Monday, November 08, 2010

end of fall

We've had our first hard frost here. We thought about covering sensitive plants. And, in fact, we did cover them for one of the freezes. But, the added week wasn't worth it. (The large bowl is filled with mostly green tomatoes. To the side are a couple eggplant and another tomato.)

So, all the members of the nightshade family are gone from the garden now -- tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. What's left is broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I'm amazed that the broccoli is still bearing. And, I'm told that sprouts shouldn't be harvested until after the first hard frost -- which may mean I should harvest them now --. But, since the broccoli is still bearing, I'll wait.

I haven't decided whether to turn the tree leaves over into the garden or rake them out. We did remove all the tomato vines and eggplant and pepper stems.

I think the only kind of tomatoes we'll plant next year will be Big Boy tomatoes or something similar. I found that I really don't care for cherry or roma tomatoes. And, we'll probably not plant Brussels sprouts. The plants sort of took over the garden. Maybe, we'll plant cauliflower instead. If cauliflower is even half as good as the brocolli we had this year, I'll be happy.

We went to see the "Lion King" in Chicago on Saturday. The play was fantastic! Somehow, we'd never gotten around to seeing it before. And, the theater is was playing in was fantastic, as well. The Cadillac Palace Theater was built in 1926 and still has a lot of the gorgeous ornateness of that period.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween

We had 219 Trick-or-Treaters come to our house yesterday. (The official hours were from 2 to 6. The last 2 came at 6:05.) My DS2 wore his bunny hat, which he knit himself, to hand out candy. His hat was a hit with just about everyone who came to the door. (The only exception was one 2- or 3-yr-old who was scared of a tall bunny-like creature handing out candy.)

The bunny hat link (above) tells which patterns we combined to produce the hat and why he decided to knit it in the first place. (And, as you can see, it fits over his glasses. It would be pretty hard to play a video game in the mask if it didn't.)

edited (Jan 2011) to add link: speed demos charity marathon January 6 - 11.

We handed out candy from a multi-bag, actually several. The kids mostly liked Hershey's, Reese's, and KitKat -- but not Almond Joy or Whoppers -- which is all right with me. Almond Joy is my third favorite candy. (Snickers is my favorite. Hershey's is my second favorite.)

We were one of the least decorated places in the neighborhood. This is the most decorated place. At night, there's even a ghostly apparition in an upstairs window. It took them over a week to complete the display.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Destiny Fair Isle hat

Since the new season of StarGate Universe is about to begin, I thought I'd design a hat with the 9-chevron address to Destiny. It also has the word "Destiny" in Alteran. Here is a picture of the star at the top of the hat. And, here's a link to a side view of the hat.

I'd designed a hat with a couple addresses from Stargate SG-1 in March 2009 -- using the glyphs and addresses from RDAnderson.com as a guide. The new hat is a lot like the previous one but with a few changes, including a different star on top -- which took a while to design.

Getting the address and glyphs for Destiny required a little research. First of all, I rewatched "Air". Then I looked at the Stargate Wiki for the full address. Unfortunately, the first glyph, Libra, looked slightly different in "Air" than in the wiki. (After deciding to use the one from the episode, I "needed" to watch some SG-1 episodes to check out the other glyphs. "Prisoners" had the best selection of glyphs -- which meant comparing the addresses in "Prisoners" to the addresses from the Stargate Wiki to get the final version of the hat.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

trip to Ohio

We took a trip to Ohio this past weekend -- actually from Sunday to Tuesday. It was fun to travel by car. Our last car trip was to southern Wisconsin (and a tour of Jelly Belly).

On the trip, we saw our first wind farm (in Indiana). There were several miles of windmills on either side of the interstate. They were facing several different directions. Some were moving and some weren't. We assume that changing wind directions was the reason that the windmills were facing different directions. (We also made the obvious remarks about looking for someone tilting at windmills.)

We stayed at the house of a couple friends of ours. And, we, of course, went by to look at our old house -- which looked good except that the garage door needed staining.

The evening before we left for Ohio, we went to a performance of "Annie, Get Your Gun" at Ravinia. We got tickets at half price because of fallout from the only other performance we'd all been to at Ravinia -- a selection of Sondheim tunes that was cut short because the donors had a banquet prepared that might be getting cold. The first act of the play lasted longer than the whole Sondheim show! -- Now, if Ravinia could just get a better sound system.....

We're starting to get tomatoes from the garden now. The Romas were just so-so, but the Better Boys were as good as I remembered! And, we're still getting broccoli from the garden!

I'm knitting Kingsgate again, this time with Knit Picks Gloss DK and in a smaller size (the size my DD wears). Kingsgate has been tentatively accepted into Knit Picks independent designer program. (Gloss is a pleasure to work with.) And, I've seen what a difference advertising makes. Ivywild was featured by Knit Picks, and sales really took off.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cardinal flower

My garden is doing well. The broccoli is bearing so well that I've frozen a lot of it. And it's still bearing a little. It's delicious! It's so delicious that I can't stand to eat broccoli from a store or restaurant. They're only a poor imitations.

The picture at the right is of some cardinal flowers planted outside the stone garden.

The Brussel sprouts haven't started to grow anything but the smallest of sprouts yet. The plants themselves are just getting bigger and bigger. (Sprouts grow at the base of leaves.) We'll probably grow cauliflower instead next year.

We won't get any fruit off our apple or peach trees this year. I think chipmunks ate them all while the fruit was small. Our neighborhood coyote has diminished the chipmunk and squirrel populations quite a bit, but there are still some around. (It's too bad that most people, including us, keep our pets inside or on leashes most of the time. Otherwise, we wouldn't need coyotes to keep down the rodent population.)

We haven't gotten much in the way of tomatoes yet.

My DH assures me that the jalapeño and habanero peppers are doing well. In fact, he says that the jalapeños are hotter than in previous years when I grew the plant in a planter.

Our first eggplant ripened. And, I realized that I have no idea how to cook eggplant. I muddled my way through cooking it -- and have no idea why people like eggplant. My best guess is the nicotine.

We went to Sam's Club on Saturday -- the first time we'd been to a Sam's Club since leaving Ohio. (They had a non-members weekend for back-to-schoolers.) It was so nice and the people so friendly that we got a membership. Our main purchase there was a new Kodak printer. The HP printer we got a couple years ago never really worked. We could never get it to print in color for more than half a sheet of paper. I'm really happy about the new "toy".

We went to Six Flags in Gurnee that evening. It wasn't our best visit. First of all, I couldn't take my small shoulder pack (containing just my pass, phone, glasses, and a book) on any roller coaster rides. I had to pay $1 to store it -- I guess so they could make extra money. It wouldn't have been so bad if there hadn't been a lady about 10 people ahead of us in line for one of the roller coasters with a bigger backpack -- and if we hadn't been bitten by mosquitoes while waiting in line.

I've got quite a bit of knitting and writing up of patterns done in the last few weeks. Here are some colorwork socks designed by Chrissy Gardiner for Ravelry's Sock Knitters Anonymous. And, yes, I know they're in reversed colors. I haven't decided which version I like better. In any event, they're warm and no one will see them inside boots.

And here's a link to my Diamond Spiral socks. I couldn't decide which version I liked better and so ended up making (and designing) both.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

mid July

I've finally got back into knitting again -- thanks to this cute Ribbon Hat pattern by Brandee Fondren -- which I test knitted. I hadn't felt much like knitting or crocheting since mid April. But, now it's fun again.

Instead of knitting and crocheting, I read the complete Harry Potter series. My kids had all read the books when they came out, but I hadn't read them at all until now. The only one that I didn't like, which really isn't part of the series, is the Tales of Beetle the Bard. I generally like reading fairy tales, but the small book was simply boring.

In the last week, I was able to come up with a new crocheted daylily pattern -- which I like much better than the one I had posted earlier.

I'm working on a pair of socks for my DH -- which I need to finish soon since his birthday was earlier this month -- and a colorwork sock. The colorwork sock is from Ravelry's Sock Knitters Anonymous.

My garden is becoming a summer garden now. The tomatoes are taking over with pole beans not far behind. My broccoli is mostly done for the year. But it did produce so much that I'm beginning to get tired of broccoli even though it's really delicious and so much better than what one gets in stores. (I've frozen a lot of it.) I don't think I'll grow Brussel sprouts next year. They're just now starting to produce sprouts, and the mother plants are crowding out other plants. The peppers have started to produce peppers.

I've also planted some eggplant -- even though I have no idea what to do with eggplant. I do vaguely remember my BIL making some delicious eggplant curry. My family thinks my sudden gardening interest may have something to do with Farm Town and Farmville. My planting eggplant definitely has something to do with those Face Book games.

I have no idea why my radishes didn't do a thing. I didn't think there was any way radishes wouldn't do well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a thermocouple

The internet saved us money Sunday. The pilot light on our gas water heater went out. So, we went to the internet, just as we did the last time that happened, and watched a couple of videos on how to relight a pilot light. This time the pilot light went out as soon as the water heater was turned on. So, we read further and discovered that the trouble might be the thermocouple.

We bought a new thermocouple (less than $10). Then after watching a thermocouple installation video a couple of times, we got it in place. The water heater works now!

My birthday was last Sunday. Here are the flowers my eldest sent. I also got some chocolates, another Dresden File book, a William Shatner book, and Bill Bryson's Made in America -- which I'm now reading. I never knew that Squanto had lived in London (mostly involuntarily) before meeting the Pilgrims.

On the knitting front, I've got two sweater patterns for sale now: Ivywild (on the Knit Picks website) and Kingsgate (on the Ravelry website). Ivywild is a very short sleeved summer yoked top. Kingsgate is a scoop-neck raglan pullover.

Ivywild is a long time in the making. I'd made a similar pullover for myself back in 2007 -- Festive. It has an i-cord edging. But, an i-cord edging proved too heavy for anything other than acrylic yarns. So, when I was redesigning Festive for a cottony yarn and for multiple sizes, I finally came upon the solution of using lace edgings.

Kingsgate was even longer in the making. I'd made Smocked out of some fingering weight yarn in 2006. I'd been thinking about redoing it in heavier yarn and in multiple sizes for a while. So, I started to knit up Kingsgate -- but didn't think the smocking would look as good in a DK weight yarn. So, I worked a different pattern on the sleeves and lower garment. Kingsgate has a double uneven rib on the center of the sleeves and on the skirt. It also has a fake waistband. Kingsgate and Smocked have the same neckline.

---- Kingsgate can be made up into Smocked with no adjustments in stitch counts for sizes S and L. For XS, M, and XL, one needs to increase (or decrease) 4 sts just after starting the lower garment to get to the multiple of 8 necessary for the smocking pattern.

On another note: My eldest has a blog on the World Cup in South Africa -- which I highly recommend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

hosta

hostasIn the last few days, we planted some hosta - 3 Twilight and 3 Halcyon - to go with some hosta already planted in our front yard. The hosta already there (green with white margins) never did well. But, they were never cared for properly. They didn't get enough water. Plus, the bed gets afternoon sun. However, the Chicago area is often cloudy. So, I hope that, with regular watering and fertilizing, the plants will thrive. :)

The other plants in the pic are daffodils and tulips.

I was wondering whether we needed to buy more but then read up on hostas and discovered that they can spread out to over a yard wide. So, I may need to rethink the placement of the plants. .....

rose of sharonBut, I enjoy replanting. Our most recent replanting adventure was a miscellaneous shrub that was being crowded out by an evergreen tree on one side and shrubs on the other. We thought there was just one plant there, but there turned out to be 5. I was worried that it might be a weed. So, we went to Lowes and scoped out the garden shop. It turned out to be Rose of Sharon -- which will be perfect for where we ended up planting it (before we even knew what it was). It's a handsome plant!

We also bought a cage for one of our tomato plants (the Better Boy). The tomato doesn't even reach the bottom rung of the cage. But, from past experience (in NC), it will soon be there and more. It has its first blossoms.

The radishes are starting to get to be a decent size now. The apple tree has several small apples. The broccoli is almost ready to eat.

My filbert nut trees are doing ok. One is doing really well. The other was broken off near the soil line. So, I put a milk jug around the 2 of them for protection. The coyote that roams our neighborhood has taken care of most of the chipmunks and squirrels. But, there are still a few around to cause damage.

I haven't been doing much knitting or crocheting. But, I have got some reading done. I'm now on my next-to-last Harry Potter book. (The kids have already read them.) I'm reading the American version. When I'm done, I'll probably start on the British version (which my daughter brought out for me on her last visit.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

my mom

My mom passed away this past Saturday. She was 93. She'd been living with us for the past 4 years.

Here's a picture of her visiting us back in 2005 when we lived in Kent. We lived in Thanet near Botany Bay and so took a lot of walks along the beach. She really enjoyed the walks.

She had quite a life. She was born on a farm in Iowa and taught country school after graduating from Teacher's College.

Then, when World War II started, she decided to leave Iowa. She traveled to Colorado with a girlfriend and worked as a civilian employee of the Air Force. She didn't know anyone there, but she did meet her future in-laws. She met my dad after he returned from the war.

One of her goals was to visit all 50 states -- which she did. She also traveled to several foreign countries -- Mexico and Canada, of course, -- and also England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Egypt, and Malta. Of all the places she'd been, Colorado was always her favorite.

She never ever "got" jokes. We'd tell her a joke, and then she'd ask "and then what happened?" I was never sure whether she didn't get the joke or was just joking on her own. But, she did like to joke around a little -- sometimes pretending she didn't know who you were.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

a garden!

We have a garden now. It's the first time in quite a few years that I've had a place to grow vegetables. In fact, it's my first real garden since we left NC.

