present tense

Making a new habit

I've been thinking on ways to deal with having a 6-year-old and a baby. I have no idea what this is going to be like - it's been long enough ago that I don't remember how naps go. I just know the baby is going to need them (and probably me too!).

So it occurred to me that it might be nice to start a habit of some quiet time to read every day. That way, maybe I can catch a nap if I need to? Or just relax?

I don't get to read a lot of fiction these days, so I had a few selfish intentions as well when I declared that after lunch is a "reading half hour" (which I'm secretly hoping will turn into a "reading hour" or even a "reading few hours"). Starting this week, V and I have sat on the sofa for a good 30-45 minutes and each read our own books silently, yet together.

a little light reading

This is what we've been reading this week. Can you tell which books are hers and which are mine?

P.S. If your kid is into gross science stuff, you can't go wrong with the Horrible Science series. V is loving the two I've gotten for her and made a list of 10 more she would like as soon as possible.

And we cheered! Huzzah!

As the ultrasound tech was poking around, V sat on R's shoulders so she could see the TV better. The baby wasn't really cooperating. I kept looking for, um, something - I could see very clearly that V was a girl but this one I couldn't figure out what I was looking at. The wand was moving way too fast.

We're all waiting quietly, looking expectantly, when all of a sudden the tech says, "And it's a boy." Immediately our cheers went up: "YAY! IT'S A BOY!!!! YAY!!!" V clapped and we all laughed.

I'd be surprised if they didn't hear us down the hall.


Working together

V and I are working together - on separate things - this morning. I'm mailing yarn and she's making a collage.

working together

It's been a very pleasant morning.

Last night I was going to make hangtags for yarn, but Roxy curled up on me, with her head on my shoulder, and I held her while she slept for more than an hour. I didn't mind.

Today we're going for an ultrasound and we should find out the baby's gender. Any guesses? Everyone I know thinks boy, mainly because this pregnancy is so different from the last one. Last time I had no morning sickness, no allergies, and we called her Bunny because she kicked so much. This time I spent the month of September feeling ill, I'm sneezing constantly, and sometimes I forget I'm preggers because this kid is so calm!  We'll see later today...

Come April

Always the fan of anatomy (and babies!), V has been reading lots of books like this lately.

What's Inside Baby

It has animals too, but this page is currently the most interesting to her.

What's Inside Baby 2

I've been knitting these little baby legs. It's been really nice knitting with my own yarn! I don't get to do it nearly enough. Turns out, this size fits V's skinny legs as well so I'm making her a matching pair, only longer.

Baby Legs

We've also been putting this little dear to bed a lot. And walking her around in a stroller, feeding her, burping her, changing her diaper...

Pink Baby

And this video is on our hot list this month. It's fascinating (and I truly wish I'd known of it when V was a baby). I plan to watch it a lot after the first of the year, especially.

Dunstan Baby Language

Because we're having a baby in April. Yay.

When I grow up

When I grow up, I want to travel around the country with really old cameras and take portraits of anyone who will let me.

For now I'll settle for V with a new camera.

V a little sepia 001

There's nothing finer than having someone's permission to capture their essence in a photo.

V a little sepia 002

She doesn't let me photograph her so much these days, but occasionally she can be talked into it. 

V a little sepia 003

I can't wait to see what she thinks of these when she's older. They are so her.

New books!

As soon as I started reading this post over at Pioneer Woman, I knew V would want to read it too. So I called her over and we read it together. 

Then of course we had to order Dr. Frankenstein's Human Body Book! It got here today and it looks fantastic.

human body book 001

I foresee years of fun with this one. I don't think there's ever been a book that would appeal so much to V.

inside human body book

Except maybe this one.

gross facts to blow your mind

You've got to love it when she shuts the TV off because her brand new books are here!

A raffle for cancer

Have you ever changed the way you eat? It's hard. I've tried and failed before. Because I liked the way that I ate before. I like quesadillas and I like chicken legs and I like key lime pie. But people don't like being told how to eat, so I have been resistant. Occasionally defiant. But I have become convinced that I was not eating healthfully. So I'm changing things.

