Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pink cactus

I have another cactus blooming right now, but I can't take credit for these flowers.  I saw it in the store the other day and it was an impulse purchase.  I am weak around plants, what can I say.

Pink flowering cactus

Aren't the flowers pretty, though?  Mammillaria backebergiana.

Pink flowering cactus

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Canning chicken again

I canned chicken again this week, enough to last us a good long while.

20 pounds of canned chicken breast

This is 20 pounds of chicken breast, ready to store on the shelf downstairs. I was quite happy with the first batch of chicken I canned, and felt that it was worth doing some more.  It's handy to have pre-cooked, pre-chunked chicken ready to go into soup, burritos, or chicken salad.

And even if I don't immediately use the broth in the recipe with the chicken, it's good to substitute for some of the water when cooking rice.  I don't put any salt in with the chicken, so it's just water and the juice from the meat. It all gets used.

I also put 20 pounds of chicken breast in the freezer.  Why so much chicken at once?  I discovered Zaycon Fresh last fall.  They are a sort of cooperative meat supplier that is supposedly farm-to-consumer, cutting out many of the middle transportation steps that grocery store meat has to go through.  They also have really great prices.  This boneless, skinless, never frozen chicken breast was about 30 cents cheaper per pound than the normal prices at my local grocery store, and appears to be better quality.

They only sell by the case, which is why I had 40 pounds of chicken to deal with all at once, but this will probably last us at least 8 months or so.  I also bought a 16-pound case of (frozen) pork tenderloins in December, and they are so yummy.  Mmmm, pulled pork sandwiches from the crock pot. And I have a case of frozen pollock fillets coming in April.

It felt a little weird the first time I went to pick up an order, because you pull up to their truck and they give you a case of meat.  I mean... buying meat off a truck in a parking lot...  But both orders I've gotten have been really high quality and fresh.  No complaints at all so far.  If you have the freezer space or are a canner, I definitely recommend it.

Here's a link if you want to check it out.  Zaycon Fresh.  In the interest of full disclosure, if you sign up from that link and place an order, I will get a referral credit on my account.  But I really have been very happy with what I ordered!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Aerangis fastuosa

The Aerangis fastuosa orchid has been fully open for a couple days now, and it's beautiful.  This species is native to Madagascar, but mine was propagated in the US.  I got it as a young plant, and this is its first bloom.

Aerangis fastuosa, first bloom

This is the fourth Aerangis species I have bloomed, and like Aerangis mystacidii and Aerangis punctata, is a highly fragrant orchid, especially in the evening (my Aerangis citrata hasn't seemed to have much of a scent).  This one (fastuosa) has heavier scent than the others; less floral and more musky, in a really good way.

Aerangis fastuosa, first bloom

The flower is about an inch across, and the nectary (spur) is three inches long.  Not bad for a plant with a leaf spread of only three and a half inches!

Aerangis fastuosa, first bloom

Such a pretty plant.

Aerangis fastuosa, first bloom

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pleurothallis dressleri

This is my tiniest orchid.  It's native to Panama and is so so so tiny.

I've only had it for a month and a half and it hasn't bloomed for me yet, but has put out two new leaves.  That's a good sign, I think! It requires high humidity so I have it in the 12x12x18 terrarium, and it seems happy.

Pleurothallis dressleri

You know, it really doesn't matter if it never blooms.  I love it for the leaves.

And the tininess.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Fourth amaryllis, and a fuchsia

Here we are with the fourth amaryllis to open, called 'Christmas Gift'. This is a new bulb for me this year, and was the humongous one (close to 6-inch diameter!)

'Christmas Gift' amaryllis

It's supposed to be pure white with a greenish throat, and I'm not sure what's up with the pink streaks.  It could be as simple as the temperature/light conditions in my house, or as complicated as the genetic makeup of this particular bulb not fully suppressing the pigments in the flowers.  It'll be interesting to see if the pink streaks are consistently shown in all the flowers over multiple blooming cycles.

In addition to the amaryllis show that's happening now with three plants in bloom, I also have an overwintering fuchsia that decided to bloom!  This is "Stand Up Shirley".  It's a compact variety and has an upright growth habit rather than trailing.

Overwintering fuchsia, blooming!

I wasn't expecting it to bloom inside, so this is a nice surprise!

Sunday, March 13, 2016


So..... I accidentally bought some more amaryllis bulbs.  I didn't tell you because I was embarrassed.

This is Benfica (the middle one with the tall scape, will have velvety dark red flowers) and Gervase (in front, not growing yet, will have splashy streaky red, pink, and white flowers).

The pot in the back is an elephant ear, which doesn't count because it's an outdoor plant that I'm just giving a head start.  It will go outside in May.  You can also see Emma's begonia here, very leggy and making a mess on the table.  It's been blooming and dropping flowers every day all winter. I can't wait until that one goes back outside.

Two new amaryllis and an elephant ear.

Two new amaryllis.  Not too bad, right?

Right, but then I got this in the mail yesterday.

New amaryllis.

There was an end-of-season sale.  Half price amaryllis.  Oops.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Blooming globe

My glass globe terrarium is blooming!

Lepanthopsis astrophora

This is the Lepanthopsis astrophora orchid.  It's so beautiful.

Lepanthopsis astrophora

Such a gorgeous deep magenta-fuchsia-rose color.  It glows when the light shines through it.

Lepanthopsis astrophora

The beauty in small things makes me happy.

Lepanthopsis astrophora

Thursday, March 10, 2016


This is another orchid, Aerangis fastuosa.  It has had this bud developing for close to a year, sooooo sloooooowly.  In the last month, it has finally picked up the pace and developed fully.

Almost open!

Aerangis fastuosa bud almost open

Monday, March 07, 2016

Amaryllis round three, and a cactus

My third amaryllis of the year opened on Saturday.  This is the 2014 Red Lion (which was not Minerva) that put up two scapes for me this year.  I took this picture in the morning, and by the evening, all four flowers on this first scape were open!  So fast!  The second scape isn't too far behind, and will probably open in the next week or so.

First Red Lion bloom of the year.

And just as a random aside, I noticed yesterday that the Aphrodite Dancing Queen amaryllis from my last post is putting up a third scape!

I really like amaryllis.  They are so easy and put on such a great show.

And finally for today, here is a cactus blooming.  I don't get to see this very often!  No idea what the species name on this is, but I'm moderately sure the genus is Mammillaria.  Whatever it is, it's a cute little guy.

Cactus bloom!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Dancing Queen, continued.

Three of the four buds on the first scape are now open.

Dancing Queen amaryllis. It makes its own bouquet. Three flowers open, one more to go on this scape.

It's so fancy.  It makes its own bouquet.