Restless

February 18, 2011

I’ve been a little restless this week.  Not sure what my problem is. I have plenty of things to work on, but none of them are talking to me.  I’m also trying to figure out what my next quilting project would be, and I just can’t decide.  Too many options. This sometimes happens to me.  When there are too many choices, I sort of shut down instead of just picking something and going for it.  I end up doing nothing when I could be making progress on something.

mystery quilt fabric

mystery quilt fabric from a different angle

One thing I didn’t have trouble deciding on was fabric for my mystery quilt.  I’m doing a mystery quilting weekend with a girlfriend which I’m really excited about, but also a little nervous. Julia is a friend from college and we’ve managed to keep in touch over the years.  We reconnected at her wedding and it’s so great to have her in my life again in a more meaningful way.  So I am really excited about spending a long weekend with her and that we’ll be doing some crafting is icing on the cake.  What I’m nervous about is the actual quilting.  I consider myself a beginner quilter, but I’m always up for an adventure.  I’m also nervous because I hope I like the quilt when it’s all put together.  The fabric was a bit of an investment, although really it only cost me $30 out of pocket because of a birthday gift certificate from my mom and a groupon I happened across (and was the reason I joined groupon).  I picked fabrics that I love so I think I will be happy with the end result.  Right?  I was also a little nervous because I’ve never had to pick out a palette of colors for a quilt before.  My instructions were to find 16 “darks” and 1 “light” for the background.  Yeesh!  Actually, I think I lucked out because it wasn’t that hard to find 1 light and a bunch of darks; all I needed was enough contrast because the 16 and the 1.  I think it would have been much harder if I had to find 8 of each.  Julia sent me a photo of her palette which was very helpful to me.  (She’s done a couple of these.)  These are her fabrics:

julia's mystery weekend fabric

Our color palette is pretty similar, huh?  I didn’t intend it to be that way, it just kind of happened.

Now I’m having the great internal debate of “to prewash or not to prewash”.  I don’t know why this is turning into a debate.  I always prewash.  As soon as I buy fabric I throw it in the washer through a rinse cycle and toss it in the dryer.  It seems like every step of this project has me questioning myself.  I think that’s part of the restlessness.  I hope it passes soon.

Maybe part of it is rain induced.  It’s been a pretty gray week. Sunday was really our last beautiful day. And it was gorgeous.

flowering trees

I cant’ really complain about the rain because we need it.  But rainy days make me want to curl up on the couch with a book and not be productive.  I’ve been trying to do some knitting.  I started a new project because I couldn’t resist.  I bought the yarn on my trip to Petaluma.  I saw a sample of the shawl in the store and loved it.  Had to have it, couldn’t live without it.  But it has been a pain in the buttocks.  I started it on Superbowl Sunday and had to frog it.  I could have sworn I was supposed to knit it with two strands together but after doing one repeat of the pattern, I thought “how am I going to have enough yarn” and then I read the pattern instructions.  All the instructions.  Nowhere does it say hold two strands together.  It was a $&!#% to rip out.  It’s mohair and silk and the fuzzy yarn likes to stick together.  So I restarted and it has just been slow going.  It’s knit the long way, and for 10 rows in the project, I have 600 stitches.  Those are some long rows to knit.

big furry mess

I also made the mistake of leaving my yarn cakes on the coffee table and Gracie found one in the middle of the night and played with it.  I’m lucky she only played with one.  I was mad and amused at the same time.  There’s something about the mohair that she really likes.

I’m roughly at the halfway point of this project.  I hope to finish it soon.  If I didn’t know how great the end result would be, I think I would have given up by now.

And that’s that.  It’s Friday and I’m looking forward to the weekend.  I’m hoping Bill doesn’t have to work (he’s been super busy) and that we’ll have some time to chill.  I hope you all have great plans for the weekend!


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Making Progress

January 15, 2011

I have a couple of minutes to kill before I leave for a quilting class, so I thought I’d pop in here.  I’ve been meaning to for several days, but just haven’t done it.  Things are good.  I’m making progress on some long put-off projects.  For example, there’s a pile of fabric that I have been moving around my craft room for months.  At least since October.  I finally dealt with it.

pile-o-fabric

I cut up most of it to make some tablet cases.

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And then I cut the fabric for my new bedroom valances.  The fabric part was easy, the trim part gave me fits.  I was originally going to do some fancier kind of valance, like a bubble valance.  The more I thought about it, the more complicated it was getting, so I decided to do a plain old gathered kind of valance.  When I had bought the trim (about a week ago) I was only going to do 3 panels, but then I decided to make 4.  Back to Joann, where apparently everyone needed brown ball trim.  There was a little over a yard left, so I took it.  As it turns out, I was 4 (four!) inches short.  Ugh.  So after the gym on Thursday, Bill kindly detoured to another Joann to get the rest of my trim.  What should have been an easy trip took twice as long since Google Maps misdirected us.  In the end, it worked out because I was able to get a yard of the fabric at 70% off since it had already been cut.  That meant that I got 9 times what I needed for only twice what my 4 inches would have cost.  I was able to finish my curtains and I have a little left over trim.

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This article on Apartment Therapy distracted me on Thursday.  I ended up tidying up my “junk” drawer.  It’s not really a junk drawer since it contains mainly office supplies, but I made a little more room for the hammer and scissors I keep in there which have been getting in the way.

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The weather is beautiful so I have my sheets hanging on the line, and I turned off the heat and opened some windows.  Ahhh… fresh air.  I see a nice walk for CJ in our future.  I have my quilting class today, and then Bill and I are going to watch some football, and work on our bedroom.  Now that I have my curtains done, we’re going to hang those and pick up and reorganize a little.  I need to re-hang some pictures and just make it look a bit more inviting.  I’m changing the colors from black-white-pink to blue and brown, a transition that has been in progress for many months.  The junk drawer article has motivated me to clean out our bed side tables which have become catch-alls.  That’s what’s on tap for me.  I hope you all have some fun stuff planned for the weekend!  Or if not fun, at least productive.


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So Sleepy…

May 10, 2010

I just returned from a ten day vacation.  You might think I am recharged and refreshed but I am exhausted.  Bill is happy to be returning to work so he can rest.  We had a fantastic trip, it was just wasn’t as relaxing as we thought it might be.

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The reason for the trip was my Mom’s 60th birthday.  (Does my mom look 60?  She’s second from the right.)  Her husband took the family (eight of us total) on a Caribbean cruise.  Bill and I also took an extra day at the beginning and end of the trip to visit Bill’s family in Miami.  It was great to reconnect with family, especially because it’s been years since we’ve seen them (both Bill’s family and my family).

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We had so much fun which is why I’m so tired.  We met almost every morning for breakfast, except for one because Bill and I had an early excursion.  Bill and I would get up early to get a little exercise before our morning meal.  We were busy during the days, especially in port either hitting the beach or doing an excursion.  On the days at sea we found comfortable chairs in the shade to sit and read and chat.  We ate dinner together every night, usually meeting for a pre-dinner cocktail, went to most of the shows, and usually hung out afterwards.   Bill and I didn’t stay up terribly late except for maybe two nights, but the constant activity throughout the day tired us out.  There was a lot to do on the ship, including a water slide.  They also had games.  Mom and I played The Match Game where couples are asked a question and you are trying to come up with the same answer as your partner.  Mom and I won and were given medals!

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We stopped at four ports: Grand Cayman, Carnival’s private beach in Honduras, Belize and Cozumel.  The eight of us hit the beach in Grand Cayman and Honduras, and Bill and I went cave tubing in Belize and to Tulum in Mexico.  The beach in Grand Cayman was my favorite.  I think because it was the first stop, our first visit to a gorgeous beach, and we weren’t tired yet.  Cave tubing was interesting.  Basically we sat on inner tubes in a river that ran through caves were Mayan’s made sacrifices.  I’m glad I did it, but don’t see myself doing it again.  Tulum was beautiful, but a two and a half hour trip (one way) for a two hour visit to the site.  And it was HOT.  And HUMID.  If I look unhappy, it is because I am HOT.

