How to keep your plants happy
Interior, Urban Jungle

How to keep your plants happy (and fill your home with greenery)

I love having plants in my home. Almost every room in my house has it’s fair share of greenery and I can’t imagine having a house without plants. I often hear people saying they don’t know how to keep plants alive or people saying that they don’t have a green thumb. So let me tell you how to keep your plants happy.

How to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happyHow to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy

01. Make sure you put every plant in a place they love

Some plants like lots of direct sunlight, others hate it. Read the label on the plant when you buy it or ask the florist what the preference of the plant is. Using common sense also helps to decide what the plant might like. Plants that like a moist environment (who easily dry out) often like a more shaded spot.

When you really don’t know you can almost always tell how the plant feels about its place after a couple of weeks. Plants who don’t like direct sunlight often have brown edges on their leaves or burnt patches. Do the leaves look duller or are the colours fading? Then the plant probably likes a place with more daylight. Move your plants around until you find their perfect spot.

How to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy  Keep your plants happy by giving them a bath Keep your plants happy by giving them a bath

02. Water regularly, but never too much.

Giving the correct amount of water probably is the easiest way to keep your plants happy. I handle watering plants in a very simple way: every two weeks I gather all my plants in the kitchen or bathroom. I place them in the tub or sink and gently spray them with water. When there are a couple of centimeters of water in the tub/sink I stop spraying. Now let the plants soak for half an hour to a couple of hours. Afterwards, I let the water drain and wait half an hour before removing the plants so the excess water won’t stay in the flowerpot.

I do this with both succulents, orchids, ferns,… Between baths, I always keep an eye on plants that need extra watering, but I try to avoid watering them in their pots. Whenever I get lazy and stop giving them baths, that’s when the casualties fall. I don’t own any cacti (I tend to over water them, or as I call it, I smother them with too much love), so I can’t help you with those.

A small tip: if you’re wondering whether it’s time to water your plants, put your finger in the soil! Just feeling the top soil can be misleading, especially for plants near a window. If the soil under the crust still feels moist, you can wait with watering a bit longer (unless you have a drama plant who basically lives in water and is starting to droop).

How to keep your plants happyHow to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy

03. Keep an eye on your plants

Plants aren’t just pretty decoration, they’re living things, so you’ll have to keep an eye on them. They can get sick, get bugs or are sometimes in need of extra water or nutrition. Take a good look at your plant’s leaves once in a while, they can tell you a lot about how your plants are faring:

  • droopy leaves: probably in need of water, but droopy leaves in combination with wet soil means the opposite!
  • brown spots: too much or too little water, sunburn or too much fertilizer
  • sticky leaves or a sticky environment of the plant: your plant has bugs. I’ve noticed this with both aphids, scale insects and mealybugs. Keeps these plants away from your other plants. Get yourself a pesticide and prepare for battle. Getting rid of pests is hard. Sometimes you can’t save your plant and you’ll just have to try taking pest-free cuttings and getting baby plants. Throw away the pest riddled plant and keep an eye on your other plants the following weeks to see if the creepy crawlies have spread.

How to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy

04. Don’t forget: plants need food too!

As with all living things, plants need food too. They get it from their soil, but if they haven’t been repotted in a long time that soil can run out of nutrients. This is something that happens faster with high maintenance plants that also need a lot of water. So, once every month, add a bit of plant food to the bathing water to keep them happy. Whenever you put fertilizer in the plant bath make sure to leave them soaking for a bit longer. Getting those nutrients in takes time!

If you notice your plant is getting too big for its pot, it’s time to move to a larger one. Whenever you do this, the plant also gets a boost thanks to the nutrient-rich fresh soil you’ve added.

So those are a couple of tips to keep your plants happy. Tell me, are you a plant lover or a plant killer? Which tricks do you use to keep your plants happy & alive? Please share them in the comments, I’d love to learn new tricks.

a road in a snowy landscape (leading to new habits)
Personal

Five habits I want to adopt

Let me start off by excusing me for the quality of the blog post you’re going to read. I still have to write most of it, even though it’s 23:33. I’m tired, I’ve been emotional all day. I don’t have my shit together. But if I don’t post today, I lose my last “skip day” and then it’s basically game over for my 40 Days of Blogging. So, you can all thank the sheer amount of stubbornness I have on days like these for this post. I turn into a bit of weed and stand there. Or in this case, write.

One of the suggested topics for 40 Days of Blogging was: “Which habit are you trying to teach yourself. Or is there a bad habit you want to get rid of?”

I basically never run out of things I want to teach myself of things I want to change about myself (either habits or new skills). I think you can completely shape yourself the way you want to, but it’ll take time and effort. Often I try to make changes, but I run out of willpower before I’m really there. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, better to have tried and learned something about it, than being completely stuck.

At the moment I’m  working on:

  • being kinder to myself – I have low self-esteem and I put the bar for myself quite high. Not an awesome combination, so I’m really trying to be kinder to myself. When I’m thinking about things I’m doing or have done I try to change the way I phrase what I think about myself. Or when I do something stupid, I try not to call myself stupid. The number of times I catch myself being overly harsh is a bit of a shock to me. And if I’m this harsh on myself, I’m probably also to others.
  • get into the habit of doing high-intensity training three times a week (Hello Jillian!) – because I feel like all my muscles melted away. And I need to make my knees work so they stay strong. Cartilage or not, I’m not planning on getting new knees.
  • painting and drawing more – I wish I already had the habit by new of daily drawing, but I still haven’t mastered it. I often feel this call, this urge to grab my pencils or my brushes and paint and I’ve taught myself to ignore it (to my horror). I also want to go to drawing school at least once a week. Since I started the course I’ve had a hard time going regularly There always seems to be a reason not to go.
  • reading more – with some careful planning (such as by not writing my blog post last thing in the day 😉 ) I should be able to get some reading in. Not sure how to cope with falling asleep after only one paragraph, though.
  • spending more time in nature – two year’s ago I put on my birthday list to do more walks & spend more time outdoors. I really loved the hikes we did back then, but it never became a habit. I think going for a long walk in nature should be something I do at least once a month, but preferably more. So, it’s time to get back into this.

So, those are the habits I want to get into. Which habits do you want to create? Or do you have a bad habit you want to break? I didn’t get into my bad habits, the post would never end. 😉

Design & Illustration

The result of an afternoon talking and painting with friends

Whenever I organise a craft party with friends I always spend way more time talking, complaining and laughing with them, then I spend on actually crafting something. This time we tried skipping the sofa hanging and tried to go immediately to crafting. For some of us, this leads to success (I would force them to take pictures with their craft, but then it might lead to even fewer things getting finished), for others (eg me) it still leads to barely getting anything done.

I did start the plant drawing above and I finished it yesterday. Not my greatest success. I really like some of the plants I painted and I think it would be pretty cool to turn them into stickers. I bought this vinyl paper to make stickers recently and I’m itching to try it out. Although,  I still need to buy new printer ink and decide on sticker designs. I’m already turning this into a project again. Let’s keep things simple and just print some painted plants, shall we.  Maybe tomorrow I paint some more.

My favourite apps for blogging & social media
Blogging, Tips

Favourite apps for blogging & social media

One of the things I’m trying to do to be more efficient with my time is using my phone’s potential. I’m using it more and more to plan and schedule my social media posts and to edit my pictures. And I also use it to plan blogposts and schedule them. I thought it might be interesting to share my favourite apps for blogging & social media.

So I already mentioned Pocket and Evernote in the My Blogging Toolkit post. I love using both of these apps for both my blog and social media, but I’m not going to explain all about them again.

Photography apps

Taking and publishing pictures is probably what I do most with my phone, so this is also the biggest category of apps I’m going to talk about. Whether I want to publish photos I took with my phone or with my DSLR/point-and-shoot camera, for publishing on social media I adjust them on my phone. I can reach all the pictures I take with my DSLR via my OneDrive folders, shortly after adding them to my pc. I really like this set-up + it was completely affordable. After downloading my pictures to my phone, it’s time to edit and publish them.

  • Afterlight: When I want to edit a photo I mostly grab Afterlight to do the job. It’s not free (only €0,75 though), but it’s reallt easy to navigate and I can do the right amount of editing in this app. I start off by editing the dimensions of the picture and then move on to brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpening. Most of the time, that’s it. I seldom use filters on my pictures. The only other thing I use in Afterlight is the option to add borders on pictures. I started doing this for the Studio Maddy Instagram account because I like the amount of white space this gives me. I also just discovered it’s also available as desktop app on Windows!
  • Snapseed: Snapseed is a second photo editing app I use. It’s a free app with a lot of options for editing your pictures. I think it has way more options than Afterlight, which can make it feel overwhelming. It also has a bunch of nice pre-sets for different types of photography, which you all get free. I’ve also got apps like A Color Story, Photoshop Express and even Lightroom, but honestly, I barely use these.
  • Lightmeter: This is a simple app that helps me to find the settings of my DSLR when I’m shooting in manual mode. I don’t use it all the time, but when I have trouble figuring out what settings I should use, I whip my phone out and let the app help me on my way.

Planning / List Keeping

I really love planning and keeping lists, although, I must admit I sometimes overdo it. I often keep the same to do in different places and crossing it off in all the different places is a bit of a hassle. Even though I’ve been search furiously for this, I still haven’t found the perfect app that does it all for me. That’s why I’m switching between a couple (and my paper agenda) for planning. Even though these apps aren’t 100% perfect for me, I still really love using them.

  • Asana is an app for tracking and planning projects. I really love using Asana, although, I don’t use it often enough. It has a lot of options in the way you structure your to do’s and seems pretty fun to use in team. I use this for mainly for the blog, although I think I should get some social media planning in there too. Asana recently added an option to see your to do’s in different columns next to each other, so I made “ideas”, “drafts”, “text ok”, “pic ok”, “scheduled” and “published” columns which makes it easy to see which posts are in which stage. The only downside is the lack of a desktop app, which would actually make me use it more. Now you can either access it via your phone or in a web browser, both option that don’t always work well for me.
  • Wunderlist is a golden oldie to me. I’ve used this to do list app for many years and I love it! It has a lot of options: making folders for lists, having sublists for certain items, adding comments, starring items and even sharing lists, which is awesome for grocery shopping. I even have a list called “freezer” to keep track of what we have in storage. I use Wunderlist also to make my daily to do’s and then I add the posts I want to write. There’s nothing more awesome than here the *ching* when you cross something off the list.

Scheduling

With scheduling social media posts I have the same problem as with planning. I have two different apps I use, but none of these apps is perfect. I both like them, for different reasons and I can’t pick to which one I want to stick.

  • Buffer has an awesome blog about social media, which makes me feel a bit attached to this app. Buffer also is a very nice app to use. You can add one account per social media channel and in the free version you can schedule up to 10 posts at the same time per social media account. Which already is way more scheduling than I’m likely to do. You can also easily reschedule post you’ve published via Buffer before and it has an auto schedule that helps you pick the best time to post. Downside is that there is no visual example feed for Instagram, nor has it upload space for pictures.
  • Later does have the visual example feed for Instagram and you can upload you media to Later from anywhere and than use that media to schedule your posts. Later also only allows one social media account of each platform and has a limited number of posts per platform (varying from 30/month for FB, IG and Pinterest to 50/month for Twitter). The problem I have with Later is that it only allows visual content to be scheduled, so if you want to schedule a plain old Tweet, you can’t.

Downside for both of these apps? The ability to make a draft post and just save it for a later moment. Now I always have to schedule the post to a random moment just to save it until I have time to finish it.

I’m still looking for a nice app to edit videos with on my phone by the way. I was stupid enough to pay for an app called Viva Video and then I discovered if you buy the app, you still don’t get access to all the video editing tools. You also have to pay for those. Which I’m never going to do, because that’s a way of doing business that sucks. If you know a good video editing app for Android, let me know.

Which apps are your favourites for social media? Which ones do you use for blogging? Please tell me in the comments. 🙂

Personal

Sunday Scribbles, N°5

Hello & welcome to a new instalment of Sunday Scribbles. In this post, I talk about what I’ve been up to this week, why my 40 Days of Blogging aren’t going really well and how I impulsively went to the hairdresser to chop 20cm of my hair.

Falling off the bandwagon

Soooo, yes. The last two days I didn’t manage to finish a new post for this blog. Which bums me out a bit. But I’ve also been spending a lot of time with friends, going to my illustration course, doing team activities with the colleagues and spending a whole Saturday with friends, talking, complaining and laughing our asses off. It’s been a busy week. Which is a good thing, but I’m not that much of a blog post planner, so now I’ve only one skip day left and still 25 days to go.

We’ll see how how things go the following days, I might change the challenge a bit (to just writing everyday, not necessarily publishing every day). We’ll see.

Sorting things out

Some parts of my life are a bit of a mess right now and I’m trying to figure out where to go from here. As in my last Sunday Scribbles update, I did some more stepping out of my comfort zone. Sometimes those outside the comfort zone actions lead to pretty cool things.

Going on a tea date with a person I’m only getting to know led to discovering pastries which reminded me of my grandmother’s pies, tasting chocolate tea for the first time and maybe also making a new friend. Suddenly deciding I wanted to go to the hairdresser asap led me to chopping of 20cm of my hair, which felt awesome.

I really like change, sometimes I think it’s something I thrive on. Other times, it scares the shit of out me, but this week was not one of those times.

Random Sunday Scribbles

Things that made me happy

  • Making new friends
  • Craft parties with old friends
  • Going to the Musketon gallery opening and feeling really inspired/motivated afterwards
  • Cutting my hair short

Things I enjoyed

How was your week guys? Tell me, did you step out of your comfort zone this week? Maybe just in a small way?

Personal

A small step in being kinder to myself

Some days you are dead tired at 6 in the evening. But you still go to your drawing school to spend 4 hours on your illustration skills, knowing nothing decent will appear tonight. You went, you sat through it, you created something, you pushed yourself just by showing up. On some days that is enough. And the result doesn’t actually matter.

Landscape picture with a sign saying "one way"
Blogging, Personal

Should I talk about this?

Today is one of those days. One of those days where I really want to write about what’s happening in my life, but I can’t. And so, I write a very vague post. 😉 (Don’t say I didn’t warn you)

It’s one of those days that is really good and really bad. And also, somehow, brings me more peace of mind than a lot of days these past weeks. As much as I want to tell you all about it, I feel like I can’t because I fear it’ll ruin my chances, any chances. And this frustrates me, of course. This is my blog, my space on the web and still, sometimes you can’t tell your readers what you want.

I wonder guys, how do you handle this? How do you (or don’t you?) write about your life, when you know certain people might be reading along? How do you voice frustration about colleagues? Or about family? Do you voice it? Or keep it all for yourself? (Or do you talk about it with friends and have no need to talk about it on your blog?)

Obviously, I don’t want this space of the internet to turn into something negative, a place to nag. I know the downwards spiral of negativity and I try to stay away from it. But when you feel like you’re at a critical place in time, do you talk about it? (Which makes this post sound overly dramatic. Don’t worry, everything is fine, I need to figure something out and it’s taking a lot of head space).

So tell me, should a lifestyle blog really be about life? Good and bad? Or should I stick to the curated version and keep away from drama (and clickbait titles 😉 )? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

(Ps: I also have a lot of thoughts and opinions about this, way more complicated than the statement I made above. I don’t want to turn this blog into some soap-story, although if I put enough drama in it, it’ll probably attract some readership. No worries, though, because I’m not planning on doing this, it’s just that, with 40 Days of Blogging, I sometimes wish this could be more of a diary type of thing than a well thought out blog. But I still really like my well thought out overthought blog posts)

My favourite animated movies
Tips

My favourite animated movies

Most of us watch animated movies when we’re kids and then, at some point in life, I feel like watching animated movies is suddenly deemed ‘childish’.  Unless, like me, you grew up with Disney and then, at some point in life, discovered there was more to the animated movie genre (but also forever love Disney). So today, let me tell you all about my favourite animated movies.

