May 28, 2010

ECF - Japanese Iris Edition

Hello, my name is Hillary and I am addicted to irises. This is yeat another one that I recently added to our garden.

Have a great weekend!

May 27, 2010


Between the rain and general busyness it's been a while since I was able to spend much time in my garden. Last night I finally had a few free minutes and look what I found!


Way down deep in the heart of this broccoli plant I think I see florets. Since I've never grown broccoli before I really don't know what to expect but I think those are the start of florets. I cannot wait to eat home grown broccoli.

While I was out there exploring the new developments I noticed pretty purple flowers on my sage plants. And they were attracting bees. I was amazed at how easy it was to get this picture with the bee in it. I guess that he was so into that sage that he didn't even notice me.


Believe it or not I still have several seedlings to plant so after taking the pictures I did a little weeding to prepare an area for my green pepper plants... and I brushed up against a yellow jacket. Thankfully it was way more interested in my potato plants (and I don't blame it for that because they're goreous) than my arm but it still hurt. It was less of a full blown sting than a get out of my way peck but it still hurt a lot.

Stinkerbelle was a fantastic nurse and after some Advil and ice I went back out and planted 12 green pepper seedlings. The garden waits for no one!

May 26, 2010

Circle Of Life

A week ago, as I was watching the late news, I heard a report that made me stop in my tracks because I recognized the name. They were talking about a cousin of mine. He wasn't a close relative - I hadn't seen him in years - but he was family. In fact, he and his wife were the only family we had in the area when we moved here and they were kind and welcoming. As time went on life got in the way and made the distance between our homes in Virginia and Maryland seem to grow but I still thought of them and hearing what happened to Rickey was awful.


Rickey's death would've been upsetting even if I didn't know him because I too am a Metro rider. Every day I ride the Metro and over the past week I've felt acutely aware of just how alone we all are as we commute to and from work which is weird considering how packed those trains can get. People get on and off immersed in a book, watching a video on a handheld device, checking their e-mail on a crackberry, or listening to music and never even notice who is next to them. It's kind of sad when you think about it. A man died on a train that was full of passengers and nobody even noticed. What does that say about us?


Anyway, on Sunday I went to pay my respects to my cousin and her sons. It was a hard visit but nice to reconnect after all that time.

Fortunately, the very next day the circle of life expanded once more as a close friend had a baby boy. The kippot in this post are the ones that I expect will be worn by Baby "J" and his big sister Miss "B" at his bris next week.


Unlike the kippot I made for the Bat Mitzvah, these were made from cotton embroidery thread (#5 I think). I love colors that were available and the feel of it - nice and thick and soft. It's kind of hard to see in the pictures, but I incorporated a bit of gold thread into the yellow star on the blue kippah. I hope that they make the guest of honor and his big sister feel very special.

May 25, 2010

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Cook Out Foods

Now this is a topic I can really sink my teeth into especially since I'm planning our Memorial Day BBQ right now. I love just about everythng about BBQ's. Except the bugs - those I can do without quite nicely.

  1. Burgers - Can't have a cookout without them. Everyone does theirs differently. The secret ingredient in ours is onion soup mix but shhhh... don't tell anyone.
  2. Baked beans - I just love these.
  3. Potato Salad
  4. Cole Slaw
  5. Smores - We'll be eating these at our Girl Scout campout
  6. Margaritas - I'm soooo not a beer girl but a margarita or a cooler will do very nicely.
  7. Apple pie - Other fruit pies are good too but Apple pis is best - especially with crumb topping. Yum!
  8. Roasted Potatoes - I used to make them but now Stinkette insists on doing it herself.
  9. Pineapple on the grill - try it - it's delish!
  10. Steak - on the grill it's divine!

What are your favorites? Any tricks you care to share.

May 24, 2010


There is nothing about this weekend that was anything but exhausting - both mentally and physically.

Stinkerbelle and her friends had a wonderful sleep over. They ate and played and watched movies and had a blast. The best part was that the weather held for the party so they did all of their eating (and mess creating) on the deck.

The weather also held for Stinkette's softball game. Our team lost but my girls was pleased that she got a really good hit off of a pitcher who struck her out the last time.


Sadly the weather was full-on nasty at o'dark-thirty on Sunday morning when Stinky and Bruce ran the Girls on the Run 5k. Why, oh, why did they schedule it for 7:30 on a Sunday morning? I had to get up and out of the house at 6am on a rainy Sunday. Those are built for sleeping in! As you can see, Stinkerbelle and Bruce finished soggy but smiling.

May 21, 2010

ECF - Party Edition

Two weekes ago my girl turned 11 and this weekend she'll finally get to celebrate it with her friends. Naturally, she requested a cake and I obliged.


The funny thing is that I know from experience that the girls will be totally sidetracked by the sundaes and forget to eat cake. Too bad! It's came out really well.

May 20, 2010

Garden Report - May 20th

Aren't these blueberries lovely? Yeah, I didn't actually grow them for real. These are on one of 2 bushes that I bought this year. I'm going to plant these 2 and the original 3 in a new spot in the hope that they'll do better there. The reason I didn't plant them yet is that I didn't want to disturb the plant while it was producing berries.

It turns out that it didn't matter because the temporary home for these plants is right next to the bird house where the baby birds were. Duh! I hope that they enjoyed them.


Fortunately there are plenty of things that are growing well in our garden this summer and here's a peek at some of them.

This is broccoli. I know it doesn't look like it yet but the plants look healthy and seem to be growing well so I have faith that it'll look more broccoli-like soon.


Here's one of the plants that Stinkette is most excited about. Potatoes! We've got 4 plants in the garden and another 4 in a planter on the deck. For ages it seemed like nothing was happening and Bruce felt silly watering a pot of dirt but now they've sprouted into happy, leafy plants. Even if we only get a few potatoes it'll be worth it because the plants look so great on the deck.

Potato Plant

Here's the last on to share today. It looks a lot like the broccoli but it's different. Can you guess what it is?

Brussels Sprouts

It's one of my favorite veggies - Brussels Sprouts.

May 19, 2010

Dazzling Dozen Potholder Swap

Do you get random requests on Ravelry? I do. I'm not talking about friend requests. I love those! I get so many ideas about what I want to knit next by watching what others are doing.

What I don't enjoy is the queries about selling my stash. Especially when it's a sweater's worth of yarn I just bought. No, I bought it because I want it. If I was open to trading or selling it then I'd label it as such. It's just a nuisance. End of rant.

Another type of random request is the request to join this or that. Often I'm not sure who it's coming from or why but, whatever. I usually don't join... except for the Dazzling Dozen Potholder Swap. This one spoke to me.


The idea is that everyone is broken into groups of 6 or 12 and accordingly you knit a potbolder each month to send to the member of the month, except for when you're the member of the month and you get 5 or 11 potholders in the mail. I love having a reason to play a little with the crochet each month and not have to do one pattern over and over again. It's also cool that it's spread out over quite a while so there's no pressure.


This is the first one I made. I sent it out on time (just barely) and it was received positively. I used the Scalloped Potholder pattern for both sides. I'll try other patterns for other ones. It should be fun. Especially since it's using up tons of yarn scraps.

May 18, 2010

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Musicals

I am so totally infatuated by my garden this year. Seriously! Not a day goes by that I don't stop for a few minutes to check it out and see what's new. Imagine my surprise the other day when I noticed that my Heart of Darkeness irises ar blooming again. In this picture you can see the dead bloom in the foreground and the new one just opening behind it. So. Freakin'. Cool!


Today's Ten on Tuesday topic from Carole is 10 Favorite Musicals. By coincidence, Bruce got me tickets to the Tony nominated American Idiot. I love Green Day (and we're seeing them in August) so that will certainly make my list. Here are the other nine.

