[gardening] Mid-May Flowers

Things are really starting to grow after weeks of rain and then a super sunny week.

Primula in the back shade bed:

#primrose #primula

Teeny, tiny little Victorian laced primrose:

Victorian laced primrose. #primula #victorianlacedprimrose #silverlacedprimula

Old fashioned bleeding hearts:

Old fashioned bleeding hearts. 💕💕💕

I went to Home Depot this past weekend and found many spring shade perennials discounted- columbine, sweet woodruff, primula similar to the pink one above in deep purple, red and yellow! They all went into this flower bed behind the house. Also- the Dutchman's breeches that wasn't growing abundantly? I went to dig it up to move it and found the problem- a rock the size of a gigantic watermelon three inches under the plant. I heaved the rock out, filled in the gaping hole with new soil and put the dicentra back. Maybe NEXT year I'll see some real action on that plant.

Around front in the sun, irises are starting:

First irises to bloom. 💜 #iris

Love this- will be dividing it next week to give a bit to some people.

Dwarf bearded irises in light purple down in the big sun bed:

More irises...

I had no idea what color they would be (or that they would be dwarf)- I don't remember who I got them from. Last year was the first year I worked on the lower sun bed and these irises were a little too traumatized from being moved around to bloom. Glad they are coming back!

After a week in the 90s, the weather this weekend was heaven. High 60s / low 70s and sunny sunny sunny:


I went to the Hanover Garden Club sale and got so much- creeping phlox, pink daylily, lobelia, sabiosa, helenium, astrantia. The lobelia and astrantia (and some bugbane) went into the part-sun bed:

Year three of this part sun flowerbed. Weeded, widened, lots of new stuff added, mulched. I'm flipping beat.

Widened, weeded, mulched. I first dug out this L-shaped bed in front of an old rock wall two years ago. I planted some things and then kind of ignored it last year. This year I gave it some TLC so hopefully all I have to do this summer is weed periodically and add new stuff. Plants doing well in the bed: hostas, catmint, soloman's seal, lady's mantle, astilbe, foxglove (although, this may be their last year), lily of the valley, columbine, balloon flower (juuuuuust coming up out of the ground now), Japanese fern, tall phlox, heuchera, various primula. I've got some bunchberry that isn't dead... but isn't particularly thriving. 

One flower bed down... 10 more to go.


[misc] MDSW Haul

I never posted a picture of what I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool:

Maryland Sheep and Wool haul.

A couple things of fiber to spin, one skein of yarn, some pewter buttons (for bay-bay sweaters!), goat's milk soap (gifted a couple bars to my mom and sister) and some handwoven cotton towels (gifted to Dollar's mom). Pretty reserved, if I do say so myself.

I'm suffering from a bout of knitting/crochet ennui. I'm still working on the Lost in Time crochet shawl, approaching the end of the second ball, and the rows are starting to take a long time to complete. I still have a couple small amigurumi to finish- I just need to sit down at a desk and finish them. I tried starting a pair of stranded socks but I messed up the pattern a bit and got frustrated...

Hanover Garden Club plant sale tomorrow and I am so excited! I always end up getting 10 - 12 new things! I've already accumulated a decent pile of perennials to plant this year during my week-long gardening staycation during Memorial Day week... Sooooon.


[knitting] Tree of Life Baby Blanket

My niece turned 1 this past weekend and I was finally able to gift this baby blanket:

Finished baby blanket for Ripley: Tree of Life. #knitting #babyknits

Yarn: Valley Yarns Haydenville, white/natural, 3 balls

Needles: US 7

I started this back in March and it was a quick knit. It has been finished and folded in the bottom of my knitting basket for weeks. With my niece's birthday only a few days away, I had to weave in ends and wash/block the blanket.

The yarn is great- superwash merino/microfiber blend (so soft). I just threw it into the washing machine and ran it on a cold/delicate cycle, then dried flat on a blocking board.


[misc] Outdoor Penny

Took Penny outside yesterday:

It's just like having a dog.

She did much better than the first time (when she didn't even make it out the front door)- adventuring along the front of the house and into the flower beds. But she doesn't listen too good- I assume this is why we don't see cats out for walks on leashes everywhere. 

I tried things like "No." "Stop eating the grass." "Come on." "This way!" "COME ON" "NOOOO!" until I had to just pick her up and put her where I wanted. She wants to go from A to B like a cat would- jumping down some rocks. She doesn't understand, "No, we have to go the long way around because I'm not a cat and it would be awkward for me to jump down the way you want to go." 

It was all very different from Murderface, who just wants to lay in sun with a nice breeze. Penny's more "What's that? I'm scared. I'm gonna eat some grass. What's in that hole? I'm going to eat more grass. I want to go over here.... Over heeeeeere. Fine, I'll just eat more grass." 


