Knitspiration: Christmas Hats

Some people are sock knitters; some people are sweater knitters. I would characterize myself as a hat knitter. I love to knit simple ones and difficult ones. It’s finished fairly quickly, and you can use one skein of something special (usually special yarn that either you can’t afford a sweater quantity of yarn or it wouldn’t wear as well in a garment that it would in an accessory). Here’s my knitspiration from Ravelry for this year’s knit wish list:


(Clockwise from top left)

Norwegian Star Earflap Hat

Rainbow Trout

Cora Hat

Pines Toque

Forest Floor

Instant Raspberry Hat

Altheda June Hat

Cutting Teeth Toque


Bringing Fall into the Kitchen

The cooler weather isn’t here quite yet, but it hasn’t stopped me from making some of my fall favorites and looking for inspiration for fall recipes.

This past Saturday, I tried Giada’s Butternut Squash Soup. It was super easy and delicious. Similar but lighter to the Roasted Vegetable Soup I make frequently with potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and you skip the roasting so it’s much more weeknight friendly.

I also checked out Giada De Laurentiis’ cookbook Happy Cooking from my library and ran across a couple more recipes I want to try with the girls this fall. The book is filled with so many stress-free, balanced and filling recipes that I want to try (hello, Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast, we’ll meet again in November), but these are the ones I want to put on the schedule immediately.

Spiced Kabocha Squash Risotto – I enjoy most risottos but I’ve never tried one with squash before, and I love the idea of kicking it up with cayenne pepper. I frequently season roasted root vegetables with cayenne as a side dish, so I have a feeling I’m going to love this.

Citrus Chile Acorn Squash – I have actually never tried acorn squash, so this will be fun for us. It looks really cool so I think it will be well-received, especially by the kids. I try to make something familiar with new dishes to make it easier to get my “thank you” tastes though.

Bottom line, I’m pretty sure Giada means genius in Italian. You can’t go wrong with any of her books to boost your home library.


On any vacation for me – in the mountains, at the coast and the lake, the water is where I feel connected, rejuvenated, and peacefully humbled by a greater power. I fill my phone with photos, and this is where I go when I need a few moments of peace.


Where do you find peaceful inspiration?

Bulk Shopping

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my mom to Sam’s. She does a lot of shopping there, and I was skeptical about how much I could really save. So I made myself a list of things I normally buy (and that I could possibly buy in bulk) and what I normally pay at the grocery.

The membership fee is $45 annually. I do not like going to two stores in a week’s time, and Sam’s is not close to our house. So ideally I’d like to see over $100 savings before I think it is worth it for the extra time it takes and space to store everything.

They didn’t have all the brands we normally buy, and I know that changes from time to time as well, so I don’t think I could buy everything there. Some things, like popcorn, toilet paper, and peanut butter were not very different in price. So it definitely did not justify buying and storing a large quantity of it. Also, we buy a lot of produce, but it’s more about variety. I’m afraid a bulky quantity will go bad before we can eat it all. I need to come with a better plan for using it before I purchase produce in bulk. And I didn’t have meat prices so I didn’t shop for anything in that department.

And it has to be said that there’s a lot of distraction at Sam’s. Clothing, books, candy and baked goods, electronics, etc that can make it easier to stray from the list and deflate any savings that you would actually receive.

All in all, here’s the list of things that I would normally buy if I had a membership:

Spinach – I got three times as much spinach for only $5. We buy it at least twice a month for smoothies. I divided it up in freezer bags before it wilted. That would save us $50 or so a year.

Coffee – You can get K-cups for as low as .40 each and I’ve normally paid .46-.50. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you drink 2 or 3 cups a day, that starts to add up. That’s probably another $50 in savings.

Cheese – We normally buy a cheese block and cut up for sandwiches and crackers in lunches, and shred for eggs and pasta. Like the spinach, you can get 3 times as much cheese for what you normally pay at the grocery. So again, another $50 of savings.

Dry pasta – It was $7 for 6 lbs. It beats the normal store prices but often they run specials, so I’m not counting this savings. However, it’s easier to buy here and know I’m getting a good price instead of waiting for a store special.

Cheerios – This is the only cereal we eat and never seem to tire of, and Sams has it about half the normal grocery store price. I would estimate about $25 or more savings from this.

