Charmingly Modern

A difficult knitting project: On the Needles

I mentioned that I had started doing social media work at my local yarn shop and recently I wrote about a difficult knitting project I’ve had sitting on my needles since February. It’s a cardigan, called Thyone, with some cool colorwork. It hasn’t been the best project, though, and I thought I would share in part what I wrote over there. You can check out the full story by clicking the link at the end of this post.

“On the Needles” is a new feature I will be posting here on Charmingly Modern once a month. You’ll see another one soon, though, for July because this is just a re-post from another site! I’ll be posting on the dress I’ve been working on since June. I can’t wait to share it :)


I’d had Thyone in my favorites list for ages. It’s a knit cardigan with an awesome slip stitch pattern.

It was one of those projects. The kind of project that sits in your list because you’re waiting for the perfect something – the perfect time to cast it on… the perfect yarn.

knit cardigan

My perfect yarn turned out to be the Shibui Baby Alpaca that had been sitting in my stash for ages. It’s so unbelievably soft and I had two colorways which made it perfect for this project. And the perfect time turned out to be a chilly night in February, when I was sick of the never-ending winter it seemed like we were trapped in and I was looking for something to take my mind off the next wave of snow flurries predicted in the forecast.

Unfortunately, this story is not a romance. Me and Thyone? Yeah, we didn’t get along. Don’t get along. Because it’s still on the needles. Hence why I’m writing about it for this feature. The knit cardigan of my nightmares.

Haha, not really. I’m being dramatic, but… well, keep reading and you’ll see.

Click here to keep reading my post on Yarn Stars – A Cool Knit Cardigan: What’s on the Needles

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Spray Painting Furniture: A Couple DIY Projects

I wish I would have invented spray paint.

It’s so genius! I’ve always been a fan of it. It’s an easy fix for pretty much any thing that you’d like to tweak the look of. I’m no stranger to spray painting furniture, so of course I had to pick up a couple bottles for some projects in the new house.

There were two projects I wanted to tackle right away – nightstands in the master bedroom and a mirror for the hallway off the kitchen. The point behind these projects was to transform things we already had for as little money as possible, to just kind of get us by until we could budget for something “better.” What’s funny is these placeholder things are so nice that I think I can live with them for the long haul. Let’s get to the projects!

Old Nightstands Made New

Part of our new furnishings budget included money for a king bed and mattress, but no other bedroom furniture. We waited until Macy’s was having a great sale and we purchased a Serta iComfort mattress (don’t ask me the name because I can’t remember), which is their line of memory foam mattresses, and the bed from the Edgewater collection. The bed was on sale for a ridiculously low price ($349!!!!) and the mattress was also on sale so we really saved a ton but not enough to justify getting anything else from the Edgewater collection, unfortunately.

No matter, though. We had two perfectly good nightstands from our old master bedroom setup. The only problem? They were white.

master bedroom

I have no idea why the lamps are not centered on those nightstands in this photo, but it’s driving me crazy! Anyway, you get the idea – the nightstands were a creamy white and that was not going to work with our new bed.

I went to Home Depot and checked out my spray paint options and, luckily, I found a color that is a perfect match to the stain on the bed. It’s called Satin Dark Walnut and it’s by Rustoleum (that link is for a 6 pack of cans. Guess you can’t buy individual cans online!). This project only called for 2 cans so it was under $5.00 to re-color the nightstands.

spray painting furniture

First, though, I removed all the knobs and took the drawers out. I thoroughly cleaned the drawers and body to make sure there was not a single speck of dust or stray hair. I used a Melaleuca cleaner called Tough & Tender, but any cleaner will do. I would recommend not using paper towels to wipe down surfaces, though, just to avoid leaving lint behind.

spray painting furniture

Once everything was dry and ready to go, I got to spray painting! Everyone knows how to spray paint – there is really nothing to it. The secret is slow, steady swipes to make sure you have an even coat, especially on vertical surfaces.

This paint covered extremely well. I was really impressed and it only needed one real coat. I went back and touched up a few crevices I had missed on my first pass through and that was it. To go from a creamy white to a dark walnut in only one coat was really nice!

