HandHeld & Co.: Beautiful Art, Beautiful Heart

I moved to Dayton, Ohio eight years to be closer to my then-boyfriend/now-husband, and ended up falling in love with everything about the city. It was the city where I got married, where I became a mom to my step-son Alex, where we bought our first house, where my two babies August and Ana were born.

However, my family and I recently moved from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. Even though Columbus is only about an hour and a half from Dayton, moving was H-A-R-D. Leaving all of those sweet memories behind, packing up our belongings, and saying goodbye to friends was, honestly, heartbreaking. As we pulled away from the house for the last time, I vowed I wouldn’t cry…but found myself blinking back tears anyway.

The first weekend we were in Columbus, I was lonely but determined to stay busy and not allow myself be miserable or sad. I saw on Instagram that an account I followed – HandHeld & Co. – was going to be part of a local street bazaar. I was thrilled that I might be able to make a connection in my new town, and messaged the owner that I would be stopping by.

The day of the bazaar, though in early September, was cold and rainy. All of my warm clothes were still packed away in boxes, as I thought I wouldn’t need them for a long time. However, I bundled up the best I could, threw on some rain boots, and headed to the bazaar.

FREEZING, but thrilled to meet Isabella at the street bazaar!

It was there that I had my first interaction with Isabella Cartolano, owner and artist of HandHeld & Co. Not only did she have an awesome booth at the bazaar – which was evident in spite of the rain – but it was also immediately clear that this girl has a sweet spirit.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Isabella and learn more about her journey with HandHeld.

Isabella has been making cards since she was twelve; at that time, she made scrapbooking-style cards, which were carried at several local stores in Columbus.  “And I’ve been painting since…forever,” Isabella says with a smile during our time together.

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

However, “life” happened, and making each card individually became too cumbersome. After taking a break from card-making for several years and attending an 30-week class focused on entrepreneurial skills, the idea was sparked for Isabella to start her own business. As a result HandHeld & Co. was born at the beginning of 2017.

Isabella says she gains much of the inspiration for her cards from one of the local nurseries, where she works fulltime. “I love working there,” Isabella tells me. (And I have to admit…the nursery where she works is my absolute favorite in the area!)

Image via HandHeld & Co.

Each card design is hand-painted by Isabella using a combination of watercolors and gouache (which is basically an opaque watercolor), then is reproduced and beautifully packaged before being sold. She also sells place cards, gift tags, clothing patches, and pins.

But Isabella isn’t just a talented artist; she also has an amazing heart. As she was kicking off HandHeld & Co, she decided that she wanted to donate a portion of each of her sales to a cause. Through some friends, she learned of an organization in Columbus called She Has a Name, which combats human trafficking right here in Columbus.

Image via She Has a Name

According to their mission statement, She Has a Name is “committed to engaging the community, strengthening partner organizations, and equipping survivors through workforce development.” They do this in three ways: by educating communities about human trafficking, by serving as a resource and support for survivors, and by collaborating with practitioners in order to provide the best possible care to survivors. They strongly believe that “survivors of human trafficking have a name, a nobility, and a narrative.”

Ten percent of Isabella’s profits go to the organization to further the efforts of She Has a Name in our very own community!

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Succulents and cacti are Isabella’s “thing,” which is evident when looking at her work. Many of her cards feature beautiful succulent and cacti subjects.  When asked what her favorite houseplant was, Isabella responds, “Probably silver Philodendron and most types of Euphorbia.”

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

You can find HandHeld & Co. products on their website and at various festivals, bazaars, and pop-ups. (Check out the HandHeld Instagram account for updated information on events!) You can also find her products in some boutiques and stores in both Columbus and Dayton.

As a seasonal side note, I also want to add that right now HandHeld & Co. is offering some gorgeous Christmas-themed cards, shown below. If you haven’t bought your seasonal cards yet, be sure to check out the website!

Image via HandHeld & Co.

Not only is Isabella of HandHeld an amazing artist, but she also is a kind and wonderful person.  It is a pleasure to not only live in the same community as her, but to share her amazing work here on my blog!


Check out HandHeld & Co. here:
Website: https://www.handheldandco.com
Instagram: @handheldandco

– the {house}plant momma

A Touch of Magic: All About Propagation

I have to confess something: I am a huge Harry Potter fan. When my husband and I first started dating, I noticed that he had the entire series of books in his closet. Now, not to say anything bad about my sweet hubby but…he’s not really a reader. He’d rather sit down and play his guitar for hours on end or play a video game.

When I asked him about the books, he enthusiastically told me that I absolutely had to read them because they were amazing. I had read the first book – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – in college and liked it well enough, but not enough to pursue reading the other books. However, upon his high praise and recommendation, I dove into the series.

