Mrs Pine Nut

Éiden.

So. Who IS Éiden? 

Well, almost 16 years ago, I got a notion in my head that I wanted a harp.

I’d been repeat-marathon-reading BJ Hoff’s Emerald Ballad series and had a crush on Morgan Fitzgerald. Like, HUGE crush. Like, who wouldn’t have a crush on this giant of a man, with hands like dinner plates, who ducks to enter a door, with wild red hair and a harp slung over his shoulder? The poet, the dreamer, the volatile… Morgan Fitzgerald.

This guy. *swoon*, went my 15-year-old self.

This guy, you guys. *swoon*, went my 15-year-old self.

I so wanted to be Finola. Minus the muteness, the rape, and the 1038587 traumas involved with being Finola, that is.

I so wanted to be Finola. Minus the muteness, the rape, and the 1038587 traumas involved with being Finola, that is. This is a better picture of Morgan, anyway. !!!!!

*cough* Moving on.

So, being the ripe mature age of 15 at the time, and completely ignorant of most everything, I proceeded to do a lot of research. This involved writing to a couple of harp places and becoming dismayed when I discovered that we were looking at a couple grand to fulfil my harp dreams. Therefore I was delighted to learn that a company called Song of the Sea, located in Maine, had a harp for sale for around $350. It had full levers, a case, 22 strings. It sounded like a great deal. It was called the Heather Harp.

This is what it looked like. (Thank you, Google Images.)

This is what it looked like. (Thank you, Google Images.)

It was so PURTY. It was “rosewood and mahogany”! Carved soundbox! Celtic knotwork! SO IRISH AHHHHHHHH. I named it after Morgan’s first love, Ireland, his Dark Rosaleen: Roisìn Dubh. (I learned a smattering of Gaelic from the Emerald Ballad series, see.) (It’s pronounced “ro-SHEEN”, in case you wondered.)

So, I paid the $350 (I think that’s what it cost then) that I had saved up by asking my relatives to donate to a worthy cause rather than buy me Christmas gifts. My Heather Harp arrived in the mail and I took it out of the box and ran my fingers over the strings.

Instant dreamy movie scene, right?

Wrong. Unless you want to call it “Serenade of the Rubber Bands”. I was, admittedly, shocked. But, apparently they didn’t tune to ship for fear of string breakage. I got out my new tuner and set to work tuning up according to the instructions. Before long I was playing stuff. Roisìn stood in a place of honour on my desk, with my Beanie Babies sitting in a line along the top. Somewhere there’s a picture of it.

Right here I want to interject a comment about MidEast Manufacturing’s harps (or harp-shaped objects, as they are sometimes called.) They are of inferior quality. The levers are pretty much useless. But I have had Roisìn over 15 years and I can count on one hand the strings that have broken. Aside from the crack you’ll be reading about in the upcoming paragraphs, she has been a good harp. She holds tune well and is light and easily portable. If you’re starting out and don’t know whether you’ll even stick with it, why pay more? I will never buy another one, but I do not regret my purchase one bit. 

Anyway, a little crack started to appear down the centre of the soundboard. I had read it was normal for them to crack a little so I wasn’t concerned particularly. But time went on, and drama happened – hey, maybe I could be Finola after all! – and fast forward 15 years to last fall when I finally got strong-armed into playing in public for the first time, after pretty much not doing anything with the harp for a number of years.

The soundboard crack was looking pretty bad.

Did I say bad?

Did I say bad?

So, it was time for a new harp. I shopped around. Internet made research a lot easier and experience has made me less swayed by carved soundboards and Celtic knots, and more interested in quality, even if it does cost upwards of $2000. I found what I wanted, but it was going to cost $2663.

I sold my violin, I had a yard sale, I’d have sold my wedding ring if I could have found it. I started the year with under $50 for the harp fund. But thanks to some kind and interested parties who drummed up interest in my favour, and a loan from a friend who UNDERSTANDS about Morgan Fitzgerald, I finally had enough for my new wooden baby.

I named her Éiden. My delight. (It’s pronounced just like in English: Eden.)

