Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dress Shopping with eShakti FX

This is a sponsored post.  This post may contains affiliate links. 

It's no secret that I like eShakti!  I love how they give you the ability to customize your clothes.  It's possible that I even suggested to my sister that she check out eShakti when she was looking for dresses for her wedding.  She did ultimately decide on a dress from eShakti for her bridesmaids, which was awesome because we were all able to chose a neckline, sleeve length, and overall length that best suited us individually.

The Chelsea Knit Dress has been on my wish list for a while.  I love the ease of a knit dress. Now, earlier I mentioned how I loved the ability to customize the clothes from eShakti, but they now have a new feature on their website that shows exactly how the customizations that you make will look!  This is called the eShakti FX.  When you see the little FX in the top right of an image that means that you can use this handy feature!  (Not quite all of the clothes have this option, but so many of them do!)

Here are some of the awesome customizations that you could make using my favorite, the Chelsea Knit Dress:

This shorter skirt could be really cute for a night out!

This length would work perfectly with some tall boots.

This is such a classic winter weather dress! 

Here's another great dress for winter weather!  (It's that time of the year here!)

This version (cap sleeves, boatneck, and floor length with heels) would be great for Christmas! It's so elegant!

And that's not even all the possibilities!  You really can make the dress perfect for you!  After all, you know what will work best for you!

I've just been having so much fun with the FX feature, I just have to show you a few more!

Both of the black dresses below start with the same base, the Cotton Knit Maxi Wrap Dress, but look how different they are!

Here's another great Christmas dress!  This one is the Floral Print Dupioni Belted Dress.  One dress, two very different looks!  (And there are so many more possibilities!)

I'm not sure when you'd need to order to have a dress from eShakti in time for Christmas, but I'm sure it's soon!  Even if you don't get a Christmas dress there are literally thousands of options for the rest of the year!

Which dress catches your eye?  
What options do you like?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Best Little Yarn Shops (Gift Guide) 2018

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on a link and then make a purchase I will receive a small commission. 

A few years ago I put together a Best Little Yarn Shop Gift Guide, and while much of it is still accurate, I thought I'd put together an updated version for 2018!

These are some of the Best Little Yarn Shops that I've stumbled upon.  I've personally used yarns from these shops and absolutely loved them.  You can click through to my free patterns and reviews to read more about the yarns and the shops.

Be sure to check out the shops' social media, because most of these places will be having sales for Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and just general pre-Christmas shopping!

Expression Fiber Arts
Check the specials page for the latest deals and coupons.

Kimaries Knit Knacks
My pattern: Sterling Unicorn

My Projects: Snowman Scarf

String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn
My Projects: In Threes SweaterCherry Twist Hat

The Violet Valentine

Purple Lamb

I have not finished any projects with the yarn that I purchased from Purple Lamb, but the yarn itself is absolutely lovely.  Carla, the shop owner, is a wonderful person and I found our correspondence delightful.  (Here's my box of goodies on Instagram.)

Is this an exhaustive list of the Best Little Yarn Shops out there? Of course not!  These are simply the best ones that I personally can recommend based upon my experiences with them. 

What about you?  What would you consider the Best Little Yarn Shop?  Whose yarn or customer service stood out to you this year?  Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

What Can I Do At Disney's Animal Kingdom With Little Kids and Babies?

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commision if you purchase something after clicking through the links.  The price for you is the same whether you use my links or not. 

Animal Kingdom is a fantastic park.  If I had to rank the Walt Disney World Parks, I would put it at number two, second only to Magic Kingdom (which simply has to be first!).  This park has three amazing rides, although two of them the little ones can't do: Flights of Passage (the best Disney ride, hands down), Expedition Everest (my favorite Disney coaster), and Kilimanjaro Safaris (simply an amazing animal experience).

Can I bring my little one on rides at Disney's Animal Kingdom?

Ride options for little ones at Animal Kingdom are somewhat limited.  The following rides do not have a height restriction:
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Wildlife Express Train
Since it's one of my favorite Disney things, I just have to say that the Safari is an amazing experience for the whole family.  It's not a short ride either, it lasts roughly 22 minutes and you will see a large variety of animals on the journey.  It's one of my favorite Disney experiences.  (I should note that the seats aren't particular soft and that the terrain is purposefully bumpy, so just keep that in mind.)  My Instagram account has a couple pictures of the Safari, including this one of a giraffe!


Here are some of my Amazon recommendations for Animal Kingdom: get in the Disney spirit with a fun shirt and matching socks, don't forget snacks for you and the children in a small cooler, which you can easily store in your lightweight stroller


What can't my little kids and babies ride?

