Thursday

[gardening] Critters

Lots of creatures to keep me company while I do my gardening. This little guy is named Chipper:

Chipper, our new pest. I mean, pet.


There's one more whose name is Shredder. Chipper Shredder. I was leaving little mounds of birdseed for him, here and there. Apparently I was rather stingy with it- he found where the birdseed bag was in the garage, ripped a hole in the bottom and spilled it all. over. the. garage. floor. I swept up what I could salvage and put in into a covered plastic bin. The rest was unreachable under a couple shelving units. Now the chipmunks run into the garage whenever they hear the large bay doors open to grab as much of the remaining seeds as possible. Whatever. At least they're cleaning it up for me.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly


White Admiral butterfly:

White Admiral Butterfly


An empty next I found on the ground, under a maple tree, after a particularly windy night. Didn't see any eggs anywhere:

Birds nest on the ground.


Not shown:

Snakes. Everywhere. Little ones, big ones. Just walking across the lawn, I'm bound to be startled by one slithering away underfoot.

Groundhogs. Everywhere. They're eating an overly-generous amount of perennials that I wish they wouldn't. Last night Dollar and I hung out on the front porch and there were three woodchucks out. One perched on a rock only 50 feet away, not bothered by our talking. Dollar likes all the animals. I wish the woodchucks would simply move away.

Fox. There's one hanging out kind of close to the house. Early this spring a fox grabbed a woodchuck down by the side door at the end of the house. Even though it was a bloodless death, it was kind of horrible to see happen so close. Last weekend, Dollar was mowing a lower lawn slope and wasn't aware that the fox was on an upper level watching him. But I could see from the house and scared the fox off.

Deer. I'm diligently spraying my hostas and daylilies. You're not getting them this year, you bastards.

Wednesday

[misc] Penny Wednesday

This past Sunday was a clean-all-the-things day. Dollar vacuumed the lawns while I mowed all the floors in the house. Wait- I might have that backwards. Laundry ran all day and Penny still wanted to be in the hot, clean clothes.

Melting Penny


Even on a 90 degree day. Even if it means melting into a puddle of fur.

Photo


She eventually realized she had made a huge mistake and jumped out to lay on the cool wood floors.


Tuesday

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

Happy Summer Solstice. Murderface is in full-on summer mode:

🐰🐯


Had a good weekend. Spent Saturday at my Grandmother's. She's sorting through some of her things and wanted my sister and I to start taking stuff. My car was completely loaded with boxes, which have since been transferred to the dining room. Now to take everything out and start organizing. 

Made good progress on my linen shawl. I'm only about halfway where I want to be so I've got to knit my little heart out all week, to bind off and block the shawl by this weekend.

We need rain rain rain rain rain. The brook by the new lower flower bed is so low, I can't even fill up my watering jug. I've been watering the veg garden with the hose.

Friday

[knitting] Girlie-girl sweater

Made this at the start of the year but only just got around to taking a picture:

Pink baby sweater


Pattern is Quickie (5-hour) Baby Sweater. It came out way too big for a newborn so I'm saving it for Christmas. Which might actually be perfect because I used Cascade 220 Superwash wool- this sweater probably would have been too warm for this summer.

I used my Embellish-Knit tool to quickly crank out the i-cord. I will probably add a few buttons before gifting.

Thing are going well on the linen shawl. I'm nearly done with the 2nd pattern repeat. Will do at least 7 more. I started gathering/piling-up all the fiber I want to spin for Tour de Fleece (Team Catitude). And need to pick a few baby projects to work on during the flights for the upcoming trip. Small, portable, cuuuuuuuuute projects.

Thursday

[gardening] What's flowering in mid-June

Every day after work I take a walk around the flower beds to see what's blooming but also to see if there are any insects/pests doing any damage. The woodchuck babies have come out and started eating down a few things (salvia, purple coneflower, coreospsis, rudbeckia... I could go on but this is starting to get depressing). Whatever. I'm not even angry any more- I just spray liquid fence in the hopes that the stinky smell will salvage what little remains. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other things that do well and aren't gobbled up.

Hardy geranium:

Hardy #geranium. Nice ground cover with hot pink flowers all summer. Another perennial I got as a division from from my mom's garden.


I got two little divisions of this from my mom. It has done really well- low and mounding ground cover with hot pink flowers all summer. Love it.



