Category Archives: Journal

Tea Tales: Warm Tea In The Fridge


For most people in the south, tea means an ice cold cup of sweet tea (black tea with lots of sugar). Growing up, that’s all we drank. No herbal teas or green teas. Nothing “fancy.”

My mom and I were a little different than most around us, though. Not that we don’t love a glass of cold sweet tea, but there was a treat we both shared a love for.

When the tea had finished steeping on the stove, Mom would pour it into a pitcher over a few scoops of sugar, add in a little more water, then stir. Once it was ready she’d put the pitcher in the fridge to cool. She’d come find me, and like a shared secret, let me know, “I just finished making tea. It’s in the fridge, so go get some now if you want it still warm.”

I’d pour some into a jelly jar glass and cup my hands around it to feel the warmth. Hold it below my nose for a bit and let the steam clear out any congestion. Then sip it slowly. I’m pretty sure I remember a few people turning their noses up at us from time to time, like, “Who drinks warm sweet tea?!” Those comments seem so silly now.

As I got older, Mom and I began to delve into the world of herbal teas. Fruit teas became a favorite, and mint. But I still love a good cup of warm black tea, sometimes with a bit of lemon juice added and mostly with honey instead of sugar. A classic a bit refined, but with humble, sweet beginnings.

for friends fighting hard battles


for friends fighting hard battles

“be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”

I wish I could give your heart peace.
I wish I could say or do something to make it better.
But I can only offer that I’m here – though I
 am a bitter, selfish, prideful person, I will try my
 best to be here for you – and I can carry your burdens with you.

Don’t keep it in, don’t feel like you can’t share. If
you open up and I ignore, forget, don’t understand
 the depth of your struggles, am not there in the
 ways you need, then the fault is with me, not
you, the things you’re going through, or the way
you’re feeling.

And if you want, if you don’t mind, let me make
an attempt, however imperfect or unpoetic, however
honest and real on my part, to tell you of the
One I believe CAN give your heart peace. Who
 can do something to make it better.

 Who carried your burdens long ago.

I am trying to remember this message, too, dear friend.
I am feeble, fickle, weak, and small. As I said, I am
a bitter, selfish person. I am full of fear, a worrier.

 Let us walk together toward Him, learn to lay
 our burdens down and sit at His feet.

Dairy and Soy Free

dairy soy free cookies

Several months ago, I gave up dairy and soy for the baby, who has a milk protein allergy. We have had our suspicions since he was a few weeks old, but went through three doctors before finding one who actually believed in our concerns and looked at some of baby’s poop for blood. She could see it immediately. “Yep, that’s a milk protein allergy.” So nice after the previous doctor seemed to not believe us, and even told us that blood couldn’t be found in poop samples (we think he just thought we were new parents who didn’t understand normal baby fussiness was normal. Ugh.)

Thankfully, I finally fully gave up dairy and soy after we found brown flecks in his poop (I know this is a lot of poop talk, but that happens with babies, especially when there’s something up). Honestly, I knew I should have done so earlier, but we were trying to trust the doctor we were seeing at the time, and I was just plain being selfish after having a modified diet during pregnancy, and didn’t want to give up things like yogurt and cheese.

But now, baby is so much better! It’s been so worth it, and things are even better after knowing it’s a milk protein allergy for sure, like an affirmation that we knew what was up with our kid and that all our pushing to get it looked at wasn’t worthless.

So here are some things I’ve learned about eating dairy and soy free as an exclusively breastfeeding mom:

Note: Many babies who can’t handle milk protein also can’t handle soy protein, as they are similar,so as a precaution many moms, like me, choose to cut out both at the start.

1.) Fake butter? So good. Tastes pretty much the same as real butter, maybe just a bit sweeter.

2.) Fake cheese? No good. A sad, sad attempt at a cheese dupe. It’s like the makers are trying to imitate cheddar, specifically, but go a bit too intense with the flavor; dial the flavor strength back, and it might be better. I wouldn’t eat it on crackers, but in sandwiches or sprinkled on salads it at least gives you that similar texture without the powderiness being so obvious, since it’s simply an ingredient and not on its own. It’s also more cheese-like when melted, but even then it’s still better to have it as part of something such as a melt rather than the main ingredient, like in mac n’ cheese. I tried some fake mac n’ cheese, and it just made me sad.

3.) Eliminating dairy and soy can make grabbing a quick meal really hard, so thank goodness for Wendy’s. Not only do most of their breads not contain dairy or soy, their allergen menu is one of the most thorough I’ve seen, listing allergens for specific ingredients and not just whole menu items. (At this point I am still eating foods that may have been fried/grilled/processed, etc. in the same place as dairy and soy, as it seems baby’s allergy is not that sensitive. Some moms do have to give those things up, too.)

4.) Modifying recipes with dairy and soy free products is not so hard in most cases, such as the one for those chocolate chips cookies up there – soy free Earth Balance spread, dairy and soy lecithin free chocolate chips from Enjoy Life. In my experience, almond milk does not effect the taste of baked goods. Finding and trying dairy and soy free baked goods really helped with the transition during the first couple weeks; like, you can still eat yummy things! These brownies are particularly good (listen to her when she says to refrigerate them, it definitely makes a big difference).

