Thursday, July 31, 2014

Navy and Gold Nautical Wedding

I'm still feeling summery and craving some time on the water so this weeks wedding theme is a nautical, navy and gold themed wedding.  I'm imagining the setting for this event to be somewhere on the East Coast but I suppose it could work for any couple anywhere that loves the water.  I want this wedding to look more preppy and cohesive than some of the other weddings I have designed, but to still maintain an element of fun.
First off, the absolute perfect setting for a wedding like this would be at a marina or boat club.  An outdoor ceremony with the water in the background would be so stunning! I can imagine the ceremony taking place in front of a gazebo right on the water with a string quartet providing the musical accompaniment. I would love to have the same venue for both ceremony and reception so guests can just seamlessly mingle with each other immediately after the ceremony without having to drive to a separate location.  I am absolutely in love with this venue, East Hampton Point Resort, in Long Island, NY.  It has everything I imagined for this wedding, although the price is rather expensive.
East Hampton Point

Secondly, I think the bride should wear something very elegant and flowing, but not too big or princess-ey.  I absolutely adore this Oleg Cassini gown from David's Bridal, and while its original price is a bit on the high side, it is now on sale for a huge discount! The bride's accessories should match the elegance of her gown so I'm thinking pearl jewelry and a beautiful long, embroidered veil.  To keep with the navy and gold color scheme I want her to wear gold or navy shoes and carry something similar to this yellow, blue, and white bouquet.  The bridesmaids would wear blue dresses with gold sashes and gold shoes.  They would also accessorize with simple pearly or gold jewelry and carry similar bouquets.   The groom and groomsmen would wear either tan or navy fitted suits with yellow and white boutonnieres, bow ties, and pocket squares.   

Oleg Cassini
 Finally, I want to incorporate a little bit of the nautical theme in the reception without going overboard and making it look tacky.  I imagine that there would be a few classy rope and anchor motifs sprinkled throughout the decorations and table settings, and possibly on the wedding cake as shown below.  I want the majority of the focus to be on the navy and gold color scheme with just a few nautical touches. This blue and gold stationery from Ladyfingers Letterpress is so pretty and elegant! Mostly white table settings with navy and gold accents and centerpieces would perfectly set off coordinating place settings and menus.  

For more nautical inspiration, check out my Pinterest board. Thanks for reading, and please share this post if you enjoyed it!
Anchor cake


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: Artful by Peter David

*I received this book free of charge through the First Reads giveaway program*
I admit, I've avoided the popular classical literature x paranormal crossover until now.  However, Artful by Peter David seemed really interesting and I was very happy to win a copy of it from

The book starts out with a little bit of background explanation of who the main character is and how his story relates to Dickens' Oliver Twist.  The main protagonist of the story is the Artful Dodger and this book delves into his paranormal adventures after the end of Dickens' story.  I actually really enjoyed the story, although the story telling could become a bit convoluted at times.  I was also slightly confused by the pace of the story because it seemed like it took a long time to get to set up any "real" action but then after the action started it was extremely fast paced.   I would have enjoyed the story more if much of the background information had been integrated into the entire plot instead of packed into such a long and drawn-out beginning.  I also would have liked to seen more development of the vampire mythology instead of just a few paragraphs discussing the origins of the vampires.

Overall, I would recommend this book to readers who like the fantasy/paranormal genre. It would probably be a good read for high schoolers and older readers who have already read Oliver Twist, but reading Dickens is not necessary to enjoy this book.

Artful on

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Win the July Eco Emi Box!

Here's another great giveaway brought to you by Emilee of Deals of Sweetness! 

