Monday, December 26, 2011

Sitting Thankful

I'm so thankful this week for~
1. Sitting on the couch with a plate full of Christmas treats on my lap (yum!).

2. Sitting on the couch with a cutie-poo niece on my lap!

3. Sitting on the couch with my mother-in-law and a pile of crocheting on my lap.

4. Sitting on the couch watching a movie with our puppy curled up on my lap.

The happiest moments of my life 
have been the few which I have passed at home 
in the bosom of my family.  
~Thomas Jefferson

May this week be one of family and relaxation for you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
He is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Blessings to you and your family!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ready for Christmas!

The last of my made from scratch gifts is done. It's taken months, but I finally put the finishing touches on this sweater. Isn't it adorable?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finally finished!

Months ago I wrote here about how I wanted to crochet a scarfette. Well, it's taken me a couple months to finish, but I came up with two different ones both of which I really like.

I kept some notes on how I made them. The key was starting with a chain of 99 and crocheting around the length of the scarf versus crocheting in rows.

I'll definitely make these again! And I'd love to hear suggestions on ways to improve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's almost Christmas!

Thankful this day for
1) Christmas lights
2) Christmas packages in the mail and on their way to family and friends
3) Christmas carols playing on the radio
4) Curling up to watch a Christmas movie with my husband.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A good night

What makes for a good night? For me it is to curl up on the couch with my hubby and puppy, turn on something like Top Chef Texas, and pig out on pizza. I could do that every single night and never grow tired of it.
Hope you are enjoying a good night!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quick Ornaments

We don't have a Christmas tree in our tiny apartment, but that hasn't stopped me from making a few ornaments. I used stash yarn, ribbon and pretty stick pins for these.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Love Christmas!

Source: Microsoft Office
I even love all the busyness of it and all the checking items off your to-do list.  (Really, I'm goofy like that.)  Far from being stressful or tiring, I find the planning of everything exciting.

Ok, I'll admit it- I'm one of those people who start planning and shopping months in advance.  And I'm not someone who decorates every inch of our home (yet) or feels the pressure to keep up with our neighbors.  Both of which definitely bring down the stress level a lot.

One of the things I love most about Christmas is the focus on blessing others.  I think about that as I get gifts together and as I'm wrapping them up.  I think about that as I make little treats for my husband and I to share at our workplaces.  And I think of that as I fill out our Christmas cards.  This is a special time of year where we get to reach out to all the people we love and value and let them know that we care.  Isn't that wonderful?

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." ~ W.T. Purkiser, Pastor

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feeling Grateful

Source: Microsoft Office
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." ~ William Arthur Ward

Thank you Father for
1) A warm home against the chill of winter
2) A warm family to welcome me home each night
3) A warm heart that is hopeful
4) A warm welcome which You've promised me at the end of this journey.

Blessings to you and yours!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crocheting a doll

I promised last week that I would do a follow up post talking about how I crochet a doll.  I can't give a complete tutorial or pattern, because I don't use one.  However, I can roughly go through the steps I take as I crochet.

As background, I have some experience making amigurumi animals and from that I learned how to do a magic circle.  You can see that when I'm crocheting in the round, I don't do a proper increase each time around.  I personally think it leaves a line in your finished crochet that I'm not a fan of.  The downside of this, though, is that my finished work does twist slightly.  I can offset some of that when I attach limbs, but it's still going to be visible.  And finally, I don't turn my work right-side out.  I've read on other blogs that I should be turning out my pieces before sewing them together.  Because of how I attach the limbs, I don't do this.

Whew... So onto the good stuff.

Supplies: As much as possible, I use 100% cotton yarn.  I want something that will be soft and durable over many washes.  I also stay away from using any kind of sewn on eyes or beads just for safety's sake.    I've been giving these to little kids who might pull on them or chew on them and so on.

The Feet: I start my dolls at the feet and work my way up from there adding parts until they are finished.  For the feet, I start with a magic loop and by either doing dc on one side and sc on the other side- or by using increases and decreases- I get them into a foot-like shape.

