Category: life


Fiberfest Friday

Today was a bit different for me. FIL took my drum carder off last night to try out what he is calling “Plan F” to get it motorized.  Since I didn’t have a drum carder, and no wool needed washed, I decided to spend the day spinning, plying and watching fiber videos.  I watched the Craftsy class called Fiber Preparation for Spinning. I enjoyed learning the teachers perspective on drum carder and wool combs. Very informative. She was also from Mebane NC, which is where we lived before we moved to OK. That was neat. 

After that was over, I watched you tube videos by BlueMountain Handcrafts. I really enjoy her style of presentation, and she’s very informative. 

I also did a lot of plying and yarn finishing 


All in all, it was a great day. I think I’m the future, every Friday will be Fiberfest Friday. It was a great way to end the work week. 

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Well, there is not going to be a baby goat here at the Garretts this year. i have to admit that on top of everything else that had happened in the last couple of months, I let that throw me for a loop for a while. It wasn’t just the baby goat, it was that there wasn’t going to be any milk, and I was going to be feeding a goat with very title return for over a year. I love JarJar, she is practically a pet, but I really was not looking forward to spending all that money on feed and hay and having nothing to show for it in return.

Then, about a week ago, I got a call from my friend Tina. Her mother had a doe they really didn’t need, a first freshener. She was weaning her baby, but if I wanted her and thought I could get her milk production back up, they would sell her to me! So I called Sean. It really shows how much he loves me, that he agreed we could get her, even though it meant that he was going to have to build more fence, and he hates to build fence. So on Saturday, Tina and Bob brought my new girl, Sally, over.

Now, JarJar has been alone since I got her from Tina last year. She isn’t the most social of goats. She is big, and she demands to be the boss, so we knew we would have our hands full. Sally had been the boss over at Tina’s Mom’s house, so a struggle was inevitable. However, Sally is maybe half, generously, the size of JarJar. So after a little bit of head butting the fight for dominance was over. JarJar is the queen bee. By the next day, they were a herd. We clip the lead to JarJar, open the gate, and off they go. Where you lead JarJar, Sally follows. I have to milk Sally first though, or my hands are so tired I can’t get them both milked. I wormed her on Saturday, so today was the first day I could use the milk. I got a half a gallon of milk this morning! They are both climbing in milk production, although if JarJar would end the false pregnancy, I’m sure she would fully come into milk and I would have a lot of milk. It just isn’t happening though, and I am so thankful that I have Sally.

Here is a picture of JarJar on the milk stand. I LOVE the milk stand. No one is head butting me, or trying to escape mid milking. I trimmed hooves yesterday, and the milk stand made it a breeze!!

Here are the girls together.

I thought I’d throw in a couple of pictures of the garden as well. It is really coming along well with all the rain we have had this spring. I don’t ever remember it raining this much in the spring before, but I’m thankful for it.

Romaine lettuce in the cold frame.

The tomatoes

All that white at the base of the caged plants is from a bag of wool that someone kindly gave me. It was too short and dirty to spin, but it made great, great mulch. I wish I had about 6 more bags of it. It has felted together with all the rain, and it keeps moisture in, and weeds out. Plus, once tilled into the ground, it will decompose and enrich the soil.

The first banana pepper. I didn’t have much luck with peppers last year, but they are doing great this year. I have planted at least 5 varieties; hot banana, cayenne, sweet cherry, hot cherry and anaheim. I also think that there are some yellow bell peppers down there somewhere.

Well, that is about all going on on the home front. I have big design news though, hopefully I can post about that tomrrow.

Graduate

I knew it would happen sooner or later. My eldest son graduated. Our homeschool co-op holds a wonderful ceremony every year for the kindergarten, 6 th grade and senior graduates. Chad was a senior this year, so on April 15 th, he graduated. I am still a little saddened by it, while at the same time glad. We have worked hard the last nine years, and things have not always been easy. In fact, they were never easy. But we got up every morning and did our school work, and I tried to make sure he understood that if he couldn’t understand something one way, he could try to learn it somehow else. I think he is a better learner for it.