[gardening] Faux snakes and geckos

So, I ordered some plastic snakes and a couple gecko statues to put around the flowers beds, to dissuade woodchucks and chipmunks from eating and digging up things:

Putting fake snakes around stuff I want the woodchucks to stop eating. 🐍🐍

If the snakes work, I'll order some more.

The gecko statues are high quality. I took them out from the packaging and thought, "Whoa, these are nice and hefty. Too bad I'm putting them outside."

A couple gecko statues to try to scare the woodchucks. 🐊

But it's not like we HAVE geckos around here, so I'm worried it will make the woodchucks more curious than frightened and draw them closer to check it out... and eat all the echinacea. It would be my luck for this plan to backfire. I would like owls and foxes and dogs,

The other gecko is down in the lower flowerbed, guarding home hollyhock.

In the back shade bed, dutchman's breeches:

Dutchman's breeches. Must dig and replant somewhere it will have more sun. #dutchmansbreeches #dicentracucullaria

This plant has never been robust where it is now and I'll be moving it this year.

I'll be doing my annual gardening-palooza staycataion during the week of Memorial Day. Gotta start planning now.


[cooking] May CSA share

I signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) a couple years ago. They're pretty popular in Vermont- you pay for a share of a farm's harvest early in the year and then receive weekly produce throughout the summer. I didn't do it last year and missed the variety/regularity of vegetables. I signed up again this year and picked up my bonus share at the farm on Sunday:

First CSA share pickup of the season. Carrots, parsnips, beets, radish, baby bok choy, mustard greens, kale, salad greens, two bags of spinach. 😲

I was expecting some spinach, kale... just some greens. It was so much stuff: carrots, parsnips, beets, radish, baby bok choy, mustard greens, kale, salad greens, two bags of spinach.

So I got home from work Monday and got to cooking.

- peeled/sliced carrots for snacks
- blanched all the spinach (to be used in quiche)
- kale/bacon/onion/white bean stew for dinner

Not CSA related but I baked a loaf of no-knead bread to go with the stew. And simmered a pot of frozen blueberries with maple syrup and cinnamon down to a compote to mix into yogurt. Using up last year's blueberries to make room in the freezer for blueberries this year.

And the spring-dug parsnips were turned into cake:

Parsnip spice cake with ginger cream cheese frosting. Like carrot cake but with sweet spring-dug parsnips. Who knew. #parsnipcake

I know. I was looking for parsnip recipes and found this one on epicurious: Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting. All the reviews were good so I gave it a go. It was straight-forward to make and really tasty. Like carrot cake bit with shredded parsnips instead. Who knew.

I made a few minor modifications based on what I did/didn't have one hand- no walnuts, buttermilk instead of whole milk, used ground ginger rather than fresh in the frosting, used 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar in the frosting (recipe calls for 3 cups and I was like... no).

So. More to do today:

- ramp butter
- roast beets
- beet ice cream
- radish top pesto
- ham and spinach quiche

WTF. At least it's cold and rainy- so it's not like I'm missing out on gardening time outside. But all this cooking is chewing into my knitting/crochet time.


[travel] Maryland Sheep and Wool

Took a long weekend to go stay with a friend in Virginia and visit to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for the first time. The weather was... not awesome. Cold and rainy in Vermont and Virginia:

Rainy flight to DC.

Friday night we had drinks and dinner at Virtue Feed & Grain- quickly becoming my favorite restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. I got a beet and quinoa salad that was fan-freaking-tastic. I recreated my Valentine dinner (lamb chops, polenta, snap peas) from Feed & Grain and now I've got to reverse engineer this salad at home. Quinoa, beets, radish, peas, pearl onions, greens, sarvecchio.

Saturday was the festival. It was overcast. Sprinkled a bit. Chilly. BUT it wasn't overly muddy and I wore my Moonlight Sonata shawl. I don't know why but the sheep at this festival were overly cute. 

Maryland Sheep and Wool. #mdsw2017

That face. I'm not saying that the sheep at VT Sheep and Wool and the Tunbridge Fair are ugly but... people must only bring their cutest breeds to MD Sheep and Wool. They were all so adorable.

My friend hadn't seen sheepdog demonstrations before, so this was a good experience:

#mdsw #mdsw2017 #mdsw

I've got to talk her into coming up for the Scottish Games in Quechee in August- those are proper (scored) trials in a big, green field and so much fun to watch.

We saw T-rex spinning some yarn:

T-Rex spinning yarn...

Lots of vendors, lots of stuff to buy. I have a million, bajillion skeins of yarn and bundles of fiber to spin so I didn't get much on that front. I was mostly looking for mother's day gifts (found a couple nice hand-woven cotton towels), soap (homemade soaps are my fave!) and buttons.