To keep myself on my chosen path, I decided that I couldn't replace the recipes I've always loved with different versions of them. That'd just be like taunting myself. So I decided I needed whole new recipes. So, as I have time, I've been on the search for recipes that fall under my guidelines, while also tasting good. If they're not tasty, they're out.

That takes a while because I'm picky, but I've got a few.

Would you like to hear my guidelines? Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds, beans. Unprocessed foods. No dairy, no meat. Sounds a lot like vegan, doesn't it? But it's not. It's nutritarian. I don't believe I can say that I'm vegan because I sell sheep's wool. That's not vegan. But I am eating a healthy, plant-based diet. 

This is what I had for dinner the other night.

Toasted Quinoa Vegetable Stacks

I based it on this recipe, except I just threw the spinach into the quinoa along with some raw cashews to wilt/toast. And I used the Green Goddess dressing from Appetite for Reduction because I'm not at all into the idea of veganaise (though I don't think it needed the dressing). This was exceptionally tasty. The next night I made it again, except I just chopped everything up, plus an onion, and threw it in a pan to saute and then added the leftover quinoa fron the night before. Not as pretty, but definitely big, quick bowl of deliciousness for a Wednesday night.

As we were eating it, I was thinking what a great, cancer-fighting recipe it is. Mushrooms, spinach, garlic, onion, tomatoes - the whole thing, really. I like to fight cancer any way I can - which is why I've donated a yarn of to the raffle Melissa is holding over on her I Hate Cancer blog. For $5 you get a shot at winning a skein of yarn of your choice from what's available in my shop. Because cancer sucks.

Go Team Breast Intentions!

As for me, I can report that I'm down 6 pounds last I checked and the swelling in my hands that's been keeping me from spinning is almost gone. I feel better, lighter and my head is clearer. In other words, I'm digging it.

My little radishes

I've been eating lots of salads for about a month now. Giant, big-as-your-head salads. Today's salad had the usual lettuce suspects plus yellow pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, raisins, walnuts, hummus and a thinly sliced radish.

my little radishes

I'm positive I'll tire of them eventually, but surely not until summer is over - which is around October in these parts.

Today R is picking up my sweet kitty cat Grace. She's at the vet, but not in the usual way you might think. I don't kid myself that anyone on the internet wants to hear that my 17-year-old cat passed away 2 weeks ago tomorrow. I only record it here for myself, so I don't forget when it happened. She was the perfect cat - a superb mouser when she needed to be, kind and patient with my daughter even when she shouldn't have been, and the ultimate lap cat and hot water bottle. The worst part is that under normal circumstances, if I felt this bad about something, I would grab her and lay down for a while snuggled up and listening to her purr. Now I don't have that option and it sucks. Finally, she was so sick, her little pink ears so yellow from her failing liver, there was nothing left to do. I said it to R, and he agreed with me, that the only reason she stuck around so long was because she loved us so. 


Months ago, we bought a cantaloupe from the grocery store. When we cut it open, V insisted on putting the seeds in a plastic baggie wrapped in a wet paper towel to see if they would grow. I was doubtful, but a while later we checked on them and they had grown. So we put them in a little pot.


Since I had neither the time nor desire to start a garden from scratch this year, I put a few of these little plants in a giant pot with a good soil mixture I made. When they started growing, I pulled out all but the one that looked the strongest. And it grew. I put a tomato cage over it and wrapped it around so it could climb.

One day, I noticed several tiny, fuzzy cantaloupes. This one was, and remained, the biggest.

Baby Cantaloupe

Eventually, all the small cantaloupes went away and we were left with two - the bigger one and a smaller one. Being in this container, all the plant's energy was going to these two melons. And they grew.

Cantaloupe is still growing

At the moment, this blog's header is a picture of the leaves of this plant, just after a rainstorm.

Fortunately, my friend Kim told me that homegrown cantaloupes don't get as big as the ones you buy in the store and that if you wait too long, they'll rot on the vine. So I watched and and evaluated regularly so I wouldn't miss the right time. And it kept growing.


