Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2015

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Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day!  I regret that January ran away from me.  And most of February too.  I have just rejoined the land of the living after being sick for over two weeks.  Both Joshua and I caught colds and mine knocked me on my behind and Joshua’s just made him crabby with no visible deficit in his energy level.  Thank goodness Bill stayed healthy.  I actually think I had 2 colds because I was really sick (with different symptoms than Joshua), I started to feel better for a couple of days and then was knocked down again.  Anyway, land of the living.  Just in time for some beautiful weather though I would trade it in an instant for rain.

I got away from my January theme of getting organized.  I wanted a party for my 40th birthday and we took the party as an opportunity to tackle a bunch of little projects around the house.  Dumb little jobs that we had been putting off for over a year.  We got through an amazing number of things on my to do list.  Add to that the relatively deep cleaning we gave the house and it was a busy month.  My party was everything I wanted it to be.  We used a party planner and had it catered so we had almost nothing to do on the day of the party which was so great because I had a couple of surprise guests and I got to relax and enjoy time with them.  Even during the party, there was someone here to help out and refill food plates, take coats, help with drinks.  That said, I still don’t feel like I had enough time to chat with people and visit.  But it was fun.  The next day we took our house party to Santa Cruz and enjoyed a glorious, warm, sunny day at the beach and had dinner at the pier.  I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.  If there was anything I would do differently it would be to have taken more pictures.  I have no pictures of most of our guests, not a single picture of just me and my mom who was one of my surprises.  That’s the only thing I would improve upon.

And now we are midway through February.  It has been a lovely Valentine’s Day.  We all slept in, ate a relaxing breakfast, bought flowers and dirt at Home Depot, went to look at fire pits and finally bought one, played at the park, and went out to lunch.  It’s been a very pleasant, enjoyable day with my two best valentines.


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Tile One On

January 6, 2015

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I lose my keys all the time.  All. The. Time.  I never put them in the same place twice.  I have a spot where they should go, but…  In fact, the funny thing is that on Monday, I couldn’t find them because they were put in that away spot.  I found them by using my new Tile.  They were a Christmas gift from Bill, at my request.

So on Monday, when I started the great key hunt, I quickly stopped and used the app on my phone.  It made my keys play a song which led me to the drawer where my keys were hidden.  So far, the Tile is working great in the house.  It didn’t work as well this evening, when Bill tried to see if my keys were in the house or with me on a walk (when he was trying to make sure I didn’t get locked out of the house).

The downside of the Tile is that they will only last about a year.  Maybe in that year, I can learn to put my keys where they belong, every time.  That would be the completely organized solution.


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Keep It Organized

January 3, 2015

Keep

As much as I prefer pen and paper, sometimes electronic lists are the way to go.  My favorite app for my Android phone is Google Keep.  I can share my list with other Google users and both can update and modify the list.  I found this especially helpful when Bill and I were working on Joshua’s birthday party.  There are also times when pen and paper aren’t close but I almost always have my phone handy.

I also use Google Keep for keeping notes on things I never remember, like the size of our furnace filter.

And that is today’s tip.


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Starting Off Organized

January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!  I hope that you had a safe and happy start to your new year.  I certainly did.  I was organizing my yarn at midnight.  Bill was doing something on his computer.  We lead an exciting life here at Casa Napier!

I’ve said before that I love the start of a new year.  It’s an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.  For me, a fresh start involves getting organized so I’ve decided to spend the month sharing some of my personal organization tips as well as some that I’ve found on the internet.

Today’s tip is all about The Planner.  Every year I agonize over what kind of planner to use.  I love to use a planner.  In high school I used a Chandler’s.  Everyone used a Chandler’s.  They are out of business now, but they were a weekly planner with a leatherette cover. I think I still have one of mine from high school.  I can’t remember what I used in college.  In my professional life I’ve used them all, none that I’ve truly loved.  As much as my phone is glued to my hand, I still prefer to have a pen and paper planner.  My planner is part calendar/to do list and part historical record.  When I remember (which isn’t as often as I like) I write down things Joshua said or did, what he’s playing with, etc.

The last two years I used one of the Erin Condren planners.  I love how colorful they are, customizable with a photo on the cover, and they are a good size for me though maybe a little thick.  What I haven’t loved is the layout and how they are not easily adjusted.  I like to have notes pages in every month.  Last year, I unwound the coil, rearranged the pages, and then twisted the coil back in.  I also have had a lot of blank pages that I never used.

