Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Productivity

 This was my favorite kind of weekend - no real plans, gorgeous weather, and a full list of projects!

And wine. Love wine. :) I'm a red wine kind of gal all year round, but something about it in the crisp fall weather is just the best. I'm probably showing signs of my age, but the above photo was from Friday night. And it was perfect. A little crafting, nice glass (just kidding, it's not a nice wine - two buck chuck!) of wine, junky tv show, quiet, lovely.

Putting the finishing touches on a newsboy hat. This is before I noticed that I put the button strap on at an angle. Argh! Just grab the seam ripper. :)

It's so nice to actually be able to gather a bunch of finished hats up and SEE how much I got done! I finished up the monster hat that I started last week, the gray is the newsboy hat, and I managed to start AND finish a little elf hat for a new December baby! Plus I have the brown swatch in the back that has a bunch of stitch experimenting for a project I'm about to cast on. AND I made a couple meals this weekend - I felt like superwoman! That is before I figured out that I didn't actually turn on the dishwasher after I loaded it. Right back down to earth.

I took a couple of new photos of the newsboy hat to update the listing. I had a rare combination of daylight, time and finished items so I tried to take advantage. I also grabbed some shots of a new listing - the monster hat! This is a topper for a Halloween costume, so it seemed right to make it a little....nuts. Silly googly eyes, mouth full of pointy teeth, and all in pink, purple and green to match a little girl's costume. Can't wait it ship 'er out!


Friday, September 27, 2013

In development

Apparently I'm a little bit of a liar. A few weeks ago when I met with my knitting group, we were all discussing what kind of things we make. Some of the ladies, who are immensely more talented than me, were talking about patterns they had written. When someone asked me if I ever write my own, I just said, oh, no, I don't really do that. I said that I design all day, so why would I want to keep doing that in my off hours?!


I'm working out some stitch patterns for one of those newborn cocoons for photo props. Someone contacted me to see if I could make something like that, but I just couldn't find something out there on the internet that I really liked. She specified that she was interested in something that was more like a sleeping bag than a nest, and something more lacy and delicate than a ribbed pattern, as well as some color preferences. And, well, that darn designer in me just won't stand down! I'm noodling around a few ideas, and will probably end up incorporating bits and pieces of a few different patterns and putting my own twist on it. I can't wait to have some consecutive hours this weekend to work out some more of the details!

I've also had a request for a monster hat to finish off a Halloween costume! This one will build off of the basic shape of the earflap hat that I used for the sleepy owl and the boo hat, but I have some ideas to take it to a different level. We're aiming for something sort of Monsters, Inc-esque, but still pretty and girly. Hence the pink, lol. I had the yarn for the body of the hat on hand so I was able to get that going right away. I'll have to head to the store this weekend pick up the other colors the buyer wanted.

So yeah, I lied. Much as I try to take the easy way and just follow pre-written patterns...I just can't seem to help changing this detail here, or tweaking that over there, or, oh heck, just throw it all to the wind and start from scratch! It's really great actually at this stage in my shop, because most of the items I have listed started from someone's custom request. It gives me a concrete task to focus on and play with until it's just right, and if it turns out well and the buyer is happy, well then I know I have something special that might be just right for someone else! And if it's not just right, well, we can always tweak it a little farther!

(and also, I just have to say that I'm totally floored by some of the blogs I read that have the most gorgeous pictures of some of the tiniest details of their days. I'm all for pulling out my big camera and pretending like I have a clue what I'm doing for events or outings or finished product photos....but beyond that, man, it's just SO much easier to grab the iPhone! I would loooove if I were able to express my ideas and frame my life in such a lovely way. But I just can't seem to manage it!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Those" parties

As a woman of a certain age, it's no surprise that many of my social engagements are "parties." You know what I'm talking about. Mary-Kay, Arbonne, Scentsy, Partylite....the direct sales gigs. Some people despise them and avoid them like the plague, but I get it man. I mean, it's your friends. It's not like they're going to give you the hard sell or make you feel bad if you don't buy. I suspect most of them are doing it for the discounted stuff you get for throwing a party anyway! And yeah, a lot of them might be doing it to earn a little extra money for the family, which, hi, I totally get.

