Thursday, June 30, 2016

Yarn Crafter Mini Haul

Recently, I did a little bit of yarny online and in-store shopping! Yay!  Normally I don't do much online shopping because I enjoy the instant gratification of taking my new toys home right away.  But back when I was knitting my first hat a friend on instagram suggested I order some bamboo needles from amazon.  So I did :)

16 inch circular knitting needles, hat knitting, knitting, black girls knit

I purchased a set of 16 inch and 40 inch circular needles from amazon for less than $15 Huzzah!  Now I have no excuse not to try new and challenging projects. So far, I've started one new project with these needles and the tips were a little splintery, but that was fixed by buffing them with a nail file.

40 inch circular knitting needles, sock knitting, knitting, black girls knit

While I was waiting for the needles to come in, I decided to pick up some new sock yarn.  I purchased all three skeins from Joann's.  I can't make up my mind on which colorway I'm most excited about.  I just wish I could knit faster ^.^

yarn, sock yarn, wool free, diy socks, knitting, black girls knit

yarn, sock yarn, wool, diy socks, knitting, black girls knit

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Almost Wasn't

Today's work in progress project doesn't have a name... It came about because I had one skein of Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend yarn and I wanted to make something that would take up the whole thing. 

apartment 203 knits, ravelry, handknit, knitted hats, diy hats, handmade, knitting, yarn


So I took to Ravelry and browsed what other people had made with one ball.  I came across a "Variation on a Basic Hat" by a user called Gmax4.  I started knitting the hat and quickly got frustrated by the stiffness and wonkiness of the cord and I kept saying, "I'm gonna rip this out..."  But as you can see I didn't.

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The little lace pattern is from GmaX4's pattern, but the other mods are mine.  I did a 2x2 ribbing instead of 1x1 and my finished hat will have a total of 4 lace repeats instead of 3 as in the original hat.  I may even end up putting in more repeats because I want it to be slouchy enough to handle all my hair ^.^  Currently, I'm up to the point to add in the third lace repeat.

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First lace repeat finished.

apartment 203 knits, ravelry, handknit, knitted hats, diy hats, handmade, knitting, yarn
Second lace repeat and a bit of stockinette finished.

One thing I've really been aware of during working on this project is how much the type of needles affect the knitting.  I'm using some needles I picked up at Joann's for like $3 after my coupon.  Since I'm working the hat magic loop, I've been fighting the cable because it just wants to curl up on itself.   Then in the lace repeats I have to do k2tog (knit 2 together) and because the needle tips are so blunt, it is quite the struggle getting the needle behind two stitches at a time.  But I'm pressing through.  I'm assuming this hat will be finished within the coming week and I'll be able to add another item to my stack of hand-knits!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Garden Update: Leafy Happiness

Almost exactly 2 months ago, I wrote about the newest additions to my container garden. So far all's been well on the pesky bug front.  My green bean plant had a run in with a snail and now has some snail trail scarring along a few of the leaves, but no horrid damage.  I'm being super ultra vigilant when inspecting each plant for other pests and bugs.  Fingers crossed this batch of plants will be more fruitful than the last.

Top Row: green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers. Bottom Row: cucumbers, lavender, basil

Here is my green bean... bush... This is actually quite a few separate plants that I'm keeping in one pot together.  The one that is currently bearing, is the sole survivor of the "Green Bean Ball" ^.^  Originally, there were a bunch of surviving sprouts from that ball, but then we got a big storm and there was so much rain that most of the sprouts couldn't handle all the water.  Anywho, shortly after removing the fallen, I decided to plant the leftover seeds into the pot.  The newer sprouts are the ones around the edges.

green beans, garden beans, container garden, black girls garden too, black girls garden, diy garden, home grown

Next, we have my lavender plant.  It has grown quite a lot! My dream is to get it large enough to be able to collect and dry the leaves and make a rinse for my hair.  That would be awesome.  Plus, I've seen many recipes for lavender lemonade which would taste pretty good I think.  Summer plans maybe??

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Soo... I thought this was my bell pepper plant for the whole first month of having these sprouts ^.^ As they grew up, I kept thinking... These look a lot like cucumbers... And finally when the flower bloomed, I realized that I had mislabeled the seedlings. LOL!!! Gardener Fail!  They look like they might be struggling a bit, so I'm going to re-pot them into bigger pots and give them some new trellises to climb.  Crossing all the fingers and toes that I get my one cucumber this year!!!

cucumber, container garden, black girls garden too, black girls garden, diy garden, home grown

Here are the actual bell peppers... The whole time I was looking at the cucumber plant, I was looking at this one like "That's a weird looking cucumber plant..." I'm glad I finally came to my senses ^.^  But in my defense... the leaves do look similar.

**EDIT** Turns out these are cucumbers lol! As they've gotten bigger they're showing their cucumber-ness.  I know I planted bell peppers, but I haveno idea what happened to them. This has been a really weird start to the garden.

bell peppers, container garden, black girls garden too, black girls garden, diy garden, home grown

I decided to also plant some beefsteak tomato seeds.  Normally I don't like tomatoes because of the slimy bits inside, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of that in this particular type of tomato.  Hopefully that is.  Anyway, they are shooting up quite quickly and they're making me feel like a very good gardener ^.^

tomatoes, tomato, container garden, black girls garden too, black girls garden, diy garden, home grown

Lastly, we have my basil plant! This baby has been with me since last year!  Recently, we've been fighting the mealybug war, and consistent bug spray and water spray has gotten/kept the pest population down.  Also, there are a LOT of seeds that can be harvested from the dried flowering parts right now.  I'm thinking about maybe planting them and starting what would be another 3rd generation basil plant.

basil, herb garden, container garden, black girls garden too, black girls garden, diy garden, home grown

So there you have it! That's my current garden roster :)  Lots of potential veggies and some aromatic herbs.  I have some empty pots that are begging for new things to be planted in them, so maybe I'll go pick up some plants from walmart or home depot...

What plants should I add to my garden? Comment below!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finally I'm Finished: First Knits

I have been knitting a whole lot more over the past couple months and I'm happy to say it's been very enjoyable.  As a crocheter, trying knitting was like going to the dark side lol!  I think the hardest thing so far has been regulating my yarn tension.  When I started my stitches would be super tight and hard to work.  That was also making my hands feel very cramped most of the time.  So to remedy this, I went online for tips on learning how to hold the yarn looser, but still keep everything neat.  I'm still playing around with how I hold the yarn, but it's going well.

I wanted to share my first few knitted finished projects today.  All three of these pieces have been finished within the last 3-4 months.  I'm so proud of myself ^.^

First, we have my "I Thought I was a Ravenclaw Socks."  I showed the first sock of this pair in mid-March and finished the second sock at the end of March.  They were knit for the Harry Potter KAL but I didn't win anything.  le'sigh... better luck next time! [click -here- for the progress post!] Anyhow, these socks are so comfy and not at all as hot as I expected them to be.  I've worn them to work in my sneakers and they did very well.  They also survived their first machine washing ^.^ I count this as an awesome win!  I worked them cuff down and using a long circular needle for the magic loop method.  These socks took me about a month to complete.

knitted socks, knitting, finished objects, yarn, diy, handmade, ravenclaw, harry potter, hogwarts

The next thing I cast on my needles was the Seaforth Hat.  I mentioned this hat a couple posts back when I talked about my needle adjacent projects (projects that I want to start).  This hat was SUCH the learning experience!  I learned how to knit regularly on circular needles (not magic loop), I learned how to read a basic lace chart, I learned how to do yarn overs... even though I found out after finishing the hat that all my yarn overs were wrapped the wrong way, but whatevs!  This is a hat pattern that I will surely be making again.  I want to do it in a smoother yarn next time.  This hat was made with Impeccable worsted weight yarn from Michaels.  Next time I think I'll use simply soft or something like that.  This hat took me less than a week to complete.

knitted hat, knitting, finished objects, yarn, diy, handmade

Third knit item is another pair of socks.  This time, I knit the socks toe up magic loop.  I really enjoyed going toe up because that meant I knew exactly when to start the heel and then I could knit as long as I wanted for the leg without the pressure of maybe running out of yarn.  At first, these were to be socks for myself, but once I finished the heel I realized the foot was a bit baggy.  Turned out they fit Lamar perfectly. -___-  And that's how he got his first pair of hand-knit socks. *shrug*  He likes them and said they are so comfy that he forgot he was wearing them ^.^  The new thing I learned with this project was how to do wrap and turn short rows and how to knit two at a time socks.  I decided to do them two at a time because I felt like they were taking forever once I got up to the leg.  I don't think I really care for two at a time... people were saying it makes things go faster, but I'm still on the fence.  These socks took me about a month and a week to complete.

knitted socks, knitting, finished objects, yarn, diy, handmade

My last knit project is... yep... another pair of socks! Lol!  I wanted to try my hand at worsted weight socks so I cast on a pair to give to my friend Tiff for her birthday.  I think I really like worsted weight socks! They were so fast!  Only... I doubt I'd be able to wear them in shoes... These socks were knit one at a time, cuff down on magic loop.  I used some yarn from my stash and actually finished most of the ball.  I love using out my stash!  This project forced me to learn how to correct a sizing problem.  The first sock I knit turned out to be about 1.5 inches too short, so I had to undo the toe and continue knitting on the foot to make the sock the correct measurement.  Then I had to reknit the toe.  It was a little nerve wracking pulling out the stitches, but I was able to get everything back on the needles properly and continue working.  These socks took me about a week and a half to complete.

knitted socks, knitting, finished objects, yarn, diy, handmade

There you have it!  My first few knitted projects!!  I feel like each one of these projects has made me learn new techniques.  Whenever I came across a problem, I went straight to youtube to search "how to..." and that was really helpful.  The next knit project that I want to cast on will most likely be the Ventura Shawl that I mentioned in the needle adjacent projects post.  I tried it after finishing the Seaforth, but I couldn't get it right.  That's when I found out I had been making the yarn overs wrong.  Next time I think I'll get it! 

I hope you liked seeing my newly created pieces :)  Are you learning any new skills or learning new things within your hobbies? 

Our Second Wedding Anniversary!

This past Wednesday was Lamar and my second wedding anniversary!!! Yay!  We spent the day at Wet & Wild getting on all the water rides and having a good ol' time ^.^


Anywho, I have been thinking about what to write for this anniversary post all week.  I thought maybe I'll do a list of songs that remind me of Lamar or another questionnaire.  Or maybe I'll just show photos from the day.  After quite a bit of thinking, I've decided to write about a girl we saw at the park.

She was in line in front of me on two rides and I noticed her tattoos.  The first was a constellation and the other was a semicolon. 
"A semicolon is used when the author could've ended a sentence, but chose not to.  You are the author and the sentence is your life."  [click -here- for more info about Project Semicolon]
Then I noticed her scars.

Seeing this girl made me reflect on my own mental health struggles and triumphs.  It also made me think about how blessed I am to have someone as caring and compassionate as Lamar.  In our years together, he has always tried to understand what I'm feeling when my moods swing.  He always asks questions to prompt me to try and explain what anxiety feels like... what the downswings feel like.  He will even drag me out of the bed if need be, lol. 

Seeing her made me remember my scars.  My burns.  My dark days.  My promise to keep up the fight.

Seeing her with her boyfriend made me think about how we are not islands.  We are not ever truly alone in whatever our individual struggles are.  We are never too broken to be loved.  There are times I think back to the poem I was reciting right before Lamar proposed and I remember the very real worries I had and sometimes still have, "Will you still love me depressed?  Will you throw me a life line?  Will you count out reasons to smile? Will you remind me of the good in life?  Will you still love me?"  And every time these worries come up, I see his goofy smile or something that reassures me...

Of course, I will.  What kind of a silly question is that?!


 

I love you Lamar.  Thank you for being my buoy when the waters get rough.  :~)

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Evy Lovey Doll and Blanket Set

A couple months ago, a friend of mine asked if I could crochet a lovey doll for her daughter's first birthday. A lovey is a small security blanket with a doll or stuffed animal head and arms.  It's a very cute idea and of course I took the challenge!  We did some brainstorming on colors and design and soon the lovey was underway.  The colors she chose were pink, purple, and a dash of teal.  We went with a star-shaped "dress" for the lovey and a flat chevron pattern for the matching blanket.  So after hours of drawing designs, researching how to shape a doll head, inserting individual hairs, and crocheting back and forth on the blanket... I can now present to you the finished set!!!! Woo hooo!!! (Please forgive the super harsh light, I took these outside in the afternoon the day before delivering the set to the birthday girl.)

handmade doll, crochet doll, crochet lovey, security blanket, diy toys, handmade toys, african american dolls
handmade doll, crochet doll, crochet lovey, security blanket, diy toys, handmade toys, african american dolls
handmade doll, crochet doll, crochet lovey, security blanket, diy toys, handmade toys, african american dolls
handmade blanket, crochet blanket, crochet afghan, crochet gift, crochet, diy gift
handmade blanket, crochet blanket, crochet afghan, crochet gift, crochet, diy gift

Seeing my friend's daughter looking at the doll and then at her mom like "is this for me" was the cutest thing ever lol! Later on I got a text that she's been trying to put shoes on her and is really loving her lovey.  That, for me, was the best part of this whole experience ^.^

handmade blanket, crochet blanket, crochet afghan, crochet gift, crochet, diy gift

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Disney After Hours: May 19, 2016

Last month (May 19th), my lovely friend Brianna and I went to Disney World for After Hours!

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

We got to the park around 7pm and were able to meet some characters and ride a few rides before it got late.  We had a great time, but I must say being there after the crowds had gone was a little creepy lol.

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

The first time I went to Disney, with Lamar for our first anniversary, we spent the day riding everything we could, trying to make the most of every moment we were there.  So it was pretty cool to be able to just mosey about during After Hours.

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

I collected a few pressed pennies to add to my growing collection and almost got tricked into pressing a quarter (who the heck wants that?!?)

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

We spotted a hidden mickey on the way in and then got challenged to find all the hidden mickeys in one of the souvenir shops.  Of course I couldn't not accept the challenge!  When we found all the mickeys, we got a couple buttons for being victorious!

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

We saw Celebrate the Magic, Wishes, and Mickey's Electric Parade and I can totally understand the "Disney Spell" that seems to overtake you once you walk in the gates ^.^

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth
walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth


We noticed that there were a couple mailboxes along Main Street and the little info box on them said they are active. So of course I had to send a post card!  I mailed a little note to Lamar... what can I say, I'm sappy like that :)

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth
walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

I don't know when the next time I'll be able to go to another Disney park, but I'm super glad I got to experience the Magic Kingdom for a second time (especially since it was with super Disney-head Brianna ^.^) .   The night ended with a nice cup of Wonderland tea at Brianna's house... at like 4am lol!

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

Here are a couple video clips from Celebrate the Magic and Wishes :) Enjoy!!!



I have a bunch of short video clips and photos from the day... maybe I'll edit them together... *shrug* Who knows :)

Oh yeah!  I got Lamar and my anniversary photobook signed by Mickey!  ...and realized that I'm a little scared of Mickey Mouse... at least the people sized one ^.^ I didn't expect that lol!

walt disney world, magic kingdom, disney after hours, orlando, florida, mickey mouse, the happies place on earth

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

May 2016: Month in Review

This month in review post is going up so stinkin' late!  I have been quite the slacker blogger and I really need to do better ::insert shame face here::  So May's been over for a week now and we are almost half way through 2016.  That is so crazy to me! I always feel like time is flying by whenever I look back through the month to get ready to write these posts.  Anywho, on to the highlights!

Monthly Highlights
5/3:  Cherie and Kwame's first wedding anniversary!  It's a little mind boggling that so many of my friends are married/parents... I guess we are getting 'old' lol ^.^

wedding, anniversary, Apartment 203 Blog Month in Review

5/10:  I finished a lovey doll and blanket set.  It was a lot of fun to challenge myself to create something I've never done before.  Stay tuned because I will be sharing more photos and details later on.

Crochet dolls, Crochet lovey, Apartment 203 Blog Month in Review

5/19:  Brianna and I went to Disney After Hours.  We got to go on rides that normally have an hour+ wait time and meet Mickey and a handful of princesses.  It was pretty cool for a Disney newb like myself.

Walt Disney World, Mickey Mouse, Cinderella's Castle, Apartment 203 Blog Month in Review

Walt Disney World, Mickey Mouse, Cinderella's Castle, Apartment 203 Blog Month in Review


5/26:  I crochet and hand-dyed a swimsuit cover up.  I started making a red heart pattern, but when it wasn't working out the way I wanted, I decided to frog it out and design my own.  I think it came out pretty nicely ^.^ If I do say so myself!

Apartment 203 Blog Month in Review

5/27:  Happy birthday Tiffany!  She's starting her 30 by 30 list and I'm super excited about it!

5/28-29:  Over memorial weekend, we celebrated my friend Sheree's bachelorette in Miami.  We went out Saturday night, Sheree danced her little heart out.  Then on Sunday we went on a boat tour.  It was pretty cool.  Snapchat was the documentation of choice and it served me well ^.^

Apartment 203 Blog Month in Review


5/30:  Happy birthday Brianna!  She's doing a 25 by 25 ^.^ I kinda feel like a trendsetter! lol

Throughout the Month
- I spent a lot of the month planning Sheree's Miami bachelorette party.  I've discovered that I'm not keen on planning things for other people.  It's very stressful for me.  I must say Saturday night I almost had a panic attack while we were out... ugh
- I was a yarn crafting machine this month!  I feel like I was never without a project in my bag, lol.  So much so, when I finished up all my projects and had nothing on the go, it was quite weird.

May Goals Recap

1.  Finish & deliver the Evy Set - Yes! I did it and little Everly loved her doll!
2.  Knit a hat - Yes! I knit the Seaforth Hat.  Funny story... after I finished it, I learned that I was doing all my yarn overs wrong. Looks like I need to make another one!
 3.  Plan Sheree's bachelorette Party - Done!
4.  Read one book - Nope...
5.  Make grandma's retirement shutterfly book - Nope... But I def need to get a move on this one because the free book offer I have is expiring in June.

June Goals
1. Finish library photo display
2. Do 2 things for 30 in 30
3. Finish Grandma's photobook
4. Create a budget and build up savings
5. Plan get togethers for friends

And that, my friends, was my May in a nutshell.  How was your month?  What are some things you want to do in June?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

To The Provider, The Sustainer. To He Who is able to do Everything.

To The Provider, The Sustainer. To He Who is able to do Everything.

In the midst of trouble
I am calling out to You
I know you have promised to take care of Your children
I know this is true because You cannot lie
You are He who is able to do everything
All things
Anything
The most powerful God who Sees me
You know my ups and downs
You know how I feel in a moment
You know how I will feel in the next
Please look down on us and provide a way for us to maintain
My God, You are the sustainer of our home and our lives
You have already seen the end from the beginning
And I recognize that it is my responsibility to have faith in Your plan
Help me when my faith waivers I ask
Help me to trust in You
I give all praise to You
Praise be to God - The Most Merciful, The Provider and Sustainer
Praise be to God who is able to do all things.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Simple Things

"Think simple.  Reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles." -Frank Lloyd Wright
Prompt: What simple things in life do you enjoy?

A few years ago, I ran a blog called Golden 24.  It was focused on creating and spreading happiness, and one of the things I really loved doing was highlighting simple pleasures :)  So today's prompt is taking me back to those posts, and that's a great thing!

Ten Simple Pleasures
  • A good cup of tea!
  • Touching all the yarns in a yarn shop
  • Snuggles with my dogs
  • Quiet relaxed mornings with Lamar
  • Listening to music while driving with the windows down
  • A relaxing bath
  • Making & baking
  • Good conversation
  • Putting things in color order
  • Finishing a project
There you have it!  Ten simple pleasures ^.^  What are some of your simple pleasures?? I'd love to know!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hook and Needle Adjacent Dreamin

I've had a profile on Ravelry for a few years now.  I never use to be very active on the site though.  Recently, since discovering a love for shawls, I've found myself on there more often drooling over patterns.  Within my time on Ravelry, I've amassed quite the library ^.^

Currently I have two projects going, one crochet and the other knit.  And lemme tell you, I'm itching to start something new!!  So I'm going to plan my next couple projects because actually starting something right now is probably a bit obsessive. lol!  I've chosen 2 crochet patterns and 2 knitting ones.  So here we go!

1. All Shawl by Doris Chan

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/all-shawl
Click Photo for Pattern Page (Photo by Doris Chan)

This is a super simple crochet shawl pattern.  I really like that the pattern is very flexible, you can make it as long or short as you like and gauge doesn't really matter.  It looks like a quick project to make and probably won't take much more than a week.

2. Sonny's Socks by Sonny321

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sonnys-socks
Click Photo for Pattern Page (Photo by fmlcrochet)

I am very interested to see how crochet socks wear and feel.  I think if I like the texture I'll definitely have many more handmade socks ^.^  I like the shell stitching on these and they look comfy.  We'll soon see!

3.   Ventura Wrap by Rebecca Hill

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ventura-wrap
Click Photo for Pattern Page (Photo by MissBecca)

To continue with my love affair with shawls :)  I'm going to try knitting this one.  It will be my first knit shawl.  Allegedly, it's an easy pattern.  I'll be the judge lol!  But hey, I have youtube and a local yarn store if I get helplessly stuck.  I'm excited about this pattern.

4. Seaforth Hat by Karie Westermann

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/seaforth-2
Click Photo for Pattern Page (Photo by David Fraser)

I think this is going to be the most ambitious of all my hook/needle adjacent projects.  I'm actually quite nervous to attempt this, but just like the Ventura Wrap, I have youtube and knitters nearby to help me if needed.  I really want to make this hat because, 1- it's really pretty and 2- I'm getting a little tired of wearing my same old crochet hats to work.  I want to switch it up.  Or maybe that means I need to design a new crochet hat... that's a possibility!

So there you have it!  Four projects that I will hopefully be starting within the near future ^.^  My Ravelry pattern library is bursting with projects that are inspiring me and I'm so glad that I found that site!