twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Busy as a bee… June 16, 2014

Filed under: life — kathy @ 12:33 pm
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Early morning in the garden...

Early morning in the garden…

Hi there, dear friends! I hope you are all finally enjoying a lovely, relaxing summer after a loooong winter. For my knitting friends, I know many didn’t terribly mind the long stretch of cold days, because that meant more time to knit large woolen objects. Still, I know enough is enough.

Here, for the last few weeks the weather was, and has continued to be, rather bipolar: 3 days hot as hell (90+ degrees high), followed rapidly by 2 or 3 relatively cool days (72 to 75 degree days). Highs normally average around 76 delightful degrees all summer long until we hit Labor Day. Then the heat kicks in for a few weeks of “I can’t take it anymore,” highs of 90 to 100+. Drives me crazy.

The good side of this warm weather, for me anyway, is that Captain Romance helped me put in a couple of Square Foot Garden beds in the back.DSCN0036

We had to have the evil dead tangerine tree, also know as the Black Squirrel’s Juice Bar, cut down. But at long last I think we finally might have a spot in the yard sunny enough for tomatoes and peppers and my favorite Roma beans. Oh my, have you ever tried Roma beans? They’re flat, meaty, and fresh from the garden, they’re a-freakin’-mazing lightly steamed with a drizzle of butter and a sprinkle of salt. I could live on them. Thanks to the warm weather last week they’re sprouting today, a couple of days earlier than I expected!

I also love how they grow on a bush, so they don’t need to have a support, and are super prolific. Luckily they freeze really well.

What do you guys like to grow in your neck of the woods? I’d love to hear.


I wish my day had an elastic waistband June 12, 2013

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 9:02 pm
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Every morning I get up bright and early, a list of things I’d like accomplish in hand. On the face of it, everything I put on that list the night before seems to be doable. But in reality, time rarely cooperates with my plans.

Okay, so I should know that this is how it goes, and that I’m not the only one who struggles with fitting everything into my day. Still, I try. Call me Pollyanna, but I try.

So at the risk of sounding like a big whiner, this is what happens:


Two lovely PurlSoho Bandana Cowls in squooshy Malabrigo Rios, fell off my needles in about 4 to 5 days of knitting. One's a B-day pressie for Captain Romance, the other, a Father's Day pressie for Poppa.

Two lovely PurlSoho Bandana Cowls in squooshy Malabrigo Rios, fell off my needles in about 4 to 5 days of knitting. One’s a B-day pressie for Captain Romance, the other, a Father’s Day pressie for Poppa.

But NOT this:

That Dang Jaywalker sock. Slowly but surely coming along. Good thing I love the yarn

That Dang Jaywalker sock. Slowly but surely coming along. Good thing I love the yarn












A cool old chair found at the end of someone's driveway in NJ (Yes, I've had it that llong) painted a wild color and filled up with bright flowers. Okay, CR hates the color. But it makes me and the Bug smile.

A cool old chair found at the end of someone’s driveway in NJ (Yes, I’ve had it that llong) painted a wild color and filled up with bright flowers. Okay, CR hates the color. But it makes me and the Bug smile.

But NOT this:

This is supposed to be my heavenly little patch of tomatoes, basil, and zucchini. There is nothing I can say...

This is supposed to be my heavenly little patch of tomatoes, basil, and zucchini. There is nothing I can say…

But then, I’m sure you all know what I mean. 😉

I’d love to know your “this, but not this” choices.


I wish you could smell this… April 24, 2012

Filed under: life — kathy @ 10:10 am
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Lovely and ruffled, this "Abraham Darby" English Rose has a lightly lemony rose fragrance...

…I wish you could just press your nose up against your screen and smell the glorious fragrance of my back garden this time of year. Honestly, a couple of months ago I was convinced that the garden, which I’ve shown you a couple of times before, would not make its spectacular annual and Just-in-time-for-Mother’s-Day explosion of blooms and perfume.

The reason for this is because our gardener (who really just mows and edges and blows the leaves around so CR doesn’t have to), took it upon himself to prune these 9 foot tall rosebushes back to sticks. Sticks. Bug was the one who noticed, but I was the one who cried.

"Gertrude Jekyll" Pink and blowsy, and rich rose scent. Heaven.

Luckily, they came back. And just in time for orange blossoms to burst open and perfume the entire yard. Ahh. I wish you were here… 🙂

Tiny, nearly hidden, but these orange blossoms are unbelievably fragrant. OMG. You can smell them in the house whenever we open the back door. Sigh.

"Graham Thomas," light and sweet rose perfume.


Almost Paradise July 22, 2011

In dappled sunlight under a canopy of Japanese maple

So, after many grueling days of shopping for fabric (this might’ve been the worst of it, actually—I do not love JoAnn’s; at least they had a 40% off sale) measuring, cutting, pinning, basting, and finally, constructing (not to mention much blood spilled over pin pricks), the ancient outdoor furniture cushions are all freshened up. I went through 14 yards of fabric, 4 upholstery zippers, 2 big spools of thread, 15 packages of piping (cleaned out every JoAnn’s in the area), not to mention at least 27 hours of On Demand movies, as well as seasons 1 and 2 of Anne of Green Gables.

But I was not alone in rehabilitating the old furniture. Captain Romance and Bug spent a whole bunch of calories washing and waxing the old bamboo while I sewed, so everything looks oodles and oodles better.

Did you notice? Everything is in gin and tonic colors. 🙂 Makes me wanna barbecue and hang out in the back yard, even though we still have a whole bunch of “outside the house” projects to do. A Whole Bunch. Sigh.

