Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Knitting is Fun

And it doesn't get any cuter than this.

Copyright MCMLXXI Spinnerin Yarn Co., Inc., South Hackensack, N.J., U.S.A.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Draw Pardner

If you are even a little bit tempted to purchase this trend item as a stocking stuffer for $7.95 please send the money to your favorite charity instead and head on over to NDL headquarters where we will, with our trusty Sharpie, give you or your loved one the finger 'stache of your dreams for free.

But if you think you can't trust us with a permanent marker go ahead and help the economy here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Euphorbia pulcherrima

...meaning "very beautiful" is the botanical name given to this brilliant tropical flower.

Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico introduced the Poinsettia, as it is commonly known, to the United States.

December 12 is National Poinsettia Day as declared by act of congress to mark the date of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett. Make sure to get that on your calendar. It's not really the perfect excuse for a party,(although it could be) but perhaps it will serve as a prompt to treat yourself or loved ones to one of these traditional, bright, holiday blooms. Our favorite West Hill Greenhouse has a nice selection and the owners will let you browse for as long as you like. Do it. It will be a long time until we see flowers again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Another lovely browsing opportunity.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pieces of April in November

The name is a fooler. It sounds like a springtime theme, but it's really about Thanksgiving for a girl named April. And if you had no credits to rely on you might not be able to identify the lead actress as Katie Holmes looking very un-Tom Cruise's wife-like and giving a great performance. For some interesting viewing this long weekend consider Pieces of April. This offbeat story of a black sheep daughter trying to do good is funny, thought provoking, and more than a little bit poignant. Okay, actually sorta sad, but good.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


...for family, friends and neighbors.

Enjoy the day.

Image from The Graphics Fairy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Everybody's Doin' It

Just in case you forgot to add a harvest touch to your Thanksgiving table here's a three minute holiday decor idea that's hot, hot, hot this holiday season.

Here's what it takes.

Here's the technique.

It's easy, and equally at-home on the dining room table as on the back of the commode.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


What crop could possibly be growing here?

Oh wait! Is that a cigarette butt sprouting a tobacco plant?

Other theories?

Monday, November 22, 2010


We are not true basketball fans. There is not much suspense when seven foot tall men who barely have to stretch to reach the basket are playing the game. They are going to score. Alot. High school and college hoops are much more entertaining, but we don't often turn up at the gym or turn on the TV to watch that either. Typically our only tribute to our Indiana roots and its tradition of excellently played basketball is our annual screening, usually around March Madness time, of Hoosiers, the best basketball movie ever. However, a recent incident of a muffed congratulatory handshake at the freethrow line during an NBA game caught our attention after it became big sports page news.

And the video spoof of the incident drew us even further into the half court drama.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ready, Set, Thaw

Get that bird out of the freezer now.

Unless you really love having to pull bloody ice chunks and frozen giblets from the inside of a frigid turkey rib cage three hours before the guests arrive. Oh wait...that's our annual ritual. You all are probably way more organized. Never mind.

Friday, November 19, 2010

If you go out in the woods today...

You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.(blaze orange)

Today's the day if ever there was to romp and play indoors because...
Today's the day the deer hunters have their kickoff.

If you go out in the woods today,
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely out in the woods today,
But safer to stay at home.

Today's the day if ever there was to romp and play indoors because...
Today's the day the deer hunters have their kickoff.

Apologies and thanks to Teddy Bear's Picnic composer John Walter Bratton and songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.


Creature Comforts presents the ezine Gifted for our holiday enjoyment. Much like Inspired Ideas - second verse same as the first - this is a situation where you will want to fill your coffee cup, get comfortable, and have a good long look at all the lovely images. Having a credit card handy might be a good idea too. Or not.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Escargot* Begonia

It's kind of wrong to add a silly footnote to photos of an elegant plant such as this, but our inner kindergartener can be rather irrepressible so...

*What did the gardener say when she saw a snail speed past her in a Citro├źn?

"Look at that escargot!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fall Free for All

We town dwellers don't have many options for forest foraging, but we do have the leaf dump.

In the hope that we might pick up some fresh floral design components we try always to have a hand pruner along when we deliver a trailerful of leaves to the pile.

On a good day there will be a nice variety of freshly clipped trimmings from common shrubberies. Sometimes we get really lucky and score more exotic greenery. In the past we have found all types of evergreens, cedar, juniper, dried hydrangea blossoms, bittersweet, red twig dogwood, birch branches, ornamental kale, asparagus fern, crabapples, rosehips, and other free flora for our outdoor holiday decor.

This kind of refuse is not too far outside the municipal yard waste guidelines and definitely closer to correct than the old tire, artificial wreath, and scrap lumber we saw on the pile the same day. Plus, it made us smile.

Scavenge while you can. The gates will soon be closed until next Spring.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Home Improvements

A great old house down the street had, over the years and for various reasons become a crumbling eyesore. Strategizing by many individuals, cooperation between numerous organizations, and a little stimulus money thrown in led to a plan to demolish the house and build a new one. You can read more about the history of the original house and of the collaborative effort of all these good folks and agencies here.

For the past several weeks students from the Chippewa Valley Technical College have been on-site three days a week making quick progress on the new home. It is fun to see the project up close from the sidewalk below - and looking up from even farther down the hill gives another perspective of the structure as it grows into the hillside landscape and skyscape above.

Thanks to all involved for making this happen. Can we build it? Yes we can!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tablescapes for a Cause

A 2nd annual fundraising tablescape event for our local hospital had approximately 30 teams of women decorating tables-for-eight in a wide variety of styles of their creative choice. Here are just a few of the lovely luncheon settings.

