Sunday, May 15, 2016

It's been a while

I know, it's been a while since I've posted. But nothing has really been going on since until recently, it was winter. Also my job has become a lot more hectic since 2016 started and unfortunately shows no signs of letting up. But it is May, and spring is definitely here, so I have been able to start gardening again.

Here's the beginning of the outdoor garden! It's not even close to done. I have two kinds of basil, chamomile, sage, and calendula still indoors. But today there are two Black Chokeberry shrubs, wisteria, milkweed, lemon balm, bee balm, dill, ice plant, a bee attraction flower mix, and my Brugmansia outdoors. They will be joined by the others by next weekend, as it'll be warm enough. I also want to put my Madagascar Palm and my Plumeria outside too because I think they'll appreciate the warmer temperatures and sunshine.
I will be moving at the end of July, so this could get very complex, trying to move all of my plants!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2015 In Review

It was a busy end to the year, so I haven't had the chance to do this yet. I like filling out this little questionnaire at the end of every year. So here's 2015 in review!

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
I got a Master's degree!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Kind of. I have started taking better overall care of myself, which is pretty much my same resolution for this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not that I'm aware of!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Well I found out long after the fact that one of my great-aunts passed away. Really though it's more a relative who has changed so much in a negative way that the person I knew them as is dead. It's very difficult.

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in the US this year. I didn't have the time or the money to go out of the country!

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

More money? I'm at this point where I'm done with school and I have a job, but I need to move this year and pay off my debts as soon as I can. So to be honest, more cash would help the most.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory?

I successfully defended my thesis on April 16th. It was a Tuesday. That's the big one!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

It really was that Master's degree. I wasn't sure I would or could be successful in graduate school, but I did it! I think my next biggest success was getting a job three weeks after graduation.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I did really poorly at losing weight. But by the end of the year I had realized why, so something good came out of that failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, I didn't have any significant illnesses this year. Some minor things like migraines and gastroenteritis, but nothing serious.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Nothing really stands out this year. I've bought some fun things but nothing gigantic and super special this year.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?     

My brother was incredibly generous to me this Christmas and it was amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I'm pretty sure I answer the US Congress for this question every year. I'll add Donald Trump too, although his existence is mostly appalling. On a more personal level, one of my relatives, whom I was previously very close to, has acted in a way that can only be described as appalling and depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Good old Hunziker Property Management for the rent. And now I pay more for gas since I commute.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going home for Christmas. I hadn't seen most of my family for a year, and I'd worked really hard and had no vacation time prior to that. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Maybe Fight Song by Rachel Platten.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Happier or sadder: Happier for sure.
Thinner or fatter: A teeny tiny bit thinner, but we're talking like four pounds.
Richer or poorer: Poorer. Way poorer. Being an adult is expensive.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Pushing myself to see friends. I'm not a total hermit but I am very introverted, so sometimes it's difficult for me to get myself out there.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Binge eating. But surprise, I have an eating disorder so yeah.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I went home for Christmas and spent it with my family. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

21. What was your favorite month of 2015?

May, because I was done with my degree and passed, and all the paperwork was done and in, and no one could take that away from me.

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?

No. Unless you count with Hannibal.

23. How many one-night stands?

None. Don't do those. 

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Hannibal. Although the first half of the third season was kind of crap. It's the only show I actually bothered to watch on telly though. Usually I just watch random weird shit on Netflix or Youtube.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don't hate anybody, but I do have a new aggravating coworker. I'm pretty sure that's par for the course with being employed though.

26. What was the best book you read?

I really enjoyed reading Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Red Dragon.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Spotify has Bing Crosby on it!

28. What did you want and get?

A couple plants, some games, and my fricking student loan paid off for me!

29. What did you want and not get?

Copious amounts of free money, a salary that I think I'm actually worth, a house.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Wicker Man! The original with Sir Christopher Lee.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 28 and I honest to god do not remember. I think I had to work. Dan and I probably went out to eat.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Starting with a much higher salary. I've spent a lot of time being stressed about money, so having that load off of my shoulders would have been great.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

Wear clothes? I work in a lab, so there's not room for much fashion. Safety first.

34. What kept you sane?

My cats, my family, and playing video games.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Anthony Hopkins. Also had a Peter Cushing phase, is that weird because he's dead? I hope not.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was really happy when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Otherwise politics is the usual depressing mess.

