Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween season

Or, making this year's costume.

El Burrito has decided, after lots of discussion, to be Word Girl this year (yes, a "girl" - although she's also an alien. This led to discussion at the grandparents' house. He's already been a monster (Cookie) and an elephant(Horton), why shouldn't he be a girl/alien/superhero??). Next year he wants to be Super Why.

Official Word Girl costumes are about $35 and only available online, and if they're anything like the official Horton costume we saw, they're cheaply made. So it's DIY again. Luckily, I bought a sewing machine for a whopping $6 at a yard sale this summer. Even more luckily, it actually appears to work. :) And Jo-Ann's was having a sale on cotton fabric last weekend, so cape supplies came to under $5 (a bit more if you count the machine needles).

I went to Target today looking for the rest of the costume. Red seems to be "in" for kids this year, so I found a plain red shirt and leggings at Target, plus gloves and tights/legwarmers that will turn into boot covers. Much happiness on the way home.

Now I just have to actually make the cape, figure out how to do a hood, and muddle together a felt costume so our stuffed monkey can be Captain Huggy Face, Word Girl's trusty sidekick. DH and I have been told that we're going to be Mr. Botsford (Word Girl's adoptive father - her alter ego is Becky Botsford) and Becky's best friend Violet. I wanted to be Granny May and DH could be The Butcher, but we were told that we could only dress as Good Guys, not Villains. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I suck at summer

Yes, it's been a while. The PC got a virus and I was offline for a while. Still don't have things totally cleared up, which sucks.

Also, I suck at summer planning. Just realized El B has 2.5 weeks of summer vacation left, part of which is already blocked off for a sleepover at Grandma's, and we haven't really done anything this summer. We've left the county twice, for pete's sake, both times for trips to my parents'. (Not what you'd call a "vacation" at all.)

That list of fun local stuff to do? Didn't do any of it. I planned to go on campus to the college's art & archaeology museum, but I realized tonight that classes start next week and parking will be a crazy mess.

The box of craft kits and list of fun little projects? Totally forgotten. We did one, and it's still unfinished. Our main accomplishment has been 3 sets of caterpillars from his Live Butterfly Garden. Wow. Oh, and he saw two movies - Cars 2 and the new Winnie the Pooh movie.

He spent most of his summer watching TV, and it makes me feel like s**t because it's my fault.

We didn't go to the farmers' market, the park, the museum, the zoo (okay, 3 hour drive, but still), nothing. I didn't even manage to call his best pal from preschool for a playdate yet.

I suck.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden Update (6/2/11)

The broccoli is growing, and the spinach is looking scruffy. I may need to rig a shade for it.

Today: DH dug two flowerbeds along the fence. One has 25 mixed Unwin Dahlia tubers (some of which I don't expect to sprout), the other has about 10 assorted daylilies that I got either last summer or the summer before. HyVee was clearing out their greenhouse, and gallon daylilies were $1 each. I bought a trunk full, and they've been in the biggest flowerpots I could find since then. One is starting to bloom, so they must have been fairly content.

The star jasmine I bought last month is in one of the daylily pots, and hopefully I haven't killed the poor thing. The spearmint, on the other hand, is also unplanted and looking pretty dead. Other than the mint, the only things left on the deck are two petunias, two Easter lilies, a small dahlia, and a Cardinal climber. And, the only seeds left that I really want to plant are the sunflowers - 3 kinds in seed packets, and I may toss in a handful of the black-oil seed that the birds have been eating.

We also did some planting on Memorial weekend. The lilac is finally planted. The large bed has 11 peppers, 4 cauliflower, 2 broccoli, and a cantaloupe. The Westlake's perennials - 2 echinacea (a variety called Magnus - I watch Sanctuary and couldn't pass up the connection), 2 coreopsis, an evening primrose, and a Gaillardia variety called Bijou - were all planted the day I bought them. Except for Bijou, those all went next to the driveway, along with a bunch of annuals. While we were digging that bed, we found the Biggest Worm Ever, worthy of his own SciFi Original Movie:

Seriously. I have Never seen a worm that big. He must have been close to a foot long when he was stretching out.

