Friday, April 28, 2017

What I Read March 2017

Once again, I did a lot of reading in March, and I read some good and some really bad books. But most importantly I was entertained while nursing a toddler! That's what really matters.

In the Meh Book Category:

I read Mimus my Lilli Thal. I am not sure where this book went wrong. For one, it's strangely dark but the main character seems oblivious to the darkness. His inability to be very much upset over his predicament annoyed me. Also, the book was all about miming. And crazy kings. It just does not seem feasible to me that whole nations would go along with crazy tyrannical bloody kings!

The Doldrums is a middle grade book I read. It's interesting, but one thing that annoys me about many middle grade books is that evil characters are just mindlessly evil and oppressive to the shining main character. We need to overcome that trope. I also found the three kid's misadventures highly skeptical, and odd.

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas was a real let down. It meandered here and there and was so so so long and drawn out. I really was hooked from the first two chapters but by the middle I was just confused and bored, to be honest. The ending was cliche and not exciting in the least bit. None of the questions and mystery's were really answered.  I was disappointed.

In the YAY Category:

You know when you read a book and it's a good book because the writing is amazing? That would be Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. This book was just good because the writing picked me up like a lazy river and gently carried me away.

Another book I really enjoyed was How To Train Your Dragon. Now, I have seen the movie and I expected them to be at least a little alike. But HTTYD the book and HTTYD the movie are SO DIFFERENT. First of all, in the book they don't ride dragons. Most dragons are small like dogs! And Toothless is not a nice dragon. He's a whiny, tiny curmudgeon who basically makes Hiccup's life more difficult, not less. But the book is so cute, and witty, and well done! Also, Hiccup has a friend in the book named Fishlegs who is my favorite character of all times! Hiccup does something really nice for him in the second (or was it third) chapter that stole my heart. So, thoughts: read the book, don't watch the movie. Or don't think of the movie even as related to the book.

My favorite book that I read this month was The Unbound by Victoria Schwab. This is a sequel to another book I read called The Archive by the same author that was also amazing. Most of the people who reviewed her second installment on goodreads didn't like it. I don't know why. I LOVED it. It's very dark, a lot darker read than I usually partake of, and it's...gritty and hard in a psychological way... but it was a good book. Only thing I didn't like was the love triangle that seemed kinda forced and like the author just added it because she thought it should be there in her young adult book, or something. But I still gave it five stars because woah. I loved it. I plan to pick up more books by Schwab...just because this one was that good. Also, the cover art. Swoon.

I also really liked The Poe Estate. This is the third book in the Grimm Legacy, and if you remember I was not a fan of the second one--but the third one was amazing. I highly recommend it. It has non-cheesy and semi-creepy ghosts and a lot of literature tie-ins to Poe and other authors that I enjoyed. I also was pleased that this book didn't follow the "person comes to work at the Library and stumbles upon an adventure" arc that the first two did. Change is nice.

Honorable Mentions:

I also read How to be a Pirate and How to Speak Dragonese, books two and three in the the HTTYD series. I'm listening to them on tape, and they are read by David Tennet and yes, it is amazing to hear the tenth doctor read me a story, that is all I'll say about that. Also he does Toothless' voice perfectly. Per-FECT-ly. I highly recommend the audio books for these!

I also liked Gateway by Sharon Shinn. I really love her writing, but her love stories are getting a little dull. She creates these amazing worlds and then fills her novel with...instalove? No thanks, so it's just an honorable mention.

What did you read this month? To see these and other books I read, check out my goodreads here. Also, I am always open to book suggestions!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paleo AIP Meatballs

I made meatballs for a friend. She is loosely following the AIP paleo diet, so I just made up a recipe for some yummy meatballs for her and her two kids. This is what I did!

You Will Need: (Makes about 60 1tbsp-sized meatballs)
  1. One Large Zucchini, grated (also called a Courgette) 
  2. One carrot, first layer pealed off and grated 
  3. 1 pound of beef and 1 pound of your favorite sausage. I use 80/20 beef.
  4. a handful of chopped green onions (I used about 8 individual stalks chopped)
  5. 1/4th cup coconut aminos
  6. 1 teaspoon fresh grated / minced ginger
  7. 1/4th teaspoon ginger
  8. 1.5 teaspoon arrowroot starch (or flour)  
  9. A dash of salt and pepper to taste (I usually put in a pinch of each)
If you are just paleo and not aip, feel free to add 1 egg to this.I've made it with and without the egg lots of times. It's fine without the egg but I like it with, as well.


Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Combine all the of the above and mix well. Using a tablespoon, make round balls and place on a baking tray sprayed with coconut oil or covered in parchment paper. I space mine about 1/2 inch apart. I bake them in the over for 30 minutes, and always use a thermometer to check  that the meatball gets above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Makes about 60 meatballs, depending on how small/large you make them. I used a tablespoon to scoop it out to make sure they were even.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Managing Motherhood

One of the things I've been learning about motherhood is that not a path. You'd think it would be linear, right? Infant to baby to toddler to kid to teen to adult. And I suppose the overarching milestones of motherhood are a bit linear--but the day to day stuff? It's a mud puddle. A meandering cesspool. A indiscernible mess.

Have you ever tried to manage a mud puddle? Or clean it? It's impossible, you just make more mud. That's how I feel about myself sometimes when I try to manage or control my toddler. It's counter productive--I just make a bigger mess, a larger pit, more chaotic problem.

But yet there is something human, something primal in me that makes me want to control everything as a mother. I'm not talking about instilling values and morals in my kid. I'm talking about making sure he doesn't touch things that he shouldn't, or make to big of a mess, or throw things, or step out of my preconceived boundaries that I've placed on him. And on myself.

I mean, the guilt I feel is directly proportional to the satisfaction of getting the dishes done on time--or not getting them done. Hence the guilt factor. Or, I'll get the dishes done but not the floor cleaned, and still have guilt. Sometimes I rush from task to task in some kind of mommy frenzy, all my energy and thoughts bent on getting things done.

I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes I turn motherhood into having all my ducks in a row. And motherhood is nothing about lining up the ducks. Sure, it looks nice and feels good to have all the things checked off my list, but is it sustainable? Emotionally and physically? And why, I ask myself, do I feel so much angst when I didn't get the last thing done? Shouldn't it be enough to have gotten almost all the way there?

Mommyhood isn't a freight train. I don't have to go 500 miles an hour. I don't even have to go 25 miles an hour. It's okay to go 1 mile an hour sometimes. Or even zero.

I'm learning to slow down. To stop and look around at the mess and appreciate the things that made it messy. My kid, or my husband, or myself cooking---this creates disorder in my usually orderly environment. And then I order it up again, a revolving queue for the next day's activates. Every day I make plans for the next, and the next, and the next...

Managing motherhood is hard. It's a balance. Maybe even an art. Right now I'm in the mess of it, and it doesn't look very artistic to me at all. I'm looking for that sweet spot--the spot where the dishes are done and my kid is loved and my soul is filled with time alone and time with my husband, and time with God.

It's like searching for the holy grail in a sea of misanthropy.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

February 2017 Budget: What I Spent

February was a difficult month. For one, we got halfway through and hit our budget of $1800. Oops. So then we scrambled around trying not to spend money for the last two weeks. Learning process.

Bills ($525)

Our bills for this month are:
  1. YMCA ($75) 
  2. Audible ($25) 
  3. Cell phones, mine and husbands ($25) 
  4. Electric bill ($200)
  5. Internet ($60)
  6. License plate renewal ($150)
We pay our water bill every two months, so we don't have to pay it in February. We renewed one of our vehicles plates for a few years. Yay, adulting!

Eating Out ($258)

We ate out too much. On the first weekend we ate out three times! We are only supposed to eat out once a week. Oops! This month we ate out eight times...double the amount we budget for.

Grocery ($733)

We signed up for a CSA at our local farmers market this month. We did the same last year and I loved it! Our CSA is from Great Day Gardens! I'm so excited. The CSA is $375 but we broke it up into four payments over the next four months, so this month was only $100. The CSA does not start until May, but I can't wait to get some fresh veggies! Great Day Garden veggies are amazing.

