When all the signs point to yes.

This week I went home. By home I mean that Ben and the girls and I drove back to the South Coast where Ben and I grew up and met, and where we left our home and our families and our jobs and our friends 3 years ago to embark on this adventure.

SO so much has happened in those 3 years. We’ve changed. The girls have grown. The places and people have changed.


It felt simultaneously like a spiritual homecoming, and also a spiritual cord-cutting.


Whilst staying at my mum’s, I walked the beaches I played on as a toddler, dug my toes into the sand, smelled the salty briny air, and connected. The ocean is so much apart of me. I was never a surfer like my parents, but whenever I go to the beach, people always comment that I look at home in the water. And I am home.


One day, while we sat over looking the harbour of my hometown eating lunch, I was relaying a story to Ben and pointed vaguely out to sea – and pointed right at a passing whale, announcing its presence with a glorious spray of water. I literally went “Oh-OH MY GOD! THERE’S A WHALE!” What a gift! A glorious all-knowing spirit animal, there just for me at the perfect moment.

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And I met with some old friends, that I hadn’t seen for a while, and we laughed and connected, and I realized that they’d all changed so much. And I was so different. But our friendship was the same. As with all true friends, distance and time cannot break bonds. We were still connected by our hearts.

But then some things, inevitably, were different. And I felt a kind of ‘letting go’. Like some of these childhood ways, comforts, habits: It was time for them to be put away. I dyed my hair, bought some new clothes, and forgot to check-in with all the usual ‘imaginary opinions’ that I used to check-in with as an insecure people pleaser. My step dad obviously hated my new hair. And I laughed and I truly didn’t care.


I saw an old friend clearly, for the first time in a long time, and realized I’ve changed so much, that it was time to let them go. They obviously did not see my worth anymore, and I felt uncomfortable, inconvenient and taken for granted. But I know my worth now. And I could choose to let go of what was no longer worthy of me. And I did. And it felt INCREDIBLE.

Then on the way home I listened to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Woman Who Run With The Wolves” and had my mind absolutely blown open. I felt like she was summarizing the entire spiritual awakening I have had in the last few years!

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There were moments while listening where I audibly gasped, as I heard the author literally tell ‘my story’. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it!

It was as if she was writing the concluding paragraph to the ‘coming home, but letting go’ essay of the past week.

And I got home, and I threw open the windows of Hill Shadow House, and I scrubbed my kitchen floor, and I took out the garbage, and ripped all the unneccessary clothes from my wardrobe and bagged them up for charity. It was a purging. A throwing off of all that no longer serves me. a literal shedding of the skin; climbing out of my chrysalis to unfold my new wings. To welcome in this new era, and step into my power as the Wool Witch.

Here I was: Home at last. In my body, at my hearth, ready to use my intuition and the ancient knowledge of my sisters to create and to work the magic.

And then, the Universe threw me one final lightening bolt.


I had listed my last remaining skein of Activated Yarn onto an online Facebook yarn auction before I left. A roll of the dice. I reasoned that the person who needed it would find it. It was a golden bamboo-blended skein of Luck & Abundance. Infused with reiki energy, Zucchini flower, Aventurine and Citrine. A lady bid for it, saying she was going through a rough time, and could use some good luck. A second lady bid, and finally won the auction. She then contacted me by email saying that she had paid for the yarn, but could I contact the first lady for her address and send it there. She had bought as a gift for her.

Complete strangers. A completely random act of kindness brought about and manifested by threads, earth and energy. Ancestral medicine that made better three people.

That, my friends, is BIG MAGIC.

I felt overwhelmed and humbled by what had just occurred. The universe took me on this journey, showing me who I was before, and who I have now become. It showed me that I was rebirthing, shedding off all that no longer served me, while connecting to what is  deep, deep in my spirit. Then it finished up with a veritable “mic drop”.

BOOM!: THIS. THIS IS WHAT YOU DO.

The Volva has arrived.

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Know your yarn. 

The beauty of being a small business is knowing EXACTLY where your materials come from. And that it REALLY is ethical and compassionate.

Sure, you can buy commercial, mass-produced fibre. But you’ll have no idea if it’s from factory farmed animals, has been chemically treated, or made using unethical trade/labour. But it’ll probably be cheap.

