Thursday, January 12, 2017

Surprise in the Winter Garden


On Thanksgiving I went into the "Winter Garden" where most of the tropical plants are stored for the winter (actually the smallest bedroom at my mom and dad's house that happens to have a giant south facing window) and noticed that after almost a year and a half the papaya tree was blooming. I instantly read up on papaya reproduction and was quickly discouraged that I might have a male or female tree rather than a self pollinating tree. I took a cotton swab and sort of exchanged pollen between the flowers (I'm not sure if this really made any difference) and low and behold a month later there was definitely something growing!

Now if only my citrus would follow this growth spurt!

The creamy white flowers on the papaya tree. It always surprises me when plants start to grow better inside rather than during their time outside in the summer.

About a month later and there is clear growth, I think we are well on the way to having at least one papaya to harvest in several more months. Maybe a few more will appear by then!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Beating Winter's Chill with Houseplants

Now that Christmas is packed away and the apartment is somewhat back to normal, I took a few minutes to check up on all of the houseplants. I've discovered that ferns and begonias love South Calhoun. I'm not sure if it's the floor to ceiling windows allowing great natural light, or the fact that they face east instead of west that has made this apartment so hospitable, but either way everything seems to thrive like never before. The light is so great, in fact, that a little angel-wing begonia has been growing on my kitchen counter far from the windows since I moved in, and a rosemary plant brought in from the garden is doing quite well on the kitchen island. Rosemary once had to fight for a spot in the south facing windows at the Penthouse. On South Calhoun everything just sort of grows wherever I place it.

I haven't tested bringing the citrus home for the winter, but maybe next year. I mean, if there's enough light for the rosemary there should be enough for a little lemon tree. I just made a visit to the "Winter Garden" at my parents home and brought home two orchids who have new spikes. I'll share those as soon as they bloom.


I recently potted up two stephanotis vines into one large pot I painted Bedford Gray. They seem to be thriving with much more room to climb as well as spread their roots.


Staghorn ferns seem to love growing in my bedroom. They are still in pots, but I would like to mount some and hang them like true "trophies". The fronds look so much more impressive that way.

A lovely, nameless begonia I rescued from the frost.

There are quite a few angel-wing begonias, including this 'Fannie Moser'.


'Fannie Moser' and 'Medora', another angel-wing, tucked into a faux bois container on my desk.



Another great staghorn fern in another faux bois pot. I love how the gilded frames and brass and mercury glass look against the dark gray walls.

In one of the bedroom windows my Southern magnolia patiently overwinters, He, too. looks wonderful compared with last year.


His leaves are still quite glossy, with brown fuzzy undersides. My bedroom makes me think of rooms in Charleston, so it's fitting to have this Southern beauty sharing the space.

Even in the windowless bathroom enough light is filtered in to make this Rex Begonia 'Dark Mambo' thrive. Unless I have an orchid or flower arrangement in here, this begonia is on the counter.


My biggest experiment to date is going on in my closet.


Three camellia plants seem to be surviving. I don't have the proper potting mix, but the unheated closet (if I keep the door closed) is the perfect place for them as they need night time temperatures between 35 and 60 degrees in order to bloom.

I don't know what will happen if they do survive. I don't have room for them to get too big. I found a great source for camellias earlier today that I might go a bit crazy if these guys survive.


Back in the living room with all of my green (and my little aloe) is my newest medinilla.

Malaysian Orchid ('Medinilla Myriantha') is right next to my Medinilla magnifica, which I have succeeded in reblooming once. Hopefully I can get this guy to produce the drooping umbels of light pink flowers they are known for.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Christmas.....

Several years ago my Grandpa Bud ("short" for George) gave me a copy of The Night Before Christmas that had been given to him by my Great-Grandfather George from his Sunday School teacher in 1913. It is a beautiful little book, and i wanted to share it with you.
Merry Christmas!










Thursday, December 22, 2016

My First Christmas on South Calhoun

At long last I was able to snag a few pictures and get a current post up. This is also maybe the biggest look yet at the new apartment, even though it's only about 4 months shy of being a year old.

Christmas seems to get busier every year, and by the time you have a chance to just sit back and take a breath, it's time to pack up the decorations again. It was fun to decorate the new place, and despite a few things I wish I would have changed, I think it's a success. However, with the amount of ornaments I've accumulated over the years, and the height of my new ceilings, I think next year it might be time to take the plunge on a full sized, live Christmas tree!

Hope you enjoy this little tour of Christmas on South Calhoun!


I have to admit this is kind of the afterthought area. These objects always had a particular place to go at the Penthouse. Here the polar bears and candy cane people are mingling with plants and vintage ornaments.


More decorated bottle brush trees and a new snow globe.


The big gallery wall received the majority of the winter berries this year.

The old Martha Stewart Everyday jingle bell wreath is an almost perfect match with the Martha by Mail spice rack. The Bedford Gray walls make them stand out even more.

High above the kitchen are all of the cake stands and one of two tinsel trees I've never used before.

