help! how do you grow tomatoes in a container?

You’ve all heard about my black thumb before (and, in case you’re wondering, I finally gave up custody of that ill-destined terrarium). But I’ve recently moved to a new pad with a pretty fantastic balcony that gets all kinds of wonderful sun exposure…and I’m thinking tomatoes. Is there anything better in the middle of summer than wandering out to your garden, picking a few fresh tomatoes for your salad? I can’t imagine.

With all of those beautiful outdoor planting containers available now (have you seen the options at West Elm and Crate & Barrel lately?), I’m seriously tempted to try my hand at growing edibles in a container-style garden. But, as ever, I have no idea where to start…or, really, if such a thing is even possible.

So, here’s the question: what do you green thumbs know about planting tomatoes in a container? Is it do-able? Any tips, tricks or rules to follow? Can a beginner even grow tomatoes, or is this a project best left to serious gardeners? Leave me your best ideas in the comments!

Photo via Farmscape Nursery

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sneak peek: method’s fall collection featuring orla kiely

It’s not often that I am able to sneak out during business hours for product launches or previews, but when I got invited to come and chat with Sally Clarke, Method‘s creative director, I couldn’t resist. If you come over my house, you’ll find one of their signature, Karim Rashid-designed tear drop hand soap dispensers in the bathrooms. I also am pretty addicted to their Steel for Real Stainless Steel Polish and their Leather Love Wipes. Everything they make just smells so damn good, it inspires cleanliness.

But there was an added bonus for going to this event: They were unveiling a collaboration with one of my favorite graphic artists, Orla Kiely. You may recall our past obsessions involving Orla’s Target Line (we did a giveaway and helped you track down what you couldn’t find locally). The limited edition cleaning collection will be available at Target (where else?) starting in September. In addition to adorable patterns that will add an instant chic to your countertops, they also come in new custom scents — vanilla chai, primrose, pear ginger and my favorite, bay leaf. (Note: The above photo features prototype bottles, not the real thing. That will be even prettier.)

Listening to Sally tell us about Method‘s principals, which marry fun and useful design with healthy products and eco-smarts, has made me even more of a fan of this company.

Stay tuned as we get closer to launch dates on the Orla Kiely products and more new releases. I’ll be sure to let you know when they hit stores!

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the puppy files: cupcake’s $1500 box of raisins

I’m writing this tale in hopes of preventing others of making the same mistake, though I will likely seem pretty damn foolish as I do so.

You see, I know that raisins are bad, very bad, for dogs. And I know the safest place for puppies when you can’t watch them is in a crate. Yet, I somehow seemed to carelessly forget both of these things and our insanely loveable, six month old labradoodle Cupcake managed to devour a snack box full of raisins Saturday afternoon. Thank heavens he’s fine now, but let me tell you of our scare.

We went upstate to spend the night in our little cottage. We only have one crate for Cupcake and though it collapses, we stopped bringing it on overnight trips with us a month ago. Cupcake sleeps solidly through the night at the foot of our bed, and we never leave him alone long enough to get into trouble during the day. That was until Saturday, when the three of us headed out to a restaurant leaving our dear little pooch alone for a couple of hours. Coming home with our bellies full, we open the door to find Cupcake, happy and excited to see us as always, standing over a shredded box of empty raisins on the rug. I had left them in a bag on a chair, and now that too was on the floor.

My heart instantly leaped into my throat. Raisins are on the list of things that are toxic to dogs (along with grapes, chocolate, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts). How toxic? I didn’t know and instantly started Googling “My dog ate raisins” to find out. The results terrified me. Eating raisins causes sudden kidney failure in some dogs. But the specifics were unclear: How many raisins? How quickly? Some dogs? This Snopes page offered some useful, albeit scary, background.

Apparently, animal doctors made the link to kidney failure in dogs with grapes and raisins in late ’80s. They found that after eating a few ounces of them, some dogs would stop eating, have diarrhea, and grow lethargic. After a few days, they would not be able to pass urine, causing intense abdominal pain — and sometimes resulting in death.

Everything I saw advised to call a vet immediately, so I dialed the number of the nearest 24 animal hospital (about 40 miles away). They told me to give him a teaspoon on hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. After a quick run to CVS, we managed to do this — and it worked! Up came a rather impressive pile of all the things Cupcake had eaten recently including a whole lot of raisins. I thought that would be it, but the vet told us we needed to come in none-the-less.

We got to the clinic and immediately felt out of place. Obviously the other pet owners were there with really sick animals (who were howling and whimpering sadly from behind closed doors), while our dog was scampering around, as cute and energetic as ever. How could anything be wrong with him?

The doctor called the Animal Poison Control Center, to get the prognosis. She came into the exam room grim faced and told us this is very serious, and Cupcake would have to spend two nights at the hospital, and be treated with intravenious fluids and charcoal to flush the toxins out of his system. After this — and a $1500 bill — she promised he would be 100% well.

Reluctantly, we left our dear dog at the clinic and headed home to a much emptier house. I called every twelve hours to check on him, and got nothing but positive news. He came home today with a funny cone around his neck, a shaved leg, brimming with wags and kisses. It’s possible that he would have been fine if we hadn’t taken him to the hospital, but who could take a chance like that? We’re so happy to have him back.

And for the record, we now live in a raisin free house.

More posts from the Puppy Files:

The cutest dog, ever?

Getting our home ready for puppy

Choosing the perfect breed

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new reason to celebrate: john derian at paperless post

We blame John Derian for many of our design obsessions: antlers, vintage wooden mirrors, butterflies under class, and of course, decoupage. So you can imagine our excitement when we learned that our favorite natural nature collector was bringing his signature look to our go-to online invitation source, Sprouting with sea shells, butterflies, whales, toads and other delightful creatures, Derian’s digital cards are just the excuse we need to cook up some summer soirees. Check them out here.

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a new take on campers: the cricket trailer

Another Wednesday, another vacation fantasy creeping into my head. Last week it was tree houses, this week, it’s campers. Just look at these beauties! They are from Cricket Trailer and they are made to order starting at around $15,000. They are made from lightweight, eco friendly materials (go Earth Week!) and are just the right size for a small family of three, like ours (sorta). Each camper is about 6 and half feet by 15 — or the size of my first NYC apartment. True, that’s tiny, but when the whole wide world is at your doorstop, who cares! You can customize it to suit your needs — adding kitchen, bathroom, storage and bunking comforts. Because Crickets are made to order, you need to “get in line” for yours. Roadtrip spring 2013, anyone? What a fun caravan we would make.

BTW, I spotted Crickets on Pinterest, via our friends at Charles & Hudson. Their other awesome and insanely inspiring site, Built by Kids was just nominated for a well-deserved Webby. Please vote for them here!

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