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The Uncommon Life

How To Repot Succulents

June 8, 2012

As Charlotte (you know, the one with the web) would say, Salutations! I’m Blair – the bloggin’ gal from the lifestyle and fashion blog, Wild and Precious and what a pleasure it is to be over in the beautiful blogging world of UncommonGoods today. And now that I’ve introduced myself lets chat about a way to spruce up that patio of yours.

In the world of trends, Succulent plants seem to be taking home the crown in the fauna and flora category. And why shouldn’t they? Their lush “I don’t give a darn,” character is nothing to be ignored. Succulents are hardy, unique, and perfect for the dry summer heat. They don’t ask for much, but a good environment to get their start in life will take them a long way. No green thumb needed — follow this quick DIY tutorial to get your happy Succulents repotted and ready for your front porch or city window.

Did you make mudpies growing up? If so, this might be your favorite part — make your own dirt mixture! When picking out potting soil just get the very most basic stuff. You don’t want anything too rich in additives — Succulents just don’t like that stuff. The goal of your dirt mixture is to get water/food/light/nutrients to and away from the roots in a time appropriate fashion. Mix coffee grinds and a little sand into your dirt before filling your pots. The sand will keep your soil from getting too over saturated with moisture (remember, these type of plants are desert dwellers – they aren’t use to a whole lot of the wet stuff) and the coffee grinds will help fertilize as well as keep away slugs and bugs that would otherwise love to nibble your Succulents down to nothingness.

You can save and use your own coffee grinds but if you aren’t a joe drinker check out your local coffee shop or favorite Starbucks. In a new effort to be green (reduce! reuse! recycle!), Starbucks is bagging and giving away used coffee grinds for garden use.

As far as picking out pots the world is your oyster. You don’t need anything too big and can even choose to put more than one succulent together in a pot. I chose these funky modern pots to compliment my trendy vegetation.

With your pot(s) picked out fill 1/3 of each pot with sand. Do not try to cut costs (sand is cheap anyway) by bringing home sand from your beach vacation — that stuff is full of salt and your succulents will no longer be… well, succulent. Sand is important in helping move around and drain water. Once you’ve got the sand in, fill with your dirt mixture leaving a small lip of space up top.

The plants: I picked out three wee little plants from Home Depot. They were around $4 each. They had crazy names, but in my excitement I lost the tags. I’m thinking about naming them myself though… ah, I digress.

Before introducing your plants to their new home give the bottom of the existing dirts/roots a bit of a scrunch. Flare the root structure out a bit. This will help it transition better into its new/bigger/better environment. This is something good to remember when planting anything anywhere. If you don’t break up the bundle they are used to having in their temporary store shells, they might be a little too shy to branch out (pun intended) into their new world.

Now — where to put them? These guys are not fans of the midday sun. They prefer indirect/filtered sunlight and enjoy a nice airflow (I chose to put mine on my front porch which is roofed). As for watering — unlike planting in your garden, you do not want to water these right away after repotting. Give them some time to adjust and then give a good watering about once a week during the warmer months. Don’t ever leave standing water in your pots — it makes them angry.

Wham bam thank you ma’am we have ourselves some repotted Succulents! Call your self hip cause you’ve got the trendiest little plants on the block. Mischief managed!

Thanks for hanging out with me — pop over any time to say hi Wild & Precious. ta ta friends.

Check out more planters and seed kits at UncommonGoods.
The Uncommon Life

5 Tips for Better Smartphone Photos

April 25, 2012


Hello! My name is Chelsea and I blog over at Tea Talk. I’m a full-time grad student, freelance journalist, and Phoenix enthusiast who is obsessed with personal style, photography, and iced coffee. My sweet boyfriend, Scott, and I absolutely love taking photos of our adventures, and really love how easy my smartphone has made taken photos on the go for us. But lately I really love how easy my smart phone has made taking photos on the go. Here are some of my favorite tips for better smart phone photos.

1. Look for unique angles and use them to your advantage. Look up, look down!

2. A flash is convenient, but natural light is your friend!

3. Use a tri-pod or mount, like the Oona, for steady photos and self portraits.

4. Using photo-enhancing applications like Instagram and Hipstamatic can help you create more interesting photos with your smartphone. They also are great for giving you an opportunity to share your photos with other photography enthusiasts.

5. Smart phones make it so easy to snap a picture anywhere and at any time. If you spot something beautiful, don’t think twice-take a photo of it. Chances are that someone else will think it’s beautiful as well.

