Friday

[gardening] Hostas

The largest, fullest hostas I have are getting ready to bloom soon:

Large Hosta

I haven't posted any knitting/crochet here in ages. Once spring sprung, I spent nearly all my free time outside- weeding, planting, watering, weeding... more weeding. The plants are mostly under control and I've entered into "Meh, just let the perennials do their thing" mentality of gardening. 

This past week I've been crocheting doilies in the evenings and have a few to share after they've been washed/blocked this weekend. Nothing like small, instant-gratification projects to get back into the swing of things.

Thursday

[craft] Pinecone Lamp

I have a glass lamp from my grandmother. It remained empty for a long time because I couldn't figure what to put inside. A layer of sand with seashells on top seems like the standard thing to put into any glass container but I don't have any sand. I walked around the house with the bottle thinking, "What can I put in here? What can I put in here?"

This past spring I picked a basket of small pinecones:

Little pinecones

All the pinecones have been languishing in the garage, unloved and unused. I saw them and tried to slide one into the neck of the lamp. It was a perfect fit. The opening was just barely wide enough. The whole thing was obviously meant-to-be to I started pushing in pinecone after pinecone, trying not to think about how I'd ever get the dumb things out in the future. 

Stuffed an empty lamp full of small pine cones.


Easiest DIY project ever. In that- all I did was put some things inside something else.

I still have a ton of leftover pinecones. I'll probably spray paint them gold since I still have a most of a can leftover from the gold toy lamp. And everything looks better spray painted gold.

Wednesday

[vermont] Hummingbirds

I have a hummingbird feeder right outside one of the front windows. The cats like it and the hummingbirds are fearless- they will sit at the feeder and drink when I'm standing outside, three feet away from them. 

Inside, I'm able to take some nice close-up pictures with my zoom lens. Here is one of the males:

Male Hummingbird

Male Hummingbird

And a female:

Female Hummingbird

Female Hummingbird

And a little video:


Time to refill the feeders. Four tiny birds managed to drain 2 large feeders in one week. 

Tuesday

[gardening] New sempervivium

I've been adding new plants left and right around my place. A knitting friend divided off some coneflower, iris and a bunch of shade plants for me. I also ordered a bag of 50 sempervivium cuttings from SMG Succulents. They were only 40 cents each! The arrived fast, packaged well and looking perfectly healthy. I plopped them all around my little rock garden- I love gardening tasks that can be done in 5 minutes. They ranged in size from a quarter to a silver dollar in size- quite big for cuttings, if you ask me. Here are a couple:

New Sempervivium

New Sempervivium

It was a very nice selection of different, hardy hen-and-chicks. They'll take it easy in the bed this summer and I think they should perform pretty well next summer. 

Monday

[gardening] Olallie Dayliliy Gardens

I was up early Saturday to head down to South Newfane for the weekend sale at Olallie Daylily Gardens. It was a beautiful day and the garden was amazing:

Olallie Daylily Gardens

Not all of the beds were on sale. I was specifically looking for red and purple varieties. They gave me an extensive list of the sale plants/prices and a clipboard to write down what I wanted.

Daylily Gardens

Rows and rows of pretty daylilies:

Daylilies

Daylilies

Some of the interesting varieties:

Some daylilies at Olallies.

I ended up getting 7 different cultivars. I put them into the ground Saturday afternoon and was thankful for all the rain Sunday. They are pretty sparse at the moment but I'm hoping for a lot of growth next year and the year after. I don't have pictures of all 7 (some aren't blooming yet) but the following are currently living at my house now!

Study in Scarlet

Little Grapette

IMG_1943

Darius

I think I'm all daylilied out now. 


[misc] Penny Monday

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

Made a pillow fort for Penny. ⛺️

Wednesday

[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? 


Tuesday

[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.

Friday

[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.

Thursday

[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.


Wednesday

[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. 

Tuesday

[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.

Supplies:

- 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

I LOVE IT.

Gold toy lamp

I SERIOUSLY LOVE IT.

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.

Wednesday

[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.


Tuesday

[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. 

Monday

[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!

Friday

[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.


Wednesday

[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.

Monday

[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!


Friday

Thursday

[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.

Obvs. 

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.


Wednesday

[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.