As many of you know we recently moved from a condo, into a house. As magical a time as these past few months have been, there have also been a lot of unexpected expenses and trimming of the budget. The first place we focused our gaze was towards holiday gifting. You know, those 'unnecessary' expenditures that really aren't necessary but just make the entire year a little more pleasant? And, on top of it I'm one of those people- who have to give a little something to just about anyone who crosses their path or impacts their life. Postal workers, neighbors, league-mates, family, and friends- even the kids at the daycare always get a little something from me when the holiday rolls along. Valentine's Day is no exception.
99 Cents Only Stores location.
As someone who had quite literally camped out at the grand opening when the 99 had at last come to her old neighborhood I was delighted to see I was now even closer to an even larger store! If you don't know the 99, then this may all sound like blabbering, but it truly was akin to a toddler walking into their first toy store. From the very moment I set foot out of the car in that parking lot I know I was about to enter a playground of amazing brands at amazing prices.
We recently did some ordinary repair and upkeep work on the new (to us) home with concrete- and I'd been looking everywhere for something practical to do with all of the leftover mix taking up space in our (new to us) garage. It just so happened, on this particular visit to the 99 that the fresh live herbs and flowers cart was parked right by the entrance. Instant inspiration! This year for Valentine's Day I'd make handmade concrete planters and living (floral) bulb gifts. For just a few dollars a person I could give each individual on my Valentine's Day gift list a meaningful, and living gift.
I was also sure to pick up a drop cloth (found near the automotive and house care items), some dish gloves to wear while mixing and pouring, safety goggles and masks, scissors, vegetable oil, a mixing bucket, paper towels, a wooden spoon (for mixing my concrete) and a few pinwheels, potting mix, and flower bulbs from the gardening section.
Start by covering a sturdy, flat surface with your tarp- in a pinch a shower curtain liner, or tablecloth, doubles as a great work surface if tarps aren't available. Decide which containers you will use for your molds. Play around with different shapes and sizes. Ultimately one container needs to fit inside another as to create a cavity large enough to accommodate the root system of whatever you are planting. If you struggle with dimensions, consider using your concrete planters for succulents, air plants, or fake succulents (also found at the 99 from time to time.)
Thoroughly grease the inside of your bottom container, and the outside of your top container with some vegetable oil and a paper towel. This will help the cured pots to release from their mold.
Pour your wet concrete mix directly into your bottom mold container. You will need to eyeball about how much each mold will require depending on the side of the internal mold and how big you want your posts to be.When possible fill your molds to as accurate a portion as possible (by eyeing it) then place your greased top/inner mold in the center, gently pressing down. The inner mold will instinctively want to pop up over time, so add a little cat sand or some jars inside your top molds to help weigh them down. Give your containers a few quick taps on a hard surface to help expell any air pockets and flatten the top edges.
Your pot's outer walls should be a minimum 1/2"thick for strength. Press any decorative glass gems, rocks, or shells you may have found on your trip to the 99 into the top to add a little extra character.
The inner mold will likely give you a little bit of a fuss. Feel free to cut a slit down the center of this inner mold to help relieve some pressure and allow air into the inner bottom pocket. Gentle twisting and rocking may also be needed. Just be patient, it will release!
***You may wish to carefully drill some drainage holes on the bottom of larger pots, depending on what you are planning to plant in them.
Keep in mind that you should not disturb the root balls of any living plants, and should take this into consideration before attempting to transplant a plant into a container that is too small. Cutting the root ball will ultimately damage the plant. Thankfully the 99 has plenty of options for living plants***, and decorate plants to accommodate homemade pots of various sizes. For my smaller pots I found fresh living herbs, such as mint and rosemary transplanted perfectly.
***99 Cents Only Stores stock varies by location, region, weather and other factors. Living plants or herbs require specific transport and environment factors so you may not find them always stocked or available. Here in sunny SoCal, we are lucky and see them often. If living plants are note currently in stock at your local 99 visit the gardening department for seeds and bulbs.
What Daughter Says: The fun never ends with a little inspiration from the 99- there's always something new to discover, and always favorite brands to enjoy!