The Legs: I keep crocheting in a circle until I have them the length I want.  I get two to the same length and then finish one by sewing in the loose ends.  With the other, I crochet across the "back" side and link it to the next leg, follow that leg around to the front and then link it on the "front" side to the front of my first leg.  I keep building on this new cylinder to make the torso of my doll.

The Torso: I immediately add increases to my torso until I get it to the diameter I want.  On this doll, I also worked in slightly larger stitches in the back- maybe dc or hdc- for a row or two until I had a bottom to the doll.  I keep building up the torso until I'm ready to add the arms.  

The Hands: For this doll, I crocheted a chain of four and then used that to make a row of three hdc (the "fingers" on the hand).  At the end of that row, I chained two and then with a sc connected them back to the starting point.  I then did a sc two more times across the base of the hand.  Voila!  One hand. 

The Arms: At that point, wanted to keep going and crochet a cylinder for the rest of the arm.  I chained one, turned and crocheted in the back loops only of my row until I reached the end and then I kept going by turning my work and crocheting in the front loops of my row.  I now had six sc in a circular shape.  I built on that round by round until I had my arms the length I wanted them.  

I attach my arms to the torso in the same basic way I attach my legs.  I crochet the bottom parts of both arms as I'm doing a round.  On my second round, I go over the tops of them and they are connected.

The Chest/Neck: At this point, I usually start making decreases until I get to the diameter I want my neck to be.  Then, I start increasing again for the head.  Pretty simple.

The Face: First I build up the bottom of her head in this flesh-toned yarn.  Then, I work on just the face of my doll.  I go back and forth in rows until I have the height I wanted for her face (leaving the back alone).  At that point, I finish off this color by weaving in my ends.  If you saw her at this point, you'd see that she's missing the back of her head completely.  That's the last feature I add.

For the expression on her face, I try to keep it simple with embroidery floss.  I use a little bit of crayon to get her cheek color.  

The Hair: When I'm done with her face, I need to finish the head and add hair.  I change the color of yarn I am using to whatever I want to use for her hair and then begin to do a sc all the way around the flesh colored parts of her head.  After establishing the new color, I do decreases in this color until I have a head shape, finish stuffing her, and then close her off. Lastly, I add her braids and bangs.

So... I think this is officially the longest post I've written.  Hope that some people find it helpful.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shackleton's Way

It's month four of my Book a Month reading challenge, and I've just finished another great one Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell.  I'm not generally someone who reads leadership books, but this one intrigued me because of who it profiled, one of my heroes, Ernest Shackleton.
My dad introduced me to Shackleton and the story of the ill-fated Endurance when I was a teenager.  Through the years, he's introduced me to many incredible men who fought valiantly against their circumstances: King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae, Lewis and Clark on their trek through the uncharted lands of the Louisiana Purchase, and Sir Ernest Shackleton who brought home all of his men after being stranded on the ice floes outside of Antarctica for two years.

In Shackleton's Way the authors do a nice job of retelling the key events in Shackleton's life, focusing on his exceptional leadership skills that carried his men through the trial of losing their ship, the Endurance. There are so many leadership lessons to be learned, but the one that impressed me most is how well Ernest Shackleton understood his men and how well he cared for them throughout their entire ordeal.  Part of what made him such a phenomenal leader was the trust and respect his men had for him, which came in large part from the way he related with them.

For anyone interested in leadership, this is a short and interesting read.  It's both practical and offers examples of modern leaders who have applied principles they've learned from reading about Shackleton.  And even if you're not particularly interested in the topic of leadership, like me, there is still so much to learn from a man like this who overcame some pretty incredible odds.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

For this day...

I am thankful for-
1)  The sights and sounds of the northern coast
2)  Time with family
3)  Turkey dinner, turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup, turkey sandwiches... We are blessed with abundance.
4)  Sleeping in late and waking up to the smell of fresh coffee.

What are you thankful for this day?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Are you giving books this Christmas?

I saw this post over at the Life Your Way blog- it would make such a cute way to gift some kids you know with books this Christmas!
Source: Mandi Ehman

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Newest Girl in the Family

This is the newest doll I made just for my niece who's turning one today. Here are a few pics of her and I'll post later next week to talk about how I made her.