First day lily to bloom:

First day lily to bloom. I'm ordering a dump truck delivery of mulch and mulching all the beds. #daylily


Can't remember the name of the cultivar but this is one that I got from Olallie Daylily Gardens a couple years ago. It has been steadily blooming for a couple weeks now. I've been pretty diligent about spraying with liquid fence- a deer (I assume) came through last year and ate off lots of the unopened buds.


Centauria Montana:

Love the buds that look like dragon eggs before they bust open into crazy-looking flowers. #centaurea #centaureamontana


This is one that the woodchucks like. It could do with being divided next year. Might have to rethink were I put it.


Common purple Siberian irises have come and gone:

Photo



These yellow bearded irises started blooming June 2 and are still going strong 2 weeks later:

Yellow irises popped open today. 💛


This is the first year I've had columbine blooms at the house. These flowers are so crazy-looking:

Planted columbine from seed last year. These flowers are crazy. #columbine


More #columbine I started from seed. Pretty salmon and yellow colors.

I planted the above two from seed last year in the new part-shade bed. The blooms are really long-lasting. Because I couldn't help myself, I bought two discounted columbine plants at the garden store:

Columbine


New columbine, going into the back shade bed.


Columbine might be my new favorite.

I have several dianthus. Hot pink 'Firewitch':

This dianthus 'firewitch' is so bright, I gotta wear shades. 😎 #nofilter


Bright. Long lasting blooms. Tidy mounding habit. No real fragrance, though, which is a little disappointing for dianthis. I have some in a lighter pink, which I got as divisions from a friend:

More dianthus. 💕


I have a few nice clumps of this, next to a pink dwarf lilac what was blooming at the same time:

Dwarf pink lilac blooming. Seems late for a lilac but I like that it's blooming now, next to also-fragrant-and-blooming dianthus. These are right in front of windows, so nice when a breeze brings their smell inside.


Both are right in front of the house and fragrant. It's nice to have the windows open and have the smell waft in on the occasional breeze.

Sweet William is blooming now:

#sweetwilliam #dianthus


Hens and chicks in the rock garden are doing well:

Time to pluck off several chicks and put them in new places. #sempervivum #henandchicks


Cobweb #sempervivum


Gotta pluck off the chicks and put them in new places.

Some wild roses are growing behind the new flower bed bed.

Wild roses behind the flower bed bed.


Wild Oxeye daisies are blooming at the corner of my veg garden:

#daisy


Now I can begin my summer-long game of "Find the perfect daisy". My Alaska shasta daisies are not blooming yet- and if I remember correctly, I think they don't start until late summer? Hm.

Catmint is blooming everywhere:

Catmint blooming. This stuff is awesome. The deer and woodchucks leave it alone and it does well in sun and part shade. A positively divide-and-thrive plant. I'm going to put this stuff everywhere. #catmint #nepeta #gardening


I can't say enough nice stuff about catmint. The animals leave it alone. It's doing well wherever I put it (full sun or part shade). I think I bought 2 plants 5 years ago. I divided those two plants into something like 8, gave a couple away and put the rest in new places. It's doing well everywhere.

Green Wizard coneflower:

Green Wizard coneflower. Not particularly showy but I 💚 💚💚 green flowers. #coneflower #echinacea


I love green flowers. This coneflower has very broad, dark green leaves and I have it planted with the regular purple coneflower. The woodchucks have eaten some of the purple coneflower leaves but not any of the leaves on this one, so... I may take a division of this and move it to the lower flower bed.

Lastly: angelina sedum in the front, yellow loosestrife in the back:

Angelina stonecrop in front of blooming yellow loosestrife. #angelinastonecrop #stonecrop #yellowloosestrife #loosestrife #lysimachiavulgais #sedumrupestre


That sedum I'm so happy with. I bought two little sad, dying sedums on sale at a Lowe's last year. $1.50 each. The wintered fine and are thriving. This one is such a great lemon-lime color.

Those are all the perennials blooming now. I don't really have many annuals this year- other than the marigold, pansies, geraniums in the new flower bed. And those are just for color and to fill in space until the perennials I planted down there take hold and spread.

Wednesday

[knitting] Moonlight Sonata

I'm traveling to warmer climes in a couple weeks and decided that I simply must (MUST) have a linen shawl to bring with me. I tossed aside Freia Freya to start Moonlight Sonata:

Linen shawl


The yarn is a Finnish 100% linen. My sister's co-worker gave me a sack of linen yarn in various colors and there were several skeins of gray I pulled for this pattern. I would definitely like to use all the other colors for weaving... if I ever want to focus and try to get more comfortable with my loom.

