In my year of healthy changes, I've become very interested in the healing properties of essential oils. I've read and researched and interviewed and experimented... it's all just very, very fascinating to me! While my collection of oils is small, I've picked up several to help with my family's sinus and skin issues, muscle aches, sleeplessness, and just overall wellbeing.

You may be thinking... the placebo effect is strong with this one...

And maybe it is, but I've been pleased with the impact they have had on our household.

So, for my handmade Christmas efforts this year, I thought it would be nice to share a gift of health with my kids' teachers and a few friends. Not to one to knock a great drinking vessel, but do they really need another mug?

My other idea was a gift card to Dunkin' Donuts. Mmmm... doughnuts are my kryptonite. They may really wish I'd given them a gift card!!

I made blends that I thought would be universally appealing - for sleep, alertness, and sinus relief. I used some recipes that I found on Hello Glow as my base and customized from there.

Good Night, Sleep Tight :: roman chamomile + lavender

WAKE UP! :: frankincense + peppermint + orange

Breathe :: eucalyptus + peppermint

I then knit up these adorable little bags to carry them. For the knitters among us, this is the first pattern that worked up on my own! I shouldn't be this proud because it's so simple, but I am.

I added a Christmas ribbon and a menu card... Voila! A simple, yet very personal little gift.

If you think this is an idea for you, you are completely welcome to my files, recipes, knitting pattern, etc. Just let me know what you'd like.

I am curious - if you are a teacher, would you use a gift like this or would it be regifted? I would love to know if I'm just thinking inside of my own bubble.

What are you crafting for Christmas this year? I'd love to hear all about it!

My face is looking really old these days...

Random thoughts as I comb through my photos for this pattern review. I suppose there is good cause for that as 2016 has been one of the two worst years of my life. I honestly can't wait for the ball to drop at midnight on December 31 because I do believe in the magic of a new year.

Bring it, 2017!!

Old face or not, I am so excited to share this fun top with you! It was actually difficult to decide what to make with this amazing Girl Charlee pineapple knit, but I finally decided on Simplicity 1199 simply because it was already in my pattern stash.

After pleading via the interwebs for someone to help me decide which solid knit to pair with the print, the majority decided on this dark gray.

Perfect pick, my friends!! Perfect pick.

I would rate this pattern as intermediate in difficulty. There are some tricky seams, such as easing  of the sleeves at the shoulders, that might intimidate a beginner. But don't let that scare you! This is the perfect top to learn with.

I don't usually get into the nitty-gritty of construction, but I did want to share a few changes that I made that I believe enhance the quality of the garment. I also RARELY show the inside of my garments because I'm lazy and my finishing efforts typically reflect that.

**confession is good for the soul**

The pattern indicates that you should sew the right sides of the underlayer together to join. I did this for the sides, but then turned the garment right-side-out to sew the shoulder seams. That way, there is no exposed seam on the inside of the shoulders. Here's a photo of the shirt turned inside out.

It was a small change, but I'm pleased with the result.

And while I have this garment turned inside out, take a look at the neckline. The instructions indicate that you should essentially make a double-folded bias tape to conceal the raw edge of the neckline. Instead, I folded the piece in half and sewed all of the raw edges together with my serger.

I then pressed the seam down and finished it off with an edge stitch. I'm lazy, remember? This change satisfied my lazy character and turned out a pretty fabulous finishing touch.

One final point to share. I absolutely love sewing with double needles when working with knits. If you look at any RTW garment in your closet, you'll see the same hem detail. Just for fun, I used a coordinating turquoise thread to topstitch the gray.

And that's that!

I adore this top. I do worry that the print is trending a bit young for me, but maybe I can get away with it? Meh... I've never really cared much about what others think of how I dress.

Do you and rock it!

I'm actually working on a few handmade Christmas gifts to share with you. It's been a LONG time since I've shared a craft. Life is just too dang busy.

Stay tuned!
I don't know why it took me so long, but I have fully embraced the knitwear lifestyle - and I don't care what the judges on "Project Runway" think. Knit is comfortable, cute, fun, and easy to dress up or down. Leggings... t-shirt dresses... simple shifts... I'm in looooove!

I stumbled upon Girl Charlee several months ago via Instagram and the rest is history. I've been turning out knitwear every other week since. Knit is so easy to sew with, too! There was a slight learning curve (slightly stretch that fabric when you're sewing a seam!), but the fabric is so forgiving. I have nothing bad to say about it.

