lovely things

zimmerman

This is several years old, but I recently re-read this, about recreating an Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater. You can even buy the pattern (see here for more info). I pulled out Knitting without Tears and reading just a few pages was refreshing and inspiring. If you have any knitting fears, Elizabeth Zimmerman will wipe them away.

speaker1

This is perhaps silly and materialistic, but I really love my little Bluetooth speaker. It’s really light and it’s wireless, so I easily can carry it around from room to room and even take it outside. I have been listening to music and audiobooks everywhere. I looked at a lot of speakers, but I didn’t want to spend two or three hundred dollars. I also didn’t want to end up with something cheap and ugly that wouldn’t last. At $69, this was a little splurge, but a nice compromise. I’m not an audiophile by any means, but I think it sounds great for the size (about 5″ square by a couple inches deep). I also like that it’s not so “tech-y” looking. The “wood” is actually plastic, but you can’t really tell.

Fictitious Dishes: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Have you ever read a book that included a description of a meal so vivid you could practically taste it? I love this project, and have added the book to my wishlist.

lilacs

Spring is my very favorite, but I’m very sad my daffodils were nearly non-existent this year. The lilacs, on the other hand, were magnificent.

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love hate

tulips

This is not a post about tulips, but it’s never wrong to start with a picture of tulips, regardless of the subject matter.

I straightened and organized my sock drawer. And then I straightened and organized my sock yarn drawer. And then KnitPicks had a sale on sock yarn, so I bought even more sock yarn (the sale is still going on for a couple more weeks, I think). I do like always having a sock on the needles, because first of all, they are so portable, and I can just keep them in my purse. Second of all, I love handknit socks. Third of all, sock knitting is (generally) therapy for me when I’m stressed. And fourth of all, many of my socks are starting to look pretty shabby.  I can and will repair them as much as possible, but sometimes there is a point of no return. I’m also on the lookout for the ultimate sock yarn, so all my sock knitting is also in the name of science.

I started a pair of toe-up socks recently, using Knit Picks Stroll (Tonal, in Thunderhead). The only other time I’ve knit socks from the toe was, weirdly enough, for the first socks I ever knit. I used Wendy’s Toe-up sock pattern and I think a sport weight yarn (this was pre-Ravelry). And then I never knit one again. I don’t remember it being terribly difficult, and it was a heavier yarn and a plain sock with a ribbed leg, so I don’t think it took all that long. I think I just found patterns I liked that were cuff-down and I was comfortable knitting that way.

grace sock

I was looking for a sock pattern to knit a couple weeks ago, and came across this pretty pair. I love the lace and didn’t let the fact that the pattern started at the toe deter me at all. By the time I got to the heel, I realized that I really don’t enjoy knitting from the toe up. I vowed to press on, though, because these socks, they are so pretty! So I slogged through the heel and started up the leg. I tried them on and they were a little long in the foot, and the heel flap seemed a little tall. But still, I kept going, because I am not a quitter! Then I sat down last night to do just a little more, because it seems like every quarter-inch of these suckers takes an hour. I pulled on the cord to pick up my knitting and ooops! I had pulled the needle right out of half the sock.

I thought I could be stoic and brave, and get all those k2tog and yo stitches back on the needle. I’ve certainly done it before. After a few minutes, though, in perhaps a tiny fit of hatred and frustration, I pulled the other half off its needle and ripped it out completely.

It was such a relief. I immediately cast on and knit a cuff, and I’m going to try to just knit the same lace from the top. It may not work, but I’m going to give it a couple inches, and if not, I’ll do some other lace-y cuff-down pattern, and I will enjoy every bit of it. Am I alone in my love of cuff-down sock knitting?

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green-ish thumb

I think it’s pretty obvious that I like flowers. I also like vegetables, and I love the idea of a garden. I have tried a few times to turn the back corner of our property into a vegetable garden, without success. Despite the fact that this is Southern California, the elevation (4000 feet) at which we live makes for harsh conditions in the garden.

Our last frost date is Memorial Day, so that means there are few vegetables that I can plant outdoors before June. One year, I waited patiently for that last weekend in May, and then filled my 4′ x 8′ raised bed with just as many plants as I could. And then we have several frosty nights well into June, which reduced most everything to a black, shriveled mess.

Undeterred, the next year I tried again, although I was less ambitious, and didn’t plant quite as much. Each day I faithfully watered my little vegetables, and every day it seemed like there were fewer plants. The soil itself seemed undisturbed, but a plant that I swore had been there the day before was suddenly missing. A closer inspection revealed very faint animal tracks, probably a rabbit or squirrel. Whatever it was, it made tidy work of eating my tender plants right down to the ground and letting nothing go to waste. Whatever little beast it was, it eventually ate everything.

This year, I had to move the geese out to that back garden pen, because they were beating up on my chickens, so there will be no attempt at a vegetable garden this year. Instead I’ve decided to focus on container gardening, and so far, I am enjoying much better results.

container garden

So far there has been only one casualty. I originally had a purple and white lisianthus in the middle pot, above. The day after I repotted it, the whole thing just keeled over. I have no idea why. I thought I’d try to return it, so I removed it back to the pot it came in, and it perked up a little. I don’t know if it will recover completely, but I guess it liked it’s cramped plastic pot better than my pretty, roomy, distressed terra cotta pot. I replaced it with this geranium, and I actually like this whole arrangement so much better.

geranium

I love the tiny flowers, and the silvery grey-green foliage.

I know it’s all about the porch all the time around here, but I’m so happy with how it is coming together, and it is where I spend most of my time when I am home. All my pots of herbs and flowers and succulents are what make it feel so lush and special to me, and shockingly, nearly everything seems happy and is growing.

down the porch

I got really ambitious and even added a dwarf kumquat, which will move inside this fall. I am going to try really hard to keep it alive. And the Silver Falls hanging just above is one of my favorite things. It’s just in the ugly plastic pot it came it, so I need to find something pretty to put it in. Luckily, the plant covers most of the pot, so I hardly notice it.

Pulley is hanging out in my new seating area. I want to make a cover for the cushions on the love seat, and a new slipcover for the ottoman, so I’m not going to bore you with too many pictures of that area. I hope to have a really dramatic before and after post once I get that stuff done.

side table

I found that it really started looking homey out here when I added a few things to my bright yellow side table.

Despite giving up on the raised bed for now, we do have a few nice things happening elsewhere on our property. Mr. Heylucy has been planting trees every weekend, hoping to replace some of the shade we lost when our oak trees died. We discovered that a previously unknown bush is actually an elder berry shrub. It doesn’t seem to mind our climate, and has become enormous this last year. I don’t know why we never noticed that it had berries on it before. I may have to try making some elderberry syrup later this summer, and bottle it up to treat winter colds.

elderberries1I put in a few tomatoes by the chicken pen, and they are growing and starting to bloom, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least enough to enjoy in salads. Someday I want a giant tomato patch so I’ll have enough to can and make sauce to last all winter. I have two big pots near the back door. I stuck a few strawberries in one, and the two little dogs thought it would be great fun to jump in and dig it all up. I haven’t even had the heart to clean up the soil they spewed all over the walk way. Nobody got any treats that night, I can tell you.

fairy garden-to-beNext up: a fairy garden in a box! Pulley says, “yay, something else for me to play with on the porch!”

sir pulleyLook at that face! I love the little water droplets on his whiskers. His favorite thing to do is bring sticks on to the porch and then chew them up and leave all the little bits for me to sweep up. It is not my favorite thing.

 

 

 

 

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tiny bits

Oh man, I was so hoping to get lots of pillows made and plants planted this week, and then I got knocked out by this ridiculous cold. No one wants a play-by-play of someone else’s minor illness, so suffice it to say that I was sick enough to stay home from work for two days, and even a week later I am a snot and cough machine. Blech.

Still, I couldn’t let the week pass without trying to make a few small improvements. I have lots of containers just begging to be filled with green, so I made a good start. I’ve had succulents in the past, and they seem to survive pretty well in our environment, which can be a little harsh. At least until they are subject to extreme neglect, which has happened before (i.e. oops, I forgot to water them for the whole winter, and left them out to freeze). So I’ve been collecting a few here and there.

olive oil

We buy olive oil by the can at a Middle Eastern/Eastern European/Russian market. I loved the color of this can, and it’s been sitting and waiting to be repurposed. So I filled it with some of the succulents.

I also discovered a nursery just up the road from us that sells all sorts of native and drought tolerant plants, so we are slowly adding some trees and shrubs to the yard, but it’s still too weedy to show off just yet. In the meantime, I picked up a couple of strawberry plants and this crazy bright geranium, which just had to go in this black pot I got on sale at Target a few months ago. I love the contrast of the flowers with the black. I have never been able to photograph bright reds and pinks, so this isn’t a perfect depiction of the color, but it’s a deep, deep fuchsia, with lots of blue undertones.

porch garden 2

Another mix of succulents.

succulents

I filled up my old birdcage with lots and lots of different sorts. I’m not sure how well this is going to work in the long run, but so far everything seems happy enough. I stuck a few of the dangly (that’s a word, right?) varieties in from the outside, and I’m hoping more will make their way through the bars of the cage.

birdcage

I finished up with three of these hanging pots along the front (from Ikea), I thought the green bean plant looked nice with the lacy edge. Maybe next I’ll learn the actual names of my plants.

green bean

 

I’ve got some more pots to fill with herbs and maybe some more flowers. But now I need another nap. Pixel agrees. Or maybe he just wants some of my blueberries in that bowl.

porch bed

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this spring

This spring has been nearly perfect up here in our little mountain town. I have loved every last daffodil that has bloomed, cutting weekly bunches to enjoy on my desk at work.

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I usually had some company while I cut my bouquets. Hi Pixel!

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I don’t have any ranunculus growing in the yard, but a $5 bouquet from Trader Joe’s in shades of peach and coral made me happy for over a week.

ranunculas1

ranunculas2

The lilacs were amazing this year, and I  use that word sparingly. Last year, just as they were about to bloom we had an icy snow storm that killed them all. I guess they decided to make up for it this year.

lilacs2

lilacs1

I’ve been documenting all the ways I’ve been enjoying my flowers on Instagram, if you need to see more.

I’m momentarily without flowers for cutting, so I’m planning on some summer dahlias (see here for some of my inspiration), and ordered a few varieties from Swan Island Dahlias. We have lavender and roses growing now, so I’m hoping to have a few little bunches to clip and arrange soon. In the meantime, I’m also thumbing through The Flower Recipe Book, and dreaming of filling the house with bunches of flowers.

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