Here are the rides for taller riders with their height requirements:

  • Kali River Rapids -- 38 inches
  • DINOSAUR -- 40 inches
  • Expedition Everest -- 44 inches
  • Primeval Whirl -- 48 inches
  • Avatar Flight of Passage -- 44 inches
Are the shows appropriate for all ages?

Yes!  My little ones both were mesmerized by Lion King and Nemo in particular.  These, like Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios, really are in a class above the others.

  • It's Tough to be a Bug! (Does have some some slightly scary effects -- darkness, loud noises, and fake spiders)
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo - The Musical
  • Up! A Great Bird Adventure

What characters should we see while at Animal Kingdom?

There are a couple of characters that can be seen in the "traditional" meet and greet format exclusively at Animal Kingdom.  These currently include: Dug and Russel, Timon, Pocahontas, Scrooge McDuck, and Launchpad.  Below Alexander and I were having fun with Chip and Dale during Donald's Dino-Bash!

What else is there for little kids to do at Animal Kingdom?

  • The Boneyard (playground with climbing nets and slides)
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch (closing October 2018)
  • Wilderness Explorers
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Rivers of Light (night show)
  • Animal stations

Keep in mind that things at Walt Disney World are constantly changing.  Something that might be there today might not be there tomorrow.  Something that is there today might not have been there yesterday.  If you notice something on this page that needs updating please leave me a comment.  This post was updated September 2018.

Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in this series!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

7 (plus 1) of Our (Current) Favorite Family Games

This post contains affiliate links.

We enjoy board games in our house.  A lot.  I'm not sure how many we own at this point.  There are games in the cabinet in the library, in the trunks in the living room, in the closets, and probably more that I'm forgetting about!  Family game night . . . or afternoon . . . or morning . . . is a common activity.  Both Catherine, age 8, and Dominic, age 4, enjoy all eight of these games with us.  (I should note, that while our youngest player is a mere four years old he has somewhat shockingly advanced game skills.)  Sometimes we adjust, or bend, the rules for the kids, but not always! 

1. Ticket to Ride

I'm a huge Ticket to Ride fan.  It might be a little silly, but I own the majority of the series.  The concept is simple enough for young players.  Some of the versions are a little more challenging and there's enough strategy to fully engage everyone. 

2. Ticket to Ride App

Yes, I know this is a rehash of #1; however, Dominic and I play the Ticket to Ride app almost daily so it seemed like it deserved a place of its own.  When it's just the two of us it's nice to not have to set the game board up, plus I find it easier to play while nursing, cuddling, holding, and playing with the baby.  The app is also a great way to play with far away family members.  My Dad, who lives several states away, is able to play with us!

3. Blokus

We lucked into this game at a thrift store.  The concept is simple.  It's easy to learn but (somewhat) difficult to win.

4. Spot It

My husband spotted this one at a community yard sale.  It's so much fun!  It's a quick paced game.  Do you only have three minutes?  This is the game for you!  When the kids were first learning how to play I would challenge myself by having to (silently) find their match before finding my own.

5. Splendor

In our family we've had the youngest player (while three years old) be the "gatherer" for one of the parents.  This has worked out really well for us.  Now that he's four he plays independently.  We tried giving him a handicap (extra resources at the start of the game) but then he won handedly, so that had to stop!

6. Karuba

There are a few ways to make this "addictive tile laying game" a family game for everyone.  We've played this successfully as a family for over a year now.  At first, we had the youngest player simply line up his tiles in numerical order (since every player has his own board this won't affect anyone else's game play!) 

8. Settlers of Catan

Ok, I know, it has officially been rebranded to just "Catan".  But . . . they're wrong.  If you absolutely must shorten it, then it should be "Settlers".  C'mon.  All that aside, this is simply a great family game.  We've had some shockingly tight four player games.

There's one more game that I'd like to add as a +1. It's not quite the same caliber as the above games, but we've had lots of great family fun with it!

8. Pictopia: Disney Edition

This was yet another yard sale find!  The questions are pretty easy, I would say too easy, but maybe that's just me.  (As you might have noticed, I am a bit of a Disney fan girl, as it pops up every so often her on the blog.)  The kids love being able to answer trivia questions, and it never gets too frustrating for them since so many questions are answered as a team.

What are games are your (current) family favorites?  Do you adjust the rules to make it easier for younger kids to join the fun? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Day Michaels Almost Lost Me As A Customer

This post contains affiliate links.

Just kidding.

But still.

Oh, Michaels.

Just no.