Image via Warner Brothers

He was right. The books were fantastic. I fell in love with each of the characters in their own right, absolutely dying inside when one of them was killed, cheering on Dumbledore’s army, swooning over the love story interwoven into the action. After reading the second book, I couldn’t stop…until I read the entire series. I was devastated when I finished the last book because there was no more. And so, I decided to start back at the very beginning again.

Further proof of my obsession: I almost named my daughter “Luna” because I love Luna Lovegood so much…

Seriously my favorite… (Image via Warner Brothers)
Can we say #freespirit? (Image via Warner Brothers)

In my opinion, one of the most enticing parts of Harry Potter is the idea of magic. We see the concept all around us – from Disney movies to video games, fantasy computer games to books like the Harry Potter series. How many times I have wished I could say, “Accio water!” from bed, and a glass of water would magically float into my room, or “Silencio!” when my three-year-old has asked me “why” 30000000 times in one hour.

Unfortunately, in the world outside of J.K. Rowling’s imagination is far less magical. If I want a glass of water, I have to march down to the kitchen to get it myself…and I have to answer “why” 30000001 times.

But there is one area of life that I consider to be simply magical, and that is propagation. It is simply amazing to me that one day, I put a seemingly nondescript plant cutting into water and when I check on it later – even sometimes as few as several days later – there are roots emerging from the stem.


I know it’s not magic, but to me the experience is magical.

My dining room gets awesome afternoon sun, and is where I have my little propagation station set up right now. I use a variety of jars and bottles for propagation, pretty much anything that will hold water and properly support the cuttings (i.e. I don’t use a tiny jar for a big cutting).


My favorite plant by far to propagate is Tradescantia, sometimes known as spiderwort. I have propagated various varitities of this plant, including Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ (Wandering Jew Zebrina), Tradescantia ‘green and white’ (a green and white variegated Wandering Jew), and Bolivian Wandering Jew (Callisia Repens). I have had great luck with getting all three varieties to root in water. Many times, I have taken cuttings off my Wandering Jew Zebrina, have water propagated the cuttings, and have given friends these cuttings once they’ve rooted.


Once, I tried propagating Tradescantia cuttings in soil only. They did not do well like this, and the stems ended up rotting out.

Another easy plant to propagate is Pothos. I have experimented with propagating several different varieties of Pothos, including Golden Pothos and Marble Pothos. These have done very well for me when I place them in water. In a matter of days, I notice little roots pushing out of the nodes on their stem and in what seems like no time at all, they are ready to place in soil.


Other plants that I have successfully rooted in water include Ficus benjamina, Syngonium, and Philodendron (although I should say that I have tried multiple varieties and only my Philodendron ‘brasil’ has rooted).

I have also tried propagating my Snake Plant. I have tried using both water propagation and putting cuttings in soil, but neither of these produced any results. The cuttings I put in water just turned to mush, and the cuttings I put into soil ended up drying out. I was very disappointed about these unsuccessful propagations, as Snake Plants are one of my absolute favorite plants!


I tried propagating some English Ivy and some Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ once in some beautiful hanging wall vases I had. While the Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ rooted, the English Ivy did not and eventually died. Knowing what I know now, I believe it was because that wall didn’t get enough sun. (The Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ rooted much more slowly there than they have rooted when I put them in a more sunny location.)

I have read up on succulent propagation, but have only just recently had a bit of luck with it. I threw some succulent leaves into soil and have been trying to leave them alone (i.e. not water them, poke at them – ha!). I have been lucky enough to see some tiny roots emerge from the leaves, so I am hopeful that they will grow into viable plants eventually.


I should add that I have never worked with rooting hormones. I know that many of the fellow plant growers/collectors I follow on Instagram use that for more successful propagation. I myself have not experimented with it…yet. I’m sure in the future I’ll want to try something new and will give it a go!

Propagation is such an amazing, magical thing to be a part of. It allows me to expand my plant collection for free, but it also allows me to share my plants with friends – which really is one of my favorite parts the whole plant experience!


Have you ever experienced the magic of propagation? If so, please tell me about your experiences. Also, if you have tips for me as I move forward with propagating, please feel free to share! I’m always eager to learn more!

– the {house}plant momma



Products I {Heart}: Metallic Planters

Growing up, I never really thought much of metallic tones. Maybe it was because my parents didn’t use many of them to decorate our home (aside from brass lamps in our living room), or maybe it was because my mom didn’t wear jewelry; either way, metals never really did anything for me.

When I got older and started wearing jewelry, I only liked to wear silver. I remember when I was in the 8th grade, my best friend went to London and brought me back a real silver necklace with a blue glass teardrop charm. I thought it was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen!

However, when I got still older, I began to appreciate metallic tones more – especially when it came to important things like my engagement ring and wedding band. You better believe I wasn’t UNinterested in metal when it came to that!