37. Who did you miss?

My parents, my brother, and all of my extended family. Going home once or twice a year is hard on me. I don't see them nearly enough.

38. Who were the best new people you met?

Jo is cool people! She's a lot of fun.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

I am pretty damn smart and capable. More capable than I think.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I'm not one to believe in magic/ But I sometimes have a second sight/ I'm not one to go pointing my finger/ When I radiate more heat than light -RUSH, Presto

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dolliver State Park in Fort Dodge, IA

Earlier in the year, I visited Dolliver State Park up near Fort Dodge. It's a park similar to Ledges State Park in that it has sandstone bluffs. Dolliver's bluffs are composed of a slightly different mineral mixture than Ledges, called copperas. The park is pretty large and there are a lot of trails to explore.
 It was kind of rainy when I went, so there were some snails out and about. Here's one that was hanging out on a tree trunk. He was pretty large.
 This is where the creek that flows through the park meets part of the road so you can walk right up to it. It wasn't very high that day but it rained a lot afterwards so it might have gotten higher after I left.
 Here are some of the bluffs. There's a spot where you can get very close to the copperas and even see some petrified wood sticking out. It's very cool.
 Another view of the creek further off one of the trails. This is near the spot where you can get close to the copperas bluff.
Walking past the bridge, you end up in this forest area. There are lots of little green shoots in the area. Apparently they have a very high silica content and were used by early pioneers to make broom bristles. They're very stiff and unyielding. I had never seen them before so this was very interesting to me.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I grew a couple of kinds of poppies this year as nice ornamental spring flowers. I had seeds for Mother of Pearl poppies and seeds labeled Double Pink poppies that I had gotten from a seed trade.
 These are the Mother of Pearl poppies. They're supposed to come in a variety of pearlescent colors, but mine were all white for the most part. They are very pretty and delicate. The blooms don't stay super long, but the seeds are easy to collect.
These are the Double Pink poppies. I think they're more red than pink, personally, so I'll call them Double Reds from now on. They are double blooms and were very prolific. Their seeds are also super easy to collect so you can save seed every year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Olbrich Botanical Gardens: Outdoor Gardens

I'm late to this post, but here are the photos from the outdoor portion of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. It was raining for part of this so I didn't get to spend as much time there as I wanted.
 Pretty allium flowers. They make the loveliest globes of purple blossoms. So nice!

 They had a lot of potted arrangements that were pretty. Lots of petunias and coleus.

 These are Nasturtium leaves! Nasturtium makes pretty flowers and are edible too!

 Here's a view of one of the fountain areas. You can see it was kind of grey and cloudy.

 It's hard to see but this was a field full of different kinds of tulips! There were a lot of colors.
 As it started raining hard, we saw this pagoda in the distance...and so we ran for it!
 But here's some closer pictures of those neat tulips first! See how pretty they are?
 Oh, and here are some snowdrops! These are so delicate and pretty too. I want to grow them.
 And another arrangement, including some decorative kale and pansies. Very colorful.
 Here's the inside of the pagoda! We took shelter for the rain here until it let up.
 The view from inside the pagoda. It was very beautiful inside and out.

 Lily of the valley!!! I think these are just beautiful and I want to grow them so badly!

 Here's more of those tulips. The whole field was just grass and tulips. It was pretty cool.
 There was a little waterfall up here. No koi in the pond here, though!
 This is a Redbud tree. I had never seen these until I moved to Iowa. They are so pretty and flower pretty early in spring, so they're kind of a harbinger that winter is really over.

I forget if these were bluebells or a flower called Dutchman's breeches or pantaloons or something like that, but they are blue and very pretty too.

Now that I've gotten all my pictures from May up, I'll start slogging through my summer pictures. They're mostly on my phone, so it might be a pain for me to upload them. We'll see.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Olbrich Botanical Gardens: Orchids, Tillandsias, Carnivores

