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Book Review (Non-Knitting): The Water-Saving Garden

I have a special interest in drought-tolerant gardens. Our entire front yard (and minuscule side/backyard) is full of California native plants, all of them drought tolerant.  One of the first things we did when we bought our current house was to have the lawn ripped out so we could do native plants.  The garden’s gone through several iterations as I’ve learned more about California native plants, the various California ecosystems, and what works in our particular location, and as we’ve started working with a landscape gardener who works exclusively with California natives (I’d exhausted my knowledge base and wanted new ideas and a new perspective).

Many of my knitting designs are named after California native plants!

Here’s a slideshow of how our garden currently looks:

Having said all that, I was excited to get a chance to review The Water-Saving Garden by Pam Penick from 10 Speed Press.  Anything that encourages people to conserve water and resources is worth at least a quick glance, and I think The Water Saving Garden deserves far more than that; it’s worth immersing yourself into.

water saving gardenThe Water Saving Garden is chock full of gorgeous, inspirational pictures, not just of the various plants but of other garden aspects: hardscape, water features, and more.

It’s divided into five main sections: inspirational examples; emphasizing different ways to conserve water; planting; illusion of water; and a list of 101 water-saving plants with brief descriptions. Click here to see the full table of contents.

The author acknowledges that not everyone will want a wild-looking native garden, and discusses other plants that can be used in a variety of garden types, with an eye for keeping in mind what the requirements, zoning, etc are of the plants you’re considering.

This book has a very non-regional approach; as such, I think it’s very useful for inspiration.  I think it’s very good for introducing the basics of water-saving gardening, and does a fabulous job of showing how those sorts of gardens can be beautiful, and the huge varieties of gardens that are possible.

However, unless you’re considering working with a landscape designer familiar with water-saving plants specific to your area, do recognize you’ll need more regionally specific resources to design your own garden. The Water-Saving Garden does give you the groundwork (sorry, couldn’t help it) for evaluating what your next steps will be.

Check out Pam’s site here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.

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DIPs, Garden Update, a Wolf Pup, & a Focus

Woolen Rabbit Opal in "Godiva"

Let’s see…the Knitcircus sweater reached Jaala at Knitcircus right before she left for TNNA (lucky lady!).  I’m just about to start my run of editing for the Knitcircus Fall issue (and folks, this one is shaping up to be FABULOUS).  I’ve been editing some lovely pattern by other indie designers as well.

Here’s a yarn pic from the California Revival Collection….it’s so gorgeous, so luscious…. It’s from Kim at the Woolen Rabbit, her Opal base in Godiva.

In the garden….our Santa Rosa plum tree, little as it is, has been producing some luscious plums over the past week or so.  We don’t harvest enough to need to do anything with them, like jam or anything (though I fully intend to in the future, when the crop gets bigger).

The crows have been dining on our Desert King figs before we can pick them.  I’m sure I’ve asked before, but does anyone have any good fig recipes?  I like dried figs, but am clueless as to what to do with fresh.  (I suppose I could dry them somehow.)

Our peach tree is bearing a tiny bit of fruit — but what’s there is delicious.  I planted some raspberries a month or two ago, and they’re already bearing a tiny bit of fruit as well.  The one raspberry I ate was very, very good.

We’ve been having baby lettuce for salads for the past couple weeks (month?).  Lettuce, for us, is a pest-free crop (as opposed to the broccoli/ kale/ etc family, which attracts aphids like no tomorrow).  I’ve planted some varieties that are supposed to be slow to bolt — I’d love to have lettuce all summer.

I ate some cherry tomatoes yesterday — they didn’t even make it into the house, though I shared one with our neighbor Doug.

Oh — almost forgot!  I now own another loom.  It’s a used Wolf Pup that I purchased from the arts director at the Idyllwild Arts Academy. It needs some TLC, but I’m hoping to start nurturing it this summer.  Dave’s okay with it — it takes up about 1/6th or less the space the Beast would’ve (the Beast being the humongous loom I adopted last year, and for which I subsequently found a new home).

I finally agreed to getting smartphones. Dave & I both got Samsung Focuses (Foci?). Anyhow, one of the main reasons I thought a smartphone would be useful was to have my Outlook calendar handy.

