Tag Archive | flowers

Day 17: I made

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I made an afghan! Last spring, Rana pointed out that, with the exception of the quilt on her bed and one sort of scratchy blanket, she only has baby blankets. Kind of hard to stay warm under a pile of tiny blankets. She asked me to make her an afghan that would cover her whole bed. I went through my pattern books and marked a few that I would be willing to make. I had just come off the dog afghan and I needed something a little bit simpler and faster after the intensity of that project. Rana chose this afghan which is featured on the cover of my “Wishes and Wonders” crochet book.

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The pattern is simply named “Hearts and Flowers,” by Katherine Eng. Rana said that she liked the colors in the photo. As you can see, however, that’s not how it turned out. When I was buying yarn, I remembered it as more green rather than teal. Rana was gracious and told me that she liked it anyways.

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When I’m not crafting…

…I’m probably gardening. My frequent long gaps in blogging this spring have been mostly due to me taking advantage of every scrap of nice weather to get outside, clear land, hoe, weed, lay a brick border, plant, and then tend to said plants. We had a couple of areas alongside our driveway that, according to the landlord, had been gardens at one time, but they were completely overgrown with grass and weeds. I dug all that out.

It only took me and Mr. Gren about 15 tries to get that arch to stay up. Sugar pumpkins planted at the base of the far side and cantaloupes (transplanted from my compost pile) planted at the near base. Also in these beds on either side of the walkway: zucchini, cucumber, nasturtiums, marigolds, tomatoes, and basil.

It only took me and Mr. Gren about 15 tries to get that arch to stay up. Sugar pumpkins planted at the base of the far side and cantaloupes (transplanted from my compost pile) planted at the near base. Also in the beds on the right side of the walkway: zucchini, nasturtiums, and marigolds.

To the left of the walkway are cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds.

To the left of the walkway are cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds.

Continuing down the driveway, four pots of cherry tomatoes

Continuing down the driveway, four pots of cherry tomatoes. There actually are plants in there, but they’re puny.

Another arch for field pumpkins at the upper end of the driveway.

Another arch for field pumpkins at the upper end of the driveway.

To the left of my field pumpkin arch: lettuce, rainbow carrots, finger carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, a variety of herbs (few of which have come up; I'll to try again), and nasturtiums.

To the left of my field pumpkin arch: lettuce, rainbow carrots, finger carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, a variety of herbs (few of which have come up; I’ll have to try again), and nasturtiums. Also, a mole hole. Also, also, please excuse my ugly assortment of boards and newspapers — I was killing weeds.

There was another little bed in the backyard that had been aggressively taken over by periwinkles and weeds. As nice as periwinkles are, they had to go before they encroached any further on the backyard. I dug each one of those out by hand, hand-tilled the dirt, and let the kids plant some flower seeds there.

Lots of little flower sprouts. I can't wait to see it in bloom!

Lots of little flower sprouts. I can’t wait to see it in bloom!

I cleared and dug out another small patch below our oak tree for peas and radishes that don’t mind the shade.

I was worried about the squirrels digging up this plot, but instead it has been the moles!

I was worried about the squirrels digging up this plot, but instead it has been the moles!

And I planted lots of flowers, both in pots and in established beds around the yard.

Some flowers in pots (none blooming yet), plus four more containers for pear tomatoes.

Some flowers in pots (none blooming yet), plus four more containers for pear tomatoes.

These were getting scorched on the front steps, so they got moved to the back deck. Represented are alyssum, freesia, impatiens, English daisies, and some others I'm forgetting.

These were getting scorched on the front steps, so they got moved to the back deck. Represented are alyssum, freesia, impatiens, English daisies, and some others I’m forgetting.

My success has been mixed. The squirrels found it great fun to dig up the bulbs and seeds in the pots on the steps or, finding nothing to their liking, just knocking over the entire little pot in a cascade of dirt. Moles are churning up my main flower bed where I had daffodils, freesias, and a mix of shade-tolerant flowers to the point where I’m not sure if anything is going to live long enough to bloom there. The moles have also come up through the radishes, in the middle of the yard, and over in my main garden amongst the cabbages and beets. It’s maddening.