These pictures are of some of the tillandsias, orchids, and carnivorous plants at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. These are some of my favorite plants because they're weird! I like unusual plants.
 To start things off, here's a Tillandsia that is blooming. You can see the whitish blooms near the bottom of the picture.
 Here's another Tillandsia bunch. They're related to bromeliads and make pups. If they aren't separated, then they grow in a big clump like this one!
 There's a couple of tillandsias up here as well as some orchid blooms. This was a very pretty display.
 Orchid blooms on the left, succulents in the middle!
 Here's one more beautiful Tillandsia blooming.
 This is a cute little orchid flower! It's from the genus Maxillaria.
 Okay, this is just a tropical plant that I like. It's a Brugmansia, also called an Angel's Trumpet.
 Up close and personal with an orchid bloom! There is such a huge variety of orchid flowers that I feel like I always see a new one at every botanical garden I visit. This one was new to me!
 Here's the plant these beautiful flowers are attached to. The root ball is so weird and the flowers hang below the leaves. It's very different and very cool.
 A view from below the Brugmansia straight up at the flowers. I have a Brugmansia that I've been growing since January from seed. It hasn't flowered this year but I look forward to when it does!
 Here's a bromeliad flowering. Much like tillandsias, bromeliads usually don't require much soil, if any. They reproduce by making pups and after the plant flowers, it dies.
 This was a really neat part of the garden that I haven't seen at any other botanical garden yet. It's a carnivorous plant display! In this picture, you can see a lot of Venus flytraps. I'd love to have some carnivorous plants someday but I don't have the money to put together a nice terrarium for them right now. They need a lot of humidity to thrive.
 Here's a sundew. These are really neat close up. The little sticky droplets are where the insects get stuck so it can eat them.
And lastly, here are several pitcher plants. They look like different types of lettuce, but they're all little pitchers. Bugs fall into them and drown, and then the plant digests them. 

Next time, I'll start showing some photos from the outdoor gardens!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Olbrich Botanical Gardens Part 1

So like I mentioned in my last post, back in May I went with my family to Madison, Wisconsin and we went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. They are enormous and have both indoor and outdoor gardens, so I've broken up all the pictures into several posts. This post is some of the indoor plants!
 So I'm pretty sure this is a hibiscus. I took a photo because of the crazy double bloom! I'd never seen a flower like this before.
 I also forget what species this is, but I thought the flower looked cool, especially with the hot pink bits sticking out above the reddish orange puffs.
 I know this is either a bromeliad or an orchid. I'm thinking orchid, maybe a dendrobium? Either way the flowers are pretty.
 I thought this flower was pretty interesting because of the tips poking out like wheel spokes.
 This is the Chenille Plant! I really like these. They are very soft and do feel like a chenille sweater. I always sneak a little touch even though you probably aren't supposed to. My local nursery had some of these a couple of weeks ago. I'd like to get one someday but I'm on a plant no-buy right now.
 Another very neat flower. I thought the way they clustered was cool.
 This is an orchid, although I don't remember what kind. It's a big flower.
 This flower is so cute and dainty!
 This is the flower on a succulent, I think it's a Kalanchoe. The leaves are fuzzy and they're covered with these little purple flowers.
 This isn't the clearest picture, but it is a flower on a Rhipsalis. I have a Rhipsalis but it's never flowered, and I'd never seen one flower before.
 Here's what looks like a close relative of a Rhipsalis. It's a Hetiora from Brazil.
 Like the label says, this is a Taffeta plant. They look and feel kind of like taffeta! It's hard to tell from a picture but the leaves are almost metallic looking in the sunshine.
 Here's the ceiling of the geodesic dome that comprises the indoor portion of the gardens. You can see all the palm and banana plants in this picture.

 Here's a flowering Epiphyllum! I have three different kinds of these but none of them have flowered yet. Epiphyllum are tropical cacti.

 In the indoor gardens there were quail! They were moving around a lot so it was hard to take a picture of them. They are so cute! When I was in elementary school we tried hatching quail eggs as a class project but none of them ever hatched. I've always liked quail since then even though our experiment didn't work.
 Here's another pretty flower!
 There's always a waterfall in the geodesic domes! And you can see that Epiphyllum on the left.
 Here's another picture of the quail! They are actually pretty small.
 Every time I see a pineapple growing, I have to giggle a bit. They just look so goofy popping out of the top of a bromeliad. They're adorable when they're that tiny though!
 Here's some pitchers from a Nepenthes. This is another plant I would love to grow, but I don't have an area with enough humidity for them.
This is a really weird orchid. Apparently it's in the genus Gongora. Those huge bottoms are so different from other orchids. 

That's the first part of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens! Next time I'll finish up the indoor portion, which includes more orchids, tillandsias, and some carnivorous plants. Then we'll move on to the outdoor gardens!