But even though having the sewing machine out has messed up the house considerably, it also has gotten me excited about sewing a few other things. In fact, I believe on my “to do this year” list, I had lined up a couple of totes I wanted to sew. And that’s what I’ll be up to today, even though I should be 1) Making Jewelry, 2) Cleaning The House, 3) Getting Me and the Bug Ready for Our Annual Trip to Chicago!

Someone looks comfy...

Well, at least CR will have a nice place to entertain his buddies while we’re gone. Wouldn’t want him to get lonely!



Pippity Do Da, and the very much needed backyard reno July 10, 2011

Filed under: life — kathy @ 10:17 am
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Good Morning!

At the risk of boring you all silly with more cat pictures (I think I’ve turned into the girlfriend you hide from because all she wants to do is show you pictures of her grandkids), I wanted you to see what a cutie Mr. Pip has become. And if you hang in there, I’ll give you a little gander at the stuff we’ve been doing in backyard land.


I know most cats—and dogs, too—really know how to relax,  but his sleeping antics have got us all giggling.

And oh, the nicknames! I’ve never ever had a cat who inspired so many  nicknames: Peep, Pipper, Mr. Peepers, Dr. Pipper, Mr. Sunshine, Mr. Fancy Pants, Fluffball, Fluff wuff, Puppy-cat, Pup, Pipsi, Pippty Do Da, Pippi…well, that’s just a few. Even sweet little Lucy only has Lulu, La, and Loola, though they share monikers “little a**hole,” and “b***head” when the occasion merits.

Actually, I’d love to hear what nicknames your little pals have, too!








As far as this backyard…what can I say? Neglect, neglect, neglect, I am guilty. I’ve been considering hanging out in Lowes on the weekend, scouting for that Ahmed guy who hosts HGTVs Yard Crashers.


...flax and sagos and ferns, oh my! This is so much worse than even this photo can show.

A serious mess, this backyard has become. But even the thought of going out to work in it makes me want to clean a bathroom and fold laundry.

It wasn’t always this way. I used to love gardening. From the time I was a kid growing up in Winfield, IL helping my grandfather with his huge vegetable garden, to the wooded and equally huge New Jersey landscape of our last home, I loved planting and weeding. It was fulfilling and creative.

But here…I just don’t know. I do know that many people claim that this is an ideal climate for growing stuff, but I haven’t found that to be entirely true. Firstly and most importantly, you need an in-ground sprinkler system wherever you want to plant. Secondly, the growing season is very different here. I’ve lived here (gasp) over 10 years and I still don’t know exactly the best time to prune my English roses. Our neighbor told us that January was when we should prune our perennial grasses. January?

I was also told to consult Sunset for the best info on gardening, and even though I bought “Western Gardening” and read it, the info just won’t stick in my brain. Sigh. On the other hand, I find it a little difficult to follow the wisdom of a publication that finds it necessary to create and use their own climate zones—take that USDA. Try to pick plants that way. Sheesh.

Anyway, I guess somewhere along the way I gave up. And then I lost interest entirely. The backyard became a bit like that pile of boxes in the corner of the guest room that you walk past and stop noticing after a while.

After! A nearly blank canvas!

So yesterday, poor CR decided he couldn’t stand it any more and took out the shovel, hatchet, pick-axe, and rake. I helped for a while, but what it took was manly brute strength to wrench the offensive and invasive ferns, flax, and awful sago palm out of the back border. I did my best to keep him fed and hydrated.

Before: 70s brown palm fabric inherited from my grandmother.

Here’s what I worked on to improve the backyard:

New slipcovers for the bamboo furniture. So far I’ve been working on them for several days and have managed to get just one finished. Long process, and I wish like heck I could afford to pay someone else to do it. Ah well.

At least I don’t have to garden. 😉

mystery slipcovers!



Watching out for Peter Rabbit and Peter Cottontail April 25, 2011

Filed under: laughter,life — kathy @ 2:15 pm
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Yum! Basil! Yum!

Last week, Bug and I decided we were going to try one more time to find suitable places to plant little crops of tomatoes, beans, zucchini, eggplants, cukes, and basil for summer. I’d given up the last couple of years, but I thought we’d give it another go.  Love homegrown veggies. Also love saving some $$ on food.

The problem is we never have figured out where it’s best to plant in our yard. We haven’t had luck with tomatoes in the past–doesn’t stay warm at night here in the summer, so we have trouble with ripening–but we have had some luck with zucchini and cucumbers.

Unlike our last place in the woods of New Jersey where I made a 10′ x 15′ garden of raised beds in a sunny spot, we have very little land here. What land we do have is taken up with a swimming pool, a patio, and lots of trees. The local community garden has no spots available, so that’s a no go.

Instead, we did a survey of where the sunniest spots were, borrowed CR’s big strong muscles to dig up some unused spots with some so-so landscaping, and rolled up our own sleeves, too.


We accomplished quite a lot in our spaces. Used some containers to plant in, too.


Unfortunately we also found out that the snails that live in our yard have a penchant for eggplant and basil. But since the Bug is also known around here as “The Snail Queen,” I can’t do too much snail removal other than diatomaceous earth, or my personal favorite: picking and whipping them over the fence into the street (don’t tell the Bug). Besides, I don’t want any poison by our veggies.Listen, I think snails are cute and all, but I like eating pesto and eggplant a bit better than escargot, so they’d just better knock it off.

Hmm. That give me an idea…

Fair Warning.


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