Tomato Plus Soup (recipe)

We’ve been eating a lot of soup for lunch recently, and I wanted tomato soup one day. Problem was, I didn’t have any canned tomato soup. I did, however, have lots of canned tomato products and boxes of broth, plus some veggies in the fridge. So I came up with this recipe.

I’ve made tomato soup in the past, but only blended recipes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t careful enough that day and ended up covered in hot soup. Not fun, and not something I wanted to repeat, so I left the vegetables intact – and in fact embraced that aspect by including diced tomatoes as well as the sauces. This aspect is where the soup got its name. When I served it, my husband said, “It’s like tomato soup, plus.”

I hope if you try it, you like it. 


Tomato Plus Soup 

1 medium onion, chopped 

2 carrots, peeled and sliced 

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste 

1 box (32 oz) vegetable broth 

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2-3 teaspoons sugar, to taste (this keeps it from tasting like spaghetti sauce)

Saute the veggies in a bit of oil until the onion begins to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Let soup cook 15 minutes or more to give the herbs time to soften. Serve with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich!


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Blazers Blanket

I recently finished up a blanket showcasing the logo of my favorite NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers.


For this blanket, I looked in Google images for a pixel graph, then I stitched it up using the corner-to-corner method. I set it aside for a while then to work on other projects (including the Mickey Mouse blanket and some of the sampler squares). One of my sampler squares caught my attention as a wonderful design – so easy and somehow outrageously satisfying – and knew that I wanted to use it for the border of the blanket. It was a simple half double crochet, chain 1 repeat. Perfect for TV or audiobook time!

B133BC95-C3E7-4112-A118-31BB387A2CA5As a bonus, once I finished the blanket and posted a picture on Instagram, an old friend contacted me and commissioned a blanket for her son. It will be a similar design, but with his favorite team. 

Have you ever stitched anything in honor of someone else?


ladybug-signature-3 copy review (2021)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew review 2021

Once again, I am taking part in the Homeschool Review Crew in 2021. The year is starting now, with a review of the Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership from!

In case you’re unaware of, it is the homeschooling curriculum home of The Old Schoolhouse magazine, and it is awesome! There is way more on there than I could ever write about in a single post, so I’m going to go over just a little bit of what we’ve been using.

history of hanukkahSince it was the beginning of December when we first got started with this year’s review, I started by doing the History of Hanukkah study with my younger kids (Grasshopper, 8, and Dragonfly, 5). Hanukkah ran from December 11-18 last year, so we did the history study in the week leading up to it. The unit study included an 18-minute video, a 65-slide ebook/powerpoint presentation, a 2-page student comprehension worksheet, and a printable dreidel game. I took a couple of days to read the ebook to the kids and we discussed the content as we went. When we’d finished, they watched the video, and we felt they were ready to celebrate Hanukkah!

Moving forward, I’m super excited to explore the School Boxes for my kids. These are full curricula, designed like the “box sets” you can get from other companies, except they are entirely digital. I’ve never had the ease of a full curriculum for any of my kids (except when we reviewed one last year, but we stopped using it for a variety of reasons), and I really love the idea of not having to piece-meal a curriculum. has school boxes for all grades, Kindergarten through 12th, and when I say it’s a full curriculum, I really mean it! Check out the topics available:

K school box

K English sample pageAnd that’s just for Kindergarten! Each of those topics has a downloadable teacher’s guide. The guide tells you everything you need in order to teach the subject, from a list of the supplies to a weekly curriculum guide to keep you on track to the specific links for the lessons on the main site that you need to teach the lessons. It really is all-inclusive!

I didn’t look at all of the school boxes, just the ones I needed for my kids (K, 3rd, 9th, and 11th grades), and they are all just as amazing. The 3rd grade box is the same as the Kindergarten box, but it also has “History-classical” as an option. The 9th grade box includes math, literature, writing, spelling, science, traditional and classical history, and art. The 11th grade box includes the same subjects as 9th grade plus geography.

My teens are largely self-sufficient in their schooling when given the proper assignments, so I will be sending these PDFs to their emails (along with my login information so they can access the website) and keeping track of what they’re doing through regular checking in. I am so grateful to have access to these complete curriculum resources!!

But what if you don’t need a full box curriculum? That’s okay too! is a fantastic place for “filling in the gaps,” which is how we’ve used it in the past. They have hundreds of classes for students of every age, in every subject imaginable. Even if you just want something for a short-term unit study, they have it! You really can’t go wrong with a membership. is also a fantastic place for printable planners. The main planner available this year is the Smart Mama planner, which includes a interactive budget to help you track household expenses and is otherwise completely customizable. It has the ability to help you make transcripts for your older kids complete with including your digital signature in case you need to send those transcripts off to someone.

Other members-only benefits include the option to get a FREE tote bag (just pay S&H) as well as a free print subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine (as long as your membership stays active).

