A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Hello and greetings from a very warm and humid Midwest. It appears summer has finally arrived in full force and the AC is getting quite a work out these days. Saturday was a gloriously hot and sunny day and we found ourselves floating the afternoon away in a dear friend’s pool…..oh life can be so good!

I have finally finished up a few UFO’s (for those non-knitters out there…that is code for Un-Finished Objects) Most knitters have a few….. or a lot…it all depends on how many project bags you have to fill….

I quite literally have just needed to weave in two ends to this lovely lady but couldn’t bring myself to complete it until this weekend.

IMG_3047This was knit with what can only be described as the most expensive yarn I have ever bought. But…it is just so delicious I needed to indulge. The math behind how it switches colors confounds me as you start out with 5 stitches on your needles…and you end up with about 500000000 when you are done. And all along it just keeps changing colors at just the right time. Pattern was super duper easy…but the color changes provided just enough interest to keep me motivated. I can’t say this is the last time I will buy yarn from this lovely vendor…..

Next up was a shawl I had started awhile ago with no real person in mind to gift it to. Then I received an invitation to a lovely ladies 80th birthday party and knew exactly who I needed to finish it for.

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The technique is called entrelac and it is one of my favorite kinds of knitting. It is a little putsy BUT by the end you can call yourself a knitting super hero as you must learn how to knit and purl forwards and backwards …less you want to turn your knitting around 19603784y89 times…which is truly annoying. The yarn was lovely and squishy and the color changes were so fun to watch. I was so thrilled to tie it up with a bow and deliver to the lovely birthday girl.

And last but not least is a quilt that I was commissioned by my mama for a sweet girl yet to be born. It had been a long time since I had visited a quilt store and the girl, mom and I had a wonderful time grabbing bolts and planning out the colors in the shop. This gets sent with a hug and a kiss to the lovely mama in waiting. My hope is always that I receive a picture in 5 years showing it it in shambles…falling apart…but thoroughly loved by the little girl.

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And so dear reader I leave you with my view from the deck, my most favorite place on earth. And what are you working on this summer?

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A new sort of obsession

So around the ranch…we read……

We read a lot.

The hubby is all old school and goes to the library at least once a week. And by library…I mean libraries. He isn’t real particular…he has been to all of them. He has his favorites, which are actually about all of them. If we are on vacation, he makes sure we check out the local library. We are incredibly lucky in Dane County as just about every library has been renovated. And they are gorgeous…simply lovely buildings.

But me… I like Ebooks.

And now lately…I am obsessed with audio books……

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When we are children, we love having books read to us. When I was a child, our local library had the most wonderful librarian EVER. She could hold an audience of small children in the palm of her hand and you could hear a pin drop. She performed all the voices and made you not only love the stories but really imagine everything she was describing.

But then we grow up and we read on our own and (outside of a 5-6 year old learning to read) we rarely listen to books in spoken word.

Many many years ago I had a job that had me driving in the car a lot, and I remember listening to audio books and sitting in parking lots for large amounts of time not wanting to get out because the book was just SO GOOD! (OMG…try listening to Like Water for Chocolate and then try to work….nearly impossible)

But then, I forgot all about them. A few months ago on a whim I listened to a book…and well…it was all over. I just can’t get enough of them these days. I have mostly forgone listening to the radio if I am in the car by myself and plug in my phone so I can continue on in my book.

So far, I haven’t hit a dud…and I highly recommend the following:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-This is the book that got me hooked. Oh this is a great woven tale, and the readers are just so hauntingly wonderful.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed-I didn’t want it to end and seriously felt a hole when it was all done. I loved every minute of it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee-One of my all time favorite books. Have read several times, but am amazed at how much more you get out of it when you have to listen to every word. Regardless of intent, we skim when we read…and we miss out on some parts. When you listen to an audio book, you have to digest each word and it is just so magical.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson-One of my favorite books from adolescence and the reader of the audio version is just so captivating. Even got the boy to listen to this one and he loved it.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult-I never knew how interesting it can be to hear about elephant research. And by interesting, I mean riveting.

If you live in Wisconsin and have an active library card, check out the Wisconsin Digital Library. It is an awesome resource and totally free. The only drawback, you have to be open to the fact that you may have to wait to read or listen to a title (just like normal library)…and sometimes when it is available…you are not ready for it. GRRRRR!!!!

Also, I highly recommend wireless headphones. It is just so great to have my phone up on the deck, but I am able to mow the lawn or weed the garden or knit to my hearts content- all without cords in my way.

