KonMari and No Knitting

KonMari and No Knitting

Happy Friday, y’all!

This week I start another Flatiron Shawl, talk about needlepoint, link some amazing Instagram tips, discuss a hot religious topic, reveal my kitchen mess-up, and dive deep into the philosophy of tidying. Surprisingly there’s not a stitch of knitting in sight this week. I still knit, I promise. Enjoy!


Finished Objects

None this week! I’ve got quite a few long-term projects on-the-go.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

IMG_4960
Rainbow colors for my second “Flatiron Shawl”

I’ve started a second Flatiron Shawl by Toni of TL Yarn Crafts. I loved my first one so much that I’d picked out this yarn before I even finished it. This time I’ll be following the pattern more accurately- all design features implemented. I have three colors that I will fade and might choose a fourth color for the border. This will be the perfect simple project to bring with my on my trip to Las Vegas and California next week. Yarn and project details here.

IMG_5048
The start of my “Flatiron Shawl” by Toni Lipsey.

I’ve also been making myself stitch on my dad’s Georgia belt for one hour each day. Although I do love needlepoint, I find myself drawn towards my Steamer Train stocking when I want to craft with a bit of concentration.  However, I’m always happy while I spend the hour methodically stitching on the belt. My dad is going to love it!

IMG_5053
Beginnings of the University of Georgia belt I will gift to my dad for Christmas.

Something New

When I started my Instagram account last August, it was really because I wanted to start this blog. Opening the account was going to break my two-year hiatus from social media, and I didn’t take that lightly. I really wanted more people to talk to and share my knitting with- and to start building an audience for this blog.

Until this last month, I was approaching Instagram all wrong. I wanted knitting to be the focus, so I never shared my face or personal details. I didn’t even have my name attached to my account. {The first few months I even tried to remain anonymous… and wouldn’t you know that Instagram helped my friends find me- ah!}

I decided I would put more effort into helping my Instagram account grow (and hopefully my blog in turn) and THE PERFECT DISCOVERY CAME ABOUT! I had just started following Toni Lipsey {the maker behind TL Yarn Crafts and designer of the “Flatiron Shawl“} when she began her Instagram live series about Instagram itself! She puts all of her live videos on YouTube so I will link them below.

  1. “5 Steps to a Killer Instagram Profile” – Video here.
  2. “7 Steps to Master Instagram Hashtags”- Video here.
  3. Week 3 Toni talked about what to post when you don’t know what to post- not yet uploaded.
  4. Week 4 Toni talked to Lee of Coco Crochet Lee- not yet uploaded.

If you’d like to increase your reach, these videos are MUST WATCH! In the last two weeks, Toni’s tips have helped me grow my followers by 40%. I’m still small potatoes (like itsy, bitsy fingerling ones), but I’m shocked by the impact her simple tips have made. Give them a watch! You won’t regret it.


What God’s Teaching Me

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a heated discussion about heaven and hell. Yup, we don’t agree on this subject. In fact, there are several hot topics that we have differing opinions about. We talk about them though. We were raised in different churches and bring our unique upbringings into the mix. It can be upsetting, but also informative. We challenge each other with our knowledge of the Bible and beliefs about God. These debates usually end with some scripture-searching.

But, for some reason God brought this discussion about heaven and hell back on my heart this week. How does one “get” into heaven? {Should I be capitalizing Heaven?!}

My current belief* is that only one thing separates saved people (going to heaven) from those who are not saved (going to hell)- the belief that Jesus Christ saved you from your sins. (See John 3:18)

When I voiced this to my husband he said something along the lines of… “So that means that if a serial murderer believes in God that he will go to heaven over someone who volunteers every Saturday at the animal shelter, but doesn’t believe?” Yup, I think so.

Ouch. This is really too much for our human hearts to comprehend. How can someone so “bad” get accepted somewhere so “good”? And what about all the people who are really, truly, genuinely good?

This is why we are human and God is God. I know that I couldn’t make decisions like that… “Well you did cheat on your wife, but you asked for forgiveness and you believe in me. You’re in!” But wait, I’m not God!

Sometimes I wish that the Bible was more clear on what is acceptable and what is not. I often desire for God to send down another Ten Commandments, and then, BOOM- cut and dry. But God is God.

If it was actions that got people into heaven then the “bad” people would not have a chance. Not even the “sort of okay” people. Only the really, really good people that probably died of a plague at two months old {therefore having minimal time in which to sin} could uphold the values of our Lord.**

See, grace is not black and white. Mercy is not straightforward. Forgiveness is a jagged line.

Thank God {literally} that he sent his son to save us from our sins. He created a pathway to him that IS achievable even by the most mediocre among us. Even by the ones who have strayed. Especially by the souls who have been hurt.

I think God wanted me to recall this conversation with my husband so that I could remember the great mercy that I operate under each day. Last week, when I was beating myself up for not going to church, my gentle Father was saying to me, “Church is not a direct solution. I’ve given you the path to me, now take it.”

This is a touchy subject. We want to believe that we are righteous enough for the good place. No matter how many days a week we go to church, how many prayers we say before meals, or how many highlights we put in our Bibles can amount to a number that will atone our sins. I wish I knew the magic “get into heaven” formula, but for now the best I know is to believe.