I figure that we will continue over the next few months to try to improve his math skills, and then we would like for him to go to a vocational school so he can learn a trade. Then in a few years, if he decided he wanted to go to college, he might be able to pay for it himself instead of going into debt now, and changing his mind three or four times about what he wants to do. The only thing I know for sure, is that the Lord has great plans for him, and if Chad continues to follow Him, it will all work out according to His will. I also know I am very very proud of him!

dean street hat

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This winter was hard on me. We had two weeks of snow and really cold temperatures. My kids really wanted to spend time out there building forts and snowmen, and throwing snowballs. THey were hindered in their pursuits by the fact that, although their mother knits almost constantly…they had no mittens, no warm hats, no thick scarves. I was mortified! I decided that next year, that is not going to happen again.

So this week, while I was laid up, I knit the first hat for the “My kids WILL be dressed appropriately for winter” box. Ryan’s mittens are already in there, and I have started mittens for Chad. I have poured over patterns on Ravelry looking for appropriate hats, but I wanted to knit my second Dean Street Hat in the leftover Dream in Color Classy I had left. This is a very quick knit, good TV knitting I watched the entire first season of Downton Abbey while I knit this, and enjoyed every minute of it.

This is the Happy Feet color. It seemed appropriate to knit with it the week of St, Patrick’s day!

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Im not sure who will get the hat, although Reagan modeled for me as usual. I just know I’m making enough that they can pick and choose what they want to wear. Except Reagan will have to have smaller mittens than the boys.

Gifts

For Christmas this year, Sean and I didn’t get each other much, we never do. I got him a watch he had been wanting, but there wasn’t a lot I wanted for Christmas, so he just got me some odds and ends.

Then about the middle of January, he said that an offer had presented itself. A friend of his from work was selling his brand new Ipad because it wouldn’t connect on the wifi network at the hospital. He was selling it for only $250, and did I think I would want one. We had been talking about getting me a small laptop, and this would be cheaper than we would even pay for a netbook. I told him I really didn’t know, and he arranged with the fella to let us borrow it over the weekend to see if it would work.

I really didn’t think I would like the iPad that much, as Sean and I already had iPhones. I just didn’t think it would be that much of a difference.I am also not one of those people that has to be the first to have every gadget that hits the shelves. I had read a lot of reviews of people saying it was just a big iPhone or iPod. I really didn’t want one and had a lot of misgivings about buying one, even at half the price of a new one.

But from the minute I used it, I loved it. So Sean went ahead and bought it for me for my birthday/Anniversary (19 years! Yeah!) I have felt a little guilty about it. A lot guilty about it. But then, anytime he buys anything for me I feel guilty. I also feel guilty about it everytime we go to the grocery store or pay bills. I keep thinking, he spent $250 buying me an iPad! I’m still going to use it though. I love using it, and I love that Sean wanted to buy it for me. I love it that he asks me every day, Do you really like it? and grins like crazy when I say I love it. It made him happy to buy it for me, so I am going to use it and enjoy it, even though I feel like I don’t deserve it.

So I thought I would do a short review of which apps I just couldn’t be without on the iPad.

My Top Ten Favorite iPad apps
1. Goodreader-This app lets me access my Ravelry library and download knitting patterns directly from there to the app. It also lets you annotate PDF files, so that I can keep track of what row I am on, draw lines through lace charts, and make notes. It’s great.

2. Mantis Bible-I really like this Bible app. I use it on my Phone as well, but it really shines on the iPad.
3. PhotoGene-simply the best photo editing app that I have tried.

4.WordPress-lets me blog wherever I am in the house!

5.Kindle-I love the kindle app. I have read a lot of free books from the Amazon site on kindle. I didn’t think I would like that at all, as I love books, but I can read the Kindle in the dark after Sean goes to bed without disturbing him. If you download a dictionary to Kindle, it will allow you too see the definition of a word if you just press the word with your finger for a couple of beats. The definition comes up at the bottom of the page. I think this is great, especially for beginning readers, as they are more likely to find the meaning of a word they don’t know that way than having to go look it up in a separate dictionary.

6.Flipboard-This is like a magazine where you pick the content that you are interested in. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t, but I enjoy it when I do.

