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A visit to the funny farm + a plea for help from the color coordinated.

We got to go play at Gail’s this weekend.  What fun!  She has loads of White Silkie chickens, big ol’ honkin’ turkeys, a bunch of goats, and two different types of pot bellied pigs.  See that white goat with kids back by Nellie in the green coat?  That’s Cotton — twin to my Cotton.  I cannot tell you how much I love that both of our Saanens are sisters named Cotton.  Remember the “This is my brother Darrell and this is my other brother Darrell” from whatever Bob Newhart show?  Heh.


On pig in particular, Lele, loved Duke and me very, very much.  Here, she’s deciding that she likes Duke so much that she’d like to put her snout…


Right into his crotch!  Whammy!  (Notice the smirk on Charlie’s face?)


BAM!  Going for the jewels again!  Man, does she ever love Duke.


She seemed to be rather interested in my toes.


But, aw, what a sweet piggy!


BAM!  She tries to get me!  When I would let her smooch on my toes, she kept trying to get between my legs.


Trying for access from behind.  I think I might have fallen on her back and gone for a ride if it weren’t for my ninja reflexes!


And now for those with taste:  I could not get a good pic of the carpet to show the color but, if you look at the middle of this pic, that’s pretty close.  It’s more rich in person, though.  If you look back at the kitchen post from a while back, you can see more of it.  Again, the color isn’t quite right in the pics.  (The carpet to the left is a faded blue, almost gray, from Isaac’s room.  I’m not worried about that right now.)   The blue-green-teal-something is all over the dining room, living room, master bedroom, and hallway.

I’m going to paint the walls now that Josie is out of her crayon-on-the-walls stage.  But I’m completely clueless what sorts of colors.  Help!

The living room is first up.  It gets lots of light through a set of big, south-facing front windows.  All of our trim is crappy, darkish, fake-wood junk.  We’ll eventually get it changed out for something more substantial but, in the meantime, we have more important tasks at hand.  I can give it a quickie paint job, though.

Oh, I just found some pics I took of the living room not long after we moved in.  Of course, things have been rearranged since then but the basics remain the same.


Mom shrugged.

(My apologies to Ayn Rand for not coming up with a 45-page monologue to go along with this.)

Back around Christmas, I got a head cold and that turned into a sinus infection.  That lasted forever.  And have I told you about my freakishly long-rooted tooth that is in cahoots with my sinus cavity?  I had the one on my right side pulled a few years ago.  Ever since, I’ve regretted not having its match on the left side pulled.  Each time I get a sinus infection (and, man, am I prone to them), my tooth goes all haywire and gets inflamed, the side of my face blows up, and it feels like a million little pain elves are in my cheek & jaw, stabbing me with flaming, acid-laced daggers.

So on and on this went and, just as it was beginning to calm down, the flu hit.  It smacked every last one of us upside the head within about 24 hours.  So not fun.  We all took turns playing possum on the sofas while the house fell into piles of discarded tissues and other crud.  The boys were to have their Klondike campout with the Boy Scouts the weekend of the Polar Plunge but we decided that maybe, just maybe, 48+ hours out in the sub-freezing temps would not be good while still recovering from the flu.  But, of course, we went ahead and did the Polar Plunge anyway.  Not smart but at least it was short-lived not smart, right?

Now, here we are, still weak and coughing but, I think, on the mend at last.  Once I get my sinuses and tooth back under control, I’m going to have that sucker ripped out.  <—Please hold me to that because I know I’ll wuss out once the infection has passed.

So what’s my point?  Remember that we have been doing the GAPS diet?  Yeah, well.  After the flu hit, I was too sick to do the grocery shopping so asked Steve, on his way home from work, to just get a week’s worth of whatever was easy for everyone to fix for themselves as they were able to eat.  So, for a week or so, we ate frozen egg rolls, hot pockets, pizza rolls, frozen pizza, etc, etc.  Oh, yeah.  Most of the kids were begging for me to by “real food” a few days into it.  I was finally able to make it to the store this past Thursday so we’re working our way back to healthier eating but I don’t think I have it in me to do full GAPS intro for a third time so soon.

