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












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.


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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Catching Up On Photos

March 30, 2014

I have lost/spent so many hours working on my photo albums this week.  About 3 years ago, I printed out all my photos from 2009.  They’ve been sitting in their shutterfly envelopes for a very long time.  I recently put them in order with plans to actually put them in an album.

I had been trying to figure out how I wanted to organize and/or scrapbook them.  I’ve been intrigued by Project Life (PL), a journaling system.  What I didn’t like about PL was the 12×12 format.  My albums are for 8 1/2 x 11 sized pages (although they can accommodate slightly larger pages).  I did a lot of research (thank you, Pinterest) on PL and found some people who had done it in my preferred size.  I already had a lot of photo pages, but I invested in a couple of new types of pages.  I bought PL Photo Pocket Pages Design F, H and J.  With Design F, I used my rotary cutter and handy ruler to cut off the right most column on 3×4 pockets and it fits in my binder perfectly.  That makes my layout choices:


I bought two of the Project Life Core Kits, one from Michael’s with a 40% off coupon and another from Amazon that was deeply discounted on Amazon.  Then I searched Pinterest for free printable journaling cards and ideas.  I’ve ended up making quite a few of my own cards and inserts which is deeply satisfying and time consuming.  I have learned how to do a lot of new things on Photoshop Elements.  It just takes a long time.  It also makes me wonder how we ever figured these things out before the internet. I have googled “how to” on so many different techniques.  How to outline a shape, make a dotted line, make a scallop.  I’m sure there’s more.

I’ve really enjoyed working on the album.  It’s reliving such a stressful and exciting time in our lives (our move across the country).  I like the idea of the Project Life system, though I’m adapting it.  I’m trying to decide if I want to use this system for our 2013 album or if I want to stick with the photo books I’ve done for 2012.  I’m still going to go back and add pages like this to 2012.  There’s a lot o pictures that I love and are special that I want to highlight.  I bought 2 more Core Kits and spent a lot of time yesterday organizing my PL station so I have made a commitment to my adapted PL system.

Here’s a sampling of my pages:

pl 1

pl 2





I’m 25% done with 2009.  It’s starting to go a little faster now that I know what I’m doing and where things are.  I still create a huge mess while I’m working though.

Do you have any PL/scrapbooking tips for me?



Working Outside

March 28, 2014

My little goose is in his bed, most definitely not napping.  He sounds so happy and cheerful, babbling away but come back at 6pm and ask me how he’s doing.  Chances are 98% that he will be crabby with zero patience.  In the meantime his not napping is giving me a chance to blog.

Joshua, Casey and I spent some time outside, working on our planters in the front of the house.  No pictures yet.  They look kinda sad actually, since they (the planters) are big and the flowers are small right now.  We’ll see in a week or two.  Joshua was a helper, trying to help me carry bags of rocks and dirt.  He actually did help me dump dirt in the pots.  Pure sweetness.  I’d fill up a small pot with dirt and he’d dump it in the big pot.  (The bag of dirt was too heavy for me to lift and pour.)  He helped me put the flowers in the pots, which entailed him putting the entire flower and container in the pot.  But then he took the empty containers and put them “away” in my car.

I have been spending a bit of time working outside.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really enjoy doing it but I enjoy how it looks when I am done.  Over the weekend I was pulling weeds and a lizard jumped out, surprising the crap out of me.  Then he ran off.  I told Casey to keep an eye on Mr. Lizard for me but Casey did not.  I put new flowers in my hanging pots on the side yard.  Cleared out some of the dead stuff.  Made room for our garden boxes.  Set up some compost bins.  I have a new system that I’m hoping we can manage as we have not been very good about maintaining our compost pile.  I bought 2 new, cheap, containers, about 5 gallons each.  Drilled lots of holes in the sides.  I bought 2 trays (the things the pots normally sit in) to use as lids and drilled some holes in those.  We will have one that we are actively adding to and one that is “cooking”.  Turning it was kind of a pain, and then my dad suggested I get a third pot to empty one of my other pots into.   So we will constantly be rotating pots.  I have these in a warm spot by my lemon tree, so hopefully we get some good results.

I realized that I hadn’t posted any pictures of the yard work we had done.  I tried to find some pictures of the original yard.  The Japanese maple tree was originally shaped like a half circle on the top, half the yard was ivy, and we had a half circle patio.  These were the 2 best pictures I found.