Plus, confession time, I LOVE infomercials. LOVE. I didn't have cable as a child, and actually I still don't. So during those weird times of day when we wanted to veg out and no cartoons were on....the infomercials were. And oh, how I would watch them. They were so good. Somehow they made 12 year old me long for a Ronco food dehydrator. I've never ordered anything off an infomercial itself. Despite my love for them, I'm pretty tight fisted and more amused than swayed by the inevitable "but just wait!! If you order in the next 5 minutes we'll quadruple your order and knock off two payments!" pitch. (I will admit to in-store purchase of OxyClean - that stuff got an entire glass of red wine out of my brand new couch. It looked like someone had been shot and there is no evidence of it today. Sold. Also, fun fact, when you put a red wine stained white pillow cover into a sink full of OxyClean, the stain first turns a terrifying shade of dark blue before disappearing. Science, I guess? Also I was gifted a Snuggie, and I love that thing, lol.) (I also watched a ton of late night infomercials when I was plagued by pregnancy insomnia. I was also plagued by pregnancy induced productivity, so I would whip these guys up while I was at it.) So direct sales parties are basically in person infomercials, which, if you're me, are pretty cool.

Usually I go to these parties mostly to see my friends, have a night out of the house, sip a little wine, nibble a little food that I didn't have to make and I don't have to clean up after. Which, there you go, is the genius of the direct sales game! However I find that a lot of the stuff sold is sort of crazy out of my price range, or interesting but not something I need, or for whatever other reason, I don't tend to buy a lot. But then...along came Norwex. (btw I think that link might support my friend who threw the party if you happen to click and happen to buy. Which wouldn't be the worst thing, right?) While I hate to clean, I hate a dirty house more, so the cleaning products....they get me where I live. (See aforementioned adoration of OxyClean for proof.) The stuff is a miracle, of course, lol. Apparently the claim to fame is embedded silver particles that are part of the cleaning clothes which make them antibacterial with just water for cleansing. I can actually get on board with that claim as I've attended numerous lunch and learns about healthcare fabrics that use similar technology to kill superbugs. I hopped on the hippie-ish train several years ago, so no toxic chemicals appeals to me, not buying cleaning products appeals to my inner cheapskate, and not mixing up voodoo vinegar solutions appeals to my inner couch potato. As Micheal Scott would say, win-win-win! Plus, the girl....she cleaned butter off a window to a streak free shine with dry cloths. Ah-mazing. Might even inspire me to clean my windows for....well, the first time. Price points per product were actually really reasonable. I don't think there was much that was over $30, which tends to be my pain point for a lot of things. And plus Norwex apparently stands for Norwegian Experience, and I'm part Norwegian, so that means they were talking directly to me, right? So basically, they got me. I ended up buying the standard cleaning cloth and amazing glass shiner cloth, bathroom scrubbie mitt, and makeup removal cloths. The most disappointing thing of it all is that it seems that none of this comes with the person to actually, uh, USE them.

Monday, September 23, 2013


 I have a new item in the shop! But first let me back up a little, and take you through some trial and error.

I had this vision in my head for a new series of earflap hats with embroidered lettering. The hat itself was simple enough as I've made it in a solid color a few times before. The lettering....oh the lettering though. I knew the look of the lettering I was looking for, but I wasn't sure exactly how to achieve it. 

I started with the middle "o" so that no matter how big they ended up, the letters would be centered.

Looks ok from the front.....

But it looks like crap from the back. Not to mention that all that bulk would be pretty irritating on little foreheads! 

So I tore that out and went back to the drawing board.

I thought that embroidery thread might still be the right thickness so that the letters would pop against the crocheted background. Of course I couldn't find a needle with an eye large enough for the embroidery thread (and I broke my needle threader in the process of trying to make it fit), so I tried pulling apart the plies of the thread. This worked....but totally disappeared into the yarn of the hat. So I thought that maybe if I went over the stitching a few times.....well yeah, that looks terrible. (This experiment would be the center "o" in the picture above.) Then I tried again with the yarn to make the "b", but only went through the stitches on the front side of the hat. This at least smoothed out the back side, but was super bulky on the front, and not really the cursive look that I was going for. So I tried one more time by basically stitching the yarn onto the front of the hat using regular old needle and thread...and found a look I liked on the final "o"! This gave me the boldness of text I wanted, but nothing bulky or itchy on the inside.

