Design Team: A Patriotic Post

I’m on a new design team for the next few months with Buttons Galore. It’s a pretty great gig for me – I receive some great products and get to design a product with what I get. 🙂 Not a bad way to spend a summer.

Here’s a peek at my first project.

Head on over to the Buttons Galore blog for full details on how to make a patriotic hoop yourself – including a free pattern download.

Reading: May 2017

Currently

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
This book was nowhere on my radar, but if the author is Ann Patchett then I’ll just grab it and read. It’s a family drama with the amazing character development that Patchett is so good at. So far, so good.

When Hitler Stole the Pick Rabbit by J. Kerr
This is a leftover book from our school book list and it really is the sweetest (if that word can be used when talking about WWII and Nazi’s) book. It follows a family that has been forced out of their home in Germany. The father is an author that is very unsympathetic to the Nazi’s and obviously they don’t like that. It doesn’t help that the family is Jewish. It’s a super read aloud.

A Girl of the Limberlost by G. Stratton-Porter
I’m about half way through this book and put it down for another read and I haven’t yet picked it back up again. It’s been on my to-read list for ages and it’s a bit reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables (strong willed young girl, unappreciated, dreamy and lover of the outdoors).

Moths of the Limberlost by G. Stratton-Porter
This is a coordinating book with the fiction story and describes all the moth life in the Limberlost. It’s actually been a fairly interesting read. I’m becoming a bit of a lepidopterist and I’m slowly researching moths and butterflies for a couple of different reasons. This book is a great introduction to my study.

Walking on Water by M. L’Engle
I’m still plugging along slowly this book and falling more and more in love with L’Engle. I never read any of her books growing up and just read a Wrinkle in Time this past year. The next in the series is on our read aloud list for this summer and I can’t wait. I’ve loved this book in so many ways and when I’m finally finished will be worth of it’s own post.

Finished

Olive Kitteridge by E. Strout
This book was on so many “must-read” lists that I quickly added it to my 2017 master list. The whole layout and voice of this book was so different. It wasn’t until I was finished that I realized she approached this book as a collection of short stories all about this one character. Basically giving you a different perspective from all these different people while telling a whole collection of stories from characters in this small town. From the beginning I really didn’t like Olive and so it was hard for me to keep going when the titled character was just so frustrating to me. But I plugged through and honestly I think the further away I am from this book, the more I realize Strout is a brilliant writer (clearly – she won the Pulitzer) and I’m glad I pushed through and finished it. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite book, but I am glad I read it.

Upstream by M. Oliver
Finally finished. It was good and I’m glad I read it. I’m not a big memoir person.

Atonement by I. McEwan
Another one from my list. It was a bit of a slow read. Another one I kind of had to push through and another one where I wasn’t totally fond of the main characters and the writing style.

Hind’s Feet on High Places
Truly one of my favorite allegorical stories ever. I’ve read it twice on my own and my daughter and I just finished reading it aloud together. There’s not a time I’ve read this where I haven’t gleaned something new.

Up Next

I had great plans to read through (or at least start) The Making of a Story this summer and work on some writing goals, but I’m honestly not sure that’s going to happen. My mind is so fractured with so many other things I just don’t know that I can take on another goal. Right now I just want to finish the books I’ve started and then I’ll figure out where to go next.

Reading: April 2017

Currently

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This book is off. I can’t figure it out. It switches between narrators which is hard for me to follow sometimes. And the way he writes is just really different. I’m entrenched in the story now so I can’t put it down, but it’s a slow read.

Walking On Water by M. L’Engle
I’m only a chapter and a half in and this book is amazing. Here’s a favorite quote so far:

God is always calling on us to do the impossible. It helps me to remember that anything Jesus did during his life here on earth is something we should be able to do too…Sometimes I will sit on a sun-warmed rock to dry and think of Peter walking across water to meet Jesus. As long as he didn’t remember that we human beings have forgotten how to walk on water, he was able to do it. If Jesus of Nazareth was God become truly man for us, as I believe he was, then we should be able to walk on water, to heal the sick, even to accept the Father’s answer to our prayers when it is not he answer that we hope for, when it is No.”

