Charmingly Modern

Busy Weekends of July – Looking Back, Looking Ahead #5

So my last Looking Back, Looking Ahead was end of June. I officially stuck with it more than my past attempt at journaling our weekly happenings, so I’m counting that as a win. And had things not gotten so crazy after I got hired by that local yarn shop, I think I would have stuck with it more. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

I’m just going to jump right back in and do a recap of July – only my favorite moments from the last few weeks – plus some links I’ve found interesting over the course of this past week. And then I’ll be back on track come Sunday for Looking Back, Looking Ahead #6!

For Fourth of July, we headed to my parent’s house and hung out most of the day. We grilled out, Ezra got in the little baby pool my mom had grabbed up for him, and he played on the new swingset they’ve got in their backyard.

Alex left work early Thursday, the 3rd and was on vacation until Wednesday, the 9th so we had a lot of family time packed around the holiday. Sunday was a zoo visit and we were lucky enough to catch the tiger, Who Dey, hanging out by the front glass with no people around. On Monday, he and I had a date night downtown to see the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cubs. I stupidly wore blue to the game. Don’t know what I was thinking. But we enjoyed ourselves – even though the game was almost rained out! – and we were witness to one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen.

If you’re wondering what’s up with the chip photos in the collage up there, it’s showing you my chip versus Alex’s chip. The general consensus was that Alex’s chip was winning but…. no. Just no.

Wednesday of that week, I went down to Riverbend with my friend to see Dave Matthews Band perform. I’ve been in Cincinnati my entire life and not once have I been to Riverbend. We had lawn seats and, luckily, it wasn’t really humid that day so being out on the lawn wasn’t so bad. The concert was great and I’m so glad I got the chance to see DMB live.

Fast-forward to the weekend of the 19th & 20th when we visited a local dairy farm to try out some cheese and meet the dairy cows. Ezra is a little obsessed with cows and when I heard Ed Mar Dairy was open every weekend for cheese tastings and cow introductions, I knew we had to pay a visit. I’m so glad we did because it was really cool to see a dairy farm in action. Plus, we learned that Ed-Mar is one of the local dairies that supplies Kroger its milk. The milk they supply is just a drop in the bucket, but still.

It looks like the cows are standing on a weird blanket in the photo at the upper right, but it’s actually water rushing over their legs. There are these incredible jets of water that shoot out and clear all the muck from the stall area. It was pretty crazy to see.

That night we were invited over to a neighbor’s house for a cookout/mini get together. We met a few other couples and Ezra made a couple little friends. I didn’t snap a single pic, but it was a ton of fun!

On Sunday of that weekend, my in-laws came up for some antiquing and we met up with them for lunch. It was a really nice end to a busy weekend.

Last week was also pretty busy. I’ve been working on editing a video for the yarn shop – iMovie is kind of awful to work with – and have an entire garbage full of miscellaneous skeins of yarn to photograph for the online store. They’re all set to be $1 skeins just to clear out inventory and I’m glad I get to photograph them because now I can pick out the ones I want!!! :)

Last weekend, we had my cousin’s 7th birthday party on Saturday morning and Saturday evening was a pool party at a neighbor’s house. We met a few more couples – and their kids! – from the neighborhood and it was a ton of fun.

My in-laws were up on Sunday again, this time to head to the Cincinnati Museum Center to catch the Princess Diana exhibit. The exhibit is closing August 17th and returning back across the ocean and I don’t think it will be traveling anymore so this was kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity. The exhibit was beautifully done. My favorite part was the closet display – so many beautiful dresses. No photography was allowed in the exhibit, though, so I have zero pictures.

I think that’s a pretty decent wrap up of the last few weeks. And that brings us up to this week, which has been fairly low key. This weekend we’ve got a bonfire we’re possibly visiting and a baseball game on Sunday.

‘Year of No Sugar’: The Schaub Family went Sugar Free for an Entire Year via The Huffington Post

Sugar has been on my radar for weeks now. Specifically, how much I personally consume. One of my goals for August is to reduce my sugar intake. Then, a friend posted an article on her Facebook feed about this family’s year-long quest to eliminate sugar entirely for a whole year. I don’t know that I could do that but now I’m kind of thinking – what would a whole month without added sugar look like? Hmm…

Inspired by research and writings by prolific food-industry researchers like professor Robert Lustig, M.D., and journalist Michael Moss, Eve Schaub decided to try an experiment. She, along with her husband and daughters Greta and Ilsa, spent all of 2011 eating no added sugar.

The bittersweet loneliness of motherhood – by Kate Rope, via Huff Post Parents

There is empowerment in realizing one day that you kind of know what you’re doing and making decisions that matter, and then changing course the next moment when an assertive 3-year-old person makes you shift your paradigm. Most days that dance fills me with gratitude and wonder, and it feels like the natural place I should be. I just didn’t expect to feel alone when I got here.

The Skimm – A friend told me about this daily e-news subscription service and it’s actually pretty cool. It’s a little digest of top news stories, summarized in an interesting way. It gives you a headline with a link to the original article, the background behind the headline and any other pertinent information surrounding it. Best of all, it’s not party specific so you’ll see stories from all perspectives.

All 339 Books Referenced in Gilmore Girls – via Buzzfeed, but compiled by Patrick Lenton.

Am I crazy for wanting to take on this challenge?

“I live in two worlds, one is a world of books,” she said. “I’ve been a resident of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina and strolled down Swann’s Way. It’s a rewarding world.”


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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 :)

Posted in Building with Drees, Charmingly Modern Shop, Daily Journal, Knitting No comments

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 One comment