Favourite animated movies - The Secret of NIMH

01. The Secret of NIMH

I named my first pet rat after this movies and I still think it’s one of the most awesome animated movies ever. It’s the story of a tiny field mouse, looking for help to transport her sick son, because it’s almost harvest time and they need to move out of the field where she lives. She looks for help from a colony of rats, who once where part of experiments at N.I.M.H.. Humans are definitely the bad guys in this movies, but over all it has quite a creepy vibe and I absolutely adore the way the characters are drawn.

Favourite animated movies - Beauty and the Beast

02. Beauty & The Beast

Beauty and the Beast also is one of my all time favourites. I can’t recall how many times I watched and re-watched this movie. I think Bell is an awesome heroine. Unlike most old-school Disney princesses she tries to take care of things her self and isn’t a complete doormat. And she likes books. Extra bonus point there.

Favourite animated movies - The Nightmare before Christmas

03. The Nightmare before Christmas

The Nightmare before Christmas really is a classic. I remember seeing clips of it on the Disney VHS’s we had as kids, but it was only years later that I saw the movie for the first time. I loved it immediately of course and I try to watch it at least once a year, ever since.

Favourite animated movies - Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

04. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust might have been my first experience with anime. After seeing the movie for the first time I remember how blown away I was by the art work, because it was amazing. The movie tells the story of a tortured vampire hunter, looking for a girl who has been kidnapped by a vampire. Now imagine a world where things look both medieval and futuristic at the same time. Add a sprinkle of Elisabeth Bathory ruining the search party and that’s Vampire Hunter D.

Favourite animated movies - Spirited Away

05. Spirited Away

I’m staying in the anime genre with Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. This is the story of Toshiro, a young girl moving to a different city. Before she and her parents get to their new home they make a stop at an abandoned amusement park. Or so it seems. Toshiro’s parents get turned into pigs and she has to find a way to save them (and stay human herself). The set of extremely diverse characters make this movie (and about every other Studio Ghibli movie) absolutely worth watching.

Favourite animated movies - Princess Mononoke

06. Princess Mononoke

Mononke Hime is another Studio Ghibli movie. It’s a bit more on the serious side, telling the tale of the rise modern weapons (and industrialisation) and how this affects nature and the environment. As this is another Ghibli film, there are also a lot of delightful side characters, but this movie is definitely darker than Spirited Away. There’s also loads of Japanese mythology in Princess Mononoke, which I love.

Favourite animated movies - Disney's Mulan

07. Mulan

We’re back to Disney movies. I don’t think Mulan is as timeless as a lot of the other Disney movies, because of the extremely nineties music they but in it, somewhere in the beginning. But when you look past the synthesisers, Mulan is just the story of a girl trying to save her father and her country. I’ve seen the movie many times and I still love it. + it gets bonus points for the most inefficient side kicks (a cricket and a dragon the size of a lizard).

Favourite animated movies - Disney's Ratatouille

08. Ratatouille

I started this list with a movie with rats in it and I’m going to finish it with a movie with even more rats in it. Ratatouille tells the story of Remy, a brown rat, who dreams of becoming a chef. Not possible, you’d think, but this is a movie about dreams coming true. All set in Paris and with heaps of cuddly, soft, fluffy rats in it. Did I ever mention I love rats? Because I really do.

So those are (some) of my favourite animated movies. I also really liked How to Train Your Dragon and Howl’s Moving Castle, but I had to stop somewhere. Did you watch any (or all) of these movies? Which one did you like? And what is your all time favourite animated movies? Tell me in the comments!