Thursday

[crochet] Little Lion

I haven't picked up knitting needles or a crochet hook since April. Since the Sock Madness stuff. It's been all gardening, all the time. Any free time I have, I'm outside. With the nonstop rain we've been having recently, I have been trapped inside so I started a new mystery cross-stitch project as my go-to craft thing to do.

But I bought book of small knit/crochet hat projects. Hats. For Cats. 

I started with the crocheted Little Lion pattern. I like that all the crocheted patterns are charted in the book- I rarely see that outside of Japanese crochet books. I whipped up the base in an evening. I needed a cat to put it on, of course. And I found Penny, relaxed in bed, sleeping.

Penny

I gently put it on and tied it shut under her chin. She started purring and kept on dozing.

Penny's hat

She never even opened her eyes all the way. She probably thinks it was all a bad dream. At this point, the base just looks like one of the old, leather football helmets.

The next evening I added two rows of loops using soft faux-fur, to complete the lion's mane look. I popped it onto Penny, who was awake and walking around. She didn't seem to mind and continued walking around but Santana had a big problem with it. Penny looked unfamiliar and Santana was following her, hissing. Penny was like, "What? It's me." Santana was like, "Who are you? I don't know you. I HATE YOU, STRANGER." I slipped the hat off Penny and Santana calmed down immediately.

I brought Murderface upstairs for nightly treats in bed. I put the hat on him. He's super chill and a good sport about everything.

Lion Mane hat

A view looking down on that hat:

Lion Mane hat

Penny's reaction to Murderface in the hat is the funniest.

Here's the hat, flat, not on a cat:

Lion Mane hat

There is a banana hat that I want to make for Santana but she didn't even like me resting this hat on her head (forget about tying it under her chin and wearing the actual thing around). Her head may be a no-hat zone. Ever.

Wednesday

[cooking] Peach-blueberry crumble tart

Peach and blueberry tart for a rainy Sunday.


Recipe from Taste of Home.

I only made a couple minor modifications. I used fairly soft fresh peaches and frozen blueberries (picked last year), so I was worried about the filling being kind of runny. Rather than tossing the fruit with honey, I took about 1/3 cup of maple sugar and mixed it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Then I dusted all the fruit with the sugar/cornstarch mixture before pouring it into the shell. For the crumb topping, I used freshly grated nutmeg instead of clove and omitted the pecans.

This was so good. 10/10, would bake again. I really loved the subtle addition of cinnamon to the crust.


Tuesday

[gardening] Spiderwort

Last summer I bought about a dozen new daylily cultivars from Olallie Daylily Gardens in VT. I planted most in a straight line along one flower bed. In the middle of the line is a thriving clump of Spiderwort:

Spiderwort - Tradescantia virginiana

I don't mind this plant- I like the look of it but... it's not a daylily. Did I accidentally buy this? Did the nursery accidentally give me this instead of a daylily? I told my coworker that it makes no sense that this is growing in the line of new daylilies. He said that it's kind of an aggressive weed and a bit of spiderwort might have been mixed in to the daylily when I bought it.

I get home and sonofabitch- I see a little bit of daylily foliage mixed in but the clump is 80% Spiderwort. I'm going to dig the whole thing up, extract the dayliles and replant the spiderwort somewhere else. So... yay free perennial but I don't know if I'll have any blooms from that bit of daylily this year, since it has spent all season being choked out? Hopefully I'll be able to completely separate them.

Monday

[gardening] Asiatic lilies

My asiatic lilies have started to bloom:

Orange asiatic lilies blooming like whoa.

The blooms are so large and fragrant but the plants themselves are dwarf. Here they are last year, blooming on June 6th, not long after I put them in:

All the orange lilies blooming. Red ones are starting.

Those two little spots of green in the lower left-hand corner are part of the line of sweet william that I put in. They stayed green and small all season- I didn't know how full and tall them would get- too tall to be in front of these dwarf lilies. This is the front flower bed mid-July last year:

Front flower bed

This is not as wide of a shot, but you can see this year that the sweet william are taller than the lilies, kind of obscuring the view.

