The Lazy Susan of Medication

One woman shares her story of her child's ADHD treatment.

“Let’s try a new med”

Those were the words the doctor said when we came in for our 3-month med appointment.  I didn’t want to hear those words.  We had been on Straterra for 6 months, slowly increasing the dosage every month or so.  Most of the behaviors would even out, but insomnia and impulsive decisions showed zero improvements.

I handed the doctor the letters from the school and our observations at home.  He then visited with our kidlet alone.  After about 20 minutes, he called us back in.

He said, “Sometimes non-stimulant drugs aren’t effective in children with severe ADHD.”

He went on to say that he felt our child has severe ADHD, and that we need to change meds.

So, the doctor spun what I call, the lazy susan of medication, and picked another one to “try”, as he reminded me that there is no magic pill, that it can take up to a year to find a med that is a good fit for him.  He went on to say that the largest number of meds a patient “tried” was 11.

And then he broke it to us that he would like to try Adderall XR.

After our appointment, I spent a good part of the day researching exactly what could happen while “trying” Adderall XR.  I read the horror stories, I read about all of the extremely rare side effects.

Adderall XR is a stimulant.  Stimulants work by increasing the level of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the chemical that communicates feelings of pleasure and enhances motivation. Increased dopamine levels improve your brain’s ability to respond to signals outside your body.  This is why stimulants make you feel more alert.

As with any medicine, side effects can happen. Common side effects of stimulant meds include:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • increased body temperature
  • trouble sleeping
  • decreased appetite

Now, these are the COMMON side effects.  These are the side effects that probably will happen for the first couple of weeks, while the body gets used to the medicine.

The side effects that you should seek medical attention immediately for are:

  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Stroke

And you know what conclusion I came to?

That the benefits outweigh the side effects.

And some of you are probably sitting there with your jaws on the keyboard.  So I’ll explain my reasoning in this.

There is serious, life-threatening side effects to EVERY medicine on the market.  Our child has no underlying medical issues.  We have an amazing doctor, who, if I called his emergency line at 3 am, he’s going to answer.  I trust our doctor, and I trust that my child is going to tell me if he feels anything out of the ordinary.

My only fear is that this new med turns our child into a zombie, or he’s going to lose his personality.

We don’t want him to be a zombie or lose his personality.

Once the news was broken to the teacher, she was ecstatic.  (Because she wants a zombie, in my opinion.)  I’m saying she couldn’t keep from grinning.

So, with hesitation, we started his meds that next morning.

Now, just because you’re on a different medication, doesn’t mean the result is going to happen overnight.  That next day, I get a phone call.

“Did you child have his meds today?”  And I asked why.  And I was told that our kiddo was having a hard time keeping still, maybe we should talk to the doctor about upping the dose.

Lady, he just took the 1st pill 3 hours ago.

(Moms & Dads, I sincerely hope this isn’t the way it goes at your child’s school.  I hope with all my heart the staff is supportive and understanding.)

It’s been 2 weeks since we started the new meds.  At home, we started to notice a difference 2 days ago.  He takes his time on his school work, and he reads the instructions!  This is a huge improvement.

Now, because those with ADHD have a smaller frontal lobe in their brains, medicine isn’t going to cure everything.  Those who suffer from ADHD will most likely still struggle with poor time management and difficulty with interpersonal relationships.  Frankly, the medication is meant to increase focus, and reduce impulsive decisions.

But for us, this is a start.



Get To Know The Small Town Wife

Small Town Wife

I probably should have written this post in the beginning.  I’ve received several emails and messages asking a little about who we are.

I, am a small town wife.  Well, almost.

I am a small town fiancee.  We are getting married in August!

We like to say there was a little divine intervention when we first met.  No, it wasn’t love at first sight.

I was going through a very rough patch in life.  I was suddenly a single mom of 2 kiddos and was about to become a grandmother.  Yea.  Nothing was going right.

