Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Gardening Progress

And the transplanting has begun!

Something (and I suspect one certain cat) has been nibbling the tops off some of my dwarf tomatoes.  So Sunday I transplanted my Red Robin tomatoes along with four out of 6 Arctic Rose Dwarf tomatoes which survived 'beheading'.

Thursday will be the day I can pick up some compost/potting soil and start transplanting more things.  The cilantro and dill need to be moved to something larger.

My Rainbow Swiss Chard could use some moving and my squashes need to be 'relocated' along with the Mammoth Sunflowers.

There is some lettuce needing more room.  The African violet I am trying to 'save' where it broke off from the plant at the library seems to be doing ok.  Of course, I stuck it in the pot where I had also thrown some hollyhock seeds.  But my poor rosemary isn't taking being moved from where it was rooted in water to soil.

While transplanting, I also planted some more different squashes, cucumbers and melons.  I also am trying starting corn inside to move outside.  According to several YouTube sources (and we all know how reliable they can be) say you can do it.  Will see how it works out.  I will transplant some corn and then sow seed at the same time and hopefully will have an extended harvest of corn.

My problem now is I am running out of room on tables!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mandala Monday

They say when live gives you lemons, make lemonade.  And I can't wait.  I was warned some, if not all, the existing lemons would drop off due to the shock of transportation from Florida to Montana and from greenhouse to home.  

A few have dropped off, but I still have a few which are slowly growing larger and larger.  And a few more blooms on the tree, so new little lemons are appearing almost every day.  I can't wait until I can pick my first lemon off of "Grace".

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Week In Review - March 20 - 26

It's been another 'weird' week.  One of those weeks where I couldn't quite get back into step, even though I did do a lot.  

For one thing, I realized today my Fitbit was not charged and had not recorded steps for Thursday through Saturday.  Bummer!

And weather has been up and down all week, with the coming week suppose to be "down".  As in we were suppose to make a couple of day trips, which instead will be spent at home, cleaning the basement out.

What I did manage to accomplish over the past week...
  • Started my swap item for the Big Stitch 2 swap
  • Cut out "Harley" and ready to start on it
  • Quick 1.5 mile hike with a friend on one of the many trails around town
  • Attended a poetry workshop led by Earl Craig, the Montana poet laureate
  • Started my Knit/Swirl sweater
  • Celebrated Lady K's third birthday, complete with a cedar playhouse (now in the living room corner until weather warms up)
  • Finished 5 books
  • Organized my seeds rather than just throwing them in a box
  • Tried a couple of new recipes which 'worked' for the family
  • Wrote 5 posts

The coming week:
  • Get my Bee Hive block in the mail along with some postcards
  • Take care of cats for a friend who is in warm California at Disneyland
  • Clean out the basement with Savvy and Texter and get items to the thrift store
  • Polish 2500 words of Seedcrone and send to Miscon panel to critique
  • Finish up my Big Stitch swap item
  • Work on Knit/Swirl sweater
  • Set up book display at the library (lots of origami butterflies to be made)
  • Plant more seeds and transplant some seedlings

So off to refresh my coffee and think about what I want to make for Easter breakfast.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Snowy Sewing Tuesday

Winter is revisiting Montana, not badly, but a light glaze of snow over the ground and roofs.  I stayed inside and got most of one 'to-do' done.

I have a swap coming up to be mailed in April and it's for handmade items.  I am making a mini-quilt wall hanging for my secret swap partner.  The fabric I used is the Hoffman Digital Prints and the pattern is a woven star pattern.  I did two (and will send the best one off) and before I sewed all the squares together, Savvy took a look.

I swapped out the lighter center star for the dark one and am now about halfway through sewing up the first block.

Just a little more sewing and they will both be done.  Now to decide on the binding and backing for them.

To swap out 'chores', I cut out the Harley Quinn cosplay outfit for Texter.

This is the "Harley Box".  I have a bustle, skirt, top and corset to make.  The top also includes a hood.  It's half red and half black and I have to remember which side the red goes on and which side is black.  But if I do it right, I won't need to make another costume for her for a bit.

