By Ian Wilson
There’s nothing like the sight of rolling hills green with grass. However, those hills can easily become overgrown with weeds and briars. Many people choose not to mow their lawns, either because it’s time-consuming, or because they are environmentally conscious and trying to provide a habitat for wildlife. The first is understandable, the second is noble, but there are certain risks involved in letting your lawn become overgrown.
First, there are allergens. Many people, including myself, have severe pollen allergies. Letting your grass grow long is a sure-fire way to exacerbate that condition. Pigweed, ragweed, wild parsnip, and hundreds of other allergen-causing weeds can be hiding in amongst the blades of grass, just waiting to make your eyes water, your nose run, and your life generally miserable.
Speaking of weeds, leaving off mowing can help the spread of invasive weeds species in the US. These are non-native, hostile invaders from other parts of the world that can easily overrun native plant species. A number of these can be quite toxic to people and pets. See the list of noxious weeds from the USDA for more info, or you can check this list of noxious weeds.
And let’s not stop at plant life. A lot of folks want to provide a habitat for wildlife. Admirable, but there are certain critters you just don’t want near your home. Fleas and ticks thrive in unkempt lawns. Disease-carrying mosquitoes and other biting flies tend to frequent long grass and weeds as well.
All this being said, you don’t have to have a perfectly manicured, spotless, weedless suburban lawn. Mowing your lawn infrequently isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as it gets mowed now and then. Depending on how quickly your grass grows, as little as three or four times a year is sufficient. Not all of the weeds growing in your lawn are invasive or toxic. Some are beneficial, even edible. Some provide food for bees, birds, and butterflies. You can set aside a part of your yard every year for wildlife habitat, or start a butterfly garden. You can plant plants that repel pests and attract beneficial species. We must all do our part to ensure a clean, safe environment for people and animals.
The old adage "April showers bring May flowers" is true... problem is that the old adage never mentioned the TYPE of showers that would bring on the flowers LOL! Here in the Northern Adirondacks we're having snow showers! See photo below ;). However, that is not exactly what caused me to think about Christmas in April. Keep reading... it will be worth it!
As many of you know already I have many friends who live all over the continent of Africa. Though I have never been to Africa myself (yet) I have been treated with great respect and affection by the good people of Africa. Recently one of my friends, Charles Makawa, shared some very cool pictures of packages from the Samaritan's Purse, project Operation Christmas Child arriving in Zomba, Malawi! I was so excited! I'd never had friends who were on the ground to distribute the gifts from Samaritan's Purse to children. Not that it is important from the standpoint of validation but just to see the kids smiling! It was lovely. I asked Charles if I could share these 3 pictures below on today's blog because I wanted to share the smiles with my readers. He said YES! (Thank you Makawa) Secondly, It's NOT too early to start preparing hand knit and crochet items for Operation Christmas Child (OCC) (or your other favorite Christmas charity)
Operation Christmas Child distributes gifts all over the world and they LOVE getting handmade gifts for the children. I've seen pictures of all kinds of wonderful handmade gifts posted on their Facebook page, from handknit hats to fun crocheted decorations on flip flops. My daughter is a huge fan of OCC we spend a lot of hours together considering what toys should go into the boxes! (We look for sales and clearance) We always include handmade items. T.k. usually makes clothes for fashion dolls and I try to include hats, scarves, and mittens. We donate along with our church. Everyone donates to the project and then everyone comes together to create the boxes that are shipped to the OCC distribution center. However, anyone can donate! Make your own boxes to donate, get together with your office, your knitting/crocheting group, school, children's scouting group, or even your sports club. However, Operation Christmas Child is certainly NOT the only Christmas charity that gives gifts to children. For instance our family will donate items to a local charity called Holiday Helpers, Franklin County NY this year. We all love to see smiles don't we!
NOTE: Jodie Booth designs are crocheted if you do not crochet I recommend that you look over the designs by Elena Nodel on Ravelry. You'll get the same style and whimsy as is created by Jodie Booth only for knitters. www.ravelry.com/designers/elena-nodel Sadly Elena Nodel's life was cut tragically short
Jodie Booth of Addicted 2 the Hook caught my eye last year, almost a year ago exactly now! And it was one of Jodie's designs that popped to mind when I thought about my Christmas in April blog. Jodie Booth is not only chief designer at Addicted 2 the Hook but also a contributor to the premier issue of Indie Road Magazine. (Congrats Jodie!) She's a busy lady who designs when inspired. As a mom herself, I know Jodie Booth feels as I do that a child's smile is priceless.
What design brought Jodie Booth to mind when thinking about gifting? Glad you asked :). The Toy/Doll Baby Carrier would make a great addition to your holiday charity giving! It's adorable, gender neutral and a free pattern. If you are considering giving this toy to Operation Christmas Child you might choose a neutral color. (just a thought) However, my FAVORITE piece by Jodie Booth is the Butterfly Poncho. It is so pretty and is written for ages 1 year to adult (which takes some work given the lacey design). No it's not a free pattern but hang on, I'm coming to that... Keep reading. I also considered that this very cute Poncho Pullover might also be a perfect gender neutral item to gift. Personally I love the fact that it won't fall off a child, allows for plenty of freedom of movement and for layering. Since charities like OCC collect boxes for children as young as 2 years, the poncho would no doubt be very welcome. It too is a free pattern.
Let's look at some other clothing designs from Jodie Booth's collection that would be good for gifting to charity at the Holidays: (these are paid patterns) KEEP reading :)
Accessories and toys are also part of Jodie Booth's repertoire. Sometimes we have to think a bit smaller yet still lovely. Jodie booth manages both in her designs.
