The Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus is such an interesting little plant. They have flat odd oval shaped leaves.  The stems grow in all directions with no apparent rhyme or reason. In the late fall they develop lovely buds which usually open during the winter holidays when they then  become an amazingly beautiful plant. There are no pricklies as you would find in a more traditional cactus.

The Christmas cactus is officially called Schlumbergera which grows wild in the jungles near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  As a houseplant, you will often find them growing on a California patio or living room just about anyplace  where they can  thrive with proper care. The key to getting a Christmas cactus to flower during the holiday season  is the correct light exposure and temperatures with limited watering. As with most succulents and cactus, too much watering can make them soggy or even kill them.  In the fall months, the Christmas cactus should receive indirect bright light during the day with total darkness at night.  They often start blooming in late November and may continue on into January. The fiery blooms may be red, white or various shades of pink. The blooms last longer at about 45 to 70 degrees.

My mother in law lives near the Mississippi River and has the most beautiful Christmas cactus you have ever seen. It is always lush and full of green foliage when we visit each year but I have never been around when it blooms.

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I had her send me a picture.

The recent warmer fall  weather in the Midwest may have caused the late blooms this year. She has given me pieces to take home to grow my own cactus but I have had no success in getting one to start. My sister also has a Christmas cactus. Hers bloom magnificently during the holiday season.

This year, however, she has no blooms at all.

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She says it is in mourning because of the loss of our sister. Can plants be intuitive this way?  I have no idea but two years ago it looked like this…

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…and last year like this.

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This year it is simply drooping.

We were all drooping a little this Christmas.

When visiting recently, I asked if I could have a piece of the cactus to take home and try once again to grow one from a cutting. She said she could do even better!  She has a friend whose father starts Christmas cactus all the time and was certain he’d be delighted to give me one. Sure enough, a week later I had my own Christmas cactus.

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Now I would hardly call it a start. I would more call it a young plant and I am thrilled. The trick will be to see if I can keep it alive.  One of my goals this year is to increase the number of houseplants I have. Last year I started with a few small ones…

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and so far so good.

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I love African Violets and I think this one may actually bloom.

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The antique cup with the succulent was a gift.

In the past I have had some moderate success growing houseplants. We have some nosey cats now and I need to be sure the plants are either out of reach or non toxic. The Christmas cactus in non toxic.

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(Delilah, my faithful feline companion)

Houseplants is a newer hobby I am pursuing in my retirement. Not only are indoor plants pleasing to the eye, but during photosynthesis they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They increase humidity in the air around them, help purify the air, and some think even offer other health benefits-even boost healing!

I am going to try to propagate another plant from a cutting but for the moment, I will just enjoy and embrace my beautiful Christmas cactus.

Check back in 6 months and I’ll let you know how I’m doing!

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Moving Forward

Last week I was merely looking forward and now I am actually moving forward!  As with most of us, we start out the year with the best of intentions and I am no different. How long we can keep it up?  Well, that depends on the person. Based on my past experience, I know that my excitement (and energy) may fade in time so I am trying to strike while the iron is hot as they say.

While my Christmas decorations still linger all over the house…

and our sad little tree, although stripped of its ornaments, still lies in wait for hibernation.

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We  bought this pitiful little tree about 4 years ago as a door buster/pre Christmas sale. I had wanted a new tree for such a long time but hesitated to spend the money. This was such a deal I jumped on it  and gave our nice full-slightly worn tree to one of our daughters. When I put this one up I wanted to call her and ask for my old tree back (which is still looking beautiful at her house by the way) but  that didn’t seem fair so we decided to just make the best of it. We have learned to love this little Charlie Brown tree and it is actually much more practical in our small home. This is true most especially  on Christmas Eve when we cram between 25-30 family members in this little place!

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned in my last post I was excited to start organizing and purging and decided to ignore the holiday stuff for now (besides, we do enjoy our little tree as do the cats).

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Next I decided to tackle my sewing/spare bedroom.  I tossed out 2 bags of trash and 3 large bags to be donated or set aside for our next (probably unsuccessful) yard sale. After all, Why not clutter up the storage shed and a chance to maybe change my mind about a few things?

I began pulling things out of drawers and closets and created a great deal of chaos. I had scraps, lengths of fabric and craft supplies everywhere.

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When I returned to sewing a few years ago I read some advice that you should not throw away even the smallest scrap of fabric. There would always be some use for it down the road. Well, I took this to heart and complete disorganization erupted. I had stuffed and stashed in every spare inch . This was not going to be part of my organizational plan so I decided to only save the small pieces that I could fit into one container.

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Now don’t feel too sorry for me. This does not count the larger pieces of fabric, nor heaven forbid,  my FABRIC STASH. I painfully let go of some little pieces and some crazy things I would never use.

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I am sure I could find a use for the tiger scrap on top but not in my foreseeable future so I ruthlessly tossed it  out ( I kept the basket).

Then I got down to the nitty-gritty. This vacuum sealed bag of various fabric is going to the donation bin…. or the shed for the potential yard sale.

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It is difficult to get a true picture of how much fabric is in here. Most of it was given to me anyway so I  am fairly certain I would never have a use for most of it.

Things were starting to come together…

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I arranged some almost finished spools of thread in a decorative way so not to clog up my thread organizer.

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The closet was a bit more challenging but I kept at it…

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…and managed some organization.

Finally I surveyed the room and I have to say was somewhat pleased with the result.

It’s not perfect but everything has a place and all of my fabric is in a storage bin or neatly organized. I think my  guests next week will be comfortable.

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Lastly, I took a moment to not only appreciate two days of hard work, but to admire the view outside my sewing room window.

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Now it’s time to put away the Christmas decorations.

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Then I can begin my new sewing project.

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Yes…

I really did go out and buy more fabric!

Merry Christmas

As Christmas approaches this year, I am reminded that it is the people in our lives that make it so special.  We will be celebrating with one less person this year…

our youngest sister, Joni.

We were blessed to have her for 54 years.

I don’t want to focus on the sadness we are experiencing but instead look forward. Christmas, for me, is also a time to count my blessings and appreciate all that God has done in my life. Our large family will celebrate together and it will be memorable! We will hug hard and love even more.

May your Christmas be joyful. I look forward to catching up with all of you in the new year. Thank you for all of your support, friendship, and encouragement in 2015.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

All of the shopping is done.

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All the gifts are wrapped.

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The new stove arrived today so cookie making and spending time with family may begin!

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The sewing machine is taking a well deserved break…

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and so am I.

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Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

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May God’s peace and love watch over each and every one of you. Until next year…….

mommermom

Christmas is coming…

Last week I was happily sewing and singing Christmas carols when a friend shocked me into reality  with the words, “Christmas is only 3 weeks away.”

Huh???

Well that snapped me into shape!! I took a look of the mess around me…

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…like Christmas ornaments sitting everywhere-except where they were supposed to be…

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…and the chaos of my sewing room.

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Yikes!

I decided to get busy. I got a few gifts wrapped…

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…then wrapped a few more…

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I then decorated the tree.

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I hustled about the house with visions of Christmas cookies in my head. Next weekend  two of the granddaughters are coming over to help bake. I am super excited to have their help and spend time with them.

Then the unthinkable happened…

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…our oven quit!

The repairman said it would be about $350 to repair (something about an electronic ignition and a computer board!?) and since it was 13 years old, we may need to think about getting a new stove.

What! Are you kidding! We have about 25 people coming for Christmas Eve dinner!!

So…off we went to find a new one…

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…and we did. Nothing fancy, just a basic stove and oven which will be here in time for Christmas and Christmas cookie baking.

Whew!

Guess I know what I am getting for Christmas this year!

(and I am very happy)

Happy baking.

Christmas blessing to you all.

The wonder of a child

We all know that Christmas brings a special delight to children. You often hear about the wonder of a child-see a picture of a child gazing at a tree, a start, a gift, or Santa.  Children  are excited about the upcoming big event, lined up to see Santa, or checking out the massive toy displays and decorations at the mall.

But…

…the wonder and excitement of a child happens every day. As young kids explore the world around them, they are fascinated with everything (well… maybe not so much as they grow older ).

I had the opportunity to watch our youngest granddaughter for a few hours this week. We got a break from the much needed rain in California so outside we went.

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I barely got her off of the front porch before she was busy exploring. She was excited by the fallen (and wet) leaves on the ground.

(how do they squat like that???)

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She was enthralled with the rocks along the path.

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and the joy of each little thing she found.

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Ahhhh…

… the wonder of a child and it is not even Christmas yet!

I can hardly wait!

Oh…when I got home I saw…

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…the wonder of the cat!

Probably wondering when I am going to get around to putting up the tree and decorations!

(Soon…really soon…)

Welcome December!

Just as expected…

Thanksgiving has come and gone.

Hard to believe

We had a wonderful celebration on our Thanksgiving desert camping trip…

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…had a fabulous turkey dinner…

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…enjoyed the sunrises…

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…and the quiet.

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…and enjoyed afternoon temps of 85 degrees!

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The views were fantastic.

Now it is time to begin the excitement of Christmas. We received three cards in the mail today.

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Thommmee started pulling out the Christmas decorations.

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Its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas……

If you are new to my blog you might not be aware that I retired in January of this year. I am looking forward to celebrating this Christmas season without the distraction of a job. My days are free to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, bake (and bake some more), make some gifts-shop for others, plan a menu for our big Christmas Eve celebration, listen to Christmas carols to my hearts content, and get together with friends and family. No rush-no hustle-no frantic push. (sigh)  🙂

Hooray Hooray for the first of December!