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!