*I say “current belief” because this was not always how I felt; and it may not always be how I feel. My knowledge about God is constantly evolving as I study, meet new people, listen and have discussions about hot topics.

**Sidenote- has anyone watched The Good Place with Kristen Bell? It’s a hilarious show with a comedic depiction of heaven. You should totally watch it right now!


What We’re Cooking

IMG_4966
Turkey Black Bean Chili bubbling in the crockpot.

Sunday I made the second meal of my big freezer meal prep- Turkey and Black Bean Chili. I was worried about the taste because the first chili recipe I made from New Leaf was extremely bland. This one was incredible! The fact that the meat was turkey didn’t take away any flavor at all. We enjoyed ours with Frito’s and cheddar cheese.

IMG_4968
Frito’s and cheddar are always a good thing.

On Tuesday we had Tuscan Garlic Chicken– one of my favorite and easiest chicken recipes. It’s essentially a dump meal. You just prep the chicken with garlic, salt, and pepper and then dump the other ingredients on top. I just make sure to buy sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes quartered.

IMG_5010
Tuscan Chicken before cooking… before it all went wrong.

Something happened with the chicken this time. I took one bite and spit it immediately out {attractive, I know}. The chicken was so chewy and rubbery that I worried it was under-cooked. I looked at the chicken and it wasn’t pink. I’d also checked the internal temperature with a thermometer and it was 164 degrees Fahrenheit, even after sitting out of the oven for a few minutes {recommended temp. is 165}. I turned to a Google search and it appears that I may have over-cooked the chicken, oops!

That has never happened to me with this recipe before. I’m not sure what I did differently and wonder if it’s the quality of chicken that I purchased. After one weird bite of meat, I can’t stand to finish my food, so I ate all the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes on top- yum! Kent ate all of his chicken though, and just said it was a bit rubbery- he’s too kind. Have you ever had a chewy chicken incident?


What I’m Reading

I read a book from start to finish this week- are you impressed? I was!

konmari

The book is The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It’s a pretty short book and quick to read. It’s packed with tips on changing your lifestyle to decrease the volume of your stuff so that you have more things you truly enjoy. Kondo insists that you must declutter your house in one fell swoop, but I have to take this advice with a grain of salt. I need breaks when I clean and organize.

Yet, I decided to go ahead with the KonMari method of tidying with my clothes. I hope you will allow me to take over this reading section with some pictures and reflection on tidying.

The first step to tidying clothes is to take all of your tops (ALL. OF. THEM) and put them on the floor. Luckily I have a large bed to put them on.

IMG_4983
All my tops (t-shirts, tanks, hang-up tops, sweaters) spread across my bed.

Then you glance at the sheer volume of shirts that you own and try not to panic at the task ahead- pick up each and every item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” I’ve done a decent amount of paring down in the last year, but “JOY” was never a parameter I used to declutter. This time, instead of looking at what I wanted to get rid of, I was looking for what I wanted to keep. This was a surprisingly quick process, although not particularly easy.

IMG_4986
The beginning of the discard pile- all the tops that don’t spark joy.

It was hard not to feel wasteful looking at the large pile of tops I was going to give away. “I wish I hadn’t bought these in the first place,” I found myself thinking. But Kondo warns not to think this way. “There is a reason why each of your belongings came to you… send it (your clothes) off joyfully with words like, ‘Thank you for finding me…'” {from the chapter titled Your possessions want to help you}.

I repeated the process in the recommended order- tops first, then bottoms, hung-up clothes (dresses and jackets mostly), socks, underwear, bags, accessories (mostly scarves for me!), clothes for specific events (I had swimwear and dance clothes), and shoes. I stopped taking pictures after I got to socks because I got so wrapped up in the process- I was having fun! Pulling everything out and sort it into piles of “sparks joy” and “doesn’t spark joy” only took about an hour and a half. That’s when I took a break to force myself to eat lunch {I really wanted to keep going}.

When I went through my possessions I really didn’t have trouble decided if something sparked joy. I looked at the top or dress or shoe in question and thought, “How do I feel?” If I felt things like “Ooh, that’s so comfy.” or “Those heels make me feel beautiful.”- I tossed it into the KEEP pile. If I had to wonder a bit longer… “Every time I want to wear this dress I have to make sure I don’t eat a heavy meal.” or “These shoes are too painful now to even walk to the car.”- it became one with the giveaway pile.

IMG_4990
My completed piles- KEEP on the left and GIVEAWAY on the right.

Tidying didn’t become uncomfortable until my husband walked in and saw my two giant piles. “Which one are you keeping?” he asked. KonMari warns that it’s more respectful to your family and friends if you complete the process without them seeing what you’re getting rid of- she’s right. Kent laid on our bed as I started bagging up the giveaway pile in trash bags. “Oh I loved that dress on you!” he’d say. Or, “You’re getting rid of things I bought you,” he’d whine. Talk about emotional stress. 