And here she is:

181036_60029 strings. Levers that work. A soundboard that should never, under normal circumstances, crack. Solid wood, crafted by hand, with love. She sounds amazing.

180822_600Thank you, Blevins Harps, for a wonderful piece of work that I know I can enjoy for years to come. 😀

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Categories: Mrs Pine Nut, music | Tags: | 4 Comments

Journey to Éiden: Day 5

Today. Today is the day you have been waiting for.

Well, maybe. Have you watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Do you understand what is meant by the phrase “DARCY DAY”? Well, if you haven’t and don’t, I’m currently deciding if I’m going to pull one of those on you. By the time I get to the end of the post, I’ll have decided. So read on.

This post is going to be pretty photo-heavy, by the way.

On the 30th, Wednesday, we left my sister’s at about 9 for Salt Lake City – Temple Square, particularly. I have been wanting to go there for some time because I have a historical interest in Mormons. Between my sister’s and SLC we counted 8 churches and 1 temple. 2 of those churches were right. next. to each other. 

We found The Temple with little difficulty, and found a parking place with a little more difficulty. But it gave us a pleasant walk down State Street enjoying the fabulous fall foliage and the large beautiful houses.

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We detoured slightly through one park where a certain caretaker and his yellow gocart was busy caring for the park.

We found a place to cross the street where there weren’t a bunch of workmen working on the crosswalk. We went on to stroll in Brigham Young Historic Park where there was the PERFECT Jumping Off Things photo op, next to some black metal statuary of swimming boys, but that caretaker on his little yellow gocart was, like, right there. Boo. So we took some boring normal photos instead.

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After that we went on toward The Temple. It wasn’t hard to spot. I scouted out a good jump spot, because I really really really REALLY wanted a Temple Jump Shot… and then guess who pulled up nearby in his yellow cart? You guessed it, our friend (or maybe stalker?) the caretaker.

I ambled about innocently, too chicken to jump in the presence of the caretaker, especially after having seen the sign about The Temple grounds being private property and bla bla bla. I took a photo for a girl who requested a shot of her in front of The Temple. Mr Pine Nut and I stood pressed right up against the locked double-layered gate and stared up at it. We observed all the fascinating symbols thereon.

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(The above was patched together for me via Photomerge.)

The Man Who Communed With 'Jehovah' #necessaryquotes

The Man Who Communed With ‘Jehovah’ #necessaryquotes

A sweet smiling 50ish lady with white hair in a perfect bun came by with a rainbow umbrella under her arm. She had a tiny high voice and was very exuberant as she enquired whether I made my hat and she was SO glad to see us there enjoying Temple Square. Then she asked GooGoo if she knew what the flowers were planted by the gates and told her they were DAISIES! She talked about growing up with daisies and petunias and isn’t it wonderful how those memories come back? She moved on, leaving me contemplating the bed of daisies. I had never seen such purple, pansy-shaped daisies before. Hmm.

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It was staring to mist a bit by the time we found an open access gate to actually approach The Temple. I had Mr Pine Nut take a photo of me on the temple steps and then it was time to hustle back to the car and be on our way. I took the wheel and it was off to Grand Junction, Colorado.
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It was a beautiful day for the drive. Once we got out of SLC, which took forever, and there are like SEVEN LANES OF TRAFFIC, we saw red rocks, green rocks, striped rocks, dustings of snow, and fantastic cloudage. We got to our destination at 4.45, and Éiden and I met at last. She is gorgeous.

Then we went home, and tumbled into bed exhausted about 10.30.

Okay, out of time for now. More later!!

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Categories: GooGoo, Lou Who, Mrs Pine Nut, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Journey to Éiden: Day 4

Early on Tuesday morning, I stepped out to get my cookie-making stuff from the car and the smell of winter in Idaho hit me: woodsmoke and frosty evergreens. Yes.

The girls in a rocking chair. One of them not so happy.

The girls in a rocking chair. One of them not so happy.