Oh, and I also have 25 freesia bulbs and 10 (I think) iron cross Oxalis bulbs to plant. It's Westlake's fault - I couldn't pass up the half-price bagged roots (even though the astilbe and echinacea I bought from the same grower were DOA). And 5 Cardinal climber seedlings in the dining room - possibly the only things I started from seed that might do any good. Well, I'll admit, the scarlet runner beans aren't doing bad. Everything else I started, though, was an absolute failure.

Can't wait for the cicadas to quiet down a bit. They're deafening during the day right now - drown out the TV even with the windows closed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whiplash weather

No joke - I had the furnace on last week, the low Wednesday was 47. Today the high is pushing 90, and I know the broccoli is going "what the heck???" outside. The cicadas are finally warm enough to drone now; it's loud today but will probably be close to deafening tomorrow.

The second raised bed is finally done, a month later than it should have been. Now it's hot, and the only things I can think to put in it are peppers and the cauliflower seedlings I've had for 3 weeks. Bought 11 pepper plants today - 2 orange, 1 chocolate, 4 red, and 4 green. Meant to start some dwarf bells from seed earlier, but haven't done it yet. I also bought more perennials at Westlake's 3/$10 sale - 2 echinacea, 2 coreopsis, 1 evening primrose, and 1 gaillardia (which will hopefully be a good example for the 6 tiny ones Mom got me on QVC - same price as the Westlake's plants, but tiny plugs instead of the gallon pots from W.)

Also, the lilac I got on Mother's Day? Still sitting on the porch, along with a couple dozen bedding plants. Ditto for a bag of oxalis, 2 bags of freesia, and 2 bags of dahlias.

And with the forecast being over 80 for the foreseeable future, I may wait a while to order the fuchsia plants I've been lusting after. They would probably like more time to acclimate before the freaking hot weather kicks in.

Harvest update: we had salad at lunch, with lettuce, spinach, and tiny radishes that I grew. And the broccolis all have tiny heads growing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


The garden has produced something! Okay, it's only 4 radishes, and I forgot to put the first ones in the fridge, so they went wrinkly, but it's still progress. We also have baby broccoli heads, and I've snacked on some spinach. There's enough lettuce for a salad now, too.

I dug up the sod for the second raised bed last night. Soooo glad it's a one-time thing. My sod-busting technique needs work. Or maybe I just need more muscle.

Flower-wise, the dahlias are the only new plants that look really happy. Everything else still seems "stalled out" for lack of a better term. I had one echinacea seedling that looked worth planting out, and it's still looking the same as it did two weeks ago. The dirt here must be worse than I thought. Hopefully the compost will be a success and I can use it in the flowerbeds, because buying topsoil and garden dirt isn't cheap. But, short of waiting a year for the compost to mature, it seems to be the only/easiest route.

Weather: cool and rainy for weeks. That's changing - highs for the next week are in the 80s. Whiplash weather. Ugh.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Quick notes for today: planted the watermelon (Sugar Baby) seedlings from Hyvee, 4 pumpkin seeds, half a packet each of coneflower and rudbeckia, plus the sole surviving coneflower seedling. Also put together the large raised bed. And made a trellis for the scarlet runner beans near the sidewalk (five plants)

Seed starting has been a huge failure. So far, the runner beans are the only thing large enough to plant outside that look like they may live. Pumpkins are alive but haven't grown. Dahlias and rosemary went an hour too long without water and croaked. Ditto to the zinnia and cosmos. Shasta daisies may be worth planting out. Not sure why it's all gone pear-shaped. Very frustrating.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gardening notes

Despite the hideous heat, I did some gardening / yardwork today.

The irises that I transplanted from under the hedge are amazingly blooming (they're purple and white), as are two of the roses (yellow, my favorite). I was afraid I'd done the roses in by pruning before the last freeze, but they are tough.

The mailbox bed has gotten some zinnia, cosmos, and marigold seed, plus a couple of cosmos seedlings and one or two of something I don't remember.

