Joyknits!

Knitting, spinning, pets, food and other thoughts


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Mostly flowers & food

It’s been acting a bit more like May; this evening, I heard the first chuck-will’s-widow of the season, even though I haven’t heard a whip-poor-will yet (if you have cats in the house, click on the sound links and watch the reaction – it was pretty funny here!). The whip-poor-will’s range extends farther north, but we have both here – they’re rarely seen but we hear them a lot.

The Harison’s Yellow rose (heirloom rose) is in bloom, and the whole bush is loaded with buds. The other rose also has lots of buds, but isn’t quite there yet. πŸ™‚

First bloom: Harison's Yellow rose.

First bloom: Harison’s Yellow rose.

Mayapple.

Mayapple.

There are mayapples over by the side of the house – I’ve no idea how they got there, but they must like it, as they’re multiplying. I think that may end up as a fern and wildflower area.

plantsSome plants I picked up yesterday (lots of red for the hummers); several of the vincas, salvias and verbenas are already in planters, most of the others will go in the bed beside the deck, along with marigolds and nasturtiums, which did very well in spite of the hot dry summer last year. The 2 planters have lettuce and radishes in them. garden

Though the ground isn’t really dry enough to till thoroughly, I did make a start on it today, and it’s good to see progress!

Salt & Pepper Kingsnake.

Speckled (Salt & Pepper) Kingsnake.

I was actually quite happy to see this guy today – there used to be a larger one that lived under the back porch BC (Before Construction) and terrorized the varmints. I think this one is smaller, but maybe a descendant of the original one πŸ˜‰

The other day Toby kept barking and barking over by the corner of the fence. I never did figure out what he was upset about, but when I went to look, I spotted these, which made a nice little side dish for lunch:

Morels.

Morels.

Hash: leftover ham, potatoes and onions.

Hash for lunch: leftover ham, potatoes and onions.


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May, and still with the showers!

It’s raining again today – about 2Β½” when I looked earlier, and no signs of stopping for a day or 2. The creeks and rivers are up again (some of the low water bridges were covered), though it’s not nearly as deep as a couple of weeks ago. I just hope it doesn’t quit entirely like it did last summer! Things have gotten so green it’s amazingly beautiful.

Red buckeye in full bloom.

Red buckeye in full bloom.

Kitchen herbs.

Kitchen herbs.

I decided to add more cooking herbs in the end of the bed closest to the door, so I planted more chives, cilantro, 2 Italian parsley, and dill next to the first clump of chives and the thyme on the right. There’s also more thyme, oregano and mint in another bed even closer to the door πŸ™‚

I had a supervisor while I was working with the plants.

Toby0513

On the knitting front, I’ve added a jacket and tank set, Chesapeake Twinset, to Patternfish – please take a look!

We still have lots of birds on the feeders – the grosbeaks and orioles are still around, along with all the “usual suspects” (cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and small woodpeckers). orioles

Also most or all of the wren houses seem to have been claimed.

wren 2

House wren.

Β wren 1

Phoebe feeding Brood #1.

Phoebe feeding Brood #1 under the deck.


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Birds …

The big excitement this week has been centered around the bird feeders. In previous years, rose-breasted grosbeaks and orioles have made brief stops in the yard, but never stayed. So far this year, they’ve been hanging around. The grosbeaks seem to like both the sunflower and safflower seeds, and the orioles (at least 2 pair – yay!) started out with the suet cake, which they’re still working on, but have also decided the grape jelly feeder is a good deal.

Oriole on suet cake, grosbeak on seed feeder.

Oriole on suet cake, grosbeak on seed feeder.

grosbeaks 2

I finally tried a recipe I found a while back for Spicy Chicken Thighs with Apricots and Olives.

chicken 1

Fortunately I’d saved it in Pepperplate, so I could find it, and it turned out as good as it sounded – I was a bit careful with the heat level and will add a bit more the next time. It’s really easy, as you put the chicken in a bag with the marinade and let it sit for 24 hours, then cook it in the oven, and serve over rice or cous cous – yum!

chicken 2

Toby went to the groomer today, so he’s nice and soft and a bit less furry – when I picked him up, there were drifts of fur out in the reception area that had just rolled under the door from the grooming area πŸ˜‰ toby 0413b

toby 0413a

Another bit of spring – the sassafras trees are in bloom. sassafras


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April showers …

in this case, can cause problems! Starting way too early this morning with a wake-up call from Toby because it was storming (time for his Thundershirt and Rescue Remedy!), it kept raining most of the day (almost 4″ in the gauge), and a pond that’s nearly overflowing. We’re usually lucky to have a foot or 2 in it! pond

At times like this, we’re very happy to be 200-300 ft higher than the highway, because the creek running next to it went over the road in at least a couple of places (pictures on Facebook), and it was even worse in a number of areas around the St. Louis region.

While I was over by the pond, I sneaked a peek into the bluebird house, and saw what looked like a blue tail sticking up on the left, but didn’t want to disturb her, so it’s not a very good photo.Β bluebird house

Meanwhile things are blooming, and I saw the first hummer of the season this morning, though only briefly.