I had brought along all the pre-measured dry ingredients in bags for three different types of cookies. Out of those three I baked cowboy cookies while Edda’s mom made fried potatoes, tomato gravy, and eggs, and there was carrot juice, grapes, and apples. All delightful. Mr Pine Nut and Edda’s dad talked gardening and her mom and I talked music, and some other friends from the area showed up to say hi and chat a bit.

It was 10.15 when we started to dress the girls and load up, and then we talked in the driveway for a while. I had planned for us to be gone at 10, but it about 11 when we actually hit the road! It was fine, though. We don’t get to see these folks much. We filled the gas tank in Pinehurst, and were off to Montana.

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When I first left Idaho in 1999, we headed east on 90. I’d never been further east than Mullan, and it was a move, not just a trip. I wasn’t coming back. The panic I experienced as we passed Mullan and headed for regions unknown was absolutely terrifying to me.

In 2011 I travelled through en route to a wedding and relived a tiny bit of that, but this time not at all.

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First rest stop of the day! These two went to the bathroom and then had a little run.

First rest stop of the day! These two went to the bathroom and then had a little run.

It was three and a halfish hours until we got on 15 South. We stopped in the booming metropolis de Melrose, Montanner for gas and to switch drivers and allow one of our number to find a secluded spot amongst trees along a two-lane road that had a speed limit of 70/65 at night. Apparently Montanese want early death?

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My hair=super dry and tangled and crackly. My lips=insanely chapped.

The sun hitting this mountain was so pretty.

The sun hitting this mountain was so pretty.

As was this burning sunset sky.

As was this burning sunset sky.

GooGoo singsonged a ton. Ever-da-day, ever-da-where, lights ever-da-where, this is our famwee—over and over and ooooover. She looked at her Eloise Wilkin treasury in the dark “reading” it. I think she also asked me about 5773 times if Aunty has a dog? Two dogs? Big dog and little dog? We going to Grandpa’s?

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We ate supper at Subway in Idaho Falls. We took in fruit and flatbread for my sandwichphobic daughters while we had tasty veggie delite footlongs. Two dudes sitting a few tables away seemed fascinated by my girls. I wasn’t sure if they were friendly or creepy, but thankfully we never had to find out for sure one way or another. We got back on the road at 8.51pm.

We passed through Pocatello. Lit up at night it looked gigantic; I was suprised to learn it’s about the same population as Corvallis or Yakima.

Speed limit went from 75 to 80 as we crossed the border to Utah. Oy.

We arrived at my sister’s about midnight and went right to bed. What was a 9-hour drive according to Google Maps had ended up taking close to 13 hours with the stops we had to make!

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Categories: GooGoo, Lou Who, Mrs Pine Nut, restaurants, travel | Leave a comment

Journey to Éiden: Days 2 and 3

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Disclaimer: This post and some of the subsequent travel posts involve non-vegan but meatless food that we consumed. If that bothers anyone, consider yourself having had fair warning.

Sunday morning early we went over about 7.30am to visit my mom before she left for church and got to see a beautiful sunrise as we got in the car to go. Both GooGoo and Lou Who enjoyed seeing grandma and playing with toys. Then we went back to my dad’s for breakfast.

Mr Pine Nut had to get some work done for a client before we left, since we didn’t know when he’d next have internet, so that kept him busy until after 11. While he was doing that, I went to the classiest of classy stores, Walmart, and picked up a few things we needed and a gift for my brand-new nephew I’d be meeting in a couple days. It was a really exciting, phenomenal gift: diapers.

Mr Pine Nut still wasn’t done when I finished that errand, so it was back to car tetris for me. I had that car packed to the GILLS. Like a puzzle. Mr Pine Nut was positive there was no room for Éiden, but I assured him that once we unloaded all the stuff that was my sister’s, there would be ample room.

So, finally about 11.45 we were on our way to Spokane. It was drizzling as we left. Between Yakistan and Ellensburg was quite the downpour, but it cleared up almost the instant we got onto I-90.

I don’t care for the drive between Ellensburg and Spokane. It is srs boringness. That is, until one leaves the scrublands and starts getting into the pines. The pines herald a transition that means Soon we will be in My Mountains. Despite this boring stretch, however, I-90 is a special highway to me. I used to live within sight of it when I lived in northern Idaho as a child, and sometimes I’d find a map and trace along I-90 eastward through all sorts of places I’d never been and wonder if I’d ever see them.