Where does that leave us?  At this point, we’re calling it GAPrimreal (GAPS + Primal + Real (Traditional) Foods).  :-D  We need time to just relax and recuperate.  In fact, after the last twelve months of seemingly endless injury and illness, I’m hereby declaring the remainder of 2013 the Year of Healing.  <—Please hold me to that as well.

There’s more shrugging happening as well but I’ll leave that for another post.  I feel lighter already.  Don’t you?

Exciting times

Yep, we did the Polar Plunge.  It was fun!  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  In fact, dreading it beforehand was much, much worse than the actual doing.  Like most things in life we dread, right?  I”ll post about it in a couple of days once the photos and videos come out in the news.

When we got home that morning, two new baby goats greeted us!  Cotton had finally popped!


They look just like their mama!


So, instead of heading directly inside to hide under blankets for the rest of the day, I got to hang out in the shed and bask in cuteness for a while.  What a treat!  They were both soon nursing like champs.  They’re still doing great and are strong & healthy.  Whew.  They’re both doelings and, considering that day’s activities, I’ve decided to name them Polar and Plunge.  I know.  I’m a dork.  :-D


2013 Polar Plunge — 9 days and counting…

Good grief.  What did I get myself into?  I’m gonna diiiiiiie!


Team SpeedKin and the Psychotic Penguins

See those two links?  Click each of them, then click on the team members’ names, one by one, and note the “Give Now” button in the right sidebar.  Ahem.  And/or don’t forget to show up on the 26th to cheer us on!  The official plunging begins at 11:00 a.m. but it’s starts getting crowded beforehand so arrive early to get a good view for heckling cheering.

Team SpeedKin will have Steve, Cody, Charlie, Duke, and yours truly (cowering behind everyone else, frantically looking for an escape) while the Psychotic Penguins is Isaac’s team.  The two fellas that are listed there as of this writing have backed out.  There are supposed to be two more confirmed but they’ve yet to register so I dunno.  Isaac will definitely be there so feel free to donate in his name.

I have done absolutely nothing concerning our costumes for this grand adventure.  We don’t even have any feasible ideas at the moment.  I think we’ll just call it a a success if we show up!

(See my original 2013 Hannibal Polar Plunge post here.)

I’m gonna diiiiiiiiieeeee!!!!!!

2013 Beginning Beekeeping Class & Packaged Bees Buy (Missouri, Illinois, Iowa)

The Mississippi Valley Beekeeping Association is putting on its annual Beginning Beekeeping Class again this spring.  The class will be from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, 2013.  It will take place in the basement of the Adams County Farm Bureau building at 330 South 36th Street, Quincy, Illinois.  The cost is $30 per family so feel free to bring your spouse and kids if they’re interested.

At the class, you’ll also have the opportunity to order packaged bees, although you do not have to attend the class to order bees.  The bees come in three-pound packages from California and include a queen (in a queen cage).  Delivery is in Hannibal, sometime in April, depending upon the weather.

The class is amazing!  If  you’re at all interested in bees and/or beekeeping, I encourage you to attend.  You’ll learn not only how to build equipment, to install packages, feeding, and most everything you need to get started, but you’ll learn about colony life, bee anatomy, and honey production.  I may be a bit biased but I think the folks who volunteer to teach these classes each — and, in fact, our entire group — are the best bunch of folks you’ll ever come across.  \

In addition to the education, you’ll also receive a free beginning beekeeping book (published by Dadant, I believe?).  And door prizes!  There is a drawing near the end of the class to see who gets what.  There’s some really cool stuff on the prize table each year!

You’re also welcome to come to the monthly meetings at the same location on the last Tuesday of each month.  During the darker winter hours, we meet at 7:00 p.m. and, during the lighter summer hours, we meet at 7:30.  You’ll be astounded at the generosity of these folks — always sharing their wisdom and experience with everyone, and you’ll learn even more at the meetings than you did at the class.  Don’t skip the class, though.  It will give you a great overview and allow you to get started right.  The meetings are where you’ll find endless answers and help with the various nitty gritty issues that come up along the way.  If you care to join the association, it’s a very small fee per family (I think $12 or $14 per year?) and includes membership in the state association as well.

If  you’re interested in the class and/or ordering packaged bees, or just have some questions, let me know and I’ll hook you up with the big cheeses keeping track of registrations.  Either comment here, on Facebook, or email me.