On this particular day, my car broke down in the driveway…the driveway in questions was to a house I had just purchased.  When I’m not blogging, or chasing after all of these kids, I flip houses.

I had just purchased a house and was super excited to take measurements and get plans drawn up.  So I ventured over to my new project.  While I drove there, the gauges on my car started flipping out!  Lights were blinking, bells were going off, my speedometer was going from 0 to 120 over and over and over.  I stopped at Autozone, had my battery checked, we pulled my alternator and had it tested.

And both the battery and alternator tested within the normal ranges.  It was a wet day, so we chalked it up to perhaps moisture had started some corrosion on my battery terminals.  They were nice enough to clean them for me, and voila!  Good as new.

So I started back over to my new house.  I pulled into the driveway, shut off the car.  For some reason, I tried to start my car again.  And guess what.

It.  Didn’t.  Start.

Ok..probably corrosion, right?  So I get out, open the hood, and start searching for my pliers, that I knew I had in the car.  About that time, here comes this guy from next door.

And I thought…”Oh, here we go.  He’s gonna tell me that I’m an idiot for buying this house.”  But instead, I said..”Hey, you got some pliers?”

And he disappeared to grab pliers.  He came back, asked what was going on.  I explained the events of the last hour, and he disappeared again to get a battery tester.

And guess what.  My battery was toast.

So this guy tells me there is an auto parts store up the street, and that he will charge my battery so I can drive up there.

While the battery charges, he’s telling me about his life.  And it sounded so familiar to my life at that moment.

Still, no fireworks.  But, after the last 3 months, I had just gone through, it was nice to be able to relate to someone else going through a tough time similar to mine.

For a month and a half, I worked on this house, building a porch railing, general clean up, and planning how to restore this 1913 home to its former glory.  Every once in a while, the guy would come by chat for a few minutes, which became a few hours at a time.  Pretty soon we exchanged numbers, and the rest is history!

Here we are 2 years later.

And that house I was flipping?  Yea…we kept it.  And you’ll see it pop up on my sister blog, Hooks and Hammers.

But THIS blog is about our life in small-town Kansas, with 4 kids, 1 grandson, 3 dogs, 2 rats, and a cat; while planning a wedding, and living life.

We will discuss everything from fun things to do with the kids, to parenting issues, to recipes, to my hobbies such as crochet, photography and really everything in between.

Come with me on my journey!




5 Awesome Things To Do In Kansas This Summer

5 awesome things to do in kansas

During the summer, we like to find fun things to do as a family.  Sure, there’s the pool, walking, bike riding…but we like to get away and have fun outside of our little town.

Here is my list of 5 Awesome Things To Do In Kansas This Summer:

1. Day out with Thomas.

This is a really neat activity.  We have gone the last 3 years, and I have to say, I will surely be disappointed when my youngest tells me he doesn’t want to go anymore.  It consists of a 30-minute train ride, in one of Thomas’ coaches.  We always purchase tickets to ride on Percy, as well; which is another 30-minute train ride, only Percy is the engine pulling you.

We always purchase 1 or 2 trains for our collection while we are there, and of course, I always have to get a magnet for the fridge.  There games and story-time for the kiddos, all of which are free with your paid admission.  There are food vendors and photo opportunities with the characters.  You can click here to see if Thomas is coming to your area, and purchase tickets.

2. The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center/Gage Park

The Discovery Center is a hands-on museum for children.  They have everything from painting, to nature walks, to building with unusual materials, day camps, you name it.  It is fun for all ages.  Even our teenagers get a kick out of it!

The Discovery Center is located on the Gage Park grounds.  When we go, we make a day of it.  We visit the Topeka Zoo, we ride the Carousel In The Park and the Gage Park Mini Train.   Everyone is definitely worn out by the time we wrap up the day.  You can check out The Kansas Children’s Discover Center here, and Gage Park here.

3. Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kansas

We really want to take the family here this summer.  One of the mister’s favorite shows is “Gunsmoke”, and he’s from Garden City, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Dodge City.

They have built a scale replica of Front Street, which, from what I understand, every building is an exhibit of its own.  There are evening shows in the  “Long Branch Saloon”, and gun-fight reenactments every few times during the day.  Check out the Boot Hill Museum here.

4. Huff and Puff Hot Air Balloon Rally

The Huff and Puff Hot Air Balloon Rally is towards the beginning of September.  It’s relaxing to watch the balloons inflate, and take off.  They offer tethered balloon rides, which benefit the Ronald McDonald House.  There are food vendors, gift booths, and a peaceful view of Lake Shawnee.  Check out Huff and Puff’s Facebook page here.

5. Safari Zoological Park

This activity is literally in our backyard, in Caney, Kansas.  I know I said we like to get out and get away with the kids, but the Safari Zoological Park is so much fun.  It looks teeny-tiny when you pull up, but there is a lot going on in there!  It takes about 2-3 hours to complete the tour.  Check out the Safari Zoological Park here.

6. Kiddie Park, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Yea…I know.  I said Kansas…and yea, I said 5.  BUT, I added the Kiddie Park because it is hands-down, my favorite place to take the kids.  No…there really isn’t much for the teenagers there, except the concessions stand, and 1 or 2 rides.  This park is really geared towards toddlers through 9 or 10 years.  Open on summer nights, from 6 to 10 pm.  It really is an amazing park!  Check it out here!

ADHD: Tips For The Newly Diagnosed Child

ADHD Tips For The Newly Diagnosed


You may have noticed it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted.

That’s because I concentrated all my energy towards a very special little boy who needs a lot of love right now.

We have a blended family.  I have 2 children; my husband has 2 children.

We love each other’s children as if they were our own.  We wipe tears, we do homework, we send to rooms, we talk; and we watch our children with their day-to-day struggles and wish we could make it better, just like their “real” mom/dad does.  We may each be step-parents to each other’s children, but each of us are there for these kids.  They are all treated the same and are all loved the same.

The kiddo I’m writing about is my husband’s youngest child.  He is a bright, funny, sweet, adventurous little boy, who is in the 2nd grade.  From the first time I met him, I knew he wasn’t like most boys.  He was loud, he moved around a lot, he was distracted easily.  I have a background in early childhood education, and I knew deep down that he had ADHD.

He would say things like “I just can’t slow my brains down”, “I can’t stop moving”, “I just don’t get it”; even after reading the same homework question 5 times in a row.

This was 2 years ago.

About a year and a half later, his current teacher suggested that he may have ADHD.  I watched his dad vehemently deny that claim.  But deep down, I knew it was true.

The rest of the evening, I listened to his dad tell me stories of his own childhood, how he was just like his son, and that even today, he still has moments where he “just can’t slow his brain down”.  So, knowing how his son must feel, he decided to make an appointment.

When he broke the news to him about getting help for the way he feels at school, this kiddo was excited.  Because he understood he had no friends because something made him different.  He never got the right answer when he was called upon in class because he was just so excited, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.  He couldn’t read his own handwriting because he was in such a rush to complete the assignment.

You would think that there would be a happy ending here, but unfortunately, the story continues.

The struggle to find an effective medicine for his ADHD is proving to be difficult.  But it is even more difficult when the very same teacher who championed for an ADHD diagnoses, seems to have dropped the ball.  She may not realize she has, but that’s how we feel.

When your ADHD child is in school, you need to have a detailed report from the teacher, regarding the child’s behavior.  A report of “Your child just wouldn’t listen today” is very broad.  Why weren’t they listening?  What activity were you trying to do?  What subject was he working on?  How much stimuli was around him at that time?  What were you requesting of him?

Those are very important factors that must be included in a behavior report.