Nearly one-third of my life was spent in northern Idaho. They were such crucial years (ages 7 1/2 to 16) that despite the fact that Yakima was home to me for close to as long (6.5 yrs), it doesn’t and never will have the same hold on me.

But enough rambling about I-90. We took the route Google gave us to Mr Pine Nut’s aunt’s home. It was definitely the scenic route in every sense of the word. The trees were gorgeous. We passed a charming cemetery I’d have liked to have explored had we had more time. Someday!

When we arrived at Aunt L’s, I got all our cold things in the fridge and our blue ice back in the freezer. I was very sleepy. So after visiting a while Aunt L started to make supper and I lay on the couch for a bit while she and Mr Pine Nut chatted in the kitchen. Aunt L made zucchini casserole, waldorf salad, steamed baby carrots, and grated potato salad which was amazing. It was simple too: sour cream, grated potatoes, and cheese, topped with a sprinkle of paprika. It was totes unvegan, but sooooo delish. Bet I could make a vegan version though. Because it was sooooo delish.

I wasn't the only sleepy one around.

I wasn’t the only sleepy one around.

The next morning, Monday morning the 28th, we had hoped to go to Manito Park. But the weatherman predicted a high of 45 for the day, and there was a nice stiff breeze, so we opted to meet some old friends of mine at their house rather than at the park. We spent a few hours with them, and she made us the most delish vegan lentil soup with carrots, tomatoes and rosemary. On the side, homemade crackers and apples and steamed broccoli from the garden. We looked at before and after photos of their house they had fixed up (the transformation was astounding).

We had to make a thrift store stop on the way back to Aunt L’s for a coat for Mr Pine Nut, who had unfortunately left his coat behind at church. We pretty much just left her place as soon as I had everything loaded up again, around 2.30ish.

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The drive to Kingston, Idaho was a joy. Beautiful fall colours blazing golden and a lot of wind. Our destination was the home of my friend Edda’s parents, who originally served my family baked oatmeal back in 1990.

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We arrived at their home safely and Mr Pine Nut read GooGoo book after book while I visited Edda’s mom. Her dad came home after a while and he and Mr Pine Nut talked it up. Edda’s brother’s family were there for supper as well. There was butternut lasagna, salad, fresh bread of amazingness, and for dessert, Royal Bumper Degrees.

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What is a Royal Bumper Degree, you ask? Pull up a chair!

Some time back, a gentleman named Henry Neff lived on the old family farm with his brother and sister. They were all unmarried and Edda’s grandfather would always go visit Henry when in the area. They would sit on the porch and chat for a long time, and then Henry would say, “Time for a Royal Bumper Degree!” So they’d all go inside and have a Royal Bumper Degree.

It was vanilla ice cream with Royal Crown Cola poured on top. You can really use any carbonated beverage. My introduction to the RBD was with 7-Up. I remember this largely because Edda and I took the empty 7-Up bottles and made dolls out of them. (Long story for another time.) This time I had an RBD with ginger ale. It was amazing.

We put the Very Tired Girls to bed about 8.30 and then continued to visit upstairs until 11.15ish and went to bed.

This red carpet has been in this house all 23 years I've known this family, and long before that. It has one visible hole. This carpet is a trouper. All I have to say is, when it finally has to go, I hope I can have a piece of it.

This red carpet has been in this house all 23 years I’ve known this family, and long before that. It has one visible hole. This carpet is a trouper. All I have to say is, when it finally has to go, I hope I can have a piece of it.

There is so much security in constants. For 23 years this house has been a comfortable and safe haven for me, and while things about it have gradually changed over the years, more has remained the same. I love being able to come here. I just wished I didn’t have to leave so soon.

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Categories: dessert, Mrs Pine Nut, travel | Leave a comment

Journey to Éiden: Day 1

I anticipated running around like a beheaded barnyard fowl on Sabbath morning, the 26th. And I did.

