Saturday, March 29, 2014

Little Girl's Sweater Dress

This post is about a sweater dress that I made for Little Love some years ago. However, people still ask me for the pattern that I used, so I thought I'd post it here. Today I present to you the Austen Sweater Dress by Sarah Barbour.

The original pattern was published in the Yarn Forward magazine, issue number 31, December 2010. Here is the link to Barbour's Ravelry information about the pattern.

I used Pound of Love yarn by Lion Brand to complete this project. Pound of Love is a little stiff to work with, but once washed, it is snuggly soft and drapes nicely.

This sweater dress features stockinette stitch bottom and sleeves, ray of honey stitch top, yarn overs and a picot cast on/off for the trim. The button band consists of a garter stitch with yarn overs. The flower buttons were purchased from JoAnn's.
Picot Sleeve Detail

The pieces of this sweater are knitted separately and then sewn together. The sleeves are knitted from the top down, so it is easy to adjust the length.

I found the original pattern to be pretty true to the finished product, with very few mistakes in the writing. However, one major recommendation: instead of knitting the collar a separate piece, assemble the rest of the sweater, and then pick up and knit the collar so there isn't a bulky seam right next to the neck.

This is one of Little Love's favorite things to wear. Also, because it is a longer sweater, it has actually lasted her for three years without her outgrowing it! The first year, it fit like a dress. This year, it fit more like a long cardigan with 3/4 sleeves. I'm certain by next year it will no longer fit, but she definitely has gotten use out of it!

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DIY Dryer Balls

Today I present to you something totally unoriginal. You can find tutorials on how to make these all over the internet. But hang in there - I have my own "twist" for making them!

Today's feature: DIY Dryer Balls

diy dryer balls

Dryer balls? Yes, I know - boring. However, they last for years and you don't have to buy any fabric softener if you have enough of these bouncing around in your dryer. I find that five is the right number for my dryer. In retail stores, you can find PVC versions of these for pretty cheap, or hand felted versions that cost an arm and a leg. I don't like heated plastics, especially PVC, rubbing against the clothing that we wear everyday. And I don't know about you, but with two kids, I need all the arms and legs I can get. Soooo I made my own.

Now, I'm not one to reinvent the wheel, so I will direct you to a very easy-to-follow tutorial over at I followed the tutorial as stated, except I added a step.

Here's what I did: After step 5 (before putting them in the pantyhose) I needle-felted them to get rid of the ridges and make sure that they would not unravel. I used my Clover Felting Needle Tool to repeatedly stab each ball with a twist of the wrist. I would not encourage you to go out and buy one of these unless you plan on making a bunch of balls as Christmas presents or for craft fairs, but I do all sorts of fiber arts as a hobby, so I had one of these on hand.
The Clover Needle Tool
If you do plan on taking up needle felting, this tool is great for felting large areas. It also doubles as a stress-reliever. Repeatedly stabbing an object is therapeutic! 

But I digress...

Anyway, by needle felting before washing, you can ensure that your balls won't have any weird lumps or bumps (nice if you're giving them as a gift or selling them), and it also ensures that they won't unravel before they have a chance to felt completely. Usually you have to wash and dry these balls on high temperatures at least twice to get them to felt up firmly. By needle felting the balls before washing, I have found that I only had to wash them once.

diy dryer balls

So there you have it. Save yourself some drying time with each load and skip the fabric softener just by making these 100% wool dryer balls. They're worth the half-hour of work to make them!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Waze App

My husband found this app somehow and tried it. He was geeking out about it for several weeks before I finally decided to try it.

By far, this is the best navigation app that I have ever used. And the kicker? It's free! No more google maps for me!

Why is Waze so awesome? The drivers themselves contribute to the navigation - by driving with the Waze app open, you automatically contribute information on speed to fellow drivers, which helps everyone avoid traffic jams.

But what really sold me was the alerts. Users can manually tag certain events like road closures, accidents, speed traps, even roadkill to alert other drivers. It was actually a roadkill alert that convinced me to download it. I was a passenger in my husband's car when his phone announced, "Warning! Roadkill ahead!" And sure enough, in the middle of the intersection was a dead squirrel.

I've also appreciated knowing the cause of a traffic jam - people tag where the accident took place as they pass it - so I can better decide if I should stay on the crowded freeway and wait it out or get off and allow Waze to pick a different route.

Oh, and Waze automatically suggests a different route if it notices an upcoming bottleneck. If you're the first Waze driver in the area stuck in the bottleneck, it's unfortunate for you, but at least your Waze app is sending out information to the community so that other drivers can avoid the same predicament.

It's pretty neat. Check out the video below and then download it in the app store. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

...And the Winners Are...

A big thank you to everyone who entered my give away contest to kick off this blog! And a very, very big thank you to everyone who has followed it. I promise that I will post more giveaways in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled!