This kiddo’s doctor can’t adequately prescribe treatment for a child who “just won’t listen”.  If that were the case, most children would be diagnosed with ADHD!

I take this kiddo to his med appointments, and communicate with his doctor, because our kiddo’s “real” parents are at their jobs, making money to support their families.  They trust that I am going to communicate with them, the school, the doctor while keeping this child’s best interests in mind.  (Which I do, who wouldn’t?)

However, when it comes to his teacher, she refuses to communicate.  She refuses to listen to any advice our doctor suggests and refuses to correctly complete the behavior reports.  This is her classroom, and gosh golly darn it, she’s going to run it her way, and she knows what’s best.  In our opinion, she wants a zombie who will fall asleep from being over-medicated.  But we don’t want to lose our boy’s personality, and neither does our doctor!

This kiddo needs help.  He can’t do this on his own, and the battle is twice as difficult when there is little support from the school.

Remember, you, as well as his/her’s “real” parents, are the only educational advocates your child has.  And believe me, the more you all work together for your child, the more it is going to benefit them.  If your child’s school chooses to ignore your voice because you’re merely the step-parent, remind them that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), that you, as the step-parent, DO have the right to advocate for your child’s education.  FERPA defines the term “parent” as “a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian.”

We have reached out to other teachers for advice and have questioned why our child has not been referred to our school’s special education program.  We have had several non-productive conferences with the teacher, and one conference with the principal, which we thought was productive, but unfortunately, had no effect.  Our next step is to go to the Superintendent of our school district, to get some answers, insight, or assistance.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope you find a treatment plan that works for your child.  Here are a few tips that we use at home, that we have discovered along the way:

Those with ADHD need structure.

They need to know what is coming next because they do not transition well.  It’s hard to calm down from an exciting activity and expect to do quiet work.

At home, we have a routine, and we stick to it.  The kids come in, they sit down and talk while we go through assignment notebooks, we figure out what their homework is, we then give them their papers, and while we fix dinner they complete their homework.  We eat, then we play for a bit, and then we wind down and pick up toys, then we get PJs, take a shower, watch a few cartoons, and we go to bed.

They need encouragement and praise.

Many children with ADHD have low self-esteem, due to the lack of friendships, stemming from their inability to understand that their behavior is taken as disrespectful or hurtful to others.  In children with ADHD, the area of the brain that controls impulsive behavior is under-developed for their age.

Every time we see something accomplished, we offer genuine praise.  When we see a behavior that could be interpreted as disrespectful or hurtful, we let him know, and why.  It’s the only way he’s going to come to understand.

They need social guidance.

Children with ADHD often seek to be the center of attention, mostly because they think that the “cooler” they are, the more friends they will have, they don’t understand the difference between positive and negative attention.  In their minds, they think “Hey, all eyes are on me, I’m pretty darn cool!”

We try to explain the type of attention we are giving at that certain moment.  If he has just smacked his step-brother to get his Hot Wheel and has been pulled aside for discipline; obviously that’s negative attention.  We try to focus on what his feelings are during the discipline process.  On the flip side, if he has just read a book to his step-brother, on his own, we praise him, and again, try to focus on what his feelings are at that moment.  Positive attention feels good; negative attention feels bad.

They need a reward system in place to help jump-start their motivation.

Some days are better than others.  But when they see that the goal IS attainable, and progress has been made, chances are, with a little encouragement, they will find the motivation to complete the task and receive that reward.

At home, we have different days that certain tasks get taken care of (Remember that schedule?)  If we can complete a certain number of tasks successfully, we earn a treat or a trip to eat, we get to choose our dinner, etc.

They need instructions to be broken down, step by step.

As our kiddo says his “brain doesn’t slow down”.  This leads to forgetting the steps to whatever task he was given.  Tasks that require 2 or more steps, need to be broken down into smaller chunks.  Once they complete a couple of steps, given them a couple more.

