Monday, July 16, 2018

What I've Been Reading Lately: July 2018

This has been a pretty great reading month for me! Seven books finished and partway through a few more.  What have you been reading lately?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have been hearing about this book for a while and finally got my hands (or, rather, my ears) on it.  It was different than I was expecting.  In my mind it was going to be more like Roots (which I loved):an epic, multi-generational story. It wasn't like that at all, really, but I still enjoyed it.  It is about a Nigerian woman named Ifemelu, and her experience immigrating to America.  It covers a lot of racial issues and gave me so much to think about.  One of my favorite excerpts is a list near the end of the book of ways you might know that you've have racial privilege.  Several of the items from that list gave me pause and I've found myself thinking about them long after finishing the book.

To be honest, I'm struggling with the ending.  I don't want to include any spoilers here, but I'm dying to talk to someone else who has read this book so I can hear your thoughts about how it ended.  Are you satisfied? Do you wish it had been different?

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

How did I go this long without realizing that The Giver is a four book series?  My 13 year old daughter has read all the books, and she recommended that I start Gathering Blue when I was in a bit of a reading slump a couple weeks ago.  When I think of this book, I literally have the urge to place a hand over my heart and sigh.  Love.  Sweet, heroic characters, a simply told story that draws you in immediately.  It's just so good. Plus, as an embroidery pattern designer, I love the embroidery element :)

While this seems like a completely different world, I've been told that the story of Jonas comes into play in the later books and that the Fourth book, Son, makes clear how all the stories are intertwined.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Continuing on with my Alaska obsession...The Great Alone was absolutely enthralling.  It's a pretty hefty book, but I felt like it moved quickly. I don't want to give away too much, but if domestic violence is a trigger for you, you may want to steer clear. I loved the characters, loved the descriptions of living in Alaska, the writing is delightful. I was sad when it ended.

Messenger by Lois Lowry

I typically try to space out books in a series that I'm enjoying. So I wasn't planning to read Messenger so soon after Gathering Blue, but I couldn't help it. ( I learned on my Instagram stories that most people do not agree with this.  Generally everyone polled reads straight through a good series.  What about you?)

I read this book in just one day.  It's short, so that may not seem like much of an accomplishment to many of you, but my reading time is pretty minimal these days so I'm pretty happy with that. This is the continuation of The Giver series and while it may seem like the books are unrelated, we do catch a glimpse of other characters from the first two books.  I loved it.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

I come from a family of readers.  Often when we get together we talk about books.  Every once in a while one of my sisters or a parent will text out a "you have to read this!" message in our family group text.  It's very rare that we boss each other around when it comes to books, but one day my sister texted me "I'm partway through a book that you need to move to the top of your list."  With a recommendation like that I knew it had to be fantastic.  And it was.  

Caroline is a retelling of the Little House on the Prairie book from Ma's perspective.  It's sweet and inspiring and romantic.  I loved the little peek behind the curtain we receive into Ma's never-ending patience.  It's like the moment in Little Women when we learn that Marmie has a temper. Also, there are some scenes that are much steamier than we read in Little House. ;)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

I read this aloud to my older kiddos.  Guys, I've said it before (and I got in trouble for it) but I just don't love this book.  I am a Madeline L'Engle fan.  I love her memoirs and the Meet the Austins series.  But  A Wrinkle in Time is just not my favorite. We read it because the rule in our house is "book before movie" and the kids enjoyed it and they are looking forward to seeing the movie now.  I was hoping that as I re-read this book that I would love it.  But nope.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

This book broke my heart. It's told by four narrators which took me a little while to get used to, but as I got to know the characters it wasn't an issue. Based on an actual event that took place during WWII, which I had never even heard of, but with fictional characters.  I'm struggling to know what to say about this book. I only finished it yesterday, so I still don't quite have the words to describe how powerful it was. Loved it.

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quicklit Reviews. 

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Doctrine and Covenants Doctrinal Mastery Memorization Cards (free printable!)

Doctrine and Covenants doctrinal mastery scripture cards. Free printable 3x5 cards to help you memorize all of the Doctrine and Covenants doctrinal mastery scriptures; perfect for LDS Seminary Students and homeschool families!

I find such comfort and guidance from the scriptures.  Over the years, I have built a habit of studying them daily.  It's rare that I miss a day, and when I do I really feel it.  This year I'm studying the Old Testament and gaining so much insight (learn more about how I'm studying this year here).  I just finished the book of Joshua, and I'm still loving it!  (I will admit that I've struggle through certain sections ;) )

I want to have the powerful words of scripture cemented in my mind.  I want to draw on them in moments of frustration, or sorrow or impatience,

and I hope to help my children do the same. The best way to make that happen is to memorize them.  So we set aside time from our school days to work on memorizing scripture.  

I created these cards to help us do that.

The cards are 3x5" in size in order to fit into an index card storage box.  Introduce one new verse each week and review the other verses often, and before long you will have many verses committed to memory! Read more about how we've done this here.

This works well for us because we're a homeschool family, but if you're not you could also easily apply this method during your family scripture study or during breakfast or dinner.  It really just takes a matter of minutes each day!

Download Doctrine and Covenants Doctrinal Mastery Cards

If you like these Doctrinal Mastery cards, you might also like:

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Super Easy Crochet Pot Holders (Double Thick)

Easy and useful crochet project! These crochet pot holders (or hot pads) are a quick and easy crochet project that will come in so handy for years to come!  They are double thickness, so they stand up to heat and to wear and tear really well. We use these multiple times a day in our home and love them.

The pattern to make these double-thick pot holders is pretty simple, but it's a little hard to explain without a lot of photos.  So settle in and I'll walk you through the process.

I am assuming you already know the basics of crochet.  None of these steps are hard, but I'm not including any "how to crochet" instructions here.  A quick google search will lead you to a million videos that explain it better than I can.  

I use an inexpensive cotton yarn that is super durable and easy to work with.  You could also use wool, but DO NOT use acrylic yarn.  It will melt and cause you much sadness and possibly burns as well.  

Supplies to Crochet Pot Holders

Peaches and Creme cotton yarn (DO NOT use acrylic yarn)


How to Crochet Pot Holders

Chain 33 stitches.

Turn work and single crochet across all 33 stitches.

Next, this is the trickiest part of the project.  And really, it's not all that difficult, it's just a little hard to explain.

You're going to create the double thickness in this next step.  From here on out, you'll be working twice as many stitches as you began with. 

See the sideways Vs all lined up? Normally when you crochet, you go under both sections of the sideways Vs to make your new stitch.  For this row, you're going to go under ONLY ONE side.  And then back around on the the other side.  You're doubling the amount of stitches, to make the pot holder extra think and keep you from burning your fingers off.  Kinda the point of a pot holder, right?

Single crochet in one side of the Vs all the way down one side, then turn your work around and come all the way back. 

You should have something that looks a little like the photo above.  See how there are now two rows of Vs?

Now you're done adding stitches, so you'll go back to going under both sides of the V. 

Add single crochet stitches in each stitch all the way around. Don't forget to do the kind of wonky end stitches.  The corners will form naturally as you add stitches in the ends. Continue on in this fashion until you're almost out of yarn.

You'll end up with a rectangular pocket, that's open in the middle.

The two sides should meet when you fold them together.

Usually I use a whole skein of Peaches and Cream yarn for one pot holder and end up with just enough leftover yarn to sew up the seam.

Now you're ready for the last step!  Sew up the seam to create your handy dandy pot-holder.  Done and done!

These can be washed and dried, thought they might shrink just a tad.

I love having a whole drawer full of bright happy pot holders and they work better than any other hot pads we've owned. 

I'd love to see your finished projects! Please tag me on Instagram so I can see your work!

PS-- for those who come to this blog often, you may have noticed things have been a little quiet lately.  I've had a lot of side projects in the works (including my very first art/craft show in a month!).  I'm so excited about all that's happening, but things may continue to be a little quiet around here as I'm finishing up those other projects.  I'm excited to share them with you soon!

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