As my husband and I have worked to decorate our home, I have noticed more and more metallic items sneaking their way in. When we decorated our first home together, we only used brushed nickel and stainless steel. However, as we have been working on our new home (which has needed pretty much EVERYTHING replaced and updated), lots of gold and brass tones are making an appearance…and I’m not mad about it!

Metals are a great way to add a certain richness, depth, and shine to your space. There are so many different options to choose from – shiny to brushed finishes, gold to silver to bronze, and even rose gold is becoming popular.

Metallic planters are also a great way to accentuate your plants, as they really draw the eye. They easily take a lovely plant and make it into a statement piece. I have a few metallic planters in my home now, but here are some that have caught my eye recently.

Industrial Metal Planter 

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Image via Etsy

Rossum Metallic Plant Stand (various sizes)

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Image via Anthropologie

Sahara Brass Planter

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Image CB2

Chrome Satin Foil Planter

Amazon Chrome.jpg
Image via Amazon 

Hammered Trio Plant Hanger

Antrho Hammered Trio.jpg
Image via Anthropologie

Eden Cross Base Standing Planter

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Image via West Elm

Metallic Pineapple Air Plant Magnet

Etsy Pineapple Magnet.jpg
Image via Etsy

Cross Base Terrarium

West Elm Cross Base Terrarium.jpg
Image via West Elm

Sparkly Trio Air Plant Holders

Etsy Sparkly Trio.jpg
Image via Etsy

Antiqued Silver Planter

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Image via Amazon

Do you like using metallic tones in your home? Which of these planters most caught your eye? I hope you’ll tell me about it in the comments section below!

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– the {house}plant momma

Momma’s Evening Out

My husband loves me. I mean, I know he loves me all the time, but sometimes he goes above and beyond to make me happy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we recently moved into a new house; what I haven’t shared, though, is that the house has been one issue after another – from carpenter ants infesting the walls to water damage to leaking pipes. The cost of moving plus the cost of all of the unexpected repairs has made us a little more financially careful right now.  It has also been emotionally exhausting.

Love him.

About a month ago, I received an e-mail from Stump, a local plant boutique, about their upcoming workshops. One of these workshops really caught my eye – a workshop focused on creating cactus and succulent planters. I immediately wanted to go, but was hesitant to spend the money. When I mentioned it to my husband, he had one word, “Go.” That’s it. He knew how happy attending this workshop would make me, and he made my happiness a top priority.

He’s so good to me. *swoon* <Ok, I’ll stop with the mushy stuff…>



I arrived to Stump the evening of the workshop, excited to get my hands dirty! The lovely owners, Emily and Brian, had the shop all set up for the workshop – including delicious snacks and drinks. For the first half an hour or so, we snacked, chatted, and admired all of the gorgeous plants Stump has to offer.

The cactus and succulent room at Stump is kinda my favorite…


And then, the real fun began! Before we began, Emily explained how to successfully make a cactus or succulent planter – first add dirt, carefully remove your plants (including how to avoid losing a finger if you were working with cacti!), set your plants carefully in the soil, and cover with a decorative soil cover. She also discussed how to care for the planters, including water and light requirements.

The lovely Emily giving directions
Aren’t these bowls lovely?

As soon as Emily was done demonstrating and giving instructions, she invited us to pick our plants and begin creating our planters. I meticulously poured over the plants, opting to create a cactus planter. There were so many unique options – big and small – that it was really difficult to choose the plants I wanted to use. Finally, though, I decided on five little pots of cacti, a terracotta bowl, and a light-colored soil cover.

So many amazing options!
My selections

I began by looking carefully at my cacti and mentally figuring out how I wanted to arrange them in the planter. I moved them around in a variety of ways on the counter, trying to gauge how they would look best in my bowl. After I had an idea of how I wanted to arrange the cacti, I filled my terracotta bowl with soil.


Next, I carefully removed the cacti from their planters. I did this by first gently squeezing the outside of planter to loosen the soil. Then, I dumped out the soil and cactus gently on the counter. I removed much of the soil from the roots, trying all the while not to get pricked! I made a small hole in the dirt in my planter and carefully set the cactus down in the hole. I used my fingers, as well as the blunt end of a paintbrush, to pack down the soil around the bottom of the cactus. I then used the brush end of the paintbrush to remove excess dirt that got caught in the spikes.

Time to brush off the cacti!

Despite my best attempts, I got some pretty good pricks on the finger! Emily and Brian provided leather gloves for handling the cacti, but me – being ridiculous and stubborn – didn’t put them on.


After all of my cacti were in the bowl and had adequate dirt around their roots, I used a light color decorative soil cover on top of the soil and perlite. I used the paintbrush again to push the soil cover into the little nooks and crannies under the cacti.


Ta-da!  Finished product!

At the end of the workshop, Emily provided a care card for my planter, which will be helpful if I have any questions on how much water or light my planter needs. (I’m sure this was especially helpful for those who attended the workshop that were relatively new to plants…but as my last post discussed, I keep drowning my cacti, so I’m sure this will help me, too!)