Thank you EVERYONE for willingness to share your gift of knit and crochet with others. You've no idea how you will touch the world. Just knowing that someone out there cares enough to make a personal gift fills the soul. Thank you to my friends in Zomba, Malawi for the photos. Thank you to Jodie Booth for her hard work and beautiful designs.
Bees; a vital part of nearly every ecosystem. Bees pollinate flowers, which then turn into the fruits and vegetables that we eat, and thousands of other plants that we need to survive. Not long ago, bees were under threat from colonial collapse syndrome; however, through science, colonial collapse syndrome is largely a thing of the past. In honeybees, anyway.
So, you may or may not have heard about the “murder hornets” wreaking havoc in this great nation. These hornets are Asian in origin and are the world’s largest wasp. But what’s the difference between wasps and hornets? None, really. Hornets are generally larger than wasps, and their venom contains different chemicals that make them much more painful. Hornets are really just a subset of wasps, so I generally use the umbrella term “wasp” to refer to all these insects.
While they are related to bees and have a lot of features in common, wasps and bees are not the same thing. Bees take nectar from flowers and turn it into honey, which they then eat. Wasps, however, are omnivorous. They’ll eat almost anything. They can’t make their own honey, so they frequently attack honeybee nests and steal it. Wasps, unlike bees, can sting multiple times. Bees can only sting once (bumblebees being the exception).
European hornets, like murder hornets, also pose a danger to bee colonies. However, honeybees were imported from Eurasia, where the hornets are native, and have defense strategies to deal with them. Our native bees are at greater risk from a number of environmental threats, from hornets to deforestation. These bees pollinate plants that honeybees do not, and cannot pollinate. We need them so these plants do not go extinct.
If you find a European hornet’s nest, make sure and destroy it. Call a qualified professional to determine how best to handle it. We can all do our part to save our local bees.
T.k. Wilson and I are co-authoring today’s blog. The both of us have developed some “pinsomnia” lately LOL. I’ve recently had an epiphany about how useful Pinterest can be for all sorts of reasons! T.k. and I share several pinboards. Our goal with this blog is not only sharing some of our favorite “pinners” but also to encourage those of our readers who might be struggling with ways to keep on top of their stress levels. We’ve explored these ideas for our own personal self-care.
I’ll begin with one of my favorite stress reducing activities. Creative Journaling is not a new concept but not one I had thought about attempting. I always considered myself to be “too busy” to get into painting or using other artistic touches. However I thought that my journals are really an expression of myself and should express my creative side also.
I’ve been journaling on and off for a few years now. It’s something that literally saved my sanity. Thanks to my Mom and my kids I’ve had plenty of blank books/journals to work with over the years. With the advent of COVID-19 I began to reassess many things in my life. (As I am sure many of us have done since February/March.) While Creative Journaling might not be for everyone, it is certainly a way to off load stress and the emotions that go along with stress. So let us take a look at some Pinterest boards that might give a few ideas on how to start a Creative Journal.
I should say upfront that I do not believe in any of those silly books that tell you what to write and how to write your journal. This is YOUR life, your journal. You write your own heart. As a person of faith I find that I’m often prompted by prayer. So I write exactly what I think and pray.
If the journal is private there is no reason why you should not write your private thoughts. Be real… even if what you think isn’t pretty.
Here are a few boards to prompt your creativity!
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/625930048201608680/ This board offers some very cool ideas for practicing art. Even if you are not an artist in the proper sense of the word these ideas are a way to add interest to your writing.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/798263102688761935/ Hubpages offer these ideas for blending thought with a creative outlet. Again, these ideas are mostly just to show how you can use what you have on hand to design your journal.
Now for my all time favorite idea the Junk Journal https://www.pinterest.com/pin/302444931225969546/ It doesn’t have to be a fancy project. It should reflect who you are.
Those of you who know me for my knitting and crocheting, I just wanted to share 2 Pinterest pages that I LOVE!
The first page is new to me. Why have I not seen Daisy and Storm before researching this blog? I’ve no idea! How did I miss this? LOL Well without further ado Daisy and Storm knit and crochet patterns Pinterest Page. I was really interested in the dish/washcloth patterns. So many different designs, no doubt knitters will find something they like! https://www.pinterest.com/daisyandstorm/
The perfect Summer project.
I frequent the designs of Olga Poltava Crochets for inspiration often. Her pinterest page is filled with lovely designs for all levels of crocheter. You’ll love the many scarf patterns! She is now offering a YouTube channel to help you with some of the more unique stitches! https://www.pinterest.com/opoltavacrochet/
If you appreciate these pages please drop the designers a message. Let them know you thank them for their hard work.
One of the ways I love to take time out for myself is doing papercrafting. I have always loved papercrafts, and especially Origami. To some, this may not seem like the best stress-relieving activity, but I quite enjoy it. I find it engages the senses of touch, hearing, and sight which becomes very meditative. Because you have to pay attention to how you go, it tends to crowd out anxious thoughts by placing attention and imagination on something else. You can find all sorts of Origami examples and crafts on Pinterest, but there’s one problem: Many are in Japanese! You can avoid this however, by checking out Emma at Gathering Beauty
She has all kinds of origami instructions for all sorts of wonderful crafts: Valentines, giftbags, cartons, and more!
If you’re more of the sewing and cooking persuasion, I just found the gal for you! Heidi at Honeybear Lane has loads of ideas for woodcrafts, sewing, organization, and decorating. This is more of a curated type of board, rather than a single person showcasing what they do best. However, it seems that Heidi has been doing this for a long time, her boards are neatly organized and easy to navigate.
Now, I’ve spoken about MyFroggyStuff before… A lot, so I won’t say much here. She is one of my favorite people, a literal rags to riches story. She went from being an Air Force mom to being one of the most famous and popular craft YouTubers of today, and she shows no sign of slowing down! You can see The Froggy’s page here:
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.