I made myself stand my ground. “I’m not changing my mind about anything in this pile.” I declared while pointing to the giveaway pile. The truth is that only you know how your clothes feel on you. I wasn’t wearing any of the clothes, shoes, and accessories in my giveaway pile anymore. At some point they’d made me feel incredible- that’s why I bought them! Every season we grow and change. When we bring in new stuff that is more “us,” we’ve got to let go of the old.

Still, I felt a twinge of guilt in my heart as I drove a trunk-full of things to Goodwill the next day. What if I’m getting rid of something I need? HA! I remembered that in those bags were a blazer, five pairs of dress pants and four pencil skirts “just in case I have an interview.” What?!! I’m a teacher… I do not need these clothes. I’m not planning to change fields anytime soon, but if I do I’m going out to buy myself a brand-new outfit that makes me feel confident now; I’m sure not wearing the dreary brown dress pants I bought five years ago.

When I go look in my closet and drawers now, do you know what I see? I see space. I see symmetry. I see a line-up of items that I could close my eyes and pull something off the hanger and know that I would totally wear that- right now! Do you know what this feeling is? It’s magic. It’s the magic of tidying {as KonMari has coined}. All those items that I was no longer using were noisy and burdensome. They called out to me with Catholic-mom-guilt, “Why don’t you use me, Natalie?!” Now my items are quiet and orderly. They are happy to be mine just as I am happy to wear them.

Needless to say, I think you should read this book. At the very least, it’s changed my relationship with my clothing. I wonder what it can do for you.


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

Socks, Stash, and Stockings- Oh My!

Socks, Stash, and Stockings- Oh My!

Happy Sunday- I hope it’s a scrappy one!

This week I finish four projects, share a massive stash enhancement, highlight food from a graduation party, and pray for a new church.


Finished Objects

As the end of the month approaches, I’ve got a finish objects parade! I plan a lot of my knitting and crochet by month. This year I’m starting a pair of socks at the beginning of the month and finishing them before the end of the same month. I’m also participating in the Down Cellar Studio #slaythestash2018 where you pick out one unopened skein from your stash and completely finish it before the end of the month.

IMG_4933

My socks this month are Oblivate by Sarah Stevens. I love this Woolen Boon color- Robin Sparkles paired with Lolodidit‘s Princess Peach. I shortened the leg, did a FLK heel and changed the pattern spacing in the foot to match the leg. {That way I didn’t need to look at my pattern.} I love these socks and I wouldn’t be surprised if I knit them again!

The Flatiron Shawl by Toni Lipsey is another pattern I think I’ll make again- possibly soon. It’s a simple crochet triangle with maximum wear-ability! Mine blocked out wider than a queen bed, but with a depth of 27″, it’s perfect to wrap around your neck and stay put. I used a beautiful OOAK gradient from YOTH in a yummy merino/cashmere/nylon blend.

IMG_4898
“Float Tote”- my crochet bag pattern made for colorwork.

I finished a second Float Tote- my crochet bag pattern that will be released in July {now available!}. This one is massive! It’s made to fit five different colors, along with a colorwork projects, in its depths. I’m pleased that the tote still stands up even with its size.

IMG_4944
Dishcloths as a wedding gift for my friend.

Finally, I made a few dishcloths as a wedding gift for my friend getting married next weekend. The Monogrammed Alphabet for Knitters pattern by Heather Kate is always my go-to for wedding dishcloths. For $16 you get the entire alphabet- so worth it! The second pattern I used is free- Gramma’s Dishcloth by PJ Allen. It’s the classic corner-to-corner cloth that includes a variation without yarnovers. I got the idea to stripe in scraps from the Yarn Hoarder.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

One of my goals this summer is to knit a Christmas stocking for myself and my husband. I came across the Steamer Train stocking on Instagram and fell in love. The designer, Ursula Almeida, had a second, similar design and I knew these were the right stockings for us!

IMG_4948
Mountains developing on my “Steamer Train” by Ursula Almeida

I had Kent help me pick out colors of Knitpicks Palette. We settled on Clover for the green, Pimento for the red, and Cream for the white. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy knitting colorwork!

IMG_4798
“Steamer Train” stocking in my “Float Tote”

I’m working on the Steamer Train out of my pink Float Tote– a crochet bag pattern that I plan to release on Ravelry July 10th, 2018  {now available!}.


Something New

I came home with beacoups of yarn from my Oregon trip. Some were gifts and many more were purchased. Here’s where I went and what I purchased!

IMG_4918
Malabrigo Mechita

These skeins are birthday gifts from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. WHAT?! They went somewhere and picked out three beautiful skeins of Malabrigo Mechita for me. My stash was in desperate need of more single-ply. These skeins will likely become shawls.

IMG_4919
SweetGeorgia superwash worsted and handspun wool!

My mother-in-law also had some surprises for me. She got me this beautiful hank of SweetGeorgia yarn and these handspun cakes on her spring break trip to Canada. I love receiving yarn from non-knitters, especially when they go out of their way to find me something special and local.

IMG_4932
Spun Right Round SW Sock in “Dusty Roses”

Of course I had to do a little shopping while in Oregon. I really didn’t plan to go anywhere but the local shop in Eugene… but my husband {sweet, sweet Kent} had other plans! We flew into Portland, OR so he made sure we stopped at a shop on our way out of town- The Knitting Bee. It was a marvelous store- I had to really restrain myself to buy just the two skeins of Spun Right Round. I’m thinking about making a Tegna by Caitlin Hunter.

IMG_4929
Alexandra’s Crafts in “Chocolate” and Knitted Wit in “Crater Lake”

A few days later we drove to Roseburg, OR to visit Knotty Lady Yarns. My mother-in-law picked a skein of Knitted Wit Victory Sock in the “Crater Lake” colorway for me to make her socks. {Knitted Wit has a whole line of National Park colorways.} I picked out two skeins of Alexandra’s Crafts merino/silk/yak blend for a sweater. Both are Oregon yarns!

IMG_4926
The Yarn at Home Mom in “Kalmiopsis” and “Pictures of You”

The next day we journeyed to Corvallis, OR to Stash Local. There I got two skeins from The Yarn at Home Mom {another local dyer}. I think I might pair one of these colors with the chocolate above to make a Zweig by Caitlin Hunter.

IMG_4922
Sunrise Fiber Co in “Briar Rose”, Knitted Wit in “Go Nuts for Donuts”, and Three Fates Yarns in “Manic Panic”

Lastly I went to my favorite local shop in Eugene- Cozy. I happened to go in on their knit night, so I stayed and worked on my Float Tote until they closed- it was so much fun! I got a sparkly pink skein of Three Fates Yarns. I might put it into a second Flatiron Shawl by Toni Lipsey. I bought another hank of Knitted Wit called “Go Nuts for Donuts”. I also got a stunning colorway called “Briar Rose” from Sunrise Fiber Co– sadly, I believe she is only dying for local stores right now.


What God’s Teaching Me

“Go back to church.”

This is the God whisper I’m getting as I sit on Sunday morning… not at church… again.

I can’t remember the last time I went to church, which makes me sad. This time a year ago I couldn’t remember the last time I missed church. What’s changed in the past year?

Moving. Marriage. New job. New house. A lot has changed, but I think my spirit towards church has disintegrated with the move.

I have talked about this before on the blog. I miss my church in Dallas immensely. There I felt needed. I felt community. I felt accountability.

The churches in our current neighborhood aren’t to blame. There are some amazing groups around here. My issue with finding a new church is me.

I’ve started praying for God to reconnect me with my desire to find a church. I’m praying for a community to meet Kent and me and embrace us. I’m praying for my God to rekindle my husband’s ambition to volunteer at a new church {he applied at one of the churches we tried and they never reached out to him}. Will you pray for me too?


What We’re Cooking

We traveled for my brother-in-law’s college graduation this week. Blessedly, I didn’t have to cook a thing. I’m kicking myself to not taking pictures of all the delicious meals we enjoyed out- we like to go to local places when we travel.  We had everything from seafood to Asian to Italian to an iconic pizza place. Next time we take a trip I’ll be sure to get pictures!

IMG_4850
Dessert spread at the graduation party.

What I do have is a few pictures of the graduation party spread. We journeyed all the way to Oregon to enjoy Texas barbecue. {I don’t try to keep it a secret that I’m a Memphis- BBQ-girl at heart, but brisket is growing on me.} The dessert table kept me coming back. Enjoy!

IMG_4849
Homemade Key Lime Pie
IMG_4833
There is brisket, pulled pork, pasta salad, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, rolls and more under that foil!
IMG_4824
Graduation cake from a local bakery.

What I’m Reading

I’m one night away from finishing See Me by Nicholas Sparks. Last night I stayed up until 2:00 AM trying to get to the end because it’s just that good. There are twists and turns and thrills that I didn’t expect from a Nicholas Sparks book… then again, I really should have. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for something romantic, interesting, and easy to read.

see me

I think I’m going to re-read Jurassic Park in the spirit of the movie coming out next weekend. I own an audio copy on Audible, but maybe I’ll try truly reading it… maybe.

What I really need is another series to get into. What would you recommend?


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

Banana Bread and a Baby Sweater

Banana Bread and a Baby Sweater

We’re heading off to Oregon today for a graduation vacation!

This week I finish a baby sweater, work on my June socks, talk about a new discovery in crochet circles, feel mushy about summer, and bake a snack, meal, and dessert. Enjoy!


Finished Objects

IMG_4769
“Baby Vertebrae” by Kelly van Niekerk

This week I finished the super adorable Baby Vertebrae by Kelly van Niekerk. I made the smallest size out of Lolodidit‘s Everyday Sock in the colorway “Polyjuice Potion“. The best news is I have 58 grams left- so I can make a pair of socks for myself!

IMG_4770
Up close look at the “Polyjuice Potion” colorway by Lolodidit.

I’ll admit that I was a bit lazy when making this cardigan. I didn’t bother to go down a needle size for the ribbing… and I might regret that now. But, no baby will care about loose ribbing. You can find my notes on Ravelry here.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

IMG_4772
June socks- “Obliviate” by Sarah Stevens

I’ve been toting my June socks everywhere this past week. I’m knitting Obliviate by Sarah Stevens (also the dyer behind Gracelynn Wool). They are fun and memorizable! And, of course, “obliviate” is a Harry Potter reference.

