Archive for the ‘Hobbies’ Category

When I see something I like, I check to see if it’s something I can make. I like being crafty and creative, so I’d much rather make something than buy it. After a friend had posted a picture on Facebook of some cute, colorful shoelaces her daughter had crocheted, I saw a new project to put at the top of my queue.

As is often the case with me, I look at yarn, think about what I want and how I want something to look, look at more yarn, and think some more before finally making my decision. I searched Pinterest for ideas and instructions, but all the ones I saw were made with a thicker yarn than I wanted to use. I Googled them and still didn’t find what I was looking for. Finally I couldn’t hold off any more. While I was browsing at Hobby Lobby last weekend, I decided to just buy the colorful crochet thread that I kept going back to.

Yesterday morning before we left to spend the day at Six Flags, I decided I needed a small project for the road. I grabbed my thread and a tiny crochet hook and looked up instructions on foundation crochet.

Originally I was going to make them with foundation double crochet, but that seemed too wide. I ended up using one row of foundation half double crochet. For the correct length, I measured against the laces in my white Converse tennis shoes, which the new colorful ones would be replacing.


  • 1 ball Artiste acrylic crochet thread (I used color 108, Carnival) *There is a lot more thread on the ball than what is required to make one set of laces, so find another project for it or make extra sets for yourself or your friends. They’re going to want some, too!
  • 1 size D (3-3.25mm) crochet hook


  • Chain 3, yarn over, insert hook in 3rd chain from hook, yarn over and pull up loop (3 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 1 loop (1 chain made), yarn over and draw through all 3 loops on hook – 1 foundation half double crochet stitch made.
  • *Yarn over, insert hook under both loops of the chain made in last stitch and pull up loop, yarn over and draw through 1 loop (1 chain made), yarn over and draw through all 3 loops on hook. Repeat from * for desired length of shoelace, then tie off and work in ends.

I can’t wait to wear them! I’d like to tomorrow, but a big guy in chunky boots stepped on my little toe at church this morning and it hurts to be touched. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand a shoe for a few days… In the meantime, I think I’ll buy another ball of a different color and crochet some laces for my navy Converse shoes.


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I love making things, and I love giving handmade things as gifts. Sometimes there’s just not enough time, or maybe I just don’t have a good idea. I usually reserve the handmade gifts for Christmas and get an early start – the beginning of September. Still, not everyone gets something handmade and I have to resort to the usual stand-by gifts of candles, body wash, gift cards, etc.

My youngest sister’s birthday is in late February, but since I don’t get to see her then, I don’t get in a big rush. The day she and my other younger sister came with our parents for a birthday visit for my husband and my boys, I remembered I hadn’t gotten her gift yet. I immediately thought about running by the mall and getting her a candle. As much as she’d enjoy a candle, it just felt wrong to me. Too standard. Too easy. And I was in a crafty mood…

Since I had already planned to do some browsing in a craft store, I thought I’d look around and see if something struck me. Then the best idea hit me as I was walking across the parking lot: check her Pinterest boards! I pulled out my phone and scrolled through her many boards, looking for one with quick and easy DIY projects. Then I saw it:

It was saved to her “What a GREAT idea!” board, and I agreed.

First stop: frames. It had to be just right. No metallics or fine lines. No ordinary colors, but nothing too garish. It didn’t need to be too big, but it did need to be large enough to write on easily with a dry erase marker. I found some distressed 5×7 frames in colors that coordinated with her decor, and since they were 50% off, I decided to buy two for her.

Second stop: paper crafts. I am not a paper crafting kind of person. I tried to be, but it just wasn’t my thing. After our recent move I gave away all my scrapbooking materials, so I knew I would have to find something there. I loved looking at all the patterned papers and found several that fit themes in her house: birds (in her guest bathroom), bicycles (in her living room), etc. They would’ve been perfect – but they were too busy for background papers. It would be too hard to see whatever had been written across them. I finally decided on two simple patterns in different colors that would coordinate with the frames and the rest of her decor.

Third stop: an office supply store for a pack of dry erase markers. Of course, I had to complete the gift. I couldn’t give her cute message boards and expect her to go out and buy something so she’d be able to use them. For that, I went with basic black markers. No need for clashing colors or shades that wouldn’t show up against certain backgrounds.

Once I got home, I got right to work. I measured and cut the paper to fit perfectly – and to be symmetrically displayed. (Yes, I’m that person.) I put them together and wrote a special note on each one (with my own dry erase marker) since I didn’t buy her a card. (I hate shopping for cards…) Then I wrapped each frame in tissue paper and placed them carefully in a gift bag.

I kept texting her to see how close they were: Where are you? What’s your ETA? Now where are you? Almost as soon as she arrived, I had her open her gift. I was excited! And she was excited when she opened them! She started sharing her plans for using one in her guest room (for personalized messages to her guests) and one in her living room. 

My other younger sister’s birthday is the end of this month. I can’t wait to peruse her Pinterest boards and find something fun to make for her. This revolutionizes the way I will approach gift-giving from now on!

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Even before I went back to work, Saturdays were extra special if I could just stay home. Now that I’m working, they’re even more special because I’m not spending all day at home a few times during the week. And since the boys are involved in more activities and we’ve been helping with the youth group for a little over a year, those Saturdays are rare.

Today is one of those rare treasures. The weather is perfect: sunny and cool, with a high of 78. I have a few errands I could run, and one I probably should run, but I’m content with just staying at home, doing what I feel like doing when I feel like doing it. I’ll get some of my household chores done, but I’ll also read a bit (The Fault in Our Stars), knit a little, maybe watch a few episodes of something on Netflix. I’m looking forward to making a loaf of homemade bread this afternoon to go with homemade cream of mushroom soup for tonight’s supper. Maybe we’ll watch a movie and snack on popcorn afterward…

Today is this homebody’s heaven.

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Looking Pitiful

We worked on our fall garden Monday and Tuesday evenings. The plants we transplanted looked great. Until the full sun hit them, which is the sunlight exposure the info that came with them said they should get. They look like they’re about to die! Of course, I was told that if I planted them from seeds now, they wouldn’t produce anything before the frost kills them off. It’s like a catch-22. I guess all I can do is make sure they get plenty of water and hope for the best…


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I’ve wanted a fall garden for two years. Last year, I started looking into it too late. In the fall. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that to have a fall garden, you have to plant in late summer…

This year, I looked into things earlier and found that for our area, prime planting time is August 15-September 15. We are right there! Only this year, I didn’t realize that some things need to be planted during the early days while others can wait until later. It’s a continual learning experience!

The boys and I made a list of the fall garden plants we want to grow: spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and garlic. On Labor Day we went to buy our seeds. It wasn’t that easy. Lowe’s didn’t have much of a selection; a local nursery was closed for the holiday; and Tractor Supply only carries a Burpee’s display when the seed company sets one up. We struck out!

Billy suggested I look online and order what I wanted, so I looked at Burpee’s and Ferry-Morse’s websites. Then I compared those to what I could find on Amazon. All the seed packets were more expensive than what Lowe’s charges for them, and I’d have to pay tax and shipping.

I realized it might be cheaper to try the local nursery again, so Jacob and I went by the next day to see what they had. Boy, was that ever a great idea! The lady who helped us gave me a list of fall garden plants with the suggested planting dates for our area. Turns out I should have planted broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts about a month earlier. She recommended I try a larger nursery in town for transplants of those.

After looking over the list and seeing what was still timely to plant, I decided on spinach, mustard greens, and turnips. I’m not a fan of turnips, but Billy likes them. I like the greens, and I’m willing to try turnips again since the last time I ate them was probably when I was in elementary school. I told the lady what I wanted and she put a few scoops of each kind of seed in little pouches for me. The seed packets were heavy, and I was wondering how much it was going to cost me after remembering what the online prices were. My total cost came to $3 plus tax! I will definitely do my seed shopping there from now on!

A few days later I called the other nursery to see if they had the transplants I was wanting. They did, and they cost $1.99 each. Not bad. We went by Friday afternoon while we were running errands. I found the broccoli and the cauliflower, but there were no Brussels sprouts to be found. We picked out three of each of the others and went to wait at the counter to be checked out. I asked the lady helping us if they happened to have any more Brussels sprouts transplants, but she said she had sold the last two that morning. Too late again!

Our goal was to pull out the old garden plants, add some nutrients, mix the soil, and plant our new things on Saturday evening. I started supper later than I had wanted to, and things ended up taking longer than I had planned, so we had to plan for another evening. Sunday night was out because we would be at church for the AWANA kick-off. Time is ticking, and our transplants will only last so long in their little containers. Tonight is the night. We will do it. We will not be late!

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I’ve been going through some boxes of old stuff, trying to decide what to get rid of, what to put into storage, and what to keep around. (Watching an episode of Hoarders will do that to you!) As I was going through a box, I came across five or six old word puzzle books: variety puzzles, math and logic puzzles, sudoku, etc. One is from as far back as 2005; others are from 2008 and 2010!

I looked through them and decided which ones I’d worked as much as I could (logic problems) and which ones still had some good left in them. Those few in the latter category have been keeping me company in my recliner the last few nights. I’ve tried new kinds of puzzles that I wasn’t interested in (or didn’t want to try to understand) earlier. They’ve been fun! I’ve even finished old puzzles I had given up on before.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to play word games and work all sorts of puzzles. (I guess it should come as no surprise that I’m playing the maximum number of games Words with Friends will allow…) In my earlier days, I did word search puzzles. It didn’t take me long to graduate from those into harder things like crossword puzzles, fill-it-in puzzles, and cryptolists. Then came logic problems and sudoku.

Word puzzle books were always standard equipment for road trips. The old ones I found are left over from past trips, ones I had put away after returning home. (Apparently a few moved with us in 2009…) Now that I’m getting ready for another road trip, I bought a new variety puzzle book. I’m not letting myself start working on it until the trip, though. In the meantime I have those oldies but goodies to keep me occupied.

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I’m an avid reader, and I’m always in the middle of two or three books. Or four. Or five. Seriously. I carry one with me all the time because you never know when you’ll have some spare time/wait time. I like to be prepared.

A few years ago I tried using Billy’s old Sony eReader. I downloaded a book from the library and managed to read it all, but it was kind of boring (the reader, not the book) and not the easiest thing to use. Besides, I just like the feel of a book in my hand… The eReader went back into a drawer. When I pulled it out again (probably a year later) to give it another try, the battery was dead and I couldn’t readily find the cable to charge it. I eventually returned it to Billy with a sigh that I’m just not ready for that technology yet…

Last summer I got an iPad, and it didn’t take me long to download a Kindle app. My sister had a Kindle Fire and she kept telling me all the great things about it, all the books she could get, etc. Still, I couldn’t really get into reading on it. I used it to read a few library books, but I always went back to bound books.

I guess I really changed my opinion about ebooks when we took a short road trip and I didn’t want to pack a lot of books to take with me. I took one that I was almost finished with, but instead of packing another two or three to choose from, I just relied on what was on my Kindle app. That was the turning point. Since then, after finding out about Christian Fiction for Your Kindle, I’ve downloaded close to 60 free or inexpensive books onto my Kindle – and I get a few more new ones every week!

A few months ago, I downloaded Overdrive Media on both my iPad and my iPhone. I use the iPad app for non-Kindle books that I want to check out from the library. The only ebook I’ve read on it so far has been Jeremy Camp’s autobiography I Still Believe, but I have many more on my library wish list. I use the iPhone app for audiobooks to listen to while I’m driving, cleaning house, or working on projects where the TV would distract me. So far I’ve listened to Carol Burnett’s This Time Together, The Bridges of Madison County, Three Weeks with my Brother (a memoir by Nicholas Sparks), and Fahrenheit 451. I started listening to The Invisible Man but I lost interest in it. I’m looking for some sort of tuner/receiver so we can listen to audiobooks over the car speakers via my iPhone on our beach trip in a few weeks.

I also found out about a free ebook reader app through Christian Book Distributors (CBD). I downloaded it and was able to find several free ebooks through their site. I’ve read one so far – Invisible by Lorena McCourtney. I enjoyed it so much, I checked out the second book of the series (of 4 books) from my church library.

Just yesterday I downloaded the Nook app. I don’t know much about it yet, but I figured that would be the way to go if I (hopefully!) win a Barnes & Noble gift card from our public library’s adult summer reading program. I have 10 entries so far, but I’m hoping to get my name in a few more times before the program ends. The top prize is a Nook, which I have promised to a friend if I happen to win it – which I seriously doubt. The second prize is an iPod Nano. The individual library branch prizes are the B&N gift cards – my preference!

Lately I’ve been thinking about downloading an ebook reader of sorts onto the boys’ iPod Touches. I don’t want them having free access to any book, so I have to look at my options carefully. I also don’t want them having the ability to download a book through an app that’s tied in to a credit card. Since their iPods are configured to not bring up Internet pages, I need to see what I could do from my computer. I guess it’s homework time…

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