Next on my list is my own 'steampunk' costume.  I think i am going to make it out of remnants I of different heavy fabrics.  Should be interesting if nothing else.

All in all, it was a productive, if snowy, day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Books and Puppets

When Savvy and Texter were young, a trip to Barnes and Noble or Borders for a few hours was a treat.  I could bribe reward them with a promise of a book.

So fast forward a couple of decades and Lady K has stepped into the family tradition.  This time she plays she is going to 'work' at the library 'like grandma'.  I get requests for puppets and she has learned how to work the children's computers and play with the trains at the library.

And now, the library has a program "1000 Books Before Kindergarten".  The premise is to promote reading for little ones.  And she also wants to read in bed before we turn out the light, like grandma.

Last night, I brought home Where Does Rabbit Live? by Lizelot Versteeg (guess this fits my translation category in book bingo too!)  It's a large board book with 400 animal drawings and they are suppose to find Rabbit.  Needless to say, it's a hit.

She didn't want me reading it to her, she wanted to read it to me.  And Aunt Savvy.  And then continue to read it.  To the point she fell asleep. 

One minute there was chatter and then silence.  Her legs propping up the book.  When we pulled the book away, those little hands were still gripping it.  And the cat puppet we brought home from the library nestled beside her.

I love it at three years old she loves books like she does.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mandala Monday

I could tell you a 'yarn' about what's going on in my life, but I'll settle for just a little color.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week in Review - March 13 - 19

Saturday, with her arm in a sling and on muscle relaxers, Texter, Lady K and I loaded up for a trip to Freezeout Lake.  It was a bit chilly and the wind was blowing like crazy when we got there.  Thousands of snow geese were there and several dozen cars full of bird watchers.  Some Canada geese, plovers, couple of hawks and a few ducks too far away to id were also there.

We came home to do this...

Texter's friend, Tommy, breeds Brittany Spaniels and at five weeks, they were ready to get out and start experiencing life.  And what more life can a young puppy experience but a three year old.

I can happily report a 3 year old does not stop puppy naps and being handled and petted didn't faze them a bit.  Those are some mellow pups.  

And NO!  The next pet in this household will be one I pick out since I am the one feeding and tending 3 cats and 2 dogs (and 1 toddler) and none of them are mine.

 So this past week also included - 
  • making 'bread-cats'

  • Starting a quick scarf from the sari yarn I got on a swap
  • Picking up  yarn and starting my Knit and Swirl Sweater
  • Partially finishing my RSC16 blocks for March
  • Finishing up my Bee Hive block for March and getting it ready for the mail (where are those darn stamps?)
  • Walked 54,800 steps or 78% of goal
  • Finished 3 books
  • Wrote 4 posts
  • Helped Texter get the rest of the materials needed for her Harley Quinn costume (still need grommets)
A lot of this week has been spent returning to the doctor (yet again) to try and figure out why I can't get rid of this cough/sore throat/fatigue.  So tired of being tired.

This coming week...


A strawberry cake is in the works for the celebration.

  • Start work on Harley Quinn (Tuesday's Day-Off-All-By-Myself Project)
  • Polish Seedcrone or at least 10 pages for submission to Miscon 
  • Work on Knit/Swirl sweater
  • Taking it easier than I have been over the past few weeks
So off to clean up the kitchen and start a load of laundry and then settling back for some TV viewing and knitting and/or sewing.

Handmade Swap Reveal!

The Handmade Love Etsy Swap at Chaotic Goddess Swaps

Since 'discovering' Chaotic Goddess last year, I have been thoroughly enjoying these swaps.  The latest one was not book related, but a Handmade Etsy Swap!

This swap was a little different in it wasn't a direct swap between partners.  I sent to someone else and I received from Beverly at Booklady's Booknotes.

The first package received were two skeins of recycled sari 'yarn' for Sheet Ethic.  

Made from recycled silk saris, this is a colorful, yummy yarn.  

I decided to combine the two skeins and make a long, narrow scarf with fringe.  And am already halfway through the scarf - one skein to go.  