Eco Emi Giveaway Sponsored by Eco Emi

Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Eco Emi Giveaway
Eco Emi is the first eco friendly sampling service. They offer the opportunity to review five to ten samples of natural, organic, green, eco-friendly products sent right to your door wrapped in chic earth friendly material made from 100% recycled bottles. All of this for only $15 per month! All of their packages are adorned with 100% organic or vintage ribbons or they will often use 100% bamboo yarns. Part of the fun is that the package will look a little different every month. You will have the luxury of trying out an array of green products in the comfort of your own home or over a cup of herbal tea with close friends.
Emilee from Deals of Sweetness has been loving Eco Emi boxes and shared her thoughts on the June Eco Emi Box in her eco-friendly subscription box review.
Would you like to try great eco-friendly products? One winner will receive a July Eco Emi Box! (Products vary from those pictured.) This giveaway begins on 7/27 and ends on 8/9 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US residents ages 18+. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Emilee from Deals of Sweetness and Pea of Sweetness received free product(s) to facilitate her review. No other compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Free Pattern Friday: More Teddy Bears

My apologies for this week's free pattern Friday being a day late;  Adjusting to a new work schedule is exhausting.  Anyways, my three new free patterns this week are more adorable teddy bear patterns.  I really like teddy bear blankets for babies and toddlers and I have several new nieces and nephews due in the next few months so I thought I would share these cute graphs.  As always, these were made for non-commercial purposes using 's free pattern wizard and are not to be sold.  All three of these are hosted on the free pattern store (links in captions), which does require free and easy registration to the website. Also, as usual feel free to personalize these blankets with different colors, borders, etc..., and share your pictures with me when you finish! I would love to see all of your amazing, unique creations.

One additional note, these are all fairly large blankets so feel free to reduce the amount of background around the bears if you want a smaller throw or cuddle blanket.

Bear With Balloons

Bow Bear

Baseball Bear

I have a few more Teddy Bear patterns and a whole menagerie of animals to be featured in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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*This post contains affiliate links. Ordering through these links will not add any additional costs to your total order and I will receive a small commission, which will help reimburse me for the time and effort spent writing this blog* 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

$50 Success Creations GC Giveaway!

This is an awesome giveaway brought to you by Success Creations and Emilee of Deals of Sweetness. These gorgeous masks would be a fun wedding prop or great for a costume party! 

Masquerade Giveaway Sponsored by Success Creations

Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Success Creations Giveaway
Success Creations is a mask company proudly operating in Lakewood, NJ for over 25 years. They are one of the only companies in the entire USA that specializes only in designing some of the most gorgeous handmade masquerade masks ever created. Masquerade masks are all they do, and you will surely see that difference in the quality of their designs.
Emilee from Deals of Sweetness loves that Success Creations puts so much care in their designs and are handcrafted in the USA. See what she thought in her masquerade masks review.
Is there a mask (or masks) you love? One winner will receive a $50 Gift Card to Success Creations! This giveaway begins on 7/24 and ends on 8/6 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US residents ages 18+. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Emilee from Deals of Sweetness and Pea of Sweetness received free product(s) to facilitate her review. No other compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Red, White, and Blue Wedding

It may be a few weeks late for July 4th, but a red, white, and blue theme is still perfect for a summer wedding.  While most of the weddings I've seen with this theme are outdoors, I think during this time of year an indoor wedding and possibly the reception as well would be much nice indoors (Air-conditioned spaces, hallelujah!) Outdoor weddings are lovely but during the sweltering summer months of July and early August it is much more comfortable for everyone involved to not be sweating and swatting at insects all day.
Sweetheart Trumpet Gown

Beaded Taffeta Fit and Flare
For an elegant summer wedding, I imagine the bride would look fresh and gorgeous in a silky, fitted gown.  This fit and flare taffeta gown with beaded accents from David's Bridal looks both elegant and season-appropriate.  Depending on the bride's personal preference, any fitted or slim style of dress would be a good look for a July wedding.  This David's Bridal trumpet gown with a beaded, sweetheart necklace would also look fun and classy.  I think the bride could accessorize with either sparkly crystal jewelry or sophisticated pearls.  Again, depending on the bride's preferences, she could either wear a long, lightweight veil, or forego a veil and simply wear an elegant hair comb or barrette with a low updo. This rhinestone 'Firework' hair comb from Icing would look lovely right above a low chignon. Bright red or navy blue shoes would add just a pop of fun color.
Bridesmaid Dresses

