Friday, July 31, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009


I've been wanting to create miniature fairy gardens for some time now. A friend of mine told me about Mulberry Creek Herb Farm. She said that they specialized in organic herbs and miniature plants. So, this past weekend my husband and I headed to the farm.

Even though it was the end of their season (they close in August), we still found all types of wonderful plants. We purchased a few and I am now in the process of creating my first tiny fairy garden.

Here are some pictures of the garden I'm working on:

Spikemoss, Dwarf Mound (Selaginella brownii)

Ficus, Willow-leaf (Ficus subulata [salicifolia])

Ficus, Creeping Tiny Oak-Leaf (Ficus pumila 'Quercifolia Minima')

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An "Infinite Canvas"

A dynamic speech on comics and the idea of the "infinite canvas" by Scott McCloud (writer of the books Understanding Comics & Making Comics). I always appreciate McCloud's views concerning the comic medium and this speech is just as thought-provoking as his written work.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Knitting Drought

In case anyone was wondering why I hadn't mentioned any knitting projects recently--I don't knit in the summertime. It's just something I don't do. I don't know exactly why I have such a difficult time knitting in the summer. I mean lots of people are capable of knitting in every single season without repercussions. I knit in autumn. I knit in winter. But as soon as spring comes along the needles start gathering dust. Maybe it's because I want to be outside, playing in the dirt. Or because wool and hot weather just don't work together for me. I can't really give a reason, I just know I don't do it.

I have, however, recently found myself thinking about knitting projects for Christmas presents. And as I'm thinking about these projects, I start planning a trip or two or four to the local yarn shop. Currently, I'm thinking my first seasonal excursion to my LYS will be late August/early September.

Now, while I don't really knit in the summer, I do have one or two projects lying lazily about that might get worked on intermittently during the summer season.

Here is one of those layabout projects...

It's a pair of socks. I have one complete sock finished. The other one is barely started on the needles. The yarn is fingering weight Merino Cashmere in Orchid by The Knittery. It was a gift from Sarah.

Will I finish soon? Probably not. But, then again, maybe I will. Here's to the eternal optimism of the sporadic knitter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Our backyard garden is in full bloom...

Besides the above flowers, we've got daisies, purple cone flowers, black-eyed susans, easter lilies, roses and even some foxgloves that are still holding out for the season.

Continuing with the flower extravaganza, my mom surprised me with an orchid today.

I've never taken care of a plant quite as exotic as an orchid. I'm looking forward to giving it a try!

Hope you're enjoying the blooms of the season as well!

Monday, July 13, 2009

One Of Those Childhood Dreams

Do you remember the Biosphere II project? One of my childhood dreams was to live in Biosphere II. I remember thinking that it was really unfair that kids couldn't take part in the experiment. I wanted to live in outer space too or maybe under the ocean! So, why couldn't I live in Biosphere II? :o)

Here's a speech Jane Poynter, one of the lucky inhabitants of Biosphere II, gave recently. At it's heart her talk is about the absolute connectedness and impact we have on each other and the biosphere we call Earth.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What I've Learned From Nature: The Importance of Balance & Adversity

For a long time I was always scared of being swallowed up by bad experiences. I thought if I stood perfectly still and did not affect life, then the hurtful parts of life would not affect me. I wouldn't have to experience pain or hurt anymore. Of course, the side effect of this is that you keep yourself from experiencing the beauty of life too. And the bad moments? Well, they happen anyway.

I've been gardening more and more in the last few years and one thing I've learned is that adversity is necessary for strength. When you start seedlings inside, before the growing season begins, it's always important to have a fan turned on, blowing on the plants. The exposure to circulating air makes them stronger and more resistant, giving them the ability to survive when you put them out in the garden and expose them to the elements.

The same goes for watering plants. You want to water them so they don't die. But too much water means the plant roots will stay shallow and close to the surface, creating a weaker plant. Instead, you give them opportunities to search for water themselves. The plants end up digging deep into the earth, anchoring themselves to the ground and gaining the strength they need to survive harsh weather conditions.

Being a part of nature, people react to adversity like plants. When we deal with too many difficulties sometimes our spirits wither and die, but if we never face any struggles, we become too weak to handle any real problem.

I'm learning not to shy away from experiences I want just because I'm afraid of failure and criticism. And I now know when to remove myself from situations that chip away at my spirit and slowly destroy me.

I've realized it's all about balance and breathing in a bit of fresh air.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mackinac Island (G.N.M.B.A.--Part 4)

When you're creating your own bike adventure and that bike adventure happens to be set in Northern Michigan, then it is imperative that you visit Mackinac Island. Why? Because on Mackinac Island there are no cars. None. They were banned a long time ago to insure the health and safety of the island inhabitants. So, what's left? Bicycles. Tons of them. And horse-drawn carriages. Here's a parking lot on Mackinac Island...

