Old School

Hello (as if anyone out there still reads blogs)! I’m feeling more and more dissatisfied with Instagram as a place for me to share my creativity and write stories, so I’m going to try out this old-fashioned blogging thing again. I haven’t published a post in five years, but I’m going to see if I can remember how to use WordPress (so far, so good, since I’ve obviously started a new post, but I can’t figure out how to update to the latest version or how to backup my site just in case I delete the whole thing in the process of refamiliarizing myself with it). It’s also surprisingly challenging to write without using emojis.

If you’ve followed along on Instagram for the last couple months you’ve seen that I’ve been doing some serious kitchen updating, but without reconfiguring anything, removing the existing cabinets, or replacing our appliances. I like to think of it as real world renovation for the creative-minded without any formal interior design training, and it’s actually going pretty well. I’ve done some other renovations the past few years as we’ve acquired some rental properties, so I’ve learned a lot in the process. I’ve been fortunate to work on two houses that I really love (not to mention cleaning out and fixing up my mother-in-law’s house, but I still have some trauma from that experience, so I try not to think about it too much). Both houses had some remodeling done by the previous owners shortly before we bought them, but in both cases there were lots of little details left unfinished. I learned so much from both projects-from considering all the details to prioritizing the most important work to be done before having tenants move in, to deciding what I could do myself and what required professionals. Then of course there was finding and working with contractors from every possible trade. I was pretty lucky and really had only one bad experience, and maybe a few minor misunderstandings with the contractors I’ve worked with on every house, including our own. But back to my kitchen.

I’ll do a full before and after post when absolutely everything is done. I have just a few more things on my to-do list before I can consider it complete:

  • Arrange botanical prints on wall by the back door (do I want just a grid of my prints-there are nine, or do I want to do an interesting gallery wall with other small pictures and interesting things? I don’t know yet)
  • Paint chairs (I am not looking forward to doing this project, but I think they’re going to look so good, so I really want it done ASAP)
  • Hang wallpaper in the two glass-fronted cabinets (it’s peel & stick, so not difficult, except that the paper is 20.5″ wide and each cabinet is 23.5″ wide inside, so do I center the paper and do 1.5″ strips on each side? I don’t think there is enough paper for that because I’d essentially need two whole lengths for each cupboard. Would it look bad to butt the paper in each cupboard to the middle and just have one 3″ strip on the outside edges? That would only require three lengths of paper because I could use the left edge in the left cupboard and the right edge in the right cupboard.)
  • Hang a gallery wall of family photos in the hallway (this won’t be hard, I just have to be in the mood to do it and I’m not in the mood for that right now)

Here’s my problem right now. I’m so excited about this wallpaper and the paint for the chairs, but I’m also so very burnt out with house projects. I know I probably also have some decision fatigue, and most of that to-do list involves making yet more decisions. I’m hoping that talking about it here with help me get over myself and just finish everything.

First of all, I love William Morris patterns and I have since the first time I ever saw one, which was probably decades ago. I’ve always wanted to use one in my home, and I think this one will work well. It looks so good with the pink. I think it’s just the finishing touch the cupboards need, even if it won’t be fully visible with all the dishes in there. But there’s the fact that I’m going to have to empty out my cupboards, to do it, which I just refilled after having to remove everything for the painters. It’s a minor hassle that I just don’t feel up for at the moment.

I’m not 100% sure that the paint is going to be perfect for the chairs, but I’m fairly optimistic. The color is Valspar Taiga Spruce, and that tiny splotch on the paint can looks great with the wallpaper. I wanted a sort of muddy, darker, bluish-greenish color because I need something to ground all the bright white and counteract the sweetness of the pink. It’s going to be a big and tedious job, but again, it’s going to look so good to have the painted chairs around the table.

I’ll report back if writing about this has helped motivate me to power through and finish, but I suspect I need to just take the next couple days off from the kitchen, including making any decisions about what to hang on the walls and how to deal with the wallpaper, and just enjoy cooking some good food and enjoying all the improvements that have already happened.

