...because home doesn't happen overnight.

fiddle leaf fig 1

It’s been over two months since Mr. Fig came into my life. From the get-go I made a promise to myself to share whatever became of him – good or bad. I’ve read a bunch of stories of homeowners bringing home fiddle leaf figs but can’t find as much in the way of follow-ups. What’s going well? What went wrong? Rather than reading a list of care tips from a gardening website, I think it’s more helpful to see how real people care (properly or improperly) for their fiddle leaf figs.

fiddle leaf fig 2

So when new growth appeared at the top of my fig several weeks ago, I thought it might help to share how I’ve been caring for it. I am no expert. It used to be that everything green I touched turned brown but lately I’ve been able to keep all of my houseplants alive. What’s going on?! Many of things I’m doing aren’t secrets. In fact, many of the tips I’m utilizing were kindly offered up in the comments section of this post. Thank you!! (Mr. Fig thanks you as well.)

First up is location. Fiddle leaf figs love bright indirect light. My tree sits just inside a set of french doors and below two skylights on the north side of my house. This area is always bright but the sun’s rays never hit the plant directly.

The planter sits on a stand with casters so I can roll it out of the way to open the doors. The doors lead to a grilling patio which has seen absolutely zero action over the last six months. Now that the weather is getting warmer, we’ll probably be scooting the tree out of the way more often. I’ve thought about relocating it to the living room but it seems to really like this spot and I’m nervous about switching things up. More than likely, I’ll roll the tree outside when the weather is nice. While the tree is small, this setup will work but when / if this guy grows much, much larger I may have to rethink the location. I don’t rotate the tree regularly but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

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The other big thing about fiddle leaf figs is watering without over- or under-watering. When I first brought the tree home, I was giving it a splash of water every 3-5 days but then someone mentioned that I should be flooding it then letting it dry out in between waterings. So that’s what I’m doing now. I pay attention to how the leaves are oriented and when things start looking droopy I wait another day or so to water. I also implement the lift test. When the leaves are droopy I lift the plastic planter out of the ceramic one. If the tree feels relatively light, then it’s time to water. That equates to watering every 7-14 days. From what I’ve heard, it’s better to under-water than over-water so when in doubt I err on the side of waiting it out a little longer in between waterings.

fiddle leaf fig 4

To water, I carry the tree over to the kitchen sink and set it inside. (Reason #99 why I love a single basin sink.) If the dirt seems extra dry, hard or compacted, I use a pencil and stab it into the dirt over and over to break things up and allow the water to reach the roots. I use the pull-down faucet to flood the planter with lukewarm water. I add water until I see it running through the bottom of the planter.

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Then I let the tree sit in the sink while the water drains until it’s no longer dripping. I think it was a reader who told me not to immediately place the tree back in the ceramic (non-draining) planter. Apparently, letting the tree sit in a pool of water can cause root rot.

I fully realize that if the tree continues to grow (grow, grow little tree!) this method of watering isn’t going to work forever. I guess that’s when I start rolling the tree to the bathroom and giving it a shower? Forget finishing the second bathroom for the kids. It’s going to be the fiddle leaf fig bathroom. Hee-hee.

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About once a month I wipe the leaves with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and images of photosynthesis diagrams flash in my brain. Oh Calvin cycle, how I love thee.

I recently spray painted the rolling stand gold. (Yay for spray painting weather!) Not sure how this impacts the health of the tree but I’ve heard plants like to be courted. Singing to them, talking to them, displaying them on gold thrones…it can’t hurt.

And that’s how I’m not killing my beloved Mr. Fig. He isn’t the lowest maintenance guy but I don’t mind. I’m so happy he seems to like it here! I plan on fertilizing him this summer. And eventually I’m going to have to repot. I’ll keep you posted. Literally.

Do you have a fiddle leaf fig? How’s it going? Do you want a fiddle leaf fig? I would have bet money on the demise of any fig tree in my house knowing my reputation with houseplants. But trying out a small, inexpensive one has been successful! I hope I can keep it up.

I’ll be back later today with a regular Made Me Smile post. TGIF!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Mike who also takes home the Best Husband of the Year Award with this win!

laundry hamper 1

Funny story.

Do you recall the double hamper from last week’s linen closet post? Well, when I originally placed my order for the hamper, it was on backorder. No problem. I could wait. I wasn’t in a hurry. A few weeks later, I received an email stating it was available and had shipped. Then two hampers arrived at my doorstep. Weird, right? I called up West Elm’s customer service and they checked into things. I wasn’t charged for the second hamper but they apologized for the mix-up and said to keep the extra hamper on their dime. That was nice and all but the thing is, I don’t need the extra hamper.

