Needless to say, the moth of July is always a busy one for me. This year was more busy than usual. The month started off with some frantic crafting. One of my nephew's has a birthday on the 4th of July. You would think that this would be easy to remember, and it is, but somehow the day always creeps up on me. I think I have all the time in the world to work on stuff for him, and then bam, it is time to send out the gift. His was a bit late this year, but I think the utter coolness of the present more than made up for it. I made him a set of felt toy trucks. Each has moving parts, and they are just so cool I almost wanted to save them for myself.
The back roller on the steam roller moves around an axle. The dump truck bed on that truck lifts up to dump the large rock out of the bed. Apparently the rock must be very heavy as it looks like the back axle on the dump truck is now "bent" under the weight.
The cement mixer on the cement truck rolls around just like the real truck would. The front of the bulldozer moves up and down. It is also a fun thing to use with the rock in the back of the dump truck. I suppose you could bulldoze the rock into the bed of the truck.
The excavator was my personal favorite in the bunch. The basket rotates on two different points, so it is the most mobile of the toys. While the rock would not fit in the basket, I am sure that Craig will find something to scoop up with this toy. I am will to bet some Lego people will be taking that basket for a ride up in the air high above the construction site they are working on.
For our wedding anniversary the next weekend, Dan and I went camping around Yosemite. It was a pretty spot and very relaxing. Aside from our neighbors running a generator with really bright lights for a large portion of each night, it was a beautiful place to set up camp. The lights luckily did not drown out the stars. We sat around our campfire and made dinner, smores, and fruit pies with our pie iron. It was a great junk food filled first day. We even kept the rain fly off the tent so that we could fall asleep looking at the stars. It was really pretty and just as nice as camping out by the fire minus the mosquitoes.
The next morning, we pulled out our "new" camp stove. I had gotten it off of freecycle, and while we were told it needed a new hose, what it really needed was a lot more. Something had gotten disconnected in the main part of the stove, so only one of the burners was operational. We warmed up the cast iron for a while to get it hot, so Dan could work on the unlit burner and the tea pot could warm on the functional one. Once we had hot tea, we moved the cast iron back onto the stove and began cooking the egg portion of the omelet. Just as the eggs went into the now newly warmed pan, we realized that there was a serious problem with the stove. The flame under the pan kept getting big, then small, then big, then small even though we were not touching the knobs. I looked down at the regulator cap to see it totally frozen over. Then, as if planned, the propane started shooting out of the regulator and out of the canister. Dan quickly cut the flame, and then we disconnected the canister. Thinking all was lost we started to make contingency plans for breakfast. Dan put the lid on the pan, and we hoped for the best. We were in luck as the remaining heat from the cast iron carried the eggs through to fully cooked awesomeness!
After the breakfast excitement, we were off for our day hike. I knew that Yosemite in the summer is full of people, but I had no idea it would be that crowded. It took us a long while to wind our way down to the valley floor in the bumper to bumper traffic. We then went to hike our "less popular" trail to Nevada Falls. It was a beautiful hike, but still had many people on the trail. Moments alone were just not possible. The falls were beautiful though, and it was nice to get some pictures of the two of us hiking where we are both in the frame. (This is not one of them though) The hike lead us along the water most of the way, and just when I was so hot I wanted to stop, we came to the misty part of the hike along the main falls. It was quite refreshing. We picnicked along side of the busy trail and people watched. Once we were off the trail, we went to Camp Curry to swab off a bit before our Anniversary dinner at The Ahwahnee. On the way there, I got to see a bear along the road. My trip was now complete as I was bear paranoid the whole time we camped. This did not stop me from taking any food, wrappers, and water bottles out of the car an into the restaurant with us.
The next weeks were filled with preparing for my trip out to Idaho for Chaos Wars. Last year I determined that I would not make any new costumes. This year, I took it as a challenge to make all sorts of new costumes. I took many old costumes that I made incorrectly the first time apart and resewed them into a corrected garment. I also made many new things from scratch. In the year of the stash bust, I did some major damage getting ready for the event. I made myself four new cholis out of fabric that I had longed to make them out of for some time. I also made myself a new feast outfit. In keeping with my want to make costumes I can use in multiple venues, I made a Ghawazee coat that cut under the bust line. I wore it with my newly remade coin bra and two skirts I had made for the event. I also made a new tassel belt to finish off the outfit. My hard work paid off as I won best feast garb this year. It was a total thrill, and there were lots of great costumes I competed against. Niobe being chief among them, and I was flattered to beat her. She is by far one of the best costumers in Belegarth. The event was fun filled and packed with things to do and friends old and new to hang out with. It all went way too fast.
I returned home on the first of August to a house that looked like it had been neglected for a month.... because it had. It took a week to transition from event life back to real life, but the making of a cake helped ease me back. I attempted sponge cake for the first time with our mini tube pan. A half recipe worked out perfectly. I have since been cleaning and taking stock of costume repairs that need to be made. I am also starting my canning this week, and it has been going smashingly. I will update you on all that tomorrow.
The last update is on the balcony garden. It was the hardest hit item on my neglected list from July. The aphids really got the upper hand on things while I was busy and took out several of the bean plants. They then moved onto my tomatoes and all other plants on the porch. My lettuces that would be ready on my return from Idaho were mush. The beets were being attacked. The tomatoes had yellowed and been attacked over half of their leaves. The green peppers were doing no better. They had moved to every plant they could, including eating the heads off of several of my now blooming violets. The aphids had also called in their friends the spider mites to the Meyer lemon, and scale to the jasmine plant. Needless to say I was unhappy. I finally gave in and got myself a commercial insecticide and went to town yesterday. I sprayed everything in sight. I also did the painful cleanup of the plants. I pulled off dead and yellowing leaves. The plants look much greener, but also much leaner. I hope the extra fertilizer, water, and pruning helps them bounce back. I noticed that the tomatoes have sent up some new flowers, so here is to hoping for something productive from things. Between the bugs and the unusual cold we are having here (sorry to the rest of the States that appear to be sweltering), I am not sure I will get one tomato. Keep your fingers crossed for some sort of yield for all the work.
Well I guess this has been a pretty good catch up of the last month. I will be back tomorrow with a canning update as it is a canning week around here. Jam session is now in progress!