Lime tree

Noticed this morning that the Makrut lime tree I bought for Kevin this Christmas (okay, for both of us (okay, maybe mostly for me)) has started blooming. Little limes coming, yay!

This is my second time trying a lime tree; the first time, I bought the smallest one they had, didn’t manage to water it well, and it quickly died. This time, I bit the bullet and bought the biggest one they had (because it was a PRESENT, see?), and so it has a much more established root system in a bigger pot, and can take less frequent (deep) watering. Doing well!

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Flowers coming. Hang in a little longer.

It’s getting cold again tomorrow (I am so tired of cold, this point of winter in Chicago is hard, when all you want is for the line to start solidly trending upward), but look. Flowers coming. We just need to hang in there a little longer.

(Hellebores, first blooming perennial.)

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A wall of green, with a little color

The tropical plants that I bring in for the winter are mostly a wall of green, which works just fine for me in bleak January, a bulwark against the snow.


But by February, I’m longing for a little color, esp. pink.  I’ve tucked a Trader Joe’s orchid into one pot (still in its separate little plastic orchid pot holding orchid bark, so the roots don’t get too soggy when I’m watering the other plant’s soil), and have an Apple Blossom amaryllis (blooms almost as big as my hand!) opening up as well.

Both of them will be in bloom for at least a month, which should carry me through to March and mini daffodils. When they’re done, I’m planning to move them to the basement and try to figure out how to get them to bloom again next winter (they both should, if you treat them right, though I’ve never really tried before, so can’t promise anything.)

February pink! Beaming a little garden love out into the world…


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Basement progress photos

Progress photos. I’ve accumulated a fair number of faux flowers over the years, and wanted a way to organize them that was also ideally pretty — I cut a big square of bird netting and nailed it to the wall, and that seems to be working fairly well, in a slightly haphazard way. Little floral punch as you enter the basement and head into the first area, for the garden.

That tall cabinet is still chock full, but at least it’s chock full of garden stuff. I’m going to ask Kavi to take all the pots out, sort them by size, and store them in the low grey cupboard (which the kids emptied for me last night). Then I can organize it more effectively with garden-related miscellany. Both of those pieces from Nadeau (our branch is in Ravenswood), btw, which is my go-to for relatively cheap Indian / Indonesian furniture. A good third of our furniture is from there. Solid wood pieces, often charming, not necessarily the most smoothly assembled, but if you can live with that, recommended.

The grow light assembly was a gift from Jed years ago, and I have only successfully used it once so far, because I somehow am often too harried to manage to get seeds started, but I cleared it off yesterday, and I am hopeful that I can actually start some seeds this week.

It’s not too late, right? I’ll be using leftover seeds from last year, because I still have lots and I know some won’t be viable, but it seems a shame to waste them. I stored some of them in the fridge… well, we’ll see. It seems worth a shot, though there is the problem of remembering to water them, and we had a leak, so the basement sink water is shut off right now, until I can get the plumber out. In the queue…

The bulb boxes are holding some of my dahlias from last year, but only the ones from the front, because I had an epic fail this year — the dahlias and glads from the back, I did manage to dig up, but then I left them out in the back yard, meaning to get back to them to finish prepping and storing them, and instead, got busy and forgot, gah, so they all got snowed on and froze and rotted. SO frustrating after I went to the work of digging them out. Felt v. dumb.

Ah well — let it go, Mary Anne. Try to think of it as an excuse to try out some new dahlias this year, yes? If the budget allows, or if someone in the garden club is willing to trade….

And the sewing table is clear again. I love this table, you know. It has come with me since college — not across the country, because Roshani stored it for me while I was living in other cities, but then she kindly returned it again when I moved back, and there’s something about it that I just really like. It can collapse into a more compact form, or expand into this L-shape, or even be angled, which was how I had it in my first apartment in college, in a bay window.

It’s also completely falling apart — the drawer backs have come off, the edges are raw and rough, it’s sort of a mess. But functional enough for a basement. I’ll hang onto it for now, and who knows? Maybe one of the kids will want it for their college rooms or first apartments as adults.

