Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crochet Mood Blanket 2014...Are you in??

I was scrolling through Instagram a few days ago, as I often do. (I could easily give up facebook but never Instagram. I'm a visual addict.) When I happened upon several hooker friends who said they were doing a Crochet Mood Blanket 2014. Ever nosy, I had to investigate. Turns out a lovely Instagrammer http://instagram.com/mummy_stacey# was inspired to start a mood blanket. What is this trippy idea you ask? Well, apparently you choose colors and assign moods to them. Decide to do 52 or 365 squares and do one square per week/day that corresponds to your mood!! Easy as pie! Many people are doing the join as you go method from Attic 24 as her blanket was the inspiration for this project I believe.

There is now a facebook group and ravelry group for this project! I'm very excited about this as I have finally pared down my WIP box to just a few projects! I can easily knock out a square a day or a couple a day if  lose track. I'll be keeping a journal with a calendar to write down mood so I don't lose track should I not be able to join them every day.

I am looking forward to seeing how my moods play out through out the year and I hope you'll join me!

Happy Hooking!!!


2013 Wrap Up

Wow, December 31, 2013. Well, we really don't do the "new year" thing since our calendar year actually goes from Spring to Fall in our faith, but it is yet another year marked off on man's calendar. 2013 has been an interesting year for me, I became a bigger advocate in education than I planned to by my becoming active in the Stop Common Core community. I took up knitting and still crocheted my behind off. I continued to build a thriving handmade business until a sudden change of events shut me down the week before Thanksgiving. I've come to terms with that and embrace 2014 without any major desire to get back to business for now. (for now.) I started homeschooling in April and haven't looked back. That has been a bumpy, crazy, wild road but it's a good one.

So 2013 has been up and down for me and many, I look forward to a boring, simple, easy 2014.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Free Crochet Pattern: Converse Slipper Socks

I saw these floating around the interwebs and could NOT find a proper pattern in English. So I found a pattern in Finnish and I decided to wing it based on pictures, my feet and basic stitches. This is NOT a finalized pattern, it is being tested and honestly it's a variable pattern....much will depend on your foot size, yarn type, crochet tension, etc.
You can see the original pattern that inspired these here: http://muntekema.blogspot.com/2012/01/ohje-virkatut-tennaritossut.html
I could not get it to translate properly, so this is my best interpretation.

You can download the pattern via Ravelry. 

Please feel free to let me know any errata, suggestions, tips, etc! This pattern is meant to be more of a guide and it is understood you have a basic knowledge of crochet terms, patterns, and techniques.

View via Scribd or through this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/194431129/Chucks-Pattern

Women's Size 6-9 or view via: http://www.scribd.com/doc/194431374/Chucks-Pattern-Womens-6-9

Enjoy! I'd love to see your creations!!

January Home School Theme

January is almost here!! December was a short month for us, school wise, thanks to the Winter Break. We enjoyed the theme of Snow last month, but we didn't even get to Penguins! January was supposed to be Presidents and Dental Health...well, plans change and I think Penguins would still be super fun to study. So we shall carry on with Penguins for our monthly study with a President's Day study on the proper day.

Blubber Experiment: http://octopus.gma.org/surfing/antarctica/blubber.html

Watch Mr. Popper's Penguins and Read Aloud

Fun Penguin Crafts:http://www.havingfunathome.com/2012/01/preschool-penguin-crafts.html
Cute penguin template for paper, felt, fabric.http://sweetandlovelycrafts.blogspot.ca/2012/11/cute-penguin-craft.html

And of course go to the Audubon Aquarium and visit the penguins!

Watch "March of the Penguins" and adapt this lesson plan from Teach with Movies http://www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/march-of-the-penguins.html

Watch "Happy Feet"
and adapt the lesson plan from: http://www.teachwithmovies.org/talking-and-playing/happy-feet-t-p.html

Do you have any fun penguin activities? 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dear Fellow Homeschooling Mom....heck..every mom,

Sometimes life just SUCKS. I just wanted to get that out there. To let you know you're not alone. To let you know you are NOT a horrible mother when your child does something embarrassing/mean/hateful/hurtful/illegal/immoral/rude/awful/etc. Their actions do not define you. Their words do not stack up against you in some giant book of homeschooling judgement. I promise, they don't. The other moms may act like they do, but lucky for us, they don't get the final say, right?

Our children are their own beings. We can do everything we THINK is best, say what we think we should, do what we think we ought to, and be who we believe we should be....and our kids can still turn out to do awful things that make us ashamed to call them our own.

But guess what...you're still human. You're still YOU. Only YOU are responsible for YOUR actions. Not your child's. Sure, we have a God given, legally bound obligation to care for our children, seemingly 24/7 in the baby years, but soon, they are still responsible for their actions. We need to hold them responsible TO that, but we are not ultimately responsible FOR their behaviors, because in the end, they have free will. We can teach them to the best of our abilities, but they must choose the right course of action.

Now, before you start yelling at me that this is a reckless idea, calm yourself down. Grab some wine and chill. Listen to the words. This does not give you a free pass to say, "oh well, that's just Bobby, he loves to just smack people in the face." Um, no, that is NOT okay. Trust me, I know, I've got a little Godfather here in our house who could very well leave a moose head in your bed if you tick him off. But I am not in his brain, I don't control his words or actions.

What I do control is MY reaction, my interpretation of his behavior and I control, with my husband, the lifestyle and morals we wish to impart on our children. Will they follow them all? I'm almost certain not...but all we can truly do is do as God does to us and be the trunk of their tree to which they can cling tight to when life gets windy and nasty. Our branches may break, we may have a family of pesky squirrels who inhabit our trunk from time to time, but overall, we must simply stay STRONG. That's it. Strong.

So, fellow homeschool mom...(and moms in general...and dads, and fellow human beings of Earth..) walk slowly down this path with me....trust me, I am in no way sitting in judgement. I'm sitting here with a child in behavior therapy and writing this with all my own past demons and monsters behind me. Scary Mommy comes out FAR too often at my house and I'm doing my very best to control her. But what I'm learning on this little journey into life with your children 24/7 is this....there is always tomorrow. But just in case there isn't, give them a kiss and hug before bed and tell them we can all have a do over tomorrow...end the day on love.

Homeschooling is not necessarily a great life calling for everyone. Not all of us do it from the beginning on and are determined to do it forever. Not all of us LOVE it. Not all of us wake up ready and refreshed to start the day. Quite honestly, some of us freaking dread it. Some of us long for bedtime. Some of us buy copious amounts of wine. Some of us homeschool one child and not the others. And ALL of us, whether you admit it or not, have thought or threatened to send their ungrateful butts back to school. It's okay, you can admit it, we don't judge here.

Parenting is hard. Homeschooling is even harder. But when your children do something you think is totally awful and makes you look horrible...don't sweat it. Love them anyway. That doesn't mean don't discipline, or let them get away with murder, but love them anyway, consistently and forever. Because you will anyways, so you might as well not do it with mountains of guilt and angst, right?

So let it go, as the cliche' says, let go and let God. Do your best, love your babies, talk to a friend, and try again tomorrow. Come have some wine with me, because I promise, I have horror stories too.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

December Homeschool Themes

Well, I'm getting a little late start here for the month, eh?? Oh well!

It finally got cold here so it's a good time to do our short December themes of "Snow" and "Penguins"

We never get snow here except literally once every 5-10 years and its a scattering of icy flakes, but we can pretend!! So for this month, we will try to get some of these activities done:

Instant snow in the sensory box.
The boys LOVED playing with instant snow last year, I think we used it all up but I'll get my hands on some.Even yoda wasn't safe from the snow.

Popsicle Stick Snowman: http://armywifequilter.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-100th-post-popcycle-stick-snowman.html

Borax Crystal Snowflakes: http://www.workitmom.com/bloggers/familycraftideas/2013/11/29/kids-craft-borax-crystal-snowflakes/

Read some Snow Inspired Books: http://blog.playdrhutch.com/2012/01/15/books-for-a-snowy-day/

Eat a melted Snowman! http://spoonful.com/recipes/serve-melted-frosty

And of course, make Star Wars inspired snowflakes: http://manmadediy.com/users/chris/posts/1522-how-to-make-star-wars-snowflakes-free-templates-included

Some Penguin Fun:

Watch Mr. Popper's Penguins and Read Aloud


Fun Penguin Crafts: http://www.havingfunathome.com/2012/01/preschool-penguin-crafts.html

Cute penguin template for paper, felt, fabric. http://sweetandlovelycrafts.blogspot.ca/2012/11/cute-penguin-craft.html

And of course go to the Audubon Aquarium and visit the penguins!

We are only doing a few weeks of "real" school during December so we can enjoy the holiday break. We don't celebrate Christmas, but our public school friends are off for their break and we'd like to spend some time with them.

So happy crafting, schooling and stay warm!

***This post contains affiliate links, please see my "disclosure" tab for more information.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

End of an Etsy Era....

So, if you follow me on Facebook, you know already that my Etsy shops have been shut down. I have been an Etsy seller in one form or another since 2008. I went from being in the hole for 2 years to making what I considered a decent income for a mom who just likes to make things! I was a totally legal seller with my LLC, Tax ID's, a CPA, the whole she-bang. I founded and run the Etsy team Handmade Louisiana. I've made a tremendous amount of friends from being on Etsy and that I will never regret.

But my time on Etsy is over. Over the years, I have had a couple of 'trademark infringements' filed against me by a couple of companies like Hello Kitty and Eric Carle. I was new and unaware I could fight back with the first sale doctrine concerning licensed fabrics. So they sat as hits on my Etsy account and I thought nothing of it as my business grew to be one of the top badge reel shops on Etsy with the most badge reels available at one point of 900 listings.

A couple of years back the battle over the local phrase "Who Dat" raged here as the man who claims to own the trademark fought local stores over use of the word. Long story short, for you non-locals, Who Dat is a battle cry for our beloved New Orleans Saints but also a general greeting, salute, joyful shout and more, used a lot in life in southern Louisiana. Who Dat dates back to the 1700s and possibly earlier. But this man trademarked the phrase in the 80s when he was involved in a song (a horrible song) about the Saints. Decades passed and he never gave a care about his trademark until the Saints won the Superbowl in 2009. Suddenly, he cared about his trademark.

I thought the matter had been laid to rest when the parties he sued settled in 2012 and a judge said, "Who Dat belongs to the people." It never even dawned on me this was still an issue. So I was surprised (and ticked) when I found he had filed a complaint against several of my items. Honestly, I'd forgotten about several of them, (did I mention the 900 listings?) So I sent "the man" a not so pleasant email, but I fixed the listings and thought the matter was over.

Nope. He apparently found more listings on my shop, this time, he claimed you could not even use the words "who dat" in a TAG on Etsy. (Tags are descriptive words you use to help people find your items.) He's even gone so far as to say you cannot use just "dat" or "who" in a Saints related item!?? So if your item was a black and gold fleur de lis, I couldn't use any form of "who dat" in a tag, even if it didn't appear on the listing or item. I should have checked all my items for Who Dat, and I thought I got them all, but apparently I missed a couple out of the 900 listings.

So what does Etsy do? Not contact me about it, not say, "Hey, you have one more shot and we close you down" or "Check your items please", etc. Nope. I go to ship my orders and I find a closed shop. I got an email of legal-ease and a closed shop. Not just one closed shop, but TWO closed shops. I also had SeauxComfy on Etsy, a crochet shop that NEVER had any infringements against it, SHUT DOWN.

Needless to say, I was very upset. At the jerk trying to steal Who Dat from the people, at Etsy for their lack of support. At myself for fighting back, because I'm thinking if I'd not fought back to Sal, he'd have maybe left me be. I scoffed at his offer of licensing with him and made it clear I NEVER want to do business with him. (He didn't offer me a nifty form to fill out to turn into Etsy to show I won't use Who Dat as a tag, yet he offered it to other sellers. Hmmm I wonder why? Oh right, I stood up to him.)

I quickly let go of my anger at Sal because it became clear he is a desperate man clinging to the last little business he has left. Apparently in the 30 years he's owned this trademark he's made 350k on it, and spent a lot of that on court. That is NOT a great record of business, for those not familiar with sales. It's incredibly sad.

But I was more mad at Etsy. For having spent 5 years putting up with their total lack of seller support, their continuing to allow foreign resellers while shutting down true handmade shops (like mine.), and for putting up with their muting of people who dare speak out in forums. Etsy is a shell of what it started out as. Greed took over the true love and purpose of handmade for them, I fear. Just in my badge reels shops alone since 2010 I have paid Etsy almost 3k in fees. Now, I made my sales, but paid them roughly 20% of my sales for years. I'm not even counting the other Etsy shops I had over the years until I found my niche with the badge reels. So apparently $3,000 isn't enough to warrant a real discussion to see if I truly was at fault.

Apparently Etsy has no spine and cannot even remotely defend their sellers and will cave to threats, no questions asked. So I am done. I am done spending any more money with them. I will pay up my fees and then be gone. Unfortunately this also means I will no longer be buying on Etsy. So if you are an Etsy seller, I will find another way to purchase from you, but I will not purchase on Etsy.

I'm sad to see this part of my life end, as it's been such a HUGE part for the past five years. But creativity need not be confined to a little piece of the interwebs....I am still going to create. I am not getting rid of my badge reel making supplies. In good time I will reorganize and start over on another site.

I had been toying with the idea of taking a break for a little while now. I am now homeschooling my children, much earlier than I had ever planned to. It really had become difficult to homeschool, run a home, run a business, spend time on bible study, with friends, and sleep! Life had gotten too hectic. I had been in angst trying to make a decision about my business, so I suppose God decided to help me make the decision!!

I'm sad it's over, I recognize how awesome my customers have been over the years and how fun it has been to share my work with others, hopefully bringing a little smile to their face during their work day. But my babies will only be little for awhile, and when they're bigger and more self sufficient in their schooling, I can reexamine my game plan and perhaps start a new.

In the meantime, you can contact me via the Facebook page or badgereels@gmail.com if you need a badge reel or two. It'll take time to get my photos back in order, but I will do that in time. If you need crochet items, you can also contact me there. I am taking custom crochet orders via email or facebook for now. This situation will not crush my dreams of running my own business, but it does delay them some. In the end however, it's for the benefit of my children AND my sanity! If that's not worth it....I don't know what is!!

I thank you all, my friends, customers, colleagues, and most importantly my family and God for sticking with me all this time, being there through the ups and downs, and for supporting handmade! You are NOT forgotten!

Much love,

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Free Crochet Pattern: Ribbed Coffee Sleeve

Coffee Sleeve
Amy Dutsch

G Hook
Worsted Weight Wool (or preferred yarn. I prefer wool for its ability to hold in heat.)

Ch: chain
DC: double crochet
SS: slip stitch
ST: stitch
FPDC: front post double crochet
BPDC: back post double crochet

Round One: Chain 34
DC in 3rd ch from hook
DC across
Join with SS to form a circle. This connects the "top" of your double crochet stitches. To connect the "bottom" to make your first row sturdier, use the tail to connect the chain stitches and weave in ends.) **See Alternate Method of starting at bottom of pattern**
Round Two: Ch 2 (does NOT count as st here or throughout)
*FPDC in next 2 sts. BPDC in next 2 sts.*
Repeat from * around, making a pattern of fpdc, fpdc, bpdc, bpdc around. SS with starting ch.
Repeat Round Two until sleeve is 10 rows or so, or desired length.
Finish and weave in ends.

Ch 34
Join with ss to form a circle.
DC in the round all the way around. Proceed with Round Two of the pattern.

You may need to adjust your chain count based on cup sizes, how tightly you crochet, or size of the yarn. Just use an even number for your chain count.

For information on how to do the FPDC and BPDC please visit:


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