Thursday, August 14, 2014


With many thanks to Mary and her Summer Book Bingo idea, I've branched out in my reading this summer. Maybe only a bit, but it has been quite freeing to not fuss so much about whether a book was going to be good or not before I started it, but rather just jump in and start reading something that would fill a square on my card. I really am gaining a new appreciation for a variety of books instead of  always relying on my standby fiction, and have put some engaging and thoughtful books on my book bingo shelf.

Originally I had planned to read enough for a bingo or two, but decided to throw caution to the wind and try to cover my card. I have been looking at my card while choosing books this summer, mentally filling in squares, but I sat down today and started actually filling in squares. I probably should have done this a few weeks ago, but if I keep reading, I think I can get all my squares covered by Sept. 1, especially now that I just put that in writing!

I have to finish three books in just a little over two weeks, which I think is doable. I've read some great books, some less than great books, and discovered some interesting things, which I'll recap when I finish. Must get back to reading!

I was much too excited when I found these at the library!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Trial

I've been to Fort Collins three times so far, and during the first two visits I passed this very interesting-looking sight many, many times. There was always something else to do (find Oldest Son a place to live) or somewhere else to be (a brewery, great restaurant, or The Loopy Ewe) but during my most recent visit in June, I made time to stop and smell the roses (okay, the verbena and petunias).

The Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Garden is an amazing concept and an amazing place. Different annual plant cultivars are planted in huge pots and beds so their performance can be evaluated in the Rocky Mountain growing conditions. It's a beautiful sight, but it's also a place that benefits students, professionals, gardeners, and anyone with an interest in flowers. The plants are judged in August for "vigor, uniformity, floriferousness and tolerance to environmental and biotic stresses" with the results published on the web site. What a wonderful resource for anyone interested in growing flowers in Colorado! We don't have anything nearly this extensive in New Jersey (Rutgers has display gardens but only a 30 specimen hydrangea trial), so I'm quite jealous and hope Coloradoans appreciate their CSU Trial Garden!

They were still planting when I visited in June, but I spent several enjoyable hours browsing the rows. I would love to see what it looks like now so maybe I can convince Oldest Son to take a photo or two. He's lucky enough to pass this great place twice a day on his way to and from school! Since taking pictures of flowers isn't at the top of his list, maybe Patty can take a few during her visit in September.

I love this beautiful place, and if I'm ever lucky enough to garden in Colorado, I know I'll love it even more!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Under the Influence...

of hemp! I stumbled upon a great sale on Hempathy, and since I love both the name and fiber content (41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, 25% Rayon), I was anxious to try it. My fingers were itching to cast on, and they seem to have started yet another Hitchhiker, a lacy one this time. This yarn is quite a departure for me as I'm usually looking for softness - think cashmere, alpaca, or mink, but all I want to do now is feel the hemp running through my fingers and on my needles. This variant of the Cannabis plant is low in THC, but I'm finding knitting with hemp quite addictive!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pick, Process, Preserve, and Pickle

These first days of August have been busy in terms of the garden. We're engaged in ongoing battles with greedy groundhogs and rampant rabbits, but they have still left me with enough produce that I can't keep up with it all, so I've been picking, processing, preserving, and pickling to try and save some of that garden goodness for the depths of winter.
The tasty tally so far:
  • 16 quarts of string beans blanched and frozen
  • 14 bags of shredded zucchini frozen
  • 6 loaves of zucchini bread frozen
  • 6 quarts of tomato juice frozen
  • 7 gallons of dill pickles pickled (Yes, we like pickles and the cucumbers went crazy this year.)
  • 4 quarts of cucumber relish is resting until tomorrow

and we have half a watermelon for dinner! (We ate the other half five minutes after picking it last night.)

We've never successfully grown watermelons before, but this is our first, and it is delicious! In the next couple of weeks we may be lucky enough to be inundated with too many watermelons at once, but if that happens, I'm just going to inject the extras with vodka and distribute them to deserving neighbors!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Reruns, Replays, and Repeats Edition

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Patterns You Could Knit Again...and again...
I'm definitely a repeat (non-adventurous!) knitter, so this is an easy list for me. I can't wait to see everyone's lists of repeat favorites!

1.  Hitchhiker
This is one of my absolute favorite patterns - it's perfect travel/waiting/drinking wine knitting and you can use almost any colorway. I've knit it three times, and have just cast on for my fourth!

2.  Corrugator
This is my favorite squishy winter scarf pattern, one I've knit five times. Once was out of yarn that was far too scratchy, but I finally reached perfection when I knit it with some lovely alpaca for my bil.

3.  Narwhals!
I'm not a toy knitter and I also don't like fiddly knitting, but for some reason I became slightly obsessed/enamored with this narwhal pattern and had to make a pod of three of them.

4.  Monkey Bread
I've only knit this scarf twice, and they were both gifts, so I'd like to knit this one again as an infinity scarf for me. Of course, I would use mink and cashmere yarn again!

