We went to Molbaks on Sunday (it was too cold to play at the park in the morning, but we needed out of the house time for the toddler). Fun to look around, and then we came home with a gradient of pretty yellow primroses for the backyard planters, an orange/red/yellow trio of primroses and ranunculus for the green planter out front, and a mini daffodil for the kitchen counter. The daffodil only had one bloom on Sunday when we bought it (I purposely steered clear of the gorgeous ones that were in full bloom). Sure enough, only a few days later and this one’s well on its way.

It’s in one of my three standard pots that I bought when we first moved out here – I can’t even remember all of the things that have been planted in this one over the last few years. That said, this has to be one of the prettiest combos — I love the medium blue/turquoise/dark brown/green/yellow progression – too pretty.

And a top-down view (Kevin took all of these photos).

One last flash-filled twilight dinner photo of these flowers in their natural environment on the counter.

Even with the crummy lighting, they’re so cheerful sitting there.

Tulip Season

The first of the 2011 tulips — I love this time of year (in spite of the lingering gray) for the parade of cheap tulips and the hope of occasional clear mountain views.

This is our 7th winter in Seattle (can you believe it’s been so long?) and it feels like the seasons go something like: (starting in late August) preliminary gray, fall leaves, deep gray and mist, Thanksgiving & Christmas, primroses (2 or 3 weeks in January), tulips & mountains, deep grey and moss, spring (this is short, too, a few weeks max), and then vivid long-day summer, before the cycle begins again.

Aside from summer, which is obvious in its appeal, the mountain & tulip season is probably my favorite time of year out here – so much potential and building of momentum after a period of subdued indoor hibernation. This is the time of year when everyone starts finding outdoor activities even if it’s drizzling a little, and the twilight almost lasts long enough so that the first part of the drive home is still under deep blue (rather than black) skies. Plus my little 10-for-$7 tulip muses to speed the winter along.

Flowers for the counter

Sorry for the string of plant posts (usually I try to spice things up a bit more) but the plants keep being interesting whereas the sweater I’m knitting is just endless. Each row is at about 170 stitches right now, which takes me a good fraction of an hour. I have five rows left, finally, and then I can bind off, block it, and get a picture. (And then, of course, repeat the process for the second front.) Until then, though, the parade of plants continues. I cut a few sprigs from the flowering fruit tree by the back patio, and though I don’t think they’ll last for many days, the blooms are amazing in the sunlight.

Kevin was playing with his macro lens and I think the resulting photos are beautiful.

Fleeting but lovely.

Orange is so cheery

I seem to be on a green and orange kick this week.

The tulips are tomato colored, with irridescent orange edges. 🙂 I’m an enormous fan, and they counteract the crummy weather beautifully. Thank goodness for March tulips!

The sweater is my finished Pea Pod. I made the six month size sweater, and the 14½” hat. I love the orange shell buttons (Kevin does too!), and I expect that they’ll make me as happy next February as they do now. 🙂 I thought the hat as written kept looking way too short on babies’ heads, so I started the decreases at row 9 of the chart instead of row 3. I have no idea if the hat and sweater will fit at the same time – if not, at least it will be easy and quick to whip up a second hat.

And here’s the back:

This was such a great pattern, and I have fun memories of working on it – the Whistler trip, the Costa Rica trip, and sewing on the buttons right after we found out the baby’s gender: we’re having a boy! Any suggestions for boy baby knitting projects? I have a few rows left on the Baby Surprise Jacket, and then my queue is blank!

Farmers Market Flowers!

Now that we have the fruits and veggies from the CSA each week, I haven’t been to the farmers’ market once this summer. On the balance, I’m fine with that, but I do miss all of the flower vendors, and I’ve been wishing for sunflowers. I spent about five hours yesterday working on caulking the trim in the family room. As I worked, I listened to all of the cheers and honking for the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk, which headed past the top of our street. As the day got late, I decided to run up the street to pick up white thread for Kevin’s curtains and see all of the walkers (aka, do a little honking myself) – many of them get dressed up in things ranging from “outfits” to complete costumes. I actually found it quite emotional to see their progress – most of them are either survivors, or friends and family of people who have had cancer. I know several people this year with horrible, sad cancer stories, and this walk seems like such a brave and hopeful thing to go do (you can’t walk without a hitting a minimum pledge – it’s not little, and it’s a big physical and time commitment), and at the same time each walker is so small in the face of the dollars and years that are required for improvements in care, let alone a cure. You see all of the PINK, and the friends, and the brave T-shirt slogans (“I had a war in my raq.”), and it was a steady stream of women and supporting men and sons, but it still made me kind of teary to drive by. Very emotional and powerful.

On the way to the thread store, I drove by a woman with a tent selling flowers along the way, and I stopped and bought these.

They’re so extravagant, and exactly what I’ve been feeling we were lacking. The right flowers to be summery, but heading into fall colors. Perfect. 🙂

The weather has been cooperating with brilliant sunshine, so our kitchen was full of glowing flowers and bright sunlight all afternoon.

