Amy Artisan

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Category: Garden (page 1 of 3)

Three Things…Amaryllis Watch 2018

One of my favorite things in January, as the year starts full of promise and we all hit the reset button and identify our One Word or other intentions/resolutions is watching and waiting for amaryllis to burst forth in bloom.

Dad always got his girls amaryllis bulbs over the years – realizing there would be no bulb from Dad at Christmas was a “Missing Dad” moment, for sure. This season, I picked up a couple of the “new” Amaryllis Wax Bulbs from Trader Joe’s to enjoy in the new year. I kept them closed up in a bag to keep growth at bay until I was back from Christmas in the Ville.

It has been fascinating to watch their progress and not worry about watering, over watering, staking the stalk, and wondering if I’d come home to bulb/pot/dirt on the floor.

On this Thursday, 3 highlights from my Amaryllis Watch 2018.

January 14th – Red emerging; White is maybe a 6″ stalk

January 17th – Working from home on a snowy day – the red blooms pop against the snow

January 20th – Red has eclipsed; White is a stunted stalk but blooms are popping

Overall, I was very impressed with these bulbs. I will definitely look for these again in future seasons.

Are you an Amaryllis grower?
Do you have another favorite “forced indoor bulbs” ritual?

Linking up with Carole and Kat for Three Things on Thursday

Summertime Blues

Chicago is known as a blues town. This summer, I’m experiencing a different twist on local blues. I’ve mentioned numerous times that one of my favorite parts of summer is the fresh produce – whether it’s attempting to grow a few things on my deck or my weekly treks the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. This summer, I’ve added another fresh produce option into the Artisan Kitchen. Earlier this summer, I came across a new take on a CSA share – the opportunity to “own” a blueberry bush for the summer & then go pick the berries.


Joe’s Blues is a “new” farm of 50 year old Jersey blueberry bushes in Bangor , MI. In addition to being able to order cases of blueberries, you can own a blueberry bush for the summer and then come pick at least 12 pounds from your bush during berry season.

I'm Amy's!

I knew that I didn’t have the freezer space for all the berries so I invited my friend Elaine to join me in owning the blueberry bush. We looked forward to a day trip later this summer to load up on berries. A couple of weeks ago, the farm emailed me with a picture of the blueberry bush that had been tagged as mine.

Ready to Pick!

This past Saturday, it was time to go harvest our blueberries. It was a beautiful day for a road trip! A little over 2 hours after leaving Chicago, we were meeting Joe and Frank and walked towards my blueberry bush.

All boxed up!

In no time at all, Elaine & I had filled our buckets with the sweetest blueberries we’ve ever tasted. We boxed them into 17 pint clamshells to bring home with us. We could have gone back out for some more from the bush but as it is, we have quite a lot to process. Many blueberries will be frozen to enjoy when summer days are a distant memory during winter. And in the coming weeks I’m sure I’ll be trying all sorts of blueberry creations. In the interim, a bowl of “my own” blueberries is about the sweetest snack around!

Playing in the Dirt

After the seemingly unending winter that we had here, the arrival of spring & the possibilities of backyard gardening seemed even more exciting this year. Growing up in the ‘Ville, a local nursery chain advertised with the tag line “It’s time to play in the dirt again…” and I truly looked forward to that activity these last couple of weeks.

 Bachelor Buttons

Over the last couple of months, the perennials in the flowerbed have been poking through the dirt & have recently moved into “explosion” mode. Last weekend, the first bachelor button blooms appeared – these are always the first of the season for me. In addition to the perennials coming up, the wild violets went wild in the flowerbed – last weekend it was time to get the bed in shape. After weeding it was time to add some top soil & the turn it with some coffee grounds I picked up at Starbuck’s. I added a few more perennials to the mix: lavender, oriental poppy, delphenium, 2 sedums & a dianthus to provide ground cover for an area where “tall” is a problem.

 The Flowerbed Returns

On the deck, I’m doing a bit more vegetable gardening than I have in the past. On my first trip to the farmer’s market last month, I picked up a “Cut & Come Again” salad bowl. I had wanted to plant some lettuce & this bowl was just the thing: 3 red leaf lettuces, 2 green leaf, 1 romaine, 2 types of spinach, 1 curly parsley & 1 edible viola. Last weekend I harvested my first bowl of greens – with the rain we had this week, early this morning I harvested a second bowl for the coming week.

 My Deck Veggie Garden

Last weekend I picked up several herbs to add to the mix: genevose basil, lime basil, sage, tarragon & orange mint. Last summer the herbs went wild on the deck – I’m hoping for the same this year. This weekend I picked up 2 tomato plants (Window Box Roma & Tumbling  Tom Yellow) & 2 pepper plants (Gypsy & Jalapeno) to add to the veggie deck.