7.Evernote-again, an app I use on Ipad and iphone. Also on the big computer. I can highlight a recipe on a webpage, and paste it into ever notes with the click of a button. I also use it for note notes, knitting patterns, and things I just want to remember. Evernotes is a must have!

8.all recipes-I upgraded to the pro version of this app, so that I could save recipes to a recipe box. Then it syncs to my ipad. I really use all recipes a lot, and now I am not having to print off a ton of recipes on paper that get lots. However, I can’t make notes on the recipes either, if I change them up a little bit.

9.Pages-I use this for writing down patterns as they are developed. That’s about all I’ve used it for so far, though.

10.Dropbox-another free app that I wouldn’t be without. Lets you store documents, pics, etc, “in the cloud”, making it very easy to move all those things from the main computer to the Ipad without a lot of fuss and bother.

The only thing I am not thrilled about with the iPad is how expensive the apps are compared to the apps on the iPhone. There aren’t very many .99 and 1.99 apps out there. Is the iPad for everybody? Probably not, but it works for the amount of computing I have to do, is great for browsing the web and reading, and is very very portable. It was a good choice for me.

On fire

We were having a lazy day yesterday, neither Sean or myself felt very good. the power went out while my MIL had gone to the store to get us some chicken bouillon, and she had dropped it off when we decided to take a nap. We had set the alarm to wake us up in about an hour when MIL came tearing back through the driveway yelling that there’s was a fire in the woods between her house and my brother-in-laws house. Let me tell you, nothing gets your adrenalin going faster than the two words Help! And Fire! We had our shoes on, had grabbed our shovels and were headed up the road in about a minute.

When we first saw the fire, it looked pretty bad. There was smoke blowing towards MIL and FIL’s house, and little tounges of flame everywhere. The tire on the big smoker was on fire. We all live kind of back in the woods, and there are dry leaves and brush back in there, and it was a little scary. We had to send Reagan in the house, as she is extremely allergic to poison ivy, and we were afraid that smoke from poison ivy plants would cause her to get really sick. The boys jumped right in and started beating out flames and shoveling sand and dirt on the smaller flames. It wasn’t too long until FIL showed up on the tractor and cut a fire break, and then we could spread out and just keep fire from spreading on our area. The fire department showed up, but either figured we had it under control or that there was nothing they could do since they couldn’t get their truck back in the woods. They soon left. An hour or two later, most of it was out except for some big piles of dead wood that had caught. We strung every water hose that we could find together, and left the young men to watch that and get it watered down.

We got home, and we still had no power, so we couldn’t shower. I think that was the worst part. We all smelled like we had been barbecued. It took another hour for the power to come back on. I think that was the best shower I have ever had!

By the time everyone got home, we ran to the church to run off the bulletin and clean, and I got dinner cooked it was almost 8:00 pm. We were all starved! Hunger does make the best sauce, let me tell you. Although chicken and dumplings are good whether you are hungry or not.

So all in all, A pretty exciting day, but I’m glad it’s over, and thankful the Lord was with us and it turned out so well.

Jammin’

The title of this post is a little misleading. I haven’t been making jam, but jelly.  Unless you live in parts of Kansas or Oklahoma, you probably don’t know what those little gems in the picture above are. They look a little like cherries, but they are actually sand plums.  They aren’t very good to eat plain off the bush, but they make excellent jelly.

Usually, sand plum season here in my area of Oklahoma is over in late June. I had a bunch of sand plums that my mother- and father-in-law had brought me in the middle of June. Then I ended up in the hospital, and the only sand plums that survived until I was able to make jelly after VBS were only enough for one batch.  Everyone loved it and we were very sad that we had missed the sand plum season and would have to wait until next year to make more.

Early this week, my FIL and I went out early in the morning (to beat the heat!) looking for elderberries to make elderberry jelly with. Elderberries are third in Vitamin C content, only beaten out by rose hips and currants, and some sources say that eating elderberry jam can keep you from becoming sick during the winter, or speed your healing time. I’m all for that, so out we went, FIL knew where some were.  We found one stand of ripe elderberries, and lots of unripe ones. After picking two buckets, we got back in the truck and headed for home.

FIL was pointing out the sand plum thicket growing along the rail road track when suddenly we noticed, they had sand plums still on them!! We were excited, maybe there would be enough for one more batch of sand plum jelly!

