The Dreaded Yeah Buts

Sometimes in life, you’re in a hurry, you know the right way of going about things but you don’t have the time or the energy so you just wing it.

Now and then, it all works out; other times, those short cuts leave you in the lurch.  Let’s remember back to Christmas time.  The girls were coming home, gifts need wrapping, projects needed finishing, and we were headed out of town.  Now it’s a given that I need something to do on a plane ride, preferably a simple knit or crochet project that I can work on while listening to a book or watching a movie.

I am a huge proponent of gauge.  Why make a beautiful sweater and have it turn out the wrong size?  Yeah-but, this was just a hat.  How far off could I get with a limited number of stitches?  It was nice and stretchy.  I’m sure it would fit.  Time was running out.  We were leaving; I didn’t have time for gauge.

Oh Kim, foolish one, I just went for it.  I dropped down a few needle sizes since I knit rather loosely and had it almost complete after the long plane ride.  Then I tried it on.  It was a little tight, but maybe my sister-in-law’s head is smaller than mine.  It’d be great for all those early morning walks she make to Starbuck’s, and I had a gray one in a different pattern for my brother.  It was going to be perfect—or not so much.

The silly thing was too tight and popped off when she tried to wear it.  I told her not to worry, bring it back, and I’d fix it.  Now that the silly thing was done, I checked to see just how far off I was.  I hadn’t used the Skacel yarn called for in the pattern.  This Malabrigo was a brighter truer red that I thought she’d like better.  Maybe it was the smaller needles, maybe it was the different yarn, but the diameter of her Christmas beanie was a little over 14 inches rather than than the 18 that the pattern said it would be.

It was time to rip it all out and start over.

YB Hat unraveling

With a new beginning, I decided to use the Chinese Waitress Cast-on, I’ve been learning new techniques lately, that makes a nice chain-like edge and is wonderfully stretchy.  I bumped up the needles size and checked gauge after an inch or so.

I probably should of made a swatch, but the Yeah-buts die hard.  I mean after all it was just a little hat.  Luckily, this time around, I was on target.

YB Hat Finished

I’m hoping this beanie will brighten some blustery morning walks.  I’m pretty sure it won’t be popping off any time soon.

A little forethought and planning beats out excuses every time.

Do you get caught up in the yeah-buts?  Any projects going wrong or right?

(The Traveling Cables Beanie was featured in Skacel’s Fall/Winter Magazine 2015 and is a free pattern on Ravelry.  I purchased the Malabrigo Rios in Ravelry Red at Quintessential Knits.  It’s available at many local yarn shops and is wonderful to work with.)

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The Old Recipe Box

I’ll admit it; I was a nerdy girl.  When I was a kid, I spent hours going through my my mom’s recipe box.  I’d categorize and catalogue trying to impose a system on all the newspaper clippings, pages torn from magazines, and slips of paper shoved in drawers.

As the only daughter, it was a given that the recipe box came home with me last month as we cleaned out the family home. I laughed to see my childish scrawl on many of the cards, there were my mom’s crisp rounded letters, too, and the old-fashioned script favored by my grandma.  It made me feel close to them just thumbing through the cards.

Recipes

Then I started noticing the names in the upper corners: Louise, Collette, Vicky, VaLoy, Karen, and Jean.  Many of the kind women who peopled my childhood were there.  Ladies from work, women from church, neighbors, and friends had shared their food, their recipes, and their lives with my mom and in turn our family.

Pinterest seems so cold and faceless in comparison to this outpouring of friendship and memories of potlucks, teas, informal parties, and simple taco nights.  My mom was always asking for a new recipe, complimenting others on their cooking, and willing to try something new.

So last week in honor of my mom, I made her tried and true banana bread.  Now it isn’t the banana bread my girls know; I always baked Pampered Chef’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread which is delicious but tastes very little like bananas.  This is the one I grew up with—plain and simple.

-ORB Banana Bread

As I pulled it out, I was surprised to notice it wasn’t just my mom’s recipe it was from a friend and neighbor who took care of us when we were little kids.  As you can see, it’s well used.  I substituted coconut oil for the shortening and halved the sugar, and made it up in mini-loaf pans.  I can tell you, me and the MR enjoyed each bite.

Maybe our world needs some old-time potlucks and get-togethers where people share food and lives.  The recipe box can always use a few new cards.

What’s in your recipe box?

 

 

 

 

 

Building Up and Tearing Down

Despite all the wet weather, we’ve started planning for spring.  It’s the perfect time to evaluate what’s working, what isn’t, and what we can do about it.

