Ireland, You Were Grand

October 21, 2015

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we had just gotten back from vacation. It was wonderful. Bill and I have talked about going to Ireland for years, and we decided to do it. Life is short so let’s make some memories. We went for 9 days, traveling around the southern part of the country. We really could have used one more day to have made it absolutely perfect, but now we know better for planning future trips.

We flew into Dublin on Saturday and had a day and a half to explore the city. Saturday, we explored by foot and on Sunday we took one of the Hop On, Hop Off buses. We got a lot of information from the guides, and got to get off and explore for as long as we wanted. A new bus came by every ten minutes which made it very convenient. One of those stops was at the Guinness Storehouse, the high point of the day for Bill.


Monday we picked up our car and started our drive to Killarney. It was our longest drive of the trip at 4.5 hours, but we stopped for lunch, stopped at Lough Gur, had a potty break so that meant we got to Kilkenny just in time for dinner. We stayed at a B&B about a kilometer from town and we were able to walk to dinner every night. I think you can enjoy your pint of Guinness (or cider, in my case) a bit more when you don’t have to worry about getting behind the wheel. Woodlawn House was our home base for three nights. The next day we drove the Dingle Peninsula. It was a glorious sunny day and the scenery was spectacular. We were essentially cone from 9:30 to 5:30 and most of that time was spent in the car. We stopped at Inch Beach and ran and played in the sand. Our next big stop was the town of Dingle. We walked through town, and then picked up some groceries at the supermarket and had a delightful picnic. We bought a loaf of french bread, some pesto and Irish cheddar cheese and found a pretty spot by the harbor to sit. It was delicious.  We walked around some more and then got back in the car. We made a bunch of stops at scenic pullouts and cut across the mountains to head back to Kilkenny.  It was a shortcut but I think it may have taken a few months off of Bill’s life expectancy as there were some super narrow, curvy roads where you were praying there were no oncoming cars.



Wednesday was our day to drive the Ring of Kerry. Another day in the car. Ugh. It was tough for all of us and this is where we really needed another day. One where we went for a hike, found a park and limited our time in the vehicle. But it was our last day in Kilkenny and we couldn’t miss the Ring of Kerry. In hindsight, I think we could have. It was pretty, but not our most fun day.



Thursday we departed for Cork. We had a 90 minute drive to Blarney Castle which is just outside of Cork. It was beautiful! It’s probably one of the most visited castles in Ireland, but for good reason. Aside from the Blarney stone, the gardens and grounds are lovely. We walked and explored and were there for over 2 hours. By the time we checked into our hotel around 5:30, we were too tired to find a pub for dinner so we ate in the hotel. Then we explored a little. It was dusk so we didn’t go too far, but walked to a church that didn’t look to far away. It was closed by we enjoyed the opportunity to stretch our legs.



The next morning we walked to the English Market to check it out and get our breakfast. There was a park across the street where we had a picnic, a “proper picnic” at that as we were told by a local who walked past us. We ended up walking back to the church from the previous night and this time it was open so we paid to go inside. It was beautiful. Joshua enjoyed the stained glass very much. We saw very little of Cork, which was ok with us. We were anxious to get to our next B&B in Kilkenny. First we had to stop at the home of Hedgehog Fibers, a hand dyed yarn and fiber studio in Cork. They gave us a tour and we saw the behind the scenes stuff. This was a highlight for me, and of course I left with some new acquisitions. They were lovely people and if you’re ever in the neighborhood, I recommend you pop in for a visit.



It was about 2 hours to Lawcus Farm Guest House, which was about 25 minutes outside of Kilkenny town. It was off the beaten path, and gorgeous. We arrived around 3 and settled into our room and then explored the priory which was a kilometer from the B&B. It was a pretty walk to the ruins and around some other local sights. Then we drove to Kilkenny for dinner. We didn’t explore the town except to find the pub that had been recommended for dinner.  Then it was back to the B&B for the night.