At home, we can’t say “Go pick out your clothes for tomorrow, grab some PJs, come in and take a shower, then come watch some TV.”  Inevitably, he ends up in his room playing with the toys he picked up earlier.  Actuality, it goes something like this: “Go pick out your clothes for tomorrow and grab some PJs.”  99% of the time, he returns for further instruction.  And once he does that, we continue with “Get in the shower, and when you’re done, come join us.”

They need to be brought into reality.

When I say this, what I mean is that before you explain instructions, you need to grab their attention.  Begin by stating their name.  We follow that with “look at my eyes”, because we know at that moment, we have his attention.

When we have something very important to say or discuss, we always start out by saying his name and asking him to look at our eyes.  If I see he’s really struggling, I ask him to take a deep breath and let it out.  I then tell him what I need to say and have him repeat it.  If it’s a discussion, it goes so much smoother if I start the conversation out that way, and continue with, “Tell me what’s going on with ________________.”

They need to keep moving.

Offer a balance ball to sit on.  A tall chair where they can swing their legs.  Continuous movement can help stop them from fidgeting with erasers, or picking at the paper they are trying to write spelling words on and help them focus on the task at hand.

It sounds counter-intuitive.  But it works.  If our kiddo is doing something with his legs, he rarely fidgets with his pencil, or picks at the paper, or taps his fingers.


I sincerely hope these tips help you manage your child’s ADHD.  And if you are in the same boat as us, I hear you and I understand your frustrations.  There will be a light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to travel a little longer before we get there.

ADHD Tips For The Newly Diagnosed

Valentine Kisses Crochet Hat


I just love this little hat.  It works up quick, and is so cute!  It took me about an hour to whip up while watching TV.

Here is the 9-12 month size.  The other sizes will be available soon in my Ravelry store!  Thank you for your support!


Row 1: In a magic circle, chain 2 (counts as 1st dc) 9 dc in ring.  sl st to 1st dc. (10)
Row 2: ch 2 (counts as 1st dc), 2 dc in each st around, sl st to 1st dc to join. (20)
Row 3: ch 2 (counts as 1st dc), *2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in the next st*  Repeat * *, sl st to 1st dc to join. (30)
Row 4: ch 2, *2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in each of the next 2 sts* Repeat * *, sl st to the 1st dc to join. (40)
Row 5: ch 2, *2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in each of the next 3 sts*  Repeat * *, sl st to the 1st dc to join. (50)
Row 6-11: ch 2, 1 dc in each st around, sl st to the 1st dc to join. (50)
Row 12: 1 sc in each st.  Weave in those ends!

With white, border your hat as you wish.  I chose a scalloped border, but it’s really your prefrence. 🙂


Chain 16.

ss in 2nd chain from hook, and in next chain, sc in next chain, dc in next chain, tc in next chain, dc in next 2 chains. sc in next chain. dc in next 2 chains, tc in next chain, dc in next chain, sc in next chain, ss in next 2 chains.  Do not turn, you will work in the round.

slip stitch into the next st, sc in next 2 stitches, dc in 3 stitches, tc in next 3 stitches, dc in next 3 stitches, sc in next 2 stitches, ss in final stitch and tie off.  Remember to leave a tail long enough to sew your applique onto the hat.

Drool-Worthy Bacon Wrapped Chicken


When your cooking on a budget, you must get creative.

Saturday night, we had a hankerin’ for some bacon.

Who doesn’t love bacon?

So, we experimented with bacon, chicken and cheese.  And came up with this totally budget-friendly meal that our kids LOVED.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

8 portions of thick boneless skinless chicken breast, thawed

1 lb. package of bacon

2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is preheating, fry the chicken in a skillet with a bit of oil, until nice and golden brown, but not cooked completely through.

Make a pocket in the chicken, by slicing lengthwise down the side of each piece.  Stuff shredded cheese inside each piece.

Wrap the chicken with the bacon.

