Stay Connected In Style

Just about everyone is on social media. We all love our podcasts, music, videos, and more. Let us show you how to stay connected in style!

Stay Connected In Style - Stylaga Sunglasses and Over The Ear Earbuds
Beauty Brite Disclosure

Summer style is all over the place. Just look around, it’s a hot topic on social media with all the cute clothes and sandals and on travel sites advertising vacation destinations. I’m currently awaiting my next Stitch Fix box with clothing and accessories chosen by a personal stylist. It’ll be here just in time to choose some cute new stuff to take on our beach vacation next month. I’ve been a Stitch Fix customer for over a year and have my shipments set up to come every other month. I love it because I hate shopping and trying on clothes in some dinky fitting room. I love having stuff sent to me to try on in my own home. It’s really exciting! But, I digress…

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A Tale About Power, Corruption, And Flash Mob Mentality

A Tale About Power, Corruption, And Flash Mob Mentality - Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Blink (November 5, 2019)
Language: English
Beauty Brite Disclosure

It can be difficult to find books to read that truly feel like they have a unique story line. I feel as though author, Kimberly Gabriel, has achieved that with Every Stolen Breath

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Holistic Skin Care For Him And Her

Skin 2 Skin Care - Holistic Skin Care For Him And Her
Beauty Brite Disclosure

As I approach middle age, skin care seems to be on my mind more and more. I don’t suffer from rashes, reddened areas, acne or overly oily skin. But, I have definitely noticed that it looks duller, is drier, and a little less elastic around my eyes. Also, thanks to a few sunburns back in the day, I do have some uneven skin tone to manage.

Increasingly I am paying attention to skin care regimens that offer a more holistic, natural approach to their product line ingredients and more eco-friendly manufacturing practices. I find it interesting that most skin care products are marketed to women, as though men don’t care about their skin. Well, maybe they don’t. But, I love that Skin 2 Skin offers a product line geared to human skin — all skin, regardless of skin type, gender, or age. Pretty cool, I think.

I tried a few of their products and I have to say that I found myself really consistently using them. I know. Surprised me, too!

I’ve bought many skin care products over the years, but after a few uses I often get lazy or forget I even have them. A recent afternoon spent cleaning, purging, and organizing my bathroom ended with a trash bag full of stuff — including a couple handfuls of those frangrance inserts from magazines, broken hair bands (why did I KEEP those?), nearly empty lip gloss tubes, and unsurprisingly more than a few old beauty products that got lost in the endless mounds of creams, cleansers, toners, hair masks, makeup, etc. that a bathroom can accumulate over time.

But, the Skin 2 Skin products are the only ones that I use consistently enough to garner a place on top, in full view, right next to the sink. And since I like a pretty minimal look in that area, that is really saying something.

Also important, they contain no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or other harmful ingredients. They are certified vegan and cruelty-free. 

Here are the items that I’m using:

Skin 2 Skin Care - White Tea Face Wash

White Tea Face Wash, Hydrating Daily Cleanser – This one is used more than all the rest. White Tea is one of my favorite scents, hands down. It just has a clean, fresh smell that invigorates me. Which is why I also regularly buy the White Tea scent of liquid hand soap to have on hand for the million times a day that I seem to use it! 

One of the few makeup items I use daily is mascara. I hate a face wash that smears it around and requires multiple applications to get it all removed. This one gets it all the first time, with no lingering mascara residue to deal with.

Skin 2 Skin Care - Enzyme Renewal Mask

Enzyme Renewal Mask – As much as I love the daily cleanser, this one is just as great a product. It exfoliates and smooths my skin, leaving it feeling fresher and newer than before. Additionally, it also helps reduce redness and discoloration. And it contains antioxidants and vitamins to moisturize and hydrate skin. 

I don’t do spa days, but I have had facials at those home parties like Mary Kay and Avon or whatever and the way my skin feels after using this mask is very much like that. It feels like I’ve pampered myself, for sure.

If I had to choose only two items to have, the daily cleanser and renewal mask would be my choice. The other three I’m getting ready to talk about are great, too, though. So, you decide for yourself based on your skin’s needs which ones would be in your top two.

Anti-Sagging Renewal Serum – Featuring the PepStem4 Ultra-Lift™ Complex of Tripeptides, Dipeptides and Stem Cells, this one is astonishing in its ability to take the slacking skin on my forehead and, to some degree, under my eyes and make those vulnerable areas feel firmer.

It has really firmed up my forehead skin that seemed like it was starting to feel a bit less fixed in place. Like, you know when you wipe sweat off your forehead when it’s hot outside? I was starting to notice that instead of the skin staying firmly in place like when I was younger, it seemed like the skin wanted to drag with my hand a bit. This helps with that. Ditto under my eyes, where I’ve noticed in recent years that when I wipe under them with my finger that the skin wants to come along for the ride.

Revitalizing Eye Gel – I’m starting to get sagging under my eyes sometimes, occasional puffiness, and the beginnings of crow’s feet. In addition to helping reduce the appearance of aging this product just gives the skin around my eyes a much younger, healthier, tighter appearance overall. It’s really an amazing eye gel. Again, I’ve tried all kinds, but Skin 2 Skin is my favorite — by far!

And since my eyes and lips are the best features of my face, in my opinion, this eye gel might (on second thought) give the renewal mask or the daily cleanser a run for the money on being one of the two I’d keep if I had to choose. 

Aging Intervention Cream – Even if you weren’t interested in any of the previous cleansing or firming products mentioned, this would be the one I recommended as a basic, daily item that everyone could benefit from. Every one of us has to be out in the world daily, so everyone’s skin is affected by environmental factors ranging from sun exposure to pollutants. If you only try one Skin 2 Skin product, this one should be it. It’s a deceptively simple daily moisturizer that features a dizzying array of benefits.

It not only moisturizes, but also will reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the occurence of blemishes, has anti-aging benefits, and supports overall more youthful and glowing skin. 

Seriously, there are too many awesome ingredients and skin issues that Skin 2 Skin products address for me to be able to do them any justice without droning on and on and on. But the gist is that they are a “science-based, natural plant powered formulation infused with essential nutrients, plant stem cells, multiple anti-oxidants and peptides” to not only renew skin and give it a more youthful appearance, but also to repair damage. — Source: Skin 2 Skin Care website

Skin 2 Skin Care - White Tea Face Wash - Enzyme Renewal Mask - Aging Intervention Cream - Revitalizing Eye Gel - Anti-Sagging Renewal Serum

Take a few minutes and click on the links for each product yourself to see information about what scientific formulas are in each product, and which plants are used in formulating each one. This is an extremely impressive (and multiple award-winning) brand. You will be as impressed as I am, I promise!

What is your biggest skin issue? Would any of these products help you address it?

Holistic Skin Care For Him And Her

Holistic Skin Care For Him And Her

Holistic Skin Care For Him And Her

Holistic Skin Care For Him And Her

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

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 6 (The Series Finale), 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

Week Four

Week Five

Game of Thrones is over. Finished. No more new stories about our favorite characters to look forward to (well, except for the ones George R. R. Martin will tell in the book(s) that will complete the novel series).

I haven’t read the books yet. I have all of the published books sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me. But, I wanted to watch the show before reading them. This is an odd sentiment for me, usually I like to read the book before watching any kind of visual adaptation. Therefore, I have enjoyed the series in and of itself without having the author’s version playing tug of war with the TV show version in my head.

However, I don’t typically have much of a struggle in that area anyway as I never go into a TV show or movie expecting (or even wanting?) it to be everything the book was word for word. It’s unrealistic, first of all. It’s just not do-able. Especially for authors like Martin (or Stephen King — and oh yeah, there’s a can of worms the little internet birdies love to fight over).

I’m not worried that I won’t enjoy the books now that the series has concluded. I will. As their own entity, entirely separate from the show.

I, personally, think that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (along with everyone else involved with the making of Game of Thrones for HBO) have done a stellar job!

Did I like every story arc? Meh. There were a few along the way I didn’t love. But, there were plenty I did get very invested in, and even some I wasn’t into in the beginning that grew on me over time.

So, final thoughts. I wish Varys hadn’t been executed. His story was one that didn’t grab me in the beginning. But, I came to love his character and his story very much! Sad to see him go. But, wow! Death by dragon breath… what a dramatic way to go if one has to go!

Tyrion Lannister is another example of a character that grew on me. Initially, my interest was captured by other characters’ stories (Jon Snow’s, Ned Stark’s, Arya and Sansa Stark’s, among others). But, as the seasons of the show progressed I became more and more interested in his character.

