Mother’s Day Cast-on, a Kestrel Program, & an Ella Mae Knits Update!

I should just call this post “Stuff,” but that seems to sum up all my posts lately…I apologize for being so scattered!  I cast-on a new knitting project for me yesterday as part of the Mother’s Day Cast-on movement (not sure that’s the right word for it, but, in any case, I got the idea from My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures & I love it!).  I chose the Waterrock vest & used some yummy Madelintosh I purchased last summer in the colorway Still.  Hopinghopinghoping I actually finish this…I’ve never knit myself anything other than fingerless mitts!  What is wrong with me, you ask?  Sooooooooo much, ha!  Thank you goes to Martha for the pattern inspiration–your version is beautiful!  I loved all your Instagram posts for it.  I also finished knitting a version of my June Belle beanie pattern for a dear, dear mama friend of mine who had a baby boy in March of this year.  Hoping the cap will fit him this next winter.

Coralee painted me two panels of a prairie scene to dress-up our 3-season porch using old shake siding panels (we have hundreds of these panels sitting under a tarp–if you’re interested in her painting you a set of something, just let me know, she’s unemployed & would love some side-work!).  I can’t wait to hang these.  Love my girl.

Harmon is sick.  Again.  Always.  Bleh.  I don’t know what else to say about that–I spent Mother’s Day caring for him off & on, in-between gardening bouts outside.  Brian, Coralee & June worked their backsides off yesterday on the property–I really REALLY appreciate all the work you all did yesterday, thank you!!!!  They painted a fence (to keep our naughty chickens out of the flower beds) white, mowed all over the place, tilled, planted, weeded…there is so much work when you live on a parcel of land…

Coralee spent Saturday morning teaching at our local nature center.  It was International Migratory Bird Day.  She’s working to educate the community about the decline of the American Kestrel as part of her Young Birder of the Year competition for the American Birding Association.  I never posted her results from last year’s competition–she placed FIRST in the Field Notebook Module & THIRD in the Writing Module!  She’s working to place higher this year overall.  This contest is wonderful, I highly recommend it!

She created from scratch all the materials.  The craft project was so much fun!  I was extremely impressed with the crazy amount of information my daughter knows about kestrels.  I had no idea!  The naturalist was impressed, too, & is hoping she will help out this fall with their huge field day for 5th graders & teach this activity again.

Yes, I made her siblings attend.  She needed more participants.

This was the culmination of the class.  We hope to donate the pdf for this activity to the American Kestrel Partnership for the Education materials section.  If you’re interested in using this activity yourself, just let me know in the comments & I’ll be sure to let you know when the link for it goes live!

And finally, Ella Mae Knits.  I began using my EMK Instagram account again around Earth Day.  Please follow me there if you, too, use IG!  I was inspired by the movie Moana (yes, an animated movie–it’s brilliant!!!) to change the way I operate EMK.  Going forward, I am going to donate every other item I knit to someone in need.  There’s a post about this change in my IG feed (which is public, so even if you’re not using Instagram you can still check it out).  I hope to get this going at summer’s end–once my daycare job ends & I find more time to sit & knit…I will carve the time out somewhere, hopefully.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all who celebrate & especially to our shared mother, Mother Earth! xo


Haphazard Rundown in (a lucky) 13 Photos

I have been away much too long from the blog.  I have missed posting & also reading the blogs of others that I follow.  I hope to remedy this severe drought in the days to come.

My eldest, Coralee, turned 13 years old last week!  As all parents say–time gives me whiplash.IMG_4680[1]

We’ve been fortunate to harvest our best crop yet of strawberries this year–four large bowls (like the one below) of strawberries total!  The crop seems to have petered out now, but will more than likely resurge in the fall with some very tiny, but tasty berries.  Someone told me they think my berries are a type of cultivar that bears fruit all season.



We made strawberry shortcake for Coralee’s birthday cake!IMG_4686[1]

Last weekend our family (along with my dad) visited the Yellow River State Forest in NE Iowa as part of an Iowa Young Birders trip to locate Cerulean Warblers.  The group was successful and found a nesting pair!  Brian, my dad, & Coralee attended the trip–it was an “advanced” trip meant for birders 12+–while myself & the little ones drove up later in the day.IMG_4667[1]


Merritt fished for trout in some of our favorite spots.IMG_4684[1]

June picked flowers for her mama & went birding herself.  She heard a lot of catbirds.

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We have two tabletop incubators whirring in our dining room right now.  Fourteen bantam eggs of various breeds should start hatching in a week’s time.  The kids are incredibly excited.  Due to the bird flu epidemic in Iowa (& surrounding states) all bird shows have been cancelled in Iowa until 2016…my kids were to bring poultry to the county fair this year…big bummer when they found out they would have no livestock in the fair.  They seem to have gotten over the disappointment since the eggs arrived in the post two weeks ago.  Can’t wait to share chick pics!Tabletop incubator

Our bluebird box has experienced quite a revolving door of bird species.  A pair of bluebirds first took up residence & laid eggs, but something destroyed the nest.  A House Wren then attempted to build a nest.  We discouraged her & removed her twigs several times…eventually she just laid her eggs in the bluebird nest at the bottom.  Then something evicted her.  Now it appears a robin has moved in & laid five handsome eggs.IMG_4677[1]

Merritt passed Level 5 in swimming this morning.  He was so proud!  His instructed totally BUTCHERED both his first and last name on the card.  Oh, well, we are quite used to that around here.  Even my last boss couldn’t pronounce my last name correctly after four years of employment.


