Sunday, May 17, 2015

2015 Garden

The garden is in and looking good. I'm approaching it a bit differently this year. Fewer plants, wider spacing. I think the last few years we've tried to cram too much in and ended up disappointed.

The long bed has onions again and tomatoes. I read an article in the local paper this week that suggested not suckering your tomatoes to increase yield and prevent sunburn. I was always taught to remove suckers and generally try to follow that practice. But I'm all about getting more tomatoes, so I'm going to give it a try. My mother in law has never suckered her plants and has HUGE yields (she also has soil to die for, but I can't really replicate that!) Excited to try the Black Krim. Everyone raves about heirloom tomatoes but I don't think I've had much luck in the past. Hope springs eternal.

The big bed is really quite spread out. The Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are prolific growers so I'm hoping I've left them enough room. Eggplant and peppers up the middle should be fine. And 3 squash plants to dominate the other third. Some people might be terrified at 3 squash plants since they tend to produce a ton. But C and I love zucchini and we've got a lot of neighbors to share with.

I decided not to put flowers in the little bed this year. The blueberries are still limping along. I put a Mountain Fresh and 2 Plum Crimson tomatoes and 4 North Star peppers. These are all kind of extras for sharing so we'll see how they make out over there.

The lilac we put in last year is getting ready to bloom. Our neighbor's lilac didn't bloom this year and I really miss the smell. Hopefully ours will be well scented.
The little bed at the end of our deck is looking so nice this year too. The burning bush is gorgeous. The bleeding hearts and columbines are really filling in too. I put a Golden Treasure Barberry in to try to fill up that last space.

Here's just a quick look at the flowerbeds at the front of our house. I have no rhyme or reason to what I plant there, just whatever looks pretty when we are looking at flowers. The mums didn't fair too well after our winter...only a few little stalks left. I'm hoping to baby them through but will replace them this fall if need be.
 We put down cocoa shell mulch this year. It is by far my favorite mulch but not always easy to come by. I love how easy it is to get in around the flowers. It smells heavenly. That does fade after awhile, but right now our house smells like Willy Wanka's chocolate factory! It is a light mulch so wind is not its friend and it can get a little moldy looking in a wet summer. Still, it is my go to when I can get it.




Sunday, May 10, 2015

MoonaLisa Haul

It's time for another Moonalisa haul. My Spring 2015/Let Them Eat Cake order finally arrived this week. The wait was excruciating on this one. I placed the order February 28 and it didn't arrive until May 4. Originally she said the orders would start shipping around April 8. They only started a week after that. Then the fulfillment company changed their processing order, so even though I ordered within the first few minutes of the sale, my order didn't ship until near the end of the run. So, yeah, the wait time was a real bummer. 

I ordered lots of goodies this time.

Only one soap, Woodland Moss. I did find out from Moona that her soaps are melt and pour, not cold process. They are gorgeously done and the best quality m&p I've ever experienced. So even though I'm a soap snob, these definitely make the cut. The scent is herbal and woody. Very outdoorsy. She calls it "man-soap" and I do agree a guy would like it, but there's nothing so masculine a girl can't use it. I also got this scent in perfume and lotion.

A lip balm in Raspberry Vanilla. It takes me forever to go through a tube of lip balm and I don't keep too many open at a time so haven't had a chance to try this yet.

I picked up the L'Heroine perfume oil which comes in the pretty hex bottle. A somewhat powdery, complex earthy smell (notes listed are Agarwood, Myrhh , Frankincense, Vanilla Ab, Amber Blend, Sweet Orange). I also got this in lotion.

The other two lotions are Bees' Knees (beautiful hyacinth floral) and Freyja (light citrus). The lotion bottles are a different format than before. I think I might like these square bottles better than the round ones. Because the lotion is rather thick I store the bottles upside down. The square shape should help to keep them from tipping over.
After chatting with another Moonalisa lover about my previous experience with the hair mist having almost no scent and her telling me her's had always been highly scented, I decided my previous one may have been a fluke and I would try them again. I picked up 4 since I'm nearly out and detangler is a non-negotiable for me. Freyja; Bali Cloud is a creamy vanilla with ylang ylang, very nice; Cotton Candy Cupcake which smells exactly like it sounds (most strongly scented of the bunch); and Earth is a very softly scented orange (again, the scent is almost non-existent in this one). So I'm still on the fence about the hair mist. The product is great, I just wish there was more scent payoff.