Hope to see you there!

We’re back!

After much kerfluffle, we have internet once again.  We had to switch providers, from HughesNet to WildBlue.  They both suck but, as of right now, WB sucks less that HN.  The HN we had would be a better deal except that it just would not work anymore.  At least WB’s customer service mostly speaks English so that’s a step up.  I think WB must calculate data used much differently than HN because we’re blowing through the same amount of data in half a day that would have taken us two days with HN.  I just don’t understand that.  Isn’t data data??

I did our taxes a few days ago… only to find out I can’t actually file them until January 30th, when the IRS opens up their e-file system.  I could always sent in hard copies but I bet that’d take even longer than waiting for e-file to open.  Remember how slowly tax returns were processed when everything was hard copy?  And now that they’re used to (and pushing everyone to) electronic filing, I betcha hard copies via snail mail take twice as long.  But who knows?  I’ll just wait for the 30th.  And here I was so proud of myself for getting them done the day after we got Steve’s W2, beating the rush!

We lost a goat this past week.  Maggie, the free pygmy, most likely got into something she shouldn’t have.  She was very, very clever — always managing to find a way to break into the back room (where the feed is stored).  In that same room are various other not-so-good things that she could have eaten.  Long story short, she’s gone and buried now.  She was a jerk of a goat and none of us really liked her much but it was still sad to see her go.

And chickens?  Holy cow, they’re dropping left & right.  It must be some sort of disease, maybe flu, who knows?  We’ve lost about half of the flock so far.  No signs or symptoms, just fall-over dead.  It’s not affecting anything but the chickens.  There’s definitely something not right going on with them.  They haven’t laid a single egg in at least a couple of months.  Birds slow way, way down in the winter, true, but there are always a few eggs laid here and there.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s best they weed themselves out so we can start anew in the spring.  I’ve been reading up on various breeds and am really leaning towards hatching out some of the Icelandic landrace.  They’re a very hardy breed, aren’t phased by heat or cold, and are great foragers.  Honestly, we’re not big fans of chicken meat so we don’t mind a skinnier bird such as the Icelandic, as long as we get a nice supply of eggs and they are willing to work hard to forage their own food for a good portion of the year.  We will gladly use the culls — pulling off the breasts & offal for a freezer stash and using the rest for broth.  It will be a relief from the seemingly endless whole chickens in the freezer, actually.

The Great Garden Fencing Project continues.  Steve’s got about half of it done now and hopes to have the rest completed within a couple of weeks.  It’s slow going when he works so many hours.  It’s definitely a race to get the goats & birds into the garden before it’s time to plant!  With any luck, they’ll double team the horribly overgrown garden weeds into oblivion in no time.  Then we have yet another looming deadline to get another pen built before planting time.  We can turn them back out into the backyard pen but it’s been through the sloppy trauma of winter and would really appreciate a break in the spring to grow back.  Once we have at least three large fence areas done, we can better rotate them through as needed.

We’ll eventually get everything coordinated… I hope.  Chickens, waterfowl, goats, garden, orchard, permaculture, pasture/grain for feed…  It all takes a lot of figuring and refiguring and tweaking along the way to get everything integrated into one, big, seamless operation of yumminess.  Oy.

I’d better get this posted before it’s delayed any further.  I’ve already had this drafted & adding to it for three or four days, never getting a chance to finish.  Just like life around here — never finished!

Happy 2013!

The new modem arrived and I got it installed.  And… we still don’t have reliable internet.  It’s up.  It’s down.  It’s up.  It’s down.  This morning, it’s actually been up for a few hours — mostly.  But, I have no doubt that it’ll go back to more down than up before too long, as it always does.  I’m not sure what we’re going to do.  We might upgrade to the new HughesNet Gen4, dunno.  We could switch to WildBlue but I hate their guts even more than I hate HughesNet.  There’s always mobile data but I’m hesitant to do that due to living in the boonies and in the middle of a giant hole of “extended data” in every friggin’ company’s coverage.  That doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.  HughesNet has the best deal for us out of all of the options so we’ll probably stick with them — if they can fix this frustrating problem.  In the meantime, if I go several days without posting, you know why and don’t have to worry.  I’ll be back when the internet cooperates.

