Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bluprint -vs- Creative Bug

Photo by Surene Palvie from Pexels
I love all types of crafts, from needlework to making wreaths, so I'm always doing something with my hands and always looking for new and interesting things to try. I've done subscription boxes, combed the net for new projects, watched hours and hours of YouTube and am a member of a couple of guilds.

When I check my email, I'm always getting offers to join a new club, take a new knitting class, etc., and honestly, it seems like every time I try these things, they are underwhelming and I end up cancelling after just a couple of months.

Bluprint


So when Craftsy starting sending me their offers, I did the free week, downloaded a few of their free classes and patterns, but couldn't justify the price. Then Bluprint merged with Craftsy, and the price came down. I got some great offers, but still didn't join. Well, the price came down more and after a week free preview, an offer for a free knitting kit, I said to my husband I'm going to try it out. I paid the yearly fee up front (saving some money there) and picked out my kit from their list. I chose the LaMott Wrap Knitting Kit by Erika Flory featuring Cloudborn Highland Sport in the Santa Fe colorway. Within 2 days from the time I signed up, my kit was in hand! I was impressed with the quality of the Cloudborn wool as well as the pattern instructions. The kit retails for almost $47 - over half of what I paid for my yearly membership ($79.99)

The classes are well done and very professional looking. Yes, you can probably find videos that cover some, if not all, the topics on YouTube, but I can tell you, I've spent a lot of time trying to find exactly what I needed and weeding through a lot to finally find it, and sometimes the information that is given is not correct. Provided with the classes are downloadable materials. They may include patterns and/or other helpful information.

Another perk from the Bluprint membership is 12 keep forever classes that you choose. If you decided not to renew your membership, those classes will always be available to you to watch - as well as all the class materials that come with them. You get the codes for 3 of them every 3 months.

Included with the membership is free shipping on any order from Bluprint's shop. I didn't think I'd use it really, because the prices I viewed as a non-member seemed a bit high. Well, I got a surprise with that! Members get 15% off, which is ok, but the real savings comes from their coupons. For example, I found a 60% off coupon code on my member page off one item. I used it on a wool sweater kit. I chose the largest size I could  buy so that I was sure I'd definitely have enough yarn. This kit also has a class that goes with it, so not only am I trying a new technique, but I have a class to explain everything about this sweater. The cost? $33 including shipping! I got a lovely wool cardigan kit for the cost of what I would have spent on acrylic yarn to make the exact same sweater!

I have made a couple of other purchases since I've been a member, and believe me, the savings alone has more than paid for my membership! Everything is shipped by FedEx and I usually have the items in hand in 2 days. (This time frame could be different, depending on where you are located).

Creative Bug


Right after I became a member of Bluprint, I received a free month trial from Creative Bug. I wanted to compare both to see which was more useful and a better deal for me. Creative Bug offered me a membership for $7.99 a month and I couldn't find any place to pay for a year upfront.

With that membership came the video classes, class materials, patterns and CBTV.  Currently, they are offering a $10 JoAnn gift certificate when you become a member. I didn't find any other perks besides the videos, classes and Creative Bug TV.

The videos that I viewed didn't seem to have the same professional quality that Bluprint's has. Now, to be fair, it could only be the ones I chose and may not be that way with all the videos. It's possible they were older ones. The class materials were decent. I downloaded a couple of patterns and they were well written and easy to follow. One nice thing I came across on the videos I watched, was the opportunity to download a transcript of the class. It appears you had to download one for each segment, but still, it's nice to be able to have it in print instead of trying to find what you need in the video.

Which Is The Best?


