Sunday, January 31, 2016

Learning to Crochet

The past month at our home has been exciting (despite the weather) because I have been learning to crochet!  It is like a new dimension of the crafting world has finally been opened up to me.  I am having so much fun and have already turned out a half dozen dishcloths.  A dishcloth has to be one of the best projects ever.  What a phenomenal way to learn and practice single crochet, half crochet, and half double crochet.  At the end of two hours of crocheting I have a finished project that makes a lovely gift.  

I actually learned to make a chain and single crochet while I was a bored sophomore in college.  As a resident assistant I had to sit at a desk for hours upon hours.  A friend showed me how to single crochet and I had a nice time making a scarf.  A few years later I found myself living on a Lakota-Sioux Native American Reservation.  We lived so far from a town that we had to drive four hours to the west or two hours to the east in order to even find a Walmart.  If you know me at all, you know how much I despise long trips in the car with nothing to do!  On one of those trips I picked up a crochet hook and a skein of yarn and began to single crochet a blanket.  It took me six months to finally finish but that blue blanket filled with memories (and many prayers) still rests at the foot of our bed every day.

When I found out two years later that I was pregnant with my first child I decided I was going to make a blanket.  Somehow that never came to fruition.  I picked a project that was WAY too difficult and time consuming.  I was a newlywed, taking way too many hours of graduate school, and suffering from a horrible case of all day morning sickness for months.  Nope that blanket just wasn't going to happen!

My renewed interest in crocheting occurred when my son Elijah begged me to make him a scarf.  He said he had always wanted his mommy to make him a really warm scarf.  Oh and it had to be red.  It was also very important that I actually make it, no Etsy stores or paying friends.  *Smile*  So what's a momma to do when her sweet, six-year old boy makes a request with such longing in his eyes and so much confidence in his heart?

I bought myself a crochet hook (that was totally the wrong size) and a skein of Lion Brand Home style yarn.  Despite my best attempt at crocheting, I did the whole thing completely wrong. My stitches were so tight that I could barely insert my hook! *Sad face*  I was blessed to have my crocheting friend Laura come and spend the weekend in January.  She lovingly, encouraged me to rip the entire thing out.  I am so glad that I did!  It turned out so much better than I could have imagined.  Eli is absolutely thrilled with his scarf (pictured below) and I am thrilled to be learning a new skill.

I also had a friend who showed me how to make a granny square one night after she came over for supper.   We had so much fun laughing as I tried to learn how to count stitches! I am sure I will be sewing some type of granny square project before the end of spring!  Over the past few weeks some type of crocheting project has accompanied me almost everywhere that I have been.  I can't believe how relaxing and therapeutic crocheting has been (especially at therapy and Evangeline's many appointments.)  It's also great that I can continue working on gifts when I am not at home with my sewing machine.  

One of the neatest things about learning to crochet is realizing just how many people also share a love for all things crochet!  There are so many more ladies in my life who crochet than who enjoy sewing.  My favorite memories of crocheting this month have involved making granny squares with Kelly, an entire weekend of crocheting with Laura (I made a scarf and blanket edging), and crocheting with my mother-in-law yesterday.  I'm looking forward to lots more memory making with a skein of yarn and making gifts to bless my family and others.

Perhaps I should add a section to my monthly sewing posts about what I have been crocheting that month?  What do you think?

You might also be interested in:

December Sewing & Christmas Gifts
November Sewing Projects
You can also click the "Sewing" tab at the top of my blog to see all of the sewing related posts.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

This Week's Goals

Last week I had a shortened list of goals because I spent the week with children who weren't feeling well.  I pushed aside my usual list of ten goals and instead focused on what is most important.  The children did a great job of resting and we read through an impressive stack of books.  I'm happy to say that they are both feeling better now.  Secretly I am hoping for another good snow so the children and I can go sledding!  (We stayed in last week when it snowed.)