IMG_4461
“Robin Sparkles” by Woolen Boon

I’m using a leftover skein from my So Faded sweater. I loved this blue, speckled colorway so much that I couldn’t put it into scrappy projects just yet! The yarn is “Robin Sparkles” by Woolen Boon in her Boon Classic base.


Something New

I shared the bag design I’m working on last week, and I learned something new along the way: how to crochet a flat circle. Now, I already knew how to crochet a circle, no pattern needed, but I ran into a problem with my design. My little bucket bases worked out just fine- as in they laid perfectly flat. Then once I started working on my big bucket bases I started to get a ripple.

So I went to Google {obviously} and ran across this Craftsy article. It turns out that crocheting a circle is not a guessing game. At the top of the page Craftsy gives us exactly how many stitches we should start our circles with depending on what stitch you are making- brilliant! Ripple = too many stitches in your first round. That seems pretty obvious now! I ripped back, adjusted my stitch count, and got a nice, flat circle in return.

Float Tote is now available!


What God’s Teaching Me

I’ve been saying thank you to God many times this week.

I thank him that I get to sleep in {until 8- woohoo!}. I thank him that I have the time each day to work on my health and go to classes at our awesome gym. I thank him that teachers like me have the summers off; and that because of this, I’ve had the brain space to start designing patterns.

Being home in the summer has been the greatest gift.

I mentioned last week that I’m in a season of abundance. God is providing for me in endless ways. The key thing he has for a childless-20-something like me is time– and I don’t want to abuse it! I’m using my time this summer to invest in another gift he’s given me- the love and joy of knitting and crochet.

My husband works from home {therefore sees what I’m doing all day} and he keeps saying, “All you do is knit!” Yes, but that’s not all… I’m making Christmas gifts, I’m designing patterns, I’m working on my Instagram, writing on my blog, making friends in the online community… I feel good about what I produce each day!

Most importantly, I want to remember this season; because I know that difficult seasons will come. There will be many times in the future when I’m wondering why God is allowing all these bad things to happen to me. I want to remember this time, right now, when God is giving me SO MUCH; then I can get through the time when it feels like I have very little.

What season are you in? What season have you just come out of? Where do you hope God takes you next?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)


What We’re Cooking

I rounded out my big freezer meal prep this week with Mozzarella-Stuffed Turkey Pesto Meatballs from New Leaf Wellness. These were prepped a bit differently than my other meals since they had to be formed and frozen in a casserole dish. They didn’t take much longer, but I decided to save them for another day since making meatballs is a different rhythm than dumping ingredients in a Ziploc.

IMG_4735
First freezer meal already in action.

I also decided to cook one of the meatball meals that night. I served it with spaghetti and red sauce. They were so good!

IMG_4628.jpg

We had several friends over this past weekend and I wanted to make one of my favorite snacks- homemade Chex Mix. I used the original recipe right off the Chex Mix site. The thing I love so much about homemade Chex Mix is you can make it how you like it. I adore Gardetto’s Garlic Rye Chips– so I exchange the bagel chips for these. I’m not a fan of mixed nuts, so I just use peanuts instead. And there’s something about stick pretzels in a mix.

IMG_4636
Delicious Chex Mix- roasted in the oven.

I made two batches of Chex Mix in the oven. Making it in the oven it key– don’t take the microwave shortcut! I’ve found that it’s best to prepare the seasoning and butter mix first. Then measure half the ingredients into a bowl and stir half the seasoning/butter with it. Dump this out onto a baking sheet {with sides!} and then repeat with other half. This is to make sure you get everything coated with that delicious butter and seasonings. The Chex Mix was a hit!

We had a few bananas getting real brown and then Smitten Kitchen suddenly posted her Double Chocolate Banana Bread recipe- done and done! {She’s a joy to follow on Instagram by the way.} She recommends using Dutch-process cocoa powder {which I’ve read is not as bitter as regular cocoa powder}, but all I had was regular ol’ Hershey’s– turns out I should have listened. My bread baked perfectly, but it has just the slightest bit of bitterness to it. I think that a quarter cup more sugar might combat this, but I haven’t tried it out yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still eating this bread {in massive quantities…}- this is one of those times were it pays to listen to the recipe!


What I’m Reading

I’m still loving See Me by Nicholas Sparks. It’s just the right level of engagement that I wanted in a book after reading Girl, Wash Your Face. The bad boy has already fallen for the good girl, who in turn is falling for him, duh. This book has another creepy, dangerous layer- though I won’t spoil it!

see me

I’m open to suggestions of what to read next!


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

Over the top and in the Freezer

Over the top and in the Freezer

Happy Friday, everyone!

This week I finish a knitted tee, crochet up a storm, get back to a bag design, cook up more freezer meals, and recap a meaningful interaction in the most unexpected place. Enjoy!