I went ahead and signed up for a 60-day membership to keep searching for deals. I would recommend making the list first, and know what you normally pay so that you spend wisely. And stick to the list instead of browse, especially if you don’t need clothing, books, and bulk candy/snacks because you can be easily distracted by this. Costco is actually closer to our house, so I might give it a try as well before I commit to a membership.

Do you use a warehouse club membership? Why did you choose it?


Fall Bucket List

The beginning of fall is officially September 22nd, and after the hot summer we had, I’m wishing I had a fast-forward button. Here’s where my mind is:

  • Camping – backyard campout or taking the tent to a real campground
  • Family Hike –  so blessed to have this practically in our backyard to see the beautiful fall colors
  • Football – Go Vols!
  • Apple Cider – How much is too much? Because I might be toeing the line.


Eye Pillow

  • 10 drops of oil
  • 1 bag of uncooked rice
  • Super Soft Old Pillowcase
  • Sewing Machine

Add the essential oil to the rice and let it sit in a bowl overnight. Cut your old pillowcase into a small rectangle and sew three sides. Fill with rice and finish sewing the fourth side.

I cut from one of the established corners in the pillow case, so I only had to sew two sides. I sewed the long side, then filled with rice. After that, I used one of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine to sew the final edge.

I used Young Living Surrender to perfume my rice. You could add RC, SniffleEase, or a few drops each of Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint to ease sinus/allergy inflammation. Peace & Calming or Envision for meditation. Or just Lavender to help relax and sleep well.

Here’s where you can learn more about Young Living Essential oils or sign up for a starter kit.

YL_ID_2014_logo_fullcolorYoung Living products are not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease or condition.


August Reading

It was another month of light reading, but the quality was great. Here goes August:

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel. After I read & loved Station Eleven, I called my sister to finally pass on a good book recommendation… but she had already read it and read the author’s backlog as well.  She is a voracious reader and it’s really hard to send her books that she hasn’t already read or heard about. She loaned me this one, with the warning that it’s not as great as Station Eleven, but pretty good. I would have to agree with my sister, it’s good, but it’s just odd. One thing that I found similar between the two novels, is that it made me ponder the connection that we all have on each other’s lives, connections between family and strangers, and how small decisions and actions can positively and negatively ripple through generations.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D Schmidt. This undoubtedly would go on my best books in 2016 list. I listened to the audio version and I highly recommend it. The historical context gave the plot so much life and brightened the characters. There were many times I found myself cheering on the main character, especially in the Shakespeare adventures and his brush with Mickey Mantle and other baseball icons. Just an awesome, clean, wonderfully well-written book.

Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox. I love a good memoir, and this was a story that I was familiar with because I followed in the news. I can honestly say I always believed that there was not enough legal evidence to support a conviction (at least in US courts), so in that manner I never thought she was guilty. But after listening to her narrate her biography, the more I actually believe in her innocence. I can identify with her arrogant, naive, and culturally awkward behavior. My parents just had more of a hold on my life at that age. I know I would have been on the first plane back to the US if my roommate was found murdered, and I wouldn’t have any say in the matter.  I would have liked to hear more about the transition back to the US, but maybe that’s another story. Can you imagine jumping headfirst into smartphones and social media just after enduring all that she had been through, and doing it all on a worldwide stage?

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. My notes on this were… interesting, savage, and long. I loved that the author illuminated a story that is largely believed to be a historical truth. (I am a fan of historical fiction, but mostly the royal and glossy variety, like Phillipa Gregory.) This story certainly had life and imagination, and was especially interesting because of the feminine perspective of life in the ninth century. However this time period was exceptionally savage, and especially for women. I tend to shy away from violence, so I am not especially familiar on ninth-century history, or know much of the foundation of the early Roman Catholic church. It felt more like a history book than fiction at times. So between the violence that was hard to read, and all the history, it seemed like it took forever. This was a library book, and I doubt I would have finished (or stayed awake through) an audio version.

Side note- I’ve given Amazon links to the books, but I highly recommend your local library. Not only can you share actual books, but you can connect your phone or tablet to your library with an app called Overdrive, and share digital and audio versions too. And bonus- they automatically disappear when the loan expires so that you never rack up late fees. 

Read anything good lately?