Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crop Around the Corner



Last Monday I set up a booth in a new local shop, The Crop Around the Corner. For years I've been toying with the idea of entering a craft fair, or setting up an etsy shop. I've been putting it off for many reasons, but mostly due to lack of creating time and a fear of failure. This new opportunity seemed to occur at just the right time for me, so I took the leap!

So far I am selling crocheted hats and chain-stitch cowls. The flowers are removable and can be interchanged with other flowers. I'm also thinking of making hearts for around Valentine's Day for a little festivity. I've been working on more patterns, but time is always my biggest issue, especially around the holidays. The old adage, "the shoemakers children are never shod" may fit perfectly for me this Christmas! I feel very blessed that just about my entire first batch of items sold in the first week. I guess I didn't have too much faith in myself, though, because I didn't make any extras! Today consisted of a yarn run to Santa Fe, and I'll be very busy the next couple of evenings.

I am proud to announce that just about all of my Christmas shopping is finished! :) We are having a much simpler holiday with gift-giving, I've been hunting for the perfect gifts throughout the year, and some recipients may even receive *treasures* from garage sales! The most difficult person to shop for on my list is always my step-father. He likes coffee and hiking, so I've pretty much given him enough caffeine and hiking gear to last a lifetime! Any ideas for middle-aged men are very much appreciated!

Hope that all are enjoying the holiday season,
Katie

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jasmere Giveaway


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and great food. I enjoyed having my husband home for five days, as well as visiting with family and friends who were home for the holidays. It warms my heart to watch my boys interact and form relationships with the important people in my life.

Our weekend was relaxed; I did not partake in the Black Friday extravaganza. I'm much more of a Cyber Monday person myself due to my introverted personality as well as convenience (we're also an hour away from the nearest Target)! My favorite newly-discovered website this fall has been jasmere. I am now considered a "superfan" and have already purchased 8 vouchers from them! Here are just a few of the reasons I love jasmere:

1. Jasmere promotes small and independently owned businesses, many of which are considered "specialty" and/or are quite artsy.
2. Prices--Each voucher is anywhere from 50-70% off. The more people who purchase the voucher, the lower the price gets. You are not charged until the sale ends, and you're always charged the lowest price.
3. Quality. As I mentioned above, I have purchased 8 vouchers from different retailers. They all have had excellent products and customer service. Jasmere also stands by who they promote!

You may find out more information about how jasmere works here.

As a superfan, I received two, $10 vouchers to pass on to new jasmere customers. This could lead to a free, or nearly free purchase. For instance, the ReGreet Hoparounds are currently being offered at $9, plus a $2 shipping fee. If a $10 voucher is used, the total cost (shipped!) is $1.

If you are interested, please leave me a comment by Monday, November 29 at 9:00pm mountain time, and I will have a random drawing for each voucher. For everyone else, here is a $5 voucher code: SF7899239E
It may be used once per buyer, and the buyer does not have to be new to jasmere.

These voucher expire on December 1, 2010 (Wednesday!), but jasmere offerings are always so tempting--it will be easy to find something to use them for! :)

Happy Cyber Monday,
Katie

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Leap of Faith

I recently made the decision to rent booth space at a local boutique/scrapbooking store. I am excited about this new adventure, but also a bit scared. I have been crafting for many years now for myself, my family and friends. Like many crafters, I am often proud of my work, but I can also be very critical. Putting my work out there for others to view is a bit of a leap of faith for me. The owner of the shop is great, and the other artists displayed are very talented. I am definitely in good company, and I have a feeling that any money I make will go right back into the store. :) I truly hope this small business makes it--it's just what we need in our one-stoplight town.

