Wednesday, October 28, 2015

best dressed

I hit a wall yesterday. It wasn't pretty. I needed a change of scenery. 

I've been sick this week for the second time in October and I'm pretty much done with it. I am attempting to Lemon Lift my way to health, or at least comfort and I am pleased as punch that I have the best dressed little mug for the task. I had plenty of extra yarn from my zip mitts so I whipped up this cozy coaster. Isn't it a treat? I found the button loop a bit fiddly so I knotted my yarn and left a tail, which winds around the button like a button fly closure on the journal of an intrepid adventurer. Or deep thinker. My mug, the philosopher. 

I am still awaiting being able to acquire the correct needle (I should have just ordered off Amazon) and I refuse to cast on a project just to be knitting, when what I want to be knitting is different. So I'm stitching. 

This is the first of my Christmas gift sewing. The embroidered bird will join two other teacups and a teapot to form the corners of this table topper mini quilt. The finished piece will measure 25"x25" and though I love the colors it is shown in, the fabric I have for it is all springy-floral. 

As for reading, I laid feebly on the couch two weeks ago while I was sick and finished up A Land More Kind Than Home. It was a hard book to read. One of my best reading friends recommended it, so I jumped in with two feet - never mind that the cover called it a thriller and I was NOT in the mood for a thriller. It really is everything I love in a book: southern, rural setting, quirky people, complicated family dynamics, rich descriptions including sounds and smells, and multiple narrators slowly parking the came mysterious story. It's just the snakes that get me, you know, and the dying, and the lying, and the grief. "It was like Mama was lost in the desert and had gotten so thirsty she was willing to see anything that might make her feel better about being lost."

So I'm rebounding in happy-book-land. The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise has me smiling again with the story of a really quirky Beefeater who lives with his wife and 120-year-old tortoise in the Tower of London. I'm only just a few pages into the book, so I'll have to update you next week as the story develops more.

What are you reading and stitching? Show and tell with me and the others at Yarn Along

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

leaf peepin'

When we were house shopping the priorities looked a bit like this:
1. Nice house with a yard
1a. With trees
1aa. Not pines

Boy, oh boy. This is why. What a treat! Did you even know crape myrtles could do that?! I did not. Our neighbor tells us that the man who built our house walked around with a nail on the end of a stick to collect every last leaf off the lawn. He wanted to cut every tree down so he wouldn't have to suffer the chore, but his wife kept him from such irrevoccable madness. 

We thank her. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

apple time

The continually falling leaves are giving me sweeter mornings. Where I used to wake up to find the kitchen in complete darkness, I now have shadows and twinkling things. As days are shortening, this little house in the big woods is lightening up - how curious.

It is apple time. With 37lbs of them in my kitchen, I will be busy. Busy like the squirrels. Last night I got my first batch of applesauce in the freezer. It made four almost-full quart bags - four times this coming winter, we will eat cornbread and apple sauce and think of these beautiful magical days where the days are still long but the new shadows are short.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

unspeakable softness

This yarn! This. Yarn.

I got a package on my birthday from my cousin, Natalie, and this yarn was inside. Two hanks of the same yarn, named differently because the Chateau line is dyed, the Chalet line is natural. I have "denim" and "chestnut."

It is technically a bulky weight yarn but because of its chainette construction, it compresses to nothing when I pinch it between my gleeful little fingers. It is the cotton candy of the yarn world. The Bandana Cowl by Purl Bee is the project I have picked for it but I need to locate the right needle and that won't be happening in Farmville. Our next big city trip is Oct 26 so until then I will just dream about this cowl and THIS. YARN.

Julian found this book by Brent and Becky Heath of Brent & Becky's Bulbs. We paid $2 at the Goodwill for it. It has completely captivated my imagination. It is as if I were eight years old again, sitting here with the old Sears catalog making out my list for Christmas. And learning. I am learning so much! Who knew there was so much to know about daffodils?

What are you reading and stitching? Show and tell with us through Yarn Along.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Goodnight, Garden

I've never inherited a garden from someone else before, who had things where they wanted them. I feel a responsibility to respect existing plants by finding them new homes in a scheme I like. But sometimes I just toss a plant - it's my garden, my flowers, my plan.