There are some pants there, waiting to be hemmed, as well as saris that need blouses (which I’ll get made by a professional; they’re just there as a place to keep them until I have time), and a host of other small mending / altering jobs that are within my skill set. Also a few pieces of jewelry that need chains mended, which I should be able to do with my little set of jewelers’ tools, and a couple needle-felting projects in process (stabby stabby), and even a little stuffed platypus kit that Karina gave me ages ago, if I feel caught up enough to be able to do a fun little recreational bit of sewing.

It makes me feel much calmer, going down and seeing at least two small areas organized now. I think it’s an ADD thing, that I just completely can’t work in chaos — my mind goes ARGHHHH. That kind of thing doesn’t seem to get to Kevin at all — he can just tune out what’s around him and just focus on his work. Jed too. I can’t even handle a crowded computer screen, or multiple browser tabs open, but those don’t bother them at all!

Well, at least I have had the time recently to be able to make some progress here. I’ll be grateful for that.


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Question for those who like my stuff

So, a big question for those who like my stuff. Food stuff, writing stuff, etc. Be my market research.

Kev and I have been talking about what’s manageable for me in terms of cooking and shipping and the like, and we’re thinking one weekend / month is generally do-able for having one of these little flash sales of books and sweets and soaps and the like. Serendib Kitchen / Press / Home / etc.

And we were planning that, but then Kel Bachus suggested that I might want to think about also setting it up as a quarterly subscription, so that people who knew they wanted the little things I make could sign up for them in advance and be sure they would get them, rather than possibly missing out on flash sales.

Which reminded me of back when Gavin and Kelly did their chapbook, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, which I loved, and they offered one subscription level that was the chocolate subscription, which was so brilliant and indulgent — you’d get your magazine, but also get a lovely interesting bar of chocolate to enjoy with it. I loved it.

So with these things in mind — is there interest? I’m honestly not sure what this would look like, but something like:

Base level:
– a little printed chapbook of domestic writings — recipes & gardening and maybe home decor, probably with some fiction and/or poetry thrown in
– some kind of confectionery, probably a new recipe
– a tiny surprise present of some kind — maybe a set of postcards, maybe a little crocheted flower, who knows…

And then maybe some upgrade options:

a) some kind of bath product (soap, bath salts, lip balms, that kind of thing)
b) existing books
c) curry powder


(I’d plan on hiring someone local for packing and shipping and possibly order management too — in fact, whether I do the subscription or not, it’d be good for me to look into that. A nice energetic college student would be ideal, someone who doesn’t mind coming by my place and hauling boxes one weekend / month. If you know someone like that, let me know… That’d probably be something like $15 / hr.)

I don’t know pricing for the subscription yet — would depend a lot on shipping costs, etc. Maybe $30 + shipping for the base level, per shipment? (I’m thinking quarterly at first, can possibly move to monthly if it goes well.) If there’s interest, I can talk to Kevin and Stephanie to figure out if we actually have capacity to do this.

The nicest thing about it, from my point of view, is that I think I can use it as a way of collecting and generating material for the larger nonfiction book I’ve been wanting to work on…

Would you be interested in that kind of subscription, for you or as a gift?

What do you think? Should I do it?

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Stephanie may have arrived for our work session yesterday morning to find me standing on my kitchen island, taking this shot of the amaryllis.  It’s just SO symmetrical! (Vaguely annoyed with self for not adjusting stake to make the stem completely centered in the pot…but that way lies madness, Mary Anne.)


Hm. Wish I’d paid enough attention to have the focus on the flower, not the background, for this shot. Oh well. I’m getting better with my phone photography, but it’s a slow process, esp. when I get distracted and rushed.




Amaryllis “Arctic Nymph.” I like that very faint blush of pink on the white petals. Good name for this one!

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Urban beauty

Milkweed pods in my back alley. When we repaired the cement here, I had them leave little squares of soil bordering the garage door, for planting. I planted climbing roses there (Blaze, which is lovely and does its thing with a couple flushes of roses every year without additional watering, for which I adore it), but the milkweed showed up on its own, and also comes back year after year.

I love the stark urban beauty of this — the prairie is here, waiting for us to let it back in.

My friend Margaret Treanor Frey’s artwork.

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