We’ve been hoping to replace the kitchen cabinets since we moved in. (We have a hole where a trash compactor used to go, and none of the current cabinets are adjustible, so they’re a terrible use of space. We still have glasses in storage. Plus there’s a mid-eighties-era microwave/oven that you can see in the photo above that would make an excellent pantry if we redid things.)

Do any of you live in Seattle or on the Eastside and have custom cabinetry recommendations? We’ll definitely scope out the Lowes/Home Depot standard options, but we’re hoping to keep the current Corian countertops and the kitchen as it is just doesn’t fit the standard grid. Any thoughts (including keywords to search for online) would be awesome.

P.S. If you know an electrician, we’re in the market for one of those, too. 🙂

Rhododendrons on the counter

We have the prettiest pink mini rhododendron out in the backyard, and I couldn’t resist cutting one of the blooms off the back and bringing it into the house.

It looks so pretty on the counter. A bit of spring to counteract all of the grim weather.

(Not to mention, a challenge for Kevin’s new flower lens and detachable flash. As soon as I took my card out of his camera, he hurried off to get himself all set up. 🙂 Copycat.

His favourites are here.


More Spring Updates

Our primroses on the kitchen counter continue to look so cheerful. They now have company in the blue pots on either side. Amanda and Brian left three quarters of a thing of garlic on the counter a month and a half ago. It’s been sprouting, and I finally planted it last week. It’s VERY pleased to be in a pot. The shoots are all about three inches tall, and they seem to grow more every time I walk into the kitchen.

I’ve been checking on the crocuses each morning and most evenings to see if they’ve bloomed – it’s always such an all of a sudden thing with them. I can’t wait to see what color they turn out to be. That surprise seems a little bit ruined since there’s lavender, yellow, and purple crocus petal debris all around the bulbs. None of the remaining ones seem damaged, but I’ll have to be extra vigilant if I want to see them flower, I guess. I wonder which creature decided to attack?

The hydrangeas in the front yard were severely cut back during the pruning when Kevin’s family was here. I’ve been worried about them since it really does seem like a lot to recover from. I checked today, though, and it seems my fears were groundless since there are green buds everywhere. Yay!

There are two unidentified bushes in the backyard with very neat buds. Any ideas what this is?

Or this?

While we’re playing “name that plant”, the entire corner of front yard erupted in what looks like two sorts of bulb.

Here are the closeups (click on them for even bigger) – any ideas?

And finally, the holly tree is still, incongruously, covered in berries and looking very Christmassy. Right in front of it, though, is a bush positively covered in buds. I was puzzling over it when I finally found one that had actually bloomed! I know this flower!!

We have a forsythia!

Sorry that it’s been so long

Oh, man, I’m far behind. I got lulled by my lack of bloggable photos and didn’t post, and now all sorts of interesting things have happened: the start of (fantasy) football and the related knitting, the back deck gardening success, the baby born (and sweater, etc. revealed, finally), the quilt progress and regression…

Usually I cope with lack of posting by just putting up five posts in a night (RSS feeds be damned), but for some reason this all feels intermingled, so this will be the longest post ever. Sorry?

So first of all, I went to the Farmers’ market a week ago Saturday. My intention was to pick up flowers, peaches and veggies (all of which were accomplished with the typical farmers’ market glee), but there were a few fun additions. I ran into Pam from my knitting group at the skirt stall, fun. And then after I was done shopping, I returned to the booth and bought one! (My Christmas stocking had a bit of fun money in it, and though we’re a full ¾ of the year later, I found something great to use it on. 🙂 Nice! )

Here are the farmers market flowers with the front of Isabella. I’ve finally made it to the lace – the knitting is so, so much more interesting now. I’ve made quite a few more rows since this photo and they’ve just flown by. All of the football in the last week hasn’t hurt the progress!

The plants on the back deck have been entertaining. The tomatoes are going strong. I’ve picked five so far, and there are at least 10 more in various stages of ripening waiting in the wings. The beans keep appearing – every time I give up and expect the end, I see 7 more waiting to be picked. No complaints! Best snack ever.

The strawberries just started blooming again a few weeks ago, and the fruits are closer and closer to being ripe to pick. And, exciting to me, the poor pepper plant that got overrun by the beans, is actually making peppers regardless. How cool!! Definitely runty and late, but I’m just delighted by every sign of progress.

And finally, I’ve been working on the pine trees for the quilt. They’ve been weighing on me ( a classic case of unexecutable vision), and I finally charted and started to construct them last weekend. Here’s the result about a third of the way in…

Since then I’ve been finishing and ripping back squares without quite finishing anything. I LOVE the deep-dark pine tree colors up close, but against the lake and land business, they don’t really work. I’m struggling to come up with a reasonable solution… so far I’ve tried improving the tree/water contrast (helps, but not enough). Next up is mixing in more medium greens to go with the darks. I may have to switch to mountains and hills and then return to this – I love the squares but they just don’t fit the quilt.
I meant to write about the baby knitting as part of my catch-all post, but then realized that it would be easier to have my pattern notes separate. So, to be carried on in a later post… 🙂