As I prepared to leave…my eye caught a gorgeous string of hearts plant for sale. I have had this on my plant wish list for AGES, so naturally I couldn’t leave without it.

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My evening spent at Stump was amazing, and I left with some beautiful plants to add to my collection. Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom gets monotonous; the everyday routine can become cumbersome. I am so thankful for the opportunity to step outside of the norm and enjoy a night out!

– the {house}plant momma

Just Like My Gaga: Growing My Love of Cacti

When I was little, I remember visiting my great-grandmother’s house. My Gaga grew up in Arizona, and always said it was her favorite place in the whole world. Around the house, she had various cactus-themed items – pictures, decorative pots (somehow always devoid of cacti, though?), etc.

I love this picture of my Gaga.  Even though this picture was taken way before I was born, it totally captures her spirit the way I remember her!
Striking a pose while visiting her beloved Arizona.

I vividly remember that in her kitchen, she had a framed photo of a landscape featuring giant cacti. I thought that picture was the ugliest thing I had ever seen…but she loved it. I completely didn’t “get” her love of the desert and cacti.

The infamous “ugly picture,” which now resides with my mom.

However, as I continue on my plant journey, I find myself being drawn to cacti more and more. I don’t know what it is about them – their stark outlines, the novelty of their “dangerous” spikes, or the earthy look of cacti combined with terra cotta pots; but suddenly, I am completely in love with cacti.

When I first got into plants, everyone told me that cacti and succulents were the “easiest” plants to keep alive because they required so little care. However, those who told me that didn’t take into consideration my “helicopter-plant-mom” tendencies.


I have slowly been adding cacti to my plant collection, but…I keep killing them. (There, I said it! I admit it! Wahhh!) I have killed three or four cacti in the last few months by over-watering them. They’ll look great at first, but then slowly get a yellowish hue and begin to tip over. When I try to get them to stand up straight, without fail, they fall apart in my hand and I see that I have completely rotted out the roots.

I was recently taught a couple of tips that I have been trying when it comes to keeping cacti. Thus far, they have been working for the few cacti I have managed not to kill, so I thought I would share them here.

Tip #1: Use a fast-draining soil.

Standard potting soil is meant to help hold in moisture, but for cacti, this is a death sentence. Purchase a soil blend that is specifically formulated for cacti and succulents. By using a soil that drains quickly, the excess water can drain out and your cacti roots won’t sit in water, causing the roots to rot.


Another great way to keep soil from being too wet is to add perlite into the soil. Perlite helps keep the soil nice and “fluffy,” allowing more air around the roots. (Many times if you purchase a cactus from a nursery or plant boutique, you’ll notice it comes potted with a lot of perlite or even some sand in the soil.)

Tip #2: Pot your cacti in terracotta or unglazed clay pots.

Plastic planters, as well as ceramic planters that are glazed, hold in moisture. For many houseplants, that is a good thing. However, once again, cacti like it dry. Terracotta and unglazed clay pots tend to be more dry and allow the excess moisture to escape more quickly. The faster evaporation is another way to prevent your roots from rotting.


Most of my cacti (and succulents) currently reside in plastic pots, but I am in the process of moving them all to terracotta planters.  I am hoping that this will help them live longer, happier lives!

Tip #3: “When in doubt, drought.”

This little saying was recently taught to me, and it’s been an easy way to remember that cacti like it dry. As my Gaga’s favorite picture showed, cacti grow naturally in hot, sunny, desert-y places. They aren’t used to rain coming regularly ; they actually thrive on less water. For that reason, if you are wondering if your cacti need water, wait a bit longer before watering. I promise – they’ll like the neglect!


My sweet Gaga is no longer with us, but I like to think that she would be excited by my new love of cacti. If she were still alive, I’m sure she would get that wistful look in her eye at the mention of cacti, and begin telling me stories about her years growing up in Arizona.

Me and my Gaga (And yes, I have always been this sassy…)

(Who knows – she might even have some tips for me on how to stop killing my cacti!) This connection to my family – and my heritage – makes falling in love with cacti all the sweeter.

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– the {house}plant momma


Essential Oils: The Lifeblood of Plants

Today, I’m super excited that my friend, Laurie, is sharing some unique information about plants – their use in essential oils!  I hope you enjoy the information she shares.  Please also be sure to check out her blog – One Mom and a Blog.

– the {house}plant momma

There’s something so refreshing about adding a plant to your indoor living environment. Perhaps it’s the colors and textures of nature juxtaposed with man-made things. Maybe it’s their “living” presence in the room or the fresh air they provide. Although not all plants are suitable to be brought indoors, the ones that are allow us to grow our love for these fragile creatures by tending to their needs. The simple act of caring for a houseplant can teach the patience, persistence and perseverance needed to nurture nature. Just like tending a garden, the hard work of sowing, watering, and providing a favorable environment will reap reward over time.

