Kayla’s Counted Cross Stitch Fabric Size Calculator

Kayla here with a guest post sharing a programming project I know Mom’s readers will like.

I made a calculator to determine the minimum fabric size needed to complete a counted cross stitch chart.

Give the calculator a try here

This is my first project where I can use programming to make a web page do more than just look good. It’s a super simple calculator, but being able to take a user’s input, perform a calculation, and show feedback is a huge step for me.

I left my teaching position at the end of last school year to pursue something with more flexibility and remote work opportunities. I usually tell people I’m studying “computer stuff” which is actually a really broad category.

If people think I’m “good at computers” they sometimes think that means I can give advice about their phone, iPad, or internet connection. Each of those things is a different field. My specialization, or what I hope for it to be, is web development.

Here’s how I describe it: …

Health News from Kayla

A guest post from Kayla…

It’s my turn to share health news. I’m ok. I’m at the start of a long journey, but honestly, I feel good in a lot of ways. This is going to be a long post. And if it feels really twisty and turny, it’s feeling about right.


I always have been described as a little delicate. Not sickly, necessarily, but always overly sensitive and a little uncomfortable. It’s hard to pinpoint when I progressed from being delicate to being sick. It’s been a rough few years. Losing Dad, and his illness before, was awful. That time overlapped with my husband and I trying to conceive. In fact, I had surgery for endometriosis on the same day Dad had his lung surgery. From there we lost my dear friend-cousin Jody. I had my son in January 2020.

I eventually noticed that I never got better after we started trying to conceive back in 2018. I never quit feeling tired after my first trimester of pregnancy. The carpal tunnel that started in pregnancy lingered on and was joined by joint pain and unrelenting fatigue. I suddenly couldn’t remember the last time I exercised or watched a TV series with Spencer or cooked a great meal.

This all came to a head earlier this month, but I didn’t know it at the time. I noticed a “bug bite” and mentioned to Spencer how strange it was that I had them on both arms and that they were in clusters. They were gone by the next morning.

The next day my leg blew up with what I now understand were hives. I was in such pain and so concerned that I considered going to the emergency room. My sisters told me to try Benadryl first and the welts suddenly disappeared.

From there I had hives every day. They started small and through the day became completely painful. I would hold off on Benadryl until I made it through my work day, then take Benadryl, and they’d disappear.

Meanwhile, every allergy I ever… …

Baking Brownies with Jasper

A guest post from Kayla…

I’m a lucky Mama to have a buddy to loves to bake!

We had to improvise with the apron too!

But even luckier, I have a Mama who keeps the family recipes on her blog so I can find them easily.

Jasper has been obsessed with brownies recently. I’m guessing he had one at childcare. I told him I knew how to bake them and asked if he would like to try. He was literally jumping up and down!

Here’s a link to the recipe we made. If you’ve been a reader for long you know the first recipe all the Kramer kids learned to make was crazy cake. Well, that was followed closely by “two two brownies.” The recipe is easy to remember because it takes almost two of everything. It’s difficult because they are hard to tell when they are quite done.

We have a little family so I told Jasper they were “number one” brownies. I told him no matter what I asked, tell me “Number 1!”

How much butter? How many eggs? You get the idea.

So I get to the one exception in the BROWNie recipe. The cocoa powder.

I was out of cocoa powder. Making brownies. With a two-year-old.

Yikes on a bike.

I dug through all the cabinets and found a box of instant chocolate pudding. I expected the thickener in the pudding to make the brownies a little too dry so I added heavy cream until they were the consistency I remembered.

So I sat down to type this story and realized I had better try the brownies!

The verdict?


Sweeter than I prefer, but normal for most brownies. They’re a little too gooey, but I think that’s a timing rather than an ingredients issue.

Besides, these brownies never go wrong. Too runny? Put ice cream on top. Too crumbly? Crumble them on top of ice cream.

I guess the only ingredient I missed after all was the ice cream!

Ask The Readers: Sewing Machines

A guest post from Kayla…

I love reading Mom’s Ask Jo posts, because of course mother knows best, but she has the best readers who give advice in the comments! I found myself searching for information online and then I realized I have log-in credentials to make my own post here on Mom’s blog!

I’ll summarize: I’m looking for sewing machine advice.

I’m doing a heavy overhaul of my basement sewing area. I have a large space in our unfinished basement but it spills over into the entire basement. It has to hold ALL of my hobbies as well as my Etsy stock and shipping supplies.

I enjoy sewing and I love older machines but I just don’t have the space for them all. When I sew I tend to make clothing and crafts more than quilts. I’d like to have the capability to make more heavy-duty things from upholstery fabric.

Let’s take a tour of my machines!

I used a machine of Mom’s until I was 19 and purchased my own. I had worked at Pine Needles in Cresco and was devoted to the Bernina brand. Pine Needles (Now Inspired to Sew) was moving to a new location and had great prices on floor models.

I picked an Artista 230 and added a walking foot. It was a great purchase at the time.

  • It was the highest end of the Artista models
  • It had a wide stitch variety with computer selection, but not full on computer touch screen
  • It could use the same specialty feet as my Mom’s higher-end machine
  • It was adorable and lightweight, and I was moving around a lot and didn’t have a sewing room.

This is usually my go-to machine. But I’m considering a different one for a few reasons.

  • It’s pretty finicky. I have to carefully choose a bobbin and top threads that work together. It needs new needles all of the time or it skips a stitch. Sometimes it patches Carhartt and sometimes it eats the beginning of a triangle. It is unpredictable.
  • I can hear the computer running. I know this is not normal, but it drives me nuts. I can’t relax when I use it.
  • It’s pretty slow! My students used Bernettes that stitched at a much higher speed, and I love the speed of Mom’s Grand Quilter.

Here’s what I’m looking for.

  • NO computers.
  • Metal parts.
  • Open to new or vintage
  • High speed

Here’s a tour of my other machines.

I have a New Home treadle. I keep this as an end table in my bedroom and break it out occasionally. This is my main workhorse to do ridiculous things like sewing cardboard mailers for my Etsy shop. But it is a lot to get out, takes a lot of oil to get it running smoothly, and is pretty slow. I’ll keep it forever, but more for sentimental than practical reasons.

I have a featherweight. This baby isn’t going anywhere! It was an anniversary gift from my husband and I love that I have it in common with Mom. She is my little sweetie for quilt piecing. Again, adorable, but not super practical for utility.

I have a Singer 717. You might recognize her as “Mildred” because she is from Mom. I love this machine and it fills a lot of my requirements, but it takes up too much space in the cabinet. I know it could come out of the cabinet, but that seems a pity if there was someone else in the world to enjoy her. She’s up for sale on Facebook.

When I was photographing in the driveway, I chatted with my neighbor. He used to do upholstery and knows a lot about machines. I told him I’m considering a commercial machine and making space in my basement. He offered a machine of his, but I haven’t heard much about it and am asking for advice!

So, dear readers, help a girl out!

Here are my questions…

  • My neighbor’s machine is a Montgomery Ward J1969. Do you have any experience with this kind of machine? Does it fit my wish list?
  • Do you sew on a machine you love that fits my wish list? Tell me about it!

Thanks so much for your help!

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