Terrible Twos

We’re going through a few huge milestones as a family right now. We’re almost (so close, really!) finished with our house remodel. Hubby and I both have been doing CrossFit for a few months now, and we’re really noticing some wonderful changes. We’ve been talking about maybe trying for another baby by the end of this year. And our sweet, darling Oliver is turning two in just 4 days.

 

Somehow he got the memo that being two brings about expectations of him being terrible, so he’s decided to express those behaviors early. ūüôĄ Give Mama a break, kiddo.

In the last week he’s started throwing toys and fits, hitting dogs and people, blatantly doing the exact opposite of we tell him, and not sleeping. Every 5 minutes we’re getting him out of something he shouldn’t be in, or taking something away, or dodging a miniature tractor flying through the air.

On top of that, he’s decided suddenly that he cannot sleep without Mom’s boob planted securely in his mouth. This is problematic for Mom, as you can imagine, as logistically it’s hard to sleep like that and psychologically oh my God kid you were sleeping just fine without me a week ago what the hell is happening?!?

I know this phase will pass, as have all the others, but it’s so hard when you’re in it. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t have his own room right now. It doesn’t help that we are so close to being finished with our remodel we can almost taste it, but we still have a to-do list several items and at least a few weeks long. It doesn’t help that the world has its own stressors we’re also dealing with. It doesn’t help that we’re on day 5 of this and holy cats I just want to go to bed now and sleep for 12 hours. It doesn’t help that normally he is such a sweet, easygoing kid, so it makes these trying times even more frustrating.

But I just got him down for a nap and successfully left the room without waking him up. I’m going to eat a cookie and drink some water and take an Advil, and I’ll be good to go when he wakes up. Because he is my sweet boy, and I love him more than anything.

Our Backyard Chickens

One¬†of our homestead goals this year¬†was getting backyard chickens.¬†There was already an old structure in place that was once used for chickens, then had become a catch-all for 2 or 3 decades. Over a few weeks Hubby and I cleaned it out and reinforced it with chicken wire and scrap wood. It was more work than we’d planned, and we’ll probably build something brand new in the next couple years, but¬†this works for now. Sometimes you’ve just got to DO something and figure out the details later.

In April we were gifted 3 laying hens and a rooster from my aunt and her husband.
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We love the chickens. I love that my toddler loves feeding and taking care of them. They’re part of our everyday chores, and I’m happy that he’ll be growing up taking care of lots of animals. And we love those eggs!!

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Next year our expansion plans include setting up a portable, electric fence in order to let them roam around different parts of the property. Once the garden is done, we’ll let the chickens eat it down, scratch in the soil, and fertilize it as they go. We may have to come up with some creative solutions this winter if it gets as cold as last winter. Currently the chickens are on a slight strike because it’s been so hot. We were getting 3 eggs a day – right now we’re getting 2 or 3 every other day.

Homestead – Year One

This year was our first foray into homesteading. We tried a few things, had some successes and failures, and learned a lot. I’m hoping to get a fall garden started here soon, but we’re also neck-deep in remodeling our house so that’s been taking priority.

Jác built his mother and me some garden boxes early this year. We filled them with soil and waited a few weeks.

I was antsy to get started so I planted early April. That was a mistake. We had a frost mid April, and I lost my pepper plants and most of my marigolds. I replanted and ultimately had the following: 2 Zucchini plants, 2 Squash plants, some Onions, a red Bell Pepper and a green Bell Pepper plant, 2 Sweet Banana Pepper plants, Oregano, Dill, and a bunch of Marigolds. (The Marigolds look pretty, the chickens like to eat them, and they’re a natural pest repellant.)

My MIL planted at the end of April (some Spaghetti Squash, Bell Peppers, 3 different kinds of tomatoes, Sweet Banana Peppers, onions, and tomatoes) and her garden shot up like a rainforest! We’d never grown Spaghetti Squash before, so we had no idea what to expect. It needs a freakin trellis! Or maybe to grow out along the ground like pumpkins. The plant itself was our first major surprise, and eating it was another one – it’s delicious!