Here are a few examples of what I have displayed so far. They are crocheted pieces with bulky yarn. The flowers may be removed and interchanged with other flowers, or the hats/cowls may be left without a flower for a different look. I have more patterns up my sleeves, but I'm trying not to get overwhelmed...wish me luck and happy Thanksgiving! :)



Monday, November 15, 2010

My Little Dream



Except for a patch of Swiss chard, our harvesting is now complete. There will always be room for improvements, but I am happy with how our garden turned out this year. Pat built be five 4x6 beds, giving us 120 square feet of gardening space. We now have a crisper full of carrots, onions in the garage, peach jam and butter, not to mention the fresh veggies we enjoyed throughout the summer. Matthew even brought up the peas today and how he wants to plant more tomorrow. :)

As much as I enjoyed our garden, I'm looking forward to the reflective and cozy times of winter. I'm hoping to also get in some skiing this year, which is something I truly enjoy but have not done since having the boys. I've also been thinking ahead to next year's garden! I have so many plans and often need to slow myself down. For example, my mind has currently been filled with visions of chickens and goats. Now, there is no way we could have goats at our home due to county regulations, but chickens are another story... Not wanting to jump the gun, I'm going to be spending plenty of time this winter researching raising chickens (and trying to talk my husband into allowing me to have a few!).

I have a dream of owning a couple acres of land with a log cabin nestled between some pines (with chickens and goats, of course!) While this dream may not become a reality for another five to ten years (if ever), I feel that I can still hone into my country-living skills here on my quarter-acre. Fortunately, there are many books currently out detailing precisely that--urban homesteading. The latest issue of Mother Earth News highlights the following: "Although many people dream of buying several acres in the country, you can start homesteading wherever you are...In fact, many aspects of homesteading work as well in the city as in the country. Solar panels, straw bale building, heating with wood and collecting rainwater are all possible in the city or suburbs."

Even though I'm not yet in my log cabin, making fresh goat cheese and yogurt while collecting eggs, I feel like now is the time to practice my homemaking/homesteading skills while enjoying my neighborhood and own little quarter-acre! :)

Blessings,
Katie

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Neighbors

Today was one of those days.

Everything started out alright until the usual sibling squabbling. After Matthew tackled Ben for the umteenth time, he was sent to his room for time-out. Normally this wouldn't be such a big deal, but when he came out and turned on his favorite tv show, he realized he missed the opening theme song. Tears, kicking, and screaming ensued. I tried to reason with him that he missed it because he got a time-out for tackling his brother, but as most parents know, there's not much reasoning with a three-year-old.

Due to his tantrum, he missed his bus. After he calmed down and we were all dressed, we got into the car only to find that it wouldn't start. Ahh, that's because Matt played "driver" while I was cleaning out the car yesterday... After turning off all of the lights he had turned on, I borrowed a neighbor's vehicle to take Matt to school.

I returned my neighbor's van and had been home for about half an hour when I slammed Ben's pinkie finger in the door leading out to the garage. It was awful. Back we were at our neighbor's house asking to use her van. She offered to drive us to the doctor's office after loading up her three-month old and three-year old. The nurse at the doctor's office advised me to go right up to the ER, so our neighbor graciously drove us up there.

Meanwhile, Matt was due to come home from school on the bus. My husband was on his way home, but he wasn't going to make it to meet the bus, so I called another one of my neighbors. She picked Matt up and kept him at her house until his father arrived.

Ben's finger was not broken, just badly bruised, and for that we are very fortunate. This incident also reminded me of how fortunate we are to live in a neighborhood where we actually know our neighbors, consider them friends, and do not hesitate calling on them for help. Many people do not associate with their neighbors or even know their names. They wish to live independent, separate lives and go about their business unbothered. We all desire independence to some extent, but humans were not created to live alone, being isolated from one another. We are social creatures. Asking for help also places one in a humbling position. I believe that by humbling ourselves before others opens the door for others to ask us for help in their times of need.

I am thankful for my neighbors and feel extremely blessed by them.

Blessings,
Katie

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality."
2 Corinthians 8:13,14

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:18

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Children Inspire Design

Today's feature on jasmere:


I am super excited about today's jasmere feature. I know that I will be purchasing at least one voucher to Children Inspire Design. I especially like the alphabet wall cards! I am planning on (hopefully!) organizing and decorating the boys' rooms this winter, so this offering is perfect.

