Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)

Hi, just me again :) I'm so overwhelmed that it's almost 2016. Where does the time go? As I've reflected on this past year, I've been flabbergasted by how quickly my first year in Chicago has flown by. I've made some pretty awesome knits this past year, and I want to just step back in time for a minute to look at some of them again.

Keep It Casual Cowl - January 2015

Big Lace Scarf - February 2015

Purl Soho Classic Cuffed Hat - February 2015

Make Up Your Mind Tank - April 2015

Halstead Shawl - May 2015
I can't wait to dig into some new projects in the new year. If you have any pattern suggestions, please send them my way!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Cat Alphabet Cross Stitch


Inspired by some similar patterns on Flickr, I made this adorable cat alphabet cross stitch for my mom for Christmas, and it turned out even better than I was anticipating--I want to make one for myself now! The pattern is just so clever, and it's perfect for cat lovers, aka me :)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Heart-Led Leader // A Blogging for Books Review


The Heart Led Leader, Tommy Spaulding's second book, is about looking inward on ourselves and focusing on who we are, not on what we've accomplished and done. Spaulding gives examples to demonstrate why he thinks leaders who lead from the heart are the most successful leaders, and how we can individually grow in our values to live from the heart, not the head.

Spaulding calls this the 18-inch journey, the approximate distance from the head to the heart.We have to learn how to draw on love and humility to transform our careers and likewise transform business for the better. This book is filled with examples of extremely successful leaders, whether CEOs, businessmen, principals, etc., who have learned to lead a community with integrity.

I found this book useful because of its layout. After part one which is mostly just an overview of what will be covered in the book, Spaulding goes on to have eighteen chapters devoted to each inch of the journey which all highlight a different characteristic trait of a heart led leader and how to cultivate it. I found this to be a worthwhile read albeit not entirely new in the information it was presenting.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


My apologies for the dark picture! This is more of the sweater vest/wrap that I talked about last week. I've finished another arm hole and and working on finishing up the last front panel. So close to being done! I'm away for Christmas now though, and the project was ever so slightly too large to bring with me, so it will have to wait a little bit longer to get finished :) Which means I'll probably start a new project in the meantime.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Bucket List

I'm pretty sure I'm not the fist person to ever say that winter is not my favorite season. There are some really wonderful things about this time of the year though. David and I are flying back to Atlanta this week for Christmas, so we definitely won't be having a white Christmas since it's insanely warm there right now, but there are some fun things we're looking forward to doing here in Chicago!



  • Enjoy all the Christmas lights around the city. Including the Christmas lights on the tree :)
  • Visit Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo always puts up thousands of lights each December, and David and I haven't gone to see them since 2012.
  • Make a snow angel.
  • Try baking bread from scratch.
  • Go see an exhibit at the Art Institute.
  • Do some spring, uhh... winter cleaning.
  • Sit in front of the fire at a bar or restaurant, preferably accompanied by a hot drink :)
  • Visit Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) in the snow.

I'm sure this list will grow and evolve over the next couple of months, but I think this a pretty good start to making the best of the winter weather!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Unveiled Wife


David and I celebrated our four year anniversary two weeks ago :) It was such a nice day of love and happiness. We made one of our longtime favorite meals (chicken satay with a spicy peanut sauce from the Colorado Classique cookbook), and for dessert we made an angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream to eat while we watched a movie.

Celebrating our anniversary always makes me think towards the future. Dating has been such a wonderful journey, and now our journey as an engaged couple has also been an exciting time in our lives. We're constantly every day growing in our love, and we're learning that our relationship can only be strengthened by pursuing a similarly intimate relationship with Jesus. Chasing our faith has been one of my most favorite things about our times together--I treasure going to church together every Sunday, and I love praying before each meal. It highlights one of my favorite Bible quotes, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13), and it also emphasizes for us that our relationship would not be possible at all without our faith.