We pulled over on the side of the road, climbed up the weed covered (I am sure snake infested, but I’m trying not to think about it) hill, and realized, this wasn’t just a few late ripening sand plums. There were sand plums dripping off these plants, and pretty quickly we had filled a few grocery bags scavanged off the bottom of the truck floor with so many sand plums the bags were ripping.  FIL says they are the biggest sand plums he has ever seen.  We were so exceedingly blessed, it was as if they had been put there just for us.  Then, a few days later, my friend Tina and I went back, (she needed sand plums for her own jelly!) and we climbed up and over the hill, and there were sand plums as far as you could see on either side of the path we had climbed up. I got two buckets full again. Then we went and picked the most delicous apples off an abandoned apple tree, and I haven’t even started with those.

I came home and started the jelly making process.  First, the sand plum stems have to be picked out, and the fruit has to be washed.  You combine 5 cups of fruit with 5 cups of water and cook it until the skins of the fruit burst, and they plump up a bit.  You strain that mixture through several layers of cloth, not squeezing it at all, but letting it drip through slowly. This way, you get a nice clear jelly instead of cloudy jelly, although cloudy jelly tastes just as good!  You them mix 5 and 1/2 cups juice with a box of fruit pectin, 1/4 cup lemon juice for the acid, and a dab of butter to keep the jelly from foaming.  When that boils, you add 7 and 1/2 cups of sugar, bring it to a boil again, and boil it hard for one minute. Then you pout it into clean, sterilized mason jars, wipe the rims and sides of the rim with a wet clean cloth, add lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  It isn’t hard work, but it is time consuming, and if you make a lot of jelly, pectin and sugar seem to get expensive.

I won’t tell you how much jelly I made. You would think I was crazy. I am not entirely sure that my family and all of hubby’s extended family can eat it all in a year. There is always the possibility that next year, we won’t have such a blessing finding sand plums, because this year we had a cool spring, with lots of rain.  I made elderberry, sand plum, and a combination of sand plum and elderberry that is just delicous. I’m going to have to make more of that, cause it was my favorite by far. I still have enough sand plum juice for 3 more batches, and enough sand plums to make juice for 3 more batches after that. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it, even though I was exhausted when I was done. The only problem is, I have no idea where I am going to put it all. I need a cellar, like my grandma had to put all her canned stuff in.

Being sick in June was upsetting. I wasn’t that sick, but Sean and I really didn’t need another hospital bill after his two trips to the hosptial in April.  Then I missed making the sand plum jelly, and that upset me too. I had been looking forward to it, and to only have 4 jars in that original batch was just enough to make me upset that I hadn’t been well enough to pick more sand plums so we would have had enough jelly to last us the winter.  It didn’t seem fair.  Something I read recently stated that when you start compaining that things aren’t fair, you are really complaining that God isn’t fair, that He did you wrong.  I truly believe that God has a plan for everybody and everything, including me, as insignificant as I feel sometimes. I don’t believe that He can be unfair, and He certainly isn’t wrong. So I know that for whatever reason I ended up in the hospital, it is in His plan.  But I was still upset about the sand plums.  Finding those sand plums this week felt like God saying, “See, Jan. I know the desires of your heart, and I want to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. There’s nothing I can’t do.” Because He did. Those sand plums shouldn’t have been there, and I certainly have more now than I probably should use.  Things are tough, but with God, I know that I can face it, and He’ll bring me through it.  I am abundantly blessed.

when one of your favorite kind of day’s turns into your worst kind of day?

It happened to me on Tuesday. About the same time as I finished posting about my favorite kind of day, I got a call from Sean.  He had finished up his day in the cath lab, and then, at the urging of his co-workers, headed to the ER.  Where he was admitted to the hosptial for a bleeding ulcer.  On Wednesday he got two units of blood and underwent a GI Scope where they found the ulcer, and finally got it to stop bleeding.  Thursday, he got two more units of blood, and wasn’t allowed to come home.  Today, finally, his hemoglobin count came up and they let him come home. 