 Bridesmaids would stay cool and comfortable in these strapless cotton sateen dresses in marine (or a darker blue), paired with matching pumps. The bridesmaids would also wear pearl jewelry and have similar low hairstyles that will keep them cool and sweat-free.  The bride would carry a bouquet of mainly white flowers with accents of red and blue, while the bridesmaids would carry red and white bouquets.  A great way to save money on bouquets for the entire bridal party would be to buy the flowers wholesale and then DIY the bouquets. has wholesale priced roses, hydrangeas, and snapdragons, which would all look stunning together in a summer bouquet.
White Garden Bouquet

I imagine the reception decor will be fun and bright.  I would like to see long tables with white tableclothes and tall red, white, and blue centerpieces (silk flowers are okay to use here). Cute banners and hanging decorations in red and blue would make a visually interesting backdrop. The menu would be fun and summery, consisting of barbecue-inspired cuisine.  Grilled or barbecued chicken, pork, and sliders with a gourmet condiment bar would be fun and filling. The usual potato and pasta salads and baked beans would also be present, classed up with exotic spices and ingredients. There would also be a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on, while drinks would be bottled beers, lemonade, and sodas in glass bottles on ice.  Dessert would be a light angel-food cake garnished with whipped vanilla icing and more fresh berries, some soft sugar cookies decorated with red and blue sugar, and old-fashioned root beer floats served in frosty mugs.  Sparklers would be available as entertainment for the wedding guests and as a send off at the end of the night.

I hope this has inspired you to think about having a patriotic summer wedding! For more red, white, and blue inspiration, check my Wed, White and Blue board on Pinterest. I'll be keeping the summer theme going next week with a nautical wedding theme so check back next Wednesday!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kale and Chia Chips Giveaway!

Looking for a healthier way to snack? Like to try new and interesting foods? Enter for your chance to win a variety of kale and chia snacks! 

SuperEats Kale & Chia Chips Giveaway!

Win an assortment of Kale & Chia Chips from SuperEats!

Hosted by: Savory Savings & Gloriously Green Gal

SuperEats Prize Pack July 22 - August 5

Looking for a healthy way to get your salty snack in each day?  Why not try SuperEats Kale & Chia Chips?  These crunchy and flavorful chips are loaded with Vitamins A and C among other wonderful antioxidants and nutrients!  Krista over at Savory Savings recently had a chance to review the fun flavors and shared her thoughts in this SuperEats review!
How would you like to an assortment of SuperEats chips (valued at $50)?  If you would like a chance to win, enter with the Giveaway Tool below.  If you have won a SuperEats giveaway anytime from another blog in the last 12 months, you are not eligible to win this giveaway.  The giveaway will run from July 22 through August 5, 2014 at 11 PM CST and is open to US residents, ages 18 and older.  Entries will be verified.  Winner will be notified via email (consider adding to your safe list) – winner will have 48 hours to respond and claim prize or another winner will be selected.
Good Luck!

Book Review: Dragon's Debt by HL Burke

*I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and I never commit to a positive review prior to reading*

As much as I thought that the first book in The Dragon and the Scholar series was fantastic, this book was even better.  HL Burke continues to fine-tune and polish her craft to excellent results.
Much of this book focused on Ewan and Edmond and their relationship as brothers of different species.  It was very interesting to see Ewan grapple with the guilt he still feels about Edmond's injury. Shannon's story is almost a side-plot in this book, as she is still figuring out her relationship with Ewan and must also deal with new romantic interest from the new character Prince Ryan of Westshire (brother of Edmond's love interest, Brighid). I still enjoy how well-developed Shannon is as a character. She is loyal, steadfast, intelligent, and brave, and she also happens to be a woman. I love that the author doesn't make Shannon's character remarkable because of her gender, she is simply a good person who happens to be female.  HL Burke does a really good job of weaving the increasingly complicated relationships between all of the characters. The characters all seem very real; at times I was as frustrated with their actions as I would be when a friend does something incredibly stupid.  