I let all of the pieces cure over night in the garage before re-assembling and bringing it all upstairs.

spray painting furniture

You can see that I didn’t spray paint the insides. Partly out of laziness, but also because I am planning on covering the insides in fabric. I was kind of sloppy since I thought I would be covering so there are drips on the insides of the drawers, as well as areas with light coverage.

Anyway, during the 24 hour period of having the nightstands cure, I hit up Home Depot again in search of some updated looking hardware for the drawers. We had installed a ceiling fan with a brushed nickel finish so I wanted something in a similar finish, that was sort of angular.

I ended up finding these -

spray painting furniture

Unfortunately, I can’t find these on Home Depot’s website, but they were about the same price as this knob. I needed 6 of them, so my total came to about $27.00 before tax. The whole project to upgrade these nightstands was about $35.00, give or take some cents. Definitely can’t be that!

And I’m pretty happy with the final result -

spray painting furniture

This is just an iPhone photo. I’m saving the better photos of this room for a later post, because I have another furniture project I did for a dresser since we didn’t have the budget to get the one in the Edgewater set.

A mirror turned chalkboard

My second spray paint project was turning a broken mirror into a chalkboard for our kitchen hallway/garage entry area. I really wanted a mirror for this area and I had the perfect one, but unfortunately it didn’t fare well in storage and ended up cracking.

The mirror originally hung in Ezra’s room -

The mirror is an antique on my mom’s side of the family so the last thing I wanted to do was throw it away. I decided to attempt to repair the crack and transform it into a chalk board.

First, I put superglue in the crack and clamped both ends for 48 hours to make sure the crack was good and closed up -

Then I thoroughly wiped down the surface and, when it was dry, I started spray painting. I picked up a bottle of Rustoleum Chalkboard Spray Paint at – you guessed it – Home Depot. This project cost me just $3.98 (including tax)!

chalkboard spray paint

The mirror turned out better than I could have hoped and, best of all, I didn’t have to throw it away! Now I have a really cool chalkboard in the hallway. It’s been fun to draw different things on it, like for Ezra’s birthday when I drew a train on it -

train chalk art

You can still see where the crack is, but that’s okay. All I care about is that it’s usable and not in the trash!

I have a few other spray paint projects I plan on working on soon -

  • Changing the color on the frame of an antique mirror hanging in the entryway
  • Changing the color of the end tables in the living room (they’re just IKEA Lack side tables so if this project fails, no big deal)
  • Changing the color of the record stand in the dining room

I’m really itching to add more personality to the house now that we’ve been here for a couple months so these projects will definitely help with that.





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A quick little life update

It’s been quiet around here!

If you’re visiting my site from the Drees Homes blog – welcome! And thanks for clicking over :)  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. Drees Homes contacted me a couple months ago about guest posting on their blog here and there. My first post went live just the other day. You can check it out here – Custom Home Building Myths, Busted!

I just thought I would do a quick catch up before I get back into the groove again.

So, what’s new with me?

I’ve been working on knitting some diaper soakers to put up in shop next month. Here’s a newborn one that’s just about finished. I’m using duplicate stitch to put a bird on it.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my plan I put together for the shop. I still have some more thinking to do before I share my thoughts on it, but I don’t think Charmingly Modern’s store is quite where I want it just yet. I’ve been trying out so many different ways of doing things and with each on, I’m definitely getting closer but something is just not right yet. I picked back up the creative business plan I’d been working on (which I will share more about soon) and it helped me remember some of my original ideas and hopes.

Going along with this is I also recently took on a position at a local yarn shop as their social media manager. I designed their website, Yarn Stars, for them and now I am not only handling their social media accounts, but I will also start writing content for their blog. I’m really excited about this opportunity, but it also means less time to knit for my shop. Sometimes it’s strange the way life takes you. Just when you think you have a solid plan and direction, an opportunity comes along and you just can’t say no.

