Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Heart of Flame

We have a zoo membership to the local zoo and as much as I love the antics of the animals and listening to the keeper chats (seriously, Cyra can give her own keeper chats about the bald eagles and has, on many occasion, corrected zoo visitors she overhears talking about the eagles. Obnoxious, yes. But also so freaking cute).

But the zoo is also a botanical garden and every spring the gardens burst with such fantastic colors and flowers, I often spend more time taking photographs of the flora rather than the fauna.

This past weekend, the girls and I went to the zoo with Cyra's Girl Scout troop. Ashleigh and I lagged behind quite a bit and often got sidetracked which happened to be a very good thing because otherwise I would never have found this:

This is a Heart of Flame. It is a South American flower which is weird because it was planted in the Africa section of the zoo.
And it is so very orange!

As a new gardener, I am finding that I am more fascinated than I ever was by flowers. And I must have one. Or three. Or twelve. They make me smile all over my face they are so bright and orange and cheerful! And also slightly pointy and spiny.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Made It Monday

For this week's project, I was inspired by Carly over at A Sewcial Life. One of the few crafty bloggers I follow, her crafts are very folk artsy and whimsical. Recently, she posted about a summer scarf she made with this fantastic fabric she bought in India. I love scarfs but as a winter necessity. I had never considered them to be summer accessory.

In any case, in an attempt to utilize my excessive stash of yarn, I decided to make a summer scarf out of a light weight 100% mercerized cotton. I choose an open weave/mesh pattern called "honeycomb." It was a relatively quick project and I probably spent about two hours on it over the course of a few days.

People Love Me...

...and I feel like a complete heel.

So blog awards have been floating around and I've actually been tagged by a number of people and I never properly responded. So today, I'm acknowledging the love and giving it back. Sorry it took me so long.

First, way back when, Pickleope tagged me with a trio of awards, the Liebster, Kreativ Blogger and a quiz. I started off strong and then promptly got swept up in the Photo a Day and A to Z challenges. I was supposed to also tag others and list ten things about myself that were super top secret. Pickleope is one of my earliest followers and consistently makes me giggle and you should visit if you haven't yet. Plus, I think I might have inadvertently caused Pickleope to have arachnophobia and snort milk out of her nose once (do pickles even have noses?) so I sort of feel bad.

Then Ruby at Whispering Thoughts and Fuchsia Vision tagged my with a Liebster which I never properly acknowledged. Whispering Thoughts is a sweet blog and Ruby posts short stories there - often participating in Trifecta challenges. On Fuchsia Vision Ruby posts a lot of great photos! She is one of my early followers and always make such positive comments. I am a little concerned for her though...she once mentioned she had a monkey problem in her garden! And I was worried about aphids and pickleworms!

Melanie at Sporkin' On Down The Road gave me a Liebster too. She has fast become one of my blogger BFFs and if she lived in Florida or I lived in California we would totally hang out and she would cook fabulous food for me (not that I can't cook fabulous food. I do. Often. But she totally has an adventurous side to her food of which I am in awe). Plus she sent The Girls and me some radical wallets. Just Because! Who does things like that anymore? Her blog is very down to earth, honest and funny.

Finally, just the other day, Ken at ken-inatractor sent a Kreativ Blogger my way. Ken, a Canadian farmer who likes killing moose (or at least likes taking credit for moose slaying) and picking rocks, has quickly become on of my favorites. His posts are sometimes sweet, sometimes quirky all the time well written and awesome! And he once promised that he would ask his wife if they needed an Underwife (because I want to be a farmer's wife and Scott doesn't seem too interested in becoming a farmer) but I never heard back from him on that...odd, right?

So first up the Liebster.  

Liebster is the German word for beloved / dear / favorite. the Liebster Blog Award is "passed from one blog to another to honor smaller blogs (those with less than 200 followers) that deserve recognition for their fabulous blogging abilities."

The rules: 
Thank your Liebster award presenter on your blog.
Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
Reveal your five picks.
Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okey Dokey.

I did the link backs above, so a big thank you to Pickleope, Ruby and Melanie. You guys are great! Fantastic even! And I really appreciate the recognition (despite the fact that it took me a bit to actually acknowledge the recognition).

And for the Kreativ Blogger:

The Rules
Thank and link back to the awarding blog.
Answer seven questions. (Note - When Pickleope gave me this award there were different questions which I did answer here)
Provide 10 random factoids about yourself.
Hand the award on to 7 deserving others.

 Again, the link backs are above so a huge thanks to Pickleope and Ken for sending me an award!

