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Preparing to Prepare

Don’t you hate how everything is all about Christmas already? Aren’t you even more tired of people complaining about it? Yeah me too, on both accounts. But here’s the thing, I have been thinking about Christmas too. Not really so much about Christmas trees and lights and Santa. I’ve been thinking about how I can bless and give to those I love, and about the anticipatory nature of the days leading up to the mainstream celebration of the first coming of Jesus Christ.

We never really did advent calendars when we were kids, but our church always kept the tradition of the advent wreath, lighting a candle each Sunday in preparation and anticipation of the Christmas holiday. I did a little bit of research today on the history of advent, and I found out that the observation of advent has been dated back to the 6th century. Traditionally, it was not ever meant to be included in the Christmas holiday, but rather meant as a time of preparation for the Christmas holiday. I like the idea of taking the whole month of December to prepare my heart for Christmas, and advent calendars can be a great tool for that. Here’s a DIY that I found that I think is pretty cool especially for kids and is very reusable so you only have to make it once!

Click this photo for the tutorial!

The thing is, if I were doing this for myself, I would include a scripture passage in each bag and a little emblem that represents the scripture instead of the random Christmas-themed items this tutorial uses. I think it’s important to keep the reason for the calendar centered on God and what he has done for each person by sending Jesus as a tiny baby that night in Bethlehem. While I’m not sure I’ll get around to doing something this extravagant this year, I do want to take a little time to research some good Bible passages to read each day as Christmas draws ever nearer.

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So much to knit, too little time to knit it

Happy Socktober everyone! Whenever I’m browsing knitting patterns I’m bound to find one for socks, and I always feel like I have to cast on right away and start knitting. Which is funny because I wouldn’t say I like feet all that much, but when I see lovely photos of people’s piggies covered in beautiful hand knit creations, I just can’t get enough. Lacey socks, cabled socks, striped socks, color block socks, whimsical socks, crazy socks, I want to make them all! I’ve got a pair on my needles right now, and on most evenings you can find me sitting on the couch next to Husband knitting away while we watch HGTV or Game of Thrones or even occasionally an Eagles game. I’d show you some photos, but it’s a secret project and I don’t want the wrong eyes catching a sneak peek! Maybe after they’re done and gifted, if I remember to snap some photos of them!

After I’m done with these there are so many other socks I want to knit! I’ve been going a little knitting crazy over on my Pinterest, posting all the things that I am so eager to knit, but never enough time to do it. The other thing I’m drooling over right now is fair isle knits, which I’ve done a little of but I still want to learn more about it. Knit up in gray and mustard and burgundy and brown, fair isle just screams fall to me.

Now that I think about it, with everything there is to knit, Husband and I will probably be watching a lot of TV/movies this cold season! And I am very OK with that.

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Knitting to Stories

I’m getting so close to finishing the cardigan I’ve been working on for about a month and a half now, so today has pretty much been dedicated to sitting in our comfy armchair, my project progressing stitch by stitch and inch by inch. I’m working on the last major piece, which is the front left side, and then it just needs to be blocked, sewn together, and some finishing touches added on. Eep, I’m so ready to wear this thing!!

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You can see my handy yarn bowl from this post being used in the first photo. It is seriously so handy, no more balls of yarn rolling all over the place! I’ve also been listening to “A Storm of Swords”, book three in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, (more commonly known as Game of Thrones). We had a free trial for HBO a couple months back and we decided to watch the TV series, and I enjoyed them a lot, except for the few times I had to cover my eyes and hide behind Husband because I just did not want to see some of the super super gory scenes. But then, we finished the most recent season and I was left wanting to know how the series ends! So I went back to the beginning and got the Game of Thrones audiobook out from the library and started listening. I’m not quite sure how I am going to cope once I finish the most recent book, I just want to know what happens. I guess it will be just like when I waited for the next Harry Potter book to come out all over again!

Anyway, all that to say, I love that I can listen to books (or watch movies) while crafting, and when I look back at a finished project I can always associate whatever I might have been seeing or hearing at the time with the piece. I still associate the Lord of the Rings with a CD I had when I was younger because I listened to the CD every night while I read those books. What kinds of things do you listen to or do while you practice whatever hobby you might have? And also, I’ll need some book suggestions once I get through the rest of this series, anyone have any ideas?

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Vacation Recap

Well, after two weekends in a row of camping, and one yet to come, things have been busy around our household! First we went with my Mom’s side of the family for a weekend to a big old farmhouse settled in a gorgeous valley right next to the Juniata River. This is a yearly weekend getaway for our family and it is always just so lovely and relaxing. The very next weekend (well, OK, Thursday-Saturday) we traveled out to the Pittsburgh area to go camping with my immediate family. We had a lot of fun playing games, celebrating Independence Day, going into the city to watch the Phillies play the Pirates, and just spend time together as a family.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen most of these photos, if not, here’s a photo recap of our camping adventures!

The big old barn at the Farmhouse

The big old barn at the Farmhouse

This beautiful old house holds so many memories for me! We slept in a tent outside to save some cash, hence why I consider this a camping weekend.

This beautiful old house holds so many memories for me! We slept in a tent outside to save some cash, hence why I consider this a camping weekend.

The campground about an hour outside of Pittsburgh.

The campground about an hour outside of Pittsburgh.

Happy Fourth of July Breakfast! Pancakes, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and homemade chicken sausage.

Happy Fourth of July Breakfast! Pancakes, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and homemade chicken sausage.

Nobody brought Boggle for me to play, but we did have two copies of Bananagrams, so I improvised.

Nobody brought Boggle for me to play, but we did have two copies of Bananagrams, so I improvised.

My husband left his backpack of clothes at home, so we had to go to Wal-Mart to buy him some essentials. While it was a bit of an inconvenience, the plus side is he got this great Fourth of July outfit.

My husband left his backpack of clothes at home, so we had to go to Wal-Mart to buy him some essentials. While it was a bit of an inconvenience, the plus side is he got this great Fourth of July outfit.

Relaxing at the pool in the sun. For those wondering, I'm reading "Valley of Horses" by Jean M. Auel, book two in the Clan of the Cave Bear series.

Relaxing at the pool in the sun. For those wondering, I’m reading “Valley of Horses” by Jean M. Auel, book two in the Clan of the Cave Bear series.

No family gathering is complete without a game of Dominion! Don't be fooled by it's looks, it's a great game!

No family gathering is complete without a game of Dominion! Don’t be fooled by it’s looks, it’s a great game!

Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh!

Watching the Phillies lose again. But at least this time we got a hit, the last game we went to was a no-hitter.

Watching the Phillies lose again. But at least this time we got a hit, the last game we went to was a no-hitter.

PNC Park has a beautiful view!

PNC Park has a beautiful view!

This weekend we’re going camping again with our church, it’s going to be great! If you haven’t noticed yet, I love camping!! 🙂

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Behold the beauty

I have decided something. It is officially too beautiful outside not to spend every spare moment I can basking in the sun. I mean, heat and all, I can’t get enough of being outside. Yesterday I had sweat pouring down my face as I bent over finding little hidden ruby red strawberry gems underneath their canopy of protective leaves and I loved every minute of it. I just kept thinking, even though it’s hotter than I’m comfortable with right now, I am just so glad that it is no longer winter.

So, instead of sitting inside our little city apartment with the air conditioner whirring and whatever is playing on HGTV as a backdrop to my typing, I decided to walk over to our local cafe and really enjoy the sun as I continue to profusely extol my love for everything that has to do with the beginning of summertime.

My main purpose for blogging today was to talk about my recent trip to Longwood Gardens, such a lovely piece of history located not so very far from where we live. It was a wonderfully sunny day to explore the grounds and I almost felt as if I’d stepped back in time to a greener era. I absolutely loved everything that we saw, it was just a beautiful oasis of greens and flowers and fountains. Walking through the original owner’s house I also got to see some gorgeous books, many on gardening, that I would have loved to be able to get my hands on. Although, once I had them I’m not sure I’d have the heart to recycle them, I’d have too much fun looking through and gleaning information from their ripe pages.

I could talk on and on really, but a better way to impress the beauty would just be to show you a few of my photos from the excursion. Which is what I plan to do. Here are some little inspirations for my art straight, from Mother Nature herself (with a little help and encouragement from humans).

Baby trees botanical drawing greens yellow flowers leaves pink flowers  lace aloe greenhouse fountains

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Inspirations

Have you ever had one of those days when you just didn’t know what to say? I mean, basically, everything has been said already, it’s just a matter of combining what’s already been said in a different way in order to make it “new” again. But I’m not here to discuss the philosophical today. I’m here to share some of the inspirations that I’ve found lately. Mostly via Pinterest. And this post is going to be mostly images. Because today is just one of those days.

courtney heimerl quilts
Gorgeous quilt via Cortney Heimerl

DIY baby shoes
Absolutely adorable baby shoes via http://postris.com/popular-pin/44490/0/repins/30/diy-/0/

Crochet Diana Dreamer Purse (Size 6.5 inch)
What a fun purse via meemanan


This Valle Jacket via Anthropologie

In The Woodland Large Mug
This super fun woodsy mug via JuliaDavey

Plaid Navy Blue Scarf, Infinity Scarf, Men's scarf, Loop scarf
And finally, this perfect-for-him scarf via Oyetascarf

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Staying Organized

I’m quickly learning that in order to get everything done that I want to, I need to keep myself focused and organized. The way I do that is by setting goals for myself for each day. In the past what I’ve done has just been to write them down on whatever piece of scrap paper is available, which sometimes makes it difficult to find my goals again throughout the day.

I’ve been wanting to solve this problem by getting a chalk board or a white board to use to write my goals on each day, but since the finding of this piece never made it onto my daily list, it never happened. That is until this Sunday when we got to church and we saw the announcement that, due to the remodeling of the basement, the church was giving away all sorts of chalkboards, cork boards, kids chairs, and more. How I wish I could have taken all those adorable old Sunday School chairs with me, but alas, I practiced self control and only took what I needed, which was this fabulous chalk board that my husband so graciously helped me to hang before he left for work today. Isn’t it wonderful?

chalkboard

 

So now you can see my goals, and since I’m posting this I can cross off one item! I’m off to a productive day today!

What are some things that help you stay organized?