atwitter: july

July 29, 2009

I haven’t written one of these atwitter posts in a while. Not that I haven’t been all atwitter–ask my husband about my tendency to yammer on about things. I just haven’t written about it. So, making up for lost posts…

our lavender is blooming.

my bees are happy

60 plants worth, on our front hillside, right beside our beehive. Can you spot one of our girls in the photo? I wish I could insert smells into my posts, because this Provence lavender is eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head fragrant. I really ought to film the flurry of bees out there so you’d believe how many there are–one morning I counted more than twenty on a single plant. This new little colony is taking its time building up comb, though. I’d assumed that with the abundance of lavender, the comb production would pick up quickly, but that hasn’t been the case so far. A beekeeper on the Beemaster Forum explained that despite popular belief, a new colony won’t build comb to keep up with a nectar flow; it will build comb as needed to keep up with its population, and therefore might not be ready to take advantage of a nearby flow. So I just need to be patient, and let Queen Bee-atrice keep doing her thing. But one of these days, I hope there will be enough honey for me to steal a frame. I know exactly where I’ll put it:

a pot for my honey.

for my honey

Isn’t it perfectly splendid? Wouldn’t Pooh love it? I found it at, of all places, Anthropologie. (Actually, Anthropologie seems to be a bee-loving company: for Earth Day, they had a neat little online honeybee promo, with some art that inspired my kids. If you click on the arrow near the bees in the promo, you’ll be led through a few pages of honeybee info.)

a new book.

wicked plants in a wicked plant

If you’re a plant lover with a dark sense of humor, then you must get your hands on Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart. It’s a compendium of–from the back cover–“plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.” Fun stuff! It’s also a beautiful little book, with faux-aged pages, old-fashioned etchings and creepy drawings.  I photographed it in my morning glory vine, the seeds of which are, apparently, capable of producing “an LSD-like trip if eaten in large quantity.” (I find the vine to be more violence-inducing, as I am constantly ripping at it whenever it strangles my more tender plants.)

healthy cookies.

healthy cookies

No, it’s not an oxymoron. I saw the recipe for Nikki’s Healthy Cookies on 101 Cookbooks a while back, and finally got around to making them. Yum! They’re not so decadent as your typical chocolate chip cookie, but they’re surprisingly tasty given their list of healthy ingredients. We like them frozen, which makes their texture a little nicer. Whole Foods’ Dark Chocolate Chunks work especially well in the recipe. (And you’ll have extras to nibble on and call them antioxidants.)

a new knitting project.

jane meets a lacy skirt

Don’t tell my sweater coat! This is the short, simple number I mentioned in my letter. It’s actually my own bastardization of two patterns that I like: the Jane cardigan from Custom Knits, and the Lacy Skirt with Bows from Greetings from Knit Cafe. Details forthcoming on my Ravelry page for you knitting geeks. (Sorry about those Ravelry links, if you’re not a Raveler.)

Spanish design blogs.

berry lover

Back in June, I posted this photo of Mr. T with some of our ollalieberries to the Flickr group 100 Things to Love About Summer (’cause if ripe ollallieberries aren’t one of the top 100 things to love about summer, I don’t know what is.) A month or so later, I got an email from Spain, asking for permission to use the photo. Which is how Mr. T ended up on a Spanish design blog, under the heading 100 Razones para Amar el Verano. Which tickles me in an it’s-a-small-world-after-all kind of way.

And even though the kid doesn’t look Spanish, he’s a full one-quarter. ¡Viva la familia Zaballos de Macotera, España!

fun in the sidebar.

I’m adding a place in the sidebar that links to exciting stuff I wander across on my internet ramblings. Mosey on over to the tab that says ever-changing list of wondrous links. I’ve posted a link to the Healthy Cookies recipe there, to keep it up for a while, and also links to some fantastic writing by Michael Chabon and Pico Iyer. That spot in the sidebar will give me a place to share little bits of wonder–even if I’m not keeping up with these atwitter posts.

So I’ll ask yet again, what has you all atwitter?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin July 29, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Hi Patricia,

I wish I had a lavender field like you all do.

The honey pot is too cute. Do you have an ant problem? We sure do. Even with a lid on the jar, they are still finding their way into my goop.

The photo of the book in the morning glory plant is apropos. The cover is stunning. Let us know how it reads.

Mr. T is adorable in that photo with the berries. I missed that post and will go back and read it.

I’m atwitter about all the winter veggies I plan to plant in my cooler, shadier sections of raised beds…

Be well.

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patricia July 30, 2009 at 6:34 am

Kristin, I haven’t had ants in a long time. But now they’re probably reading this and marching right into my kitchen.

The book is great fun to read. It has a page or so on each plant or plant family, so it’s a good one for picking up and nibbling at, a little at a time.

