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July 2011

If You Open Up a Drawer. . .

. . .you're going to find something that you've been avoiding dealing with.

After you finally deal with it. . .you're going to have to create a new file.

When you make a new label for the new file, you will realize you're out of label tape.


When you open up another drawer to get a new roll of label tape. . . you will find that you can't open the drawer because so many post-it notes are jammed inside.

When you pry open the drawer to take a closer look, you discover that most of the contents stored inside are useless and dated - yet sensitive - and need to be shredded.


When you turn on the shredder, you find that it is full-to-bursting. 

When you empty the over-packed shredded paper into the compost bin, you see that the compost needs to be turned.

When you finish with the compost, you need to wash your hands.


When you wash your hands, you see that the foaming soap container needs to be refilled. . . . which reminds you that you have a coupon for soap refills.

When you open up the drawer to find the coupon. . .

And so it goes.  That's how re-organization projects go for me!  But. . . I perservered.  Now my desk is organized, my sewing room is refreshed, AND my compost is turned!



Many thanks to Pam -- for pointing out the obvious:  that home re-organization projects are Just Like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Honk If You Love. . .


This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is the Ten Best Bumper Stickers we've seen.  Hmmmmm.

I must admit. . . I'm not really a fan of bumper stickers.  Sometimes I see them, and I laugh.  But mostly, I see them and I get kind of sad.  Because I can't believe some of the hateful things people stick on their cars. . .

But I digress. 

Anyway, I have seen some really great bumper stickers in my time. . . but, of course, I can't remember them today.  I don't have any bumper stickers myself, but if I did -- here's what I would stick on my car:





















I guess my best bumper sticker might read HONK if you love Kalamazoo, gardening, knitting, reading, dogs, yoga, and Paris!

What's the best bumper sticker YOU'VE seen?

The Bee's Knees

I have done a pretty good job of creating a wildlife "refuge" in my back yard, here in my own little corner of Suburbia.  We share our space with an abundance of Woodland Creatures -- songbirds, hawks, butterflies, hummingbirds, toads, Japanese beetles, raccoons, possums, bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks.  Some, I try to attract (the butterflies, songbirds, and hummingbirds, for example).  Some, not so much (the chipmunks and Japanese beetles, for example).  Whatever, though.  Wildlife is welcome in my yard.  Come one; come all.


Last summer at a gardening conference, I attended a session on attracting bees to the garden.  I didn't know much about bees before sitting down in the session.  I like bees -- because they are necessary for so much of the real work of gardening -- but I didn't see myself as a "beekeeper."

I did learn quite a lot about the honeybees.  But I also learned. . . that honeybees are not the only bees doing the critical work of building strong, healthy, and vibrant gardens!  In fact, there are more than 5,000 species of native bees in the United States -- and most all of them are single, solitary bees making their homes in the ground or in hollow branches.  (The speaker referred to these bees as the "Single Mothers" of the bee world -- working really hard on their own to bring up their families.)  No hive.  No queens.  No workers.  Just a single, solitary bee.

I got enthused about attracting more bees to my own garden.  (Most of my friends and family members initially think I'm nuts. . . wait, let me get this straight, you want to attract bees???  Why, yes I do.)

Anyway.  I decided to build a bee habitat especially for Mason bees.  I purchased a nifty little Mason bee house and Tom helped me hang it on the fence, near my butterfly garden.


You can see the Mason bee house in the background -- on the fence.


Or, here it is in the background of this adorable photo of Brian and Jenny.  (I sort of love this photo, so I had to include it . . . even though it really doesn't show the bee house much.)

The bees have discovered the house!  What happens is . . . the bees like to nest in hollow tubes or holes.  The bee goes in a tube in the house, builds a "cell" wall with clay or plant material, lays her eggs, builds a new wall, lays more eggs, builds a new wall, etc.  Until, at last, the tube is filled and she plugs the hole.


In this photo, you can see one bee (bottom of photo) working hard to plug the tube with her final wall, AND you can see a bee (toward the upper right) in the tube, just ready to fly out.  You can also see which tubes have been filled with eggs and sealed up.

It's so cool!  You can sit and watch the bees fly in and out of the tubes all day.  They just come and go constantly.


I love this photo.  You can see that the bee is working with a leaf there, as she builds her final wall to plug the tube.  It takes hours and many, many trips back and forth, for her to complete the tube and move on to another.