The driveway bed has another (very pathetic looking) bare-root coneflower (half price at Westlake's today), and a couple of the bedding plants I got for mother's day - I think marguerite daisies, the other two whats-its, and a cosmos. It will get coneflower and rudbeckia seed, as soon as I find them.

Planted two purple semi-cactus dahlias next to the two yellow ones. Also from Westlake's half price roots.

Next up, adding the rest of the Mother's Day plants to the garage bed or wherever they will maybe live. Impatiens, snapdragons, petunias, pansies, and something else.

Also, I cleared a narrow path through a daylily (I assume) patch, so we can get to the water faucet, and took the 100+ lilies that resulted from that out to my mother-in-law for her yard. They filled a five-gallon bucket. And there's more where that came from - digging those up didn't even make a dent in the lily population. I love daylilies, but I'm betting these are all the same, and I like a little variety. None of them show signs of blooming yet, probably too crowded.

And, the unidentified flowering tree out back is a cherry of some kind. It bloomed in spite of the late frosts, and is setting fruit.

Bizarre weather

It was 86 degrees here today(10 or 15 degrees above average). We turned the A/C on tonight so we could sleep.

May break the heat record on Tuesday. Oy. I hope this isn't a sign of how the summer will be.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gardening again

It finally stopped raining, so I got some more plants in the ground today. The garage flowerbed has been de-plasticked (not sure why they put plastic in all the beds, it's a pain) and I added in 40 pounds of topsoil before I did my best at mixing it all together with the mulch. It now has 4 astilbe roots, a handful of violets from Mom's flowerbed, and a white violet I found. Unfortunately, it's serious clay, so I don't know what will grow. I left the hostas and the unidentified purple-leaved plant with purple flower spikes. It's probably a weed, but it's pretty. And I tossed some older viola seed in, too.

The dahlia tubers are in the front yard, hopefully they'll grow. More zinnia seed in the mailbox bed. Two of the gaillardia look dead, and I forgot to water the other plants that are still in pots inside - the second batch of marguerite daisies may be deceased.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I've been working on a scarf, a pattern I've used once before. It's been a while, though, and current-scarf is rolling up like crazy. Just figured out, I've been doing the long-single crochet stitch all wrong, and it's pulling the scarf into a curl. And, since it's a stripe scarf with the yarn cut after each row (for fringe), it's going to be an absolute beast to fix. I don't have enough yarn to scrap it, I'll have to re-use.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Update: Something uprooted one of the broccoli last night, but didn't eat it. None of the outdoor seeds are up yet. The dahlia inside have sprouted, and today I bought a small 4-pack of zinnia to brighten things up until the zinnia seed grows. Also got a small pot of coreopsis, not sure where to put it. Need to start the seeds for the cardinal climber and scarlet runner beans. I'd like to have those blooming by the birthday party in May, so I need to get going. Ditto for the bell peppers.

Semi-garden related: My folks came to town today and brought the pickup truck, so we went to Menards tonight to buy a sandbox that was on sale in their ad this week. Got there to find that it's pretty flimsy, and ended up buying lumber and plywood to make a sandbox. The home-grown version will be cheaper, twice the size, and last longer. Stopped at Toys R Us on the way home and bought a swingset, too. We may not get El Burrito back in the house after we get everything set up. He's a big, big fan of swings.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Garden UPdate

a.k.a. nothing much to report.

Nothing planted outside yet. Every time I planned to do it, it snowed, I swear. May get the raised bed together this weekend, but there's another bump. Allergies. For the past two days, even with generic Zyrtec and eye drops, I can be outside for maybe an hour before my eyes start watering, itching, and swelling up. Frustrating as all getout. My yard & gardening plans are on hold, pretty much, until whatever's setting me off gets done blooming, spore-ing, or pollening.

The broccoli and cantaloupe seeds were a fail. Broccoli never sprouted, cantaloupe seedlings looked so much NOT like cantaloupe plants that it was crazy. Hair-thin, totally unlike the watermelon & pumpkins in the next pots. I started dahlias and rosemary seeds in those pots, and got a 4-pack of broccoli plants at Hy-vee for $1.78.