Upon ordering a load of fabric from Girl Charlee, I knew what pattern I'd use first - McCall's M6886, a very simple, very versatile dress.
There are so many combinations of hemlines, sleeve lengths, and necklines, you could make an entire wardrobe of new dresses and they would all be different in some way.

One of the best features of this pattern is the number of pattern pieces that you actually work with.


That's it.

A front, a back, and two sleeves.

This really is a two-hour dress! I threw together two right away.

The only alteration that I made to the pattern was customizing the length of the hemline on the navy dress. I love dresses that just hit my knee.

It's pretty obvious that I'd recommend that pattern to anyone - seasoned or beginning. It's a great wardrobe builder.

Proudly wear your knitwear, ladies! Live in daily comfort!!

If you sew, you know that September is National Sewing Month - for me, probably the most inspirational month of the year! My personal schedule has become so hectic over the past few years that it's very hard to find time to sew. However, during September, I always manage to squeak out a few garments.

House of Pinheiro is hosting this month's #sewphotohop on Instagram and I've been trying to follow along as faithfully as possible. It's awesome to connect with other talented women (and men!) who love to sew as much as I do. Here is an overview of the daily photo challenge:

So, in a fit of inspired creative energy, I plopped down last weekend and set to work on Simplicity 1104. This is a perfect dress for spring and summer. Pair it with a jacket and pair of boots and it's perfect for fall and winter, too!!

This wins the award for the easiest, most drama-free sewing project I've ever undertaken. It came together beautifully from cutting out the pattern pieces to adding the finishing touches. Good for me - maybe not so good for blogging... the disasters make for much better stories!

I chose a graphic scuba knit for this project and it proved to be the perfect fabric for this garment, especially considering the alterations that I made.

Because I was using the heavy knit, I eliminated the lining and the zipper. Or, maybe I did that because I'm just lazy... Either way, it worked out great!

There's always a downside, though, right? Despite the ease of the process, my personal measurements were WAY off. Despite taking it all in a few inches on either side, the finished garment is still too big. Not bad enough to scrap. Thank goodness.

The best part about finishing this project was having just enough fabric to make a rockin' pair of leggings, too. I have NEVER made pants, but these came out beautifully!! I didn't have them ready in time to take photos, so I'll catch you up on those later.

By the way, my oldest son was sweet enough to take these photos for me - and he did a pretty good job!! There were a lot of distractions to contend with...


Life with boys... gotta love it!

Oh my goodness, y'all. I put my midriff out there for you and held my breath. Thank you so much for the questions and comments that you've forwarded my way! I've had lot of questions about the food plan, which is also the #1 topic that my friends have approached me with.

So, there is no great secret here. Portion control and clean eating are key. The advantage of this plan is that the authors have laid out a solid 28-day schedule of food and exercise for you. You don't have to think about a thing! And the recipes are really, really delicious. Here are a few of my family's favorites (no time for food styling!):

Doughettes... just like eating cookie dough. Peanut butter, dark chocolate, oatmeal... gah!!! I want to eat them all.

Fitnana Split, plus dark chocolate granola...

Brunch for dinner...

Sushi Undressed...

So, you may be thinking, "That's a lot of kale, Rachel. Um, no, thank you!"

Three-fourths of my family happens to like kale, but you could sub it out for whatever green works for you. All of the recipes are customizable based on your preferences. Don't let ingredients hold you back.

This is where the Instagram community shines. It's inspiring to see how the women in my "tribe" customize their menus to their tastes. I have a lot of "ah-ha" moments.

One major advantage to clean eating is the amount of time you save in the grocery store. You spend so much less time on the aisles because your best food comes from the perimeter of the store - dairy, meats, produce... I'd never thought about before. I've always hated grocery shopping, but I find that I don't mind it as much anymore. I feel good about what I'm loading up my cart with.

One more accolade - the food is so good that my parents wanted in. So, I prep their lunches with my own 5 days a week. They were grabbing takeout most of the time and this one small change has made a huge difference. My mother told me recently that she's lost 8 pounds! Just from eating the lunch I'm packing her... how crazy is that?

Fit Girls Guide offers a free app that includes their entire 28-day exercise plan and sample recipes for you to check out. No reason not to download that immediately.

Again, I'm not affiliated with Fit Girls Guide. I have nothing to gain by sharing my experience. I just hope that the right person might be inspired at the right time to take control of their health and that he or she will have the same awesome experience that I've had so far.

Next, I want to tell you about the running. Ahhhhh!!!! The running story is awesome!!!