It turned out pretty darn close to my vision! I'm loving the earflaps and straps in an effort to actually keep the hat ON those little heads! I fear the pumpkin hat might be a bit of a struggle in our case, though I will still insist on it for trick or treating at the very least! Please visit my shop to see more details!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The week that got away

I really thought that with a 4 day business trip, I'd be able to get so much done! I was wrong! Every night was spent doing the hours long "quick meeting wrap up" followed by dinner with co-workers. Call me what you will, but I really don't enjoy that part of traveling. After a long day interacting with people and being "on," I just really would prefer to go back to my room and be alone with my thoughts. Or the Kardashians or something lol.

I also thought that the 2.5 hour ferry ride would be a good time to get some knitting (or in this particular case, crocheting) done. Again, I was wrong! The ferry DID actually go this time around, but it was really, really rough. I think I was able to crochet for about 15 minutes before the constant rolling of the waves got to me, despite the dramamine I'd taken. (By the way, fun fact. Apparently dramamine comes in "drowsy" and "less drowsy," not the NON drowsy I was hoping for!) I put my work down and tried to focus on the horizon like they tell you to, and it was not doing much from my inside seat. I guess the whole point is to focus on something that is not moving, but when it's surrounded by a moving window, well, it doesn't work! Eventually I got up and went outside to the back deck which had the benefit of much needed fresh air, an unencumbered view of said steady horizon, and a lovely English (her) and Scottish (him) vacationing couple. Their lovely accents were apparently soothing to my upset tummy, because while I got nothing useful done, at least my lunch stayed with me. I was lucky I went out when I did because a bunch of other passengers were not so lucky. Once that motion sickness really gets hold of you, you're pretty much just a goner till you hit land.

Despite all of my whiny lack of downtime, I did manage to complete an Etsy order for the lovely Mari of Crab + Fish, as well as one half of one sleeve of a baby sweater.

The striped baby elf hat in gray and white is on its way!

I need to investigate some cuter packaging methods I think. It's one of those things I'm loathe to spend money on, because I'm never really sure what sort of difference it makes beyond a 3 second "oh, that's cute" reaction. I feel like I should also maybe make up some cards or tags or something for "branding," ha. I feel like I should see if this sticks more than a month or so though before investing any money beyond the basics. I'm a perennial under-spender though when it comes to my hobbies. Which I suppose explains why I still use a hideous knitting needle case that I got off Craigslist when I learned to knit....about 5 years ago. Self, I'd say it stuck. I will admit to having a sewing project on my list to take care of that though! Now if I could just find some time.....

Friday, September 20, 2013


I'm on the road this week for work, living in what is surely the lap of luxury.

That's not a mirror. 

We were supposed to take a ferry, but the waves were too high so we had to drive around. Luckily I brought plenty of yarn to keep me busy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Knit season

So strange that I was in a tank top earlier this week and yet today's casual Friday outfit of a sweater dress and leggings was totally appropriate. I wore flats without socks as I can't quite bear to break out the boots just yet because once you do there's just no going back. Yet it either didn't warm up much today or it had gotten cool again because I was SO COLD when I got home. I'm not ready to turn the heat on just yet, but I AM ready to pull out my knit cottage slipper socks. I made these probably 4? 5 years ago? And I just love them. They are so warm and cozy (and fit in rather nicely with the debris of a child who loves reading and stuffed animals lol) that I keep coming back to them every year. These are basically my test version. I've improved the way I handle the ribbing in such a chunky yarn, and subsequent pairs I've made about an inch shorter in the foot for an average (7-8) size because mine are ever slightly too large. But I never make myself a new pair. Must be nostalgic or something. I've given a few pairs as gifts that have been quite well received, and I put them up in my shop last year on a whim. And wouldn't you know, they've become one of my most popular and inquired about items. As the knitwear season rolls around again, I have to say, I can see why!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Knitting group

So I think I've joined a local knitting group! A few years ago I attended one at my public library, which was a super convenient location, but as it meets the same time and day as my book club, not so much a convenient group to join. As I'm getting back into crafting in general, and thinking about taking my Etsy shop semi-seriously, I felt like now might be the right time to reach out to the community. It would be good to be able to ask for advice, improve my skills next to women who have been knitting longer than I have, and get inspired to branch out and do different things!

And I think I may have found it! I mean, these women make sweaters for full grown adults! And more than one in a lifetime! As it is, I once bought enough yarn to make a cardigan for myself, and I got so intimidated by the size of it and how long it seemed it would take to complete it that I may or may not have many tiny sweaters in that color - and more to go - to use it up. I reached out on the forums on Ravelry because the group list for my area was overwhelming and I couldn't really tell which groups were still active. Within a few hours I got a reply from a really nice woman inviting me to join their group! It's about 20 minutes away from me so it's not the convenience of the library down the road, but it seemed like it might be a good fit. It's a diverse group, they come when they can and meet at a local coffee shop and bakery. They've been meeting for THIRTEEN years! That's impressive! My book club has been going for 5.5, and I thought that was a long time for a group to stick together.

