Trellised Squash

I’d been planning my 2024 garden for months, and double-checked a list of vegetables in the brassica family. Due to a thyroid condition I have to avoid brassicas, so they shouldn’t be taking up space in my raised beds.

Plans quashed! The brassica list is longer than I realized and includes the well-known broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts. Never having grown those successfully, I wasn’t disappointed. However, greens I love such as arugula, Swiss chard, and bok choy are also brassicas.

Fortunately, I love squash so I searched the Burpee seed catalog last month for several varieties to plant in the new 4x8 raised bed that I have. This year I’ll be trying baby butternut (my favorite squash), a new squash that resembles the look and taste of mashed potatoes, acorn squash, sugar pie pumpkins*, and winter delicata.

I don’t have a lot of horizontal garden space, so the squash will grow on trellises (photo at top of page) which worked out well last year. Beans are a great companion plant for squash, and this year dragon’s tongue and scarlet runner beans will join the squash. The latter can also be trellised. Last year we had more beans than I could enjoy fresh, so the rest went into the freezer.

*I use a lot of canned pumpkin as a replacement for oil or applesauce in recipes such as these bran muffins. Be sure to toss in a teaspoon or two of pumpkin spice and some cranberries for a fall treat!


I am often low on eggs, so I replace the two beaten eggs in the recipe with a mixture of a tablespoon each of chia seeds and ground flax as a binder. It is so good that I make the muffins with the egg substitute every time. Extra fiber and Omega-3 too!

Pumpkin seeds are a great substitute for nuts and I look forward to roasting my own pumpkin seeds this year. The original garden plan may have been quashed, but now it's squash!






What a Wazer to Go

The Wazer: https://wazer.com/

I retired last month after working 44 years at a large university. Woo hoo! Some people worried that I’d stay at home, just resting and rusting. Pffft! I've already found a couple new hobbies, one of which is stained glass work.

Nice clean edges, and simple pieces for beginners

The first step on the learning curve was to be certified to operate the Wazer, a water jet cutter, at our nearby makerspace. It was intimidating! It seemed there were so many steps to getting it set up, but after a few runs I gained confidence. Other than glass, the Wazer can cut steel, stone, and tile. When cutting glass, the edges are smooth and no grinding is needed, nor do I need to trace patterns and scribe the glass for manual cutting.


Having learned to operate the Wazer, I now needed supplies: solder, copper tape, a fid (to firmly press the copper tape onto each cut piece), flux, flux brushes, flux remover, and a carborundum stone to smooth the one area the Wazer leaves to hold the cut piece in place during the high pressure cutting process.

Ready to assemble? Not yet. The PDF designs I purchased from Etsy needed to be converted into the DXF file format Wazer uses. I thought wrapping copper foil around each piece with only a millimeter of play was difficult, but learning to convert files took much more trial and error! Fortunately, my husband is a wiz with various software applications and patiently walked through the process with me over two days.

So, in addition to learning how to solder stained glass pieces, I’ve now learned to use Inkscape to convert files for the Wazer, create the Wazer files, and save them to an SD card. Whew!

Finally, some completed pieces! My foiling and soldering skills have a Waze to go, but I’m enjoying this new hobby. 







All That Glitters!



Embossing folder, washi tape, and snowflake cut with Cricut.

It’s my favorite card-making time of year! As usual, glitter and sparkle graced each card I made. Every year some of the big card makers and card making suppliers host free classes on YouTube, Facebook, and their own web pages. 

I learned a number of techniques I had to try, bought new supplies I loved, and discovered one very useful new tool. The new tool makes it easy to adhere very delicate pieces such as greetings on a card.

Not only did I use stamps, embossing folders, and hot foil plates, but the Cricut also played a big part in drawing designs and cutting out a lot of glittery snowflakes.

So let’s take a look!

No end of sparkle here! A very simple card, but lots of visual impact. Glitter papers cut with Cricut. (Thank you, hubby, for aligning all those trees!)