Finished Objects

IMG_4590
Over-the-top Top by Purl Soho

I finished my “Over-the-top Top” by Purl Soho! It’s a free pattern and quite easy. The construction starts with the back hem. Then you knit up the back and make the shoulders. Then you literally knit over the top making a neck-hole, and finish by knitting the front. Side seam, sleeve hems, and neck hem- and you’re all done!

Another unique thing about this top is that the purl side is the right side. I think this is my very first garment that features reverse stockinette on the entire piece. My favorite detail is side seam which is created by knit stitches. I love the way it looks exposed.

IMG_4588
Side view of the exposed seam.

This tee took me just over a month to complete. The only change I made was to make the body an inch longer (so that’s a extra inch in the front and the back). I wish I’d done just a few more inches. This version still looks great with a longer tank top underneath.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

After finishing my knit top, I’ve been all about that crochet this week. I started a new project for #slaythestash2018. This is a year-long knitalong hosted by BostenJen from the Down Cellar Studio podcast. The goal is to pick one brand-new, unused skein from your stash each month and knit, crochet, or weave it to its very end.

IMG_4477
Gradient set from Yarn on the House.

I declared this stunning gradient set from YOTH {Yarn On the House} that I *think* I bought at DFW Fiber Fest three years ago. It’s an 80/10/10 merino/cashmere/nylon and so, so soft.

The project I picked is the Flatiron Shawl by Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts. It’s a simple triangle made of single crochets. It’s going to be so cozy and warm! Toni’s original is designed for three full skeins of fingering weight {roughly 1,200+ yards}, but my gradient set only has 880 yards. So my version will be a bit smaller.

IMG_4623
Flatiron Shawl by Toni Lipsey

I’m also eliminating the fading feature of the pattern and color-blocking mine. I made this decision for two reasons. One, the maths are too hard to figure out how to save enough yarn of each color to save for fading each color {remember, I don’t have as much yardage as what’s called for in the pattern}. Two, I need to crochet each color down to the very end in order to follow the Slay the Stash rules!


Something New

Several weeks back I started working on a crochet bag design. During the last month of school, I just didn’t have the brain space to work on a design. I’m happy to say that the summer has restored me! I’ve been working diligently on this bag again.

IMG_4625
Back at work designing!

The idea came from a need for a container that could carry my colorwork projects without tangling my balls of yarn. It needed to be lightweight and portable, but also function when I got to my destination. I think this tote is going to fit those needs perfectly!

IMG_4624
Sneak peak of my upcoming bag design.

You’re getting a sneak peek right now, but this is just the beginning. {Right, because it’s not even a bag yet, Natalie!} This is the small size that can hold up to three colors. I’ve also got plans for a larger size that will hold up to five balls of yarn. I’m super excited about this bag since I plan to start fair-isle Christmas stockings so soon!

The Float Tote is now available!


What God’s Teaching Me

This week God reached me through my server at Panda Express. You always need to be watching and listening… because God is everywhere. Dun-dun-dun! That sounded way more ominous than I intended.

You’re so pretty,” That’s what this sweet server said to me when I made my order at Panda Express last night. “You’re so pretty and just so nice.”

Sorry, what?! All I said was, “I’ll have the three-entree plate with half noodles and half white rice.” How could she know if I was nice???

“You can just tell,” she continued. “When someone is genuinely nice. People come in here so grumpy all the time. You made my night.”

I’m paraphrasing a bit. But, you guys. I. Made. Her. Night. Just by acting in a minimally courteous way, I had put a smile on this server’s face.

To say I was floored is an understatement. Remember last week when I talked about how I’m actually the most judgmental person I know? I’m usually that grumpy person who’s huffing in line at Panda Express. I called my husband on the drive home {with our takeout} to tell him this unprecedented story. Then I had a quick prayer chat with God to sort out why this was such a meaningful experience.

What was it that made me exude enough positivity that a even stranger noticed? It clicked. I am in a place of great abundance. I am overflowing with time, health, funds, and creativity. I told the server {thank you, first, of course!} that I was just “very happy right now because I’m a teacher and it’s summer.”

Truly, I am in a season of life where I have endless resources. I am well, young, stable in relationships and finances, and very happy with my work and my passion. Since my “cup” is so full, I am able to give to others. At the very minimum, it should be apparent to others that I am a Christian in my actions.

I thanked God for giving me such an amazing interaction with a stranger. I prayed that he would continue to help me be a light whenever I interact with someone in a service environment {something that has been at the forefront of our work for many years}.

I’ve learned recently that being an introvert makes a person uniquely adept at connecting deeply with people, even in one-off circumstances like this one. I’m so grateful that God has given me this gift {of introversion}, and I’m encouraged to foster more meaningful interactions in the most unexpected places.


 

What We’re Cooking

This week I did my second big freezer meal prep. {Here’s the first one.} I used these recipes I got for free from New Leaf Wellness. This can be a bit of a daunting task, but let me tell you- it’s well worth the effort! I wanted to share my process with you. I’m a big fan of breaking things down into steps.

