Points to Ponder

Some Small Resolutions for 2014

I have never been one for making big New Year’s Resolutions.

Sure, I’ve had some here and there, and I would stick with them for awhile. However, I tend to think that by declaring some grand resolution that is far out of reach, it sets one up for failure.

I also tend to be the hardest on my own self if I fail at something.

Therefore, this year I just have a handful of small things that I would like to strive for. Some are serious and some may seem silly, but this is what comes to mind for me.

1. Learn at least one new skill. You’re never too old to learn something new! Some things I’ve taught myself in my thirties so far: how to sew, knit, crochet, blog, make good bread….I’d like to continue adding on to this list!

2. “Eat the frog.” If you’ve never heard this expression before, it comes from Mark Twain.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

He was expressing that you need to do something that seems difficult or that you’re intentionally putting off first, then do the things that are easier for you after that. I have a habit of procrastinating on the things I really am not looking forward to. Anyone else with me on that one?? Maybe this will be a kick in the pants to do those things first (basically, get it over with!) before tackling what I enjoy doing.

3. Make more things from scratch. Yeah, you may already think I’m a little over the top with this already. However, there’s a lot more things I could make on my own if I really tried.

4. Memorize 3 new passages from scripture. Someone really needs to light a fire under me on this one! I think scripture memorization is important and I am convinced that we need to have the Word of God written on our hearts and ready on our lips even more than ever. Our current times are SO stinking troubling that it about scares me. We Christians need to be ready to speak God’s Truth for all those times we feel Satan’s arrows being unleashed. Our kids need to learn this too.

5. Don’t wear sweatpants. Or yoga pants. I have this horrible habit, on days when I don’t have to go anywhere, of putting these on to exercise in and then remaining in them all day. Why oh why do they have to be so comfy?? I’m sure my better half would rather come home to me in something cute, or at least in something that looks like I’ve tried. (For the record, I’ve never gone out in public in pajama pants. Just so you know.)

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Also, for the record, this is not my husband. Just so you know.

6. Send more snail mail. Yes, you read that correctly. I used to be quite good at handwritten cards and notes of encouragement to people via the good ole’ postal service. Over the last few years I’ve slipped on this one, but I need to pick it back up. E-mails, Facebook postings, and texts just aren’t the same.

7. Drink more water and less coffee. Easier said than done.

Well, I realize that’s a pretty short list. I’m sure I will add on to it as the days of 2014 progress, but I think it’s a good little start.

Do you have any “small” resolutions that you want to tackle this year?

Craft/DIY Ideas

Handmade Christmas Series: Knit Dishcloths

Last Christmas one of my favorite gifts was from my very best friend. She gave me several dishcloths that she crocheted in some of my favorite colors and included a bottle of dish soap with the gift. How’s that for practical, eh?

Well, I don’t crochet (not yet–maybe she can teach me) but I do know some basic knitting. Nothing too fancy, mind you, but enough to get by. I came across some fun knitting patterns for dish cloths on Little House in the Suburbs and thought I’d try some.

Can you guess what I did while the hurricane was blowing outside? Ha ha–yep, that’s when I worked on these. Thankfully we were spared any damage and other than a few flickers, never lost power! My heart aches for those who got hit hard by Sandy and lost their homes. I really just can’t imagine what they are going through right now.

I tried out three different patterns and like them all. The beauty of these is that it’s a quick project, easily completed in an evening. Here’s a sampling of the designs I tried.

This one is named the Andalutheean.

The link to the pattern for this one is here.

This is an extreme close up of the Very Seedy Dishcloth pattern. The chocolate brown one in the group pic is the same design. Check out the specifics at this link.

This little blue number has taken a little longer, but I have to admit that I tried it just because I liked the name. It’s called the Ramen Noodle dishcloth.

Yes, I realize my knitting skills have much room for improvement, but hey, I’m still learning.

The instructions for the Ramen Noodle one are right here. She has a number of other great patterns as well.

Just another quick idea for handmade Christmas gifts. Oh, and there’s just under two months left, so plenty of time to whip up a bunch of these.