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This year, I opted for something new:

My cost was about $50.  Last year, my Life Planner from Erin Condren cost me $67.90 (includes tax and shipping).

I did have to do some work to get my monthly pages the way I like them.  I had trouble finding monthly layouts that I liked so I bought a set that included weekly pages and I went through and deleted the weekly pages and set it up to just print monthly.  This did take some time, but I’m happy with the result.  While I was at it, I added a monthly coversheet for monthly to dos and a doodle space.

I’m also in the process of tearing out the unused blank pages from my other 2 EC planners and will trim them and hole punch them to use in my new binder.  They are too cute to be wasted.

So that’s my planner for 2015.


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Goodbye, 2014!

December 31, 2014

Sigh…  It is always a mixed blessing to have the guests leave, the Christmas decorations packed up and life start to return to normal.  Normal is a little slow coming.  We started a small household project that is taking longer than usual and limiting my access to the garage which apparently, I access a lot.  We had a new couch delivered and to make room for it, we put the old one in my craft room.  For over a week.  Along with the coffee table ottoman.  Stuff has kinda been piling up lately, literally.  The Salvation Army picked up the couch today and we took the ottoman to the consignment store.  The decorations are mostly packed up but the containers are still waiting to be put back in the garage.  We are getting there.

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This is an especially hectic time of year for me.  I’m still learning how to manage things with Joshua’s birthday in the mix.  It is getting easier.  I have learned to be realistic about the amount of stuff I can take on.  I am keeping my projects small and manageable  and every year I’m able to do a little more.  I actually did some baking this year, and I managed to get sweets to our neighbors before Christmas Eve!  I still chuckle when I think about how my neighbors and I were criss-crossing each other on the street to get our goodies delivered.  It was fun and festive.  My mom and I made tamales for the third year in a row and we are getting better!   The preparation goes a lot more quickly and they are getting tastier each year.

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Given all that there is to do, it’s hard to find time to sit and enjoy the season.  I think that’s where I need improvement.  My favorite memory from this visit is from an early morning.  Joshua had just woken up and, like usual, he plodded into my room to snuggle with me.  Bill followed close behind.  My mom checked that we were decent and then hopped up into bed with us.  Casey joined us.  Jacob was not too far behind.  So here we are, all of us on my bed and I say “where’s Gracie?”  And up hopped Gracie.  I wish we had been able to take a selfie because it was a fun moment.

Our Christmas was relaxing and low key.  It took over an hour to open presents; Joshua waited patiently for his turn.  We visited with family on the computer and played with our gifts.  We had cooked our big dinner on the 24th and the 25th was a day to take it easy.

The holiday was barely over when my thoughts turned to the new year.  I’ve been thinking about resolutions and I’ve decided to make this the year that I catch up.  Really.  I’ve been carrying so many projects forward that I need to stop making excuses and just do them.  I’ve also decided to take one morning a week and take a craftsy class while Joshua is in school.  (Something else I had been meaning to do and haven’t done).

Explaining the bayberry candle

I say goodbye to 2014 with thanks in my heart.  It was a good year.  Our bayberry candle is burning down as I type this and I hope that it starts our 2015 on the right foot.  We normally light our bayberry candle on Christmas Eve but we remembered at about 11PM so we decided to do it on New Year’s Eve.  That’s the kind of year it’s been.


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A Crafty Christmas

December 10, 2014

Ornaments

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I feel like over the last couple of years I haven’t done much Christmas crafting.  A couple of small things here and there, but nothing very significant.  With Joshua’s birthday right in the middle of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I feel like this time of year passes in a blur.  This year however, I started early and was able to do some fun Christmas crafts.  I’ve been working on a couple of different ornaments.  One is from the Make it Market Kit from Papertrey Ink.  I’ve recently become interested in a lot of these paper crafts and when I saw this kit, I had to have it.  The ornaments just look so cool and there was a video showing me exactly what I needed to do.    Needless to say, I treated myself and over the course of a couple of days over a couple of weeks I put the ornaments together.  They went out to family as a small token of appreciation to family who were so wonderful to Joshua when we were recently in New Orleans.  I was all set to make more except that it has been nearly impossible to find more of the plastic ornaments.  I even had a bad experience on Amazon trying to get them.  But I’m really happy with the ornaments I did finish.  They were fun!  And I can always make more for next year.

