Shopping Splurge

Conversation this morning…

Tom: So, do you want to do something today?

Me: (purses lips and gives side-eye) When would have been the right time to ask this question?

Because as a dedicated hermit, if I am venturing into the Out, I like to know in advance. Surprise excursions do not make me happy. A better approach is to suggest something to me at least the day before. “Hey, I was thinking we should (go over to check out Washington) (take the dogs to Flanner’s Beach) (go do lunch on the waterside deck at Persimmons) tomorrow.” This usually works better on me.

But today, I had an agenda.

Me: Well, I was thinking I wouldn’t mind going to Swansboro.

Tom: (registers slight surprise that I suggested anything at all, much less something he didn’t mind doing) Okay.

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We’re in New Bern, NC, and the town’s only LYS (Local Yarn Shop) closed last year, before I discovered knitting. We have a Michael’s and now a Hobby Lobby, and I’ve bought a crap-ton of “big box store” yarn over the years. As a lifelong crocheter, those projects work up so fast and use more yarn, leading to more big projects like blankets and afghans, meaning really nice yarn with exotic fibers or hand-dyed yarn are cost-prohibitive. Knitting is slower (for me), more intricate, smaller projects, and a nice ball of yarn can last me a couple of weeks instead of half a day.

So off we went, heading for, naturally, The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop. Sad that the nearest LYS is nearly an hour away, but it’s a nice little coastal town and lots of great shops and restaurants along the water, so a great day trip.

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I really should’ve asked names, because the woman in the shop (I assume the owner) was super friendly and helpful. I looked at some of her WIPs, bought the stitch markers she recommended, and began looking at the displays of completed projects. I found a shawl I liked that appeared to be something I could do. She told me it’s the Holden Shawl on Ravelry. It’s a paid pattern, but I used my phone and bought it right away.

Which led to the yarn. So. Much. Beautiful. Yarn! I could literally spend a thousand dollars without breaking a sweat, but confined myself to two twists each of two colors of Dream Smooshy with Cashmere (70% superwash merino wool, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon). I got “Mermaid Shoes” and “Burr.” Mermaid Shoes is my always favorite purple/green/blue combo, and Burr is a more beachy blue/brown theme.

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Imagine my delight when I learned a good LYS will wind the twists into cakes for free. Love those special little touches that equal outstanding service. Takes some of the sting out of paying $32 for a 4-ounce twist of yarn.

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We walked through the waterfront downtown, in and out of shops, then had a nice lunch at the Saltwater Grill, sitting on the screened deck overlooking the water. Conch fritters and a tangy potato salad hit the spot!

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Not a bad lunchtime view.

Before we could leave, though, I had to return to Silver Line.

Silver-Line-Jewelry

It was the first shop I popped into on the way to The Salty Sheep, and the second I stepped in, I was drawn to a jewelry display at the back of the room. Sterling settings with bright sky blue stones swirled through with white. I’d never seen anything like it before, like the perfect summer sky at the beach with some high, wispy clouds.

Hmm. One has a nice Celtic band.

Hmm. It also happens to fit my right ring finger perfectly.

Inquired about the price. Cried a little inside.

It turns out the stone is called Larimar, which comes from Larissa (daughter of the guy who discovered it in the 1970s) and Mar, which is Spanish for sea. It’s found only in one very specific area in the Caribbean, and how much of it there actually is remains unknown. But I reallllllllly liked it.

Went about my shopping day, but couldn’t stop thinking about that ring.

Realized tomorrow is pay day, so screw it. MINE.

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And now I’m home, and these two missed me. Apparently.

Checked in on work, so now I can get back to the shawl-in-progress using Knit Picks Chroma (in “drawing room”) that I’ve been working on. Because the sooner I finish it, the sooner I can play with my beeeeeeee-youuuuuu-teeeeee-ful new cashmere blend.

WIP Wednesday

This is weird. As an author and editor, “WIP” means a manuscript in publishing.

Yesterday was a soaker. It rained all morning and into the afternoon like Mother Nature had pulled the flusher on a giant atmospheric toilet tank. The Direwolves, sadly, still have to go outside when we get up, regardless. When they come in, Mozzie always thinks I’m going to dry him (I rarely bother) and runs to his safe place, which happens to be my bed. Funzies. They spent much of the day first watching the rain…

And later watching “Squirrel TV.”

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I got through my work-related tasks as fast as I could, because I’d ended Monday night with a knitting clusterfluff. I should have stopped before I did, but I wanted to do the row of eyelet in my WIP shawl. Doing the knit row after to secure the eyelets, I moved wrong and dropped several stitches from the left needle.

Rackenfrazzle.

I picked up what I could see the best I could, but I knew I had lost stitches. The question was where. So yesterday I knitted across and then counted to see how many stitches I’d lost. Looked like two, one on either side of the center markets. I added an increase on each side of that row to compensate, and moved ahead.

After a few rows, I examined the piece and saw three dropped stitches. I grabbed a hook and looped them back into secure positions, brought the last up to the current row, clipped it with a marker, and worked it into the next row. I was pretty proud of myself.