I was up early and traipsing between house and car, trailer and car, shed and car, armed with a flashlight and laden with Stuff. But after a nice game of Tetris Packing the Car, all got loaded and I managed to still cut a fine dash for church in some new-to-me thrift store treasures (red silky shirt and silver/black striped tie) AND get on the road to church by 8.

Sabbath school went well. We left church about 12.30. I read a 96 page book (Taught by a Tiger) and then we stopped around 1.30 at a rest area along I-5 to eat lunch, because I was starving.

Cuddling the annoyed-looking beast while I ate my lunch.

Cuddling the annoyed-looking beast while I ate my lunch.

We had bulgur burgers (or, as a friend once humourously referred to them, Bildeberger bulgur burgers) and hummus on rye chapatis, kale chips, carrot sticks, and cowgirl cookies (well, my version was cocoanut, walnuts and cranberries). I told Mr Pine Nut that I’m pretty sure these are the cookies I’ve been waiting for all my life. “Well, I’m glad you finally met,” he said dryly, “so you can get married.”

We were vastly entertained peoplewatching at the rest stop. There was a young boy striking dramatic poses by trees for his mom to take pictures, and the couple in the SUV nearest us spent close to 20 minutes messing around adjusting their back seat and then shutting themselves into the back of the car from the inside. Um.

We dropped off the Pumpkitten at our friend K’s, who graciously opened her home to him despite his inability to get along with her cats on previous visits. We visited a while with her, met her husband and baby and stepdaughter, and were off on our way again at 4.20. Mr Pine Nut got mixed up and thought we needed to get back on I-5 and 45 minutes later I realised what had happened after we’d inched along for like ever in traffic. We were supposed to get on 84, actually.

So he crossed back into Oregon on 205, got on 84, and all was well again. We stopped at rest stop to eat parfaits and pee. I drove the rest of the way to Yakistan and we arrived at my dad’s at 9.

Sunset reflecting on the eastern mists along the Columbia Gorge

Sunset reflecting on the eastern mists along the Columbia Gorge

The girls were very energetic after having been asleep in the car. GooGoo helped grandpa make cookies. He asked, “Whole wheat flour or regular flour?”

“Regular flour,” said GooGoo.

“Regular flour, regular flour,” singsonged my dad as he got out the regular flour. When he opened a new bag of brown sugar he sniffed it “to make sure it wasn’t tainted with hashish.”

That’s my dad’s sense of humour for you.

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It was 11.30 before we were finally in bed.

I also got the news that I had a new nephew, and K messaged us that Spot was being a ferocious furball, hissing and having to be lured into their room with treats because he would Not Allow Them to Pick Him Up. Oh joy. Poor K.

One thing I took to my dad on this trip was the plum conserve I made for him back in September. It’s from the mother of my best friend Edda and goes way back. What is a conserve, you ask? It’s a combination of fruit, dried fruit, and nuts, and you spread it on bread. My batch came out super thick and didn’t spread very well, but Edda’s mom says that’s not too abnormal. So.

Plum Conserve
4 lbs. plums (about 8 cups cut up)
4 T lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 c raisins
4 1/2 – 6 c sugar
1 c walnuts

Wash and pit your plums. Chop nuts. Combine all ingredients in a pot except nuts and cook until thick. This may take a while and you will want to be stirring very often. When the mixture is thick enough, remove from heat and stir in nuts.

To process, pour into sterilised jars to within 1/2″ of top. Put on a lid and a ring firmly and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. This recipe yields 3 pints.

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Categories: canning, cookies, Food Preservation, GooGoo, jams jellies and the like, Mrs Pine Nut, pumpkitten, recipes, travel | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Journey to Éiden: Pantry on Wheels. Also, BROWNIE BATTER.

[Disclaimer: Most of this post was written late at night. 10:38 pm. Way, waaaaayy past this old lady’s beddy bye. I get a little bit insane at such an hour. Read on at your own risk.]

We’re taking a trip. A real family holiday, for NINE WHOLE DAYS. This is a first for us all as a family. We are going to fetch my new wooden baby Éiden. Who is Éiden, you ask? Stay tuned. Enjoy the mystery in the meantime.