Here is my list of goals for the week:

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Attend two therapy appointments with Evangeline this week.
2.  Enjoy an at-home date with my husband.
3.  Finish reading The Bears on Hemlock Mountain and five chapters of the original Winnie the Pooh.  It is SO much better than the cartoon!  I would also like to squeeze in a nice long visit to the library.

4.  Sew two baby gifts.  
5.  Clean out Eli's closet and organize his dresser.

6.  Continue learning to crochet.  I have been having so much fun!  Attending therapy sessions with Eva is much better with a ball of yarn and a crochet hook in my hand.  (I am one of those people who just can't sit still.)  Why didn't I think of this in July?
7.  Finish reading one book.

Ministry & Friendships
8.  Prepare music for an upcoming funeral on Saturday.  I'm hoping to play a beautiful arrangement of Be Still My Soul with It Is Well With My Soul that needs a little bit of polishing.  If time permits I would also like to make a complete binder of funeral songs.
9.  Enjoy an afternoon play date with a friend.

10.  Write an update on Evangeline's health.

What goals do you have for this week?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Frugal Things I Did Last Week and A Peek Into Our Week

Our beautiful church covered in snow.  

Frugal Things I Did Last Week is back by request!  A few of you have asked where my "frugal things" post have been and now they are back.

Here are a few of the things we did to save money and enjoy life last week:

I enjoyed having a friend and her daughter over for dinner on Friday.  We had so much fun relaxing at home AND she taught me how to make a granny square!  I made a simple Chicken Almondine casserole and my friend brought dessert.

We enjoyed the beautiful snow from inside.  I pulled back the curtains and we watched it snow for hours curled up under warm blankets.  Eli ended up with an ear infection so we had to stay inside rather than play in the snow.

We enjoyed reading through a large stack of books from the library and listening to audio books.  I also watched Call The Midwife Season 3.  

We combined a number of errands in order to save gas and time.  I returned a number of items that we didn't end up using for our Christmas party at Michael's.  I also went to Costco to stock up on a variety of food items.  On our way home I always make sure to buy Costco gas!  It is almost twenty cents cheaper than any other store around.  I'm still dreaming of changing our shopping to bi-monthly instead of weekly.

I hand delivered a number of thank you notes.

I sewed the above lavender aromatherapy rice bag for my sister-in-law's birthday.  She's a cowgirl at heart so this fabric was perfect.

One of my dear friend's from college came up from TN for the weekend.  It was glorious!  She also worked tirelessly to teach me to crochet.  While she was here I crocheted an entire scarf for Eli and a scalloped edging on a fleece blanket for Eva.  I am so thankful that she was able to come.  I crocheted till my hand hurt and laughed until my belly ached!  We stayed in the whole time she was here and enjoyed talking for hours.  We are blessed to live in a really neat area of the country where we live in a beautiful rural setting yet close enough to partake of many of the city's offerings.  Last weekend was a great reminder that sometimes the best weekends are spent entirely at home.

One of the most exciting thing we did last week was to purchase a new to us van!  We have been saving for a long time and keeping an eye out for a good deal.  Thanks to some family members we came across a great deal on a Chrysler Town & Country.  The van  is such a blessing and we are absolutely in love.  Now we will have plenty of room to actually take along our belongings on road trips and I won't be so stressed every time we need to go on a trip.  Packing a tiny car with young children is very stressful because there is never room to pack all of the necessities.  I'm always having to decide between taking a stroller or a pack 'n play.  I'm also thankful that my youngest sister Bekah won't be so squished when she tags along with us on a trip.  

One of Evangeline's therapist gifted us with a box of kinetic sand.  The children have had fun all week playing with it using various kitchen utensils.

What frugal things did you do last week?

You might also enjoy seeing the frugal things I did last January here.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

December Sewing and Christmas Gifts

This year I scaled back a lot on the number of Christmas presents that I made.  This year I made about thirty Christmas presents.  I had hoped to make a few more for family members but I just ran out of time.  We really tried to focus on simplifying our Christmas this year.  There will be plenty of time in January and February to finish up a few projects on my wish list for the children!

