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Initial Notes on Indoor Plant Parenthood

Shelfie October 2021

I live in a valley next to a temperate rainforest. If you don’t know what that is, think cold and rainy. Moist, even.

Succulents? They’re from Mexico, Central America, South Africa: hot and dry places. And why did I decide this was a good idea? Because. Officially I live in a zone 9b climate and my house is facing East with a set of nice big windows facing South. And I’m lucky enough to not have a house right up against another building so I actually get light!

What has grown well for me so far indoors with natural light:

  1. String of Turtles
  2. Random plant my grandmother gave me 3 years ago that props from cuttings like a champ.

What has not grown well for me so far indoors with natural light:

  1. Jade plant (etoilatioooonnn!!!)
  2. Calathea (goes super dark green and doesn’t produce new leaves much)
  3. Parlor Palm (brown, and uh, brown)
  4. Cotyledon Tomentosa Bear Paws (etoilatioooonnn!!!)
  5. Graptopetalum Paraguayense Ghost (doesn’t like my draft window sil)
String of Turtles September 2021
String of Turtles September 2021

What is the climate like in my house?

Often: dry, dry dry dry dry dry. How? I don’t know, this house is hella old.

This is one of the factors I used to decide if I could raise and keep succulents inside the house. They are not huge proponents of humidity. All the pro-tips I have been reading online and on the r/succulents subreddit harp on deep watering when the plant looks like it needs water and not on a tailored schedule. So really, I’d say if you have a place with light or access to a grow light, you can TOTALLY have a little succulent buddy.

What’s my setup?

With winter well on it’s way over to say, “Hello”. I have set up a few bookshelves with grow lights I bought on Amazon to keep my collection and propagations going strong. Which grow lights? Yo, honestly I didn’t do much research beyond making sure they weren’t too cheap. My pro-tips here are to read reviews with a grain of salt. I’m a big believer in the LED light range and that you don’t have to spend $$$ on grow lights unless you’re doing so for business purposes like for growing succulents to sell.

Like with any hobby, it’s up to you how you budget your funds. I’m not here to tell you to not buy the super awesome MARS lights, just that, maybe try a cheaper alternative for now until you know for sure this is a hobby you’ll keep up in the long run? This advice applies for any hobby I try to get into. I never start off blowing $$$ on top quality equipment until I know I actually like the thing I’m doing.

Ok, if you really want to know. I have two sets of this one:

Dommia 20W Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights – (not an affiliate link).

The price seems to bounce between $16 and $30. I’m assuming the price is higher right now than the last set I bought for $18 because it’s turning winter here in the northern hemisphere and demand for the light panels is much higher than in August/September. It has a built in timer and sticky pads and twist ties for versatile attachment options.


Yes, I mix my own soil. And No it’s not anything special.

1 part cactus or quality potting soil (I use Black Gold)
1 part maifan stone of various size ranging 1mm-10mm
1 part horticultural pumice

IMHO – the most important piece of this is drainage. If your soil mix is holding onto water and soggy, your plant will rot. It. Will. Rot. Use a pot with a drain hole, use terra cotta, use well draining soil. On it’s own, cactus mix soil out of the box from the big brands imho is not going to cut it.

And yeah, that’s basically it.

Deep water your plants when they feel slightly squishy and enjoy the variety!

Happy collecting!


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Skincare Guide

One of my cousins reached out to be recently to ask for advice about skincare.

My immediate reaction was to ask what her skin type is and what her goals were. Knowing these two things make building a skincare routine to be more effective.

There are a lot of blogs and resources out there explaining the 10 step Korean Skincare routine, these are just my personal notes and preferences.

Starting out: I advised that at the very least she should get a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

And does it matter which one she should spend more money on?

I said cleanser. There should be nothing stopping you from getting this first important step in your skincare routine.

If your facial cleanser and cleansing routine is not good, then all the products you apply afterwards will not be effective and essentially a waste of money. A good cleanser gets the job done. I know there is a lot of fuss out there over PH levels, laurel sulfates, etc., but there are a few things I keep in mind that categorize a cleanser as good in my view:

  1. It does not sting my face
  2. It does not make my face feel super dry
  3. In the process of using it, I don’t make a huge mess in my sink

Now these are just some of the basics and does not include make up removal; I am a believer in the double cleanse for when I wear makeup. There is such a huge variety of water based cleansers out there that there is very much a possibility of finding a great one that is on the budget side. And because of that, there’s no need to settle on something that works just ok.

Moisturizer is the next step in a basic routine. There are some general rules that I go by when incorporating more steps that I also apply to moisturizers:

  1. Less than 20 ingredients
  2. I am ok with more than 20 ingredients when the list is clearly listing various plant extracts
  3. Dimethicone, silicone, or fragrance is not high on the list

The type of moisturizer you choose also depends on the environment you live in. In dryer climates you will likely want to use a cream based moisturizer, where as in the summer humidity you may opt for a gel. There is also the workplace to consider, air conditioning, air movement, going in and out of hot, cold, humid, dry, zones, etc. Knowing where you are going to be for the day can also determine which moisturizer you want to use.

My general rule of thumb: just put some on, your face will thank you.

Sunscreens! Just like facial cleansers there are so many great Asian sunscreens available that sometimes it is really hard to choose just one. Please remember that a bb cream or foundation with spf in it is not a good replacement for this step. In general you should be using a large pea size, 1/4 tsp, amount to cover your face. There are a lot of great youtube videos demonstrating just how much product that is and how cakey your face will look if you try to do that with a color correcting product.

When purchasing a sunscreen you also want to make sure you are reading the spf description: broad spectrum or bust. There are three types of sunscreens: physical/mineral, chemical, and mixed. Usually I opt for mixed when looking for a good daily basic, then after that I go for a physical/mineral type. The 100% chemical type I’m not really a fan of because of the smell and the likelihood of it having unsafe ingredients, which I’ll go into more detail later in this post.

A physical/mineral broad spectrum sunscreen is your best bet for long lasting coverage with minimal side effects. But it is also most likely to give you a white cast and flash back in photos. To combat that, I like to use the mixed type. The mixed type also has the advantage of the chemical sunscreen formulas that are more liquid and easier to spread on my face.

The rest of the 10 step routine:

So there are also the serums, essences, beauty waters, moisturizing toners, acid toners, face masks, sheet masks, blackhead strips, etc. And they are all products for specific purposes. At this point you want to really focus on making sure you are:

  1. Reading product descriptions
  2. Read reviews from other users,
  3. Read ingredient lists
  4. Make sure you are not clashing any product ingredients: don’t use a physical exfoliant and then a chemical exfoliant.
  5. I find it easier to choose one skin issue to fix at a time: redness, pores, blackheads, overall texture, dark spots, brightening, etc.
  6. Especially if you have sensitive or reactive skin, spot test on the back of your neck or somewhere on your upper arms before your face.

Now for the fun parts: once you figure out what ingredients work for you and what combination of products works, you budget can be cut way down because you are no longer spending money on various products to test. And also, my favorite part, all the limited edition packaging! 😀

More Resources:

Reddit: Asian Beauty

Reddit: Asian Beauty New User Guide

Fitty Shades of Snail: How To Guide

The Beauty Breakdown

Cruelty Free Kitty


My Current Favorite Brands:

It’s Skin




My Current Routine:

Cleanser: Dr. Jart Micro PH Foam Gel Cleanser

Serum: Stratia Rewind

Moisturizer: Stratia Liquid Gold, Innisfree Cherry Gel Cream