Fall Fairy Gardens, the Creeping Crud, and Living the Freelance Life.

Working from home offers many perks. There’s the wonderful ability to work and meet client deadlines when you’re battling bronchitis. There’s the fun of asking your clients if they’d mind shooting emails back and forth rather than chat on the phone, as your voice is pretty wonky and no one needs to be on the receiving end of a hideous hacking fit. (I’m lucky that I work with really lovely clients, thank goodness.) Then, there’s the pleasure of chauffeuring your friends’ children to various events, because, you know, you’re HOME and have such flexibility, deadlines and disease be damned. I’m normally happy to help. Really. But just once, it would be nice if someone else might offer to shuttle the kids, particularly when I worry that I might run off the road after not sleeping for three nights. Peter, thank goodness, helps a ton when he can, driving Kristen to riding lessons on the weekend or Mikey to karate. Still, the past several sick weeks put a serious stall on my fall projects. After all, with the clients’ work completed and the kids at their appropriate destinations, naps took priority. Lots and lots of naps.

One of the other benefits of working from home is the fact that I’m currently huddled under the duvet with a heating pad, working on my laptop. I’d post a selfie, but A) you know I don’t take selfies and B) I don’t want to scare you. I’m not one of those women who posts brave makeup-less photos. Halloween is only a few days away, but the sight is too frightening, I promise. Today, although I’m technically in bed, is a cause for celebrating. It’s the first time in almost three weeks that I haven’t returned from the morning carpool run and slept for two hours.

I must be on the mend. Hooray for drugs! (Except for codeine cough syrup. I’m not sure sleeping is worth it with the insane dreams that creep into my brain. The combination of Stephen King and codeine creates absurdly horrifying, wildly realistic dreams.)

Anyway, enough about my maladies. I’m sounding like an old person who can’t talk about anything except her health. BORING. Let’s talk plants instead, shall we?

One of the fall projects that I’d planned in early October finally happened this week: a fall fairy garden. Have you seen the cute video that circulated earlier in the season? While the video shows the simplicity of creating a succulent-themed fairy garden, one main question I heard when I reposted it on my Facebook page was this: can I leave it outside?

Unless you live in a zone without freezing temperatures, you’ll want to bring the container inside. Succulents don’t enjoy freezing temperatures, and your cute fairy garden will look like an evil sorcerer cast a death and destruction spell on it. So please, find a nice, indoor location when the nights get chilly in your garden.

Kristen Fairy House

I have to admit, I’ve always been a stickler for authentic fairy gardens. When the kids were young, our fairy gardens consisted of construction materials only found in nature. Twigs, leaves, pebbles, acorns, bark…I may have told the kids that fairies only lived in houses created with natural materials. No prefab doors or miniaturized, mass-produced furnishings for our fairies. Instead, the kids searched the forest, riverbanks, and garden, collecting and creating. The best part about our fairy house rules? They created fairy houses anywhere and everywhere. Tired from a mountain hike? Let’s rest and make a fairy garden. Bored waiting an hour at Disney for lunch? Let’s leave a house for Tinkerbelle’s friends!

Kristen Proud of Fairy House

I loved our fairy houses, and I adored how proud the kids were of their creations.

Still, sometimes you see a really cute idea for a miniature garden, and you temporarily suspend the rules.

That’s the beauty of being Mom.

After weeks lounging at home, I finally ventured out to find my supplies. I’d ordered the fairy house weeks earlier from Amazon. Thanks to my Prime account, it arrived immediately, where it sat in the center of the dining room table, taunting me, as I wrote articles for clients. And coughed.

On Monday, though, I felt well enough to drive to a nursery 30 minutes away that I knew stocks a fabulous assortment of houseplants and succulents. Even better, I found a large, fairly shallow container for the fairy garden. On sale. Who doesn’t love a sale?!

Yellow Container

I’ll admit, I didn’t notice the scratches until one of the employees pointed out that’s why the container was on sale. In my defense—I was a little bleary. (Did I mention that along with the bronchitis I also had a sinus infection, ear infection, and torn knee? Let’s just forget about that knee story.) When I looked at the “scratches,” though, I realized they weren’t really scratches but paint from another pot that had been stacked on it.

Cleaned yellow container

With my handy dandy Mr. Clean Eraser Sponge, my damaged discount container became blemish-free.


I selected an assortment of succulents—too many, actually. (Really, though, can a girl ever have too many succulents? The leftovers will be potted and placed somewhere else that needs a touch of green.) The succulents varied in height, texture, and tone. I opted to forgo prickly cacti, which were used in the video. Our family is too tempted to touch cacti, just to “see” if they are really sharp. Why is this such a temptation? I don’t understand my children sometimes, but I knew that I didn’t have the focus to fish cacti spines out of fingers with tweezers. No cacti in our fairy garden, thank you.

The beauty of creating a fairy garden is the freedom to make it your own. You can add as many elements as you like (and as the size of the container allows.) We opted to keep our garden natural, with the exception of the house. Still, there are many, many adorable accessories out there—miniature “Happy Fall!” signs, scarecrows, mushrooms, you name it.

Mikey and I planted the garden between rain bursts, just as it was becoming dark. He helped art direct the plants and the stone placement. It’s really a pleasure to have a garden buddy.

Fall Fairy Garden Ingredients:
Pumpkin fairy house (We plan to change out our fairy house based on the season.)
Shallow container
Potting soil for succulents/cacti. You can find it at garden centers, or you can make your own using my friend Amy’s recipe found here.
Succulents in a variety of heights/textures/colors.
Moss (found at craft stores in the floral department)
Decorative stones

Fill the bottom of container with gravel, approximately ¼ full for drainage.

Add succulent potting soil to container until approximately ¾ full. The potting soil allows good drainage, and succulents do not appreciate soggy feet.

Place taller plants in the back on the container, and begin adding plants to the sides, leaving room for the fairy house toward the middle—slightly set back.

Add more potting soil to the center of the container to elevate the house slightly. Place fairy house in the container and adjust the soil to make it level.

Filling in plants
Fill in plants along the sides and around the house, adding more potting soil to secure the plants in place. The final soil line should be about one-inch below the container’s rim.

After placing the plants, fill in bare soil with moss. Water lightly to settle plants. Do not over-water succulents.

Adding path to fairy garden

Add pebbles to create path.
Add any other decorative elements.

Finished Fall Fairy Garden
Place in indirect sunlight. Water as needed.

While we rushed to finish our fall fairy garden before the rain soaked us, I realized that it didn’t matter that our house wasn’t made from “all natural” materials, or we didn’t leave it in the forest for the fairies to enjoy. Michael and I had as much fun working together on our decorative fall fairy garden as the kids and I did when they were itty bitties. I’m learning that I need to let them take the lead on more of my projects, because they’re actually pretty good at them!

Mikey with Fall Fairy Garden

Sigh…my babies are growing up too quickly.

Still, it’s nice to know that when the creeping crud kicks my butt, I have back-up. There’s still one more big project I’m trying to pull off before Halloween, and I think I’m going to enlist my garden buddies for support.

But first, it’s time for a nap.

What fall garden projects are you tackling?

Happy Fall!