Crafting is another hobby of mine. Since I'm not doing as much gardening this year, I may feature more of my projects.

This item started as a plain paperboard box (similar to cardboard) with a raised butterfly design on the lid. Black and gold look wonderful together, and those are the only two paint colors I used. The gold is a metallic finish, and the black makes it more outstanding.

I painted the gold areas first. In case of a mistake, it's easier to cover gold with black than the other way around without bleed-through. Indentations on the butterfly are visible in the photo. Those near the middle of the butterfly's body I filled in with a line of gold paint, then sprinkled glitter on it before the paint dried. This added an extra sparkle to give the butterfly more definition.

On the bottom I blended black and gold in a marbling pattern.

This easy technique creates an attractive look. It only takes paper towels (or napkins) plus the paint. Crinkle one paper towel, dip a section in black and dab the entire piece (in this case the box bottom). Repeat this using another towel dipped in gold paint. Follow with a clean towel to blend the colors.

Allow it to dry a little, just until it's tacky. Repeat the paper towel "technique" until you get the effect you desire. It may take some practice, so try it first on items you won't be using or giving away.

Marbling can be done with more than two colors, but it can also be a little tricky. It's never a bad idea to try an idea on scraps first.

This has nothing to do with gardening or crafts (other than the fact that I often listen to music while I work on a craft) but I like listening to these Philly guys:

Everything Your Heart Desires



Surrendering my garden plot* meant that I had to dig out the flowering bulbs, blueberry and raspberry plants, and some herbs. They are now in containers on my porch and growing well. My blueberry plants have flowers on them. It takes five years or more for blueberry plants to grow to a stage where they produce abundantly.

Early March was still very cold during the day and freezing at night. Plants in the ground have natural insulation of the surrounding soil that containers do not provide. I used straw to insulate my containers. In order to keep it from scattering -- a very undesirable thing as I live around more pavement than grass and more parking lots than yards -- I placed it in plastic garbage bags. They molded snugly around the containers, which I grouped together in a protected corner of my porch for additional warmth retention.

I ran out of containers when I finished planting approximately 15 of the twenty or so bulbs. I took the leftovers indoors for protection. Wouldn't you know it, they were infested with ants, small brown ones. They subsequently took over my houseplants' soil. These ants do not create the sand-dunelike mounds we call anthills. They nest underground. Multiple times when I'd dig in one of my raised beds, hundreds of them would spill out, sometimes covering my foot and biting. Fortunately I had no reaction. Other times I turned over soil to find it filled with the white eggs. Thankfully, this region is too cold for dangerous fire ants and harvester ants.

I don't think they damaged the plants, and maybe they were even beneficial to the soil. However, I could not keep them inside. I joked with my sisters that I couldn't keep my ant farm going as a kid, but now I can't get rid of them.

One bit of information I have that may apply is that ants are drawn to the sticky substance known as "honeydew" created by aphids (see this link). So, if aphids are a problem it may draw ants. This did not apply to my houseplants. In my community garden plot, it may have been hard to eliminate aphids.

A book I recommend for general reference about garden and household insects is the Ortho Home Gardener Problem Solver. I grabbed it for a dollar at a book sale, but it is worth much more. This comprehensive reference provides multiple ways to identify and look up types of insects and animals that show up in the garden and home. Additionally, it describes the regions where the creatures are common, why they are present, and ways to deal with it.

* After being laid off last December, I don't know where I'll get a new job. So, I didn't know whether I'd be able to maintain my plot.