Monthly Archives: January 2015

Book Review: Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein

As regular readers of this blog know, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to become a better knitter.  While I have been taking private lessons from a friend of the family, she lives over an hour away, and it’s not exactly feasible for me to call her up at midnight on a Wednesday and say, “Hey, I’m kind of in the mood to start a new project…ya busy?”

Luckily for me, I was recently introduced to the book Knitting Block by Block: 150 Blocks for Sweaters, Scarves, Bags, Toys, Afghans and More by Nicky Epstein.  Knitting designer Epstein’s approach is to create a variety of smaller blocks that will eventually create one larger project!  Maybe I like this approach because it reminds me of quilting, but regardless, it’s a much more manageable way to knit!
Epstein’s book gives meticulous instructions on how to create each block.  There are ones that are more traditional, like a Basketweave Block, some that are very pretty, like the Cameo Frame Block, and then some that are just plain awesome, like the T-Rex Block and the Panda Block.
If the multitude of block options weren’t enough, Epstein also gives ideas for how to combine the blocks to make gorgeous knitted creations.  I’m especially excited to make the “Scarfosaurus” (I’m sure you can imagine which block that includes)!
So, if you are ready to learn to knit or take your knitting the next level, be sure to pick up Knitting Block by Block!
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.


What Went Well: January Edition

I’m so glad that Macy came up with the idea to start a link-up for things that went well each month.  In a world where it seems as though all anyone does is complain, it’s great to take a moment, step back and think about the good things that have happened each month.

So, what went well for me this month?

1. Boyfriend and I strapped on our muscles (both brainy and brawny ones) and put together my mom’s longarm machine.  If you don’t know what that is, Boyfriend calls it Mom’s “quilting robot.”  Basically, it’s a machine that allows you to quilt the front, middle and back of your quilt together by rolling it up onto bars and using a type of video game-esque controller to create quilted designs onto the fabric.  It looks like this:

2. I was finally able to get together for brunch with my best friend from college and her adorable one year-old little boy.  While it isn’t the easiest to talk and entertain a baby at the same time, I didn’t mind because I was just so happy to get to see them.  And eat lots of bacon and chocolate chip pancakes.
3. I accompanied my mom and her friend to New York City!  While they went to a conference, I shopped, ate delicious cookies form Levain Bakery, and got to see Seth Meyers rehearse his monologue!!
4. Mom and I attended our first book club meeting.  Mom hosted that meeting, and we made sure that it was the perfect combination of fancy and homey.  I ended up going home with a lot of leftovers, and Boyfriend was happy to gobble them up.
5. Mom’s birthday was a success!  We went out for crepes, and I got her a kitchen tool that will help her make chopped salads.  I also made her a finger-knitted scarf, which she said she really liked ๐Ÿ˜‰
6. The snow couldn’t keep us away from PA!  My mom and I made it up to Denver, Pennsylvania to our favorite quilt shop in order to stock up on fabrics.  I got enough to make one queen-size quilt in tropical colors, but my mom definitely got enough fabric for 3 quilts teeheehee.
What went well in January for you?
I linked up with Macy for

Fridays Favorites!

Another week is wrapping up (woohoo, y’all!)!  Here are some of the things that I have especially liked this week:

Favorite song this week:

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

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Favorite Binge-Watches of the Week:

Children’s Hospital

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Dance Moms

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Favorite Quote from a Blog (from Sold Out Arenas):
Favorite Quotes about my Dogs:
“Emmy sounds like a police siren” and “If you want him to fall asleep, you need to pet Linus and give him compliments”
–Both quotes said by Boyfriend
Favorite Book Quote of the Week:
“Wake me if we’re about to die”–Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Favorite Podcast of the Week:

This is Criminal

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Favorite Piece of Trivia:

“Jake from State Farm” actually works at State Farm, and his name is actually Jake.
Favorite Hilarious Valentines:

Image via Etsy
Because, as you know…
Image via Kaleidoscope

I linked up for Friday Favorites with:
Meet @ the Barre

Farewell to Parenthood

I know that this blog is supposed to be all about things that I like and I really really do NOT like saying good-bye to Parenthood.  ๐Ÿ™  However, since this has become one of the best shows that I’ve ever watched (i.e. I “liked” it), I feel that I should share with you some of the things that made the show so incredible.