Hinds Feet on High Places
My daughter and I are still plugging along on this book and I’m loving sharing it with her and she’s enjoying listening to it!

I’m still pushing through On Being a Writer. I have to admit I’m not working on my writing as much as I wanted too. Life just keeps getting in the way and I’ve got so many other commitments it’s hard to set aside that time to work on it…or work on anything really. I’m just trying to keep up and make deadlines.

I also purchased second hand a copy of The Making of a Story and I’m hoping to start working on that this summer while we take a little break from school.

Finished

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This book ended up being pretty good. I’m glad I read it – although I would probably be selective about who I recommended it to. It’s a pretty brainy sort of sci-fi book, which makes it less like a sci-fi book I guess?

Goodbye, Vietnam
Eh. It was good. Not our best historical fiction this year.

The Living Page
A little hard to read and follow, but I’m glad I gave it another try. It really did clarify some things I was wanting to maybe try out in our homeschool next year.

Upstream by Mary Oliver
This was a great read. I loved it and I loved how it stretched me. There were a few sections on a few authors (Wordsworth?) that I’ve never read before so that was hard to follow. I loved how she described things – makes sense because she is a poet! 🙂

Loved Walked Among Us by Paul Miller
This was an excellent book. I do think it’s one that I would love to read as a Bible study or with a book club and definitely should read again and do a better job of journaling through it.

Hillbilly Elegy
I loved it, would love to read it again and maybe discuss it and I’ve passed it off to my husband who I hope will read it!

What’s Next?

Not sure! Finishing Atonement is a huge goal (especially before it’s due back to the library) and then I don’t know. We are finishing up with our school year reading. The chick and I are starting Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and I’m sure that will carry on into the summer a little bit and I have a few others I’d like to read aloud this summer too. We have a big road trip in the next few weeks so I need to start searching for some good audiobooks for the car ride. Keeps the natives less restless in the backseat!

What are you reading?

Pattern Review: Julia Cardigan

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I want to like this pattern so much, but I’m just not sure. I’m still trying to figure out if I did something wrong in the construction or if it’s just a flaw.
The pattern is the Julia Women’s cardigan by Welcome to the Mouse House. The fabric is a made by rae print by cloud 9. This knit is divine feeling and in the end I’m wondering if my issues have more to do with the type and heaviness of this knit. It’s not sweatshirt thick, but it is a bit heftier and possibly this pattern is best with a lighter weight knit.

Overall this was a super simple pattern to put together. The directions are pretty darn good and there are photos all along the way to help. It’s not the most “professional” looking pattern, but after spending so many hours this year on adobe illustrator/indesign I’ve become sort of a graphic design snob. You have a couple of different options for the collar and I opted for the rolled collar without a hem. There again, with this thicker knit I’m wondering if that was the right choice?

My issue with the pattern is really just the fit and how it lays. I think if I made it again I would go a size down, a lighter weight knit and then maybe it would help with this bulge that seems to be in the hips area. I also think I would half the width of the collar – it just seems a little bit big when you get down the the back waist band.

It is a pattern that I would love another go at before I totally give it up.

Tutorial: Thank You Teacher Gift

It’s hard to believe it, but the end of the school year is quickly advancing and it’s time to start thinking about thank you gifts for teachers. I came up with this quick little project that is a great beginner embroidery project. It uses a little bit of felt and embroidery floss to mimic a old fashioned slate board. The perfect little gift to tuck into a little basket for your teacher.

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First up, supplies. Here’s what you need:

A 6×8 piece of brown felt (wool blend felt is your best option if available)
a smaller scrap of black felt
white embroidery floss, divisible into 2 strands for stitching
black embroidery floss, divisible into 2 strands for stitching
an embroidery needle
wonderclips or pins
sulky solvy to print your pattern on

First up, print your pattern pieces.
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And cut out your brown and black felt pieces accordingly.

