Category Archives: Journal

November Things

A few things that stood out this November:

1. My son turned 2 this month, and since bananas are his favorite fruit (probably favorite food), we had a banana split party.

2. I released the pattern for The Ramona Cropped Ringer Tee. You can find the pattern in my shop here, or on Ravelry here.

3. My husband and I had a mini-vacation sans child, thanks to my in-laws watching our son for a couple nights. It was the first time we’ve had, just the two of us, like that since before he was born, and it was really lovely and needed, and we were both really thankful. We stayed close to home, basically acting like tourists in our own city. We ate at several restaurants we’d never tried before and also visited a local gourmet chocolate shop. Their salted caramel hot chocolate is probably my favorite I’ve ever had, such good flavor and just the right amount of richness for you to take time with each sip and really savor it. We also tried several of their handmade confections, and my favorite of those happened to be their salted caramel-filled dark chocolate candy. My husband also got a white hot chocolate that he said was really good, too.

October Things

A few things that stood out this October:

1. My toddler has been learning random letters and numbers (I’m assuming starting preschool this fall has helped spur this at least a little bit) so we’re really trying to run with it. He really loves the letter ‘O’ and will point it out and shout intensely, “OOOOO!” when he sees one.

2. I finished the updated draft of a star stitch sweater and it’s now ready to be edited and graded. Woo!

3. We took my son to a pumpkin patch/apple orchard for the first time. It was mostly fun and he enjoyed having the freedom to run around, but that made it a bit harrowing for my husband and me since the orchard we went to didn’t have the best parking set up and the apples trees were located on the side of a steep hill. Definitely more suitable for older kids. When we took him to the actual patch to pick a pumpkin, I don’t think he quite understood what to do, so we picked a green one for him since he’d been really interested in a green one they’d had over near the games area.

Missing Autumn Weather

My favorite season has always been spring, and second is autumn. They are quite similar. Sadly, we don’t really get either of them in the southern US anymore, just a few days of that sweet in-between of t-shirt weather and gentle breezes, and then weeks of back and forth icy cold and steaming hot, until the forthcoming summer or winter season finally wins out.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I walk into town a lot with my son. We haven’t done too much walking during the height of summer as temps have been pretty high, and this leads me to thinking how harsh the cold will be eventually and how he might not experience those autumn-y days in the same way I did.

For me, as a kid, autumn seemed to start in August, just as school was back in, and stretch for weeks. But the past several years it feels like it lasts about two days.

Surprisingly, it feels like September has brought the cooler weather, and I’m hoping we’ll truly take time to enjoy it while it lasts.

In between a few custom crochet orders, I’ve been working on this cardigan for my son. I try to make him a new jacket or sweater every year. This one’s been working up pretty quickly (although clothing for kids is so much smaller that it does go faster, especially with worsted weight yarn). I think the collar might be where the biggest challenge lies with this one, as I’ll be trying a shawl collar for the first time and might have to play around with increases and decreases to get a shape I’m happy with.

Tea Tales: Apple Lime Sweet Tea

In 2010, I went on a short-term mission trip to Costa Rica. The main part of the trip was spent helping build a new church and medical clinic, along with leading VBS at several surrounding churches. The last couple days were spent at a new location and were meant to be a chance to experience more of the country, rest, and reflect on the previous days before heading home.

The second location was a hotel with a breathtaking view of Arenal Volcano, and we’d been told by the previous year’s team to be sure and order their “sweet tea” at dinner because it was not what you would expect as someone from the southern US, where we’re know for our cold, sugary, simple tea.

Drinks were brought out to the table, most in normal glasses. But the sweet tea was served in wine glasses with paper lime and apple decorations stuck on the side and straw. We reconfirmed several times that “No, it’s not alcoholic.” Just sweet tea.

Very intense presentation, very yummy and refreshing.

We tried to decipher the ingredients and make our own version when we got back home.

For apple juice, I recommend the Simply Apple brand, as it is a pure-pressed apple juice with no added sugar, that is closer to a cider texture and taste-wise.

For tea, use any black leaf tea.

These ingredient measurements are for a single serving, but you could, of course, increase them for a full pitcher.

Just Keep Stitching

(taken several months ago, this project is now finished, and my desk is now painted)

Creating and writing a crochet pattern takes a long time as a stay-at-home mom of a toddler. Something that used to take me two months, tops, is now taking, at current count, over seven.
I went into this year knowing that a focus on more intricate clothing designs would take longer than I was previously used to, but it still wears at me sometimes.

Right now, my main work time consists of part of my child’s naptime (the other part going toward exercise, lunch and housecleaning), and a couple hours after he goes to bed. This totals to about 15 hours a week, if that. I can sometimes crochet or edit a little while my kiddo is engaged in some independent play, but lately he wants to be right where I am as soon as I start – whether to grab the yarn or push all the buttons on my laptop.

I’m also moving into creating patterns for more detailed garments and learning new design software at the same time.

All this to say that sometimes it seems like this one pattern won’t ever be finished, let alone all the others I have in my queue. There are fleeting moments where I feel like I should just give up, because I won’t ever catch up with all the other designers out there with their vast collections of patterns, or those who seem to be able to churn out patterns every few weeks. But then I have to remember a few things – 1. I enjoy crocheting and designing crocheted clothing and while it may not be the most opportune-seeming time to finally dive into that, overall I’m excited about what I’m making, 2. If I keep working at this, no matter how slowly, it will eventually get done.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve found a better balance for all the things I need/want to get done in my days, but other times I feel like I wind up sacrificing one thing for others and and I’m not getting the time I need. My child will be starting preschool in the fall, going a couple days a week, and I’m planning to use that time for crochet-related work, so maybe things will pick up a bit then.

Tea Tales: Warm Tea In The Fridge

teatales1warmteainthefridge

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

08-14-2016

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

fw15beanieinstagram

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

pleats3-4left

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.

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