(Note:  I took these photos last Thursday.  Today, there are 20 filled tubes!  And the bees are still working to fill more.)

I'm really pleased with my bee habitat  I think it's, well. . .  the bee's knees!


If you're interested in creating your own bee habitat, there are some great resources online to help you get started.  Check these out for starters

Also -- Mason bees are NOT aggressive.  (They're too busy to be aggressive.)  They will only sting in self-defense.  In my experience, they just ignore me completely.

Spectrum Baby


I knit a baby sweater last weekend . . .  a Project Spectrum baby sweater!


Red, yellow, and two shades of blue.  (The actual sweater looks more blue-ish; the photos make it look like the red predominates.  But it doesn't in "real life.")

I love the buttons!


I had planned all along to do buttons in primary colors -- but I didn't have the right shades in the right sizes in my button box.  I went off to the fabric store, just hoping I could find three shapes/sizes in colors I liked.  Imagine my surprise when I found these three buttons (plus a green one) sold all on one card!  Perfect!

It's such fun to knit baby things.


They're tiny, sweet -- and really quick!  They make great gifts, too. 


Ravelry link here.

Enjoy the weekend -- and stay cool!

Head Over Heels

Time for a little soundtrack.  Hit it, Neil.


Early in the summer, I noticed that my LYS had a 2-session workshop with Nora Bellows (of Noni Bags) coming up in July.  My knitting antennae went right up.  I've always admired Noni bags -- not really as bags. . . but as works-of-art.

I mean, most of Noni's bags (especially the early designs) were not really suited to my personal style -- too many flowers and flourishes, etc.  But.  I totally appreciated the art in those bags.  I loved the attention to finishing detail -- and how it all came together for a great-looking finished product (even though I would probably never use one myself).

So.  I signed up.  The particular workshop I signed up for was all about finishing -- how to shape that felted monstrosity into the desired configuration; how to attach handles and clasps; how to use stabilizer; how to insert a hex frame. 

The class prerequisite?  We needed to knit a Noni bag (any pattern) ahead of the workshop, and bring our still damp - but felted - bag to class for the finishing.

I decided to knit. . . the Bedouin bag.   3_bags_cropped_for_business_card_square

I stopped by the store to finalize my registration and purchase my pattern.  What do you know. . . there was a Noni trunk show going on that very day.  I checked out the bags, and totally fell in love with the Bettie BoopBettie_boop_dress_sized_square  Even though it was pink.  And had an abundance of knit flowers.  And sparkles.


I rationalized my switch from the Bedouin bag (simple) to the Bettie Boop (futsy) because. . . I wanted to get my "money's worth" out of the workshop (more finishing = more value).

But really. . . I was . . . Helpless.


The Bettie Boop is a charming little bag.  Charming.


I had fun making it.  And I think it turned out pretty well, too!  (I used far fewer flowers - and no sparkle; although I did use a couple of cute buttons.)








Ravelry link here.

(Noni ran a great workshop.  I learned a lot -- about felting, stitching, hardware, and - yes - even flowers!)



And. . . in the HOT department. . . here's how hot it is . . .

First, this is what happens when I take my camera (or my glasses) outside:


Intense condensation.  Can you say . . . sauna????

Second, this is the way my patio looks . . . 7 hours AFTER I watered my plants:


It is so humid that evaporation is not happening!!!  My patio is still wet - even in upper-90 temperatures - because it's just too humid to dry off!

With that . . . stay cool!



Time for a Pin-tervention?

When I was cleaning out my sewing room last week, I found this:


It is my "old school" Inspiration Journal.  (Actually, it's about #5 in a series of Inspiration Journals; this is just the one in progress.)

Way before Pinterest was a gleam in someone's eye, I was creating "boards" of my own.  In "old school" fashion, I collected (with my trusty scissors) images or quotes that particularly appealed to me.   And then, every so often, I would tape all the images in a journal.  For future reference.  For visual stimulation.  For inspiration.


I have been doing this for years.  Informal scrapbooking.  Collecting images I like.  Inspiring myself -- with a little of everything.  I called these journals my "style books."

Quotes.  Colors.


Interior design.  Outfits.  Jewelry.  Bags.  (Always bags.)


Project ideas.


Birds and the like.

The biggest problem with this "old school" journaling process was time.  I used to spend an afternoon now and again clipping from my pile of catalogs and magazines.  And then, I had to find another big swath of time to adhere the images into my journal.

