Happy New Year!

January 7, 2012

2012 promises to be a very different year for me.  The addition of the sweetest little baby boy to our family will present wonderful new challenges and opportunities.  I’m so excited to be staying home with him.  I’m also looking forward to getting back to yoga and finding time to pick up a shift or two at my local yarn store.  And somewhere I hope there’s time for crafting.  Bill is super supportive of all my activities that I know he’ll help me find the time.  We’ve also got a lot to do around the house, but want to balance that with spending time and doing things with our son.  When I think of a key phrase for the new year, one that comes to mind is “finding balance” but the one I’m going to go with is “be in the moment.”

chubby cheeks

That phrase is constantly running through my head as I spend time with my family.  We turn off the tv, put away our cell phones, set our books aside and just spend time together.  I’m taking in as much as I can.  As we feed him, cuddle, rock him to sleep, I just stare at him and take in all these precious moments.  It’s going to fly by, I know it is.  So “be in the moment” is my mantra for the year.

I didn’t do so well on my overall goals for 2011.  I read a lot (39 books) but didn’t cut down on my stash of books to be read.  I worked on a lot of projects and finished a lot, but didn’t reduce my yarn stash (in fact I have probably increased it).  I did live a healthier lifestyle in 2011, and weight less than I did a year ago!  I’m going to work at those same overall goals I had for 2011 and see if I can actually make some serious progress on them.  Moving was a very large motivator.  It’s a little ridiculous to have more craft room boxes than kitchen boxes.  So for 2012:

1.  Read 25 books.  I’ve adjusted my target because I know I won’t have as much time to read.  The real challenge will be to not buy any new books.

2.  Get rid of stuff.  Seriously.  My stashes are out of control.  Reel it in, girlfriend and make some progress on this!

3.  Continue to live a healthier lifestyle.  Get back to yoga, try jogging again, eat less takeout and eat all the fruits and veggies we get from the CSA and farmer’s market.

The thing that worked well for me was monthly goals (although I fell off at the end of the year).  So for January I want to:

1.  Finish unpacking craft room.

2.  Read two books.

3.  Make quilt sandwich with my mystery quilt.

4.  Update yarn stash on ravelry and identify yarn to be destashed.

5.  Work on granny stripe blanket.  Add 10 stripes.



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September Was A Bust

October 9, 2011

sunshine day being testedI got next to nothing accomplished.  And what I did accomplish, I did not photograph.  The temperature heated up and we had a week in the 90s which made me pretty much useless.  I had been making super progress on my girlfriend’s quilt and then I ran out of thread.  I got more but it’s three weeks later and I still haven’t touched it.  Now that the weather is better, I really need to get back to it.  I started a book at the end of August, and you’d think it was War and Peace with how long it took me to finish.  I just finished it Friday.  It was Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler, a mystery set in World War II London.  I really did enjoy it, I just didn’t pick it up very frequently.  I did finish my Sunshine Day Afghan and drop stitch scarf but that was the extent of my productivity.  At least I got something done.  My in-laws were in town for a visit, and as much as I’d like to blame them as a distraction, no can do.  We had a lovely visit and I had plenty of time to relax and knit.

There was one little thing we did that took up a bit of time in September.  We bought a house!  We started looking in August and it didn’t take us very long to find the right one.  It was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been updated so we are having some work done before we move in.  Meeting with contractors, shopping for appliances, filling out tons of paperwork…that took up a bit of our time.  I’ve even gotten started packing though we won’t be moving for a few weeks.  I’d rather do a little bit every day instead of rushing around at the last minute.  I’m excited to be moving and settling into our permanent home.  We’ve been living in a state of “make do” since we’ve been renting and it will be a relief to have our own place where we can come up with permanent solutions.  Like no more microwave in the craft room!  We’ve been storing a bit of furniture in the garage for when we got our own place so if it doesn’t fit in the new house, we can let it go.  And color!  I can put color on the walls.  There’s a lot of work to be done on the new house, but we are excited to see the transition from someone else’s 1960′s house to our updated home.  We are also trying to teach ourselves patience.  The transformation is going to be a multi-year process (and forever on-going), and I tend to want everything done now.  Margaret will be practicing patience.