No trip is complete without food. And we’re generally too cheap to eat out, even whilst travelling. Therefore, it was needful that before we actually embark on our adventure I get together a fully equipped Pantry-to-Go. I gave myself loads of time to do this, beginning to actually think about it concretely Tuesday night, 3 whole days before we leave.

So Wednesday morning I did what I do best: ALL THE THINGS. I made kale chips and granola and bulgur burgers and a Mount Everest of dirty dishes, which I then had to wash.

I also made a single serving of brownie batter so I could get my chocolate fix and continue my mission to clog the interwebs with more amazingly flattering photos of myself.

So flattering.

So flattering. But face it, holding a bowl like that while using the iPad to take the picture DOES require at least a little talent.

If you want a single serving of brownie batter too (you know you do), throw the following in a small bowl: 1/4 c white flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1 1/2 T cocoa powder, 2 T oil, 2 T water, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp vanilla. Stir until mixed and consume like the crazed closet chocoholic that you are.

Today, I made cookies. I made kati rolls for lunch. I made a Mount Kilimanjaro of dishes.

Tomorrow, I will make two pear frangipane pies, 48 chapatis, and do some serious packing. I’ll probably have a Pike’s Peak of dishes also.

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Categories: dessert, Mrs Pine Nut, nut-free, recipes, soy-free, travel, vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Photos of the Day #25-29

Last week I was up at Camp Kuratli for Restoration International‘s family camp. I went by myself with the girls since Mr Pine Nut had to work. A lot of these aren’t great quality. There was plenty of rain and damp!

GooGoo and Tractor Boy exploring what was probably a trash can holder while the rest of us set up camp. She said it was a chicken coop; he said it was a shed.

GooGoo and Tractor Boy exploring what was probably a trash can holder while the rest of us set up camp. She said it was a chicken coop; he said it was a shed.

Thursday was a very pleasant day. The little ones enjoyed the playground, especially this Giant Pile o' Tires.

Thursday was a very pleasant day. The little ones enjoyed the playground, especially this Giant Pile o’ Tires.

Looking lost in space as we wait for our breakfast at Bob's Red Mill on Friday morning

Looking lost in space as we wait for our breakfast at Bob’s Red Mill on Friday morning

The children's choir singing "Pass It On" on Sabbath

The children’s choir singing “Pass It On” on Sabbath

Loaded up to go home this morning in the pouring rain!

Loaded up to go home this morning in the pouring rain!

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Categories: GooGoo, travel | Leave a comment

Caturday Post #4: The Well-Read Cat

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Does this really need any caption? No. No, it does not.

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Categories: pumpkitten | 1 Comment

Photos of the Day #20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Lou Who enjoyed crawling in the grass watching her daddy turn the compost pile.

Lou Who enjoyed crawling in the grass watching her daddy turn the compost pile.

I went to church solo on Sabbath since GooGoo was still sick. I sneaked a picture of Lou Who in Sabbath school playing with the little plastic fishies in the water.

I went to church solo-with-baby on Sabbath since GooGoo was still sick. I sneaked a picture of Lou Who in Sabbath school playing with the little plastic fishies in the water.

Three of the ladies at our bi-monthly Sunday morning yarnfest. The one in the middle offered to roll my green yarn into a ball, but by the time she got done with it the other two had stepped in to save it from tangly oblivion.

Three of the ladies at our bi-monthly Sunday morning yarnfest. The one in the middle offered to roll my green yarn into a ball, but by the time she got done with it the other two had stepped in to save it from tangly oblivion.

This little monkey's new favourite thing to do is climb up onto this bench.

This little monkey’s new favourite thing to do is climb up onto this bench.

The girls in a laundrybasket. GooGoo was "reading" to her sister from her beloved American Girl catalogue.

The girls in a laundrybasket. GooGoo was “reading” to her sister from her beloved American Girl catalogue.

Categories: GooGoo, Lou Who | 1 Comment

Caturday Post #3

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Categories: pumpkitten, vegan mofo, vegan mofo 2013 | 1 Comment

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