5.  Gust
This is another favorite Anne Hanson pattern that I've knit twice. I just love the wavy pattern and easy knitting.

6.  Joan's Socks
My mil always has cold feet but has no interest in handwashing wool socks, so I've made these with washable Wool-Ease for her five times as Christmas gifts.

7.  Antler Hat
I love the cables on this hat so I've knit it twice. It's a perfect baby hat so I may be making a few more.

8.  Christine's Stay On Baby Booties
This is my go-to baby bootie pattern that I've knit many, many times, and will hopefully knit it again and again in the future.

9.  Waffle Hat
I've only knit this one twice, but both times have been in the same yarn, same color. Oldest Son liked the one I made for my bil so much that he requested one exactly the same. 

10. Feather and Fan
Probably my favorite stitch pattern, I've used it for cowls, a baby blanket, and several scarves.
The only bad thing about making this list is that it makes me want to knit some of my favorites yet again! What are some of your favorite reruns, replays, and repeats?

Head over to Caroleknits to see what everyone else has to say! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I was starting to relax a bit...

Oldest Son moved to Colorado almost a year ago. He's happy, healthy, and relatively smart, but those things haven't kept me from feeling maternal concern and dispensing advice:
  • I don't think you should attempt Long's Peak as your first 14'er.
  • Do not drink and drive. (He did listen to this one, took a taxi home, found out his car was impounded because there was no overnight parking, and had to walk twelve miles and pay $$$ to get his car back. I'm not sure exactly what lesson he learned, but lessons were learned!)
  • Spend your very limited funds very wisely.
  • The generic "Be careful" has always been a favorite of mine.
I think I've gotten better at actually worrying less and giving him fewer warnings (he may disagree), but it looks like I may need to add another item to my list:
At first, this sounded almost laughable to a clueless Easterner, but it turns out that the Yersinia pestis bacteria is present on many Western rodents, rabbits, the fleas that feed on them, and the domesticated animals that may interact with infected wildlife. The Colorado Dept. of Health is way ahead of me so it looks like I don't need to worry too much, however, I am prepared for plenty of eye-rolling when I tell him to avoid the plague like the plague.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Thresholds

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is another interesting one: 10 Thresholds You Cross Every Day. This one has made me think...

1.  My motivation threshold
This is the one that gets me up and out of bed in the morning. Some days my motivation is my morning stimulant beverage; other days it's a long to-do list, but overcoming my get-out-of-bed threshold is always tough.

2.  My bedroom door threshold
Because our house is old and has been added on to several times, my bedroom threshold has a small step down. I've been crossing this threshold for almost 25 years and sometimes that little step down is still a surprise!

3.  The threshold into the kitchen
This is where my day really starts - with tea, dishes from a 21-year-old eating in the early hours of the morning, dinner planning and preparation, and sitting at the table pondering my day.

4.  The threshold from the kitchen to the cellar
We're lucky to have Youngest Son here at home over the summer (probably for the last time!), so I have enough laundry that I need to do a load or so a day. It's not all his, but truck repair, motorcycle repair, gardening, work, exercise clothing, towels, and sheets all add up to quite a bit of laundry, which needs to get done in the cellar.

5.  The threshold from the cellar to the backyard
This heavy old door with a latch that I can barely move in humid weather leads out to the clothesline where I hang most of my laundry. It's also the threshold to the garden, flowerbeds, watering and outdoor chores.

6.  The threshold into the garden
We live in a small town but it's still rural enough that we have a marauding herd of deer. I don't mind sharing with them, so they're welcome to help themselves to my violets, roses, hostas, ivy, and bird seed, but I'm not so good at sharing our garden produce. This fence and threshold helps remind them that good guests don't eat everything in sight. If only the rabbits and groundhogs had also gotten that memo!

7.  The threshold deeper into the cellar
This isn't a pretty Martha Stewart type of picture, but it is one of the more impressive thresholds that I cross every day. This very substantial stone threshold is the doorstep into the depths of the cellar where we have pantry shelves and our large freezer. I cross it every day and marvel at its size and durability every time.

8.  The threshold into Youngest Son's room
This is where I drop off clean clothes and leave quickly so I don't trip over shoes, archery equipment, motorcycle parts, or things that I'm better off not naming.

9.  My nonsense threshold
I may not cross this one every day, but I do have a low tolerance for nonsense, pseudoscience, and just plain BS. Sometimes it seems like sources are everywhere, from new town laws (don't put your trash out before 5 pm because it's trashily unattractive) to politics or stupid stuff on facebook. I have to remind myself to step back from this threshold:

10. My creative threshold
At the end of the day I almost always sit down to read, knit, or both. Over the years this has increasingly become a necessity and not just a luxury. Reading takes me over the threshold to other people, thoughts, places, times, and cultures. Knitting, especially with the thrill of new yarn and a new project, takes me over the creative threshold to possibilities!

Head over to Caroleknits to see what everyone else has to say!