On Wednesday, I had my husband pick out the meals (four recipes doubled) and made my grocery list. I type my list into a word document while looking at my printed recipes. This makes things super easy for me. When I’ve typed in “2 lbs of ground turkey” for one recipe, and then need two more pounds for another, all I do is change that number to a 4. My list is sorted into the following categories making the shopping experience simple: Produce, Meat, Frozen, Cold/Dairy, Canned/Dried, and Spices/Seasonings.

Then I went to the store. It probably took me 45 minutes to shop- and I was getting other things too. In total I spent $126 and some change on these eight meals, plus quite a few other groceries. My guess is that the eight freezer meals were under $100. Each meal will last the two of us 2-3 nights making these cost effective!

I went home, put the groceries away, and said to myself “great job!”. That’s all I did in day one. I’d say that’s plenty of effort for one day!

Day two is cooking day. I decided to make just three of the recipes on this day, as the fourth was a little more involved (forming turkey into meatballs, stuffing with cheese, etc.). I prepped Chicken Tacos, Cheesy Tortellini with Ground Beef, and Turkey Black Bean Chili- all recipes can be found for free here.

IMG_4598
Ingredients sorted by meal.

>>>Here’s where I’ll break it down into even more steps. I even timed myself to see how long things really took. <<<

Step 1: Start with a clean kitchen (10 minutes). I make sure the trash is empty, dirty dishes put away {and a decently empty dishwasher too!}, empty the sink, and clear and wipe down most of the counter tops.

Step 2: Get your bags ready (5 minutes). I was making three different recipes, but two of each- so I have six meals total. I got my gallon-size freezer Ziplocs labeled with the meal title, ingredients to add later, and today’s date. I also set out three baking sheets on my stove top {you won’t need your stove top!} so that I could lay the completed Ziploc bags and freeze them flat. {After I freeze the bags I recover those baking sheets.} {Bag racks here!}

Step 3: Sort your ingredients (5 minutes). Now it’s time to get “cooking”! I set all my ingredients {expect the meat} in a nice little pile for each recipe.

Step 4: Chop veggies (30-90 minutes). Expect to spend the bulk of your time here. Depending on how many veggies you have and what state of “prepared” they are in, this time frame will vary. I’m a slow chopper- it took me 45 minutes to work through 1 large onion, 8 cloves of garlic, and 4 large carrots… so there you go. My strategy is to work through each ingredient across the recipes one at a time. So all the onions first, then all the garlic, then whatever else. I put the bags with the first recipe {this time it was Cheesy Tortellini with Ground Beef} in my ridiculously helpful bag clips. Then chop veggies, and add to bags. Then move to the next recipe and repeat. Rinse that cutting board and let it dry out for when it’s time to trim the meats.

Step 5: Add spices, canned goods, and sauces (15-30 minutes). This part is a breeze! Measure out those dry ingredients first, then proceed with wet ingredients. Why? To use fewer tools! I’m all about efficiency. Then rinse those measuring tools and put them in your empty dishwasher.

Step 6: Add the meats (5-15 minutes). Meat is last for two reasons. One, so that the meat isn’t sitting out and spoiling. Two, so it’s the first thing that hits your crockpot when you cook it. Trim or cut you meat and add it to the bags, one recipe at a time. Then squeeze out that air and seal them shut. I like to lay my bags on the baking sheets to freeze them so that they freeze flat.

IMG_4601
Bags ready to be sealed and frozen.

All in all in, it took me 90 minutes to make six meals. That was with me cleaning up in between, pausing to add points to the blog, Googling “how to shred carrots” and consequently searching for the cheese grater. I could have definitely made some short cuts by purchasing minced garlic and shredded carrots. Garlic is my nemesis- so I think I will definitely buy the ready-to-go kind next freezer prep!

I can’t wait to share with you each meal as we eat them! I’ll prep the fourth meal {Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Pesto Meatballs} for next week’s blog post.


What I’m Reading

I’ve finished Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. It was a great read! I definitely learned some things about myself.

61s88UvdGTL._AA300_

I started scrolling through my Goodreads “Want to Read” list late one night to choose my next book. Nothing sounded appealing. All the titles seemed too serious or involved. I wanted an easy read! One that takes me away from reality; and preferably from an author I’ve read before. Since I’m already listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling was out.

see me

Nicholas Sparks! I thought. Brilliant. His older books are always available at the digital library. Sure enough, I had my pick. I decided to download the first title that was available- See Me.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I can’t get enough of Sparks’ Carolina settings and bad-boy tragic characters. His books are the perfect realistic fantasies that are romantic without being raunchy; and you know everything will be alright by the end. That’s exactly what I want to read at the moment!


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

Hello, June and Judgement

Hello, June and Judgement

It’s June- whoa! Bring on the summer months.

This week I finish nothing, but start a couple things. I share my growing polymer clay charm collection, confess my daily sin battle, and show off some summer eats.


(Not so) Finished Objects

IMG_4439
Just a collar, sleeve bands, and a few ends to go!

Nothing to see here! My Over-the-Top Top by Purl Soho is dangerously close to being finished. I hope to have it done before next Friday.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

IMG_4442
Back portion of the Canyon cardigan by Devin Ventre.