If you sign up by the end of the month (Jan. 31, 2021), you can get access to every single thing on the site for $139 a year, $16 a month, or $24.95 a quarter (automatically renewing in all cases). It’s normally $224.97 for the annual subscription, so it’s a substantial savings this month.

For more information on, head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog where you can read an introductory post as well as over 100 reviews (some blogs, some Facebook reviews, and some video reviews).


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Knit Sweater for Scorpion

I offered to make a sweater for Scorpion a while ago, and finally finished it! 


The yarn is Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in the color Oatmeal. He wanted a blue sweater, though, so I used Wilton Royal Blue icing color to dye the yarn. 

The pattern is Flax by Tin Can Knits, with a small modification. Instead of knitting the sleeve with a garter panel, I added a cable instead. I let Scorpion choose the cable he wanted from a small sampling. To keep things looking cohesive, I added the same cable to the front and back of his sweater. 

Overall, it turned out quite well!

Do you like to knit cables?


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Crochet Sweater for Bumblebee

I’ve never crocheted a sweater, but I wanted a quick project to give me a break from the big blanket I’m making. (It’s almost done, so I will try to remember to post it next week.) After I made the Ruby dress, Bumblebee (2 years old) really liked it because of the super softness of the yarn. So I went to Michael’s and got another ball of it, but in a more masculine colorway and found a cute pattern. 


It’s a standard raglan-style cardigan, but what makes it different is that this one has a hood! I thought that was so cute and knew I wanted to make it. The pattern is from Crystal at Bag O Day Crochet on YouTube and was really easy. I was able to make the whole thing in 3 days (starting late at night on Friday and finishing Monday evening), and that included having to completely redo the body because it was a bit too small. The pattern was great though – change the hook size, and the garment is resized; no recalculation needed!

Have you ever crocheted a wearable?


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Math and Algebra (review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my hones review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

Scorpion is a tough kid to teach math to. He struggles a lot, and I often feel like a bit of a failure when I realize some of the things he doesn’t know well that I think he should be able to do quickly and easily. We’d been using another online math program, and he was doing reasonably okay with it, but he wasn’t advancing as quickly through the lessons as his brothers were. So when the opportunity to review came up, I thought, Maybe he needs a different approach. So I applied for the review on his behalf.

math and algebra is another online math instruction system, and is put out by Math Essentials. It uses the same teacher, Richard Fisher, and a very similar format. The main differences are that A) there isn’t a physical textbook and B) it’s got a wide variety of levels in one program (there are 4 courses, to be exact: basic math, advanced math, pre-algebra, and algebra). Let’s talk about the system for a few minutes.

When you first log in, you’re taken to what’s called the Group Leader console. This is basically like a teacher dashboard. Options to look at here include My Students (a list of the students registered on your account), My Account (where you can monitor payment info and orders), My Dashboard (where you can see how far into each course you or your student are), My Courses (where you can select a course to work on), and My Profile (where you can adjust your username, password, and contact info). Everything except for My Courses is basic enough that what I put in parentheses is all you really need to know about them.

Our Course

math and algebra 3As I mentioned, Scorpion (age 14) is the student I had work on Because I could tell based on our previous math experience with him this year that he had a lot of holes to fill, we started with Basic Math. This turned out to be the right course of action for him; it’s challenging him enough that it’s not a waste of time, but it’s not so challenging that he’s getting overly frustrated.

Each lesson starts with an instructional video taught by “America’s Math Teacher,” Richard Fisher. These are all fairly short, running in the 4-10 minute range. When the video is over, students then scroll down and download (really just open, though, not truly download) the corresponding worksheet. This is a series of problems that correspond with the lesson being taught. Work is done on a separate sheet of paper. When the student has solved the problems, they (or you) can then refer to the answer key to correct their work. The answer key can be found on the same page as the video and the worksheet download. It’s a download link identical to the worksheet one, except it’s labeled “key.”

Basic Math has 85 different lessons, all following the same format as what I described in the previous paragraph. The lessons are broken down into units:

  • Whole Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Ratios, Proportions, and Percents
  • Geometry
  • Number Theory and Algebra
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Word Problems

Each unit has a different number of lessons, usually in the 8-12 range. And then at the end of each series of lessons, there is a quiz. At the end of the entire course, there is a final quiz.

IMG-6797Scorpion worked on this as his main math curriculum over the past month, and I’m happy to say that I can see drastic improvement in his work. There have been a few lessons in which he got 100%. I don’t think that’s ever happened with him, so this is fantastic news! Literally the only thing we had an issue with was the whole “doing the worksheet on separate paper.” His handwriting isn’t the best, so it was sometimes tricky to correct his work – I had to really pay attention to where he’d written each problem in order to make sure I saw his actual answer. It didn’t occur to me to just print out the worksheets until I started writing this section – if it had, that would have been a lot better for us! Now that it has become something I’ve thought of, I will definitely be doing this for him from now on, because I really do want him to continue with this program. Did I mention that he’s gotten 100% on some of the lessons?!

Make sure to head over to the Review Crew blog to find out more about!


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Happy Birthday, Ballet Boy!

My oldest son recently turned 17! He is such a joy to have around, and I’m glad he’s mine.


We celebrated his special day by having a few close friends over for dinner and a murder mystery party. I found one online that was very simple to put together – just print and read, basically. It was a huge hit with his friends!

Happy birthday, Ballet Boy! Here’s to many, many more.


Ruby Dress pattern

I posted about the Ruby dress I designed and made last week, but I hadn’t yet written out the pattern. Well, now I have, so I wanted to post it here so other people can have the opportunity to make this cute little dress!


Full disclosure: I tried to find people to test knit for me and didn’t get any takers, so this pattern hasn’t seen anyone’s eyes but mine until now. If there are any mistakes (which I don’t think there are, but you never know), please feel free to let me know so I can adjust them.

I did not include a pattern for the flower because I didn’t write one. Any crochet or knit flower (or even a decorative button or felt/silk flower) will do. You could even leave the dress plain, but I think the flower adds a little “something special.”

Here is the pattern.


Knit Toddler Dress

Size 12-24 months

Gauge: 18 stitches and 26 rows using larger needles in stockinette = 4 inches

Yarn: Worsted or chunky, whatever you like to get gauge. I used Caron Latte Cakes in the color Strawberry Flambe, which is labeled as a “chunky 5,” but felt reasonably thin (worsted) to me.

Needles: Any to get gauge, plus one set a couple sizes smaller. I used size 8 for the ribbing and size 10 for the rest. Interchangeable circular needles are preferred because of the rapidly increasing skirt. It starts small (a 16” or 20” cord will do) but increases to double its size, so you’ll need up to a 40” cord before you’re done. You’ll also need a cable needle as well as a set of DPNs in the smaller size.

Construction: Dress is knit top down starting with the collar, which is worked in rows. A button is added at the end to close the opening. Then it uses raglan increases for the shoulders. Once the sleeves and body are separated, you’ll knit a couple of inches. Then a garter stitch band is knit, followed by the skirt, which increases rapidly for the open, flowy feel. Cables are knit in the skirt between the wedges of increase.

Using smaller needles, cast on 68. Turn work.

Work 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for 1 inch. Work in rows, not in the round.

Increase round: Place marker and join for working in the round. Increase 4 stitches evenly as you knit one round.

Marker setup: Knit 12 (back left), place marker, knit 12 (left sleeve), place marker, knit 24 (front), place marker, knit 12 (right sleeve), place marker, knit 12 (back right).

Setup round 1: *knit to one stitch before marker, yarn over, knit two, yarn over* Repeat from * to * until one stitch before last marker (8 stitch increase). Be careful not to increase at the beginning of round marker.

Setup round 2: knit around

Repeat these two rounds a total of 8 times. You should have 144 stitches on your needles.

You will now work even (no more increasing) until your yoke measures approximately 5.5 inches from the cast on.

Separate body and sleeves: Knit to first marker. Place all stitches between first and second marker (the sleeve) on hold using waste yarn or a stitch holder. Using backward loop method, cast on 4 stitches. Knit to next marker, then repeat the process of placing sleeve stitches on hold. Knit to beginning of round.

Bodice: Knit every round until work measure approximately 2 inches from the underarm.

Waistband: Work in garter stitch (knit 1 round, purl one round) for 8 rounds, or until your belt measures 1 inch.

Increase for skirt: KFB (knit front and back) into every stitch

Marker setup: Knit 10, place marker, *purl 2, knit 8, purl 2, place marker, knit 20, place marker* Repeat from * to * around. Knit last 10 stitches. This establishes where your cables will go, as well as the increase points of the skirt.

Round 1: Knit to first marker, *purl 2, C6B, purl 2, yarn over, knit to one stitch before next marker, yarn over, knit 1* until last increase marker. Knit the last 10 stitches (being mindful not to increase at the BOR).

C6B: Move three stitches to cable needle, hold in back of work, knit 3 stitches, knit 3 stitches from cable needle.

Rounds 2-3: Work as established, knitting the knits (and YOs) and purling the purls all the way around.

Repeat Rounds 1-3 until your piece measures about 17 inches from the shoulder to the bottom (or 1 inch shorter than what you want the total length to be). You may need to switch to a longer cable as you go.

Switch to smaller needles and work 1×1 rib for 1 inch. Bind off.

Sleeves: Pick up sleeve stitches from waste yarn using DPNs (or magic loop if you prefer) in the smaller size. Knit one round.

Work 1×1 rib for 6 rounds. Bind off. Repeat on other sleeve.

Weave in ends and block your dress. Then find a pretty little girl to put it on and share your pictures with me on Instagram @ladybugdaydreams!

I am working on developing this dress in larger sizes, so stay tuned for that – though it will likely be quite a while. If you’re a knitter who’s interested in helping me out by making this dress in other sizes, contact me and we’ll work something out!


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