So which is the best for you? It depends what you are looking for. With Creative Bug, you don't have to make along term commitment, since you pay monthly, you can cancel at any time, however, I could find no option to pay quarterly or yearly, so I found discounts on that price. I do know they run specials from time to time, so you may want to sign up for the newsletter to see when their offers become available. If I remember correctly, there was an offer for half price off of their normal price. Currently a year of Creative Bug runs $95.88 (12 x 7.99)

For me, Bluprint was the better deal. With free shipping, a free kit, amazing coupons and sales, lots of free patterns and nicely done classes/videos,  I am thrilled with my membership!! My yearly membership was $79.99. I've seen Bluprint have other sales and membership  has been lower. I've also seen quite a few nice offers of gift certificates. I'd suggest getting the Bluprint newsletter and checking the offers for yourself.

My only regret is not joining Bluprint sooner!

***Please note - I paid for the membership out of my own money. I was not given anything or asked by either company to do a review. This if from my own experience and sharing to help others decide if they want to try either/both companies out.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?

Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?
by United Church of God
Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published March 11th 2012 by United Church of God
ASIN: B007JLNGP4

This free book can be found at:
https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/holidays-or-holy-days-does-it-matter-which-days-we-observe

A short but very well researched book on the history of the traditional Christian holidays. This looks into the pagan holidays and celebrations and how the early Church incorporated pagan traditions and dates to draw in members.

This book concentrates on Easter, Christmas, Halloween, and briefly touches on Valentines Day. It does discuss what days we should observe, but is covered only briefly. Personally, I'm on the wall with the suggested days we should be observing, but only because I have not researched them.

What I really find fascinating, is how we, as Christians, can shake our head and wonder how those in the Old Testament could worship an idol on one day and then turn around and honor the Sabbath on the next. If one looks at the background and history of the days that Christians currently celebrate, you'll see nothing has really changed!

Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? is a must read for any and all Christians!

**Please note: The Bible references used in this publication are NOT KJV. There are not many that were quoted, but I used my KJV alongside to compare and make sure it was still an accurate reference. There are many scriptural references that you will need a Bible to look up anyhow, since you are given just the Book, Chapter and Verse. Although short, expect to take a bit of time to really look up everything verse that is given.

This book is from my own personal library.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Let's Talk... Menopause

Menopause.... a thing I heard about some, usually in jokes, but never discussed. Because it was never discussed, I had no idea what to expect and that discussion could have prevented lots of heartache, pain and frustration. I have decided to tell my story, with hope that it may help someone else.

My mother died when she was 56 and had a hysterectomy at 36, so I never witnessed menopause in my immediate family. So when I entered this new phase of my life, I had no idea what would happen. I had no older female in my life that could tell me that I wasn't going crazy. No one to explain the moods or feelings I was having. There was no one. Every older woman I was close to or would trust with the feelings I was having, died. My life, my sanity and my marriage were in shambles and I had no idea what happened or why.

In my late 40's was having crazy periods. For more than two years, they were extremely heavy and clotty. I was told that I was pre-menopausal and it was normal. When I was 50, they slowed down, stopped, and I had spotting from time to time. When I was almost 51, I caught the flu, became very ill and ended up with bronchitis. I was so sick and ended up losing 25 pounds in a month. Right after that, I found I couldn't sleep. I'd go 24-48 hours with no sleep, then I'd get a couple of hours the next night, and I'd be back awake for another 24-48 hours. I moved to the living room couch so that I wouldn't disturb my husband.

Night after night, I'd be awake and to pass the time, I'd be online playing games and chatting with people all across the world. There were hot flashes mingled in this mess, but I didn't realize it since it was summer.

With no sleep, came the crazy thoughts, wild moods and depression. It started arguments and strife in our home. Finally I went to the dr. to find out if I had a brain tumor or was just going crazy. He smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said it was just menopause and it will pass. I was having a little more difficulty because of the severe weight loss from my illness and more hormones being released more quickly.  I was told to take some melatonin for my sleeplessness and relax. No real help there.