The dialogue in Dragon's Debt was superb and believable; it read as much more natural and less tongue-in-cheek than the diaglogue in Dragon's Curse.  This book did a good job of fleshing out the existing characters and introducing  few interesting new people, although I would have liked the focus to have been more on Shannon.  I also would have liked more drama. I believe this series has great potential as an adventure story as much as a romance if there was just a little bit more "edge of your seat" action at the climax.  Overall, though, this was another great read and I give it 4.5/5 stars. 

Dragon's Debt on

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Pattern Friday: Church Gifts

It's Friday again, which means another free pattern post from me.  Today I'm focusing on patterns that would make wonderful gifts for your favorite pastor or church staff member.  I was inspired to make these patterns when the pastor from my church in high school announced he was retiring this summer.  All of these would make nice gifts for a retiring pastor, or to thank your church if you are moving away and no longer will be attending.  The first three patterns are my own creations made using, the rest are links from other various free pattern websites. Enjoy!

Christian Fish Pillow
1. I want to start out with a simple pillow pattern.  This fish symbol would be a cute gift for your church staff or to donate to your church's youth center or community center as decoration.  It's a relatively simple pattern that I think anyone with a basic knowledge of crochet could figure out.  This graph is available for download on the free pattern shop.

Email Me for Pattern
2. My second pattern is a throw blanket featuring the emblem of the Lutheran Church (the Luther Rose).  This is most definitely a pattern for the advanced crocheter and will probably take a few weeks-months to complete, depending on your skill level.  Also, if I'm being perfectly honest, I'm not 100% satisfied with the way this pattern turned out.  I need to make some more corrections, but it should at least be workable as is. If you would like this pattern, please email me (email address at top of blog) and I will send you a .jpg of the graph.

Email Me

3. The last graph that I personally made is the emblem of the United Methodist Church.  My husband and I are still finding a church that fits us best since we moved, but we really like our local UMC congregation.  I'm hoping to complete this to give to the lead pastor before we move again in a few years.  This pattern is also available by email so just send me a message and I'll get you the .jpg as soon as possible.

Now for some bonus patterns from other designers on other sites.  Happy crafting! :)

Crochet Lord's Prayer
Cross Bookmark
Lion and Lamb Pillows

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: A Lonely Magic by Sarah Wynde

I received a copy of this book for free as part of a promotional giveaway.
4/5 Stars
Once again, Sarah Wynde excels at creating a mystical alternate realty where magic and fantasy reign. This book opens with intense drama and mystery and has enough plot twists and intrigue to keep all but the most jaded of readers happy. When you first meet the protagonist of the book, Fen, she is being threatened with her imminent murder.  At the last minute a mysterious stranger appears and stops her from being killed.  Things only get weirder for Fen after her attempted murder and subsequent rescue when she meets her rescuers family. She is forced to abandon the life she knew for a sort of private "witness protection program". Fen is soon completely ensconced in a new, exotic world, but not everything is as it seems.  Once she learns that her family had hidden some secrets of it's own from her, she must face the biggest choice of her life.  

A Lonely Magic
I really enjoyed this book; the writing was superb and the drama was fast paced.  The little bit of lust/romance thrown in was entertaining, but not too overwhelming to the central plot.  As with all of Wynde's work, it was very easy to become completely immersed in the writing.  My only complaint is that the "last of the species/tribe/line" theme that pops up towards the end is a little too cliche in fantasy writing.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weekly Wedding: Jazz Age Paper

Buhl Mansion Parlour
I just started watching the HBO show Boardwalk Empire this past weekend and it has inspired me to plan an elegant, budget, Jazz Age inspired wedding for this week's theme.  I actually originally had planned this wedding theme around the idea of using all paper decorations and bouquets as a way to save money, and then realized that this could work very well with a sort of 1920's inspired theme if the paper was gilded with gold paint.  I want to keep this wedding on the simpler side to really let the unique details shine through.  I imagine this as a bit of a smaller wedding that can take place in a non-traditional setting such as a library or private home.  I also think it would be really cool to have this as a morning wedding with a brunch in place of a traditional reception.
Jazz Age Inspiration

First off, I want the bride's dress to be simple but elegant.  A dress that hits just below the knees would be fitting for the Jazz Age inspiration, but a simple lacy fitted or sheath gown with a modest train would be nice too.  I particularly like this Amy Kuschel gown, with a tea length tulle skirt and illusion neckline.  A few similar dresses from David's Bridal are this Melissa Sweet fitted tulle dress and this sequined sheath with cap sleeves.  The bride will forego a veil and wear a pretty headband instead, and accessorize with some vintage looking teardrop jewelry from Icing. Some stylish white pumps would complete the bridal ensemble.

