The weather has been positively beautiful for the past week, and we've been outside taking advantage of it here at the Three Cats Ranch. I have so much to tell you!
Even on good weather days, I always start my morning with some hand stitching. Friday morning, I finished up the quilt shop and quilts on the Written in Thread quilt.
Don't you love this little row of quilts?
Recall that I left the bottom long so that I could trim it when the stitchery at the bottom was complete. I pressed the whole piece for its picture, but then left it there until I was able to finish the stitching that goes below.
After that, I moved the tomato starts to the greenhouse and staked them with some bamboo skewers.
Then I planted the rest of the seeds I want to start. First, some "coneflower" (aka echinacea) and some zucchini. The zucchini will be nice to have because I want to make some zucchini relish this year, but I decided to plant it for its flowers that bloom late into the fall. The bees will thank me for it. And I love the blossoms on the echinacea, but that's another one that is beloved by bees.
Also, five varieties of sunflowers. They're just fun to have around. The bees like them, and when the blossoms are spent, the birds feast on the seeds.
Also three kinds of lettuce: a green leaf, a red leaf, and a butterhead lettuce. Last year, I didn't grow much lettuce because I was counting on our CSA farmers to provide us with all we could possibly want. They did provide quite a bit, but it was mostly bitter lettuce. Bitter lettuce is fine, and it adds a nice flavor to a salad, but we were sorely missing the sweet lettuce to go along with it. Live and learn, and this year, we'll have lettuce coming out of our ears...the bitter and the sweet.
Lettuce seeds are barely covered with soil because the seeds are planted just 1/8 inch deep. I always wet the soil down good, plant the seeds, and then cover them with plastic wrap until they germinate. The water collects on the under side of the plastic wrap and then drips down onto the soil, keeping it moist. I have to put the sticks there because I don't want the plastic wrap to fall down onto the soil once it becomes heavy with moisture. The echinacea was similarly planted just 1/8 inch deep, and so I did the same thing with it.
It's important to pay attention to the seeds now because they need to be uncovered once they've germinated. It gets very warm under the plastic...good for germination, but not so good for tender seed sprouts. One time I made the mistake of going away over a warm weekend. When I came home the seeds had germinated, but they were all dead, boiled in their own moisture, poor things.
When I was out and about on Friday, I looked for some additional herbs for the culinary herb garden. I was able to find some parsley, but I came up dry on the tarragon and the basil. When I got home, I decided to pot this "living basil" I purchased at the grocery store a few weeks ago. Generally, I keep it in a mason jar with some water. No reason I can't pot it instead. So I planted what I had in some soil, but it started wilting right away.
It was looking even worse when I checked it yesterday. I don't know if it's going to make it or not. As for the parsley, it's planted in the herb garden now, and looking mighty fine.
The chives are always one of the first things I can cut in the spring, and they're at their very best right now. We had some on baked potatoes a few nights ago.
While I was planting the parsley, I noticed they're forming flower buds already. Since I'm planning to make some chive blossom vinegar this year, that's a welcome sign.
After that, I decided to take a walk around the perimeter of our property. I noticed that the cherry trees are blooming, and they are loaded with honeybees.
The flowering plums are at their prettiest right now. They need pruning very badly, and I'm setting my sites on them for attention very soon.
Smitty still won't walk in the woods with me, and I thought I might coax him to walk around the perimeter with me. He lagged far behind. A few steps after I took this picture, he was gone...back to the house. He's a little nervous straying very far from the house.
At the bottom of the hill, I noticed the wild cherry tree is in bloom.
It doesn't look so different from the domesticated cherry trees, but the cherries are about half the size.
Our field is left to whatever grows. It wouldn't make sense to try to keep a lawn on an acreage, although some of our neighbors do it. I doubt our well could handle that kind of water draw, and so it's left to the wild. I've already identified these as edible purple dead nettle. If the "big one" hits, we should have plenty to eat between this and the dandelions.
When you stand at the fence and look back at the house, this is what you see.
Continuing to the right of that frame takes you down into the woods where paths have been cut to make them passable. I haven't been down there much since George died, but I decided to check it out on this day. I found another red blooming currant plant...and I love these.