I started reading recently a new-to-me blog called The Unveiled Wife written by Jennifer Smith. It's really just all about encouraging and uplifting wives and providing them words of wisdom and inspiration to look up to God and let Him strengthen our relationships. I like this blog because it seems really real and doesn't try to sugarcoat things. Marriage is not easy, but it can be so incredibly rewarding if we learn to take the time to cultivate it. In turn, I hope that God can work through me to show me my shortcomings and guide me to rectifying them because it is oh so worth it.

Since finding this blog a few weeks ago, I have since read Jennifer Smith's book of the same title, and I felt so inspired by it. If you are currently married or in a serious relationship, I truly recommend this book to read because I hope you'll be encouraged by it too :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


It's been a while since I've participated in Ginny's yarn along. Life has just been crazy the past couple months, and I've been too busy to work on any projects, much less take pictures of them. But I've been so grateful for time off from grad school this month so that I can spend my free time reading and working on new yarn projects :)

This is about half of the "Peek-a-Boo Button Wrap." It's been a perfect project to get back into the swing of things, especially as the weather cools down. Even though it's been unseasonably warm for December! If you're interested in following along with my progress, you can find my Ravelry notes here or you can follow me @kerryecogan on Instagram. I usually post my pictures there first.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Best Books I Read in 2015

I made it a personal goal to read 30 books in 2015, and even though the year is not over yet, I have already exceeded this goal.  If you want to take a look at everything that I read this year, and beyond, check out my Goodreads page.  And friend me! I love to look at what other people are reading (plus it is a great way to get book suggestions).

And speaking of book suggestions, if you read an amazing book this year, let me know what it was because I need some ideas as 2016 approaches.  I've been getting my book fix recently from the Chicago Public Library, and I need some new books to add to my hold list :)

Many of the books that I have read this year have been by Sarah J. Maas, the author of two incredible series of books--Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses.  I pretty much swallowed these books whole, and I recommend them so much, especially if you love a good bit of fantasy with a side of romance on behalf of dark, brooding characters, haha!

This year at the beach, my sister, Colleen, brought a book along that I ended up loving.  Me Before You is the quintessential beach read, and I loved it. Be prepared to cry multiple times, but I'm the kind of person who appreciates a good cry, and I don't mind books that trigger this kind of emotion in me. This book now has a sequel, After You, and it is sitting in my library hold list. I can't wait for my turn to read it!

I already decided that I'm going to have a whole post for this book, but I listened  The Unveiled Wife on audiobook, and I could not stop listening to it. I finished it in less than two days, and it has given me really interesting perspective. I found this book after stumbling on Jennifer Smith's blog of the same name, and while I am not a wife yet, I think it's never too early to start thinking about the very real issues that come with marriage, and getting honest wisdom from a woman who has experienced some really hard marital problems is priceless.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Grownup // A Blogging for Books Review


The Grownup by Gillian Flynn is a short story about a woman working as a spiritual "reader" who is presented with an interesting case by a woman, Susan, who says her house is evil. As the story continues, the psychic visits the house and finds that Susan isn't wrong about her home.

This book was a quick, short read that was genuinely chilling.  It was creepy and thrilling, and I found myself reading most of it in one sitting.  The characters were well-developed, and although it might have been better if it was a full length novel, I found it to be a little lacking towards the end.  Once it was over, I didn't feel compelled by it in any way, but I generally love anything that Gillian Flynn writes, so it won't keep me from reading her other books in the future.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On My Bookshelf: November

I originally wrote October in this post title before realizing my mistake. Where did the year go? Even November feels like it is flying by. I honestly haven't been reading much because I've been so busy with school. The quarter ends in less than two weeks, and I have a big paper looming in front of me that I've spent too little time on. That being said, I'm still trying to read some as a break during my long days of school and work, but I'll probably have to wait for Thanksgiving to catch up on all the books on my nightstand.