Here’s the yard after we had the work done.  Please pardon my furniture covers.  I was too lazy to take them off.  We had the maple professionally pruned.  There were lots of crossing branches, little stumps that waste tree energy and some dead stuff.  They also helped us lift the ceiling so to speak so that Bill can almost walk under it without taking a branch to the head.  We didn’t want to go too aggressive with the trimming so it is still a little low in parts.  We also aren’t shaping the top as I prefer a more natural organic shape.  It’s a beautiful tree and I’m glad we kept it.

yard againbackyard aftet

I like the space.  There’s lots of room for furniture, and lots of room to play.  We have a clothes line because I love to hang my sheets to dry.  But we can also take it out and store it in the garage.  There are bulbs coming up which makes me very happy.  They’ve been coming up for years and I wasn’t sure if they still would after everything had been dug up.  Apparently, not everything, and I’m interested to see what survived.

This is the side yard I’ve spent a lot of time on.  I can see these hanging baskets from my kitchen which is why I work so hard on this part of the yard.  (Please ignore the mess on my table.)

side yard againview from the kitchen

I still have some projects to work on in the back, but it’s getting there.  There’s always going to be something, right?  In the meantime, I have a wonderful space to relax.

enjoying the yard


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March 18, 2014


As I mentioned in my last post, spring has sprung.  I really love walking this time of year.  It smells so good, and I’m always so amazed that I can smell it as I’ve always had such terrible allergies.  The flowers are blooming in such vivid colors.  The front of our house looks so nice this year with green grass, as least for now.  I need to take some time to pull weeds and finish papering the beds, put out some rocks.  Always lots to do.  Joshua and I went to the nursery this morning and bought some flowers.  We need more color!

Speaking of color, I finished a shawl this weekend.  I’m very happy with it.  It’s the Bella Shawl and I really enjoyed the pattern.  It was simple enough with just the right amount of lace.  The pattern doesn’t overpower the yarn and vice versa.  The yarn is Perfect Wreckless by Miss Babs and I love it!!  I’m so happy with the whole thing.

que bella

And speaking of I’m so happy, that’s one of Joshua’s new sayings.  He’ll go up to Bill and say “Papa, I’m so happy.”  That little boy…  I think it started because I would Joshua that he should tell Bill “Papa, I’m so happy to see you” when Bill came home from work.  And two months later Joshua starts telling Papa he’s so happy.



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Clean Sheets

March 10, 2014

There is nothing so wonderful post vacation as getting home to your own bed and slipping between clean sheets.  Your own bed, own pillows, own tv remote on the bedside table.  No matter how great the vacation and fabulous the accommodations, it is wonderful to sleep in your own bed.

papa and songreat grana skyline I will never tire ofgrabdma youngspring has sprung

We spent a week visiting family, first in Nashville then in Chicago.  It was brisk and even downright cold, but we didn’t notice.  It is so wonderful to see Joshua with his great grandmothers, and for us to spend time with them and the extended family.  It was busy enough yet we still had down time to relax.  We needed to get away from our daily routines and enjoy time together.  I didn’t realize that until now.  It’s not like I dying to get away or that I needed a vacation, but I feel like it came at a good time.  It gave us a chance to think and relax, gain some perspective on life and come back recharged and refreshed.

It helps that spring is absolutely, completely in bloom here in Northern California.  We’ve gotten a little rain, not nearly enough, but my Japanese maple in back went from pre-bud on February 28th to pretty green leaves on March 10th.  The “spring forward” had no impact on us since we were changing time zones anyway.  I woke up on my own at 7:15 which is about the perfect time for me to get up.  Joshua went to playgroup and I tackled a couple of projects on the to do list I wrote up last night.  It’s a good start to the week.  Must be those the clean sheets.


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Kitchen Fun

January 29, 2014

Well, fun may be a bit of an exaggeration.  The background is this:  We have 2 pretty deep cabinets in our kitchen.  They hold a ton of stuff but are a giant PITA because it’s hard to get the stuff in the back.  Everything in the front has to get pulled out.  I have most of the stuff in bins so I’m only pulling out 2 bins to get the stuff in the back, but I’m still pulling out 2 bins.  Blah blah blah.  After much deliberation we ordered 2 sliders (one for each cabinet) to test it out.  The installation was easy.  The hard part was getting everything put away again.  It ended up being a huge kitchen reorganization project.  If you’ve been here before, good luck finding things.  We shuffled a lot of stuff around.  But it works.  There’s space for Joshua sippy cups which we’d been jamming in next to our bowls and wine glasses.  Bowls are easier to get to because they aren’t nested anymore.  Etc, etc, etc.  And then there’s the cabinets where the sliders were installed.  I am happier.  I am approaching happy.