It was a highly successful afternoon and a good time was had by all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Inspired" is an Understatement

We were feeling a little guilty about rushing the season, but the view out our window this morning is beginning to look alot like Christmas so we have no qualms about the timing of sharing this with you.

So... empty your bladder and fill your coffee cup. Get comfortable. You will want to have a good long look at this colorful, creative, chockful-of-ideas Christmas issue of inspired ideas ezine brought you by Amy Powers of inspire co. There are alot of fun ideas that we wanted you to see in plenty of time to incorporate some of them into your own Christmas festivities. Please give the next holiday the attention it deserves, but it never hurts to be thinking one step ahead so that when the turkey leftovers are all cleaned up you can get out the gluegun and glitter and get started on your Christmas craftiness.

The Forecast is Fuzzy

Someone around here has been engaging in a bit of wishful weather thinking. In his desperation to back up his fantasy of an easy winter and early spring he took as evidence the size of the stripes on this passing Woolly Bear Caterpillar.

Well, we've got some bad news for ya buddy.

It is the larvae of this species which are the subject of common folklore, which has it that the forthcoming severity of a winter can be predicted by the amount of black on the caterpillar. But,in fact, larvae produced in the same clutch of eggs can vary from mostly red to mostly black, even when reared under the same conditions, and this variability invalidates any actual temperature-related trends that may otherwise be evident. The reality is that the orange band will continue to grow towards the ends of the body, with the black bands decreasing in size, as the larva matures. Sadly, if there is any truth to the aphorism, it is highly speculative.

- From Wikipedia

Take heart, The Farmer's Almanac is on your side with plenty of true believers weighing in on woolly winter weather. And if they don't back up your theory, maybe Canadian farmer Gus Wickstrom's technique of predicting weather with a pig spleen will.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Won't You be My Neighbor?

All these and more are available within two blocks of here. One of them is actually just across the alley. Forget MLS. These people obviously need NDL to help sell these wonderful old homes.

"It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.

Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:

Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

Please won't you be my neighbor?'"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dungy Draftees

A faithful reader inspired by a photos of a relative's recent trip to Africa and NDL's post on guerrilla gardening suggested that the Dung Beetle might be an invaluable addition to our plan to deliver seeds into a targeted flowerless no man's land.

After viewing this video, we have no doubt that the little scarabs would be totally perfect for the job - quick, efficient, focused, and apparently lacking a sense of smell, but wonder...who will put the clothespin on their nose and mix up the fertilizer-heavy seedballs for the small commandos to roll to their ultimate destination???

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Better Late Than Never

When we implored him yet again for a tidbit of his infinite wisdom our garden guru advised us that it was not too late to plant garlic. That was a week ago. Still not too late? Well, it's worth a try since we have been having remarkably mild fall weather.

We planted some of last year's crop of Romanian Red as well as new stock of German White and Music bought at the local farmer's market.

While using the power of the interweb to try to decipher our cryptic notes to ourselves about what varieties we had purchased (GW, M, RR???) we came across We grow garlic...in Wisconsin...and it's really great too! the website of a Wisconsin garlic farming family. There is alot of information here and a lot of delight at being involved with garlic. The photo of the kids with Alice in Dairyland who paid a princessly visit to their farm is very sweet. They look totally tickled to be hobnobbing with ag royalty.

Next year we will try George (as if it's not enough that there is a garlic named George, it has roots in Detroit Lakes, MN, where we also have some roots) and Russian Red (which also has a cool name and is said to have been brought to British Columbia by Doukhobor immigrants).

All bedded down for the winter. Grow little garlics grow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sow Stealthy

Gardeners seem to have a hard time coloring inside the lines. We see empty space and think "needs plants", even if that space belongs to someone else.

With permission we have taken over a city park, neighbors' empty plots and fences, and have drifted across property lines, but we want more and so do many gardeners the world over. The term guerilla gardening seems to have started in New York in 1973 with a group calling themselves Green Guerillas. The concept was not original to them however. A classic early example of someone who took the job of planting on public space into their own hands - John Chapman, AKA Johnny Appleseed.

Guerilla gardening comes in many forms. Unsightly medians, underpasses, and roadsides are prime targets for beautification. Some guerilla gardeners plant areas that they continue to tend, others sow and let go. Sunflower seed planting is a popular annual activity of many, and especially of Londoner Richard Reynolds, founder of guerillagardening.org , who never travels around the city without his pockets full of seed. The sunflower's ability to take root and thrive in adverse situations seems to be as much a symbol of the urban spirit as colorful embellishment of otherwise drab and unloved bits of earth.

The anonymity and relative unintrusiveness of seed bombing (despite the serious intrusiveness that the name of the activity implies) has us intrigued. Home made seed bombs are relatively easy to make, and in some parts of the country they can even be purchased from vending machines. California is one of those places, of course.

We love the idea of lobbing a chunk of soil and seed causing an explosive burst of blooms when Spring arrives. A bike ride might be the perfect cover for this mission and, if necessary, we can pedal much faster than we can run.

Okay, here goes. We'll start with seed from end-of-year greenhouse clearance sales, freebies from gardening seminars, and seed heads of natives from our own garden. Coneflower, Brown Eyed Susan, Big Leaf Aster, and Rudbeckia shown here. No invasives of course.

Add soil, compost, and perhaps some time release fertilizer. Then mix with just enough water to allow the soil to hold a shape. Form balls of desired size. Let dry a few days. Pump up the bike tires and load up the paniers.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall Back

Today is a good chance for those of us who have fallen behind to try to get ahead.

Enjoy your bonus hour!