Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Words of Life from an Ovarian Cancer Survivor

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  This type of cancer is especially close to my heart since it is the type of cancer my mom had. She generously agreed to write this blog in the hopes of bringing encouragement to you all.  I wanted to giveaway something special this month to show my love and support for those affected by ovarian cancer. After reading please see the end of the blog to enter our special giveaway. And now here’s my mom…

3 months into chemo

3 months into chemo

I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in June 2012. Besides being shocked, because I had felt fine until a few weeks earlier, I felt that I just wasn’t a strong enough person to go through what I knew was ahead. My mother had passed away just 3 years earlier from uterine cancer and I knew some of what she went through.

I had seen God’s faithfulness many times before and knew he would be with me every step of the way on this cancer journey. His word had always been precious to me, but it became something that would truly be a lifeline. From the beginning and still today the following verses have given me courage. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. “(Philip. 4:13) “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor.12: 9-10)

God’s word encourages us, and gives us peace. 3 months into chemo As I laid in intensive care after surgery, still groggy from the drugs, barely able to talk or move, my sweet daughter Danielle read soothing words from the Psalms that calmed my spirit. When I got home from the hospital my dear friend Dianne, along with bringing meals, brought me a blue notebook that I treasure to this day. In it she wrote out bible verses and inserted my name in each of them. I poured over those scriptures daily. Along with my strong husband, the blue notebook became a faithful companion during my chemo sessions.

Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says that Death and life are in the power of the tongue. God’s word brings life, but I would come to realize that negative words have power too. During my recovery, a well-meaning friend who had also had ovarian cancer called and relayed one negative thing after another that happened to her during her cancer journey. When I hung up the phone I felt terrible! I felt bad for her, but I also started feeling terrible inside. I knew right then that I could not let that negativity get into my spirit! I needed to shift my thinking and as Philippians 4:8 instructs us: think on the things that are pure, lovely and a good report. 

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1 year after surgery

There are many ways to get God’s living word in your life; words that will encourage, bring peace and give life. Everyday open up the bible and read His precious promises. You may even want to start your own blue notebook. Bible Gateway is a great place to search for scriptures on whatever you need. There are many great devotionals out there too. A few that really spoke to me through the cancer journey were Jesus Calling and Jesus Today by Sarah Young and Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional. This month I am celebrating 3 years with NED – No Evidence of Disease- healed, as I like to say! I am so grateful to God and am thankful each day for life. If you are walking through cancer right now I invite you to visit my blog site at http://gracerediscovered.blogspot.com/

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3 years with NED!

And remember no matter what you’re going through, let God’s word fill you. His words bring life. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20

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Enter our giveaway HERE

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DIY Bamboo Wind Chimes

About a month ago I got some beautiful bamboo for my garden. Half of it took, and the other half died leaving me with 4 stocks of leafless bamboo. “I have got to do something with this,” I thought. Finally today it dawned on me – a wind chime! I cut the dead bamboo stocks down and made this lovely wind chime with things I had around the house. The best part – NO POWER TOOLS REQUIRED!  P1150103

Here’s how we did it!

Materials:

  • 9-16 bamboo stocks snapped (or cut) into pieces measuring between 6-12 inches
  • Worsted weight yarn (Pictured: Vanna’s Choice Wheat)
  • Wood Beads
  • Cross stitch hoop ( If you do not have one of these you could also take 3 pieces of bamboo and glue or tie them together into a triangular shape)
  • Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
  • Scissors
  • Finishing Needle

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Wrap the yarn all around your cross stitch hoop.

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Cut 9 strands of additional yarn that each measure 26 inches.  Separate this yarn into 3 piles of 3 strands. At three points in the circle loop 3 strands around the circle and double knot. Braid the remaining yarn and tie all three braided sections together at the top.

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Cut or snap your bamboo into succeeding lengths measuring 6 – 12 inches. Use your hot glue gun to attach a wood bead to the top of each stick. Leave the beads holes exposed on the left and right.

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Use the finishing needle to thread yarn through the holes of the wood beads and then tie them to your circle. I triple knotted them for optimal security.