By that time, our communication at home was bad. My husband never saw the effects of menopause on any of his family either, so he didn't know what to expect and thought I had decided I didn't want to be married to him any longer. I was sleeping on the couch and was online all the time. He asked me to go to counseling, but I refused. I didn't want the counselor to blame all on me. Besides, I asked him earlier to go and he refused, so I was just getting even, or so my crazy mind told me.

Well, things spiraled out of control. I got paranoid, thought he was having an affair and the melatonin didn't help. Things got worse because of the hormones and lack of sleep. Sadly, my marriage didn't survive, my adult children were heartbroken and I ran away to another continent to sort things out.

I came back, became employed, got my own apartment and finally, FINALLY turned my focus back to God. The Lord helped me heal as I started to read my Bible again. When everything happened, I tried to hide from the Lord because I failed so miserably. I ruined so many lives and my own marriage - something I treasured more than anything. When I finally surrendered, went to Him in prayer and accepted everything that I had done, I felt a weight lifted. I then started to read my Bible, and took a challenge to read all of Paul's books once a month for 12 months. That was 3 chapters a day. That challenge changed me.

The best part is, the Lord not only healed me, but brought my husband and I back together. We remarried and life has been amazing since. We don't take things for granted any more and more importantly, we keep God at the center of our marriage.

I don't remember all the craziness of what happened for about 2 years, so much was like I was in a fog. My husband will tell me things that happened and honestly, I don't remember much. There's so much to this story, but I won't bog you down with details, as this is so long as it is. I do thank you for sticking to the end, and I pray that my story may possibly help someone who didn't have some to turn to.

If you need someone to talk to - I am here and would be happy to help. God Bless~

Friday, July 12, 2019

Creative Ewe: Crochet Creativity. Don’t Miss This!

I absolutely love the message here - and it doesn't need to be with just crochet. This holds true everywhere!!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Disappointed With Ravelry

On June 23rd, I logged in to my Ravelry account and as usual, looked at the Ravelry main page to see what amazing patterns or designers were being featured. Instead, there was a posting saying that they would no longer allow support of our President and his administration. Those that supported them would be banned. Instead of a NO POLITICS, there was a NO TRUMP policy. Why? Because according to those that run Ravelry, those that support President Trump and his administration were white supremacists! Then, they stressed the importance of inclusiveness and how everyone should be included. My chin hit the floor.

If I voted for Trump or if I'm a Conservative is no one's business but mine. I have never posted anything political, racist or anything offensive about anyone. I went to Ravelry to gather with like minded fiber artists for education and encouragement - and that sharing ran both ways. I have been on the receiving end of help as well as giving it. Unfortunately, that feeling has gone by the wayside. I am no longer comfortable in what is called an inclusive environment when it is obviously not.

People became labeled as white supremacists because they didn't believe what those that ran Ravelry does. Tell me how this is any different than the bully on the playground telling you that you had to do whatever he said or think the way he thought, or you'd pay one way or another? I remember being a child that befriended someone that my friends didn't like. They told me I had to stop being friends with that girl or they'd stop being my friend. I thought it was absurd and didn't follow their rules. I was mocked, kicked, punched, shoved, etc. every time they went past me to let me know that I was going against their "rules". Yes, we made up and became friends again, even though I never unfriended the girl they wanted me to, but there was a level of distrust from then on. I always wondered what I'd do to make them angry again. Tell me how Ravelry's new policy is any different?

When we allow labels to be put on groups, then we notice a difference and hatred gets a foothold. Don't believe it? Watch a group of young children play together. They don't notice race, religion, IQ scores, or anything like that, until it is pointed out to them. They do see differences, but accepted it like hair and eye color. Discrimination and hatred is learned as soon as it is labeled.