We are so happy to announce that UncommonGoods is now posting photos on Instagram as @UncommonGoods. We would love to follow back and see what you are snapping.

The Uncommon Life

Take It with You

April 18, 2012

My name is Bella and I’m a personal style blogger. But I’m not just about fashion. I have no interest in acquiring the newest “it” bag, or latest designer bauble. What I am interested in is expressing myself in my dress and doing it in an original and sustainable way. I prefer to “shop secondhand first,” and haven’t met a yard sale I didn’t like. I avoid “fast fashion” and anything that comes out of a sweatshop. Recently someone asked if that limited me, but I don’t think shopping sustainably limits my style; I think it helps me explore it.

Recently, I planned a big move. I packed up my worldly possessions, and flew from my hometown of Sacramento, California to Seattle, Washington. I plan to seek my fortune there, and could only take so much in my 2 suitcases coming with me. One of the essentials brought was my charming felted wool clutch. This handcrafted woolly embroidered clutch was the perfect addition to my travel bag. Charming and full of color, this pouch functioned as a wallet, holding my essentials. I loved how cheerful it looked peeking out of my bag- the bright embroidered circles reminding me that everything is connected, and that what comes around, goes around. Since my wardrobe for the time being is limited to just a few things in my suitcases, each piece becomes necessary to have more than one function.

My fire-engine red wool vintage coat serves as stylish and warm outerwear to handle Seattle’s cooler climate. My second-hand oversized black mohair sweater added warmth, especially when layered over my favorite neon yellow acrylic sweater, a recent score from the Goodwill is a gem from the 1950’s as well, and while it harkens from another era, the shout-out-loud at you hue is very on trend for Spring. My jaunty thrifted red knit Tam and sporty red Converse completed my travel uniform, as I go about getting adjusted to my new city. And, my Jenny Krauss pouch fit right in: its bright colors livening up my day and seemed to go with everything.

In fact, I started taking pictures of me and the pouch everywhere, like the world travelling gnome from the movie Amelie. The Peruvian made pouch made itself at home every where, including a great shot of me in front of a killer view of Mt. Rainer, and nestled amongst some, um, “native” gnomes of the Pacific Northwest. Colorful needlework, made from curly wool, crafted by artisans using Fair Trade practices is the perfect accessory for any adventure. Not only do the bright colors match my outfit, it goes with my commitment to sustainable style. And I can definitely take it with me.

The Uncommon Life

Rainy Days with Amy of A is for Ampersand

March 18, 2012

Hey there, champions! My name is Amy, and I run a silly little corner of the internet called A is for Ampersand where I blog about thrifting escapades, cats, diet coke, and adventures in my 1984 Westfalia Vanagon. I’m a designer and a writer, but mostly just a hoarder in the making with a raging predilection for all things pre-1980.

For the entire sum of my 25 years of life, I’ve always sworn by rain. And to be honest, I might be the only one in the entire universe that doesn’t worship the sun. I’m kind of like that witch in Sword in the Stone that hates sun. Know what I’m talking about? I’ve always dreamed about living in Seattle where it always rains. Seattle natives like to battle me on this, saying I’ll get sick of it. To them I say, yeah right.


Goggles Umbrella

So, here are five reasons why rain is THE coolest weather you know. All you sunshine lovers, get ready for a run for your money.

1. Gutter Boat Races
My #1 most awesome childhood memory is making little boats and racing them down the street gutters when it rained. We’d start those boats at our cul-de-sac and follow them alllll the way to the park, which was three blocks away. Why don’t adults do this? Lame.

2. Glorious Thunder
You can fight it all you want, but thunder and lightening storms are pretty much as gorgeous as it gets. Plus, sometimes the power goes out and you get out of work/school, which is always optimum.

3. Slothful Behavior Justification
Sometimes when it’s sunny, you feel like you really need to go out and do something. Yeah, that’s fine, but what about the days when you just want to have a bed-in for peace and start a Grey’s Anatomy marathon? On those days, rain makes this perfectly ok.

4. The Smell. THE SMELL!
You can’t fight it. Rain is THE best smell in the universe. It’s right up there with freshly baked cinnamon rolls and coffee, which both are great things to have on a rainy day.

5. Rain Painting
If you’re a rain hater, it’s probably because you’ve never rain painted. Set out some white construction paper and sprinkle powdered tempera paint on it. Watch as the rain drops blur the powdered paint and create magnificent art.

See? Rain is the BEST. So, next time it rains, grab your best umbrella, get those galoshes, and enjoy it. Happy spring!