So far the price is $18 for a $40 voucher, and the price will continue to drop with the more vouchers people buy. Plus, you're not billed until the sale is over (tomorrow at noon), and you'll always be billed the lowest price. Check out jasmere for more information.

Blessings,
Katie

P.s. I can say from experience that jasmere is a very reputable site featuring great products. I've already purchased seven vouchers in the past three months! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

WIP Wednesdays (two days late)


On my previous blog, Thoughts During Walks, I sometimes posted my crafting works-in-progress on Wednesdays, under the topic of "WIP Wednesdays." I always have something--usually many things--I'm working on, so I would like to continue this on Contentedly Home. Please feel free to join me if you'd like--I'm always interested in what others have on their needles, hooks, canvases, and sewing machines! :)

I've been plugging away on my Granny Stripes afghan, albeit very slowly. It's always nice to have at least one mindless project stashed away to work on after the boys are in bed and Coach is watching M*A*S*H* reruns. I do hope to finish the afghan soon--I really need to replace the current blanket that is covering our worn-out recliner.

I have a goal of being able to pull out two sets of mittens and hats on the first cold morning of the year. At first I thought that I would like to present the boys with these handmade knits in their Christmas stockings, but I am afraid that the love and warmth with which I want them to be presented would be lost with all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas (there will be plenty more opinions and goals regarding Christmas and consumerism as we get closer to the season). What better time than to present them than when they're truly needed and as a sweet surprise? I sure hope the boys will agree!

The first hat I've been working on is a Gnome Hat from the book, The Children's Year. It is very simple, yet whimsical. I am using Knit Picks Swish DK and size 3 needles. Although this is a child's hat, it sure is taking a while to knit! I plan on making matching striped mittens as long as I have enough orange yarn. By the way, orange is one of my favorite colors on little boys--different than the usual blues and greens, but not too "girly." This set will be for Ben, with plenty of room to grow. I have not yet decided on a set for Matthew, but I'm thinking something fairly simple. Any knitting/crochet suggestions are welcome!

Finally, a couple of projects for me. Last spring I started on the Favorite Cardigan, but spring fever got to me and I put it away for the summer. With our nights already feeling pretty chilly, I'm ready to finally finish it up. I just have a little bit more of the body to do as well as the arms (3/4 length). I'm excited about this sweater and the top-down construction! I've also been working on a pair of socks for myself--this time toe-up. So, I've got one top-down sweater and one toe-up sock on my needles right now! :)

As I'm typing this I'm remembering several other projects I started: a baby sweater, baby hats, and a doily. I'm not sure if these should be categorized as WIPs or UFOs (unfinished objects)...hopefully I will complete some of these projects soon!

Blessings,
Katie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

La Montanita Co-op

Today I went to Santa Fe for a whirlwind shopping trip. Thankfully, my mother was able to watch one of the boys! In regards to the other one, all I have to say is that bribery does work (when only used once in a while, of course)!

One of my new-to-me favorite stores is La Montanita Co-op. The prices are quite reasonable, especially the specials, and the atmosphere is laid back and pleasant--a welcomed stress-free grocery store! While shopping for produce I usually consult the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen lists. For me, this helps with prioritizing what organic produce I buy while staying within my budget. If you happen to be in Santa Fe, I highly recommend stopping by La Montanita. Organic apples are on sale for $1.29/pound (beat Smith's $1.89/pound!), and I also picked up two-five pound bags of organic potatoes at $2.49 each. Both potatoes and apples are on the Dirty Dozen list, so this trip was well worth it!

Blessings,
Katie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Farmers' Market


I love Fall. It is by far my favorite season. The weather is gorgeous, I start drinking hot tea again, I bring out the families' knits, the smell of roasting green chile is in the air, and there is just an overall feeling of coziness and anticipation of the winter ahead.

Once a week little brother and I head to the Farmers' Market to purchase fresh produce, hot cider, perhaps a scone or other baked goody, and enjoy our mother/son time together. He plays at the playground, then we go to the library. We see friends, I talk with former students and their parents, and we meet new people (who usually stop to comment on my boy's cuteness, and of course, I have to agree!) as we make our way around the stalls. Then, to top it all off, we get to drive home with fresh fruits and veggies! I believe our Farmers' Market will only be open for a week or two longer, so I'm going to savor these visits until next spring.

Hamming it up on the playground:

On Sunday we spent much of the day outside. We went exploring at Bandelier National Monument. The boys loved playing in the river, running along the path, and Big Brother went up the ladders into the caves with his Papa (Little Brother and I were having some nursing time in the car). Again, it is such a beautiful time of year! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Heart CVS


Lately I've been getting some fabulous deals at CVS. It is by far my favorite drugstore, and right now it even tops Target for me (gasp!). If you're not familiar with CVS, there are currently two Santa Fe locations:

195 Paseo de Peralta (next to Sunflower Market in de Vargas Center)

511 West Cordova Road

I honestly have only gone to the CVS at the de Vargas Center since it's in a very easy and central location. All of the employees there have been helpful and friendly, and none have batted an eye when I pulled out my couponizer loaded with coupons. :)

If you're new to CVS, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Before making any purchases, be sure to sign up for an ExtraCare Rewards Card. It's free, and you'll get rewards equal to 2% of your total purchases quarterly. It also enables you to take advantage of sales that reward you with Extra Bucks.

2. Always scan your card at the CVS machine, usually located in the front of the store. Paper coupons will print out, usually for use that day. Today I received a coupon for $10 off my entire purchase, as well as free candy corn! :)

3. Purchase a green tag for $0.99 to attach to a reusable bag. Each time you shop, be sure to have the cashier scan your tag. Each scan gives you a $0.25 credit, which very quickly compensates for the purchase of the tag.

4. Be sure to check out weekly ads. Sometimes they come in the Sunday paper, but sometimes they don't (here in northern New Mexico). I haven't figured out any pattern to this, but sometimes I can't find the ad anywhere. When that happens, though, I just look online at www.cvs.com. There are usually FREE deals (after Extra Bucks) each week! I will try my best to keep my favorite deals for the week updated here.

To give an example of why CVS is my current favorite, I'd like to share today's trip:

Jergens Overnight Repair lotion: $6 (reg $6.99)
Purchased two, then used two $2/1 coupons from 10/10 Smartsource insert. Received $3 Extra Bucks.
Final price: $2.50/each

Colgate Total Advance White: $2.99 (reg $3.69)
Purchased two, used two $1/1 coupons, received $5.98 Extra Bucks
Final price: $2 money-maker!

Softsoap Body wash: $4.49, B1G1 free
Puchased two, used one $1/1 and one 0.75/1 coupons
Final price: $1.37/each

Brach's candy corn: $0.99
Purchased two, used two $0.99 coupons printed from CVS
Final price: FREE!

Batteries: $6.49, B1G1 Free
Puchased two
Final price: $3.25/each (pack of 10 AA)

After using my free and effortless $10 coupon, my grand total (including tax) was $12.71, with $8.95 Extra Cash. This essentially makes my total $3.93! I HEART CVS!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Beginning of my Coupon Adventures



As I've mentioned before, the town I live in is quite small. There is only one grocery store, the nearest Walmart and Walgreens are 35 minutes away, CVS is 45 minutes, and Target is about an hour. Well, why does this matter? Lately, while I've been looking at coupon/frugal blogs, I am often envious of all the great "deals" others in larger towns can get by frequenting the sales at various stores. Then I remember that:

1. I often get stressed out while shopping on my own
2. I always get stressed out while shopping with my one year old and three year old
3. I'm not particular fond of driving 45 minutes to Santa Fe in order to get in and out of the car numerous times

I am, however, always looking for a great deal! :)

One of my solutions has been to focus of what is nearby, and that is Smith's. Like all stores, most products are overpriced, but since I've been paying closer attention to the weekly ads, clipping my coupons, and keeping a price book, I've been able to stock up on the bargains and forgo the rest (most of it, at least). For my local readers, I'd like to start posting weekly about my top finds in order to help out my fellow homemakers, as well as anyone who would just like to save some of their hard-earned money! :)

So, I'll be focusing on Smith's as well as CVS (the closest is located at the de Vargas Mall), my favorite drugstore. I'll occasionally be listing deals at Walgreens and Target. I haven't been to Walmart since I almost stepped on a dead kitten in the parking lot...I'd just rather not go there!

I currently have quite a stockpile of coupons, and it did take time to build it up. Here in northern New Mexico we may get coupons the following ways:

1. Sunday papers. The Monitor always has Smartsource, but for the P&G and General Mills inserts, you'll need to purchase (or borrow from a friend who doesn't coupon!) the Santa Fe New Mexican or Albuquerque Journal.
2. Red Plum: these are delivered in the mail each Tuesday or Wednesday. Most people throw these away as "junk," but there are some great coupons in them!
3. Online: try coupons.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com
4. You may also load digital coupons onto your Smith's rewards card--just fill out your card info, then select the coupons you would like.

I'll try to keep this little space updated as much as my life allows, so stay tuned... :)

Blessings,
Katie

Monday, August 23, 2010

Home


The above picture was taken last week when I was driving home from Santa Fe. Both of the boys were asleep in the car, for once I had my camera with me, and the sight was so breath-taking that I just had to pull over. I often forget, or perhaps just ignore, what a beautiful part of the world we live in--wide open space, gorgeous skies, little pollution or litter, and NO strip malls. Since both my husband and I grew up here in northern New Mexico, we sometimes fantasize about moving somewhere else--no where in particular, just someplace different. Then I stop for a moment (or pull the car over) and realize that we're in just about the perfect place, especially for this time in our lives. I feel not only content, but extremely blessed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mid-August Garden

Lots of green beans and zucchini, the tomatoes are starting to ripen, and the pumpkin vine has really taken off...






We spent most of the day outside enjoying God's creation.

Blessings,
Katie

Monday, August 9, 2010

Frugal Blogs

Typically, when I find myself having a little free time (ha!) I enjoy surfing around the 'net checking out all the great crafting blogs out there. Lately, however, I've found myself in new territory: frugal/thrifty/coupon blogs! I've been introduced to some fun sites and great ideas, although I do get a bit tired of the same ol' advertisements...

One of my favorite "discoveries" has been to this site: www.jasmere.com

Directly from the site:
"Jasmere seeks out lesser-known specialty retailers that deserve national attention. Our team of New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC- based shopaholics personally tests every product we feature, using jasmere's negotiating power to offer you an exclusive discount. But don't let the low prices fool you. Every merchant we feature on jasmere meets our highest standards of quality. You may not have heard of these websites, but you can be sure their products and services are the best around. We guarantee it."

Basically, vouchers are given at a huge discount, and the more people who purchase the vouchers, the steeper the discount. Credit cards are not charged until the sale has ended. I've already seen the price for today's sale go down within the past couple hours. So, check out this fun site, and if you're so inclined, purchase some vouchers for Maple Landmark Woodcraft. I've already bought a couple!

$50 Maple Landmark Woodcraft Gift Certificate for only $19 (and price may still drop)! Deal ends at noon tomorrow!


Here are some of the blogs I especially like:
Savings and Stewardship
Just Frugalicious
Two Frugal Friends

Many blessings,
Katie

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coupon Madness

During the past two days I have done things that I never thought I'd do. I'm not ashamed, but I would have never pictured myself being that woman at the check-out with forty coupons in hand. I never would have imagined myself dumpster diving either...Here is what transpired:

Lately I've been doing some modest couponing, but nothing too extravagant. I would check the Sunday paper (if we got it), as well as the Red Plum pamphlet that came during the week. If there was a coupon for something I would regularly purchase anyway, I would cut it out and save it in a drawer. After I started seeing savings, I started cutting out more coupons. I'm still limiting these to items I would actually use, but in terms of "more," I mean duplicates. I've started raiding my parents' newspapers, checking the local library's "free" bin on Sundays, and having my husband ask my father-in-law for the coupon inserts from his papers.

Then came the dumpster diving incident. This week I didn't make it to the library until Tuesday. When I looked at the "free" basket, it was completely empty. I asked the librarian about it, and she told me that it was just taken to the recycling bin and everything should be on top. So, it really was more like clean recycling-bin diving as opposed to dumpster, but I know I received looks from the patrons walking by while I sorted through the coupons in the library parking lot. I'm happy to report that I found what I was looking for! :)

Our local Smith's grocery store had a promotion today that all coupons under $1 would equal $1 at check-out. I gathered up my stash, looked through the store's flyer, then wrote out a detailed list of what I wanted to purchase. I couldn't believe it; here's what I got for FREE (the discount was higher than the sale price on these items):

Regular price: $20.29 My price: FREE!!!!!!

I also purchased the following substantially discounted when sales were combined with coupons:

I'm don't want to be selfish or greedy. I also don't want to become that hoarder on 20/20 with 500 bars of deodorant stashed in the garage. Here are some steps I'm taking to ensure that my couponing doesn't spiral out-of-control:

1.) Keep a price book! This way I know if a deal is really a deal, or if I can get the same item for less somewhere else (or make a substitution, use a generic, etc).
2.) Only clip the coupons for products we already use or for products that I could easily donate
3.) Clean out my coupon folder (I have one of those accordion pocket folders) weekly to eliminate build-up and expired coupons
4.) Have fun--there is no need to stress about coupons!
5.) Try to have a little more dignity--no more pulling out the papers from the recycling bin in front of the library (but I'll still check inside the library...)


I believe that I was pushed over the couponing edge today due to reading the following book earlier in the week: Retail Anarchy by Sam Pocker. This book is filled with conspiracy theories, colorful language, opinions and tips--about coupons and retail in the United States. Despite the colorful language, I really enjoyed the points made and fun had. I do recommend this book as much for entertainment as for ideas about how to use coupons.

Today I was that woman--the woman with one child crying and another eating a chocolate donut he was bribed with in the shopping cart. The woman who pulled out forty coupons. The woman who held up the line while a manager was paged to make sure everything was correct on the receipt. The woman who came back two hours later to challenge a discount not given on the receipt (and was rewarded $8 for it). The woman whose children grabbed shampoo off the shelf and squirted it all over the floor by the meat aisle (of course I apologized and cleaned it up).

Even though I was that woman today, I am proud of myself for being assertive. This is something that is often difficult for me and I have to work hard to do. I was polite and courteous, and the sales associates were helpful in return. It worked out well. I know that I have an important role in my family as wife and mother, but I don't get the validation of a physical paycheck for my stay-at-home profession. Today I enjoyed the feeling of adding economically to my household instead of blindly spending the funds entrusted to me.

Happy couponing!
Katie

Monday, July 12, 2010

Granny Stripes


I've really been on a crochet kick lately. Since it is the first handwork skill I learned as a child, I believe it will always be the most comfortable for me. Knitting is a close second. Crochet is also easier to do while taking care of little ones: there's only one hook (as opposed to two needles, or even as many as five with double-pointed needles), and there's only one live stitch. I also stumbled upon this new-to-me blog full of crochet inspiration.

I started using Lucy's pattern for the Granny Stripe Blanket. Don't you just love her colors? I'm using Vanna's Choice yarn in colors sapphire, antique rose, fern, burgundy and mustard. I had to get passed my yarn snobbery to buy 100% acrylic, but Vanna's Choice ha such great colors, plus made the blanket a lot more affordable.

I'm making this blanket to replace another one we have hanging on my husband's lazy boy recliner. Yes, it is my husband's recliner, and it is his blanket. Both he brought into the marriage, and although he's not ready to let go of his recliner yet, he is willing to swap out the blanket. I'm too embarrassed to post a pic of this blanket, but here's a description: crocheted with acrylic yarn in shades of baby blue, flourescent orange, yellow and green sometime in the 80s. His roommate left it when he moved out, so I don't even want to think of what that blanket has seen/been through!

I have nine pattern stripes so far and am excited to keep going. We'll see if I'm ready to move onto knitting when I'm done with this blanket, but I'm thinking of making a matching granny-square afghan next for the sofa...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mid-summer Gardening

June has been a hot and dry month here in northern New Mexico. I've had to water more than I'd like to keep my plants alive, but hopefully the monsoons will be starting soon. I'm feeling like my hard work in the garden is finally paying off. We've been enjoying peas for a couple weeks now, as well as lettuce and spinach. I was starting to get worried about our tomato plants because they were producing flowers, but no fruit. Well, today I spotted some tomatoes--yay! It feels good to reap what I've sown. :)


Matthew just loves fresh peas. If I cook them he won't even let them on his plate. There just must be something about picking your own veggies from the garden...

My zucchini is really thriving in its partial-shade environment. During previous years, when I've planted them in full sun, they would become super wilted. The sun here in the mountains is so intense that I've found it's helpful to plant in a little less-than-recommended light.

First tomatoes!


Does anyone know what this flower is? We have several of different colors, and they're just beautiful. I'm thinking that it's some kind of lily...


I hope that everyone is having a fantastic summer!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hats and Craft Shows


I love going to craft shows. In our community there are several a year with a variety of vendors. I enjoy the whole atmosphere, and often purchase several gifts at each show. One of my problems, however, is that I often walk away with the thought of "I can just make this" in my head. I also have the goal (just about every year) to enter a craft show with my own booth. With two little ones running around, it is difficult for that goal to be realized.

Recently one of my cousins had her first baby--a little girl. When I asked my cousin if there was anything in particular she needed for her daughter, she said yes--hats! When I asked her about colors she let me know that girly colors were great. I was more than happy to oblige! :) I decided to create my own pattern with some cotton sock yarn I had in my stash. I was so happy with my first attempt that I decided to do a bit more designing. During this period of creation, the thought of entering a craft show crept back into my mind...maybe, just maybe, I'd be blessed with enough time and inspiration to design and create items for my own little booth this coming fall.

I do have a fear of losing money during this process, but honestly, my greatest fear is that of rejection. What if I'm not accepted into the craft fair? What if no one likes my items? What if someone makes an unflattering comment? What if the items look more "homemade" than "handmade"? Right now I believe that my greatest hurdle is not time, money, or lack of inspiration, but my own self-esteem issues. Has anyone out there entered a craft show before? How did you get past the fear-of-rejection aspect of it? Do you have any advice for a first-timer?

I'd also really appreciate feedback on what I've been currently working on. Interestingly, my favorite piece is different from my Mom's, and hers is different from the ladies at stitching club. I guess everyone has unique tastes, which is part of the fun in creating handmade items. I just hope to appeal to someone...

Most sincerely,
Katie

Directly below is the first hat I made. I used "Crazy Cotton" sock yarn and a size C needle. Even though the yarn is a light weight, it actually worked up fairly quickly. The flower was a lot of fun to make!

I used the same pattern for my second hat, but a different yarn: Red Heart's "Heart and Sole" sock yarn. I used the size C hook again, but I did have to include several more pattern repeats due to the smaller gauge.

The next hat is super girly! I used a heavier (sport weight) cotton yarn and size D hook. I did change the pattern a bit to account for the larger gauge. I do want to fiddle with the crown shaping a bit more. I'm still a little used to working from the rim up with knitting, so I don't always get the results I want with working from the crown down with crochet.

Finally, I wanted to make something with little boys in mind. This was made using Knit Picks' Swish DK and a size D hook (I'd like to try E next time). A friend of mine is having her first boy at the end of July, so I thought this would be a cute little addition. I'm thinking of adding earflaps...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, uncles, and positive male role models out there. You truly make a difference in the lives you touch. Thank you!

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,

The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family in need.

Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it...
Dad.

Author Unknown

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Coincidence?



I really don't believe in coincidences, but I do believe in nudges from God.

Just one small example:

Two days ago I went to the library to pick up a couple of books I had on hold for my son. While there, I took a few minutes to look around, particularly at the "new release" shelf. I excitedly picked up Debbie Macomber's One Simple Act. What is interesting about this is that I had just watched an interview with her on an episode of PBS's Knit and Crochet Today. The episode was about charity knitting/crochet. I had just started watching the interview segment when one of the boys woke up, so I wasn't able to catch the title of her new book on generosity. Some may say that I spotted her book at the library because her name was on my mind. This may be true, but if I hadn't watched that fifteen minutes of Knit and Crochet Today (something I rarely do in the mornings), I probably wouldn't have spotted the book.

While I was checking out my son's books, as well as One Simple Act, the librarian came across a book on hold for me through inter-library loan. One Million Arrows had just come in--all the way from a library in Washington state!

Coincidence? I really don't think so, especially given the spiritual and uplifting nature of the titles. I'm excited to read them and will be sure to add my thoughts about them here at Contentedly Home. I'm also curious as to how they will impact my life and the lives of those around me.

Now, I just need to put aside some reading time...

Have a wonderful weekend,
Katie

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quiet Time


Yesterday, for about an hour, both boys were napping (a rarity in our household!) and my husband was at the hardware store. I savored every minute of my quiet time!

With two young children, two dogs, two cats, and a husband home for the summer (he's a teacher), it is often difficult to find the peace and quiet that I crave during the day. I do my best, however, to find small moments here and there. I find such time while watering and weeding my garden, washing the dishes, and rocking and nursing my younger son to sleep. If I feel like I really need some thinking time, I'll even take the boys for a little drive in the afternoon for their nap time (something I thought I would never do as a parent). I also find peace while taking walks, swimming laps, and just sitting at the public library. I love my boys, but having some quiet time to myself helps me to refocus and feel refreshed.

When do you find your quiet time?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In the Garden

My grandfather has a beautiful voice. Whenever I spent the night at his and my grandmother's house, he would take out his ukelele and sing me to sleep. This last song he would always sing was "In the Garden." It is now my favorite hymn, and I enjoy singing it to my own children. One of my greatest joys is that my grandfather is now a great-grandfather, and he, my boys and I can sing together. If you're not familiar with this hymn, here are the lyrics:

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.


(Chorus)
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing.

I'd stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; Through the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.



It's iris and columbine season here!

Our peas are just starting to climb. I just hope we can harvest them before it gets too hot.

Surprise wisteria--I thought the frost a couple weeks ago got all of it.

I am so thankful to live in such a place of natural beauty!

Many blessings,
Katie

Monday, May 31, 2010

Contentedly Home

Several weeks ago, at our first garage sale of the season, I purchased the book Calm My Anxious Heart for twenty-five cents. I do not believe that I am necessarily an anxious person, but I do have issues with contentment. One point author Linda Dillow made really struck a chord with me:

"Single women look at married women and wish for a husband. Married women look at their husbands and wish for different ones. Childless women long for children, and mothers long for the day when their kids will be in school. Is it even possible to be content with your role in the here and now?"

I love my husband and my children dearly, but ever since I left my teaching job to be a full-time homemaker, my mind has often been filled with "what if" thoughts, resentment of my husband working while I'm at home, and even jealousy of my working friends. The thing is, when I was working and we were having great difficulties keeping pregnancies, all I wanted was to have a family and be home with my children. I'm not trying to start a working mom vs. at-home mom debate, but what I am trying to do is be content and thankful for all that I have, including (especially!) my roles of wife and mother.

My previous blog was titled "Thoughts During Walks." I still enjoy going on walks with my family and on my own, but I have found myself spending more and more time at home. Lately I've been working on our vegetable garden, and I've been trying my hand at a little decorating (we moved into this house a little under a year ago). I also enjoy handcrafts and reading, and of course, just being. My younger son recently turned one, and I cannot believe how quickly his first year went. I want to savor each moment.

I do not want this space to be idealistic or unrealistic. I'm not a supermom by any means. I am just someone who wants to celebrate her home, the space in which she spends most of her day, and be content in all things.

Many blessings,
Katie