So dear reader….what are you all reading these days?? Please share!

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Please pass the coffee

Greetings from a hot and soggy Midwest. This past week brought us some severe summer storms that we were overdue in receiving. The much needed rainfall was a blessing but we also lost power for a few hours over the weekend. We have had such a busy week…I am just going to hop right into it.

First up, congratulations goes out to the boy and girl for completing their ‘real’ play production.  For the past month they have had daily rehearsals with the Lamppost Players rehearsing CS Lewis “The Horse and His Boy”. This was quite a production in that the play was 2 hours and all set changes, etc were performed by the kids. Our kids LOVED being a part of this and forged lots of new friendships. We foresee more play participation with this group in our future.

IMG_2948Next up, we had our nephew X for the whole weekend. What a wonderful time we had with him! He and the boy were just as goofy as could be and everyone had such a great time.

Weather was wonderful Saturday morning so off to the beach we went. Luckily we left at just the right time and somehow drove around the storm and missed it altogether, though were greeted to no power when we returned home.

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Avert your eyes from the extreme pale flesh in background….

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Fish on!

There were of course certain things our nephew requested since his brother got to do them last month….one of which was the requisite making of s’mores. He didn’t quite get the full experience as everything was soaked outside….so we nuked ’em in the ole microwave. Not ideal….but tasty and messy nonetheless.

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Sunday also brought my sissy and our adorable niece. We woke up to blue sunny skies and much more tolerable temperatures, so off we went to the Madison Zoo.

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Was a great day of animal watching and kiddo snuggling.

And with all this rain and sunshine…here is a quick check in with the garden.

The scarlet runner beans have officially reached the top of the obelisk and are reaching well beyond. The dragon tongue beans are just about done, though we still are coming in with a handful here and there. We thought the peas were done, but gathered a nice bowlful and snacked are way through them. I have a feeling that will be about it for the peas this season.

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Tomatoes continue to grow like crazy and we have popped a few in our mouths that have ripened. Hubby and I had to stake and tie like crazy this weekend as they have grown so tall and are so heavy with fruit. We constructed what is now affectionately referred to as the “tomato bra” to provide support to those lovely ladies. More planning is needed as we have this ‘problem’ every year and need a better trellis!

IMG_2981Last year I now recall stating we needed to build a “viney” box in the back of the yard…which was forgotten of course. Now I remember why we need this…as we now refer to the 3 pumpkin/squash plants as the monster taking over the backyard. The vines extend every which way but we see lots of delicata squash developing so we hope we have a big yield this year.

IMG_2983And finally…the sunflowers have finally started to bloom. One can only actually see them when standing on the deck as they now tower over 10 feet!

IMG_3008It was just such a wonderful weekend…but seriously….pass me some more coffee….

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Secrets Revealed

Greetings from a muggy, humid Midwest. We got some much needed rain early this morning but boy oh boy it is also very very warm…..otherwise known as a double deodorant day!

This past weekend found the family engaging on one of our most fun (and secret) pastimes. Oh we have let a few people in on our little secret, but mostly we keep it to ourselves.

Here it is….

Our family LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS attending Catholic church festivals.

I know what some of you are thinking….but……ummmmmmm……you’re not even Catholic…..not even a little bit…..

I KNOW! But gosh darn it, the Lutherans just don’t throw festivals like the Catholics do!

What is even more quietly noted…..almost admitted in a whisper….we are on the mailing list for the Catholic Herald! (so we can plan our schedules around all the bazaars!)

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Seriously, we are happy to donate to all of these churches just so we can participate in all the fun. The kids love the games, the hubby and I love the book fairs and farmers markets and rummage sales….and we all love the bake sales!

Throw in a silent auction and you can just about guarantee it is on our calendar!

Throw in a polka band and a keg of beer cooling in the shade….well you can be darn sure we will be back next year!

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So there you have it….our little secret…and the reason most of you can’t get a hold of us Sunday afternoons!

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Poppies=Happiness

Greetings! Hope you are all enjoying your summer so far. Of course in the Midwest ole Mother Nature keeps us guessing as to what the day may include. So far it has been on the cooler side, but we have had a nice mix of rain and sunshine so the garden is just bursting. Everything is green and lush and we are already enjoying the bounty of yum yums we can pull out for dinner.

The peas are just about done, though we are still getting about a handful every night. The beans just started up with gusto and it is going to be a great year for beans.