For those of you who have no idea what's going on in the above screenshot, let me explain.  I was browsing the virtual aisles of  Michael's new fabric inventory (Hancock's isn't gone folks!).  I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of moderately inexpensive Disney cotton wovens when I saw the "Star Wars" category tag.  Of course, I simply had to see what they stocked, so I clicked on it.  There was one lone fabric on the page.  A Star Trek fabric.  Trek.  Not Wars.  Sigh.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

My Library Bag #6

This post contains affiliate links.
Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

We read.  We read a lot.  I haven't done one of these Our Library Bag posts in a while, but it is time for another! As of this moment I have 77 books, and one DVD, checked out on my library card.  Here's a sampling of what is in our bag this week!

100 Cupboards Book Cover

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson
This is one of current read alouds.  I'm not sure who's enjoying this book more, Catherine or me.  Mysterious.  Intriguing.  Engaging.  It's really well written and I'm absolutely loving it.

Since I am enjoying this book so much I decided that it would be the focus of my questions for the "What Are You Reading Wednesday" link up.

Why did you decide to pick up this book - cover or content?  Well, I'm going to be un-original here.  Remember last week, when I said I was reading The False Prince based on a Read Aloud Revival recommendation?  Well . . . this was another one of Sarah's picks.  I suppose that means content?

Who is your favorite character so far, and why?  I'm going for the obvious answer here, Henry.  At this point, it is his story and everyone else just isn't fleshed out enough.  (Uncle Frank gives me some pause though, he seems like he's a lot deeper than we might expect.  I'm really hoping to see that developed!)  However, Catherine says that Henrietta is her favorite because she's a girl and in on the action.

Will you finish this one?  Of course.  And judging from what we've read so far, we will also pick up the rest of the series.

Finish the sentence: This book reminds me of... Right now?  I am seeing echoes of Narnia: the mystery behind closed doors.

What type of read is this one? A great read aloud!

The False Prince Book Cover

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Such a great read.  I really enjoyed this one.  I can't wait to get my hands on the next book! (This is the book I mentioned in WIPS: Yarn and Books.)  I have a feeling this series will get a blog post all of its own once I'm finished!

17th Suspect Book Cover

17th Suspect by James Patterson
Well, there's not much to say here.  It's the next book in a long line of unoriginal-just-barely-interesting enough crime mysteries.  But for some reason I keep picking them up.  I liken these books to the multitude of CSI: Name Your City available on TV these days: mildly entertaining and easily accessible.  There's also the fact that these are page turners.  I mean, quite literally, page turners.  With huge margins, extremely short chapters, and generous spacing there are barely any words on a page!

Talking As Fast As I Can book cover

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham
What can I say?  I'm a Gilmore Girls fan.  Haven't finished it yet . . . however, thus far the overall feel of the book is exactly as it should be, or at least what I want as a GG fan girl.  It just feels like Lorelai.

A young boy, wearing a red shirt with dinosaurs, is reading a picture book called Dick and Jane.

The Ultimate Dick and Jane Storybook Collection
Dominic has enthusiastically been reading this book aloud to anyone who will listen for the past week or two.  He has read every page on his own.  I'm so proud of him!

A baby is crawling among a variety of books, including Optical Physics for Babies, Quantum Entanglement for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies, Newtonian Physics for Babies, and General Relativity for Babies.

General Relativity for Babies (etc.) by Chris Ferrie
When I stumbled across the books, not just this one, but ALL of them, quite by accident, at the library I was super excited.  I don't generally borrow board books from the library but these quickly made their way into my bag.  (Although, they seem brand new, we might be the first people to check them out.) In a nutshell, they are totally awesome.  I highly recommend them!

A girl with a wide grin is holding two books: Lea Dives In and Mr. Popper's Penguins.

Lea Dives In by Lisa Yee
Catherine wanted to include this book as a notable read for this week.  She really enjoyed it.  I knew she did, since it was started and finished in less than 24 hours.

Mr. Popper's Penguins Richard Atwater
Technically, this isn't a library bag book.  I picked this up (for FREE!) from a homeschool curriculum swap.  It's a hilarious classic and I'm happy to add it to our shelves.  And again, Catherine devoured it.  I loved that she would read the amusing bits aloud to the family.

I think that's enough for now!  I hope that you find some time to cuddle up with a good book this week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

WIPS: Yarn and Books

This post contains affiliate links. 

What's a WIP?  It's short for "Work in Progress".  It is frequently used in the knitting and crochet world to refer to an unfinished project.

I'm knitting a crescent shawl.  It's a delightfully mindless knit.  I mean this in a good way.  Sometimes I just want to create and yet have no little grey cells to dedicate to the project.  (Yep, that's a Poirot reference.)  I'll share the super simple pattern once I'm finished.