Untitled

So my solution was to thin out the sweet william by chopping down a lot and bringing it inside for a big, bushy bouquet:

Thinning out the #SweetWilliam by bringing it inside. ��

There's still enough left for the butterflies:

Butterfly on the sweet william

The remaining flowers I will let go to seed and collect the seeds to winter sow. I'm unsure whether or not this plant is biennial or perennial. I've read conflicting things. I even read that cutting back the flowers will make them perennial (because they think they won't have gone to seed? Does that sound crazy?). Who knows. This fall I'm moving some and leaving the rest to see what happens next year.

Anyway, the asiatic lilies after a fair amount of rain yesterday: 

Dwarf lilies after rain

Off to the left are the dark red ones that haven't bloomed yet (planted at the same time as the orange ones). The three on the top right that are just stalks are dwarf (I hope) yellow asiatic lilies that I just bought this year- when it was on sale after the blooms had gone by. This is the time of the year that I'm buying discount, sad-looking perennials that are past blooming but obviously still viable if you put them into the ground. I don't mind waiting a year.

Friday

[gardening] Evening Primrose

Bought this plant at an annual book/plant/pie sale (all my favorite things!) at a local library. The woman told me the name, twice, but I still forgot. It's one of the few plants that the woodchucks have left alone. I do remember the woman saying that the flowers are like big, yellow buttercups. As I watched the plant, the flower pods were red. I didn't really believe that the flowers would be yellow but the red pods have started to bust open and out pops a big, yellow buttercup-like flower.

The flower pods are red before they burst open yellow. I don't know the name of this plant so I'm just going to call it a Ketchup Mustard flower.


Red pods. Yellow flowers. I was just going to call this a Ketchup Mustard Flower. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked it up. It's an evening primrose- Oenothera fruticosa- also knows as sundrops.

Speaking of primrose, I put in a couple new types this spring and I think one of them is going to bloom soon. It should look interesting- there's while powder under the leaves on on the stem. I was worried that it was a powdery mildew but it's a natural thing with some primrose called farina or 'flour'. 

Thursday

[cooking] Sockeye salmon in zucchini scales

Had a couple people over for dinner last night. I planned to cook a large filet of AK sockeye salmon and wanted to do something special with it. I saw an episode of one of Anthony Bourdain's shows where he's in Lyon and is served fish cooked in puff pastry that is shaped like a fish, with half-moon scales cut into the outside of the dough before cooking to look like scales. Pretty but time consuming. I also found pictures of smoked salmon, covered cream cheese and cucumber slices layered to look like scales. Pretty but more of a brunchy thing. So I decided to use zucchini slices for scales and bake it.

Sockeye salmon wrapped in zucchini scales. Ready to bake.


There's no recipe that I've found online for this, but it really is easy. All you need:

1 salmon filet
1 small zucchini
salt, pepper, olive oil, dill

Salt, pepper, olive oil the meat of the filet. Use a mandolin to slice the zucchini consistently paper-thin. I salted the slices a bit and let them sweat out some moisture before using them so they were more pliable. Then start layering from the tail up. Sprinkle more salt, pepper, olive oil and dill weed. Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 min. That's it.

It looks impressive but it's simple and fast. Easily a weeknight supper. I think the zucchini scales helped keep the meat more moist while it baked but next time I do this, I think it might be nice to add something between the salmon and zucchini. Not cream cheese, obviously, but... a lemon-caper aioli? Or would that completely melt away while it's baking? It thought it could have used some sort of sauce/richness. Of course, I could always have made the aioli and served on the side at the table.

Wednesday

[vermont] Red-spotted newt #2

Came across another red eft in the back yard after some heavy rain:

This guy was hustling, didn't like me hovering for a picture. #salamander #newt #eft

Looking forward to a sunny day today. We've been having so much rain and I think it's meant to continue after today, off and on, for the next week or so. When it's not raining, it feels like a sauna outside. I would like a week of cool, sunny, dry weather. That would be nice.

Tuesday

[gardening] Yellow and purple blooms

Last fall a coworker gave me a plastic shopping bag with iris rhizomes. I didn't plant them right away and before I knew it, the ground was frozen. They spent the winter in the garage. I never thought I'd be thankful for what a frigid winter we had but I think the super-cold weather helped preserve the bulbs. I found them this spring- they didn't feel soft so I put them into the ground. Lo and behold- they're all growing and a few are starting to bloom now:

Maybe a little late for irises but I didn't get them into the ground until this spring. ��

I think next year they'll probably bloom earlier than this.