The real treat for me were the fiber competition winners/results. So many talented fibers artists creating and entering items that were really amazing.

🌎 #mdsw

💀 #mdsw

This handspun yarn was beyond awesome:

Sheep handspun skein

Two-ply. One ply had grey cocoons. Then she plied them together (so the "sheep" popped out) and added a black face to every single sheep. Then when you knit it up, it looks like little sheep grazing in a green pasture. It's so genius.

And so many amazing hooked rugs, beaded shawls, photographs... Seeing all that stuff was the highlight of the festival for me.

Then back to VA and out to a Korean restaurant for dinner:

Evening meal...

Two kinds of meat bbq'd at the table, ssam, banchan for days, makgeolli. I had to waddle out to the car after. Then back home Sunday morning:

Back in the VT.

The flight to/from Burlington - DC is about an hour. Such an easy trip- I plan on making it more often.


[crochet] Lost in Time: Progress

Still working on the Lost in Time shawl:

Lost in Time crochet shawl

Not as colorful as all the other Lost in Times I've seen but it should be a nice, subtle gray shawl. I'm on my 2nd ball of sock yarn. Might have to do an edge of some sort across the top to make it nice and tidy.

So I didn't get as much crocheting done in April as I wanted. I definitely prefer to be outside gardening when the weather is nice. I have a couple small amigurumi to finish.

I've got to figure out some travel knitting for my flights this weekend... I think colorwork socks. Because if they come out nice, off to the Fair they go this fall.

Weather's not looking awesome for MD Sheep and Wool. Could be rainy/muddy/cold. Might have to bring a big wool shawl instead of the linen one I was planning on.


[gardening] Early May Flowers

Grape hyacinths blooming well now:

Grape hyacinths. I love checking the flower beds every day to see what's new.

The hot pink primula (also known as "drumstick primrose"):

#nofilter #pink #primula #primuladenticulata #denticulata

Down by the brook, the bloodroot is blooming (this is my favorite wild, woodland flower):

Bloodroot. My favorite woodland spring flower. #sanguinariacanadensis #bloodroot

I finally cleaned up the back shade bed and the lungwort is starting to bloom:

Lungwort starting to bloom in the back shade bed. Love the spotted leaves and the pink AND purple blossoms. #pulmonaria #lungwort

In the five years that we've been living at the house, I've never had a good show from the azalea shrubs. I don't know what's different about this year but they're blooming like crazy:

In the 5 years we've lived here, I've never had much luck with the azaleas. Not sure what's different this year but both shrubs are blooming. 👍

Hostas, soloman's seal, lily of the valley, peony- the tips of these things are only just starting to poke up. We are getting so much rain that I can't do much outside. But all the perennials should be going like gangbusters soon.

I'm trying to find some inexpensive fox lawn decorations. I want to put some realistic fox (or other predator) figures around plants that the woodchucks keep eating- to see if that will deter them. Maybe an owl will work. 


[gardening] Horsford Gardens & Nursery

Saturday we took a trip across the state to Horsford Gardens & Nursery in Charlotte, VT. We had a bit of a late start due to a car appointment I had at 10 am (why does it take 2.5 hours to swap out seasonal tires? WHYYY?) so we actually didn't hit the road until 2pm. We took the "scenic route" on our way there (Warren Mountain > Roxbury Gap > Lincoln Gap) and didn't arrive until 4 pm. The nursery closes at 5pm. And there was SO much to see.

Trip to Horsford Nursery (by way of Lincoln Gap) in Charlotte, VT.

One of the annuals greenhouses:

Annuals greenhouse.

The perennials outside:

So. Many. Perennials.

This whole section I'm standing in and all that stuff on the other side of the road- all perennials. Such an incredible selection. Easily the biggest nursery I've ever been to with the largest selection. Wish they offered smaller $5 pots rather than the 2-year $15 pots. I never know (a) what the woodchucks are going to eat, (b) what's going to survive at my elevation, so I'd rather not invest $15 per plant. But. That didn't stop me from getting a wagon full of new stuff:

Our haul. Two fruit trees, shrub, new perennials.

Two fruit trees, a chokeberry shrub, lots of sedum and and other perennials. Now I have to plant them all!

And speaking of gardening, the Hanover Garden Club plant sale is coming up: Saturday, May 20, 9am - 12pm. I love love love love getting plants here- little pots that are only $2 or $3. I've gotten SO many plants here that are thriving at my house. And a few things that didn't work out, so I've only lost a few bucks. This is so worth attending if you live local.


