, nine mini trees, eight la la las, seven bits of sparkle, six music books, five shiny trees, four stable pets, three snappy snowmen, two Santa mugs, and an extra large Christmas tree.
Alright. Y’all know I love houseplants. And cocktails. But I also love anything and everything that is eco-friendly, conservation related, and sustainable. I’ve adopted orphaned elephants in Africa and sea turtles swimming the ocean blue. And don’t get me started on the destruction of the rain forest and what it’s doing to the orangutans. Because I am very in to saving animals’ habitats. Which is precisely why I was so excited to partner with the JORD Watch family for my #GIVEAWAY. Because these people take sustainability as seriously as I do. But they elevate it to a whole new level, my friends. By hand crafting wood watches that tell more than just time. They tell your story.
Because JORD Watch uses sustainable, ethically-sourced exotic hardwoods to create stunning timepieces that are modeled around a modern lifestyle. But yet they’re hand crafted out of wood from all over the globe. From trees that have naturally fallen or reclaimed furniture remnants. So everything comes full circle and nothing goes to waste. And they follow CITES procedures to maintain their ethos of being environmentally sound and in no way contribute to deforestation. All qualities I can get on board with.
Their mission is in sustainability and their passion is in creativity. Which is obvi based on the gawjusness that is a JORD watch. So to quote the good folks over at JORD, “The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count.” Well said.
Because we all need to slow down and make our moments count. So, for heaven’s sake, hug your loved ones. Give the dog a big belly rub. Or the cat. Or the goat. How about your chickens? And then invite your neighbor over for Happy Hour. And don’t forget to water your planties.
Now I chose the Cassia series watch in Zebrawood and Ivory. And I love how versatile it is, whether I’m casual or dressy. A bit of Scandinavian street style. I feel so hip. And ooh those touches of gold in the band create such a classic, polished, and perfect accessory. To see other design shapes, woods, and colors, for both men and women, CLICK HERE. So. Many. Choices.
And just take a look at this packaging, will you? It’s almost as pretty as the watch itself. And it creates the perfect home for your watch when you’re not wearing it. Plus it houses the cleaning clothes and protective oil that comes with each watch.
And now that I’ve shown you my JORD watch in all of its beauty, I know you’re ready for one of your own! So the dear hearts over at JORD have created a special giveaway where one lucky WINNER will receive a $100 gift card to go shopping for the wood watch of your own dreams. It’s such a beautiful thang.
To enter, simply CLICK HERE and enter your name and email address. That’s it. Really, it is. But remember that the contest closes at 11:59 pm on November 25. So hurry – it’s time to enter.
P.S. – everyone who enters will receive a code for 10% off of your first order.
Now go check out their website and all of the amazingly beautiful JORD wood watches. Hurry up. Time’s a tickin’.
Apparently I’m late to the party. The Jungle Bird party, that is. By a whopping 40 years. But since I was nine in 1978 when this cocktail was invented, I’ll just say, “Better late than never.” And also, “My mama wouldn’t let me drink rum when I was nine.” Smart lady. But while I’ve only just begun hearing about this classic Tiki cocktail, it’s been the bartender’s new favorite for a while. And now I understand why.
Because I finally tried this mysterious tropical cocktail. Whose sweet, fruity, bitter bad-ass self is all the rage. And I get it completely. And it’s quick and easy to mix up. A simple five ingredients. Plus it gives me an excuse to go find myself one of those freaky Tiki face mugs. ‘Cause I need one of those in my life. For cocktail hour.
Jungle Bird Gone Wild
makes one cocktail
1 1/2 ounces rum
1 ounce Aperol*
1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry ginger ale**
Mix everything but the ginger ale in a shaker and shake over ice ’til its good and chilled. About 20 seconds. Then strain that goodness into your old fashioned glass, add one big ice cube, and top with ginger ale. And then garnish like you mean it. Seriously. Go wild right here. Wild, I say. Because it is Tiki after all. Huzzah.
*I will say I tweaked the original recipe a little bit. It calls for Campari. And sometimes I have both Campari and Aperol on hand. But on this particular day, I was out of Campari, so I just went with the Aperol. They’re very similar – Campari just has a little higher alcohol content and is slightly more bitter. So if you use it, I’d suggest 3/4 ounce Campari.
**And the original recipe calls for 1/2 ounce simple syrup right here. But I decided to forego that business and substitute one and a half ounces of cranberry ginger ale. First, because ginger goes fantastically with pineapple. And second, because it now happens to be fall – so cranberries are a natural.
Now go out there and get your Jungle Bird on. It’s Tiki time.