Monday, November 28, 2011

When God Created Your Toes

I'm always looking for books to share with my nieces and nephews.  A special book that I'm looking forward to sharing with them soon is When God Created My Toes by Dandi Daley Mackall.  The story, through colorful illustrations and simple, fun rhymes, teaches a little one just how special they are in God's sight.
The first time I read the story, I enjoyed the simple rhymes and the fact that the story moved through all the body parts we teach our little children making it an engaging book for a toddler.  I also appreciated the focus on the little child through the language and illustrations.

On my second reading, however, I understood that the little girl was imagining what she and the Lord might have done as each part of her was created. For example,
           When God created my hands
           Did my fingers snap?
           Did he help me clap?
           Did we cheer for angle bands when God created my hands?

With this understanding, the story affirms the message from Psalm 139:13-16 (quoted at the beginning of the book):
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Sweet affirmation for a growing child. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to sharing it with the children in my life.

Full Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

All that we behold is full of blessings. 
~William Wordsworth

My childhood pastor was a firm believer in the importance of giving thanks daily for what we have received. He challenged us on several occasions to make it our habit to pause during our day and give thanks to God for four things. I don't know if there was any significance to the number, but the spirit of making it a regular practice to give thanks has always stayed with me.

Thanksgiving the holiday has passed, but still there is much to be thankful for. On my list today is-

1) The sight of my favorite bird, the great blue heron, landing in front of me. I snapped this photo of him to try to capture his beauty. Sigh...

2) My puppy crawling up on my lap to take a nap. It's so sweet the way she wants to be with us.

3) Nephews and nieces that are growing up healthy and strong. I'm excited to be seeing them soon.

4) My supportive husband. I got pretty sick over thanksgiving and he took good care of me and Mollie.

What about you? What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crochet for Christmas

It's Black Friday and if you happen to enjoy staying home in lounge pants more than wrestling through crowds looking for a likely already-sold-out deal, then I've got a treat for you- 10 great gift ideas you can crochet for Christmas!

All of these would brighten someone's Christmas morning. And they all could be made in an evening or two of crocheting in front of your favorite Christmas movie. For me, it'll probably be one of the classics- It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas.

1) Nook or Kindle Case
How about crocheting a case for a friend's Kindle?  I've seen lots of takes on these including chevron stripes and granny squares.

Source: Little Birdie Secrets 

2) Make a Monster
These are sooo cute!  Wouldn't they make fun stocking stuffers for the kids in your life?

Source: Crafty is Cool

3) Ornament Bookmark
As I'm getting back into reading, I'm finding that a good bookmark is hard to find.  How about giving one of these (and a book) to a reader in your life?

Source: Julie K

4) Light Blue Julie Cuff
Ok, so I LOVE bracelets and cuffs!  How cool would one of these be with a t-shirt and your favorite jeans?

Source: Simply Stoked

5) Baby Moccasins
These are ADORABLE!!!  You've got to know some little girl to make these for!

Source: Little Eme

6) Bath Foamie
I haven't seen anything like this before, but wouldn't that be a fun gift for a little one you know?  I love the mix of amigurumi and practicality.

Source: Petite Purls

7) Granny Stripe Boutique Bag
I saw this last summer and bookmarked it- how cute and fun is that?  Filled with some sweet smelling lotions, lip glosses or nail polish and this would make a great gift for a teen in your life.

Source: Tangled Happy

8) Sweet Home Sweet Pillow
I want this pillow!  And isn't the sentiment simply perfect?

Source: Purlbee

9) Crochet Spring Frills Scarf
My absolute favorite accessory to wear is a scarf!  I must have well over a dozen in different textures and colors.  I'd love to add one of these to my collection, wouldn't you?

Source: Aestheic Nest

10) Fuzzy Bear Hat
I love all the children's hats that Alli Crafts comes up with.  And having made this particular one, I can say that her hats look adorable on the kids you crochet them for!

Source: Alli Crafts

Enjoy this holiday crafting season!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On the bookshelf

I used to be a voracious reader. As a student, I read all the time. But somewhere between graduation and getting a job, my reading slowed down significantly. Such a disappointment.