Like I said, they have women knitting gorgeous sweaters, socks (another item I've been intimidated by for the opposite reason as sweaters - such tiny needles!), shawls, hats, etc. Some women even spin and dye their own yarn! For someone looking to be inspired, man, did I hit the jackpot. It can be hard to intrude on such a well established group, but I could tell that they are the type of group you'd want to join - they were great at pulling me into the history and long-standing stories. They also do a holiday party and charity project each year. This year is hats for a local shelter. As evidenced by my urban farming experience, I do like to try to make a difference where I live. I was a greeter and also knitted comfort shawls and chemo caps for a local hospice a few years ago too, but fell out of it when my schedule got busier, so I like the idea of joining a group with a charitable aspect to it.

So yay! Knitting group! And if you are a knitter or crocheter and you aren't on Ravelry, seriously, get on that. They have really active forums, not to mention a vast library of searchable patterns, a ton of which are free.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Visiting Ethereal Confections

Yesterday I went to visit my good friend's new chocolate shop and cafe in Woodstock, Illinois. The shop is actually a few years old now, but the cafe is new this summer. And I must say, it's adorable! Of course, this is absolutely no surprise to me. See, a few years back we worked together, and she was a pretty awesome interior designer. And as you can see, she still is!

We had this dream of being able to quit our day jobs and work from home in our sweatpants. (haha) So much so that we even started an online interior design consulting business, which turned out to be a lot of work and a sort of tough market to break into, despite our (her) credentials and (her) talent. So sadly that dream went by the wayside. But a little while later, she capitalized on the chocolate making skills she'd been earning on the side with her sister-in-law and realized the dream! Well, the quitting her day job part. I think she mostly wears regular pants.

I totally snuck taking these pictures. Because I didn't tell her I had restarted my blog lol. Actually part of the reason I took them was to show my husband how cute this place is, but the other part was because I fancy myself a bloooooogger.Which is totally embarrassing to say.

You can see more details of the making of their cafe on her blog here (wait, so if she has a blog too, why was I embarrassed to say I do?). And if you don't happen to be in the Woodstock area, never fear, because they ship their delicious chocolates all over! I'm partial to the meltaways and anything salted caramel. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trials in product photography and new listing in the shop!

Right off the bat, I am not a good photographer. In fact, I'd just go ahead and say I'm a downright BAD photographer. It's just one of those things that I can't get to click (oh lord, no pun intended) for me. For years I decided it was just my point and shoot, as everything I took came out blurry and dark, and my solution was just to not take pictures. Win! However, on the rare occasion when I could get over my awkwardness about even taking out the camera to begin with, I'd go to download them to the computer, and realize that the Christmas pictures I was saving were the first pictures there since the Christmas before. Now I'm not saying I want to photograph every waking moment of my life, but I'd like to be able to look back on more than one day a year!

So 2 years ago, I decided, well maybe it's not all me! Maybe it's the camera! I mean, what problem can't you improve by throwing money at it?! However my thrifty side said that there was no way I was dropping $4 or 500 at a DSLR for something that realistically probably wasn't going to improve my pictures, so I went to Craigslist. I managed to find a 10 year old Canon Rebel XT. Definitely not a top of the line model, but I figured it was something that I could try to learn on. So I got my camera for about $200 I think, and I proceeded to put it in auto and use it just like my point and shoot! Yeah...that didn't help a ton! I mean, things got less blurry, and I had the courage to actually use it more, but still, there are so many buttons and modes that I just didn't know anything about.

For my birthday last year, I decided to go ahead and learn this darn thing. I tried looking at a lot of tutorials online, and actually reading my manual, but it still just felt like Greek to me. I decided that the best thing would be to take a class, so that's what I asked for as my present - one of those extended learning seminars for beginners through my alma mater. This...kind of worked. I mean, at least I now kind of know what a lot of the modes do, and in certain circumstances I feel ok putting it into manual for low light situations, which seem to be all of my situations inside my house. But I'm still bad. I can't seem to get a grip on white balancing, and I end up doing a lot of adjusting after the fact in Photoshop. I think what I probably need to do, apart from practice, is sign up for an intermediate class. Maybe I'll ask for that for my birthday this year!