The MR pulled out the nectarine that was short, stubby, and plagued by disease almost from the time we planted it three years ago.  The little tag on our Semi-Dwarf Fantasia Nectarine called it one of the new promising varietes for the Pacific Northwest; in our orchard that did not turn out to be true.

He replaced it with two new trees that he bought online. We’ve had good luck so far with the flowering plum we bought that way and are hoping these will thrive as well.  They don’t look like much, but give them time.

BU New Nectarines

That’s not all that’s happening in the orchard.  Remember when the MR put up netting to keep the birds away from the grapes, blueberries, and currants?  Well, the stormy winter has done a number on it.  Currently, it’s a tangled mess, but some new netting is on order.

BU Fallen Netting

In other gardening news, last year squirrels or something was ripping up all my vegetables and driving me crazy.  I figured maybe it was time to get rid of the two decorative beds and devote a little more real estate to this endeavor.  I’ve started removing the stones—did I mention these guys are heavy? BU Garden

At our last house, I’d stopped using a large part of the garden because neighbors’ trees were shading them for all but a few hours of the day.  The MR figured I was just losing interest and that these beds would be adequate, and they might have been if nearly all of our harvest wasn’t torn up or eaten by varmints.  We’ll have to find another use for these decorative stones.  Currently, they’re blocking the access to the well for a vehicle via the tennis court, so this is just a temporary resting place.  Perhaps we can put in some beds nearer the house and enjoy some of that ambient heat.

BU Garden Closer

If I want to plant a few token potatoes in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going to have to get busy.  I’m thankful we have sun in the forecast for the rest of the week.  I know I talk about the weather a lot, and I hate to be a whiner, but we have had over 11 inches more than average for the months of December, January, and February this year; that’s 24 inches rather than 13, if you’re counting, and yes we still have a week left in February.

Some of those strong rains have been watering the flowers, and we have daffodils blooming everywhere.  I noticed a few bent over on the driveway as we pulled into the garage, so I brought those poor beaten down blooms inside for a cheery bouquets to brighten a rainy day.

BU Daffodils

Are you getting ready for spring in the garden? Any plans big or little?

Exchanging Seeds, Advice, and Stories

I’ve seen little stories advertising a local “seed exchange” for years in the paper, but I’ve always been too intimidated to show up without seeds, without the proper gardening knowledge, and without great success under my belt.

This year, the seed exchange partnered up with the local FFA at the high school and suddenly it seemed much more accessible.  My girls were part of FFA in the past, I’d go and support the program and maybe check out the seeds.

While they’ve said you don’t have to bring any seeds, I’ve always felt guilty about not contributing.  I showed up late, missed out on the classes on germination and garden planning but snuck in on the tail end of the seed exchange.

I picked up some garlic and some giant sunflower seeds before running into a local farmer who gave me some giant pumpkin seeds that I just had to grow—his words, not mine.  He’d cross-pollinated his giant pumpkin with a gourd and after a few years of this wound up with giant, striped pumpkins.  Who wouldn’t want those?  We have plenty of room to let extravagant vines trail down the slope below the garden.

I’ll just have to watch out for critters.  He figured my problems last year was squirrels.  Maybe when I plant the garlic it’ll help keep them away.

As I was leaving the seed area, a lady captured my attention with her selection of beet seeds.  Apparently names like tall tops are a sign that these are great if your interested in eating the greens rather than just the roots.  I had never keyed in on that.  We both talked about the woes of trying to grow striped beets that just looked anemic at best and failed to come through that true beet flavor.

I don’t remember what kind I settled on, but I came home with a pinch of seeds.

One problem with arriving late was the lack of bags or envelopes.  The organizers had set out plastic bags, but only one was left when I started my rounds.  I just made sure I had widely-varied types of seeds so I could tell them apart.

Seeds

Unfortunately, I left them in the car for a few days, and then they set on the counter for awhile since it’s not really planting time.  The sunflowers were getting a little moldy from hanging out with the garlic by the time I divvied them up.  That probably caused them some trouble, and it didn’t do my tablecloth any favors either.

Seeds on Table

I cut up some scratch paper and fashioned some envelopes till planting time.

Seeds in Envelopes

Next time, I’ll try to arrive early, bring my own envelopes, and maybe check out the classes.  I did bring home a pot of beautiful daffodils to give to the hostess at the dinner party we attended that night.  And I’m excited to see how those giant pumpkins turn out.

Are you members of a local gardening club? Have you ever saved seeds or attended an exchange?