I'm a little disappointed in my scent choices this time. The scents all sounded good when it was 30 degrees when I ordered. Now that the temps are in the 80s, I wish I had chosen more summery scents. My sister got Sea Witch soap which smells (and looks) amazing! She also got soap and lotion in Brazilian Mango Lime Smoothy. I'm not normally a lime fan, but I think that one might be perfect for warm weather.

Not sure when Moona's next launch will be. She mentioned needing to take a break and maybe just doing some small releases. Be sure to join her Facebook page to get all the announcements.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tea with Jam and Bread

Hooray! A finished object to show.

I finished my Tea with Jam and Bread sweater last weekend and was able to wear it for my birthday. I modified the pattern only by not knitting the stripes and leaving off the pockets. It was an incredibly easy and relatively fast knit. I am 100% team top down, knit in one piece sweaters now. It was fabulous not having to do all that tedious seaming at the end. The fit is wonderful. I have finally realized I'm not indeed actually as big as a house and thus should not knit my sweaters to fit one. Knitting at one's true size has a ton of benefits...less knitting, less yarn and an end result you can actually be proud to wear. I knit size M2 which gives me about 5 inches positive ease, plenty of room to throw a shirt under. I used a little over 5 balls of Caron Country yarn in Silver Service (looks blue in the picture but it is actually a pretty true silver color). I would definitely knit this pattern again.

I'm anxious to get another sweater on the needles while it's still cold enough to knit big items. I have a pattern picked out. Just need to decide on some yarn.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Knitting check in January 2015

Knitting has been conspicuously absent from my blog (and pretty much from my life) for almost or maybe more than 2 years. Life got in the way and it was as if that light just blinked out one day. I stopped knitting, stopped going to Ravelry, stopped buying yarn.

I started a sock in fall 2013 because I wanted to have some knitting on vacation. It took me a full year to finish that sock, only to find out as I sewed in the last tail of yarn that there was a hole in the gusset. I soon discovered that the whole skein of yarn (Wollmeise no less) was riddled with bad spots where the plies had frayed. Was it just a bad skein or had it sat in storage too long?

Even though the discovery of the defective yarn was a bummer, it got me thinking I should use the yarns I have in stash before they all meet a similar fate. And slowly, my knitting mojo has started to return.

I cast on a sweater (Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirrmaier) since I had a full sweater quantity of Caron Country Yarn. It's knit from the top down, all in one piece so there will be no seaming at the end (yeah!!)

I chose to knit it all in one color, partly because I prefer solids to stripes, partly because the yarn is discontinued and it would have been difficult to get a second color. I'm about half way down the first sleeve and should have the sweater finished in time to wear it yet this season.

I decided to pull out my remaining ball of Wollmeise to see if it too was fraying. Fortunately, it is unscathed (I'm guess the other was just a flukey bad skein).

I'm just a few rows in to the Java socks pattern. Yes I'm using a toothpick as a cable needle since I can't seem to find any small cable needles in my knitting tools (maybe I never had any that small??) I've ordered a set off Etsy but for now the toothpick works fine.

And I did find a project to get onto those new Karbonz I wrote about last week. It's Brooklyn Tweed's Noro Scarf recipe. Basically just a one by one rib alternating two colors every two rows.
Bonus points for using my own handspun yarn. Thank goodness for my Ravelry notes from when I spun the stuff or I'd have no idea what they are (note to self, LABEL THY HANDSPUN WHEN THOU SPINS IT!) It is knitting up gorgeous and soft. Will look fantastic with my new wool coat.

So, hooray, I'm knitting again. It feels fantastic. I didn't realize how much I missed it. How cathartic and grounding and meditative knitting can be. Part of me feels these last 2 years might not have been so hard if knitting hadn't been so absent. Maybe, maybe not. For now, I'm very much enjoying my rekindled love.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

KnitPro Karbonz interchangeable needles

So here's the Christmas present I bought for myself this year.

I caught a glimpse of these sexy, silver tipped black needles on a picture someone posted of a knitting project they were working on and became obsessed with finding them. She didn't list the needle brand so it took me several days of searching to puzzle it out. The needles are by KnitPro and called Karbonz. The needles are made of carbon fiber with nickle plated tips. And DAMN are they gorgeous.

I treated myself to the deluxe set which includes 9 needle sizes, 4 cables, end caps, keys, size markers and case. I am thrilled with the set. The case is compact and light. It looks like I'll be able to fit more tips if I decide to expand my set. I love that the sizes are not only stamped on the needles but engraved on the end that attaches to the cables. Some reviews had stated that the tips sometimes had uneven joins, however all of mine seems totally smooth.

I can not wait to get something on these needles. I've got two projects going right now (a sweater and a pair of socks). I'm still not back up to my old speed and hesitate to get too many projects going at once. But I'm thinking perhaps a scarf would be a good choice. I'll be sure to report back when I've had a chance to test them. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moonalisa Halloween restock and Yule 2014

Back in October Moonalisa had a Halloween restock and Yule 2014 sale. We were at the cabin at the time, but thankfully had internet so I was able to snag some goodies. The turn around time was listed around 30 days with scheduled shipping to be around Dec 10. Due to some issues with her fulfillment company and the weather, things got pushed back some. Fortunately, my order arrived just before Christmas (about 4 days shy of two months after ordering!) As I said last time, however, it's so worth the wait.
 Here's the whole lot. The freebie gift is a mini solid massage bar. I thought it was a piece of candy! Thankfully I saw the description on the back of the pack before testing that theory!
 I ordered 3 Sugar Load Sugar Scrubs. They look like a creamy sugar scrub rather than the oily type. Gingernutter has a rich, warm scent. A bit buttery and nutty, not much ginger. Cassandra's Cauldron is chocolate covered orange. And Venetian Coffee Swirl is strong, dark coffee with a light, nutty background. All are totally delectable. I also picked up a Butter Rich Cream in Graveyard Gateau, a decedantly rich body butter that smells a bit similar to Cassandra's Cauldron, only with the chocolate being the predominant scent and the orange in the background.
 I picked up 4 perfume oils this time. Gingernutter and Venetian Coffee swirl to match the scrubs. Durga, which I had gotten in a hair mist last time, is a soft of citrusy/bakery scent. And No Witches on a Crackling Fire which is listed as a berry/smokey scent. Unfortunately, all I get is wood smoke. While this is a scent I do like, I don't care for it as much for a perfume. I'll probably end up using this in an oil burner as a room scent.
Just before Christmas, Moona posted a quick "mini-mini" sale with just a few ready to ship items that could go out before Christmas. I wasn't paying close enough attention to the time and missed out on the major goodies...mystery bags and lip balm sets. I did order just one of her Argan Oil Hair Rescue in Lavender Absolute. I would have rather had one of the sweet scents, but they sold out before I could get an order in. The lavender scent is strong and try, exactly like fresh picked lavender from my garden. I've tried the oil in my hair and it's a nice standard hair oil.

Overall I am once again thrilled with my purchases. She's got another sale coming up tonight (Dec 28, 2014, 9:30 pm eastern). This is the Valentines/MardiGras release, I believe. I'm pretty well stocked at the moment but will probably pop on just to see what's new.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Jar

Just a quickie post to show you the cute Santa jar I created this morning. C wanted a gift for his hairdresser. He approached me with an empty pickle jar and asked if I could turn it into something that looked like Santa. A quick Bing search yielded tons of ideas. Having not crafted in ages I wasn't sure what kind of supplies I had around. But luckily I had everything I needed. I wrapped the jar in red felt and hot glued it on. Black fold over elastic provided the belt with a little glitter paint for the buckle. I found the perfect buttons in my button jars. Some fiber fill for the collar and more felt and a pompom for the hat. Totally adorable. Now I just need some candy to fill it!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lake in Wood Campground

It is a well known fact that C and I are homebodies and rarely venture out. See Webster's entry for homebody and you'll see our picture (just kidding). But for the last 2 years we've been dreaming of a lakeside cabin getaway for vacation. We tried last year, a place in Mount Grenta's Chautauqua, but it was a bust. Not to be deterred, we kept looking and this year settled on Lake in Wood Campground in Narvon.
We rented a cabin right by the lake for a few days the end of October. Being the end of season, the place was nearly deserted. However, it was peak for fall foliage in Pennsylvania that week and the colors were gorgeous.


 
Our view was perfect and I spent most of the time just staring at the lake.
 
The cabin was clean and cozy and had all the amenities of home (heat, tv, internet, kitchen and bathroom). We are very much looking forward to going back again next year and would recommend them to anyone looking for a nice getaway.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Moona Lisa haul

I heard of Moona Lisa years ago when I was big into BPAL and other eccentric indie perfumers. There was talk of how great her scents were, how gorgeous her presentation, but mostly how damn hard it was to get a hold of. I looked at the site a few times but it was always closed so I gave up and forgot about it. But recently I ran across a few MoonaLisa hauls on YouTube and it piqued my interest again. Again, the site was sold out. So I asked around and found out the scoop. Moona only opens up a few times a year with limited edition releases. Pretty much the only way to know when this is going to happen is to follow on Facebook. So this is where I heard about the Halloween release. Halloween was live for about a week starting August 30. I didn't know how fast things would sell out so I made sure to get my order in on day 1. Not sure what is typical since I've only participated in one sale but it looks like you wouldn't necessarily have to be there during the first few hours. From then, its been a long wait. She is very up front about the turn around time. If you are in a hurry, don't even bother. It is my understanding typical TATs are around a month. Since Halloween is one of the bigger sales it runs longer. I received mine Oct 18, so about a month and a half. Was it worth the wait????
I picked up 2 soaps, 2 perfume oils and a leave in detangler hair spray. She also had body lotions, salt soaks, shower gel, body scrubs and wax tarts.
The two soaps I picked up are Late Harvet and Pumpkin Clafouti. The bars are IMMENSE! One is 8.5 ounces and the other over 9!! That's nearly double the size most handmade soapers offer. They are stunning. There is little information on her website so I was leery of ordering soaps...would they be cold process or melt and pour? These are definitely cold process. Very hard and well cured. The scents are outstanding. Very strongly scented. I can not wait to use them but they are too gorgeous to use!
Next up are the perfume oils. I know I've said I have pretty much moved on from perfume oils but the 'weens always suck me in. I chose Sleepy Hollow, (her description: Experience the legend with this solid perfume flying Ointment reminiscent of smoldering seasoned oakwood fires, warmed leather from fierce riding through the eastern woodside and the distinct aroma of roasted spiced pumpkin flesh and smoldering marshmallows). At the top I get raw pumpkin (no sweetness or spice) and as it dries more wood and smoke come through. Of course I had to get Smoldering Havana Charmer (a new Amber Tobacco Chocolate scent, I made a new version of the Duchess but much more complex , grown up and edgy.) This comes off exactly as she describes it...chocolate, amber and tobacco. Fantastic. Loved that it came wrapped in a tube to look like a mini cigar. Too cute.
And lastly I got her detangler spray in Durga (Gingery, buttery, spicy brown sugar and a hint of grounding earthy patchouli & Neroli. Smells like the MOST delicious Halloween cookies baking and a breath of Autumn Graveyard air. Hmmm, Sweet Haunted Home). The scent seems rather faint to me compared to the detanglers I have from Alchemic Muse which leave my hair scented for hours. But I've only smelled it from the bottle, not sprayed in my hair. So I'll have to report back after I've had a chance to give it a good try.

There was a little goodie bag included as well with a collectors card, a piece of candy and a soap sample. Again, the sample is quite generous and comes in a little sealed cup. This is going with on vacation next week!

So, was it worth the wait? Hell yeah. If you are into this kind of indie bath and body stuff, get on her Facebook and start saving your pennies!! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

eSalon product review


A little over a month ago I received a hair coloring kit from eSalon as part of a BzzAgent campaign (see my initial post here.) The campaign is ending this week so I wanted to get my thoughts posted. While I haven't had a chance to try the color kit yet, I have been using the "Tinted Love" color enhancing glaze and the "Shining Armor" oil treatment.

Tinted Love ($15) is unlike most color glazes I've tried in the past. The product is quite thin and looks like liquid gold. You use the product between shampoo and conditioner. The odd thing is that it lathers like a shampoo. It doesn't seem to be a cleansing product in that my hair does not feel stripped. It is also not conditioning, I still use my regular conditioner after. I just use a quarter size amount, work it into my wet hair and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes before rinsing out. I've been using it twice a week. It does add a nice shine to my hair and maybe some golden highlights. I would not say that it has prolonged my color at all, though. So, color enhancing, yep, color extending, no.

Shining Armor ($18) is a lightweight leave in oil treatment. It has a faint citrus smell that fades quickly. It did a fine job smoothing my hair and keeping frizz at bay. I've used it on both wet and dry hair with equally good results. I've used it at least 4 or 5 times per week and it feels like the bottle is about 2/3 gone.

As I said, these products were sent to me free to try with the campaign....Would I buy these products with my own money? Probably not. They ARE fine products but I feel like there are equally good products out there for a fraction of the price. I'm still looking forward to trying the color when I get to the point I need it and will post my thoughts on it then.