In the meantime, I want to try to make sure my Etsy listings don't look like total garbage. #1, I want people to look at them. But #2, I can't say in the description, "hey, this totally looks better in person! Trust me! Just buy it, then you'll see!" So I need to try to make my items look realistic and try to convey the cuteness through the screen on a plain, non-distracting background. I was reading a book that talked about a super simple construction of a light box. Just clip smooth white paper onto cardboard and set it up like a box with 3 sides, aim a lamp into it, and shoot away!


I mean, I guess it's a little better than just putting my little hats on my white desk and shooting from above. But not much. I think maybe my biggest problem was scale. Even for the baby hats I'm mainly working on, an 11x17 sheet of paper wasn't big enough so that I wasn't catching the edges of the cardboard in the shot, which just seemed to throw off the colors even with my feeble attempts at editing the photos after the fact. Also, I even went ahead and started writing up a listing for this cute little pumpkin head hat, and that little leaf just seemed so feeble! It was late, and I decided that it really needed more work before it was ready for sale, so I knew I'd have to retake the pictures anyway, so I might as well try to make them better.

I poked around a bit on Etsy to see what other people were doing. Of course the cutest and most common photo set up was the hat on an adorable baby's head. Duh! And I even have one of those lying around. However, I've taken a stance of not wanting to splash my baby all over the internet. We've not posted a single picture of her on line, even on Facebook. (We do all our family photo sharing via emails and texts.) really didn't seem like a good idea to bend my rules to sell something! Then I saw some pretty attractive shots set up either outside, or in a little vignette somewhere in the house. I opted against an outdoor option because I work for a living and most of my spare time - when I do this stuff - is in the dark. So somewhere in the house it is!

We have espresso colored dining chairs and off-white curtains, so I thought that might be a nice and somewhat consistent background I could use for most of my items.

Except, well, reflection. No matter where I aimed my lamp I just got this hot spot on the not-leather leather-ish fabric of the chair. And then I thought....wait....couldn't I just take that curtain and use it like a photo backdrop?


Yeah, it's still way less good than a professional would do. I think ultimately if I keep this up with any level of success, my best bet would be to swap props for photos and have a pro shoot my knits. But this is not that time, and if we're going to go, we're going to go grass roots.

Does anyone have any other tips for product photography that a total photography neophyte like me could try to pick up?

And also, what do you think of the new hat? I added a second, larger leaf that I think balances it out a little. I can't wait to see my little one sporting it all next month!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Well that's embarrassing

Classic Halloween

It is my personal opinion that the most classic first Halloween costume is....the pumpkin head! So maybe it's not technically the first around here, but last year some of us were too tiny and too sleepy to even bother with an actual costume. So now that we have a little walker (!!!) on our hands, it's officially time for the first real costume!

I have great memories of my mom making the most unique and special Halloween costumes for us when we were growing up. I mean, I think I was the only kid in town with a pink and purple unicorn costume. Yeah, she let us pick out our own costumes, lol. So of course I'm pretty pumped to carry on the tradition!

I'm thinking I'm going to get this pattern and make this sweet little hat instead of the beanie that comes in the pattern. Then she can wear it all month long! (and plus how cute would a little duck or ladybug be next year?!)

And of course, I was so darn impatient that I couldn't help but cast on for the hat already! Which is pretty silly because there is no way I'm going to have enough yarn to finish. We'll see how this goes...

(seriously...if anyone knows how to rotate these phone photos....)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Well that escalated quickly

So I'm walking down the street to the chiropractor last night to see if he can fix whatever is wrong with my neck. I'm telling you, it's hell getting old. I've never had any neck problems before, but I turned 30 in December. Since then I've had 4 of these "flare-ups" wherein I wake up in intense pain and cannot move my head or lift my arms without literally crying out in pain. So, fun.

Anyway, I'm going in to get adjusted and this white van, you know, the abductor murdering kind, does a little honk and a wave at me. At first I thought maybe it was my neighbor because he's a contractor, not a murderer, and drives a white van to jobs. But no, not him. So I'm thinking to myself, well you crippled old gal, you've still got it.

Uh, but then I hear the same little honk, and I turn (my whole body slightly because of aforementioned stupid neck) and it's the SAME WHITE VAN. So it has now gone from slightly flattering to slightly wtf are you doing.