 

 

Solutions and an Umbrella Stand

I don’t know if they were just peeved after we left them for a long weekend, or maybe it was the slight shift in schedule between us and a young sitter, but the dogs could no longer make it through the night without what we’ll euphemistically call troubles.

I was tired of mopping, the MR was tired of the mess when he got up in the morning. We were in the midst of grumbling and kibbitzing, when he came up with a truly genius idea.  Instead of focussing on everything they were doing wrong, he came up with an idea about what we could do to solve the problem.

Just like with people, you have no control over others’ behavior, just your own.  So instead of yelling at the dogs, encouraging them to go out in the rain and cold and “do their business”, we’ve taken a leaf out of the apartment dwellers notebook and are taking the dogs for a walk.

We were lucky; the first few nights, the skies were clear, the stars were out, it was brisk and beautiful.  Then our regular winter weather returned, and the MR grabbed an umbrella.

Baby Girl called it creepy walking the dogs after dark, but it’s what we did when they were puppies, and now that Little Buddy is almost 13, I’d rather laugh at his antics than discipline him for messes. Me and the MR have been enjoying conversation and laughter on our late night walks.

The MR went online and Amazon delivered a few unbrella stands, so we’ve a new addition to entry, and a small LED flashlight is on its way.

Umbrella

Sometimes life’s a lot better when you focus on solutions instead of the problems.  It might also mean a little less mopping.

 

 

 

Dreaming of Spring

As the rains pour down, I watch the river spill over into the adjacent fields and dream of spring.

It’s just a little over a month away, and we’ve seen the signs. The bulbs are coming up in the garden, and the daffodils are starting to bloom along with this little beauty.

daphne bush

The sweet-smelling blossoms of variegated daphne are heavenly.  I picked it up last year at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and it has done well even in the shade of the front steps.

daphne closeup

In a few more weeks, it’ll be covered in tiny flowers.

What signs of spring are you seeing?

 

 

A Taste of Sedona

We spent the last weekend of January in Sedona.  It was a first for me and the MR, and frankly it’s beautiful country.

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Flying into Tuscon, it was just a few hours drive to our destination.  First stop was the visitors center where the volunteers gave us great recommendations for hikes and directions to trailheads.  We had time for lunch and a short hike with my brother and sister-in-law before checking in to our rental home.

Hiking Collage

 

The Teacup Trail and the Devil’s Kitchen (a large sink hole) were both impressive, and we managed to stay off the road when the pink jeeps drove by.  Honestly it was nice just to be outside in our shirtsleeves in the middle of winter.

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The next day, we were off to Tuzigoot National Monument—an Indian village from 1100 AD.  We were amazed at the simple square buildings that still remain hundreds of years after they were abandoned.  The staff were informative and chatty and even agreed to take a photo of our whole group.  The MR’s folks had driven down from Mesquite, NV to join us.

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Just across the valley, we could see the mining city of Jerome built into the steep hillside.  It was an adventure just finding a parking spot, and walking the steep streets was a workout.  Staircases connect the switchbacks up the mountainside. We enjoyed lunch at the Haunted Hamburger and then made a mad dash to Montezuma’s Castle.  It closed minutes before we arrived, but we decided to head back the next day.  The hospital in Jerome has been converted into a hotel with spectacular views. Apparently, you can eat lunch in the assylum with the ghosts—very creepy.

Haunted Hospital

Montezuma’s Castle turned out to be another Indian cliff dwelling built right into the side of the bluff.  This one we had to admire from afar.  It’s really quite amazing what people did with primitive tools so long ago.

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Half the fun of traveling to new places is noticing the amazing differences in plant life.  We don’t have sycamore trees back home, and these cacti are so intricate.

plant Collage

Then it was on to the Chapel of the Holy Cross with archeticture inspired by the Empire State Building and lovely views.

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The last day, we woke to snow.  It was the MR’s birthday, and we spent a quiet day at home playing card games.

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That evening we enjoyed a spectacular dinner at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill.  It’s not cheap, but the food was quite good.

Mirabella Collage

The next morning it was time to say goodbye and head back home to the real world.

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The MR asked if I’d go back.  Well let’s see, lots of nice restaurants, fun shopping, great hikes, beautiful scenery—I’d say that’s a yes.  There’s a gallery with some great paintings we almost bought, lots of shops we didn’t get a chance to explore, and I’d really like a chance to hit a few more trails.  I think this is just our first trip to Sedona.

Where do you like to go for a bit of sunshine in the midst of winter?