We were introduced to ‘dragon’s tongue’ beans last summer by a local farm and they were the first on my list for the yearly seed order. They are bright green and purple and cook up to be one of the tastiest beans ever. I would love to can up a bunch of dilly beans, but I doubt we will have any left as everyone loves eating them….Next year I predict an 8′ box of just beans!

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Last year I planted zinnias for the first time and was amazed at how fun they are. Having cut flowers all around the house was so wonderful, so I planted them all over the place this year. It will be a bit yet before they take off but the set I planted from seed is going to be spectacular.

The surprise of the year has been this little packet of wildflower seeds I bought for 10 cents on a whim from the hardware store.

IMG_1094I had no idea what was going to germinate yet alone flower, and it is a surprise every morning when I go out to let the hens out into the yard to see what has opened up.

And this morning I was greeted to…..

a POPPY!

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There are lots more pods ready to open and I just can’t explain how happy that made me at 6 am!

I also planted two rose bushes for the first time and one bloomed just in time for the girl’s birthday….

IMG_1102Everything is pointing to this year being a bumper crop for tomatoes

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Say hello to our neighbor!

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There are sooooo many tomatoes already on the vine…but temps are going to need to heat up considerably for these beauties to ripen. I believe we have close to 30 plants and all but 5 were started from seed and it is just so exciting to see the science experiment actually work for once!

And let’s not forget about the deck…….

Ahhhhhh…the deck…..it is just lovely right now

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This past weekend we got the yard all spruced up for the girl’s birthday party…and it was just the perfect day for a party.

There were of course cousins by the dozens

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And a twirpy brother

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And one very happy twelve year old

Nadia 12 bdayHope you all are enjoying everything summer has to offer!

Posted in Around the House, Victory Garden | 2 Comments

Where has the time gone?

Hello and greetings from a weird Spring in the Midwest. Only in Wisconsin can you consider turning on the furnace and the AC all in the same week. This past week we had threats of frost, followed by crazy thunderstorms and are now in 80+ degrees with extreme humidity…and mosquitoes are out in force already.

All that aside, the garden is thriving and flourishing like you wouldn’t believe. We thought we had made a very grave mistake by planting so early in May, given the out of the ordinary cool temps. But by some strange fate, the plants are growing by leaps and bounds.

I took some pictures 3 weeks ago and it wasn’t until I compared to pics I snapped this week that I got a full understanding of how well everything is going.

Here is the tomato box/cut flower box a few weeks ago:IMG_2629 And here is it now…some of the plants are actually past our knee already. Plants in the front of picture were started from seeds in March…woo hoo!!

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Here are the beans a few weeks ago (don’t cha just love those Obelisks the kiddos and I built?)

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And here are the beans all crazy high:

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The onion and garlic box are just overflowing with bounty and we find ourselves putting chives and scallions on just about everything these days.

See that little yellow tractor down in front? That is just the bees knees! We can set up the hose in whatever pattern we need the water to go and the ‘rain train‘ follows along and keeps the water down near the roots.

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Remember those chairs that needed painting? Well, the boy and I got that done this past weekend and they look awesome! (can you spot the hen taking a bath?)

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And the deck isn’t looking so bad either. I even sewed new chair cushions this year…complete with zippers and everything (my first foray into zipper land wasn’t nearly as scary as I had thought it would be…ahem…thanks mostly to my very own zipper spirit guide)

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We also ushered the boy into double digits….(how did THAT happen?!)

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And found ourselves with a nephew for the weekend

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It turns out, the BEST JOB you can give two young boys is fishing out 1000 worms so you can reap your first harvest of worm castings. Is there an easier way to do this? Yup…but they declared it the best job EVER!

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We’ve even had a few rousing games of horse shoes

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All in all…this is shaping up to be one whiz bang summer!

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Girl Power

Greetings from a perfect Saturday afternoon…..

I woke up this morning with a spring in my step and was driven to complete one of our many many yard projects.

You know it is going to be an interesting day when by 10 am I had already been to the hardware store three times……Sigh…..

The hubby has a big big cooking class that he is getting ready for so I knew I had to tap into the kiddo resources to get the project done.  The boy was off doing his own thing so it was time for some GIRL POWER.

I called the girl at least 72 times before I got home so she could have all of the tools out and waiting and finally we got started.

We have wanted to fence in our garden a bit differently as our current setup, while very effective at keeping out the chickens, made weeding/planting absolute back breaking work.

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The girl was an awesome partner. We broke out the maul, some power tools and donned our new leather work gloves.

By lunchtime…we were done!

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And now we can garden a bit easier…..

fenceLet the garden season begin already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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