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I didn’t have a lifeline, despite my new ChiaGoo circulars having the handy eye in the base to allow you to knit a line right in, because it ends up through my center markers and gets pulled along to each new row somehow. And I’m around 150 stitches per row right now, and too lazy to do one manually with a tapestry needle. But I probably should.

The good news is the mistake is the stitches adjacent to the center eyelets, and so very hard to detect. The bad news is I’ve never used stitch markers before, so the eyelets themselves are not very even because I find it awkward to work around the markers. I hope I can fix that somewhat during blocking. If you have tips for working around markers, or the best kind of marker to use, I’m all ears.

My other WIP is the travel scarf, but I haven’t done more on it since sitting on–and breaking–my wood needle a few nights ago. I ordered a replacement.

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I’m already plotting another project, but not sure what. Another shawl? Start to learn cables? If you have a good starter cable pattern, let me know!

Now, a bit more work and a few chores, and I’ll see what adventures await in my knitting education today. 🙂

 

Quiet, Crafty Saturday

Today sort of feels like a “me” day. Work email tends to be light on weekends, and I don’t have a new edit until Tuesday. The only productive thing I’m doing today is washing bedding, because these happy puppy-faces have paws full of yard-sand, which tends to transfer to the sheets, and while it might seem like a great idea to do full-body exfoliation while you sleep, it’s not as pleasant as one might think.

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“Morning, Mama! Does your skin feel smooth and revitalized? Good. Now, go make breakfast.”

Tomorrow will be busier, with making dog treats, scanning some photos, and preparing a couple of lasagnas to take to a family event on Monday. But today, I’m going to chill.

Surely the sign of age and a small sphere of existence (by choice), I’m disproportionately excited about new knitting needles. I ordered a full set of ChiaGoo circulars which should have arrived Thursday since I have Amazon Prime, but tracking showed they won’t arrive until Monday. In compensation, Amazon is extending our Prime membership by a month. So,  yesterday I ordered a full set of Knit Picks Caspian Wood straight needles and paid the extra for next day delivery. See if this boggles your mind as much as it did mine.

  • Ordered 11:33 a.m. yesterday.
  • 6:29 p.m. the package left Chattanooga.
  • 9:48 p.m. it arrived in Knoxville.
  • 11:46 p.m. it left Knoxville.
  • 12:33 a.m. it arrived in Louisville.
  • 4:42 a.m. it left Louisville.
  • 5:54 a.m. it was in Raleigh.
  • 7:13 a.m. it left Raleigh.
  • 7:15 it was in Havelock and out for delivery, which means it must have missed a scan somewhere, because Havelock is more than 2 minutes from Raleigh.
  • Delivered to me in New Bern at 10:30 a.m.

23 hours to get what I want from Tennessee to my doorstep. Pretty cool.

This is what I’m planning today. As you can see, the rainbow scarf is now more-than-couch-length, but I’m in the home stretch. I’m on the blue, which will go back to green then a bit of yellow, and done. I need to find someone who’s into the whole rainbow thing and long scarves to give it a home.

I wanted these straight needles so quickly because we’ll be traveling about 2.5 hours away on Monday for a day trip family event thing. The scarf is too long and cumbersome for travel-knitting, so I want to start something else small to keep me busy and help me deal with the anxiety of socializing. I’m going to do a new fan and feather scarf, though I swore I was done with scarves for now, but I need the ChiaGoo circulars to arrive before I start anything bigger, like a baby blanket or small afghan.

How beautiful are these? Seriously! And I like the feel of them. Smoother than the typical bamboo needles, but a bit more texture than aluminum or steel.

I have quite a bit of this favorite yarn, Premier Serenity by Deborah Norville, colorway “Sea.” It’s a 2 weight and calls for a size 6 needle, and my aluminum 6 needles are currently full of rainbow scarf.

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I might end up using a different size, depending on how my test swatch looks, because I want a lacy look…

But at least whatever I decide, I know I now have the right size needle for my project!

The Most Convenient Food Ever

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Food science is wonderful, and this is truly amazing. Did you know you can purchase 100% nutritionally complete, healthy food, all in a single bag? There are age-appropriate formulas for all life stages, from infant to senior, and you can’t beat the convenience. Just measure out the appropriate amount of bite-sized nuggets and munch away! It’s full of protein, fruits, vegetables, has grain-free formulas for those with gluten intolerance, and even has essential vitamins and minerals added, and a tasty coating to enhance its natural flavor. Doesn’t that sound great?

What? No? It doesn’t?

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Of course, it doesn’t. But that’s exactly what the majority of people feed their dogs. You wouldn’t feed your child or yourself this way, because you’re not an idiot. You understand that a diet consisting solely of highly-processed ingredients, cooked at high heat and dried, is not healthy. You need fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, all in as wide a variety as possible to be truly healthy.

Even the cheapest, most crap-and-filler-laden commercial food carries the “seal of imagesapproval” from the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) as “100% nutritionally complete.” But AAFCO is not the FDA–or a government agency at all. It’s a private corporation, basically the fox watching the hen house. All their “approval” means is the bag contains what it says it contains, and if a pet is fed this particular food exclusively…it isn’t likely to die of starvation or malnutrition. It in no way certifies the ingredients are of any sort of quality.

