Saturday, May 30, 2020

Seedy Saturday - And Yet More Planting!

Friday I was off, so I HAD to get some things into pots. I was up early and picked up a couple of HUGE bags of potting soil. I realize I am quickly getting to the age the biggest bag is something I am going to have to forgo and drop down in size (and pay more money). But lifting 70 pounds of soil is not something I can really do with ease these days.

Anyway...

I had several tomatoes and peppers to pot up. 



Which meant sitting on the porch and making holes in pots. And waiting for yet more rain to come in. 




A bit of rearranging and setting the new pots in with the 'old' pots. Which also leads to some plant checking. I do have one of the blue pots where there were some caterpillars nibbling. I doused it with my spray, but since it rained, I will need to reapply. And watch.


My aphid problem is decreasing, but I still have some. But I also have tomatoes on all my first round of tomatoes. It is so much fun to walk out and see tomatoes!


My Santa Fe Grande peppers are getting bigger. They should start turning orange soon and then red. They are supposed to be a tad milder than a jalapeño. Will find out soon. The other peppers are starting to set and I do have some tiny banana peppers and a jalapeño pepper.



The blueberry bush is loaded! Hopefully, it won't be much longer and we can pick berries.


I had picked up a piece of ginger at the store about a month ago. It was so 'fresh', the eyes on the hand of ginger looked really nice. So I planted it. And now I have a sprout about an inch tall. Hopefully, there will be more sprouts shortly. I would love to get a ginger to bloom for me. 

But right now it is sitting in my 'tropical' area.


The banana trees are about 5 feet tall now. Plus there is a 'volunteer' tomato plant in there which will soon be transplanted. I have another tomato and 3 peppers which need to be potted up, but I need more potting soil.

So two hours outside in the 74 degree Friday morning had me sweating like crazy. While the temperature was mild, the dew point was 70%, so it felt like 83 degrees and like I was working in a sauna. 

I came in, showered, and the thunder and lightning and more rain arrived. 

Nap time! 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday Fun - I am Planning!

I'm off work today and have a to-do list which includes a lot of planning. But I know only a bit of it will get done as I also need to get some plants in pots. Plus a trip to the post office to mail off a book. 

Anyway...

With the state of the world these days, many of the things we might normally do are curtailed. I am a bit bummed out that my annual dose of cycling in July (Tour de France) has been postponed until the very end of August into September! 

So I started a list of things I want to do this summer. 


Texter, Lady K and I have already done the first thing on the list - 'Hendersonville Trip' - when we went to do the butterflies and pick up more plants. (I am starting to really love Hendersonville.) But we are planning another trip this summer, hopefully bringing Savvy along to 'pan' for gems. 

Cherry picking at Levering Orchard will come up soon. Texter went when she was only a couple of years older than Lady K, so it will be fun. 

With the exception of Carowinds - which who knows will open up when - most of these are either not at all crowded or are outside, so easy to maintain social distancing or both. In fact, Texter and I are planning on attending a Lavender festival in June and a Fairy Festival in July. 

Both the Lavender and the Fairy Festival are free to attend, so it's only the gas to get there and anything we might want to purchase. We usually take a 'picnic basket', so buying food isn't usually something we do. 

I find planning these outings for Lady K and me help keep me from going nuts. And she likes to 'hike', so trips to some state parks and a bit of hiking are on the radar also. 

There are things we can still do - most free - and still keep 'safe'. If you hear about anything I can add to my list, let me know!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Butterflies - Positive Focus Thursday


About 3 weeks ago, when we went to Hendersonville, North Carolina to pick up seedlings, we stopped at Elijah Mountain Gem Mine. We picked up some 'dirt' to take home with us and vowed we would be back, especially after we heard about their butterfly room they would be opening up.

So yesterday, despite the drizzly weather, Texter, Lady K and I loaded up and headed back. Actually, I was also going to pick up more seedlings, so it was a 'twofer' trip.

Lady K's wish for the day was that a butterfly would land on her.

When we arrived, we each received a foam sponge brush dipped in 'butterfly food' and entered the butterfly room.


The room is filled with real flowers and displays of butterflies and other bugs. You could put the brush next to a butterfly and they would get on it and you could watch their tongues roll out and feed from the sponge.





