The Start of Summer

Technically, Summer officially started on June 22nd. I had been informed of the fact and even subjected to a brutal heat wave. Still, I refused to welcome Summer in. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I bought blueberries.

 

OK. So, we live in an era where seasons hardly matter anymore. One is no longer restricted to purchasing and eating fruits and vegetables based upon when they are harvested in his/her little corner of the world. Somewhere else, it is warm and sunny.  

Yet, there are specific fruits that I refuse to eat out of season; blueberries, strawberries, and apples are top on that list. I think part of my philosophy stems from the fact that since childhood I associate fruits with a particular season. More accurately, I associate a season with particular fruits. I look forward to each season with the glee of a child waiting to open a present.

I was thrilled yesterday to find blueberries in the grocery store. Not just any blueberries – blueberries grown and harvested in our neighbor state, New Jersey.

The best way to enjoy fresh blueberries is with heavy cream poured over top of them.

Delicious.

Yesterday was made even better by our mini-trip to Saint Peter’s Village. Piney, my secret pal from Summer of Love swap, had told me about it. It’s only 15 minutes down the road.

Though I have no pictures of the little town, I do have pictures of our booty.

Inside Dan’s bag are two chocolate coated pretzels.

My bag is better.

Dan said he should steal a truffle or two from my bag just to teach me lesson about how to properly label bags. Not funny.

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Never Ending Mulch Pile

I bragged to my neighbor that my mulch pile would be gone by Monday. It was my 2nd mistake. My 1st mistake was ordering 7 yards of mulch last month. What was I thinking?

I have laid it everywhere I can think of:
the garden that wraps around the entire house,
the garden bordering my neighbor to the left,

The path in between the house and the garden to the left:

the garden bordering the my neighbor to the right,
the sunflower bed behind our firewood pile,
the veggie garden, 
the two trees and two saplings in front of our house,
and the garden behind Henry’s tree.
(After listing them all, I’m starting to think … perhaps … we have too many garden spots).

Even my neighbor has taken a few wheelbarrows of mulch to use in his garden.

And still I have a pile of mulch sitting in my driveway.

I’m beginning to hate the sight of it. Do you think anybody would notice if I set it on fire?

Speaking of my veggie garden, my strawberries are growing!

I have come to the conclusion already that I will not be making strawberry jam from any crop I receive out of the plants. They are too tasty. I can’t seem to stop myself from eating them as soon as they have ripened.

Shiny New Car

The plan was to drive our our old car, a ’98 Honda Civic, into the ground. We made it to 190,000 miles.

When Pottstown’s local Midas mechanic informed me that it would cost approximately 1 thousand dollars to repair all that was wrong with it (back suspension, broken motor mount, and broken hubcaps) and receive the state inspection sticker, I told him not to bother. “Kindly give me back my broken car” I said. Surprisingly, he was relieved. The mechanic confessed he was going to try to talk me out of sinking more money into the ole Civic.

On Friday, we went car shopping at Car Sense. Dan has already narrowed the choices down to a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry, since both have excellent reputations for longevity and reliability. We test drove both. And by ‘we’, I mean Dan test drove the cars while I played with all the buttons and gizmos in the passenger seat and back seat.

Our old Civic didn’t have any buttons outside of the AC/heat and the radio. To let the fresh breeze in, you had to manually hand crank the window open.

By the end of the evening, Dan and I couldn’t agree. I liked the Accord. The Accord, being a Honda, felt more familiar. Additionally, it had less automatic buttons (i.e. less things that can break and require repair). Dan liked the Camry because it was a smoother ride.

Guess who won?

Dan got his 2006 Toyota Camry.

He was right. The Camry was a smoother ride and we drive a LOT. Our closest friends and relatives are an hour away (which equates to a 2-hour round trip). Other relatives are much further. It is more important to be comfortable in the long rides that it is to buy a car for its familiar environment or to worry about the buttons and moon roof that might break.  

WWKIP Day and Slow Service

There is nothing wrong with my computer. The problem lies with my Internet provider, Comcast. We have a high-speed cable connection though you wouldn’t know it these past few days. On Monday and Tuesday, I was certain I had a dial-up connection. Yesterday, I couldn’t connect to the Internet at all. Today, it is still splotchy, but greatly improved. I can only load one site at a time, but something is better than nothing.

Though it was frustrating to be barred from the internet, it did allow me to complete a task I have been procrastinating about. I completely rebuilt the charts in my Christmas Tree Skirt pattern so that they are easier to “read”, adhere to industry standards, and look more professional. My eyes were starting to cross towards the end, but I am pleased with the way they turned out. Here’s a small and abbreviated snapshot of the chart for the white tie.

Because of my Internet service troubles, I was not able to share with you pictures of what I did on WWKIP (Worldwide Knit in Public) day. So, I’m late coming to the Show off your WWKIP Pictures party.

