08 October 2018

Bookworm Book Review: Follow the River


It sure has been a while since our last visit. Almost a year, in fact.

It's not that I have forgotten about you. I would have fleeting thoughts every now and then about writing something, but then I'd forget before I actually sat down and did anything, and the cycle repeated a couple of months later.

Then, today, something awesome happened. You know how just about everyone says they do their best thinking in the shower? Well, that's not me... until today. Although, I wouldn't call what happened 'thinking.' It was more of a mild epiphany.

There I was, taking a quick shower after the gym, and I was thinking about how I wanted to wrap up in a blanket and read all night. Then it hit me-- you should write book reviews about the books you're reading!

You see, I have this laundry list of books that I've been meaning to read, and only recently did I actually start getting into it. I absolutely love reading, but it's hard to find the down time to do it. But, I just decided that I would grab a book and take it with me everywhere I go, and every time I had a few spare minutes, I would read.

So, that's what I did.

And here I am! I've been reading some pretty great books, and I want to share them all with you as I finish them. Now, although I write just about every day at work, I have never done a book review. Like ever. So, don't set your expectations too high as I figure out how to do this. And keep in mind that these reviews are by no means professional or endorsed. It's simply me blurting out my thoughts about these books I'm reading.

So, without further ado, let's get started!

Book #1
Follow the River, by James Alexander Thom 

The story of Follow the River takes you on the terrifying and courageous journey of a woman who was captured by Shawnee Indians in 1755 and later escaped. Based on a true story, James Alexander Thom worked with the ancestors of the heroin, Mary Ingles, and traveled part of Mary's trail to provide a realistic portrayal of what Mary experienced. And, let me tell you, it is fascinating.

This book spares to time before jumping into the story. While the entire book is a captivating story and excellent history lesson, I must warn you that it can get quite graphic. Thom begins the story by jumping into the Shawnee's attack right in the first chapter... and he gets quite detailed about how some of the settlers were killed.

I'm not going to lie- as I read this first chapter, I wondered if I'd be able to make it through this book. I even put it away for a few days because I just felt icky about the incredible imagery that Thom provides. Eventually, though, I picked the book back up and kept reading. That first chapter is by far the most graphic, and there are only a few short instances throughout the rest of book where Thom gets a little extra descriptive.

Now, my goal is to not give anything away in case you choose to go read the book yourself. But, in a nutshell, about half of the story talks of Mary's capture and journey back to the Shawnee village, where she stays for a short time. The other half of the book talks of her escape and journey through one thousand miles of wilderness in early winter as she tries to find her way back home.

As I read this book, and as I reflect on the story, I am simply in awe of this woman. I've often wondered if I would have made it as an early colonist or pioneer. I don't think I would have. Yet here was this woman, captured only a few days before giving birth to her third child, who faced her worst nightmare yet still resolved to be the source of strength for the small band of prisoners. How she did it, I don't know, but it truly is amazing.

During the story, every ounce of Mary's emotions are twisted and torn apart. She faces the death of loved ones and friends. She faces the constant terror of upsetting her captors to the point where they would harm her, or worse, her children. She faces the struggle of being spared harm because of the Indian chief's favor towards her yet being despised by her fellow prisoners because of it. She faces the conflict of occasionally seeing the Indian chief as an actual human being instead of the man who ordered the massacre of her village. She faces and clings to the hope that her husband was not found during the attack, and the fact that she is coming back him. She faces the mental struggle of wanting to die because of physical pain and starvation, yet persuading herself to keep going one more night. She faces the life-crushing anxiety of wondering if she went the wrong way. She faces the degradation of being sold as property and the fear that her new owner would try to force himself upon her. She faces the agonizing separation from her children. She faces the terror of fighting for her life with the one she most trusted in her time of need. She faces the indescribable relief that comes from finding her way back home. She faces the uncomfortable reunion with her husband as a woman who no longer looks like the one he married.

I have never once faced anything even remotely close to what Mary Ingles faced so many years ago, but Thom's portrays her thoughts and journey with such skill that you can empathize and almost feel all that this woman feels throughout her incredible journey.

If you are looking for an inspiring tale of courage, heartache, and survival, Follow the River is it.

02 October 2017

An Air of Mystery

Well hey, there.