Also, the lilies, if that's what they are, still haven't been divided. Still haven't ordered the fuchsia or lily of the valley plants. Did buy 2 dahlia tubers and 3 or 4 astilbe roots at the hardware store. Need to see if anyone has zinnia plants, since those seedlings are alive, but super-spindly looking. It's warm enough now to plant directly outside, but I'd like a few larger ones to jump-start things.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The latest weather roller-coaster

To recap:
March 14th(ish) - snow (Surprise! it was supposed to rain)
March 21 - 70 degrees
March 26 - more snow
March 28 - lows in the 20s
March 31 - predicted 60s/70s

Sheesh. This is why I was outside in the dark tonight, lousy flashlight, covering the irises and Supposed Lilies, in the probably-vain hope that a cheap plastic shower curtain can save them from temps in the mid-20s. I'd planned to put together the raised bed over the weekend, and start the spinach, but 3 inches of snow scratched that idea.

And we were just watching half a dozen deer in the empty lot next door. They would be the main reason I'm planning to replace the hostas, and predicting that the garden won't be a smashing success. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

They must be kidding, right?

The weather forecast is calling for 2-6 inches of SNOW in the area this weekend!! Seriously.

So I was out in the dark trying to cover up the irises with newspaper - not helped by the fact that I have a lot of newspaper, but not much heavy stuff to weight it down with. The worst of it will be tomorrow night, so I have time to cobble together something better. The irises, lilies, and hostas are already out, and the Bradford pear is starting to bloom. The pear's on it's own, but I'd like to protect at least the irises and some of the lilies. I just moved the irises last weekend, so they're not quite settled in yet. One I bought last year and it's been in a container since then; the others that were transplanted were living under the evergreen foundation plantings. I'm surprised they were still alive. The second clump of irises is in a better spot, but could stand some dividing. (I swear, the people who lived here the past two years were clueless about this stuff.)

So much for my plan of knocking a raised bed together this weekend and seeding some spinach and radishes. And dividing/moving the mass of lilies we have - someone must have gotten a heck of a deal, they're everywhere. No clue yet what they look like, I don't think they were blooming when we looked at the house. Have to see if I still have the house-hunting pics. I hope they aren't all Stella D'Oro - Stellas are common around here, a little variety is nice sometimes.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Sleet last night. Oy.

Hopefully the irises won't be too upset

Monday, March 21, 2011


Let the gardening begin.

The irises, poor things, have been relocated. I don't know who thought it was a good idea to plant them under the foundation plantings (evergreens), but really? Think again. Ditto for daylilies under the deck.

Today I finally got around to putting seed-mix into the little Jiffy greenhouses I got for Christmas. Half got the leftover Miracle-Gro seed starting mix. Don't care for it, it's too chunky. I found a couple of large-ish bits of bark. Other half got the Jiffy organic seed starting mix. Now to decide what seeds to start, plant them, and get everything labeled. I'm probably late to the party - high temp today of 80, but there's still a month or so of possible frost. And just last week it snowed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weather Wackiness

Yesterday's newspaper forecast: Slight chance of rain tonight (Sunday night), clearing tomorrow. High 52.

What we see outside right now:

That's about two inches of "chance of rain" and it's still coming down. Melting underneath, though. Lots of slush.

My original plans for this morning were to move the half-dozen irises that some nitwit planted under the evergreen hedge, and as many of the (presumed) daylilies that I could manage, after creating their flowerbed. Not happening. In fact, I had moved two irises over the weekend, including one that over-wintered in the garage in a flower pot with some lilies. Last night, 10:00 or so, we got home from the in-laws and I dashed out with a flashlight and bucket so they could spend the night in the kitchen.

So, instead, I'll maybe be figuring out the Jiffy (probably tm) tray greenhouse that I got for Christmas. I need to figure out what to start first; probably coneflower, peppers, possibly broccoli or some herbs. Then I'll have to find a warm spot for it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Time flies, so does the Shuttle

Yes, I haven't blogged for a month. Layout of the new house = not much PC time.

