Friday, May 31, 2013

Veg Patch Update

Its been a warm one. We had a leak in our AC and had to get the coolant recharged. Last night we slept on the air mattress in the basement with a box fan. I froze. Julian was just right, I suppose - just right for sleeping on an air mattress with a sinus infection and a box fan whizzing at his head. All better now, me thinks. [*update - not better yet and Julian froze too, he said]

The plants are going wild. We've had outstanding luck keeping the deer away. Plants I never knew would get so big are huge because they've not been munched. [*update - the deer just munched this morning]

Now that the deer seem under control, it is time for the slugs. Ewww. I loathe them.

Wrenny (we name everything, and not very creatively), the male house wren has taken up residence in our house for the third year running without finding a mate. The males build the nests and coax the females to them. While I enjoy his near constant bubbly tune, it makes me sad that he hasn't had any luck yet with the family. A lady friend was here for a bit in early spring but she didn't stick around.

Anything nesting in your garden?

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Neither of us slept much last night. It's the pollen's fault. Julian's poor sinuses have decided they've had enough but there is no hope for the near future. Our back yard is chock-a-block full of honeysuckle and wild berry brambles. It's choking out the poison ivy and the birds love it so I'm fine with that... but, poor Julian.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

{Yarn Along} Works STILL in progress...

It seems like each week I come back here and write about my crafting projects but I've added more to the to-do list and not finished anything! Such is life right now, I suppose. Anyhow, while I haven't done much crafting, I have done a good bit of reading, and Julian continues to read out loud at night as our much-needed wind down so we are still going through Exodus and the Top Bar Beekeeping book. Also, I picked up The Snow Child at my public library after seeing it on the Yarn Along Linky List and I'm enjoying it as well. Here spring has finally sprung and it's making me think wintery thoughts!

I DID get my sesquicentennial quilt block sent off to the powers that be for our state's upcoming big birthday, so I suppose that is a success. For the sake of organizing my brain, this is a list of my projects right now:

To finish:
1. Needlepoint and get it framed for Ivy
2. Dresden pillow - deadline Aug. 3
3.Whirl hat

To start:
1. boy teddy bear for cousin's baby - deadline Aug. 3
2. girl teddy bear because that's what she really wanted 2 years ago when I first started with them - deadline Aug. 3
3. Shalom Cardigan
4. Some Simple Crossover Booties
5. His & Hers embroidered pillowcases
6. This neat hexie ball

Linking up w/ Ginny @ Simple Things and Skip to My Lou

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


We had a bit of an impromptu vacation to Philly - which is nice because that's the only way vacation is possible these days. It felt very worrying and relieving to just pack up and leave with gifted tickets in hand to five lacrosse games. Julian had visited Philly before but I never had, so much of our exploring was him showing me the neat places he'd seen before. I insisted that we go get a bonafide cheesesteak, and we agreed that with Pat's (the original) and Geno's (the "best") right across the street from one another, we would just go the place with the shortest line. It was Geno's and it was delicious. 

We parked the car at the stadium early in the morning and just explored the city via foot and public transportation. This was a good decision. We got to see so much of the town aside from the touristy hubs. For a few minutes, we followed a horse and carriage tour side-by-side so we could over hear the commentary. That is how I learned about those three houses pictured: one was built in 1779, 1879, and 1979. 

There was Chinatown and the Liberty Bell, which had too long of a line to wait to go in, but I saw it through the window and was satisfied. Then the Reading Terminal Market, from whence many a gift has come from Julian's sister. The game pieces were also a hit from Julian's yesteryear adventures, so he took the opportunity to relive the Domino photo op. 

All in all, we watched 5 lacrosse games (all our teams LOST), saw 4 popular landmarks, 3 city parks, 2 national parks, and spent over 10 hours in the car over three days. Whew! What an adventure.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

{Yarn Along} Cardi Inspiration...

So I still have yet to make good on my finish-two-projects-before-starting-another-one goal, but...eep!

I enjoy following Ginny Sheller's blog and I've found some other nice blogs through her Yarn Along. One of those is Under an English Sky. Her Yarn Along post for this week has inspired me. You see, my first ever knitting project was very similar to this. It was worked top down on circular needles, no seams (or even buttonholes), but it was "shrug" length. My mother-in-law took me to the knitting shop where I picked out a pattern, beautiful CASHMERE yarn, and bamboo needles. She paid for it all as a gift to me and I knitted it up in a fury! It was beautiful, but I was devastated. It was about big enough to fit a nine year old... certainly not ME! 

So I'm inspired to give it another go. I'll use this pattern and hope it comes out wearable! If it weren't for the fact that it was my first ever knitting project, I would have yanked it all out so as not to have wasted the $19/ball yarn!

One of the TWO projects I need to finish should be this needlepoint for Julian's sister, her birthday is on Sunday. I also have a quilt block needing to be mailed off to a bee, I wonder if he will count the mailing as "completing" a project. We'll see...

We are reading the book of Exodus a little bit before bed each night and I am loving it. It is so interesting how God tells his people EXACTLY what to do and I'm reading Emma on my Kindle and really enjoying it. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pressed flowers

It's been years since the old aunt of my childhood friend showed me the joys of pressing flowers. She always made a collection of greeting cards to sell at our church's fall festival. She would even bring the flowers, cards, and contact paper (I hate contact paper) and let each of the children make his or her own.

Last week I was reminded of this and inspired by a picture on Ginny's blog. Julian and I popped into Lowe's on our hookie Friday and grabbed the wing nuts and bolts and had the time to put it together today. I insisted on having a 6 in. bolt. We had quite the chuckle when we realized exactly how long 6 in. is, so now I have the tall order of pressing enough flowers at one time to prove to him the value of the extra length.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Yesterday was certainly a day to remember. Julian has been working as assistant coach/offensive coordinator for the local high school team since February. It all came to a peculiar finish yesterday with the West Virginia State Championship game. The University Hawks have had a good season so far and got a lot of media attention for their "powerhouse offense" putting up double digit scores on teams that only got a few goals themselves.

Local news coverage here.

Everyone was a bit nervous when it came to a head when the Hawks discovered last week that they would be playing their hometown rivals for the state title. It was off to a good start, and then came the rain... and the lightning. There was a total of about 90 minutes delay right before the halftime break thanks to an absolute deluge. Most of the fans left except for parents. I even went home and changed and came back without missing much.

It was a game made exciting by circumstances, but not really by action. That's a nice thing to be able to say - when you win a game 17-3, its only but so entertaining. I was glad to see that several different boys got multiple goals. I have more and better pictures on my camera, these are just the ones off the phone:

We were all glad for the outcome and glad to have this day nearing its end. The game started at 3:30pm and we left at 7:30pm (lacrosse games take and hour and a half, generally).  
Well done, University, and good job, Julian!

Friday, May 17, 2013


I found out this week that I've maxed out on my annual leave accrual and can't earn more vacation time until I take some. That's a first world problem, let me tell ya'. So Julian didn't have lab meeting today which is a rarity, and tomorrow will be taken up largely by the festivities of the state championship lacrosse game, so today I took the day off - a decision that was made at about 4:45 yesterday. We got up and hit the road to check out a yard sale across town that started at 8am. It was made up of a group of young families, so there was a bunch of kid stuff, not much stuff to interest us but we scored a vintage Muffinaire 6-tin to add to our collection for just a quarter.

 Then, we loaded up the kayaks for the first time this year and headed to the lake. We had a great time just paddling and observing, no real plan or goal in mind. We hit Lowe's on our way home and scored 60 annuals in cell packs for $2.50, on the clearance rack but absolutely just fine. the verbena and petunias are a craps shoot what color they will be but I don't mind that...

We headed to the Chinese buffet (where else would you eat on hookie-day) and Julian went to lacrosse practice. At home, we did a few chores and have settled in, properly prepared to enjoy the weekend ahead of us. It was a good day. 

Picture explanation: I really hate cell phone self-portraits but this was done in jest and ended up being the best ever. I had found a black locust in bloom hanging over the lake so I could reach it and pluck the bloom off. The fragrance of them is intoxicating to me - my favorite smell of spring - like a gardenia mixed with lily of the valley. Anyhow, I plucked a bloom bunch off and told Julian it reminded my of another of my loves, tsumami kanzashi. So I pinned it in and snapped away. Then I realized you can see the black locust tree in bloom behind me, and not only my kayak but Julian's kayak in the reflection of my lens. So there. That is how you unintentionally craft an appropriately artful selfie.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

{Bloom Day} May 2013

Linking up with Bloom Day May 2013, Storey Publishing.


Top: False Indigo, Heirloom Iris, Hardy Geranium
Mid: Knock-Out Rose, Candytuft, Heirloom Iris
Bottom: Coreopsis

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The Core Arboretum is named after a WVU botanist, Earl L. Core. It is made up of 91 acres between the busiest road in town and the Monongahela River - a total escape left largely to the whims of nature and not much more. We are blessed to have this very neat space right in our "backyard" but we've only visited twice in three years.They had a wildflower tour on April 21 and we totally planned to go... and then it was April 22 and we'd forgotten. At least there were a few wild larkspurs left there to greet us.

I am subscribed to get eBird updates on birds that are sighted in my county and for several weeks now, there have been reports of wood ducks at the arboretum so on Sunday afternoon we headed out with a backpack holding the bird book, binoculars, bottled water and a camera. We looked and looked, but never found the ducks. Nevertheless, we had a lovely time.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sweet friendship...

We have some dear, dear friends from church who've had a really rough couple of months. It is hard because we are all busy and Julian and I want to be there and help out but it just seems like the days turn into weeks and weeks into months...

I've sent my friend a few cards, just to let her know I  am thinking of her and that we continue to pray for her through this seemingly never-ending trial.

Today, she surprised me with a little package. It was exactly what I needed, and the words inside, on a series of little cards, blessed my heart greatly.

It reminded me that we are never to grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap what we sow, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Red Wine Jelly

I had a work party a few weeks back. We served wine, but not many people drank it. I ended up bringing home three bottles of Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon that I had no plans to drink. I'm just not a cab kind of girl.
What kind of girl am I? A cheese girl, that's what. Last year, when I was planning for a cheese party I hosted, I  discovered that people make jelly from wine to serve with cheese and crackers! Brilliant!
Thanks to my big Ball book, I'm off and running on some red wine jelly of my own. Curiouser and curiouser....

Update: The jelly is pretty grape-y but in a grown up sort of way. It had a soft set but that may have been my old pectin's fault. I'm counting it a success because it is yummy, but I will try another batch when I can get new pectin. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to using it as a filling for some baked brie.

3.5 c dry red wine
.5 c bottled lemon juice
4 c sugar
1 box pectin

Bring juices and pectin to a boil, add sugar, bring back to rolling boil and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Can and process in BWB for 10 mins.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Julian, too.

It is interesting that this blog is called The Life and Times of Julian and Amanda but I do all the authorin' and so much talking about myself. Its interesting, because anyone who knows Julian knows he's kind of a shy guy, so he's not really going to publish all the gory details of his life online for the world to see. Anyhow... this is just a random post to say that even though I don't often talk about him, he's here, day in and day out, beside me. I'm glad for that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

{Yarn Along} So much crafting....

I don't know what's gotten into me but I'm really making headway in the hobby department these days.

In addition, my local yarn shop does a group where good sock knitters meet up with wanna be sock knitters the second Friday of each month. That means this Friday, I'm going to attempt to make it. The only thing is... Julian says two projects have to get finished before the next can be started. Yeep! What a rule!

So I'm trying to finish up a housewarming gift for cousin Natalie and this Give it a Whirl hat I decided to start during our perma-winter and now, of course, do not need. In the spirit of Ginny's Yarn Along, you can also see that I'm reading Diana Lampe's Embroidery from the Garden. This is merely inspirational, not aspirational, let's keep things in perspective.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Work in progress...

I've been taking more time to craft lately. I really enjoy hand work - no machine , little ironing, just a thread and needle.

I cut the fabric for this back at Thanksgiving. I'm just now getting it together and I have done it all by hand so far. It's far from perfect but very unique. It's going to be a housewarming gift , a pillow to be sure. I love it.