Why my hesitation with the cabinet sliders?  Loss of usable space.  I should say a “perceived” loss of space.  In reality I have gained a lot of space because I can now easily access the entire depth of the cabinet.  But I lose about 2.5 inches on each side for the slider rails.  I think it is just me being me and I need to get over it.  We had a little trouble fitting everything that was originally on the shelf on the new sliding shelf but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.  I think it helped when we threw away the expired and stale stuff.





What Bill thought was going to be an afternoon project turned out to be an afternoon, next day, following morning project.  But it is hugely improved and we are going to order sliders for the remaining shelves.  I’m so close to being able to check this off my to-do list.

And because I hadn’t done enough organizing already, I shuffled the furniture around in my craft room.  My sewing tables are back to back now, going out of the wall instead of side by side against it.  It will make quilting a lot easier.  If I like this set-up, I am going to get new tables from IKEA that we can hack to sink my machines.  There’s a great tutorial on it.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to like it like this.  It doesn’t feel like the tables are taking up more floor space.  My seating area seems a little more cramped, but that’s also because I have a bigger chair there now.  We shuffled some chairs around in this process.  (Joshua was getting a little crazy on the rocking chair in his room so it’s now in our room, the chair from our room in my craft room, the craft room chair in Joshua’s room.)  I’m also planning on getting a new coffee table for the craft room/playroom which will be a much better surface for Joshua and his cars and garage.




As a result of my craft room shuffle-roo, I started going through all my stuff.  (It’s a WIP so pardon my mess in the photos.)  I have so much scrapbooking stuff that I need to get on top of.  Stuff from when I was in high school.  Ugh.  I went through a couple of binders and threw a lot of stuff out.  I’m also going to get rid of a bunch of my magazines.  They’re now available on CD or for download and that will take up a lot less space.  I have to give my mom credit for that idea.  I have decisions to make – fabric scraps, scraps and more scraps, more clipped articles, and let’s not even discuss yarn.  Overall, progress is being made.


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Birthday Wishes

January 23, 2014



to dos

I just celebrated the last birthday of my thirties.  Crazy.  Where has the time gone?  I can hardly believe I’m this old.  I don’t feel old, and I’ll always be Young, ha ha.  (A little bit of an inside joke, sorry.)  It was very fun, except for the cold that I’m still getting over.  Bill and I saw a movie, we had a nice family dinner (2 of them, actually).  Lots of the most delicious cake, made from scratch by my sweet husband.  I couldn’t have asked for more.

I’ve been knitting a lot.  I’m doing Ysolda’s mystery KAL and spent way too much time trying to pick out yarn from my stash.  It would have been so much easier to buy new yarn but I am truly committed to reducing my stash this year!  The beading bug has bitten me.  I’ve started some new jewelry projects.  Fusion Beads has some amazing inspirational projects.  Most importantly, I’ve begun to “catch up” (my resolution for 2014).  I started by writing down all my to-dos.  They are separated into different categories: house projects, financial, craft, etc.  I even checked something off the list already!

Suffice it to say, I’m feeling good.  Keeping busy, wonderful birthday.

I leave you with a funny picture of my cutie pie.


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Happy New Year!

January 8, 2014

Yikes!  It’s already a week into the New Year.  Where has the time gone?  I lost a couple of days to the Virus of Death.  Bill was on vacation so we were trying to knock a few things off the to-do list and get in our last bit of relaxing family time.  We had such plans for Bill’s time off.  We had planned on watching a couple of movies, catching up on tv.  A couple of days a go, Bill said to me “I’m so glad we were able to watch all those movies.”  We laughed.  We did not watch a single movie.  But we did watch a bit of tv, cleared some space off the DVR, and got to relax.

Christmas table runner

I was thinking about my last post and realizing that despite how busy I was, I found some time for holiday crafting.  I managed a Christmas table runner.  I have bought so much cute Christmas fabric over the last couple of years and I finally managed to do something with it.  It’s a simple runner, strips of varying width, quilted with diagonal lines, hand sewn binding.

christmas hats

And I managed to knit us all Christmas hats.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the three of us in our hats, but we all have them.  It was a fun knit.  The hardest part was the pompom and getting one that was full enough.  Bill and Joshua wore them to the farmer’s market ever Sunday in December and got a lot of compliments.  Yay!

Of course with the new year, I’ve been thinking resolutions, but I’m not sure I’m going to make any formal ones this year.  I need to finish some from last year, unfortunately.  Now that I’m thinking about it, my resolution for 2014 is to Get Caught Up.  Catch up on projects I’ve had on my to-do list for a couple of years, catch up on last year’s resolutions, and projects that have been on my mind.  I feel pretty good about this.  Wish me luck!

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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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