Last night was our first frost but tonight is our first freeze. Plants went in the ground today: columbines, inkberry holly, daylilies, roses, sedum, yarrow, gardenia. If we dug a hole and found bulbs, I pulled them out and put them where I want what I think they may be. Who knows. The anticipation for spring is intense already. There is so much to look forward to seeing for the first time.

Don't think I'll just twiddle my green thumbs all winter. I am waiting to put out some purple sprouting broccoli. I have saved one (of nine) brussels sprout plants from the groundhog. Oh, and the jungle indoors - where will all my porch living tender babies spend the winter? That concern is for tomorrow.

Tonight, I will say goodnight, garden and sleep tight!

Herb Bed - Before

Rose Bed - Before
Herb Bed - Oct 2015

Rose Bed - Oct 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I just wanted to let you know that I'm not falling for pansies this year. I have a mole problem, a groundhog problem, and a too-many-plants-in-pots- on-my-driveway problem. I'm not falling for those sweet little blooms that symbolize friendship and remind me of Alice in Wonderland.  We are only three days away from our inevitable first frost and everyone knows that frost and flowers don't mix. No, I'm not falling for those graceful bobbing heads of aubergine, carmine and gold that can make even the grumpiest grump smile. Nope. Not this year. Not even on when they hit the clearance rack.

I just wanted to let you know that I've got a pansy problem.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Finish

My first pair of what I suspect will be many Zip Mitts is finished... or is it? I've been playing around with some "wooly tattoos" to spice up the plain tops of them and finding it frustrating to work both inside a cylinder and on an irregular surface. The yarn shop has the same yummy yarn in a peachy pink color that has bewitched my senses, so another pair in that color way is next on my list.

I've grabbed a few books from the library that closely follow my favorite theme... nature. The only one that isn't a children's book (oh, the illustrations) is Bringing Nature Home by Univ. of Delaware professor Douglas Tallamy. The book is a comprehensive guide to the importance of keeping America's native species on your property instead of falling for many varieties of non-native plants sold for their ornamental value in big box stores. Many of our native plants can be equally impressive in the garden, and as the author states, "A plant that has not fed something has not done its job." The book focuses largely on the top 20 plants that are hosts to yummy bugs, supporting Tally's theory that diverse wildlife in your yard starts with a diverse insect population to feed it. Fascinating book, this one is.

I am also enjoying The Sun, The Rain, and The Appleseed: A Novel of Johnny Appleseed's Life. My 3rd-grade nephew enjoys singing the Johnny Appleseed blessing at school so, when I saw this on the shelf in juvenile fiction, it piqued my interest. I like it so far, but I always get myself stuck in this mire with historical fiction biographies, where it is about the person's life but written after the fact by a modern author and so much of daily life is assumed. My brain wants to make it all factual and then I'm left hanging when something contradicts.

What are you crafting and reading? Join Ginny for show and tell.

Monday, October 12, 2015


We got away this weekend to a place my dad would call "the flatlands." Generally, this region is called the Virginia Tidewater. Specifically, we were in Surry County.

We spent two nights camping at Chippokes State Park. This was not glamorous. This was not gourmet. This only happened because we planned it for my birthday weekend and had to postpone because of the hurricane. It was cold. It was rainy. It was flat.

We spent the better part of Saturday morning at the campsite trying to make breakfast while dependent on fire in the rain. Those sweet rolls that are cooked through and not burned are a victory you will never comprehend. We spent the afternoon at Colonial Williamsburg (yes, a recurring theme but we need to make the most of our yearly passes and learn so many new things each visit) and Sunday was devoted to birding at Hog's Island Wildlife Management Area and seeing the sights of the farm museum on site at the state park.

In other news, we upgraded our camera to a Panasonic Lumix with a 60x zoom to help us get some good pictures of birds. We waited, all bags packed, for the UPS man on Friday so we could take it with us. Here are a few snaps of life from the weekend. We've not had the chance to read the manual yet, much less work out the kinks. I thought the camera did a great job of tolerating mediocre users.  Note: the butterfly picture was taken by me at full height, using the zoom to avoid getting on my hands and knees for a macro shot. The eagles were about a mile away.