Also, the trilliums are in bloom now. There are so many carpeting the floor of the woods that I need to watch my step to avoid trampling them.
Back up by the house, the andromeda is getting ready to put on a show.
Saturday morning, I finished stitching the 9th of the stitcheries for Written in Thread.
Then I sewed a border on it, trimmed the larger piece, and added it on at the bottom.
The green border around the quilt shop was badly frayed. This is the problem with piecing it together before the embroidery is finished. If there's a fabric out there that can stand up to that much handling without fraying, I have not met it yet.
And so it was something of a relief to add the brown border around the outside of the whole piece. Now I can rest easy knowing that green fabric isn't going to fray into oblivion.
The next time I work on this piece, I'll be doing the embroidery around the 2nd border on the outside, and then finishing it up.
The second wall of the mewseum is filling up nicely. There's still room, however. I need to get busy making more quilts.
The docent gets more and more comfortable in her outdoor treks, although she still steers clear of us. We leave the sliding glass door open for her, but I really want her to learn to use the kitty door. Until we can approach her and pick her up, she'll have to figure it out from watching Smitty. If we can pick her up, we can shove her through. For now, I don't want to scare her. She improves visibly every day.
Many thanks go to my friend Beth who put me onto a new app for my phone called "Like That Garden". It's available in the iTunes store. It's one of the 99-cent varieties, and it's a whole lot of fun.
So I went out for a walk to the top of our hill yesterday, and decided to give it a try. I started out with one that's pretty easy.
You take a picture via the app (pictures are also saved to your camera roll), then the app scans your image and comes up with some suggestions for what it might be. In this case...just one.
You confirm (or not) and then you see this screen.
Okay, well this kind of stuff thrills me to no end. Isn't technology marvelous? So then I tried this one.
I wasn't completely satisfied with the app suggestions...and it could have been my crappy cell phone signal too. Then I happened upon this one completely new to me. I've never even seen this before. Pretty, huh? It was growing on a shrub-like plant.
And here's what the app told me:
You can see that it's made two suggestions, and clearly the upper one is correct....so...confirmed!
When you click on the "More info" button, it takes you to the Wikipedia listing for the plant. OMG, be still my beating heart!
It works for butterflies too! Whoa! I'm in app heaven!
Also on my walk yesterday, I saw this pretty grouping of trilliums.
The app identified these next itty bitty flowers as "chickweeds". Correctamente! They're tiny little things. No bigger than a pencil eraser.
This one was identified as "blackthorn". Also correct.
As I walked up the hill toward the house after my walk, I was following behind Mow Man, who was making his first appearance of the year.
Mow Man rides a mower when he mows up next to the house.
For the bigger job of mowing the field, he calls upon Tractor Man. Yes, super heroes abound at our place.
And since tractor man was making so much noise, it seemed like a good idea to stay inside and trace out some new embroidery designs. The next one I'll be working on is the eighth of nine blocks for the Gingerbread square quilt. This is the picture from the pattern of the Ribbon Candy House.
First I traced it out.
Then I colored it. I might have gotten a little overzealous with the blue "tint" for the snow. Oh well. They always look better to me once they've been stitched.
Also, Block #49 for the Live, Love, Teach quilt. I'll do that one first. This morning, I stitched the words inside the heart. I can probably finish the rest tomorrow morning.
And since I was taking the images off my phone, I came across these random leftovers: Smitty and me spending time with our shadow selves.
These kitty salt and pepper shakers I saw at the tulip festival gift shop. No, I didn't buy them.
These two in their ongoing competition to see who's going to be Top Cat.
You'll notice, Smitty is usually on top. But Maggie holds her own.
Hey, Big Boy...that tail is looking mighty fine. I might just take a little nip of it...but don't worry about a thing...I'll be gentle.
Maggie is trying to become the queen of selfies.
Also, this pretty fabric from my friend Lisa. Recall that I'm trying to collect fabrics from all 50 states. Lisa's sister Tracey got this one for me while she was visiting Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. With Alaska and Hawaii out of the way, I ought to be able to handle the rest on my own. So thanks, Lisa!
So there you go...more about my weekend than you ever wanted to know...and if you read this far, you must be my best blogging friend ever!
Don't forget to check out my giveaway. The winner will be announced tomorrow.