[misc] Penny Monday

Changed the linens on the bed and fashioned a quick pillow fort for Penny:

Made a pillow fort for Penny. ⛺️


[gardening] Flowering sempervivium

One of the hens in my hen-and-chick rock garden is flowering this year:

Flowering sempervivium

Which indicates that it's going to die this year. 

The rock garden is getting a little weedy. I'd like to go through with a little rake and aerate the soil, maybe add some more sand/cactus soil/pebbles. I'd like to, but something is keeping me away. A huge snake. I know there are some people who have a real fear of snakes- so I'm not posting the actual pictures here. Here are links if you do want to look: 

This is the first one I saw. I almost stepped on it while I was out taking pictures and I saw a huge black thing suddenly slithering away. I jumped so high, I landed on the front porch 20 feet away. I went inside and practically crawled under Dollar. He came back outside with me so that I could take the pictures. 

Snakes scare me and I think this is just a learned reaction that I adopted from my grandfather who hated snakes like it was no one's business but his own. And my mom, who screams bloody murder whenever she sees one. I'm obviously startled when I stumble upon one, but then I can calm myself down enough to take pictures.

Here is the second one I saw. This time I was walking with Dollar. We were coming up over the bank when I heard a little rustling in the grass. I thought- "What's that?" I took another step and saw it slither up onto the mulch. My reaction is always and will forever be. I grabbed Dollar's hand and crushed all the bones in it into powder. Then I calmed myself and flanked it to take a picture. 

At the end of the day, they're just non-poisonous garter snakes. And I think they're beneficial for gardens, right? Honestly, I'm more pissed at the woodchucks eating all my young plants. Maybe the snakes will keep the woodchucks away? 


[gardening] Daylilies

I think I might, possibly, get addicted to day lilies. I've had some nice lemony-yellow ones since we move in to the house three years ago. This past spring I divided the six dense clumps into a (slightly irregular) line. They recovered quite well and are blooming better than I thought they would this year:

Day lilies are blooming well after being divided and spread out this spring.

Yellow daylilies

Last year my co-worker divided some of his varieties and gave me a couple different types. Some of the common orange tall (very tall!) that you see at most homes and along railroad tracks:

Orange daylilies

Mixed in (because they weren't marked as different) are these blooming for the first time this year:

Chased a woodchuck away from this daylily this morning.

So pretty. They're much shorter than the orange ones. I think I'll mark them and dig them up this fall and place them together, somewhere else. Just so they don't get lost in the tall orange ones.

Looks like there's a sale coming up at Olallie Daylily Gardens in a couple weekends. I'd love to get some red varieties.


[misc] Penny Laundry

Laundry is Penny's most favorite thing.

Laundry waits for no kitty.

We found her on a basket in the laundry room. We piled on more clean clothes. She purred and wagged her tail (which was still sticking out from the side). Then the basket was carried to the living room where she stayed inside and fell asleep. I guess we can never not have cat fur on our clothes- even freshly laundered clothes.


[misc] 4th of July

We had friends over for a BBQ on the 4th followed by a pretty awesome firework display. 

 backyard #fireworks.

I made some yummy rummy Jello shots:

Finishing up the last of the 4th of July Jell-O shots.

Okay, so they were supposed to be red white and blue but I poured in the cream layer when it was still warm and it mixed a bit with the red layer so... red pink and blue. I'll do better next year.

At the end of the night, moths started getting into the house (lights on inside + doors opening/closing as guests leave). I'm a little (A LOT) paranoid about moths in the house. I have expensive yarn that I'm worried about moths devouring. I'll kill any and all moths the come in. "Sorry," I'll say as I do the killing, "Your fault. You shouldn't have come in here." Well, one moth got into the house that made both my sister and I exclaim "OH MY GOD." A luna moth. I can't kill something so pretty, so my sister brought it back outside. It clung to the doorframe:

Luna moth on front porch. Roughly the size of a condor. So huge.