But I thought you might.

laundry hamper 3

As far as hampers go, it’s pretty handsome. Mine stays in a closet until laundry day but it’s so good-looking that you could stash it out in the open in a large bathroom or a corner of a bedroom if you wanted. I love that it’s made from eco-friendly materials: bamboo + recycled plastic. It’s a double hamper measuring 22″ w x 20″ d x 26″ h and there’s a side for darks and a side for lights.

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The whole thing folds up easily for transporting it to the laundry room. The fabric hamper can be removed from the wood base. If you don’t have a washer / dryer on site (or maybe you’re remodeling your laundry area?!), you can throw the “bag” in your car to take it to the laundromat or your folks’ house or wherever you’re doing your laundry these days.

Wanna try it for yourself? Great! Maybe you will win my extra. See entry details below.

PRIZE: one double bamboo laundry hamper from West Elm (retail value $59, now on sale for $47) Shipping’s on me.

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. or Canada. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “HAMPER ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, March 23rd at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Monday, March 24th.

Good luck! (And you’re welcome for the visual of laundry day at my house, sweatshirt and all. UPDATE: I am that short. But in my defense, the countertop is mounted above the height of the washer / dryer so it’s quite a bit higher than your standard countertop.) This post is not sponsored just thought I’d share my love of organization.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Joanne (that lucky Irish girl!) and Corinne (yay for gluten-free snacks!). They each win a six-month subscription to NatureBox.

pantry 1

In our previous house we had a roomy, walk-in kitchen pantry. Here? Notsomuch. When we designed the kitchen, the plan was to use cabinet space for dried and packaged goods. We thought if worse came to worse we could always store pantry items in one of the wardrobes in the adjacent mudroom but, luckily, we haven’t had to.

Downsizing has changed our lives a lot – which we expected for the most part. But we’re surprised by how much it has affected our thoughts on food. It seems like in our previous house, we bought (and ate) way more packaged food because we had this huge pantry to stock. Here, there’s no pantry begging to be filled so we find ourselves buying (and eating) less boxed food. And we’re making the packaged foods we do eat count. We’re also better at keeping our fridge stocked with fresh produce.

So where exactly do we keep packaged foods and dry goods in this house?

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We’ve designated a corner lazy susan as our “pantry.” It’s easily accessible and doesn’t take up much space.

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Even though it’s probably a tenth of the size of our previous pantry, nobody goes hungry around here. If anything, we’re eating better. We’re more conscious of what we’re buying and eating since we only have so much room for food. The whole “quality over quantity” theme has even seeped into our grocery shopping and regular diets. I’m not saying we’re perfect (um, hello boxes of Girl Scout cookies) but our attitude towards in-house food has definitely changed. Plus, I can pull the “we don’t have room for it” card, guilt-free, anytime one of my kids asks for juice boxes at the grocery store.

The limited space makes for quick inventory checks, too. It’s easy to see what we’re running low on and what we have plenty of.

pantry collage

I think lazy susans are difficult to organize. Why can’t I find wedge-shaped bins to organize and optimize space in a lazy susan?! BAM. Someone should take that idea to Shark Tank. I did the best I could with some bins and baskets we already had on hand. (In fact, most of them once lived in our big, flashy pantry.) The cabinet contents are divvied up into categories: canned goods, snacks, pasta & rice, non-refrigerated produce, breakfast foods, baking ingredients, sweets, etc. I try to keep the items in each bin specific to a given category so I can simply pull out one basket to find what I need instead of bending over and spinning my way through everything just to find one item.

pantry 7

The basket system works really well for snacks. The kids can grab the snack basket to pick an item of their choice without my help. To keep things relatively healthy but also give the kids a sense of freedom, I control what goes into the basket but they choose what comes out. Win-win.

NatureBox recently sent my family some goodies to try and they made their way into the snack basket. With no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated corn oils, no trans fats, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors and no artificial colors, I’m happy to support NatureBox’s mission to help people discover better choices. Being a busy mom, I also appreciate that the monthly snack subscription includes free shipping anywhere in the continental U.S. Healthy snacks at your doorstep, people! Best of all, YOU CHOOSE which snacks show up at your doorstep.

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To free up room in the corner cabinet, I do store a few things elsewhere in the kitchen. Cereal and oatmeal live in large glass canisters just above the “pantry.” We go through those two things so quickly there’s never any worry of them becoming stale before consumption.

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I keep flour and various sugars in containers next to the stove. The stainless steel canisters have rubber-sealed lids with secure latches to keep contents fresh.

I’ve received SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. about where we keep food in our downsized house. I hope this post gives you some answers. (Doesn’t peeking into someone’s pantry feel extremely personal?) We’ve discovered that having less space for food isn’t necessarily a problem. For us, it’s motivation to make better choices. And better is always a step in the right direction.

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Would you like to discover better snack options with the help of NatureBox? Great! See entry details below.

PRIZE: 6-month deluxe snacker subscription to NatureBox ($120 value). There will be TWO WINNERS!

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) in the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Browse the snacks NatureBox has to offer then leave a comment on this post stating which ones you’d like to try. (I fell hard for the oat bran dippin’ stix and dark cocoa almonds. YUM.)

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, March 16th at 9:00 p.m. EST. Two random winners will be announced Monday, March 17th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: House*Tweaking readers receive an exclusive discount. Enter the code “HT50″ to score 50% off your first box of any size. Valid only on first month’s box, new customers only.

This post sponsored in part by NatureBox. All images and content by me. All crumbs by my kids. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

This is the fifth post in a series I’m devoting to all things closet at my house. (Snoop around in more of my closets here, here, here and here.) Today I’m giving you a peek at our linen closet. It’s not much but it works!

linen closet 1

We have one linen closet in our house. It’s located at the end of the hall leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms. As far as linen closets go, it’s actually a decent size. It’s about 36″ wide and 26″ deep and it’s more than enough room for our needs.

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The closet came to us with wood shelving already in place. We simply painted everything white and added organization.

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This closet is where I keep the boys’ laundry hamper. Their shared room is off to the right so it’s a convenient spot for them to dump their dirty clothes. (Mabrey has a laundry basket in her room. Steve and I have an organization system in our closet which includes two pull-out hampers.) Up until a month ago, I had a plain ol’ plastic laundry basket sitting on the floor of the closet to corral the boys’ clothes. But it couldn’t contain a week’s worth of dirty clothes and laundry was always spilling over.

I ordered this double hamper and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the perfect size for our closet and has two deep partitions which keep clothes from erupting out onto the floor. The idea is to use one side for lights and the other for darks but, so far, my boys haven’t caught on. Honestly, I’m happy if their dirty clothes just make it into the hamper – separated or not. On laundry day, I carry the entire thing to the laundry nook. Easy.

The shelf above the hamper holds paper towels, toilet paper, bath mats, hand towels and washcloths. One of Everett’s chores is to keep the kitchen stocked with paper towels and the bathroom stocked with toilet paper. This shelf is easy for him to reach both the paper towels and toilet paper.

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The two uppermost shelves hold towels, toiletries and medicine. We don’t own a bunch of bath linens but we have enough for us plus guests. Not having a huge supply keeps me on top of laundry. When I switch out dirty towels for clean ones in the bathroom, I automatically throw the dirties in the wash. Eventually, I’d like to replace all of our traditional terrycloth towels with peshtemal towels. We made the switch last year but still have a few regular towels hanging around. The peshtemals take up less space and are more absorbent so they’re great for small spaces.

I try to keep stuff I don’t want the kids to have easy access to up high: medicine, razor blade replacements, fingernail polish, harsh cleaners, etc. On the top shelf, the basket on the left holds medicine. (The pharmacist in me wants to remind you NOT to keep your medicine in the bathroom!) On the right, an organizer with drawers holds health and beauty items, kids’ tattoos, hair accessories, first aid supplies, etc. There’s a small container devoted specifically to travel-size toiletries.

They aren’t visible but I keep a humidifier and hair trimmer kit on the top shelf behind the plastic bins. We don’t use them that often so they don’t get prime real estate.

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Everything is labeled so we can quickly find what we’re looking for. (I got cheeky with my label maker. Organization is FUN.) We also hang a pole in this closet for reaching the attic door and ladder. The attic access is located near the closet (as seen in the first two images of this post) so it made sense to keep the pole here. We always know where to find it. You can read more about our attic here if you’re curious.

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We optimized space on the back of the door with a hanging wire rack that I picked up at Home Depot. We hung it out of reach of little hands and it’s where I keep more things I don’t necessarily want the kids playing with: cleaners, fingernail polish remover, soap, sunscreen, shaving cream, etc. The toiletry bag is Steve’s. The hair dryer is mine. I rarely blow-dry my hair so the dryer goes in the closet versus the bathroom.

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There you have it – our one and only linen closet! I think once the kid / guest bathroom is finished I’ll spring for some new peshtemals but, for the most part, this is really all we need.

What about you? Where do you keep your supply of toilet paper and paper towels? Do your kids separate their laundry? Have you tried peshtemal towels? Do you keep your medicine in the bathroom? (The pharmacist in me is giving you the wagging no-no finger…in a non-judgmental sorta way, of course.) 

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking