Saturday, July 04, 2015

Gardening 2015

I haven't posted anything about my gardening efforts all spring :-(  So I'm making up for it today with a whole slew of photos showing how things have gone in June and into July.

First, this is what our raised-bed vegetable garden looked like in early June:

Tiny pepper plants along one side, garlic in the center, and peas along the edges.
It doesn't look like that anymore because the peas are all done and pulled out, and so is the garlic.  The pepper plants are much taller, and have cages to support them.  And along the other side opposite the peppers we have 4 cherry tomato plants.  Right now I have 8 empty squares, which is silly -- I'm hoping to find some lemon basil plants or something to put in the middle.

Okay, on to the container garden!  Here's how it was in very early June:

Those brown pots with double layers are full of marigolds grown from seeds I harvested from last year's plants.  The two matching middle pots have nasturtiums also grown from last year's harvested seeds, and they didn't all come up, so I bought some "lemon bell" calibrachoas to fill in the gaps.  The middle pot is entirely purslane, also from seeds I harvested last year.  The pots up on the three-level plant stand belong to my kids.  They have nasturtiums in the back, and then store-bought portulacas in the front.  That little painted pot in front of the plant stand just has more calibrachoas and petunias that came in a "planter read" pot that I got 75% off at the plant store because it wasn't currently blooming.

Down the two little steps are my lavender plants.  I need to put these in the ground and meant to do it this spring, but then I was gone nearly 4 weeks in May, so it didn't happen :-(

Now for the close-ups!  Here's the lavender:

That store-bought "planter-ready" mix.  Unhappily, we have a groundhog in the neighborhood that likes to munch these calibrachoas sometimes.



"Lemon Bell" calibrachoas in the bigger planters with the nasturtiums.
The photos above are all from early-to-mid June.  These are from late June, about 10 days ago.  Here are my kids' pots, which they painted themselves last year, and planted themselves this year:


Here's how things were looking 10 days ago.  This is basically how it still looks now, except that there are some marigolds opening now.

And here's my purslane!  I absolutely love this plant -- it's a succulent, so survives our hot summers well.  Also, it's totally edible!  Last year, I put some in salads and such.  Haven't done that this year yet, but I will soon!

That naughty groundhog ate all the nasturtiums in Tootie's pot, so I let her pick out a replacement at the local nursery, and she chose this bright vinca:

The blooms are so pretty as they unfurl!

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Liebster Award

The Nitrate Glow blog nominated me for the Liebster award :-)  I got this award once before, but that was quite a while ago, so I'm doing it again.

Here are the rules when nominated for a Liebster:
 a) Answer the eleven questions of the tagger.
 b) Share eleven facts about yourself
 c) Nominate up to eleven other bloggers
 d) Ask those nominees 11 new questions

1. Who’s your most attractive historical person?

I assume you mean besides actors and such?  Well, Almonzo Wilder, husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was pretty yummy:

2. Favorite animated film and three reasons why.

Robin Hood (1973).  1.  I love the Robin Hood story in general, 2. I love that style of animation, with the static backdrop and moving foreground, and 3. It's funny.

3. Three movies you wish would get released on DVD/Blu-ray?

Seasons 2 and 3 of Five Mile Creek (1983-85) are the only thing that come to mind at the moment.

Jack, Con, and Ben

4. Favorite TV series.

Combat! (1962-67)

Caje, Kirby, Littlejohn, possibly Billy hiding back there?, Doc, and Saunders.

5. Historical figure you find the most fascinating.

I find a lot of historical figures fascinating.  Does Robin Hood count?  I'm very fascinated by him.

6. Would you prefer the ability to fly or talk to animals?

Fly!  Once in a while, I dream that I can fly, and those are such amazing dreams.  I also sometimes dream I can breathe underwater, which is wonderful as well.

7. A movie or TV series that is objectively well-made that you just couldn’t warm up to.

Downton Abbey.  I just... don't like it much.  It's very pretty, and has excellent actors, but... I don't like it much.

8. Three movies you love that everyone else hates.

I don't have any?  But here are three that I love, though many people don't:  The Lone Ranger (2013), X-Men:  Origins:  Wolverine (2009), and Pride & Prejudice (2005)

9. Three movies you hate that everyone else loves.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Final Destination (2000), and Cruel Intentions (1999).

10. Three favorite film scores.

The Man from Snowy River, The Sons of Katie Elder, and Master and Commander:  The Far Side of the World.

11. Favorite dessert.

Chocolate!  Cake, brownies, cookies, whatever.

Now for the 11 facts about myself:

  1. I'm 5'7", but I really wanted to be 5'8".
  2. I love to swim.
  3. I enjoy painting interior walls.
  4. My blood type is B+.
  5. I have five favorite colors:  purple, blue, green, red, and grey.
  6. I have seen every episode of M*A*S*H.
  7. I have never read War and Peace.
  8. I have never watched a movie adaptation of War and Peace either.
  9. Strawberries and apricots are my favorite fruits.
  10. I refuse to read The Velveteen Rabbit ever again because it makes me cry.
  11. I also refuse to watch The Fox and the Hound ever again because it makes me cry.

And now, I'm going to award the Liebster to some blogs that have fewer than 200 followers, in the spirit of this award's mission to spread blog love.  These are all blogs I hope more people check out, cuz they're awesome!  And I'm going to try to tag people I didn't just tag a couple days ago :-)  So I hereby award:

Yeah, that's a bunch.  Anyway, my questions for those honored bloggers are as follows:

1.  Do you have a favorite mug or teacup?
2.  Are you an adventurous eater?  (Do you try "strange" foods?)
3.  What fandoms are you into?
4.  What famous author/book do you not really care for?
5.  What obscure author/book are you nuts about?
6.  What's the oldest movie you've ever watched?
7.  What did you have for breakfast today?
8.  When did you first see your favorite movie?
9.  Do you prefer fantasy or sci-fi?
10.  What did you expect your blog to be like when you started it?
11.  Has it changed?  If so, how?

Happy blogging, everyone!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

June, 2015 -- The Good Parts Version

Here's this month's collection of cool stuff I felt like sharing :-)  Enjoy!


This first was shared with me by Hannah.  It's exquisite.  Richard Armitage reading the first proposal scene from the North and South novel, accompanied by video from the miniseries' version of the scene.  A thousand thanks, Hannah!

This is wildly different, and wildly awesome:

I'm not fond of the guy's voice, but I love how they tweaked the lyrics.  And the last line cracks me up endlessly!  My thanks to Cowboy for finding that one.  (Warning: does involve the phrase "knocked up" and some kinda scary Star Wars images.)

And finally, the late, magnificent Christopher Lee singing my favorite song, "Mack the Knife."  Well, actually, he's singing it in the original German, so it's called "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer," or "Moritat" for short.

DKoren sent me that cuz she knew I'd heart it :-)  Vielen Dank!


I MUST share this wonderful, comprehensive post about The Andy Griffith Show on the Silver Scene blog.  (Yes, I realize the post was published in May, but I got kinda behind in my blog reading again, you see, so didn't read it until June.)  I've been a fan of TAGS almost all my life, and whether you know the show well, are just getting into it, or are simply curious about it, that post is a must-read.

And if you're at all interested in how Christianity is portrayed in our culture today, and what that portrayal says about our culture, please read this thought-provoking post on Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.

Not actually a blog, but if you love the Sherlock Holmes canon, check out all these awesome charts about various collections of canon data, like how many cases the main characters appear in, what kinds of clients appear the most, what kinds of crimes he investigates the most, etc.  And then there's this lovely floor plan of his flat:

Pinterest Fun

I can't believe I didn't pick up on this myself.


I want a shirt just like this, only I want it to say "write" instead of "read," because that is truer of me.


And then, there's this bit of wonderful MCU-HP mashing up.  Look!  My 3 favorite MCU characters in my favorite HP house!!!  (I do really like Falcon too, but I need to get to know him better before I call him a favorite.)

(Source.  And they did the other houses too -- check 'em out.)

That's all, folks!  More next month.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Cranford" (2007) and "Return to Cranford" (2009)

Cross this off my summer to-do list!  I've finally watched these.  Took me three weeks, because I got one disc at a time from the library, so I'm not going to do a really in-depth review here.  Just more of a "here's a bunch of stuff I liked" post.

I really liked the general feel of the miniseries -- how we got immersed in this eccentric little village.  I got to feeling like I was kind of a resident myself, which was fun.  The idea of a town where the women run everything and the men just kind of go along for the ride was quite amusing, and I like how it was not turned into feminist propaganda for the most part, but was simply allowed to be a quirky entity unto itself.

Basically, it's about the daily lives of people in a small English village and how their lives change as progress (and the railroad) encroaches on them.  Some embrace the change, some resist it, but none can ignore it.

The characters, of course, were my favorite part.  Get me to want to be friends with the characters and I will be a fan.  You want to know my favorites?  Good, cuz I'm gonna talk about those next.

Miss Mary (Lisa Dillon) was overall my favorite.  She was kind and cheerful and sensible and helpful -- everything I like in a character.  And then!  She became a writer!  I was very pleased by that, though I wish it hadn't meant she left.  I would have been much happier if she'd stayed with Miss Matty.

Speaking of whom, Miss Matty (Judi Dench) was a close second in my affections.  She'd believed all her life that she wasn't very bright, or very sensible, when in fact she was plenty of both.  Seeing her come into her own more in the later episodes was a joy.  The only time I cried during either series was at the very end of the final episode, when she opened that black box.  So happy for Miss Matty!!!

Then there's Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton).  If, before I watched this, you had told me that one of my favorite characters would be played by the person who played Delores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies, I would have made some very unladylike snorting noises.  But Miss Pole made me laugh.  Often.  And heartily.  She was so convinced of her own rightness, all the time!  Especially when she was completely not right at all!  Loved her.

And William Buxton (Tom Hiddleston) was sweetness and light personified.  I will freely admit that the two reasons I wanted to see this were Tom Hiddleston and Judi Dench, and that I was mighty pleased by the characters both played.  I think one of the things I liked best about him was that he was so smiley and sincere.  He's pretty smiley as Loki too, but he's not sincere.  Or kind, or nice, or good and kind.  William is all of those, so hooray!

I also really liked Martha (Claudie Blakley), Jem (Andrew Buchan), Miss Galindo (Emma Fielding), and Sir Charles (Greg Wise).  And I was endlessly amused by Tim Curry's surprise (to me) appearance :-D  He did a marvelous job of playing Tim Curry, as usual.

And I find that I don't really have much else to say.  Actually, I have a zillion other things to say, but they're just scattered thoughts and I'm too tired to sort through them at this point.

Are these family friendly?  Mostly, but not for young children.  I think there were a couple mildly objectionable words, a few faintly suggestive moments, and there were some unsettling scenes involving various injuries with blood shown.  People died (including one in childbirth), children died... like I said, not for young children.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Look what Emma and Ashley both tagged me with!  Thankee, Emma and Ashley :-)  I'm sorry it's taken me a couple weeks to complete this.


1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate ten blogs

Emma's questions:

#1 Do you like county fairs?

Yes, I do.

#2 Were you ever in some sort of club as a kid?

I was in a couple different 4-H clubs, both of them full of other homeschoolers.  That's where I met two of my current best friends, when I was 12, though we didn't become close friends for a few years.
#3 What's one of the first movies you remember seeing?

I remember watching The Sound of Music with my parents when I was pretty little.

#4 Which would you rather do: hop in your old pickup truck and go for an unexpected adventure, or sit on the back porch with a good novel on a warm summer evening?

I definitely choose the back porch with the novel.

#5 Do you enjoy live concerts?

I do!  When I was a kid, my parents belonged to the local "Community Concert Association" and we went to see lots of live concerts, mostly classical music, though I saw the Glenn Miller Orchestra that way.  When I went to college, I went to quite a few concerts, mostly small, not-well-known groups.  Cowboy took me to a Beach Boy concert when we were dating :-D  I also went to two Creed concerts in 2002, the only major rock concerts I ever went to.  And we saw Yo-Yo Ma perform with the Boston Pops when my brother and his wife lived in Boston.  Live performances have such a great energy to them, and I totally recommend them.

#6 Which do you read more of: historical fiction or contemporary fiction?

It's a toss-up.  Does stuff written in the 20th century count as historical or contemporary?

#7 Do you like country music? 

Not much, but I do enjoy some of it.

#8 If you could play any role in a musical, who would you chose?

Sister Sarah in Guys and Dolls.

(Sister Sarah is the one in red here.)

#9 Do you ever put your feet up on the dashboard when riding in a car?

Not anymore.  I tried a few times as a teen, but I was always worried we'd get in a wreck and I'd break both legs.

#10 Can you tell us a funny story of something that happened to you in the last week/month/ever?

Well, Tootie (my 3-year-old) asked me, in all seriousness, what tornadoes taste like.  I thought that was pretty funny.

(Margaret O'Brien as Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis.
Our Tootie behaves a great deal like her, hence the nickname)

Ashley's questions:

1. Do you have any nicknames? What are they?

Well... my name isn't actually Hamlette, so that's definitely a nickname.  In the Combat! fandom, I'm known as White Queen or WQ.  And Cowboy calls me Cutie -- he's the only one who is allowed to, though ;-)

2. What is your current favorite song?

As opposed to my favorite song of all time?  I have been whistling the main theme from The Quick and the Dead a lot these days because I just bought the soundtrack and am listening to it while writing.

(Russell Crowe in TQATD)

3. Have you ever traveled out of your country?

Yes, I have.  I've been to Canada lots of times, and also to Mexico, Poland, and Ukraine.

4. What is your dream job?

Earning enough money with my writing to hire someone to clean my house once in a while.

5. Pen or pencil?

Pen, particularly with blue or purple ink.

6. What is your dream college?

Small, Christian, and arts-oriented.  Which describes my alma mater, actually.

7. Do you like burritos?

Yes!  I like most Mexican-style food.

8. What is your opinion of Taco Bell?

I have many happy memories of eating at Taco Bell with my friends when we were in high school.

9. Do you have a swimming pool?

We do not own one.  However, part of our HOA fees pay for the upkeep of a very nice pool only a block from our house, so we go there a lot in the summer.

10. What is your favorite Little House book (Laura)?

Little House in the Big Woods.

(This is the edition I grew up with and still own.)

Now it's my turn!  Here are my questions:

1.  Do you like westerns?
2.  What was your favorite TV show as a child?
3.  Are there any salad dressings you dislike?
4.  Do you call carbonated beverages "soda" or "pop" or something else?
5.  What's the farthest from home you've ever been?
6.  Have you ever eaten a peanut-butter-and-onion sandwich?
7.  Do you like roller coasters?
8.  Do you subscribe to any magazines?
9.  Do you wear a wristwatch?
10.  When do you generally get up in the morning?

I hereby tag:

Elizabeth Anne D.
Sarah Margaret

Play if you want to!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In Memory of James Horner

In memory of James Horner, who died on Monday, I wrote a post about one of my favorite scores, The Mask of Zorro (1998) for James the Movie Reviewer.  It's up here.

AMA Answers #3

Here we are!  The last answer to the questions you asked me :-)

Natalie asked:  I'm curious as to how you balance being a wife, mother, blogger, AND writer? I'm only in high school and yet sometimes I have a really hard time managing my time wisely enough to get what I NEED to get done and what I WANT to get done.

I don't sleep.

