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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Ugh, MOLD!

One of my biggest annoyances right now is where I live.  My husband is working on a Ph.D currently so we're renting a 1,000 sq foot townhouse. Overall, it's really not a bad place for us to live; it has plenty of space for the two of us plus our fur babies, and it's in pretty good community. However, it is only a rental and it has all the problems of a rental, #1 right now being that our cheap, single-pane windows let in too much moisture and then accumulate mold around the window frame. We thought we had the problem taken care of once the heat and humidity of the summer was done, but after noticing that our allergies were getting worse, we checked and sure enough there was mold around every single window in our house! Luckily some Clorox spray cleaned it right up, but until we can afford to move someplace better, or buy our own house I guess I'll be fighting a weekly battle to keep our house mold-free.

Country House
Anyways, my current frustration with the cheap construction of this rental made me really consider what I want in my dream home.  Even though
buying the house of our dreams is many years away, my husband and I have come up with a few ideas for what we definitely want when we can afford it.

  1. We kind of want a dome home because of its energy saving capacity. If not a dome home, we also like craftsman style houses and farmhouses.  Whatever type of house we end up with doesn't have to be big, but we definitely want it to be well built with durable, energy efficient materials.  We are doing fine with our 1000 square feet now, but once we have kids that might be a little bit cramped so we are thinking something around 1700-2000 square feet. Big enough to have breathing room, but not excessive.  
  2. I want a neutral color scheme for the walls so I can easily change out the decorations and mix up accent colors. I especially love smoky light gray colors and warm, airy beiges. My current top choices are Smoke Embers, Aganthus Green, and Winter White, all by Benjamin Moore.  
  3. I NEED to live in a more rural area so I can have some chickens and ducks. Ideally, we would have a ton of "lawn" space, but not a lot of grass because I plan on devoting much of my yard space to edible perennials and native fruit and nut trees.  
Well, that's all the dreaming I have time for now.  Hopefully this post inspires you to dream about your dream home. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fake it, baby!

Nope, I'm not talking about your wedding night (get your minds out of the gutters), but a few handy products that can definitely help you simplify and save on your wedding or special occasion beauty routine.

Broadway Nails Real Life
Did you ever play around with fake nails when you were in junior high or high school? My friends and I did on several occasions but we always bought the cheapest, most outrageous nails we could find.  However, if you do some searching, you can find very realistic, professional looking nails that are much cheaper than the cost of a salon manicure.  I really wish I had considered using false nails for my wedding instead of shelling out $30 for a manicure that wasn't all that impressive anyways. Over the summer I had boudoir pictures done as an anniversary present for my husband and decided to take a chance and wear false nails.  I was nervous that they wouldn't stay on, or that they would look obviously fake, but they look amazing in the pictures! A quick search on amazon turns up hundreds of results for fake nails that are a far cry from the fake and juvenile looking ones I was accustomed to seeing.  Particularly good brands that I have found are Fing'rs, Kiss, and Broadway, but there are others as well.  You can easily get a gorgeous manicure for $6-$10 by using false nails, instead of the $30+ that a salon manicure costs.
Kiss Custom Fit

Obviously, you want to purchase your false nails well ahead of time to do a trial wear so you can see how they look in person and how well they stay on.  The Fingr's false nails that I used came with glue stickers, but I constantly felt like they were coming loose and had to obsessively check to make sure they were still on. The nails themselves looked awesome, but I would recommend using liquid nail glue as opposed to stickers. Also, you can buy some pretty crazy nail designs, but I would definitely stick with a classic french manicure or solid, subtle color to avoid looking like a wannabe teenager prom-queen.

Now, to ensure that your false nails look as good as possible you want to follow a few basic steps:
Fing'rs Duo-tone

  1. Choose a false nail style that is a subtle color and a short to medium length.
  2.  Before applying glue, check to ensure that each false nail fits the width of your natural nail bed. Nails that are slightly larger than your nail bed may be painful to wear, but they will look okay. False nails that are smaller than your natural nails will look obviously fake. 
  3. Gently push back your cuticles with a clean orange (cuticle) stick.
  4. Swipe each of your natural nails with nail polish remover and let dry before applying nail glue. This will remove excess oils and ensure a good tight bond between your nail and the false nail.  
  5. Gently file any unnatural looking bits of plastic off the false nails.  
  6. Be sure to bring extra nail glue in your bridal emergency bag, just in case! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seasonal Wedding Tips

Pre-decorated church
Christmas Tree Kiss
The holidays are approaching and now is a GREAT time of year to get married.  Not only do most religious venues and public spaces have holiday decorations up, but a there is a chance that many of your family members will have extra days off work so you could potentially save money by having your wedding on a less popular day of the week, such as a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  The prominence of greenery and decorations in churches and public areas means that you won't have to spend money on ceremony decoration, and could quite possibly save on reception decor as well! Seriously, how amazingly romantic are pictures of newlyweds kissing in front of a softly lit pine tree!?

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that gets snow in December it is almost guaranteed that your pictures will have a magical winter background! Your accessories and bridal party colors will absolutely pop against the glistening, white background of snow. It might be a little bit cold during the pictures but I think the end results are totally worth it!
Snowy Wedding Backdrop

A few more ideas to consider when planning for a holiday wedding is that it does get dark earlier in November and December, so it may be a good idea to have an early afternoon wedding in order to have the best light for any outdoor photography.  With an earlier wedding you could also potentially save money by having a lighter reception with an array of hors d'oevres and drinks instead of  full sit down meal.  Of course you would want to provide enough food so that your guests aren't starving by the end, but serving several types of appetizers also keeps the mood of the reception light and festive.

Hopefully this inspired some of you seasonal brides-to-be and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you may celebrate!