Knitting at Spinnerstown Hotel & Restaurant, Spinnerstown, Pennsylvania:

A closer shot of the good beer: Scotch Silly.

Dan would like to make a notation. He asserts that I cheated. He states that I only started knitting at the table so that he could take a picture of me. Once the pictures were taken, I promptly tucked the i-cord back into my purse so I could concentrate on the good beer and good conversation.

I defend myself by pointing out that I put enough foresight into the occasion so that I was properly prepared with both a knitting project and a camera. Besides, it will have to do. I was not about to drive a hour to the nearest WWKIP event in Philadelphia. Gas prices are high here too and Philadelphia is too far away to bike to.

Computer Woes

I have been battling computer problems for two days now. I’m not certain that I will be able to post this little blurb or not. I was shocked when I could even get onto WordPress. My server freezes or shuts down altogether when visiting Ravelry, Etsy, Blogspot, Bloglines, etc. Hopefully, Dan will set everything right tonight. Though the new light fixture hasn’t been hung in over a year and I imagine another year will pass before it does get hung, computer problems never last longer than a week in our house.

Not much was accomplished this weekend. I did a minimal amount of cleaning before our friends stopped by for a visit on Saturday. On Sunday, I ripped out ever more grass in our yard and laid ever more mulch. I would have thought by now that I would have used all the mulch up. No such luck. Everytime I look out the kitchen window, I can see the remaining pile of mulch, mocking me. Perhaps out of pity or out of a desire to see the pile gone, my neighbor has offered to lay some of the mulch in his yard.

In knitting news, I might have solved the mystery of how I was going to decorate the white ties in my tree skirt. My solution involves i-cords.

Finally, pictures!

Still … there is something missing. It needs some more bling. I’ll keep playing with it.

Remember the 19 skiens of wool hanging to dry in my basement? They finally dried all the way through. I have would them into pretty yarn cakes.

Just two more white ties, 5 more i-cords and a bit of bling to make before I can start on the cabled jacket.

Summer of Love, part 1

When I signed up for the Summer of Love swap, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never participated in a swap before. I understood the concept. I was to send yarn to a person randomly chosen by the organizer and a different person, whose name shall remain secret until the end, was going to send me yarn. I thought I would receive two skeins of yarn – maybe three. Tops.

When I opened up the package today, I was stunned.

I literally sucked my breath in and stared at all the lovely packages in the box without breathing. Then, I giggled with joy and ran with the package into my office/craft room so I could take pictures of everything.

7 packages! Woo!

Like a child at Christmas, I started tearing into the packages.

In the order I opened them:

Malabrigo! I’ve heard so many great things about this yarn. I’ve wanted to knit with it for a long time, but could never decide on a color.
My Secret Pal, named Piney – I really doubt it’s her real name, chose Yellow. It matches my living room walls exactly. So, of course, I have plans to make it into a pillow.

Then, more Malabrigo! This time in red.

Though I never wear the color (I have red hair and am careful to keep the red family away from my face), I love to knit with it. It makes me think of apples, tomatoes, and my sister. She always looks stunning in red. Whenever I knit for her, I use red.

Next, I opened up a package I presumed to be a book. Sure enough.

It is an excellent reference book for knitters, filled with techniques, stitches and guidance. Often I find myself searching the Internet for the correct way to execute a certain stitch. It will be handy to have such a book in my library.

Then, I opened up an odd shaped package to find this:

Ribbons! You can never have too many ribbons. I plan to use this collection for embellishing cards, gift packages, and sewing projects.

Next, lovely, green, embroidered fabric, that unfolded into this:

It is as light as feather, made of 100% rayon. An excellent summer shirt.

My next to last package contained … Beads!
Now I’m no stranger of beads. I use seed beads in many of my knitting and sewing projects. Yet, Piney didn’t send me sead beeds. She sent me fancy beads.

Aren’t they beautiful?! I especially love the carved wooden mini cuffs.

Lastly, more Malabrigo in green!

This yarn I will use for me. I’m envisioning a new wool scarf and hat.

Thank you so much, Piney! I am overwhelmed by your generosity! I love it all. Thank you! Thank you!

Now, because I am still a bit giddy, I am off to update my stash and library in Ravelry.

A Spindle for me and an AC for us all

My new spindle arrived on Friday! My knee jerk reaction was to rip the package open and extract my new toy. Yet it was received in such pretty wrapping, I couldn’t resist taking pictures to show you.

Wrapped in Merino roving

Spindle wrapped in Silk roving

Spindle assembled
It’s another Turkish spindle, of course.

The stats:
Purchased from Jenkins Woodworking
Hand crafted by Ed Jenkins
Made from Asian Satinwood
1.2 oz.

