Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Yarn Along {March 2018}

I can't believe it is March already! February moved along so fast, and I felt like we, as a family, were busier than usual. Despite the busyness, I am happy with the amount of knitting that I got done in February. I have several finished objects, but I will talk about them later. Let's move on to what I am currently knitting and reading!

I feel like I am in between knitting projects because I don't have anything substantial on my needles. I have plans to start a shawl, but that won't be for another week, at least. Right now I am devoting my knitting time to a scarf, a dishcloth, and a sock. The scarf is the Ericka Scarf, and it is the fourth one that I have knit. I love this pattern. It is easy to knit and my favorite scarf to wear. I am using Plymouth Yarn Alpaca Prima that has been in my stash since the fall of 2015. It feels good to knit with it after all of this time. I am using the Gramma's Dishcloth pattern to knit my dishcloth. I am using Sugar 'n Cream that I have in my stash. I am knitting the second sock with yarn that I dyed with food coloring and Kool-Aid. The details about how I knit my socks are on my project page if you are interested.

I am still reading the book from last month, The Great Pursuit. I am over the halfway mark, and I am enjoying it. The reason I haven't finished it yet is that I have spent most of my free time knitting while listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I have read the Harry Potter series before, but this is my first time listening to it, and I love Jim Dale's narration. Another book that I have been reading is Make Your bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World, written by Admiral William H. McRaven. Every morning I read a little aloud to the boys, and we are all enjoying it. It is full of inspiring and sometimes painful stories that are summed up with practical advice and encouragement. It is a perfect read aloud for my fourteen and nine-year-old sons.

Now on to what has come off my needles. I finished my Scrappy Bias Shawl, Campside Shawl, and a second sock to complete a pair. It feels good to get things off of my needles. I started knitting the Campside Shawl in February of 2017, so it felt terrific to pick it back up after ignoring it for ten months and then to complete it finally.

Last but not least, I want to say thanks for all of the lovely comments on last month's Yarn Along post. If you took the time to leave a comment, I want you to know that I read it and appreciated your kind words and the time it took you to leave your comment. I am sorry that I didn't make the time to reply. I promise to make the time to reply in the future.

For more knitting and reading, please visit Ginny and all of the knitters that link-up for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Yarn Along {February 2018}

Despite the fact that my knitting time is limited to early morning and late at night these days due to Mary Rose's insistence that my lovely cakes of yarn should be grabbed and quickly turned into massive knots, I feel happy with what I accomplished over the last month. I finished one project and am currently devoting all my knitting time between two projects. 

Currently, I am spending my mornings and nights knitting on my Scrappy Bias Shawl. I am using lovely yarn from Willow Tree Yarns. The Matryoshka progress keeper is marking the progress that I have made since I picked the shawl back up in mid-January. On Sundays, I work on my socks that I am knitting up with Anne With An E self-striping yarn from Nomadic Yarns, and I am knitting the heels and toes with yarn from Willow Tree Yarns. 

I just started reading the second book in the Eurona Duology, The Great Pursuit, written by Wendy Higgins. I am only a couple chapters in, but already I like it more than the first book in the set. The Great Hunt was just okay in my opinion. Reading it felt like plodding through 406 pages of build-up information that was only mildly entertaining. Honestly, the only reason that I have started reading the second book is that I own it. I got it last year for my birthday, so I figured since it was sitting there on my self I may as well read it. I am hoping that The Great Pursuit redeems the storyline and makes the set worthy of my reading time. 

My finished object from January is the dress that I knit for Mary Rose. I love it. I knit it longer than she needs right now and with shoulder straps that I can adjust in hopes that she will be able to wear it now and next winter. I got a bag of hand-me-downs, and those cute tights in the picture match it perfectly.

For more lovely knitting and book recommendations, please visit Ginny and the gang for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 2018 Favorites {Five Favorites}

Here are five things that brought me joy this month. 

1. Walmart Grocery Order and Pick-Up App  I have used this service since mid-December, and I love it. It saves me so much time. It saves me money, too, because I am not wandering through the store buying things that we don't need. 

2. L'Occitane Shea Butter Light Comforting Cream  I have sensitive, combination skin. During the winter months, my dry areas get very dry, but my oily areas stay oily. This cream moisturizes my dry patches but doesn't make my oily areas any slicker. It is nonirritating and has a mild, pleasant smell. I use it every morning and night.  

3. doTERRA Hope Touch Essential Oil Blend  I don't wear strong perfumes, but I enjoy uplifting fragrances. This oil blend of Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, and Vanilla Bean is a favorite of mine. It is described as bright, fresh, and sweet by doTERRA, and I agree with that description. Plus, doTERRA donates the full purchase price to the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation with its focus on rescuing at-risk child around the world from sex-trafficking.

4. A hot mug of tea.  I enjoy a cup or two of coffee in the morning, and I look forward to my afternoon tea. This month I have been drinking several mugs of tea in the afternoon and evening. My favorite brands are Traditional Medicinals, Yogi, and Bigelow. 

5. The Little Catholic Box  My mother gave me the January 2018 box as part of my Christmas gift. It arrived in my mailbox very early in the month, and it was so much fun to open. I loved everything that was in the box. The box included lovely items from Mathew Kelly, Rakstar Designs, Dominican Nuns of Summit New Jersey, Motherhood Press, and The Little Catholic Box. They used to have a monthly subscription service, but recently it changed to a quarterly service. I think it is a great gift idea for a family member or friend or a nice treat for yourself! 

Joining Ashley at The Big White Farmhouse for Five Favorites.

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Sunday Best #20: 3 Reasons Why I Won't Use A Beauty Filter

I have been thinking a lot lately about beauty. At 41 years and after 21 years of marriage, I am finally comfortable in my physical appearance, including my big nose, frizzy hair, wrinkled and flabby skin. I want to model health and beauty to my children. It starts with loving and accepting my imperfections, and by being kind to myself as I work towards improving the areas that can use a little help. Maintaining a workout routine and following a healthy diet help me to feel healthy and happy. Wearing moisturizer and a little makeup makes me feel feminine and presentable.

My goal isn't to fight my age, but instead, I want to age well. I am thankful for my 41 years of life, and I would love to live another 41 at least. Exercise, diet, and a daily beauty routine are habits that complement me. They don't alter me. I enjoy trying new activities, reading about diet trends and medical advice, and sampling new creams and oils that hit the beauty counters. Although, I must admit that my makeup routine has been the same for years. It has changed very little from this post that I wrote almost four years ago. 

One new trend that I am skeptical about is beauty filters for pictures. For some people, they are a way to have fun and laugh with friends. But what about the person who only shares filtered photos, who dislikes every picture of herself that hasn't been adjusted by the filter? Does what she sees every time she looks in the filter free mirror make her unhappy? 

For me, using a filter that slims my face, blurs my wrinkles and scars, and makes my eyes larger is a sham. The image becomes an inaccurate representation. A fake. There are three reasons why I will not use a beauty filter to alter my photos.

Authenticity is important to me. Growing up, having people call my grandmother a saint was hard for me to hear because of how verbally abusive she was to my grandfather and me. I always felt like there were two of her, the woman that the neighbors all loved and the angry woman that was raising me. There is only one of me, and I want to be recognizable to everyone; my family, friends, acquaintances, and myself. I am real. I am honest. Altering my features in a picture, and then posting it to my social media accounts feels dishonest to me. If we pass each other on the street, I want you to know me when you see me.

My imperfections and features tell my story, the good and the bad. Laugh lines, frown lines, scars, and sun spots hint to the experiences that I have lived. Painful acne as a teen, smiling and laughing with family and friends,  nights spent worrying about a sick child or an angry teen, long days outside swimming, running, hiking and playing. I inherited my eye shape, nose size, and bone structure from my parents and grandparents. When comparing my untouched photos with the pictures if my ancestors, our shared features are noticeable, but those similarities start to vanish when contrasted to an image that was altered by a beauty filter.

I want my daughter to appreciate her physical features and to enjoy being photographed. I want her to be confident whether it is with a naked face, or wearing a little or a lot of make-up, or even occasionally with exaggerated features and a digital flower crown. But I don't want her to become a slave to make-up or filters, or to believe that they are necessary to make her beautiful and worthy of love. I don't want her to stare at herself in a mirror and think that what she sees isn't good enough. Then need to buffer the feeling of inadequacy by taking a selfie and using a beauty filter to change her features until she looks like a barely recognizable, plastic version of herself. That would break my heart. I will not model that behavior to her.

For the sake of comparison, I made a side by side collage of a picture of me from April 2017. The left side is unfiltered. On the right side, I used my smartphone filter to smooth my wrinkles, slim and brighten my face, and enlarge my eyes. I only altered those features between a three and a six on the sliding scale (it goes up to ten). I am sure that I didn't need to tell you which side was the altered photo as it is very noticeable. The right side creeps me out, honestly. I showed it to Chris and asked him which one he preferred, and he responded with "The real one." Smart man!

It is not my intention to be controversial. Using a beauty filter is a personal decision. I have decided beauty filters are not for me. What is your opinion of them? Do you prefer to use them? Or are you creeped out when you see an altered version of yourself? 

It is Sunday (at least it was when I started typing), so I asked Thomas to take a picture of me so that I can join Rosie and the ladies for My Sunday Best. This photo is very raw and real with its poor lighting and the extra eight pounds that I gained over the holidays!

Have a wonderful week! Please visit Rosie and the gang for more My Sunday Best posts!
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