Merry Christmas!

Hope your holiday season is magical!  Enjoy the special time spent with family and friends!

FPCANormandeau

Enya – Oiche Chiúin (Silent Night)

Nana Mouskouri – Süsser die Glocken nie Klingen

Cactus wishes.

Zygocactus

I’ve had it a month and I haven’t yet exterminated my newly-acquired Christmas cactus!  I’m really enjoying the blooms of my newly-acquired Christmas cactus!

I don’t know why I have trouble keeping Zygocactus* alive…I keep hearing that they’re the “easiest plants in the world to grow,” accompanied by enthusiastic testimony about specimens twenty feet wide and three hundred years old, that bloom sixteen times a year with absolutely no input from the gardener. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly).  I usually kill mine within two weeks of purchase, it’s like they come with a self-destruct button or something.  I wake up one morning and poof! – they’ve completely cratered on my windowsill.

I mean,  I’m extremely careful not to overwater.  Well, actually, it’s more “neglect” than “care” – I must admit that all my houseplants exist in a state of drought most of their lives because I get busy and forget to water them.  You’d think I couldn’t kill cacti of any kind, but I have a pretty good track record.  (Why, when I read that last sentence back, does it sound suspiciously like bragging?).

But this time…I think I’ve finally found The One!  Or maybe I’m getting too excited about our one-month anniversary, and shouldn’t put the cart before the horse and all that.  Wish us a happy ever after!   😉

Do you grow Zygocacti?

*The name Zygocactus is kinda sorta fascinating – well, to me, anyway – as it refers to the way that these plants are segmented, and is not the genus name (which is actually Schlumbergera).

Amaryllis flowering.

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My ‘Red Lion’ amaryllis bloomed this week…I don’t know why I thought it would be a deeper red colour, but I’m definitely not disappointed:  the hint of orange/salmon has a wonderful tropical appeal.  I am pleased that the bulb has produced a second flower stalk which should bloom very soon – this is the first time I’ve grown amaryllis that has sent up more than a single stalk.  (You can tell I’m not particularly serious about purchasing amaryllis.  I buy them on sale at the grocery store and not from specialty growers).  This particular plant seems nice and compact, as well – I’m not fighting with tall, heavy stems and flowers that threaten to topple the container.  A nice treat for the holiday season!

Do you grow amaryllis?  Have you ever saved them over and gotten them to rebloom (and if so, what did you do to accomplish it?). 

UPDATED JANUARY 6, 2015 – as Chloris has pointed out in the comments below, it seems that my amaryllis is not actually a ‘Red Lion’ cultivar as I was led to believe by the seller. That would definitely explain my confusion as to the colour of the blooms!  But…I don’t know which coral-striped type this is, so if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to chime in!

Book Brief: Holiday Cookies and Other Festive Treats.

Okay – let’s talk holiday baking! Cookie exchanges, gifts from the kitchen, and treats for yourself and your family and friends and co-workers – is baking a big part of your holiday traditions? What recipes are your standbys, and which ones are you trying for the first time this year? Is there a special meaning behind your very favourite recipes? Feel free to put up any links to posts (past and present) about what you like to create in the kitchen at this time of year…I’d love to hear about it! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

The Door is Ajar

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Holiday Cookies and Other Festive Treats – Linda Collister (2008, Ryland Peters & Small, London, New York)

If you’re planning to give cookies or other treats as gifts this holiday season (or hogging them all to yourself), this is the book for you.   The photographs are beautiful, the layout is organized and clean, and the recipes are designed for home bakers and seem very accessible.  Of course, I may not DECORATE the cookies as wonderfully as the photos show…I mean, if you get a box of cookies from me that look like they have big, strangely coloured icing blobs on them instead of delicate filigree stars or snowflakes, please don’t be offended – it’s not the fault of the author.  It’s all me.  But I’m sure they’ll still taste pretty darn good.

RECIPES I’M MAKING PRONTO:  Swedish Pepper Cookies, Gingerbread Mini-Muffins, Chocolate Brioches, and Pistachio Sables.  There’s also a recipe…

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Zygocactus in bloom.

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I found this glorious zygocactus (Schlumbergera, Christmas cactus) in full bloom in a sunny bay window at my Mom-in-law’s residence this past weekend, and it got me thinking that I’ve never attempted to grow one before.  It is definitely time to change that!

Do you grow zygocacti?  Do you have any tips for me? 

(P.S. In case you’re wondering, I did indeed alter the natural position of the bloom so that it doesn’t turn downward in this photo).