Tell me, why can't we all just be a group of people who love the Fiber Arts? Why does politics, religion and sex have to be allowed when it should be excluded - they are hot topics and have no real place in a group that many of us use to escape from our daily lives. It WAS a safe haven for me. Obviously, it is no longer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Darn Good Yarn Subscription Box

Subscription boxes... you hear all about them, but are they worth it? Some are, and some aren't -IMHO. I have tried quite a few and will discuss them in future posts, but I really need to share one that I'm currently subscribed to now. It's called the Darn Good Yarn of the Month Subscription Box from Darn Good Yarn. When I subscribed to it, there was a code that made the first month free. At the time of this post, I see the code is still active. It is at the top of the page in large white letters on a blue header. If you're interested in trying this out - now's the time! The normal price for each month is $10 plus shipping. The cost of shipping will depend on where you live, but for me here in the US, it is about $4.

What separates Darn Good Yarn from other yarns? Their yarn is made from reclaimed silk that would have been normally just thrown away! I love the idea of making something useful out of something that would just become more landfill. The yarn is interesting. I've used three different skeins of their yarns and have enjoyed each one of them. They are, of course, silk and they are a lot of fun to work with.

The subscription boxes contain a pattern, a skein of yarn and a surprise. The pattern has both a crochet version and a knit version of a project, so you don't have to worry about choosing one that is for your favorite craft. I love the versatility of the kit. Sometimes I like the knit version of the project better than the crochet version, and vise versa.  My first kit allowed me to add a surprise item for $5. Of course, I had to add it to the box! When my first kit arrived, it contained a pattern for a cowl, Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk in the Rainbow colorway, a set of knitting needles and a crochet hook, both in size 5.0mm (their surprise) and the $5 surprise was a skein of Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk in the colorway Crimson Fire.

Since both skeins of yarn were the same type, I worked up both versions of the pattern. The crochet version is called Ripples Neckware by Victoria Dorn, and it was the perfect design to use the Rainbow colorway with.  This cowl worked up so quickly and in the round, so there was no seaming and just ends to weave in.  I love how bright and cheery this cowl is. Although you cannot really see it in the photo, this is done in a ripple pattern.

The knit version, called Snow Big Deal Cowl by Darn Good Yarn was knit using the Crimson Fire colorway of the Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk. Both cowls turned out nicely. The directions are easy enough for a beginner and each uses one whole skein. I did have a very small amount left from the crocheted version, but used the whole skein with the knit version.

My second box contained a pattern, a skein of Darn Good Yarn Fancy Twist Silk in the colorway Pink Flamingo and a needle bag. The bag is the perfect size to hold the needle set included in the last shipment. Each month, a few items are offered at a special price to subscribers and you can add 1 or all of them to your shipment if you want. With this box, I chose a handcrafted yarn bowl. I had expected my shipping costs to go up with this added item, but it didn't! So no only did I get the bowl at a great price, but there was no extra charge to add it to my order.

The second box contained directions for an adorable bag called "Treasure Keeper Pouch" by Darn Good Yarn. It comes in both a knit and crochet version. I did the crochet version because the dimensions were a bit larger and the bag would be more durable. I followed the directions with no modifications and found I didn't have enough yarn to make my tie the length that was specified on the directions. I was off just a bit, but still had enough to make a decent size bow when I tied it.

I am enjoying the subscription so far and will continue it. So far, each skein of yarn has been 50 grams and the patterns are designed for the yarn you receive. I like that you can pause the subscription if you need to take a break from it for a bit. I find the yarns different and fun to work with and the patterns, so far have been useful. This bag will be used as a gift bag.

The hand made yarn bowl was an add on.
The needles, crochet hook and case were the surprise gifts
from shipments one and two
I'm looking forward to next month and can't wait to see what yarn and pattern I will get - as well as the surprise. There have also been a few nice offers of exclusive add-ons that I'm mulling over. I'm sure at least one will be added to my next shipment.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Handwriting On the Wall



~Author Unknown


A weary mother returned from the store,
Lugging groceries through the kitchen door.
Awaiting her arrival was her 8 year old son,
Anxious to relate what his younger brother had done.

“While I was out playing and Dad was on a call,
T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall!
It’s on the new paper you just hung in the den.
I told him you’d be mad at having to do it again.”