I wonder if it really is as simple as turning on the porch light to attract them. I might have to conduct an experiment- turn on the porch light and see how many different moths I can photograph.


[crafts] Bottle Cap Tray

Made another bottle cap tray as a last-minute gift:

Made a bottle cap tray in back of wooden sign. Double the use out of store-bought decoration. #beercrafts

I bought the sign because it was wooden and had a deep enough back to glue bottlecaps and pour resin. I added grout, which went a lot more smoothly (literally) that the first time I made one of these trays. The whole project took one afternoon. The only thing I wish I had added were a couple drawer pulls / handles to either end, to make a proper tray.

This sign can be propped to be used as decor or turned over and used as a drinks tray should the need arise. Double the use, double the fun. 


[crafts] Gold Toy Lamp

I've seen quite a few spray-painted toy lamps around Pinterest. Here's a great board with many different styles and colors. I love how customizable and fun it looks.


- Lamp base
- Toys
- Spray Paint (I used Krylon 18kt Gold Plate, 2 cans)
- Hot glue gun

I went to the thrift store and bought a bucket of plastic toys for $10. Time to spray paint. Before:

Toys before gold paint.

After (I sprayed one side, waited an hour, turned everything over and spray painted the other side):

Lamp and toys after gold paint.

This was a really good mix of different sized toys. Wolverine was the largest but included in the toys I bought was a baggie of very small pieces- small swords, weapons, tires, hats, etc. This smaller pieces were really useful when it came time to glue everything on and add finishing touches.

The lamp base was also spray painted after the cord was placed into a ziplock bag and sealed with painters tape. I also covered the bulb holder.

Lamp and toy before gold paint.

Then it was time to glue everything on with a hot glue gun. This part took one morning and was exceedingly fun. For the pieces that had moving parts (bendable arms, legs, knees, heads), I added a spot of glue to any joints that I wanted frozen in place. I placed figures, figured out where glue would need to be added, removed the figure, added the spots of glue and replaced the figure into a permanent position.

Once everything was placed (I didn't use about 20% of the total toys I spray painted), to took the lamp back outside for a final spray to cover up parts of the toy that were missed the first spray-through and the opaque glue that were visible.

The final lamp:

Gold toy lamp


Gold toy lamp


Gold toy lamp

Some arms and legs are still movable. Some of the weapons can still be removed from hands. And I didn't realize until it was all done but Boba Fett reclining in Wolverine's lap?

Storm trooper

His helmet comes off!

Storm Trooper

I think it's funny. I left the face unpainted.

This was an easy project. The only thing left to finish is coating the entire thing in a high-gloss sealant. I think that would be the final touch. Oh, and I guess I need a lamp shade too.


[misc] Catgrass

In the past, I've bought little containers of grown cat grass at the pet store when I'm there to pick up other things. I decided to buy a bag of seeds and grow my own:

Penny and cat grass

Penny approves. I have enough of these small containers that I can start a new batch of seeds every week, so there will always be yummy grass to eat.


[travel] York, Maine

I haven't been to Maine in years. It feels kind of far away but it only took us a little over 2 hours to get to York:

York, Maine.

It was just a day trip for a wedding but I'd love to go back. 


[vermont] Summer in the country

Gorgeous weather in Vermont this weekend. 

Summer in #vermont be like

Did some weeding/mulching. Went to the Alumni parade in Hartford. Made a day-trip to Maine on Sunday for a wedding. Looking forward to an extra-long 4th of July weekend holiday!


[cross-stitching] Mystery Steotchalong #2

Playing catch-up on a mystery cross-stitching project:

Trying to catch up in the #steotchalong. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

The Tunbridge Fair is only a couple months away and I need to start thinking about what I'd like to enter. I've been stash-diving in the hopes that I can build up some knitting momentum to start making some nice things.


[gardening] Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart

A few flowers on my Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart:

Old fashioned bleeding heart

I planted this last fall and was happy that it bloomed at all. 