OK. Be honest. When you hear someone say African violets, does your mind instantly picture your grandmother? Mine does. But you don’t have to be an 85 year old woman to fall under the spell of these darling jewels. Our grandmothers loved African violets because these dreamboats provide year round splashes of color on even the dreariest of days. And despite what you may have heard about these plants in the past, they are not the bitchy divas their reputation makes them out to be. African violets are actually very easy to care for and will reward you with fuzzy foliage and stunning blooms for…get this…decades. Yes, you heard me correctly. So I’ll wait right here while you run out and get yourself a half dozen or so.
Because yes, they also happen to be slightly addictive. You get one of the little beauties and then the blooms start coming. And they make you smile. Especially when it’s colorless and bleak outside. And then you see another one in the store that has ruffled leaves and variegated blooms and is totally different from yours and your heart skips a beat. So that one goes home to your windowsill to join your newly founded African Violet Club. And before long, you have a whole, completely unintended collection of one of America’s favorite houseplants. But don’t fight it. Just go ahead and give in to the obsession. You won’t be sorry.
And I’ll bet my afternoon cocktail that when Baron Walter von Saint Paul first discovered this little hidden plant, in Africa of course, in 1892, he had absolutely no idea how many people would later fall in love with their irresistible charms. I mean, come on now. Those fuzzy leaves are so very intriguing. And velvety soft. With those wavy, scalloped edges. And don’t forget the gorgeous clusters of showy flowers. Growing so gracefully above the center leaves. In pinks, purples, and white. Some are bi-colored. Some are miniatures. So. Many. Choices.
So let’s get growing, shall we?
LIGHT. Light is one of the most important factors in growing African violets. Not only do they need it to live, aka photosynthesis, but they also need it to flower. And you’re gonna want those beautiful flowers with their tiny yellow centers. So give your plantie plenty of bright but indirect light. Nobody wants a sunburned little violet baby. I grow mine in a very bright north facing window, and they reward me throughout the year with a myriad of blooms. They can also be grown in east, west, and south facing windows, though in the very hot west and south exposures, I would put them about three feet from the window or make sure to have a curtain sheer between them and the window. And as for the east window, they can take a little bit of that easy going, early morning light, but they never ever appreciate the hot intense afternoon kind of sun.
Also make sure to rotate your plants once a week or so. That helps them keep that wonderful symmetric shape we all know and love.
WATER. Appropriate watering ranks right up there with the right amount of light in how to grow healthy African violets. Because these girls do like to have some moisture in their pots. But this being said, they absolutely do NOT like to sit in soggy soil, nor do they like to dry out completely. I tend to err on the side of a little bit drier rather than risk keeping them too wet and encouraging root rot. I simply water when the top of the soil has started to dry out.
And when you water, by all means, make sure you do not get water on those fuzzy little leaves. They will rebel. Unsightly rings may appear. Or fungus. And nobody wants to have a fungus amongus.
Another tip with the watering. Always use room temp water, and preferably water that has had a day sitting out on your counter top to let the chlorine disappear. African violets aren’t big fans of cold chlorinated water.
FOOD. Like all plants, your violets will appreciate a little fertilizer. Just make sure to use a balanced fertilizer mixed to half strength, about once a month. Or you can read the label and see how to adjust to a very low level and use it every time you water. That way there’s no need to have to keep up with, “Now when did I last fertilize my African violets?”
POTS. African violets tend to like to be a bit rootbound, so don’t be in any hurry to pot them up a size. Be in a hurry to grab your cocktail, but leave these babies in a pot that is about 1/3 the size of their leaf spread. Keeps ’em all warm and cozy in there.
PROPAGATION. Believe it or not, African violets are one of the easiest plants to propagate, and it can be done a couple of different ways. I like to take a nice healthy leaf from the middle rows of leaves and root it in water. Make sure to leave it out a few hours to callous over before you plop it in your jar. And make sure to let your water sit out for 24 hours to get rid of that pesky chlorine and also to let it warm up to a nice tepid temp. And keep the water clean by carefully changing it at least once a week. Little roots will begin to appear, and when they’re about half an inch in length, pot them in a grow cup and keep the soil slightly moist. Teensy new leaves will pop up out of the soil and make you a new plant baby.
You can also remove a middle leaf, dip the end in rooting hormone, and stick it straight into the soil. Always keep the soil slightly moist, and don’t let them get any direct sun.
Sometimes the mama will grow babies at her base. Always remove these girls from the pot and give them their own pot. They’ll love you for their own place to call home. Simply cut the sucker away from the mother with a clean, sterilized knife.