We had a nice garden in NC. In the spring, we grew broccoli. In the summer, we grew tomatoes, strawberries, beans, cucumbers, potatoes, and even okra. I never had any success in Ohio. And, after that, the only things I grew were herbs.

Now, I have a raised garden -- built by the people who take care of our lawn. They designed it to be in the shape of a leaf. The base of the leaf is to the right. It has Brussel sprouts and broccoli in it now (plus snapdragons and Dianthus). I've seeded some lettuce and radishes, as well. Later we'll add tomatoes and hot peppers.

edited: When they became available in the local stores, I planted peppers (1 habanaro and 1 jalapeño) and tomatoes (1 Husky cherry, 1 Better Boy, and 2 Roma).

They also fixed the drainage problem in the back of the yard. During heavy rains and snow melts, we had a little stream running through the yard. They put in an underground drainage system and then reseeded. So, finally, we'll have a lawn back there instead of a swampy area.

The replacement Filbert nut trees from Arbor Day are doing well. They're starting to leaf out.

It's been a beautiful spring here. We've even had a few 80 degree days to melt all the snow away.

almost forgot.... We bought a Red Haven peach tree this spring. (Last year we bought a Winesap apple tree.) We also bought a raspberry bush and a blackberry bush. We may "have" to buy a blueberry bush. I think the one we bought last year didn't make it through last summer.

I enjoyed the small (6-tree) apple orchard that came with the house we rented in Lidingö. I wish I knew what variety they were. But, the one Winesap apple we got last year was even tastier.

Fruit and vegetables (except for bell peppers) are so much better when home grown. Plus I enjoy growing things.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Happy Kazimierz Pulaski Day

Today is Pulaski day in Illinois. (It's celebrated on the first Monday in March. Somehow, I missed that it's a holiday here until this year.)

While living in New Jersey, we drove over the Pulaski Skyway a few times. It was an exciting adventure each time. ;) --for those who've driven over the skyway

coneflowerThis is the first year for my participation in Ravelympics. I had the great idea that I would finish the Panama shawl I'd been working on. (It had been sitting idle for a while.) But, a few days before the end of the Olympics, I realized that there was no way I was going to finish in time. I still had a whole skein of yarn (440 yds) to go.

So, I decided to publish a crocheted flower pattern. I had worked up a pattern for a pansy a while back but didn't want to publish such a short pattern. So, I worked up and published patterns for that and 2 other flowers (one of which is at the right) -- just before the closing ceremonies of the games. I assume that I received a medal for publishing the pattern but have no idea how and where. But, the important part is that it's at least published.

This year, I'm keeping up on the Monthly Dishcloth KAL on Yahoo! (The background for the flower is the back of the mid-February dishcloth.) I've promised myself not to start the March dishcloth until the shawl is done.

I'm also halfway through knitting a summer sweater for myself. (---a couple other reasons for not getting the shawl done.)

There's still a lot of snow on the ground here. Our yard is blanketed in snow -- with some drifts (courtesy the city) around 5' high. This is the third year in a row that the area has gotten over 50" of snow for the season (which has happened only once before in over a hundred years) and the seventh snowiest winter on record. This is our third winter here and, it seems to us, the mildest. On the other hand, the snow did melt off during each of the previous winters for a few days. This winter has had a continuous blanketing of snow. But, at least, it hasn't been as bad as in some parts of the country.

a miscellaneous comment: Killer whales are dolphins, not whales.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snow

We got about a foot's worth of snow here (north of Chicago) yesterday. A large February snow is unusual for Chicago. It took my DH a couple of hours to use our snowblower to clear the driveway and walks last night. That's the trouble with living in a corner lot.

The streets, even the side streets, have been cleared by the city. They didn't start clearing the side streets until late last night.

It's the first major snowfall in about a month. We've been getting less snow than usual this season. I figure that the president took the snow we should be getting with him to his new address. ;)

Evidently, there was an earthquake west of Chicago early this morning (around 4 am). We didn't feel a thing. Of course, I can sleep through anything. However, nothing seems to have moved in the house.

On the wildlife front, I had to laugh after the last snowfall we had. There was a squirrel trying to jump on top of the railing on the deck. He couldn't make it because there was about 6" of snow on top of the railing. A few days before, we saw a couple of foxes walking across the back yard. They were beautiful -- and looked well fed.

I have 3 patterns for sale now at Knit Picks. To the right is one of them -- Feather Lace. It's the second sock I ever designed. The first one was just a basic sock. Both were created because I have trouble finding socks to fit my narrow feet and high arches. Another one is Crossing Paths. Both are in multiple widths from small to large. And finally, there is a pair of socks that I made for my DH for Christmas -- Mock Argyle.