Place in a baking pan and cook for about 30 minutes.  **Remember that poultry should be cooked to at least 165 degrees* We ensured that ours was cooked completely by inserting a meat thermometer in the THICKEST part of the chicken breast.

We love our cheese.  So, after we determined the chicken was done, we sprinkled the remaining cheese on top, and put it back in for about 5 minutes.

We served it with rice on the side, and veggies.


In other news, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

There are crochet patterns being tested right now, (if you would like to be one of my testers, please click here)

There are several DIY projects going on right now, ranging from scrap wood projects to sewing.  Don’t worry, it’ll be up on the blog soon!


The BEST Fried Chicken EVER

One of my favorite memories of growing up, is Sunday afternoons during the summer.

My dad would be listening to a CD or a vinyl record, usually classic country music.  My mom would be in the kitchen, making either roast, pork chops, or her fried chicken, in her big cast iron skillet.

It wasn’t too crispy, and nowhere near soggy.  It was PERFECT.

Now, my mom used bone-in chicken.  I use boneless, skinless chicken.  But you can use both, and it’s going to taste amazing either way.

The BEST Fried Chicken Ever:

In a cast-iron skillet, pour in about 2 cups of oil.  Heat over medium heat while you prepare the chicken.

In a 1 giant Ziploc bag, combine:

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

Shake to combine everything.


In a bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of milk.

Take your chicken, and place into the egg mixture, ensuring it’s covered well.  Place into the Ziploc bag and shake to coat the chicken.  I usually shake 4 -5 pieces at a time.

Place chicken into the oil.  Cook until golden brown, and of course, at least 165 degrees.  You MAY have to turn down the heat to make sure the chicken isn’t getting too brown before it’s cooked thoroughly.

Cozy Comfy Pullover Sweater

I heart sweaters.  They are cozy, some are warm, some are just the perfect weight for a cool late-summer night.


9.00mm crochet hook

If you wish to save or download the ad-free version, it is available on Ravelry, for 2.00.

Thanks for your support!!!

Worsted-weight yarn (about 1200 yards for a size large) I used Yarn Bee’s “Sugar Wheel” for this particular sweater.  But if you don’t have a Hobby Lobby near you, you could certainly use Lion Brand’s Mandala Yarn.

Yarn needle for weaving in loose ends

**This sweater is crocheted using the “Suzette” stitch.  Check out a tutorial for this stitch HERE.**


I don’t know about anyone else, but my body does not conform to any one pattern.  There are so many variations in the way one person crochets to another, that it makes sizing difficult, at least for my body….and I KNOW there has to be others out there in the same boat!

With this sweater, there really isn’t chain number set in stone.  What I do, is chain until my chain reaches from hip to hip, comfortable, not stretched out.  With this stitch, I continue to chain up to the next odd number.

For example, my hip measurement is 34, so I chained until the length reached 17”. This was only 44 chains, so I went up to 49 to start my sweater.  (I like my sweaters to fit loose)

**If this sweater is for a gift, HERE is some handy sizing information**



*Make 2*

Chain ______ (insert your chain number here)

Row 1: sc in 2nd chain from hook, dc in same chain.  Skip 1 chain.  *sc,dc in same chain, skip 1 chain*  Repeat between *  * to end.

Rows 2- 58: Repeat row 1.

At this point, you should have 2 giant rectangles.

Join the front to back by laying right sides together, flat on a table (that’s the easiest for me, do what works for you).  Stitch the sides together from row 1 to row 48.

To make the neck opening, stitch from the beginning of the arm hole, towards the center.  For mine, I sewed about 7 inches in, but this is totally up to you, depending on how large of an opening you want.


To make the sleeves, join yarn with a slip stitch in the bottom of the armhole, and sc in each space around, making sure your stitches are even, and that you end on an odd number.  Do not join.

Turn your work.

Row 1: *sc, dc, skip one chain* to end.  Turn.