Of course, there are more than a few other works in progress languishing in my craft room.  My Dragon Blanket is getting so close to the end, but I put it away for a while to focus on some "quick and done" projects.  As for finished projects, I did crochet a backpack and knit a hat.

I got a little ambitious at the library this week.  We shall see how many of the 17 books that are checked out for me will be finished before they're due.  (The kids are set for the week too, I have 73 items checked out right now . . .)  The Baby is at that stage where he wants to eat my books and becomes singularly focused on that task, making reading slightly more difficult than normal.

I am currently reading The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

I'm going to link up over at Marissa Writes, so here are the required questions and answers!

Why did you decide to pick up this book? 

Because it was recommended by Sarah of Read Aloud Revival.  I'm a sucker for good YA lit and I've enjoyed about 95% of the books that she has recommended in the past . . . I figured chances were good that I'd enjoy this book.

Who is your favorite character so far, and why?

Sage is the obvious choice.  He's scrappy, honest in his own way, and while completely imperfect you can't quite help but cheer for him.

Will you finish this one?


Finish the sentence: This book reminds me of . . . 

Well, at this point it reminds me of The Thief; however, I'm enjoying this book quite a bit more than that book.  (I struggled a little to really get immersed in The Thief.)

What type of read is this one?

If I didn't have responsibilities I think this is the type of book I would read cover to cover in a day.  Alas, I do have responsibilities (and I'm quite thankful for them!), so it's taking a little longer.  It is an enjoyable read.  At my library it's shelved with the juvenile fiction, but it doesn't feel childish.

Speaking of responsibilities, that's all for now, folks!  How about you, what are you reading or creating right now?

You can find where I link up here

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Sale on The Read Aloud Family (Time Sensitive)

This post contains affiliate links.

The Read-Aloud Family is on sale this weekend! The Kindle version is $2.99, regular price is $16.99. 

I've been a big fan of the author, Sarah Mackenzie, since the first time I stumbled upon her blog, Read Aloud Revival.  Reading is a way of life in our house.  We've personally loved her book lists, her podcasts, and her author interviews so while I haven't read this book . . . yet . . . I can only imagine that it will be filled with good things. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Watermelon Hat: A Free Knitting Pattern

I received the yarn for this project in exchange for my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after clicking on one of these links I might receive a small commission. This is no way affects the price that you pay.

A girl is wearing a pink, green, and white hat with black beads.

This gorgeous yarn is from Love Knitting.  This fun Watermelon Hat was knitted using MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran in Shocking Pink and Emerald Green.  This yarn is so soft and squishy!  It's such a fun cozy yarn.  Each ball has 87 delicious yards of yarn.  It can be machine washed, but don't put it in the dryer, it needs to dry flat!  There is lovely stitch definition and it was a pleasure to knit.  I'd absolutely love to work with it again!

(I must say though, that while I loved knitting the yarn, trying to get a good picture of the pink, was, well, shockingly difficult!)

This is a close up shot of the hat brim.  The watermelon theme is carried out with the use of color.

The Free Knitting Pattern

Begin knitting this hat with size 5.5 circular knitting needles.  I knit the entire hat on circular needles using the magic loop technique.

With GREEN yarn. 
Cast on 80.  Join, being super careful not to twist.  I used the crochet hook cast on method, I really like the look and I'm super comfortable with a crochet hook!

Work a rib knit for about one inch, I had six rows.  I used a K1P1 rib knit, but you could use a K2P2 rib knit, whichever you prefer.

With white yarn.

Knit around.

Switch to size 6 circular knitting needles.

With Pink Yarn

Before knitting with the pink yarn you must add your "seeds".  When choosing your beads be sure that they will easily string onto the yarn.  I used some black beads, very much like these beads, from my craft hoard.  Use my yarn threading tip to make it easier and then thread on about 100 beads.  You will need to continually push the beads down towards the ball of yarn while you're knitting.  If you find this tiresome you could sew the beads on individually after you've finished knitting.  I randomly allowed the beads to be worked in.

Knit around.  Continue until hat reaches about four and a half inches high.  For reference, I knit 21 rows in pink before my first decrease row.

Round 1: *Knit 20 Stitches. Place stitch marker* four times around to end of round.
Round 2: *K1, K2tog, Knit to two stitches before next marker, SSK* four times around.
Repeat round 2 until there are 16 stitches remaining.
Round 3: K2tog around.
Break yarn and weave it through the remaining 8 stitches.  Finish off!


A note about the sizing of this hat.  My lovely daughter modeled this hat for me.  As you can see it fits her comfortably with just a slight amount of slouch.  The hat also fits me quite well.  Her head circumference is about 21 inches and mine is 22 inches.  

A smiling girl is wearing a knitted watermelon hat.