Saturday we had a wonderful breakfast. The kitchen was open to the dining room, and we were able to chat with the owner and 3 other guests while breakfast was made and eaten. It felt like we were having breakfast with family. The we were given a tour of the main house and the grounds, and Joshua got to help collect the eggs from the chickens. In the afternoon, we drove down to Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world. It is 800 years old. We had a pleasant hour drive back to the B&B and we ate dinner at the pub in town.



And alas, the next day was Sunday and we were up early for breakfast and to head to the airport. So that’s our trip in a nutshell. It might not seem like it, but it was very chill. There were a few things we really wanted to do/see (Guinness Storehouse, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, Hedgehog Fibers) but most of the trip we stopped for hot chocolate or lunch or photos when we felt like it, and went where the wind blew us. We had never heard of the lighthouse until it was recommended by the folks at Lawcus Farm Guesthouse and it ended up being a highlight of the trip. I’ve glossed over how friendly and nice the people were, and how beautiful a country it is, how delicious the food, how amazing the cheese… We’re already talking about going back. It was a really wonderful family vacation and we did make some wonderful memories together.


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What’s In My Carryon Tote?

October 20, 2015

I’m loving today’s Ten on Tuesday from The topic is spot on for me since we just got home from vacation and half my luggage is still sitting in my craft room. Including my carryon bag. So I’ll just go grab it and tell you the ten things I always have with me.



Top ten things I have in my travel tote:

1. Electronics: My kindle. Cannot travel without books and I love that I can have fifty to choose from in such a small device ; My tablet. We use our Genie to download tv shows to watch on the plane; My ipod. Just in case all my other devices run out of battery, I can still listen to music; My phone. I don’t usually use it so that I have battery left when I arrive, but in a pinch I could play games or music. And I like to have the cell phone camera handy. We’ve flown over Half Dome at Yosemite, and Crater Lake in Oregon and I’ve snapped pics. I don’t usually travel with a laptop anymore since I can do almost everything on my tablet, but I did bring it on this trip so we could download our photos and I could start to go through them on the plane. Which I didn’t do. Thankfully my laptop is tiny.

2. Lotion, tissues & wipes. My hands always get so dry on the plane, my nose always runs on a plane, and I like to have wipes just in case I need to wipe down the tray, or for my hands or face. Or for Joshua’s hands or face.

3. A shawl. Usually tucked in at the bottom, because I almost always get cold during a flight.

4. Reuseable water bottle. I don’t go anywhere without one. I fill it up once through security.

5. My travel wallet/purse. Not sure this needs much explanation. Unless it’s a quick weekend trip, I usually downsize my wallet and carry a smaller purse.

6. The knitting. I never go on a trip without knitting.  Sometimes, there’s even a backup knitting project in my carryon. Knock on wood, I’ve never had a problem traveling with wood knitting needles, but I’m always mentally prepared for some security person to give me a hard time so I usually use my cheapest pair.

7. Snacks. A little chocolate, a little salty. And gummy bears! (my favorite travel snack). And a beverage. I’ve cut back on soda so I try and grab a lemonade or iced tea or juice. I have pockets up front for those, and I slide them in where I can.

8. Headphones. I even carry 2 pairs. I usually use ear buds but for long flights those can sometimes bother my ears so I have big, cushy over the ear blue tooth headphones. They aren’t compact but they are comfortable!

9. Cords and chargers. I bought this organizer from the Container Store and it hardly takes up any room in my bag. I like to have at least one charger with me in case we get delayed in the airport. It’s amazing how many different cords/adapters I need. This also makes it easy when I’m packing because I can quickly see what I have.

Cords and such

10. Pen and notepad. Just in case I need to jot down notes. I could do an electronic note, but I’m a pen and paper kinda gal. Plus, in a pinch it’s another way to amuse Joshua. I have one of those pens with 4 colors, and he gets a kick out of that. I also have a pouch that I can carry the notepads in, as well as extra papers I accumulate (mainly receipts, rental car agreement, etc.).

10 1/2. My makeup. This doesn’t count as a full item because I usually only have it in my seat-in-front-of-me-carryon on the way to my destination. On my way home, I usually am to tired to care about looking my best so I put it in the other carryon of my checked bag.

my carry on

It’s kinda crazy, but I did a lot of research on pinterest to try and figure out what kind of carryon organization would work best for me.  We’re usually on a plane at least three times a year and at least 2 of  those trips are 4+ hours so that’s how I justify all the research I did. As a result, I splurged on a new carryon tote. I used to always use a backpack, but I was always taking everything out to get the thing that I needed which always ended up on the bottom of my bag. With this bag, things are more horizontal and easier to get to.  I lay it down under the seat in front of me for takeoff and landing, but once underway, I pull it out and tuck it up under my legs against the seat and then I have room to stretch out my legs and the bag is standing up with easy access to everything. I’ve used it for 2 trips and really do prefer it to the backpack. It has a panel so I can slide it on the handle of my wheeled luggage. (And you can get this back on sale at the Container Store during their annual travel sale.)  I carry very little stuff for Joshua since he has his own backpack (or Bill takes it, since he doesn’t have to pack makeup, knitting, a purse, etc.). Plus, we always have a wheeled carryon which has Joshua’s “friends” and toys, the camera, extra snacks for Joshua, change of clothes (for Joshua, sometimes us). We’ve streamlined what we carryon but it’s a lot. Anyway, clearly I like this topic. Hope you do too!

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Dealing With Photos

October 2, 2015

Now that Joshua’s back in school, I’ve had a little bit more time to work on projects. Not as much time as you would think, because by the time I walk the dog, shower, dress and tidy up a bit, I have about an hour to do what I want. One of my projects is catching up on photos. This is definitely something I need to do more regularly because the first set of pages I did took me about ten hours and I covered a week of photos. Most of the time was spent figuring how to do things, where things were, etc. I’m in a better rhythm now, but I’ve spent a big hunk of time organizing my supplies. Which were sort of already organized. But I think the photo below shows that I need a better setup while working on this. (And moving my sewing machine out of the way would probably help too.)

My workspace

A lot of my time gets sucked up by flipping through my supplies. I’ve got a lot of great embellishments but how do I make it easy to find things? This morning, I emptied out some clear drawers I have on my work table and sorted my embellishments into the drawers. I don’t use the stuff in those drawers very often so it was a waste to have them so close at hand. I was able to relocate those items to other parts of my office.


Next, I went through all my stamps and stickers and used this system to organize them. I then put them in the drawer next to my workspace so that I can flip through them easily. I need to order more sleeves as I ran out, but I like how quickly I can flip through everything. I also have some traditional stamps stored in 4×6 plastic photo boxes from the Container Store.


The part that still needs some work is all my project life cards. I belong to a monthly club which is where 80% of all these supplies have come from. It’s cool because I get things I’ve never seen before or would ever consider buying. I don’t know how to use a lot of them, but I’m learning. Anyway, I have a ton of different kinds of cards and I’ve spent a lot of time flipping through them. And then again. Some are journaling cards, some have sayings or pictures. I need to sort them by type of card. Currently, they are separated by collection but that doesn’t really mean anything to me. I do like having them on the cart because I can tuck it out of the way when I’m not using it.

Project life cart

So here’s a few of the pages that I’ve completed. They are mainly from January. I use all different kinds of pages. I’m happy with how they are turning out. It gives it a scrapbooky feel without being quite as time consuming as scrapbooking. I especialy like that it has a personalized touch with the journaling.

project life page

project life page

project life page

project life page

If you have any photo/scrapbooking/project lifing tips, I’d love to hear them. My next post on this topic will be about my process which I’m still refining. But I think that will also help the project go more quickly.


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Everything In Its Place

September 4, 2015

If you wanted to, would you be able to put everything in your house away? That sounds kind of crazy because who really has everything put away all the time, but could you? I couldn’t. My ever expanding yarn stash is overflowing (again) and I don’t have a new spot for it. We’ve been accumulating plastic containers for our new favorite ice cream and have those just sitting on the counter waiting for a home. Stuff I’ve knit is waiting to find a home in a drawer somewhere… Extra this, duplicate that. Where to put library books, our expanding collection of puzzles, etc. etc. etc.

I found this interesting article on apartment therapy which has remotivated me to purge and put away.

As part of our bedroom/bathroom remodel, we’ve switched rooms which has forced us to go through everything in our bedroom and bathroom and the closets. We’ve worked on it all July and have gotten rid of a lot of stuff. What we have kept, I’ve organized and labeled. You might look at it and say I’ve gone overboard, or I have too much time on my hand. I don’t really have the time, but it became important to me.

Bathroom closet
Organized closet

I didn’t solicit Bill’s opinion while I was doing it. Last week though, we were walking and I asked what he thought of the labels in the bathroom closet. I was shocked when he responded quickly and told me they were great. He actually read them. He told me he had no idea where to put the hand towels and he looked at the labels and it said to put them above the toilet. So he did.

I guess I’ll keep it up. I’ve done the bathroom and the hall closet. Nothing fancy, though I did have fun with my laminator in the bathroom. The hall closet is just card stock and string.

I also went through and discarded all our expired medications. There was a lot. Bill found a place to recycle it thanks to the internet. That saved us the big debate of flush it or throw it.

Medicine drawer

I went through and grouped things and labels them. Nothing fancy again, just cardboard and avery labels.

So that’s my project. Have everything have a spot. Not that it will ever be all put away at the same time, but it’s nice knowing that it could be.


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A Knitter’s Dilemma

August 31, 2015

I’m in a snit with my knitting which has made me not want to blog. There are few things that I find more irritating than working on a project for a month only to have to rip it out. That really, really bothers me. Yes, it’s my choice to scrap the project but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I would rather start over than be unhappy with a finished product, but it feels like I’ve wasted a lot of valuable time. Thankfully, it’s not something that happens very often. But it did in July.

I was working on this scarf, a pattern recommended by a friend. It wasn’t even on my radar, and I have a lot of patterns in my queue, but I was looking for something mindless to give me a break from a complicated pattern I’ve got on the needles. And I already had the perfect yarn wound up. So I cast it on.


At this point, I remember thinking it was a little too loose. But my friend convinced me it wasn’t so I continued. That was my mistake. I should have listened to my instincts. It took me about 3 weeks to get through half the yarn and that’s when I realized I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to make the scarf long enough. And it was way too wide. I was going to rip it out.

Banana leaf...

In the picture, it looks pretty beautiful. Once blocked, it would probably end up about 25 inches wide, maybe 70 inches long. I’d rather have more length and less width. I like the pattern, and it’s been an enjoyable knit so I will make another one. In fact, I bought a beautiful green yarn for it so that I could make it longer. I’m also debating whether I want to go down one needle size or two. I’m not going to start it for a bit though. As with any breakup, I need some space before I can see it again.

I did finish one project this month, and am almost done with another. I’m getting my groove back.


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Ten on Tuesday. The Thursday Edition.

July 2, 2015

Today’s “ten” from caroleknits is 10 things I love about my home. And while I’m a little late to the party, this is a topic I had to post about. So here goes.

My house

1. My neighbors. We have lucked into a great little community here. Not everyone is the best neighbor in the world, and we don’t know all our neighbors, but we have made friends with several families that have made living here a great experience.

2. The size of our house. For a family of 3, plus a dog and cat, it’s probably a little bigger than we need (by California standards). But all our family is out of state so we spent the extra money for more space and a dedicated guest room and it has been worth it. Especially because it means I have a…

3. Craft room. I love that I have a dedicated space for my crafting and supplies. I share it with Joshua and some of his toys, but I have my own work space.

4. The backyard. For San Jose, we have a good size yard. We put grass in (which is not doing so well right now) but we can play baseball and soccer and chase and play the way 3 year olds should play. And we have a nice amount of space for the grill and relaxing.

5. My side yard. Which I’ve talked about here.

6. The bones of our house. We rented before we bought and while a cute house, I was not a fan of the layout. Before buying, we looked at a lot of houses with crazier layouts. Not this house. Bedrooms all together on one side of the house, living spaces on the other. Lots of windows and good light.

7. Laundry room. It is pretty common for the washer and dryer to be in the garage, but we are fortunate to have a small laundry room. Emphasis on small, but at least it is inside the house. A big plus, in my opinion.

8. Our kitchen. It was the first thing we updated before moving in. It was original to the house and while the layout was good, we made it better, fully utilizing the space by adding cabinets and a breakfast peninsula and all new everything. I love it.

9. The guest room. I have wanted to paint a room navy blue for years. And I finally did! People told me it would be too dark, but it’s really not. The furniture is a light wood, the headboard, closet doors and shades are white, and we have bright colors on the bed and in the art work. It’s just what I had hoped it would be.

10. The master suite. Our latest project. Suite makes is sound grander than it is, since most people’s closets are bigger than our bathroom. But it has really come together and is becoming a really beautiful, restful space. And we can’t wait for this project to be DONE.

There you have it. I hope you have ten things you can love about your home.

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In A Blur

June 26, 2015


This picture perfectly illustrates how the past seven or eight weeks feel to me. Life in a blur. We’ve been under construction, having our master bedroom and bathroom renovated. It feels wrong to complain about it as it is truly a luxury to be able to have this work done. Yet it is such an inconvenience. It’s messy. I have to worry about whether or not I need to be home to let a worker in. I have to be presentable at an earlier than normal hour. I have to lock my cat up all day, and yell at the dog who (in the beginning) barked every time someone came in or out (which can easily be 10 times in 2 hours). So the renovation has just completely thrown us off.

On top of that, Bill in the course of two weeks, Bill found out about the deaths of two coworkers. Youngish men, with families and children. Due to completely different reasons, on different sides of the country. I’m sad for their families. Sad for these men and what they will not be able to experience. And it makes me sad to see how things can change. In. An. Instant.

So we give our loved ones extra big hugs.


And we think about all we have to be grateful for.


And we take as much pleasure and joy as we can in each day.


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May 12, 2015

I’m participating in the Ten on Tuesday over at I love the topics she comes up with but I usually don’t get to it fast enough. Ironically, I was motivated to get to the procrastination topic in a timely manner. So here are 10 things I need to stop putting off, and my little Procrastination Enforcer to keep me on track.
My little procrastination enforcer
1. Cleaning out my email inbox. Way to much junk in there.

2. Help Bill hang my Warner Brothers picture. It was an anniversary gift from years ago that we’ve been meaning to put up.

3. Work on some jewelry projects. I hear them calling me.

4. Project Life. Project Life. Project Life. So many photos. So little time.

5. Take my skirt making class on Craftsy. I have some great fabrics that I want to use.

6. Sew a couple of tops. Again, so many great fabrics in my stash.
My DVD project
7. Finishing up my DVD project. I recently “lost” my DVD closet with our master bedroom renovation. Whilst perusing the Container Store, I found Disc Sox and liked how I could keep the cover artwork. My mom, bless her, helped me get through 95% of my collection. I have a few more movies to finish putting away.

8. Set a date for a big barbeque and other time with friends. We have great intentions of doing this every summer and never set a date and get to it.

9. Work on my Wheaten wrap. It’s such a great project but I keep picking up other projects instead of this one.

10.  Order my new dresser for the master bedroom.  It is on sale for 20% off and I will be unhappy if I do not take advantage of the price reduction.

I’m actually kinda motivated now to get to work!

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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.

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Double Decker Table

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.

Double decker table

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?

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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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