Linda K Murdock, author of A Busy Cook’s Guide to Spices and All Things Colorado blogs about things to do in Colorado, networks with crafty Coloradans, gives spice advice and writes gentle rants. See Categories or use search to find what interests you most.

Summertime Crocheted Wrap

Summertime Crocheted Wrap

As a Wrap

Summertime Crocheted Wrap

As a Vest

In my Easy Crochet Shawl Project this past April, I showed you how to get creative with rectangles. This time with the summertime crocheted wrap I adapted that same pattern by using the Triple V stitch from Crochet Stitch Guide by Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits (pg. 46). Instead of doing a continuous line of repeated motifs as the authors did, I added 3 rows of the ch-5 pattern in between the 3 rows that made the little motif. Since I like to see my progress and don’t have a lot of patience, using the chain rows and opening up the pattern cut down on the time it took to make this summertime crocheted wrap. It also saved a little bit of the #3 thread that I used. Sometimes you get into a project and aren’t sure whether you will have enough to finish. A friend gave me a lot of the thread yarn, and I wasn’t sure how much was on the spool.

Summertime Crocheted Wrap

Vest from Easy Crochet Shawl Project post

For the shoulder attachment, I folded the 48-inch x 20-inch rectangle in half (now 24-inch by 20-inches), leaving a generous hole for my head. I then laced the shoulder ends together as you would a shoelace, using the same #3 thread. You may use anything as an attachment. I added some little flower/buttons for decoration. The buttons and the lacing are removable, which makes it easy to adjust. The tassel-like end is two bows, as if tying your shoelaces twice, one on top of the other. I may never take it apart, but I like having the option to do so.

This summertime crocheted wrap was shorter in length than the Easy Crochet Shawl Project from April. Once again you can wear it as a vest or as a wrap off the shoulder. Either way, I am very happy with the results, and I get a lot of compliments. I think the off-the-shoulder look is more slimming.

To accessorize check out my safety pin bracelet post that uses the same purple thread. The bracelet has the same flower as the wrap to tie them together visually.

Hazel Miller, Denver’s Musical Gem

Hazel Miller, Denver's Musical Gem

Hazel Miller Band at Englewood City Center

I consider Hazel Miller, Denver’s Musical Gem. If you want a guaranteed good time, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you might just have one of those magical moments. You know the kind of musical experiences, when you connect to the hundreds or thousands of folks enjoying the same musical experience with you. Music is the great unifier. No matter how lousy your day, your life or your relationships, music can put you in a euphoric state that is hard to beat. It can make you wonder if any of those problems really matter and give you a sense that maybe, just maybe, the world isn’t fraying around the edges.

Although Hazel Miller has been around Denver since 1984, I first caught her at a restaurant, where my husband and I were treating a friend to dinner. It was in late April about 1990. I remember because my friend’s birthday was the same as my mother’s. We may have mentioned to Hazel that we were celebrating Milt’s 40th birthday. I remember her flirting with him and asking if he was single. Back then as part of her show she shared with the audience how she had come to be in Denver. She was heading west to California from Louisville, Kentucky with her belongings and her children, when her truck broke down. Like so many others, she liked what she saw, and lucky for us all, she decided to stay.

Hazel Miller is a jazz and blues singer, but more importantly, she is a professional entertainer. I don’t mean with a lot of glitz and glitter. I mean that she works at giving her audience a tight musical presentation with accompanying vocals and warm-hearted asides to the audience. As Melissa Chua says on Hazel’s website, she “plays music that excites and involves the listener.” She is one of those icons that hasn’t let her popularity go to her head and after years of entertaining, she is serious about delivering a fun, enjoyable musical experience. And that is exactly what she did at the Englewood City Center.

She still sounds great, as does her vocalist sidekick Coco Brown. Her band consists of guitarist Cody Carbone, bass player Rich Lamb, drummer Brian Mikulich, sax player Jeff Nathanson and keyboardist Matt Weesner. Her granddaughter even stepped in to sing a number.

It takes more than a great singer to make a great band. Likewise, a band must play the music until it sounds effortless and oh, so cohesive, regardless of how well a singer sings. With the Hazel Miller Band you get it all. She is one of those little gems that makes Colorado a very special place to live.

Reynolds Park-A Walk on the Wild Side

Reynolds Park

Reynolds Park, Platte River and prickly pear cactus

Reynolds Park-A Walk on the Wild Side

Red-violet spiderwort and sweet clover

Denver is close to the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes, because of the weekend traffic going to the mountains, it is easier to get away and do some hiking and mountain biking in the open spaces along the Front Range. It is also cheaper, and you can get up and back before the crawling crowds of commuters return on Sunday afternoon. Welcome to Colorado things to do. Let’s go see Reynolds Park-A Walk on the Wild Side.

For this foothills excursion I got up early to join my husband. The destination was Reynolds Park Open Space. I hiked the North Fork Trail opposite the old deserted hotel, while the others mountain biked the same trail. It was perfect. There were just two other bikers, a jogger and two horsewomen. That left a lot of time for discovery. Although the trail is 9.3 miles, I only hiked about 2.5 miles. The North Fork Trail climbs gradually and before you know it, you are way above the South Platte River. I stopped at a bend in the river, which parallels the trail, to have a bite to eat and appreciate the scenery before heading back. See the blooming yellow prickly pear cactus in the corner?

It was very quiet with just the occasional sound of kamikaze hummingbirds, zinging by in search of nectar. Their high-pitched whistle was distinct above the soothing wash of the river. The air was cool and the path was wet with dew and thick with abundant sweet clover on either side. Once past the field of yellow, the path cleared and became the color of ground up flagstones. The first brilliant flower I noticed was the spiderwort. It has three purple leaves with delicate anthers, those tiny yellow specks at the end of threads standing upright from the center of the flower. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed identifying wildflowers. As I walked my eyes became more attuned to their colors, shapes and leaf structure. Although I was excited at recognizing many of their names, I was also disappointed that there were so many of them that I did not know.

I used to drag along a very heavy camera and an even heavier book that helped with wildflower identification. This time I just took photos with my phone, so that I could look up the names later. The trail had many of the same flowers that I had included on my All Things Colorado: Wildlife video, but quite a few new ones, too. Prickly poppies, penstemon, mariposa (butterfly) lily, salsify in its big pollywog state, Indian paintbrush, etc. I was in heaven. How often do you really commune with nature? This trail had it all–flowers, the rushing sound of water, wind through the trees and no one around! Just me, lots of butterflies, a few lizards and several flies that seemed to prefer my flowered hat more than the colorful nectar-filled abundance all around them. One of the best online free sources I have found for identifying wildflowers is Dr. Mary L. Dubler’s site. She has over 700 unique flowers photographed, arranged by color and indexed by both common and scientific name. Unlike many of the books you’ll find, this one is specific to Colorado and the photos are clear. It doesn’t take much to learn how to identify at least a few of the varieties of wildflowers and won’t your friends be impressed?