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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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

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