Some hostas are blooming:

First #hosta to bloom.

Yellow loosestrife that I picked up this spring at the Hanover Garden Club sale is blooming in a part-shade location under an apple tree:

Yellow Loosestrife

And the Veronica Speedwell - Royal Candles that I divided this spring are doing well:

Veronica Speedwell - Royal Candles


Monday

[vermont] 2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

Got up at 5am on Saturday to see the 6am ascension at the Quechee Balloon Festival. Parking for the event is at the Polo field (where the Scottish Festival is held) and you're shuttled to the festival grounds via school bus.

I was going just to take pictures. I bypassed the crowd sitting on the sloped lawn and went down to walk amongst the balloons as they're filled.

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

It all happens rather quickly. They're filled with hot air, people are loaded into the baskets, then it's up, up and away.

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

As soon as a balloon is airborne, it's van takes off- chasing the balloon to pick everyone up wherever it ends up landing.

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

2015 Quechee Balloon Festival

I was back home by 7:30. And in bed at 7:31.

Friday

[gardening] Blanket Flower

The blanket flower I started from seed two years ago is finally blooming:

Blanket flower is blooming. Trying to focus on the positive after coming home and finding two more perennials mowed to the ground by the woodchuck. I'll be moving plants around this fall, for sure.

Came home yesterday to more plants mowed to the ground- centauria and sea holly. I have one bed in front of the house that the woodchucks don't go into (knock on wood). This fall I'm going to do some major moving of plants.

Thursday

[gardening] Flowers and woodchucks

Lots of blooms around the garden:

Yellow flowers in bloom. Clockwise from top left: yellow #loosestrife, #coreopsis rising sun, stella d'oro #daylily, achillea #yarrow.

Clockwise from top left: yellow loosestife, coreposis "rising sun", stella d'oro daylily, achillea yarrow.

A have a couple healthy patches of perennial Geranium sanguineum "Bloody cranesbill" growing from a few small divisions that my mother gave me last year. 

Geranium sanguineum, aka Bloody Cranesbill. Low-growing ground cover. Got a bit from my mom last year and it just took off. Blooms are so pink.

My Green Wizard rudbeckia (I've been mistakenly thinking that it was an echinacea) is blooming, though it's hard to tell when green flowers are blooming:

Green Wizard #echinacea. I love green flowers so much. ��

I bought five discount begonias from Home Depot for $1 each a while ago. I put them in the back yard, in a part-shade spot. I thought they'd be okay here and while they are blooming, the foliage won't stop turning brown and crispy.

Begonia

Perhaps the drainage is not good enough here.

I keep waiting and waiting and waiting for my daisies to open. They are close but... then I remembered that I planted a colder-weather cultivar that blooms from mid-summer through fall. So, I will happily wait if they're going to be such long bloomers.

Lastly, some other plants in various beds:

Some more things around the garden. From top left: echinacea, cilantro, lupine, parsley. Can't tell what's what? [Sam Kinison voice] THAT'S BECAUSE THE WOODCHUCKS ATE THEM ALL! AAAGGGHHHHH!!! ����

I walk around the flowers beds every day after work and imagine my horror when I open the back door and see a woodchuck scampering away into the rock wall. Echinacea- gone. Parsley- gone. Cilantro- gone. Lupine- gone. Hollyhocks- gone. UGH. There are at least three woodchucks- a mom and two cubs. They had been keeping to the rock piles on the lower lawns- not bothering my plants since early, early spring. They've nibbled down the new growth on several other perennials that I've added this year- which makes me worried about any new growth that comes up next year. Time to start shoveling used kitty litter into the rock walls. 

Wednesday

[gardening] Diabolo ninebark

My two ninebark "Diabolo" bushes are in bloom:

Diabolo ninebark blooming.

I love the round clusters of flowers that this shrub produces. I pruned the bushes this spring- removing dead and crossing branches and one-third of the old growth. I love how dark the foliage is. I've planted some coleus around the bottom of this small bed for annual interest but also added a couple perennials this year: astilbe and heuchera.