Rather than add any new goals for October, I’m going to roll my unfinished September goals forward.  Hopefully I can make significant progress on that list, in addition to getting my packing done.  That should be more than enough to keep me busy!

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A Recipe and September Goals

September 5, 2011

I have been meaning to get to the September Goals post for a couple of days.  Every morning when I walk I run through them in my head, but I haven’t put fingers to keys to get it in writing.  But first, I’m super excited about some tomato sauce that Bill and I made.  We’ve tried to make tomato sauce, or spaghetti sauce, a couple of times, but with no great success.  We had a bunch of tomatoes from our garden begging to be used so I grabbed this recipe I had ripped out of one of my magazines.  This is the best tomato sauce we have ever made and it was super easy!!

Roasted Tomato Sauce (adapted from Country Living Magazine September 2011)

Makes 3 cups, Working time 10 minutes, Total time 1 hour 40 minutes

2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a 9×13 inch baking pan, toss together everything except the basil and oregano.  Roast for 1 hour.  Remove pan from oven and fold in basil and oregano.  Cook for 30 minutes more.

In a food processor, blend vegetables until pureed.  Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze.

Of course I made some modifications because we had more tomatoes, probably closer to three pounds.  I used an onion and a half, and two red peppers, a bit more olive oil, salt and red pepper, and quartered four cloves of garlic.  I also used a little black pepper and omitted the oregano because we didn’t have any.  Our tomatoes were super juicy so there was a lot of liquid in the pan.  We spooned out the vegetables and left the juices and that made for the perfect consistency once the veggies were pureed.  If yours is too thick, you still have the juices to thin it out a bit.  The sauce was delicious!  And did I mention how easy this was?

roasted tomato sauce

Okay, so now onto my September Goals:

  1. Finish Julia’s quilt!!
  2. Baste, quilt and bind my mystery quilt.
  3. Read 4 books.
  4. Finish my String Theory Scarf that I just started.  (Rav link here)  (I have been obsessed with this pattern every since I found it about three weeks ago.)
  5. Finish Sunshine Day Afghan.
  6. Finish (?) my needlepoint project.  (This is wishful thinking.)
  7. Make 2 baby gifts for friends.
  8. Make a Christmas gift.
  9. Sew a new top for myself.

This is an insane list.  Things have been a little hectic here, and my brother-in-law is visiting so I haven’t been very focused on my projects so far this month.  Hopefully things will settle and I can focus a little better.  Let’s hope!!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo of my babies behaving in my craft room.  See how nicely they are sharing the bed?  I think it was more a battle of wills than a desire to get along.


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August Goals Recap

August 31, 2011

I’m actually on top of things this month!  Yippee!  The goal setting has really helped keep me focused this month.  Here’s how I did on my August goals:

1.  Finish the damn Innocent Crush quilt.  Iâ??m so nervous about not doing a good job, that this thing is just sitting there.  I need to get over myself and  get to it. Done, done, done and done!  I free-motion quilted this bad boy and I did a pretty good job.  I still need more practice, but I’m am so proud of having done the entire thing, from start to finish.  It’s a confidence builder.  I actually feel like the quilt is easier to manage with free motion because I’m focusing on sections at a time, as opposed to feeding the length of it through my machine in one pass.  I started the project in March, and finished in August.

finished fenced in quiltquilt label

2.  Finish Juliaâ??s quilt.  I told a friend I would finish a quilt for her and Iâ??m excited to work on it, but also nervous because she did such a beautiful job piecing it together.  I need to get some confidence. In progress!  I’m doing straightline quilting and it’s taking me a little longer than I though, but so far it looks pretty good.  The fabric and pattern is more traditional so I think the straightline is better suited to this project.  I hope she likes it!  I’m about halfway done.

