Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Party in Your PJs! #143

Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma IdeasWood of Bell Trees and... here!

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest
Heather ~ Woods of Bell Trees | Facebook | Instagram

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

 Heather @ Wood of Bell Trees

Heather is a wife of a peanut butter fanatic and mom of one silly human and one furry canine, wrangling life on 2nd shift and glitterizing everything as she goes!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at thecookiepuzzle@gmail.com

Features from Last Weeks Party!

 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party Board...you can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiration to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment, we all love comments
-If you were featured, grab a"Featured" button, found below.
-Consider adding our Party button to your Party Page or Post.

Review: Illumibowl - New & Improved!


Last summer, I did a review on a product called the Illumibowl. Let me give you a quick little reminder of what this product was all about. This is a motion activated light that adheres to your toilet so when you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, you do not have to turn the light on.

It really is a great concept and I was sure it would work well with my two young girls who sometimes have to get up in the middle of the night.

While I was very excited to try this product out and use it the first time, I was pretty disappointed at it not working correctly for me, as explained in my previous review.

Well, Illumibowl contacted me recently and asked me to try out their new and improved product, and write another review! I was happy to take on the task to hopefully be able to write a more positive review of their product. I was not disappointed this time around!!

This time, it not only works as I'd hoped it would for the girls, but they also love that our toilet bowl is pink when it is dark (you can choose from among nine different colors, but with two girls, pink it is).

So the original Illumibowl design had a backing of 4 suction cups that you adhered to the side of the toilet with the light bulb part inside the bowl, and for me I could never get it to stick correctly.

Once I did get it to stick, but the moment  I lifted the toilet seat lid, it fell onto the floor or into the toilet. Annoying to say the least.

This New and Improved design is just that, improved! They now have a flexible arm that rests right on the toilet base and hangs over, and they've gotten rid of those suction cups altogether.

I had suggested in my previous review that this product would work best with a hook type design and the new product essentially is just that. The flexible arm is great because it can fit on any size toilet with ease. I am highly satisfied now that I can actually use the product to its full potential.

They've also upgraded the light features! The original design also had nine colors and with both models, you could rotate between colors. 

They have now added a feature where you can click the button on the side of the device and it has 3 separate dimming settings.

I found this to be great, because some of the colors were very bright.

Although my kids loved it, walking in and seeing the brightest of greens in your toilet in the middle of the night is just sometimes a little much!  I want to keep my night vision at 3 am, thanks!

I absolutely love this new version of Illumibowl. My kids love it (still) and are now a little older so they are not obsessed with touching it, which is nice.

I would definitely recommend this to any of my friends. I think this would be a great product for any potty training parent, or really anyone in general. Great update, Illumibowl, and thank you for giving me the chance to try this out again!


Monday, January 30, 2017

WIPocalypse Check-in: January Progress


At the beginning of the month, I shared my Cross Stitch Goals for 2017, and set my intentions for January, as a part of the WIPocalypse Stitch-A-Long, a monthly gathering of stitchers showing off their monthly progress hosted by Measli's Musings.

I'd deliberately set myself some challenging goals that were within the realm of reason if all went well.... and then got derailed by things going not so well.

The month started off fine - I began with the first ornament the Satsuma Street 12 Days of Christmas set, and as I noted the other day, got it done on schedule!

Next, I turned my attention to one of my new starts - Mountain Bluebird with Black Currant, by Ajisai Designs.

I made pretty good headway on it for a few days, and then had to move onto something else because that was a whole lot of shades of blue, and I was starting to go cross-eyed! Thi will be added to the WIP (work in progress) pile until the next time it comes up on rotation.

What I didn't realize when I picked up the next item on my list (Ink Circles Metamorphosis) was that I was actually getting sick - I stitched a good way into the medallion on the far left, went to be feeling feverish and woke up to see that not only had I gotten it off by a couple stitches, I'd also apparently been stabbing at random, because many of my stitches weren't even X's!

Argh - so I put it away before I could stand the idea of frogging them all out (it is so much harder with variegated floss, but each X is don't completely, instead of going over a row in one direction, and then back across the whole row.

I was so discouraged, I didn't stitch anything at all for a week!

In the end I got it all frogged out and managed to lay in about half of what I'd taken out.  I'm going to keep working on this in February, because I'd really like to get it done.

Finally, I attempted to work on another small - this one a Halloween ornament - By the Full Moon, also by Ink Circles, originally published in the October 2010 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine.

Here again, I would have been farther along, except I chose a small bit of yellow silk thread for the moon, and got about half way through it before I realized there was no way I actually had enough for the job.  So, I frogged that back out so I could use a different floss - not only losing the time and effort, but I lost that silk, too.  Disappointing!  I'm going to put this one into the WIP pile for later, too.

