A Guernsey for Nolan

It needs buttons, but it’s otherwise finished! I knitted the 12 month size without checking gauge or reading the notes and found myself with a sweater that would fit a newborn.

After checking guage and reading some other raveler notes, I bought some more yarn, upped my needle size, and changed some of the decreases. I don’t love the placket, but that’s my limited ability, not the pattern. I wish I had thought to add it to my stitches in the round instead of picking up after the body.

I think Nolan will be happy to have a little sweater to wear this fall to cheer on his family’s alma mater, Penn State, and thoroughly warm and cozy.

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Pattern: Organic Guernsey by Fawn Pea

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Wool, in color: denim

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Seasonal Spotlight: Brussel Sprouts & Lemon

Lunch salads are the easiest way for me to load up on veggies, and a warm roasted veggie bowl is my favorite winter salad.

Here’s how I make it happen:

Step 1- clean out the fridge… I like a mix of cruciferous (brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale), root vegetable (white or sweet potato, carrot, parsnip), and always an onion. If I have zucchini, I throw it in too.

Step 2- Dice and toss with olive oil, generously sprinkle salt and pepper, and roast 400 degrees until it looks good to you. This took 45 minutes, with a toss halfway through roasting.

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Step 3- Combine with leftover grilled meat or black beans, or some pumpkin seeds. Serve over brown rice with a squeeze of lemon, or on a tortilla with some sour cream.

Lunch for the week- ✔️

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Do you prep lunch like this?

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Water Bottles for Essential Oils

I have been using essential oils for years now, and one of the most basic ways to use oils internally is to add a drop in your water glass.

Something very important to mention, is that it matters what type of cup you are using, if you don’t want the essential oils to erode and destroy.

Here are some good options for you, as well as a list to avoid-

Good:

  • stainless steel cups like Hydroflask and Yeti; there’s also a Walmart brand stainless steel water cup that’s more affordable
  • glass cups, like Contigo

Bad:

  • aluminum
  • plastic water bottles, like Nalgene (mixed plastics)

I like to put a drop of citrus in my water, or a drop of peppermint or lemon in my hot or iced tea. I’ve never tried peppermint in my hot chocolate, but it sounds like a good idea!

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Becoming

Bottom line- Read this!!!!

Okay, now that I have that off my chest… Michelle Obama’s memoir was loaned to me by my sister, and I enjoyed every morsel of this story.

She frames the piece in three sections: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More, and each section had many fascinating insights into her career development, family life, marriage and a smidge of political life.

Becoming Me focused mostly on her childhood, friendships and family life in Chicago, her undergrad experience at Princeton, and briefly her disillusionment with practicing law, where she met Barack. I did not know much about the Obamas, especially Michelle. I tend to think of them iconicly, as larger than life figures, and reading her memoir humanized her. What truly resonated was how she described arriving at her career not by passion but by “checking the boxes.” Duty, not passion, propelled her. I think it’s a delicate balance between duty and passion, and it’s easy to put everyone else’s needs and expectations before your own, especially if you tend to enjoy making peace, as I do.

Hearing her talk about the segregation of the Princeton campus, how she mainly socialized with other minorites on campus, made me think of my own self imposed segregation. She says, “even today, with white students continuing to outnumber students of color on college campuses, the burden of assimilation is put largely on the shoulders of minority students. In my experience, it’s a lot to ask.” I certainly did not make a conscious effort to make people of color more comfortable when I was in college, thinking it as uncomfortable for me, and effectively putting the burden on them. Not actively hating but actively participating by being passive, is shameful in retrospect. And it makes me want to make that effort now, in church, school, work, and hobby. Am I welcoming? Am I willing to sacrifice my comfort for their comfort? Am I speaking up when I see racism?

Honestly there would be so much to write, to show how much I loved this memoir and how it stirred me, that I could not possibly cover it all here. The mothering struggle, what her family had to compromise with Barack’s political ambitions, and how she stayed sane amid the grueling schedule and lack of privacy, were all very interesting.