3.  Finish piecing and baste by mystery quilt. I have been working on this project and it is coming together nicely.  Half done!  I finished the piecing as blogged here, but I haven’t had a chance to baste it yet.

4.  Make a baby gift for a friend whoâ??s pregnant! Check!  No photos yet, because I haven’t gifted it yet.  It is super cute!

5.  Finish two small quilts I recently discovered.  There isnâ??t much to do with them. Done!!  I did some quilting on them (even though one was already bound, and did the binding on the second one.  The crazy thing is that Bill and I made these together in October of 1998.  I think we knew someone who was having a baby and I decided we would make a quilt as a gift, but then I couldn’t give them up since we made them.  Selfish, maybe, but I’m glad I kept them.

baby blanket 2baby blanket 1

a signed quilt

6.  Make a tablet pouch.  One of Billâ??s coworkers asked for one a gajillion months ago and I have got to make this for him. DONE!  Finally!  And I finished it with 3.5 hours to spare.

7.  Finish a needlepoint I recently started.  I did make progress, but it’s not done.  I thought this would be a tough one to accomplish.

8.  Crochet at least 20 more granny squares for a total of 44. I’d say I accomplished this one.  I actually finished all the flowers, and have done the border crocheting on 24 squares even though I haven’t seamed them together yet.

9.  Read 4 books this month. Done and then some!  6 books this month, although three were young adult novels.  I read Borderline by Nevada Barr (very good), Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (excellent, I highly recommend the Maisie Dobbs series), The Cat Dancers by P.T. Deutermann (police mystery, entertaining), and three Trixie Belden books – The Marshland Mystery, The Happy Valley Mystery, and the Mystery at Bob-White Cave).  So far I’ve read 32 books this year.

In summary, I finished 6 of 9 goals, am at the halfway point on 2 other goals, and about a third of the way through the last goal.  I’d say that was a pretty successful month!  I touched everything on my list and didn’t start anything new.


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August Goals

August 2, 2011

I have fallen off the wagon these last few months in regards to my goal setting and goal achieving.  I have thought about them, although I haven’t done much more than that.  Life happens, things get pushed to the side but I’m not giving up.  I found that setting monthly goals helped me stay focused and I could use a little of that right now.  I feel myself trying to go in 20 different directions and I want to finish some things before I start more new projects.  So even though I have failed miserably in my May – July goals, here’s the wrap-up:

1.  Complete Innocent Crush quilt.  -The piecing is done, just need to do the quilting.  Still.

2.  Finish living room pillows.  -Not done yet!

3.  Read 4 (!) books. -In the last 3 months I read The Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer, A Catch of Consequence by Diana Norman (set around the time of the American Revolution in Boston and then England, I devoured this book), Miss Dimple Disappears by Mignon F. Ballard (super sweet mystery set around WWII in Georgia), Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (I enjoyed this book more than the second one, but not as much as the first), A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King, and Trixie Belden Books 5 – 8.  That’s a total of 10 books. which isn’t quite 4 books a month, but pretty decent.4.  Edit chapters 1 – 3 of my book.  -Nope

5.  Make 5 tablet pouches.  -Nope

6.  Finish Cheques shawl.  (I need a break from the socks.) – Nope, although I am contemplating frogging this project.  I like the pattern and I like the yarn, but I’m not loving the two together.

7.  Sew the small flying geese for my mystery quilt. -This I did do.

8.  Keep exercising and eating right! -I did okay on this one.

The results weren’t quite as bad as I had originally thought they would be.

Here’s my goals for August:

1.  Finish the damn Innocent Crush quilt.  I’m so nervous about not doing a good job, that this thing is just sitting there.  I need to get over myself and  get to it.

2.  Finish Julia’s quilt.  I told a friend I would finish a quilt for her and I’m excited to work on it, but also nervous because she did such a beautiful job piecing it together.  I need to get some confidence.

3.  Finish piecing and baste by mystery quilt.  I have been working on this project and it is coming together nicely.

4.  Make a baby gift for a friend who’s pregnant!

5.  Finish two small quilts I recently discovered.  There isn’t much to do with them.

6.  Make a tablet pouch.  One of Bill’s coworkers asked for one a gajillion months ago and I have got to make this for him.

7.  Finish a needlepoint I recently started.

8.  Crochet at least 20 more granny squares for a total of 44.

9.  Read 4 books this month.

That seems like a lot.  As always, I’ll do what I can but I’m excited and motivated and am anxious to see what I can accomplish this month!


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May Goals

May 3, 2011


I kind of stalled out in April.  I did not accomplish much of anything.  So I am going to cheat and roll my April goals into May.  Hopefully May will be a lot more productive.

I did finish my cotton top but haven’t photographed it yet.  And I read 5 (!) books this month – two Trixie Belden mysteries, The Search by Nora Roberts (love her romance novels), Rhett Butler’s People (Gone With the Wind from Rhett’s perspective) and The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson which would be excellent summer reading.

I also finished my innocent crush quilt top and the quilt back but need to sandwich and quilt.

So I did do stuff, just not a lot.  That’s life.  We’ll see how May goes.

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April Goals

April 7, 2011

It’s seven days into the month, but never too late to set goals.  I’ll start by first looking at how I did with March, which I think was my worst month so far.

1.  Make new pillows for the living room.  In progress…  I need to change the thread in my machine but am too lazy to do it so I haven’t worked on this for about a week.

2.  Finish my basketweave afghan. Done!

Basketweave Afghan, complete!

3.  Finish mohair scarf (so that the cat stops pulling it out of my knitting basket during the night). Done!

modeling my alchemy scarf

4.  Cut Innocent Crush Fabric for a new quilt. Done!  And I even started the piecing!


5.  Make a top.  Halfway there…  I cut the fabric.

6.  Knit a sweater.  I started one…  But then got distracted by a shawl.

7.  Keep my schedule at the gym. I did it! I made a couple of tradeoffs where if I skipped a class I walked and the next day did a more vigorous cardio workout, but I think all in all I can say I kept my schedule.  Also, when I stopped focusing on a number and did the things I know I’m supposed to do, I lost 8 pounds!

8.  Read 3 books. Done!  The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt (brain candy, quick and entertaining), The Two Chinatowns by Dan Mahoney (NYPD police procedural, it was eh), and The Late Bloomers Revolution by Amy Cohen (cute, would be a perfect beach read)

9.  Finish Valentine socks.  Not quite there, but I made serious progress.  I am just so sick of knitting them…

10.  Make some tablet pouches.  This is a great bit UGH.  I started to sew them together and realized I cut the fabric too small.  I am going to have to come up with a new way to salvage the project but for now I am bummed and need a break.

So March wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I had a 50% completion rate, but I did get my hands in everything I wanted to accomplish, even if I didn’t finish those things.  I did a couple of other things that weren’t on the list, like reading my novel (which wasn’t as horrible as I expected it to be) and I cut the fabric for my mystery quilt, and I moved some stuff around my craft room in my constant attempt to make things less cluttered.  Moving on…

Here are my April Goals (and some of these will look a little familiar):

1.  Complete Innocent Crush quilt.

2.  Finish living room pillows.

3.  Finish making myself a cotton top.

4.  Read 4 (!) books.  (At least one of them is going to be a young adult novel from my Trixie Belden collection.)

5.  Edit chapters 1 – 3 of my book.

6.  Make 5 tablet pouches.

7.  Finish Cheques shawl.  (I need a break from the socks.)

8.  Sew the small flying geese for my mystery quilt.

9.  Keep exercising and eating right!

That’s a pretty good list for the month.  I better get to it!


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Setting March Goals

March 1, 2011

my final creation

Here is my final finished “creation” for February.  I thought I was done with it last night when it looked like this.  It felt kinda blah to me.  But now, I’m super happy with it.  I filled in the “white” space and now it looks finished.