Maybe because of the frost, or its location on the property – for whatever reason, my garden took much longer to get started. While my MIL’s was growing like crazy, mine was stunted and looked like nothing was going to happen. The Dill and Oregano were the only things that looked healthy. My Marigolds look dried out, and the Squash, Zucchini, and Peppers just looked like the plants I’d bought for weeks. I’ve never had much luck with plants so I was beginning to get dismayed.

But sometimes you all you need is a little patience. My garden eventually got going and ended up looking really great and produced a lot of veggies.¬†I guess I’m a master of Dill – it grew bigger than my toddler! I now have a giant jar of dried dill from my garden. I gave bunches of it away to friends. Next year I think I’ll plant it in its own pot. My oregano, too, grew quite large and is actually still growing nicely. Since the rest of the garden is about done, I may transplant the Oregano to a pot and see how long I can keep it going. The chickens love Oregano and it’s healthy for them, too. The Squash and Zucchini plants, too, were excellent. We harvested so many squash and zucchini that I gave some away to my neighbors, put up 10 pint ziplocks worth in the freezer, cooked 2 giant batches of saut√©ed squash and zucchini over the weeks, and I still have a basket-full of the vegetables that I need to put up soon. Only 1 of my banana pepper plants produced – a total of 3 peppers. My bell pepper plants grew but never produced. I grew medium-sized onions – the rest got shaded out by the squash plants (oops!).

My MIL’s garden produced a ton of tomatoes, 4 or 5 spaghetti squash (definitely growing these again next year), some onions, but also no peppers. And her squash plants didn’t really produce either.

Next year we plan to combine efforts and make a single, bigger garden. We also plan to till a few rows for some things (zucchini, squash, peppers), and use boxes and pots for others (herbs, primarily). I want to make a couple smaller boxes to put around the chicken house for oregano, marigolds, and mint. The soil around there is a bit sandy, and the only thing that’s growing there right now are some weeds and a rosemary plant.

Turn it Upside Down

I’ve been knitting up a bunch of Market Bags for my Etsy shop (which is LIVE, by the way!). I’m using the Ilene Bag as my base pattern. Here are my alterations if you want to make your own!

Start from the top, casting on 100 stitches, then knit in garter for about 8 rows. Start the lace pattern (Row 1: Knit, Row 2: K2TOG, YO) and do that at least once with smaller needles before switching to larger needles.

When you’re done with the stretchy lace portion, switch back to smaller needles for decreases. I put markers evenly to make 4 sections (every 25 stitches) and make the following decreases:

  • Row 1- Knit
  • Row 2- SM, SSK, Knit across to last 2 stitches before marker, K2TOG, SM

If I want eyelets in the bottom of the bag as the original pattern had, I do this on the decrease rows:

  • Row 2- SM, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG, knit across to last 4 stitches before marker, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG, SM

I repeat until I get down to 8 stitches, then tie up the bottom.

This allows me to pick up from the top wherever I want my handles and how wide. I usually pick up 12 stitches on the handle, then decrease every other garter row until I have 8 stitches, garter stitch until my handle is long enough, increase every other row until I’m back up to 12 stitches, then join on the other side using Kitchener join for garter. Sometimes I’ll make a really skinny handle, decreasing to 4 or 6 stitches.

You can check out my Market Bags on Ravelry. Or if you just want to buy one, check out Fire Tower Knits!

Unexpected places I’ve found yarn (that I actually wanted to knit with)

Tuesday Morning

They don’t have that much yarn, but usually I can find a few skeins of Lion Brand and Paton’s at discounted prices. I’ll often find skeins of yarn I’ve never heard of before.¬†The key here is to look at the labels, noting¬†fiber content, yardage, and dye lots. Occasionally I find some jewels. Just the other day I found several hanks of a merino wool yarn in blended reds and blues. Last year I found a linen blend I’d never seen before, skeins originally $15 a piece marked down to $4. I may have bought all they had.

(Tuesday Morning actually has a pretty extensive crafting aisle, so it’s always worth a look.)

TJ Maxx

This one is much more hit-or-miss, but occasionally you’ll find yarn in the home goods aisles. Last year I found these giant balls of red-and-green and beige-and-gold cotton yarn. I think they were meant to be Christmas decor as-is, but you can’t give this girl a ball of cotton yarn and tell her not to knit with it. I’m making these mini washcloths. So far I’ve made about 16 and I haven’t made a dent in the ball yet.