I started two things this past week. The first is my long awaited Canyon cardigan by Devin Ventre aka Knitty McPurly. At the lake last weekend I worked my way through a good third of the back portion. I’m using Suburban Stitcher Sock in her colorway “Cinder”. I’m loving it!

IMG_4436
Wee little Baby Vertebrae by Kelly Van Niekerk

My second cast on was inspired by Lauren from Lolodidit. For the first time ever I won a knitting giveaway!!! I was so psyched to get some yarn from one of my favorite companies. You know I had to choose a Harry Potter colorway. My beautiful skein of “Polyjuice Potion” arrived so quickly! It didn’t even make it into the yarn closet before I decided to cast on a Baby Vertebrae. {You can never have to many baby gifts ready to go.} I’m making the newborn size so that I have enough of this skein left for a shortie pair of socks.


Something New

IMG_4443
Coffee and Cinnamon Roll from Simply Serving {on Etsy}.

I’ve been quite naughty lately when it comes to progress keepers. I just swoon over those tiny bits of polymer clay. Do you have any idea how much work goes into each tiny charm?! I love watching the timelapse videos of artists making itsy little bits of food.

IMG_4438
Chocolate Frog from Simply Serving {on Etsy}.

So I ordered from SucreSucre Miniatures… and Simply Serving… AND Sweet Cherry Shop… oops! Check out my cute goodies!

IMG_4462
S’more and Strawberry Ice Cream from Sweet Cherry Shop {on Etsy}.

What God’s Teaching Me

This week’s lesson from God is brought to you in part from the book I started last week: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis {her lifestyle site here}. Let’s dive into her chapter titled “The Lie: I’m Better Than You.” Hang on one second while I swallow my pride…

I am one of the most judgmental people I know. I’m sure there are people who criticize more than I do, but I’m the only one {besides God} who knows my own thoughts; therefore I’m the most judgy person I know about. My thoughts run like lines from Mean Girls. I’m constantly observing and comparing everything happening around me. “Her highlights are so streaky. How could her friends let her walk around like that?” “Wow, that guy works out way too much. I bet he’s completely self-absorbed.”

Who does that? More importantly, why? Why, why, why do these thoughts pop up in my mind? Even worse, I sometimes say them out loud without thinking. My husband tells me often that I need to stop being so judgy. Let me tell you something, honey. I want it to stop!

61s88UvdGTL._AA300_

Back to Rachel’s book. Rachel shares a story of when she made fun of another girl in middle school for doing something that she {Rachel} totally did herself. Pot, meet Kettle. Rachel asks, “Why do we do it ladies… why do we rag on each other?” I’m wondering the same thing, Rachel- tell me why!

She asked three questions that I decided to answer.

  1. Does it {judging} make us feel better about ourselves? My answer: yes, and then no. I feel superior in the moment and then a whole lot guilt.
  2. Does it make us feel safer to mock someone who has stepped outside of the parameters we deem acceptable? My answer: the truth is yes, even if I’ve previously behaved in the same “unacceptable” way.
  3. If we can point out their flaws, does doing so diminish our own? My answer: ouch… is that what I’m doing? I think yes.

Then here’s when Rachel’s words really hit me: “In so many instances judgment comes from a place of feeling as though you’ve somehow got it all figure out when they do not.” Ding, ding, ding- that’s my reason. This is why I am so quick to judge. I want people to think I’ve got it all figured out. That each and every intention I have is deliberate {it usually is!}. So haughty me thinks that what I’ve decided is what should be. I realize that this makes me a huge hypocrite. Hey! God and I are working on it, with a lot of help from my darling husband.

In so many instances judgment comes from a place of feeling as though you’ve somehow got it all figure out when they do not.

– Rachel Hollis in Girl, Wash Your Face

So this week I’ve tried Rachel’s tip: every time you find yourself judging someone, think about something positive about them instead. Mindset change. It’s a challenge.

I highly recommend her book for women in any stage of life. I recommended it at my local library and they bought it!

Also, Rachel, I shave my toes too.


What We’re Cooking

IMG_4400.jpg

After the long weekend, I only needed to cook one meal this week. I went for one of my freezer-to-crockpot meals from Thirty Handmade Days- Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki.

On Tuesday we had it with baby carrots drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. I cooked them for ten minutes on 400 degrees, stirred them around a bit, then back into the oven for another ten minutes. Cooked… roasted? This left them still a little crunchy- which we enjoyed!

Wednesday was date night, so we ate our fill of chips and salsa at a local Mexican restaurant. On Thursday, there was still plenty of chicken teriyaki left. I sliced up some zucchini and cooked it in olive oil on the stove. Cooked… sautéed??? Can you tell that I still don’t know proper cooking terms?

IMG_4421.jpg

I’ve also been enjoying lemon water this week. Just two lemons sliced fairly thin, add water, and keep in the fridge. It’s so refreshing!

For lunch I made this cucumber and tomato mix marinated in Zesty Italian dressing. I plan to add avocados for a yummy summer salad.


What I’m Reading

I’m still reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis {which you can read all about in the What God’s Teaching Me section above} and listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But I’m looking for what I want to read next!

What would you suggest?


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty