Crochet Style: Review

 

Every Christmas I receive a generous Amazon gift card from work. I am an admitted autodidact, so I spend a good amount of the gift card on “continuing education” for myself. This year I purchased some books on writing, and specifically, copy writing. I also picked up an updated version of a book on non-profit fundraising. With a bit of money left over at the end, I decided to focus on my new favorite hobby–crocheting.

If you have read here, or  have been hanging around my Facebook or Instagram–or even following me on Pinterest, you can’t help but noticed that I fell down a crochet rabbit hole.

Crocheting was a great diversion when my oldest went off to Basic Training last spring, and I found, over the course of the year that it has had a fabulous effect on my stress levels.

I made several blankets–all multicolored stripes, with mixed stitches, which was a great way to learn to crochet. Crochet is an incredibly forgiving craft. And the community of crocheters is always willing to help.

Here in North Dakota we have notoriously long winters. I have made some cold weather gear with patterns that I have found online–which is hit or miss in regards to pattern quality. As a relative beginner, I like a well-written pattern, and as someone with a few miles of yarn in my stitch history, I appreciate a more complicated design.

I hit the jackpot when I ordered Crochet Style, Over 30 Trendy, Classic and Sporty Accessories for All Ages, by Jennifer Dougherty. Jennifer has several crochet patterns for sale at both Ravelry and Etsy, and this collection of more than 30 patterns is a great bargain–and will keep me busy for many more weeks!

Dougherty  is a very skilled artist and writes crystal clear patterns. This book is chock full of cold weather gear for the family–and each pattern has sizing for several different sizes–all written as a separate pattern.

I’ve made several hats from the book so far, including this cute cabled beanie that I made for myself (I never get a chance to make things for myself!)–Never mind the awkward office selfie–a working mom has to do what she has to do! Cabled beanie

I’ve made several hats for the girls using this book. These are not necessarily quick projects, as they are almost all highly textured (which does add warmth for these North Dakota winters).

Most designs call for worsted weight or bulky yarn, and a very few call for super bulky yarn.

The photos in the book are gorgeous. Each design has a really good summary page at the beginning with suggested weights of yarn, hooks and special supplies needed.

Another great feature is the lay flat binding. This softcover book is stitched such that I can have it open on my lap while working and not lose my place.

While there are a few projects that would suit a beginner, I think this book would be best enjoyed by an intermediate crocheter.

I’ve really enjoyed working on projects from this book during my daily Morning Make time after dropping a kid off at swim practice and before the other kids wake up.

 

Book Review: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind

How To Manage Your Home Wihtout Losing Your Mind Book Review

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book, and a Proctor and Gamble Swiffer gift box in order to facilitate my review. I received no their compensation and I was not required to give a list I’ve review. All opinions are my own. 

Confession time: I’m a “Messy”. My husband sometimes uses the word, slob. Sometimes that hurts my feelings.

I’m actually quite an organized person. However, I’m a creative person, so my “organized” looks very diffferent from yours.

The book I’m reviewing today is for people like me. If you have a dedicated system of cleaning your house and your bullet journal is full of daily, weekly, and monthly housekeeping tasks that get regularly checked off–this book is not for you. If your mother-in-law smiles approvingly when she enters your impeccably tidy kitchen–this book is not for you.

If you regularly are hunting for a pair of clean socks for your first grader and your third grader is wearing the dog’s hat–this book is for you. If you have considered paying a neighbor teen to spend a day washing your dishes–this book is for you.

Dana White, AKA Nony the Slob, has been, and still is in your shoes. I have been a reader of A Slob Comes Clean for several years now. Every post that Dana writes leaves me nodding my head and realizing that she writes to a very interesting and needy niche–moms who WANT a clean home, but who also get overwhelmed with the thought of getting it–and keeping it– clean.

So, then, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind is full of funny, witty, practical wisdom. This meaty (221 pages) book is divided into four sections: I. Reality Check–in which White outlines how your house got to be the way it is. II. (My favorite) Daily Stuff: The Down and Dirty Truth About a Clean House (which includes two whole chapters on my nemesis–laundry!). III. Decluttering: The Down and dirty Truth About All Your Stuff (spoiler alert–decluttering is not a one-off event!) IV. Change that Lasts (because shouldn’t that be our goal?)

One of my very favorite parts of this book is the appendix–it includes the previously released as a stand-alone eBook “28 Days to Hope For Your Home”. I purchased this year ago, and it is really amazing, even in its simplicity. I even give you permission to skip to the appendix, work through the 28 days and then come back and read the book. The 28 days will help form some pretty powerful (and simple) habits the may just jump-start your hopeful mindset.

Honestly, what I love about this book, and some of the downright common sense simplicity found inside, is that Dana White is not a cleaning or organization expert. She is a real mom. A real mom who is struggling just like you to keep afloat. And the message of the book is–yes, there IS hope for your home. It is just going to take work, determination and HABIT!

This book gets my hearty recommendation–and makes it totally worth you reading my confession up above. And yes, this book HAS made a difference in our home. I still have some habits and spaces to tame, but things are a lot less overwhelming now–even laundry!!!

Proctor and Gamble sent me this box full of Swiffer supplies to help me along on my de-slobbification journey!

Buy it: How To Manage your Home Without Losing your Mind is available on Amazon! (Aff link).

Chime in: What is the most overwhelming part of your homemaking? Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page!

Advent Traditions: The Book Basket

 
 I love the Advent season. 

I love the cozy evenings, the early sunset,and the Christmas decorations in my living room. 

I love the traditions that we have started as a family. We always decorate the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My life is less stressful that weekend, as the Turkey Trot is over, and Matt’s busy season at church is just about ramping up. . .but not quite yet. 

Since I am married to a pastor, Advent is filled with many evenings at home alone with the children. This used to bother me, but as I matured, and the children got a bit older and not so needy, I found that I enjoy this time with them. 

One of the things that I have always enjoyed was reading to the children. I was read to for hours at a time as a child, and those moments on the laps of my loved ones are some of my sweetest family memories. 

I admit, I don’t read to my kids nearly as much as I was read to. I grew up before Netflix, cable TV and even video games. I was one of two children, not six, and I had the rare luxury of a set of grandparents living in my home during my very young years. 

But during Advent, the beginning of the church year, I make some New Years Resolutions of sorts. . .and one of those resolutions is to read more with the kids. 

We have been reading through “Jotham’s Journey” during our Advent devotional and have been loving it. 

The other way that I fit more reading into our evenings is the the Advent Book Basket. The week before Thanksgiving, I scour our bookshelves for all of the Christmas books, I grab some of last years’ wrapping paper and I wrap each book and put them in a pretty basket. Each night, after devotions, the girls take turns opening a package and we read the book together. 

Some of the books are quite old, actual relics from my warm childhood. (Including the sadly, out of print “Donkey Daniel in Bethlehem.” I will be sharing that book on Instagram next week!). Every year though, I add at least one book to our collection. 

 This year I added Callista Gingrich’s delightful “Christmas in America” to our rotation. I was sent this book for review, and the girls and I thoroghly enjoyed it! “Christmas in America” is fifth in a series of picture books featuring Ellis the Elephant. Elllis travels through American history to see how Christmas has been celebrated, in good times and in bad times. We, of course, were delighted to see North Dakota represented! The older children enjoyed learning more about each event in the resource guide at the end of the book.  

 What do you enjoy reading together in Advent and Christmas time? Leave a title in the comments and I may add it to our basket!

National Reading Month: An Interview With Kristi Yamaguchi

Some of my warmest childhood memories are of me sitting on the lap of my parents and grandparents being read to. Reading is a big part of our family life–and if you have been in our house you know that we are overrun by books!

