Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hey horn worm, quit munching my leaves

I was a little disappointed when I found out that horn worms are only the 7th most troubling pest according to Mother Earth News.  (Thanks to my friend Dawn, a more experienced gardener, for sending me the link.)  I hate seeing the leaves and blossoms of a perfectly pretty plant vanish over night.  What, there's something worse I have to look forward to? 

Until yesterday, I had not actually seen one on the plants, only their damage.  The wasps had seen them, snatched the little ones off a stem and flew away.  My neighbor, Lorraine, also saw one and, with disgust, shared a story from her childhood.  It was her job along with her brother to pick the horn worms off the tomatoes in their parent's garden and get rid of them.  

Then, this guy revealed himself to me.  He was way up high and in the process of eliminating.  So, I plucked him off and, well, got rid of him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Party at The Pantry

I hosted a "happy hour" party at The Pantry for Steve's birthday on July 1.  I'm finally getting around to uploading a couple photos.  We reserved the bar area and had a total of about 20 people.  While hanging out, guests munched on the famous house-made brats, sauerkraut and pommes frites.  The bar manager was great, kept the drinks flowing and the food table stocked. 

Midnight 25k

Last weekend was the Midnight 50k/25k at Lake Sylvia.  Until Saturday night, I had never run that far or that long and I'm still feeling sore 2 days later.  But, it was a really fun event.  It's a fun run in the sense that no one records your time, there are no medals, no age groups, etc.  It's just you and a couple hundred people running with flashlights on the service roads around Lake Sylvia under a full moon.

At the start, I think I heard someone say that there was 96% humidity and the temps were in the 90's.  Still, it didn't feel that terrible.  I took it easy, topped off my water bottle at each stop and walked when the grade became to difficult.  I got nervous in the last couple miles when the the trees closed in on the road; so, I could no longer see the moon.  I was alone and tired and starting to see things.  Eventually, I saw the headlamps of a couple runners behind me, reassuring me that I was headed in the right direction.  Shortly thereafter I was heading through the glow-stick lined finishing stretch.  Volunteers provided a table of food and drink for participants.  I had two huge pieces of watermelon and a coke. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beginner gardening

Red Pearl

I decided to take a stab at growing some vegetables this year.  I started the seeds back in February and March in egg cartons.  I used a cheap 48" light fixture with aquarium bulbs to give the seedlings light.

What I started:
High Mowing Seeds Aton Basil
High Mowing Midnight Lightning Zuchinni
Johnny's Red Pearl Grape Tomato
Johnny's Hybrid Strawberry
Territorial Seed Company Bitonto Hybrid

It has been mostly successful, but I have a lot of learning to do.  As fertilizer, I've been using a combination of Jobe's granules and fish emulsion per P. Allen Smith's suggestion.  However, trying to figure out how much to use, has been a bit of an experiment: 2 cups Jobe's granule's in the bed and 1/2 tsp of fish emulsion in 2 gallons of water monthly.

Bitonto and Basil

First, tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, but they grow a lot taller than I expected.  When my neighbor offered me his tomato cages back in May, I should have accepted.  At the time, my plants were barely a foot and it was pouring rain every day.  I didn't think they would grow at all, much less taller than me. Now, my plot is mess of stakes of varying heights and crisscrossed string trying to help keep them happy and upright.

Second, ants can destroy your plants.  I lost one within a couple days of transplanting because they built a mound right over the plant.  A border of diatomaceous earth has kept that problem under control.

Third, wheat straw makes good mulch, but an entire bale in the backyard can freak out the dog in the middle of the night.  I can sort of see how it might look like a shaggy, unmoving dog in the moonlight...

Fourth, having fresh basil  in the garden is fabulous.  I have pulled off some pretty great meals using that basil including some caprese sandwiches and last night's pasta dish: Spinach penne and sauteed summer squash, tossed with olive oil and lemon and garnished with homemade ricotta and fresh basil.  So summery.

Finally, I don't know how to grow squash, zuchinni or zephyr.  (I bought a couple zephyr plants at the farmers market.)  Either the soil has too much nitrogen or there aren't enough bees to pollinate, because I'm not getting much.  The couple of baby squash I have seen, disappear on me.  Critters? 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bunnies, bunnies everywhere

It surely is spring here in Little Rock.  We've had two violent storms in the past week that left damage all over the area.  Amazingly, we avoided all damage, including power outages.  Our neighbor wasn't so lucky.  A tulip poplar in their front yard was completely uprooted and is now laying on it's side.  It did earn him a well deserved "yard of the month" sign from the neighborhood association.  So, that's something.

While out for a quick run on Tuesday morning, a came across two bunnies, another sign of spring, also out for a run (or a chase).  I was in the road when I first saw them running in a yard along the right side of me.  The two crossed the street in front of me and continued to run alongside me, now on the left side of the road.  Then, they crossed in front of me again and ran along, back on the right side of the road.  They crossed the street one more time to the left side and ran in the opposite direction I was running. I wish they had run with me the whole way!

Later, I came across a new and FREE Mochimochi pattern for baby bunnies.  Well, I couldn't resist and decided to make some, with a bit of a twist.  Mine are rings, inspired by a different Mochimochi creation.  I simply added a 2-stitch i-cord that I threaded as a loop to the underside of each bunny.  Cute, cute cute.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Running into Spring

This morning I went out for a run barefoot.  Being my first time since, perhaps, before I was a teenager, I kept it short.  The first thing I realized is that I needed to shorten my stride and run with quick, short steps.  The second thing I realized is that the little rocks and grit on the sidewalk and roads hurt my wimpy feet. 

Despite running with Fido on trails for an hour at a time without pain, a 30 minute run on pavement last Thursday left me with pain in my knee that lasted a couple days.  Steve's advice: run barefoot.  In fact, he said, "Save the feet, hurt the knees."  I totally buy that, but how long before I build up enough tolerance to actually run barefoot for more than 10 minutes?  And, do I really want hobbit feet anyway?  Or, should I become one of those people with the silly looking five finger shoes?

On a different running note, Diane Van Deren's advantage as an ultra-runner: the lobectomy surgery she had to cure her epilepsy.  To be fair, she was a pro-athlete (in tennis, I think) before the epilepsy appeared, but it's fascinating that by removing part of her brain, she no longer suffers the mental torture of endurance running.  She's completely present while running with no thought of how long she's been out or how much longer she'll be out.  You can hear her discuss her experience with epilepsy and running on a recent Radiolab podcast:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Screen printing with Essy and a Yudu

Steve did a screen printing project back in Los Angeles, the traditional way.  I wasn't really involved in the process, but I remember it involving a lot of work and turning our tiny apartment into an art studio with a dark room.

With a specific project in mind and after doing a little research, I decided to invest in a Yudu.  It arrived just in time for my niece Essy's visit.  The two of us gave it a test run.

The first step was to find an image, edit it and vectorize it.  Essy chose an awesome gas mask and made the necessary edits.  I now have two new pieces of software GIMP and Inkscape on my computer with just enough knowledge to use them to turn an image into a vector and re-size it.

Then we had to prepare the screen and expose it using our image printed on a transparency.

 Here is Essy rinsing off the exposed screen and starting the drying process.

 While waiting for the screen to dry, we hiked up Pinnacle Mountain.

 After our hike, we did the actual printing, the easiest part of the whole process.  Essy shows off the finished product.

Steve came home just as we were finishing Essy's t-shirt and just had to have one too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mushroom. Mushroom.

My awesome birthday gift from Dawn...a mushroom growing kit.

This is what the compost looks like when you first open the box.

Then you cover it with moistened casing (included in the package).

Finally, close up the box and wait for "the gray mold".  In the meantime, I found the video I couldn't help but think about while preparing the mushroom box.   Uh, badger, badger, badger...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins

Leftover oatmeal?  Try these.

I used Red Mill 7-grain hot cereal, so they look a bit smoother than the picture in the Times.  Still, yummy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Finding Emilie - Radiolab

On a recent episode of Radiolab called Lost and Found, there was a segment about Emilie Gossiaux, who was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle, and her boyfriend who refused to give up trying to communicate with her after the accident.  I was riveted for the entire 20 minutes.

Finding Emilie - Radiolab

Monday, February 21, 2011

Caddo Gap Getaway

Steve, Fido and I got out of Little Rock this weekend and stayed in a cabin on the Caddo River, near Caddo Gap.  Our cabin was rustic, but plenty comfortable with a full kitchen and sun porch.

Fido got wet, often.

We got in a little riding on the Womble and Ouachita trails and some hiking on Eagle Rock trail near Albert Pike recreation area.  Here is a shot of the Little Missouri River.

Good weekend, but it's good to be home.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Phone cozy

I needed a quick project to practice cabling and my phone needed a cozy.

The number of stitches and rows to use depend on the weight of the yarn, the size of the needles and, of course, the size of the phone.

Here's what worked for me.

I used BeBe Cotsoy yarn (20sts+s6rows to 4"/10cm) with size 6 dpns.

Pink body:
Cast on 32 stitches and join in round
Round 1: p2 k4 p2 (repeat 4x)
Round 2: p2 k4 p2 (repeat 4x)
Round 3: p2 cf4 p2 (repeat 4x)
Round 4: p2 k4 p2 (repeat 4x)
Repeat above four rounds to desired length. (For me, it was 9, for a total of 36 rounds.)
Bind off.  Fold so that there are two cables on each side and close up the bottom using a whip stitch.  Weave in loose yarns.

Green flap:
With the front of the work facing, pick up 6 stitches.
Row 1: k6
Row 2: p6
Repeat above 2 rows 5 times for a total of 10 rows
Row 11: k3 yo k2tog k2 (This makes the button hole.)
Row 12: p6
Row 13: k2tog k2 ssk
Row 14: p4
Row 15: k2tog ssk
Ro2 16: p2
Row 17: k2tog.
Cut yarn and pass through last loop.  Pull tight.

Making up:
Using phone as a guide, mark where button should be placed on front of cozy. 
Sew button on with a piece of felt on the inside of the cozy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow day for Little Rock

We woke up this morning to nearly 4 inches of snow on the ground.  That meant no school, no city services and many stores and restaurants were closed. 

Snow days are fun, even if I do have to work.  (I work from home, so no reason not to.)  Our neighborhood comes alive with people taking walks, kids carrying sleds, snowmen being built and the sounds of ATVs cruising around.  Plus, the birds seem to flock to the feeder.  Perhaps, it's because the ground is covered in snow or because JD doesn't like to get his paws wet.

I did get out and enjoy the snow this morning with Steve and Fido and did so early enough to be the first person to make a snow angel in the softball field at Reservoir Park.

Steve and Fido on the way to the park.

Fido and Steve crossing the overflowing creek.

Scooter thought she wanted to go out as well...

Friday, January 7, 2011

More knitting...

This is Lulu.  Sweet thing loves to shop for pastry and flowers and wears cute skirts with her black boots.  If only she could get that mess of hair under control!

The pattern was adapted from the Human Bean pattern in Knitting Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec.  I knit her up on size 6 dpns with worsted weight yarn.

And another Mochimochi pattern:

It is a special gift for a friend as she recovers from a very serious bicycling accident.  We're pulling for you Sally!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fido on Christmas Day 2010

Cute (but grainy) video I took of our Fido on Christmas day.  The gift was from Steve's folks.

Fido gets a Christmas present from Heather Ladd on Vimeo.