Just kidding!  I actually sleep 7-9 hours a night.  Unless I've got something going on the next day, like a birthday party, that makes me stay up late prepping.  But lack of sleep makes me horrifyingly cranky, so I don't go there unless it's absolutely necessary.  I never pulled a single all-nighter in college.

First and foremost, what I do is pray a lot.  For guidance, for patience, for the strength to not throttle my children when they're having their third spat in five minutes.

What I don't do is nothing.   I am never doing nothing -- I am always doing something.  Often, I'm doing more than one thing at once.

That's right, I multi-task.

(I'm not this skinny, and I don't like martinis, but otherwise, this is accurate)

I know multi-tasking has gotten a bad rap lately -- studies showing that when you do two things at once, you do neither of them well, etc.  However, the kind of multitasking I do is all about completing a mundane task my brain isn't needed for while using my brain for something else.  I read while I'm flossing and brushing my teeth, while I brush and braid my hair before bed, while I wait at the doctor or dentist.  I crochet and knit while my kids dawdle over their meals.  I work on fiction in my head while I fold laundry and shower and empty the dishwasher.  I crochet or work on prepping Sunday school craft projects while watching a TV show or movie I've seen before.

I keep lists.  Lots of lists.  Lists of things that need doing today, or this week, or by the end of the month.  Lists of things I need for a project, shopping lists, lists of blog posts I want to write.  Lists are one of my greatest allies.

I take at least three nights a week to spend time with my husband.  On Friday nights, we watch a movie or TV show together after the kids are in bed.  The other two nights we... do married people things ;-)  Time spent together doing things we both enjoy -- that's the secret to a strong and happy marriage.  Lots of time.  Essential.

The other four nights of the week, after the kids are in bed, are my time to write and watch movies that Cowboy isn't interested in.  I tend to plan out what I'm going to do in the evening, so that I don't sit around wondering, "What shall I do now?"  I already know -- tonight is Cowboy time; tonight I'm going to work on this specific writing project; tonight I'm going to watch such-and-such movie or TV show; tonight I'm going to chat with DKoren online.  I am a planner, and I enjoy anticipating doing something, so I look forward all day to what I'm going to do that evening.

I also take most Saturday mornings "off."  That's my weekend, my time to get away from my "job" of being mommy and go just be myself for a bit.  That's when I go see movies in the theater (or sometimes late at night, when they're in bed) or go to Starbucks to write for a couple hours.  That's my recharging time, and it's essential to my mental and emotional well-being.  I have a great need for solitude, which I can achieve in a coffee shop or a movie theater because I don't have to talk to people in those places.  And it's talking to people that really drains my emotional energy.

But you'll notice that my "time off" is actually productive -- I'm either seeing a movie or writing.  Not doing nothing.

Blogging, I do in stolen time.  I write blog posts in tiny chunks whenever I have the chance -- I started this one yesterday morning before the kids were up, wrote more of it while my coffee pot made coffee and the toaster toasted waffles for breakfast.  Wrote more while the kids were playing nicely together in the basement in the afternoon.  And now I'm finishing it up this morning quick before breakfast time.

The rest of my time is spent braiding little girl hair, putting clothes on princess dolls, building things with Legos, reading picture books aloud, going to and from the swimming pool, and the other necessary activities for life with 3 kids.  Most of the year, I'm also teaching school stuff to all three of them in the morning and early afternoon.

My general rule of thumb is "do the stuff that needs to be done first, then do everything else in the time that remains."

Now, will this approach to life work for everyone?  Nope!  Some people require "doing nothing" now and then to be happy.  **Please note!**  I do not consider daydreaming to be doing nothing.  Daydreaming is how stories come to be, for me.  It's also how I problem-solve.  However, I freely admit that I generally daydream while also putting breakfast on the table, folding laundry, taking my kids to the playground, etc.  Also, I don't do housework as much as I ought to.  I tend not to clean until things are dirty enough to bother me.  Some people can't live in cluttered chaos with a layer of dust on the book shelves.

So... that's how I do it.  And right now, time to help Tootie button a princess dress, then go start making coffee.