How NOT to kill your Tillandsia xerographica airplant

View More: had sixteen T. xerographica that were left over from my wedding – they were beautiful and cost-effective centerpieces.  I really considered them my “plant babies.”  When I first got them, I’d give them a “bath” about once a week and let them dry outside in the sun.  Eventually, those baths dwindled to about 2-3 weeks apart, which is still fine.   Then life got busy and it was too cold to leave them outside, so I kept them in a bin in the guest room.  However, one busy night I realized I hadn’t watered my plants in a month and so proceeded to dunk them all in the bathtub.  After watering, I always invert them so that the plant isn’t holding water, because a tillandsia with water remaining in its base will rot in the middle.  I allowed them to dry off and the plants had returned to their silvery green state and felt dry to the touch.   I thought it was safe to corral them in my plastic bin (to save space).

Was I ever wrong…

Killing one of these plants that can live 50+ years isn’t the same as killing the basil that lives about 6 months.     When I went to water them next (another month later), I realized all the plants in the bottom of the bin were dead.  They didn’t exactly look dead at first, but once I pulled them out of the tub they fell apart from the center.  I had decapitated my plant babies!   There were two layers of plants in the bin – the ones on top of the bin were fine, since they dried fully…but all the ones on the bottom died since they were just damp enough for mildew to form.  The mildew was barely noticeable, but definitely the culprit.  The culprit, besides me, murderer of plants =(.  I now have 9 plants, down from 16.

So that you can avoid my heartache and unwitting cruelty to plant babies, here are the following tips:

1. ALWAYS allow your xerographica to dry fully, ideally in the sun for several hours.  (Prior to this incident, I had successfully stored the plants in the bin with no problems, because they were fully dry)

2. Water once every 2-3 weeks by soaking.  Shake off excess water by inverting the plant.

3. Bromeliad fertilizer can be used occasionally – I recommend a very dilute concentration, at most 1/4 of the recommended amount.  Over-fertilizing can be lethal.

4. Keep plant in moderate temperatures (50-80 deg F).

5. Indirect or direct sunlight are both fine – other than the mildew susceptibility, this plant is extremely low-maintenance

Because you may not trust a person who has killed her supposedly low-maintenance plants, here are some other sources for T. xerographica care.  Keep in mind that some instructions are contradictory, which I think just attests to the easygoing nature of the plant.

Care tips from
Hard to read, but informative

Venmo – Fee-free payment app

After the weekend at Lake Tahoe, there were some expenses to be split.  Fortunately, some friends had started using Venmo – a service that allows you to pay friends with your phone (or online if you don’t have an iPhone, Android phone, or Blackberry).  You can use your bank account or credit card, much like PayPal.  However, best of all, there are no fees.  How can I say no to free?  Especially when the app is so easy to use.  Venmo’s mission is to make payments between friends easy and fun

A project for your weekend

I’ve always wanted to have an organized pantry.  It just looks so soothing to have all your dry food in matching containers, doesn’t it?  The jars pictured here are the Slom storage containers from IKEA.  The decals in this tutorial are diswasher safe – if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can also design your own labels. Click here for the full tutorial from The Painted Hive.

image source: Kristine from The Painted Hive

Happy Valentine’s Day

Inspired by all the floral arrangements I’ve been seeing lately,  I decided to try my hand at making one of my own.  These are some lavender and green mums from Trader Joe’s, supplemented by some blooms from the yard.  I found it was easiest to arrange it in my hand first, then trim the stems while they were still held together in the desired position.

Not too bad for a beginner’s attempt, I hope!  Happy Valentine’s day.  Pretend I gave you a real bouquet =)

Cooking for the truly lazy*

Despite being a lover of good food, I myself don’t cook on a regular basis. However, I still have to eat, preferably somewhat healthily and within a reasonable budget. I love to read magazines like Real Simple and Sunset and ogle the beautifully photographed dishes, but the estimated preparation times printed on their recipes are […]

IMcreator – drag and drop web editor

Discovered this extremely easy-to-use webpage editor:  You can start a design from scratch but there are some templates available as well.  I fiddled around with this app a bit and found that besides pictures and text, I can quickly add page menus, video, picture galleries, and contact forms.   Social media widgets such as Twitter and Facebook feeds are easy to add and customize.  Pictures can be cropped directly inside the editor, and text can easily be layered over images.  Resizing pictures is also foolproof – I find that no matter what I do, the image is resized or cropped a bit so that the aspect ratio stays the same.  This means no more stretched-looking images no matter who uses this editor (a constant pet peeve of mine).  It’s free to create websites, but if you want to connect the site to your own domain, IMcreator charges for hosting services (between $7 to $10 a month).

Alt Summit business card inspiration

Here’s a pinboard  of business cards that Marie of Food Nouveau put together.  My little card is embarrassed to be on there, but will have to rely on its friendliness to get by in such great company.  (hmm, I may anthropomorphizing a bit much).  I ended up not getting washi tape for the grey part and instead laser printed a grey background with text to glue onto the card.  Below is the final result:

All photos from Marie

Update 2/1/12: more business card love

Cool new web app: BO.LT

At Alt Summit, I met Christine Harmel who is in charge of marketing at BO.LT, a cool site that allows you to save whole webpages.  At first glance, it looked like another Pinterest to me, but Christine showed me that it was so much more.  Pinterest allows you to save an image or video that you “pin”, directly onto their servers.  The link associated with the image is pinned as well.  However, once the webpage is modified or taken down, all you have left is the image.  BO.LT, on the other hand, is different – you can save entire dynamic webpages in an instant.  Once you enter the page you want to save, or “bolt,” the page is recreated in seconds on their server, with active links and all.

What does this mean exactly?  I used to save websites that I liked onto my hard drive by clicking File>Save from my web browser.  I was teaching myself web design and wanted to know how the good websites worked.  I would then get a folder with a bunch of images and files inside, and an additional .html file that was the recreated website.  It became too confusing to pair the right .html file with the right folder, especially if I reorganized the files on my computer.  But with this application, all of that ‘fun’ stuff is done for me, online, not to be lost again.

You can also add comments to each saved webpage (called bolts) and share your discoveries with friends, as well as see what other users are sharing.  I’ve already discovered some cool new-to-me websites and spent about 15 minutes bolting some of my favorite sites.  It’s incredibly easy to use.  Don’t you just love it when cool technology and good design intersect?

One of the founders also has a lifestyle site – where he shares bolts of pages that reflect a certain refined rustic aesthetic.  Check it out!