And Dany. Tragic. Just tragic in all the best senses of the word how her relative innocence at the start of our journey together with her shifted through the years and then semmingly so very sharply in this final season as she finally was about to claim her hard-fought for victory. As I mentioned, perhaps, in a previous post, I’d seen the flashes of her character along the way that hinted at potential madness, but hoped against all hope that the goodness of the people helping her to reclaim her family legacy would make the difference in how she progressed toward that goal. And I think they definitely did. She suffered too many devastating losses too closely together near the end of her journey, though. And I was sure it would be too great a toll for her to bear and recover emotionally from. So, as tragic as her end was, it was pretty darn perfect in my opinion. Great story-telling, even when it’s not where many wanted it to go. Can’t all have the happy ending, dear GoT fans.

I think this is why the fans that are upset enough to start a petition to try to get HBO to remake the final season irks me so much. Number 1, it was an awesome show start to finish. The writers cannot (nor should they be expected to) cater to everyone’s desires for what direction the show or its characters take. Number 2, I think it would have been a great injustice to the material and the actors to end the show by putting a fairy tale ending where everyone lives happily ever after on it. GoT was always known for it’s unexpected and shocking content. So, kudos to the creators and all involved for trying to wrap up some of the most important storylines, even though I think the show could have easily gone quite a few more seasons doing just that, wrapping up and leaving behind all the many, many stories of all the different people, locations, and happenings that we would all love to know about.

Too many characters to do a blurb on them all. That would be a blog series all its own. But, my personal conclusion is that this is easily the TV series that will top my list of favorites forever. It will be one that I re-watch and love all over again for all of its triumphs and all of its tragedies alike for time immemorial. I will, of course, move forward and read/watch new stories and love them — but, I think for many years to come Game of Thrones will serve as a measuring stick (however subconscious) that future entertainment will be measured by, in my mind.

Now, on to the books. I can’t wait to revisit some storylines (and discover others that never made it to the HBO screen)!

Week Six Progress

So, as I predicted, I was not able to finish the Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawlette GoT KAL by the time the finale aired. If you look to the upper left of the shawl, that bit of blue yarn sticking out is where I started this week’s work. Not a lot of progress. However, I did finish up Section 2 and start into Section 3 of the shawlette, the larger, all blue section that has the dragon scale design. And, as I have never done an intricate knitting pattern like this before, I did have some issues with following the more complicated pattern stitch combinations at first.

Week Six Progress

I had to watch some YouTube tutorial videos to learn, for example, how to do this stitch combination: sl1-k2tog-psso. That means to slip a stitch from one needle to the next, then knit the next 2 stitches together, and then go back and pass that first slipped stitch forward over the 2 that were knitted together. It’s not difficult, just took me a while to get comfortable with it.

I somehow got off pattern during the first row of the dragon scale lace section that included these stitch combinations and had to painstakingly (and oh, so slowly) undo the whole row of stitches at least twice to try to get it right. And, let me tell you, I am not experienced enough to just remove my needles altogether, frog back in the work, and then pick up the stitches again. It would be so much quicker if I could. But, I’m not to that level of proficiency yet. So, for me the work was painstaking and so very slow to go back and undo stitches one by one back to where my mistakes were so that I could fix them and then move on! That took me a lot of time.

It has been a challenge. I have only been knitting for a few years, and mostly stuck to fairly simple designs. So, moving into the dragon scale lace section has been a learning experience for me.

Week Six – the open spaces created to define the dragon scale design

That said, I am still very much enjoying the work as I progress ever closer toward the end of that project. And I find myself mulling over the show as I do it, which is very nice! I’m learning and getting better and now (6 rows into this last section of the pattern) I’m finally getting the hang of it. I expect the rest of the pattern to go much more smoothly and faster, too.

So, look for one more article in this series in about a week or two. I can’t wait to finish this project, not only to see it all done but also because I’m itching to get started on another Game of Thrones KAL from the same designer that she created for a previous season of GoT.

It’s the Stormborn Shawl, inspired by the character of Daenerys Targaryen and released in 2014 during a previous season of the show. It looks like it features a very similar (if not the same) dragon scale design element. I’m currently finding online retailers from which to buy the yarn for this project.

I’m very sorry that Game of Thrones is over. It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed every single season of the show. I am looking forward to new projects that are in development at HBO set in the Game of Thrones landscape created by George R. R. Martin. I’m really hoping they create one that I’ve heard mentioned that is a prequel to GoT and focuses on events long before there was a Westeros or any of the powerful houses to rule it.

At least, for now, I still get to look forward to watching the HBO Documentary, “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch” later tonight (all about making the final season of the show). It’ll “almost” be like being back in the GoT world for a little while.

Are you looking forward to any of the HBO shows reportedly in development that are Game of Thrones-inspired? If you could pitch a show idea to HBO, what would you like to see — Arya’s adventures west of Westeros where the maps don’t go, how and why the children of the forest created the first White Walker? Even if what you’d like to see onscreen hasn’t been mentioned anywhere yet, I’m interested to know!

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

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 5, 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

Week Four

This week has been a pretty hectic one. School is coming close to the end for the year, so there are after-school band practices for my daughter’s upcoming concert, there have been doctor appointments, and my mom’s 70th birthday, and a wedding for the daughter of one of my husband’s friends going on — all right on top of Mother’s Day last weekend.

So, I’ve not had a lot of time to just sit and knit. Still I am just about done with Section 2 of the Marinade Designs Ice & Embers Shawlette (Game of Thrones Final Season KAL). So, I’ll take it.

I’m pretty sure (pretty absolutely sure) that I made a mistake in the first blue stripe of Section 2 and made the peekaboo holes too far apart. But, I was loathe to backtrack to do it the right way. I liked the way it looked and the stitch counts come out just right. So, onward.

Here’s how the asymmetrical shawlette is shaping up as I come to the end of Section 2. Section three is completely knit in the dark blue yarn and will feature a dragon scale lace pattern. Looking forward to it!

Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice and Embers Shawl KAL-week five
Week Five Progress
Marinade Designs Game of Thrones Season 8 Ice and Embers Shawl KAL-week five
Week Five Progress
Week Five Progress

Man, I’ve been procrastinating about writing this week’s article, because episode 5 of GoT really has had my head spinning. I wasn’t really expecting Dany to lose it on King’s Landing like that. I did pick up on all the little hints of potential madness going all the way back to the first season of the show. Like when she watched (insisted on watching!) her brother die by golden crowning. And when she roasted the Harpys. There were other moments.

But, I really thought she’d been keeping her head together pretty well until after the battle at Winterfell. She didn’t get to be the one to save everyone from the threat of annihilation (thanks, Arya! LOL), everyone heaped praise on Jon while she was largely alone during the feast, she had just discovered Jon is really a Targaryen and thus a threat to her claim to the Iron Throne, and homeboy is not exactly on the romance train with her anymore now that he’s weirded out by their family relationship. AND she is still suffering acutely from the loss of most of her beloved Dothraki and the cruel dispatching of Missandei by Queen Cersei. Plus, now she’s lost the second of her three dragons, her babies.

All the foreshadowing I needed of her potential mind snap was when she told Jon she has no love here in Westeros. We all need that. It’s what makes life worth anything, right?

So, I was surprised but not really surprised to see her use Drogon to honor Missandei’s last word (and avenge the death of Rhaegal) perhaps a little too literally. Plus, it’s not like it really hurt Cersei to see King’s Landing and all its residents roasted and/or crushed to death. She doesn’t care about them, she only gets emotional when it becomes clear that she will lose this battle and not only die herself, but her unborn child will also die. Outside of her personal sphere of existence, she couldn’t give a crap how anyone else fares in this war. I kinda felt like Dany shoulda known that and thus limited her total destruction bid to Cersei’s armed forces, the scorpions, the Red Keep and Cersei, Qyburn, and the Mountain.

Ahh, the Mountain. And the Hound. Cleganebowl! It was pretty flippin’ epic. Start to finish, the fiery, fiery finish.

I still don’t know how I feel about Arya’s sudden turnabout upon the Hound’s advice that she should give up killing Cersei and go home or else surely perish. I kinda feel like Arya woulda been just fine with her life coming to an end if it meant also taking out the last name on her list. But, if anyone could’ve had that side convo with her, I guess the Hound was the right choice for it. We’ll see where she goes from here. Many people think Dany is now on Arya’s kill list for what she did to King’s Landing, and I have to say I cannot disagree with fans on that point. It’s gonna be fascinating to see where that story arc goes!

As I belatedly send this article to publish on the blog, there is only a few minutes to go until the series finale of GoT airs on HBO and my husband and I have just finished re-watching episode 5 in preparation for this event. How do you think the series will wind up? Who do you believe (or hope? or fear?) will ultimately sit the Iron Throne when it’s all said and done?

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!

Weighted Blankets: Pros and Cons

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.

Weighted Blankets: Pros and Cons - The Boyfriend Blanket
Beauty Brite Disclosure
[read more]

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

WHAT IS NAD?

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.

Source:
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.

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