She let out a moan and furrowed her brow,
“Where is your little brother right now?”
She emptied her arms and with a purposeful stride,
She marched to his closet where he had gone to hide.

She called his full name as she entered his room.
He trembled with fear–he knew that meant doom!
For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved
About the expensive wallpaper and how she had saved.

Lamenting all the work it would take to repair,
She condemned his actions and total lack of care.
The more she scolded, the madder she got,
Then stomped from his room, totally distraught!

She headed for the den to confirm her fears.
When she saw the wall, her eyes flooded with tears.
The message she read pierced her soul with a dart.
It said, “I love Mommy,” surrounded by a heart.

Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she found it,
With an empty picture frame hung to surround it.
A reminder to her, and indeed to all,
Take time to read the handwriting on the wall.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Hearts Set Free

Hearts Set Free
Author: Jess Lederman
Publisher: Azure Star, LLC
Paperback, 398 pages
ISBN: 9780998603018
Genre: Christian Fiction

About the Book:

Hearts Set Free weaves together three tales of men and women who journey from the darkness of doubt to triumphant faith and from the ache of loneliness to everlasting love:

In 1930, the rag-tag riffraff of a railway stop called Las Vegas need a fighting man to shepherd their tiny church after their pastor is murdered. Might David Gold, a washed-up boxer and Bible-school dropout who fights as the Pummelin' Preacher, be the answer to their prayers?

At the same time, Luke, a native Alaskan boy, is on a quest to find his father, who has abandoned his family for a beautiful woman his mother vows to kill. Little do mother or son imagine that their journey will take them to a small town in Nevada where demons and angels walk among men.

In 2011, Science Cable T.V. producer Tim Faber is determined to prove that mankind has no need of God, while his lover, Joan Reed, strives to regain the faith of her youth. They're bound for Las Vegas to meet with 99-year-old Luke, who holds the key to a mystery they must solve--and answers that will forever change their lives.

Hearts Set Free is a coming-of-age story with strong female characters and historical figures who interact with an unforgettable fictional cast.

My Thoughts:

I will admit, when I first started this book, I really wondered what I got myself into. I had a hard time at first with the time jumps and I abandoned it for a couple of weeks. At that time, I was down with the crud, and I probably had issues of concentration because of feeling so absolutely miserable.

I gave it a second try, and I'm happy I did. The second time, I was mesmerized by the characters and how everything unfolded and linked together. These stories of going from doubt to faith are amazing and just what I not only love to read, but needed to read!

Usually after I finish a wonderful book like this, I pass it on to someone else. This time, I've given it to a family member with the request that it comes back so that I can read it again. I am sure I've missed a number of things that I'll be catching the next time I read it.

Hearts Set Free is a historical/current time Christian fiction book that is worth reading - and reading more than once. It has some fantastic and strong well developed characters that I ended up loving. Make sure to add this one to your must read list this year!

About the Author:

JESS LEDERMAN graduated with a B.A. in music from Columbia University in New York, and a lust for expensive pianos drove him to an unexpected career in finance. As a young man, Lederman gained much that the world had to offer and became a gambler, womanizer, and arrogant atheist. Then the writings of Francis Collins, C.S. Lewis, and George MacDonald transformed his life, inspiring him to become a follower of Christ.

Lederman is the founder of the website The Works of George MacDonald and is well known worldwide to fans of the much-loved Scottish minister and novelist. He published over forty anthologies on the global financial markets during his business career and now devotes himself to writing fiction. Lederman remarried after his first wife’s passing and lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two young sons. To keep up with Jess, visit his newly designed website: https://www.jesslederman.com .


I received a copy of this book from JKS to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students - Review

The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students: Study Guide with Leader's Notes
Author: Kristen Hatton
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press; 2018
ISBN: 978-1948130066

About the Book:

The first in a series of small group studies for teens and young adults that traces God s story of redemption through the whole Bible, The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students is a twelve-lesson resource written by Kristen Hatton to teach students how to study God's Word and connect it to their lives.

As students come together to read and discuss they will discover that, just like the ancient Israelites, we all need a Redeemer. As the Israelites grumble, complain, disobey, worship false gods, and try to be their own Savior, teens and young adults will see that they too do those same things. But they will also see how God gives grace to the guilty and over and over again comes to the rescue, pointing to the deliverance of God s people that is later fulfilled in Christ and the gospel.

With each easy-to-use, self-contained lesson that requires no outside work and can be completed in just one hour, teens and young adults will find and meet Jesus in unexpected places and see the pattern of redemption present even in the Old Testament. As they learn that the entire Bible is one unfolding story about Jesus, and that the same God who spoke to Moses also sent his Son to redeem us from our sins, study participants will better learn how to read Scripture and view it as the manna needed for their daily life.

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, I won't be able to comment on the scriptures or how doctrinally correct they are. I have had some issues with blood clots and my eye, so had to put things aside, causing me to become seriously behind on reading and studying. My notes were separate as I was using a egalley instead of a hard copy, and for the life of me, I cannot find those notes! So, this won't be the indepth review that I had originally planned. My sincere apologies.

First, it appears The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students is a combination of both leader guide and student study guide. That may be a plus or a minus, depending on your needs and your personal preferences. This also does not use the KJV, so, I'm not recommending it. The book focuses on Exodus and how it pertains to teens, life and Christ. It is supposed to get them focused and interested to dive into group discussions and hopefully will lead them to study more on their own.

This is one of the few studies on the market geared towards teens and it had some good points as well as some things I wasn't so sure about. I just wish I could find those notes to discuss it more. If I find them, I'll make another post and will post a much more indepth review.

I received an egalley of this book to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel - Review

Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel
Author: Drew Hill
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press; 2018
ISBN: 978-1945270895

About the Book:

Alongside is a much-needed resource for both parents and those in youth ministry. In this transformative book, Drew Hill unpacks the challenges teenagers face and how youth leaders and parents can share the gospel with them at this crucial age. Full of practical insight and biblical knowledge, Alongside is an invitation to love teenagers well with the hope of the gospel.

Our teenage friends are full of questions and longings. They're trying to figure out who they are, where they belong, and if they matter during this pivotal time of development all while facing new realities of loneliness and isolation, despite their social media followers.

Teenagers want to be chased, and Alongside brings Scripture to life and helps parents and those in youth ministry practically connect the life of Jesus to the lives of their adolescent children and friends.

Through Scripture and captivating personal stories from years of experience working in youth ministry, Hill pulls back the curtain and invites readers to step into the unfiltered world of teenagers.

How do we start meaningful conversations with our teenage friends? How do we build trust across the dining room table? What would it look like to prayerfully cultivate a group of leaders or parents with a shared goal of seeing Christ transform the lives of teenagers in our communities? What does Jesus have to say about caring for our middle or high school friends and how can he use us in his plan to rescue them?

Alongside offers practical application and biblical truths to highlight the complexities of relational youth ministry, address the needs real teenagers encounter in their daily lives and engage their hearts rather than just their behavior. Hill explores what it looks like to not only share the love of Jesus with our teenage friends but to share our very lives with them as well.

My Thoughts:

Alongside is definitely a book written by someone who knows teens and how to communicate with them. Drew Hill does a remarkable job of illustrating how to work with teens and connect with them. I promise you, that reading this book will give you much needed insight - no matter how much you think you know about talking to this age group. Kids need you to be on their level and believe me, this book will show you how to get there.

This book is a must for anyone who has a teen, knows a teen or works with a teen. It will change not only how you communicate with them, but will open a great door of understanding towards them. This is the secret to success to pass on the Gospel without them shutting down on you.

I received an egalley of this book to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

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