GAPS re-Intro is going well.  I guess.  If you don’t count the Pizza Hut that night that Steve, Sr. came over to celebrate Christmas last week.  Ahem.

Cody and I restarted intro the 26th, the day after Christmas.  We’re spending five days on each stage, for a total of 30 days on intro.  We may end up going longer on some stages, if we feel we need to do so, but I don’t think there will be much of a need since we’re customizing a bit as we go anyway.  We’re trying to avoid foods we have allergies/sensitivities to, in order to not further cheese off our systems.  I figure as long as there are other, nourishing & unoffending foods to eat, we’ll stick with those longer so that we have more time to heal.  One size never fits all.

We’re now halfway through Stage 2.  Stages 1 through 3 are pretty boring.  Okay, really boring.  I can’t wait to move onto Stage 4.

So about that Pizza Hut thing…  I’d been feeling pretty crappy for a few days, down with a bad cold/mild flu/who cares it sucks.  Steve’s dad was due to come over for dinner to celebrate a slightly delayed Christmas and I didn’t have the energy to fix anything.  It was my worst day of the illness and I gave in to Steve offering to bring home pizza.  We’d been on GAPS since Thanksgiving and hadn’t cheated so it’s not like we were serial cheaters or anything, you know?  And no food we had on hand appealed to me whatsoever.  And you know what?  That pizza, while it tasted good, did not set off some sort of crazed feeding frenzy.  It had no ill effects on me at all.  And, I started feeling better.  By the next morning, I was feeling better than I had in a week.  I wasn’t carb deprived or anything like that as I’ve been very, very careful to keep lots & lots of good carbs in our diet so we don’t bonk.  But my body, in that instance, was greatly boosted by whatever combination of salt – fat – refined carbs – protein was in there.  No ill effects, no rebound, nothing negative whatsoever, and I was back to being on GAPS Intro the next day, right where I’d left off.

I just read Matt Stone’s Eat for Heat ebook.  It was on sale for 99 cents the other day so I nabbed it.  (For those not yet familiar with Matt Stone, check out his 180 Degree Health blog.)  He brings up some good points and I’m going to keep them in mind as I go through GAPS.  Again, I always try to remember that one size never fits all.  Forever tweaking — that’s me.  I love being my own guinea pig.  I love reading nutrition books from all sorts of sources, all different viewpoints, and seeing if I can fit it all together and try to come up with a big picture.  It’s like a giant jigaw puzzle to health.  It’s fun and, if I end up with improvements to my health along the way, it’s just that much cooler.

Speaking of that:  I’m hoping, with some personal tweaks and much, much attention paid to how my body reacts and manages healing, that I can avoid doing that whole two years on GAPS thing.  As the doctor who came up with the program wrote, it’s all very individualistic so don’t be afraid to change things up to suit your own health.  I’m hoping I can be off of GAPS in a year, rather than two, but I won’t know until I get there.  Maybe it’ll be sooner, maybe later.  I certainly think Charlie and Duke will be able to ease off of it rather quickly since youngsters bounce back rather quickly from most things and they were only a little “off” to begin with.  (Remember, they asked if they could go on GAPS.  I didn’t tell them to.)  Cody, I don’t know.  I’m not seeing any changes in his behavior at all.  He’s most assuredly not one of those glowing “massive & speedy recovery” from autism cases.  He’s exactly the same.  I have, however, noted that his frequent complaints of stomachaches have greatly lessened so there is, at least, that.

Okay, enough of nutrition crap.

Steve got a new milk stand built last week.  (We had to leave our old one behind on the move.)  It’s beautiful!  And a new hay feeder!  Also gorgeous!  He’s now started working on the garden fence so that we can get the goats & birds moved in to clear the overgrown, nasty, horribly weedy mess of a garden by spring planting time.  Oh, I can’t wait!!  I didn’t really get much gardening done last year because of the farmer’s market so I’m really, really crazed with pent-up gardening right now!