For February, my intentions are to continue working on Metamorphosis, to do the 2nd in the Satsuma Street series, to pull out Lizzie*Kate's 100 Years to work on, and to do Primitive Hare's Regency Witch as my Halloween ornament for the month - this piece is a part of the On Wednesdays We Stitch Black SAL Primitive Hare did last year.

Finally, I'm going to turn my attention to some backstitch/blackwork, and tackles Steotch's Needle of Steel.

For this month's WIPocalypse, Melissa asked, "What Stitch-a-Longs (SALs) are you participating in this year?

This is the first time in several years that I've participated in any - I decided to be more orderly (and accountable) about my stitching for 2017, and went looking for some of the old SALs I used to love -and happily, several of them were!

So, in addition to the WIPocalypse SAL on the last Sunday of the month, I'm participating in the TUSAL each month on the New Moon, and the 2017 Smalls SAL on the last Friday of the Month.

I'm also posting on the Halloween Ornies blog and on the Christmas Ornies blog, and plan to participate in a few for the offerings on the Stitch Maynia Facebook group.

There are a few others I am peeking in on, but I'll enjoy them as an observer for this year, and decide what I can reasonably add to my own list for next year.

If you stitch - or just appreciate stitchery - I hope you'll check these SALs and hops out - there's a lot of creative inspiration out there!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Smalls SAL Jan 2017 (& TUSAL Check-In)


This year, I'm really trying to get more organized about my cross stitch goals - my intentions are somewhat aspirational - this month, I'd hoped to get 2 smalls (for me, that's stitchery under about 75 x 75 stitches) down, one Work-in-Progress (WIP) done, and headway made into a larger new start.

Due to a series of mishaps, including illness that must have had me delirious because it led to a lot of 'frogging' of malformed stitches, I completed one small - everything else is still 'in progress', and in some cases are going to take a daunting bit of frogging before I can get back on track.

('frogging' - picking out of stitches because they're in the wrong place or not well stitched. also known as ARGGGHHHHHH!)

Oh, well - more fun for later! hah!

I'll post on the WIPs soon, but meanwhile, this is my check-in with the 2017 Smalls SAL - if you enjoy stitchery, stop over and check out what other small stitchery projects people have gotten finished.

2017 Smalls SAL Jan

This is the one item I finished this month:

Partridge in a Pear Tree by Satsuma Street
Stitched on 14ct Charles Craft Aida Brights: Polar Ice
Used suggested DMC floss colors
63 x 49

I'll be stitching one of these each month, and then finishing them invidually after they're all complete - I'm hoping to turn them into a banner decoration for next Christmas.

Meanwhile, after a few years of not doing it, I'm going to be participating in the oddest little SAL (Stitch-a-Long) there ever was - the New Moon TUSAL.  That translates to Totally Useless Stitch-a-Long, and is just a place to show off ones snippets and scraps (whether you embroider, engage in yarn-arts, or quilt), often referred to as ORTs (Old Ratty Threads).

I keep mine in a little Mason jar - there is also a makeshift wrist pincushion on it for when I need to park a needle for a little while.  Emptied out at the end of the year, here is where it is now after nearly a month.

For me this is a way to remind myself that I have gotten some stitching done and to (theoretically) keep those little snippets from being all over the rug or my chair or my clothes.

Those solid bunches of floss are not a good sign - that's where the stitching went bad and had to be taken back out. Rest in Peace, wasted floss and time.  I hardly knew ye.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #97

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's a bit of what we've been up to this past week - if you haven't checked these posts out yet, I hope you will!


And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thoughts on the Women's March 2017: What Now?


A couple of us at RCH took time out on Saturday to attend to attend one of the Women's Marches being held around the globe.  We wanted to share a few of our experiences, what it meant to us, and offer some ideas about where to go from here.

As a starting point, is the big question of 'what was it about?'  The answer is multi-faceted, because women are half the population, and we are touched by many, many issues, as are our children and yes, the men in our lives as well.

The best way to understand why so many were moved to show up is look at the Women's March Unity Principles (and download the .pdf for a longer explanation).  While not everyone will be passionate for every one of these issues, there are plenty of areas  for people of different backgrounds and priorities to find connection points - and hopefully, the Women' March will be the starting point for us all to find ways to work together for a better future for everyone.

We'll talk more about that later in this post - but first we want to share a few impressions of the marches.

from Lynda (& Michael), in DC:

We live in the DC area and while I wanted to attend the Women's March, I was concerned - I have rheumatoid arthritis with mobility and balance issues, and I expected it was going to be very difficult. But in the end, I knew this was going to be an historic event, and I didn't want to miss out. My husband Michael was also eager to go, and I knew he'd help look out for me.