Whatever the reason you enjoy the presence of plants, allow me to enrich your appreciation by expanding on their hidden beauty – a beauty that flows deep inside the leaves, stems, flowers, roots, or bark of certain plants and provides something more than meets eye – something that dates back through ancient history.

What Are Essential Oils?

For thousands of years people have been using the aromatic, volatile liquid that’s within many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. These liquids are known as essential oils and are usually extracted through steam distillation, hydrodistillation, or cold-pressed extraction. Highly concentrated, and far more potent than dried herbs, large volumes of plant material produce small amounts of a distilled essential oil. For example, it takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce 1 Kilo (2.2 pounds) of valuable rose essential oil.


Through the process of photosynthesis, certain plants can produce more than food! They also convert nutrients into essential oils in order to protect themselves from sickness and insect damage.

Plant parts used to distill essential oils include flowers like the ones used to make the lovely fragranced essential oil Ylang Ylang. Flowering tops are used for Clary Sage, fruit is used to produce Bergamot, grasses make Xiang Mao, gum or resin makes valuable Frankincense, leaves and stems make Basil, roots produce Ginger, seeds make Anise and lastly, wood, bark, twigs and needles make essential oils like Cedarwood, Pine, and Spruce.


These are just a few examples of hundreds of different essential oils that can be found on the market today. Known as “the lifeblood of plants,” essential oils are said to be the immune system of the plant – the building blocks of the plant’s DNA. This analogy helps us understand how essential oils carry vital nutrients throughout a plant so that it stays healthy and strong just like our gut hosts billions of microbes and beneficial bacteria that act as a primary defense against disease in our bodies.

How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils can support the health and wellness of humans the same way they support the health and wellness of the original plant they were distilled from – oxygenating and detoxifying where needed most. Working to support every body system, their therapeutic properties promote healthy brain function, healthy weight, and even emotional support. Fragrance is said the be the substance of memories and research shows that when the pure constituents in essential oils are inhaled it can activate regions of the brain associated with memory, state of mind, and emotion. When inhaled, it only takes 22 seconds for an essential oils to reach the brain!


Using essential oils to support healthy body function through topical or internal use are just a few of the many ways these versatile substances can be appreciated. Like houseplants, essential oils can also clean and purify the air! Houseplants do this by absorbing gases through pores on the surface of their leaves, but essential oils not only replace toxic fragrances like those in sprays, candles, and plug-in’s, they can also neutralize toxic molecules when diffused or sprayed into the air. Can your odor-eliminating spray do that?

Quality Matters

As we reach the understanding that nutrients, beneficial microbes, and bacteria are key to fending off disease in our bodies, it is important to recognize that the health of plants works much the same way. When we stuff our bodies full of food that is void of nutrition or we kill beneficial microbes and bacteria with the overuse of antibiotics or obsessive cleanliness, we can expect a weak immune system. It can also be noted that when we experience chronic stress our immune system is also weakened.


You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, plants don’t eat or take antibiotics.” But those of you who understand the liveliness of plants know that providing your plants with fertilizer and growing them in the right type of soil and sunlight is the equivalent of a healthy, well-balanced meal in a human being. Likewise, when plants experience stress they are more vulnerable to experiencing pest or disease issues. Poisonous pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can be considered “junk food” for plants rendering them unhealthy.

The reason it is important to care about the soil and nutrients that are provided to the plants that will eventually be distilled into essential oils is that the quality of the plants being used matters! Lots of variables determine the growth and health of the plants and thus the quality of the essential oil. Purchasing and using essential oils from a trusted source is an important first step in safe and effective use.


Another factor to take into consideration when choosing what essential oils to buy is purity. Unfortunately many companies today adulterate or extend their essential oils with the use of synthetic-made compounds that are added to the oil. The only way to tell if an oil has been adulterated is through analytical testing using gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, and an optical refractometer.

Grow Your Love for Plants

I have been so blessed by reading Allison’s blog and watching her Instagram posts breathe life into my feed from nature which we all so desperately need – even if we choose to deny it. Adding houseplants to my life has been an enriching experience and has only enhanced my love and appreciation for essential oils. I’m so thankful for the care that goes into growing the plants that are later distilled into essential oils and frequently used in my home and on my family. Plants remind me of the beauty of nature and the smell of its essential oil is like a salve for my soul.

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Gary Young The World Leader in Essential Oils pg. 114
Essential Oils Desk Reference: Sixth Edition pg. 43, pg. 26, pg. 3
Soil is the Immune System of the Garden

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, please see Laurie’s disclosure page.  Also, learn more about essential oils by joining her VIP Essential Oil Facebook group here. Thanks! 