Reuben ($105)

I took Reuben and myself out on a date to Zoe's Kitchen. We also went to Amazement Square, a children's museum that is in downtown Lynchburg. He had a ton of fun! The above picture is from Amazement Square, he's on a boat going down a river! All the going and running and seeing wore me out, through, and we only stayed two hours. Next time I'll stay longer-- for $9 a day, it's an expensive museum. 

The biggest purchase I made for Reuben this month was some Usborne books for his ever-growing home library. I hope he likes them!   

Personal Money ($457)

Carolynn ($294)
I bought two skins of yarn for a tutorial I am working on for my Youtube channel. I also tried out some new makeup from SeneGence. I liked the lipsense I bought, but I did not like the face wash. It had fragrance in it and broke me out! I switched to a different facewash routine now--and I love it! I was using arbonne, then I tried this SeneGence, but now I am using a bar soap, witch hazel, and rosehip oil--and it is working wonderfully. I also bought a toddler wrap for Reuben. I've been baby wearing a lot as we are going out quite frequently! I can't wait to receive it. It's rainbowed, of course! I spent only $80 on babysitting this month.

Brian ($163)
I didn't pack daddy's lunch that much this month, so he ate out a lot. He also went on a wonderful birthday dinner with some coworkers to his favorite place, Buffalo Wild Wings. He bought snacks, and a gaming mouse for his computer. He also bought some things for working on the house that I included into his budget.

Tithe ($200)

We tithed.

That brings our total spent in January to $2281, more than $400 over our budget of 1800. However, my husband received $100 gift from his mom, and I received $121 payment from YouTube, as well as $40 from two other relatives, making our total $2020 for the month of February. Since this is $20 over budget, it comes out of our saved money. We'd saved $82 last month, and now have saved $62. This saving money thing is hard! Hope to do better next month...

The 2017 budget series:

January : February : March : April : May : June : July
August : September : October : November : December

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why I get my Patterns Tested

When I knit or crochet my own design I always make sure to get my pattern tested. Right now I use the Ravelry Testing Pool, an online forum where you can find knitters and crocheters to test patterns. The perk they get? A free pattern. The perk you get? Feedback!

I'm human, and I do make mistakes, and this is why I always try to get my patterns tested. When I don't, I always regret it and end up finding a stupid error.

 See the video for more reasons and for tips on pattern testing. Good luck!

Friday, April 14, 2017


Sometimes I feel like I have to choose between failing my son or failing my own expectations or failing the world. Does this make sense? Like when I leave Reuben in any sort of nursery. He has a mental breakdown and cries. I expected this in the beginning but he's almost two! I keep trying to leave him. I do it quick. I have another person take him down. But he still throws a huge fit and will throw up if I don't come get him. Every. Single. Time.

It breaks my heart to try and leave him. And I know it hurts him too! So, I just don't anymore. I get a babysitter he knows if I want to go somewhere now. That way I know he's safe and not upset (although he does cry when I return). But I feel like I fail him as a mom that I can't teach him how to be okay with out me. And I feel like I look like one of those crazy clingy moms to the nursery workers because he cries and screams and sobs when I leave. And I feel I've failed society because I choose now not to leave him in a nursery and just keep him with me for his and my sanity.

I can't win. I'm done with the guilt through. So what he wants to stay with me? He won't always be like that. I can't judge myself. I don't know what I did wrong, if anything. I don't know if I've fostered and encouraged this sense of closeness in him. I don't know what other people think and since they don't tell me I am going to stop hypothesizing.

Daily I fear failure. I put all these expectations on myself, like thou shalt always have a hot meal or thou shalt only let thy toddler watch thirty minutes of television a day. And when I don't meet these expectations and my husband comes home to leftovers or my kid watches extra tv because I'm stressed, I feel like a failure.

It's a juxtaposition. Many times I look at his perfect smile and the joy in my heart knows no heights. But then I feel like I don't deserve that wonderful, amazing smile--that I haven't earned his happiness. I fight this feeling in myself because I know it's a lie. My child is happy, I love him. I'm not perfect. He's not perfect. But we are learning and growing and communicating...