However, according to reports from the U.S. Department of Education, only about half of all children aged 3-5 are being read to on a daily basis. (And, honestly, during a busy week my kids likely fall through those cracks as well.)

Last week I was contacted with the opportunity to hold a phone interview with Olympic Figure Skater, children’s’ book author and literacy advocate, Kristi Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi is teaming up with LeapFrog and her Always Dream Foundation to promote reading for National Reading month in March.

Kristi and I are the same age, and grew up within 100 miles of each other (though we never crossed paths that I know of!). I remember watching her compete in the Olympics from my college dorm room. To say that I was excited to get the chance to speak with her, is an understatement. Please excuse the fact that I picked up a respiratory bug from my little ones and sound less than healthy!

Click here for more information on the 20/20 reading challenge and start a great new habit today!

*** PLEASE NOTE: This interview opportunity is sponsored by LeapFrog***

Read With Me Wednesday: Moms’ Night Out

 

Read-With-Us-Wednesday-1

Well, real life caught up with me last week and I missed our first discussion. I hope you popped over to Essie’s Blessings to chat with her last week! (and pop over there today as well to share your thoughts.)

This month we are reading through Moms’ Night Out and this week we are discussing chapters 4-8. Why such short readings? Well, we wanted a “book club” that all of our mom friends could participate in. Sometimes a book a week or a book a month seems impossible for a busy mom. But eh, a few chapters. . . less than one a day? That is doable. So join us. There is no pressure. We won’t test you on the material! But, we would LOVE for you to join the conversation and let us know what you think.

Today I’m going to talk about the enormous pressure that we moms put on ourselves. Thanks to social media, we tend to see everyone’s highlight reels. This becomes even more bothersome when you feel like your life is one long blooper reel.

Consider Allyson’s thoughts after she had a meltdown after the frustrating non-dinner on her moms’ night out:

Was that a moment? Did she just have a “moment” in front of everyone in the restaurant? She’d come to fix that problem. To fix herself, and what had happened? Instead, she’d just made a big mess. Now there would be no dinner. Now there would be no conversation. Now there would be no unplugging. Allyson’s breaths came short, fast. And this . . . this was worse than mascara on her eye. It was worse than her meltdown in front of the newlyweds. She’d lost control in front of her friends. She was getting worse, not better. How could she return home worse than she started? Sean would be so disappointed, and then who knew what tomorrow would bring? Yet another failure to heap upon all the other ones.

Poor Allyson. She felt so frustrated and guilty over the failed dinner that she was unable to laugh it off, or casually come up with a “plan b”. She put all kinds of pressure on herself to come up with the “perfect” moms’ night out. When there is a kink in the plan, we as moms need to be able to seamlessly switch gears. There is a sort of fearlessness that needs to come with motherhood.

Last year we had the perfect birthday party planned for the twins. We put a deposit down on a party at the gymnastics studio. I had cute cupcakes ordered. I bought a car full of balloons. When we arrived at the gym to set up. . .the building was locked. Our reservation was never fully noted. I had to think fast. So, a few phone calls later to parents, and we moved the party  a few miles north to our church. It was not what I envisioned. It was not what I had planned. Inside I was seething with frustration. But I HAD to be nimble. My little girls were only going to turn four once, and I had a dozen preschoolers to entertain.

It ended up being a great birthday. The girls had fun, their guests had fun, and we actually saved quite a bit of money!

I could have had a meltdown right there in that icy parking lot. (I totally wanted to!) But that was not going to solve anything. I could have given in to embarrassment–because yes, it was totally embarrassing to have to call all of those parents to give them a last minute change of plan. I took a deep breath and did what I needed to do for the happiness of my daughters.

So, what about you? What has hit home for you as you have been reading this book? Have you had a meltdown like Allyson’s? What situations have you had to come up with a “plan b” on the fly? Share in the comments and join the conversation!