Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jacksonville Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale, A Symphony of Orchids

What can represent spring more than a room filled with colorful, tropical orchids? I've missed the annual Orchid Society's show for the past couple of years and was excited to finally witness these beautiful flowers in person. There were more varieties than I've ever seen; I didn't even know so many existed. To complete "Orchid Day" I also found inexpensive orchids for purchase at the flea market and was gifted a random orchid! I think I need more... they're addictive.

To prove plants are therapeutic, I must share this colorful plant goodness with you. They're like Skittle flowers, Taste the Orchid Rainbow.

Don't you feel better already? For full immersion, smell something floral while scrolling down!

I took 70 more photos of orchids that day! I need to get my Flickr account back up to link to the "rest" of the photos in my sets like the photo-hoarder I'm becoming! Look for that in future posts.

If you'd like to adopt your own beautiful orchid child, here's a detailed guide for their care. Despite being rainforest dwelling tropicals, they only need water every 5-12 days depending on the variety. They're not as low-maintenance as cacti, but they like low-light conditions, making them good houseplants. Another article that always springs to mind when I think of orchids is You Grow Girl's interview with Derek Powazek on how he successfully grows orchids in his apartment. Check it out, I love personal gardening stories.

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I'm prepping for an outdoor vintage sale this Saturday (4/4/2015) at Hemming Plaza (across from the Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA) from 7:30-9:00. I'll post more details soon. If you're local, I hope to see you there. Inspired by my growing muse I'll have some artfully arranged planters and some items I've never put out to the public, like my prized disco/R&B/Prince/Michael Jackson record collection and a sneak peek at my soap line. Hit me up via e-mail, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook if you have any questions.

/Comments Off  For today, also gotta finish prep for a "Cooking with Herbs" class and run around some more! Aah! Need more tea! And Food!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

6 Offbeat Tips on Full Time Blogging and Getting Advertisers You -Haven't- Read

Full-time blogging would appear to be a dream job. Write what you want, set your own hours, choose your topic; bliss. If I get e-mailed questions about blogging they're more-than-likely asking how I got sponsors and readers. You do need readers to have sponsors, but let's focus on this advertising conundrum. Because it's not all it's cracked up to be, and you may be better without them.

1/ Don't Start a Personal Blog Just to Get Advertisers 

It always surprises me when a brand new blogger asks how to get ads. Personal blogging, first and foremost, should be an outlet to express yourself. It's where you explore your hobbies and connect with others. I started my blog because of a passion for writing, photography, design, sustainability, and creativity. I never dreamed it would become a huge revenue source.

If you set out from the start to make your blog a profit-making enterprise it takes the "personal" out of it. You'd have to run it like a business, making a business plan from the get-go. You may need start-up capital so you could advertise or cross-promote with bigger blogs or a loan/savings amount to pay bills until your blog's making that green.  It's very difficult to make a living from your blog, and it takes a long time to build your audience. (I have been blogging under this name since 2009, I didn't think about ads until at least two years in.) Start your blog from a place of love and passion instead. And that leads into a 2nd, and better, way to earn income from your blog...

2/ Focus on Connected Shops, Opportunities, Networking

Running Thrift Core directly led to my ability to be self-employed. It was not via the advertisements. Instead, Thrift Core made me money by bringing buyers to my online shop and introducing me to marketing clients. I continue to learn from my generous readers. More important than the ads, a blog is a valuable selling and networking tool.

3/ Think of Your Theme

If you want to have advertisers, you may have to pigeonhole yourself a bit. Brands want to advertise on a page with a clear identity. This is another pitfall of starting a blog for advertisers or hinging your living on them; it can limit your blogging creativity. Think of a short slogan for your blog (let's say, 7-11 words max, as limits force creativity) to help you narrow your focus.

4/ Grow Your Readership Authentically 

A blog needs readers to sell ads, because these individuals will click through and support your sponsors. A brand new blog, devoid of daily visitors, shouldn't think about ads for this reason. The best way to grow your readership is by posting genuinely helpful, entertaining, quality content. Write the content you would want to read, do it to the best of your ability. Make genuine connections with honest, helpful comments on other blogs and forums. If you build it, they will come.

5/ Ignore Counters, Stats, and Numbers (at least for a while)

When I first started blogging it was random. When I decided to take it seriously a year in, I put all of the skills I learned working as a web marketer/copywriter to the test. I wrote in a specific way, I networked, I social media'd. I looked at what posts were popular and created new posts based on those. I checked my counters, google analytics and stats daily. With that single-minded focus on traffic I got stuck in an unwanted direction (thrifting versus the intended lifestyle theme), because it was popular.

Now I check none of that. I casually blog and write, I'm back in my experimental phase. It's more important that I share exactly what I'm passionate about to keep this space sincere. I highly recommend anyone go through this path of discovery at the start, and it's easier to do this when you ignore the numbers.

6/ Don't Compare. Don't Copy. Be Yourself Completely.

I know it's hard as hell to get out of the comparison rut. You see bigger blogs, you want their ads and clicks. You may be jealous they can seemingly make a living from blogging so effortlessly. Seemingly perfect lives are photographed, shared, sold, and set on pedestals to emulate.

But you know better. If it looks too good to be true, it is. They're not sharing the arguments and frustrations going on behind-the-scenes. Running the biggest blogs requires a huge commitment of time and energy, believe me, they are just as stressed as you are. There are lovely perks, like setting your own schedule and working at home, but it has soul-crushing moments. Stay in your lane, focus on making your work the best it can be. Make it exactly like you want to without emulating another. Like my favorite artist quote says, this is a reward in itself.

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I'm not sharing this advice to be discouraging, quite the opposite. It's my firm belief that everyone should blog and/or keep a journal. But I want to be real and honest, blogging for pay is hard, trying to blog for a full time living is harder. But there are many examples that it can be done.  I have marketing services and ebooks on the way for indie business owners that need help, but, as always, feel free to comment below or e-mail me if you have any questions.

Let's Discuss: What do you think makes a good blog? What do you like to read? Do you feel like advertisers take away from the experience? 
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Keep Your Houseplants Alive and Healthy: Learn The Top 10 Houseplant Killers

Who doesn't adore house plants? Greenery love is innate, stemming from hunter/gathering times. Surrounding yourself with living (not fake) plants reduces stress and purifies the air.   NASA has even used them to filter air in space facilities, which makes sense in the cramped quarters of a space station; pollutants can be trapped and become more toxic than outdoor ones! Add plants next to your bed or desk, and the space will immediately feel more homey and relaxing. If you're a black-thumb, I've got tips to help you keep them alive! Let's identify and avoid the top plant killers:

Plant Killer 1/ Wet Roots

If your plant takes in too much water without proper drainage, the roots will rot and your plant-child will perish. Make sure your planter has plenty of drainage. Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the planter to help with drainage if there are no holes.

Plant Killer 2/ Direct Sun

Many houseplants are tropicals, appropriated for interior use. Exotic tropicals evolved to thrive in the partial light received from beneath a thick forest canopy. If you're seeing random brown spots on your plant, it could be sunburn.

Plant Killer 3/ Not Enough Sun

Some plants, like herbs, prefer ample, full daylight. Cacti are extremely hardy and do well even in the partial sun indoors versus the blazing elements they evolved for. Succulents, however, no matter how trendy for indoor use, can be tricky to grow inside because they're desert plants that crave sun.

Plant Killer 4/ Choosing the Wrong Type

Don't go with what's trendy-- go with what will live in your space. If your space is dim and humid, go for tropicals. Bright and sunny? Succulents and herbs may work for you. If you're a noted plant killer, start with a very hardy cacti.

I'm dying to add some hanging plants to every room's corner! I will follow-up with plants for air purifying and hard-to-kill plant recommendations in future posts. 

Plant Killer 5/ Doomed From The Start

Big box retailers like Home Depot may be your only option for plants. Unfortunately, these plants are uprooted from greenhouses and shipped over long distances. They've already faced environmental changes that put a plant into shock: movement, light/soil/humidity changes. Always take the time to select the healthiest-looking specimens. But beware, even shining examples hide unseen ailments. If you were careful to select the right plant for your space and took care of it according to its needs only for it to perish, it may have been doomed from the start. (This isn't to say you shouldn't buy plants from Lowes, Home Depot, or even Walmart. I have. Just buy with care. And don't beat yourself up if it dies, it may not have been your fault at all!)

Plant Killer 6/ Wrong Care / No Research

Plants come from different biospheres around the world and require different soil types, humidity levels and moisture levels. Cacti prefer sandy, well draining soil. Herbs and vegetables need extremely rich nutritious soil to produce food. Look up what your plant's needs and deliver.

Plant Killer 7/ Not Enough Water

Just like too much water, no water, of course, can kill. Water according to your plant's needs. Even your cactus wants a deep drenching (like a desert rain) every once in a while.

Plant Killer 8/ Not Transplanting / Careless Transplanting

Your plant will eventually outgrow its home and need a new pot. Don't wait too long before upgrading your plant or it will become root-bound (the roots have no where to go in the pot) and die. I'll cover it in a future post, but some houseplants are idiot-proof in this regard because they don't mind being root-bound! (Cacti and succulents are in this camp.) When you transplant, don't rip at the precious roots! Would you like your toes ripped off? Shake the roots loose carefully and don't bury your plant's trunk below the soil line (unless it's basil or tomato, which can grow roots from the stem) or you could rot the stem/trunk.

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I hope this helps you fill your home with beautiful plants while keeping killing at a minimum. Even the best gardeners sometimes kill a plant; truly, all gardeners are accidental murderers. My beautiful tree from IKEA in this post bit the dust, and I've been growing since childhood. Remember, your plant baby may have been abused before you had it. Each one is a unique organism with its own quirks. Don't let mistakes discourage you from this beautiful, life-giving, planet purifying hobby. I come from a long line of gardeners and I'll never stop growing. It's such a pleasure to nurture a plant and watch it thrive.

And if you believe dated interior design books that write-off a plant as simple decor to be replaced if it dies (tee-hee, their vapid tone reads) Poison Ivy will find you and smite you for that arrogance!

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See Also: Step-by-Step Tips for Planting Succulents • Master Gardener Seed Starting Tips  Tips for Using Vintage Planters  Succulent Still Life DIY  Violet Planter Ideas  Herb Growing Tips + Planter DIY  Garden Dreams Beginner Veggie Gardening Tips

Inspiring Gardens: Terri's Comfortable Neptune Beach Garden • Our Food Park Opening  My Grandparent's Colorful, Plant-Filled Puerto Rican Bungalow  The Real Puerto Rico: My Grandparent's Barrio • My Old Apartment Garden • Permaculture Gardening Updates •  Maggie's Herb Farm • Urban Garden Inspiration

Got any more questions or tips? Let's discuss in the comments. I'll be following up with plants for air purifying and my favorite die-hard varieties.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.
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