The position started July 1st so I’m just breaking into it and getting a routine going. In between that, I have been cracking down so hard on our eating out spending. I cannot wait to update about it and the plan I’ve got going. I also have a few thoughts on couponing and how I don’t really think it’s saving us as much money as I thought it could (couponers around the world are now collectively gasping at my blasphemy).

Anyway. I just wanted to say a quick hello and share this little update. Thanks for reading :)

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Family adventures, alpacas and fire trucks – Looking Back, Looking Ahead #4

I’m so late doing this update but I wanted to write it anyway because last weekend was packed and I don’t want to forget any of it.

Last week was busy, too!

I started brainstorming a shawl idea to prep for the September launch of the special collaboration I am doing with my sister to come up with a unique shawl design based on one of her poems. I have a skein of Unique Sheep yarn that isn’t really a color that looks good on me so I thought it would be fun to experiment with. So far, I’ve figured out how to make a flat, even line by doing successive increases and yarn overs. This is the yarn I’m using (and you can see Caspian in the background!) -

unique sheep yarn

I was also working on the bolero jackets that will be stocked in the shop starting in July. I know I know – July is not normally a month when you think you would want to wear a jacket. But these aren’t cold weather jackets. They’re more like fashion accessories and they are knit up in a very lacy pattern, using a cotton yarn, so they’re lightweight and comfortable.

knit bolero jacket

This is kind of random and has nothing to do with what I was up to last week, but I’ve been using vitamin E oil on my nails and can’t believe how much they’ve been growing. Obviously, if you’re reading this and don’t know me in non-blog life, this doesn’t mean much to you because you have never seen my nails before. But, normally they were always breaking or I could never grow them very long without clipping them short again.

I’ve also been taking a hair, skin and nails supplement because I want my hair to grow fast so I can get out of this awkward hair length phase I’m in. You know the phase. When your hair is too short to really do anything with it still (like – no ponytails, no headbands without looking like you have alfalfa sprouts all over your head), but not really short enough to style in a cute short-haircut kind of way. I’m getting my hair done next Monday and am so looking forward to getting it shaped up.

So during the week it was a lot of knitting. Thursday we sort of started the weekend early with a fun little event our neighboring city put on called Touch-A-Truck. City vehicles were out and parked in a local high school’s parking lot and kids could come check out and sit in the different vehicles. They had two fire engines, an ambulance, a special ops unit, a command center unit (which was like a huge bus and actually was financed by the Department of Homeland Security! It was pretty cool.), a couple police cars, two different tractors, a loader, a bob cat, a garbage truck, a tow truck and a street cleaning truck.

Ezra’s least favorite was the tow truck because it was very loud and really large. You don’t realize how huge a tow truck is until you’re right beside it. His favorite was the fire truck that had the ladder fully extended – he kept calling the truck Cranky (the loading crane from Thomas the Train). And he also loved the tractors.

Friday I meant to go grocery shopping but never made it (I actually ended up not making it out until Sunday!!!) and instead we ate out at BW3s and grabbed some frozen yogurt.

The rest of the weekend was full of family activities. The three counties that make up this area have farm tours at different parts of the year, which means that a handful of farms participate and open their proverbial doors to the public for a day of visiting and learning about the farms in our area. Saturday was one of those days. Fourteen farms were participating and we couldn’t make it to all of them, but we did make it to two – Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm and Kinman Farms.

alpaca farm


We learned that the Alpacas with the puffy heads came from a farm in Idaho that liked to shear their Alpacas that particular way. I think it makes them look hilarious. Ezra couldn’t quite figure out what an Alpaca was – he kept going back and forth between calling them cats (and then subsequently meowing at them) and calling them giraffes.

At Kinman farms, Ezra got to feed some farm animals and we went on a tractor ride. Cows are a real favorite of Ezra’s right now so getting to feed the cow some “treats” was a real hit. In fact, he is still asking if we can go back and “feed cow more treats?”

kinman farms

tractor ride

Saturday evening we had the pleasure of having our first overnight guests! My mother-in-law and father-in-law came up for a visit and spent the night. Sunday morning my sister- and brother-in-law came over and we all celebrated (belatedly) Father’s Day and my MIL’s birthday. We had a cookies & cream ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery and I wish I would have snapped a photo of it because it was amazing. And I don’t even like ice cream cake (I know, I’m crazy).

We were going to try to hit up a splash park on Sunday afternoon but it ended up not working out. I think Ezra must have been tired from all of his farm and family adventures because he ended up taking a huge nap that afternoon. So we played it easy the rest of the day and that brings us up to this week.

This week has already been pretty exciting but I’ll save all the details for Sunday’s post.

Now, the links!

Here are a few links that caught my eye -

So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed… – Teresa Porter via Huff Post Women

Can we agree to put the value of family over the value of fat? Can we just accept that the weight you’ve been trying to lose for 5 years might actually just be a part of what you look like… and that if this magical day does come when you’re acceptably thin you’ll STILL regret not having any pictures of you with your kids from ages 5-10? Can we acknowledge that the insecurities we have in our heads will never be a part of how our children, husbands, and friends see us? Can we just please let our loved ones remember the YOU they love?

I’m always sharing something from Buzzfeed (it’s like the blackhole of the internet…seriously how do I lose so much time on that site). So here’s another list – 21 Charts for your Middle Class Life

This is your brain on knitting – Jacque Wilson via CNN

This is an older article, but I still love it!

Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging.






Posted in Daily Journal, Looking Back Looking Ahead No comments

Hot yoga, finger painting and water spots on the ceiling – Looking Back, Looking Ahead #3

Looking Back, Looking Ahead


I’m posting this a day late, but hey better late than never, right? Plus, I have the excuse that yesterday was a holiday so I didn’t want to be tied down to my laptop.

Remember how I mentioned the 100 Happy Days project last week? I must have jinxed myself because I haven’t kept up with it at all over the last few days. Fail. Hoping to jump back in this week, because it really does make me look for the happy parts of each day.

Last week was pretty jam-packed! Tuesday, I tried something new to me – hot yoga! A couple thoughts:

  • I had sweat coming out of my body in places I never thought could sweat (like my shoulders? And feet??)
  • The heat was actually a dry heat, not a humid one like I thought it would be.
  • I got more flexible as the 75 minutes (yes 75!!) wore on and for not having done any sort of yoga practice in 2+ years aside from the random sun salutation here and there, that was a major relief for me.
  • I actually was able to do a back bend of sorts and that was a HUGE deal – it’s always been one of my goals in my practice to do a pose like that. And by “of sorts” I mean when we were doing bridge poses, the instructor said if you wanted to ramp up the move you could put your hands by your ears, palms flat and fingertips facing your shoulders then push up and arch your back. I don’t think I’ve done a move like that since I was in middle school. So cool!!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. Because who wants to see my sweat-drenched face?? No one, that’s who.

But then I negated the entire yoga practice by going to eat Mexican with my friend (who invited me to the class) and a couple of her friends who she was introducing me to. Oh well.

Anyway, I also started testing a pattern for lacy bolero jackets that we’ll be stocking in July. I’m really excited about these jackets! Also for July, my sister is putting together a pattern for crocheted vests for boys. I’m getting her the yarn for those this week and also picking up a few other bowties and headbands she put together for the shop.

Wednesday, Ezra spent with my mom while I worked more on the jacket and catching up on yarn inventory. We all had dinner at Panera that evening and Ezra worked on his fork-wielding skills.

Also on Wednesday, I noticed that the caulk at the base of both of our bathtubs was separating, creating a gap between the tub base and the floor. I figured I would call Drees about it in the AM, but when I checked out the home warranty binder they gave us, it said that things like caulk aren’t covered under the warranty (probably because they have normal wear and the builder can’t really control how that plays out). I was going to let it go until, on Thursday morning, Alex pointed out there were a couple water spots on the garage ceiling – and our master bathroom is right above where the spots are in the garage.

bathtub caulk separation from floor

The weird thing was that the water spots on the ceiling weren’t really over where the tub is. I know water runs, but still it was weird. Anyway, I went ahead and called Drees’ customer service on Thursday and explained the situation and even though the caulk isn’t covered, they were so nice and decided to send out our warranty rep anyway so he could inspect the situation. He decided to repair the caulk in both bathrooms and called the plumber to take a look at the water spots and determine if we had a leak. The plumber came by Friday morning.