I like to know EVERYTHING about my yarn, so you can too. ❤️👍🏼 The fibres are meticulously hand-selected from small local farmers. (Some are right here at Hill Shadow!) My dyes are sourced from a small business based in outer Melbourne VIC, who supplies ethical, organic and fair trade products. All labour (washing, combing, spinning, dyeing) is done by ME. By hand. At my hearth, in the Yarra Ranges, VIC.

So, I’d like to introduce you to one of my business’ cashmere suppliers.

Everybody: George. George, this is everybody.

Living your life can be an act of rebellion.

Here’s my big lesson this week: Living life for yourself can be a HUGE act of rebellion.

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In modern day society, hubby and I don’t live a conventional life. We don’t have a huge mortgage. He works, I stay home with the girls, and work my home businesses. We don’t have credit cards – we try to spend only the money we actually have.

Sure, I could go back to full time teaching now. We could buy a new car on credit, take out a mortgage to buy a new McMansion in the suburbs and “have it all’. I could eat dairy and meat. That would make a lot of people around us much more comfortable.

But I value what I do for my family by being at home much more than society could pay me for working full time. My girls wont remember a shiny new marble benchtop, or a new car. But they will remember walking home from school hand-in-hand with Mummy, and having hot pikelets for afternoon tea, and climbing their swingset until its time to run over and hug dad as he pulls into the driveway.

And-every-day

My husband loves his job. I love mine. We do ok. We’re ok with not having a lot of stuff, because we have SO SO MUCH to be grateful for.

But this week, I’ve been challenged: Do I have the courage to be what I am, and to do what I do, even if it makes some of the people I love uncomfortable?

I read this article by Julia over at SacredFamiliar and it resonated with me a lot.

I spent ALOT of my teens and 20s doing what I thought was ‘best’. I had the voices of my parents in the back of my head at all times, and I always did what I thought would make them happiest. I never made a decision without mentally consulting everyone I knew to check if they’d be ok with it.

But actually, it’s not my responsibility to make everyone else comfortable and happy.

What if I had the courage to live my truth? With no apologies. And no explanations.

What if I called myself a witch.

What if I said, “I choose not to work fulltime.”

What if I said, “I don’t want a big new house.”

What if I said, “I actually don’t support the dairy farmers’.

These statements are all potential time-bombs. They all have the potential to be misunderstood. To be criticized. To make people – including the people I love – VERY uncomfortable.

But here they are. In writing, for all to see. My truth. Here’s me having the courage to speak it. Here’s me being FUCKING BRAVE. My act of rebellion.

Here’s me living my life for ME, not for what others will think.

Because – hand on heart – “This is what’s important.”


 

 

It’s about more than just wool.

No one ever makes something without an intention. And no one ever knits or crochets an item without someone or some purpose in mind. I’ve long been inspired by that, and by the chain of hands yarn goes through in the process of becoming ‘someone’s’. A chain of creativity and intention.

I love the way fibre craft connects me. I sit down, my mind slows, and I create. I can just be. I think about my Nan and Pop – they passed away when I was seven – and Nan was a very ill lady for a long long time. She couldn’t get out and do much. But she sat down, and put her hands over mine, and she taught me to knit. And my pop taught me to crochet. and I think many many people who knit and crochet were taught this skill by their grandparents, and aunties, and uncles. It’s probably one of the few skills still passed down this way. Generation to generation. Hand to hand.

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See, the thing I love about handmade items is their uniqueness. Their flaws. But also, their ‘story’. I love to imagine all the hands, all the skills, all the intentions that have gone into a handmade item. I’m just a link in the chain of something really special. I add my chapter of the story, then I pass it on to the next person, and they add theirs.

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It’s part of the reason I prefer to buy raw fleece from small scale farms, rather than commercial roving dyed in huge dyelots. I like to know the whole story. I like to know that this was Wilma’s fleece; a rescue sheep from Daylesford. She belongs to Linda. Linda collected and sold her fleece, and I add my hands to the story. And then I will hand it along to the next person, who will add their chapter to the story; knitting a blanket for their grandson, a beanie for their Nanna, a scarf for Uncle John. A chain of love, and creativity, and intention.