And then as I'm watching the now terrifying white van driving slowly down the street and praying I can walk a little faster and just be inside the closed doors of the office, the van pulls into the gas station. I'm thinking to myself, don't turn around, don't turn around, don't turn around....and he TURNS AROUND. Oh good lord, I'm going to get murdered right now. He drives by sooooo slowly and luckily after he passes me for now the third time, I arrived at the chiropractor and did not get murdered.

I told my husband about it this morning and he said I should have called the cops. He's actually probably right because it was extremely creepy, but I was too busy hoping to stay alive than to pay attention to the guy's plates. And in hindsight I sort of wonder if he would have done something if I'd pulled out my phone to snap a picture.

It's also possible he just needed directions.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back in business!

Ok, well I did it. I reopened my Etsy shop! I'd been on the edge about it, which basically means I'd already decided to do it because if I've started talking about it out loud it won't take much to push me to just go ahead with it. So when my good friend Courtney told me that yep, she still wanted a couple of my baby elf hats, I felt like the time was right. If you're going to reopen, what better push than a sale? Those funny little hats are fun and quick to make, and they were one of my best sellers. True story, I thought they were a little weird at first, but everyone else seemed to like them so I went with it. I made a rookie mistake in making one in hot pink and white for a woman who DEFINITELY wanted one, and totally never paid for it. Derp. I mean, it's a cottage industry (ba dum cha) and it's just me, so it's not like I'm going to have stock sitting around. I mean yeah, I knit for fun, but not so I can have piles of unused baby hats, right? So I got sick of looking at this sad hot pink reminder of my lack of business knowledge, and my baby needed a hat, so I put it on her last year and we ran some errands. And wouldn't you know, we were stopped by just about every 3rd person to gush over how adorable her hat was? So now those little striped hats hold a special place in my heart. :)

Anyway, if you're out there, I'd love for you to stop by the shop, or let me know in the comments if there's anything you think would be a good addition! I'm on a bit of a roll, and I need projects to keep my hands busy!

(and oh my lord, what is it about iphone photos that simply will not rotate properly when I bring them into blogger! How annoying! Almost as annoying as the ridiculously low quality of my photo work lol, but I basically took this just to let Courtney know they were ready.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Owl hat

I finished my little owl hat! And I can't figure out how to rotate my lovely iphone photograph! Oh well. My dad thinks it's ridiculous, but I had it on the baby for a little while yesterday morning, because it was actually cool enough that I thought her little bald head would be cold, and the very first person we saw totally gushed over how cute it was. Now to just get her to keep it on her head!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Urban farming

I volunteered this weekend at a farm that helps feed the homeless. I don't even really know why. The receptionist at work sent around an email about it and I thought self, you've done very little do-gooding lately so why not. Sadly I was the only one who thought this, as only she and one other guy from work who I now suspect she is dating showed up. I'd have asked, but in over 2 years now I haven't really managed to make a whole lot of friends there. Must be my sparkling personality! Well and actually deciding to take part and be involved might help me there so onward!

I was sitting on the lawn waiting for the others, and this guy was like, oh, the guys will be right back, they just went to get some inmates to help us out. Um, what now? I looked across the street. Curse my unobservedness and sure enough, there's a prison over there. Huh. 

So, ok! Prisoners and coworkers I barely know and why did I sign up for this? Anyway, we picked jalapeƱo peppers for 4 hrs. It was hot. Note to self don't do afternoon farming on Labor Day weekend! Good thing I already don't like peppers because I'd sure be sick of them!

Anyway, it was so strange overhearing the prisoners talking. I didn't really talk to any of them because 1 I'm a little afraid though they must not have been violent offenders as there weren't any guards along and 2 because I couldn't stop myself from wanting to ask, so, what are you in for? But this one guy, apparently had a rod in his leg, and the guy I met when I arrived asked him how he got it. Normal expected replies, car crash, skiing accident, the like. Nope. He got shot. Oooo-Kay. Not in Kansas anymore. And the other funny thing was this other guy was apparently really into gardening, and talked a lot about it from his life before. Talked about what he had planted this spring and how he didn't want to do too much because his wife would have to take care of it because apparently doing time was not unexpected. Just. Weird. To think of them having lives outside and wives and kids. Sad. Strange. How did you get here? Apparently the guys get a day taken off their sentence for every day they volunteer for the farm. I suppose that's good. Help for the needy, honest days work, reward for good behavior. What a sheltered life I lead though. I never gave it a moment's thought before.