First of all, there’s the World’s Greatest Couple–Joel and Julia.  Everyone take a moment to bask in their amazingness:

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This couple definitely has gone through more than their fair share of hardships.  From having a daughter who is pretty bratty (hey, not everything about the show can be perfect) to losing the baby they were trying to adopt, this couple has been dealt a rough hand.  Even though they are so loving, they almost lost it all.  Luckily, as they are the World’s Greatest, they figured out that love conquers all, even if it means occasionally having to fight in the car instead of in front of the kids.
Then there’s Adam:
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Adam could win Father of the Year, hands down.  He worked through his eldest daughter’s lies while she was in high school and found a way to send her to an ivy league school, despite having just lost his job.  His son has Aspergers, and he and his wife worked to get him a bully-free education.  And most of all, he manned the helm when his wife was battling breast cancer.  Oh and he says stuff like this:
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And finally, there’s Zeek (or “Coach”, as I like to call him):
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Early on in the series, Zeek wasn’t the most likable character.  But it didn’t take long for me (and I assume the rest of the Parenthood watchers) to adore him.  He gives acting a try and doesn’t shy away from doing a commercial about, um, needing a little help in the bedroom area.  He suffers through some health issues, and in the end, he knows that the best way to spend your remaining days is with your family.
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So what will I do now that the show is ending??  Does anyone have any words of solace for me????
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Thanks, Zeek.  You’re always there for me.

Wedding Wednesday: Annie and Brian

When I was a kid, my favorite favorite favorite movie was Father of the Bride.  I can even remember being in Spanish class in 10th grade and were supposed to tell our favorite movies, but as I was paired up with a cute guy, I thought it would be too girly to say “El Padre de la Novia.”  Instead I said it was Jurassic Park, and it turns out that the cute guy wasn’t a dinosaur fan (the horror!).

Anyway back to Father of the Bride:

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The movie is the story of George Banks (played by the impeccable Steve Martin) who must deal with planning the wedding and giving away his daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams-Paisley).  He does not deal very well with it, which leads to his rock bottom when he melts down in a grocery store and then is briefly arrested.
Image via The Movie Scene
But he comes to realize that he is simply having a hard time letting his daughter go.  He thinks of her as his little girl, and now he’s handing her over to another man.
Image via We Heart It
Image via New Dress a Day
Annie, in my eyes, was a dream bride.  I wanted her gorgeous dress, her gorgeous reception, and even her wedding sneakers.  I wanted a man to love me like Brian loves her, and until I got a little older, I did not think that a more perfect wedding existed (although now that I look at the HUGE bow in the back, I question my 10 year-old self).
Image via Zuri Zone
I’m linking up with Macy and Meg for 

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books That I’d Like My Book Club to Read

So last week, I attended the first meeting of my book club, and we read Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  When we were trying to choose our next month’s selection (which is The Children Act by Ian McEwan), I found out that the book club tries to read selections that are slightly more intellectual or high-brow (although I don’t know how Wild got in there, but whatevs).