Ornament

My other craft required a little more brain power.  I had seen this idea on Pinterest, but no instructions.  (Actually, I falsely assumed there were no instructions but I just clicked on the pin and “ta da” there they were.)  Anyhoo, I figured it out myself and have made 3 of them.  They are little gifts for a couple of knitting friends.  I used little bits of leftover yarn, and had no trouble finding these kinds of ornaments.

It’s not much, but it’s something.


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Thankful

December 5, 2014

Helloooo, Blog.  It’s been a bit.  I’ve thought about you a lot.  Last week I even sat down to say hi.  Then, BOOM!  8 days go by and I still haven’t finished my Thanksgiving post.  I feel like I reference time flying by in every post but it’s so true.  I’ll try and do better.  Are we still friends?

It’s the season for being extra busy, but we are doing our best to enjoy it.  My dad was in town for a couple of weeks and my in-laws had been in town right before for Halloween.  Both were lovely visits.

Thanksgiving was low-key.  Bill made a fabulous feast.  I helped a little and made the apple pie from scratch.  I did some chopping for Bill but he did the rest.  I think he prefers it that way.  Not that I’m a slouch in the kitchen department thankyouverymuch, but I think he enjoys it way more than I do.  Anyway…  delicious meal of which I can take no credit.

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Since it’s the season, I have been thinking about how much I have to be thankful for.  I have a happy, healthy child who gives me more joy than I deserve.  I have a truly wonderful husband who supports me in all of my crazy craftiness, my “brilliant” ideas for home projects, my yoga and lets me snuggle in bed when I need a break.  I have Casey and Gracie who are sweet and loving critters, both so patient with Joshua.  We live in California where I can walk in December and smell the roses.  Bill has a great job with a great company where he is challenged, treated with respect and fed well.  Our parents come out to visit, are healthy and willing and able to make beautiful memories with their grandchild.  We have loving families.  I have great friends, both old and new.  I have hobbies that both challenge and relax me.  I have amazing memories of loved ones who are smiling down on me from heaven.  My life is filled with love and beauty.  For everything, I am so thankful.

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Getting My Craft On

August 1, 2014

It seems like I haven’t had much of a chance to stretch my creative muscles lately.  I’ve been doing a lot of knitting which is fun and usually relaxing, but I don’t find it particularly creative.  Time has not been on my side.  I finally decided to sit down and tackle something that’s been on my mind, a pillow for Joshua’s IKEA castle.

Joshua PIllow

I saw this pillow ages ago and wanted to do something similar for Joshua.  I had a bunch of squares already cut so I picked out my favorites and put them together.  I think it is fun, playful and whimsical.  The pillow ended up being quite thick, but I’m sure that it will flatten over time.

the underside of the pillow

The one part of the project that I am really unhappy with is the underside of the pillow.  I wanted my pillow cover to be washable so I made an envelope closure on the bottom, but I didn’t overlap my envelope enough.  That was a conscious decision because I didn’t want it to be too difficult to stuff my pillow inside the cover, but without “help” the closure really gapes open.  I “helped” things by sewing it shut.  I did some quick, big stitches so it would be easy enough to cut open when the time comes to wash my cover.  I am thinking about putting in some buttons to help close the pillow but I’m not in a hurry to do so.  My little guy seems okay with the pillow as is.

the pillow in use


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Alaska Bound

June 11, 2014

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We just got back from a 10 day  vacation.  We spent 2 days in Seattle before heading off on a 7 day cruise to Alaska.  It was amazing.  One of our top 5 vacations.

Early in the trip we met people who thought we were very brave for bringing a 2 year old on a cruise, but it was awesome.  It really could not have worked better for us.  There are 2 things we’d do different (a different hike in Juneau, and something else I can’t remember at the moment) but those are total hindsight things and really didn’t affect our overall enjoyment of the trip.

The scenery was spectacular.  The one thing I really enjoyed was that expect for your first and last days, you were usually pretty close to land and had amazing views filled with snow covered mountains and gorgeous trees.  The days were long and once we put Joshua to sleep, Bill and I would relax on our balcony and read (or sometimes I would knit).  The ship had Camp Carnival and left Joshua there a couple of times so he could play and have fun with other children.  He protested going, but enjoyed it once he was there.  He was so well behaved at dinner in the dining room.  The ship employees all went out of their way for him and other passengers were friendly as well.  Joshua napped well, again protesting the rest, but falling asleep quickly, in some cases blanketed by his friends.  We enjoyed our day cruising in the fjord which was so beautiful.  We saw whales and seals and dolphins.  The mountains and glaciers were awe inspiring.  The ice chunks we passed were such beautiful shades of white and blue.  The water a gorgeous green-blue.