Row 2-18: Repeat row one.

For row 19, we are going to decrease.  I wanted the decrease to be slight.  I didn’t want a huge decrease that would be lumpy when you sew your seam.

Row 19: sc in 2nd chain from hook. Skip 1 chain.  *sc, dc, skip one chain* until you reach the 3rd chain from the end. Skip that chain, and sc in the next.  Turn.

Rows 20-25: Repeat row one.

Row 26: Repeat row 19.

Rows 27-32: Repeat row one.

The sleeves should come down about mid-hand.  Personally, that is where I like my cozy-sweater sleeves to end.

Sew the sleeve seams together, sew in those yarn tails, and you’re done!

After I washed mine it relaxed a bit, and is ohhhh soooo cozy!  I would LOVE to see your finished projects!  Post them in the Facebook group, Small Town Crochet!

10 Things I Wish I Had Been Taught About Crochet

My mom taught me to crochet when I was about 9 or 10.  I would watch my mom crochet afghans on summer afternoons, and ask a zillion questions.  Finally, she gave me a J hook.  I still have it.

Did I mention my mom is totally blind?  Yep.  She crochets blindly.  AMAZING.

As a lot of kids do, I got bored rather quickly.  I got frustrated because I couldn’t crochet as fast as my mom does.  So I put the hook away.

When my oldest was a baby, a friend of mine was crocheting.  After a quick reminder course, I picked the hook back up and crocheted an afghan.  It was awful!  But I kept at it.  After 17 years, I can crochet pretty darn fast.

But it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I realized everyone crochets differently.  I crochet a bit tight.  A friend of mine crochets so loose that she has to go down a hook size.  That’s when I realized there was so much that I hadn’t been taught.

 10 Things I wish I had been taught about crochet

1.  You have to have the correct gauge.

You have got to work up a swatch and measure that puppy to get the correct gauge.  Like I said above; everyone crochets differently.  You may need to go up or down a hook to get the correct gauge.  VERY important for garments

2. You have to COUNT, COUNT, COUNT those stitches.

An even stitch count means straight edges.  Every row must have the same number of stitches.  If your just beginning, stop at the end of the row and count stitches.  Once you are fairly experienced, you’ll “just know” that you’ve got the right stitch count.  Straight edges means your afghan isn’t going to look like a trapezoid.  My very first afghan was a trapezoid.

3. It’s okay if you’re not holding the yarn “the correct way”.

I hold my hook in my right hand, and the yarn in my left hand, I hold my work with the thumb, index and middle finger.  I hold the yarn with my ring and pinky finger.  It works for me.  My mom hold it the traditional way, wrapped around a finger…but I just can’t.  I get a cramp just thinking about it.

4.  Dye lots matter.

When you buy yarn for a project, try to get all the yarn you think you will need, PLUS an additional skien (or cake).  And make sure the lot numbers match.  This will give you the best color.  Remember that horrific afghan I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  Yea.  I knew nothing about dye lots.

5.  Don’t go by the letter on your crochet hooks.

Crochet hooks are labeled by letter and millimeter size.  However, you may run into an instance where you pick up two N hooks, and one will say 9.00 mm, and the other will say 10.00 mm.  Different manufacturers, as well as the age of the hook cause this.  Always go by the millimeter size on the hook, and work up a gauge swatch if it’s a garment you are creating.

6.  You will make mistakes.

And that’s okay.  Even those who have been crocheting for eons will tell you that you will frog (rip out) your fair share of mistakes.  EVERYONE miscounts from time to time.

7.  The Back of your work should look as good as the front.

I, personally, am very particular about this.  When your working a pattern on a hat, for instance, you want the inside of the hat to be just as pretty as the outside.  If there is a ton of knots, or unwoven ends in there, it just looks…messy.  And especially in a hat, hair is going to get tangled up in unwoven ends and knots.