Anyway, if I were in charge of the selections, here would be 10 choices that I would want for book club discussion (in no particular order):

1. Feed by M.T. Anderson

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Why I’d Choose It: I’ve already read this book before, and I found it fascinating.  I read Feed for one of my young adult literature classes in graduate school, and I thought it was an incredibly compelling science fiction story.  The thought of an internet feed basically being streamed in your mind until you run out of power is both intriguing and terrifying.
2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
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Why I’d Choose It: Again, this is a book that I have read, and it was actually suggested as next month’s book club pick, but it was shot down.  I just really want to know if anyone else has the “WHAT THE HELL?!” moment halfway through the book.
3. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
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Why I’d Choose It: I think that a book about a family coming together after the death of a parent could promote a great deal of discussion, both nostalgic and meaningful.
4. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Why I’d Choose It: I think that this book is going to be amazing, but I also think that it’s going to need a lot of discussion.  Also, I think that I’ll keep putting it off until I have an excuse to read it.  Something about the title is really daunting.
5. Matt and Ben by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers
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Why I’d Choose It:  First of all, I love Mindy Kaling.  Secondly, I think this play sounds hilarious.  Third, I’d kind of want to act it out at book club teeheehee.
6. Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film by Glenn Kurtz
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Why I’d Choose It: When I heard about this book on National Public Radio, it brought me back to my high school visit to the Holocaust Museum and the stories I heard there.  I think that it would bring about a powerful discussion.
7. Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman
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Why I’d Choose It: When my grandmother was a young woman, she thought of a “crazy” idea that suitcases should have wheels.  She could have been one of these almost famous women!
8. I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca Harrington
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Why I’d Choose It: As of right now, all of the members of my book club are women, and I’m sure that we’ve each tried a fad diet or two.  This book could only create a discussion that would leave us all laughing so hard that we would need to describe the evening with that laughing-crying-face emoji.
9. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
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Why I’d Choose It: It’s supposed to be a good book for those who like Gone Girl, so I’m hoping that it has a twist, too.
10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today by The Gang
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Why I’d Choose It: I would be SO happy to find out that the high-brow members of the book club secretly loved Always Sunny.
What would be on your list?
I linked up with The Broke and Bookish for

Memory Monday: Giants in the Sky

I’m not a fan of heights.  At all.  Example: when I was a kid, my family took a hike on the Billy Goat Trail near Washington, DC, and when we got to the parts that were near cliffs I started CRAWLING because I was too afraid to walk.

Fast forward several years to when I was 15.  For the past several months, I had been helping out with my friend’s church’s youth group, and because they were so touched by my help, they asked me to join them on their mission trip to Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  I was a little freaked out by the thought of being across the ocean from my family for 2 weeks, but I had no idea that something even scarier was on my itinerary.

Giant’s Causeway.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  Giant’s Causeway is located in Northern Ireland, and it’s made up of thousands of columns that were caused by a volcanic eruption.  It was once thought that the natural wonder was built by giants (hence the name).
Now, it’s really beautiful to look upon this amazing site, but I want you to look at how you get across the causeway:
Image via Chrystal Clear
Image via Carnival
Yeah, it’s a really skinny bridge that is super high up in the air.  Oh, and did I mention that the day we went it was rainy and windy?  Needless to say, I was opting to stay on one side of the bridge and let the others tell me what it’s like.
Lucky for me, my companions were not down with that plan.  They knew that I would regret not getting the full view of the Causeway, so we came up with a plan.  I would be the cream in an human Oreo cookie as we crossed the bridge.  One friend stood directly in front of me, and one stood directly behind.  All I could see was the backpack of the person in front of me, and I felt the secure pressure of someone pressed against my back.  Before I knew it, we were across, and I had made it!  Truth be told, I had the same panic going back, but we employed the same strategy, and obviously, I’m not living on an old volcano in Northern Ireland.
Have you ever had to face your fears when on vacation?
Link up with me for:
(click the little frog below to link up!)


Cut the Crepe!

Last week, it was my mom’s birthday, and I wanted to take her someplace new for her birthday.  Usually, we go to her favorite Indian restaurant, but this year, I thought that we should branch out.  So, for the first time, my mom had crepes!