And then suddenly last week - it was time. It had rained a lot and when I looked at the cantaloupes, they had started pulling away from their connection to the vine. So we picked them.

V with cantaloupe

The little one rotted right away, so it was lost. But the bigger one? It was delicious.

home grown cantaloupe

Next time, I would plant them in the ground. And I would water them more often (not so good at remembering that...). But I wanted to see if I could grow a cantaloupe in a container and I did it (with some help from R, who watered them regularly once he realized I wasn't doing it!), so I consider this a success - a tasty, tasty success!

New camera!

Just playing with my new camera today. I got this bobbin at my favorite local antique mart. 

old bobbin

And here's my halfway spun Lai Grai batt - slowly making a 2-ply.

new bobbin

Here's some Moultrie Sock that will be in my next update, which should be next week.

moultrie sock

And Moultrie again - left to right that's Lingonberry Jam, Kohl, Tanis, Shiraz, and Olivine. So soft and lovely.

moultrie sock yarn

I'm trying to think of someplace fun to go this weekend to shoot some pictures. Hmmm...

Things I saw on Saturday

I was going to call this post "Things I saw this weekend," but alas, it was not to be. So it's just stuff I saw on Saturday.

Always Patsy

Saturday we went to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. The last few times we went, I was eager to photograph the fish.

To Pet Walk

But this time I wanted to photograph some of the details we saw along the way that weren't necessarily fish.

Of Chattanooga

And we did see lots of interesting things.

Cats looking at fish

They had crafters set up outside the aquarium and there were two people selling handspun yarn and things of that nature. This one is from Lucca Dot Yarn, but Arresting Yarn was also there.

Lucca Dot Yarn

Once we made it inside, we were drawn in to the Ranger Rick stuff going on. They showed us a porcupine.


And the most adorable toucan. She was new to doing tricks in front of crowds, but she was absolutely charming.

Toucan catching food

Then we went to see the seahorses, where my goal was to try to get at least one picture of V that had the feeling of this photo. And then later we went to our favorite park in Chattanooga, where I was hoping to catch our second annual jumping photo.

So, like I said, we were looking at the seahorses and I was snapping photos when I noticed that my pictures had a black streak across them. At first I thought I'd had my finger over the lens. Then the shutter wouldn't fire. Then it would but the camera said "Err."

And so woe is me. The camera that I've taken 99% of the photos on this blog is dead. 

Well, not dead. From my research I'd say it can probably be fixed. And I will fix it. And then I'm keeping it as a backup because you can't have a yarn shop without a camera and you never know when your camera is going to break its shutter. Or get dropped into Lake Allatoona. Or whatever minor calamity happens to come your way.

My new camera will be here next week (I think. Still waiting on shipping confirmation. I won't rest easy until I get it). I'm sad. And happy. I can't wait to see what the new camera can do - but RIP to my Nikon D80 - at least until I can get you fixed up again.

Painting V

The other morning while I was finishing up on the computer, I could hear V running around the house in a flurry. When I finally got up and walked out to the dining room, I found that she had gathered everything she needed for painting: paints, paper, palette, paper towels, brushes, and a jar of water.

V Paints 001

I think she'd only used the brushes for about 20 seconds before she decided to use her fingers instead.

V Paints 002

The mess was small, but the fun was large!

V Paints 003


While she's still here

Today's the day I should be taking photos of lots of these.

a purple yarn

Except that outside it's doing this.


I thought that there was a break in the rain, but by the time I carried everything down there, it was raining again. V played in the rain for a little while and I sat hoping it would stop raining. 

But it didn't. So I gave up. I'll make hangtags or something.