They had 2 or 3 different kinds of butterflies in the room. And the donation for entering goes to SaveOurMonarchs.org. We also received a couple of packets of milkweed seed to take home and plant. 

Despite wanting to come see and feed the butterflies, Lady K was a little apprehensive about them flying around and coming close to her. But by the end of our time in the room her wish was granted...


A butterfly landed on her.

What a wonderful way to spend some time. Lady K got to see close up how butterflies actually eat and was closer to her than she usually sees them.

Sometimes good things, and times, come in small packages.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday Sundries - BinCity with Lady K

Well, it definitely wasn't an exercise in social distancing, but it was fun. 

Last week, I had Lady K overnight. The next morning we got up early (4:30 am) and left the house about 7:00 a.m. and headed to Bush-n-Vine for peaches and strawberries. And ice cream for breakfast.

Then we were going to head to the other side of Charlotte to BinCity for their dollar day sale. Of course, Lady K needed to rest up for part two of the day.


BinCity is a retail liquidator. They stock up for Friday where everything is $7 each. Then each day the price goes down. On Wednesday, they clean out and everything is $1 each or you can buy a garbage bag and stuff it for $25. Additional bags cost less.

Anyway, Texter and I have been before. And this is inside, so Lady K and I would be out of the rain.
A couple of hours later and we dragged our bags to the car and headed home.

Lady K has a very simple criteria for selecting her 'treasures' - 

  • Pink - anything pink is examined
  • Glitter - does it have bling?
  • Unicorns - are there unicorns involved?

We did find a fox bank for Texter which I feel was my big find for the day. However, my main items I am very pleased with.































I found a package of these huge leaves made out of a ripstop nylon. I went wild with double sided tape and attempted to turn my room into a 'jungle'. Savvy thinks I have achieved an Animal Crossing house. (For non-Animal Crossing people, their symbol is a huge leaf similar to these.)

I also found a pack of magnetic butterflies, which I taped to the wall too.

Following the leaf theme...


A whole roll of ribbon - all vine-looking. Not sure what I am going to use it for, but it will be used. Texter has asked for some to wrap up a gift for an internet trade thing she is doing in August.


These lovely wooden mandala buttons. Once again not sure what I am doing to do with them, but for $1 for this bag of them, I couldn't leave them.


I found this pop-up card and snatched it up. Right now it is open on my shelf. Not sure I will ever mail this to anyone.

But this last item is something Lady K insisted I get. She named it my "Adventure Hat".


It's about a $20 hat, which I got for $1. And being told it was an 'adventure hat' - how could I leave it?

I also picked up two large dog coats which Noel can use. And then two tiny size which will (hopefully) be on their way to Montana soon for a friend's new dog.

It was a fun day and got us out of the house, despite the rain. And I can't wait to do it again. After I put up more leaves!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Week in Review - May 17 - 23

Rain, rain and more rain. Which means humid, humid, humid afterwards. Which means my tomatoes, especially those which have been in containers and suffering from aphids are not happy!

However...


My first tomato is ready to pick!

Monday was my day off and I woke up feeling super-productive. In the kitchen primarily. So two loaves of bread later, a peach cobbler and an apple tart. I used up fruit which needed to have something done to them. In the course of the day, I also did my weekly laundry and finished up my book club book.

Tuesday I picked up Lady K after work for an overnighter.


After an evening of Animal Crossing together (she loves coming to my island to dress me up), we headed out EARLY the next morning. After a stop at Bush-n-Vine for peaches, strawberries, tomatoes and breakfast ice cream, we headed back across Charlotte to BinCity to pick through bins for treasures.

Dropping her off at her house, I came home and did a bit of room decorating with some items I picked up at BinCity. Savvy says my room now looks like a tribute to Animal Crossing. That wasn't my aim, but I'll take it.

Thursday I finished up my review for Save the Cat! blog tour. It was fun and I now have a book to read for another blog tour in July with WOW-Women On Writing. A quick batch of strawberry jam, which is a bit 'runny' but still very good. And a video chat with Lady K. Her idea of chatting is to also do this...




And when I am out in my garden, I sometimes have an audience.


They are trying to tell me 'the catnip is over there!' 

Friday, as I was picking up Lady K to take to her dad, tornado warnings! So the drive was done mainly in the rain. But not too bad. 

I am doing shopping over the next few days at work as the main person is out for a long weekend. I love it! Tiring, usually puts be over 10,000 steps during the day, but I love it.

Otherwise this week...

  • Walked over 5000 steps 6 days
  • Wrote 6 posts
  • Planned out next week's posts

This coming week...

  • More To-Go shopping and only 2 office days
  • Elijah Mountain Gem Mine and their butterflies (plus rocks of course)
  • Pick up more tomatoes and peppers (I know - it's garden crack and I'm addicted)
  • End of the month review and June planning

But for now, more coffee and off to work.
























Saturday, May 23, 2020

Save the Cat! and Software


As I mentioned in a post on April 27, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to receive and review a copy of Save the Cat! Software and to be part of the blog tour for the book by Jessica Brody held by WOW-Women on Writing

For those unfamiliar with Save the Cat!, here is a brief description - 

Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957-2009). Blake's method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation.

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at www.savethecat.com.



Now for my take on Save the Cat!


First, I already had the book by Jessica Brody. 




And I was using it to put together an outline for my 

novel, Sanctuary. My problem is my novel is  

turning into a series, with ideas and scenes, and no 

way to really corral it all. 








I have tried other word processing software and

novel writing platforms, none of which really worked

for me. So a chance to try out Save the Cat! software 

was really interesting.







One of the things I really like about the software is 

the option to write a single novel or to set up for a 

series. The software allows me to add notes and 

track everything from characters to locations and 

everything in between. All in one place!



On the left hand side are the books of the series

(note - those are definitely working titles). And if I

am working on Sanctuary and get an idea for book 4 

in the series, I can quickly flip over to it.



But the main thing I really, really love about the 

software are the 'beats'!






Everything from the logline of the novel, to the page 

count and character descriptions come equipped with

questions which need to be answered about the 

scene or character, making, in my opinion, a deeper, 

more well-rounded story.



For those who love having index cards to track their

story, you can print them out from the program. 



So my pros about about software - 


          Prompts/Beats - allowing me to write a better

                                  story (in my opinion).

          Organization - allowing me to write either

                               a stand alone novel or a
     
                               series. Options are also there

                               for a screenplay or TV series.

          Sync across devices - if my desktop had not
                                     
                                          died, then I could sync
   
                                          between that and my
  
                                          laptop.

          Ease of Use - While there are a lot of things

                              you can do with the software,

                              it is fairly easily to start using.

                              Tutorial videos are available for

                              to help you get started.

          Customer Service - I did email a couple of 

                                       questions to tech and 

                                       received answers in a 

                                       very timely manner.



The cons of the software - 

          

          The colors - I wish I had more options for

                            changing the colors of the cards. 

          Price - it's not cheap. As an unpublished

                    author I might balk at the annual cost.

                    If the cost was for lifetime use, I would

                    be more willing to pay for it, especially

                    the Pro edition which has all the bells

                    and whistles. But I understand the

                    cost, it is a really great program. 




All-in-all, once my time is up on the software I was  

given to review, I will probably renew at the 

Premium, or Experienced Writer, level.  I find I am 

really enjoying it much, much more than other 

writing platforms I have tried in the past.



Now to get back to Sanctuary.





          























Friday, May 22, 2020

Foodie Friday - I Went On A Cooking Binge!

On Monday I had one of those days where I got up and felt (and was) Productive with a capital 'P'!

It seems I had a request in for 'real bread', which started it all. Then I realized my peaches had ripen on the counter and needed to be peeled and used. The same thing for a bag of apples which had been sitting there - unused, uneaten. 

So...

First, I started the bread so it could rise while I was doing something with the apples and peaches. Then it was a quick and easy peach cobbler. I only made half of one since I wanted to keep a few of the peaches for my own consumption and the cobbler would be going to Texter. 

Last, but not least, I pulled out the sheet of puff pastry which was in the freezer and decided to create an apple tart - quick and easy.

By about 11 a.m. (I wanted it done before the day got too hot) I had the following...








Hmmm...seems the peach cobbler had a 'visitor'. 

I took one of the loaves of bread and the peach cobbler to Texter and Lady K. Cobbler for Texter and bread for Lady K. Since I was driving past work, I took a huge chunk of the apple tart of my Food Lion to Go Head (buttering him up to be sure I get more To-Go time!).

Mr. RaceCar needed to borrow the SUV for a bit to move some tires around, so I went prepared to sit and talk for about an hour with Texter. However, upon arrival, I was told Lady K had told her mother to go with Mr. RaceCar because she needed 'alone time' with grandma!


The bread was immediately sliced and ample amount of butter was placed on each piece and then 'reviewed' by the local food critic.

I am now on a path to eat more home cooked food. I have spent the past couple of weeks (maybe more) doing a bit too much drive through food. And my body let me know about it. So, with all the summer crops coming in, it's back to cooking. Yesterday I stopped and picked up some green beans, tomatoes (local hydroponic), peaches, strawberries and local cheddar cheese. I plan on making some turkey burger patties and have fresh veggies and fruit with them for dinner and lunches this week.

Hope everyone is eating well!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Positive Focus Thursday - It's All About The Plants!

The past few weeks has been more taxing to all of us due to Covid-19. Some days it's hard to remember what life was like before mid-March and everything turned on its head. 

One interesting thing, and a good thing in my opinion, is more and more people are becoming interested in gardening.

I have been gardening since I can remember. Or at least running around in a garden. 

My grandfather had a large back yard filled with roses, veggies, and fruits. My parents always had a little garden of some sort, whether it was in the back yard or plowed by the tractor at the farm later on.

And I love my indoor plants - my orchids, Hoyas, Peperomias and anything I can get my hands on. 

I have haunted nurseries and grown plants from seeds and cuttings and they never fail to lift me up and bring me joy. Ever my failures, while disappointing, are not enough to make me stop.

And this year it's especially comforting and enjoyable. Especially since Lady K is taking an interest in plants and gardening.

This past Friday, on my day off, I potted up almost all of the plants I have on hand to put into containers.

It also gave me a chance to take a closer look (and look for more aphids)...



The blueberries are getting bigger and bigger under their protective netting. Savvy is eagerly anticipating picking her crop of berries and we have plans to make some Lavender/Blueberry Jam, some to consume ourselves and some to give as gifts during the holidays.


A surprise to me was this marigold I picked up to help repel bugs from my tomatoes. The blooms are as big as my palm - lush and thick.  How could you not be happy when you see these bright spot of golden yellow.

A couple of 'rescues' from last year are growing well this year for me. The first is my grapevine.


It has tripled in height from last year and has a half dozen clusters of little grapes. I am hoping I get a couple of grapes to sample this year. 

And my bag of dried up lily bulbs which did grow some last year are now surging forth. In fact, one of them is about 3 1/2 feet tall and right now shows about half a dozen flower buds so far.


I need to take a picture of it when it starts blooming with Lady K beside it. As it stands right now, I won't have to bend over to smell the flowers - they will be practically face high.

Last, but not least, are my tomatoes and peppers I am growing. It is so much fun to discover new tomatoes every day slowly growing bigger and bigger. Plus some of them are not just about the fruit, but also the foliage, like this one...


This is Elsie's Fancy 19-30, one of the experimental tomatoes I am growing. It was named after a grandmother (not one of mine) of the developer and is supposed to have ivory or yellow, good-sized fruit. I can't wait to see a plant, 3 feet tall, with variegated foliage.

So these days being positive is green in color and growing. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday Sundries - Variegation Fun

Well, this first picture isn't about variegation, but I love these flowers next to each other.


How fun are they! And they are spilling out of their separate containers toward each other. But what is really fun are my tomatoes!




One of the most interesting, and fun things, about trying out these 'experimental' tomatoes is I am growing something only a handful of people are growing. And these three tomato plants have variegated leaves. 

And...

Since they are experimental, the color of the tomatoes may be a surprise also. How cool is that! 

Right now, they are all under 6 inches tall. I can't wait to see them when they get taller to see if they hold onto the variegation. 

Those who garden understand the thrill you get walking out into the garden daily and 'talking' to the plants, checking for pests, watering, touching and smelling them. 

However, those damn aphids! Grrrrr...!!!!