We went to a little place in the Mt. Washington area of Baltimore called Crepe du Jour (or Crepe of the Day, if you want to feel like a true Frenchman).  Crepes are a kind of pancake-y wrap stuffed with delicious foods.   Mom had one filled with shrimp and huge pieces of crab meat.  Mom’s friend Bev’s crepe was more vegetarian with a spinach base, and mine was chock-full of ground beef, swiss cheese and scrambled eggs.

And then it was onto my favorite part of a crepe experience–the desserts!  The three of us split 2 crepes: one was the Crepe Chocolat (filled with chocolate sauce) and the other was a Crepe St. Germain (filled with caramelized apples and topped with ice cream)!

Image via The Examiner

I’d love to be able to make these delicious creations myself, but for now, I’m glad to know that there are places around me that have them!

Have you had crepes before?  What were in yours??


If The Shoe Fits and Updates!

A few years ago, one of my friends turned me onto the TOMS brand of shoes.  These very comfortable slip-on shoes also have an excellent mission in mind: every time you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, the company gives a pair to someone in a developing country that needs shoes.  Since the start of their company, TOMS now offers more varieties of shoes, sunglasses (that translate into eye exams for those in need) and other types of clothing.  But for me,  my go-to are their classic shoes.

 Image via TOMS
So here we have a cute product with a thoughtful mission…what could be better?  Ummm…decorating the shoes!
A little over a year ago, my friend’s boyfriend decorated a pair of plain TOMS for her, so that they were personalized and one of a kind!  Perhaps you’ve heard of Etsy?  Well, here are a few of my favorite decorated TOMS that I’ve seen on the crafty shop (all of these can be found on

Updates on Resolutions:
Top 9 New Year’s Resolutions

1. See All of the Movies Nominated for Academy Awards–Still have 7 to go…
2. Audition for a musical–I’m thinking about auditioning for Spring Awakening, although I would have to play one of the adults and therefore wouldn’t get to be a part of the most awesome songs
3. Blog more–you know what?  I’m going to consider this one done since I’ve been blogging MUCH more!  Resolution: Complete!
4. Visit 3 new zoos–nope
5. Finish my planned quilts–If there isn’t a snowstorm tonight, then I might be going to the quilt store tomorrow, but I won’t start a new quilt until my other one is finished.
6. See at least 2 Broadway shows–not yet, but I am super excited that Josh Radnor will be on Broadway in 2016!!!
7. Become a better knitter–Hey, I learned to finger knit and I made my mom a birthday scarf with this skill!  More knitting to come!
8. Collect all the Pokemon–It’s been a ridiculously busy week, so no Pokemon-ing for me ๐Ÿ™
9. Meet John Krasinski–If only…
Ultimate Book Challenge
1 book down!  I finished Wild!
I’m halfway through Game of Thrones, and I started my classic romance Madame Bovary.

Five on Friday: Top 5 SYTYCD Dancers

Unless you don’t own a television (which is ridiculous), you most likely have seen a reality show.  Maybe you’re a Survivor fan or you keep up with the Kardashians.  For me, the best reality shows have a competitive edge, and the best of them all is So You Think You Can Dance, which comes around each summer.  Everyone on the show is incredibly talented, but here are my top 5:

5. Neil Haskell

Image via Fan Pop
Favorite Dance: “Time” with Lacey Schwimmer, choreographed by Mia Michaels
Video via Youtube
4. Ivan Koumaev
Favorite Dance: “Why” with Allison Holker, choreographed by Tyce Diorio
Video via YouTube
3. Stephen “Twitch” Boss
Favorite Dance: Ukranian/Russian Dance, Choreographed by Youri Nelzine
Video via YouTube
2. Allison Holker
Favorite Dance: “Fix You” with Robert Roldan, choreographed by Travis Wall
Video via YouTube
1. Travis Wall
Image via Next Magazine
Favorite Dance: “Calling You” with Heidi Groskreutz, choreographed by Mia Michaels

Video via YouTube
Do you have any favorite dancers/dances from SYTYCD?  Post them in the comments as a part of: