This is 55.

Scott and I had a few days off together around my birthday. A double nickel birthday… that seems impossible. My mind completely disagrees.

I have a favorite birthday cake. My mother made it for me and after she was gone, my mother-in-law made it for me for many years. For the last two years, Scott has been making it in California. It is a delicious banana cake with a coffee icing that is to DIE for. We made the whole thing, ate a few pieces, and then froze the rest for future days when all you need is just a little bit of cake.

Thank you Thank you Thank you, Scott… for the love, the calories, and the very fond memories of Mom.

Here are a few highlights from the last few days:

For any of you who are fans of the 2014 movie, Chef, (and all of you should be because it’s such an enjoyable movie) starring Jon Favreau, there is a Netflix series out called, The Chef Show, where Jon Favreau and Chef Roy Choi explore food with renowned chefs. It’s a somewhat unique food show that’s entertaining and very informative. We are big fans here at our house. 

We were recently watching an episode in which they made corn tortillas from scratch. Scott (who has a deep and abiding love for cast iron) was intrigued. Before the show was over he’d ordered a tortilla maker and a few days later we were having one of our favorite roasted salmon fish taco recipes from Ina Garten. The meal – and the corn tortillas! – was delicious. What a fun experiment. 

This is not a good foodie photograph (it was a hurry-up-I-want-to-eat-this kind of photograph) but you get the jest of the taco. Dill, cucumber, avocado, lots of lime juice…like I said, it’s one of our go-to recipes. Fresh and scrumptious.

Scott suggested we go check out an exotic plant store I’d heard about. It’s not a very big place, tucked in behind some buildings, but we spent a solid hour there. Flori-Culture started out as an accompaniment to the orchid society. But then they started growing and swapping unique plants with area botanical gardens and zoos and people started taking notice. They are now known for their unique and rare types of plants (along with their amazing orchid collection, if you’re into that kind of thing.) 

The owner was there and was so gentle with all our questions. He wasn’t demeaning (some plant people can be), and he was thorough in his answers (not to hear himself talk but to truly help us make a decision.) It was a fantastic experience. 

The spores on this plant…amazing.

The below Trichogiottis brachiata was interesting to see how it grafted itself onto a tree. The aerial roots were amazing.

Something cool about the shop: Plants had different colored plant tag stakes stuck in them. If it was a blue tag, that meant it was a mother plant. Some had numerous red tags stuck in them. He explained to us that if you’re interested in a propagated rooting from that plant, you write your name on a tag (phone number and date of request) and stick it in the mother plant. When they can, they take a cutting from the mother plant, root it and when it begins to show growth, they start calling the people on the red tags. So cool, right?! (Okay…cool for plant nerds anyway.) The below plant was one that I stuck a red tag in. 

I have the below plant – a peperomia or Baby Rubber Plant. Mine is smallish and growing straight up in a pot. I saw this one and asked him why theirs was so different. He told me it’s really a ground cover so if I move it to a shallow dish, it will branch out like this one. (Duh! I had no idea. And immediately went home and repotted it.)

I’m not an orchid person but I can certainly appreciate them and the work it takes to get these beautiful blooms.

One of the benefits of living on the west coast and most everyone else I know lives a few hours ahead of me, is that I can wake up on my birthday to a phone filled with birthday messages. It was a nice way to start the day!

I don’t ever recall my birthday being on Ash Wednesday before. And for us, it was also Voting Day. We have been VERY diligent about looking at all the candidates. We’ve waited as long as we could to make the right decision and thoughtfully watched each debate –  and STILL, it was difficult. In fact, I’ve never been so split on who I wanted to vote for in the primaries. There is the added pressure of voting in the California primaries where there are 416 delegates so the pressure was on thick for us. We sat down with coffee and filled out our ballots and dropped them off at the early voting locations. After months of struggling, it was all over. Votes cast.

I couldn’t decide between a few candidates so I did the drop-the-pen-and-see-where-it-lands thing. It landed on Tulsi Gabbard (eyeroll) so I went back to comparing the facts and issues.

Ballots cast, time for a trip to Green Acres Nursery. Scott has been researching composting and I am always up for a plant trip. This particular Green Acres in Rocklin is the last one we haven’t visited (it’s the newest) and might be our current favorite.

I fell in LOVE with these wonky pots. I love their texture and uneven design. They look like they were just pulled off the potters wheel.

The below tree – triangularis – is on my long-term Plant Bucket List. I love the leaves so much.

The Rocklin houseplant area was really nice to walk through and dream.

We stopped by In-N-Out (because California) where this cute employee was standing outside talking to a group of twenty-something’ers. He was really cute to watch.

Then we went to get a hydro massage (some people call it ‘going to the gym’ but let’s be honest…it’s all about the hydro massage bed!) My gym clothes consist of this t-shirt… -ha!

And please don’t hate me for my fanny pack. Honestly – this is a great invention. I’m sold on it. Kangaroos have known the secret all along!

This text message was nice to see pop up on my phone – especially compared to the news alert that came at the same time.

In all honesty, it’s a little eery around here with regard to the coronavirus. Feels like a ticking time bomb, particularly as they keep flying more and more people into the states here in northern California. 

These are a few of the plants I picked up over the last few days. I think I’ve become a Hoya fan. There are so many different types – it’s fun to think about collecting each one. Some refer to those hoya collectors as Hoya Heads. 🙂 I might be heading straight toward that title soon.

At the exotic plant store I bought this Pinguicula moranensis which is a carnivorous plant. The rosettes (its winter dormancy) will flatten out like the lower leaves which have a sticky surface. My plant gnats have numbered days ahead! Once the gnat lands on the leaf, they can’t get off and die and the plant absorbs its nutrients. Do I feel badly for the gnats? They are the downfall of having a houseful of plants.

I picked up some more oxalis at Green Acres. I don’t have the green version and it seemed most appropriate for upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. 

A few additional hoyas I added to my beginner ‘collection’…

This one (not yet planted) is called a String Bean Hoya – I know…right??!

My Angel Wing Begonia has started unfolding a new leaf for my birthday 🙂 

And my Christmas/Valentine’s Day/Martin Luther King Jr/Easter cactus is also blooming again.

My cut flower garden has turned over about 3 times now. I’m cutting them as quickly as they’re producing new blooms. It’s been a thrill. I’ve started giving away bouquets to neighbors like people try to get rid of their zucchini and tomatoes! (Speaking of which, Scott also planted some tomatoes, peppers, chives and cilantro this week. Salsa is just around the corner.) 

To wrap up my birthday, we stopped by this hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant we like. Each time we get fortune cookies, we decided beforehand what their messages will apply to. Since it was my birthday, we dedicated them to Greta 2020. -ha.

I’ll gladly take these messages; I identify with them. I love unveiling the mystery…that’s where the fun is.

It was a fun and somewhat laid-back birthday. I deeply appreciated the cards and phonecalls and texts and social media messages. It’s always a great opportunity to stop and think about each person and how important they are to my life. Thank you.