Craft/DIY Ideas

Cozy Knit Baby Blanket

After the end of a busy week, I thought I’d share a project that I had finished up probably a month or so ago.

A super soft, cuddly, knit baby blanket.

Perfect for a little one to snuggle up with.

Quite honestly, after these last few chilly nights and mornings, I would like a bigger version for ME to snuggle up with.

This is a pretty simple knitting project. I’ll give the basics of this particular blanket.

For starters, I found this squishy yarn (which feels like chenille) at JoAnn’s and snatched it up with the intent to do a baby blanket with it.

I loved this blanket so much after I finished it that I picked up the girly-colored version to make another one for a baby gift.

I used size 13 knitting needles that are fairly long.

Cast on 35 stitches. Knit and purl, just making row after row of stockinette stitches.

That’s pretty much it. Do that until you reach the desired length of your blanket. Mine measures @24″ by 32″ and it only used up a little over half of my yarn.

As far as casting off, or binding off, I would recommend not doing it too tightly. (Mine ended up just a little tight at the one end.)

If you’ve never knit before, here are some links to a little mini-series I did on knitting last winter:

Part 1:Casting On

Part 2: The Knit Stitch

Part 3: The Purl Stitch

Part 4: Casting Off

Craft/DIY Ideas

Yarn Bow

This may be one of the simplest little tutorials I’ve ever posted.

A sweet bow, made entirely of yarn. It can be used to embellish other things, but in this case I made a little barrette for my daughter’s hair.

Lots of yarn colors=lots of possibilities.

Like I mentioned, the tutorial is super simple.

Cut a length of yarn. Mine was maybe 20″ long or so, but you can really use any length. The longer your yarn, the fuller your bow can be. Wrap yarn around at least a couple of fingers.

Slide off your fingers and lay down. Cut another smaller piece of yarn and wrap it around the middle multiple times. Knot and snip ends.

Use however you wish. I hot glued mine to a barrette back, making sure the knotted side was against the barrette back so it didn’t show.

So sweet.

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

What I’ve Learned in My 34th Year

I think each year of my life goes by just a tad bit quicker than the last. Really, it feels like just a couple months ago that I turned 33, and here I have just celebrated yet another birthday. I would like to say that I am not only a year older, but a little wiser too. I’m sure I am in a couple of ways. Other times…eh, not so much. I still do a number of stupid and/or unwise things on a daily basis. However, I have learned (and in some cases relearned) a few new things in my 34th year:

1. Getting up before my children really is worth it. Even if they are all early risers. I have found myself sharing this one with newer moms and they sometimes look at me like I’m crazy. Now granted, I don’t always practice what I preach, but when I am diligent about this one it does pay off. Even having a mere 10-20 minutes of quiet makes a huge difference in my attitude for the day. I am rarely up burning the midnight oil, so getting enough sleep isn’t usually an issue right now. (By the way, I also tell newer moms to get their kids on a schedule of going to bed early!)

2. Don’t ignore a toothache. Or don’t skip going to the dentist for much longer than acceptable. I could never understand people’s apprehension about going to the dentist–that is, until I skipped going for years and ended up having a bad experience. Not only did I have my first cavity ever, but it turned into a root canal. I think I was white-knuckled during the whole thing and came home more than a little bit traumatized.

3. I am still capable of memorizing scripture, therefore I have no excuse not to. Even though my brain felt like a big mush-ball for the past almost 11 years. I was challenged to memorize the Book of James a couple months ago, and to my great surprise, was able to pull it off.

4. I learned how to knit. Actually, I did a little how-to series on this back in January, sharing what I learned as I went. It was very relaxing and enjoyable.

5. Taking time to exercise is always worth it. I am a big fan of exercise (even when it’s not fun) and can always feel a difference when I’m not being diligent with this. There’s way too many benefits to it not to take the time to exercise. Believe me, I am usually much happier, healthier, sleep better, eat better, and look better when I do it.

6. No matter what season of life you’re in, God can still use you. It doesn’t matter if you’re elbow-deep in taking care of infants and toddlers or you are beyond retirement. If you’re still alive and kicking, God still has a specific purpose for you and you only for this season of life.

7. Staying home with my kids has been a gift. Sure, there have been days and weeks when they made me crazy and I was wishing for a job instead of being on the homefront. However, since my kids are soon going to all be in school (I just registered my twins for kindergarten), I have to say that I’m thankful for all the years I have had with them at home. There’s so much I would have missed out on had I shipped them off to childcare every day and worked. As the expression goes, “the days are long but the years are short.” How true it is, and I don’t regret staying home one bit. By the way, I am totally not judging moms who work outside the home, so please don’t think I am!

8. I have a huge impact on my kids. This one’s sort of a no-brainer since I am their mother. However, sometimes they will say and do something that I know originated with something I have said and done. Sometimes this is a good thing and is completely humbling. Other times it’s not so good and I am kicking myself.

9. I have a huge impact on my spouse. Again, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. My words and actions can have the power to build him up or they can have the opposite effect. (To all the wives out there, this is true for you as well.) Just recently we unintentionally overheard a cell phone conversation where a wife was completely disrespectful and nasty to her husband. My man told me later that he appreciated how I’ve never spoken to him in that way. I’m by no means a perfect wife and have my own set of faults, but this has really come to my attention more lately.

10. If I don’t write something down, it’s probable that I will forget it. I’m not sure if this has happened more with age or just the fact that my family has many more things that I have to keep track of. Yes, I realize that this contradicts #3, but it’s totally true. Just as a funny aside, while I was memorizing James I went to pay for something with a debit card and drew a complete blank as to what my PIN # was, even though it’s been the same for years. I was so embarrassed! I guess I had way too many things on the brain.

Craft/DIY Ideas

How to Knit, Part 4:Casting Off

Today I’ll continue my little knitting series that I started several weeks ago. I still consider myself a beginner and have lots more to learn, but feel like I at least have the basics now. Hopefully if you’ve been following along, you haven’t felt like it’s the blind leading the blind! So far we’ve covered casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and today I’ll show you how to bind off, or cast off, the last row.

I did just a couple of rows as an example–you’re probably sick of seeing my teal blue yarn! So, if you have a piece you’re ready to finish, here’s how to go about it:

Knit two stitches onto your right needle. If you’ve been purling, the method is pretty much the same, just purl the stitches instead.

Slide the tip of the left needle under the bottom stitch on the right one, lifting it over the top stitch and off the needle.

You will now have one stitch on the right needle. Knit another stitch onto the right needle. Again, as before, slip the bottom stitch up and over the top one, sliding it off the right needle completely. Repeat over and over until you reach the end.

As (hopefully) you can see in my picture, this produces a nice finished edge to your piece.

Happy Knitting!

Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas

How to Knit, Part 3:The Purl Stitch

Hello everyone! If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that I started a “How to Knit” series a short while back. If not, take a peek at the previous posts and you can catch up in no time. Remember, I’m just learning this stuff too, so don’t be intimidated! On that note, if you don’t like my methods or my directions aren’t clear enough, take a look around online and on YouTube, there’s plenty of resources out there. I won’t be offended at all, honest 🙂

So far we’ve covered how to cast on and how to do the knit stitch. Today we’ll take a look at the purl stitch, one of the other fundamental stitches in learning to knit. If you learn these three things, you are well on your way to being a knitter.

Start with your two knitting needles facing one another. Notice I’m starting from a row of just cast-on stitches.

Poke your empty right needle up and through the front of the first stitch on the left needle. Your needles should now be criss-crossed with the right one in front of the left.

Wrap the yarn up and around that front needle, going in a counter-clockwise direction.

With that new loop of yarn in place, slide the tip of your right needle down, to the right, and slip the first stitch off of the left needle.

You’re now ready to purl another stitch. You may notice that this is very similar to the knit stitch, you’re just working at everything from the front instead of the back.

Oh, and now that you’ve learned to knit and purl, you can combine them do the stockinette stitch. The stockinette is very popular and is formed by knitting one row and purling one row, keeping up that pattern.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for another part of the series, coming soon!