Extend this Season of Giving

I felt the urge to give this holiday season, possibly more than in my entire life. Some seasons are like that, more forgiving or more selfish, more giving or taking.

Whether trying to build a better relationship for the kids by modeling a good sibling relationships, or just being kind and serving others, my husband and I have decided this year we will try to “walk the talk”.

Here’s how we plan to extend this season of giving for our family:

Food: Food ministry is very important to me. Food is my love language and it pains me like no other to think that someone doesn’t have this basic need. In our area, we have the FISH ministry, KARM, and Second Harvest among so many others. All need donations and volunteers.

Clothing: Oh we are blessed. And so very blessed in particular with clothing. Hats, gloves, and coats are in short supply and I try to find a place to donate that distributes them rather than resells them. Our local elementary school is having a coat drive in January that we will participate in.

Shelter: Our area took a major hit this fall with wildfires. Gatlinburg is taking volunteers to clean up burnt structures and to help the distribution centers with all the many donations for those displaced. You can sign up for shifts at volunteerETN.org . Our church also works with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for someone, and Blitz Day is coming up soon.

Animals: We rescued a dog two years ago through a local small breed rescue organization, and we joke that we won the dog lottery. He was fostered with love, and screened to be good with children so we knew he would be a good fit for our family. There are so many rescue organizations and shelters that need money to buy food and vet care for the animals, and volunteer help to care for them. I’m not sure my husband will be up for another dog to foster, but we might create a service project for the girls that involves volunteering to walk and play with shelter dogs.

Prayers: Sometimes both time and money run short, but we can pray for those who have dedicated their lives to helping the needy, lonely, displaced, and hurt.

Our church is our main partner in finding ways to serve. Although a church sometimes makes it easiest to plug into service opportunities, discovering the needs of your local community might be as simple as asking your school principal, or googling “volunteer opportunities in Your City”.

Best wishes to everyone for a kinder 2017.


Goal Setting

For many people the new year offers a chance for a clean slate, and I am one of those people who love to make a lofty list of improvements and goals.

Here’s a glimpse of what I’m setting my sights on:

  • Read God’s word daily and journal more. Sometimes it’s 10 minutes and sometimes it’s an hour, but making it a priority is what I need to do.
  • Run more. (and maybe a half-marathon?)
  • Make family time count. Teach my kids to build each other up and listen more by example. 
  • Knit myself a sweater. It might take a year to do it, but I know I would be so proud to finish one.
  • Design a knitting project or two.
  • Watch the Harry Potter movies. My husband doesn’t want to read the books but is on board for a movie marathon and I’m excited.

What are your goals for 2017?

Finished Quilt Top

I finished the quilt top just in time to show my mother on Christmas Day. Then we can decide the backing and binding together before we send it off to our quilt lady that machine quilts it for us.

One thing that I have confirmed for myself in this process it the most important steps for sewing anything is to measure precisely, cut precisely, iron, pin and piece. Pressing the foot on the sewing machine is easiest when you prepare and plan.


I can’t wait to see the final result, but it was a fun process to put this together. I might make it a Christmas tradition.

Merry Christmas, everyone!



A couple of months ago, my sister texted me this picture of this Katniss-inspired cowl/wrap she saw online, and asked if I could make it for her. I told her sure and booted up Ravelry to find out what I’d signed up for.

Like many fiber artists out there, I tend to knit for recipients who use and take care of my knitted items. But it’s especially hard to resist when someone who appreciates hand-knits requests a special item.

I found several options for her and sent her the photos. Much to my delight, she picked this one. She liked the color shown in the picture but I needed to do some yarn research.

I typically go for yarns that my local shop carries, and for natural fibers. But ultimately I needed too much yarn in any “special” yarns to make this project affordable. So off to JoAnn’s I went (with my coupon, of course) and purchased several skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in the Barley shade, that the pattern recommended.

wool ease barley.JPG

I still need to add the braid detail to the cowl to finish it up, but I am overall very pleased with the pattern and the yarn. It’s a piece for layering, but with it being quite bulky, so it’s probably best that it’s not completely wool. She lives in DC, not the Arctic Circle.




White Elephant Gift Exchange

I have a love / hate relationship with White Elephant gift exchanges. They can be entertaining if everyone playing is around the same age, agrees to raise the gift amount (I recommend $25), and if the purpose is to be funny. It’s wasteful for sure, but at least it doesn’t max out your creativity. However a one-size-fits-all good or funny gift for under $10, well that’s about as elusive as a white elephant.

My best idea for that latter kind of party is to bring something homemade (and falls into the category of “I wouldn’t mind ending up with it”). Here’s a round-up of what I’ve done in the past and a little of what I’m planning to do this year:

Let me know if you have other ideas!

November Reading

Hey All! Sorry for coming to you late today.

I was finishing the 5th Harry Potter this morning before work instead of blogging, which gets me to my point. Harry is just about all I had time for last month.

I know, to say the least, I was enthralled. I would like to think that I read more, but honestly I can’t remember any other books. I started The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel on audio but didn’t like the audio version. I think I will love this book, so I will just wait for the library copy to become available.

But back to Harry Potter…. Book 2 was unique, Book 3 was breathtaking, and book 4 was dark and intimate… but guys- Book 5. Speechless.

I’ve never read a book series that makes me excited to actually see the movie, but that is most definitely the case for this series. It is so wonderfully detailed and unique and well-written that I am excited to see this magic brought to life onscreen*. Most of the time, I am arrogant enough to say that my imagination will suffice, but I am absolutely sure that my imagination will not do Harry justice.

*But I want to finish the books first- I’m kind of a nerd like that. And I still wouldn’t choose Harry-Potter-Land over Disney, but never say never.

Merry December Reading to You!

A Special Visitor

Hello there! My name is Rudy the Christmas Elf, and I visit this family every Christmas season. This is a very busy week for them, so I wanted to guest post with some of the gift-giving that I am seeing and hearing around their house.



Looks like Stephanie finished the map that she is going to give her dad for their lake house. A thoughtful gift does always make a good gift. Especially a thoughtful gift that answers the location question that her dad gets from every new visitor at the lake.



These are Stephanie’s favorite indulgence. And if you are in Knoxville, stop by the French Market to grab some real ones. But decorating the tree with these is sugary perfection.



Stephanie loves stoneware and these beautiful tumblers are perfect for some evening hot chocolate. Or wine. But I prefer the chocolate.



I saw Stephanie reading this one early this morning. I am pretty sure she would knit this for herself if she ever found the focus (and the yarn!) to complete so large a project.


Stephanie listened to this podcast this week while she made cookies for her cookie exchange with her friends. It was hard to take my mind off those cookies she was baking, but… Emmanuel, fully God and fully human. It’s mind-blowing.

Sweet wishes for a Merry Christmas,