So I haven’t got anything done at all in three days, four days, except as much laundry as I could get through the wash and dry cycle between trips to the hospital.  I hate driving, absolutely hate it, but I did a lot of it the last few days. It was probably good for me, but I still don’t like driving. 

You always find out who has your back in times like this. My friend Tina kept my two youngest on Wednesday, and I don’t know what I would have done without her.  God really blessed me when we met! My inlaws pitched in like they always do.  And knowing I was going to get to talk to my Mom everyday when I updated her on Sean’s condition was the bright spot that I looked forward to. 

And of course, there’s God. God has most definitely got my back! I would start to get stressed, or worry about what was going to happen, and I would open my Bible and fall into the peace there. I can’t tell you enough, the peace between those pages is something you just have to have.  It’s not peace that you know with your head, it is peace you know with your heart.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  The Bible tells us that we will have peace beyond understanding, and it’s true.  I would be driving down the road, trying to pray, and would just say, You know Lord, I don’t know what to pray for, I just don’t know what are the right words to say (I am sure people thought I was a crazy person driving down the road talking to myself, but when you know God you aren’t ever really by  yourself, now are you) and I would be quiet for a little while and then the right words would come, and I would have peace.   I would be laying in bed, not able to sleep because Sean wasn’t there, and get up and read my Bible (Jeremiah 29:11-13) and I’d find peace. I’d get up in the morning, a nervous wreck as I tried to get everyone moving in the right direction, nervous about driving, nervous about what was going to happen with Sean, and I’d open my Bible, and read (Isaiah 26:3-4) and there would be peace.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Well, I’m tired. I’m going to get my dishes done and get ready for bed. I’m talking to Jodi while I type this. Hi Jodi! Love you!

Perfect Gifts

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! –Psalm 107:8

The day before we left for vacation last August, something terrible happened here at the house that I just didn’t want to talk about at all. Our little puppy, Yoda, died.  We were all devastated, we found him when we came home from renting the van we were going to drive on the trip. It wasn’t something I could protect the kids from, and it especially hurt Ryan.  We cried for hours, we buried the little fella, everyone was very quite the whole evening, and then the next morning we got up and went on our trip and tried to pretend that nothing had happened.  We had a great time on our trip, but the sadness was still there.

So about 2 weeks ago, we were on our way home from the homeschool co-op. It was Ryan’s turn in the front, and he turned to me and asked me if I would pray with him when we got home. When I asked what he wanted to pray for, all he would say was Yoda.  He hadn’t said a word about Yoda since vacation, so I was a little surprised, but we prayed.  The next day, he was real quite all day. We had a field trip and he was quiet on the field trip, and cried when we got home. When I asked why, he said he missed Yoda.

So last Thursday, we got home from the homeschool co op and hung around for a while, just doing what we wanted.  About 6:00 my MIL, who lives next door, called.  She said “Jan, there is a dog out in my driveway, he keeps trying to come in the house. And I think he’s a Corgi”  I said I’d be right over. Something just told me that we were getting ready to be blessed in a big way.  I said, Ryan, come on, and we walked out and got in the car. We drove up in Judy’s driveway, opened the car door, and sure enough, there was a dog that looked like a Corgi. He came right over to the car and starting wagging his tail. Pretty soon, he was in the car.  He had a collar that went with an electric fence on his neck though.

We brought him home, and the little fellow was definitely good with kids. He went from kid to kid, licking faces.  They took him outside and ran around the yard, and he ran with them, wagging his tail.  They wanted to keep him in the house, but I think I am kind of done with having dogs in the house. I told them that if he was going to stay, he’d stay, but we weren’t going to tie him up or keep him in the house, it had to be his choice.  Also, if his owner came to claim him, they were going to have to be satisfied that they had got to play with him for a while, that in itself was a blessing.

We went to bed that evening, and the little dog was still on the porch.  We got up the next morning, and he was still there.  We had another field trip that Friday, and when we got in the car and left, he didn’t follow us.  We got home, and he was waiting on the porch.  I was pretty sure we had a dog, if only his owner wouldn’t show up wanting him back.

That evening, I got a phone call.  It was my Father in law. Was Max still there?  A lady that works at the plant where he is a security guard (making money to play with during his retirement)  had stopped by. She lives out here on this road, and she was missing a Corgi, named Max.  Had he seen one anywhere? Chad said he knew exactly where Max was. 

