Me? Have fun with spiders?

Here’s an update on my Jack-in-the-Beanstalk Hollyhock ( because the spider is close by :)

If you are not familiar with my hollyhock on steroids, last year it grew to a normal size of 5 or 6 feet. This year when it hit close to twelve feet at the main stalk, I had to bring it inside the porch lest it hit the electrical wires just under the roof.

hollyhock on steroids pic 1 hollyhock on steroids collage

The pictures above are at least a week old or more….it’s still growing :) However I noticed a huge spiderweb there when I took these older photos,  but the spider was shy and took off when I went out with my camera.

The other day he was too busy to run, so I was able to capture him. ( in the camera not physically, eek! :)

I’ve never been able to get the web…the lighting is not conducive in the back / can’t get the sun shining on it the way that I have been able to do with webs in the front of the house. So in the collage below, he was basically going up and down the huge web, torturing or eating the bugs he’d trapped in it….to try to show the web I used the HDR effect in Picasa and darkened the picture as best that I could.

spider collage

Meanwhile, all of these bees were buzzing around the hollyhock and getting irritated with me …I was lucky to escape alive between having the heebie-jeebies about the spider and the ticked off bees :) Later on, as I was checking out the various photos for editing and because the web didn’t really show up, I decided to have some fun and this is what I uploaded to my family Facebook page.

Ha! :) This is most likely the only fun I’ll have in my life in regards to being close to a spider!

spider polaroid

You might also enjoy :  Tuesday Muse : Bee in Flight  or  Tuesday Muse Fallen Flower  or Tuesday Muse : Goldfinches

Ten Year Difference

I was recently rummaging through a drawer looking for some nails and came across an envelope jammed towards the back. Correct, I do not clean out drawers very much :)

This envelope contained some old photos of the outside of the house. I had moved here in the month of August, and there was nothing here but a vine on one side. The neighbors said that Grace, who had owned the house, had some pretty rose bushes but they had been dug up by her son and given to someone.

I remember being very excited when her purple clematis bloomed the next spring. I know that at some point I planted autumn clematis there as well and enjoyed it for a few years. I recall that for the next few years just about all income tax refund money was spent at Lowe’s garden center. I concentrated on pines for the front, a little tree for the back, a few bushes and perennials and filled in with annuals. Over the course of about 3-4 years I did a lot of digging in this heavy clay soil! Looking at those pictures amazed me, though.

I took pictures of the pictures and then went around the yard snapping photos of how things look now. No, I didn’t run around weeding everything or making sure it was all perfect…this was after days of rain when it was time to weed yet again…but I thought it would be fun to have a comparison.

I moved here in August 2000 so I would have started planting things in 2001. These pictures are from June 2004, 10 years and two months ago.

Here is the front of the house. The pines and little boxwood bushes would have been 3 years old at this point.


Here is the side of the house next to the neighbor’s driveway. Note the small spirea bushes there on the left.

Spirea Side BEFORE

And while vines and annuals change each year, here is the front and side 10 years later.

FRONT mid august

Here’s a before that amazed me.

where snowball and spirea are now the before

Here is the after of that area. Snowball bush : blooms in May…seen in the far back / spirea and tall grass plantings that spread through the fence in the middle. It’s quite lovely in the spring :)

snowball bush spirea AFTER area

Next are some old photos of the other side of the house and backyard. That little red Japanese maple never made it ( drought ) and the crap apple tree was bent from being jammed in the back of my Toyota Corolla at the time. It never did straighten out until I finally trimmed it down about two years later so that it could grow straight after that.

backyard and other side of house BEFORE

And now :

NOW side and backyard

The heavy precipitation of the last two years has increased the growth of these bushes and trees very much; suffice it to say that I’ll have as much trimming going on this fall as the last one! :)

You might also enjoy : Vintage Coffee Pot  or  Saving Money : they go straight to the fridge!  

Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style

Randoms: Ranging from Heartwarming to Reality

A few randoms from around here :

Heartwarming :

My ex and I have lived apart now for just about as long as we lived together but we get along, having the kids and grands in common.

Not too long ago he was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had his first chemo close to three weeks ago with another one coming up soon. We were both over at my son’s house on a Saturday evening not too long ago and he felt and looked fine. That next Tuesday his beard started coming out ( it’s like a ZZ Top kind of beard…my little grandson thought he was Santa one Christmas a few years back :)

ANYWAY, he shaved it and he’s probably had it long like that for ten years or more. Next you know, my youngest shaved his short beard, put a mosaic up of his dad and him and started a Support / Baby Face page on Facebook. And it’s been so heartwarming to see all of these guys, ranging from early twenties to our ages, shaving their beards, whether long or short, or simply a bit of accent facial hair, and posting their pictures.