The Seven Questions:

#1. What is your favorite song?
 I really don't have a favorite favorite song. I cycle through. I have a terrible fondness for 80s Monster Ballads and Rodgers and Hammerstein Musicals.
#2.  What's your favorite desert?
This is an unfair question that is probably a trick question designed to make me reveal a weakness! But I don't have any weaknesses unless you count tapioca, cake, custard, frozen yogurt, cookies, cupcakes, truffles...anything with sugar or chocolate or caramel or... Is it any wonder why I need to lose weight? Nope. It really isn't. 

#3. What do you do when you are upset?
It depends on what you mean by upset? A pissed off upset sends me to my room or as far away from the cause as possible. I am non confrontational and do not like to fight because I start to cry. Am I upset because I broke my favorite mug? I yell. Loudly. And curse without any profanity. Am I upset because Florida drivers give me road rage? I seethe and fume until I erupt (regardless of who is in the car) with sailor talk the likes of which should only ever be said on the docks.

#4. Which is your favorite pet?
Currently or ever? Currently, it would be Zoe because she is such a cat, but rarely has hairballs like her sister Simone, and she is never freaked out by everything like Junie. In fact Junie is probably my least favorite pet although she has taught me a valuable lesson: I should never own dogs. EVER!! My all time favorite pet was Precious, a beautiful grey cat we had while I was growing up. Or Abraham, a pit bull that had a heart of pure and solid gold! Or maybe Buddy my turtle. Man! This question is like asking me which kid is my favorite!!

#5. Which do you prefer, White or Whole Wheat?
I like both. Seriously. Weird, right? But yeah. Breads of all types are equally loved in my house. 

#6. What is your biggest fear?
Sharks. Zombies. Aliens. Bigfoot. The Dark. Growing Up.

#7. What is your attitude mostly?
I try my hardest to always have a good attitude. I try to look on the bright side and try to not let little things bug me.

Ten Super Secret Facts (but don't tell anyone! Okay?)

  1. I’ve come close to death twice. The first time brought me one of my greatest joys: Ashleigh. The second time was far less pleasant.
  2. When I sit, I curl my toes under my feet instead of having my feet flat on the ground.
  3. I joke about it, but I really am terrified of aliens. The idealist in me hopes that if aliens came here they’d be benevolent like E.T. or Vulcans. But it is more probable that they’d be out to conquer and destroy.
  4. My favorite painting is Flaming June by Frederick Lord Leighton.
  5. I cry every. single. time. I watch Lilo and Stitch because I love my sister.
  6. I am so terrified of becoming a hoarder I throw things out and donate stuff all the time.
  7. I used to bite my nails but I stopped and now when I am nervous or upset, I pick at my cuticles. Sometimes until they bleed.
  8. I only swim in the ocean when there are plenty of other swimmers and surfers in the water because I figure my odds of getting bitten by a shark are greatly reduced.
  9. I spent three plus years working to save enough tickets at an arcade with my dad to get a stuffed 20 foot long pink snake. I slept with it curled around my bed for years until I outgrew stuffed animals and it ended up in the basement being used as a home for mice.
  10. I was six credits shy from earning a double BA when the financial office met with me and informed me that I had exceeded my lifetime Stafford Loan limit and I had to graduate or come up with my own money to continue.
Bonus Facts: I can recite The Jabberwocky from memory, my favorite class in college was Milton and I have never, ever had a leech attached to me for any reason at all.

And these are the cool bloggers I am tagging for both awards:

Meg at Tales of a Half Crazed Housewife
KC at The Occasional Adventures of a Hermit
Charlie at The Semi-Retired Gamer
Valerie at Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi
Jamie at Awakenings and Reflections
Carly at A Sewcial Life 

And finally Sara at A Bend in the Road 

If giving blog awards is like tag then it means there are no tag backs. Stupid rules. But even so, I also think Pickleope, Ruby, Melanie and Ken deserve lots of love so go visit them too!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Photos

Recently, one of the churches in town hosted a carnival. Not realizing how ridiculously expensive carnivals now are, we went. Not much has changed at carnivals since I was a kid. Creepy toothless carnies trying to convince you to play a game, deep fried everything, crowds and of course, rides. Rides that spin you in circles so fast it makes you feel like your head will pop off and your stomach will forcibly rip through your abdomen to save itself...

Rides that I will not ride.

Like teacups...only cuter, right?
As much as I love pirate ships...nope! Not going anywhere near it.
Sure, I want to be spun around while nearly upside down!
I am not even going to discuss the aptly named Zipper. I wouldn't ride it when I was a teenager no way would I ride it now!
This looks innocent enough. Like a giant swing, that flings you in a circle 100 feet above the ground.
The girls went on this mini roller coaster like ride. Go forward in a circle very fast and then go backwards...even faster.
There is a reason why the DOT strongly recommends NOT getting into head-on collisions. But sure, lets make a ride out of CAR CRASHES!! The girls went on this one too. After the first ride, neither of them wanted to go on another ride that spun them in circles.
Ah. The iconic Ferris wheel. So very....circular...
If you hadn't already guessed, I get motion sickness so easily that watching these rides made me queasy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Who Needs A Truck?