Currently I'm dealing with a beetle problem- they look like japanese beetles but they look more gold to me. They're eating leaves on my new ornamental trees and look to be damaging a few shrubs. I have another shrub that is turning black- I have no idea why. Some rust is popping up on coneflower leaves. Aphids are sucking a lot of young plants dry. I'm spraying bug killer here and there. I need to get a gardener with a greener thumb than mine to come up and diagnose all the problems. Before everything dies.


[gardening] Diabolo Ninebark

We have a couple Ninebark shrubs that were planted when we first moved into the house a few years ago. They weren't doing too well so last year I gave them a little extra fertilizer. This year I see buds! I had no idea this shrub flowered!

Diabolo Ninebark

The flower heads close-up:

Blooms from Diabolo Ninebark

I'm going to take some cutting and try to propagate!



[misc] Martha

This past Tuesday I ran across a post somewhere that Martha Stewart was coming to King Arthur Flour in Norwich on Wednesday. I checked the course calendar and her class was simply titled "Cooking with Martha." I mean, it's Martha Stewart. The class should have been in bold, flashing, sparklee letters. It was sold out (of course) but I signed up for the waiting list. I heard back from KAF that afternoon that there was a spot- would I like it.


It was a 2 hour demonstration, rather than a cooking class, to accommodate more people. I arrived a little early and got a sweet seat in the 2nd row. Martha came in, foxy as ever:

Super demo by @marthastewart at @kingarthurflour. Great stories, great recipes.

She made a stollen, a flatbread and breakfast cookies. She told many stories and passed on information and helpful hints that one can only accrue over a lifetime of trial and error. Best of all, she was funny and quite frugal with her cooking techniques- she would scrape out every last bit from a mixing bowl or scrape off every last bit of dough from a mixing blade. 

We tried everything at the end of the demo. I'll try making the flatbread at home next week but save the stollen for Christmas. I think the demo was a great success and I hope KAF brings her back again.


[cooking] For want of a wrapper the eggroll was lost

If there's anything my dad wants, it's eggrolls. So for Father's Day, the old man gets eggrolls. Because I'm a "wait until the last minute" type of person, I went shopping for the ingredients Saturday night. The grocery store had no large eggroll wrappers so I heaved a big sigh and got the small round ones, resigned to the fact that instead of making 30 large eggrolls, I'd have the back-breaking / finger-cramping work of making 300 smaller dumplings.

Made so many dumplings for Father's Day. Kind of relieved I only do this once a year. #mandu

The filling had to be chopped finer than usual because they were going to be in such smaller packages. My usual eggroll filling consists of:

- 1lb cooked ground pork
- 1/2 block firm tofu
- sauteed spinach
- 1/2 head cabbage
- shredded carrots
- bean sprouts
- scallions
- soy sauce
- ginger

All mixed together by hand. It's so good to eat by the spoonful as you're making all the dumplings. 


[cooking] Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Triple berry cinnamon swirl bread. #bakingbootcamp #berrygood

Made this for a Baking Bootcamp challenge that Joy the Baker and King Arthur Flour are running.

Seriously, it's one of the best things I've ever made. The berries and cinnamon are soooo good together. I considered only using one or two berries, but all three are perfect together. And it's pretty!

Looking forward to the next three challenges!


[vermont] Birds, birds, birds

I have to get some bird books and start practicing backyard ornithology. We have so many birds. I was considering making some bluebird houses, to attract bluebirds. The bluebird population in America is declining due to House Sparrows (non-native and invasive; also murderous). This isn't a dire situation in Vermont (yet) because we have a lot of open land cultivated for agriculture, which they like. At our house, we have a lot of land and Dollar regularly mows a huge area of it. I was walking around the front yard with a friend, discussing building houses/attracting bluebirds, when a bluebird flew by right in front of our faces. So... nevermind. I'd still like to build houses but apparently there's no rush.

We have a Phoebe that built a nest under our deck as soon as we moved in and has used it to brood every year. 