Products I {Heart}: Watering Cans

Ah, watering cans – one of the most basic parts of plant care. Do you have a special watering can you use when you water your plant babes? I’ll be honest…I am super-duper lame when it comes to watering my plants: I use an old water bottle the inevitably ends up spilling everywhere. (I frequently have to go grab a towel and clean up before my husband sees the mess; he gets unhappy and gripes that I’m “going to ruin the furniture with water damage…”)

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Image via @philos_and_fern

I have to tell you, though, whenever I look through my Instagram feed or on Pinterest and see a picture with an attractive watering can, it immediately catches my eye. There’s definitely something to be said for making all parts of your surroundings beautiful. Gone are the days where your watering can has to be a big clunky green monstrosity; there are so many cute – and unique – options out there!

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Image via The Future Kept

Today, I want to share some of my favorite watering cans with you. (And, with any luck, maybe Santa will bring me one of these for Christmas! <hint hint>)

Polished Watering Can

Anthro Metallic WC
Image via Anthropologie

Modern Copper Watering Can

West Elm Copper WC
Image via West Elm

Stainless Steel Watering Can

Amazon Stainless Steel WC
Image via Amazon

Hammered Copper Watering Can

Amazon Hammered Copper WC.jpg
Image via Amazon

Adorable Elephant Watering Can

Amazon Elephant WC.jpg
Image via Amazon

White Classic Watering Can

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Image via Hayneedle

When Pigs Fly Watering Can

Amazon Pig WC.jpg
Image via Amazon

Circular Brass Watering Can

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Image via Amazon

Ikea BITTERGURKA Watering Can (comes in several colors)

Image via IKEA

Haws Solid Copper Watering Can

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Image via Anthropologie

Have you found other watering cans you like as you have meandered through the Internet? If so, please share them with me in the comments section below. I’m always looking for something new and inspiring…and there’s still time to adjust my list to Santa!

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– the {house}plant momma

No Longer Plant Killers: Tierra Sol Studio

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with little things. As a child of the 90’s, that meant that I couldn’t get enough of Polly Pocket dolls tucked inside their clamshells, Littlest Pet Shop animals, and Maple Town characters – complete with a teeny-tiny baby bottle (which I still have!).

As an adult, I still have an attraction to miniature things, so I guess that it’s no surprise that a tiny thimble cactus caught my eye one day when I was browsing on Instagram. Upon further investigation, I discovered Tierra Sol Studio – a fantastic Etsy store that specializes in low maintenance cacti and succulents in a variety of sizes. As soon as I read the first line of the “About” section on their website (which reads, “I am so happy you found us! We were plant killers too!”), I know this was a company I wanted to work with!

Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

I have ordered several cacti from Tierra Sol Studio (here’s their Etsy store), and have been so impressed by the products I have received. The cacti have arrived in tip-top shape, the little handmade pots are so cute and perfectly complement the cacti, and – most impressively – my recent move did not even phase these cacti. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have these plants in my collection!

Tierra Sol Studio was started in January 2014 by Seana and Yair Monley Rodriguez because, as Seana puts it, “We couldn’t keep plants alive.” Seana wanted to have plants in her writing space for grad school, but the apartment in which she and Yair lived had little light, and neither one had much experience with plants. She and Yair began experimenting with plants that could survive lower light conditions and the neglect that Seana’s long trips out of the country on fieldwork caused. They found that many succulents do not do well indoors, even though many are advertised as being “hard to kill.” Because of this, they began researching plants, their natural environments, and how they could best replicate those environments inside.

Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

“Our goal is to provide forever plants,” Seana tells me. With this goal in mind, Sean and Yair now grow the hardiest plants possible in a greenhouse that they designed and built specifically to allow plants to adapt easily to indoor light. They make their planters absorbent to avoid overwatering, discovering early on that glass containers did not work well for desert plants as it holds in too much humidity. Seana and Yair also hand-mix their own fluffy, sandy cactus and succulent soil.

Tierra Sol Studio has high standards for growing only low-maintenance cacti and succulents; the plants they grow survive with one tablespoon of water per month (or less) and have a low light minimum. They use only one type of hardy moss in their terrarium kits that needs no light at all (!!!) and only needs to be watered every six months. In case you can’t tell, they are truly committed to providing the most user-friendly, easy plant experience for fellow “plant killers.”

Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

Because of this commitment to excellence, Tierra Sol Studio has gotten national attention – which is well deserved, if you ask me! Their top selling unicorn moss terrarium kit has been featured by Buzzfeed three times, and they just recently came in second place in USA Today’s 10 Best Makers in the US: Home and Garden for their top-selling handmade planters and studio-grown plants. They have also been featured on Etsy a few times so far this year (2017).

Recently, Tierra Sol Studio started a new feature on their website: the Planter Killer Club, which allows them to connect more closely with fellow plant lovers. This club is intended to build the confidence of plant owners by providing tips and advice on plant care. Seana says, “We like being a part of an online plant community because we can see which plants people love that are classics and new variations, we hear about people’s plant problems, and are able to help them build their confidence about plant care.”

Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

I asked Seana why she loves working with plants, and she responded, “They make us feel happy and calm.” (I’m thinking to myself, This is the exact reason I work with them, as well!) “Plants are scientifically known to help us focus and reduce stress. They are beautiful and are relatively inexpensive ways to make bold changes in your home, which is especially nice in fall and winter when you spend more time in the cozy indoors.”

Seana also has valuable advice for those who are new to the world of houseplants. She recommends first doing research about the plants you need, or get your plants from a grower who is knowledgeable and can give you good recommendations. She also recommends starting small with a hardy plant, a high-quality, hand-mixed soil, and an absorbent planter. “The top reasons for succulent and cactus plant death are bringing in plants that can’t survive indoors and keeping plants in cheap soil that can slide out of the plastic cup. This soil clumps around roots, holds water against them, and kills them from the roots up. A great hand mixed soil and an absorbent pot will allow for roots to dry and receive oxygen.”

Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

(Seriously, I had an “ah-ha” moment when she said that…no wonder I always see cacti and succulents growing more happily in terracotta planters…duh!)

I love supporting small businesses, but I also love good quality products. Tierra Sol Studio puts a checkmark in BOTH of those boxes! Please take a look at their site – I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Each one of their little plants has so much personality! I seriously want one of each!

Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

Website: www.tierrasolstudio.com
Instagram: @tierrasolstudio
Email: tierrasolstudio@gmail.com
News: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/home-garden/article92381652.html

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Please take a look at their site and let me know what you think in the comments below!

– the {house}plant momma

High School Flashback: A Little Chemistry Anyone?

How much do you remember from your high school chemistry class? Um, yeah…me neither. Although I did well in the class, I think I spent most of my time trying to get out of working too hard, flirting with my crush, or being confused why H20 wasn’t called “hydrogen dioxide.” (We’ll call it a blonde moment, ok?)

If I were to ask you if you remember what pH means, would you remember? My go-to answer would be “it’s how acidic something is.” However, it’s also how basic something is, and by this I don’t mean “basic” as in pumpkin spice lattes, Bath and Body Works, or reading Cosmo. I’m talking “basic” like chemistry. Stay with me here!

Just to refresh your momory…pH stands for potential of hydrogen, and is a scale of acidity from 0 to 14. It tells how acidic or alkaline a substance is. More acidic solutions have lower pH. More alkaline solutions have higher pH. Substances that aren’t acidic or alkaline (that is, neutral solutions) usually have a pH of 7. Acids have a pH that is less than 7. Alkalis have a pH that is greater than 7. (Thanks Wikipedia for refreshing my memory!)

A few posts back, I discussed three important elements of proper houseplant care: light, water, and temperature. While these elements are of the utmost importance, I did forget to mention one – pH levels. This was brought to my attention by one of my Insta-friends who goes by the handle @that_one_plant_guy. He shared some great information with me that I am going to start integrating into my plant care routine.

Just as plants can survive without quite the right light or quite the right watering schedule, it is impossible for them to thrive if these conditions are not right for them. The same is true for pH levels; your plants may be able to “make it” if the pH of your soil is not correct, but they will not be able to grow to their full potential.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

In order to test – and adjust – the pH of your water (which in turn affects the pH of your soil), follow these steps:

Take a sample of the water used to water your plants. (For most folks, this is tap water.)

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Fill the testing container halfway full of the water to be tested.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Add three or four drops of testing solution to the water in the testing container.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Place lid on testing container and give it a shake. Compare your water sample to a pH chart, indicating the pH of your sample.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Depending on the pH of your water, adjust accordingly with a base or acid product. Mix well and let set for five to ten minutes.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Fill the testing container halfway full of your pH adjusted water. Add three to four drops of testing solution.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Compare the adjusted sample to the pH chart.

Image courtesy of @that_one_plant_guy

Keep in mind that not all plants require the same pH. It is important that you research the pH requirements of your plants in order to provide them with the proper levels. (I found this list to be very helpful!)

If you’d like to get started with measuring the pH of your soil, here are some products I’d recommend to get you started:

Full pH Control Kit
pH test kit (container and testing solution only)
pH measurement tool
Digital pH meter


I hope you’ll find this information helpful as you continue your houseplant journey!

**A huge thanks to my friend, @that_one_plant_guy, for sharing this awesome information and for allowing me to use it for my blog.

– the {house}plant momma

Luna: My Favorite Plant Store Ever!

If you read my very first blog post, you know that my plant journey truly began on a warm spring day in March 2017, when I stumbled upon a shop called Luna Gifts and Botanicals. Luna is located in the historic Oregon district – an up and coming area of Dayton, Ohio. As soon as I had been bitten by the “plant bug,” my visits to Luna became nearly a weekly occurrence. Not only is the shop beautiful, but some of the nicest, sweetest people you will ever meet work there. (Seriously, they remembered my kids’ names, remembered me from visit and visit, and would even text me suggestions of plants when I needed them! BEST EVER!)