I have found the one drawback to the yarn --- it tangles!  Easily!  So winding it into a ball to use is something you concentrate on and do very slowly and carefully.  But it's well worth the effort.  

The second drawback?  I have a feeling it might just found around Savvy's neck at the jewelry store.  It will really dress up an outfit.

The second package was...


Which I can hopefully grow into this...

photo courtesy of WaWas Garden

A beautiful clematis with blue/purple flowers.  Right now there is a baggie of seed starting mix and seeds in the bottom drawer of the fridge.  You have to do this for a couple of months in order to break  dormancy.  I put about half the seeds in there and hopefully in a couple of months I can take them out and plant them (when Montana weather officially warms up).

What I like about WaWas Garden is the little tidbit from their Native American great-grandmother and her belief in collecting/saving seeds...

"We were taught to harvest as children by our Great-grandmother Bray, a full-blooded Cherokee. She worked most of her life among seeds, cuttings and plants that helped to feed the reservation members in the 1950's. Our seeds are harvested, packaged and stored as she taught us..by hand from an organic environment. Most of our packets retain the original pods or seed casings because Grand-mother Bray believed strongly that if you 'cleaned the seed', you were separating the heart and soul of the new plant. "

Hmmm....I think that little tidbit might just find it's way into the current novel I am working on.

There was a third package and I'm pouting a bit.  It was a hand painted wineglass.  And the design was in purple too!  But as I opened the package, Texter and I heard 'tink, tink, tink'.  Apparently, the postal service didn't think as much of our swap as we do.  Despite peanuts and bubble wrap, it was a box of glass shards.  

But I am so pleased with the other items, I don't really mind the broken glass.  

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Chaotic Swap - it's definitely worth it.  You meet new people online and get some really cool goodies! 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Gardening Update

The weather, which has been unseasonably warm for February and March in Montana, reminded us all yesterday it was still winter with a dip in degrees and some white stuff flying around.  And now, it's suppose to head back up again.  I am sure my potatoes in pots will appreciate it.

But on the gardening front, I toured the community garden where I will be helping out and have a 20 X 20 plot for the season.  Supposedly there is a thistle problem in this patch, but I feel with my intensive planting and Scots/English heritage, there won't be a thistle problem for long.

The garden is about 4 miles from the house, 5 minutes most by car.

And my plot is on the north side of this garden area.  I will have to watch my squash and pumpkins to be sure they don't 'stray'.

It's up on a hill and no trees around.  So sun, or lack of it, won't be an issue.

And another bonus, there is a play ground right beside it.  So Texter and Lady K can come and play while grandma gardens.

Meanwhile, back at the house...

Just to prove I'm not just about veggies, here is one of the flats where I have flowers started.  So the yard should be getting some color as well.  Right now I am awaiting the pink tulips which are slowly coming up beside the porch.  I have plans for roses and peonies also in the yard.

And for Lady K (and the birds), I have some Mammoth Sunflowers and Autumn Beauty Sunflowers emerging.  Those will probably go around the fence in the yard.  After I put up some stakes and twine to attempt to keep the dogs at bay.

I did sneak in some Harvest Moon Watermelons, which are similar to Moon and Stars Watermelon which I have grown in the past.

My attempt at growing an avocado is underway.

This is one of the first flats I started.  The peppers took a while to germinate because the house is a bit cool for them.  Texter didn't appreciate finding the heating pad under my flat of plants.  And my lavender just isn't coming along.  Going to give it a few more days and then sprinkle more seeds in there.

But my little Red Robin tomatoes are about ready to start transplanting.  This weekend I'll get some pots for them, little ones, and move them over.  Which means I'll also have to put up a table in from of the window in the living room which is south facing and gets light most of the day.  Maybe.  I think.

These are the loose leaf lettuces.  The container on the left is actually a miniature lettuce mix and it won't be long before I can start snipping off leaves.

Onions on the right for green onions and then my pumpkin and squash on the left.  Or rather the first of a lot of pumpkins and squash.  I seem to have jumped onto the pumpkin/winter squash band wagon this year for the first time.

My 'herb garden'.  Luckily, Savvy loves pesto.  I can see a lot of pesto in our future.

And then, my babies.  My dwarf tomato plants.

This isn't all the 'stuff' growing in my kitchen.  I have some pots and flats which are not up yet and a couple where I didn't bring over their pictures.  It's sad, I know.

So it won't be long before I will be transplanting into cups and labeling.  Not all of these will remain with me through the season.  Some will go to friends (and the family breathes a sigh of relief).  Some will go to into the beds and containers I will have at home and the rest into the community garden plot.

NOTE:  This is not all the seeds yet to start.  I am going to try starting corn inside and transplanting, among other things.  Just call me "Frankengardener".

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reading and Watching

I have been fortunate to finish up a couple of really good books lately and watch a couple of good movies (not at the same time, however).

The fourth in Anne Bishop's The Others series, it leaves you begging for more and rereading the first three books.  Marked In Flesh shows the escalation of anti-nonhuman terrorism and how the Others react to save themselves and their world.  Humans may think they are the dominate and rightful species, but there are things that go bump in the night and then eat you out there.  Meg, Simon and the rest must figure out how to save themselves, their friends and the world from the Elders.

The next book takes place in this world and back several decades...

When you hear the name Georgia O'Keeffe, it brings to mind a white-haired woman and large pictures of flowers and the desert.  But that was O'Keeffe's later life.  

Author Dawn Tripp pulls from extensive biographies and letters to create a novel of Georgia's earlier life, before New Mexico.

Expertly woven, Tripp delves into Georgia's life with Stieglitz.  What I hadn't realized was how much influence he had on her and how she struggled against his 'guidance' as she was discovering herself as an artist.  It was also interesting to realize the time frame she was living in and the fact she was, at one point, living with a married man.  And one who took nude photos of her and displayed them.

A very compelling read and one which helps to round out the picture of a woman and artist.

Putting the books down, I watched (and knitted) the following two movies.

Taking place in 1960 and the early cold war years, Tom Hanks gives a masterful performance as James Donovan, the lawyer who defended Rudolph Able and then negotiated the exchange of two Americans for Able with the East Germans and Soviets.  Bridge of Spies captures the tension of that era very well.  No car chases, no buff bodies, but a solid performance and riveting story.

And finally, The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and starring  Matt Damon, is a fascinating space rescue story.

Stranded on Mars, Watney (played by Matt Damon) struggles to 'science the hell out of it' and stay alive.  Believe  me, you will never look at potatoes the same way.  

I am not a Matt Damon follower, but in this movie, I really like his performance.  His drive for survival is recorded and the conversations he has with himself is great.  It was convenient he was the botanist aboard the mission, so had knowledge to grow food, but other than that, when faced with a problem, he put his head down and tried to figure out a way to make it work with the materials at hand.

The movie is also filled with disco.  It seems the commander of the mission loved disco and that was the only music he had to play to fill time and space.

A great week of reading and watching.  I wish it happened more often.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Week In Review - March 6 - 12

Who can resist sunny crocus 'welcoming' springtime?  

And boy, do I have spring fever!  

The weather here has not been typical.  Even with only 3 winters under my belt, I know.  But I am loving it.  However, this summer, when I am complaining about the smoke from wildfires, please remind me of this.