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The Mayans did do some pretty amazing things and the site was impressive.  The view was incredible, right off the most blue water.  It was just a long boat and bus ride and I generally like to spend more time at the site than it takes to get there.  Although it was hot and Bill and I felt we saw everything we wanted to see.  If we had more time, we would have gone to the beach, but we decided to have lunch instead.

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We were on a Carnival ship, which I liked.  The focus is on having fun and I like that all age groups are represented.  The food was delicious, although we agreed that the sit down meals were better than the buffet food (although the buffet food was very good).  Carnival is known for making towel animals and I had my picture taken with our animal every day.  Our room steward even let us keep some of our animals.

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The rooms are a nice size.  We had an ocean view room on the first deck, and had a lot of space for two people and three towel animals.  The service on board ship was excellent and you are really spoiled.  It is a bit of a shock to my system to be home and having to cook and clean myself.  I guess that is a small price to pay to sleep in my own bed and be with my furry babies (whom I missed terribly).

Because this is supposed to be mostly a craft blog, I will finish by letting you know that I made the teal blouse in the first picture.  My mom made the skirt I am wearing.  The skirt is made of brown/bronze (depending on the light) sequined fabric that we bought in NYC.  The blouse (which looked much better before I sat it in for two hours and stood up wrinkled) is made of Robert Kaufman Radiance fabric, which is a cotton/silk blend satin fabric.  It is fabulous material.  The pattern is Simplicity 3893, though I modified it to cross over in front and I did a pleat under the bust instead of gathers.  I wish the skirt had photographed better because it is stunning, and one of the best things my mom has sewn for me.  I also made my necklace (which is hard to see).  It is a large quartz focal gem.  I’m not sure exactly what kind of quartz, but it was practically made to be worn with the skirt.  (Here’s a picture where I’m slightly less wrinkled.)

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Well, I’m impressed that I have managed to stay up until 10pm as I was ready to crash five hours ago.  Sabrina is snuggled up against me as I type and as much as I hate to disturb her, she is going to have to move because I am ready to sleep.  I guess we all should be so lucky to be exhausted after a wonderful ten days with family.


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Getting Off My Butt

July 12, 2009

When I worked my day job, I would dream of all the things I could accomplish if I didn’t have said day job. I would have time for my etsy shop, time to sew myself a new wardrobe, time to knit my stash, time to finish my needlepoint Christmas stocking (and the hundred other canvases I own), time to read through the unbelievably large pile of books in my queue. And for now, I don’t have that day job, and what have I accomplished?

I don’t really feel that I’ve frittered away my days. I think that I have been keeping myself pretty busy. But not as productive as I could be. I find that when I have a lot going on and my days are more structured, I’m better at managing my time. And these days, there hasn’t been a lot of structure (which, truth be told, has been a treat). I just don’t want to look back and wish I had used my time better and gotten more done. Especially when it comes to my etsy shop. I’ve made an investment in materials and I have the ideas. And I have the time. Now I need the motivation.

On Friday, I started some lavender scented sachets for my shop. I was inspired by fresh lavender at my farmers market. I bought some and dried it and it smells divine. I also had an idea to scent some rice with oils and mix it with the lavender. So I got off my butt and started to put them together. I’m pleased with how they turned out. I will be posting the first batch tomorrow and I have more to sew and more lavender to dry.

I also have a bunch of items to post. Necklaces and earrings. And more things to make. I’m trying to get myself on a bit of a schedule. Have I mentioned that before? Nothing super strict, but I want to get my exercise in the morning, spend a couple of hours working on shop things, a couple of hours working on personal projects (either knitting or sewing or stitching or reading). And I do need to spend a little bit of time maintaining the house. We’ll see how it goes.