It was a fun project.  And now here’s what I hope to accomplish this March:

1.  Make new pillows for the living room.

2.  Finish my basketweave afghan.

3.  Finish mohair scarf (so that the cat stops pulling it out of my knitting basket during the night).

4.  Cut Innocent Crush Fabric for a new quilt.

5.  Make a top.

6.  Knit a sweater.

7.  Keep my schedule at the gym.

8.  Read 3 books.

9.  Finish Valentine socks.

10.  Make some tablet pouches.

We’ll see how I do.  I’ve got other things that I have to do, like cut fabric for my mystery quilt weekend.  And I will be out of town for a few days.  But the point of this exercise isn’t meant for me to accomplish everything, it’s to keep me focused.  So I’ll be like a laser beam this month.  Happy March!

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How I Did On My February Goals

February 28, 2011

It was a short month, but I think I did pretty well on my goals.

1. Finish Amyâ??s Quilt.   Done and mailed.  Yippee!!!

2. Sew Momâ??s Bag and mail out her goodies.  The Fabric is already cut, just waiting to be put together. Finished, now I have to pack up the box.

birdie sling for mom

3.  Get to halfway point on Basketweave afghan.  Yup, pulled that bad boy out.

4.  Create something.  I did a floral applique.  I was inspired by a pillow I saw in House Beautiful that was done in brown.  I’ve never done anything like it, so it qualifies as a creation in my world.

my "creation"

I should have used stabilizer to avoid the major puckering that I’ve got, but I’m hoping if I iron the crap out of it and make a snug fitting case that it won’t look too bad.  I’ll have to finish this tomorrow.

5.  Lose 5 pounds. Still struggling with this one.  I’m down about two pounds which is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

6.  Finish â??75 andâ??76 photo album.  Done!  This was a beast.  The project started because the albums my mom did a very long time ago were starting to fall apart.

the reason for my photo album project

I bought pages where I could slide in the photos, added some color and redid the comments.  It was more time consuming than you would think but I think it looks good.  I only have three or four more to do.

photo album page


7.  Read 3 books. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear, and Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery by Julie Campbell.

8.  Read my book and edit the first 3 chapters.  Didn’t get to this one, but I did spell check it and print out a copy of my story.  That’s progress.

9.  Finish my Valentineâ??s socks.  Perhaps I am not meant to be a sock knitter.  They take me for. ev. er.

10.  Finish Billington Bag.  ”Ding dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”  That’s how I feel about this bag.  It was such an ordeal for me.  I think it turned out ok, but more than anything I’m just happy I don’t have to work on it anymore.  The pattern was good, it just didn’t agree with me.  Took a long time to knit, worried I overfelted but ended up looking ok once it was dry and then the lining and feet just gave me fits.

billington bag, finished

inside the billington bag

I finished 7 out of 10 which isn’t too bad.  Especially when you think about the other things I did during the month.  I worked on a new shawl which is about 70% complete, and I made a pillow out of my sashiko embroidery.  And, I made myself a necklace and my aunt a pair of earrings.  The earrings were requested a gajillion years ago (last May) but now they are done.

That’s a pretty productive month.

Now to mull over March goals.

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More Things To Do

February 4, 2011


I remembered the other things I want to accomplish this month.  I feel kind of silly for forgetting them.  The new additions to the list are:

1.  Read my book and edit the first 3 chapters.

2.  Finish my Valentine’s socks.

3.  Finish Billington Bag.

The Valentine’s socks are kind of obvious as a February goal. My book might not be as obvious, but it’s been on my mind as I did put a lot of time and work into it and I don’t just want to forget about it.  As for the Billington Bag, I finished the knitting in November but I need to do the construction.  It’s another thing just sitting there.

shower gift

One thing not sitting there is a baby blanket and hat that I finished today.  Just in time because the shower is tomorrow. Thankfully, it is knit in cotton and doesn’t need any blocking.  Just wrapping. It’s a simple blanket, all garter stitch, with a crocheted edge.  The hat I improvised as well.

I realized today that I only have three projects on the needles. That’s a pretty low number for me.  I have so many projects I want to work on and I have been super disciplined at not starting new projects.  I might just have to cast on a new one though…

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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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