Ok, moles, now it's getting personal.

Ok, moles, now it’s getting personal.

But enough about the varmints. I hope that in a few weeks, I’ll be able to post some “after” pictures with more flowers blooming and more vegetables beginning to grow. if I’m silent on here, you know where I am…

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Sweet alyssum

Paint a pineapple pot

Have you ever grown a pineapple?

I have to admit, the notion had never crossed my mind until reading a fantastic little book that I found in the library this past spring. I enjoyed this book so much that I even bought a copy for myself.

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Yeah, I know it says it’s for grandmas and I am a long ways off from being one. But the ideas in here are so fun, I didn’t feel like waiting around when I can do them with my own kids. There are so many sweet ideas, many of them somehow related to gardening or the outdoors. Rana and Granota have had a lot of fun building a variety of fairy houses all summer out of pieces of bark, moss, acorns and whatever else they can find in the yard. I really love how the book encourages creativity and an appreciation for nature.

One of the long term projects is growing a pineapple plant. You start with a fresh pineapple from the store which, of course, you get to eat, so even if your plant goes kaput, you really haven’t lost anything. Before slicing into your pineapple, however, the first thing you need to do is carefully twist off the top bunch of leaves. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Remove a few of the lower leaves until you can see little brown dots in the nub of flesh; those brown dots are where the new roots will sprout! Then stick your pineapple top into a jar of water, making sure those little brown dots are always submerged. After a few weeks, you’ll have some healthy pineapple roots swirling around in the water.

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At this point, the plant needs a permanent dirt home. I bought a large terra cotta pot for the job, but far be it from me to just leave it plain. I dithered around for awhile, trying to decide how I wanted to decorate my pot. Finally, I got inspiration from an iron-on transfer book I have (does anyone still use those?). Obviously, there will be no ironing on a terra cotta pot, so I got my pencil and freehand drew the pictures I wanted based on the ones in the book. It was a nice way to spend a hot summer day, sitting out on the porch, soaking up the vitamin D and being artsy.

The painting itself took place over the next week or so. Believe it or not, four kids provide plenty of interruptions. Who knew, right? Sometimes I sat out on the porch, sometimes I moved in to my sewing room if it was too hot, but all the while surrounded by my brushes and paints. Those were happy moments.

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There are two large flowers and two birds encircling the pot

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Flower #1 didn’t turn out quite as I had envisioned, but I like the colors

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This side is my favorite

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Now my pineapple has a fun and pretty place to call home. And now you want to go buy a pineapple.

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Pop of color

The thing I love best about living in the Pacific Northwest is all the green. Green everywhere! It’s my favorite color. Green ferns, green firs, green moss, green grass (if you’re lucky enough to have grass), green clover… But even for someone like me who loves green, all of that green can get a little overwhelming. So when the rhododendrons start blooming, seeing another color is so refreshing!

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Some green, just for good measure.

Some green, just for good measure.

Open letter to residents of the Pacific Northwest

Dear PNWers,

I apologize for making lightweight, summery blouses this week. See, I got all excited with the recent sunshine and light breezes and remembered the springtimes of my youth in Colorado. It’s a fascinating place. It has what we call “seasons.” I know, right? It’s not just a myth! There really are places out there that experience different kinds of weather at more or less predictable times of year.

Well, you’re right, we have predictable weather, too, and I suppose it could be argued that we have something resembling seasons. Y’know, Rain and Not Rain. And when the sun came out last week, I suppose it goaded me into thinking that perhaps we were on the verge of Not Rain (even though I know intellectually that Not Rain doesn’t begin until July). I got out the floaty, flimsy fabrics and scared the sunshine right off.

The appearance of flowers is the only way we can tell the difference between Rain in October and Rain in April.

So now I know what I need to do. I need to go back to making sweaters. I know that will mean that my wardrobe will be off-balance, but for all the rest of you pasty (and sparkly?) PNWers, I’ll do it. I’m just that kind of person. Besides, I’m cold most of the time, so I can handle wearing a sweater in 70 degree weather.

So, when the sun comes out, enjoy (don’t get burnt), and think of me. Knitting sweaters.

Yours truly,

JenGren