About Wendy

SAHM of 1 school age kid, two adult kids (my 24 yr old daughter & 18 year old son) and one middle-age kid (the hubby). Avid animal lover who cares daily for our dogs, cats, fish, rat and chickens. My MIL says I need a cow for fresh milk; I say No Way!!! (LOL) Hobbies include listening to music, reading, writing, blogging (a new passion), watching TV (Castle Rock and Sharp Objects are current faves) baking, cooking, crafting, crocheting, and cross-stitching. I'm a laid-back mama who prefers not to micro-manage the lives of my family (though I feel sometimes like they micro-manage mine as my schedule mainly consists of coordinating all of their schedules). But, I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.

Winter Is Here – My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week Four)

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL

Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones through the current episode, Season 8 Episode 4, then you may not want to continue reading this article. There may be spoilers contained within. Also, this is not a sponsored post. I am participating in a Marinade Designs GoT KAL at my own expense and just want to share my progress with our readers. No compensation is being received from the KAL designer.

Previous GoT Show Thoughts/KAL Progress Posts:

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Welcome to the Winter Is Here – My First Game of Thrones KAL article series! First, we will check in on the progress I made this week on the Game of Thrones shawl knit along I’m participating in and then discuss thoughts on episode 4 of this final season of GoT.

If you’ve read any of the three previous posts in this Game of Thrones KAL series that I’ve published, then you will recall that my family has been dealing with some illness — stomach virus and severe sinus infections — over the last several weeks.

I think we’re all finally over the hurdle on the illness front. The stomach virus is long over and my son and I finished up our round of strong antibiotics for the sinus infections this week. Mostly, I feel pretty good. The antibiotics put a huge damper on my appetite, but I had to eat when taking them or risk them upsetting my stomach. So — mostly I lived on toast and oatmeal, with the occasional fried egg. And water. Lots and lots of ice water — because I like to chew ice (and that melting ice sliding down my throat soothed the soreness from all the coughing, too).

I’m moving right along on the Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Ice and Embers Shawlette KAL themed for the final season of the show. It’s an asymmetrical design, so as I work through the knitting pattern the rows progressively get longer and longer since an additional stitch is added about every other row.

I was pretty impressed with myself this week in terms of the amount of work I was able to complete on the project. I have felt better, so have spent more time working on it than previous weeks when I felt worse.

Here’s a quick recap of what my progress on the Ice & Embers Shawlette looked like after each of the previous three weeks of work:

Game of Thrones - Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawl KAL
Week One

Game of Thrones - Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawl KAL
Week Two
Game of Thrones - Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawl KAL
Week Three

But, check this out. Week Four progress really kicked it up a notch!

As usual, I started by weaving in all the blue yarn tails from last week’s work. Then I moved on to adding new rows to the length of the shawlette.

It may be a bit hard to see the new blue yarn tails against the dark countertop, but I hope you can see where they start and appreciate how many more rows I was able to complete this week than in any week before.

Game of Thrones - Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawl KAL
Week Four

Also, the pattern for the shawl is broken up into three sections. Section One starts at the small tip of the shawl (on the left here, where you see the purple stitch marker) and progresses upward, widening as new stitches are added periodically.

I was able to complete all of Section One of the pattern. Yay! I’ve just started into Section Two, which has wider sections of the dark blue yarn. Can you see that last blue stripe on the right hand side, at the widest end of the shawl? That’s the beginning of Section Two of the pattern.

It’s fantastic! Here’s a closeup of those wider blue stripes. It utilizes 4 rows of the dark blue (versus just two rows in each stripe in Section One) and creates a gorgeous design element with what I’m calling Little Peekaboo Holes. They have no name [“a girl has no name”, ha ha] by the designer, that I’m aware of.

I’ve begun Section 2 of the shawlette. Check out these fantastic openings created in the pattern!!

A closer look at the openings in the striping of Section 2 of the shawl.

I’ll admit. I was worried that my skills as a knitter had not progressed far enough to get this part of the pattern. I’ve only been knitting for a few years and not done many intermediate or advanced skills patterns. I figured that if I just couldn’t get it, I would do the simpler striping as it’s done in Section 1 and call it good.

But, I got it on the first try! I just went with the pattern and trusted that it would all go fine. And it did. So relieved — and proud of myself. New skills, accomplished! I am delirious with anticipation for Section 3 of the shawlette pattern which features a Dragon Scale Lace design. That’s gonna be so fun!

You’ll notice some of the photos were taken outdoors. We’ve had a couple of days of simply beautiful weather here in Kentucky. Sun shining, warm temps with a mild breeze. So, I took advantage and spent a little time outside sitting with one of my chickens, Khaleesi, to do a little knitting.

backyard chicken

Yes. Khaleesi. Clucker of the Backyard Grass Sea. Grazer of Chicken Grains and Grass Blades. Snacker of Diced Tomatoes and Apple Slices. Layer of Tiny Eggs. White Haired Queen of the Lands of Kentucky.

Of course we named the Queen of our flock after GoT! 🙂

After the epic battle with the Night King in last week’s episode, I was glad to scale it back a bit this week and join the North in bidding a final farewell to those lost in The Long Night battle.

Notable tidbits from the show for me this week were Dany’s teary goodbye to Ser Jorah Mormont, the tragedy of the decimation of House Mormont with little Lady Mormont among the dead (may the gods rest her pint-sized hero’s soul), Dany’s uncharacteristic begging plea to Jon to keep his lineage to himself (followed, of course, by his immediately telling all the sibs all about it), the tension-filled war council where Sansa and Dany squared off on whether to rest the remaining troops or get right back up on that horse and attack Cersei, and Jon’s lackluster goodbye to Ghost (that pup deserved a hug at least!). But, at least Jon did right by Ghost in sending him off to the far North with Tormund Giantsbane who will take good care of him. Ghost can lick Tormund’s face and snuggle with him on the long cold nights as Tormund heals from the heartbreak of Jaime stealing his longtime crush, Brienne.

And now we have Ser Jaime Lannister ditching his new girl, Ser Brienne of Tarth, to head to King’s Landing where his former sister-love is. Shame on Jaime for one-and-doning it to that sweet Brienne! But, the bigger question is, which side will he fight for now that the threat to all humanity has been vanquished? He may have semi-redeemed himself in recent seasons by making better life choices. But let’s not forget the bun in first love, Cersei’s, oven that Jaime put there (Euron is an epic fool to believe for even one second that it might be his, given her history when it comes to child paternity!)

And what the heck is Brienne gonna do in Winterfell?! Twiddle her thumbs? I think not. I think she’ll not be far behind Jaime on the King’s Road to the final battle for the kingdom.

Seems like a lot of regular variety drama, right? And then GoT does what it does so well. After kind of injecting some breathing room into the lungs of GoT viewers, they GUT-PUNCHED us with the horrific death of Dany’s second dragon, Rhaegal, at the hands of that disgusting pirate, king wannabe, Euron Greyjoy! Ahh!!! No!!!

I’m beginning to question if more than Jon knows nothing if you didn’t learn anything from the Night King tossing a spear into the air and taking down Viserion, Dany, Mother of Dragons. I mean, Westerosi forces did already try this tactic before, they just way underestimated their weapon, The Scorpion’s, capability. But, like all good villians, Qyburn returned to the drawing board and went all out in anticipation of Round Two with the dragon threat.

It is war, after all. Shew, okay, regroup. Nope, nope, another gut punch! Missandei has been captured. Poor Grey Worm. And now a parlay with the Westerosi, some back and forth about who deserves to rule, and then there it is — last words, “Dracarys”, and Missandei is no more. Brutal, GoT!!! But, I still love you.

Dany, girl, you better get your A-game on and don’t screw this up. Cuz, Missandei just flat out told you not to let her death be for nothing. And — psst, Dragon Queen, listen up — Arya of House Stark. A Girl With ‘The’ Name. Hero of The Long Night. Feller of All White Walkers. Maker of Kill Lists. Master Assassin. is on her way to help you out. You so lucky!

If you want to get in on the fun of the Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Ice and Embers Shawlette KAL, it’s not too late! Cast on and get knitting!

What hopes (or fears) do you all have about the remaining episodes? I hope Drogon makes it through the upcoming fray and roasts Qyburn alive for designing the weapon that killed Rhaegal. I hope The Hound puts The Mountain out of his misery. I hope Arya ticks a few names off her Kill List. I hope Jon and Dany come to some kind of peaceful resolution about their potential ruler statuses. I fear Cersei will prevail and some of our more notable heroes will end up in her and Qyburn’s creepy weird human experiment dungeon. In any event, I can’t wait to find out!

Winter Is Here – My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week Three)

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL

Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones through the current episode, Season 8 Episode 3, then you may not want to continue reading this article. There may be spoilers contained within. Also, this is not a sponsored post. I am participating in a Marinade Designs GoT KAL at my own expense and just want to share my progress with our readers. No compensation is being received from the KAL designer.

Previous GoT Show Thoughts/KAL Progress Posts:

Week One

Week Two

So, I’m not sure if I mentioned in my previous couple of posts about my participation in the Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Ice & Embers Shawlette Knit Along, that my household has been dealing with illness the last several weeks. But, I feel like I should maybe touch on that because it’s been an ordeal, and I’ve not gotten as much done on the KAL as I might normally have done.

Three weeks ago, my husband and I came down with a nasty stomach virus. We stayed away from the kids as much as possible and thought they’d escaped it, but at the end of the week our daughter was down with it too. Thank goodness it was after school on Friday so she had the entire weekend to recover from it and didn’t miss any school. But, literally, right on the heels of that (after I’d already wondered if death might be preferable to being that sick) I was slammed with a massive sinus infection. And I do mean slammed. Like a Mack truck just plowed me over. It’s been awful.

I don’t hardly ever get sick with these kinds of illnesses, so when I do it’s just so aggravating to me. Still, I’m not a run-to-the-doctor kinda girl, so I usually just try to dose up on OTC meds and suffer through it. I might still be doing that, except my son came down with a sinus infection, too. So, last week on Thursday I took him and myself to urgent care and got us both some strong antibiotics to knock this stuff out. It’s working, but we’re only a little over halfway through the antibiotic regimen and still suffering somewhat.

It’s clearing out the infection, but man … these meds are just zonking me out. They make me want to sleep, like, all the time; make me woozy and a bit nauseous; and they are taking my normal appetite for food away. Which is a conundrum because they told me that we need to eat some food with the antibiotics to prevent stomach upset. So, yeah, it’s been a struggle to force myself to eat when I take the meds, and then try to remember to eat in between doses too because I just don’t want food.