Serviceberry (top); flowering quince (left); lilac (right).

Serviceberry (top); flowering quince (left); lilac (right).

I tried a recipe from Essential Pepin today; Red Snapper with Leeks, Mushrooms & Shallots – with a few substitutions, that is. The recipe said it was suitable for any firm-fleshed fish and I had a piece of flounder, green onions, dried shiitake mushrooms and 1 red sweet Italian pepper, so I sliced, diced and seasoned a bit, simmered everything but the fish in a cup of white wine, then put the fish on top of the sauce, simmered until the fish was just done, and the recipe’s definitely a keeper! dinnerTalk about getting out of one’s comfort zone! Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t crochet very much – my skills there are pretty minimal, but a friend asked for help with his Mom’s treasured afghan. She’s in a nursing home, and the afghan had been sent through the big washer. Unfortunately, some of the yarn in it was wool and didn’t tolerate that at all well.

Granny square: before.

Granny square: before.

It would be nice if it were possible to insert rows/rounds into crochet like you can with knitting, but as far as I can find out, crochet doesn’t work that way, so I ended up taking the square out, adding 2 rounds with new yarn, then recycling the original yarn for the last 2 rounds. She was very thrifty with her ends, so it wasn’t easy πŸ˜‰ Hope I don’t need to do it again!

Granny square: after

Granny square: after


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Running a little behind!

I meant to do a post yesterday, but somehow it just got away from me. I did, however, finish Cat’s Paws & Feathers, which is now on Ravelry. It was really fun to knit, but it sure fought back when it came to getting the color to come out in the photos!

Cat's Paws & Feathers.

Cat’s Paws & Feathers.

The swatch from the last post is turning into a sweater, and going faster than I expected. The back is done, and this is the first front.Β knitting As the sleeves will be somewhere between short and 3/4-length, I’m hoping to have it done fairly soon. I stopped by Hearthstone Knits in St. Louis last weekend, and found the perfect buttons for it too πŸ™‚

We’re still getting a wild mix of weather – after several very warm days and a big thunderstorm the other evening (but not nearly as bad as the 3 tornadoes that went north of us!), we have a frost warning for tonight, but it’s still looking more like spring all the time. The buds are getting bigger on the buckeye, and the hummers usually show up around the time they open.

Buckeye buds.

Buckeye buds.

Maple leaves.

Maple leaves.


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Busy weekend and beyond.

We had a lively Easter weekend β€” a total of 8 were here; our kids + friend, 4 of 6 grandkids and one of the girls’ friends joined us for dinner. We had a blast, but not many pictures got taken. It also hit nearly on my birthday, so I got flowers, cards and other goodies. The trick with flowers is keeping Amber from munching on them πŸ˜‰cards

flowersI’ve been yarn doodling again – I think this may just grow up to be a sweater soon. The part at the bottom is a little bit of a stitch pattern I didn’t like in this yarn, but the top part looks like a winner.

Swatch (Webs Valley Yarns; Southwick (52% Pima cotton/48% bamboo viscose).

Swatch (Webs Valley Yarns; Southwick (52% Pima cotton/48% bamboo viscose).

The amaryllis ended up with all 4 buds open, and what a display! amaryllis0402Toby’s been going after moles – unfortunately they mostly seem to be staying ahead of him and making a mess of the yard, but he’s having a great time trying. toby 2

There's dirt flying in this one!

There’s dirt flying in this one!

Trying to go in after it.

Trying to go in after it.

And a little more spring …

Forsythia.

Forsythia.

ferns

Love the little fern next to the quartz rock here.


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Still hoping for spring

After a quick but heavy hit of snow, it’s looking more like spring again, but we’re wondering if it will last this time. There were still patches of snow when I went to town this afternoon, though most of it’s gone. There are buds …

Clockwise from top left: hyacinth; lilac; red horse chestnut.

Clockwise from top left: hyacinth; lilac; red horse chestnut.

and little leaves …

Ferns.

Ferns.

Peonies.

Peonies.

and catkins …

Hop hornbeam tree.

Hop hornbeam tree.

The amaryllis seems to have stopped at about 24″ and turned out to have 4 buds πŸ™‚ Love the red!

Finally!

Finally!

Hope everyone has a happy holiday – we’ve got company coming, so I’ve been cooking and getting ready.


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Squirrel!

Overall, Toby’s not too bad about barking except occasionally when there are other dogs around, or a squirrel …

I'm serious about this!

I’m serious about this!

I know it’s up there … squirrel 1

and there was one, sitting in a crotch in the very thorny locust tree (ouch!), just above the top of the photo, but it didn’t stick around for a close-up! Good find Toby!

I keep forgetting to mention that I’ve added another pattern on Ravelry: this is Madelaine. I really enjoyed knitting it, and love wearing it! Madelaine

The amaryllis is still growing – just under 24″ today amaryllis 0321

and look – there’s color! bud 0321

I’m pretty sure it will be red when it opens, and it looks like there’s more than 1 bud in there πŸ™‚