’tis the season

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last weekend was a bit of a nothing weekend, in that there were no plans, specifically, but a loose string of indulgences.  breakfast ‘out,’ christmas tree selection, cleaning up and hunkering down.IMG_1183

this one came by for a visit, isn’t she sweet?  we snuggled under my big, brown scarf while we watched the guys wedge, maul and look at the wood pile in the garage before determining yes, at one point it had been dry, but now it is on its way to being petrified.  no wonder we were getting so sore trying to split it!

IMG_1188and finally we assembled the tree, its lights, and what few ornaments we have.  the cuckoo clock one has been expertly lifted from my mother’s collection, it’s one of my favorites.  the tree is another bright, new corner of the room which is pretty necessary this time of year since i drive to work just as the sun rises, work in a room with no windows, then head home just as the sun has finished setting.

good productivity in the dark, though.  i’m working on a wedding photography website that is scheduled to be live for the new year.  i’m so, so excited about the opportunities it might open up in 2014!

late summer garden – update

crops

crops

Remember these guys?  I planted them late July in hopes of getting a last little bit of growth before the frost.  They’ve made quite some progress – I hope they make it!  Just a little… bigger… before they come out of the ground.  Mesclun’s almost ready, kale is getting there, spinach is a bit slow-going…

mesclun's almost ready

mesclun’s almost ready

kale just needs a few more days

kale just needs a few more days

very baby spinach

very baby spinach

We’ve also added some blueberry bushes to the mix.  The ultimate goal is that this backyard is predominantly a source of food, not a large expanse of grass for husband to mow.  Check ’em out:

blueberries

blueberries

Who knows — maybe those little buds will produce berries by the end of the month!  Stay away, frost, stay away…

cup is empty

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I had a big post planned about making applesauce from the crab apple tree in our backyard, but it appears on this beautiful Sunday morning that my cup has become super empty.  A mix of little disappointments, change, and the contrast of sunny, windy weather.  Still, the impulses need to be recognized so instead of writing about all the health benefits of uncultivated apples v. grafted trees and explaining that ‘you’ll get used to that gritty, bitter texture, really‘ I just wanted to post a picture of something lovely we saw at the Essex Exposition in VT last weekend.  Look at all those little legs dangling!  Off to fill the cup…

a year ago today: such bliss

yuna, the big one

yuna, the big one

Today, I nurse a summer cold and perform all the daily tasks with as little energy spent as possible.  What an excellent opportunity to share photos from a year ago today (give or take).  Last early August I was waiting for my friends to pick me up to go down to Cambridge to see The Rattlesnakes at Zuzu’s Night of the Living Deadhead.  With a big jar of catnip on the second floor and the kitties enjoying the warm sidewalk below we thought it’d be kind of funny to sprinkle it on them like manna from heaven.  It was.

cash, the little one

cash, the little one

This is also just minutes before the big one saw a seagull creeping up behind the little one and jumped on its back (to protect her?  How valiant…), only to have the seagull take-off with him in tow.  It must have freaked him the hell out because he ran in to the neighbors bushes to lick his wounds (pride) in underestimating the size of that dirty bird.  That’s what drugs will do to you!

mouse in the house: don’t freak out

two mouse deterrents

two mouse deterrents

Disclaimer:  This post contains information that may be inappropriate for readers sensitive to topics concerning the death of animals.  It’s my intention to share about a very effective natural way of deterring mice, but could not discuss the topic in full without sharing all our experiences.  If this kind of things offends you please don’t read on through this post (unless you want a really great recipe for an herbal mouse deterrent).  Thank you and please visit again soon!

Usually when you move to a new place a neighbor brings over a casserole or the postman introduces himself.  Our official welcoming committee was of a much smaller, four legged variety.

The mice themselves did not bother me, but their weird little droppings in the strangest of places (oh God oh God the window sill above the bed?  Were they pooping there while I was sleeping?!) were another thing entirely.

We grappled with the idea of kill vs. no kill traps.  The fact of the matter is we have two cats so pretending like the mice would all lead happy lives in rolling meadows if we caught them with a no kill trap would have been disingenuous.  In the end, we decided on a multi-pronged attach of kill, no kill and natural methods.  That way the little mousies could play the odds and if they happened to run in to the cats’ paws or the traps’ jaws then it was what it was.  It should be noted, though, that our natural and no kill armaments outweighed the barbaric methods by at least 2:1 if not more.

Full disclosure:  before anyone comments about the inhumanity of mouse traps I just want to be sure you know we did NOT use glue traps, which are totally disgusting.

As a part of the strategy, we opened all the doors to the cats (they previously had not been allowed in our room, but with mice to keep at bay allergies were to be damned) and after a little bit of research realized there were some lovely-to-human scents that bother mice.