Lastly, photo no.13–the AME Church in Charleston hosting Martin Luther King, Jr. years ago.  I was deeply affected by the tragedy in Charleston this week.  If you’re interested in donating to the church & its mission, here is a link to their homepage.  A paypal donation button can be found on right side of the page.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

I have some exciting(?) news to share next week on the blog that will hopefully explain my unintended absence.  

Until then, I hope to connect with you all again soon!

Yarn Along {Porch Ponderings}

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Spent the entire morning yesterday on the back porch.  It was so cold in the house it was making me tired.  I sat in a chair directly in the sun & let her rays do their thing for about ten minutes.  What a pick-me-up!  I knit for a bit while the girls were inside eating breakfast.  Heard the Chickadees in the woods & a very, very loud woodpecker having a go at a tree.  The boxelders were pinging against the porch floor & screens every few minutes, losing their minds in the late October sunshine.

Our porch has been made ready for winter.  Wood stack in place, summer trappings in hibernation…the garden cleaned out, fall crop of Bibb lettuce nearly ready for harvest…but Autumn seems to have tightened her grip & made a power play…yesterday’s weather was just awesome.

I’ve frogged so many projects lately it’s a bit worrying…I can’t seem to commit….much like this Autumn weather, it’s here, it’s on the way out, it’s here again…currently I’m knitting a knit lovey with Camilla’s fiber thanks to Ginny’s post last week.  Hoping the project works out & it can become my go-to baby toy pattern for Christmas/shower gifts.

Planning to re-read Stephen Crane’s “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” today in order to aid Coralee with her Lit homework.  I think the last time I read it was in 11th grade.  That’s a lot of Autumns ago.

Joining in with Ginny.

Pink Procession

Solanum lycopersicum

Solanum lycopersicum

This week marks the beginning of one of Coralee & my favorite parts of summer: the ripening of our German Pinks!  According to the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, this Bavarian heirloom (Solanum lycopersicum) is one of the founding varieties of Seed Savers, cultivated & donated by the founder herself, Diane Ott Whealy.  Coralee saved the seeds from our crop of German Pink tomatoes last summer as part of her fall homeschool science project.  She germinated the seeds in wet paper towels on top of the refrigerator this spring & we transplanted the leggy ladies into the garden in May.  It looks like we have a fairly average crop of fruit growing this year from two plants (I’m guessing about 12-15 tomatoes total).  Each heirloom weighs between 1-3 pounds & is so much fun to hoist off the vine!  We use only four of these lovelies to make our special ‘orange & honey’ tomato soup.  Recipe next week!

Musings on the Garden in July







The garden is going strong as July winds down. I harvested about a third of our carrots today & the cherry tomatoes are progressively beginning to ripen.

I seem to have squashed the squash bug uprising by disposing of any leaves harboring their shiny, copper-colored eggs & squishing as many live bugs as I could find {too morbid? apologies!}. We continue to reap about one yellow zucchini/squash per day.

The Waltham Butternut squash seem to be doing well, hidden among the tall grasses that invariably grow in & around our squash/pumpkin patch every year. Coralee planted what we thought were mini “spinning top” gourds, from seeds she collected herself last fall….these “mini” gourds are now the size of bloated softballs, bright yellow-orange, & basically look nothing like her original…more on that mystery in the days ahead, I’m sure.

Our two dwarf Honeycrisp apple trees have been in the ground here for going on six years. We finally have apples this year…THREE apples, to be exact, & only on one tree. Coralee hand-pollinated the one tree using crab-apple blossoms we pilfered from a tree in town {gasp!!} this spring. She says she dusted at least fifty blossoms….not the greatest payout, but I’m just thrilled we finally have something to show for our apple-tree-planting efforts.

I made Carrot Top Pesto with the green mound of tops I had left after I cleaned the carrots this afternoon {no, I do not consider carrot tops poisonous}. I had never made this pesto before, but I feel so wasteful just throwing out all those greens every year to the chickens. I froze two small Mason jars of the pesto and kept a third in the refrigerator. I plan to try it on toast/crusty bread tomorrow as suggested by the recipe.

Summer is sailing swiftly by here at the Bodeker House.

Golden Zucchini {Squash} Bread “by” June

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My name is June. I’m three years old. I dressed myself today. I love Ninja Turtles. My mama let me help bake zucchini bread (first time!) using two of the (she says) “fifty million Golden Zucchini squash” we have growing in the garden right now. There are squash bugs taking over the patch. She said tonight we will go out and try to squash a bunch of the squash bugs before they devour anymore squash. I measured & mixed, but my favorite part was holding the eggs (probably from my favorite chicken Margaret or maybe her sister Marianne). But I really liked putting the chocolate chips on top. (I shared some with my friend Nora who is here visiting today.)

I ate my delicious bread next to a vase of flowers my mama picked yesterday. The End.

My radish crop…



…was dismal this year & I am completely melancholy about it as I LOVE radish & butter sandwiches. Coralee & I planted two whole packets of seeds starting as soon as the ground could be worked. We used heirloom varieties from Seed Savers (one of which we had success with last year). I replanted the rows at least four times due to frosts that kept plaguing us here in the Midwest this spring. Our “spring” was then followed by an extreme heat that arrived so quickly I don’t think we really had a “spring” in the true sense of the word & thus I’m attributing my radishes’ poor showing to this fact (as opposed to something I probably did!). I bought a bag of Michigan-grown red radishes from the grocery for $0.99 this week & made a pint & a half of pickled radishes. The blue jar contains our garden radishes, the clear jar is bottled Mitten radishes. I’m sure both jars will taste delicious, but I plan to savor mine more.

And ask Brian to build me a coldframe next year.

How do you like to prepare radishes?