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Thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army

You’re likely¬†to find bags of mostly Red Heart, usually halfway unraveled. But sometimes you’ll find a treasure, a little bag of Mad Tosh or maybe even a set of bamboo needles! It’s like a treasure hunt! (I’ve also found a lot of great cross stitch supplies at thrift stores, too.)

Goodwill Online

Did you know Goodwill has a website?! There’s a bit more competition now than there was a few years ago, but you can find some really cool things on there! The crafts section is always full of goodies. Keep in mind you’ll have to pay for shipping.

A few years ago I scored this lot of vintage yarn of Belastraw and Strawtex. It definitely wasn’t your everyday yarn. It felt like… well, straw. But it was pretty cool. I knit up a couple¬†bowls¬†(I didn’t felt them)¬†and a¬†Medano Bag that I still use!

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Reddit

There are quite a few knitting and yarn resources on Reddit: r/knitit, r/casualknitting, and r/yarnswap to name a few. I love these subreddits because they’re a bunch of people just like me! People there want to know what you’re working on, are happy to answer your silly questions, and are likely to share your dread about running out of a specific dyelot right before casting off a baby blanket you’ve been working on for a week. Sometimes, too, someones able to help you out!

A couple years ago I needed a specific color of Kelly Green yarn to add a duplicate stitch detail to a hat. I didn’t want to buy a whole skein of yarn for such a tiny detail, so I sent out a request on r/yarnswap. I very nice Canadian sent me some scrap yarn she had lying around, along with a couple boxes of Smartees!

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Take a little trip to Waxahachie

Back in May, we visited Waxahachie, TX for a wedding. I was pleasantly surprised at all their cute downtown area had to offer! There were plentiful antique and pickers’ shops and lots of yummy smelling places to eat. We went during Cinco de Mayo, so there were lots of people out and live music playing. It was super enjoyable and we definitely plan to go back!

Places we loved:

Chaska House Bed and Breakfast – We stayed in the Hemmingway room! It was quiet, comfortable, and had some great collections to look through. The owners are super sweet and the breakfasts were delicious! Let them know if you’re bringing a little one, and they’ll make sure breakables are put away.

College Street Pub – It’s small and dark inside and they’ve got a nice patio in the back. They have local craft beer, yummy food, and a bar cat.

Farm Luck Soda Fountain – In downtown Waxahatchie, we stopped by to cool off and get a snack after walking around the square. Great sandwiches, ice creams, and fancy sodas!

Farmhouse – A cute shop we happened upon in downtown Waxahachie. They have home decor, soaps, postcards, gifts, and YARN! This was a happy surprise. I hadn’t intended on doing any yarn shopping this trip, but when I happened upon this beautiful booth by Ewe2Yarn, I knew I couldn’t go home empty handed. I’ve already knit up a couple hats with her beautiful Alpaca, Merino Wool, and Silk blend yarn.

Brain on Vacation

I’ve knit about 15 of these market bags, it’s the Ilene Bag on Ravelry. I’ve been using Sugarwheel from Hobby Lobby; it’s a soft, colorful yarn that’s perfect for these.

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Then I switched yarn and lost my mind. I found Sinfonia on clearance for $1.27 and picked up 3 skeins. It’s great! Mercerized cotton, bright colors, clearly durable. It’ll be nice to have some bright solid options, I thought.

But something happened to my brain when I switched yarns, and I CAN NOT figure out how I’ve been finishing this damn thing. I’d made some changes to the handle construction, but after knitting 15 of them, suddenly I can’t remember how I was doing it. I ended the pink bag with a Purl bind off. That clearly wasn’t right, so I frogged it and ended with a Knit bind off. That seemed right, but when I went to add the handle, the bind off was so tight that I knew I’d done something wrong… or maybe it was the yarn? Honestly I don’t know. I gave up trying to figure it out and just made it work, but it’s definitely not like the other 15 I’ve knit. It’ll be fine – no one’s really going to know the difference except me – but I’d like to remember what I was doing.

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I’m reopening my Etsy shop. There’s nothing there right now, but I’m hoping to get it up and running this weekend. Or maybe next week. (Update: I listed some things!) Life with a 2-year-old is hard, guys. Anyway, you’ll find lots of these Market Bags and a bunch of other things once I get around to taking pictures and writing up descriptions of them all. I have SO MUCH cute stuff.

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OMG. You know what? I’d been knitting the bags top-down! I was casting on at the top and finishing at the bottom, then picking up stitches from the top to add the handle! No wonder it wasn’t feeling right! Sheesh. Mystery solved.

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And now I’ve somehow messed up the handle. I swear, this bag started out wrong and is determined to end wrongly. It’s probably because it’s pink. I don’t care for pink, but it was on clearance… I’m going to make it work.

Hangers

At some point, we had an overabundance of hangers. I think this happens when you move with all of your belongings into a house that still contains 50+ years of stuff. We had enough hangers that they were taking up more room in the closet than our clothes were. I remember sorting the hangers by color and condition, throwing out any that didn’t quite fit with the rest either because of their shape or color. We were left with mostly black and white hangers with a similar width and shape. There were still too many, so I put the extras in a guest bedroom closet.

A few months later, in an organizational craze, I bought wooden hangers for all mine and my husband’s pants, and a few wooden hangers for his button up work shirts. This worked very well, although now I’d freed up more plastic hangers, so I put the extras in the guest closet with the others.

I write all of this to explain my current confusion. Having just completed all the laundry in the house, I find myself with 2 pair of pants, a dress, and 3 shirts that are hangerless. There are simply no hangers for them. Somehow we’ve lost 2 wooden pant hangers, and my stash of plastic hangers in the guest bedroom is gone. I am CERTAIN we aren’t using all those hangers because they wouldn’t all fit in our closet. Seriously, where do these things go?!

Now I must abandon the Great Hanger Search for The Mystery of the Poop Smell, as my toddler has awoken and I’ve discovered his room smells like poop, even though there are no dirty diapers in there.

Ah, the adventures of adulthood.

Becoming a Process Knitter

I love¬†Process vs Product Knitting¬†from Knit-Purl discussing different motivations behind knitting (or really creating anything). Product knitters knit for the item itself – the final product is the motivation as it’s something they want to wear or use. Process knitters knit for the knitting itself and are less motivated by what the finished project will be.

I’ve been almost solely a product knitter. I knitted cute hats that I wanted to wear, bags I wanted to take to the beach, and shawls that I envisioned myself wearing but never quite mastered.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been knitting for over 10 years, or maybe it’s because I have a baby now and anything¬†else takes so much more effort, but suddenly I don’t care so much what the end result is – I just want to knit. I have such a big yarn stash, most of it bought for projects I can’t remember, that I¬†just want to get it OUT of my¬†stash and INTO something finished.

This has been such a freeing evolution in my knitting. Because I don’t care what the end result is, I’ve been knitting things I never knit before, learning new techniques, and finding new things to love. Previously, deciding what to do with a few skeins of yarn took hours of searching¬†through Ravelry patterns, hemming and hawing about what something would look like when finished or how it would fit. Now I just make sure I have enough yarn and I cast on! Suddenly knitting is back to being¬†purely enjoyable and relaxing. Knitting is truly self care again.

Consequently, I’m going to have a shit-ton of knitted goods to sell at the Farmers’ Market this fall.

We want to start a farm

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I am from this land.¬†I never lived here as a kid, but our son will grow up on his great-great-grandparents’ land. Right now most of it is pine forest, but once it was a thriving farm. My grandfather raised sheep, pigs, and horses out here. My great grandparents grew most of what they ate. In the forest, in between the trees, you can see the little hills in the ground that used to be old gardening rows. This land is meant to be farmland.

Now that we have a baby boy, our main priorities are spending as much time with him as we can and taking care of our family. We already went through a major lifestyle change moving out here… why not fully embrace it? So I think we’re going to start a farm.

Our plan is to start small with yard chickens and a kitchen garden, but sooner than later we’ll expand the garden and possibly raise some Nigerian Dwarf Goats and maybe sheep. Heck, maybe I’ll learn to spin wool and start making my own yarn.

We’re bringing farming back to this land. We’re growing these roots.