April 27, 2015
I love to read. Always have. I don’t get to do it as much anymore, but it is how I unwind every evening and once in awhile I am able to curl up in the middle of the day and read. I enjoy reading to escape. Nothing too serious or heavy. I used to read a lot of police procedurals but those can be too close to real life. I do read about murder and war and crime. I guess I’m just picky about it. I can’t and don’t want to hide from the realities of the world, but I also don’t want to be brought down by them. I have to be able to enjoy it and I think you can enjoy a certain level of uncomfortableness.
Anyway, I recently finished two fantastic books. And those books have renewed my appreciation for the library. When I go to the library, it’s always with Joshua and I have about two minutes to peruse the new fiction before he gets bored. That’s how I found one of the books. The other, I found on my library’s electronic version of new fiction.
My first recommendation is Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. I describe it as a story about bullying. It’s a mystery, it’s chic lit, it’s serious and it’s fun. It tackles such a serious and important topic in a fun way that keeps you turning page after page. I just loved it. I finished it while we were on our weekend in Hungtington Beach and I think it is the perfect summer read.
Last night, or more accurately this morning, I finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’ve been reading a couple of chapters before bed for the past four nights and last night I had to finish the last 280 pages. What a story. Set in World War II Occupied France, it is about two sisters and their lives during the war. I had to reread the last couple of chapters again this morning, after Joshua went to school. It is sad and beautiful, a story of love, strength, bravery. I learned a lot. I don’t think I ever really understood what “Occupied France” meant. I know it’s a fiction book, but it still opened my eyes to that part of world history. It is a book that will stay with me for awhile.
If you read either book, I hope you enjoy them. They are very different, but great stories. Now I’m ready for something a little “lighter” and I have a couple of books from the library to choose from. Ahh, decisions!
P.S. The pictures really have nothing to do with the topic, but I can’t post without a photo.
April 18, 2015
What’s up, Buttercup? I’ve been doing a lot of rhyming lately. Joshua brings out the whimsy in me I guess. We just got back from a trip to Philadelphia and I was super productive those first few days back. Perhaps to make up for my lack of productivity the month before. Not that we haven’t done stuff. We took a relaxing trip to Huntington Beach, have done a couple of bike rides, got ready for our Master Bedroom Renovation. Blah blah blah. The first thing I did when we got back from our trip was scrub scrub scrub the refrigerator from top to bottom. It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to do for so long and now it’s done. Whew. I really dislike the job but Bill had done a purge before our trip so the fridge was pretty empty and that make life much easier.
And then the fun began. We had bought this table (ignore the lazy bums on the couch) when we got our new sofa. I had visions of some fabulous DIY project that would be an internet sensation. Alas, the table was too small and too tall and I didn’t like it in the living room. But I thought it had potential for my craft room and Joshua’s toys. It just needed a shelf. His plastic container stack but they don’t always close (overstuffed) and they are cumbersome for a 3 year old to stack and unstack. I knew how I wanted to do the shelf and Bill bought the wood but I lacked the motivation to work on the project. Until Friday. I pulled out the 1 inch corner braces or “L” brackets and the drill. I made a little paper template for where to drill the hole and I went to town. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t know how to use the saw or even know which one I should use, so I waited for Bill to come home and cut the wood. He did that pretty quickly and then while he was making a trip to Home Depot to get half-inch screws, I covered the wood in fabric and drilled pilot holes. 20 minutes after he came back I was done. It would have been 2 minutes, but there were 18 minutes left in my show and I had to finish watching.
When Joshua woke up he noticed his double decker table. His words. Honest. I’m happy with how it turned out. His bins slide easily in and out. No more stacking! He has a matchbox toy that can hang off the shelf instead of my desk or sewing table.
Yay! I did something! Hmmmm…what to tackle next?
March 17, 2015
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you are having a lovely day whether you’re celebrating St. Patty of not. St. Patricks day always makes me think Spring, even though growing up in Chicago there was still a good chance I was wearing my winter coat. We are enjoying an unseasonably warm and sunny day here in Northern California. I have been working my tail off the last couple of weeks getting my yard cleaned up. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I do get a lot of satisfaction out of the finished product. I still have one more set of bushes to prune back, we need to remulch and that’s about it. We even have our garden started. I feel like we are a couple weeks ahead of the game because it has been such a warm winter.
I thought I would share some pictures of my side yard, which is my pride and joy. It’s the part of the yard that I see from the kitchen, and it was so blah when we first moved in. It’s taken three years for it to really come together. Every year I make some tweaks.
The big addition this year was to a table under the kitchen windows where I could put some additional flowers. I didn’t want to make a significant investment in this table so I modified a design I saw on pinterest. A lot of people have made benches with cinderblocks and fence posts, I just make mine a little taller. I’d like to cut some wood to lay across the fence posts to have a better surface for my pots; we just haven’t gotten around to that. The table is also providing some storage for extra pots. I’m pretty happy with it.
This is also the first summer that we aren’t using earth boxes for our garden. We’ve grown some great veggies in earth boxes, but they aren’t the prettiest things to look at. We went with cedar raised beds. We bought the corners from gardeners.com and the wood from home depot. We are going to use a drip system to automatically water which will hopefully help as we haven’t always been consistent with watering in the past. We’ve got 2 tomato plants, 2 bush beans, basil, oregano and more peppers than our family of 3 needs. I went a little crazy with pepper plants. We’ve got fresno, anaheim, joe e parker, jalapeno, red and green pepper plants.
Everything is fully in bloom here. It’s only mid march and my Japanese maple is completely green. The birds are frolicking and building nests. It smells so lovely in the neighborhood. I think this is my favorite time of year.
I leave you with this beautiful Irish Blessing: “Wherever you go and whatever you do, May the luck of the Irish be there with you.”
February 14, 2015
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.
January 6, 2015
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.
January 3, 2015
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.
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.
This year, I opted for something new:
- a cute mini binder at Target ($6.49),
- Martha Stewart Tabs at Staples ($7.29 x 2 sets),
- monthly page layouts on Etsy ($14),
- pretty cover page on Etsy ($4),
- adhesive pockets from the Container Store ($7.99),
- lined paper from Staples (which I already had but $3.69 if you were to buy it)
- zipper pouch (which I already had but $4.09 if you were to buy it),
- binder pockets ( which I already had but $4.99 if you were to buy it)\
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
December 10, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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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Where I Find Inspiration
- (4:53 am)
- A Polish Addict
- Alisa Burke
- All Buttoned Up
- Angry Chicken
- Anna Maria Horner
- Apartment Therapy
- Artsy Crafty Babe
- Betz’s Blog
- Brooklyn Tweed
- Carina’s Craft Blog
- Caring for Cathy
- Carole Knits
- Confessions of a Craft Addict
- Creative Little Daisy
- Creative Organizing
- Creative Thursday
- Diary of a Quilter
- Domestic Adventure
- Eat. Sleep. Decorate.
- Fig & Plum
- Fussy Cut
- Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing
- Going Sew Crazy
- HELLO my name is Heather
- I Heart Linen
- In Color Order
- Je Mange la Ville
- Knit & Nosh
- Knitty Gritty Thoughts
- Pink Chalk Studio
- Portabello Pixie
- Posie gets cozy
- Purl Bee
- Red Pepper Quilts
- Sew Mama Sew
- Stardust Shoes
- whip up
- wise craft
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!
My Etsy Shop
A place for me to sell my handmade goods. My style? It's fun and funky with a hint of romance.