Then, print your embroidery pattern onto the sulky solvy.
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Cut out the center rectangle of your sulky solvy pattern and peel of the back paper. Place it, sticky side down, onto the black felt rectangle.
All the text and the apple are stitched with 2 strands of white dmc embroidery floss using a backstitch. You can fill in the apple leaf with a few satin stitches if desired.

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After you stitch your pattern, cut away as much of the sulky-solvy as you can. Follow the directions on the package and use water to soak it away.
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Once your sulky-solvy has dissolved and your felt has dried, place your black rectangle centered on top of your brown rectangle. Use wonderclips or pins to hold in place.

Take 2 strands of black embroidery floss and stitch a tiny whipsitch all the way around your black rectangle.

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Add it to a gift basket, wrap it up in a fun envelope and pass it off to your favorite teacher!

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Reading: March 2017

One of my goals this year is to journal more regularly regarding what I’ve been reading. Here are my notes from March.

Currently

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I’m not a huge science fiction fan, but when I heard this book described on the What Should I Read Next podcast it just sounded too good to be hung up on the genre. I started reading it one night before bed while I was alone and that might not have been the best choice – the beginning is a little hairy and not something you might want to read alone, in the dark, at night. That said, it has totally gripped me and while there are parts of it I totally don’t understand (physics is not my strength at all) the characters and writing are so good that I keep reading. After the beginning part, I can’t say that it’s a scary book per se, just suspenseful and not the most might relaxing thing to read right before you go to bed.

Goodbye, Vietnam
The chick and I are reading this for school as we finish up a study on the period during the Cold Wars. So far it is pretty good. It chronicles the story of a family as they leave Vietnam during all the chaos reigning in their country.

The Living Page
I’m not going to finish this before I have to return it to the library, but I’m loving it and understanding it way more than I did the first time I tried to read it. This book goes through all the different notebooks that Charlotte Mason suggests using and while there are parts of it that are still hard to understand, overall it’s been fascinating. We are moving closer and closer to a more CM style of homeschooling and I my goal has been to study more and more of her methods. I want to start some notebooking ideas in the Fall and this has been a great stepping point as I head that direction. Definitely a book I want to purchase and add to my own learning library.

Hinds Feet on High Places
My daughter and I started reading this book and while I’ve already read it 2 times in my life, I’m excited to read it with her. It’s an allegory and the story of Much-Afraid and I swear every time I read it I get something new out of it. The last time I read it, I journaled a whole series on the blog. I’m so curious what she is going to think of the story in the end.

I’m still pushing through On Being a Writer and Love Walked Among Us this month. I have to admit I’m not working on my writing as much as I wanted too. Life just keeps getting in the way and I’ve got so many other commitments it’s hard to set aside that time to work on it…or work on anything really. I’m just trying to keep up and make deadlines.

Finished

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
This is a great little kid’s novel that the chick and I read for our book club. The adjectives and creativity were just awesome. She write with such humor and freedom and it’s just a sweet and light little book – but there are deep things in there too.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
We’ve been studying about modern history this semester and both World Wars. This book was awesome in it’s own right, but to read it after doing all this studying on the leaders and the beginning of all the chaos in the turn of the century made it even more interesting. I’ve never read any of Larson’s books, but I’ve heard them rejoiced many times. I’m totally a fan now.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This was another one recommended on What Should I Read Next and it was great. It’s another sci-fi sort of book but not too much. It’s different and weirdly I loved it. It’s a quick read and if you are a fan of a Wrinkle in Time and the show Stranger Things you will probably like this one too. I almost want to read it again to see what I missed, because I feel like I missed a lot of underwritten things.

Shiloh by H. Sorenson
I wrote a review of my own for this book. Find it here. It’s part of a trilogy and I can’t wait to get the next 2.

What’s Next?

I got my hands on Upstream again by Mary Oliver and it is just sitting on the table waiting to be read. I’ve already renewed it once, so I need to get busy and read it! I think I’ll try and finish Hillbilly Elegy in April and make that my one big goal. I’m also not doing very well sticking to my original list. I keep reading things that I hear about instead of going after the things I made a goal to read! Geez.

What are you reading?

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