Yet. Sometimes I wonder if "such and such" (too much tv, not enough play time, too much play time, a meal without veggies, a meal he won't eat, a crabby moment, a missed nap....yada yada) will mess him up forever.

You know what I've found? I can say I'm sorry to him if I crab at him. He can hug and forgive me. Or he can be upset. Giving him the freedom to feel what he feels is my job. I can't mess him up forever. I can love him forever--love him for who he is and not place exceptions on myself--or on him.

I love my son so much it hurts. I wonder if it will ever stop hurting deep in my heart when I look at him. I wonder if I will ever stop being afraid of something terribly bad happening to him. Is this what all mothers live with?

I pray for him daily that God will protect him and give me the strength to get through life with a climbing toddler boy that will someday be a man. If he and I make it that far it will be nothing short of a miracle.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 82

This week was a busy one. I took Rueben to Amazement Square downtown. It's a children's museum and it was all sorts of fun! We also went on a Nature walk, Charlotte Mason style. I am researching Charlotte Mason plan on reading all her books-- I think its the homeschool style I want to do with Reuben. I'm sure you all will hear more about it as soon as I start to grasp the consepts.

I really miss daily vlogging. Might try to do it again.

One year ago is here!

Monday, April 10, 2017

What I Read Febuary 2017

I'm still reading up a storm this year. I thought I'd only read 60 books (because in 2016 I only read a measly 50 and most of them in the last two months) but I'm over halfway through my goal and it's only March (when I'm writing this).

I read a lot in February. Not only was I recovering from the flu, I also started reading while nursing instead of mindless surfing Facebook. Yay, feeding my brain!

In the Meh Book Category: 

I know a lot of people liked The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, but I did not. (this review contains spoilers because I am angry) This book was just all over weird. And the ending! Horrible. First of all, we get too much information about her genealogy. I don't care a whit about those people. It's not enough prose to build affinity to the characters but it's too much background before "the real story" about Ava starts. And I was so angry with the ending. Basically the story ends with her getting sexually assaulted. That is it. That's the end of the book. She gets raped and her mom suddenly cares about her. Whhhhhhhhhhat?

Another book I really didn't like was Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks. This book is just straight up weird. It's like he was literally on drugs when he wrote it.

In the Yay Category:

I picked up the book Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan just because the title sounded funny. But Nolan is a phenomenal writer. It's like I fell into a teenager's brain! I loved this story. It was heartbreaking and amazing and I was rooting for  Eleanor and her little one the entire time. Ugh, this book was amazing. And I am not a fan of teenage pregnancy stories, not even a little.

The next book that legitimately blew me out of the water was The Archived by Victoria Schwab. WOW. I loved the whole idea of the narrows, the archive, and the things they said about death. Basically when you die, a copy of your memories is kept in an archive. But sometimes the copies get out, and people have to deal with them. Just read it. It won't disappoint.

I also read Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson. It's a new dystopian novel and you know I can't resist. It was really really good! But the second one was only a honorable mention, due to all the tropes. I had high hopes after devouring the first...

Honorable Mentions:

I read a lot of books that were neither horrible or great. They were good reads, but nothing to write home about. That's where I put these books: in the honorable mentions. First of all I read Angelica by Sharon Shin. She's one of my favorite authors, and I did really enjoy this book. But the very fluffy love story kind of turned me off. Also, I didn't realize this was the forth book in a series I haven't read. For some reason my library only carries this one in the series, and I can't get the others...

I also read Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. This almost went in the YAY category, but after further thoughts I put it here. It was a really good book, and a really good third book in the Beka Cooper story line. But I feel a bit betrayed by the ending. The supporting characters you meet in the first book are not even in this one--and I wanted to know what happened to them! But I did love Farmer. Oh, Farmer.

I also read Nest (by Ehrlich) , and the Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet (by Natasha Farrant). Nest was good, but a bit too sexual for me--its supposed to be a middle grade book. I think it would do well as a young adult book, but the themes just threw me for a loop since it's marketed to 11 year olds. The SDoLB was a good read. It's a spinoff that tells Lydia's side of the story. I loveee Jane Austin spin-offs. I don't know why but it's just so interesting. There definitely were some twists to the whole Lydia-runs-away with Wickham plot line. I liked it.