(Full suite of garden pictures here…)

There is a possibility that work may involve travel this summer – if that is the case, I probably won’t be adding anything else to the garden & will have the neighbor girl water for me during the week. If I don’t travel, there are a few annuals that I would like to add to the deck & the flowerbed. In the meantime, it is quite nice to come home from work and sit on the deck in the evening while enjoying a book, beverage & growing garden…

Random Bits

Wow – it has been quite a while since I’ve posted. Life has been pretty busy the last couple of weeks. It looks like assorted “random bits” memes are going through blogland again. Julie tagged me for the “7 things” – I generally don’t join in on memes; however, I’ll use that tag as the framework for writing about the random things that have been going on. (After several lovely days here in Chicago the weather is cold & gray today – so pardon the pictures…)

Railroad Socks
1. I’ve been working on the railroad – Last month I started a project with a new client here in downtown Chicago. Within the last 3 weeks I’ve visited 2 of their divisions in the southeast and have spend quite a bit of time around rail cars. The required outfit included a hard hat, safety glasses and ear protection. The travel time gave me plenty of opportunity to work on the current socks on the needles.

Knitters Tea Swap 3
2. It’s tea timeKnitters Tea Swap 3 is in full swing & I’m co-hosting this round. For this one we have decided not to have secret swaps. I’m swapping with Katie. Now that spring is here the iced tea pitcher is always full in the fridge these days. Currently I’m loving Black Currant tea with a sqeeze of lemon – I first became hooked on this combo when I did my college internship in Houston in 1995 & became a frequest diner at Cafe Express.

3. Peony in Love – I recently received an advanced copy of Lisa See’s latest novel. I thoroughly enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan last year so I was looking forward to getting started on this new one. This newest novel was an excellent read – I started it on the plane down to Atlanta last Friday morning & had it finished by Sunday afternoon. Stay tuned for a review about it in the coming weeks.

Rebuilding Greensburg Sunflower Yarn
4. Kansas Knits – As a Kansas gal, when I saw Laura’s request for squares for afghans for Greensburg I knew I had to participate. When looking through my stash for yarn for the squares I knew I had just the thing – some Sunflowers superwash that I picked up from Cabin Cove Mercantile last summer.

Garden Green
5. Early Blooms – So far the only attention I’ve paid to gardening has been to kill off the weeds in the flowerbed. In the coming weeks I look forward to planting some new plants & working in the garden in the evenings. A few perennials from 2 summers ago survived through the neglect of my travels last summer and now the clematis has climbed up the fence, the sedum continues to grow and the Bachelor’s Button is in bloom this weekend.

6. Family Knits – While visiting the family in the ‘Ville over Mother’s Day weekend I had everyone try on the socks that I’ve already made – ya know, just so I could see how they would fit in case I were to make socks for the Artisan family in the future. Artisan Mom was gifted with plenty of hand knits while I was home – for Mother’s Day and for her birthday. For Mother’s Day I knit 3 garden themed dishcloths (red ladybug, sage hummingbird & yellow sunflower) – hmm, I thought I had taken pictures of those when I finished them back in January but evidently I didn’t. For her birthday I made the Berthe collar from No Sheep for You in bamboo. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it – maybe when she is up here in a couple of weeks she’ll bring it so we can do an appropriate photo shoot. I had plans for a cotton Bejeweled scarf for Grandma for Mother’s Day; however, evidently I can’t talk & knit on this pattern – I managed to mess it up while talking with Mom once I got home, so it will be done for her birthday in August.

Hokie Heart
7. Healing Knits – In the midst of everything this month I’ve continued working on squares for the Hokie Healing project. I love the subtle shading variations of this maroon and burnt orange. One skein of each has yielded 2 grandma’s favorites, 2 bejeweled and 1 double heart square. These will be going in the mail this week.

If you haven’t posted in a while or haven’t been tagged by a random meme – consider yourself tagged!

Bejeweled Blue Hostas

Hostas have always been an Artisan family favorite in the garden. At home in the ‘Ville, the eastern exterior wall of the house is planted with hostas of assorted colors and sizes. Included in the collection are hostas from my grandparent’s home in Ohio (circa 1985), hostas from previous homes, hostas “rescued” from the houses that were torn down for the Atlanta airport expansion, and hostas from Miss Butterfly’s house here in Chicago.

Last year I stumbled across Jessie’s beautiful handpainted yarns. When I saw the skein called “Blue Hostas” I immediately snapped it up. When the yarn arrived I wound it into a ball but didn’t know what I would knit it into – throughout last year, everytime I would be in the yarn stash & come across this yarn I would have to “stop & stare” at the beautiful colors. New Year’s Eve weekend I cast on for the perfect project with this yarn: Bejeweled.

I love this scarf! The pattern was well written & I love how the lace knit up – it was a very easy pattern to memorize & progressed quickly. I finished the scarf in under a week. Once I was done, I gave it a dip in the SOAK from Scout’s Swag & then pinned it on the living room rug to open up the lace pattern.

Thanks Shobhana for sharing this great pattern! Thanks Lolly for organizing the KAL! I will definitely be knitting this pattern again – in fact, I’ve already started on 2 new projects based on this pattern (at opposite ends of the yarn scale).

(P.S. #1 The pictures don’t do the yarn & scarf justice – but the lack of decent daylight recently has made it difficult to capture the true beauty of the finished product.)

(P.S. #2 These aren’t pictures from our hostas – as I was pulling together this post I realized that I didn’t have any pictures. Click on each hosta mosaic for more details on the source Flickr pictures.)

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