An Apartment Patio Garden.

 Patio Garden | The Orange Slate2

Patio Garden | The Orange Slate3

When we moved south and into our current apartment, I was particularly excited about trying a potted garden. I’ve tried to grow the occasional potted herb, with varying and unexciting success.

When we lived in our last house in D.C., we planted a few ground plants, but I kept my potted herbs inside on the windowsill (where they didn’t flourish in the least) because, although we had a small yard and porch, we lived in a very urban area with a lot of foot-traffic at all hours of the day and night. The idea of eating herbs that had been exposed to our street always made me a little nervous.

Patio Garden |The Orange Slate1

Patio Garden |The Orange Slate2

This year, I was excited to give gardening a real effort and eat the fruits of my labors. We have a narrow catwalk  and I knew that growing anything in the space would require a little bit of space strategy.

It warms up early in Texas and so a weekend afternoon in March found me in the garden department of Home Depot. After a lot of brainstorming and help from Pinterest, and arranging plants in pots and then rearranging (and with a lot of help from Miles) I ended up planting two flower-pots and three herbs. They fill all of the extra corners on our catwalk, but there is still room for a bench and so now we have a mini patio area.

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Patio Garden | The Orange Slate4

Even though garden is tiny, we’re already using the herbs (basil, rosemary, and oregano) in our meals on an almost daily basis, which makes me way too excited.

The flowers (impatiens, mums, and a Gerbera daisy) seem to be doing great*. Our catwalk has a nice full view of the sun for about 1/3 of the day and nice shade for 2/3, so I think I just lucked out with an ideal location (although sometimes the impatiens seem to get a little wilty in the afternoon if I don’t remember to scoot them back into the shade), but I’ll credit my black-thumb-turning green, my obsessive hovering, and the “magic soil” that the Home Depot staff convinced me to buy.

Here’s to gardens and eating what we plant! Tell me about your gardens. Do you have space for a big garden or do you have a patio garden? What do you like to plant?

*Some of these photos were taken on the day I planted and some were taken a few weeks later.

CREATE2015: The February Edition (A Sensory Activity Board)

 21115-2_create2015sensoryactivityboard

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For 2015, my word of the year is CREATE. As part of this, I’m challenging myself to create or complete a project each month.

February’s project was born one morning as I was searching around for creative ways to engage Miles. I stumbled upon this homemade sensory activity board and was instantly captivated.

A sensory board is a great idea from about 6 months (whenever a baby can sit) up through the pre-school years. The toys, textures, and objects can be selected and replaced to suit a baby’s individual needs as he or she grows and learns and a big board can keep a baby captivated for hours.

I knew that I wanted to make the sensory board for my February project. I modified the basic design, grabbed some cork board tiles that I had on hand, wandered around in Hobby Lobby collecting fun items, and completed the project in just a couple of hours.

This project was definitely a success. It was easy and inexpensive to complete and Miles loved it. Also, since we are in a tiny apartment, it’s wonderful to have an activity center for Miles that doesn’t take up more floor space.

Materials:

  • 4 cork tiles
  • Nails
  • Felt letters and numbers
  • Embroidery hoops and various felt pieces
  • A mirror
  • Metal teaspoons
  • A bell
  • A mini straw hat
  • A large wooden “M”
  • A rubber heat-proof kitchen mat

I nailed the four cork tiles to a convenient spot (the short wall below our kitchen bar-top). I secured the materials and objects, some with nails (like the embroidery hoops of fabric), some with command-strip tape (like the wooden letter and the mirror).

The felt letters and numbers are sticky, so I simply stuck them on.

What did I learn? I secured some of the items (like the bell) with ribbon, but the ribbon didn’t hold after a little bit of pulling by Miles. I need to re-secure movable objects like the bell with something stronger like yarn. The felt letters don’t stick to the cork-board as well as I would like, so some of them are going to need to be replaced.

When we are somewhere more permanent, I’d like to make another version of this with a wooden backdrop, which I think would work a little more effectively. But for now, I love the cork-board (bonus: the cork gives Miles an extra layer of texture to touch and explore).

I plan to extend the board with two more cork-tiles and will replace some of the objects as he gets older.

Have you ever made a sensory board for your baby or toddler? I would love to hear more ideas for fun objects to attach!

Read about my January CREATE2015 project here.