And now the big announcement:

Congratulations, Britnee - you have won the gift basket!
And congratulations, Megan S. - you have won the art pendant!

If you have won, please check your email so that we can be in touch for delivery.

I'm thinking I might squeeze in another giveaway right before Easter. Something to look forward to!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Little Inspiration

Sorry that I haven't blogged in a couple of days. But today I'm back with a new graphic! Feel free to share it on Facebook or Pin it or print it out. You have my permission to use it however you'd like.

Oddly enough, the inspiration for this one came from my recent discussions with friends about feminism, marketing to women, and similar topics. While being pretty and smart are nice, a woman's godly character will carry her further than either beauty or intelligence ever will.

Monday, March 10, 2014

If You Are Not Homeschooling...

This year was a year of big changes for Little Love and me. She officially started 4K this fall. I decided to send her to a private school that had a small class size and a home-like atmosphere. Why? Because Sweet Pea was born and was demanding much of my attention.

Needless to say, the transition was a little rough.

I knew that Little Love's first day of school would be hard. And the first week would be even harder as she realized that she would have to face school on her own without any family members by her side. I wanted her to have a keepsake, a talisman of sorts, that would remind her that I love her and am praying for her while she is away.

It couldn't be a toy, because toys are too special if they get broken (plus, they were prohibited by the preschool). It had to be something she could easily see and understand.

Then I stumbled upon this wonderful post by Tie Dye Diva Patterns.

It reminded me of a Mizpah coin necklace that I had worn as a teenager, so I made my own version, incorporating Genesis 31:49. We talked about Jacob and Laban and why the place of Mizpah was significant. God watches over both of us, even when we cannot see each other.

I believe that this little bracelet reminded Little Love of both God's love and my love for her throughout those trying first few weeks. She still loves to wear it, and I love to wear mine.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Don't Forget to Enter!

If you haven't already done so, check out this post to enter my giveaway! There will be two lucky winners - one person will win the bath and body gift basket, and one person will win this fabulous hand-drawn art pendant!

No purchase necessary! Feel the love just for reading my blog! :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Tricked-Out Trike

This post originally appeared on my first blog. I'm reposting it here because I had received so much positive feedback on it. If you're looking for a new trike (or bike) for your fast-growing kids, consider buying used and overhauling it with... duct tape!

I found this lovely little Craigslist special a few weeks ago. For $25, I thought it was a good deal. It was the perfect size trike for my little girl and even came with a sun canopy! There was a lot of sun fading and some pretty ugly peeling Disney princess stickers, but I figured that I could update it with a paint job to make it like new...

Little did I realize all the steps that go into properly painting a bike! Taking it apart, taping the non-paintable parts, sanding, priming, painting...ugh. There had to be an easier way.

That's when I started surfing the interwebs for some ideas, and then it came to me! Duct tape.

I bought some butterfly duct tape on Ebay, took the trike apart, thoroughly washed everything, and wrapped the frame in the butterfly tape. This is the result:

Nifty, hey? I mean... Look At It. Except for the tires it looks new!

The canopy had some very faded "Disney Princess" decals. Butterfly duct tape is definitely better! (I can't stand Disney princesses. I'll explain why in an upcoming post.)

The old white handlebar grips were severely chewed-upon and gross. Oddly enough, the purple foot rests were in respectable condition. I pried both the gross handlebar grips and the foot rests off the bike. I threw away the handlebar grips and replaced them with the newly cleaned foot rests instead. I purchased some new handlebar ribbons and a new bicycle basket on ebay (I love ebay). Some super glue now holds the handlebar ribbons in place. I covered the foot rests with generous layers of butterfly duct tape.

A cute butterfly bell and some reflective stickers on the wheels top it all off. So there you have it - an original, one-of-a-kind tricycle that's new to us for under $40 total!

So the next time you're in the market for a kid's bike, consider used and a roll of your kid's favorite duct tape. Good for your wallet!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Geekery

"The Geekery" section of my blog will contain all the nerdy things that I'm currently geeing out about. I am a science geek at heart. I've always loved science, and I taught math and science for many years before I became a SAHM. I still love a good explosion. Here's a very, very good one.

What else would you do with 1500 ping pong balls? Make a colossal mess, that's what!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Slow Cooker Cranberry BBQ Chicken

As I have stated before, I am not a cook.  Not even close.  But having two kids has created a crisis of sorts in my life.  It is simply too much work (and expense!) to drag kids out to eat frequently.  And since my husband's cooking skills consist of "warming stuff up," "setting stuff on fire," and "poisoning your loved ones," it was time to take matters into my own hands.

I am forever thankful to other bloggers who have posted easy recipes that turn out delicious. So easy and so delicious, in fact, that even I can't screw it up with kids hanging off my ankles. Here's the first.