8.  US and UK terminology is different.

There’s nothing like surfing on Pinterest and finding as awesome crochet pattern.  And then realizing that what you are crocheting doesn’t look like the picture.  That’s probably because the pattern is using UK terminology.  Here is a handy translation for UK crochet terminology.

9.  There is no wrong way to hold the hook.

Some people hold the hook like a pencil.  Others hold it between their thumb and middle finger.  Some put their index finger over the loop on the hook, some do not.  Just do whatever feels natural to you.  There is no wrong way.

10.  Crochet isn’t just for grandma’s.

You can create lots of boho-style garments by crocheting!  Here is just a few ideas.

Fool-Proof Homemade Bread

One way I save money in our household is to make my own bread.

We use about 3 loaves a week, at about $2.28 each,  which adds up to $6.84 a week, or $27.36 a month….you get the picture.

Now, I have a bread machine, that I picked up from Goodwill about a year ago.  I paid 15.00 for it, and it paid for its self with in the first couple of months.  If you can’t find one at your local Goodwill or thrift store, you can find them on Amazon by clicking here.

Does this actually save money?

You are probably thinking the same thing I did when I came up with the idea of making my own bread to save money.  Am I really saving money?


This is based upon my prices here in the midwest.  The breakdown is as follows:

Flour, 5lbs for 1.88

Salt, .54

Vegetable oil, 48oz for 1.88

Yeast, 4oz for 4.58

Sugar, 4lb for 1.98

That all comes out to 10.86.  I know in my house, we always have sugar, vegetable oil, salt and flour on hand, as we use them for other things as well.  The only extra ingredient I had to buy, was the yeast.  And I usually get 6 loaves out of a bag of flour.  I’ll spare you the math, but it comes about 4.34 per week for bread.  I make 1 loaf per day.  It’s super simple and literally takes about 15 minutes.  My machine does the rest.

To save even more money, I coupon; so the price per week is even LESS if I coupon for those items (my favorite stores to coupon at are Dollar General and Family Dollar).  If you work it right, you can get that flour and sugar pretty much free.  (We’ll get to that in another post)

In order to make sense, it has to save money, taste like the store-brought product, and be quick and easy.

Let’s face it.  When making household staples from scratch, the quality has to be the same as what your replacing.  If the item tastes nothing like what you would buy from the store, or if it takes way too much time to prepare, you’re going to get discouraged and not stick with it.

With SOME items, the convenience is worth the money spent.  With as busy as we are in my house, I could never make cheese. (Kudos to those that can!)  There just isn’t enough time between kids, work, etc.

That being said, I have searched high and low for a recipe that is going to have the same texture and taste as sandwich bread.  My family’s favorite is Wonder Bread, and I think I have found the perfect “copy cat” recipe.  I needed a bread that is soft (yet firm enough to not get soggy when you put mayonnaise on it), and not yeasty-tasting, and not overly sweet.

I tweaked and tweaked a basic bread recipe until I finally found what my kids call “moms special bread”.

Fool-Proof Homemade Bread

2 tsp yeast.  I use the instant yeast that is compatible with “Rapid Rise” recipes.

2 1/2 TB sugar.

1 cup of hot water.  I use cold tap water, and put it in the microwave for about a minute.

1/4 cup vegetable oil.

3 cups + 2 TB of stirred flour.

1 tsp salt.

**I have used both all-purpose and bread flour.  I always fluff my flour before spooning it into the measuring cup.  I then take a knife and scrape the top of the measuring cup.  Honestly, I haven’t noticed a difference in the way the bread rises with bread flour vs. all-purpose.  And it tastes the same in my opinion.**

First, put the yeast and sugar in your bowl, add the water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  The yeast will foam, and look something like this:

Next, pour your vegetable oil in, put the flour in and lastly, the salt:

Finally, close your lid, and set your machine to “Rapid”.  And walk away.  When it’s done, it will look something like this: