Thursday, December 20, 2012


Last week on Wednesday Dec. 12, 2012 our Grandmother Anene was born to eternal life. She was truly an amazing servant of the Most High God and was most certainly welcomed into his presence with much celebration. I knew her for three short years and in that time, grew to admire her so much. She holds a very special place in my husband's heart. She was involved in the everyday life of her children and grandchildren. She was with us for every family gathering. She showed me grace and hospitality like only a true Southern Belle could. She brought us all a little closer to an understanding of God's love.
Her children wrote a beautiful obituary that can be found here. Please keep our family in your prayers as we mourn the loss of this amazing woman and remember God's promises.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stille Nacht

all is calm...
... all is bright

In Advent Love and Joy,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Little Log Cabin in the Big City

Just in time for the freezing Chicago weather to set in, I finished our super-cozy Log Cabin blanket! Hubby, kitty and I all LOVE this blanket! It is the warmest, squishiest blanket I’ve ever snuggled in!
Cascade Yarns’ Magnum was my yarn of choice for this blanket of blankets.  It’s quite impossible to go wrong with a super-bulky, super-soft 100% wool single ply yarn. It’s absolutely gorgeous and such a pleasure to work with. No itches here! I can sleep soundly all night long resting my cheek on this blanket. It’s perfect.

Although I started working on this blanket way back in May, it really is a speedy knit. It seems that the exact properties that I can’t get enough of in November are quite detestable in July and August! The entire blanket is knit in soothing garter stitch. A beginner would most certainly be able to knit this blanket. The one technique that is more advanced than basic garter stitch is picking up and knitting. Each rectangle is knit back and forth. Then to start the next rectangle, you simply pick up and knit along edge of the next block going counter-clockwise.
The pattern I used is by Pickles, a Norwegian duo who create very lovely simple knitting and crochet patterns. Although such a simple blanket does not really require a pattern, they added a couple extra special instructions for a slipped stitch edge to take this blanket from slightly wonky to clean, crisp, and professional.
If you are ever interested in knitting a blanket like this one, do take into consideration the fact that stitches are not as tall as they are wide, especially with garter stitch. This can cause some issues on the corners where the perpendicular pieces meet. To avoid this, it is imperative to maintain consistent gauge and remember that, when picking up stitches along the side of a knitted piece of fabric with a slipped stitch edge, pick up seven stitches and then skip one. That is, over eight slipped stitches (which is 16 rows), only knit into and pick up seven stitches.
This gorgeous blanket is such a treasure, and one that will bring countless nights of cozy warmth! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Target Volunteers - Library Makeover

I had the great pleasure of spending my day off giving some much needed love to a Chicago Public School through Target and Heart of America. Target and Heart of America have been partnering for the past five years to makeover libraries in schools in need all across America. Ryerson Elementary School in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood was chosen to receive the 149th library makeover. Hundreds of Target team members, along with a local construction company, the Chicago Food Depository, and many from Heart of America volunteered their time to make this library makeover a success, and also to hand out books and food to each family.
The sea of red that attends these events makes me very thankful to work for such an amazing company. Target gives 5% of all of their profit back to communities in the form of these library makeovers and thousands of other volunteer events. That translates to about $4 million and many thousands of hours each week!

The library not only got a facelift with new paint, carpet, seating, tables, and bookshelves; it was also provided with 2,000 new books! Promoting literacy is a huge initiative of Target Corporation. I was blessed with a family who read to me very often as a child, and thus, with the ability to read well before I started school. I never even considered that there were children in the United States who didn’t have a similar opportunity, much less the ability to read by 5th grade! This is a very real battle for children and families in Chicago and many other places in our great country.
Bullseye came to visit!!

All of the children’s families were invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the library (which was completed before we got there), and then they were provided with seven books for each child to start their very own home library, and 20-30 pounds of healthy “brain” food for each child. They sure were weighed down when they left! Yet, I’m sure some of their everyday burden was lifted. 

I was part of the team that handed out food. My day consisted of unloading the truck, setting up the assembly line of food, and filling up the families’ bags with all of their great food!
Setting up shop 
This room was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables 
The dry goods room is all ready to roll!
They're here!!! 
I must confess that I was a little grumpy to have spent my one day off in my 11-day stretch working. How awful that the thought even crossed my mind. Having the opportunity to work for the good of God’s Kingdom instead of for the good of just myself is something I’ve been craving and now have been blessed with! I see so much need around this city – physical need, spiritual need, the need for fellowship, among so much more. What a blessing to have to opportunity to address it. Praise God for his goodness, and for giving us what we need, even when we don’t really want it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Keeping Cozy

I finally took the time this weekend to block and photograph these lovely socks! Socks sure look intimidating to make with all of their special shaping, but they really are quite simple, as is just about everything in knitting! The pattern I used for these came from Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks.  This book allows you to choose nearly any yarn and needle combination, and sock size, to create a perfect sock every time. The instructions are so clear and the formula so versatile. It is a great book for anyone who would like to knit socks.
The yarn is Paul and Carol Wagner’s (aka Hidden Valley) Willow Series yarn – a 50/50 blend of Suri Alpaca and Coopworth Lamb. This is my all-time favorite yarn.
I wore these socks under my boots to church on Sunday and, especially for being in high heels, my feet felt so great! After church, hubby and I came home, put on our comfy clothes and hand-knit alpaca socks, got some work done and then snuggled up to watch a movie. Perfect! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Lovely Beret For My Lovely Sister

At the first sign of fall, I eagerly take to my needles and prepare for the many October birthdays, followed by Christmas gift-giving! Finally, by mid-October, I have something to show for it! Mid October brings several birthdays and this year, my sister was the lucky one to receive a hand-knit birthday gift.
With her wavy blonde hair and airy bangs, she looks so lovely in berets. I’ve wanted to make her this one for two or three years now! I think it’s about time! I can't wait to see her in it!
I absolutely love the yarn I used for this. It is pure baby alpaca in natural grey and tan, by Lang Yarns. It is as soft as can be and has the slightest halo.
I’m working on a sweater for Hubs too, but I have a little fixing to do – as in, I have to unravel both sleeves and start all over again! It’s a good thing I enjoy the process so much. Here is a link to the original pattern. I sure hope I can have it done for him by Christmas!

I’m still working on my big squishy blanket from this post too. I wasn’t so happy with how one of the color blocks turned out and I didn’t decide to take it out and redo it until I was a few blocks past. Deconstructing and then reconstructing projects is always a great learning opportunity, even though it slows me down. It’s plenty big now to snuggle up with as I knit!

I also finished a pair of socks for myself, which I forgot to photograph! It’s the same style as hubby’s socks from this May post, but in my favorite yarn of all time – Paul and Carol Wagner’s Willow Series yarn. I used this yarn for most of my senior thesis and I just can’t get enough of it!

Now back to knitting! I sure have my work cut out for me!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gushings of a Most Blessed Wife

I’m sure there are lots and lots of amazing husbands throughout the world, but I really don’t think any of them can compare to mine. How can I be so blessed?! I recently read in my daily devotional that a married couple who grow together and nurture one another in their faith “will have delight, love, and joy without ceasing.” Praise God for the truth in those words!! The Lord commands husbands, “Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” What a demand! Could any greater demand be made of a man? In humility, Ryan knows that he falls far short of this demand, but strives to perfect it nonetheless, with God's help. Marriage to this man of mine has been the greatest blessing I have known, second only the great blessing of knowing Christ as my Savior.

His birthday just recently passed and it gave me the opportunity to think about just how incredible he is and how important he is to me. Hence, my gushing! I have so much respect for him and for his authority in our home, because everything he does comes from a heart devoted to God and to me.
We have so many friends and family members who have been praying for us for years now, and God hears those prayers! Please continue praying for us, and for all marriages around the world. The world needs to see God’s love, and marriage is one of His institutions in which His love grows and thrives!

Ryan ran the Chicago Marathon a few days ago and did so well! His parents came down for the event and were able to spend the whole weekend with us! We had such a great time chasing him around Chicago and cheering him on. 
Waiting for the race to start in the early morning light
The start of the race on the Michigan Ave. bridge
Proud Mom, patiently waiting for her son at the 26th mile
Climbing the last hill! 0.2 miles to go!
He finished the race in three hours and twenty minutes! That’s almost qualifying for Boston! The top 6% is not bad for his first marathon race.

His ability to balance his priorities has always been amazing to me. I have learned a lot from him! I guess he needs something as physically strenuous as a marathon to balance the mental strain of law school!

The Lord continues to bless our lives here in Chicago. Praise God! 

Monday, October 15, 2012


While I was at work a couple days ago, I got a text message from my husband saying, “Be nice to kitty and my new friend when you get home ;)”

“New friend?” I replied. “Oh boy, what am I going to find when I get home?” We had been talking about getting a fish so maybe he just went ahead and picked one up. 

Wrong. Not even close actually. Instead I found a squirrel named Tiger. What the heck? What was my husband thinking? His wisdom is always a little beyond me :)

This little guy climbed a brick wall five stories high where he caught Theseus’s attention on our porch. Hubby opened our screen door and Theseus jumped out and chased him inside. He literally hung out on our screen door for quite a while, where he was supplied with bread and water. Maybe this could be kitty’s new friend!
Theseus is hiding behind the pillow :)
When Hubs opened the door a bit to see what Theseus would do, Tiger jumped into our apartment, where he was chased into our bathroom by a feisty grey cat. Eek!
Hubby is trying to feed the little guy :)
He's petting Tiger with the towel! 
Kitty looks very interested
We let him hang out for a while since Theseus seemed to quite like having some company. Sometimes when ridiculous things like this happen, it really is just best to go with the flow. Okay cool, there is a wild squirrel named Tiger living in our bathroom. Once dinner-time came though, it really was time to go. We tried to pull him down so we could release him back into the wild, but he squirmed away and fell into the bathtub. Did we really think we could loosen this guy's grip without being stabbed by his giant claws? Not really. He jumped out of the tub and hid behind our sink and found a jungle gym of pipes and a safe haven inside of the pedestal section of our sink. Uh-oh. Now how were we going to get him out?! Bad Tiger!
We spent a good portion of the night devising creative ways to get him out of there and he finally came out and ran right toward the window he come in. Hooray! In all of his haste, he bumped into the partially closed sliding glass door and re-routed himself to the kitchen where he found a hole leading directly underneath our cabinets. Aw Man! Why would anyone leave a hole that led underneath our cabinets?! Again we (including Thesie!) tried to lure him out before we went to sleep for the night. To make an hours-long story short, he finally found his way out and we all slept soundly that night. 

We learned that we are more effective at getting rid of squirrels peacefully than the 24-7 pest removal company that apparently doesn't answer calls after 11pm. We also learned that squirrels have a very wide range of vocalizations, one of which sounds like an "old man fart" according to the expert in the matter...ehem (that would be my male counterpart). 

What a goofy adventure! It wasn't exactly convenient to spend almost our entire night trying to remove this rodent, but it was pretty funny. Thankfully no animals or humans were injured in the making of this production. A note to the wise: even the best-behaved squirrels do not make good pets for cats. They poop all over and don’t take direction very well  :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Summer to Fall

Tonight our apartment smells like what I think autumn might smell like in Heaven. The bedroom and bathroom smell clean and cozy like laundry and the living room and kitchen smell like homemade applesauce! I love the transition from summer to fall in the Midwest. As soon as the temperature drops below 70 degrees, I’m ready to go with my hot tea and knitting. Staying cozy in the kitchen with the summer harvest has been a treat too! Where did summer go though?! For us, the last half of it was crazy busy and SO much fun!

Mid-August, we moved to a new apartment, not far from our old one. It’s a huge upgrade for us! We have a beautiful view, balconies, and great natural light now! We have more room too! Last weekend, the Pastor who married us, along with his new Worship Coordinator stayed at our apartment while they were in town for a conference and they both fit in our apartment very nicely! There was room for one to sleep on the pullout couch, and the other to sleep on a very nice bed of blankets on the floor. Serious upgrade! You know what this means… Come visit!!

The weekend before we moved, we took a road trip up to Wisconsin to celebrate the long-awaited marriage of Ryan’s sister to her high school sweetheart, and the most blessed marriage of my very good friend to the love of her life. We stopped in Beloit to see my dear Destanie and share a cup of coffee too!
The beautiful bride and me, pre-ceremony! Photo courtesy of the lovely Katie Strommen
Tying the knot!
What a joyful day with our family!
The next weekend (just after we moved) we hopped on a plane and jetted to Seattle for another wedding! Ryan’s childhood friend married his Dreamboat Annie (he’s in the Navy, she’s in the Coast Guard!) and 8 of their other long-time friends made the trip to celebrate too. We all rented a house together and had such a blast. We went sightseeing every day and we partied every night.  Here’s a quick recap in photos:
The beautiful Pike Place Market is known for its fresh fish, gorgeous flowers, and the first Starbucks
Beach Party!!
Hubs and I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island to visit Churchmouse, one of the best yarn shops in the country!!
We went out for ice cream for my birthday!!
Space Needle!!
The view from the top was so beautiful - city skyline, mountains, water - what more could you want?!
Of course we had to visit the Boeing Museum of Flight!
We got to sit in the cockpit of a SR71 Blackbird, the fastest jet aircraft ever built, used by the US Air Force!
The wedding was on a boat in the Puget Sound, with the Seattle skyline set as the backdrop!
The crew :)
What a magical setting for  a wedding!
After all of the excitement of August, we have been finding our normal pace this month. Hubs started school the day after we got back from Seattle! Talk about an abrupt end to summer! He’s also getting ready for the Chicago Marathon next weekend!! We’re so excited for his first marathon race.  I LOVE watching him race but I always want to give him a big hug at the end of it! NOT a good idea to squeeze someone who is out of breath and on the verge of throwing up!  If you think of us, cheer him on Sunday morning!!

Today is my first anniversary at Target! I’m so blessed to be able to say that I’m really starting to get the hang of things at work. This has allowed me to relax so much more when I get home, and I’ve been taking the opportunity to get creative!

On the textile front, I’ve been making silly little projects that aren’t really good for anything other than being a creative outlet, in addition to working on a giant blanket for our living room, and a sweater for hubby!! He has wanted a sweater for a while, but he most definitely had to be a husband before he could receive such an investment. In fact, making a sweater for a boyfriend is known to be a sure way to get rid of him! Among knitters anyway, this is quite common knowledge. Anyway, photos of those projects will be coming shortly.

I’ve been having lots of fun in the kitchen lately too! There is a Farmer’s Market just a block away that happens to occur every week on my day off! What luck! I’m so thankful to have access to the summer harvest, even if it is not by the sweat of my own brow :)

I found this beautiful kale and thought I should jump on the kale chip bandwagon.
As long as I was there, I thought I’d make some beet chips too! Aren’t they beautiful?
Last week, I made tomato soup and potato leek soup! Tonight I made possibly the best applesauce I’ve ever had! I added a few cardamom pods to the simmering apples and they added such a deep earthy, spicy flavor to it. It really feels like fall now!

We have been so incredibly blessed! While we certainly face our share of challenges, our life is undoubtedly one of joy and blessings. Thank you for sharing in our joy!