Found a pretty little moth on a cluster:

Moth on ninebark flowers




Tuesday

[cooking] Pork - two ways

I had a large pork loin that I cooked last week:

Untitled

I cut it open/flat and put in a stuffing of bacon, onions, apple, pecans, raisins, panko, chicken stock. I rolled it up, tied it up and roasted it in the oven. The fat cap on top basically turned into homemade pork rinds. So good. Next time I make this, I will pound the meat flat between sheet of plastic wrap to even it out. 

We had a lot of leftovers, though. I chopped the loin (stuffing and all) into chunks and then minced everything in a food processor. I mixed in a handful of chives and bake it all in a pie:

Pork pie

I loved this. The taste reminded me of the cupcake-tin pork pies that I used to make a lot. This was so much easier to prepare.

Pork pie

My only complaint is that it was a bit dry. I would add a cup of apple sauce to the minced filling next time or serve with apple sauce on the side.

Monday

[gardening] Vegetable Garden

Finally got my vegetable garden planted this past weekend:

Untitled

Most of the plants were free from a local farm that had too many veggie starts. So, I took a bit of everything they were giving away- tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, muskmelon, chives... and lots of some mystery plant. I took two six-packs of some unmarked plant which will probably be some kind of squash or pumpkin. We'll see.

I added some peppers (red/green/hot). I do have a bit of space left and will probably buy a few more things. Then go back to ignoring this garden and spending all my time on the flowers.

Friday

[gardening] Sweet William

A line of sweet william along the front flower bed is blooming:

Front of the flower bed has dianthus blooming. Waiting on daisies and blanket flower next. #blossomsarecoming

I cut four stalks to bring inside:

Cut some #SweetWilliam to bring inside. ��������

They smell so good. Still waiting for the shasta daisies to open.

Oh and the turtles from yesterday? I got home and walked around to see if I could find any spots where they might have laid eggs. I found this:

Harrumph. One of the turtles ripped up a bit of my flower bed. Snow in summer and tricolor sedum taking a hit. Pretty sure it was the jerk turtle and not the nice turtle.

Why you son of a... Of all the damage they could have done, I suppose this isn't so bad. I've already patted the soil on top of the rocks back into place and will re-mulch. The snow-in-summer and tricolor sedum took some damage but they're both perennials, so they should bounce back. 

Not sure if any eggs are in the sloped dirt. Probably not but I'm not going to go digging through it. The turtles appear to have moved on. It was cool having them around for a couple days- seeing them crawl around and the places they were methodically checking out. Maybe we'll see them again in a few years.

Thursday

[vermont] Turtle Power

A few days ago Dollar and I were wondering if we would see any turtles this year. Yesterday Dollar saw Penny at the window, freaking out about something outside. We looked and saw a snapping turtle in the driveway!

Algae shell turtle

Algae shell turtle

So, I think this is the same turtle that we saw years ago. The pattern on the shell seems identical. This picture was taken June 16, 2012:

Snapping Turtle

Nice that this turtle's still alive and kicking. And probably biting.

Then we spotted ANOTHER turtle further down the lawn:

Untitled

This one seemed a lot more nervous having us near, so we didn't get too close. We left them alone for a bit. I couldn't resist checking on the nervous one again later- because it moved out of sight and I was curious where it went. She dug a hole into the lawn and I assumed she was laying eggs.  The other one spent the remainder of the evening going up and down and up and down a gravel pile. I was worried she'd lay her eggs at the top- which wouldn't be ideal. We have someone coming to do all kinds of drainage work down on the lower marshy lawn. Not a good idea to be laying eggs anywhere near there.

So this morning, I go look and there are not eggs but lots of new holes dug up around the lawn where they were looking for places to nest. Thanks a lot, guys.

Old Familiar was still messing around on the gravel piles:

Climbing the gravel pile

Climbing the gravel pile

Sill around this morning

Nervous Nellie was still around as well- finding more places to tear up. Please don't mess up my flower bed:

Grumpy
"I do what I want!"

These turtles need to lay eggs, leave me a note as to where they laid the eggs, and move on. I'm obsessing over them too much.