This week was a bit odd because I had swapped hours around so I could watch Lady K while she was sick.  However, her illness did not continue (thank goodness), but I had a weird schedule.  And once again, another week with very little fabric/fiber interaction.
  • Tizer Gardens - 5 hours in the greenhouse, filling flats and planting
  • Quilt Studio (KE has to find a name for it!) - 3 hours moving furniture out of the studio, back to her emptied bedroom where all the quilting stuff once was.  My Virgo brain loves seeing order come out of chaos.  So KE now has a lovely bedroom for her son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter to stay when they visit.  And the cutting table is now set up in the studio.
  • Goodreads - 9 books!  And before everyone goes crazy about reading 9 books in a week, most of those were started prior to this week and I was finishing up on the tail end of them.
  • Steps - 48,094/69% of goal or 21.99 miles.  I know one day my fitbit was totally drained and didn't record the full day.  But I know I haven't been getting in the miles.  My 5 hours at Tizer Gardens was basically spent standing in one spot.
  • Posts written - four
  • Planted a tableful of seeds to go in the garden - mainly flowers this time - and several pots of potatoes in the yard
  • Traced the girl's paternal grandmother's family on one side back to Scotland in the late 1600's
So the coming week will be back on schedule and full steam ahead.  However, the weather will be dropping down into the 40's again with some rain - bummer.
  • Mail out my Handmade swap now that all the 'parts' have arrived
  • Start on deciding what to make for my Big Stitch Swap 2
  • Catch up on all my monthly challenges 
  • Get my Bee Hive swap out
  • Polish up the opening to my novel to send to Miscon30 for critique in May
  • Work on my Honeycomb Cowl
  • Tour the community garden with the manager and see about being an assistant manager and getting a plot (or 2)
Off to get sewing, or at least cutting out, so 'sleeping dogs' lie.  And to keep an eye on the pigeon which is eyeing me from the roof next door.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

House Shoes

My mother wore house shoes.  Those pale aqua, pink or white Dearform slippers with the flower in the middle of the top.  My dad had house shoes.  The leather moccasin style.  Myself?  Well, I scorned the whole idea of house shoes and either went barefoot or had on socks.  No old-lady-house-shoes for me! Granted, I kick off my shoes when I come home.  Shoes and then bra, actually. 

See those?  House shoes!  Big, black, warm house shoes.  They are probably a man's house shoe because I have long feet and my feet don't really fit in dainty old-lady-house-shoes.  And I wear them.  Every day.  Morning mainly.

It think it started as a combination of the cold in Montana and the cold floors and that nasty bunion on my left foot.  But  whatever it was which prompted me to start wearing them, I have discovered a few things.

  • They are easier to get on that socks 
  • They have thicker soles than socks
  • Unlike socks, which everyone else in the house will take and wear, no one bothers my house shoes
  • I have to take them off in specific places when I go to bed so I can find them first thing in the morning
  • I get testy when my house shoes are not where I left them
Does this mean I'm getting old?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I DON'T Have a Seed Problem

Regardless of what Texter says, I don't think I have a problem.  I am just probably being overly positive about my gardening this year.

This is my seed growing set-up right now.  The kitchen table (which we don't use) and a card table, all packed with containers of seedlings and seeds waiting to grow.  

This is the first group I planted and they are doing well.  Waiting for some peppers to emerge and the ginger, but otherwise doing well.  Unfortunately, since my space is so limited, it will soon be time to move some of the seedlings to individual cups.  But will hold off as long as possible.  But my growing hasn't been confined to just inside gardening...

My garden assistant helped me plant 6 containers of potatoes.  Three red potato pots and three Yukon Gold containers.  I haven't grown potatoes in containers before, so this is an experiment for me.  But she is getting into the gardening mode with me.

And the reason I haven't done much on the fabric front lately...

Five hours of fun in the soil and greenhouse at Tizer Gardens, getting ready for the new season.  First, filling flats and getting them ready for planting seeds.

And enjoying listening to my audio book while quietly 'seeding' away, I had these flats planted and labeled.  These are All-American Selections which will be grown and put into the garden.  As my 'payment', I got to bring home some packets of seeds left over from last year.

Home again and sorting the seeds, pulling duplicates for a friend and making a list.  Luckily, I will have a plot in one of the community gardens this year (probably a 20 x 20 in-ground plot) so I can have room for beans, corn and all the rest.  Maybe.


Monday, March 07, 2016

Mandala Monday

It's bright!  The chandeliers at the Civic Center are one of the best things about it.  Huge and dripping with crystals.  I did note a couple of green and blue bulbs in this light.  But they are fantastic.

My selfie with my new glasses.  Someone commented I looked "stern".  Actually, I was trying to find an angle where 10 chins didn't emerge.  But I love them.  They are bigger than my old glasses and funky colors.  I've reached the temperament where it's 'go bold or go home' is coming into play more and more.