And winter veggies! I know this is the time of year to start fall and winter gardens, but I’m always so busy waiting for my green Northern CA tomatoes to turn, that I’m just not ready to think about fall and winter…

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susan July 30, 2009 at 7:38 am

Your lavender is gorgeous. I have a complicated relationship with lavender after trying lavender chocolate and finding it revolting. Ack! Ever since then, and it has been several years, I can’t enjoy the smell so much.

Do you think the Wicked Plant book would be appropriate for Evelyn? She loves plant lore and has read Edible and Useful Plants of the West. But if it is too gory it would not be a good choice for her.

Love the photo of Mr. T and the olallieberries! Berries are definitely one of the highlights of our summers. We picked wild blackberries along the American River last weekend and made a blackberry pie.

Your honey jar is splendid. I hope Queen Bee-atrice’s minions get to work. But maybe they should steer clear of that lavender…. Ack. Actually, lavender honey will probably be delicious.

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patricia July 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

I’m sorry about your mishap with chocolate and lavender. I adore lavender, and even I don’t believe it belongs in chocolate.

I’ll bet Evelyn would adore Wicked Plants! It isn’t a gory book–it’s more humorously gothic in style. And quite informative too. I won’t be at the park this week, or I’d bring my copy along for you to check out. Did her birthday already pass? If not, it might be a good book to look for…

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stefaneener July 30, 2009 at 8:51 am

Berries berries berries. . .

I must go pick today. I’m having withdrawal pains. I’m with Susan, however. Some lavender tea had me wishing I could rinse the soap taste out of my mouth, but I still enjoy the smell — in body products, not food.

Maybe it’s like cilantro.

That’s fascinating about the comb/brood/flow issues. Does this mean that you’ll need a full year before you can take advantage of the lavender flow? That would be sad.

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patricia July 30, 2009 at 10:53 am

Yes, lavender and cilantro are both fairly soapy. But I have a honey and lavender ice cream recipe that *might* change your mind.

And yes, I’m guessing that my bees won’t really be able to take advantage of the lavender flow until next year. Certainly it can’t hurt that they have such an attractive food source right outside their front door, but they probably don’t yet have enough foragers or comb space to make the most of it.

That’s okay. I’m in this for the long haul. Plus, I’m not sure I’m quite ready for gallons of honey my first year at it!

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melissa s. July 30, 2009 at 11:56 am

I spotted your little honey-maker right away! We’re on a bee learning spree now too: I picked up “Secret Life of Bees” at a garage sale and thought of you! It was a perfect summer read and I loved it. And my 3yo thanks every bee she sees these days for making our honey: “thank you, poll’nator!!” So atwitterable.

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patricia July 31, 2009 at 7:29 am

Lulu and I both loved the Secret Life of Bees. And the movie was one of those rare few that mostly stuck to the book.

“thank you, poll’nator!!” Too cute! And I’m glad that’s how she responds to bees, rather than running from them. Good job, Mama!

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Tara Reese July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm

I just received a birthday coupon from anthropologie, and intend on using it sometime soon~ it’s been some time since i went shopping for myself!
Your lavender is gorgeous, I can hear the bees buzzing. Do people in the know regarding bees think there are more this year? It sure seems that way!

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patricia July 31, 2009 at 7:31 am

Every mama needs a chance to shop for herself once in a while…

I haven’t heard that there are more bees this year. Could be, which would be wonderful. Then again, it might just be all those veggies you planted in your backyard that are attracting them!

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Carrie Pomeroy July 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

I enjoyed this post, as usual. Lovely photos! I could almost smell the lavender. . .

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patricia July 31, 2009 at 7:39 am

Thanks, Carrie. I sure wish there was Smell-o-rama for blogs.

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Laura July 30, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I love your post. Your pictures are amazing. I’m not sure what I like best, it’s all so beautiful. The whole post made me smile. Love the little honeypot. I feel calmer just looking at your lavender. What has me atwitter? Hmmm … Cassia and I have been building fairy houses on the weekends. We build them in parks all over Portland. We’ve been taking lots of pictures! It’s been great. As always, I miss you friend.

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patricia July 31, 2009 at 7:47 am

Hey old friend! Well, not *old* friend, but friend for many moons…Sounds like you’ve been sending other old friends to my blog. It’s like a tea party here–with boys!

I love the idea of you and Cassia building fairy houses all over Portland. Are you posting the pictures anywhere that I can see them?

I miss you too. I need to get back to writing those long, late-at-night emails…

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Sarah August 4, 2009 at 11:57 am

Woops, I commented on the last post meaning to comment on THIS one. So, two commets today.

Loved this read. Beautiful shots.. all being something I love 🙂 Reading, bees, honey, berries… ahh. Thanks for sharing.

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patricia August 4, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Oh, I’ll take two comments any day. Especially when they’re good and gushing.

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