Another picture because I think it’s so pretty

The first thing I had to learn was how to accomplish a half-hitch knot. Between Dan’s book on knots (Don’t ask me why he own a book on knots. I really couldn’t explain.) and Spindlicity’s step-by-step instructions, I finally got the knack down. And I was off!

The second thing I learned was that I need more practice spinning. Finally, the last tidbit I learned was that silk was awfully slippery and not something to meddle with while still learning how to make a half-hitch knot.

Still, all these little setbacks and learning experiences did not dissuade me from spinning. The brutal heat did.

Our old air conditioner died at the end of last summer. Since Fall was starting and cool days were upon us, we didn’t bother to replace it.

Saturday, with the heat index over 100 degrees F, we made it a priority. We tore out the old one and installed a new one. When I say ‘we’, I really mean ‘Dan’. Dan did the lion’s share of the work. I merely helped move the old AC, oh, maybe a total of six inches. Truly, I don’t know what he would do without me sometimes.

Our new AC:

Jake after his daily walk on Sunday morning:

He’s no fool.

Baby, It’s Warm Outside

Though not official until June 20th when the solstice will occur, Summer has started to strut her stuff.

My roses are blooming.

The Fancy version:

The Wild version:

I don’t need my garden to tell me it’s starting to get hot outside though. The sheer fact that I can no longer knit in the front room of my house (living room) without my hands getting sweaty is proof enough. Because all my current knitting projects use wool, I have relocated my knitting materials to the back room, the guest bedroom.

Year-round, it is the coolest room in the house. It is shaded by two trees and the L-shape of the kitchen. In the winter, we avoid the room and even shut it off from the rest of the house. In the summer, when not sitting underneath the air conditioner watching baseball, Jake can find us either in the back room or in the basement.

As you can see from the picture, I have started on the last handspun tie for my Christmas Tree skirt.

Yarn and Fasting

Do you remember me telling you about the sweater jacket I had knitted, but hated to wear? I frogged it some time ago. This weekend I finally reskeined all the wool.

It took several hours. I had knit the jacket with two strands of yarn held together. So, first I had to separate the two strands and then I had to whirl them up on my umbrella swift. If ever I have been grateful that I purchased the swift so many years ago, my gratitude soared this weekend. If I had been required to wrap the yarn around a chair, I think my arms would have fallen off and my mind would have followed them.

Most of the advice I had read in the past advised me to simply steam the skeins. But, I had 19 skeins. I couldn’t even imagine how long it would take me to steam 19 skeins individually. Needless to say, I didn’t steam them. Rather, I gave them a good soaking and used my washing machine to spin the water out. It worked like a charm. They were hanging in my basement (laundry room) to dry in the course of 20 minutes.

Two days later, they are still drying, but I am in no rush. I still have a Christmas tree skirt to finish knitting before I can starting dreaming of my new sweater jacket. Since I first frogged the original sweater, I have been hunting for a replacement pattern. I found it a week and a half ago: Louhi by Tuulia Salmela (Ravelry link).

As adorable as Jake looks in the picture above, he is causing me grief. Periodically, he decides that rather than eat his Eagle Pack dog food, he would prefer to live off of dog biscuits and peanut butter. Mind you, on a typical day, he might get one small biscuit from the mailman and one large biscuit from me. He receives a kong filled with peanut butter as a bedtime snack. An 80 pound dog cannot live off of 2 dog biscuits and a scoop of peanut butter. It simply isn’t possible. Yet, Jake is a stubborn dog. He waits until he is famished with hunger (approximately 2-3 days of not eating) before he caves and starts eating the oh-so-boring-but-nutritious-and-hearty dog food.

We rescued Jake 2 years ago. He is 5 now. We have done this fasting dance at least 5 times. My will is rock solid for the 1st day. I truly believe that Jake will simply eat at the next meal. After Jake has gone 3 meals without food (breakfast, dinner, and breakfast on the 2nd day), I start to lose my resolve and slowly crumble into a half-crazed (frustrated, bewildered, and worried) woman. Hand feeding doesn’t work. Switching the dog food does work (as I learned the 1st time we went through this), but I prefer to not take that route. Experts say that switching dog food every time a dog decides he no longer wants that particular food will create a picky eater. The goal is to NEVER have to do this fasting dance again.

Now, true, it is summer and Jake doesn’t eat as much food as he does in the winter. Rarely do we do this dance in the winter.

It’s times like these I really wish I could talk to my dog. Although, I imagine the conversation would go something like this:

Jake, you need to eat something.

I don’t want to eat dog food. I want a tasty treat instead.

Jake, you can’t live off of dog treats. It’s not possible.

I don’t care. Treats taste better than dog food.

Well, you have a point there, Jake. Still you need to eat ‘real’ food.

I’m sorry you are upset, but I’m still not eating that.

Yep. Sometimes words aren’t necessary.