Seeing this sign is like coming home!


Since my family and I moved from Dayton nearly two months ago, I have been missing my weekly visits to Luna terribly. I follow their account on Instagram (@luna_gifts), and their gorgeous posts make me even more homesick.

I love this little chalkboard sign!

Last week, I had the chance to go home to Dayton – specifically to visit my favorite plant store ever! As soon as I stepped into the shop, I could not stop smiling. Lovely plants in every shade of green, goods and gifts sourced from many independent artisans, and beautiful pots and planters surrounded me. To top it all off, I was given the warmest welcome by almost the complete staff of Luna, even including the owners! During my visit, I had a privilege to chat with the girls about many different aspects of their shop.



Luna’s sister store, Heart Mercantile, opened in October 2015, selling a variety of unique products and gifts. They added plants to their store’s offerings, and couldn’t keep plants on the shelves. However, Heart’s space was limited and when they heard the new retail space had opened up around the corner, the group of best friends decided to open a second store, focused mainly on plants and bohemian-themed gifts; Luna opened in September 2016.

It was all I could do not to take this guy home…

When describing the scope of both stores, the girls describe Heart as the “funny” or “dark” store (seriously if you ever visit, you’ll understand why…but you might not want to take your kids there if they can read – HA!), while Luna is the more “light” store. They are both seriously amazing!


One of my favorite things about Luna is that it is not just a plant store, but sells many different types of products – from crystals to candles, books to jewelry, planters to food goods. They features a lot of Etsy vendors for these items, a total of 200 different sellers between Heart and Luna. (Some of their favorite Etsy venders include: Pen + Pillar cards, Wild Botanicals, 39 north jewelry, Heartswell, Capricorn Press, URB Apothecary, Savve Studios, and Goodsmith Studio.) They also source local products as often as they can. Their goal is to find unique gifts and goods – something different that you can’t find elsewhere – and they do a fantastic job of it!

Um, I think I need one of each…

When it comes to plants, the Luna staff likes to handpick unique plants for their customers – and they love learning about new varieties along the way. All of this knowledge trickles down to Luna’s patrons. When you begin searching for a plant at Luna, you will find that the plants are grouped together by the type of light they prefer and the amount of care they require. This is just one way that the Luna girls try to help their customers – specifically those who might be new to owning houseplants – have a successful plant experience. They also have care cards up by the register for the different types of plants they sell. These are available for customers to take, giving the purchaser a good foundation of knowledge to take with them.



However, my favorite way to find out more about plants is – of course – to ask! The girls who work at Luna are so incredibly knowledgeable about the plants they sell. They give great advice as to what type of plant will do well in a certain space – taking into account light of your space, as well as how much time you want to commit to it’s care – and have a great aesthetic eye for offering advice on planters or other gifts and decor. They have seriously never steered me wrong!

Looking up…

I asked what the most commonly sold plant at Luna is; the girls agreed snake plants, ZZ plants, and air plants are some of their most-sold plants. They also sell a lot of cacti and succulents, which just so happened to be the plant of the week during my visit.


During our time together, I shared with the girls that my first successful plant experience had been a monstera plant purchased at their shop. They were so tickled that they had been the inspiration for this crazy plant journey on which I find myself! (I think it was then that they understood why I have such a soft place in my heart for them, as well!)

Beautiful cards – perfect for any occasion


When the time came for me to leave, I received hugs all around, an adorable little pineapple air plant magnet (which I’m obsessed with and have on my refrigerator), and I made many promises to be back soon to see all of their Christmas displays.

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The gorgeous ladies of Luna (from left to right): Carly Barrett, Brittany Smith, Kammi Kuskowski, Tracy Robillard, and Sarah Smith (not pictured: Kelsey Kussman)

If you are ever in Dayton – or even the greater Dayton area – be sure to stop by Luna Gifts and Botanicals. I promise you won’t be disappointed! (And while you’re there, be sure to swing by Press next door for some of the best coffee you’ll ever have. I recommend the latte!)



You can visit Luna at 261 Wayne Avenue, Dayton, Ohio, 45402. (Please note: parking is across the street!) Their hours of operation are Tuesday thru Thursday, 11:00 to 6:00; Friday and Saturday, 11:00 to 7:00; and Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00. If you go check them out, don’t forget to tell them the {house}plant momma sent you!

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To learn more about Luna…
Website: www.lunadayton.com
Instagram: @luna_gifts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lunadayton/

Also, if you’re interested, to learn more about Luna’s sister store, Heart Mercantile…
Website: www.heartmercantile.com
Instagram: @heart_mercantile
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeartMercantile/

– the {house}plant momma