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Start with the longest stick and work your way around the the circle placing the sticks from longest to shortest. Snip any additional yarn near the knot and hide the knot inside the bead.

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Once all your bamboo sticks are attached hang your wind chime outside and enjoy!

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Visit my Etsy Shop. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

DIY Yarn Wall Hanging

Have you seen these beautiful yarn hangings all over pinterest lately? Me too. P1140997

They add a beautiful dash of color and a hint of bohemian style to any room. The best part – SO EASY! Little Bo Peep and I made one the other day and we both had such a great time. I knew I had to share this easy project with all of you.

Just a little PS before we start – these instructions are super adaptable. Make things whatever length you want – with whatever yarn you want – with those fab sparkling beads you’ve been eyeing, with a stick from your back yard. You really can’t go wrong. Here’s exactly what we used for ours:

Materials:

  • Bamboo stick measuring approx 23 inches
  • DK Weight Yarn (approx 150 yards)
  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Wood Beads with holes large enough for the yarn to fit through

Instructions:

Cut all your yarn into 56 inch strips. You will be doubling them over so cut them twice as long as you want them to hang. Take 3 strips and fold them in half creating a loop at the top. Place the loop under the stick and pull the ends of the yarn through the loop. Pull tight to form a knot. Repeat with all your yarn strips. After you have all your yarn strips tied onto your stick thread the beads onto the yarn wherever you like. Thread them into the appropriate amount of yarn so that they will stay in place without you having to tie a knot.

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Of course I had some Barbra playing in the background

Next cut one more strand of yarn that measures approx 2 feet. Secure this yarn to either side of hanging with a triple knot. This is how you hang the project.

Lastly give your wall hanging a trim! You will most likely have some stray strands at this point. Grab those scissors and get creative! Viola! Hang and enjoy!

The colors looked perfect in my daughter’s room and she loves it! We had a bunch of wooden beads left over so she made a necklace with the leftovers. I hope your enjoy this DIY yarn wall hanging as much as we did!

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We love being social! If you make one we’d love for you to share it on our facebook page so we can like, comment, and share you handy work!

My design style: As easy as possible for an effect that’s as cool as possible

People often ask me what is my “design style.”  How do you come up with these ideas? How do you make them come to life? What’s your “signature?” What do you want people to think when they hear the name Bo Peep’s Bonnets?

I’ll tell you my friends! I want them to think: That girl creates freaking awesome and original knits in ways that are are so stinkin’ easy.  KNITTINGPATTERN

Before I started writing my own patterns I was so discouraged by my lack of pattern reading skills. I would pull up a lacy shawl on Ravelry, take one look at the 5 page, 8 point font pattern that appeared to be written in Chinese and promptly slam my laptop screen closed.

There’s got to be a better way!!!

When I have a vision for a new design my first thought is always – can I do this while a 5 year is tugging on my sleeve, while the phone is ringing, while my husband is rehearsing a monologue in the background, while I have dinner in the oven, and while I have a Barbra Streisand album on full blast (yes that’s right – I’m 28 and I love Barbra Streisand).

If I can’t know where I’m at in a pattern with all that going on – I figure out a different way of designing it. I’ve discovered the best way is to stick with simple stitches, arrange them in new and fresh ways, and most importantly have a pattern that repeats in some form or fashion. Why? Because the more you repeat – the more you naturally memorize what’s written on the page.

A memorized pattern is a good pattern.

I also love when you can take a simple knit shape and fold/sew/button it in such a way that you have a cowl, sweater, shrug, or wrap that requires you to only knit one piece.

Currently I’m working on a shrug that’s just a huge circle. You fold and sew it in such a way that you have a collar – sleeves – and a back! I’m so excited!

I also love knitting for the ones I love. My daughter, hubby, and my two cats Buddy and Harry have inspired some of my best selling creations. I designed my best selling cat hat after a day of snuggled up with my furry friends and watching my favorite Doris Day movie Pillow Talk (that’s right – I’m 28 and I love Doris Day). That design has led me to my biggest project to date – I’ve designed custom cat hats for the upcoming feature film Jem and the Holograms (more about that in a future post)! P1100763

Lastly, I always love to work with super bulky yarn. It’s all the rage right now and I love that it knits up fast. There’s just something about a chunky knit that feels so modern. I love when you can see each big beautiful stitch. I’m a stickler for perfectly even tension. I always say a hand knit item should look like a machine made it but  with the love of a persons hands added to the mix. LANCASTERPDF

One more thing – I stay true to myself! I only knit things I would wear. Things I would want my daughter to wear. I truly believe that when you design what YOU love other’s will love it too. Let’s face it – we’re all fabulous in our own ways. We all have something different to offer. I create what I love and I hope you love it too.

You can see all Bo Peep’s designs by visiting her shop – www.etsy.com/shop/BoPeepsBonnets

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DIY Orange Bird Feeder

I love crafts of all kinds. The word DIY is a constant in my vocabulary. So when you can combine mommy/daughter time, a DIY project we can do together, and a way we can all get out and enjoy the garden I”m in heaven (Insert Fred Astaire singing in the background 🎶 Heaven I’m in Heaven 🎶 )

Here’s a fun easy project you can do with items you have around the house – An Orange Bird Feeder!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 oranges
  • 3/4 cup oats (I used Nature’s Promise quick oats from Giant)
  • 1/2 peanut butter
  • Yarn (I used my favorite Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick)
  • Knife, Spoon, and Bowl
  • A nail
  • A finishing needle (optional but very helpful)
  • Handful of Raisins/peanuts/sunflower seeds (Your pick – just use what ya got!)
Step 1: Hollow out oranges

Step 1: Hollow out oranges

STEP 1: Cut the oranges in half and hollow out the oranges. I used a knife to loosen the fruit and then let my daughter scoop out the insides.

Step 2: Make holes and add yarn

Step 2: Make holes and add yarn

STEP 2: Use your nail to poke a hole on the sides of each orange rind. Make sure the holes are directly opposite each other so that the orange will be level when you hang it (I learned that the hard way). Thread your finishing needle with yarn and thread the yarn from one side to the other.

Step 3: Make filling

Step 3: Make filling

STEP 3: Mix oats, peanut butter, and a handful of raisins/peanuts/sunflower seeds. We used raisins.

Step 4: Fill the oranges

Step 4: Fill the oranges

STEP 4: Fill the oranges with your oat/peanut butter mixture.

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Step 5: The fun part – decorate!

STEP 5: My daughter’s favorite part! Decorate! Use extra raisins/peanuts/sunflowers seeds to make smiley faces, hearts, stars – whatever makes you happy!

Step 6: Hang em'

Step 6: Hang em’

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STEP 6: Hang your feeders from a tree or shepherds hook. I found it’s easiest if you wait to tie the ends until you have it on the tree.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Step 7: Enjoy!

STEP 7: Enjoy! Why not set a special tea party and watch for chickadees, finches, and cardinals to partake in the goodies you made for them while sipping a cup of earl grey. Or take it from my daughter and strike a fabulous pose! Viola! DIY fun for everyone! 

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More DIY fun in my shop – www.etsy.com/shop/BoPeepsBonnets

How knitting saved my life

Okay so maybe that’s a little extreme – but I used to be an actor so I like the added drama. This was the situation – my husband had just lost his job, my mom had just been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer, we had a 2 year old – and I didn’t know what the heck to do.

My mom lives 4 hours from me so I felt helpless. I couldn’t go there everyday to help and I didn’t know if she was going to make it through the chemo. I had just seen my Grandma lose her battle with uterine cancer and I couldn’t bare the thought of losing the other the woman in my life who I held so dear.

My mom, me, and my daughter after her first chemo treatment

My mom, me, and my daughter after her first chemo treatment

We needed money. My husband had been working as a professional actor for a decade and now there was no contract to be seen. Despite the financial woes all I could think was  – I have to help my mom – I have to help all the people who are going through chemo – I have to do something – and I have no money to work with (don’t worry it gets better).

A shop had just moved in down the road called Sweet Charity (which is now Fresh Vintage by Amy if you want to check it out). They sold artisan made products that were dedicated to giving back. Immediately, I knew what to do. I walked down to the shop with 5 handmade hats and a mission to donate one free hat per five sold to Nemours Children’s Hospital. The owners graciously excepted my work (which is a far cry from what I offer today) into the shop and the rest is – as they say – history.

One of the first hats I ever sold

The first hat I ever sold on Etsy

The first five hats I took down to Sweet Charity - oh how far we have come!

The first five hats I took down to Sweet Charity – oh how far we have come!

The demand for product got bigger so I started to sell on Etsy. The need for donation hats that could be shipped straight to patients became apparent so I coded my own website that would allow that.

All of a sudden I needed to hire staff, order in bulk, turn my cat closet into a knitting studio, and knit round the clock. God had turned what I had seen as curse into a blessing. I had all the money I needed to completely fund the charity thanks to my wonderful Etsy customers and I had enough left over to help pay the bills.

My knitting studio

My knitting studio

Now for the important part – my mom is healed! After extensive surgery and two years of chemo she is alive – beautiful – and healthy! Praise the Lord! As for me I must also praise the Lord. I am able to stay at home with our daughter while running a legitimate business.  A business that I would have never thought of had difficulty not struck our lives.

Me and my mom a few months ago

Me and my mom a few months ago – in matching hand knit cowls of course

So be encouraged my friends. Someone high above and mighty is looking out for you. He loves you. He cares about you. And he will provide for you.

Work hard. Pray hard. He will show you the way.

Some of our popular current designs

Some of our popular current designs

LABADIE LOOMS

This shop full of locally sourced hand-dyed yarns and fibers in Lancaster County is a quaint spot  filled with lots of great threads and gives you with that warm fuzzy feeling we all crave. Upon entering the shop my daughter I were greeted by the owner, Donna, with a warm spirit and an obvious love for fiber arts. She told me all about the weaving and spinning classes she offers (note to self – must take lesson) and even showed us a bit of weaving on her beautiful loom.

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The back room filled the hand died roving is absolutely delicious. The colors are rich, original, and I wanted to buy one of everything!

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Looms and wheels of all shapes and sizes are always just an arms length away and freshly died fibers are soaking in tubs along the ground. We entered the yarn area full of fun and different yarns – almost all hand died – and lots of great variety and sparkle (which of course  my little one loved).

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We selected a lovely Lancaster County Rain yarn – a 420 yard wool with sparkle sport weight hand dyed yarn for $24. Donna was kind enough to spin it into a ball for us which was entertaining and educational.

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I would highly recommend this shop to any fiber enthusiast. Make sure you leave enough time to soak in all the goodness the shop has to offer and to enjoy a chat with the owner. Now off to design a new original cowl pattern with the yarn I bought there for Bo Peep’s Bonnets! Tootaloo for now ❤ Bo Peep

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Store website – http://www.labadielooms.com/

FLYING FIBERS YARN SHOP

Flying Fibers is a shop with a fun name, a huge selection, a great location, and a knowledgeable and kind staff.  When my daughter and I walked in the doors I had to stand motionless at the entryway for a few moments just to take in all the beauty and cleanliness of the shop.

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The store is laid out perfectly and offers a large assortment of locally hand dyed yarns and roving of all kinds. In the center of the shop there are wheels and looms situated around an inviting leather sofa that beckons to take a seat and browse a great pattern book for your next project.

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The prices are spot on – and I can assure of this because I have bought directly from some of the brands they carry. I was especially excited to see that they carried my favorite Pennsylvania made yarn – Perfection by Kramer

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While the beauty, cleanliness, and selection are all great reasons to stop by this shop, my favorite part – and the reason why I would highly recommend it – is because of the lovely store manager I had the opportunity to meet – Ellen. Ellen was very friendly and knowledgeable and was more than happy to offer me special order services that are hard to come by.  She told me all about the spinning classes she teaches (which are offered at a great price) and she said when you take her class you even get to keep the drop spindle you learn on!

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After soaking in all the goodness the shop had to offer Little Bo Peep and I popped over to the cafe right next door and enjoyed an iced coffee for mom and a cupcake for the little one. The two being located so close to each other is a special bonus. Coffee, chocolate, and yarn all in one spot? Now that’s a Bo Peep kind of day!

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Shop website – http://www.flyingfibers.com/

My Mother’s Butterfly

The vibrant black and orange spread of Monarch butterfly wings takes me back to a time when life was full of wonder and everyday was filled with new discoveries and adventures. I was a brown bobbed, sticky fingered, nature loving, first grader when my mom first taught me how to raise butterflies. When summer came we would locate the milkweed plants where the Monarch’s laid their eggs, and carefully transport the larva to mason jars full of freshly picked and misted foliage and twigs. We would watch the caterpillar hatch from the egg and eat away each day at the fresh leaves we provided for it.  After about two weeks the caterpillar would molt and shed its skin. I remember my mother telling me to be very careful during this time not to touch the caterpillar’s habitat! Soon after the molting process it was time for the caterpillar to pupate. A gorgeous green chrysalis would appear on the lid of the mason jar reminding me of a precious jade jewel. Right before the butterfly was about to emerge the chrysalis would darken and then become transparent so we could see its wings inside the cocoon. The next morning we would rise at the crack of dawn to watch the butterfly emerge and practice pumping its wings. What a miracle it was to see the creature’s rebirth! As the Monarch fluttered its wings faster and began to gain strength we knew it was time to release it into the wild. My mother would gently remove the lid of the jar, and if we were lucky the butterfly would crawl up our fingers and take a moment to rest on our palms before flying away to find a zinnia, coneflower, or phlox to pollinate.  As I watched the Monarch’s rusty orange and midnight black colors blur to a shade of an autumn sunset as it traveled farther into the distance, I felt a sense of awe for the beauty of life and a special love for my mother who had taken such tender care of the small creature when it most needed her. It’s a fact that in the wild, only about two to five caterpillars that hatch from the hundreds of eggs a mama Monarch lays actually make it to adulthood. Whether due to harsh elements, predators looking for a meal, or bacterial infections from the environment, it’s safe to say that a caterpillar has a rough journey if someone doesn’t step in and become their caretaker. And so, as I sit and write this blog about an isolated event in my mother’s and my lives, my eyes become open to how she cared for me, her daughter, her butterfly, with a far greater love then she had shown to the delicate caterpillars. I wonder how she must have felt when her butterfly flew away from home.

And so today in her honor, I’ll be planting some milkweed in my garden in hopes of attracting a mama Monarch to entrust me with her priceless babies. I know I won’t be as wise and caring as my own mother, but with the perfect example she set for me, I’ll at least have a “fluttering” start.

My mom and I circa 199?

My mom and I circa 199?

BO PEEP’S BONNETS

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Hello Friends! Welcome to Bo Peep’s Bonnets – A hand knit hat and cowl company in the heart of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania!

Bo Peep’s Bonnets was born out of desire to help cancer patients feel and look their best as they go through chemotherapy. When my mother started chemo treatments for ovarian cancer in the early fall of 2012, I found myself scouring the web trying to find fashionable and comfortable knit hats to keep her warm. There were lots of great places to get fabric head wraps, but I couldn’t find any companies that provided winter hats for free. That’s when it dawned on me to take my love of knitting to the next level! I would sell my hats on Etsy and use the profits to buy the supplies for the chemo hats.

And Viola! Bo Peep’s Bonnets was born! I’ve expanded my style and company as the years have gone by and now you can find everything from hipster beehive hats, to chunky knit cowl with oversized coconut buttons, to mom and daughter matching hat sets, easy to follow knitting patterns, and so much more!

I’m always adding new products and patterns so check back often to see what’s new!

Thanks to your purchases, I can keep my business and my charity running.

Blessings and good health to you all! Thanks again for shopping!

Love,

Danielle AKA Bo PeepDanielleKeetonHeadshot