Little did I know how much of a pain this would be. You’d think, Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Windows 7 phone. Should be easy, right?

Nope. Several hours later, here’s the final (and imperfect) answer, pieced together by finally finding a couple helpful sites (and this).  Note:  I could never make Outlook Connector work, so that option, well, wasn’t an option.  The following steps apply to getting the calendar from Outlook to Windows Live;  I’ve not included setting up the phone for Windows Live.

Go to Outlook.  Export calendar in .ics format — not by exporting, which seems logical, but by being in Calendar view and doing File >Save As.  Make sure you look at options such as date range, detail level, etc.  Default seems to be “Today” and limited details i.e. just showing if you’re busy;  not very useful IMHO.

Sign in to Windows Live and go to your calendar page (under the Hotmail tab).

Subscribe (not import, which seems logical) to your calendar.  If you’re updating your current calendar, make sure you choose to import into a current calendar.

Make sure that this calendar is the one checked as your primary calendar on the Hotmail Calendar page — this is the one that will sync with your phone.

So, obviously, there’s no way (without Microsoft Exchange) to directly sync Outlook with the phone.  If you make changes in Outlook, you have to go through the above steps to get the changes to show on your phone.

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Mid-August update and WIPs (DIPs?)

We got back home from a great visit with my parents in Austin this past Monday.

Awaiting me was soft, sunny yarn (Melange in a new color, Saffron) from Blue Sky Alpacas for a sweater for the Winter Knitcircus; gorgeous soft alpaca/merino/silk from Spirit Trail Fiberworks for the hat for the Fresh Designs book; and 2 balls of pretty blue Wool Bam Boo for mitts for Classic Elite.   I’m still waiting for yarn for a couple projects (raven mitts for Knitting Iceland, some yarn from Mackintosh for the 2nd iteration of the stranded mitts).

The new sweater is coming along swimmingly — it’s top down, seamless, with a scoop neck and cabling and a lace pattern adapted from one of the Japanese stitch dictionaries (very like the one in my Kelpie mitts).  It’s going to have some gentle waist shaping as well (darts).

I’ve noticed that sometimes I become very disenchanted with a design in the early to mid design stages.  I’ve learned I need to persevere through the angst;  the vast majority of the time I’m happy with the end product.  With the winter sweater  (I need a working name, if not the final name!  it’s in Rav as Sweet Cicely, but that’s not quite doing it for me ) there was  a brief hiccup with the final choice of stitch patterns (I ended up changing it a bit) but I’m actually very pleased with it.  I’m still on the upper back and have a couple inches on it to go before I start doing the armhole shaping (I’m going to work the back & the front at the same time) but I’ve done enough to get a really good feel for the stitch pattern.  The problem with large cable (or lace) motifs is that you have to do a fair bit of work, of course, to really see how it’s going to look (yes, even with having swatched, at least for me).

Otherwise I’ve been busy with veterinary work and tech editing.

Rosemary and Curtis, my in-laws, are visiting.  Rosemary is a knitter so we get to do fun knitterly things together (including a knitting cruise around Alamitos Bay next Wednesday!).

****

On gardening:

We need to start focusing on our fall garden:  revitalizing the earthboxes, pruning the tomatoes, checking & distributing compost, going through seeds and ordering more if needed.   The native plants (especially the sages and Artemesia spp) also need a bit of pruning.

On working out:

I’m thinking I might want to do Vineman 70.3 next summer.  Just sayin’.

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Workshop later this week! Emily progress.

I’m getting excited about the Madrona mitten workshop. I leave Thursday morning, come back Monday evening.

I’m in the midst of the lace & intarsia  part of Emily.  Luckily I was able to use the same size needle for both parts, unlike I originally feared;  after initial swatching I thought I’d use a US4 for the Traveller and a US2.5 for the Gaia, but I’ve ended up using the US2.5 for both parts.  The Traveller is knitting up well, giving a tight yet squooshy fabric.  I think (hope) I’m still on track for finishing that section before the trip.

Of course there’s no other knitting of which to speak.

Garden-wise, we harvested another 20 or so tomatoes.  I’ve not tried to do any preserving;  we’re just eating them, usually in salad (mozzarella) or on sandwiches.

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