[misc] Murderface Monday

The weather was gorgeous Friday afternoon. We put the harness on Murderface and took him for a walk:


He made it about 2.5 feet from the front door before flopping over and rolling around in the sun:

Taking Murderface for a walk. 🍃

He's such a good boy- all he wants to do is stay around the house and lay in the sun. We have too many wild animals to get him do that unsupervised (a fox grabbed a woodchuck last year right at the end of the house, so predators do come that close) but he doesn't seem to mind the harness. We'll take him for more walks this summer. Penny doesn't mind the harness either but she's never been an outdoor cat so the outside is scary. We're trying to get her to come outside on a leash. Santana? Santana has shown NO interest in going back outside (she had a pretty rough outdoor life) and I wouldn't even want to attempt to put a harness on her.

Looking forward to a short work week- Maryland Sheep and Wool, here I come!


[cooking] Cinnamon Buns

This past Sunday, I made some cinnamon buns:

Sunday cinnamon buns.

Yet another application for no-knead dough that I keep in the fridge. In this case, part whole wheat. I tear off a hunk of dough, let it rise, deflate and roll it out (it can be sticky- so I flour often and roll it out onto a silpat mat), smear a paste of butter, cinnamon and sugar, roll it up into log, use a strand of thread to cinch/cut rounds (better than using a knife, which can smoosh the rolls) and place into a greased pan:

Cinnamon Buns

The rolls are irregular in size because my log gets thinner towards the ends. Not problem, just fiddle with pieces like you're putting together a puzzle but leaving enough room between them for another rise:

Cinnamon Buns

Ooooo eeee, after the second rise they're all nice and puffed and cuddled up to one another. Time for bake at 350 for 30 min:

Cinnamon Buns

Gorgeous. Tasty without any other additions but why not mix up some half-and-half with powdered sugar to a drizzlable (mah drizzle for shizzle) consistency:

Cinnamon Buns

Next time- savory? Pizza pinwheels? Or use a pesto filling. Once it's ramp harvesting time, I might just have to try this.


[gardening] Late April flowers

It's still early spring in VT. My hot pink primrose just started blooming yesterday:

Love this pink primrose. Will divide this year.

The hyacinths aren't very robust but they are multiplying.

Not particularly robust hyacinths but def multiplying.

I've been weeding a bit around the sempervivium:



I think I'm going to try something with the whiskey barrel and sempervivium down in the lower flower bed this year.

Fritillaria bulb that I planted last fall starting to skyrocket:

Fritillaria bulb planted last fall. Can't wait to see it blooming! #fritillaria

Cannot WAIT to see this thing bloom. I also put in many allium blubs that are starting to come up as well.

In terms of wild foraging, I checked out my secret cache of ramps down by the brook:

Ramps. Should be good picking in a week or two.

Oooooo eeeee, once these are nice and big, then I'll head up the mountain to pick from the sea of ramps.

And rhubarb:


Yuck, right? I've never caught rhubarb this early in the season before- just coming out of the ground. The leaves look like brains... popping out of red pods... I don't know. But this patch/spot of rhubarb has been on the property since my great grandmother was alive. I love the fact that it's still around (and didn't get covered up my boulders when the house foundation was being put it).


[books] 5 Colleges Book Sale

Went to the 5 Colleges Book Sale on Saturday. Didn't get there until 10am and I think this is better than getting there early, waiting in line, pushing/shoving. The craziest people have dispersed by then but the book selections are still good. I found so many crafting and cookbooks.

I didn't get this one but couldn't help giggling:

1980's Cookin' Healthy with One Foot Out the Door cookbook. Pretty sure the woman on the cover is reheating a sack of tacos for her kids at 8:45 at night. #5collegesbooksale

Cookin' Healthy with One Foot Out the Door. Sooooo 80's. I'm really feeling for this woman on the cover. Three kids, she's wearing a purse AND holding a soft briefcase under her arm WHILE holding a baby and stirring something. The clock says 8:40 and I'm going to go with PM. There's a brown bag on the counter that says "Taco Caca" so I think all she's mixing up in that bowl is a jar of salsa to go with the takeout. She's wearing a wedding ring but who knows if her husband isn't in the picture because he works 2nd shift. Maybe he's just sitting in the living room wondering where the goddamn supper is. Even the thickest shoulder pads can't alleviate the daily pressure upon this poor woman. I didn't check out the recipes but hopefully the was a special "Vodka" section for working moms.

I saw this book but it looked so laaaaaame:

Laaaaaaame! #5collegesbooksale

You think it's about a baby that can't walk or just isn't cool?

I did end up getting this one:

How can I not get this book? #5collegesbooksale

With a title like that, how could I not?

I did get a few cookbooks but mostly stuck with craft books- rug braining, drying plants for wreaths, sashiko, crocheted afghans, cross stitch pattern pamphlet for a Monopoly board (can create a customized board now!), cross-stitch alphabets, a few DVDs, maps, etc.