Saturday, June 28, 2014

Free Crochet Patterns: Beautiful Birds

The theme of today's free crochet patterns is beautiful birds! These are more advanced graphs because they contain many intricate details, but with enough patience and focus they should be doable for anyone with a knowledge of basic crochet skills.  As always, I created these patterns on using designs I created with free openware fonts on And again, as always, please only use these patterns for your own personal use. 

Peacock Motif

This first pattern is a gorgeous Asian inspired peacock motif.  It can be kept simple by working in one solid color on another solid color background, or you can personalize it more by making the feathers in an array of colors.  

Toucan Motif

This next pattern is a beautiful toucan bird in a jungle background.  As with the above peacock motif you can keep it simple by working the pattern in a single color, or make it pop by using different colors for each of the different elements of the motif.  

Eagle Banner

This eagle banner is only 100 stitches wide by 60 stitches tall so it is meant to be incorporated as part of a larger project.  It would look great in a patriotic themed afghan or perhaps as a very long decorative pillow.  

I hope you enjoy using these beautiful bird motifs.  If you are interested in a complete tutorial on how I make these gorgeous crochet graphs, check back in a few days for a walk-through on how to use the free pattern wizard.  If you have any requests or suggestions for future patterns, feel free to let me know in the comments! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review: Michal (The Wives of King David #1)

I have been reading a lot of biblical fiction lately and have come to the conclusion that biblical exegesis is an under-utilized form of fiction.  I enjoy how the talented authors of this genre use historical and theological research to sort of "fill in the gaps" of well known biblical stories.  It takes a large amount of imagination to writing convincing dialogue and descriptions for a biblical setting, and Jill Eileen Smith does it well.  

I found the novel Michal to be original and well written, and although it was descriptive it was lacking a little bit in details. I also found the jumps in the timeline to be slightly confusing. It could have been improved by focusing on fewer periods of time. I enjoyed the resolution of the plot and the focus on what the characters learned through their ordeals, but it did tend towards becoming "preachy" and I disagreed with the emphasis being placed solely on Michal's sins while glossing over David's.

All in all this was a good read and I look forward to reading more from Jill Eileen Smith.

Michal (Wives of King David Book #1)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pink and Blue Wedding Redone

I won't name any names, but last a month the daughter of a fairly high-profile "reality tv" family got married.  I'm  a huge advocate of weddings being about the bride and groom and what THEY like and want, but her wedding was a complete and utter hot mess. It looked like Pinterest went to the county fair, ate too much cotton candy, and then vomited everywhere.  The bride chose hot pink and malibu blue as her colors, which isn't too horrible when you consider she is 19 years old and should have a theme that reflects youth and fun and free-spirits.  However, this wedding could have been much classier and looked a lot better if it had been toned down just a wee bit.
Eyelander Photography Island Wedding

To start with, pink and blue aren't inherently clashing.  If you choose the right tones of each they can be very gorgeous and fun.  For early spring, pastels work beautifully together along with white or cream accents.  For hotter weather, navy and hot pink are absolutely rocking! Even hot pink and a bright blue like Malibu blue can work well together if you keep the number of design elements to a minimum and use a clean, bright white to accentuate the details.
Tiffany Blue w/ Pink Accents

Dog-Gone Darling Pink and Blue by The Wedding Chicks

The worst thing about this wedding in particular was how muddled and messy the colors looked.  Each of the bridesmaids wore a different style of "modest" satin gown in either blue or pink, making it look like a bunch of teenage girls decided to recreate the 80's.  I personally think it would have looked better if all the bridesmaids had been wearing blue dresses and carrying pink bouquets instead of alternating blue/pink and carrying mixed bouquets.  At the very least, if the dresses had been simplified and not enormous and poofy it would have looked much more elegant.  For example, this wedding pictured to the right has a kind of fun and shabby-chic atmosphere thanks to the varied shades of simple pink and blue bridesmaids dresses.  Still not my favorite look ever, but it looks clean and refined and not messy or immature.  I like how the bouquets are mostly pink and white with just a touch of blue thrown in, and all the colors complement each other.

If you're thinking about a pink and blue wedding check out my Pinterest Board for more classy inspiration and ideas.  

Navy and Pink Bridesmaids


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: A Gift of Time

The latest in Sarah Wynde's Tassamara series did not disappoint in the least. In fact, I though this was the best book yet. The story of Natalya and Colin was incredibly sweet and detailed. The main characters are very well developed and multi-dimensional. Pop culture references are flawlessly sprinkled throughout the book, making it feel like reading about real people. Some authors struggle when writing a contemporary setting because it seems like they try to hard to force pop culture into random spots, but that is not so in Tassamara. I did wish that a few of the other characters played a larger role in this novel, but for a relatively short read it was about perfect! Here's to hoping Wynde continues treating us to her wonderful Tassamara world so we can be reunited with the GD folks, ghosts, and other residents of this delightful town.
A Gift of Time by Sarah Wynde

*I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own*

Monday, June 23, 2014

Free Crochet Patterns for Baby

Here are my latest free crochet graphs. This week I'm posting a selection of adorable baby blanket and nursery decor patterns.  All of these patterns are designed to be made using the single crochet method, with one block equal to one stitch using a worsted weight yarn and size H hook.  Enjoy!