I do. Seriously and for real. Need a truck.

I was only able to fit two in the back seat and I need at least four! By the time I got back to the store that gave them to me for FREE the other two I wanted were GONE!!

I bet someone saw me joyfully cramming pallets into my car and they were all like "HEY!! Let's ruin that lady's day and take the other ones BEFORE she comes back! Bwa ha ha!! That will keep her from ever being able to complete her awesome pallet project!"

My project, by the way, is indeed totally awesome. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

June Fun

You know how sometimes you participate in daily blogging challenges for two months and then you stop, cold turkey? At first you feel all relieved, like "Whoa! Am I glad that's over! Now I can take a break!" And then maybe a few days later you feel kind of...bored...lost...sad...that you don't have any challenge in your day? And then, desperate to relieve the agony of boredom, you comb the web looking for some kind of fulfilling thing to...you know...fill your time with? Then one day, out of the blue you get an email in your old email in box that you still occasionally check, just for giggles, and low and behold, you have been invited...or should you say begged...to participate in this year's Camp NaNoWriMo by one of the very awesome head honchos over at NaNoWriMo.

And then? Oh Joy! Something to challenge you! Something new and exciting! You message a few friends asking them if they'd want to go to Camp NaNoWriMo with you and they say, "Yes!"

You wake to a new day, creative juices gurgling around in your belly and brain and suddenly last week's Cracked articles take on a whole new meaning. That tiny idea you had a month or so ago that you pushed aside because of other projects takes a firm grip of your hand and starts tugging you to the computer. Awesome bits of dialogue that pop into your head while you are taking a shower suddenly have characters who are longing to say them.

And so, looking forward to another challenge, you dive head first into 30 days and 50,000 words.

Yikes...What in the world have you just committed yourself to? Your palms grow clammy and glistening beads of sweat appear on your brow.

You take a deep breath and a new composition book - lime green because it makes you smile and think of mojitos on a hot summer evening. You uncap your pen...

And stare at blank pages...


Then suddenly, the slight weight of the pen in your hand feels right, the paper is just crisp enough and thoughts and ideas boil out of you. Your hand flows across the page outlining and planning, developing characters and back stories the reader will never know about, but you do. You struggle with the setting, just for a moment, then surge on.

And suddenly?

You can't wait until June 1st. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

I (almost) Made It Monday

Part of being a Leo is my insane tendency to start projects, become bored and/or run out of material and/or come up with a fantastic NEW project idea and abandon the old one (trust me it is way easier to blame this on fanciful astrological powers - even though I sort of think, occasionally, it's accurate). That often leaves me a half dozen or so projects laying around in various states of completion.

Today I share with you a few of those projects. All of these are crochet projects...I didn't even think to include unfinished scrapbook projects or whatnot because I'm fairly certain that that many photos would crash my blogger account!

Some were abandoned as hopeless. Some set aside in want of more material. Some I set aside as better ideas came to me. Some...I just got plain bored with.

For a while I was big into motifs. These babies are quick and easy to make and once I know the pattern it is almost mindless.

I had a plan for these. A good one too. I will probably finish it up but I left off in favor of a different idea. These were fun to make and the pattern reminded me a little of a merit badge or Star Trek insignia.

These had a strong urge to be a scarf but I couldn't decide on how I wanted to connect them, so in a container they go. The pattern here is a granny square.

These are blocks for a blanket but I ran out of yarn and since I didn't have the budget to buy more at the time I moved on to something else.

I really love this pattern. It's almost like a granny square but totally not!

Another blanket. Another project stalled for want of yarn.

That doohickey is called a stitch holder (in case you ever needed that information) and I love playing with them. I connect them all together and get mad when I need one and they all get pulled out...sort of like what I do with paper clips.

This is my current project and after two skeins of yarn I know I will need more to complete it. I am already budgeting in the money because I absolutely LOVE this. It is a variegated yarn (meaning multiple colors on one skein) and it reminds me of a sunset all orange and fire.

The pattern is a simple ripple stitch. I was going to do a sunburst pattern, but it looked odd with the variegated yarn.

My crochet bag. And the newest project I started - a friendship bracelet for Cyra.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Photos

Sometimes, in this big, big world we forget that epic things happen every day…on a slightly smaller scale. Animal Planet, Discovery, History and Disney all like to produce shows detailing the lives of great creatures: dinosaurs, lions, whales, chimpanzees.

But who, I ask you, tells the stories of the small creatures? 

Well...today, I guess that would be me.

