Saturday, May 31, 2014

Odds and Ends, Outdoors and Indoors

Last day of May and another gorgeous day it has been. Low humidity, 70 degree temps, light breeze, just delightful, except for the mosquitoes, but that's what living in a swamp costs.

Yesterday I put up pea fencing using twigs, bamboo poles and stakes normally used for holding up peonies. The plants were getting taller than 8 inches so it was about time I kept them from falling over. Today I planted the small fry tomato plants in deck pots. I also planted the cucumber, zucchini and pumpkin seeds I bought from Pinetree Gardens in Maine. I actually planted them all in peat pots and little 4 packs because Hal just sprayed my third veggie garden, the one actually in swampland, with weed killer. I pulled a 50 pound feed sack-worth of dandelions out of it last week and barely made a dent with all the other weeks in there.

I planted 7 pots of small sugar pumpkin, and Diva and Homemade Pickles cucumbers, and Butta and Golden Zebra zucchini in the plastic packs.

While Hal is waiting on the roofing from the local hardware store he decided to start taking apart the rotting deck outside the back door that leads to the hot tub.
We have officially stopped using the wood stove till next fall and thus the hot tub is no longer heated. We do leave the filter pump on though because it feels delightful to use when and if the outdoor temps rise into the 90s. Eighty degree water becomes very refreshing.

Yesterday I finished the shawl I was doing for a designer's test. I soaked and pinned it on my blocking mat today. The designer was apparently waiting for me because she released the pattern to the general public on The pattern is called Abundant, by siewclark. I was worried it would be too small but assuming it holds it's shape once I take it off the mat, I think it will be okay. Still, if I ever make it again I think I will adjust the length of the edge chains to allow a little more stretch.
Time to make salad for dinner now. I think this was enough stuff to post about today.

Memorial Day

Unlike Veteran's Day in November which honors all people who have served in the US military, Memorial Day is to honor those in the military who have given their lives in the service of our country. I did not only go downstate for a baseball game last weekend, I also attended the Memorial Day observance at the Reflection Pond in Riverview, MI. Hal's older brother, a retired major general in the USAF was the keynote speaker. (Hal's family is from an adjacent city.) The ceremony was put on by the local American Legion Post 389 (I hope I got the number right.) They also honored some local Korean war veterans with a medal. Apparently they're honoring vets from the different wars each year.

It was a nice ceremony and my BIL's speech was very moving, talking about the history of Memorial Day and speaking personally about persons he knew who had died in Afghanistan.

I snapped a few photos, nothing spectacular, just a general idea of what happened. Probably about 200 people attended, which I guess is pretty good these days.
There were 2 veteran motorcycle clubs
Half mast till the end of the ceremony
Riverview High School Band
Color Guard, that's the back of the general
Korean War vets being escorted by the Enforcers biker club

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Happy Birthday

To me!

I am going to lunch with Hal's mom and my SIL from Texas. Ought to be fun. Going to the old Owl Tavern in Alpena, MI. Ate there earlier this month for the first time with my MIL and 2 other SIL. Food was excellent. I am looking forward to it. But first I must walk the pups, even on my birthday they won't let me laze around the house. Silly pups!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tomatoes and Peppers

On my way home from visiting Hal's sister and family downstate yesterday I stopped at Harger's Nursery in Glennie and picked up several 4-packs of tomatoes, peppers and marigolds. I get the marigolds because they're supposed to repel some harmful insects. Have to get the ones with scent, the fancier prettier ones tend to be useless for bug repellent.

I specifically wanted to get more Celebrity this year and was certain I'd picked up one. But when I went to plant them today, I discovered I'd screwed up. Hopefully what I did get will do as well as the Celebrity did last year. I made sure they were short season tomatoes, ones that would set fruit in 70 days or less, not those 90 day huge beefsteaks. I bought 6 varieties, 3 slicers and 3 cherries.


Bonny Best


Sun Sugar
Small Fry

I also bought a yellow bell pepper called, ordinarily enough, Yellow Belle and Gypsy which I've grown before with great success. I planted 2 Rutgers and 2 Champions and one each of the others except for small fry which I am going to put in 10" deck pots as they are labeled as compact plants. I also planted 3 marigolds and gave one of each type of veggie plant to Mrs J next door. I have 4 very large flower pots that I will probably use for some of the other larger tomatoes. However I will do that another day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


So yesterday I went with 9 other various family members and friends from DH's side of the family to Tiger Stadium in Detroit to watch the Tigers get trounced by the Texas Rangers. It started well, the Tigers scoring a run in the first couple of innings, but then they didn't get their second till the bottom of the 9th. In between the Ranges scored 12 while the Tigers seemed to trip over each other and the pitching just got worse. Still, it was a lovely day, high 70's huge fluffy white clouds that kept the sun off of us till late in the evening. We were way up behind the left field foul pole which is the furthest away I've ever been in that stadium so really, in terms of being able to watch the game, a TV would have been better. But we still had a good time.

insert photo

Before the game we ate at Nemo's and then took their shuttle bus for $3 each to the stadium and then back afterward to the parking lot. I had one of their burgers. The only thing you can order from them on game days is a burger or fried chicken sandwich and fries. Beer of course, there is always beer.

After the game we picked up some Hungry Howie's pizza and 8 of us ended up consuming most of it and chatting till around midnight at Hal's sister's house (where I usually stay whenever I visit down here.) As I said, we had a pretty good time. 

Don't know what I'll be doing today, possibly just hanging about the house crocheting. And go for a walk, it's another beautiful day.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Quick Diet Update

Thought I should mention that after agonizing these past 2 months about how much weight I must have gained back, I weighed myself Monday morning. Turns out I lost 2 pounds. Checked the scale 3 times, same number. So, it averages out to 1 pound per month (last weigh-in was mid March) but it's in the right direction. As to why some of my pants seem tighter I will have to attribute it to fat redistribution? Who knows? But I'm down a total of 5 this year, 10 to go before I am back to my pre-holiday weight.

Latest Finished Shawl - Hexy

Sometimes I think I should change the name of this blog to "Crochet in the Swamp". It has become my main hobby, and other than my family or neighbors, who else am I going to show my lovely yarn works to?

This is the Hexy shawl by Cheri McEwen one of the many designers at It's a very easy pattern, it's free and the resultant shawl hangs nicely on the body. I used 3 colors of Caron Simply Soft in plum perfect, pistachio and dark sage. After wet blocking it I used my iron to steam the yarn, aka "killing" the acrylic yarn so it does not spring back into it's original shape, in other words, the yarn is no longer stretchy. Took me about 2 weeks to make, while making 2 other shawls at the same time (still unfinished) working only in my spare time.

First photo is the blocked shawl, second before pinning/blocking and killing. I know you can't really tell the difference in size but the finished shawl is about 4 inches longer and 10 inches wider than the pre-blocked one. I had to estimate the pre-block dimensions based on the table top size. For some reason I usually forget to measure till after it's pinned to the blocking mat.

I am calling it Hexy Purple Irises. At the moment I'm keeping it for myself.
Hexy 27" by 65"
~23" by 55"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Luna's a Bit of a Klutz

I'm not actually sure how she does it, perhaps it's her Labrador exuberance but it seems every few weeks she damages some part of herself. Last month she strained/sprained her right front outside toe. Last year her other front leg was lame. Two separate times she jabbed herself in the belly while running through the woods. That last one has a permanent scar on her right hip. And of course, as a puppy she got stung by yellow jackets, ripped a read toenail out and tried to eat a poisonous mushroom. I'm sure there must be others I've forgotten over the past 8.5 years.

Last week she and Ziggy were racing around on our usual walk through the swamp and though I didn't hear a squeal this time, next thing I knew there was a cut under her left eye bleeding rather profusely. I blame Ziggy's teeth, he gets a little rambunctious when wrestling. I just let it bleed a bit and let it heal on her own. She'll probably have a little scar but I am sure she doesn't care.

I snapped a photo a couple days later. It's just a thin black line now.
Luna's Boo-boo

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Hal looked up how to attract them this week and learned that putting grape jelly in an emptied half of an orange rind will work. So Sunday night we ate a couple of oranges by scooping out the orange, and the next day he put up a pole with a 2 by 4 with a couple spikes and 2 halves with some Smuckers grape jelly. And 24 hours later, there they were! We couldn't believe it! Fourteen years here and we've never seen one, and less than a day later, there's a couple males and at least one female. I managed to snap a few photos through the window this afternoon, and here is the best one.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Haunted by Weight Gain - But Now There's a Plan

It's warm out again, 66 already today whereas yesterday didn't quite make 49. I went for a dog walk with my usual corduroy pants, a long sleeve cotton shirt (at least major sweater season has been over) and a wool shawl. Too warm! I had to come home and find a t-shirt, jeans and drop the shawl entirely. Have plenty of short sleeved shirts, the problem is jeans. At the end of summer last year I bought a few pairs of jeans and some capris all in size 12. I can't fit in them. Those 15 pounds of holiday fun have made it impossible. Plus some of my size 14s sit too far below the waist so I have the dreaded muffin top look. Crap.

I've got one pair of 14s on now that fit pretty well and minimize the muffin top look as much as possible for a waist band that sits below the navel, and found a couple of other pair that I hope will work when I try them on later. It seems impossible, around here anyway, to buy jeans any more that don't sit low on the hips. It's one of the reasons I had to stop buying my favorite corduroy pants from JCPenney, they made the rise even lower and seem to want to fall off. I bought 2 pair about the time JCP went nuts with their "new plan" (since failed, people love their coupons) and returned the one I didn't wear because they felt ridiculous. Haven't worn that other pair more than twice.

These past few weeks I've been trying to lose weight, as has Hal, but we seem to have better luck talking each other into having one more scoop of ice cream or opening that bag of chips. I had lost 3 pounds but know I probably gained those and more back in the last month. Guess my heart just wasn't in it. But a few days ago things changed. I do not know exactly what but it's almost as though my brain had a sea change. I'm tackling portion control. I was cooking a cup of rice with dinner. That's a cup of cooked rice per person. I had dropped it to 7/8 cup, then 3/4. Technically, that's still a lot of white rice and it's full of starch, carbs and calories.