To begin amending this situation, I've made it one of my recent goals to begin reading at least one book a month. Thus far, I'm up to three months and three finished books: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (loved this- neglected everything to read it all in one weekend), The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (fascinating to delve into another culture like this) and most recently, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (such an interesting and bittersweet look into the lives of these two young men).

What about you? Has anyone read a good book recently? What's on your reading list?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sleepy Girl

Miss Mollie spends most of her time dozing in her bed or on the couch between us.  And recently, she's taken a real liking to my bathrobe as her preferred bedding.  We'll come out of the kitchen to find her curled up on it on the couch.  It's adorable... but it was starting to pose a problem for me since I like to wear my bathrobe.   

To solve this problem and update her bedding in general (we had been using some old towels), I picked up some very plush, pink fabric at Joann's over the weekend.  It feels exactly like my robe and I picked up enough to make two separate blankets for her. They're stacked up here on her bed.

The blanket on the top was a piece of remnant flannel I found on my way out of the store.  It was about $1 and almost a yard in length.  I thought it would be cute with a pink border added to it.  After sewing the edges, I added a simple blanket-stich to the edge

I think they turned out cute.  And I think it's safe to say that Mollie likes them, too!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I love this!

I've been admiring these scarfettes for quite some time. I originally saw them here at Aesthetic Nest. Sadly, my knitting skills are not up to the challenge. Boo!

I have, however, been working on crocheting one. My first one turned out so-so. As soon as I have something a little better, I'll share!

Photo credit: Aesthetic Nest

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ready for Fall

I worked on this over the summer, but I've been waiting to show it off until we got closer to fall. I made this little ensemble for one of my nieces back in my hometown in Minnesota. She will probably need it by Halloween. (Sidenote: I remember trick-or-treating in a foot of snow one year!)

The hat is a simple rib stitch (each row is worked in the back loop only) worked sideways and joined before adding the green stem. The jacket is cotton and something I picked up for this craft. I originally wanted to do an embellished onesie, but this jacket made more sense. I hope she'll enjoy it!

Happy Autumn!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where have I been?

Well, getting this little one has been keeping me busy. Her name is Mollie, and she has completely captured our hearts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

WIP Sweater

About a month ago, I was out of town and stopped in a yarn shop looking for a space to crochet. It was a lovely spot and the owner and her grandchildren were wonderful. The sweet granddaughter was my little friend for the day showing me all around, helping me choose yarn, telling me about her half-started project, and giving me her opinion of the project I was working on. Simply adorable!

I did, with my little friend's help, find some pretty purple cotton-wool blend to take home. After looking around a bit, I found the perfect use for my yarn via Aethestic Nest. Following her directions, I used up most of the 200gms of deep purple yarn I picked up on this baby sweater.

I couldn't get a picture that does this yarn justice- it's actually deep purple with a gentle sheen.

Lastly, although the body is finished, I still need to find the perfect buttons. Maybe something clear or purple or even wood-grain would be nice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Deals, deals, deals!

Have you tried couponing? I'm not going to be making the cut for TLC's show Extreme Couponing, but I have been managing to build up a smallish stockpile of products we use regularly by combining couponing and store loyalty programs.

From today's trip to CVS, I got
3 Gatorade G Fit Series snacks and drinks
3 Hallmark car-shaped gift boxes (about 8x10 in size)
2 packages CVS pantiliners
3 12-packs of Pepsi
1 box of CVS bandaids
1 candy bar

Total paid out of pocket $9.94 (after coupons and using my previous ECB)
+ I earned $5 in ECB for my next trip

From Rite Aid, I got
2 bottles of Gain dish detergent
1 bottle of Scope mouthwash
1 padlock

Total paid out of pocket $5.04 (after coupons and using my previous UPR)
+ I earned $3 in UPR for my next trip

So in summary, I spent a total of $15.00 today for $48.00 worth of products. And I have $8.00 left to use in the future. I'm definitely not a pro at this, but I've found what works for us and I'm happy with the results.

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, I recommend checking out Money Saving Mom. She has a lot of great tutorials on getting the most from couponing, and she regularly posts other free offers.

Happy Shopping!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Very New Skill

This summer has been so relaxing. It's the first time in a few years that I've had the time to simply do nothing. Ahh...