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My New Favorite Way To Spend An Evening

June 25, 2009

It’s sitting on the porch, relaxing. Tonight we turned the tv off (gasp!) and enjoyed the cool evening. CJ was on patrol in the yard. I had my knitting. Bill had the laptop. He would have been reading but he was dong some research for me. It was a nice way to end the day.

I’ve been working on my circular shawl. I am anxious to finish it. I casted on a new pair of socks on Sunday. I was looking for a small project to break up the monotony of the circular shawl but then decided if I just focused on the one project, I would get it done faster. So the socks have been set aside but I am looking forward to picking it up. I’m trying a new pattern – stockinette stitch with picot edging courtesy of the tutorial on Claudia’s blog which was recommended by Carole Knits.

I confess to being a little stressed by my knitting. I’ve been going through my stash yarn trying to match yarn with projects and figuring out what I’m going to start next. And while I’m doing it I’m updating my stuff on Ravelry. But I’m overwhelmed by the amount of yarn I have. Maybe there’s a couple of skeins I can get rid of, but not many. And there’s so many interesting patterns. Just too little time.

Yesterday I passed my written driving test and am now a licensed CA driver. That was a pain. Not hard, but it did cause me some anxiety. I’m very happy to have that behind me. I’ve also found some time to cut fabric and start sewing a new shirt. And my other big project is cleaning and polishing a brass bowl I bought at a flea market for $3. It was so dirty and tarnished and had green spots on it. But I saw potential. It is 50 times better but still needs some TLC. It’s fun bringing something back to life. AND, I am reading a book on the Vietnam War.

So how are you spending your summer days and nights?


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My New Table Runner

May 14, 2009

AKA a much larger project than I thought it would be. But I’m very happy with the final result. I started it on Sunday afternoon and thought I would be done by Monday. What planet was I on?

I finished the first two squares on Sunday after a lot of ripping out and redoing. I finished the second two squares on Monday and sewed it into one piece. I started the quilting on Tuesday and didn’t like how it was looking so I undid it. Then I restarted it and was much happier with the results. I did diagonal lines and my idea was that one side would go one way, the other side would go the other and they would meet in the middle forming a chevron. Sounds easy right?

The first half went well. Really well. Couldn’t have been happier with the result. The second half was a nightmare. A nightmare I tell you. Getting the lines to be even and symmetrical was a pain in the ass. I did about half of the second half and had to undo it. It was horrible. Then I tried again and got through another half of it and it still wasn’t working out and need to be undone. Again. For the second time. But at least this time it was a respectable drinking hour and my glass of wine made ripping it out not as horrible as it was the first time. So when I finally resumed the quilting (for the third time on this side) I drew the lines and went very slowly. Oh, and I ran out of the color thread I was using for the quilting so the second half is done in a different (yet very similar) color than the first half. Then the binding looks like a three year old did it because I couldn’t stitch straight to save my life. But it kinda works for the table runner and the crazy uneven squares. You can see more detailed photos here and here. (Sorry for the poor quality)

Despite the difficulties, I am very happy with the end result. My table has character and I’ve brought some color to that side of the room. I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn about quilting. I am also appreciating all its imperfections because they give it character. Personal growth; it’s a good thing.


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Counting Blessings

February 18, 2009

Things have been kinda rough the last few weeks with Bill on the West Coast and me being on the East Coast. And things don’t look like they will be changing very soon. Plus, he has CJ and Sabrina and the orange tree and I have…the big screen tv? It’s really annoying when people tell you to “count your blessings”. What you really want to hear is “you’re right, it sucks, treat yourself to a mani/pedi” or “you know what helps when you’re feeling crappy, Cold Stone strawberry ice cream with double graham cracker crust in a chocolate covered waffle bowl.” But in the spirit of being positive, I will count my blessings:

1. I am lucky to have a job so that I can afford to treat myself to a mani/pedi.
2. And some new articles of clothing.
3. And shoes.
4. And fabric.
5. And yarn.
6. Bill was visiting this weekend so I didn’t have to get my own Starbucks.
7. I have good, patient friends and a slightly irritating but well-intentioned, loving, healthy family.
8. I’ve confirmed that I really, really love my husband and don’t want to trade him in for a newer model.
9. I have more free time on my hands to work on projects, read, relax and chill.
10. This is only a temporary situation.

