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How To Make A Succulent Sea Terrarium

by Andrea

My daughter turned seven last week and requested a mermaid themed pool party. While color schemes, garland and paper pom poms are an important part of a birthday bash, in our home the craft station is usually a large focus as well. My kids love arts and crafts time, and so I wanted to come up with something that would be a hybrid of things that we all loved, with some attention to design. My goal was not to create more clutter for the kids to bring home, but to help them all create something sweet and simple that they would hopefully be able to display at home for awhile. Thus, the succulent sea terrarium craft was born. The kids terrariums came out so pretty that I had to create a few “grown up” versions for myself.

I chose succulents as the focal point in the terrariums because even though they are really dry, desert dwellers, their shape and color also remind me of algae and seaweed you would find in the ocean.  I selected tall, spiny looking succulents for the arrangements, with a few grass-like ground covers as well, to represent algae.  The glass globes were picked up at a local craft store and although they are technically meant to be votive holders, their shape remind me of old glass fishing balls.  In addition you will need some coarse sand and cactus soil.

I wanted the terrariums to have a sandy soil to mimic the bottom of the ocean, however since succulents need some kind of organic rich soil, they most likely would not survive in pure sand.  So I created a sandy bottom with a little crater for some cactus soil to rest in.  We, well mainly my husband, has been growing succulents for over 10 years now.  He likes to claim that he loved succulents before they were cool.  All this to say that we’ve had a lot of experience growing, and sometimes failing at growing succulents.  We started out using regular potting soil, but have found that the more arid cactus soil works much better, allowing good drainage and circulation for the succulents. So once you’ve laid out your sandy bottom and base of cactus soil, you’re ready to start planting.

The nice thing about working with succulents is their shallow root system and how little soil they really require to survive.  If some of your plants are a bit too large for your vessel, you can simply trim off a bit of the root or some of the leaves and stick them right in the soil.  I’ve read that dipping your succulents in a rooting hormone before planting helps encourage growth, but I’ve never used it and have always had great luck.  It’s always an option though in case you’re a little nervous.  Once you’ve got your planting done, gently add in a bit more sand to cover up the cactus soil.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact I think it looks quite nice having a bit of the soil peeking through the sand.

If you wish you can add a little mermaid or two, and some pretty rocks or shells to complete your seascape. The miniature mermaids are actually cocktail drink markers I found online and spray painted them white to be a bit more sophisticated.

The final result is pretty little terrarium that combines my daughter’s love of all things mermaid related, my husband’s love of succulents, and my love of good design.  To care for your succulents, simply add just a touch of water every other day for 2-3 weeks to get them started.  After that, a light watering once a week should do the trick.  In small vessels like this I’ve had my succulents last for at least 9 months, but of course play it by ear and know that you may have to refresh your plantings every once in a while.  Succulents are easy to care for, but they’re not completely maintenance free.  If they do in fact grow you will have to transplant them.

And in case you’re interested, for the kid’s terrariums we used quart size mason jars for the vessels, and I left the mermaids their original color.  We set the table up outside and let them each create their own fantasy mermaid world, and they loved packing their jars with as many shells, stones, and brightly colored mermaids as they could fit.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium

I had been meaning to make a terrarium for a while now, but I finally got to it last week. I put together a post about the process for west elm, using their tall glass jar.

The full instructions and list of materials needed can be found at west elm’s blog, Front & Main. I also talked about how to care for your terrarium, and what I would have done differently.

You could simplify the process by choosing a smaller container and just placing moss inside (like this one) with a few interesting rocks or objects. Of course, you could make it more complex too, by choosing an extra wide vessel and combining more plants of different sizes and textures.

I’d love to try a succulent terrarium next time, switching out the rich potting soil for a sandier blend, and using an open-air container. I think it would be fun to gather some HO scale model items to make a little scene, too. I do have a special fondness for miniatures, after all.

An Easter Table With a Neon Twist

Today’s post is by a new contributor to Making it Lovely, Andrea Howe. I met and roomed with her at Camp Mighty last year, and I know you’re going to adore her as much as I do.

Yesterday, we saw my take on an Easter table. Andrea has been celebrating neon for the past week over on her style blog, For the Love of…, and today she’s sharing some crafty ideas for bringing a little neon to the table for the holiday.

I’ve loved neon for as long as I can remember, and am thrilled to see it make a resurgence, in a very updated and modern way. While neon may be most used in the style world, I wanted to add a touch of it to the home, and so created an Easter table setting infused with subtle touches of neon.  I like neon best in small doses and when displayed back to neutrals, so set against the rich wood of a farmhouse dining table the bright colors pop, yet the overall feel isn’t overpowering.

I began by focusing on using things I already owned as key parts of the table setting. These include pieces from my milk glass collection that belonged to my Grandmother, a couple of plain white Easter bunnies, simple white napkins and placemats, and my never-ending supply of mason jars.

I began by spray painting mason jars first in a coat of primer, then with a couple of coats of neon and plain white spray paint. I wrapped some neon and white twine around each jar, held in place with a spot of hot glue. I also added a coat of spray paint to some adorable little ceramic bunnies I had found at Michael’s. The ceramic absorbed the spray paint beautifully.

I took fabric paint and plain white napkins, and simply added polka dots in a random pattern using a round sponge brush available at any craft store. The trick to working with neon is to just focus on 2-3 colors at a time. Anymore and it starts to look a bit dated.

The last thing I did was add a few eggs, first brushed with neon paint. Once dry, the eggs were coated with standard craft glue, then dusted with Martha Stewart neon glitter. Placed in a hobnop candy dish, for me it’s the perfect blend of vintage modern.

By using a mix of pieces I already own and love, and creating some easy and inexpensive DIY’s, I’m thrilled with the results of my modern neon table setting for Easter.

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