Some are so funny! My DIL’s younger brother shaved his, put on a buttoned up plaid shirt and glasses and called himself Clark Kent ( since the resemblance was uncanny. ) Another guy posted a picture and said something to the effect that he saw his grandmother in the mirror. Some look better without their beards and some look like little kids ( and need to grow them back fast, lol! :) But it’s a nice thing to see how these men support each other and have fun at the same time. The more I see, though…as they just keep coming, is that while none of these he-men guys are saying ” I’m praying for you ” these gestures have to be the strongest of prayers. Many of these guys are completely altering their appearance …this is support in a major way.

Later on in September the middle son is organizing a big motorcycle ride and event to raise money to help with alternative medicine expenses and yet he’ll only keep a portion of that for his dad…the rest will go to a charity. There will be a raffle and Chinese auction, bake sale, a live band later in the day, and the grands are going to have a lemonade stand :)

Garden :

My first round ( just a small row ) of green beans served me well but seemed to be done so I pulled them up and started another and due to recent rains they are coming up quickly.  I found a few strawberries mid-August, and while many of the sunflowers are completely done and eaten by birds & squirrels, more are on the way.

strawberry etc collage

Birds :

While it is generally the little goldfinches that visit the sunflower area I was pleased to be able to get a few photos of a cardinal the other day.

cardinal collage

Kids :

This little guy is still the light of my life :) He turned five in July.


It seems that time flies sometimes…

Reality :

Time does NOT fly when said grandchild is two years old and you are babysitting and he’s had his third meltdown / tantrum of the day…keeping it real here :) FIVE is a wonderful age! No complaints about five!  :)

You might also enjoy :  Tuesday Treasures : Silly Little Santa Squirrel  or Tuesday Treasures : Jenny Wren  or For Downton Abbey Fans

Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style

Slow Stitching Mid-August

This week I finished up another basket for the 3rd row of the basket quilt. Also the first floral block for the eagle quilt is done, along with my first Home Sweet Home block.

sewing collage use this one

And as to quilts, I never thought that I would have grand kids in warm pajamas snuggled under a quilt to keep warm on a mid-August evening but that was the case on Thursday. Mama had gone to a fitness class and after playing outside for awhile, the girls had their bath here. While big brother was getting his, I gave the girls some melon and peaches, and by then all the windows in the house were shut to ward off the chill, and we got a couch quilt out for them to snuggle under while watching a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse movie. ( The next morning it was 48 degrees! )

twins snuggled under quilt

For Slow Stitching this Sunday :

In the hoop is another block of the basket sampler quilt. The background fabric in this block is some fabric left over from a prior quilt and it has a white-on-white zigzag pattern in it so I am just following that for the quilting in this block. Then I can follow the lines in the basket, so no marking required on this one at all! :)

in the hoop use this one

From the corner of my porch where I generally sit to quilt, this is my current view: the yellow thunbergia vine climbing the railing:

view from chair when quilting Thunbergia Vine

Last year I had an orange one that took off wonderfully. Brilliant plan: this year I’d have one yellow and one orange. Driving or walking past my house you’d be absolutely dismayed by the gorgeousness.  And? They both took off and only the yellow is blooming. I might see one orange flower once per week. Go figure : )

Joining others who are slow stitching this Sunday at Kathy’s Quilts. Also Sharing at : Cozy Little House / Freemotion by the River / Freshly Pieced

From the garden: Mid August


purples collage

rose and russian sage in background, sweet alyssum, hyacinth bean vine

Last summer broke the pattern of having drought here ( Western Pa. ) from mid-summer on. Prior to that, for many years, I remember a nice rainy spring and early summer and then the rain would stop and we’d end up with dry crispy lawns and a muddy fall and winter due to losing so much grass.

pink collage

pink rose of sharon bush, cosmos, zinnia with bee, cleome

But this summer, while there have been many hot days during May & June,  has had cooler weather than usual for July and August. For the first time since I’ve been in this house ( 14 years now ) I’ve had a comfortable mid-summer! Not having whole house A/C …summers are usually something to just be endured once it heats up.

What both summers have had in common is much precipitation and non-stop grass mowing as a result. Since early spring, I’ve had to mow every three or four days, until recently when I’ve been able to stretch it out to once per week.

lawnmower collage

hollyhock, marigolds, lantana, purple rose of sharon bush, trumpet vine

And extreme, lush growth….here’s a view of the side yard. The purple rose of sharon bush is once again growing like crazy, the trumpet vine is out of control ( I trim it every week or so! ) and the hollyhock shoots are the size of a normal hollyhock…the main shoot is tucked under my porch lest it hit the electrical wires. )

Last year I planted some morning glories next to the back porch as well as my front…back porch volunteers are showing up now / bottom left :)

side yard lots of growth

morning glory volunteers, rose of sharon, hollyhock, trumpet vine

A few more assorted blooms for this week’s garden post:

assorted collage

morning glory, zinnia, lantana, hollyhock, russian sage

We’ve had another round of rain for the last few days…it’s like a jungle here :)

You might also enjoy : Vintage Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt  or  New Year’s Day Dinner & This-n-That

Sharing at : Lavender Cottage Gardening  /   Cozy Little House / A Stroll Thru Life / An Oregon Cottage

SUMMER FOOD MEMORIES : we all have them

After a recent late afternoon heavy rain, I went down the street and collected the grandkids, because it was time to go hit the puddles. After that we went and picked some tomatoes from my backyard to take home to their parents for dinner. One of the little twin girls always wants to have a tomato right at that instant…furthermore, she wants to bite into it just like an apple. My mother used to do that with tomatoes from my grandfather’s garden.

Thinking of summer gardens and memories…here are a few from books that I have read, and the time frames range from the Depression years on. Then I have a few memories of my own at the end.

From “Kitchenary” by Peggy H. Landis:

Mother was captain of the summer garden, and the rest of us marched to her orders.”

Mother always did a good job of bringing the garden to the table. A typical supper menu might have been fried country ham, mashed potatoes or corn on the cob, fresh green beans, sliced cucumbers in a creamy dressing, thick red slices of ripe tomatoes, homemade bread, and sweet iced tea. Fresh sliced peaches from a nearby orchard often provided a simple but delicious dessert.

From “Mrs. Blackwell’s Heart-of-Texas Cookbook” by Louise B. Dillow & Deenie B. Carver, illustrations by John Henry Faulk:

” During the summertime, the noonday meal was a feast of garden vegetables, hot corn bread, or yeast rolls and butter, fruit cobbler, and iced tea. ”

in the field illustration

“We had a spring and fall garden so there were fresh vegetables from April through December and canned and dried vegetables during the winter months.”

vegetables and greens

From “Little Heathens” by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

“For the vegetables, a couple of kids, along with an adult, would be dispatched to the garden with a paring knife, a pail, a kettle, and a huge dishpan. There we picked the peas, the tomatoes, and the lettuce and placed them in the dishpan. Relying on the feel of the corn in our hands to select ears that were full and firm enough to eat, we snapped them from the stalk and placed them in the pail. Then, we dug the potatoes. Afterward, we carried our harvest directly to the windmill, where we washed everything with freshly pumped water.”

From “Living a Country Year” by Jerry Apps:

 Pa paid us a penny for every bushel of potatoes we picked, and if the potatoes were good, we could each pick one hundred bushels in a day and earn one dollar. “

“My brothers and I both dreaded and looked forward to the annual potato vacation at our school…a vacation, I learned years later, that was unique to country-school kids and not known by kids living in other parts of the Midwest“.

My own memories as a child : 

My grandparents had a large garden and we enjoyed its bounty from spring on.  Early lettuce and onions and strawberries and rhubarb were the first treats. While my grandmother often made coconut cream pie or banana cream pie, a seasonal treat was her rhubarb meringue pie when the rhubarb was ripe in the garden.

Later on came green beans, cantaloupe  (my grandfather called this “mush melon” ) and watermelon, corn and tomatoes. My favorite childhood dinner of all time would be in my mother’s kitchen, enjoying the foods from my grandparents’ garden: corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, German cucumber salad, and German fried potatoes. Later on my grandfather might come up for a visit bringing fresh watermelon. He put salt on his and I still eat watermelon that way.

If you have summer food memories that you’d like to share in comments or previous blog posts about summer foods & memories please share / link : we can all enjoy :)  I often find that the majority of  comments here are better and more interesting than the post of mine that you are commenting on, lol!  :)

*UPDATE: The comments thus far are VERY interesting :)

Sharing at : Frugal By Choice

The Shoe Ad : Enough!

This observation is not directed at any of the blogs that have this ad running but it is directed to asics and BlogHer Publishing Network.

If I have to close your annoying pop up asics  shoe ad running on the left side bar of BlogHer Network blogs that I visit one more time, I might scream. I certainly would not ever buy your shoes by now since my association with them is one of extreme annoyance.

There, I said it and I am happy to get this off my chest.  It is the most annoying ad that I have come across for a long time… and I have to come across it over and over and OVER again in the last few weeks. It seems that many people that have BlogHer Network ads are running it.  If I visit a blog, it pops up and I have to close it since it changes the layout of the blog and makes it hard to read.  THEN as soon as I scroll down to read more on the blog  THERE it pops up AGAIN. And it does this continually.