Yesterday, I finally made it through my seed stash and got everything reorganized.  I also updated my spreadsheet with the current seeds.  I simplified a few seeds into “mixes” because I just don’t care much what types as long as they give me something edible, like carrots.  My overall goal is to get most of these seeds used up so I can renew the stash with fresh seeds.  I’ll only “need” to order a few seeds this year as long as I keep that in mind.  Heh.  I am completely out of cucumber seeds, for example, so those are a need, rather than a want.  I’ve also decided that I’m going to renew my squash growing efforts.  I get so sick of losing to the squash bugs before getting but one or two fruit, that I gave up year before last.  This year, I’m going to grow squash, both summer and winter.  I’m going to plant them in oddball places, all willy-nilly in random spots in the garden, intermixed with other veggies and fruit.  I’m hoping that at least some of them will make it.

I’ll try to get my seed inventory page here updated today and/or tomorrow so those folks who trade with me can take a look-see.  I guess I’d better get a move on and do that.  It helps me finalize — in my mind — what I’ll need to order and I really need to get that done soon.  It’s already time to start wintersowing!  Yay!!

I meant to talk about New Year’s resolutions, a.k.a. Goals for 2013 around the homestead here, but I got distracted.  I swear, you put a shiny plant in my radar and my mind is gone.  Poof!

Out of commission

FYI:   We have no Internet at home (except for the iPhone) so no blogging for a while.  Have been having increasing connectivity issues for the past few months. Replaced router yesterday and, today, the satellite modem died. Spent 7.5 hours on the phone with HughesNet today trying to resolve it all. Holy snot balls. I’m in such a great mood now.

The main point?  A new modem will be mailed out on Monday.  5-7 business days, they say.  If it works, I’ll see ya then.  If not, it’ll take us a few more days to find another provider.


Ruts, cinnamon soap, local resources, and WAPF.

Full GAPS continues with Steve, Nellie, and Josie mostly on board now.  (Isaac eats what the family does, of course, but he eats the cafeteria lunch offered when he’s at school, whatever that might be.)  I, the main cook, seem to be stuck in a rut and desperately need to break out of that.  I think I’ll be doing some dinner-inspiration hunting and menu planning over the next few days before I have a mutiny on my hands.  Once we’ve gotten past Christmas, I’m going back to redo the Intro, much more slowly this time.  I’d have already started it since this is a “slow” time of the year for me in regards to not having to drive to this activity & that activity constantly but we haven’t even started our Christmas shopping yet, nor made any neighbor treats, nor have I begun my holiday sewing.  It’s going to be a busy, busy few days starting tomorrow and I don’t want to have to deal with that on Intro.  Bah humbug!  And my schedule picks back up to insane levels by the second week in January so I’ve got a small window to get the worst of Intro over with before having to deal with too much reality.

There.  I’ve said it out loud so now I’m committed.

I made another batch of honey coconut milk soap/shampoo the other day.  I made it just like all of the others but something different happened this time.  I added the honey at trace and it started turning red!  I’ve never had that happen before.  I’ve added honey both at the end of the hot process, right before molding it, and at trace and never had it do this.  It also turned thin.  I was worried, wondering if I’d just wasted a batch of goods, but I mixed the snot out of it with the stick blender and it began thickening again after a long while.  After it cooked for an hour or so, I tongue tested it for a zap and it was fine but it smelled like… something.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but the smell and now dark brown color begged for cinnamon.  So in went some cinnamon before I molded it.  The kids all came running in, wondering if I was making GAPS-friendly cinnamon rolls.  Ha, no.  I unmolded and cut it and it’s a gorgeous deep, chocolate brown — and smells of cinnamon, of course.  But that cinnamon makes it a bit scratchy so we’ll save it for using on rough feet & muddy gardening hands, rather than scrubbing down kids in the tub.  How do I know this?  Because goofy Steve grabbed a bar this morning to shower with, not even waiting for it to harden with curing.

I’ve been working on the SlowMoFood site this week, when my sucky internet cooperates.  While I’m very much not a person with any style, sense of design, or taste whatsoever, I’m liking the the way it’s starting to look.  Besides fiddling with its looks & navigation, I’m also working on adding pages for “local resources” and “online resources”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Who in the area has raw milk?”, “Where can I get fresh, local produce that’s not swimming in chemical goo?”, and that sort of thing.  So, instead of trying to keep all of that info in my head to share when asked, I figured it was time to compile it all in one place a bit more reliable than my brain.  I’ve searched and searched but not found a resource like that already in existence for our area.  Maybe this will help us all connect, both local consumers and local producers.  While I was at it, I thought maybe an online resource page would also be helpful for certain things that are not available locally.  There are a bazillion of them out there already but I’ve found better deals & better products not always on the same, or any, lists.  Now when I run out of something and need to reorder I don’t have to wrack my brain and/or google for hours trying to re-find where I got the best product/deal last time.