Thank you to Six Sisters' Stuff for sharing this recipe. It has saved dinner many, many times.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

2 lbs. chicken breasts
1/4 cup dried minced onions
1 (16 oz.) can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup Archer Farms Sweet and Smoky Thick BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients except chicken in mixing bowl. Mix well. Put chicken in slow cooker. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on low 6-7 hours.

Serves 3ish

I specifically use and recommend Archer Farms Sweet and Smoky Thick Barbecue Sauce, available at Target. It doesn't have high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, and it is thick enough to coat the entire chicken while cooking. I have found that thinner sauces slide off as the chicken heats. Oh, and the flavor is finger-lickin' good, y'all.

That's it! Try it and let me know what you think. :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

So Why a New Blog? Oh, and Did I Mention the Giveaway?

After years of writing (and neglecting) my old blog, I've decided to start afresh with a new one.  I'm hoping to make this blog more personal and less used-car-salesman-ish.  I will spotlight my products occasionally, but most of the time, I will write about life in general.

I am a former teacher, and I will begin virtual schooling my eldest daughter in the fall. I'm hoping to contribute to the wealth of free online homeschool resources with things that I create, strategies that I use, and reviews of learning aids. I've learned so much from other homeschooling bloggers, and I would love to be an encouragement to others in the same way.

I've also finally become somewhat domestic in the last two years. It has taken me a lifetime to learn to cook (or rather, to get over my aversion to cooking and actually just do it). I plan on sharing easy recipes (think slow cooker!) to help other culinary-challenged people.

And just in case the first post made you think that I'm a bright and sunny Christian mom blogger - I'm not. "Recovering Snark-a-holic" probably best describes my writing style and personality. So if you encounter a bit of sarcasm in this blog, please don't be surprised. I'm trying. Really.

Now for more details about the giveaway. What giveaway, you ask? Check it out if you haven't already done so.

The grand prize is this fabulous gift basket from my skin care product line - Simple Stuff Skin Care.

Here's what's included in the basket:

  • One (2 oz.) Mocha Facial Scrub
  • Two Good Goat's Milk Soaps - one Lavender and one Lovely Lime
  • One Healthy Hair Shampoo Bar in Mango
  • One 8 oz. Calm Down Conditioner in Citrus Coconut Splash
  • Two Ultra-Hydrating Lotions (2 oz. each) - one in Hazelnut and one in Sweet Orange and Cinnamon
  • Two Luscious Lip Balms - one in Peppermint, and one in Pucker Up Lemon
The grand prize gift basket is worth $47.00. You can win it for FREE by completing at least one entry on the Rafflecopter form at the end of this blog post.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Giveaway

What's any good blog without a giveaway kickoff? Here's the deal. I need readers, and you need to be clean and smell good.  So I am raffling away a gift basket overflowing with healthy skin care goodness from Simple Stuff Skin Care.  Take a look.

Ok, you caught me.  Simple Stuff Skin Care is my product line.  I made all of the products myself, right in my very own kitchen.  But I'm still giving the gift basket away for free!

Smelling good not your thing? No problem! I'm also giving away a handmade art pendant - one of my personal designs.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  The more tasks you complete, the more entries you'll have, and the more chances you will have to win! Rafflecopter will pick the winner on 3/16/2014, so enter before it's gone! 

If you'd rather not enter and would like to simply purchase my products, please check out my shop on Etsy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Everyday Sundry



1. of various kinds; several.

"lemon rind and sundry herbs"


1. various items not important enough to be mentioned individually.

"a drugstore selling magazines, newspapers, and sundries"

Sundry describes my life.  It mainly consists of various tasks, not important enough to be mentioned individually.  Such is the life of a typical stay-at-home mom.  Forever cleaning, folding laundry, putting away dishes, wiping noses, and other sundry tasks.  It's routine, it's dull, and it is tiresome.

That is, it was routine, dull and tiresome until I stumbled into this small, but game-changing truth:

God is in the sundries.

Now I am no longer waiting for my life to continue post-kids.  I am no longer waiting for something to happen.  It is happening.  God is here.  And because my life has slowed down since I left teaching, I am in a better position to see Him.  I  have the time to hear His whisper as I fold laundry, to heed the calling of the Holy Spirit as I "coincidentally" meet former acquaintances while running errands, time to teach a song of praise to my kids.

Now that I am finding Him just about everywhere, I realize that I am not in a "holding pattern" waiting for my life and career to continue once my kids are older.  He has important purposes and plans for me here and now. And because I am seeing God more and more in my daily life, I can better tolerate the unending sundry tasks.  How can anything truly be unimportant when God even hangs out among the dishes in the dishwasher?

Yeah, it can't, and it's not.

So what is the meaning behind "everyday sundry?"  It refers to everyday experiences. Everyday opportunities to meet the God of the universe. Everyday anticipation of the joy of being surprised by Him. Finding Him among the everyday sundries of life.

Feel free to chew on that for a bit.  Just don't be too surprised if one day you discover Him at work in the top rack of the dishwasher.