Amy Artisan

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Category: Garden (page 2 of 3)

Summertime: Blooms, Books & Beverages

**…and we’re back…the web host company was experiencing some power problems earlier today…(7/18)

Due to my work related travel this summer I didn’t do any gardening in my flowerbed or on the back deck. However, I’ve still been able to enjoy some summertime blooms.
While I enjoyed my week back home in Chicago earlier this month I had some blooms in my backyard – the hostas were in full force. Also, the fence was covered with beautiful shades of purple clematis – most of the plants are in my neighbor’s garden; however, one of my clematis vines came back & is entwined with the others on the fence. These July blooms are perfect for Project Spectrum: Purple.

While I was home with the parents in GA this weekend I was able to enjoy the blooms (& greens) of their garden as well. A trip through the garden was a bit of each month of Project Spectrum – including the beautiful “past prime” colors of the blue hydrangeas that I showcased last month.

Since I hit the road last week there has been very little knitting activity. Instead, I’ve done more reading in the last week & finished up 2 very different books.
First up – Last Voyage of the Valentina by Santa Montefiore. The Amalfi Coast in Italy…England…post-WWII…1970s…a lot of different elements come together to tell a story that is a great summertime read. While not as intense, it reminds me of The Shadow of the Wind that I thoroughly enjoyed last summer.
The other book I finished has been an in progress read for a couple of months: Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler. This was a very interesting read about Abraham & the role that he plays in Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam. I definitely learned more about my faith as well as other faiths. After reading this book I’m even more interested in reading Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses.
Blooms & Books are two key ingredients to enjoying summertime. Another key ingredient…beverages, specifically Iced Tea. A new favorite iced tea is Trader Joe’s Pomegranate White Tea – when I was home for the week I constantly had a pitcher of this chilling in the fridge. Last summer I discovered the Lipton Iced Tea to Go – the Green Tea with Mandarin & Mango was quite a refresher when in Greece & I needed to add a little something to the endless bottles of water I was drinking. While grocery shopping with my Mom this weekend I discovered a couple of new flavors & picked them up for a tea break at the desk – the Green Tea with Natural Cherry Blossom is my new favorite, while enjoying it this afternoon the subtle cherry flavor reminded me of slurping a cherry popsicle when the popsicle starts to turn more pink than red. These tea packets are a great way to enjoy tea when away from the chilled pitcher in the fridge.
Even though the past week didn’t contain much knitting progress I went to Hobby Lobby on Saturday to pick up lotsa Sugar’n Cream yarn to make the Mason Dixon Absorba bathmat for my bathroom. Given the size of this project it definitely won’t be a travel project. Also, on a hot Saturday in July I actually picked up a few things for Christmas decorations – past experience has taught me that if I don’t pick it up now it won’t be around the next time I go to the store…hmm, a different take on Christmas in July.

Oh Baby…skinks, that is!

As I mentioned previously, when I was home with the folks over Father’s Day weekend we discovered a Mama Skink was nesting in our front flowerbed.

Late last week Mama Skink hatched her eggs & for a few short days there were baby skinks in the front. As you can see from some of the pictures below their tails were an electric blue.


(Thanks Mom & Dad for capturing the pictures for this entry!) 

Mama & the babies have now left their nest in the front flowerbed & are out in the great big world. For a few days Mom & Dad enjoyed checking on the little nest. Just like Doris the dove that has nested above my back door for 3 years, I think that Mama Skink knew that the Artisan family would provide a safe place for nesting.

Mom & Dad have always shown us the simple pleasure in little things in our world – including these types of “nature encounters.” Some day I will share the story of how turtles came to be one of my favorite animals…until then I will leave you with this hint:

How did the little turtle cross Ridgemont Dr. in 1989? With the help of Amy Artisan guiding the way & watching for traffic (with a bit of a nudge from Dad Artisan)…


Hanging Out with the Folks…

Instead of heading to the airport to fly back to Chicago on Friday I picked up a rental car (a slick new Azera which the family has dubbed Hank) merged south onto I-75, set the cruise control & headed down to the ‘Ville to hang out with Mom & Dad. It was a fun weekend – filled with playin’ in the dirt, grillin, chillin’ & knittin’.

Playin’ in the dirt…

Saturday was a gardening day for Amy Artisan & Dad Artisan. I definitely inherited my green thumb from him and since I didn’t do my deck plantings or flowerbed this summer since I’m traveling it was fun to ‘play in the dirt’ for a bit & help get everything planted at home.

The first thing we did was plant the zinnias in the front flowerbed. (Zinnias are an Artisan Family favorite flower.) As Dad lifted up the turtle statue to move it out of the flowerbed he discovered a Mama Skink had nested & was watching over 6-8 eggs. So, the turtle statue will stay where it is & Mama Skink now has a lovely flowered & mulched home for her babies.

Skinks Home

We also planted up several color pots for the front entry to the house as well as the back deck. I think my favorite planting was the red & white coleus in the red pot – look closely & you’ll see a familiar “As Seen on TV” item – that’s right, the coleus are in the “Pasta Pot” from several years ago. The pot had outlived it’s usefulness in the kitchen & was such a pretty color that we thought it would be fun to plant into it – the red coleus leaves are a perfect match for it. Next year I vote for basil in the pasta pot – how fun would it be to grow “pasta herbs” in the pasta pot?

Pasta Pot Coleus

The other color pots indeed contain a lot of different colors: zinnias, coleus, petunias and more!

Flower Pot Color



Dad & I cleaned up the grill & made use of it for dinner on Saturday & Sunday. Saturday got the grill going for the season with turkey mignon, Vidailia onion slices and yellow squash slices. Sunday was yummy marinated steak. The meals were rounded off with super sweet canteloupe and Mom’s homemade strawberry pie. Having Mom’s home cooking is always great but I appreciated it even more this weekend since I’m eating out ALL the time while on the road.



A couple of fun movies that we watched over the weekend: Nanny McPhee & Glory Road. Both were fun flicks & good entertainment!



On Saturday afternoon Dad & I went to Hobby Lobby & spent the vast majority of time in the yarn section. There were several ‘new to me’ baby yarns that look like they would be so soft & cuddly for baby blankets – I have to make 2 baby boy blankets this summer so I think I will try some of these yarns instead of reaching for my “standard” Bernat Cotton Tots.

While browsing through the yarn at Hobby Lobby on Saturday I found a good selection of my favorite Sugar’n Cream for dishcloths – including several colors that I haven’t seen in store before. So, even though I had some SnC yarn in the suitcase for hotel knitting I picked up 5 balls of summertime colors. Saturday evening I got started on 1 “Grandma’s favorite” & kept on going all Sunday afternoon & evening. I’ll be finishing up the 5th dishcloth later this evening. Since suitcase space is a premium 4 dishcloths stayed in Georgia for my mom & sister to enjoy.

Summer Flavor Dishcloths
(L to R: Cherry Swirl, Swimming Pool, Key Lime Pie, Creamsicle)
These colors just seem to capture the vibrant fun of summertime!

Also…a bit of hotel knitting…Last week was fairly busy in the evenings here in Chattnooga – the annual Riverbend Festival was in full swing so our project team checked out the events on a couple evenings. I still managed to get 2 small knit projects completed: a simple dishcloth & a scarf.
Hotel Knitting

Project Spectrum: Blue Hydrangeas

As I was taking pictures of our flower plantings last night & Dad was watering the plants he asked if I needed any more blue pictures for this month and suggested that I take some pictures of the hydrangeas along the side of the house. So this Project Spectrum digital collage is from Amy Artisan & Dad Artisan.

Blue Hydrangeas


All in all it was a great weekend – it was a treat to hang out with my Dad on Father’s Day!