5.) Soy lurks in EVERYTHING! You will most likely mess up and eat it several times without knowing. It’s frustrating, but it happens.

A Few Things


I haven’t been as active here on the blog as I’ve wanted to be the past couple weeks. Tiredness has set in again in the third trimester, and although it’s not as bad as the fatigue of the first, it still has me going a bit slower and needing more breaks.

There are things I’d like to do crochetwise for the blog, but I haven’t been able to focus, or move, well (the latter thanks to a fun new pregnancy pain issue).

I’ve also been wearing mostly tees and shorts, things for comfort, or the same tops over and over again, as I have tried my best to buy only a minimal amount of maternity clothes for this pregnancy, so I haven’t had any outfits I’ve felt were post-worthy. I might have a few from the next few weekends, though. We’ll see.

I know that this is a season, just like any other time, and that, especially once the baby’s born and I’m adjusting to taking care of a little one full time, these periods of tiredness and activity will pass, will ebb and flow. I’m looking forward to getting that time with my baby, though. It’s coming so soon! And even though we’re still working on his room and preparing for him, I’m getting impatient.

I haven’t been completely unproductive, though. There will be a limited quantity of fall/winter hats, scarves, and fingerless gloves up in the shop sometime in the next few days, and I might add a few more patterns before baby arrives. :)

Pattern Editing


Writing this pattern was simple; I’ve gotten into the habit of writing my patterns down as I make them, for the most part. Editing it to get it ready for the shop has taken a good bit of time, though, because this particular pattern involves a few techniques that need more detailed directions than most patterns. This meant getting lots of pictures, then editing all those pictures, putting them in the written pattern, and making sure directions are hopefully clear and understandable.

I tried to get pictures on clear days, so that the light coming though my window would be more consistent, and several days where I had planned to shoot turned out to be overcast and rainy. But finally, I have all the pictures needed.

On top of all this, I’m making the pattern in right-handed and left-handed versions. I crochet left-handed, but I know that the majority don’t. I also know from being a left-handed crocheter that there aren’t a lot of patterns that cater to lefty crocheting, and sometimes following patterns can get a bit confusing because of this. Making these two versions meant editing pictures doubly – once for lefties, and then again flipped for righties, and putting those pictures into two separate files. Sort of extra work, but worth it, in my opinion, because since this pattern has a lot of pictures, people can now choose the orientation that best makes sense to them. No headaches or confusion from having to reverse directions in your head.

I’m still finishing up the last few bits, but I’m hopeful that it won’t be too much longer until the pattern is ready and in the shop! It should be a great project and garment for fall and winter. Keep an eye on the shop for the pattern’s release.

Grandma Boot’s Diary

young Grandma Boots

My Grandma Boots died December 1st, 2012, just a few weeks before her 97th birthday. When she was a young woman, she kept a diary, which my family and I cherish very much. And that’s why I’m writing this. Because I’m mad at myself.

The same month she passed, my parents house was destroyed in a fire. It was also the same month I got married. I’d had my grandmother’s journal with me at my parents,’ and hadn’t packed it to take with me to where I would be living with my husband; it wasn’t mine, and I planned for it to eventually end up back at Grandma’s (I mean, no one expects a house fire).

Oh, how I wish I hadn’t had it there. It wasn’t damaged by the fire so much as the water used to put the fire out. And that’s why I’m mad at myself. Water dilutes ink, and some of the entries in that journal just didn’t make it. Including my most favorite one. So I guess that’s why I’m putting this here, because since that entry isn’t documented in that diary anymore, I want it to be documented, to be remembered, somewhere.

A lot of the entries are short, only one or two sentences, usually about who she saw that day, the passing of a family or community member, or, most often, “I picked cotton all day.” Entries often mention her best friend and her future husband, my Granddaddy Dan.

My favorite is one where she writes of a surprise visit from my granddad, after she’s been swimming or playing in the rain with a sister or cousin (I’m sad and frustrated that I can’t remember the details), but the thing I love most about this entry is that she’s being sarcastic and humorous in it, and it’s just neat to imagine her that way. So here is my favorite line from the entry, best I can remember –

“We were soaked to the bone, and boy was I a pretty young thing for Dan to see.”

I know it’s simple, but it’s neat for me to see her being so candid amidst entries that just detailed the events of the day. It gives me a different picture of her. I love her humor at the situation. Whether she was actually embarrassed or just thought the situation itself was funny, I can’t tell. But I do love that it sounds like something I’d say if a similar thing happened to me.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to know her at my age, to know the young woman in the picture above – what books and stories would she like, what would our conversations lean toward, what inside jokes would we share? What was her fashion sense, what was her way of showing her friends and family she loved and appreciated them? What did she think about marriage and children, before she had them? I wonder if we’re any bit similar.

I could tell a ton more stories about my Grandma Boots and all the special moments we shared throughout my life, about how important a part of my life she was and is, but I’d like to just focus on this little moment today.

God bless you and yours.

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