Long story short, we don’t have a leak. Thank God. And the water wasn’t even coming from the tub (though the seal on the overflow drain on the side of the tub wasn’t totally right so he did fix that). The water was actually from me!! I’d gotten into a habit of leaving the shower door open while I waited for the water to heat up, and I had noticed on Wednesday when I saw the caulk issue that the baseboard by the shower door was bubbled up and expanded – like from water damage. I figured it was from the water splashing out the door when I had the door open. What I didn’t connect until the plumber pointed it out is that there is a register vent right beside that area and if water was pooling there (which it obviously was), it could get into the register vent and travel down the ductwork and even get in between the vinyl floor and subfloor – down into the floor joists and drywall on the garage ceiling. This was especially likely since the shower door can swing all the way open so it’s hanging above this register vent – and water could drip from the bottom of the door into the vent/on the floor beside the vent. And since we had no leaks at all and the water wasn’t coming from the tub and seemed to be by where the shower is….that seemed like the best explanation.

At the 60 day mark, our warranty guy will be back to inspect things again. That’s coming up next week! I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious, and I’m really glad they fit us in and got the plumber out ASAP.

Anyway, on Thursday this also happened -

Ezra’s buddies came over and we made some paintings and took a wagon ride. The paintings became Father’s Day gifts for Alex, my dad and father-in-law. Ezra was hilarious and actually did not want to have his hands in the paint at all – he is kind of particular about things like that. I had a bag full of random paintbrushes and sponge brushes so I got that out and the kids had a lot of fun trying them all out. There’s still some paint on the driveway, but it’s washable so I figure whenever it rains next, it will all wash away. Or when I get back to watering the yard, I can wash it away with hose water.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law also visited on Thursday (busy day!!). My SIL brought over some sushi and OMG. I am so bummed I didn’t snap a pic of it. It’s easily the best sushi I’ve ever had but it technically isn’t sushi anyway, because everything was cooked in it. And it was also in a soy wrap, not seaweed. But regardless, it was sooooo good and I’m dying for more.

Last thing on Thursday was I published the meal plan for the week and did some couponing, fully intending on going grocery shopping but I ended up not going until Friday. I delayed it because I remembered that Kroger is doing double fuel points all Summer long when you shop Friday-Sunday so I’m going to change up my grocery schedule and start going Friday mornings.

And speaking of Friday, not only the did the plumber visit that day, but the installer with Invisible Fence did, too.

Right now, we’re working on training Aslan with visual boundaries in the form of little white flags setup all around the perimeter of the yard. There is no electrical current in the collar right now (that doesn’t get activated until this week); instead, the collar beeps when he crosses the wire. Twice a day, we walk Aslan around the yard and when he passes over the wire/flags, we say “Back!” and praise him when he comes back into the yard. He’s making really good progress and is learning to not go past the flags. Aslan is a really obedient and smart dog so I think he will catch on really fast without needing the “correction.”

Since we went to the store on Friday, that means that I made quite a few things from my meal plan – Whole Wheat Oatmeal Banana Bread, Blueberry Lemon Cookies and Avocado Egg Salad. Omg that egg salad! It’s so good. It didn’t last in the fridge as long as I was hoping it would, though. Also, when I make this again – because I am making it again – I’m going to add a bit more lemon juice to keep the avocado from browning so fast. But I’ll save my full opinion on it for my recipe review post at the end of the month.

We’ve been making it a weekly family tradition to hit up this little local frozen yogurt place and get a “sweet treat,” as Ezra likes to call it. I’m pretty much a chocoholic so whatever flavor I end up getting (Candy Bar that time) always looks like the above pic by the time I add in my mix-ins. I’m a sucker for the Reese’s Cups and chocolate sauce. I added Kit Kats that time, too and it was so good.

If you’ve stuck around this long reading this post, you probably deserve a cup of frozen yogurt, too – 1625 words and counting, but we’re finally to the weekend!

So, I mentioned last week about getting grass seed and a spreader to start filling in our yard. I don’t know why I had it in my head that getting started with all that would be a super fast process, but it definitely isn’t turning out to be that way. It’s just the prep work that’s taking longer than I thought – the raking up of all the hay. Plus, when I started raking I found a few areas where I need to clear out some more rocks and sticks. I’ve just been doing it section by section. Friday I raked one half of the front yard and Saturday I did the second half.

One of the Drees landscapers was in the neighborhood working on Friday and hauled away all the hay I’d raked up that day, but Saturday it was up to us. This is everything I raked up on just one side of the yard -

pile of raked up hay

And here’s my progress on the front yard -

patchy grass front yard

patchy front yard

You can really see the number the wind and birds did on the grass seed. Sooooooooo patchy. So bad. But not as bad as I thought.

I haven’t even touched the back yard yet. *shudder*

Also on Saturday, it was my dad’s birthday but he was still gone on a business trip so we ended up not seeing my family and instead we saw my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for some playground time and dinner at (you guessed it) Panera. Before that, though, I went to Knitwits and took a class on Ravelry.

I learned a lot about Ravelry at the class – especially about the search function. If you’re into fiber and are a Raveler, you should find me! You can click the little R icon up at the top of the page, on the left, or you can look me up my by username – moxiemanda

While I was at Knitwits, I spied this Swans Island Yarn and was bummed I couldn’t think of a project to use it for -

swans island yarn

I added all of my pattern books and magazines to my library on Ravelry and one of the things I learned at the class was how to search through your library for patterns. So, I’m going to do that some time today to find something to use that yarn for because it’s just so pretty. I love the colors! That minty, cool blue especially.

Sunday, Alex and my dad finally got their paintings from Ezra. I ended up cutting them up and framing them. But these are what they looked like before framing -

And that afternoon, we went to the swim club my parents recently joined and tested out the kid pool. Ezra was a fan -

And that night we grilled out at my parent’s house and just hung out for a little while. We’ll see my in-laws next weekend and do Father’s Day with them then.

WHEW! I guess I didn’t realize how packed our week and weekend were until I wrote it all out. This upcoming week, I’m working and meeting with Knitwits to sign on as their social media manager. I’m also chugging away at the bolero jackets and will hopefully be getting my first newsletter out. If you haven’t signed up yet, you should! You can do so at the form on the sidebar or by clicking here.

Now, onto the links.

Here are a few links that caught my eye -

I stumbled onto Kate Szabone‘s shop the other day and have been drooling over her jewelry ever since. For our anniversary in December – which sounds so far, but is really only 6 months away! – I’m totally asking to be treated with something from her shop. The regular rings and engagement/wedding rings are my favorites. I’m dreaming big here, but I would love love love love this ring. It’s the Double Prong Oval Sunstone Ring -

Kate Szabone ring

An Oregon couple rushed through their wedding ceremony as a wildfire was approaching, and their photographer (Josh Newton) captured these amazing shots – full story at Buzzfeed. Click the photo to go to the photographer’s website and check out his work.

The one thing Christians should stop saying – by Scott Dannemiller

(This was a challenging article to read – I know I’m guilty of saying “I’m blessed,” too, about material things. Read with an open mind!)

I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the “amen” at the end of a prayer.

It’s too late. Exclamation marks are unstoppable now. – by Melissa Dahl of Science of Us

The exclamation mark, once reserved for expressing joy or excitement, now simply marks baseline politeness (a fact brilliantly expressed by an Onion article headlined, “Stone-Hearted Ice Witch Forgoes Exclamation Point”), and when we see a text or email that lacks it, we instinctively wonder what’s up.

Vermeer’s paintings might be 350-year-old photographs. – via BoingBoing

Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in the art world: 
How did Dutch master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically 150 years before the invention of photography?


Posted in Daily Journal, Looking Back Looking Ahead No comments