So if you’re battling a mouse or two and don’t want to go the trap route then here’s a great little recipe to mix up and put in places where they have been trouble:

Herbal Mouse Repellent

-3 parts dried peppermint

-1 part whole cloves

-1 part clove powder

-1 part cayenne powder

Mix ingredients and store in open, shallow container where evidence of mice has shown.  Replace every 2-3 days to maintain efficacy.  

We have seen a great reduction in droppings in those places because the spices mask the scent of anything potentially yummy for them.  An added bonus is the mixture smells great and is pretty strong, so no toxic air fresheners or odor removers for us (like we would ever do that anyways).  Play with the ratios a bit if you need to (the clove can be overpowering to some) to make your own mix.  Another tip would be to get the materials at a grocery store that carries bulk spices – we go to Hannaford’s and I think I got all the spices I needed for a good size batch for under $4.00 because you don’t have to buy huge amounts or pay for fancy packaging.  Most of all, good luck with your mice!

New Year, Refreshed Vision

beaverpond

snowed-over beaver pond at my grammie’s house last week – the little hump to the right in the background is their lodge, the dam is on the left but hard to see

Lissa, over at Barnacle Bags, inspired me this weekend because she came up with a word that she will keep in mind for the coming new year.  Take a look at her blog, it’s pretty lovely.

~

My word for the year, or at least for now, will be ‘simplify.’  I’ve always loved simple, clean things and am inspired by  stark white landscapes, pared-down closets with only a few, quality options, lack of clutter.  Oh, clutter, I know you well.  So this year (or, for now) I will work on simplifying, cleaning out and the reduction of all those little noises in my world that begin to drown out the real music when they get out of control.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Memorial Day 5.28.12

Goofy Girl

In these modern days of doorbuster sales events, sometimes it’s hard to remember that Memorial Day actually serves an important purpose in the year of the American.  The percentage of total population serving in current wars is down to .5% present day, so being alienated from the culture of injury, loss and longing is easy for many people.  Many of us forget that living among us are war veterans who will never receive adequate compensation and care for the emotional and physical injuries they’ve endured.

All we have is our time and our good intentions (since our coffers are bone dry these days), and as the people of our small, Maine hometown came out of the woodwork almost instantaneously this morning for the Memorial Day parade, we listened to the orator of the morning implore civilians to give service in the spirit of those .5% currently serving, or those who have served before, if not for anything but simply the life changing events they have witnessed and taken part in.

We can only hope, then, that our leaders are taking care to keep our men and women safe from harm unless all possible alleys of diplomacy have been tried first.  We can only hope that consumption and greed as a cultural phenomenon of epic proportions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries do not guide elected officials’ wartime whims.  We can only hope that we wouldn’t send our flesh and blood, America’s young minds, across the globe to be wasted on a battlefield in efforts to secure crude resources that, ultimately, have a limited stock.

These hopes may be dashed somewhat easily in a world where water is a sellable commodity, where the last truly justifiable war happened over 50 years ago.  If we ask our soldiers and sailors to make the ultimate sacrifice for us, shouldn’t it be for a just cause and not a staggering, aim-anywhere strike against an adjective or a noun like ‘terror’ or ‘drugs’?

A craft blog, as this probably must mostly look like, is not usually a place for these types of reflections.  But today, looking out over the Memorial Green, dotted with the 50 waving flags (and counting) donated by families of service people killed in action, there really is no place that isn’t appropriate to give our thanks to those who deserve them, and our most severe scrutiny to those in power who wield the fates of men.

Saving for a Home Can Make You Do Crazy Things

I’ll miss you, mustard tiger!

It’s no secret that J. and I are kinda tired of paying rent every month, even though our landlord is a pretty cool guy.  We’re cool, too, and flushing money down the hole every month without building equity is too much.  So last September we started a savings account, and planned on a certain contribution every week which would put us at our down payment goal at the end of three years.  It hasn’t even been one and I’m obviously impatient… so I’m starting to sell awesome things that I love, because I would love it even better if we had a basement and a little yard and no one living below us, even though our neighbors are pretty cool, too.

So up on the Etsy went my favorite mustard yellow bowling bag, circa late 60s early 70s, Escort brand.  I tried to price it fairly, also noting that there was a certain dollar amount I’d have to get in order not to feel sadness (fleeting) shipping it up to go to some other home.  There’s that word again!  Reminding me that even though it’s goin’ to someone else’s it’s contributing to the one I’ll have one day and that’s a-okay.

We still have two years and a couple months to learn, save, plan and worry but it’s not a bad start learning to make some sacrifices in order to reach the real goal!  You can click on the big, pretty picture or here to view the listing in all its humble glory.

Many uses, … AND it looks like a smiling face!

New Tote!

Anna at work gave me a really cool tote bag!  Her friend’s friend makes them, and you can get one, too, at MapTotes.com.  They do have a Portland one, but it’s the other Portland, so I think my favorite is actually the one I have!

We stuffed $30 worth of groceries in to it last night, and I think I’m gonna keep it folded up in my purse so that I can stop bringing a kabillion plastic bags home every year.

Thanks, Anna!