Urban jungle

Ooops… I didn’t it again.

Once again, it wasn’t my fault. Dave had me looking up something on FB Marketplace again. And the ad for that local garden centre came up again (the one where I got the butterfly bushes). They were getting ready to close for the season and were clearing things out.

Dave needed to go into Strathroy the other day, and since the garden centre is on the way home… and I had $20 cash just burning a hole in my pocket (I rarely carry cash, but I had it leftover from the Pussywillow adventure) so I told him we were making an extra stop.

I kept to my $20 budget and came home with five lovely new perennials.

More Lupins were high on my to-get list. I brought purple from the townhouse, and I have seeds for some yellow ones, but I want Lupins in all colours! I was hoping they’d have some pink, but they only had white and purple, so white it was! I’ll find some pink ones in the spring.

I also got some Russian Blue Sage. I used to have a different sage at the townhouse, but I lost it over the winter. This one is a much bigger and more robust species.

Yellow Wild Indigo is new to me, though it’s been on my to-get list for ages. It’s a native plant, and apparently a big draw for pollinators of all kinds.

I got some butterfly weed for our little Monarch friends.

And finally, some scarlet red Bee Balm. I have a nice little compact pink one in the catio. This one should be much bigger, so I planted it near the fence.

I won’t get to enjoy blooms on any of these until Spring/Summer next year, but it’s something to look forward to.

In the here and now, I’m enjoying all these.

Clockwise from top left: The mini rose is thriving. The white bellflower is enjoying a small second wind. The purple Speedwell has many little bloom spikes, though they are somewhat stunted. And the mums I brought from the townhouse have started to bloom.

And last…

I finally found a plant for my little kitty pot.

A nice little two-toned African violet. I’ve been looking for a new violet for ages (since my purple one is doing so well) but none of the grocery stores around here seemed to have any – until the other week. This one was the only one of this colour, so I snatched it up!

Meet the neighbours

As I’d hoped, the toads have been very plentiful around here.

I suspect it’s because the crickets are also plentiful. There are thousands of them. And some of those crickets are HUGE!!!!

Most of the toads I come across are pretty small as far as toads go – around the size of a loonie. I’ve learned to push the lawn mower a little slower in certain areas on the lawn so they have time to hop out of the way. I have also stopped the mower a few times to move a few stubborn ones.

Burton has been loving the ones that hop in and out of the catio. He never does them any harm – just pokes them with a curious paw (claws in too!), and follows them until they leave the confines of the catio. He likes chasing the crickets too, but I think he really prefers the toads.

The other night, I was wheeling the garbage bin to the curb and a GIANT toad hopped across my path.

Okay – he wasn’t quite giant. I have seen bigger (having grown up a country girl), but he was easily three times the size of the catio toads.

As I was trying to get pictures of him,he hopped into the open garage and I had to shoo him out with the broom. I didn’t want him getting stuck in there. There is probably enough crickets in there to keep him well fed, but I didn’t want to take the chance. Life is much better for him in the yard.

And speaking of garbage cans…

This big (about the size of a twoonie) beautiful Wolf Spider was hiding under my garbage bin on the previous garbage day. Actually, I don’t think she was hiding, I think I interrupted her hunt, as several large crickets ran out when I moved the bin too.

Fun fact: Wolf spiders aren’t called Wolf spiders because they are aggressive, but because they run their prey down like a wolf. They don’t build nests. They also rarely bite humans – usually if they do it’s because they’ve been surprised (ie stepped on) or provoked. After posing for a few pictures, this gorgeous girl went on her way in search of dinner.

And while I’ve mentioned crickets, I’ve mostly been talking about those big black ones, and their smaller brown cousins. But have you ever seen a cricket like this?

This is a black-horned tree cricket (a female according to my google search). When I took the picture, I thought it was some sort of Katydid. I was surprised to learn it was a cricket!

And last…it’s also grasshopper season!

This Spur-Throated grasshopper found his way onto the sun porch the other day. Thankfully, the cats didn’t notice or I would have had broken plants everywhere as they tried to chase him.

After getting a few shots, I captured him in a tea cup and put him out on the lawn where he could go on his merry way without worrying about any feline interest. (Though I imagine he still has to watch out for birds)

We’ve also seen lots of butterflies, mostly monarchs and white cabbages, though I don’t have enough blooming in the yard to keep them around long enough for pictures. I’ve also seen several Fritillary butterflies, but they move too fast for pictures so far.

The other joy is hummingbirds. The neighbour has a huge orange trumpet vine arbour (it’s massive!!) and the little hummers pass through our yard frequently to get to it. Interestingly enough, they seem to like the catio fence. The holes are just big enough for them to perch in, and they often stop there for a rest. A few have also stopped by to drink from my Physostegia. Of course, never long enough for me to get a picture… but I’ll keep trying!

Sea-volution of a quilt

I’ve mentioned before, when start making a quilt, I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I have a vague idea of the whole, but usually I’m just focused on the individual block.

That was the case with the star blocks for my latest nautical quilt.

I knew I wanted them to be similar to Kitten Cove (but with a slight twist). So I went ahead and cut everything for the blocks. Then I set them aside. When I got back to making them, I forgot that I had planned to make four-at-a-time HSTs, and ended up doing eight-at-a-time. This resulted in smaller blocks, but it also meant I would have enough for double the blocks.

No biggie I thought. Until I got them all done and started playing with layout. With four blocks, I would have had a 2×2 layout. But with eight, my only option was 2×4. It was too narrow, and too long.

Now I could have put vertical sashing and no horizontal sashing to widen it without adding length (like I did with Space Friends) but I just didn’t think it would look as good with this block. I started playing with other options, though they were limited, because I had a piece of fabric set aside for the backing – but I only had two yards of it. That meant I was limited on how wide I could go.

In the end, the best I could come up with was this:

But it still needed something for the centre.

Something that was NOT Burton!!!!

I toyed with a couple of ideas, and ended up using a little fabric from that backing piece (but not enough that I would not have enough for the back), and some navy stars I had set aside because I thought they’d work well as a border or binding.

As an afterthought, and so that the one different centre block wouldn’t look totally out of place, I went back and strategically snowballed some corners on the original blocks. That way when they came together at the corner stones, they’d create a little secondary pattern.

And I love the result!

Now it looks like it was all planned out that way from the very beginning! And nothing could be further from the truth!

Here’s a closer look at that backing fabric.

Little subtle grey whales! And there is enough of the navy stars for binding! I do so love it when a quilt comes together like this!

Lots of logs

The days are noticeably shorter, so our outside knitting time has been limited. We’re back to mostly knitting inside again.

Rupert doesn’t care where we are, as long as he gets my lap.

With his help, eight more logs have been added. I’m now on the second skein of the light purple. If I follow the pattern, I have 16 more logs to add. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it quite that long. I’ll decide after I complete the next eight.

Colour me scrappy

At the beginning of October, I have a dentist appointment. It’s in the area we used to live – finding new doctors and dentists is on the to-do list.. it’s just not very high on the to-do list yet.

But instead of getting up super early, and driving two hours the morning of, I’m going to head to Mom’s and stay there for the weekend preceding. Then I can just get up that morning, head to the dentist, get my face drilled off, and then head home, easy peasy.

And of course, while I’m at Mom’s, I can do some quilting!!! I’ve already got two tops there, ready to quilt, but my pinwheel top was so close to being finished, I thought why not get it out of the way too. Especially as I really have to get moving on my Christmas sewing!

So… I got to it.

As I mentioned several posts back, I didn’t quite have room for a design wall, so I’m still using my design bed.

Apparently Burton was using it too, but I managed to work around him and get it done.

These blocks were an exercise in combining colours for me, and I think it went very well. I was a little stumped on what to use for the sashing, but in the end, the green was really the only thing in the stash that I had enough of, that wasn’t too busy for the blocks (it’s hard to see here, but it has a nice simple cross-hatched print). As soon as I got it on, I knew I wanted something simple, with a white background for the final border.

This big polka dot print was leftover from the back of the parrot quilt, and it couldn’t be more perfect if I tried!

The top finished up at about 60″ square, and I’m hoping I have enough of this fun floral print for the back.

I think it’s going to be close but I’m going to give it a try. And I’ll be using more of that green for the binding. It will be few more weeks until you see this finished, but rest assured, as soon as I get to Mom’s I’m going to be a quilting fiend!

Wind in the willows

The other day, Dave was off visiting his Grandma (she’s back home from the hospital now), so I went on a little adventure of my own.

As usual… it was Facebook’s fault. It wasn’t Marketplace this time, but a sponsored ad. A lady in a town about 30 minutes north of us has a little backyard plant nursery. This particular ad mentioned pussywillows. You might remember my weeping pussywillow. I had it for a couple of years, but sadly, it died one winter (I kept it in a pot, hoping to one day move with it)

I’d honestly forgotten all about it, until I saw her ad. So I emailed her to see if she had any pussywillows in stock, and perchance a weeping pussywillow.

She emailed back – she didn’t have any weeping ones, but she had one white one left… as well as a few black or pink pussywillows. Black or pink??? I didn’t even know there was such a thing!!!

I told her I would love one of each, and would be there the day after payday.

Three happy healthy willows for just $20? Can you believe it? I seemed to have moved to a gardeners heaven. Come spring, we should see something like these…

I’m so excited. I’m going to have my own little pussy willow grove!

After picking them up, I went on a little side quest. Back when Dave and I were picking up that mitre saw, we came across a house with a table out front selling the cutest little wooden bird houses for just $5. I really wanted one. But it was self-serve (no people with change) and neither of us had $5 in cash. I told Dave the next time we were headed out that way, I was going to make sure I had $5 on me.

Well, when I looked up where the nursery was, I realized it was no more than a 10-minute drive from that birdhouse table. I raided Dave’s change jar before I left, and made sure I had enough coin on me.

I got my birdhouse! It looks like the man who makes them is using up scrap/recycled material. The roof is made from vinyl plank flooring! I plan to either paint or stain it to make it a little more weather-proof.

I really love living here – there’s so much to discover!

Puppy love

I know… I know… you’re dying to see more of these guys!!!

I’m afraid our time with the is almost up. On the 15th, they go for their shots. After that they will start going to their individual homes. Can you believe it?

They are all getting so big. They’ve just about doubled in size since the girls sent me pictures from their visit.

Mom sent me this chart – she’s been keeping track of their progress. Yes, they all have names already, and the colours on the chart match up with their collars…because face it, with few exceptions, they are pretty hard to tell apart. Obviously, they are even bigger than this because now we are two weeks on from those numbers.

They are inside the house at night, but during the day, they are out in the garage in their “playpen”

And of course, they get plenty of supervised time in the yard with the big dogs.

It’s probably a good thing I’m living so far away. If I’d spent more time with them, I don’t think I’d be able to say goodbye!