I've never knit with 100% linen before. It's interesting trying to do k3tog with yarn that has zero elasticity. I've read that the fiber really softens up after an aggressive wash/block. I hope so. The pattern has a seriously wonky chart and I had a couple false starts. I can't really read my knitting to see what's going on yet. I have to keep repeating, "I will not hate this shawl, I will not hate this shawl" to myself. Which kind of makes me hate it more. I'll complete one pattern repeat and see if things start to flow better because right now, knitting on this thing is a constant struggle of self-doubt.

Tuesday

[knitting] Freia Freya

Started a new shawl:

Starting a new shawl. This ones gonna be good. #knitting #shawlknitting


Yarn is Freia Ombre Lace. Pattern is called Freya. Hence "Freia Freya". It was actually completely unintentional to pair the two- I had the ombre lace in my stash and the Freya pattern is free and had a scalloped shape to it, which I thought would work well for the gradient colorway.

I'm a bit further along that the picture above but I had to put this project aside in order to start another. More on that tomorrow...

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

My sweet old guy:

❤️ Murderface ❤️


Weather has dipped back down with highs in the mid-50's. Saturday morning, before the rain came, I worked down in the veg garden. I raked up some raised beds and took out clods of weeds.

Raked up some graves. Just need poo and vegetables. Time to play a game of chicken with the forecasted rain.


Then I ran down to buy vegetables and compost:

Got my veggies. Now to escape without and impulse purchases.


It rained the rest of Saturday, so I had to wait until Sunday morning to plant everything:

Vegetables planted. Corn, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, birdhouse gourd. I'm going to smooth out the other bed for lettuce and radish seeds.


Corn, cucumbers (in the containers in the back), birdhouse gourd, tomatoes, peppers, brussels sprouts, yellow summer squash. And I have another long bed I've leveled off where I will plant lettuce and radish seeds.

Friday

[cooking] Homemade Cheese-its

My mom gave me one of those 3-lb bricks of Cabot sharp cheddar. I used my food processor to turn the entire block into shredded cheddar in about two minutes. But it was a mountain of shredded cheese. I made two casserole dishes of mac & cheese (one for me, one for my sister). I made a quiche. I made triple batch of dough for cheese crackers:

Hallelujah, it's raining! Celebrating with homemade cheese-its. Recipe from a cracker class I took at King Arthur Flour. Cabot cheddar, Amish butter, King Arthur flour, Penzeys chili powder. All my favorite things. #cabotcheese #kingarthurflour #penzeys #


These taste exactly like Cheez-Its, only I can call them Cheese-its because it's real cheese. The recipe is from a cracker class that I took at King Arthur Flour last year. Ingredients are simply: butter, shredded cheese, flour, salt, chili power, cayenne, pepper, paprika, touch of cold water. I used my ravioli cutter to make serrated edges.

Now to figure out how to use up all the shredded cheese I still have left. Maybe chive and cheddar scones this weekend?

Thursday

[knitting] Baby Surprise Jacket

After the big bolero, I chose a finer yarn and smaller needle for my 2nd attempt at a Baby Surprise Jacket. I completed it after a few days:

A finished blob of something. It's raining, I'm putting on a movie and seeing how much I can sew in 2 hours. #babysurprisejacket #knitting


Garter stitch blob. So nice to work the entire thing in one piece. Then you fold it up, sew it up and add some buttons:

Surprise! Knit blob folded up, sewed up, buttoned up. #babysurprisejacket #knitting


So cute- so cuuuuuuuuute! Truly newborn sized. If fact, I'm dropping it off at my sister's after work today so my niece can wear it before she grows out of it. Plus, it's been a little chilly recently.


Wednesday

[knitting] Baby Surprise Bolero

I've wanted to knit Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket for ages. Now that I have a niece, the time has come.

Baby Surprise Bolero


But it's more of a bolero than jacket. I used my own handspun and quickly ran out of yarn. I stopped after all the increases but before you start working back-and-forth across the middle 90 stitches. This made a nice little cropped cardigan that can be folded and seamed along the sleeves. Since the yarn is DK-weight and it was knit on size 6 needles, this is large enough for a one-year-old.

The instructions were good, if a little... wordy. I haven't knit an EZ pattern in ages and I've forgotten how chatty she could be. I prefer the 'pithy' version of instruction. I spent way too much time trying to decipher what she meant a couple times.

So this will be saved until the niece is older- back to the drawing board (or, yarn basket) to to find yarn/needles to knit a smaller one.