So I had to tell the kids that Max had a home, that his owner was coming to pick him up on her way home from work.   When she got here, she told us that Max had belonged to her grand daughter, who had moved to Missouri.  She was thinking about trying to find Max a new home, but she really wanted to keep him.  It came up that she was going on vacation starting Tuesday, so we made arrangements to baby sit him while she was gone.   She put Max in the truck and said well, if he shows up here again before Tuesday,  he’ll be yours.  BUt he never ran away before, and I expect he’ll stay home.

When we got home from church Sunday, guess who was sitting on our front porch, waiting for us?

We called his owner, who came later that evening to pick him up.  We talked for a while, she apologized that he had shown up again, but she just couldn’t give him up.  Her granddaughter still loved the dog, and wanted him there when she visited.  I told her it wasn’t a problem, that as long as Max kept showing up, we’d keep loving on him and playing with him while he was here, but that she shouldn’t feel bad about coming and taking him home, either.  If she was worried that he was going to get hit by a car traveling to our house, she could even bring him before she left for work and pick him up on the way home, we’d just be his doggy day care. That way the kids would still get to play with him, and she’d still have him there in the evening.

But when she went to leave, Max wouldn’t go. He’d walk a little way up the driveway towards her when she called, but then turn around and walk back to the porch when she started walking to the truck.  So, she let Max make his own choice.

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Max is home. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. –James 1:17

My Summer Vacation pt. 1

The most important part of any trip home for me is my family.  We all live far apart, and so any time I get to spend with them is just wonderful.  This year was doubly wonderful because I not only got to see Mom and aunts and uncles, but Jodi and Stephen and their families were there as well.  It was a real treat to get to see them all at once.  We got there on Monday evening,  and the hugging commenced! I’ve realized that while I think I am a hugger, I really don’t hug many people outside of family.  Since we were only going to be there a week, and those hugs will have to last me until I see them again, I really hugged them a lot!

We didn’t do much that first day. All of us kids went out to with my brother Bruce and his wife Jessica and the new baby MacKensie (hope I spelled that right, since I didn’t even ask how they spelled it)  to where my dad is buried and talked. And really, I was so tired, the only thing I remember after that was that we went to the hotel and crashed. I think that is all we did.  On the way back from the cemetary, though, we saw 26 deer and 3 turkeys.  Now, we see wildlife here in our part of Oklahoma all the time, but 26 deer driving down one road is amazing. I think my boys were a little envious.

 Tuesday Stephen, Jodi and I got up and took Grandma Anderson to breakfast at Bob Evan’s.  Grandma walks with a walker and we realized that Jodi and Steve both had truck like things and I had a mini-van, so we were worried she wouldn’t be able to get up in any of them. We took the mini van and she did just fine, although on the way back I pulled up to the curb so she didn’t have such a high step up. That worked pretty well.  We sat at Bob Evans and talked and talked until they quit serving us coffee and we began to feel a little guilty.  We would have sat there all day talking to her, it was just one of the sweetest moments in my life.  Grandma is really funny, and so are Jodi and Stephen. We had a great time.  Breakfast was good to, I had one raspberry crepe, and it was so good.  We should have had someone at the restaurant take our picture,  because I don’t have one of there, but I do have this one of me, grandma and Jodi (in that order)

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After we dropped Grandma off, Jodi, Steve and I went back to the hotel, were preperations were being made to go to the pool. So we all put on our bathing suits and all of the family that was staying at the hotel ended up in the water. It was great. Sean and Mark, (Jodi’s husband) did a cannonball at the same time in the deep end that I will truly regret forever not getting on tape. It was great.  

After that, we went back to Mom’s. My grandma Shatto and Aunt Wanda came out for a cook out that night, and Mom made the most amazing spread. We got to talk and visit with them for a while. It was good to see them again. Later on, Bruce came out and brought his boys, Camden and Dakota and the new baby and we got to visit with him as well. It was just a really good day.

Well, I guess I’ll write more tommorrow, this post is going to be horribly long if I try to write about everything at once.  Fiber stuff coming up soon, I promise! I have lots to tell  you!

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