So. Shuttle Discovery undocked from the ISS for the last time today. There was (supposedly) a lovely double fly0ver this evening. Unfortunately it was cloudy here and I didn't bother going out to be disappointed. There's one last chance to see her tomorrow, unless the mission is extended for a day.

A trip to Florida for the launch in April is a possibility. I put my name in the drawing for good viewing-site tickets.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Weather's coming

Nice layer of ice on our deck - the juncos were slipping around the bird feeder.

Preschool is cancelled tomorrow, along with apparently every school in a 30 mile radius. City's canceled trash service. Governor's called a state of emergency.

I really hope we don't lose power. That would suck. Food-wise we'd be okay, but no heat and negative wind-chills could get nasty.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Okay, so apparently we really, really need to start watching the local news every night, at least the weather forecast.

While we were having lunch today, we overheard someone at the next booth talking about the upcoming weather, but no details. Turned on the radio while we were cleaning out the condo, and heard mention of a winter weather watch - freezing rain/sleet/drizzle, "heavy snow" and cold. Okay, I thought, maybe we should stop for milk on the way home.

Then, an hour or so later, the weather alert beeps sounded on the radio, and we got a more detailed forecast. Holy buckets! No mention of accumulation on the freezing rain, but they're forecasting 12-18 inches of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a low of -7 (F) on top of that.

Holy crackers, Batman. If this does happen, there may or may not be a snow day tomorrow (depending on the freezing precipitation accumulation), but I can pretty much guarantee that 12 inches of snow will mean at least one snow day, and probably more. Heck, with that kind of depth, plus the slope on our driveway, DH may have a snow day from work.

Lots of snow this year. Just this month, I think El Burrito's had 3 or 4 snow days. Last week was a teacher workday (which I didn't realize until late the night before), and the week before that there were two snow days plus MLK Jr. holiday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


More like bird feeding, actually, but still.

One of the first things we did here at the house was to hang up a couple of bird feeders. We started off with the suet feeder, the peanut-butter-pine-cone from pre-school, and a tube feeder I'd had for a few months. I got 20 pounds of mixed seed for my birthday, and was crazy enough to put bird feed on my Christmas list, so now I've got either 40 or 60 pounds of mixed seed (mostly millet, which isn't popular) in the garage. Plus 30 pounds of black-oil sunflower seed in the kitchen, courtesy of a Westlake's sale.

I bought a thistle feeder just before Christmas, but didn't put it out until we saw a pair of house finches over the weekend, and a goldfinch last week, which led to buying 8 pounds of nyger seed. And in the meantime, noticing that the hanging feeder is pretty ignored, while the seed scattered on the deck was popular, I got a plant saucer, put some drainage holes in the bottom, and filled it with seed.

The current score: 4 hanging feeders and one saucer, plus a few piles in the snow here and there.

We had at least 12 different kinds of birds on Saturday, maybe more since my sparrow identification skills are lousy. Unfortunately, we've also got at least three squirrels, and they're bold. They've been pretty hard on the pine-cone feeder, the little rodents. I shoo them away when I can, but it's a losing battle. I did startle one enough yesterday that he didn't let go of the pine cone before he leapt off the tree. He did a little backflip when he hit the end of the yarn. I'll admit, I giggled, and I'm not sorry I ran him/her off.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I don't think I'm Wendy anymore

So, in case I forgot to mention it here, since about last April, El Burrito has been adamant that his name is Bob the Builder, and my name is Wendy. He's introduced me to people as "Wendy, my life" (we think he means "wife" but can't be sure, the concept of marriage is still something we're working on). Strangers ask his name - "I'm Bob." The library workers call him Bob, although they know it's not really his name. If we call him by his "secret" name, we get corrected. He actually asked me a before Christmas why his teachers don't know his real name. I had to tickle him before he'd call me "Mommy."

The past couple of weeks, though, he's changed his name to Caillou (although he still says "That's me!" when we see Bob on TV). I blame the Caillou Holiday Move that he's in love with. I think it'll be staying on the TiVo for a while. (Caillou irritates me a little, mostly because El Burrito starts talking like Rosie after he watches it. Rosie's 2. It bugs me.)