If you (or your child) ate nothing but dried cereal, ramen, and hot dogs every day, you probably wouldn’t die. But would you be healthy? How much healthier would you be if you ate those things, but also added fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables?

I see it all the time in various dog groups. “What kind of food is best for my (insert breed here)?” They get a range of replies from the most expensive, organic, grain-free brands with exotic proteins like kangaroo or pheasant, to “I feed Crap-In-A-Bag from Costco, and my dogs have always done fine on it.” They choose a brand and buy that same bag, same variety, month after month, year after year.

At the very least, they should change the protein each time. Get beef, then the next time the chicken and turkey, then the lamb, then the salmon. The only variety some dogs get is the occasional pizza crust or tidbit from their people’s plates or what they manage to scavenge from the trash. No wonder they’re garbage-hounds. They’re starving for real food.

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I’m not anti-kibble. I feed about 50% grain-free dry food, because the tree that fell across my fence last year didn’t have $100 bills for leaves and I have two large-breed dogs who like to eat a couple of times a day.

You don’t have to go all-out with a totally raw diet. It’s not for everybody. But no matter which commercial brand you buy, you can make it healthier. At the very least, you can mix in a raw egg, or plain yogurt, or ground beef or turkey, some raw liver, or shredded and lightly steamed leafy greens or sweet potato, or a handful of fresh blueberries. Any or all of these once a day will go a long way to add high-quality nutrition and natural enzymes and probiotics to your dog’s diet.

There are complete frozen raw diets available at most pet supply stores. Not so much the “big box” stores, but your local or regional shops. These contain a range of proteins, bone, vegetables, and fruits, and can be used to supplement kibble. There are freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. I’m currently buying Sojos freeze-dried. I mix that up, then stir in the dry food.

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If raw grosses you out, cook it–but don’t over-cook it. There are all kinds of “stew” recipes out there for dogs. Put it in your slow cooker and add some to your dog’s food every day.

You don’t have to be a food chemist or a chef. Simply put a little thought into what you feed your dog. Just as you eat some processed convenience foods but also recognize the value of whole, healthy, natural foods, do the same for your dog. Convenience is…convenient. But the dog you love deserves more.

PS: While writing this post, I encountered THIS article taking a similar look at “dog food for people.” It was an April Fool’s story, and…It. Is. Hilarious.

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Brain Vacation

I’ve had a stressful, busy week, so other than some light editing, I’m giving my brain the day off. There will be knitting, TV, time with the Direwolves, and Tom has suggested pizza and movie night. When he gets home, he’s bringing pizza from a place with wood-burning ovens we’ve been meaning to try. Right now, I think the movie will be Three Billboards.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos of my day, as always, featuring Mozzie and Oliver.

Two In A Row

We did go out last night, and I didn’t die. I did talk to a bunch of people whose names I don’t remember, despite having asked them several times, and I met a nice dog named Zoe, because I always remember dog names. I also snuck a couple pictures of some random guy because he had the prettiest long blond hair I’ve ever seen, but Tom convinced me I should definitely not give him my card and tell him he should seriously consider being a cover model because it’s almost impossible to find good stock photos of guys with long blond hair.

Now, brace yourself. I went out today too. Two days in a row, shower, bra, public. Me. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so we took the Direwolves to the beach for a few hours. We usually go to Fort Macon State Park because it has plenty of parking, and a nice walkway over the dunes.

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Mozzie and Oliver are maniacs going to and from the car, but once we get to the beach,  they’re both so good I can’t even believe it. They walk nicely, splashing in the surf, not reacting to people or dogs we pass, and lie calmly on the blanket when we get back to our spot.

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Standard poodles definitely attract attention. Two people asked if Oliver was a standard, and one of them even noticed he has his full, natural tail.

I am absolutely exhausted. I’ve walked more in the past two days than in the previous two months, so I’m going to sit here watching TV and knitting until it’s time to watch The Walking Dead tonight. I’m finally almost past the orange part of the yarn, thank goodness. I hate orange, but you can’t have “rainbow” anything without it, although if I were in charge of the color spectrum, I’d definitely change that.

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The Direwolves have just reminded me I absolutely can’t sit here the rest of the day, because it’s supper time, and they’re hungry. They have me very well trained.

Lazy Video Day

I have an edit I need to finish today, which doesn’t leave me much time to work on a blog post, but I hate missing days. So you get a couple of short videos of the Direwolves and a quick knit update.

First, here’s where I am on the scarf I started. I wasn’t going to do another scarf, wanting to do something more substantial, but the Mandala yarn I wanted to use is a light 3 weight and would take me forever to make even a small throw.

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I can’t wait until I get out of the yellow and orange, my two least favorite colors. Next is pink, purple, green, then blue.

And now, on to the Direwolves. Mozzie likes to play “boop,” rolling the tennis ball to me so I’ll roll it back. Also, this is how every game ends, when Oliver gets involved.

This is a bit of what my every day is like, fending off the puppies while trying to work or relax. Not a bad life, if you ask me.

Time to get back to work. Good thing I love my job!