It’s bad enough to have to close a pop up ad once. But pop up ads that won’t stop? That’s going a bit far.

Front porch views : pictorial



finch on sock

porch life collage one


squirrel collage

flag and flowers collage

finch by other sock

can and vine

front porch sewing clouds collage

finch on sock collage


super spider web

blue jay on porch by chair collage

angel holds sunflower seeds


squirrel on railing so cute

morning glories


You might also enjoy : Tuesday Muse: Kids & Dogs or Goldfinches or Broccoli Cheese Soup in July & Storms & Sky

Sharing at : An Oregon Cottage / French Country Cottage / Viewing Nature with Eileen / Lavender Cottage Gardening ( NEW Mosaic Monday site ) Frugal By Choice / A Stroll Thru Life  / Savvy Southern Style

Tiella ( Zucchini Casserole )

Now that zucchini season has arrived in full force, I thought I’d do a quick post with a zucchini casserole recipe that is also called Tiella in our area by the Italian community. SUPER easy ….and while you might have already made this or something similar, I wanted to mention it. Oftentimes I’ll make a recipe then forget about it until something jogs my memory…in this case it was my not wanting to fry zucchini again but to do something different.

I cook my sweet Italian sausage ahead, in a skillet. ( If you prefer hot sausage, that is probably more Italian…I am just a wuss and can’t handle hot sausage or hot peppers : )

Other than that this is just zucchini, potatoes, yellow and green peppers, garlic, coarse black pepper, and canned tomatoes. I am harvesting about 2-4 fresh tomatoes from my garden every day; when I get an abundance of them they’ll work nicely in this recipe rather than using canned tomatoes.

I cook the sausage ahead as I’ll buy some on sale and then use it for two or three different recipes….you can always throw the uncooked sausage into the pan with everything else and it will turn out just fine.

For another great zucchini casserole, my niece’s favorite is HERE. I have to make it every year for either Christmas or Thanksgiving but when zucchini is abundant in the summer, it’s a bit more cost effective! :)

* NOTE: My feed and latest blog posts are being picked up immediately at bloglovin’ and feedly / email subscribers get updates / blog rolls are hit and miss lately. If you would like to be assured of receiving the latest posts please sign up with bloglovin’ or feedly 

Sharing at : Being Frugal by Choice / Cozy Little House / Savvy Southern Style

Home Sweet Home quilt block one

Last Sunday morning, had assured me to “expect dry conditions over the next six hours” and while there were some chores to be done later, after breakfast I settled out on the porch with some sewing.

After a bit of quilting time, I decided to get back to working on the first block of the Home Sweet Home quilt. The block has a sunflower and a vine with berries. I wanted to adapt the block and replace the vine with a rendition ( however crude )  of a hollyhock, to commemorate the fact that I started this quilt in July, the same month that my amazing hollyhock grew to well over 12 feet tall. Of course unless I told you that it was a hollyhock, you probably wouldn’t know, but now you do :)

Despite the forecast, it was not long until a gentle rain began to fall. There was the pitter patter of rain, a fresh clean scent to the air, and the occasional flapping of wings as the finches visited the feed socks on the pines right off of the porch. Occasionally one would land on the railing and peer at me for a bit, or hop about on the porch floor.

Off in the distance, the Methodist church bells began to ring. It was such a nice, peaceful morning! :) 

I got most of the hollyhock done that day, and during the week I embroidered the leaves and *planted* the sunflower.

House block on line

This is not done yet. The original block ( Blackbird Designs ) has two stars in the sky, but I think that I’d like to either put a goldfinch or two there, or perhaps embroider a bee, that sort of thing.

So for this Slow Sunday Stitching session, I intend to work on this block again.

Here is the crazy jack-in-the-beanstalk-hollyhock..currently well over 12 feet, tucked inside the porch roof since it was going to hit the electrical wires. The offshoots or lower branches are still blooming nicely, and much lower, thank goodness!. Given all of the bees, butterflies, and finches that enjoy these flowers, I want to put something in to represent them, rather than stars. WISH ME LUCK, LOL! I still have to grit my teeth when I am trying to retain a point on a leaf! :)

hollyhock tucked under roof collage

You might also enjoy : The Garden is Thriving  or  Big Bold Beautiful Butterfly  or Tuesday Treasures : Goldfinches Galore or Bang for the Buck

* NOTE: My feed and latest blog posts are being picked up immediately at bloglovin’ and feedly / email subscribers get updates / blog rolls are hit and miss lately. If you would like to be assured of receiving the latest posts please sign up with bloglovin’ or feedly 

Sharing at : Kathy’s Quilts / Sew Many Ways / Frugal by Choice / Freemotion by the River / Freshly Pieced / Sew Fresh Quilts / My Quilt Infatuation