In the last week or so, I've finally begun feeling relieved, unburdened, rested, healthy. It's helped me relax to take care of some of the items on my to do list... and to simply leave some items alone for now.

I haven't been doing as much crocheting or crafting or posting, but I'm ok with that. I am finally feeling truly rested.

With all this resting, though, has come the space to try out a completely new skill- knitting. I'm showing you my first project- as you can see, it ended up wonky.

It was just a simple wash cloth to practice my new skills, but made wonky when I tried to add a border. Still, it makes me smile to see the smooth stockinette in the center.

Here she is in all her wonky glory!

By the way, I now know firsthand how the stockinette stitch can curl.


Sunday, August 7, 2011


It's been so long since I last posted. I've got a few WIPs going on, but nothing ready to show off yet.

This afternoon, I was looking at the beautiful projects linked up at icrochet. This pillow totally caught my eye. It's such a nice use of granny squares and I love the little flowers on it. Wouldn't it be lovely as an accent piece?

Source: Amona

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Baby Hat

I found out a friend of mine just had a baby! Yay!! Here's the hat I made for her little girl. Since it's summer and hot, hot, hot... I went with a cotton watermelon themed hat. I think it turned out pretty cheerful.

I also got some new yarn last weekend- Sierra by Cascade Yarns. The yarn is 80% Pima cotton, 20% wool. It's soft and such a vibrant shade of pink. Also last weekend, I picked up some Debbie Bliss cotton yarn (I've heard good things about it, so I'm anxious to try it out).

P.S. Need to know how big to make a hat? Check out this post by Little Birdie Secrets. It's my go to place when I'm free styling!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cute Sundress

Woman's Day has a pattern for a child's crocheted sundress posted online right now. Here's the link. It looks adorable and might be the next thing I make my nieces. Yay for little girls!

On a related note, has anyone had a chance to check out Little Crochet by Linda Permann?  The sundress at Woman's Day comes from this book.  I've seen It at the local bookstore and it looks like it has several really cute and doable patterns. I just wish there was a Kindle version. 

Happy Hooking!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crochet Love

One of my favorite parts of working on an afghan for someone is how much love goes into it.  I really mean that. The entire process of making an afghan is a labor of love.  For me, before I even begin, I spend hours looking around for inspiration.  I pour over all the yarn choices I have, debating which color and texture they’ll most enjoy.  I try to imagine where and how they’ll use their afghan. 

Will they keep it on the couch to curl up with while they watch TV?
Will they use it to casually throw over their favorite chair as a decorative touch? 

Is it something they’ll keep on their bed and fall asleep with night after night?

Wherever they’ll use it and however they’ll use it, I try to plan for that.  And then I begin it.  I count my starting chain over and over and check and double-check that I’m following the pattern correctly.  And once I’ve started it, I work on it hour after hour, night after night.  If you’ve ever made an afghan you know it takes time to finish.  And all the while, all those hours I spend working on it, I’m thinking about the person I’m making it for.  I think about them and about all the things that make them dear to me.  I remember the special times we’ve shared together and make plans for the memories I still want to make with them.  Then I triple check my pattern to make sure I’m getting this afghan just perfect for them.  My mind wanders again and I start to imagine them actually using this blanket, and I wonder if they’ll sense how much I care as they look over all these stitches?  I trust that they will and it makes me happy to know that, through this act of crocheting, I’m able to show someone how much they mean to me. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Baby's On The Way!

Any day now, there's a new little nephew or niece coming! Hurray! I made these little layettes to welcome the new little one- boy or girl. Here's praying the birth goes smoothly for mommy, baby... and daddy, too!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finished: Flower Tote + Doll Set

WIP's? No problem! I'm almost caught up now. Here's how:

Embellishing my little tote bag with flowers from my stash was easier than I thought. I simply used some cotton yarn and my large tapestry needle to stitch them on. Easy peasy. I think it turned out pretty cute, too.

The blanket/doll blanket/doll set I started last week is also finished. After adding to this project several times (clothes, matching hats, etc), I finally got all the pieces together for my niece. And then in a moment of serendipity, realized I could put it all together in the small tote I had just finished. Yay!

Here's another pic of my finished work. Both were such fun projects that I'm thinking of doing them again for another niece.