Tonight, I had to almost beg before he'd say "Goodnight Wendy" instead of "Goodnight Mommy." It used to be the other way around. Strangely, I think I'm kind of sad about not being Wendy. My boy's growing up.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 2011 Reading List

For the third year (yikes!), although not getting updated as frequently as it should, here it is:

(I managed to read 300+ books last year, including whatever I read to El Burrito. We'll see if I top that this year or not.)

  1. Falling Leaves, by Adeline Yen Mah (01/02/11)

  2. Beka Cooper - Terrier, by Tamora Pierce (01/06/11)
  3. The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosmary Sutcliff (01/13/11) Haven't read this series before, but I really liked the first book. It works into my interest in Classical Civ courses in college (Greek, Roman, etc.). The book's cover mentioned a movie in the works, but after the travesty that was made with The Dark is Rising, I am very leery.

  4. The Hunger Games (2/14/11)
  5. Catalyst: a tale of the Barque Cats, by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
  6. Deadly Kingdom (03/04/11)
  7. The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy, by Diane Stanley (03/04/11)
  8. Catching Fire
  9. Mockingjay
  10. Compost: the natural way to make food for your garden
  11. Making Grizzle Grow
  12. Christmas Ornaments to Make
  13. Complete GUide to Orchids
  14. Deerproofing your Yard and Garden
  15. Staying Cool, by Nancy Antle
  16. Crochet Master Class
  17. Home from the Hardware Store
  18. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide
  19. Solving Deer Problems
  20. the Complete Book of Pruning
  21. The Bloom County Library, Volume II
  22. Calvin & Hobbes: Scientific Progress goes "Boink"
  23. As Always, Julia: The letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto (03/31/11) - I want a pen pal.
  24. Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity, by Steve Dublanica

  25. Gwenhwyfar, by Mercedes Lackey (04/03/11)
  26. Why oh Why are Deserts Dry?
  27. Intrigues, by Mercedes Lackey

  28. The Problem Pony, by Lynn Hall (04/16/11)

  29. Mini Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
  30. Murder of a Celebrity, by M. C. Beaton
  31. Show Judge, by Bonnie Bryant
  32. Wind Spirit (?) Ella Clah novel (04/20/11)
  33. Turquoise Girl (Ella Clah), by Aimee and David Thurlow
  34. Driving Team, by Bonnie Bryant (04/24/11) Saddle Club book, and I really marvel at the horse facts sometimes. I'm not sure anyone can take two saddle horses and have them ready to be a team in harness, in only 10 days (and only working after school, etc.) Oy.
  35. Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia
  36. Bert's Hall of Great Inventions
  37. Sesame Street: the Together Book
  38. Ride a Dark Horse, by Lynn Hall (05/03/11)
  39. Blink
  40. Never-ending Snake, by Aimee and David Thurlo (05/07/11)
  41. The Great Brain at the Academy (05/13/11)
  42. Miss Seeton's Finest Hour (05/13/11)
  43. You Bet Your Life, by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
  44. The Long Ride, by Bonnie Bryant
  45. Conformation Faults, by Bonnie Bryant
  46. Shying at Trouble, by Bonnie Bryant
  47. Riding to Win, by Bonnie Bryant
  48. Ground Training, by Bonnie Bryant
  49. Track Record, by Bonnie Bryant

  50. Riding Rockets, by (Astronaut) Mike Mullane (06/01/11)
  51. Betty White autobio (06/02/11)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone.

Accomplishments for 2010: probably a few. The two I can recall are buying a house and managing to read 300 books in one year (if I include the books I read aloud to El Burrito in that total).

Abnormal weather here. High today of 68, low tonight 19. High on Saturday of 28. There were tornado watches/warnings in the area today. Bizarre.

Went to our usual NYE party with friends. El Burrito made it to midnight (fell asleep on the way home) and was very well behaved. No crying, shoving, Wii-mote hoarding, or tattling.