The above picture includes the gifts that I made for my Arkansas nieces.  I wasn't sure if the gifts would need to be mailed so I tried to keep them light weight.  I sewed two matching toddler infinity scarves using the frozen fabric.  The butterfly case is a diaper change case.  It can hold a few diapers and a pack of travel wipes for easy changes.  

Do you remember a few years ago when the ribbon dancers were so popular?  This was another easy gift that I whipped up one afternoon.  I simply painted a dowel rod with two coats of paint.  Then I hot glued on two yards of ribbon.

For my cousin I sewed an art case.  It's actually the same pattern as the Crochet Case/Colored Pencil Roll that you can visit on my former blog here.  I just left about four inches free to insert this small notebook.  This case is then folded instead of rolled up.  

I also sewed a diaper case for my youngest niece Paisley.  I'm always ready for a sewing project that involves bias tape!  The only change I made on this one was using Velcro instead of a snap for the closing.

In addition to the gifts pictured above I also made over twenty aromatherapy rice packs.  I was so pleased with how well they were received.  The picture above is the one I made for Eli per his request as he watched me make them.  They are so simple to make!  The hardest part is making sure that you don't run over uncooked rice and break your needle.
Directions to make your own:

  1. Simply sew two squares of cotton fabric right sides together leaving a space to turn.  
  2. Cut across corners to make for a cleaner finish.  
  3. Turn right sides out and iron.  
  4. Fill with white rice.  (I also added about 1 drop of Lavender Essential Oil per cup of rice.  I mixed the essential oil into the rice using a glass bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.)  
  5. Sew opening closed and you are finished.  I sewed all of the openings closed on the sewing machine and sewed down one complete side.  

What have you been sewing?  Did you make any of your Christmas presents?  I'd love to hear what type of projects you are working on for January. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This Week's Goals

Last week I found Eva saying, "Mom help.  I stuck."  It was just too funny not to take a picture. 
We start school again this week.  Our Christmas break has been absolutely wonderful.  I am so thankful for the many memories that were made and the joyous celebration that we enjoyed celebrating the birth of Christ.  Now the time has come to think about putting away our decorations and resuming our usual routines.  Evangeline also resumes therapy this week.  

Last Week's Goals:

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Plan a fun at home date for New Year's Eve.  With young children in our home we honestly enjoy spending the evening at home much better than a late night out.  I'd love your suggestions for our celebration at home.  We ended up enjoying a nice time at my parent's house after a day of van shopping.
2.  Whisk the family off on a Day Trip to Columbus, OH.  We are looking forward to visiting COSI while we are there and possibly the Topiary Park depending on the weather.  We had an absolute blast at COSI (a science center in Columbus) and a lovely dinner at a German restaurant.
3.  Continue to enjoy Christmas with my family this week.  I'm hoping to finish reading The Nutcracker, and make candy or cookies with the children.

4.  Finish reading Professionalizing Motherhood.   I will be finishing the book this week.  
5.  Workout three times.  I would also like to take advantage of the kids being on break (from both schoolwork and therapy) to head to our gym at least once.  We bought Evangeline a new bathing suit for Christmas and she keeps begging to go to the pool.   I fit in two great workouts this week.  Monday night we all headed to the gym.  The happy hubby and I had a great time working out and talking to one another.  We also took the children swimming for about 30 minutes!  

6.  Sew a birthday gift for my sister-in-law Amber.
7.  Get rid of 50 items in 50 minutes!  Want to join me this week in this area?  The plan is to set the timer for 50 minutes and quickly find 50 items that no longer need to live at my home.  These items will be passed onto family, friends, or dropped off at the care mission.  I'll be stopping by the care mission tomorrow to drop off items.  
8.  Write a letter in order to straighten out an insurance mistake.  I also spent about an hour making annoying phone calls and setting up various appointments.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Visit my dear friend Sarah who has been one of my best friends since I was a little girl.  She is on bed rest right now and I'm hoping to bring her some cheer.  Last week I was blessed to spend time with two other dear friends from my teenage years.  I'm so thankful that we are such good friends after all these years.  We enjoyed the museum with one friend and the Festival of Lights at the zoo with the other.  My friend was unavailable for a visit last week but I'm still hopeful to see her soon!

10.  Work on advertisement for my tutoring and piano business.  I'm so excited to begin teaching piano lessons and offering tutoring again.  Due to Evangeline's health concerns I took last semester completely off.  Please help spread the word!  I made a flyer for piano lessons and even hung one up at the local library!  I have a few more places that I would like to post flyers around town.  I also posted an ad on Craigslist.

This Week's Goals

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1. Attend 4 therapy sessions with Evangeline.  (We have two occupational therapy appointments and two speech therapy appointments.  They all work together on Eva's feeding therapy.)
2.  Write a love letter to my husband.
3.  Enjoy a fun activity with Elijah of his choice.  I'm interested to see what he will choose!

4.  Begin a new sewing project for one of the children.
5.  Pack up Christmas tree and decorations.
6.  Write five thank you notes.

7.  Continue reading Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie.
8.  Visit the chiropractor.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy a weekend visit from a friend who lives out of town.  I simply can't wait!  I'm looking forward to catching up in person, watching movies, and possibly some crafting.  It is always such a treat to have friends visit especially when they live out of town.

10.  Write an update on Evangeline's health concerns.

What goals do you have for this week?  

Monday, January 4, 2016

December Reads

Christmas at Harmony Hill: A Shaker Story by Ann Gabhart: I picked up this light fiction read from my local library.  It chronicles the story of a young mother who finds refuge among the Shakers.  This book was honestly disappointing but I will say that my expectations were probably set just a little bit too high.

Professionalizing Motherhood: Encouraging, Educating, and Equipping Mothers At Home by Jill Savage: I am almost finished reading through this book and boy do I wish I would have had the opportunity to read it during my first year of mothering.  Although this book was published when I was actually in high school there is so much to glean from this book.  I love the idea of thinking about motherhood as my career.  I thought the author had a number of great ideas.  At the end of every chapter she included a few "personal reflections" that were wonderful.  It would be so much fun to work through these questions in a small group, with a friend, or even alone in a personal journal.

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison: I jumped on the THM band wagon three years ago right before I became pregnant with my daughter Eva and lost about ten pounds.  Since then I have dabbled with it from time to time and have lost a little bit of weight.  My biggest issue with Trim Healthy Mama originally was their recipes which didn't include exact measurements.  Thankfully this cookbook contains EXACT measurements which is absolutely wonderful for a go by the books type of gal like myself.  This cookbook is absolutely beautiful and I have enjoyed cooking through a number of recipes in the past few weeks.  The best part is the fact that this time around the happy hubby will actually eat some of the recipes!  This cookbook is definitely an improvement on the original self published Trim Healthy Mama book.  My favorite recipes have been the multitude of drinks.   The pictures are absolutely beautiful.  My only complaint would be the fact that the book did not come in hardback or spiral bound.  I am sure that with as much use as my cookbook is receiving it will come apart by the end of the summer.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Blogging For Books.  All opinions are my own.  If you are new to Trim Healthy Mama you will need the book Trim Healthy Mama Plan in order to fully understand Trim Healthy Mama.

The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman: The children and I enjoyed reading this lovely book over the series of a few afternoons this December.  They were absolutely enchanted with the book and it made for such a fun Christmas memory!

Although not pictured we had a delightful time as a family reading through Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping The Greatest Gift.  This was our second time enjoying it and I plan on making the nightly readings during Advent a tradition in our family.  Hopefully next year I will take the opportunity to add a Jesse Tree to our Christmas celebrations.

What books did you read in December?  Do you have any recommendations for winter read alouds for my children (2 and 6)?