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

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 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.

[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]

Delicious Keto Coffee Recipes

Delicious Keto Coffee Recipes - Bullet Proof Coffee - Hala Tree Coffee - Java House Cold Brew Coffee

Beauty Brite Disclosure

 

First of all, Keto is the latest lifestyle trend because many are having such successful results! Being on the Ketogenic Diet for nearly two months now, I can definitely agree that it has made me feel much better and caused my energy to increase.

In contrast, it took some time for me to get used to such a new way of eating. For example, embracing butter and oils. For my entire life, I can only remember hearing about the benefits of a low fat diet. Adding coconut oil to my coffee and cooking with butter? The horror!… [read more]