1. Hairspray - I saw this in 2006 during a fantastic girls weekend in NYC. It was wonderful.

2. Annie - I saw it as a kid and many times when DQ was little since she loved it. When she was little she listened to it every night when she went to bed. Every night! How fitting that the first musical she was a part of was Annie.

3. Mamma Mia - We saw this at the National Theatre in DC on Christmas Day many years ago as a family and loved it. So much fun.

4. Les Miserables - I would totally see this again.

5. My Fair Lady - My mom sent us tickets to see this at the Kennedy Center a few years ago. It was such a good time.

6. Spamalot - It's really exactly like the movie but played on the stage. Great fun.

7. Grease - We watched this on TV just last weekend for the zillionth time and you know what? It's still fun to watch no matter how many times I've seen it.

8. Beauty and the Beast - Both the movie and the broadway show. It was the first one we took DQ to way back when she was just 4.

9. Tommy - We were given tickets to this rock opera as a wedding gift and it was terrific.

... So what do my Heart of Darkness irises look like when they're opened. Here you go. They're hard to catch since they're so dark but this is a pretty good try.

May 17, 2010

Sun Block

If last week was a lost week then this past weekend more than made up for it. After feeling so awful all week I looked forward to 2 days of quiet and relaxation. I thought it was what I needed. As it turns out I was non-stop busy and at the end of it I feel super. My head is still not totally clear but my spirits are lifted so high that it almost doesn't matter.

Saturday started with Stinkerbelle's ball game. Her team played so hard and my girl was right there doing her best. At the end of the game we had the bases loaded with enough runs to tie or win and I heard one of the parents near me say that what we really need now is a "Daria Hit." My girl is apparently getting known as a power hitter. Even the coach of the opposing team noticed and told his players to move out further when she got up to hit. Sadly that last at bat didn't provide the monster hit we needed and we lost by 1 run but it still felt great.


What didn't feel great was my face and legs. I made sure that Stinky was sprayed well because she was going to be in the field but the sun block I refer to in the title isn't a lotion - it's a mental block. Apparently there is a place deep, down in my psyche where I believe that my skin is immune to the sun's rays despite all evidence to the contrary. I can't explain it but I'll be thinking about it all week as I try to camouflage my beet red nose and raccoon eyes.

The rest of the weekend was pretty good too, including the GS troop meeting at my house on Sunday afternoon. The girls had a great time on the deck doing mosaics on flower pots and a few of them sampled strawberries from the planter on the table. Everyone agreed that they were delicious. We were having so much fun looking at my Cake Wrecks book (good call Jess) that we nearly forgot to grout the pots.

I think that the good feelings may just take me through the next few days of rain.

May 14, 2010

ECF - New Peonie Edition

It's been an unexpectedly quiet week here on the blog. I tried to post on Tuesday but a nasty cold left me feeling so foggy and miserable that it was all I could do to get to work each day so that's where I focused the few brain cells that were still functioning. I'm feeling a little better now but and the prospect of a relatively quiet weekend is lifting my spirits.

New Peonies

This is a new addition to my landscape. It's a different type of peonie than the ones I already had. I love them and foresee many more peonies and irises in my landscaping future.

May 10, 2010

Blown Away Weekend

As I stated on Friday, aside from being Mother's Day weekend it was also a weekend to celebrate the birthday of my daughter Daria, and my sister Jess. We were fortunate enough to spend it together in scenic Wilkes Barre. PA. Woo hoo!

All joking aside, we chose the location because it was convenient for both families and not for the local attractions. If the weather has permitted we may have ventured out to see the local sites but it was cold and windy. Really, really windy.


The wind didn't stop us from enjoying the hotel pool (and hot tub) a lot. It didn't stop us from seeing Iron Man 2 either. Both were very entertaining and we all enjoyed then very much.

It did affect our celebration dinner a little bit. I had done a bit of online research and came up with a lovely restaurant with a large menu. It was on Lake Harmony - a mere 40 minute drive from our hotel. It was right on the lake and had it not been cold and windy, a table on the deck would've made the drive worthwhile. Sadly you can't control the weather. At least the food was good.


The weather and the evening sunlight also made for a great picture of my Stinkerbelle and her cousins. Well worth the drive.

May 7, 2010

ECF - 11th Birthday Edition

Today is more literal Eye Candy in the form of birthday cupcakes. Are you feeling the theme?

My sweet Daria is the apple of my eye. She's a loving and inquisitive girl who is so much fun to be with. She's an amazing kid who always makes me smile but she's never been more impressive than this year. My girl is a fighter who's learned to love to read despite the obstacles. Her talents as a softball player are beginning to shine too.
I love you more than all the blades of grass in the softball field where you hit those balls so hard.
It's also my sister's birthday and I love her very much too. We're so fortunate that this year my daughter and her aunt will be celebrating their birthday together!

May 5, 2010

Spinning Class

I'm glad I waited a week to write about the classes I took. If I'd have written about the spinning class I took at the time it would've been an unreadable mess because I was really on information overload.

My reasons for taking the Steek class can be summed up in 3 words - learn to steek. My reasons for taking the spinning class were less succinct. I'd heard that Judith Mackenzie McCuin was a great teacher and my spinning plainly sucks so I could use a great teacher. As a bonus, the class was called Sock Exotica and combining interesting and fibers with socks sounded cool as well. In other words, I signed up for the class on a whim.


What a class! We spend the day spinning all kinds of fiber while JMM talked to us about the origins of the fibers, the best way to spin them, and all kinds of fiber related subjects. A few took notes but most of us just listened intently. She is a font of knowledge.

From time to time she'd borrow one of our wheels to demonstrate one thing or another and while she did many of us would take pictures of her hands.

I should stop here and mention that I spent most of the day adjusting. First because, at her suggestion, I took my lace flyer out for the very first time. What a difference that made to my spinning! Second, I fought against my long draw instinct all day long. We were told that sock yarn and most of the fibers we were using should be spun worsted and I hadn't spun worsted in a very long time. The end result was some very interesting spinning.

So, when JMM asked to use my wheel - and my spinning - to demonstrate plying, t got a little interesting. That's my wheel she's using in the photo above. Every now and again she'd hit a wonky bit. By the third time it happened I was rolling. There is nothing quite like having your wonky bits exposed so publicly.


This fuzzy shot shows the plied yarn. Even with the occasional wonkiness it's really lovely stuff. It could be better but it could also be much worse like this stuff that I spun or finished right before class.


In the end, I had a great time in class and I think that my technique is improved. I also enjoyed class with Judith thoroughly. Her knowledge is encyclopedic. She even impressed DQ when we ran into her on Saturday and she told her about living in Forks and working on the Quileute reservation. I really hope that I have the opportunity to take class with Judith again.

You could say that I'm inspired to spin once again.

Steek Class

Last week at this time I was in class at Maryland Sheep & Wool. I don't know why I never took classes there before but, now that I have, I'm sure that this won't be the last time. The first class was Child-Sized Stranded Hat with Steek and Katherine Misegades was the teacher. You may not know her because she's rather new to teaching classes like this but she was a great teacher.

In all honesty, if we'd been given the job of knitting our sample as pre-class homework, the class could easily have been shorter and just as effective. But I enjoyed it very much as it was. It was the perfect excuse to sit and knit and talk about knitting all day. You can't underestimate the value of that in a busy schedule.


The reason I took the class was simple. Now that I can do colorwork that doesn't suck I'm eager to try more and steeking will open up many more possibilities. I'm not a big fan of sewing and I freely admit that although I own 2 sewing machines and I don't know how to use either of them. Never-the-less I was willing to attempt sewing for the sake of steeking.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the method she was showing us used crochet rather than sewing. Win!


My little mosaic shows the project after I finished knitting it, after I added the i-cord edge and crochet reinforcement, after I cut the steek and the completely finished project. I am very happy with the way it turned out. Even better - I feel like I'm up to trying a slightly bigger steeked project.

Katherine Misegades was lovely and a great teacher. She was very open and pleasant to talk to. She brought several examples of the project to show us and help guide us and even brought a sample that was ready to be cut so that we could try it on her work before cutting our own.

It was a great class which accomplished exactly what I had hoped it would. I'd do it again and I'd recommend it to you too.

May 4, 2010

Ten on Tuesday - 10 People You Would Like To Interview

On Sunday afternoon I relaxed in the garden. I pulled weeds and planted some of the seedlings. There are a lot of them so I hope to finish soon. I'll be shocked if we don't have a huge harvest this year.

Anyway, while i was working in the garden Bruce came out to help. He went to clean out the birdhouse and when he opened up the back of it he found it full of baby birds. Can you see them amid all the fluff? I didn't want to disturb anything so I just took a quick picture before he closed it up again. It's nice to stop near the birdhouse in the morning and listen to the tiny chirps.

Baby birds

So, it's Tuesday again and the topic this week is 10 People You Would Like to Interview and Carole specified that we're going for living people this time. Here goes:

1. Oprah - Who wouldn't want to interview her?
2. Tom Colicchio - after hosting Top Chef for years he's been named Top Chef for real by the James Beard Foundation. Imagine all that he could teach a foodie like me!
3. Johnny Depp - So cool
4. Diane Sawyer - Another woman I really admire
5. Judith Mackenzie McCuin - after class with her last week I'd say that she is endlessly interesting
6. Michelle Obama - She makes me proud to be a woman in America
7. James Franco - I was just reading about how he's enjoying life as a career student and that fascinates me.
8. Bill Clinton - For all his personal failings he is still so magnetic.
9. Hillary Clinton - It's not just because she spells her name correctly. I really admire her and think that she'd be really interesting.
10. Laura Lippman - I really enjoy her books and I'd love to ask her all kinds of things about her writing.

Of course you know that I'd never be able to interview any of them only because I'd totally freeze up and forget how to talk if given the chance. Just sayin'. Who would you interview?

May 3, 2010

Maryland Sheep & Wool 2010

If I had to try sum up Maryland Sheep & Wool 2010 in one word it would be hot. It was so freakin' hot this year that I felt like I would melt. It was so hot that even those die hards who wear 5 layers of knit in May - wore none. None! At best I saw a few scarves and shawls draped loosely around a few shoulders.


Too bad these poor Angora goats couldn't strip down. I bet they were hot.


As hot as it was, it didn't keep many people away. The place was so crowded. There were people everywhere and yet... I didn't see anyone I knew aside from vendors. So weird! Even stranger is the fact that the line for t-shirts was the fastest it's ever been in my experience. We spent less than half an hour in that barn. I couldn't believe it.


DQ and I wandered through the barns looking at everything and buying less than I thought I would. Perhaps I was distracted by the wheels. I tried quite a few of them including the new Kromski Fantasia (Like!), the new Majacraft Aura (very confusing), and a bunch of others.

Along the way, DQ started wondering what all the fuss was about. When we stopped at the Yarn Barn of Kansas so that I could try even more wheels, DQ asked Jim if he could show her how to spin. And he did.


Pretty soon she was doing it on her own. She spun even, she spun less even, she spun twisty, and she need help a few times. At the end she asked if she can try my wheels at home. She liked it. She says that she actually likes it better than knitting.


As Jim taught DQ how to spin a bit of a crowd formed and he demonstrated for that little boy too.


It was a very hot and tiring day but a really good one. I can't wait until next year.

I'll share my classes and what I got later this week.