Witness, for instance, the Epic Battle I almost stepped on while puttering in my garden the other day. 

This is the Epic Battle of a spider wasp named Bronte (because spider wasps have trendy names) and a lone wolf spider, named Murray McGilroy, a good, hard working spider out for his morning coffee break.
 See how Bronte attacks with relentless force, driving the looming Murray back again and again. Fear rolled off Murray like a thick fog in London.
Murray rears back hissing and cursing (I assume that's what it is doing since that's what I'd be doing if a wasp was trying to lay its eggs on my abdomen).
 Again and again Murray tries to flee fearing the biting pierce of Bronte's...egg laying sting?
Bronte finally flies off, the action so quick I was unable to determine who was actually triumphant. Did Murray manage to scare the persistent Bronte off? Or did Bronte sneak in with a quick snap of her ova...duct...depositor? and lay an egg on Murray's back as he tried to flee?

We may never know. Murray was gone when I came back to check on him.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pickleworms?!?! WTF!

So remember how braggy I was the other day about my awesome garden? I was all conceited and proud.

Oh how I have fallen.

My beautiful cucumbers are gone. So very. very. gone. Because of a stupid moth and its offspring! Remember that scene in Wrath of Khan where Kirk screams "KHAAAAANNNNN!"

Yeah. That's how I feel right now. Thwarted by a stupid moth. And BABIES!

All the sites and books pretty much say the same thing - once infested there goes your crop!

That is grody.

Many of the vines and all of the fruit had this inside.

My friends, The Pickleworm!

This one, and the one behind it I had hope for when I first spotted them! Oh how my idealism has fallen!

All those little green pellets? POOP!!! Not only did they eat my cucumbers, they pooped in them!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


You'd think that being jobless would allow me oodles of time to browse blogs and comment left and right. I wish that were the case. The fact is that I am as busy now as I was when I was working. A different kind of busy, but still. The only difference is before I forced myself to carve out time to Internet. And the time I carved out...usually in the middle of the night. Now I have more "free" time as in I'm home. But honestly, and so many people can attest to this, if I don't keep myself busy, I will go completely wonko!

So I garden and I craft. I do chores and bake bread. I cannot stand or sit in one position for too long (for health reasons). I write. I run errands and do yard work. I pick up children and (jobless) have the ability to run them to different activities. By the end of the day, honestly, I’m beat. When I was working I never felt this physically tired – emotionally tired yes, but physically? Not ever. If I can manage it, I make it to ten o’clock. But I’m finding more often then not, I am ready for bed by nine…sometimes eight. How pitiful is that?

Over the past two and a half months I have added nearly 75 new blogs to my blog list. I'm almost at 100. And those are just the ones I am officially following. There’s about another 50 or so that I just check in with occasionally. There is seriously no way I can keep up with them all. And to be frank, I've actually found myself not checking in with my blog because I feel guilty that I haven't been visiting as I want to - notice I say "want to." I certainly don't feel obligated but the sites I've joined I joined because they are pretty freaking awesome.

I guess what I’m getting at is how do bloggers do it all? How do they manage to update daily or at the very least on a schedule and comment on so many blogs? Do they allocate time? Stay up until dawn?
Blogging is supposed to be fun. And it is. I love writing stories, I love reading them. I love commenting and meeting new people (in so much as becoming blogging buddies is meeting new people).

Way back when – in January – when I posted my twelve goals, blogging more regularly was one of the ones I figured would be the easiest to achieve and maintain. I think I’ve done well. I hope I have. I have a few more followers than I did before so I must be doing something right.

I’ll throw it out into the ‘sphere:

How do bloggers make the most of their time? How do those with gajillions of followers and those that follow gajillions manage to keep up to date with everything?

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Made It Monday

Until I became obsessed with the Apocalypse, I never gave gardening much thought. My dad grew a huge garden every year and I can remember times when I helped weed, sow and pick. My mother had beds of flowers and pots of plants but I still didn't pay much attention.

Now, I am borderline obsessed with my little haphazard garden. I've got a stockpile of mason jars and I'm ready to can as soon as more veggies grow. This year was my practice garden. I recycled milk crates and bought cheap pots at Wal-Mart. I broke apart an old bed frame that I knew I wasn't going to use again to build makeshift trellises for my cucumbers and peas.

I am ridiculously proud of the fact that I put seeds in some dirt and now I am starting to get to vegetables to feed my family.

from left to right: peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, peppers, carrots, celery, lettuce. in front: onions, basil, tomatoes.

cucumbers and a head board

sugar snap pea blossom. it totally smells like peas.

the peas were the first veggies to grow!

a mix of jalapeno and bell peppers

crazy color carrots.

my favorite herb - basil. and the only one I planted.


tiny tomato blossoms