It's a bit like stepping into an alternate reality. I also got a sense of what it must have smelled like back in the 19th century (the horses and all). Luckily, there are people who constantly pick up after the horses. To them I say, "Thank you!".

We decided to ride around the bike path that encircles the island, stopping every now and then to enjoy the views.

It's hard to see in the picture above but the Mackinac Bridge is in the far distance. It's the bridge that connects the mitten to the U.P. Here's a closer view.

We also sat outside the Grand Hotel and took in the scenery. The Grand Hotel is about the size of my summer cottage. So quaint. ;o)

After that we treated ourselves to some tasty ice cream, got on the ferry to take us back to the mainland and headed home. It was a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pond Hill Farm (G.N.M.B.A.--Part 3)

Sunday morning, after having another yummy breakfast at Roast and Toast, we headed over to Harbor Springs. That's where we found Pond Hill Farm.

It's this great organic farm and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). They have a small store that sells organic and natural products (we bought some sandalwood soap) and a great little cafe. We also were able to walk around and see the animals. That's were we met this goose...

...who seemed far too busy preening itself to bother with the likes of us. We also saw cows, sheep, chickens and goats. I made sure to thank the sheep for the lovely wool they supply for knitting, although I wasn't really sure if these sheep were wool-giving sheep. Anyway, they seemed more interested in the idea of me feeding them.

There was also a strange contraption on the farm called a Squash Rocket.

This giant sling shot is used to shoot veggies in the field for the animals to eat. Fun for all!

We also decided to partake in the strawberry picking. We picked a bunch of lovely, non-toxic strawberries.


After that we took off down the road and headed north through the Tunnel of Trees.

Our next stop? Mackinac Island!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Little Traverse Wheelway (G.N.M.B.A.--Part 2)

The whole time we were on the Vasa Trail I'd been smack-talking about how I was going to beat Jonathan at miniature golf and that he was going to cry like a little girl. So, that afternoon we headed over to Pirate's Cove in Traverse City.

I lost.

I lost twice.

That's what happens when you smack-talk. :o)

After my defeat we hung out at the lake, enjoyed a beautiful sunset...

...and watched fireworks from our hotel balcony.

Moving on to day two...

The next day we headed over to East Park to get on the Little Traverse Wheelway.

This is a great trail, with amazing views...

Our first stop on the trail was Petoskey, which wasn't very far from East Park. We had to stop at our favorite coffee shop in Northern Michigan--Roast and Toast -- for some tasty breakfast fuel.


After that, we jumped on our bikes and continued our adventure on the Little Traverse Wheelway. Along the way we stopped at the Petoskey State Park to dunk our feet in the lake.

Later in the afternoon we strolled around Charlevoix and ate dinner at the most awesome Cajun restaurant that I have ever eaten at...Pearl's.

Jonathan and I eat there every time we're in Northern Michigan. The food is amazing. If you're ever in the area, GO! Unless, of course, you don't like Cajun food. It's located in Elk Rapids, which is a little town nestled between Charlevoix and Traverse City. Try the buttermilk pie with cinnamon ice cream. You'll love it!

To end the day we went for a brief kayak ride and then watched the moon rise over Elk Lake.

It was a good day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vasa Trail (G.reat N.orthern M.ichigan B.iking A.dventure--Part 1)

A couple of weekends ago we were kayaking on the river with a friend and our friend mentioned that he was heading to Northern Michigan for the holiday weekend. Needless to say, he planted a seed in our heads that sprouted into a full-blown plan to also head north for the holiday. It was all very last minute and we were lucky to find some available places to sleep. So, early Friday morning (like 4 a.m.) we strapped our bikes to the back of the car and headed out.

We ended up having lots of fun experiences over the weekend. Too many for just one post. I'm probably going to post little by little about it as the week progresses.

The first place we arrived at was the Vasa Trail, just outside of Traverse City. It's a trail for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing. We, of course, were there for the biking. We had never been to the trail before, but Jonathan had heard of it when he worked summers in Elk Rapids. It has trails that range from a 3k to a 25k. Naively, I wanted to head straight to the 25k, but my husband cautioned against it. "Let's go slow and see what were up against," he said. I grumbled a bit, but agreed.

Alright, so at this point in the post I have to admit something. He was right. Yep. He was right to keep us from plowing ahead like biking fools. I didn't get very far before the trail started to kick me in the butt. I ended up walking up a lot of the steeper hills and Jonathan called it the Bike-Hike. A Bike-Hike, in case you were wondering, is when you take your bike with you, but you don't actually ride it. Instead you take it for a walk like you would a beloved pet.

So, for the entire morning we walked and rode and had lots of fun! The park is beautiful (check out the pics below). Plus, we feel challenged and motivated to get stronger and return to tackle the trail again.

Near the trail head.....

One of many oddly shaped trees...

Jonathan ascending one of the smaller, unofficial trails...

Dirty bikes are the happiest bikes...