Since this is a smaller wedding, I imagine the bride would only have one or two bridesmaids, wearing gold sequined dresses and also carrying paper bouquets.  The bridesmaids would wear nude or tan shoes with a slight heel, as well as simple, understated jewelry.
Newspaper Flowers

The bride and bridal party's bouquets would be made out of origami newspaper flowers, spray-painted or edged with gold paint, and a few solid color paper flowers.  There are many different styles of flowers that can be made out of paper, as demonstrated in this Etsy shop.  The bride can save a lot of money using local newspapers and inviting some crafty and creative friends and family members to help out making the bouquets.  Having a flower making party also offers the bride a chance to spend some quality time bonding and having fun with her family and friends before the wedding.  As a bonus, these paper bouquets can be made well in advance of the wedding because they don't need to be kept fresh like cut flowers do.  Additional flowers can be made to use as decorations and centerpieces for the ceremony and reception.  I have seen some really cute paper decorations that range from large pinwheels that can be used as a backdrop for the head table at the reception, to balls of paper flowers hanging from the ceiling to frame a photo opportunity, to wreaths and boutonnieres made out of paper roses.
Naked Cake

Even though this wedding would be a brunch wedding, I still want the bride and groom to have their wedding cake after the eggs florentine and quiches.  To prevent the guests from going into a sugar coma so early in the day, a "naked" cake with just a bit of icing between the layers and decorated with fresh fruit would be the perfect cake to end the meal.

I hope this post has inspired you to add some gilded, Jazz Age flair to your wedding ideas!

Here are some great tutorials for making paper flower bouquets!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

Rating: 3/5

The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell is a pretty good historical romance.  It wasn't super remarkable or innovative, but I really enjoyed the detailed characters and setting.  It was very easy to immerse myself in the village of Gresham, and the characters were so well developed that by the end of the book they felt like old friends.

The story begins with the death of the protagonist's husband.  Distraught over suddenly becoming a widow, Julia Hollis is even more shocked to learn that his business dealings were not what she thought they were.  Faced with being in charge of her own life and wellbeing for the first time ever, Julia must make some tough decisions and quickly learn about running an inn when she is forced to relocate from London to the tiny village of Gresham.  Although it is quite the change for herself and her children, they all quickly adapt and make new friends in their new home.  This story does a good job of illustrating the value of humility, hard work, and good friendships without being overly preachy or banal.  I actually enjoyed this story so much that I went to the library to borrow the other books in the "Gresham Chronicles" series immediately after reading this one.

If  you enjoy historical romances, stories about Victorian England, and stories with a lot of detail, this would be a good read for you.

The Widow of Larkspur Inn

PS: I've started linking my book reviews to the Goodreads page for the book instead of the Amazon page just because Goodreads offers links to most major ebook retailers instead of only one.  I think most people read Kindle books, but if you prefer to buy from Barnes and Noble or iBooks, or some other retailer, you can find all the links at the Goodreads page for that book.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

$500 Amazon GC Giveaway

amazon gift card
Hello readers! I'm sharing an awesome giveaway with you today! This Mama's Life and are sponsoring a $500 giftcard giveaway. Not only is this a fantastic prize, the website seems really cool if you have little ones. Really, keeping track of all the medical records for your kid(s) can be difficult. I know even as an adult I have trouble keeping track of everything for myself so having one website that can safely store your medical information sounds great!

Amy over at This Mamas Life recently had a new little one and is helping us Celebrate! One lucky reader will win an Gift Card

A little about Kinsights: Kinsights is an online Pediatric Personal Health Record Keeper for parents. Gone are the days where you’re being held responsible for keeping track of slips of paper or lugging files and folders containing your children’s health information. And in the event of an emergency, you can even have the health records sent to the ER or out-of-town doctor in a snap. Organize your child’s growth and developmental milestones, immunizations, medications, allergies, and more. This tool is amazing and a godsend to parents. Kinsights is also a community where parents can safely seek and share answers to parenting questions. You can ask anything and Kinsights will find the right community members who can provide guidance. Kinsights even offers groups with similar interests their own pages, including single parents, grandparents, those interested in car seat safety, baby & kids fashion, potty training groups, and many more What's really cool about this community is that it makes finding the best answers easy-community members vote up answers so the best content rises to the top.
*One Lucky Reader will receive the item shown above ( $500.00 Value) *Giveaway starts July 14, 2014 at 12:01am est. *Giveaway will end at 11:59pm est on July 31, 2014 *Giveaway is open to US only * You must be 18 or over to enter * Winner will be chosen at random via Giveaway Tools * Winners will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be chosen. * The lucky winner will be notified by email at the end of the Giveaway. * This Mamas Life, The Faux Menno,  and the other participating blogs are not responsible for prize shipment or fulfillment *Prize will be fulfilled by the Sponsor. BEST OF LUCK TO EVERYONE!

Disclosure: This blog did not receive financial compensation or product in exchange for this giveaway. Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest are in no way associated with this giveaway. Prize fulfillment and shipping will be handled by the Sponsors

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tutorial Part II: Editing Your Crochet Graph Pattern

Hello again, I hope you enjoyed part I of my Free Pattern Wizard Tutorial.  Sometimes your pattern will turn out perfect right when it comes out of the program, but most of the time you will have to clean up a few lines here and there. My preferred program for editing my graphs is MS Paint because of how simple it is to use.

1. Open the file of your new graph. The Free Pattern Wizard outputs the graphs in .gif form so right click on the file and choose "open with" then choose MS Paint.  Once in paint, zoom out and in a few times to assess where any corrections need to be made to your graph.  On the example below, there are spaces with yellow that break up the smooth lines of the pattern (indicated with red arrow). These need to match the white background so the star looks smooth and uniform. There were also a few extra white spaces going into the body of the star and I already corrected those.

2. To correct these errors (and any similar you may find on your own patterns), simply use the "dropper" tool to match your colors and then choose the "paint bucket" tool to fill in the space with the appropriate color.  This is a very simple process, but it can be time consuming if you have a large graph. Also, be careful not to accidentally click on the grid lines while you are filling in squares. Doing so will change the color of the lines and you will need to hit the undo button if this happens.  After you make all desired corrections, you should end up with a complete finished graph that is ready to use.  

3. If everything has been corrected, go ahead and save your pattern. If you would like it in another format or to have another file name, go to "File", then "Save As".  I like my graphs to be in .jpg format so I choose the JPEG option and rename my file before clicking the "Save" button.  And with that, you have a unique crochet graph pattern that you can use to create many awesome, personal gifts.  

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tutorial: Using the Free Pattern Wizard to Create a Crochet Graph

Hello everyone! If you've been following my blog, you know that my latest addiction is making graphghan patterns using the Free Pattern Wizard on  So far, this is the best, most user-friendly tool I have found to make crochet graphs.  It is really simple to use, and pretty intuitive to figure out, but here is a tutorial for those of you who are interested.  This tool is much easier and quicker than using a spreadsheet to transfer your design to a graph format. 

1.  First of all, choose your image. I recommend using a simple image such as a logo or silhouette to start with, but the Free Pattern Wizard can be used for almost any image you can think of. For this tutorial, I chose to use a simple star shape that I made in MS Paint.  

2. Open the Free Pattern Wizard on Anyone can use this online tool, even if you don't have a registered account on stitchboard.  I highly suggest creating an account, though, because you have access to a lot more options if you are a registered member. Plus, they NEVER send you junk email, ever.  As a member of the site you also have access to many crafting forums and the admins are really helpful.  The pattern wizard should look like this: 

3. In the first box, where it says "Image to Convert into a Pattern", click the "choose your file" button and upload whatever picture you want to turn into a graph.  Choose your crafting category in box 2. I mainly crochet, so that's the option I picked.  Next you choose your stitch type in box 3. I usually just choose standard, but if you like to work in filet or tunisian, choose one of those.  In box 4 you pick your stitch shape. Since I chose "Standard" in the previous box, standard shape is the only option available to me here.  

4. Now it's time to choose your color palette. I make patterns without thinking of a specific brand of yarn, so I stay with the standard. stitchboard palette.  Sections B and C here will depend on your specific image.  I chose a very simple image to convert so I went with the simplest options here.  The automatic color match is good for images that don't have many colors or shading, but choosing your own colors can be good if your image is slightly pixelated or has a lot of shading.  I chose to limit the number of colors to 2; white and yellow, just to ensure that it transferred without getting messed up.  If you have an image with 3 or more colors, I would recommend choosing to limit your colors and then choosing your desired colors to match the number of colors you want.  
5. Box 6 asks you to choose the size of your graph.  Non-registered users can have a maximum of 100 stitches across, which would make a very small size throw. This is another reason I recommend registering because stitchboard members can request up to 300 stitches across as a default, and the admins may also give you additional stitches if you request it for a specific project. I think 200-300 stitches make a good size blanket, and 30-60 stitches across can be used to make pillows or smaller blocks that can be joined together to make a larger project.  I chose 100 stitches for my tutorial image just because it seemed like a good even number to use.  

6. Next you will choose your output format in box 7.  I always choose to display on screen because I like to download and clean up my patterns. Box 8 allows you to adjust your image before it is converted into a graph.  There is a bit of a learning curve to using this part and I admit I don't know exactly how to use all of the options here. I like to adjust to smoothness to a 5 or higher to smooth out the lines of my graph so I have less to clean up on the finished product.  I also like to check the Stray Pixel Cleanup box with the "light" option just in case my original image isn't as neat as I thought.  For a more detailed explanation of all these options, check out the Stitchboard help page here
7. Finally, in box 9, click the "Let's See My Pattern" button to get your graph on a new page.  It will look something like this:
8. You will have several options on this page. I always choose "Download Pattern" so I can save and edit out any kinks or weird spots in my graphs.  If you aren't satisfied with your graph, don't worry, you can always trying changing the settings or simply erasing and starting over. You may have a lot of trial and error until you figure out how you like your graphs to look and what settings you prefer, but experimenting is part of the fun! 

That concludes this tutorial on how to make a crochet graph pattern using the Free Pattern Wizard on  Check Part II for tips on cleaning up and editing your graph using MS Paint. 

Sponsored Links:
from: Leisure Arts, Inc.
Crochet: Basics & Beyond - $19.99
from: Craftsy

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blogger Opp: Caribbean Cookbook and $250 giveaway

Blogger Opportunity – Cookbook and Cash Giveaway with Dinner

Simply Caribbean is celebrating and  launching a Lighter Caribbean Cookbook and I will love my blogging friends to CELEBRATE with me


This is a free/paid blogger opps  hosted by SimplyCaribbean and Sodality Underground
This event is FREE to join with an announcement post!  HTML ANNOUNCEMENT

Choose ONE free link if you sign up to participate in this blogger opp!
You can choose Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram as your free link with the announcement post .
If you do not wish to post the announcement, you can submit the $4 Non Post fee via PayPal.
The first 25 paid bloggers to sign up will get two additional free links.
  • Event Dates: Aug 5 – Aug 18, 2014
  • Eligibility: Open Worldwide
  • Sign Up ends July 17th 2014
  • Two bloggers who bring in the most sign-ups/referrals will both receive a FREE Co-Host spot. If the winner has already paid for a spot, their co-host fee will be refunded!
5 Lucky Winners will receive one prize each
Date is tentatively set for 8/5 to 8/18.
Signups for this event will close on 7/17/2014.
  • $250 Cash PAID through Paypal
  • $100 Cash PAID through Paypal
  • $50   Cash PAID through Paypal
  • Simply Caribbean Lighter Fusion CookBook
  • In Home Dinner Party for 8 people (Will work on menu together after you win)
Co-Host: $18 (includes 6 links, on top of Rafflecopter + Blog link mention in html + a Host page , picture) Must post Giveaway on your blog and social media at least 2 -3 times a week

Benefits of becoming a Co-Host include, increasing your followers, increase your traffic, increase number of backlinks/links in, and help better stats, ranks, and ratings, plus you will receive other blogger opportinites as it become available.

  • 1 Link   - $3.00
  • 2 Links -  $5.00
  • 3 Links -  $7.00
  • 4 Links -  $9.00
  • 5 Links -  $12.00
Extra links after 5 can be purchased for $1.00 each, up to 3 additional links.
Please remember the more you promote the giveaway, the more views your blog will receive and the more fans you may get.

Click Here to Fill Out the Sign Up Form


Free Pattern Friday: Floral Designs!

Happy Friday everyone! For today's free patterns I'm showcasing my own floral design afghans that I made over on! All three of these are perfect for summertime with their cool floral inspired motifs.  While each of these would be a good size blanket to take on picnics or to wrap up in on chilly nights, you could also customize each one with a nearly endless variety of borders if you so feel inclined. As usual, these three patterns are hosted at, which does require a completely free registration. I promise, registering at stitchboard really is completely free and easy, and they definitely will not spam your email at all.  I've been registered over there for several months and haven't received a single email from them :)

Kaleidoscope Flower
1. Feel free to change up the colors on this bright floral kaleidoscope piece.  Any 5 or 6 bright, solid colors would look great. Add a few rows of complementary border and this throw blanket would be great for a teenagers room or as a stunning picnic blanket.

Lotus Afghan
 2. This next afghan pattern is ultra chic and elegant and would be perfect for the more sophisticated and zen people in  your life.  I love the calming feel of blues and purples, but this could be made in any color to match your decor. Add a wide matching border all the way around and this blanket is sure to add a spa-like atmosphere to any space.

Harvest Wheat

3. Lastly, this golden wheat afghan is perfect for the lazy dog-days of late summer and into the Indian summers of early fall.  I can imagine curling up with this blanket on an evening hay ride or taking it to the county fair. It would also make a gorgeous housewarming gift.  I would recommend using a deep golden yellow yarn to make this, and maybe adding just a few rows of solid border, or some type of decorative geometric border.

Sponsored Links:

52 Tunisian Crochet Stitches to Make an Afghan Stitch Sampler eBook
from: Leisure Arts, Inc.

Perfect Patches - 5 Afghans to Crochet eBook
from: Leisure Arts, Inc.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Georgia On Her Mind by Rachel Hauck

Rating: 2.8/5 I finished this book yesterday after having it on my Kindle for a few weeks after I downloaded it when it was free (it now costs $0.99) I honestly wasn't all that interested in it from the description, but hey, a free book is a free book. Once I got around to eventually reading it, I was pleasantly surprised yet unimpressed at the same time. Rachel Hauck has a good writing style and there are a lot of funny moments in this book. Macy Moore, the main character, is rather witty and almost a bit naive, which is fun to read. However, I just could not get past all of the old, recycled Christian romance plot cliches. Seriously, woman has awesome career but neglects her spirituality, woman's career tanks, annoyingly perfect friends gently remind woman about how much Jesus loves her, woman finally meets good man, various hijincks and "big decisions" ensue, woman ultimately makes the "right" decision and they all live happily ever after. I would have loved more drama in the story and was incredibly disappointed by the last several chapters. I was confused by the authors mix of the literal and metaphorical, especially in reference to the bible verse Isaiah 61:3, " give them beauty for ashes...", which prompts Macy to leave behind the metaphorical ashes of her corporate life and literally return to Beauty, her hometown in Georgia. If the author was going for subtlety, she failed and may have just gone all in and had Macy's house burn down with all her possessions, but I guess that would be too literal. Also, just once I would like to see a Christian romance where the protagonist's dream goal/profession is actually the "right" thing and they are moved to pursue that goal instead of settling for something else.
I can't highly recommend this book, but if you have a spare 99 cents and want to get a few laughs from an otherwise tired story line, go ahead and purchase this book.

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