Next year I want to be a little more thoughtful on how this area is decorated. There definitely needs to be more red worked in. Although the tough thing about the living room dining room is that the tree and other decor is more vintage inspired with pinks and blues and silvers. I need to just mix everything up a bit more next year.

Bedford Gray really is just my favorite color.

Although Kyoto Green is a very close second. I love everything about the color of my bathroom, and added just a touch of gold and copper to the mix for the holidays.

This is the kugel I found at the Midlands Arts and Antiques Market in Indianapolis

The orchid just gives another dash of yellowy gold.

Across the hall in my bedroom are all of the woodland decorations that were once used in my dining room at the Penthouse, I no longer have a dining room, but I have a bedroom with more than enough space. In fact the tall windows and squareness of the room makes me think of Charleston a bit. I also have my Southern Magnolia overwintering in one window, so I used magnolia leaves in several places in the decor.

One of the two gold tinsel trees,

And the other in the opposite corner! I added a lot more red this year,

Here on the wall (where Contractor politely declared "You set the table on the wall!") the wedgwood and ironstone plates and platters mix with newer Martha Stewart pieces around an old Everyday mirror. I was going for a sort of abstract diamond shape, but looking with seasonal eyes it almost looks Christmas tree shaped!

I love this old Everyday feather tree with it's random creature ornaments. I never found a place to put the green one,

Above the tall windows, almost to the ceiling, are two more kugels hanging. Next year I want to put the winter berry garland above the bedroom windows.


A bowl of vintage ornaments is just gorgeous mixed with brass, mercury glass, and silver.


Back in the living room, on the wall opposite the gallery wall is just a crazy hodgepodge of things, The berry garland and wreath will definitely move next year. I love the polar bears and poinsettias on the top of the shelf. Ignore the ugly details, like all of the cords that are visible.

In the corner of the room sits the old tinsel tree covered in new and old ornaments. Last year there was a large gold tinsel tree for a steal that I wish I would have purchased, I just didn't know where I could put it. If this guy was only a few feet taller we would be perfect! He has to go in this window for balance from the street.

It must go wreath, wreath, tree, wreath, wreath. Or maybe next year it will all be wreaths and no tree. Or wreaths and candles. Or maybe a giant wreath centered at the top of the facade. For now I hope the light in my windows spreads a little warmth to the street.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas at the Penthouse 2014

This year the holidays seem to have been busier than ever, and it wasn't until just the other day that I had a moment to snap some pictures of the decorations around my home. I try to change a few things every year as additional decorations are acquired, but this year a lot of things ended up pretty much the same as work was busy right up to the end, there was no snow, and I really just wasn't in the Christmas spirit. Once, I was, however, I went all out.

Take a look at Christmas 2014 at the Penthouse!

Every year I think about getting a real tree, and every year I can't stand the thought of not using my tinsel tree.
I added some new ornaments. More blues and greens.

Which meant I needed to add some blue and green ornaments to the clusters that hang on the sconces.

Which ties in with the ornaments on the bottle brush trees I bought last year from MarthaHoliday at JCP.
We did several events all in one week at work where we used a lot of fresh greenery. Well, much like wedding flowers, I can't throw things away when they are still in their prime, so I created some swags to go over my little reproduction print of Fra Angelico's The Annunciation that hangs in the passage to the bathroom and bedroom.
I also made one for the large mirror.

Pottery and Arctic animals in the bathroom.
I love this little collection of random figurines in the old telephone shelf.

Lots of woodland creatures in the dining room.

I add more and more of these sisal and buri animals every year.
Once mostly golds and silvers, I've added a lot more red and green to the dining room. The paperwhites started blooming right on time.

The little creche I "borrow" from my mom. I did a funny post on it four years ago that you can look at here.
I found this acorn ornament from the first year Martha was at Macy's at a large antique mall in Indianapolis. So happy to add it to my collection!

Who doesn't love a poinsettia? I love the "splattered" look of this one.

The little white faux feather tree from the Martha Stewart Everyday years at Kmart. I always add a few glass animal ornaments when I can. The tablecloth came from the collection of my old neighbor Cath.

This year I added some glittered moose!

One of the pair of golden tinsel trees.

And it's mate! I found a bunch of old red ornaments that are colored kind of like the big old glass lights. The one at the very bottom is one of them. I think maybe the glass itself is red, rather than silvered on the inside like most ornaments.

Pierced porcelain and ornaments on the begonia table.
My Grandma Norma gave me this ruby glass cordial set one Christmas years ago and I put it out for Christmas this year. I love it.

And with the candles blazing. I made the little cedar bobeches with more of the greenery I salvaged from the parties.

Old Martha plates from Kmart on the wall in the kitchen.

The kitchen decor really looks the same every year. Hmmmmm, what to do next year....

Another faux feather tree from Kmart, much like the image of mine that was once featured on Martha's blog so many years ago.

Berries and Ironstone.
More candles and more bobeches. Brassy is classy!

I made them simply enough by attaching their ends together with floral wire.

After the bustle and chaos of the holidays, I think I'll keep the decorations up a bit longer than usual so I can enjoy more nights like this. I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season, and a bountiful New Year!