As you can see. . . clippings piled up.


And up.  Always, more inspiration than time to deal with it!


You can imagine my delight, then, when I discovered Pinterest.

Now, I can collect my favorite images and quotes and ideas digitally -- with the simple click of a "Pin It" button.

Screen shot 2011-07-19 at 9.29.22 PM

I can create "boards" and edit and arrange to my heart's content.  It's so easy.  No mess.  No need for big swaths of time to clip and save and tape in.

Screen shot 2011-07-19 at 9.23.38 PM

I love Pinterest.  I love it so much. . . that it's only a matter of time before I need a "Pin-tervention."

How about you?  Have you discovered Pinterest yet?

Good Vibrations

I don't know about you . . . but here in my little corner of the world, it's hot.  Like. . . really hot.  (So hot, in fact, that the tv weather folks are delighted to near-delirium, calling it The Heat Wave of 2011 and such.)

Anyway.  It's hot.  It's a great time to be thinking about the beach . . . and the songs we love to listen to at the beach.

Belize mar 2010 389

This week, Carole has us thinking about our Ten Favorite Beach Songs.  I decided to call on my favorite tanning companion from my youth -- my sister -- for help.  Here's what we used to listen to, as we lay on our cement patio in our Cheyenne, Wyoming backyard (about as far away as any beach as you can get. . . ), working on our tans and doing some . . .

1.  California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas


What, exactly qualifies a regular old "song" as a "beach song?"  I don't know if there's an actual definition of a "beach song," but, for me, the song needs to be somewhat light and breezy.  Anything by the Beach Boys will do -- or . . . Bruce . . . or even Bananarama, for that matter!

2.  Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys

3.  Sherry Darling - Bruce Springsteen


4.  Cruel Summer - Bananarama

It needs to be . . . well, kind of lazy and luxurious.  It needs to smell like . . . tanning oil!

5.  Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly & the Family Stone

6.  Boys of Summer - Don Henley

7.  Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams

But more than anything, a good beach song needs to invoke. . . summer.  The beach.  The sun.  The sounds.  The attitude.

8.  Changes in Latitude - Jimmy Buffett

9.  Stir it Up - Bob Marley

And sometimes. . . well, sometimes a good "beach song" has nothing to do with any of this.  Sometimes a song will remind you of summer just because. . . one summer . . . you heard it 5,000 times.  And it will forever bring back that summer feeling!

10.  Dreams - Fleetwood Mac

What's YOUR favorite beach song?  (And. . . hey, would you turn up the music and pass the Bain de Soleil?)


Recipe for a Happy Dog

We're having a bit of a heat wave.  Seems like the perfect time to whip up some "Frosty Paws" dog ice cream for Jenny!

First step. . . assemble the ingredients.  Plain yogurt.  Mashed bananas.  Honey.  Peanut Butter.


Blend them together (in my 30 year-old blender!).


Pour into small paper cups.




Here's where the happy dog part comes in!


Jenny says, "Yes, please!"

Garden Blues

Blue. . . is not an easy color in the garden.  There aren't very many truly BLUE flowers -- and especially not in the hot parts of the gardening season.

In the spring, I have a beautiful blue in my garden.


This is my 'Jack Frost' brunnera.  It has true-blue blooms for a few weeks in the early spring -- and it is magnificent!

Now, though, this is the closest-to-blue I have blooming.


It's trailing lobelia in one of my patio containers.  And it's really not true-blue; more like a purple-y blue.

My garden is lacking in blue! 

While on my recent garden tours, though, I was drawn to blue in other people's gardens.  Not usually through blooms -- but through accents and pops of color.

My friend, Sandie, has a fabulous periwinkle blue wall across the back of her garden. 


(Sandie is a ceramicist; she made the fountain and the tiles.  Gorgeous, non?)

I found this blue-lined birdbath on one of last month's garden tours.  It looks like a swimming pool for birds!  (And that clematis bloom floating . . . isn't that perfect?)


At one of the nurseries we visited, I found this row of wheelbarrows.  I'm always kind of a sucker for wheelbarrows anyway, but this row of blue ones really caught my attention.


Sometimes, just little blue accents are the perfect touch in a garden.




Do you have any garden blues?

Enjoy your weekend . . . hope you find plenty of blue skies!