Okay so maybe I didn’t take this too seriously, but at the moment it’s all I got.

I have been working on some new pillows for my living room. Here they are in progress. The finished product looks a little more interesting and hopefully I’ll finish them up this weekend. I’ve had a hard time picking out fabric to go with my chairs; I’m a little concerned that the cotton fabric is too casual for the chairs, but I think the green works well.

I also casted on a new project, Peony Knits’ circular shrug. I’m going to knit it in Sundara’s fingering silky merino. The yarn feels amazing and I LOVE the color (caramel apple), but I’ve been stressing that it is going to take me forever to knit up the vest in fingering weight yarn. I’ve been telling myself to enjoy the process and not focus on the result. If you see someone rocking back and forth chanting “knitting is supposed to be fun”, it’s probably me.

My mom and Jacob are visiting this weekend and I have brunch scheduled with the girls on Sunday.

Yes, I do have a lot to be thankful for.


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The Extent of My Drawing Ability

February 4, 2009

So this post started out with my using the word “artistic” instead of drawing in the title of my post. And while I think it is a stretch to call me an artist, I do feel that I’m creative and someone told me if you create you are an artist. So I changed my title and am going with “drawing”. And I really struggle with drawing. Maybe if I practiced more. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me.

Anyhoo, I am obsessed with bed linens and furniture layout for my house in California. (Still don’t know when I’ll be going out there; fingers crossed that it will be soon.) If I had my druthers I would go with a new look (same furniture, different color scheme) but with the economy the way it is, it doesn’t seem responsible. And I really do like the linens I have. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting something new.

So what does this have to do with my drawing ability? I decided that I would be happy if I had a new pillow for my bed. Something pink to break up the black and white. Pink is my accent color, after all. But what kind of pillow do I want? Hmmmm… And then I remembered this post from ages ago and that sent the wheels a turnin’. I looked on-line to buy some patterns but couldn’t find anything that did anything for me. I did see some cute ones, but not for my bed. And then I decided to draw my own. (A scary thought.)

This gave me the perfect opportunity to try out my birthday present. Bill got me this pen because he remember that I had mentioned wanting one over a year ago. I certainly don’t need it, but birthday gifts are meant to be stuff you wouldn’t normally get yourself, right? What I was hoping the pen would let me do is easily upload my sketch to the computer and then I could manipulate it in photoshop. And yay! That’s exactly what I was able to do (after a bunch of practice sketches that I eventually ended up tracing with my pen).

So my little picture is part of the design for my new pillow. I know it’s not much, but I think when you see the whole thing, you will be more impressed (I hope). I will give you a hint though, those are love birds…

Have I mentioned that this is my first foray into embroidery? I do lots of other needlework, but never straight embroidery. This will be very interesting.


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On a Deadline

September 11, 2008

ondeadlineI hear a clock ticking, do you? It’s not an ominous 24 sounding clock. More of an insistent tick-tick-tick. I have to have two of these little guys done by Saturday…


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It Was Fun, Near Death Experience Notwithstanding

July 22, 2008

IMG_0656This past weekend, Bill and I went to my friend’s sister’s house at the beach. It was the perfect time to go as it had gotten hot, Hot, HOT. It was a full house with the sister (Mary) and her husband (Ron), my friend Suzie, Suzie and Mary’s nieces Katherine and Emily, Ron’s son, Louie, and then Bill and myself. Oh, and don’t let me forget Suzie and Mary’s dogs, Isabelle and Sam. (Names have been misspelled to protect the innocent.) The photograph is the gift basket I put together as a hostell gift. I had wanted to put it in a sand pail but when you want to find a decent sized one, you can’t. All I could find were small ones. So I had to settle for a basket. I embellished kitchen towels myself with fabric. Bill made homemade granola from this recipe, and we put in some fresh fruit to round it out. I thought it looked nice.

We arrived late on Friday and after a full day of work, Bill and I hit the hay. Saturday started with a hearty breakfast and one of the neighborhood cafes. We were well-fortified for a kayaking adventure. And adventure it was. Bill and I had brought our two-man kayak with us. We rented to kayaks and a small two-person sailboat. And out onto the water we went. Bill and I ended up going our separate way, not for any particular reason except I was interested on what the shore looked like on the other side of the bay. So we headed straight across the choppy water. Suzie and Katherine caught up with us at one point to let us know that they had run over Mary on a kayak, but she was okay. The retelling of the story involved a lot of laughing so it hadn’t been serious. Then they went their own way and Bill and I decided to head back to where we started. Heading back, we were going into the wind and the paddling was a lot harder. We ended up taking on some water as the swells crashed onto us, and then we turned a little and the water started to swish in the kayak and a wave hit us and out of the kayak went me and Bill. We both knew it was going to happen, I was laughing and Bill trying to plan his exit so as to not get hit by the kayak, paddles, water bottles, sea turtles, etc. We had our life jackets on so there was no panic. But we did bob up and down for a good ten minutes not really knowing how we were going to get back to shore. The kayak was completely full of water and the only way to unfill it was to take it to shore and dump it. Shore was a good distance away and the kayak was not very dragable at this point. Bill tried to use a water bottle to get the water out and it worked for about two seconds until a wave hit and filled the kayak again. Thankfully, a guy on a jet ski came to see if we needed help (Yes!) and radioed for another guy to bring a rope to tow the kayak in. (Yay!) We got the kayak attached, Bill got on the back of one jet ski, leaving me bobbing in the water with the paddles and water bottles. (Thanks) I used the rope to pull myself to the jetski, got everything loaded on, pulled myself up and off we went. Well, off Bill went. The guy who rescued him was the guy who went around to tell jetski renters their time was up and they had to return the jetski. The guy took off full throttle and Bill thought he was going to die. His hat flew in front of his face, he couldn’t see, had no idea where he was going or who was in the way. On the other jetski, I was going a whopping mile an hour, towing my sad, water logged kayak. I thought Bill was going to get off his jet ski and kiss the sand.

We did make it back to shore and dragged the kayak on to the sand, talking about how everyone else was going to laugh at us once we shared the experience. Except that there was Katherine to tell us Mary and Suzie were stranded because the mast of their sailboat snapped and they were waiting for help. That help too an hour because the boat that was sent out to rescue them was breaking down and had to turn back and they had to radio for another boat. In the meantime, Emily is aiding in the rescue, trying to direct the cute rescuers to Suzie and Mary who ended up having drifted a great distance.

However, Bill and I were not at the beach where the car is parked. Bill was very prepared to walk to the car, but I thought we could dump the water from the kayak and paddle back to the car. He politely disagreed feeling that one rescue per day was enough. I thought we would be fine, giving him at least two reasons why I believed so. First, it took an hour for the kayak to fill up last time and we would only be in the water for 20 minutes maximum, and second, we would stay close to shore which we should have done in the first place so that if we filled up again (unlikely) we could this time swim to shore. He was not as convinced as I was, but got back in the kayak and you will be relieved to know we made it back without incident. I think he was also reassured because we had told Katherine if she didn’t see us in an hour to call the Coast Guard.

Once back at the beach where the car was parked, Bill, Katherine and I sat around for an hour waiting for Suzie, Mary, and Emily and eventually we were all reunited, exhausted from near-death experiences. The rest of the weekend was much less life threatening. We relaxed on the beach for a few hours Sunday, then relaxed at the pool, then went out to dinner, and then drove home.

Sadly, there are no pictures of the near death experiences. But it happened. And, I have to say that while Bill and I were spilling our of our kayak and bobbing hopelessly in the water, not a harsh word was said. Yay us!


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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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