---So that is the main books I read in February, and what I thought about them. I read more, but didn't think them worth mentioning. You can see them on my Goodreads if you are interested!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Knitting Storage Ideas

I have a lot of knitting stuff. I mean, I've been knitting for years. And I don't really get rid of anything fiber related--who knows when I might need it again?

Thus, I've have to come up with some really good ideas for storing all my knitting supplies. First of all, I hate searching randomly through a box or bag for the size needle I need--usually this ends up with me dumping the whole box out and manually looking at each needle! I need something simple so I can see what I have and eyeball my sizes with a glance.

So here is what I do--and updated look at my knitting storage ideas! Hope you like! Also, I'm always looking for more ideas for please let me know how you categorize your fiber supplies!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week 81

More recovering from being sick (seriously it was horrible) and even a trip to the park and a book haul. That was my week 81. Watch below, and tell me how cute my son is. Because he's cute. I'm so biased!

One year ago is here!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Programs & Materials for Pattern Design

I've been designing knitting and crochet patterns for awhile now. I don't profess to be an expert, but I have learned a bit over the years. I shared how I write my crochet patterns and how I design my crochet patterns, and now I am sharing the programs and materials I use throughout this process.

Right now it breaks down to me using Excel for colorwork design and Adobe Indesign for my PDF patterns. I go into why and how in the video, so check it out below if you want more information, as well as cheaper alternatives for those just starting out. Happy designing!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

You Don't Need this Book if You Have Everything you Need

Everything You Need You Have was really really not what I thought it would be. I thought it was a book on minimalism. Yeah.You have everything you need so you don't need more junk? 

But it's a self-improvement book. Ooops. I should have read the blurb more carefully.

Also, I'm a Christian, and my faith is a big part of who I am. Unfortunately, this book started slowly to descend into spiritualism (despite not being a religious book), and I found it harder and harder to connect. Between a lot of empty talk with no practical use whatsoever and a lot of stuff about ancient Chinese pseudoscience...I was not interested or entertained. The therapeutic anecdotes felt random and did nothing to add to the writer's credibility, and at times it felt like the writer himself either misunderstood the situations he describes, or deliberately altered them to suit his views.

Bonus quote: "Health doesn't have to be 'healthy'." What?

I also found Kite's ideas to be a little far-fetched, and not particularly practical. He included a great deal of case studies to enhance his ideas, but I didn't find they added to anything - rather than see the positive effect he himself and his teachings had on his patients, instead it seemed to me like they seemed to discover things for themselves rather than because of what he was telling them.

I also found the inclusion of the five elements a little confusing as I couldn't really relate them to what he was trying to paint as their influence. I just found the whole book a to full of mysticism for my liking.

The topics covered here could help someone if this is the first time they're looking into meditation and "enlightenment" (for lack of a better term), and if they are not religious in a organized way, but it could also totally deter them because the information here is kind of a haphazard mess at times. I'm not even sure what the end goal of this book was... it mostly sounded like Kite was paraphrasing other big thinkers and schools of thought, which made it a bit brief & shallow. And if you've read other similar books, there's nothing new here and many parts were questionable... like Kite didn't fully get the concept.

I was given this book for a free review. I didn't like it. 1/5 stars.

NaNoWriMo Update #2

I've finished editing my book! Isn't that amazing?

Then I caught the flu, so I have not sent it out to editors yet. If you want to edit my book, please let me know. I can send you a hard copy, double spaced with an already-stamped returned envelope enclosed so you can edit by hand (you just send me back the manuscript in the return envelope with corrections) or I can do a e-copy, somehow (but I would prefer to send out hard copies because it's easier for me) I really need editors because my grammar is atrocious. 

I have thoughts about my book. On one hand, I really like it. But, on the other hand, I think the ending needs some work. I don't really like the ending. Something seems off about it. Or rushed. So I may rewrite it (again, I already rewrote the ending once). I am not sure.

But after I get it edited at least 3 times, I plan on self publishing it on Amazon using CreateSpace. Only...I need a title. And a cover picture.

I have no idea what I am doing. Wish me luck!