In Skagway we did an excursion to mushing camp and met sled dogs and got to play with puppies.  That was very fun for all of us.  In Juneau it rained, but was lovely nonetheless.  We took a tram halfway up a mountain and then hiked down.  In hindsight, we would have done a hike up top as the hike down was pretty but nothing special.  Now we know.  We did have the most delicious crab meal on the dock at Tracy’s Crab Shack.  I was in the mood for something warm and had delicious crab bisque over jasmine rice.  Bill had the bisque and a huge Alaskan King Crab leg.  It was soooo good.  We had a relaxing day at sea and then an afternoon in Victoria.  We walked from the ship to downtown and back.  We didn’t spend as much time in the downtown area because we really wanted to get back to the ship and have our last dinner with the servers who had made our meals so pleasant and special.

I would do the trip again in a heartbeat.  There were a couple of excursions we would have liked to have done but thought they would be too boring for Joshua (a train ride in Skagway and whale watching in Juneau).

The part I haven’t mentioned yet is how much fun we had in Seattle before and after the trip.  We met up with friends for dinner on the 2 nights we were there and had a delicious breakfast in Pike’s Place Market.  The day we were heading home we checked in at the airport and then had several hours to kill so we took the train back to Pike’s Place market and had lunch and bought some yummy treats.

I was not looking forward to coming home and I’m dreading that alarm clock, but I guess that’s what helps make vacation so special.  Now back to the real world.


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May Day

May 1, 2014

I’m not sure if I mean the title as “yay, Happy May” or “S-O-S.”  Perhaps a little of both.

April was over in a flash.  We had a garage sale and made a little moo-la.  We went to Phoenix to visit my grandmother.  We did a juice cleanse.  Tried to get to the Monterey Bay Aquarium but Joshua got an ear infection.  I also finished my last photo book for 2012.

When I list it out it doesn’t seem like much, but there’s so much preparation for a garage sale.  I really don’t like doing them, but we had a bunch of larger pieces of furniture that I knew were worth something.  My goal had been to make $200 and we made just over.  Plus, I got through a huge stack of magazines while I was manning the sale.  Hopefully we don’t do another one for awhile.

The trip to Phoenix was good.  A lot of preparation goes into that too as I hate to come home to a messy house.  My house always has a well-lived-in feel to it, but messy is a step past that.  It’s a fine line.  We got to have nice visiting time with my Abuelita, Uncle and Aunt.  We got to relax a bit too, floating away in the lazy river at our hotel.  It was a very short trip, but we left with some nice memories.

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me and abuelita

Now we’re home, trying to get through errands and tackle some small house projects before we have house guests.  And we have projects for them too so they don’t get bored.  I have a ton of projects that I want to do/have started that I, once again, feel my brain trying to go in too many directions.

One project that I can cross off my to do list is some new kitchen towels.  They aren’t very new as I’ve had them for about 3 years.  I wanted to do some embellishment to them and had plans for piecing a bunch of different fabrics together and then sewing it to the towel.  In the end, I decided on one fabric per towel.  Not as whimsical but much easier and I was able to do them in 3 nights.  Once night of measuring and cutting., another for ironing and pinning, and a last one for sewing.  Yay! Something accomplished.

finished towels

towels again

Lastly, one of my errands was to take Joshua to get his haircut.  It was getting in his eyes so I knew it was time.  There’s a craft store out that way so I stopped in and Joshua saw some baby dolls.  He seemed kinda interested in them, and knew what they were, calling them babies.  So I bought him his own baby.  He’s very sweet with it.  I need to make Baby some clothes.  Yesterday was a good day.

joshua and his baby

Now I must brave the heat and pick up Joshua.  It’s been over 90 the last 2 days.  The house has stayed pretty cool, though I’m not sure how today will go.  I’m washing bed linens and keep going outside to hang them on the line to dry.  I’m taking the long way, through the garage to try and keep the heat out of the house.  I don’t think it actually makes a difference except in my head.

So happy May Day to you.  Or Mayday! depending on how your day is going.


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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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