Even though the calendar says that summer is technically winding down, it’s still 95 damn degrees outside with 95 percent humidity and therefore tequila is still very much apropos. And sometimes when it’s that hot, you just gotta throw all caution to the wind (you know – one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor). I jest. Always drink in moderation. But then that heat gets the better of you and you decide to let two of the absolute most popular tequila cocktails mingle and meld. In the same glass. At the same time. Like old friends. And that’s how the margarita meets paloma for a very happy Happy Hour.
But don’t get me wrong here. I love me a classic margarita. But the paloma brings fizz to the table. And everybody loves fizz. So the margarita meets paloma combo brings the best of both worlds to one glass with sweet, sour, and salty. And the fizz. Need I say more?
Build your cocktail in a tall glass. It’s easiest that way. And then garnish to your heart’s content. Think fruit. Think edible flowers. Think cute little paper umbrellas.
makes one cocktail
1 1/2 ounces silver tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau
2 ounces grapefruit juice (fresh is best but bottled works just fine)
3 ounces lemon lime soda (I prefer 7-Up)
juice from half a lime
pinch of salt (you don’t want to leave this out)
To make the margarita meets paloma cocktail, add the tequila, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice to your glass. Then add the juice from half a lime and a tiny pinch of salt. Toss in some crushed ice and then top all of that goodness with the soda. Mmmm…fizz.
And technically speaking, the paloma calls for grapefruit soda, but sometimes that stuff’s just hard to find. In which case I improvised here and combined grapefruit juice with 7-Up. It’s still citrus and bubbles. ‘Cause when cocktails are involved, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
You know how some things just make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside? Like tomato soup and a grilled cheese? Or a big glass of red and a good chick flick? But have you ever thought about how a sprinkling of boho vibes and lots of houseplants just bring on the cozy? Almost instant warmth. Because the bohemian decorating style is, after all, about homes that are lived in and full of life. And they’re carefree and relaxed. Always curated with all kinds of interesting items that speak volumes about those who live there. And one staple in all boho-ness is always a plethora of houseplants.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
So I’m gonna swoon here for a minute. Because my favorite Queen of Boho shared her cozy home photos with me. Comfy. Happy. Downright relaxing. And with all the good boho vibes included. I mean, you’ll definitely feel the mojo here. So without further ado, please let me introduce the lovely Sara Toufali. And you can find her at www.blackandblooms.com or @saratoufali on Insta. So go check her out. You’ll love her botanicals and her boho lifestyle.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
Because Sara’s website is full of all sorts of amazing inspiration. For plants. And for travel. For fashion. And yes, for cocktails. See? Seems like dreams really do come true. For a little bit of everything with a whole lot of homey feel-good vibes going on.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
So way back when I started adding houseplants to my world, one of the first things I noticed was how much life they gave to each of my spaces. And it made me want to create an even more cozy atmosphere. Full of life and love. Travel souvenirs and treasured family pieces. And I wanted them all out to enjoy each and every day.
And these “more-is-more” boho vibes fit perfectly with my “I-always-need-more-houseplants” philosophy anyway.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
Because the boho look is warm and inviting. Exactly the way houseplants make me feel. And they bring such a lived in and loved feeling to every room. Simply by sitting there. While basking in all their green plantie gorgeousness. Because they breathe life into an ordinary space and transform it into something extraordinary.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
So Sara recently moved from her first little apartment (which was absolutely adorable) into a new house. And her number one decor suggestion for adding some cozy vibes is to begin with plants, plants, and more plants. In every nook and cranny you can cram ’em. And I think she’s already got her new space looking spectacular. Because I just love how the houseplants perk it all up. How they make every room feel down to earth and not too serious. Which is one of my fave things about houseplants, really. How they bring all the good vibes to any space. And instantly make it feel cozy and chill. A space to relax and unwind. Somewhere you want to linger and stay a while.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
So whether your space is full of color or a very neutral palette, let the boho vibes roll with your treasures and then add some houseplants. And some more houseplants. And maybe a few fun, cray-cray little items that will bring big smiles to your face. You remember that little brass Eiffel Tower you got in Paris, right? Or that carved wooden box from your mountain trip? So go ahead and bring them front and center. With your plant babies. Let everyone shine. Share the love.
photo courtesy of Sara Toufali
Because Sara says it best. “Living in a space that is totally you, your style, your vibe, filled with things/memories/plants/heirlooms that make you happy, really does affect your life in a very positive way.”
And I agree with her wholeheartedly. Because I know I love sitting at home with my glass of red each night. Or two glasses. Or sometimes even three. But please don’t tell my mama that. And I’m surrounded by my plant babies and all of the things/memories/heirlooms that make my house my HOME. And I feel comfortable and peaceful. All warm and fuzzy.