This month, I'm reading:

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Yes, Gillian Flynn as in Gone Girl. Her books terrify me, and this one in particular is actually just a short story that has been published solo (after appearing in a George R.R. Martin anthology). It will be an easy but scary read. It's a little belated for Halloween, but maybe it'll be perfect for a dark, rainy night, especially since with the time change, it gets dark by 5 these days.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
I've had this book on my to read list awhile, but I never really wanted to buy it for some reason. But I'm rediscovering the joys of public libraries, especially since the addition of ebook versions, so I've loaded up my Kindle with some rentals.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Cooking // A Blogging for Books Review


I love cookbooks. Cooking is so satisfying to me, and even though I'm not adventurous enough to make meals sans a recipe, I love to experiment in the kitchen. Hence why cookbooks are so wonderful to me! Another thing I've always loved? Food Network and Giada. Which is why her new book, Happy Cooking: Make Every Meal Count...Without Stressing Out, is a welcome addition to my cookbook collection.

At first glance, this cookbook is beautiful. The food looks stunning and yummy, and the collection of recipes included in extensive. Although I'm not a fan that there are often times more than one recipe per page (making the book appear cluttered), there are great tips included among the recipes. These tips seem to include substitution suggestions, detailed instructions for special techniques, and just her words of wisdom, written as if we were the oldest of friends.

The variety of recipes in the book also appears to be extensive. The motto of the book seems to be "clean" eating without having daunting recipes. The are suggestions for smoothies and breakfast and dinner and everything in between. My only complaint is that some of the recipes have some hefty ingredient lists which is usually my biggest deterrent from a recipe--I do not want to have to buy a whole lot of ingredients that I probably won't use up before their expiration.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy // A Blogging for Books Review


I mentioned in my last blog post that for October I was reading Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy which is about an essayist/writer that solicited questions from other essay writers about writing. The questions vary from strange to hilarious, and the answers that Dinty Moore provide and just as obscure and funny. Some of the answers are better than others, but all the answers are followed up with an essay demonstrating what he replied about. Although I felt that the essays at the beginning of the book were better than the ones at the end, I really enjoyed this collection as a whole.

I had two favorite essays from the book. The first one is called "Dash It All" and was prompted by a question by Cheryl Strayed who was actually the only essayist who submitted a question that I had actually previously heard of as she wrote the ever popular book Wild. As such, it was her question that served as an advertisement of sorts for the book because having her name attached seemed to give it some credibility to me. The other essay that I thoroughly enjoyed is entitled "Mr. Plimpton's Revenge." This essay is humorous and well-thought out, and if there was ever an essay that I would desire to go back and read, this one is it.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

On My Bookshelf: October

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This book has been all the rage recently, and I can understand why. I also see the appeal of decluttering our homes once and for all. The book is also wonderfully written, and it's made me peer into the clutter of my own life. I don't think I'm ready yet to undergo the process of cleaning out everything though. I'm feeling too sentimental and emotional right now to give anything away and properly go through what I don't need.

Dear Mr. Essay Writer Guy by Dinty W. Moore
This is the latest book I am reading from the Blogging for Books program, and I'm loving it so far. It is hilarious, and I think anyone who's written anything just for fun will enjoy this book. The full review will come once I finish reading it :)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Currently



Making: budgets on my Mint account
Drinking: Twinning's Lady Grey tea
Watching: Gilmore Girls reruns
Reading: the Throne of Glass series
Hearing: the hum of my computer
Understanding: that I don't always have the answers.
Knitting: (crocheting) all the flowers!
Wishing: cancer would just stop being a thing. I think we're all pretty fed up with it.
Enjoying: getting to turn the AC off
Liking: dinner tonight--quiche and green beans!
Loving: the memories David and I made this past weekend on our special date night :)
Hoping: to have an amazing time at Disney on Ice tomorrow with my littlest niece and nephew. The wonder on their faces should be well worth it.
Planning: ahead so I don't procrastinate my school work
Wondering: about God's great plan. "It's never been about your ability. Today's inability is His mercy."
Needing: to start knitting again... I miss my needles.
Wearing: shorts and a plaid button-down
Listening: to Alan Waits videos. This one made me ugly cry. But in a good way.
Eating: baklava and shortbread cookies :)
Thinking: about this past Sunday's church sermon
Writing: many reflective essays for my classes
Feeling: grace in the small things.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

All the Things


I need more than my ten fingers to count all the new things that have happened to me this summer. A lot has happened, and I can't believe that it's all already over. I think Chicago is always beautiful, but it's especially so in the summer. Everyone comes spilling out of their homes to soak up all the beautiful weather while they can, filling up the streets, celebrating the silliest things (the nude bike race comes to mind...), and just generally being happy.