I know I’ve been MIA for the last several months, and although this is not really an excuse, life has been incredibly busy for the last little bit, and I kind of forgot about this whole blog thing. Then, last month, I remembered! But I forgot to post in time. 

Anywho, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

This month is Halloween month!! In all reality, Halloween is the only thing I associate with October – well, that and the birthdays of my adorable niece and my husband’s nephew. All wonderful things! One other thing I love about October is the sudden and almost tangible feel of mystery that floats in the air. 

While thinking about this season and how my husband and I are going to be more festive this year, I started feeling a little nostalgic. There are some pretty great Halloweeny and mysterious things out there that I have enjoyed throughout my life and have come to love.

So, to help you prepare for the up-coming candy feast, I’m going to share some of my Halloween favorites:

For the Kiddos

Both of these books are so good!! My mom would always pull these out around Halloween, and we couldn’t get enough of them. They are quick, fun reads for any kid, bringing both mystery and humor with them.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

For the adults, here’s something to chill your bones. While this poem takes place in December, it definitely fits the air of mystery that comes with October. ‘Tis “The Raven” by the literary genius himself, Edgar Allen Poe.

If this one isn’t enough for you, perhaps “The Tell-TaleHeart” will get you stirring. 

For those looking for a bit longer of a piece to get you through the Halloween weekend, try “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Shake Dem Bones

October and Halloween isn’t complete without a playlist of spooky songs. These are just a few of my favorites that I pull out just for this month:

Trick or Treat Yo Self

Get in the Halloween and mystery spirit this season with some hilarious and classic Halloween films. Seriously guys, these movies are a treat!! Sure, they’re all in black and white, but that makes them all the better. You’ve got Frankenstein and a guy who looks like Boris Karloff, a werewolf, Dracula, Teddy Roosevelt, and a quirky reporter who finds a haunted organ.

Okay, this may sound like a random hodge-podge of things, but just trust me when I tell you these movies are worth your time.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

There ya go; here’s everything you need to get started for this October. As Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.” While my friend may have been talking about the mystery of science, discovery, and the unknown in the world around us, it certainly applies here. Any sense of mystery brings with it a slight air of wonder and magic.

Of course, mystery typically results in us getting a little jumpy or frightened, but that’s just because we’ve made it that way. There’s a great sense of adventure in going out and discovering what is around us, what is out there that we can’t see or can’t comprehend.

By definition, mystery means “something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.” The idea of not knowing allows our imagination to run wild, and in a world where everything and everyone is so exposed, we need to keep an air of mystery.


22 April 2017

Springing Into Something New

So, I recently completed my college studies and I have slowly been adjusting to my new life as a free woman. This is the first time in my life where I can literally do anything I want without feeling guilty about not doing school work, and I am not entirely sure what to do with myself! My husband is amazing and suggested that I try a lot of new things, or things I've wanted to do but couldn't because I was preoccupied with school.  Not only did this seem like a great idea, but it worked out that I could start this adventure just as spring was coming on. 

Just as the Earth comes back to life in the springtime, I kind of feel like my life is coming back to life. To help discover what I really like to do and to spend my days doing what I want, I created a 30 Day Bucket List. There are not 30 things on my list, but there is a list of things that I will accomplish within 30 days. My list includes a few things that I will do during the entire 30 days, a few things that I will do for a week, and then single items that I can do in a day. 

So, to introduce my 30 Day Bucket List and to welcome spring back into our lives, here is an item from my bucket list: a lovely and modern floral arrangement to bring life to any room. 

To make this beautiful and simple floral display, you will need: 

- floral stems of your choice (I chose sunflowers)
- a paper bag (brown, black, or white)
- sheers to trim the floral stems 
- a mason jar or similar-sized jar
- glass gems to help hold the stems in place, if needed

First, put some water and some plant food in your jar.  Then trim your stems to your desired length and put them in your vase. If needed, add some glass gems to keep your stems in place. I had to do this with the sunflowers because the stems are so thick, the flowers are heavy, and there weren't enough flowers to fill the vase. The gems worked really well, though, so I would recommend using them if you don't have a lot of flowers and/or you want to keep your stems in a specific arrangement. 

Next, open your paper bag and roll down the edges to your desired height. I rolled mine three times so that the top of the paper bag was only slightly taller than the top of my vase. Then simply place your vase with the flowers inside of your paper bag.

