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March 2012
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April 2012

A Clear Desk is Totally Overrated


(Photo of my early-blooming rhododendron.  Because who really wants to see my desk right now.)

  • My desk always reflects my level of "busy."
  • If things are neat and tidy - if you can actually see the wood-grain of the surface - if means that things are at a lull and I have some extra time on my hands.
  • For the most part, though, there's a bit of chaos going on there on top of my desk.  Piles of paper and materials neatly organized for work or creative projects.  Things I'm considering.  Stuff I need to do. 
  • Not bad.  Certainly manageable.  I am a "visual" person.  I need to "see" what's up and what I need to do.
  • I am not one of those clear-surface kind of desk-people.  Never will be.  Don't care to try.  Finally just accepted it.
  • But.  There are times when . . . my desk gets totally out of control.   Times when my desk starts to look like an avalanche. . . just waiting to happen.  The piles get bigger.  The papers spread out.  The calculator gets buried under paper.  The phone gets buried under paper.  The piles get moved to the floor.  More piles emerge.
  • And then. . . there are the computers.  I use an iMac at home.  I use a Windows 7-based laptop for my work.  When I'm really busy, I have them both set up on my desk.  Side-by-side. 
  • That takes up a lot of desktop real estate.
  • Guess what's going on now?
  • Yeah.  Right now, I'm at "ORANGE" (glowing, nearly exploding "ORANGE") on the "Busy-ness Threat Scale" -- and headed straight to "RED."
  • Which means . . . I can barely get to my desk, let alone sit down to work at it. . . and soon, I'll lose sight of it altogether.
  • Seriously. 
  • I have my "system," though.  It looks bad.  It looks like disaster waiting to happen.  But it seems to work for me.  I know what's in which pile.  I can find things (amazingly) quickly.  I get things accomplished.  It's just. . . well. . . think Pig-Pen, of Charlie Brown fame.
  • Tom, by contrast, is a neat, put-everything-in-its-place kind of guy.  He thrives on efficiency.  He is streamlined.  He is one of those clear-desk people.  He does not understand "piles" as a filing "system."  He can always see the surface of his desk.
  • (But sometimes he is absent-minded and forgets his phone, or a file, or even his entire briefcase.  I love this about him.  But it never happens to me.)
  • Anyway.  He recoils in horror when he sees my desk.
  • I actually think it makes him physically ill.
  • He doesn't make eye-contact with me when he comes into my office when my desk is Like This.  Instead, I can see his eyes dart to the piles on my floor.  I can see the judgment, the absolute wonder, in his eyes.
  • How DOES she function?  I can see those thoughts roll through his mind.
  • So.
  • That's where I am right now.  Hunkered down behind stacks of files, a few piles of books, two computers, about 3 pairs of cheaters, office supplies, and the flotsam and jetsam of my life.
  • Works for me!

Pour a Little Sugar On It, Baby!

Soundtrack time. . .


(Wow.  Animation has come a long way since my childhood!)

I always have at least one project that doesn't take too much concentration on the needles.  You know. . . a project that you can do while watching television, or talking on the phone, or traveling as a passenger in a car.

The Honey Cowl totally fit the bill!  Sugar, sugar!


What a perfect project . . . in a perfect yarn! Oh, honey, honey!  You are my candy . . . cowl . . . and you've got me wanting you!


(Ravelry details here.)


Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?


I do! I like them, Sam I Am!

This week, Carole has us thinking about our Ten Favorite Ways to Prepare Eggs.


  1. Scrambled (with cheese and lots of black pepper)
  2. Hard-boiled (with plenty of salt and a touch of Tabasco)
  3. Over-easy (with buttery toast and some crisp bacon)
  4. Huevos Rancheros (with a fresh tortilla and some jalapeños)
  5. Breakfast Tacos (á là Austin, Texas)
  6. Quiche (without a soggy crust, thankyouverymuch)
  7. Frittata (with fresh veggies and herbs)
  8. French Toast (with a splash of vanilla and a touch of cinnamon)
  9. Egg Nog (with fresh-ground nutmeg)
  10. Sausage McMuffin With Egg (to go, please!)


And. . . don't forget this kind of eggs!  Mmmmmm!



 Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


Waiting for this Moment to Arise

A little background music. . .


In the end. . .Black Cardi


stands victorious over Tote Bag.


It was a squeaker!  The final score was 27-25.  Although Black Cardi was on the board first and held the early lead, Tote Bag just kept charging!  Black Cardi, however, scored at the final buzzer to take it all in this season's March Madness!

If you'd like more details on the Black Cardi (named for my favorite Beatles song), you can click here for all the yarny-knitty details on Ravelry.

As for the Tote Bag, it is the Frenchy Bag pattern from Amy Butler.  As usual, the Amy Butler pattern is fabulously detailed and well-written.  This bag is pretty straightforward and, with the exception of one or two tricky-bits, would be very do-able for an advanced-beginner sewer.  I made the bag as a birthday gift for my friend, Sandie, and I'm pleased to say she loves it!  (There is a little glitch in one of the lining seams -- a tiny little pucker I chose to ignore.  It haunts me still.  I can see Miss Helzer, eye-brow raised in That Way, wordlessly handing me a seam ripper.)

CONGRATULATIONS to Sheri, who was the big winner in my random drawing of all March Madness voters.  I'll be sending Sheri an exciting March Madness prize package.  (Just for the record, Sheri popped over to vote after reading Mary's blog.  Thanks, Mary!  And . . . she voted for the Tote Bag!)

CONGRATULATIONS, also, to three March Madness "runners-up" (because you can't have a March Madness contest without having a "Final Four" line-up!):  Carole, Elaine, and Sara.  A little prize will also be on the way to each of you.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU for playing along with my March Madness fun!



While I'm recovering from all the March Madness* over here, I thought I'd give you a couple of quick Nature-at-Home Updates.

First, this:


(Click to embiggen.  I'm pretty sure that's a word.)

Yes.  It's Finch-Cam!  If I stand on a step stool . . . and then get on my tip toes. . . and then angle the camera just so. . . without bumping the door . . . I can take really mediocre photos of the finch nest behind my dead wreath!  (How cute is that finch?)

Now, this:


Remember Spot?  Well. . . she had babies before she put out her amazing beanstalk bloom!  Looks like five new agaves in all, and three are leafing out!  If you look really closely, you can see that there are actually spots on the leaf on the very far left in this photo. 

The leaves sprout from these little bud-things that emerge from the soil.


The plant-nerd in me is just so excited to see all this happening!

Then, there's this. . .


You might remember my blogging about killing a plant that looked very much like this.  Same charming moss-covered pot.   Same tiny topiary form.  Yes, I decided to try my luck again.  So I bought another "fairy vine" (or whatever it's called) and planted it in the charming pot and started it growing up the adorable little topiary form.  But THIS time, I set it in a bed of stones (to up the moisture and humidity), and I'm watering the heck out of it.  So far, so good!

This topiary, though. . . not so much.


This is an ivy topiary I planted back in February.  The ivy was thriving, and wrapping nicely around the heart-shaped topiary form.  Then, suddently, death.  I planted one for my Mom, too.  Same thing is happening to hers.  I'm thinking . . . it must be the form?   Not really sure what happened, but both my Mom and I are sad about the demise of our ivy plants. 

Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.  That's how it is with Nature-at-Home!


* Votes have been tablulated.  Winners have been notified.  Exciting conclusion to March Madness tomorrow.

Yeah. I'm THAT Neighbor.

My neighbors talk about me behind my back.

I know they do.

I am the Queen of Dandelions.  I garden in the rain.  I take pictures of my flowers.  Close up.  And yarn.  And knitted garments displayed along the fence.  I feed squirrels.  I allow chipmunks to run rampant.  I attract bees.  I dig up huge swaths of grass and plant flowers. 

And, now, this.


A dead, brown, WAY out of season Christmas wreath STILL adorns my front door.

I can hear the tsk-tsk-ing from here.

What they don't know. . . is that hidden behind the hideously dead wreath is this. . .


a finch nest!  (Look closely. . . behind the branches.)

I'll take down the wreath when the babies leave the nest. 

For now though?  Yeah.  I'm THAT neighbor!  (And I don't care.)


It's not too late for you to cast your vote in my March Madness contest!  Voting closes tonight at 9:00 Eastern Time.  Click here to find out more!


On the Side


I'm hosting Easter dinner at my house this weekend.  My menu is planned, but the shopping isn't finished quite yet.  While the featured "star" of my meal will be a spiral ham (glazed with a mustard sauce with vermouth and thyme, á là Cooks Illustrated), I will also be serving several side dishes (and dessert, of course!).

Which brings us to Carole's topic for us this week. . . Ten Favorite Side Dishes to Serve at a Family Dinner.


This is actually harder for me than it sounds. . . because I tend to either make up my sides, or just skim through my favorite cookbooks for quick inspiration.

Let's see...

With HAM. . . I like (1) scalloped potatoes and (2) roasted asparagus.

With TURKEY . . . I like (3) dressing, (4) sweet potatoes and (5) cranberry sauce.

With LAMB . . . I like (6) wild rice with Kalamata olives and feta cheese.

With STEAK . . . I like (7) roasted potatoes and (8) sauteed mushrooms.

With ROAST BEEF . . . I like (9) roasted carrots and turnips and (10) mashed potatoes.

What do YOU like to serve on the side  . . . at your family dinners?


 Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


Voting is still open on my March Madness project.  Cast your vote by Wednesday at 9:00 for a chance at a great prize package!



The Big Dance

So.  Tonight it is.  Kentucky vs. Kansas?  Nah. . .


The REAL Big Dance is right here!  The showdown between. . .

Black Cardigan, the early March Madness favorite, expected to go all the way.



and. . .

Tote Bag, this year's Cinderella story and rising upstart!



Who will walk away as this year's champion?  Well, that's for YOU to decide!

Cast your vote in the comments before Wednesday, April 4 at 9:00 pm EST.  My March Madness Champion Project will be announced in this Friday's blog post.  When you vote, your name will be entered into a random drawing for an exciting prize package!  (And, if someone sends you here to vote, be sure you mention their name, as they'll also be entered into the drawing!)

So.  Who's it going to be?  Black Cardigan . . . or Tote Bag?

The excitement builds!