And ya know what?  Because I don’t have enough on my plate already, I’m thinking I’m going to start a local WAPF chapter.  I have no idea yet what that exactly that will entail so I may yet live to regret it.  More on that later as I find out.  (FYI:  WAPF has a wackadoodle sort of feel for a lot of people and I used to get that same vibe.  Then I realized I was lumping in a bunch of other crap, such as Mercola.  *gag*  Once I cleared my head of the self-induced confusion, I realized the organization held a lot of value for me.  Like anything, no one is going to agree on every. single. issue but, overall, I think they serve a great purpose — to get people to open their minds to traditional, healthful foods and start backing away from the crap foods that I see usually fill most grocery carts.)

So there ya go.  I was going to rant on the Boy Scouts but I have some parmesan-topped broccoli calling my name.

It’s out to get me and you can’t convince me otherwise.

Remember the Christmas Crack house?  I was driving by it last night and, from a mile or more away, I could see that it was no longer blinking, just constant lights.  It doesn’t look half bad like that, thought I.  The blinky crackhead timers must have blown themselves out, I mused.  Until I got closer.  As I passed directly in front of it, not daring to take my eyes off of it in case it should be mere trickery, it blinked.  For three whole seconds.  No one else on the road but me.  And it blinked.  Deliberately.  At me.  After I passed, the lights all came back on, nice & steadily glowing in a menacing manner.  It knows.  And it is letting me know that it will make me pay.  It’s personal now.

Speaking of things trying to kill me, holy Super Smelly Grandmas!  Geez.  I don’t know if this is a common thing on GAPS but I’ve become a bloodhound.  My nose now has super powers.  I’m picking up odors from all sorts of places — and I don’t even want to think about where half of them are coming from.  So we’re sitting at the season’s first basketball practice the other night and in walks Super Smelly Grandma.  Of course, she has to sit right next to me.  I swear the woman had bathed in perfume five minutes before practice.  And, of course, I’m allergic to perfumes and sprout an immediate & massive headache and feel like barfing all over the freshly-buffed gym floor.  But she’s so nice and I don’t want to hurt her feelings so there I remain, getting sicker and sicker, my eyes actually started to tear from the intense smell.  I couldn’t think through my pounding head, couldn’t figure out a solution.  I was frozen in place and simply could not move.   Finally, Nellie came over and saved me by asking me to take her to the bathroom.  Whew.  I picked up all of our things and, once done with bathroom duties, we nonchalantly resettled far away.  I’m used to walking past people with perfumes and air fresheners, dryer-sheet-clothed folks, and that sort of thing but this one just took the cake as the most miserable experience my poor nose has ever had.  I’d have been sick without the GAPS-super-powered nose anyway but that just made it even more intolerable.

GAPS Day 17:  Well, we’re not actually on Intro any longer.  Yesterday, we moved on to full GAPS.  Just a smidge over two weeks on the pretty darned restrictive GAPS Intro is a great accomplishment for Charlie and Duke, I’d say!  I’m very proud of them!  (Cody and I will go back and re-do the GAPS Intro at a much slower pace after we give ourselves a break, sticking with full GAPS in the meantime.)  Even more impressive?  We had four holiday dinners to attend during Intro and they didn’t slip up at all.  :-D  I need to print out a full-GAPS list of allowed foods for them — there are several out there but I especially love this one from Well Fed Homestead for its simplicity and thoroughness:  What can you eat on the GAPS Intro Diet?

While there’s nothing exciting going on in the garden right now, we are building up our wood chip reserve for next year.  The electric company has been doing quite a bit of tree trimming recently.  Steve & Cody have been able to go get a few truck/trailer loads of wood chips in the last couple of weeks.  I know the neighbors must think we’re nuts to have such a huge, long pile of them in the back yard (and a smaller one in the front yard).

(Is anyone else procrastinating on Christmas gifts?  I’ve made a few things but I’ve not yet started on the bulk of it.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my fabric stash is buried in basement piles of crap.)

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