The yarn is a superwash merino and tencel that I spun back in 2009.

Tuesday

[knitting] Holden

I've had one skein of Green Mountain Spinnery's Simply Fine in my stash for ages. It's a natural colorway which gradually changes from light to dark to light, etc. After searching Ravelry, I saw many people used the Holden shawlette pattern for it, to great effect. So, I tried it as well:

Holden shawlette. One skein of Green Mountain Spinney's Simply Fine. #greenmountainspinnery #knitting #shawlknitting


Yeah, it works. It's really nice. I only made a couple modifications: I did M1R and M1L increases down the center spine, rather than YOs. And I didn't have enough yarn for the picot bind-off because I did a few more lace repeats to make the shawl larger.

Holden Shawlette


I'm back in the shawl game. My craft room desk currently looks like:

Craft room desk. Decisions, decisions.


As I try to decide what pattern to do next, what yarn to wind, what beads to choose... Decisions, decisions

Monday

[gardening] Vacation

I had a stay-at-home vacation last week and spent 90% of my time gardening. It was fabulous weather to work outside every single day- the only rainy day was yesterday.

The big goal was to plant the large flowerbed that was put in last fall. At the start of the week, it looked like this:

Operation New Flower Bed. Everything in there is a weed and needs to be ripped up. 😳😭


Those are all weeds that need to be pulled up. I spent the first day of vacation weeding all the flower beds; this area is now the largest flower bed of them all.

Here it is 98% weeded, with a few things added:

New flower bed 98% weeded. Going to use an old wash tub I found in the woods as a planter. And I put an old bed frame in the back to make a "flower bed". This whole plot is going to have indoor things outside.


That green thing in the foreground is an olde-tyme washtub that has been sitting at the edge of the woods forever. There was never any standing water in it, so I knew it drained and would make a nice planter. Dollar and I dragged it over. The bed frame in the back is something that we got from Dollar's mom- more on that later. And I put a whiskey barrel planter up on the tree stump.

I planted a billion plants and mulched:

Mulched.


Another angle:

Now to water everything.


The flower bed bed. Here you can see just the frame:

Mulching...


I measured the length and width of the inside mattress frame, went to Home Depot and had wood cut to fit. And I bought plain soil. Came home, put it all together:

12" boards cut and they fit the bed frame perfectly. Half full of soil. One more trip to the store for soil and flowers.


Needs more soil. And annuals.

The flower bed is planted. I'm calling this area Done. Dunny Done-zo McDunnerson.


And done. Done done done done done done done. Hopefully sun and rain will take care of this bed the rest of the summer because I have too many other things to do.

Friday

[cooking] Blue Apron

I was able to try out Blue Apron for free last week. Basically it's a meal subscription plan where you receive ingredients and instructions for three 2-person dinners. Who knows what time the box was delivered to my rural house but when I opened it up after I got home from work, all the ingredients looked fresh and the meat (chicken, beef, shrimp) were still frozen between two ice packs.

My first recipe was a Thai red curry with shrimp and rice noodles:

Thai red curry coconut shrimp and rice noodles with collard greens and pea shoots. #blueapron


This was so good. I was a little worried about the coconut power and reconstituting it with water to make coconut milk- but it worked well. Plus- they show you how to plate and add little garnishes (like pea shoots) for a more photogenic dish.

Next: Soy-glazed meatballs:

Soy-glazed meatballs. #blueapron


These were fantastic as well- meatballs with an Asian twist. Here, the mixture is just ground beef, panko, minced ginger and scallion, salt and pepper. Pan cooked and then covered in a soy sauce glaze.

I didn't get to the chicken dish- the mushrooms have gone off before I had a chance to use them and our rabbit was given the kale (not because we dislike kale- I just ran out of his usual greens). But of course the meat is still fine so I'll just cook it up as something else.

The only negative thing I have to say is that there seems to be a lot of plastic waste associated with the delivery. All the ingredients are in individual plastic bags. One scallion? In a plastic baggie. The OTHER scallion I need for the other recipe? In different plastic baggie. The one radish? In a plastic bag. Thank goodness the LIME didn't come in a plastic bag.

Overall I'd give the experience an 8/10. You're doing all the cooking, the ingredients are excellent, the recipes are easy to follow and the finished dish is really tasty. I would definitely make these recipes again on my own and I can see how the program would boost the knowledge and confidence of people who maybe don't do much cooking at home. It was fun to tag my images with #blueapron and see all the other pics on Instagram. I may even order another delivery in the future- just for fun.