 A stamped image with ink blending for the background. Lots of glitter drops for the ornaments, and a hot foiled sentiment.

The fanciest hot foil card I made this year. Breathed a sigh of relief at how well everything lined up!

This hot foil plate arrived a day late for the card to be mailed, but I love the holographic foil and how decorative the jewel embellishments look. I'll be using it a lot for next year's cards.

I loved this design cut with the Cricut and using holographic paper for the background.

The snowflake design was drawn with the Cricut and I added jewels for sparkle. The card with all foil is made with the first 3D embossing folder I bought after watching a class where it was used. Another chance to embellish with jewels!


One more card I made to announce a very special day--an historical day!

That's 44 years at the University of Washington.

I'll have so much more time to use my crafting supplies now. I'm going to need a bigger Christmas card list! 😁

Humble Gratitude


November is the traditional month for expressing gratitude and thankfulness. Many may be grateful for luxuries such as an expensive vacation, the latest fashion in clothing, or sparkly jewelry. I often remind myself to be grateful for simple things such as a warm house, good food, and having enough. A humble gratitude.

Sure, housework is a daily chore, but I’m grateful I have a house to
clean and don’t lack the energy to do it. My washer and dryer are small enough to necessitate daily laundry, but I'm grateful I don’t have to go to a laundromat. Tending the garden takes time, but I’m able to grow fruits and vegetables to supplement our weekly groceries. 


And when I’m ready to relax for the day, I have my furry friend to curl up with. I’m grateful I can afford vet bills.



I looked into what others consider humble gratitude and found most references were rooted in religion. Psychology also offers great insight and definition. This image was especially helpful in describing many aspects of simple gratitude.

This beautiful image I recently saw on Facebook depicts humble gratitude. Appreciating the seemingly small things like those mentioned above bring us joy when they are not overlooked.


There are many sites with gratitude quotes, but I confess I most enjoyed the humorous ones.  My favorite is from an unknown author. I’m grateful I have at least a small sense of humor.

 If you’d like to practice humble gratitude, the site Master Your Mind can get you started with three simple steps:
1. Acknowledge what you have
2. Express thanks
3. Take action by volunteering, donating to charity, or doing something nice for someone

So this month when we focus on gratefulness, we should remember not to overlook things that are often taken for granted.

AI Art depicting humble gratitude created with DALL-E

Digging in the Wrong Country


The Scotsman

Scottish Highlands
My recent enjoyment of dual timeline novels has involved two stories set in Scotland, a place I'd never given much thought to. Until now. Were I to consider travel again, the lush forests, high
mountains, and especially, castle ruins in Scotland are high on my list of places to visit.

This new fascination with early and medieval castles led me to search for YouTube videos of Scottish archaeology and castles. I also found a trove of archaeological videos produced by Britain’s Time Team. Oh, the finds waiting in the dirt! Time Team videos highlight relics from the iron age up to the 18th century. Imagine the excitement of such treasures and putting hard evidence together with written documents. I certainly can!

The Grouville (Jersey) Hoard.
There have been many stories of incredible archaeological finds by amateur metal detectorists as well. This hoard, for example, of more than 69,000 Iron Age and Roman coins found in the UK.


And even more impressive are the Sutton Hoo finds, also found in the UK, which consist of more than coins and jewelry. Below is a 6th - 7th century iron sword found there.

British Museum

As a child I loved looking for fossils. So much so that recess often found me scraping through the dirt on a steep slope at my elementary school. I had success too. Though, my finds consisted only of tiny fossils like these crinoids. Not as impressive as Roman relics. 😏

No matter where I dig in the US, it's highly unlikely I'll ever come across a Roman coin. Though I'm searching in the wrong country if I long to uncover such exciting finds, perhaps one day I'll have the chance to visit magnificent ruins.


Trellised Squash I’d been planning my 2024 garden for months, and double-checked a list of vegetables in the brassica family. Due to a thyro...