Mr. and Mrs. Hummingbird use the feeder all the time.


A goldfinch has been trying to get into the house for the past two mornings. It tap-tap-taps on the kitchen window. I wave my hands inside, saying, "Stop! You're going to hurt yourself!" Then it sits on the bird feeder bar:


Sometimes even when Mr. Hummingbird stops by for a drink:

Goldfinch and Hummingbird

I saw this dude strolling through the backyard:

Turkey in the back yard

When we were putting in the garden a couple weeks ago we saw a couple turkeys flying! I think they were gliding by from a higher elevation but it was crazy to see their huge wingspan.

We have a couple hawks that I've consistently seen since this spring. Mostly they slowly circle overhead, in a spiral manner. Occasionally I see a large shadow move across the ground and when I look up, I see a hawk flying kind of low. I don't really know how to identify it but based on it's shape/color, my guess is Red-Shouldered Hawk. Which would be pretty cool, since I don't think there are that many around.

And then this morning, I had to be a little late to work because this was at the base of our our driveway:

Ruffed grouse?

Terrible picture, I know, but I think it's a ruffed grouse. She was squatting down and I couldn't pass. I got out of the car. As soon as I did that, she stood up and a dozen chicks scattered out from underneath. It was akin to when you pick up a rock and bugs scatter in every direction. These tiny, yellow chicks went running into the tall grass on either side of the road. The female ran into the trees. I got back into my car and tried to crawl past. The female came running out of the woods and charged my car like, "COME AT ME, BRO! I'M NOT SCARED OF YOU!" I stopped and turned off the car. 

Here's a video of her before she went back into the woods and called all her chicks. You can see one in the video but eventually they all came out and went to her call.

Dollar was staying home for the day and I heard something behind me at this point, back up at the house. I turned around and saw him on the porch, looking like "What are you doing down there?" I walked back up to tell him and by the time I made it back to the car (and inspected the tall grass around the dirt road), I assumed all the chicks were reunited with their mother. Whew. 

I definitely need to get some birds books. 


[misc] Hoppy Kitty

I'm growing some dank catnip out back (something keeps eating all the catnip I try to grow in the front yard) and brought in a few leaves for the cats yesterday. Murderface can't handle it:

The #Alchemist kitty. Probably shouldn't have given him that last beer.

He had to sleep it off in an Alchemist box.

In unrelated news, two local gamers won Tabletop Deathmatch, a boardgame design contest! It's so awesome and they so deserve it. The game is called Penny Press. They started a Kickstarter page to reach goals for super-nice components, extras and faster printing. Check out the video and consider backing the project if you'd like a copy! 


[cooking] Quail 'n biscuits

I've never cooked nor eaten quail before but picked up a package of six frozen birds at Hmart. We were having some people over for dinner, so I marinated and set them up to roast:

Six little quail ready to roast.

They were tasty little dark meat birds but kind of a hassle to eat for not much meat. There's no delicate way to eat these- you've got to use your fingers. 

The real hit of the evening were these biscuits:

Best biscuits ever. Recipe from King Arthur Flour, of course.

The recipe is Breakfast Biscuits from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. I really only use two cookbooks in my kitchen - the Baker's Companion for anything baked and The Joy of Cooking for everything else. These biscuits are brought together quickly then the dough rests for an hour in the freezer. I used a metal dough scraper to cut nice, sharp squares before baking. 

I made the mistake of taking these out of the oven and then setting them to cool in front of guys. Hands started grabbing right away so I got small plates, butter and knives. So much for waiting to have them with dinner. I was lucky to get a couple for myself.


[misc] Fireworks

This past Friday night we set off a few small fireworks. Okay, it was more than a few and they were kind of large. We had friends over who had a cache of fireworks but nowhere to ignite them all. Since we have an in-progress firepit and big, wide-open back yard we had a little 4th of July preview.






Then things got bigger and bigger:






Time to get more fireworks.