There’s something magical about that.

So that set me to thinking: I want to activate the yarn. I want to imbue it with healing qualities. I want to capture the spirit of ‘connectedness’, of ‘ancestry’, of ‘specialness’ and  healing’ that I see in yarn. And so I’ve been lead to create “Activated Yarn”.

So here’s my creation unfurling. This first attempt at a fledgling idea. I bathed my crystals in the light of the lunar eclipse. I cleaned, processed and handspun a soft Corridale fleece, into a DK weight yarn. I smudged it with White Sage to remove any negative energy, and used natural organic plant dyes to dye it a beautiful healing green. I then put it into a steeping blend of homegrown Eucalyptus and Lavender -picked from my garden – and Clear Quartz, Amethyst, Aventurine and Ruby Fuschite for healing, soothing and purifying. This cauldron bubbled away over a white candle, opening the pores of the fibre and allowing the properties of the crystals and plants to seep in. Lastly I added a tail hair from my horse Will, as an animal totem. He broke his leg as a foal, but defied all logic to not only heal, but to then go on and win races. A miracle horse. His racing name was ‘Once a Blue Moon’, so rare and miraculous his recovery.

My healing yarn is now out drying in the moonlight. What I do is not Witchcraft. It’s not Magick or anything mysterious. I work only and always from a place of love and light. It doesn’t fit into a box or a definition. All I have done is filled this yarn with love, focus and intention. Its art. It’s a special creation. My hope is that someone buys this yarn and makes something special. I hope they think about their Aunty while they make her some mittens, and that they add their chapter to the story. And that when they give the mittens to their Aunty, she feels the hands and the energy that has been put into this special creation, and it makes her heart feel good. That’s all.

It’s not magic. It’s not going to cure cancer. It’s not going to change the world.

But it’s my art. And I hope you like it. – And it’s also ok if you don’t 🙂

And you know, if you’re sick, this healing yarn wont ‘cure’ you. But I hope that if you’re going into battle, you’ll wear my armor. I made it with my heart and my hands x

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When it all feels like a ‘job’.

Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to slow down. There always seems to be another task in the back of my head that needs to be done, and not nearly enough time to do it all. Im working on a number of projects at the moment, all of which demand my attention, my work environment has been tense and stressful, and the girls have all their end-of-year activities on and:swimming lessons, dance recitals, christmas parties.

And the news is full of violence. And the pollen is itching my eyes. And we’ve had restless broken sleep each night for various reasons. And it’s all just a bit loud, a bit bright, a bit much.

I’m trying – REALLY TRYING – to keep slowing down. To breathe. To remember the really important things.

Im trying to carefully and deliberately to compartmentalise my work hours to keep work from bleeding into my day. When I plan to work for an hour, at the end of the hour, I close the program, get up and walk away from the computer.

Easier said than done.

Part of the stress is planning for a big market coming up. I’ve been spinning wool and dyeing roving late into the evening (aften way past when I planned to go the bed!) spinning wool until my eyes ache and my fingers are stiff. I want to have tonnes of beautiful things for the stall. Often I work myself to the bone like this, only to sell NOTHING on the day, and come home not even having my stall-money re-couped. That can be so disheartening.

But then I had a bit of an epiphany at a friend’s house the other day. She made a comment about trying to find a craft that would be lucrative. She was going to try pottery, commentting on how she felt she’d be able to make more volume in less time. (Can I add as an aside here, that I do not mean to suggest in any way that this friend is materialistic or intends to sell-out and go into mass production! Merely that she was talking about the need to help supplement her family income! I hear that!) But it made me think about handcrafting vs mass-production. Would I sell-out if I could find some way to make this stuff pay?

And I realised I wouldn’t. I really enjoy the spinning and knitting. I love the slowness and meditation of feeding out the fibre, and the suprise results of dyeing, and making bits and bobs for people I love who appreciate my pieces. When I feel like Im working to a deadline, or trying to make it profitable, I dont enjoy it. It becomes mundane, and becomes just another ‘job’.

I have a job. I do this because its fun. Even when I get up in the dark, load the car, drive to a market, set up sit in the sun/wind/rain all day, and come home having not sold a single thing; I’ve still had a fun day.

So I’m not going to find another more lucrative thing to sell. Cos I love doing this. And someday I may have to buy a warehouse to store all my unsold bits and pieces, and then move in to it because wool wont pay my rent. Oh well.

But I AM going to remember to stop stressing about finishing items in time for the markets. I can never predict what’s going to sell or not anyway! This is NOT MY JOB. (I should stop making it like one!)

And as for my actual job… :/ Weeellll. It pays the bills. Mostly. And the people are nice. Mostly. And I can turn off my computer, and not open my email, until I decide to be in “work mode” tomorrow.

Its been getting warmer too. We had friends over for our yearly “hazard reduction burn” (aka Bonfire Night) and the kids had a ball! I wanna plant more food in my garden. And take the girls to the beach more. And start doing some running again. Not for weightloss this time. Not for punishment. I dont do that anymore. Just for a bit of fun, and to get the dog out for some exercise. Thats another thing I have conciously decided not to make into a “job”. It started to become one a while back, so I stopped, cold turkey. I realised I was using running to punish my body for being “too big”. I was using it as a weapon to beat myself with, when I really needed to be my own friend.

The little voice in my head became a drill sargent. screaming out internet “fitspo” slogans: “You’ll make time, or you’ll make excuses!”, “you just dont want it bad enough!. I imagined laying my boot into myself, curled in defense on the ground, kicking and flogging it to get up and get my ‘fat ass’ to do one more rep, when what I really shouldve been saying to myself is “…honey, you’re tired. You’ve been caring for 2 little kids, a farm, and a sick partner all day on your own. It’s ok to go to bed.” I was my own worst enemy. In fact if i had heard anyone absuing someone the way I abused myself inside my head, I would’ve bodily thrown myself inbetween, screaming “STOP! STOP!!! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?! SHE DOESN’T DESERVE IT! LEAVE HER ALONE”.

But I wasn’t my friend.

I choose to be my friend now. I wont punish myself anymore.

So I choose to slow down. To log off. To stop making the things I love a ‘job’. Even if I only have a few beautiful, hand made things on my market stall, they will be made with integrity and love. Even if I didn’t push through to get that last email sent, at least I wont be stressed and yelling distractedly at my kids. Even if the house is dusty, and the garden’s going a bit to seed and weed, Im not a size 12, and I havent worn my Garmin in months, it’s ok. I can cut myself some slack and do something nice for me. It’s what friends do.

Ve-ghurt.

Guys guys guys! I found another epic vegan recipe!

I made vegan coconut yoghurt! And its freaking amazing!!! Seriously: Even the kids love it!

And this stuff is SO. EASY.

I found the recipe at Chocolate and Zucchini, and pretty much followed it to the letter, using 3 x 400ml tins of full fat coconut milk, and 1/2 cup No Udder coconut yoghurt (From Woolworths) as a starter. Whisked it all together, divvied it up into the little jars in the yoghurt machine. Turned on my little yoghurt maker and left it alone for 24 hours. PRESTO!

Easy as! (Think of all those amazing gut bacterias!)

You gotta get yourself one of these little yoghurt makers – I got mine from Aldi for about $20. I bought it to make conventional dairy yoghurt when my kids were little, and we just could not get it to set! We tried all kinds of things! Fail after fail after fail. So its basically been in my cupboard doing nothing for about 3 years.

I whipped it out to give this a go, and BOOM! PERFECT YOGHURT. First go. Coconut yoghurt ROCKS.

This morning I had it with 3 chopped fresh strawberries and a level teaspooon of coconut sugar. AMAZING.

So look, there really is no excuses for me not to be vegan now! ‘What do I miss out on?:

Yoghurt – nope. Making as much as I want!
Milk – soy (ALDI organic!) or Pureharvest Oat milk
Cheese – Bio Cheese FTW! (Coles)
Ice Cream – Soy Good Soy Icecream, in moderation!
Eggs – I do eat the odd egg from our lovely free range back yard chookies, but there’s TONNES of substitutions! (Right Maxine? x) Chia, avocado, oil and vinegar….
Meat – berk. Try tofu, kidney beans, peanut patties, vege snags and i had the best burgers this week, by substituting a beef pattie with a GIANT, FAT grilled mushroom. Took up the whole bun! OMG drool.
Butter – Coconut oil in recipes, and Nuttelex spread on toast.
Bacon – gimme a break… #facepalm

Did I miss anything? 😉

This is not about how I look anymore. This is not about weight loss. I ate for weight loss for the last 20 years and it made me freakin MISERABLE. And I still got fat anyway! This is eating for how I FEEL. This is love through food. My tummy feels good, my head feels clear, and my heart is happy.

Go on – make the yoghurt. Its a game changer x

The recipe you’ve all been waiting for…

OMG this cake.

This. Cake.

Ben took it to work. His workmates devoured it. Then he told them it was vegan, and ran a guessing competition what was in it. NONE of them got it!

This is the best choccie cake recipe I’ve found. Note I didn’t say ‘the best vegan choccie cake recipe’. That wasn’t an accident! So easy, so healthy, and YUM.

The original is here, but I’ve tweaked it a bit. So here it is:

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Pre heat oven to 170 deg C (150 deg C if fan forced!) – thats 350 deg F for you guys, USA!
Spray-oil and line 2 x loaf tins with baking paper.

In a big bowl, combine:
3 c plain flour
6 T cacao powder
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Set aside.

In another bowl, combine:
1/4 c coconut oil (melted)
1 ripe avocado (mashed)
2 c water
2 T apple cider or white vinegar
2 t vanilla extract
Whisk these together, then whisk in:
2 c coconut sugar.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until well-combined.

Pour 1/2 mix into each lined and greased loaf tin (YEP – YOU GET TWO CAKES!!! One to take to ‘that-thing-you-said-you’d-take-a-plate-to’, and one for the kids for afternoon tea! BONUS!)

Bake 45 min.

If you want an impressive and also vegan choccie frosting for it, use a stick mixer (or hand mixer, or your ENORMOUS POP-EYE ARM STRENGTH) to mix
2 ripe avocados,  
1 cup icing sugar, 
1 t vanilla extract, 
4 T cacao powder.
And use this to ice it when it’s cool.

OM NOM NOM. Who said vegan food had to be all spinach and mung beans?!

Chickens, christmas, and cans of catfood.

That fox. She has me paranoid. At every cluck of a chook now, I bolt outside like

It’s totally nuts. Plus our chickens seem to have totally gone off the lay. 15 chickens only producing 2 eggs a day. Hum.

The chicken forum I follow on facebook suggested upping their protein as they will be trying to recover their feathers after life in the battery farm. And you know what they suggested?

Cat food.

(Yeah, I know.)

But we’ll try anything, so bring on a the tinned Whiskas and we’ll see what happens I guess!

As things head toward christmas, Im really thinking about what Im going to give for gifts this year. I LOVE giving presents! It’s one of my FAVOURITE things. BUT, I hate commercialism and giving “stuff”. There is a practical side of me that hates the frivolity and waste. I hate wrapping paper, I hate birthday cards, I hate useless plastic gimmicky crap. So this year I am trying to give what I love receiving: handmade and useful gifts.

I’ll go into more detail post-christmas (just incase anyone on my gift-giving list happens upon this blog! *spoilers!*)

But I do love how busy the end of the year gets. I love the end of year festivities: concerts, parties, catch-ups… FUN!

OOH! And DECORATING! A new house to decorate! We dont even have a tree! Where do we start?!

Get thinking! Only 5 weeks to go! 5 WEEKS!

Longer post next time, I promise x

Whales, wool, water and wily foxes.

What gorgeous weather we’ve been having!!! I’m sneaking in a quick post and a coffee having put grumpy Tara down for a morning nap, and dropped Katie off at a transition day for ‘big school’ next year. EEP.

It’s meant to be in the 30s today (celcius that is! Late 80s for any US readers! 🙂 Hi there!) so I’ve whipped off the horse’s rugs, filled up all the water troughs and bowls, and given the garden a good soaking last night.

Ben and I mulched it thickly on the weekend to try to combat the heat, and the plants have TAKEN OFF! They LOVE the mulch! We have so many salad greens at the moment – they’re growing faster than I can pick them!: Rocket, silver beet, butter lettuce, and mignonette lettuce. But I’m not complaining! 😉


It’s as high as a elephant’s eye!

Last weekend, Ben was recovering at home from his surgery, so the girls and I headed into the city for World Vegan Day.


Best choccie cake EVER.

What a great day with stalls and music and FOOD! Still can’t get my head around Textured Vegetable Protein (blerg.) or some of those other vegan ‘meat substitutes’ (YUCK. Why bother!?) but we ate the most AMAZING chocolate cake, some delectible blood orange gelato, and Kate drank a whole bottle of rasberry kombucha! (Which I didn’t think she’d be into! More fool me!)

I’ve thought alot about becomming vegan over the years. I was lacto vegetarian in my late teens for about 3.5 years, and I really dont ‘enjoy’ eating meat, or ever crave it at all. Mostly I find myself eating it out of habit, social obligation, or some misguided way of getting ‘enough protein’. Which are all crappy excuses really. (Hey, if Scott Jurek gets enough protein from a vegan diet, I think I’ll be right! LOL – have you read his book ‘Eat and Run’?! HIGHLY recommended.)

But as I get older and I’m horrified by the treatment of animals in factory farms, I find it harder and harder to justify eating meat and dairy. That and the fact that I feel better and less bloated when I eat vegan. I think eating conventional, supermarket sources of meat and dairy involves switching off part of your brain, and turning the moral and emotional side of you off to do it. And I’m finding that harder and harder. Especially now as a mother.

It’s something I’ve been exploring more and more. Seeing images of the live meat trade and high density feedlot farming makes me despair at the human race, and the way we justify our actions as some sort of “for the greater good”. When in fact if you imagine these same conditions and treatments happening to humans, you’d be absolutely horrified.

I had the same reaction after watching a documentray called ‘Blackfish’ recently about Tilikum the Orcha at Sea World, Orlando. The whole thing just breaks my heart. And one of the most disturbing images I found was the ‘harvesting’ of the whales semen for the captive breeding program! Can you imagine anything more soul destroying and disturbing?! Can you imagine if a human male was kept imprisoned and exploited sexually that way?! But humans can justify it as a “captive breeding program” – to breed more CAPTIVE Orchas. To perform. For us. Right. (Don’t kid yourself that the calves and their mothers will be released into the wild to boost Orcha species numbers

I just.

Cant.

It’s one of the reasons adopting our ex battery hens makes me so happy. Yes occasionally one gets picked off by our resident Mama Fox (DAMMIT!) but mostly we’re smarter than her and we let them out when agisters are coming and going in the afternoon tending to their horses, so the Mrs Fox keeps her distance. They get out of their chook house – which is actually quite big – for about 2 or 3 hours a day at the moment, but things should get easier as Mrs Fox’s pups grow up and move on, and she’s less frantic for food. So mostly our girls and Lennon spend their day in the straw, then their afternoon like this:

I wish we could let them out all day again, but we just have to keep them safe while Foxy is feeding her pups. I actually dont have a problem eating eggs from our chooks. I know exactly how they are treated, and I know they probably wont be hatched into chicks anyway (despite Lennon’s best efforts) as battery hens are Isa Browns (or ours are!) and are bred not to go clucky so that they will produce more eggs for the industry. So our girls never go clucky, and would have no clue how to hatch them anyway! Ben and I have talked bout maybe getting another hen or two of a different breed – one with more maternal instincts! – and maybe letting some eggs hatch to chicks. More research to be done there!

Not much exciting happening in the kitchen, except I dad attempt a batch of soap.

Failed miserably.

It hasn’t set, and I dont think the lye I used was strong enough, as it’s still quite soft, oily and crumbly.


The first hint I got that things might be going wrong: “Pour mixture into moulds.” – POUR?! It’s like mashed potato!!!

Back to the drawing board…

Do you eat meat?
What issue gets your blood boiling?
Any fox deterence hints?

Wear your hat and sunscreen! It’s gonna be a warm one! And check your pets have cool clean water today!
xx

But I did knit these – you like?