Read it for yourself, please! I read the hardcover edition, but she narrates the audio version, if you have greater access to that.

Have you read this? What did you think?

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Encouraging Kids to Read

Full confession: My kids do not share the same passion for reading as I do.

It’s hard to admit that, but I also think they have so many other distractions that make it easy to disregard the entertainment value of a good book. Hello tablet games, you tube, many different Disney channels and websites, among many other networks aimed exclusively at children!

Here are 3 main ways I have been successful sharing my love for reading with the girls:

Audio books in the car… I download from my library to the Libby app. The Tale of Despereaux, Ramona books are some favorites.

Reading the same book… This works great, especially with my middle schooler. We read a book at our own pace and come back together to discuss. Wonder, Wolf Hollow, and I am Malala are some favorites. She couldn’t get into Wednesday Wars, so we are going to try the audio version together.

Actually reading together… This is more like the standard 30 minutes a night that teachers everywhere recommend. We usually take turns reading a page, passing the book back and forth.  My elementary schooler prefers this more attentive approach. Boxcar Children, American Girl stories, joke books and even illustrated childrens’ books have been hits.

We’ve even been known to pretend to be teachers, reading a story to our students (aka our dog and her stuffed animals).

Ultimately, the best way to encourage reading is finding something interesting, no matter the age. So whether it’s the history of toilets, how chocolate is made, or animal jokes, log in to your library and check out some titles for your child and see if they want to flip through some of the pages together. Or read a book together and then watch the movie and compare.

How have you been successful reading with your kids?

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Library Love Letter

My love affair with the library started at a very early age, fostered by my mother and sister, who are also enthusiastic readers. Growing up, we had a small local library that had only one teen shelf and a closet sized selection of childrens books. I never minded the limited selection, just repeatedly checking out my favorites time and time again. (Hello, Flowers in the Attic and Forever)

Once every few months (perhaps when my mother was bored of the adult selection), we’d go to the downtown library. I don’t remember my mom limiting how many books we checked, censoring or even rushing our selection, which was wonderful because they had an entire children’s floor of books. We’d practically spend an entire Saturday going through every section.

These days, we primarily use our library three ways:

1- The old fashioned smash & grab: I don’t have to give my kids a time limit to check out books because they can fly in, choose 10 books in 10 seconds, and be ready to check out before I’ve unloaded the bag of returns. Our local library is well appointed and has the friendliest librarians.

2- Knowing there will be no extra time to wander around, I always do some pre-selection online holding. Our library does not have any hold limits for book requests, nor any fees for library transfers (even if you don’t pick it up), so I try to set my requests a few days in advance of going there with the kids.

I will also place holds on new books when they are on order for the library, and my hold usually comes up within the first 6 months. I try to be as efficient as possible when these books come in, returning early, to keep the queue rolling fast. Sometimes I can’t wait and Amazon substitutes, but I’m trying to exercise patience when possible.

3- Our library also has a vast digital collection. I use the Libby app for ebooks and audiobooks from my I-phone to manage this selection. The app stores your library card info, and I use it to download audio books to listen in the car, and ebooks to transfer to my Kindle. I do not like reading on my phone, so always ebooks to the Kindle. There are hold limits with the app, and I’ve found that print copies free up faster, so I don’t put many holds on new books.

My mom prefers the used bookstore now, versus the library. I’m pretty sure it’s fatigue from managing all of our due dates and late fees for so long!

Which do you prefer? New or used? Print or digital? Do you use any apps to keep up with everything?

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Sweetie Pie Hat

93FA818F-8D90-4280-8534-0D60B9C0F6CAI did some traveling last month and this was a quick road trip project. I love this yarn, even if it has a tendency to felt (ahem, especially if you leave it in a jacket pocket and machine wash and dry it).

I will try to take better care of this one, as it’s such a bright piece of work and I don’t want to ruin it.

Pattern: Purl Soho’s Sweetie Pie hat

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted

What is your favorite road trip project?

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