But fall is pretty awesome too. It's the season of boots, knitted garments, and all the cups of tea, all of which can be categorized under my love language.


Yesterday David stopped at Mariano's after work to buy me Peruvian lilies (some of my favorite flowers!), and he asked me out on a date. So tonight, we're going to Lula Cafe which will check off another restaurant on our list of Bib Gourmand restaurants to try. It's pretty rare that we have such a fancy meal out since we're all about home-cooked meals, but every routine has to be shook up every now and again :)



And now that I think about it, I don't think I ever wrote here that in June David asked me to marry him! We took a long weekend to Door County, WI, and while we were walking the Lake Michigan shoreline in Cave Point Park, David got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I cried, and you didn't hear it from me, but David cried too. It was such a perfect moment. Truly the best start to the rest of our lives together :)

Oh, and I started grad school! Gosh, I've been negligent with news recently. I'm studying secondary education with a focus in math at DePaul University, and it's been so great so far. I love my professors (one is really more like a mentor), and despite the crazy workload, the past few weeks of classes have really reaffirmed for me that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be right now.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop // A Blogging for Books Review


When I picked out this book to read, it felt like the perfect book. The main character, Monsieur Perdu, is a literary apothecary--from his boat he runs a bookstore designed to prescribe books are remedies to peoples' ailments, whether they have broken hearts or downtrodden souls. However, the one heart Monsieur Perdu can't mend is his own, so he sets out, casting off his boat from the pier in Paris, and searches for the answers to life that books can't necessarily answer.

Being a great lover of books, I felt drawn into the idea that books are the prescription for life, and that if a book helps just one person, it has served its purpose. I also loved that The Little Paris Bookshop included a list of books at its end as suggestions for certain life afflictions, allowing the reader to take these suggestions into her own life. My only complaint about this book is that the plot seemed to diverge from it's original point--it became less about books as a remedy and more about living life itself be the remedy to a broken heart. I guess it speaks more to life as it is, however, as one cannot grow just from the experiences read about in books.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


It's been a while since I made an appearance on the weekly yarn along, partially because this summer has been crazy and partially because I haven't had anything new to show-and-tell. I'm still making flowers, and (if you remember it from March) I'm still make this Texture Throw. It's just one of those times of life where time is flying by and I'm just trying to get by on grace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On My Bookshelf: September


I did a lot of reading during August. The first week of the month, I was at the beach with my family, and I underestimated the number of books that I was going to read. I had only brought two books with me, and I ended up leaving with two more that I borrowed from my sister, Colleen. The first was The Rosie Project which I loved. It was an easy read that was perfect for the beach, and the characters were instantly likable. The second book was Me Before You which I also devoured whole but it proceeded to rip my heart out. Don't get me wrong, I loved it; it was definitely one of my favorite books that I've read so far this year, but it continues to haunt me with its rawness.

This month, I'm mostly going to be geeking out over the Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas:

The Assassin's Blade - This book is a collection of five novella length prequel stories to the Throne of Glass books. They're relatively short reads and an amazing way to learn more about Celaena (the main character) and about how she became an assassin.

Heir of Fire - This is the third book of the series, and I cannot wait to dive into it!

Queen of Shadows - This is the fourth book of the series, and it literally just came out. As in today. Thank goodness for pre-ordering on Amazon and having the book arrive on your doorstep the day it comes out.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Encountering Truth // A Blogging for Books Review


Pope Francis ranks really highly on my all time favorite people right now. Catholicism can sometimes get a bad rap in today's modern world, but Pope Francis is transforming the face that Catholicism presents to the world for the better. He's such a people's pope, and even non-Catholic's that I know are professing their love of him.

His new book, Encountering Truth, is only making me love him even more. This book is a collection of his homilies that he gives every morning in St. Martha's cathedral to lay peoples. The homilies are completely unscripted, and they really give a new light to the gospels. Pope Francis gives messages of hope and advice to everyday Catholics, and he always delivers his message in a loving and open way.

What I especially like about this book is that it includes the bible readings from the day that the homilies are coming from, making the book a daily devotional of sorts as one can first read that verses and then read the corresponding homily. As such, this is a book that I know I will constantly be coming back to in order to gain more wisdom and guidance.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On My Bookshelf // August

It's my birthday month! And I'm currently on a week long vacation with my family which means that all my books this month are 100% for pleasure. Bring on all the devourable beach reads!

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
This is the second book of the Throne of Glass series, and I am totally addicted. This series is AMAZING! A co-worker recommended them to me, and then I found out that my sister had the first two books, so I promptly borrowed them from her and can't put them down. If you haven't read them, I highly suggest that you do. Definitely the best fantasy series that I've read in a while.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
I love everything that John Green writes, and this is the last book of his that I haven't read yet (until he hurried up and writes something else!). I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

Encountering Truth by Pope Francis
I think Pope Francis is amazing. Even if I wasn't Catholic, I would still probably think he is the bee's knees because he has such a powerful message for all humankind. This book is his sermons that he gives every morning, and I can't wait to read it and gain his wonderful insight into my life.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday Tea // 51 Simple Pleasures

 


Oh, the resurrection of Tuesday Tea! Although this post has nothing to do with tea other than the fact that I'm on my second cup of earl grey for the day, haha :)

But I recently found a list that I wrote during high school about 51 things that seem small that give me great pleasure. It can sometimes be hard to find beauty in every day life, but I know that life is a whole lot better if I slow down and give thanks for the simple things. I've already listed these 51 things on a previous blog post, but I thought I would update it with 51 new things, with maybe a couple repeats.

1. squishy, gorgeous yarn
2. Gilmore Girls re-runs
3. big cups of hot tea
4. tall glasses of iced tea
5. re-reading a favorite book and getting something new out of it
6. Anthropologie candles
7. paychecks
8. old recipes
9. sinking into bed after a long day
10. thank you notes
11. rolling the money in your change jar
12. this beautiful print
13. crocheted flowers
14. good hair days
15. salt water taffy
16. getting magazines in the mail
17. dressing up for no reason
18. rooftop dinners
19. dandelions
20. my favorite mug
21. using loose leaf tea instead of teabags
22. Milano cookies
23. my Kitchenaid stand mixer
24. finishing a Rubik's cube
25. maxi skirts
26. finishing an amazing book
27. grace
28. dahlias
29. kitty cats
30. banana babies
31. card games
32. a fresh haircut
33. compliments
34. spooning
35. ceiling fans
36. dishwashers
37. hand-me-down clothing
38. blog comments
39. knowing you're going to spend the rest of your life with your best friend
40. Etsy stores
41. an intricate cross-stitch
42. snuggles
43. looking at baby photos
44. perfectly clean and organized living spaces
45. guitars and ukuleles
46. clean slates
47. waking up early by accident
48. good guacamole
49. good Mexican food in general
50. ceiling stars
51. dreamcatchers

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Surrender Experiment // A Blogging for Books Review

Although I thoroughly enjoy the ideas in this book by Michael A. Singer (author of the wildly popular The Untethered Soul), my main issue with it was its repetitiveness. I loved to hear about his story, but that's really all the book was about--it was essentially Singer's autobiography, which was not what I was expecting. I was expecting more of a guidebook, a set of rules to follow, to help me along my own journey to saying yes and surrendering to fate.

But once I accepted the book as more of his life story, I really enjoyed it. Michael Singer has lived a fascinating life, and it was amazing to read about his experiences as he said yes to essentially everything and all that life threw at him as he strived to live his life according to a higher being's will.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


I'm on a flower making roll! These purple colors are so amazing, and I love these yarns so much. More flowers to follow in subsequent weeks, I'm sure :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

On My Bookshelf: July

What a month it has been so far! It feels like my life is been going full-speed ahead right now, and I'm loving every minute of it :) As such, many of the books I'm reading are mirroring my desire to enjoy every second of life and to gain new perspective from everything.