 To add a little more flare, I used our label maker and added a label to the paper bag. I simply labeled the bag with 'flowers' but you can label yours however you want. I think this arrangement looks so great even without the label, but the label just seemed to be the cherry on top.  

This arrangement is so easy and simple, but it adds such a beautiful touch of spring to any room. I am excited about this new 30 day adventure, and I will be sure to include some updates of some of my favorite crafts and activities. I hope y'all take some time to spring into something new that will make you feel alive, especially during this time of year where the Earth is all about new beginnings. 

xo, Kate 

10 April 2017

Hoppy Easter, Everybunny

I hope you enjoy my Easter-related bunny puns, because this post is all about bunny crafts for Easter. When spring comes around, I can't help but think about Easter - and the combined seasons make it easy to decorate your house. So if you want an easy but adorable spring craft that you can make on your own or with your kiddos then keep on reading because today, we are making pom-pom bunnies!

So, before you get started, here's what you will need:

  • Yarn in the colors you want for your bunny (I used cream, light grey, and dark grey) (also, the dark grey and cream were chunky, and the light grey was normal thickness)
  • Scissors
  • Pom pom makers
  • Felt for the ears (colors to match the yarn, as well as pink for the inner ear)
  • Thin yarn or embroidery thread for the eyes and nose (I used black and pink)
  • Hot glue gun

Okay, so here are my instructions on how to use the pom pom makers. I bought this set from Hobby Lobby, and they worked pretty well. This set has four sizes, and for the larger bunny, I used sizes 2 and 4, and then used the smallest size (size 1) for the tail). 

First, make the head. Set up the pom pom makers like the picture below, then stack them together. 

Wrap your yarn around your pom pom maker. Wrap the yarn so that it covers all of the pom pom maker, and use the same strand of yarn to wrap around both halves of the pom pom maker. 

When you are done wrapping the yarn around the pom pom maker, then put the two halves together to form a circle and use the clasps to keep the pieces together. Then use your scissors to cut along the space between the two plastic pieces. 

This is what your pom pom will look like after you cut around the circle. 

To finish off your pom pom, take a strand of yarn and lay it in the gap between the two plastic pieces, like in the picture below. Wrap the strand all the way around the circle, and then tie a knot - be sure the knot is very tight, since this is what will be keeping your pom pom together. Once you have tied your knot, then remove the plastic pieces and you will see how the yarn is in a little pom pom. To finish it off, use your scissors to trim the pom pom to the desired size. 

So now you have your bunny head! Now time for the body. If you want your bunny to have a little white tummy, then follow the directions below. If not, then simply make the body with a single color, using the largest sized pom pom maker.  To make a white tummy, put the two pieces of the pom pom maker together, and wrap the cream yarn around the center of one of the halves, making a V shape with the yarn. Go ahead and make it pretty thick too - no need to do one layer. 

After you finish with the cream yarn, use the same yarn you used for the head to wrap around the rest of the pom pom maker. Then cut along the gap between the two pieces and tie off your pom pom with another strand. Finish it off by trimming your pom pom to an appropriate size to fit the bunny head. If you want the bunny to sit flat on a shelf or something, then trim one edge shorter and with straight cuts rather than making it rounded. That side will be the bottom and allow the pom pom to sit flat. 

Finally, make the bunny tail. I used the smallest size of the pom pom maker with the cream yarn. Follow the same instructions as the head. When trimming the pom pom, trim half of it to be flat so that it will sit against the body easily. 

If you want ears and a nose on your bunny, then go ahead and do it now. I did black eyes on one of my bunnies, but then realized that it wasn't very noticeable, so for the other ones, I did not make eyes. For the eyes and noses, simply loop your yarn or thread through a needle and tie a knot on the other end. Thread it through the entire pom pom, and make an 'X' or a circle on the face side. For the nose, thread your pink yarn and make an 'X' or a 'T' with the yarn on the face side. When you're done making the eyes and/or noses, just pull the thread to the back of the pom pom and cut it. 

Once you have all of your pom poms, use your hot glue gun to attach the head and tail to the body. 

Now it's time to make the ears! I didn't use a pattern for this but just judged the size based on the size of the head. My first two bunnies were larger, with the dark grey, and my ears ended up being a little oversized, so I would say that you should make the ears smaller than you would expect. Use your grey felt to make the ear in a color that matches the yarn, and then make a pink piece that is slightly smaller than the outer ear size. Use your hot glue to glue the pink onto the grey. Then, if you want, glue the left and right edges together at the base of the ears to make the ears more rounded than flat. 

Once your glue is dry, then glue the ears onto the pom pom head, and your bunny is done! Again, my ears were a little oversized, but the bunnies still ended up being super cute. After I made two large, dark grey bunnies, I made a smaller light grey one. Now I have some adorable, fuzzy little bunnies around the house just in time for spring and Easter. 

Happy Easter, everyone! 
xo, Kate

23 March 2017


Hey y'all - I'm back and I have a new project that I tried this week! For those of you who may not have noticed, macramé is making a HUGE comeback and it is amazing. My sister-in-law Tasmin and I have been obsessing over this for quite some time now. I mean, just look at how beautiful and versatile macramé can be!!! 

 (all of these photos were found by doing a Google search)

(also, for any of you that are interested in macrame and want to see more beautiful options, 
follow my weaving Pinterest board, or just follow me on Pinterest in general!) 

For Christmas, Tasmin gave me this macramé book and this macramé cord so I could actually make my own wall hangings and other beautiful projects she knows me so well. So after I finished my gemstone soap, I knew my next project had to be a macramé wall hanging. Here is what I used for my project:

Macramé Pattern Book
Wooden Dowel
Cotton Macramé cord
Twine for hanging the dowel
thumb tacks - to hang the dowel

 First, I wrapped and tied my twine around the ends of my dowel, then I hung the dowel on my wall using thumbtacks. I hung this on a spot where I knew I would not hang it permanently, but in a place where I could sit on the floor and work on the project.

Next, I cut 14 strands of cord at my desired length - for this project, each strand measured from fingertip to fingertip. Then I attached each strand to my dowel using a lark's head knot. 

Now, I did not have a specific pattern I was following for this project, which may have been a bad idea. Because I did not know really what I wanted, it took me a lot longer to finish this project than it should have. I was constantly trying new knots in different patterns and then taking them out. I wanted to try a variety of knots, but I just didn't know how I wanted this project to end up. If I had a pattern to follow, I could have easily finished in a few hours - I found most of the knots to be pretty simple. But, no matter how many times I added and removed knots, I always kept my first few rows as an alternating pattern of square knots. 

Regardless of how long it took me or how frustrated I got at not knowing what I wanted, I found the book to be very helpful. I also used some of the posts from my Pinterest board as guidance, and I also found this video to be very informative and easy to follow.  Here's a couple of tips I would suggest based on my first experience with macramé:

  • If you are making a wall hanging, try using thinner cord. I found that the cord I used was great and thick, but as you can see in the photos, it was a little difficult to make it lay flat once it had been knotted. 
  • If you want to make a hanging planter, I would definitely recommend using this cord- the thickness will work great not only for the knots but also keep it sturdy and capable of holding a heavier pot
  • When making your project, make your strands a little longer than expected. Overall, my length worked well but I had to change my desired pattern several times because a few of my strands got shorter than the rest and I was not able to continue making the same pattern I wanted. 
  • Have fun! Macramé is so versatile with knot patterns for beginners through experts - make this project your own and don't be afraid to try some more challenging knots; they may be easier than you think! 

I had such a fun time with this new project, and I am really glad I finally gave it a try! My first hanging is certainly not perfect, but I still love it. And even with taking out my pattern so many times,  I found macramé to be very relaxing. I will definitely be trying this again soon. 

What are some new project you have done recently? Tell us about your experiences with trying new things, expanding your skills, and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Until next time,
xo Kate 

20 March 2017

Seven Full Days!!!

Happy first day of spring everyone! 

Going along with the theme of this month
trying new things
I, like my sister Kate, turned to Pinterest to find inspiration

I feel like my Pinterest is not used to the fullest
I save things all the time to my boards
Edit and delete old pins from them once in a while 
to make sure that what is there is really what I want
I never really pull from it for the everyday inspiration

I thought
What better way to put my Pinterest to the test
and try something completely new
then to put myself through seven days of Pinterest. 


I chose seven different boards on my Pinterest page.

To further the test of my boards and their actual application to my real life 
I asked my husband to choose seven pins he wanted me to try out
(That way I couldn't just choose the seven easiest and most applicable :) 

So say hello to the seven pins from seven boards that my husband most wanted me to try

I give you...

One a day for the next whole week.
So stay tuned.
I will be checking back next week to let you all know how I did

and now...

Wish me luck!!
(I'm so gonna need it!!)


16 March 2017

My 20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Why, hello, again. Remember that one time last week when I told you all I was going to step out of my comfort zone and try something new? Well, guess what -- you’re going to be so proud of me -- I tried TWO new things. That’s right. Two.*

* Technically, you could say that I tried 3 new things this week, but the third one was forced upon me, and it’s not something I wanted to try. I know, now you need to know what it was. Well, to satisfy your curiosity, my husband and I have been having a lot of car trouble the last few days, one thing after another, so we have now forcibly experienced the lovely frustrations of getting our two cars repaired at the same time. Oh, what joy. But, in all reality, we have been truly blessed that things aren’t worse than they are.

Anyways, back to business.

New Thing Numero Uno: publicly displaying my art

As I mentioned last week, one of my passions and hobbies is art. Even though I’ve studied it and try to do it every day, I have this major hesitation when it comes to showing my art to other people. I don’t know why, really. Probably because I don’t want it to feel like I’m boasting  or anything like that, and, in all reality, my art is pretty average; there are plenty of people who are waaay better than me. I really just make art because I enjoy doing it, not because I want others to see it.

Well, a friend in my ward is getting ready to have her first baby --yay!-- and for her baby shower, I painted her a watercolor of this cute baby elephant and rabbit, like this:

She squealed with delight when she opened her gift and was so excited to hang it in her son’s nursery. And, she was amazed that I had painted the picture myself. To me, it was a pretty simple project; to her, it was amazing.

This last Friday, our church had a talent show, and as part of it, people could bring things to display as their talent (woodwork, published children’s books, sewing, and hand-made woodland fairy homes, to name a few). This friend I had painted the elephant for was in charge of getting people to sign up for the talent show. While talking with her one day, I asked how it was going and asked about the displaying aspect of it. Immediately, she lights up and asks, “Do you want to display something? Can I put you down for art?”

She was so excited and desperately needed more people to sign up, so I sheepishly agreed. When Friday rolled around, I took a few pieces to the talent show and set up. Here’s what I had:

Guys, most of these are super old, like high-school-projects old. A few of them are just sketches, too, things that I did for fun or for practice. But the cool thing is: no one else knew that (except my husband) :) I can’t tell you how many people came up to me throughout that night saying, “I had no idea you were an artist!” Well, I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as an artist, but to them, that’s what I was. One lady even asked if I had considered selling my art, particularly my Starry Night replica.

Guys, I cannot tell you how good it felt to hear all these comments from others. Granted, I was a little embarrassed every time someone asked me about my art or gave me compliments (that’s something I need to work on: graciously accepting compliments), but it still felt good. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not posting all this so I can get more compliments, not by a long shot. Rather, I’m posting this so you can see a simple example of how stepping outside of your comfort zone can be a good thing.

Sharing my art with others was a slightly scary and slightly more uncomfortable thing. It’s intimidating to put your work out there for others to critique, but I’ll tell you what: showing my art has helped me. It’s let me see that people really do like what I do, and if they enjoy looking at good art as much as I do, maybe I can help bring them a little of that joy through my own work. It also encouraged me to keep doing what I love, to keep my skills sharp and to develop them further.

New Thing Numero Dos: editing a book

Most of you probably don’t know this, but I studied editing in college. Yup, I’m that nerd who loves to read and who loves grammar (although I do my best not to correct people). Over the years, I’ve done a lot of editing, mostly for papers, journals, and magazine articles, but this month, I was given the offer to edit a book. I’m not going to give specifics for privacy reasons, but this opportunity is pretty great!

However, it is a little out of my comfort zone. I have never worked on a project this big, and this is my first real freelance job where I’m my own boss. It’s also intimidating because obviously I want to do a good job and have my client be pleased with my edits, but if something goes wrong, it all falls on me. That’s fine and all- it’s a part of taking responsibility and being an adult (yikes!), but it doesn’t remove the intimidation.

In short, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new. I’m trying by best, and hopefully that’s good enough. I know that trying something new and unfamiliar is scary, but it’s always worth it. And even if things don’t work out as you hoped, there is always something to learn from your experience, especially about yourself. Take a risk and live a little! Step out of the ordinary and discover yourself. You won’t regret it.

Thanks for listening 💙