Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cougar Roar

Yep, it's true, I'm a cougar, my husband is younger than I am!  And that awesome hubby of mine, turned 32yrs old today!!!  Congrats, babe!  It's been great growing up together (he was just 19 when we met)!

I have to admit his birthday did sneak up on me though.  Like I mentioned in my last post he's been travelling a lot, and I've been holding the fort down, and before I knew it his birthday was already here!  He's the type who doesn't like to make a big deal about his birthday but somehow the festivities carry on for around a week. 

Yesterday I wasn't feeling great (and to top it off our street was closed off due to a gas leak) so I wasn't as motivated as I would have liked to get things prepared for his b-day but my daughter really helped!  We blew up balloons, decorated the living room, and filled out b-day cards.  But after about 6 balloons I had to give up, my cold and congestion just couldn't do anymore.  And since we couldn't be at home all afternoon there was no time for the cake, bummer.  My thoughtful husband did help blow up tons of balloons last night after our daughter went to bed, he was even going to let me take the credit but I just couldn't. 

The b-day excitement started early this morning, between our daughter and family there wasn't a chance my hubby could sleep in!  Unfortunately he has to work today, but right now there's a cake in the oven and I have his favorite dinner planned, so there will be plenty to enjoy tonight.

So, let the festivities begin!!!

Happy Birthday, Ry!

And just for fun, here's a Throwback Thursday, me & the hubby way back in 2002!
Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Night of Firsts

Well, my husband has been on 4 trips this year already (America, Germany, Spain, & Hungary), and me, I haven't had a night on the town in ages.  That was until this past weekend!  My husband was in Budapest, my daughter at her aunt's, and I was home with the dog.  I had no intentions of sitting home alone so my mother-in-law (we're kindred spirits) and I decided to hit the town!

The 1st "first" :
I finally had the nerve and the event to wear my new skull shirt!  (Well, new, um, it was actually a Christmas present.)

The 2nd "first" :
Tried out a new Italian restaurant I've been eyeing down, Mi Dica.  Great atmosphere, good service, boring food, oh well!

The 3rd "first" :
Restaurants besides McDonald's are stepping into the 21st century... instead of a printed menu, the entire menu was on a mini iPad (possibly tablet, not sure, it was dark)!

The 4th "first" :
Finally dared play Black Jack at the casino.  It's much faster than roulette which I tend to play, but I think I can get into it!  (BTW, I love the casino!)

The 5th "first" :
After a night on the town, thought I'd kick back with a glass of merlot... that was until I launched the bottle off the counter while trying to open it... never had to clean up a mess like that before!

All in all, it was a good night, but I am definitely glad to have the family back home!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Great Finds

During my terrarium project I hit up 3 different local second-hand shops in order to collect some of the supplies.  And mixed within the endless used clothes and old electronics were a couple hidden treasures.  -At one point while skimming the stores I wished I had an understanding of antiques (you've all seen the tv show, Antiques Roadshow, right?)-  Anyway, I snapped some pics of some of the great finds, just so I could share them with you!

Check out this old Singer sewing machine!
(My parents always had a sewing machine in the house, wished I had learned how to use one, maybe I still will!)

And this old record collection, wow, there must be some great finds in there!
(During summers at my grandparents in NJ I remember playing there old 45's, especially The Monster Mash!)

Of course there was the kooky stuff!
(Pretty sure this came out of the Disney's Polynesian Resort or possibly a Thai themed restaurant, what's your guess?)

I'm already itching to go back to the second-hand shops, but since my terrariums are still in test phase I'll wait a couple weeks before buying more supplies.

Hope you enjoyed the great finds!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Creative Mission - Part 4

Time for the big reveal... after a lot of work, here are the 5 different terrariums I created!

Since I had never made a terrarium before I had no idea which container would be easiest or look best, so I chose 5 different shapes/sizes. 

Some things I learned along the way :
-should have picked smaller plants or bigger vases (some of the plants didn't fit down inside the vases as intended)
-enjoyed working with the fish bowl the most (the shape of the bowl helped to create the idea of an enclosed garden the best)
-the tall medium sized container was runner up (the depth of the container also helped to create the look I was going for)
-consider how deep the plants need to be inserted into the soil compared to the size of the vase (some weren't deep enough and the plants stick out)
-not all succulents are easy to work with (a couple broke quite easily and some just stabbed me every time I put my hand in the vase)

Now it's time to let nature take its course!  I'll be sure to give you a follow-up in a couple weeks.  For all I know half of the plants are dead by next week, only time will show where my mistakes were.  Luckily we learn from mistakes and I'll know what else to take into consideration next round.  Once I get better at this, I plan on finally investing the money in the unusually shaped vases that originally attracted me to this project!  Or even adding figurines to create some kind little world within the terrariums.

Enjoy the pics!  (Took the pics outside where I was working, but since then they have been brought inside and distributed around our apartment.)  BTW, I obviously really enjoyed this project from beginning to end!

And if you're curious what I originally saw on Pinterest that sparked my interest, here are a couple links :
Better Homes & Gardens (used this as base instructions)
Uncovet Blog (love the unusual shapes of theses terrariums)

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Creative Mission - Part 3

The weather was clear & sunny, the air not too cold, and my 4yr old was at school... perfect time to start the terrariums!!!  I hauled the supplies out to my terrace as needed, and of course this meant starting with the vases and stones.  Luckily the 88 lb bag of stones was already in my shed, so I just filled a bucket to tote the stones back & forth.

#1 : 1-2 inches of stones at the bottom of each vase for drainage

#2 : fill the vases 1/4-1/3 full with soil

Wow, it was seeming simple at this point, I figured I'd been done in no time.  Next was bringing all of the plants outside.  I kept them inside away from the cold as long as I could.  With all of the plants in a row, I now had to decide how I wanted to sort them.  Some of the original combinations I had in mind weren't going to fit, but no biggie.  Plants grouped near their destined containers, I was ready to continue.

#3 : transfer the plants to the vases

I've transferred plants before and I must admit it wasn't always a success.  But to be fair that was when I was transferring them from one pot to another, not from the plastic store containers to a pot.  It was here I hit my first snag.  The level of soil wasn't deep enough for the plants, hmm.  Then once I had the plants in the vases I realized there was little space over to add soil & moss between them.  And a couple of the plants were harder to work with than I thought, especially the Jelly Bean plant, pieces kept breaking off and going throughout the vase.  And the Aloe-ish (I have no idea what it is but it's sharp) was hard to maneuver around thanks to it stabbing me the entire time.  But most of the other plants I chose worked great, at least I hope.  Now it was time to move on to the moss, but I had run out of time, I needed to run to the school and pick up my 4yr old for lunch.  (They often eat lunch at home here in The Netherlands.)  I lugged the now filled and obviously more heavy vases back inside, I didn't dare risk leaving them too long out in the cold and I wasn't sure when I would actually get back to my project.  A couple hours later, I was ready to add the last thing to the terrariums, and yes, I carried all 5 of them back outside again.

#4 : cover soil with moss

O.k., I've never worked with moss before, I had no idea what I was doing.  After tearing a few pieces off and placing them in the vases I noticed the layer of moss below the top layer was actually moister & healthier.  I left the top layer on for protection from the cold and then worked with the layers below.  Since I have 0 understanding of moss, I've decided to hold on to the crate (yes this means storing in the house for a while) for at least a week.  Just in case the moss in the terrariums die I have back-up. 

#5 : water the plants, soil, & moss

The terrariums are put together & watered, and now sitting on my dining room table drying and acclimating to their new environment.  Most likely tomorrow, I will find them permanent places within our apartment. 

Yes, I did it!  Do they look like the ones I saw online, ummm, well, my own version, let's just say that.  Check back soon for Creative Mission - Part 4, and I'll show you the result as well as give you some extra pointers!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Creative Mission - Part 2

Now that I had my vases for the terrarium project, it was time to collect the rest of the items on my list.  I headed out to a large garden shop, my 4 yr old in tow.  (She loves plants and shopping so it wasn't going to be an issue.)  Since I don't often shop at these types of places it took me a while to find what I was looking for.  You also have to keep in mind I found my project in English online, and I'm standing in a Dutch store.  Some of the plants I remembered from pictures I had seen, some I had to refer to their scientific names - luckily I had a list.  We bought a big variety of plants, ranging from a Coral Cactus to a Spider Plant.

With the plants picked out I now needed to find moss.  Hmm, I had walked through the entire store multiple times and hadn't seen it anywhere.  We headed to the outside department in the rain, and still couldn't find it.  Once we were back inside I stopped to think for a minute, when I looked down there was a crate full of moss!  Apparently I had to buy it by the crate, it made sense.  The next item was going to be more difficult, activated charcoal (carbon).  Maybe in The States this is easy to get a hold of or a reasonable price, but not here.  The teenager behind the counter couldn't comprehend what I was looking for and was little help.  I of course referred to my phone and Googled suggestions, I quickly realized I was going to have to look in the aquarium department, because that's the only time the Dutch use it (to filter the water.)  By this point my daughter was tired of being there and wanted to head off to the next store. 

After pricing the stones & pebbles at the garden shop, I knew I could get them cheaper at a DIY store, so off we went.  (At the DIY store I bought 2 bags of stones for what I would have paid for 1 bag at the garden shop.)  The interesting thing about this DIY store is the stones are located in a self-service drive-thru.  Usually I have my husband with me to do the heavy lifting but this time it was up to me.  In the rain I loaded the SUV up with 2 huge bags of stones (1 weighed around 55 lbs & the other 1 weighed around 88 lbs, but I managed - would like to see the store security footage though, ha-ha!)  Inevitably I had them for the right price, but I was dirty, not my favorite thing.  Wanting to price the activated carbon we headed inside the store.  They wanted €15 for a box, and it wasn't exactly in the form I needed.  Forget it, I was going to have to come up with another idea.

Once back home, I hopped on the computer and looked up alternatives for activated charcoal.  Apparently there aren't so many.  One tutorial showed how to make it myself, yeah, wasn't really planning on that.  So I went back to a variety of DIY terrarium sites and they said the activated charcoal is used in closed terrariums to help with mold and to filter the air.  But if you are building an open top terrarium the activated charcoal was not needed.  Yes!

So, now that all the items are collected I just need to find time to finally starting making the terrariums.  I need an undisturbed block of time and preferably no rain so I can work outside, this is yet to come.  Crossing my fingers for this afternoon, but between school and play dates I'm not really sure if that time will come today.  Meanwhile, everything is stacked in the corner of my living room, don't want to kill the succulent plants by storing them outside in the cold!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Creative Mission - Part 1

I'm on creative mission, I've decided to make a few terrariums!  How did I come up with this, you wonder... well, it started out when I wanted 1-2 new decorations for a shelf in my living room.  I checked the stores, didn't really like the prices I was seeing, and to be honest the decorations weren't even really what I wanted.  I like unique and sort-of eclectic, so maybe I was just looking in the wrong places.  One day while skimming through Pinterest I saw an image of a terrarium collection.  I kept thinking about the idea, and realized, hey, I want that in my house, what a great idea for an indoor decoration! 

Then the creative mission started, I decided to make my own!  Why... it's fun and also because I didn't want to pay the prices for the few I had seen in the stores.  (And to be honest they weren't even that nice.)  Being that I am frugal, and there is high risk that this project might not work out, I decided to buy the vases from local second-hand shops (aka kringloop). 

This turned out to be an interesting experience in itself.  I even managed to embarrass myself on a couple of occasions... like following people into a warehouse when it turns out the store wasn't even open that day or at another shop asking if I could take a look around their warehouse and shop when the actual store was around the corner.  And even at one second-hand shop I had to turn in my purse, which happened to have my husbands passport in there, oops, luckily nothing was taken out!

The 1st & 3rd second hand shop I went to were a bust.  Sure, I saw some incredible finds, but just not what I was looking for.  The 2nd store, now they had a decent collection of vases, ones I could actually work with.  They're shapes aren't as unusual as I would like, but that's because I'm paying roughly €2 per vase versus €20-€50 I had seen at normal stores.  In the end I've ended up with 1 fish bowl and 2 flower vases from the second-hand shop.  I wanted something a little bigger, so I still went back to a discount shop and picked up a tall vase (I had been pricing vases all over town, from flower to fish shops.  And then seeing the size of the vase was dramatically different than the others, I decided to toss in a glass vase that had been collecting dust in my shed.  At this point, I was out a total of less than €10 and have 5 vases that need to be washed and filled!

In a follow up post, I'll be sure to show you some of the great things I stumbled upon at the second-hand shops (things not really relevant to my terrarium project).  And besides clear glass vases, I was also looking for thick books with unusual bindings to help stack the smaller vases and either rocks or figurines to go inside the terrariums... I didn't find either but I'll skim the second hand shops again in a couple weeks. 

Hope you enjoy my project, there will be more posts to come!!!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Tour #4

It's been a couple months since I last hosted a book tour for Fire & Ice.  Why?  Between the holidays and taking a small break from blogging, it just didn't pan out.  But all the while I did keep my eye open for a children's book, then one finally turned up!

Drum roll please...
The Money Tree

Besides the fact it's a children's book, I also chose it because of the message it sends.  Sure it's a fictional story just like the last book I helped tour but I really felt it was a story my child could relate to.  I'm sure a lot of you have dealt with teaching your child(ren) to spend their money wisely, so why not present the idea in the form of a fun book. you want to find out more about LaDonna Smith's first children's book, The Money Tree, pop on over to Danica's Book Corner.  Over at my book blog, you can find excerpts & blurbs provided by Fire & Ice book tours, and this book I actually read to my child so there will also be a short review.  Hope you give it a chance!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Follow Up #1

It's about time to follow up on two old posts :

Back in March 2013 I wrote a post about how much my husband & I enjoyed listening to the audio book of Ender's Game.  Well, the movie is finally out and it's not going to let you down.  I must admit, I watched the entire movie completely fascinated with how they portrayed Ender's character.  He seemed more intelligent and stronger than ever, and they did a great job bringing the book to life.  I must admit when we listened to the book years ago I envisioned Atari Space Invaders, but with this was obviously way better. For any of you sci-fi fans out there, don't miss this movie!

And speaking of children, this brings us to the follow up of a post from last October.  Barbie Dream House has been one of my most viewed posts yet.  I wish I could say its because the post is so captivating, but most likely it's because of the title and when people search for info on the house, coincidentally my blog pops up.  Anyway, my grandma did me a favor, dug around in her vast collection of photos, and mailed me a pic from when I was kid and had my own Barbie house.  My daughter was thrilled to see I had one also, and it looked just like the pictures of the 70's Dream House we had found together online.  And just so you know, my 4yr old loves her Barbie house and I recommend one to all little girls who love playing dolls.  The only problem now is she is determined to collect all the dolls from the tv show, she is well on her way and even saved up for one and bought it herself.

Well, that's it for today, think my next follow up should be in a couple weeks and it will have to do with the Jazz Dance class I participated in and maybe I'll find a 2nd one to throw in also.

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica