Monday, June 23, 2008

Flowers and Pot Plants and Life Goals... A Half-Yearly Photo Stock-Take

Have been meaning to post the below pictures for quite a long while now... Finally decided that, as we approach the half-year mark with the impending end of June, I may as well get everything up in a mini-stock-take of my home life, so that I can mentally tick that off the list of postings that I've promised (or self-promised) and never did*...

Those of you who may remember my last posting of "Spring pictures" may remember the lovely pot of roses I had back then... Well, all the blooms have flowered, then withered and died; and only one very last lone stem of rose was left last week... Its proud, majestic solitude among its supporting cast of green leaves is something to behold, and reminds me oh-so-very-much of the prideful flower in the Little Prince (and quite apposite of the conversation I had with Yun over on her blog here and here). I'm so glad to have recorded her very last moments of beauty:

Next to the roses, is my lovely pot of small Spanish oranges (or what my mum called the Chinese "gut"), technically-called Calamondin, a miniature orange fruit. I actually ate a few of them and they taste just like supermarket satsumas. Anyway, after picking off the majority of the fruits, the plant is now in its second flowering season. These little flowers gave off a very pungent scent, which is quite pleasant actually. I can't wait to see these being turned into fruits again:

Another pot plant that was just about shown in the picture in my previous post (behind the Calamodins), has really flourished into a lovely, energetic plant. This originally was the bulb of the calla lillies that I almost threw away when I was repotting my plants back in spring, but I retrieved it when I realised that there were green shoots coming off the bulb (and I thought the plant was dead when it stopped growing and its leaves turned brown last winter, little did I realise that it was only hibernating). So I repotted it and now it is so gaily flaunting its green leaves that it gives me joy every time I see it (and have an almost irrational urge to eat its lovely green leaves as a salad!). Unfortunately though, despite its abundant green leaves, I have yet to spot a single calla lily in its midst.

Another of my pot plants that is doing exceedingly well (perhaps too well) is the below green-and-white leaf plant my mother gave me along with the Calamondins, whose name I have absolutely no idea (anyone knows?). It came in very sprightly in its own white pot (below left), but with my tender-loving-care, it has grown into a monster size in a very short space of time (below right), so much so that I have to re-pot it just a few months after I got it. And obviously I had to relocate it as it's grown too big for the living room bay window.

What is still left on my living room window sill though is the cactus, a housewarming gift from a friend about a year ago now, and which is still going strong :) I do wonder if it is the type that will one day grow a little flower at the top? (ohihopeihopeihope).

The plants that I really want to showcase now though, are the new ones that I bought when we went to this year's Bloom Festival (Ireland's attempted answer to the Chelsea Garden Show in the UK, but unfortunately the attempt is still far from getting anywhere close to Chelsea). Unlike last year's inaugural event, which was a complete washout with thundery weather and muck all over the place, but which was strangely enjoyable nevertheless, this year we were blessed with gorgeous sunny weather for the June bank holiday weekend. But oddly enough, the quality of the exhibition actually went down (so it was just as well that we got in via free tickets that my dad got via his business contacts). Anyway, managed to get myself a really, really lovely pot of French lavender, and another beautiful pot of pink flowers (whose name I never found out actually). I had to re-pot both of these, and it was especially tricky for the lavender, and for a while I was really holding my breath as I was so afraid that my amateur re-potting might have killed it. But thankfully, so far both of them are doing wonderfully well on my balcony:

In addition to the above, I also got a pot of peach-coloured lilies for my otherwise-vacant living room bay window. Lovely as they are, I couldn't help but think that I should have gotten proper orchids like I did last year, because these peaked too soon and then I'm just left with a plant with dark green leaves, when I actually wanted a spot of colour on my window sill. Anyway, these are still really eye-pleasing while they lasted:

In addition to the above real flowers and plants, just thought I'd throw in a few random pictures of other places in my home where flowers - or more accurately, their imitations - reign supreme:

Above Left: Corner of my kitchen. Above Right: Corner of my hallway.

Above: Snapshot of part of my living room bookshelves; Below: View from my study (the rose plaque was, if I remember correctly, part of my primary school artwork from Hong Kong!).

Other views of my home that bring me inexplicable joy:

Finally, as this is meant to be a half-yearly stock-take of my life, below are my commandments to myself that I wrote at the beginning of the year (which reflected the goals that I listed back in January):

Obviously, having such a public declaration of my goals is a sure recipe for inviting ridicule from my siblings, who helpfully scribbled the words "stupid" and "boring" next to my life goals just to make sure I have no illusions in my head about what my goals entailed.

Of the five, even though half a year has gone by, but I still haven't got much to show for the first 4 of my important goals (it was all a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back process). However, I did make some little tentative progress on the altogether frivolous things associated with Goal no. 5 (how typical of me to get my priorities entirely upside down!). Below are a few photographic evidence:

At least I bought the digital piano! Whether and how diligent I've been practicing is entirely a different matter though.

But at least I am progressing relatively okay where my so-called culinary arts are concerned:

A couple of my salad and pasta dishes :)

My first attempt at cooking my mother's chicken curry, Chinese-style. And it worked!! I was so thrilled :) (But god, I almost broke my kitchen knife trying to break the chicken wings into pieces - in fact its blade is now forever blunted - I really should have gotten a proper Chinese kitchen cleaver for the job).

But really, I should have my priorities straight. Stop doing stuff that don't add to my goals (like blogging).

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm finding it extremely hard to maintain my blogging habit. I've already tried switching off from political debates online (cf. my hypergraphia post), and by and large I've managed to stay out of things (no more Chinese politics debates for me at least, although I'm still sucked into American ones, arrgh!). But then I veered off into lengthy comments on others' posts, especially over on ReadandEat (e.g. here and here) and lately, Green Space (e.g. here and here). Not only am I hogging others' blog comments, but the irony is that I still have a list of looooonnnng overdue posts that are hanging like millstones around my neck and a constant source of blogging guilt!

*DIFF Feb 08... Almost all the films that I've seen but haven't yet properly blogged! (Yikes!)
*Self-analysis of the short shory I posted entitled "Quizas Quizas Quizas"
*Hillary Jun 08... still to come Part 2 (Feminist Icon) and Part 3 (Looking Forward) (Must do these somehow before events completely superceded whatever I wanted to say... if they haven't done so already)

Not to mention other posts on the pressing environmental issues that I've wanted to blog about and of which I had formed solid paragraphs in my head but which I have yet to get it down on (virtual) paper... *sigh*

But let me get back to my priority No. 1 now first though. Laters.

[Update 30 June 08: Perhaps there is no need for me to feel so guilty about my promised-but-yet-to-materialise postings now, as I just got an apology from Technorati to say, in regard to my ping query, that my previous missing posts can never be indexed now... which actually included my post on Hillary Part 1... Sob sob... and to think the amount of time I spent researching that post... oh well...]

[Updated again 1 July 08: Actually just found out from Technorati admin how to fix the problem - something to do with setting the site feed from "short" to "full" on the Blogger dashboard which I've never noticed before now, being a complete blogging greenhorn even 2 years after I've started on Blogger. Anyway, all my previous missing old posts are finally indexed! Woohoo!]

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At Mon Jun 23, 07:04:00 p.m. IST, Blogger ah-yun said...

Wow! You got so many plants!! I used have a lot when I first lived by myself, then many die on me. :( They attracted a lot of little bugs. The only two that survived are my two house plants. I'm kind of amazed they are not dead yet. (The ones were dead I put them on my balcony.)

I like your inputs on my blog. I think it's good to hear what others think regardless of agreement or not. It can broaden one's mind. Isn't it that's what web 2.0 is for?! Hehe. :)

Do you live by yourself too? I start to have second thoughts about the white sofa. Haha! I tried it again in the furniture store, it was not very comfortable. The other color I really like is dark red. Hehe. Oh~~ do you like green too? I will paint my wall green! Haha! :)

At Tue Jun 24, 05:11:00 a.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

I didn't know you are a horticulturist living in a botanical garden until now.

Go easy on your knife. Just cut the wings on their joints, that should be easier both on you and your knife. Do you have one of those whetting stones to sharpen your knife? or a steel to hold the knife's edges? I like to sharpen my knives every so often. If you don't have either, try run the knife over the bottom of a bowl, that should help too. A regular Chinese cleaver is not much a cleaver unless you buy a thick spine one. And don't use a chef's knife to cut bones, that's a no no. But you did it anyway.

Yeah, the Internet is such a black hole it just sucks your time away.

At Tue Jun 24, 11:36:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Yun: Thanks so much for your encouraging words re: my comments on your blog, and am so happy that you're stopping by here :)

I didn't think I have that many plants, as I was regretting not being able to get even more plants from the Bloom festival. I'm still yearning for a hanging basket in which I'm going to grow some exotic salad leaves, and I also want to grow my own herbs (but my previous attempt in this was a failure... oh well).

I think we're really lucky here in Ireland in that we don't really get that many bugs indoors, perhaps because of the temperate climate. The most that I have had to avoid are the odd bumble-bee or fly wandering into the apartment through the balcony doors on the occassional days when it's really sunny here. Anyway, am hoping that it stays that way as I'm not sure I'm the bug-coping type of girl!

Yes I live on my own too, and that's why I'm revelling in having the chance to indulge in such feminine decor for my apartment! Words can't describe how happy I'm to have my own space. That white sofa you posted before was lovely-looking but if as you said it's not really comfy, then perhaps you should ditch it. (The reason I chose the highly impractical cream chenille for my sofa was that, even though the colour may be impractical, it feels really warm and homely and comfy - plus it's cheap!).

I do like very soft green shades, and although it's not showing up properly in the picture, but my hallway is actually Laura Ashley's "eau de lil" shade, a very soft green which actually is almost identical in tone to the soft duck egg blue that I have for the rest of my apartment. Will you put up pictures of your place when it's done up? I can't wait to see what the final result looks like :)

At Tue Jun 24, 11:44:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

LCL, thanks so much for the really great advice re: sharpening knives on the back of bowls. I don't have whetting stones or the steel bar thingy and the idea of handling my knives with one like very pro chef style really scares me for some reason!

I know I really shouldn't have used my chef knife (and my only good knife at that!) to cut bones, as there is a notch on the edge of the blade now which no sharpening can repair. (It was kinda funny when I was preparing the wings as the ear-splitting noise of me banging against those stubborn wings made me feel like a serial killer!). It still cuts boneless meat very well though so I guess I can hold off on getting a replacement til later. But I will aim to get a thick-spine Chinese cleaver as you say.

I wish I'm indeed a horticulturist - as then I'd have known the names of the plants that I actually bought!

At Tue Jun 24, 07:22:00 p.m. IST, Blogger ah-yun said...

I don't have bugs for my indoor plants, it was the outdoor ones that were dying. I planted mostly herbs, didn't success. :(

After I remodeled, I might post some photos. :)

At Wed Jun 25, 10:50:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Sorry for misinterpreting what you wrote earlier about the bugs. My herb experiments weren't too successful last time either, but perhaps it's a blessing in disguise if they were going to attract lots of little bugs.

At Wed Jun 25, 02:46:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

when you sharpen your knife, exercise caution. I don't want you to cut yourself or anybody lucky enough to be in the vicinity. Place a damp or wet towel underneath the whet stone or an upside down bowl (Chinese rice bowl). That would prevent slippery while sharpening your knife.

At Fri Jun 27, 01:15:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thanks LCL for the kind advice, but I think it should be "for those UNlucky enough to be in the vicinity" while I'm wielding any kind of sharp objects :)

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