When I was downstate visiting Hal's sister a few weeks ago I ordered fish and rice at a restaurant. I did not get more than probably 1/2 a cup of rice, and it was enough. Had one of those cartoon light bulbs go off over my head. So about a week ago when I made fish I cooked only 1/2 a cup, so we each only got 1/2 a cup. Dinner was good and filling anyway. I actually cooked 12 oz of fish that we split instead of 1 each, sure a few more calories, but less than the rice we would have before. Those fish were only 70 calories each.

Another day I made meat and rice burritos. We were eating 2 each and feeling bloated at the end. Instead I made one each. We were satisfied and happy. A couple days ago I made a Mexican bean, rice and duck casserole. We ate less than we normally would, maybe a little more than we should have though. It's not easy changing bad habits. But this is the way it's going to go from now on, I hope, less food especially of the carbohydrate kind.

It also means no ice cream, fewer cookies, one or two biscotti with tea rather than 3, that sort of thing. And we are eating lots of fruit. Raisins, tangerines, oranges, pineapple. We've probably been doing this faithfully about 5 days now. I don't see a difference yet (I do plan on weighing myself this week to see where I am starting, oh boy) and I am going downstate for Memorial Day weekend and that will undoubtedly throw a wrench into things, but if I try harder (and now it feels like I can) maybe a couple months from now at least the muffin top will be gone.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Free Ranging and Flowers

No, in this instance one does not have anything to do with the other, I'm just posting more daffodil photos and chicken photos. I've been free ranging the chickens and guineas almost daily in the past couple of weeks. I let them out usually between noon and 1 pm that way most of the eggs have been laid in the coop. Oddly though I am getting fewer eggs per day. it's possible a hen or two is hiding her eggs but as I have more than I can use even when giving them away I'm not going to worry about it. So far I haven't seen signs of foxes or hawks, but Ziggy spends most of the day outside with them so that probably helps.
Is he trying to impress the guineas? They'll have none of it.
Big Blue is everywhere, doing his job
All my daffodils that are going to bloom have bloomed. Have a whole bunch that didn't. I don't know if that means they need fertilizer or perhaps I need to dig them up and separate them? (Ha, I just read that some of the newer varieties, Ice Follies for example, of which I have some, bloom less and less over the years due to weaker genetics. I wonder what kind I should buy to avoid this?)
various daffys
salome, if it was shady they would be pink
a nice double daffy
Yes I like daffodils, I should definitely get more. But now it's time to walk the dogs.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Salix discolor

I took this photo back on April 29th but didn't realize that my SD camera card was not in the camera. It was saved to internal memory which I couldn't access till I found the cable to connect to my computer a few minutes ago. I don't think I've ever used that cable till today. Not a bad photo for a closeup while holding the camera away from my body. A nicer day would have been nice as the sky is washed out but then there probably wouldn't have been any water droplets with a blue sky.
click on photo to enlarge
Most of the p-willows have gone to seed now but they were pretty while they lasted.

Leaves are slowly unfurling on everything else, the quickest have been the tag alders, the maple trees have dropped most of their red flowers. Normally their leaves would be popping too, but I think the cold winter may have delayed them a few days. In the past I've noticed maple leaves usually by the 15th. I'm pretty sure I read that trees leaf out more according to the amount of daylight than by temperature, but who knows? I am not a biologist. I am looking forward to them though.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


They're blooming with more on the way but here are two photos just because. I took them less than 30 minutes ago. Possibly the fastest I've ever posted a photo. Daffodils make me smile.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's May and it's Warmer

Yes it's warmer, with rain now and again and that's all I'm going to say about weather. I'm mighty sick thinking about it so I can only imagine my few followers are sick of reading about it. So I deleted my original paragraphs and instead will post a couple photos of my most recent shawl projects currently underway.

The first is a Half hexagon shawl called Hexy a free half hexagon pattern I am working up in acrylic worsted from Caron, their Simply Soft line. It's easy and I intend to make it big.
The second is called Lagniappe (pronounced lan yap) and is going to be first shawl with fringe. This pattern is also free and available at I think you have to join ravelry though to get the pattern. (joining is free) I highly recommend. that site to anyone who knits, crochets, weaves or spins. Last I heard there were over 3 million members. That's a lot of people.

I had a hard time choosing the yarn colors for this. The yarn I had originally bought together thinking they would look good in a shawl, gray, black and a variegated gray/black/lavender looked
great in the store but looked not so great put together at home. I blame it on the fluorescent lighting. So I had some left over red from previous small projects and decided it went best with the gray. (Though navy would have worked, too) I had to go to the store and buy another skein of red and was very pleased I could match it exactly even though I bought the original skein at least 4 years ago. There is something to be said for a large yarn company and consistency.

This shawl is going to have red fringe, my first fringe, assuming I can master the technique. It supposedly takes a long time and eats yarn. The red yarn is also Caron Simply Soft, the gray is Bernat Satin. I couple more rows of gray and I'll be able to get to that fringe. It will be interesting.