On the upside, I think I may have lost, like, 10-15 pounds through all this. Harsh way to do it, but there I am. LOL

Game of Thrones Season 8
A pic I took of GoT Season 8, Episode 3 projected on a wall in the studio of my husband’s business during a viewing party with friends.

Anyhoo, now that you’re good and bored. Game of Thrones. Battle of Winterfell. O – M – freakin’ – G! I don’t think I have ever vacillated on the precipice of emotional breakdown ever before in my life as I did the week before this big, mega battle for humanity episode! I couldn’t wait for it, but I was afraid to see who would die in the battle, too. Like, cover-my-eyes-and-peek-through-my-fingers-almost-DIDN’T-want-to-watch-it afraid.

I was afraid the Night King might be too strong for humanity to survive it and worried about what comes next if they did somehow manage to vanquish the seemingly endless undead army. And I just knew the NK would raise the Winterfell dead at some point. Just knew it. And I wasn’t disappointed when he ramped up the terror by doing just that.

My husband owns a small media production business. Quite a few of his employees are GoT fans, too. So, for this epic battle episode several of us got together and watched “The Long Night” with a kick-ass audio system and the show projected on the big white wall in the shooting studio. It was so much fun!

Spoiler Alert: They did survive. Arya. I knew it would be her. I just did. She is far and away my favorite character in the show and seeing the looks on the faces of everyone at Winterfell realizing what a badass she has grown into was just … priceless. So satisfying. My second favorite moment in the show was little Lady Mormont vs. the Giant. YASSSS!!!!! I spent the whole episode with my hand clutching my throat. So epic!

Other heart-pounding moments: when Melisandre gave hope to us all, but then the flaming scimitars of the Dothraki horde advance army were snuffed out and darkness swallowed them seemingly whole; when the undead army flung themselves on the fire trench and swarmed the outer walls of Winterfell; the beautiful dragon fight scenes; when the Night King emerged from the dragon fire blast that Dany hoped would end him; and when Theon gave his very last breath to the defense of Bran. Wow. So many great moments. Too many to list, thank goodness we can all go back and rewatch the series as many times as we want to!

But, now. The last three episodes to wrap up the series are a total question mark. Can what’s left of the survivors of the Battle of Winterfell defeat what awaits them in King’s Landing? How will Jon and Dany settle the issue of who will rule if they can defeat Cersei? Who will be the one to take Cersei down, because so many characters deserve the honor! Just a few of the biggest questions, so many more minor ones that must be examined to decide how the new landscape of the kingdoms and the survivors will be laid out. With so many great houses decimated (the Mormonts, the Umbers, the Tyrells — so many others [some deservedly so, like the Freys]) how does the kingdom hierarchy reorganize itself?

Since I’ve spent most of this season so far being sick, I’ve not spent as much time on the Marinade Designs GoT Ice & Embers Shawlette KAL as I would have liked (also had Easter in there, so I made my daughter a few household items that took some time away from this, too).

Game of Thrones - Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawl KAL

But, I’m not totally discouraged with my progress. This pic shows how much I’ve completed so far. In previous pictures I’ve tucked the dark blue strands that needed to be woven in under the shawl when taking photos so that you could see the work and not be distracted by all of that. This week, before starting to knit more on the shawlette, I took some time to weave in all the dark blue strands that were hanging out there on the work I’d completed to that point (during the first two weeks).

The new ones you see displayed out to the right side of the work here are representative of the new rows of work I’ve done this week. I think I’ve only maybe completed 30-35 new rows of work on it.

So, slow going. But, I’ll get there. As I continually feel better hopefully the work will go faster and easier.

Game of Thrones - Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawl KAL

I’ve been too sick to go to Ravelry and visit the page for this KAL to see what progress pics other knitters are posting to show their work. But, I will try to get to that this week. I’ll probably end up kicking my own butt for not being as far along as I think I should have been. But, whaddaya gonna do? Just keep moving, that’s what.

I will probably need additional time after the show is over to finish, but I’ll still come back and chat with you all about it and show the progress until it’s done.

I’m definitely relieved that the threat of the Night King is over. But, still filled with anticipation to find out how everything else works out. What was your favorite moment in the Battle of Winterfell? What do you think happens now?

Weighted Blankets: Pros and Cons

Weighted Blankets: Pros and Cons - The Boyfriend Blanket
Beauty Brite Disclosure

Depression and anxiety come in many forms. Some cases are fairly mild and pretty easily managed, others are more severe and can make managing everyday tasks very difficult. The spectrum of effects is wide and each person experiences them differently, which can make finding the best treatment a pretty hit-or-miss effort; one that requires patience, time, and openness to trying a variety of approaches to find what works for you.

Depression and anxiety can be pretty sneaky. Many people may not even realize that they are suffering from these conditions because they don’t always manifest in physical symptoms. Also, they may have been a part of a person’s life for so long that they can’t remember being any other way thus they don’t necessarily recognize that they are feeling it.

While depression and anxiety are receiving more media coverage and recognition in medical and behavioral therapy communities they are still sometimes looked upon with a bit of a stigma. Many people still are loathe to admit that they sometimes deal with feeling low or uncertain because they don’t want others to think something is wrong with them.

I would say that I probably have dealt with a low-level sort of depression for most of my life. But, I had traumatic events in my childhood that I believe account for them. And, for me particularly, I have developed skills and coping mechanisms that work for the times I feel a bit low. Self-care goes a long way for me — things like taking time to read, crochet or knit, or spend time with friends or family are often all I need to boost my spirits.

Also, even though I’ve not sought out therapy in a professional setting for those childhood issues (though I have seen a therapist for marriage issues which did inadvertently enlighten me about some things), I feel as though I’ve thought about those childhood traumas and through reading psychological articles and information learned in college while taking classes in the subject matter I’ve come to a place where the past is the past, and forgiveness and letting go is the present. So, day to day, I’m pretty good.

Sometimes, though, there isn’t a childhood trauma or other significant precipitating event that leads to depression or anxiety. There isn’t any one thing you can put your finger on and say, “Aha! That’s why I’m now dealing with these feelings.” Sometimes, it just is. For whatever reason, whether it’s just an inability to process and work through how one feels or whether there is a chemical imbalance in the body that triggers it, it’s just there.

Finding a good therapist is a great first step to trying to learn about and understand why you might be feeling depressed or anxious. Talking about how you feel and different experiences you’ve had in life can help to illuminate where these feelings come from and also result in developing ways to handle yourself to combat them. I’m no psychologist, so I won’t wax poetic about different coping mechanisms or cognitive therapies. But, I will say, if you are having difficulties emotionally do please consider giving a therapist a try. I personally found that the therapist I saw was really great at taking what I said and asking questions to help me to really explore the roots of things that happened, how they affect me, and provided much needed perspective and closure when necessary.

My daughter also deals with depression and anxiety, but at a more moderate level. Hers manifested as she progressed through adolescence into her teen years and had a more profound effect on her ability to manage daily living skills. However, hers isn’t rooted in childhood trauma. There’s not any one thing that any of us in the family can point to to account for it.

I recognized it and approached her to put feelers out to let her know it was okay to want to talk to someone about it, even if it wasn’t me. I offered to take her to a neutral, third party (a therapist) where she could explore her feelings with someone she had no relationship with and who she wouldn’t fear would judge her and who would help her. I kept the conversation brief and didn’t push the idea. Just laid it out as an option and let her consider it for a while.

Several days passed before she came to me and asked if I would make the appointment. That was more than two years ago, and she has been seeing the therapist regularly. It helped, quite a bit actually. Between the coping mechanisms I had passed on to her, and the ones she developed with her therapist, she was feeling better. But, she was still struggling with negative self-image, some anxiety in social situations, and generally feeling depressed — more than she liked.

After two years in therapy, her therapist and I decided it was time to explore medical options. Our pediatrician administered a depression index assessment and was, frankly, shocked at the score. Even with therapy, my daughter still scored as severely depressed. After extensive discussion about the length and type of therapy she’d been doing, among what seemed like a barrage of other discussion about everything from diet and exercise levels to what kinds of friends she hung out with to asking if she was using alcohol or drugs or having sex … our pediatrician finally felt informed enough to explore medication management.

We started my daughter on the lowest dosage possible of an anti-depressant which I keep separate from other medications in a place my daughter doesn’t have access to. I give her the medication daily and watch her take it. Not because I don’t trust her to take it appropriately, but because I just want to make sure it is getting taken regularly so that it can be effective.

After a couple of months, the dosage was raised very moderately and then was raised once more a few months later. She still takes a moderate dose daily. And this, in addition to continued therapy, has made a world of difference. She still struggles some days with her emotions. But I have seen the sparkle return to her eyes. I have seen the beautiful smile and heard the infectious giggles I used to live for when she was a little girl that I worried were gone forever. She isn’t hiding out in her room 24/7 anymore, avoiding contact with other people. Where one year at a family Christmas gathering she had an emotional meltdown while the family was having a White Elephant gift exchange game (because she thought she was ruining everyone’s good time) she is now the life of that activity, not only participating in the gifting but calling out the numbers for other people to choose from the gift pile, often in goofy, silly voices.

Therapy and medication have made a world of difference. But, still, her depression and anxiety are ever there and sometimes rear their ugly heads to try to topple her. We still look for other ways to help her feel the best she can.

For her, we’ve found that drawing and other art-based activities bring her joy. Also, we’ve found that tactile things bring her comfort. Not only tactile things that she can touch, but ones that have an emotional meaning, as well. For example, for Valentine’s Day this year her older sister gave her the cutest little stuffed toy, a sloth (because they are a favorite of both my girls). This is a cherished item that brings her joy, not just because she can touch it but because it was given in love. It reminds her that she is loved.

Another way to speak to her in her love language is with blankets. She loves them. All kinds. The softer and more comfy they are, the better they comfort her.

During my reading about depression and anxiety I came across some literature about weighted blankets and how they can help comfort people who suffer from these conditions. It hit all the boxes for me – it’s something she can use pretty much anywhere at any time she needs it, blankets are already a comfort item for her, and it’s an additional “therapy” sort of thing we can try that isn’t adding more medication to her daily regimen.

I looked at quite a few different brands of weighted blankets. I decided that The Boyfriend Blanket would be the one to try for my daughter.

The Boyfriend Blanket

Things to know about The Boyfriend Blanket:

  • It’s engineered to be 7-12% of your bodyweight to provide a calming effect, like being held. The blanket is available in three different weights based on the user’s body weight.
  • Dimensions — 48 inches wide, 78 inches long
  • The blanket uses DTP (Deep Touch Pressure) to evenly distribute weight, applying even amounts of pressure with non-toxic high-density glass beads that are sewn into pockets in the blanket to evenly distribute weight across your body.
  • Weighted blankets are a proven technology that has been used by the medical profession for decades.
  • In addition to being used to help those suffering from anxiety and depression, this blanket can also be used to help those dealing with PTSD, Autism, Stress, and Restless Leg Syndrome. But, anyone who wants to achieve relaxation and/or a deep meditative state will find the blanket beneficial.
  • It fits as a cover for a twin size bed quite nicely, but can be used anywhere you want comfort — in a larger bed, in a chair or on a couch, in a rocker, as you sit in a lounge chair outdoors, or even in the car on a road trip. Wherever you need comfort, you can take the blanket with you.

My daughter’s eyes lit up upon seeing it for the first time, really just because she loves blankets. The denim cover appealed to her, as well as the fuzzy wool side. But, when I told her about the weighted insert and how it could activate pressure points in her body to help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety I could tell her interest was peaked even more (from the fact that it could help her or because it came from me in a place of love and caring, I’m not sure). But, either way, she was all in for it.

The Boyfriend Blanket was inspired by denim jackets like the ones many boyfriends might give their girlfriend to wear to feel closer to them.
The wool side of the blanket. So soft and comforting!

And she loves it. The “Pros” of The Boyfriend Blanket are that it helps her feel more centered, more at peace and that it looks great and feels very comforting when using it. Depression can cause one to feel untethered, like they’re floating and not attached to anyone or anything, like they don’t have a place or purpose in the world. This blanket, along with the therapy and medication seems to help her feel grounded and centered. And loved. Most of all, loved and cared for.

So, we count it a successful addition to her daily routine.

As far as “Cons” of weighted blankets, I can think of only two:

  1. Cost — Weighted blankets can cost a bit of money, more than the average throw blanket found at many mass merchandisers. But, in terms of the still-affordable investment, I feel like the benefits way outpace the price. It’s so very worth it!
  2. The Boyfriend Blanket, in particular, consists of the weighted insert and a separate outer covering. There are ties sewn into the inside corners of the outer covering that anchor the weighted insert to it. Several of these ties have come apart from the outer covering, allowing the weighted insert to flop around inside the blanket. Not a huge deal, because my daughter loves it so much that she doesn’t mind having to fix it from time to time. I’m not sure how I should go about making the anchor ties more secure, but I’m pondering it over and I’m sure I’ll come up with something that will work.

Overall, I highly recommend giving a weighted blanket a try if you or someone you love deals with anxiety or depression or any condition in which applying small amount of weight to body pressure points may alleviate discomfort. There are quite a few on the market. And for the benefits, I think it’s a very affordable and worthy option to try.

Do you or someone you care about suffer from anxiety or depression? Are weighted blankets an option you would consider trying? If you have tried one, please feel free to share your experience here in the comments!

Winter Is Here – My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week Two)

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL-Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice & Embers Shawl KAL

Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones through the current episode, Season 8 Episode 2, then you may not want to continue reading this article. There may be spoilers contained within. Also, this is not a sponsored post. I am participating in a Marinade Designs GoT KAL at my own expense and just want to share my progress with our readers. No compensation is being received from the KAL designer.

Previous GoT Show Thoughts/KAL Progress Posts:

Week One

So, winter is here. The Night King and his undead army loom large on the horizon. And I know many people have expressed some concerns about the first two episodes of this final season being slow. Well, I for one, am really digging all the characters coming together again. Many of them have been flung to the far reaches of the landscape for multiple seasons and have gone through a lot of growing and changing. So, I think it’s good to see them come back together again.

If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis, this ain’t the place. I love the show, but I certainly do not portend to be the most knowledgeable. For crying out loud, I haven’t even read the books! Not that I won’t. I have them. But, I didn’t hear about them in time to delve in before the TV series started. So, I decided to wait a while before reading them so that I wouldn’t get the book events confused with the series events, since they quite often can differ.

Now that the end of the series is near, I will be picking up the books and having a grand old time rediscovering the characters all over again.

So, what do you all think of the final season so far? Brienne got knighted! Yay! Jamie was forgiven (sort of?) for tossing Bran out the window. (Meh. Ok.) Arya became a woman, all the way. (Some viewers are confused by this turn of events — and I mean, it was a tiny bit awkward, I guess. But, in my view if you are developed enough to become a world-class assassin, you go get yours girl!) And Pod can SING; who knew???

Sansa’s backbone is steel in the face of Dany’s thirst for the throne. (I always knew it would be.) And Dany is …finally… thrown off kilter by learning Jon has a stronger claim to the throne than she does, should he choose to pursue it. Confusion isn’t becoming to Dany as a potential kingdom ruler, but they do love each other so if they survive the Night King (and Cersei) I think they’ll work it out to rule together. I really do.

Tyrion is clever and intelligent. But, annoying, too. Let the Night King have him. (gasp, my husband would be mortified to hear that. He loves Tyrion!) And then there’s Theon. Theon, Theon, Theon… I’ve loved him, I’ve hated him, and I’ve pitied him. But, he’s here to defend Winterfell (after everything he did to destroy it) and I think I like him all the more for it.

I’m totally with many others when it comes to Bran. He’s creepy now. Way creepy. And NO ONE uses his gifts in a way that is helpful or strategic or intelligent. Like, no one. Maybe he creeps them out, too, but damn, dude! The Night King. Human annihilation. The end of the Seven Kingdoms as we know it. Get over yourselves people and use this guy to your advantage!!!

I can not wait for the battle to end all battles to begin in the next episode. Who will rise to the occasion and who will wimp out? One theory I’ve not heard mentioned is one that has crossed my mind a time or two. Will Jamie deserting Cersei change her mind about joining the battle? Will she ride in to lend her army to everyone at the last minute like the Knights of the Vale did in the Battle of the Bastards? I doubt it. But, it could happen, right?

I don’t even want to think about who’s going to die and who (if anyone) might survive. It’s massively overwhelming to think that even if our heroes win the battle and vanquish the Night King and his army, the landscape of the power dynamic is likely to be forever changed by which people survive.

So, I (like every other GoT fan) wait with bated breath to see what happens next. I have high hopes and expectations for the remaining episodes.

Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice & Embers Shawl KAL

On to the knit along I’ve been participating in that is themed for the final season of GoT. It’s the Ice & Embers Shawl from Marinade Designs. The above pic is from the article I posted last week about episode 1 of GoT and shows the very beginning little bit I’d completed of the shawl. It’s not much, but I had to do some prep work to ball up the yarn from hanks, knit the gauge swatch to make sure I had chosen the correct size knitting needles, etc.

Also, during that week, I’d been dealing with having the stomach flu. So, I’d been pretty well sidelined in terms of having energy and frame of mind to get much done on it.

This past week, immediately on the heals of getting over the stomach flu, I was slammed with a fierce sinus infection. I mean, come… on… ! For someone who doesn’t get physically ill much, this has been a crappy month healthwise for me.

Still, I did manage to get some more work done on the shawl.

Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice & Embers Shawl KAL-week two
Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice & Embers Shawl, week two progress

Even with being sick and also working on a few handmade knitting and crochet items for my daughter for Easter gifts, I’m pretty pleased with the progress I made overall.

Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice & Embers Shawl KAL-week two

I really love the edging of the shawl that is created with Make 1 Left stitches. I think it really sets it off with this line of V’s along the edge like that.

Still got a long way to go on the shawl, but it’s introducing me to a new project type and some new stitch skills. Plus, it’s just fun. And I think that’s the most important thing.

So, share! What are your thoughts about the final season of Game of Thrones so far? How do you think it’ll all turn out? What fun activities are you doing to make the most of it? Are you crafting GoT-themed items, attending GoT watch parties, gnawing your fingers to the bone in anticipation? Let us all know!!!

Winter Is Here – My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones through the current episode, Season 8 Episode 1, then you may not want to continue reading this article. There may be spoilers contained within. Also, this is not a sponsored post. I am participating in a Marinade Designs GoT KAL at my own expense and just want to share my progress with our readers. No compensation is being received from the KAL designer.

Game of Thrones is back! Finally! I know I’m not alone in my excitement. And I’m not alone in my complicated feelings about this being the final season, either. I don’t want it to end. But, at least this is a world I can revisit any time I wish to rewatch the series or read the books. So, there is that.

I am a crafter. During previous seasons of this show I’ve come across crochet or knit alongs themed after the show. I’ve been wanting to participate in one forever. But, timing … sometimes I kinda suck at it. I always come across these things after the season is already started or too close beforehand to prepare the materials to do so.

This year, however, I stumbled across some information about an upcoming knit along (KAL) from Marinade Designs themed for the final season. I was really excited because I had several weeks to get prepared for it. And I figured, it’s now or never, ya know?

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

So, this is it. The Ice & Embers Shawlette Game of Thrones 2019 KAL. I’m anticipating a fun time for several reasons:

  1. It’s a fun activity to stretch out the GoT fun during the final season of the show. I don’t work on it during the show, since I want to focus all of my attention on the action, obviously! But, as the husband and I are anxiously waiting for the show to begin on Sunday evenings, this will be a great way to get a little head start on the action. Then, I can also work on it during the week between shows when I have time.
  2. I’ve never participated in a KAL before. Not really. I started one once but didn’t get far at all before life got in the way and I also got a little bored, I guess. I’m looking forward to getting online with the group of other crafters also participating in this fun activity.
  3. I’ve been crocheting for 25+ years, but have only been knitting for the last few years. I’ve knitted a few scarves and a couple of afghans, but have never made a shawl. Ever. Not in crochet or knit. So, new type of project, new skills, and a fun and memorable finished item to wear.
Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

Of course, I’m not very far along since the season just started. But, still, what you see here is several hours worth of work.

The yarn came in hanks, so I had to untwist and wind it into balls. It can be a fussy process and needs to be done carefully. I found myself pondering previous seasons of GoT as I worked on it: wondering how the truth of Jon’s parentage would affect his budding relationship with Daenerys; with Sansa, Bran, and Arya; as well as with himself, ultimately. I mean, talk about a change of perspective on your place in the world! I wondered how all of the characters from the different houses would be able to work together to defeat The Night King and his undead army. I wondered how Daenerys’ heart will break to see her precious dragon that the Night King killed and then resurrected for his army. I wondered when everyone would realize that Arya had become such an accomplished little assassin.

Too many story arcs to touch on, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how this final season will tie up all the loose ends and if viewers will be satisfied with how it all comes to a close.

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

So here’s how I spent the last couple of hours before the premiere episode this week. I gathered the pattern I’d printed, the yarn, my adjustable knitting needles set, some scissors and a pencil. And of course, a snack and a glass of Diet Coke, I mean what’s crafting without that?!

I don’t think I’ve ever done a gauge swatch for any other project before. But, it states in the instructions that it’s important for this shawl. So, I knitted up the recommended amount of stitches and rows for the gauge swatch first. It turned out perfect. So, all good.

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

After unraveling the yarn from the gauge swatch I began to actually work the pattern. The Ice & Embers Shawl is of an asymmetrical design. It looks really pretty.

I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials on how to Make 1 Left and slipping a stitch purlwise with the yarn in front because I’d never done that in any pattern before.

I was movin’ along pretty well until I finished that first dark section and went back to the lighter color. I think I did something wrong. There was something off about the side. It wasn’t straight, it sort of dipped inward a bit. So, I tried to figure out where I went wrong, but wasn’t confident that I could back up and fix it. So, I ended up unraveling the whole thing and starting from scratch.

By the end of the evening, this picture shows how far I got. This is 35 rows of work. I wondered if I should have gotten further, but once I thought about it all told including this bit of finished work, the original attempt that I undid to start over, and the gauge swatch I completed before starting the project totalled 93 rows of work. The rows are short, but still… that’s a lot! And aside from a few minor mistakes, it went pretty well. So, I’m satisfied with myself so far.

Winter Is Here - My First Game of Thrones KAL (Week One)

I’m particularly excited for the last part of the shawlette because it features a stitch pattern the designer calls “Dragon Scale Lace,” that’s the larger end of the shawlette that is all the darker color. It looks so pretty and I can’t wait to try it!

If you are a knitter and would like to get in on this KAL, you can head over to the Ravelry page of the designer, Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich, and get started on one for yourself! It’s not too late to get involved.

There is a yarn kit that is recommended in the pattern that was dyed especially for this KAL. I didn’t end up going that route. I really thought about purchasing the recommended yarn, but I already had two hanks of really gorgeous blue yarn in Faded Ink from Miss Babs Inspired by Nature that I got from my Yarnbox subscription. I’d been hanging onto it until I found the perfect project.

I didn’t have a yarn that was similar to the lighter color recommended for the shawl, so I googled “Game of Thrones yarn” and found a company named Destination Yarn that had a selection of hand-dyed yarns themed after the show. I chose to purchase a colorway called “The Wall.” It has more turquoise in it, which is a favorite color of mine. I hope it works. So far it definitely has more bright color than the pattern-recommended yarn.

But, I’m committed now. So, onward!

I’m looking forward to coming back here every week and talking about what’s going on in GoT world and sharing the progress on my shawlette with all of you lovely readers.

What are you looking forward to most from this season of Game of Thrones? Have any show theories you’d like to share with us? Let’s gab in the comments!!!

Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully -- Tru Niagen
Beauty Brite Disclosure

So, I guess I might be considered by some to be middle-aged. But, in most respects, mid-forties doesn’t seem to be markedly different than the mid-thirties for me. The only thing I’d say that is noticeably different personally is that I seem to have a little less energy overall. At this point in my life, aging gracefully is pretty high on my radar, for sure.

When I was younger and had an idea about something I wanted to do there seems to have been more follow through. Life is give and take, where I had a little more physical energy when I was younger and tended to sit still less often I am now more likely to be still enough to choose projects more thoughtfully and intentionally.

So, here’s the give and take — when I was younger I did more things that required physical exertion, but now that I’m older I’m accomplishing more projects that require stillness. Like writing projects. Like planning things more thoroughly. Like starting crochet or knit projects and actually finishing them. Like actually trying more recipes where I used to just collect them thinking someday I’d get around to them.

Give and take. I’d say it’s a pretty essential skill for aging gracefully, in my opinion. Because nothing is sustainable long-term in life. You don’t have optimal energy from day one to the last day. You don’t have maximum intelligence all the way through. You don’t make the absolute best decisions.

I tend not to view a successful life in terms of having the best of everything or being my best self every moment. We all need those times when we just let it all go and give ourselves permission to be less than perfect.

But, do not mistake me for a slothful quitter. No, I do keep my ear to the ground to learn about new products and technologies that make life better, healthier, and more enjoyable.

Since decreased energy is a bit of a thing for me, I thought I’d share something I found that might help to address this issue. Tru Niagen™  from ChromaDex. It’s a dietary supplement, much like the daily vitamins many of us take to support good health. It contains 150 mg of niagen (vitamin B3).

Aging Gracefully - Tru Niagen

Tru Niagen™ is a form of vitamin B3 that combats aging by improving cellular health and increasing NAD levels in living human cells. NAD is important in how cells use energy. As we age, the stresses of daily life begin to deplete our body’s stores of this important coenzyme.

Aging Gracefully - Tru Niagen


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a coenzyme found in every living cell. It’s essential to every cell, but especially to those with mitochondria. That’s because mitochondria are “the powerhouses of the cell.” Mitochondria depend on NAD to convert food into the energy our cells need to stay charged and functioning at their best.

Tru Niagen™

So, I’ve been taking Tru Niagen™ for a few months and (aside from a couple of periods of having head colds or stomach flu) have noticed that I do feel like my personal energy levels are higher. I do deal with low blood iron and low vitamin D that contribute to my decreased energy levels. So, I continue to try to address those issues as well.

But, lifestyle changes like adding a multivitamin, eating healthier (or trying to, at least), and adding Tru Niagen™ to my daily routine seem to be having a positive effect. One of my first thoughts upon waking up in the morning used to be wishing I could turn around and just crawl back into bed for more sleep, even if I’d gotten a solid seven or eight hours of sleep. I don’t find myself doing that anymore. Also, most kinds of physical activity that required energy used to make me cringe since I knew I’d tire and want to stop, thus potentially leaving the entire project undone if I never went back to it. That seems to be something that I’m not having to deal with as much now, either.

Aging Gracefully - Tru Niagen

I am very encouraged regarding the effects of adding Tru Niagen™ to my daily routine. Because I, like most people, want to age well and remain intelligent and productive as long as possible. Anything I can do to try to have a good quality of life no matter how old I live to be is worth it. I still have a lot to look forward to in life and I want to be healthy enough to enjoy and appreciate all of it!

Obviously, I make no health or safety claims about using this or any other health supplement. If you are interested in this or any other product, please first take some time to do some research and to consult with your physician, as well.

Do you suffer from lower energy levels? What are you doing to address those concerns?

The Best Banana Bread Recipe I’ve Ever Tried

The Best Banana Bread Recipe I've Ever Tried--SImply Mudita Premium Stainless Steel 13 piece set measuring cups and spoons and equivalent chart


Beauty Brite Disclosure


Many years ago, when I got married, one of the gifts my grandmother gave me was a spiral bound recipe book (like the ones that churches are famous for creating). This one was from her own personal church and was filled with many different kinds of recipes contributed by her and other members.

[read more]

Best Gifts For Gamers

Best Gifts For Gamers--ROCCAT: Horde AIMO Gaming Keyboard

Beauty Brite Disclosure


Everyone knows a gamer. Many of our readers are probably gamers of one kind or another. I, personally, prefer fun little games I can play on my phone or iPad like word-themed games, or those where you build up a little town and trade gifts and help other players, solitaire-type games, mystery games, or coloring apps. Pretty basic and mundane, I suppose.

But, my husband and children are much more prolific gamers than I ever will be. They love all the popular games for the PC, Nintendo DS, Switch, Xbox and Playstation platforms like Left 4 Dead, Far Cry, Resident Evil, Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Zak & Wiki, Rock Band, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto, Assassins Creed, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Battlefield, Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted, The Last of Us, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Gears of War, Metroid, inFAMOUS, Call of Duty……

I mean, pick your favorite game of all time and they’ve probably played it at some point. I can’t keep up with it all. I know I sound like a total noob.

Since they’re all gamers, any time birthdays or Christmas come around I always kind of delve into this part of their world just a bit (enough to become thoroughly dazed and confused!) in search of gift ideas that they’ll love.

Over the years I’ve found some nice little gems and started something of a tradition in gifting to the gamers in my own family as well as outside friends and family that is pretty successful. Here are some of my ideas for the best gifts for gamers. Some of this stuff you already know if you have a gamer in your life. [read more]

Overhaul Your Snack Cupboard

Overhaul Your Snack Cupboard--Mrs. Renfro's Salsa-Eat Your Coffee Energy Bars



Beauty Brite Disclosure


Snacks. It’s an all-important segment of every shopper’s grocery list and a constantly evolving one for me. We love snacks at my house, but get bored with the same old ones every week. So, it’s essential to rotate what I buy to keep everyone happy and satisfied. I think my family appreciates the effort I make to find new and interesting items to nosh on while engaging in various home or on-the-go activities.

Mostly, I choose snacks with other family members in mind in terms of their tastes and what they might enjoy. Sometimes, I see a snack option while shopping that I just can’t resist buying for myself regardless of whether anyone else might also like it. Few and far between, to be sure, but I do succumb to my own personal snack desires on occasion.

I want to share two of the newest snacks to have occupied a space in my cupboard recently, Mrs. Renfro’s Gourmet Salsa and Eat Your Coffee Bars.

[read more]

Fun Stories Personalized For Your Pet

Fun Stories Personalized For Your Pet - Petlandia Book


Beauty Brite Disclosure



Here’s a unique gift idea for the animal lover in your life. Who wouldn’t find it fascinating and fun to receive a storybook personalized for their beloved pet?

My daughter is as big an animal lover as I am. And her cats are her life. She’s a young adult, not married or a mother, yet. So, her kitties are her babies. I thought it would be fun to include in her birthday gifts a fun little storybook from Petlandia, personalized for one of her furbabies, Gypsy.


Fun Stories Personalized For Your Pet - Petlandia Book


This is an item that will be great for anyone, regardless of age, I think. Or even for yourself. The colors and construction of the book are really very nicely done. And it’s not just a short story with no plot, either. It’s more than thirty pages long with a nice amount of text which reads with a good flow. The story is full of fun details alongside beautiful illustrations. [read more]