*If you would like to make the piano blanket with a different initial, just let me know and I can make one for you. I'm spend a few hours on each set of patterns to make sure they are easy to follow and look good and I am providing them all free of charge so please do not sell my patterns or the finished product.*

Floral Bright Baby Blanket

Child's Giraffe Pillow

Piano Baby Blanket

Teddy Bear Afghan

Valentine Bear Afghan

Sponsored Links: Save 15% off entire order at Use promo code ART15. Save 20% off any Knook product at Use promo code KNOOK20.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Pinterest Plea

I love Pinterest.  I use is almost daily and it has been a tremendous help in finding new recipes to try and various handy tips for cleaning and organizing my home.  Plus, who doesn't love looking at pretty pictures and finding inspiration for a beautiful life?  However, I'm seeing a disturbing trend of people who use things they see on Pinterest verbatim, with absolutely no regard for uniqueness or personalization whatsoever.  This is especially bad with weddings.  

Weddings are supposed to be all about the bride and groom as a singular, unique couple with a love story that is theirs alone.  When you just use whatever popular ideas you find on Pinterest without changing them to be unique to you, you end up with a wedding that doesn't stand out at all. Using the exact same signs, picture poses, decorations, etc... is not cute and I really believe that in 10 years you will look back and wish you had taken the time and effort to make your wedding more unique and personalized.

I'm not knocking Pinterest, or brides who use Pinterest for inspiration at all, but that's just it; Pinterest should be used for inspiration, not just to copy and paste some trendy ideas into your wedding plans. Find an idea you like and then change it to make it yours. Use quotes that actually mean something to you and aren't just the popular, cutesy, love-dovey saying du jour.  Pick colors and decorations and details that are important to YOU and that really reflect your interests and passions.  Your wedding should be about YOUR love story and your history as a couple and it just isn't possible to show all that when you only use the most popular ideas that everyone else is using too.

Here are some of the most popular pins that I absolutely cannot stand and am sick of seeing:
UGH. "Choose a Seat, Not a Side" This trend needs to stop.

Dumbest trend ever

"Bridesmaids" is not even cool. Stop.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. And way overdone.

Who even does this? It looks awkward and unnatural. Ewww.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More Free Crochet Patterns- Modern Pillow Patterns

I like crocheting my own decorative pillows because it saves a TON of money! Pillows are expensive, especially if you like to change your decor seasonally.  It doesn't take much time to crochet these pillows and you can make them in the exact size, pattern, and colors that you want.  A basic skein of RedHeart brand yarn costs less than $5 and can be used to make several small-medium sized pillows. For a lot of the modern, intricate patterns that are in fashion right now I recommend making a single-crochet background square and then cross-stitching your design onto that. Here are several free designs to get you started: 

Scale Pattern Pillow

Modern Pillow #3

Leafy Pillow

Modern Pillow #1
Modern Pillow #2

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Friday, June 20, 2014

More Free Sports Crochet Charts!

I recently finished up a few more sports teams logos to crochet into throws or stadium blankets. I have been concentrating on college teams that are important to my family and friends, but I can make any other team by request, or you can give it a try yourself. I also now have the option to make larger sized afghan charts instead of only smaller throws.
Once again, please only use these patterns for personal use.  If you attempt to sell the pattern or the finished products you are breaking the law.  These make excellent gifts, but it is not okay to profit monetarily from someone else's intellectual property.

As with my other sports logos, if you want the full size .jpg pattern, just email me and I will send it to you until I am able to have them hosted externally.

#1 Bowling Green State University 

This chart shouldn't be too complicated to follow. Use 4 colors of yarn to create this charming falcon logo.  I recommend making this throw longer by adding rows of the background color to the top and bottom and also adding a border of orange, brown, or both.

#2 The University of Georgia

Support your favorite SEC team with this simple G logo stadium blanket. Extend to whatever size you like by adding rows to the top and bottom, or to both sides, and then finish off by adding a bold red border. Go Dawgs!

#3 Michigan State Spartans

Clean lines and contrasting colors make this Spartans logo really stand out. Simply add three or four rows of white border and you have the perfect stadium blanket to fend off those chilly Michigan breezes.

#4 Miami University (OH) 

Love and Honor to Miami! The original and best Miami, that is.  Show your school spirit with this striking throw. All it needs is a few more rows of white around each side and then a red and black border and this blanket is ready for the football stadium or dorm room.

Keep an eye out for more patterns as I will be updating regularly. Remember, email me if you would like these charts and you can always make your own at:

Save 20% off any Knook product at Use promo code KNOOK20.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review! "A Gift of Thought"

*I received a copy of this book free of charge in return for my honest review. All opinions expressed herein are my own*

After I finished the first book in the Tassamara series by Sarah Wynde, I was astounded by the quality of her writing and couldn't wait to read the rest of the series.  I emailed her expressing my appreciation of the first novel and she graciously provided me with the rest of the series for free. (Sidenote: If you read a book that is really good and the author has a website or email address, email them! Authors love to hear your feedback, especially new and upcoming authors)
"A Gift of Thought" by Sarah Wynde

The second Tassamara novel is "A Gift of Thought".  This book leaves the setting of Tassamara and takes place mostly in Washington, D.C.  I was mildly disappointed that Akira and co. were left behind, but I actually really liked that this book focused on ghostly teenager Dillon and his new relationship with his parents.  Dillon was one of my favorite characters in "A Gift of Ghosts", and in my opinion, is really the star of the series.  As usual with Wynde's writing, the dialogue and plot are superb.  Every character really comes to life and you feel like you get to know them on a personal level.  I do wish a few of the background characters had been fleshed out a bit more, but within the constraints of a shorter novel the writing is still exceptional. On the plus side, there was more action and drama packed into the last few chapters of this novel and I really enjoyed that. I read the entire book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.

Bottom line: Even though this is probably my least favorite book of the series, it is still extremely well written and worth a read if you enjoyed the first book.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book Review! "A Gift of Ghosts"

I'm an avid reader and can read several books per week. As such, I'm always on the lookout for new books. I'm not really picky about what I read so I recently downloaded several free Kindle ebooks from Amazon. One of the books that caught my eye was "A Gift of Ghosts" by Sarah Wynde.  Now, I usually don't have high expectations for free books. Most of them are rather amateur attempts by self-published authors. Some can be quite good, but others are horrendously bad.  I wasn't sure what to expect from "A Gift of Ghosts" but I was intrigued by the description. Let me just say now, I am so glad I came across this book.
A Gift of Ghosts by Sarah Wynde

Sarah Wynde studied English in college, and that definitely comes through in the technical aspects of her work. More than being technically good, this book was also very imaginative and had a ton of soul.  The beginning of this book does start off a little bit rocky, with the character Akira having an internal dialogue that can be a bit confusing until you get past the first few scenes.  Once you get past the first chapter though, this book is astoundingly good.  To sum it up without spoiling it too much, a skeptical academic named Akira is offered a mysterious job in the fictional town of Tassamara, Florida. Despite having a special paranormal gift Akira is skeptical of the company that hires her and even more so of all the rest of the mysterious residents of Tassamara.  With an eccentric cast of ghosts, telepaths, and scientists, this book is a great for nerdy readers who were fans of the SciFi channel show "Eureka". I should also warn you that there are a few steamy romance scenes that are probably not suitable for younger audiences, but I found them to be very tasteful and not smutty or obscene in the least.    

I was absolutely blown away by the creative writing of this story.  I found the plot to be extremely well written and the dialogue was supremely natural and fluid.  I found myself getting emotionally invested in the characters and wished the book was longer so I could have more time in their world.  This is also the book's biggest shortcoming. It is so rich and engrossing that it is simply too short to be entirely satisfactory.  I understand the writer's preference to write shorter stories, but I think Wynde could really excel with a longer novel.

Bottom line: If you want to get lost for a few hours in a mystical yet modern fantasy world, go ahead and read this book.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crochet Graph-ghans

Bear Chart
My latest hobby is crochet. I find that it really helps me de-stress and focus in the evenings and I love being able to gift my family and friends with handmade hats, scarves, and blankets.  Lately I've been teaching myself how to crochet from a graph and it has most definitely been a lesson in patience! Crocheting from a graph allows for really beautiful intricate patterns to be worked into blankets, pillows, and more, but it is extremely time-consuming and you have to pay VERY close attention to your work.  I'm currently working on a few smaller pieces to join together into a throw, but I have grand plans to complete a few afghans this year as well.  What I love about crocheting from a graph is the incredible level of customization you can add. I found this website: where you can upload your own design/picture and almost instantly have it converted into a graph!
Deer Chart

Now, there are some things to keep in mind when planning a graph design:
  1. Keep it simple to start with. Maybe choose a geometric border design for a small throw blanket so you can get the hang of it. 
  2. Choose an image with a simple color scheme, and simplify the colors on the pattern maker. There is an option to choose custom colors and I recommend choosing the closest 2-4 colors depending on your design. 
  3. If you use any of the patterns that I linked to, be aware that the coloring isn't perfect, especially on the Ohio State logo.  Use common sense and simplify the color scheme as needed. For this one in particular I was planning on a gray or white background, and then using one shade each of a green, a red, black, and brown. So 5 colors total.  
  4. Be aware that the patterns are based on single-crochet stitches so they are fairly time consuming.  The best yarn to use is usually a worsted (4ply) or sport (3ply) weight yarn and a size G or H crochet hook.  
  5. Be mindful of copyright infringement. If you're using someone else's design or a trademarked logo, please don't try to sell the pattern or finished product(!!!). This is illegal(!) and could get you in some serious trouble if you get caught.  
  6. Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment! The only way to get better is by practice so start small and work your way up to larger projects. Soon you'll be able to make custom afghans and throws to gift your friends and family! 
  7. If you would like either the Ohio State or IU pattern, please email me and I will send you the full size chart as a .jpg image. I will hopefully have them hosted somewhere in the future but for now I can only email them as attachments. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Fathers Day!

Just a quick note to say Happy Fathers Day to all the hardworking fathers and father-figures out there! Here's to all the dads who put their children's needs before their own; who get up early for hockey and swim and dance lessons, who help with homework and stay up late to help finish school projects, who are there in the audience for the school play, who work tirelessly to provide the best life they can (with or without a partner parent) for their kids.

And to my own father, thank you for supporting me and giving me the freedom to find my own direction in life and for being there to catch me when I fail spectacularly. I know it wasn't always easy, but I appreciate it. Love you always.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Duggar-Dillard Wedding Mock-Up

Hello and happy June everyone! Later this month Jill Duggar (fourth child of the supersized Duggar family of "19 Kids and Counting" fame) will be marrying accountant and missionary Derick Dillard.  They make an absolutely adorable couple and I was inspired to design a mock-up of what I consider to be their ideal wedding based on Jill's public Pinterest account*.

Take short and sweet to a whole new level in this lace cap sleeve tea-length wedding gown.   Picture perfect for an outdoor wedding or reception dress.   Short gown features illusion neckline and beaded lace appliques.  No train. Sizes 0-14. Available online and in stores in Ivory. Available for special order in White.   Fully lined. Back zip. Imported. Dry clean only.
David's Bridal CMK513
Based on Jill's Pinterest and recent pictures of the happy couple's wedding shower, it seems like they have chosen a rustic theme with a mint green and peachy pink color scheme.  I imagine a simple and cute outdoor ceremony and reception could take place on the Duggar family's ample property, but it was recently reported that the future Mr. & Mrs. Dillard will be tying the knot in the same church where Jill's parents wed 30 years ago (Information found here).

As with all of the older Duggar girls, Jill seems to be very girly and petite.  I think she would be best suited to wear a mermaid/fit and flare or slim A-line style lacy dress with possibly an illusion neckline and cap sleeves. I really like the look of this "Esperanza" style dress from, as well as this tea-length dress from David's Bridal.  A floaty light veil, pearl jewelry, and pink shoes would complete the bride's look.  

  For bridesmaids dresses, I actually really love the look of these lacy      peach dresses found on Jill's Pinterest.  The style is modest enough to fit the Duggar's strict religious standards, but also appears to be stylish and would likely look good on most of the girls Jill chooses as bridesmaids.  Each bridesmaid could wear a different style of pearl jewelry and nude shoes to complete her ensemble.

The bouquets and decorations should look simple and use classic, rustic flowers such as baby's breath, peonies, and old-fashioned roses in various shades of cream and pink, tied with mint colored ribbon.  Large, high-impact flowers such as peonies and hydrangeas are a great way to minimize floral costs because you can use fewer flowers in each individual bouquet and still end up with a stunning arrangement.
Peach & Mint Wedding Party
Finally, since this is a somewhat informal wedding theme, I imagine the groom and groomsmen could wear light gray or tan suits accented with mint green ties and small rose and baby's breath boutonnieres. A fun touch that I've seen recently is having the groomsmen wear coordinating colored socks to show off in some goofy pictures.  
Even if the ceremony is indoors in a church, June is the perfect time of year to have an outdoor reception.  I imagine setting up 3 or 4 outdoor canopies to shelter the food and beverages from the sun and provide a small bit of shelter in case of rain, but having assorted seating options such as chairs, chaise lounges, and straw bales set up in small clusters. The bridal party table could be decorated with burlap and small arrangements of baby's breath or other flowers in vases made out of glass jars.  To encourage mingling among guests,  there should be an ample array of finger foods and and desserts.  A really fun touch that goes well with this rustic, Southern theme would be an iced-tea and lemonade bar with various fruity syrups that could be used to customize each drink.

Best wishes Derick and Jill! May you have many happy years together and be always blessed. <3

*I'm choosing not to include direct links to any of Jill Duggar's social media out of respect for her privacy. Her Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter accounts are all public and easily available to find on your own if you really want to.