Sock it to me…sorta…

This week I had my 2nd (of 2) Socks on 2 Circulars class at Arcadia. I haven’t finished the sock & actually won’t finish it to actual size. Why? Because this skein of Sassy Stripes is defective. Saturday morning while waiting at the car dealership I was knitting round & round. Then I came to this:

Sock Progress

That’s right…one strip of the yarn didn’t get dyed. I decided that would be a good point to start the heel flap so that I would get to the heel turn in class. When I went into the shop on Sunday they gave me a replacement skein. I am going to finish this sock for practice & then it will be sent back to the yarn distributor. So far I’m enjoying this technique for socks & look forward to casting on with some of the lovely handpainted yarns I’ve picked up this year.

I haven’t done a Project Spectrum Green scavenger hunt around the house yet – there will be plenty of items to capture for this – green is one of my favorite colors. Until then, here is a bit of green from the past weekend.

Derby Day

An official Kentucky Derby class from a friend’s annual party. It was a fun afternoon of traditional Derbiness – including a true southern spread of goodies & 2 minutes of us all cheering on the horses we selected in the pool. Yeah Barbaro!

During our summer weekend in Michigan last year I picked up some tulip bulbs in Holland. I planted them in my backyard flowerbed last fall & hoped for the best – the upstairs dog has a penchant for digging up stuff in there & the tulips were no exception. Thankfully, a few bulbs managed to survive & I have been enjoying the blooms over the last 10 days. Here are the beautiful blooms.

Tulips in my yard!

In the mail this week was a Happy God-Mother’s Day package from Miss Butterfly & Miss Doodlebug (thanks to Mom for the rename idea for the little one). Inside, a Miss Butterfly original that is on my fridge, a paper “ripper” for making fun edges while scrapbooking & a great knit project tote.

Happy Godmother's Day!

The timing of this gift is great – starting next week I will be a road warrior for 8-10 weeks & so will need to be transporting projects – I think this will fit nicely in my suitcase & I will be sure to have plenty of craftiness with me. I will be in Chattanooga on an assignment – on the weekends when I don’t fly back to Chicago I’ll drive down to Atlanta to spend time with the family. Are any of you in Chattanooga? If so, drop me a line & maybe we can meet-up while I’m down there.

Backyard Greetings!

All around knit-blog-land today it’s a virtual field trip into everyone’s backyard. Since today is a gray & overcast with snow predicted the view in my backyard is not a pretty one today. So, I will show you some pictures from warmer times.

First up – my deck from the first summer I was here. When I was looking for a new apartment & toured this place it was the deck that was the final clincher.
My Deck in Summer
Because it faces east I get the morning sun on it & I can enjoy sitting out there after work without being blinded by the sun. The deck has allowed me the opportunity to exercise my outdoor green thumb – even as an urban dweller. The first plants I placed on the deck were 2 angel trumpet cuttings from my Dad’s garden in Georgia (In May 2004 I flew back to Chicago with the cuttings as my carry on.) Here is a detail of one of the beautiful blooms that I’ve enjoyed from the plants.
Pink Angel Trumpet Detail
I have also enjoyed growing tomatoes & assorted basil varieties on the deck. In the evenings it is nice to be out on the deck either gardening or just relaxing – looking up & down the backyards I’ll see a lot of neighbors working in their gardens as well. In recent years the hibiscus has become one of my favorite flowers. This is a close up of my hibiscus plant from last year.
Pink Hibiscus

This past July 4th weekend I heard fireworks in the neighborhood & when I stepped out on my deck I was able to enjoy an incredible “local” show. Here is one of the many shots I took.
Fireworks 2005

Right now the backyard is pretty much a dried mud pit – the dog that now lives upstairs has had “fun” over the winter. Who knows how the backyard will look this spring with the dog in residence – he has an affinity for perinnials.

For the last 2 springs I have had a backdoor visitor – Doris the Dove has nested above my door & each year has had 2 baby birds. I’ll leave you with a picture of her family the first year.
Doris & her babies
I have seen her above the door in recent weeks but no signs of a nest yet. Each day I hear more & more birds chirping in the morning, the angel trumpets are dormant in my basement…there are more & more signs that spring may return (even as we await snow today)!

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