On the way back inside, Grace had come downstairs so I brought my indoor-only cat outside for a few minutes so she could look around.

gracie 006

Last week I noticed she was looking mighty yellow, so I took her to the vet where we discovered that her liver is not functioning well.

gracie 001

Grace is 17 years old and I've had her since she was a wee kitten. My mom gave her to me even though I said didn't want one more cat. I already had two. 

gracie 002

But I'm glad my mom ignored my complaints. Gracie has been the best cat in all the best cat ways that you can imagine. The few mice I've ever had in my house, she has caught. As R says, she's not quick, she's sudden.

gracie 004

She's a lap cat. She's never happier than when sitting with you on the sofa, even if she just met you. Grace never met a stranger.

gracie 003

She doesn't act like she's ready to move on. Give her a string and she'll play, brush her and she'll thank you with purrs. So I'm giving her subcutaneous fluids most nights to keep her hydrated. And I'm feeding her special food several times a day whether she likes it or not (she doesn't). 

gracie 005

And I'm thankful for this time we have left together, no matter how short these 17 years now seem.

Sweet kitty

Yesterday was Father's Day and R's birthday. I'm not sure where the day went, but we spent part of it in the backyard, playing in the sprinkler and throwing water balloons at each other.

Roxy in the afternoon sun

Roxy ended up on V's towel in the afternoon, looking all sweet like a kitty often does.

Land art

In my internet travels I found the Land Art for Kids website the other day. So this morning V and I went outside and I made some land art.

This one I fashioned after something I'd seen on the Land Art site, using a stick I found and dogwood tree leaves. 

Land Art 003

V was excited that I'd brought the scissors out and so she cut up a lot of leaves and some branches that had fallen on the ground. She also cut the stems off some sweetgum balls for me.

Land Art 005

She tried cutting up a nutbaby, but that didn't work very well. I'm just glad her fingertips are still intact.

Land Art 002

We had fun. It got hotter. Then I sprayed her with water.

Land Art 007

Wondering how long my land art will stay up...

Dreaming of other places to go so we can make more...

Dabbling in color

I don't dream of colors. They hit me when I'm awake and thinking of something else - or of nothing. Thinking of nothing is my best and favorite way to get them. If I need to put it into words I say that I have colors.

today i'm dabbling in color

I get a picture in my head of a color or combination of colors and I know immediately whether or not I know how to make it. Some I'm still searching for the right dye, so they sit in the back of my head. Some I see and love but I know I can't make them (yet).

But when I know I can, I almost always know exactly how to put them together. I don't play with color, even though I say that sometimes. When I play, I mess it up. Either I know or I don't. When I don't, I go do something else until I do. It's been this way for two years now. Before that, I didn't know that I have colors, I only knew that I have pictures. Many of those are not yet taken, but that's another conversation.

This morning

V takes two bags of yarn to help me carry them all up the stairs. I let her help me with the yarn as much as she is able because I enjoy having her with me and it makes her so proud. I ask her what will be the topic of our conversation today and she says babies. She wants to know all about when babies can do things like hold onto a toy, hold up their head, and sit up. She's surprised that babies shouldn't eat honey.

Today I'm planning for the week

I carry the rest of the skeins up myself to begin tying the cotton yarn that helps me keep my work from getting so tangled.  I ruminate on the why of some things and not other things. I have an idea for a yarn - something different. I wonder when I will make the time to try it out.

Mini drop spindle

V is 5 & 1/2 now and has been wanting to learn how to spin yarn for a while. I told her I'd get her a drop spindle for Christmas because by then she'll be 6 and I thought that'd be a fine time to learn. But when she mentioned wanting to learn again the other day, I decided maybe I shouldn't wait until Christmas.

So I started looking around for an smaller spindle that would be just right for her hands and be inexpensive enough that it'd be ok if she found she didn't have as much interest in it as she says.

Roxy and mouse

I browsed Etsy until I found Spinerosity and her mini spindles, which she says are the perfect size to fit in your purse for spinning on the go. It came today and it looks to be the perfect size for V too. 

I've never spun yarn on a drop spindle before. When I was spinning yarn for a living, I knew I didn't have the time or the patience, but lately the idea has grown on me.

One Pink Toe

So I checked YouTube and found this video, which showed me everything I needed to know and I got started. They say learning on a drop spindle makes wheel spinning easier and I'm sure it's the other way around too because it was no trouble for me at all. I had the fiber wrapped around the wrong hand at first, but that was an easy fix.


I spun from an old batt I don't remember making. I haven't shown V how yet, but when I do I'll report back. She wants to take some wool from undyed roving to dyed (with Easter egg dyes - no acid dyes for her!) to yarn. I'm sure she can do it if she has enough patience, so we'll see if her patience has developed to that point yet. 

Roxy with spindle

As for me, I'm sorry that it took me so long to try spinning on a spindle. It's one of those things that lets you feel your connection to this life, to fiber animals, and to people around the world and across generations who spin and change that yarn into useful things. It would take time to produce enough yarn for something really useful. I could just as easily go to WalMart and buy something. Or get out my wheel and spin something in an hour or so. I've done both those things, many times. But at the moment, the simplicity of the spindle is enough for me. It feels right.

Summer's coming

So I planted cantaloupe (it's the same one that's in my banner right now!). In a pot. Because I thought it'd be fun to try - my square foot gardening book says I can do it. We got a cage for it to climb up and I'm fully prepared to fashion slings for the cantaloupes should they get that far.

Cantaloupe 2

We got a doll bed for V from IKEA. It's made of wood. She plays with it a lot but her favorite thing to do is to take it apart. That's also her favorite thing to do with drawer pulls - take them off the drawers and leave them on the table for me to find. Sometimes she puts them back, but really it's the taking apart that interests her.


This weekend we joined our local science museum, so V and I can go anytime and look at the dinosaur bones and see what's playing at the planetarium.

I also signed up for Supercharged Science's summer e-camp this morning. I'm going to do it along with her. I think it'll be lots of fun - there are over 130 projects to keep Miss V's hands from getting too idle this summer...

In shop news - have you seen the new look for the shop? I hope it's even easier to navigate and prettier than before. I've got a big shop update coming up on Thursday at 3:30pm Eastern. And I'm going to do something different this time - if you visit on Wednesday afternoon, I'm going to have everything that will be on sale showing as "coming soon." So you'll be able to check out the yarns that are coming on Thursday before the fray that usually occurs with an update. It seems like the sensible thing to do, yes?

Insubordiknit Workshop

I've been wanting to learn how to make textured yarns for a while. I tried corespinning a couple of times, but I was pretty miserable at it and I finally gave up.

But then Jacey came to town.

Jacey's boots

And she showed me how to corespin. And it was easy! 

She also showed me how to do stacks and supercoils and tailspinning and oodles of other fun things. This is her spinning a corespun yarn with beehives.

Jacey spinning corespun with beehive

And here she's illustrating the technique for a thick and thin yarn (it's all in the wrist, yo)...

Jacey spinning thick and thin

...which you can use to make the green yarn seen here. Fun!


There was beautifully dyed Merino for us to practice with supplied by The Spun Monkey and lovely batts with add-ins and samples provided by Moonwood Farm. Thanks to both of you for the fiber! It was a real treat for me to be able to use someone else's fiber.

Moonwood Farm bags of lovely batts

It was a 2-day workshop with Jacey and handspinners of all skill levels - from someone who'd been spinning for just a week to a few ladies who'd been spinning for 30+ years. It was wonderful to walk into a room full of spinners! I felt right at home. If you're a spinner and have the opportunity to attend an Insubordiknit workshop, I can't recommend it enough.

Several of us had dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant on Saturday night. I loved meeting everyone and had the best time ever. By the end of it, my head was completely full of ideas and inspiration.

Jacey knitting 001

Thank you, Jacey! You're just lovely and I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn from you.

Jacey knitting 002


Ever since V saw some kids on TV putting beans into wet paper towels and plastic baggies and waiting for them to sprout, she's enjoyed doing this with just about every seed she comes across. Most everything she's tried has sprouted but we've been lax about taking it any further than sprouts.


But when her cantaloupe seeds sprouted, we planted them in this little pot. I keep saying I'm going to have a (very, very) small garden, even though I truly haven't a clue exactly how one goes about it, except for what I've been reading in my new copy of Square Foot Gardening . I suppose now here's my chance to figure it out.

Reading in a tree

Today V found the highest spot she could in our tree out front. Then, after much fussing of how to sit, I handed her a book.

V in tree 001

She read a couple of chapters in her tree. Sweet girl.

V in tree 002

She still likes to read picture books, but if you hand her a chapter book on cats or dogs she'll read it through in one sitting.

V in tree 003

She wanted to climb all the way to the top of the tree but the branches wouldn't support her weight, so I talked her out of that.

V in tree 006

The Kitten Friends  series by Jenny Dale is her current favorite. I don't think they're published anymore, but I've found one at Goodwill and the rest used on Amazon. I need to get another one for her Easter basket.

V in tree 004

After the reading - chalk.

V in tree 005

It's perfectly Spring here!

Much ado

I'm keeping busy this winter, how about you?

I'm saving my yarn scraps for any birds that might need them this spring.

today i'm saving yarn for bird nests

I'm preparing myself for what might happen once a certain book of baby knits comes out and one of my handspun yarns is inside, a small part of one pattern.

I'm gearing up for the KAL that went on sale today and all the dyeing I hope to be doing for it - and the knitting of it, which will be my very first shawl (exciting!).

KAL yarns

I'm dreaming of spring and spring colors...and cookies.

I'm cooking from a new cookbook and enjoying it (especially the eggplant curry!).

I'm looking for knit/crochet designers to work with (are one? ...know any?).

I'm reading mythology with my 5-year-old.


more from the Etowah Indian Mounds

It was very windy at the Etowah Indian Mounds. And V did a lot of running. She also met a lot of new people and gave almost all of them hugs. And several of them kisses. She was kind of happy to be there...

v Etowah Indian Mounds 031

This is the first mound, the biggest one, where the chief would've lived.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 087

This is the third mound, the smallest one, where they found a lot of interesting things like pottery shards, tools for grinding grain, and statues made of marble and painted.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 073

V on top of the second mound.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 092

The fish trap - rocks placed in an open V to corral the fish and make it easier to catch them.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 106

And my favorite picture.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 119


from the Etowah Indian Mounds

We went to visit the Etowah Indian Mounds today.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 147

This is the hut that they built in what they think was the style of the Etowahs around 800 years ago.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 160

800 years ago is not really something I can wrap my head around, though I am quite familiar with red Georgia clay.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 152

They also dug this ditch around the area to help give themselves the advantage in battle.

v Etowah Indian Mounds 139

Beautiful, isn't it?

Coke bottle bird feeder

The bread? Let's just say buttermilk would've tasted much better than vanilla almond milk... It is edible, we just don't really want to eat any more of it. I'll try something else another day.

This morning, V and I made a bird feeder from a Coke bottle. We got the idea from an episode of Curious George, but they used a 2-liter bottle. All I had on hand was one of those little 10-ounce bottles, so we used that.

I poked two small holes, which we pushed a chopstick through. And I cut two larger holes for the birds to eat from. Then I screwed some scrap sock yarn into the cap and we hung it from a tree.

coke bottle bird feeder

I'm hoping it's not too wobbly for them (if so, I'll adjust it) and I'm planning to take some video of the birds eating from it later.

Like bread for jam

Today I'm baking bread. I have no idea how it's going to turn out. Maybe awful.

v like bread for jam 008

I saw the Oat Soda Bread recipe on 101 Cookbooks and thought I'd try it because it takes almost zero time to mix it up.

The thing is, I don't have any buttermilk in my house. I don't even have any cow milk in my house. I have rice milk and I have vanilla almond milk. I used the vanilla almond milk because it's thicker like buttermilk. I didn't put lemon juice in it to try to make buttermilk because of the vanilla. That just sounded yuck to me.

So I have no idea how this little experiment is going to go, but since it took me almost zero time to mix it up...

v like bread for jam 010

Yesterday we went to IKEA and bought these jams. So some good homemade bread to go with it would be nice.

I'll let you know how it turns out...

In the meantime, if you have any tried & true vegan bread recipes, do share!