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
This book is about celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life, and the way God infuses every aspect of even the seemingly mundane aspects of things. It's about slowing down and being aware and about how unspiritual things can be spiritual.

Pope Francis: Pastor of Mercy by Michael J. Ruszala
Pope Francis is such an extraordinary man who is transforming modern Catholicism. As a Catholic myself, I'm drawn to learn more about his life, how he grew up and his calling to the priesthood, and this short biography will give me more insight into his life and what makes him so captivating.

The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer
This memoir of sorts is about the journey to enlightenment, letting go of worries, and transforming your life into what you've always desired. The book is the newest Blogging for Books read that I have received, and I curious to maybe learn a new way to live in the moment and maximize my happiness.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


I've been crocheting lots of flowers recently for a very special project that I have in the works (details to follow, but I haven't decided when). These particular flowers are being made with scrap yarn from my Halstead Shawl (which I finally got to use this past weekend in Door County, Wisconsin!), and based on their weight, I should get 11 of these "crocodile stitch" flowers out of what little yarn I have left. That's the good thing about making flowers--they don't take very much yarn!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hyacinth Girls // A Blogging for Books Review


I have to be brutally honest and say that I did not like this book. While it dealt with a very serious subject matter--bullying--I felt that this novel could have done better. As a plus, the story was very nuanced and subtle, mirroring for me the way bullying often is, but the storyline often became overly complicated and not well explained.

The biggest con against the book for me was that it felt very scattered. The book frequently jumped to parts of the narrators past without any indication that the transition was taking place, and then it would jump back to the present situation just as suddenly. This heightened my confusion in the story, and I also felt the shift in narrators towards the end was out of place and unnecessary.

Overall, although I felt no connection to the plot, I feel that this novel raises important issues. Bullying is a very really problem, especially in teenagers lives, and I think that they would benefit from and enjoy this book more than I did.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Plants


At work the other day, someone filled up a table in the breakroom and said that some plants were up for grabs. Since free is essentially one of my favorite words, I picked out the plant that looked the best and that I thought had the greatest chance of surviving in my care. The only problem is that none of the plants have tags so I have no idea what kind of plant I adopted. I posted a picture on Instagram asking people with greener thumbs than mine what kind of plant they thought it was, and although I don't have a finite answer, the concensus was some kind of a yucca or a dragon plant. What I really wanted to glean from this information was how to care for the plant, and I'm pretty sure that moderate to direct sun and minimal watering would be best.

If you have any idea what kind of plant this is, or if you think I'm totally on the wrong track, let me know because I would like this plant to stick around awhile, evidenced by the fact that I named it--usually a sign of over-attachment, but I thought it looked like an Edith. Call me crazy.

Nonetheless, I bought a beautiful planter for it, mostly because I'm trying to dress up the apartment a little bit, and I think it looks gorgeous. Of course, no picture is complete without a cuppa tea (in the most beautiful mug I own).

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children // A Blogging for Books Review


This book by Sarah McCoy tells the story of two different but similar women from two very different centuries. One is the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, who creates a life for herself during the Civil War continuing her father's work with the Underground Railroad. The other parallel story is of present-day Eden Anderson who moves into an old Virginian home where she discovers an old doll head in the house's root cellar--a part of a doll that turns out to be remains of an Underground Railroad doll, revealing a telling history that becomes applicable in the present day.

Overall, I loved this book for its storytelling. Although a work of fiction, it includes many real-life characters that actually existed and actually worked on the abolitionist movement. It depicts history in a vivid and believable way, and the characters are well-developed and extremely likable--by the end of the book, I felt invested in their stories and their lives.

Even better, I loved the way the two story-lines intertwined. Although the two protagonists of the book lived very different lives at very different times, they both share underlying qualities that connect the two women together. Besides both being unable to bear children, Sarah and Eden redefine family measure in their own ways. I am definitely going to be passing this book onto my sisters as I know they will appreciate the strong women that make up this story.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


I made this hat this past week for a very special lady who needs something to keep her warm during long chemo sessions. This is the Lotus hat, and I knit it in an organic cotton yarn, so it should still be breathable for summer. Most importantly, it's soft and was knit with love and prayers.

You can find my Ravelry notes here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

On My Bookshelf: June

I can't believe it's already June. I always think that I'll read more during the summer, but that doesn't usually hold to be true. Still, I have some books this month that I'm excited to read!

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
This book is essentially Steve Martin's autobiography about how he started out as a comedian and then his subsequent rise to fame. I've already started this one, and I am already really enjoying it. I've been amazed by the story so far--I never knew how Steve Martin got his start, and this story is really one of perseverance.

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
This is the latest book that I have received on behalf of the Blogging for Books program, and it's the first work of fiction that I have obtained from the program in a while. The book contains two story lines: one follows the life of Sarah Brown who expertly draws maps into artwork to help slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. The other is about a modern day woman, Eden Anderson, who moves into a old historical home, and as the book progresses, it turns out that these two women have many things in common.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)




This past week, I finished crocheting the Halstead Shawl, and I am so thrilled with how it turned out. Seriously, it is so beautiful; both the yarn and the pattern exceeded my expectations. As I mentioned last week, the yarn was quite expensive, but I'd love to work with it again (it's a product of Mia Bella yarn store in Highland Park, Illinois).

I'm so eager to actually get some use out of this gorgeous shawl. David and I are taking a long weekend later this month and going to Door County, Wisconsin. I think that might be the perfect opportunity to show it off!

You can find my Ravelry notes here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


Unfortunately, this picture is a few days old, but it's all I have of this project so far. This is the Halstead Shawl, and while it looks like a scandalous bikini in this photo, it's actually a good bit along in real life. What I'm loving about this project though is this yarn. It's specialty yarn from a yarn store just outside Chicago called Mia Bella, and I swoon every time I look at the blush colored bits. It's so gorgeous. It was also incredibly expensive, so it was probably a one-time splurge, but I'd love to work with it again.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Five Years in Heaven // A Blogging for Books Review


Five Years in Heaven is John Schlimm's true story about meeting a Catholic nun at her ceramics shop and the five years of wisdom that follow as a result of Sister Augustine's everyday teachings. Taking simple circumstances, Sister Augustine molds amazing life lessons, and while her words aren't necessarily groundbreaking, they're said in a loving, unassuming way that gives them new meanings and relevance.

Although this book does contain nuggets of wisdom, this book is best classified in my opinion as a memoir. And not necessarily the author's memoir either. To me, it is really the story of a humble nun whose life deserved to be chronicled. And to that extent, although the book only covers five years of her life, it is well-recorded and is a beautiful tribute to who she was as a person. I found myself tearing-up towards the last few pages, feeling that my life has now been touched in some small way by her life.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day! Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)


I'm so excited that this top is finally done! It is Purl Soho's Cap Sleeve Lattice Top, and I seriously want to knit a dozen more of these. I fits really well, and although I never want to use this yarn again (a stitch broke after I had already knitted it resulting in some terrifying unraveling that was pretty catastrophic), I do want to do some experimenting with this pattern. That and wear this top all summer :)

You can find my Ravelry notes here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Self-Judging


I was struck by a cleaning frenzy earlier today when the realtor of my apartment building called and asked if she could show another person my apartment, saying that the apartment that they are renting is going to be identical to mine but needs to undergo some renovations first. I obliged, thinking it would be no big deal, but my overactive, self-judging mind took over, and I felt like I needed to clean everything. I essentially saw this visit as a time for total strangers to judge me, and I started stressing out about it.

"The trash stinks and really needs taken out."

"The ring around the tub is unsightly."

"There's piles of opened but unfiled mail everywhere."

"The closet. Is. A. Hot. Mess."

And while I was busy wandering what chaos to tackle first, I also realized something: no place is loved unless it's lived in, and I don't necessarily want to live in a place that is always picture perfect because I would spend all my time trying to maintain that quality. So I tried to squash the images of other people's staged homes, and while I did do some picking up (that I've really been meaning to do anyway), I didn't do a deep cleaning of the place that a stranger would be in for maybe ten minutes.

And the funny thing was, the woman raved about the space. Hot mess closet and all.