We used the Metro, DC's subway system to get from our Virginia neighborhood into the city and we knew before we'd even gotten on the train that this was going to be big - probably way bigger than predicted.  On a normal Saturday morning, the trains would be empty, but that morning, the platform was full of people, many in pink hats, and several trains went by, already too full to take on more than a couple people in each car before we finally managed to squeeze in ourself.

My general impressions of the day were that it was crowded, and yet most people were very polite and concerned for one another's well being, and while there was anger at policies contrary to issues of concern, the general mood was not bitter, but energized, and upbeat.

Several women I spoke with had come from other places around the country - in many cases, places where there was not a lot of open support for feminism or environmentalism, or anti-racism. Many had felt alone - well, when you're surrounded by over half a million fellow marchers, you can know one thing at least - you are not alone!

I also spoke with veterans of previous marches, including a gentleman who'd traveled up from South Carolina in 1963 for Dr. Martin Luther King's March on Washington, and come up again to join us for the Women's March.

In our case, we were attempting to get to a planned meet up place with friends, and were stopped by a solid wall of people about half way there.  Cells weren't working, and it just became a 'go with the flow' sort of day.  We could hear the various speakers from one of the many jumbotrons set up in the area, and I was able to find a bit of wall to perch on.

There were so many of us that they had to alter the march route - we were already covering the entire route!  So after several hours of speakers and performances, we headed off on the new route and it felt good to move.  I am still googling and re-listening to our various speakers now that I can do so from the comfort of my own home.

I'm proud of DC for the friendly, gracious hospitality it showed the participants of the Women's March, and I'm proud of those who marched for coming out.

While this was for many a direct protest of the current administration, it was so much more than that - I especially appreciate those people who came out and identified themselves as conservatives with concerns.  We all desperately need to move beyond party divisions and find places where we can agree and hold our government officials accountable to hear us.

I think this is a good start - if we don't stop our momentum here.

from Jackie, in Heidelberg, Germany: 

I found out about two weeks out that there was going to be a Woman's March near me, just under a two hour drive in Heidelberg, Germany.

My usual go-to companion for things like this was going to be in Vienna that weekend, attending the March there. Due to other scheduling conflicts, it wasn't looking possible to go with my husband and children.

In the end I sucked it up, looked past my social anxiety and asked around about a possible carpool. The day before, I managed to find a very nice stranger who was willing to let me ride up with her and another. She informed me that they didn't have time to make signs, so I decided to take some time that morning to whip a few up for us.

The three of us spent the drive sharing stories about ourselves, injustices we had faced and reasons why this was important to us.

When we got in town, our first stop was a small woman-owned shop that printed clothing on site. Jackie, the other girl with us, pre-ordered a sweatshirt. I didn't come with a ton of cash as this was short notice, and while I mulled over whether or not to purchase one, Jackie insisted on spotting me the cash, saying I would greatly regret this in 50 years if I didn't buy the shirt.

I had a nice talk with the owner who told me that  they had gotten about 5 orders a week, until the last 48 hours when they got no less than 200 pre-orders, and people were coming in every few minutes for more. That made me very happy!

When we latched in with a moderate-sized group from our area, we headed to the starting point.

Unfortunately we couldn't hear the speeches from where we were standing, but took the time to talk to those around us. There was women and men, young and old, many with children, disabilities, people of color all there for similar reasons.

I loved reading everyone's signs!

Even before it started, my feet were hurting, it was a cold day, and I was fighting off a cold (and realizing I'd left my inhaler at home!) but this wasn't about me.

It was bigger than any of us, and I knew it would all be worth it.

Once the March kicked off, I forgot about all my discomfort and lived for the moment.

We were somewhere right in the middle of a thousand person march. We could hear chants starting up front, but it would take a while of rolling through the crowd before it became audible to us.

“Show me what democracy looks like - THIS is what democracy looks like!”
“Woman's rights are human rights!”
“Black lives matter!”
“No human is illegal!”
“Refuges are welcome here!”
“Love is Love!”
“Enough is Enough!”
“No Justice, No peace!”

And many more....

We kept getting in an unfortunate cycle of them changing the chant and not being able to hear the new one as the people behind us were still on the last one. But overall our march was very well organized, polite, peaceful and cathartic.

It's important to remember that this was the pep rally. We've got a long game still ahead of us. This brought us together to get pumped up for the upcoming human rights battle.

from Stes, in Vienna, Austria:

How inspiring it was to march with 1000 women, most of whom are not American, and how great of a human connection I felt to all those people standing with us.

Today, I am overwhelmed by the amount of love I felt at the Women's March in Vienna.

from Caity, in South Carolina:

We are women. Hear us roar.

On Saturday, I proudly participated in the Tricounty Women's Sister March.

Our chants called for unity, love, equality, and peace. Full families marched together. I never heard one child complain about being there. Instead they asked their parents about what this meant and why it was important.

Even in the little town of Clemson, SC with a population of 12,000, there were about 500 of us that took up one lane of traffic.

One little girl looked at my pink "pussyhat" I knitted last night and asked her mother, "Is that one of the ones you knitted?" Her mom and I shared a smile as she shook her head no. The hats resulted in a five year old girl asking her mom why we were wearing cat hats. Her mom hesitated and then told her it had to do with Trump disrespecting women.

I wore my blue lipstick and almost cried 3 times.

Cars drove by honking encouragement. The mailman cheered us as we let him through our ranks to continue his route, and the service attendants at the Valvoline Oil Change yelled their support from across the street. The Cat bus even honked support on his route.

At one point, a woman in a hijab drove by waving with her husband and 2 children in the car.

My closest advisor and mentor was one of several Clemson professors I saw marching with us along with the pastor that advises Clemson's Habitat for Humanity Chapter.

I am so happy to be part of something that is around the world today.

Today, we rise and fight.

So NOW What?

The March wasn't a one day event - we spent some time together expressing ourselves as a movement - for many of us, it was a budding realization that we wanted to do something regarding issues we hadn't thought much about or maybe even knew about. For some of us, it might have been the first time we spent time with people whose lives and experiences were not similar to our own.

So, what do we we DO with that?

First, we have to fill the holes in our knowledge and understanding - instead of shaking our heads and simply thinking "I don't understand why people like that say/do/think the things they do" as if our lack of understanding makes them wrong, we need to sit ourselves down and listen. We then need to go do our homework without forcing them to explain it to us repeatedly.  The best explanation I've seen about how to go about this is How to Survive in Intersectional Feminist Spaces 101.  Seriously, take the time to read it if you marched and want to do something with all that energy and excitement it raised for you.  Read it if you didn't march and are wondering what  the heck we came out for.

Now that you've (hopefully) gotten a lot of things to think about and have allowed yourself to be a little bit uncomfortable about how much there is still to learn, I suggest re-reading that Women's March .pdf I mentioned at the top of this post - four pages of issues to get involved in. Exhausting, right?!  So maybe pick 2-3 of them you can get behind enough to put some energy behind.  Seek out and join organizations that work for those efforts, whether it's Planned Parenthood or the ACLU, or Habitat for Humanity.

Then start really paying attention to what our government is doing, for better or worse.

We've all gotten far too used to thinking of The Government as Them - some entity apart from us, and beyond our reach.

But WE THE PEOPLE are the Government.  We put politicians in office to represent us and to act on our behalf - and the only way they can do that job responsibly is if we do ours.

Our job doesn't stop when we've voted. We should be calling our representatives regularly to tell them what we wish them to do in our name.

Don't forget to tell them thank you when they do something that you approve of - like all human beings, positive reinforcement is a motivator!

The more they know for sure that we are watching and are engaged with the details of governance, the more likely they will act with integrity and responsibility.

If you want to know more about how well this sort of active involvement works, read the Indivisible Guide - it is written by Congressional Staffers and begins by explaining how the Tea Party went from protest movement to a force within the government.

Writing and emailing is another way to contact them, although emails and letters are easy to pile up for 'later' and ignored - not good, especially  when it comes to timely issues.  So you have to CALL.

Many of  us HATE talking on the phone - this isn't easy, but you can get over it with practice, and you get practice by making the calls regularly.  How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxiety can help walk you through it.

Currently, there are several people and grassroots groups that are putting out very simple daily or weekly instructions on actionable steps to take, including subjects to call about, complete with scripts (very helpful if, like me, you get tongue tied when you try to speak off the cuff).

Here is a very incomplete list of resources to get you started.

Women's March: 10 Actions/100 Days
Start with the Women's March organizers themselves - they are providing a variety of simple, sensible steps to carry us through the next 100 days.  If you've never engaged in any sort of activism before this is a good place to start.

Weekly Action Checklist for Democrats, Independents & Republicans of Conscience
Scroll to the bottom for Jennifer Hoffman's link to a list full of action items for the week. Pick a few and be the change you wish to see in the world!

We Are the 65
Another list of weekly actions to take.

5 Calls
A list of 5 phone calls you can make daily.

Robert Reich - The 1st 100 Days
President Clinton's Labor Secretary has brainstormed a list of several ways to get involved politically.

Don't forget you can also visit you Representatives in person, either at their office or when they hold Town Halls. Follow them on social media to see what their schedule looks like.

Running For Office
The final thing you can do if you are so motivated is run for office!  You likely have numerous opportunities at your local level which is where change begins.  This list of resources will help get you started.

I hope that if the Women's March spoke to you, you'll do something with that inspiration - this is our future, our children's future.  We have a right and a responsibility to make our voices, in all our diversity, heard.