Read More


Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

Autumn seems to be arriving right on time this year, which is so lovely, because September is often peak fire season and heatwaves are not uncommon this time of year around here. This September, however, has been cooler and we’ve even had rain! The leaves on the trees up here in the mountains have a tinge of yellow, so we’ll have some brilliant color very soon. I’ve decided to keep track of what’s been going on for the last few weeks and then just publish a post at the end of the month, so here we go!

In September I finished a most enjoyable series of books called The Lunar Chronicles. I actually read the first one, Cinder, at the beginning of the summer and then requested the others from my library. I had to wait a bit for Scarlet, the second book, and then immediately read the last two, Cress and Winter over Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure how to classify them other than sci-fi/steampunk/fairy tale retellings, but it was a fun series that I highly recommend.

Speaking of fairy tales, I usually also have an audiobook going for my drive to and from work, and this month I finished As You Wish, followed by a screening of The Princess Bride (currently on Netflix). It was charming and fun, and reminded me how much I loved the movie. I highly recommend the audio version of the book, it’s read by Cary Elwes himself, and features many of the other cast members too.

I try to bring my lunch to work most days. I’m always on the lookout for good salad recipes and usually will prep all the ingredients and then eat the same salad for a few days. I found a couple winners via Pinterest this month. First up was Lamb and Dill Meatballs with Horitaki salad. The meatballs were really simple and so delicious. As soon as I was done with the first batch of meatballs I bought more ground lamb for the freezer so I could make them again soon. Basically, everything in this salad is my favorite, so it’s a big winner.

lamb meatball salad

Another new and delicious find was this Moroccan Steak Salad. The prep for this one was more intensive, but worth it. The pomegranate seeds were a nice touch.

steak salad

Here are some of my favorite finds this month:

  • Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way – I’m not an artist, but I decided to start practicing drawing. This is a fun book, full of prompts and different types of paper for sketching. So far I have created some terrible drawings, and a couple that I actually like. I may share more on Instagram eventually.
  • Duolingo <– the link goes to the website, but I’m using the phone app. Twenty-something years ago I was pretty good at speaking Dutch. When you don’t use a language for that many years you get a little rusty. I’ve been practicing with 5-minute sessions and it’s coming back!
  • Hillview Yarns is an Etsy shop recently opened by my friend Vivian. I’ve invested in a few skeins for some hat designs I’ve been working on, and I just love the colors she’s been coming up with, especially her blues and greens. I just got a skein of Socky McSockface for a pair of elaborately cabled socks that I can’t wait to cast on.
  • I’m working on my first sweater made from my handspun yarn, and have another handspun sweater quantity in the works, but I really want to make Mohr from the new Brooklyn Tweed collection.
  • I invested in the handiest piece of jewelry ever: Wrist Ruler (I have the medium leather), also available at Tolt

I like collecting my favorites for the month and just throwing them up here. I think I’ll keep doing this each month.

Read More

lovely things

Some things I am enjoying right now:


It’s a good lilac year. It was warming up a couple weeks ago, so they grew and bloomed quickly, but then it cooled down and got rainy, so they’ve been lasting longer than usual.

::Book Recommendations::

Modern Mrs. Darcy and her What Should I Read Next podcast


I’m going through a bit of a reading lull at the moment, but listening to episodes of this podcast is helping to get me enthused about reading again.


Bullet Journaling

I’ve always been on the lookout for the perfect planner, I’ve tried all the apps, and I have lists on bits of paper scattered all over. I think Bullet Journaling is the perfect solution for me. Sometimes I have to-do lists a mile long, but sometimes keeping a calendar seems like overkill for my relatively peaceful life. With a bullet journal I can adjust it as needed. So far I’m finding it helpful to use a page for a weekly spread, rather than daily pages. I also love having a place to keep lists of projects I want to do, and books to read, and recipes I want to try. I even keep a post-it on my current weekly page to use for listing groceries I need to buy. It’s as simple or as complicated as I need it to be, I think it’s really genius!

::Beautiful Knitting::

waiting for rain

My next new knitting project is going to be this beautiful Waiting for Rain Shawl. I have some Lakes Yarn in Fernan Merino Fingering in a pretty silver-green color. I am not allowing myself to cast on until I’m finished with two other projects first. This is highly motivating, however, and I hope to get to this within the week.

Read More

lovely things

Some lovely things I’ve been enjoying:

::a good book::

A Man Called Ove, a Swedish novel about an unlovable, suicidal curmudgeon, and the people who make a difference in his life, past and present. I wept at the end of this book.


::a pretty song (and video)::

This is old, but I listened to it on my way home from work and remembered how much I loved it and just put it on repeat for a little while.

::my porch::

I still have a lot of work to do on my porch this summer, we had some big winds this winter that blew stuff around and made a mess. Pots were broken and plants destroyed, but I’ve made this corner nice and comfortable and spend most evenings and weekends here. It’s perfect for knitting, spinning, reading, and just watching the birds. And hanging out with dogs, of course.

on the porch

Read More

something new

If you follow along on Instagram, you probably noticed that I picked up a new hobby. Many years ago I went one Saturday to a knitting group that met in Balboa Park. A woman was teaching spinning with a drop spindle, and I gave it a try. It was awkward and slow and not very fun. I bought a cheap drop-spindle and some fiber and tried again at home, but it just seemed so laborious and still not fun, so I decided that I was definitely not a spinner.


I have no idea what happened, but all these years later, it suddenly seemed like I should try spinning again. I think it just gradually entered my subconscious and niggled at my brain and I suddenly just needed to get another drop spindle and some pretty hand-painted fiber and give it another go. I blame the podcasts I listen to and watch (Prairie Girls, Knitmore Girls, and The Fat Squirrel, to name a few) for sparking this interest and fellow Instagrammer Quiltotaku for sending me over the edge with her beautiful yarns and spindles.

So I carefully studied YouTube videos and bought myself an inexpensive spindle (which even came with a niddy-noddy!). I combed through all the pretty fiber artists on etsy and settled on a braid of Targhee wool from Pigeonroof Studios, and a tried it one more time. This time it clicked, and I went from parking and drafting to flicking my spindle and letting it go while I drafted my fiber bit by bit. That first skein is full of fat and thin sections, the colors are barber-poling all over the place, and it’s a big, bulky yarn. But it was so much fun and by the time I was done I was completely addicted. I knit it up into a squishy, slouchy hat and I couldn’t be more pleased.

I quickly placed an order for more fiber, this time some beautifully carded batts of merino from Nunoco on etsy. I also invested in a Bosworth spindle that is equally pretty. I managed to spin this second batch of fiber a bit finer and more evenly than the first, I love the gradient shift from pink to gold to green. I’m still looking for the perfect cowl pattern for this little ball of yarn.


In February I found a spinning class that meets Wednesday evenings, not too far from where I work. It’s through the local adult education and has been meeting for years. The teacher is brilliant and many of the ladies are talented fiber artists themselves. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the past few months. I’ve never had real-life fiber friends, so I can’t even express how happy I am to have found this group. I don’t have a spinning wheel of my own just yet, but there are class wheels I can use during class and everyone has been so generous and allowed me to try out their wheels. I’m saving my pennies and hope to get one before the year is out.

In the meantime I’ve spun more fiber and invested in more spindles and made more yarn. It’s so much fun. BUT. There’s only one cloud in all this. I managed to give myself a repetitive motion injury. My left thumb has developed an annoying pain from flicking the spindle, so I’ve had to set aside my drop spindles. Luckily I can still spin on the wheel during class, but I have to be careful not to overdo it. It twinges a bit when I knit, so I’m also limiting my knitting time just a bit. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and I’m doing what I can to make sure this heals and then I’ll get back to my spindles. I just have to remember to take frequent breaks and not spin for hours and hours at a time.


Read More

tumblr of the week

Every now and then I remember that tumblr exists, and I find little gems like this one.

Swag hood Joyce

Swag hood Joyce


Read More

my new favorite band

During my long blog break my brother released a new album with his new band. As usual, I love it. I rarely listen to the radio anymore, and why would I need to when I can listen to this great album? It’s available all over the place, including iTunes and Spotify. They’re on Pandora too.

They recently did a cover/mashup of their favorite artists. It’s pretty darn good too.

Buy The Vacationist on iTunes.


Read More