Gardening

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

It’s been a month of highs and lows at my little hacienda. Ta da! Our first egg!

Finally! In all it’s tiny perfection.

We still haven’t ferreted out which of the Hogwart’s four is our layer.  I plan to stalk the henhouse this weekend.  I think it’s Jenny Weasley.

I know I should love them all the same, but Jenny’s my “bff” chicken.  She’s the only one who lets me pet her.  Either that or she’s scared of me and she’s dropping in fear…nah, I’m sticking with the first version where she loves me and lets me pet her.

On with the happenings.  Behold my beautiful garbage can potato plants

Blessedly, we’ve been getting a little rain over the last few weeks.  This time last year, we had already begun our 100+ degree heat and relentless drought conditions.  So again, I say, the rain is a blessing.  A blessing that pairs with oppressive humidity, which  breeds mold and fungus….

Fungus…aka early blight. So…darn…maddening! The potatoes had done so well! I was so proud.  And yes, I know I talking about them like they’re already dead and gone, but my optimism is strained on this one.  I cleaned away most of the speckled leaves.  I did everything I could figure out to do for them. If we can limp along a little, maybe I can salvage new potatoes?

I’m probably a little more upset about the potatoes than is rational because my favorite climbing rose is struggling with a brutal case of Black Spot, and my cucumbers look to have a virulent case of powdery mildew.  I don’t have a green thumb, I have a spotted fungus thumb! So sad…

This climbing beauty will soon be a nubby, aggressively pruned beauty.

But then, there are a few bright spots that balance the spotty victims in my landscape.

My Zinnias from last summer volunteered this year!  I love them!

They’re such a cheerful companion for the herbs and veggies in my raised beds.

My squash and zucchini threaten to overtake their companions…

And if I could get the slugs and beetles to chill on my Mr. Stripey, he promises some tomato goodness very soon. (I couldn’t bear to pull that Zinnia like it was a weed!)

Note the giant Tomatillo plant in the background of the next shot.  It’s been blossoming relentlessly for months.  The butterflies love it!  Unfortunately, they don’t bother to print on the packaging that Tomatillo plants need to cross pollinate in order to fruit.  I have only one…therefore, it will never fruit.

Really?  Don’t you think that might be good information?  To put on the stick with the growing conditions?  Just saying…

But really, who cares about the weird Tomatillo situation when you turn around and find this.

Crochet

Tunisian…Ta Da!

I completed the first panel of Jennifer Hansen’s Tunisian Multi-Garment!

It was fun.  Learning Tunisian has been very gratifying. These pictures  were taken after my first quick run at blocking.  I still have some perfecting to do with the structure.

I have a sneaky suspicion that I would have been happier with a slightly larger size.  I won’t know for certain until I’ve completed the second panel.  The sizes were based on bust circumference and I think I would prefer a little more length on what will inevitably be the “torso”.  Maybe I’m long-waisted….or maybe my tummy is a little more of an issue than my bust….

The color work is fascinating.  Let it be known, however, that it leaves a gazillion ends to be woven.  Hence the probable delay in starting the second panel for the garment.  I need a little time to forget what a pain those ends were.

All in all, however, I’m extremely pleased!  The Craftsy class on Tunisian was a great experience.  I’ve signed on for three additional classes since beginning the Tunisian.  I’m not sure that the instruction I’m seeing is the same quality that Jennifer Hansen provided in the Tunisian class, but I love the platform and  recommend it for anyone who struggles to find classes available in your location or that work with your schedule.

Gardening

Miscellany… of the Horticultural Variety

Today, I’m missing my mom because I want to know what this is. So I’m in the market for a surrogate mom.  Can anybody tell me what this is?  They’re in my front garden beds and they’re beautiful and I love them and I want to know what to call them!

Most of the year, they just provide beautiful variegated foliage.  Then in late spring, they put out these beautiful clusters in all shades from lavender to almost white.  Again, I love them.

While on the subject of plants that I love-I LOVE HYDRANGEAS!  My Hydrangeas are so beautiful right now.

They’re fascinating to me.  The litmus paper of the horticultural world.  I’m always amazed at the different shades from yard to yard and plant to plant.  In fact, this year I’m amazed at the variation of shade I’m seeing in one plant.

The pristine clear blue.

The softest lavender.

The blush of dusky pink.

And finally, a cacophony of all the shades available to this beauty’s soft palette.  What’s blooming in your garden today?

Crochet

Three Color Tunisian

So the Craftsy journey continues, and I have to say, I liked the three color Tunisian soooo much better than the single color work.  I chose Catania Cotton (yes, shocking I know).

I love these colors!

The three color is easier because each different color strand highlights and accents the architecture of the stitches.  You don’t have to figure out where your “vertical bar” is because it’s color coded.  Very cool!

So I’m into my next Tunisian project.  Titled the “Multigarment”,  it’s a two-panel wrap that can be worn as a shawl, sweater, or poncho (love the peekaboo shoulders).  Not to be redundant, but also very cool.

Also very ambitious.  I’m branching waaayyyy out on this one.  I’m using Paton’s Grace-another mercerized cotton (practically identical to Catania-the waaayyy was sarcasm). I’m not sure that the photos do my palette justice.  I think it’s going to be pretty….if it ever gets completed.  Did I mention it’s very ambitious?

The blue is my “color pop”.  Hmmm…still thinking about it…love it in theory, though.

I’m off to stitch!

 

Chicken Mission

A Chicken Named Katniss

I had been growing increasingly concerned about Bella.  Something was off about her.  She was erratic and aggressive, and something just seemed off.  Then one day I noticed that she had tremendously large feet…In comparison I mean.

You see, Bella lives with Buffy and they’re about a month apart in age.  But Bella was growing fast.  Faster than any of the other pullets.  And her comb…it was so full and red comparatively.  (I know you guys know where this is going.)  So Saturday I googled pictures of four-month old gold-laced Wyandotte.  Sunday, I texted the breeder pics of my little friend….and Bella  officially became Bill.

Sunday afternoon, we took Bella, I mean Bill back from whence she, I mean he came.  Unfortunately the breeder had sold all of her Wyandotte and Partridge Rocks.  In fact the breeder had nothing in the same age bracket.  So I became the proud owner of a roughly 4 week old Rhode Island Red. You’ve got to roll with the punches, right?

Luckily, we just finished an expansion to our coop.  In fact Buffy and Bella..I mean Bill, had just moved in. Enter, the guinea pig cage.

Our new Rhode Island Red is now Buffy’s new roommate, but she’s still too little to roam within the coop.  She’ll be relegated to the guinea pig cage for a  week or two until everyone’s acclimated.

So of our six little darlings, five of them were named after Harry Potter characters. Bella was in fact Bellatrix LaStrange-the whacked out psychotic witch (which actually kind of worked for him).  So what did we name our new little Red?  Well, here’s a hint.  My girl has moved on from the Harry Potter series over the last few months.  We’ve moved on to The Hunger Games…

 

Crochet

Tunisian Times Two

Ta da! My first Tunisian Crochet projects-The (not so) Silk Spa Cloth (done in Catania Cotton).   First I crocheted the green, and although my Susan Bates was an H, I was crocheting too tightly. So I switched to the Boye which (somewhat irrationally) feels bigger to me.

I prefer the final product with the second washcloth (off white).  Looser, better feeling in your hand, and much easier to block.  And yes, I know that this would have all been predictive had I swatched for gauge.  But hey,  that’s not how I roll…anyway, practice makes perfect, right?

Next, I’m moving onto  three color Tunisian with the same pattern. Redundancy is ok when you’re learning.

What are you working on this weekend?

Crochet

Totally Tunisian

Two more tunisian stitches, and I’m still impressed with and enthusiastic about my Craftsy class!

It really has been enjoyable.  Jennifer gives clear instruction, and the ability to pause, rewind, and take notes timed to the video feed contributes to a pretty satisfying learning experience.

So here’s my Silk Spa Cloth (also known as Project #1) as of last night.

It’s a little mushed looking because it’s been quickly and furiously pressed in order to take the picture.  It originally looked like this.

I’m crocheting fairly tightly and the result is a stubborn curling, similar to knitting…

Not that I knit…

The wash cloth is made up of three different Tunisian stitches.  1) The Tunisian Simple Stitch 2) The Tunisian Knit Stitch and 3) The Tunisian Reverse Stitch.

And I hate to sound like a rube, but the Knit stitch really does look like knitting!  Very cool.

I finished the stitching tonight.  Now it’s time for lesson number three – how to bind off your work.  Don’t you love learning new things?