Boho Yarn Art

Lately I’ve been admiring a variety of fun wall hangings made with yarn on Pinterest– aren’t they pretty?  They look simple enough that I decided to give it a try myself.

I began with sticks that my husband had found on the beach and stripped the bark from.  I could have used store bought dowels for this project as many people do, but I liked the idea of using something with curve and a bit of character.

I found four different types of yarn, all fairly chunky and all in the cream/white/tan color family.  The thicker pieces I used as is.  I opted to thicken up  some of the thinner pieces by either braiding or twisting the yarn.  I also frayed out the bottom of the yarn pieces to make it look softer.

Here’s how you do twists— (start video at the 1 minute mark). Yes, I know it’s a hair video, but it is basically the same idea with yarn as it is with hair– just make sure you twist the individual strands in the same direction that the yarn is already twisted, and then wrap the two twisted strands around each other in the opposite direction, then tie a knot so the twists will stay put.

Here’s how my first piece of wall art turned out.  I am really happy with how it looks in our bedroom– I was just needing a nice bulky piece of art at the head of the bed to contrast with the paint.  (Paint color: Hale Navy)

Here’s a closer view of the project, showing the roughness of the stick that I used, and the way I looped the yarn over the stick– super simple.

I was so happy with the way this one turned out that the next day I made a second wall hanging with the very same yarn.  But this time I did a bit of a different pattern, and added these great big chunky wooden beads that I found at a thrift store.  (Jackpot!!)

Here’s a closeup of the fun stick that John found me for this next project.

And here’s how I did the pattern.  For this one I used only the three yarns that were most similar in size to each other, and then used four loops of each for a total of eight threads per clump.  It took a bit of fiddling to figure out what pattern to do with the beads, but I just played with the design until it seemed right to me.

Isn’t this one robin-egg blue bead fun?  You can see that I sometimes had to tie knots just below beads to keep the beads where I wanted them.  I also found it helpful to hang the piece up as I worked, since that gave me a more true idea of how the yarn would lie.

To thread the beads onto the yarn, I used a piece of plastic thread that I looped around the section of yarn I wanted to thread, then stuck both cut ends of the plastic thread into the hole in the bead, and then pulled until the yarn was in the bead.  I hope you can tell how it works from the sequence of photos below.

Here’s the end result of this second yarn art project.  I haven’t decided where it will live for sure, but I am really liking how it turned out!

My total cost on these two projects together was about $22 for the yarn and another $4 for the beads.  The sticks were found items from the beach. Which style do you like better?  Have you ever tried anything like this?

Books. And Pie. And Books.

I thought I’d tell you about some things I am enjoying lately.  First of all is Katie Parker Production, a phenomenally fun 4-book series that I finished and that Emily and Julianna are both currently reading and laughing out loud over.  The protagonist is a girl who just entered foster care due to her mom’s struggles with drugs and bad relationships.  Katie is trying to find her place in this new foster home.  Katie is sassy, irreverent, and very honestly struggling with so many issues that teens and young adults face, and you just can’t help but root for her the whole way. The first three books cover her life in high school, and the fourth revisits Katie as a young adult.

There is a very light and understated faith message throughout the series.  The struggles she faces ring true.  And the humor– oh my!– and there are SO MANY parts in the series that are truly LOL funny, including the way Katie reacts in one way on the outside, while warring with herself on the inside. (Haven’t we all been there..?) This series gets the full five stars from me and from both of my daughters. And the three of us almost never ALL adore the very same book. Winner, winner, winner.

Next I want to share a fabulous recipe I found for Blueberry Sour Cream Pie.  I had gotten a bunch of frozen blueberries on sale, and was wondering about the possibility of turning some of them into pie, but I was kind of afraid that I might end up with a watery puddle instead of something that looked like pie.  Well, this recipe is the answer.  Super easy to make and absolutely yummy.  I have made it three times in the last month and each time it has been a hit.  For simplicity’s sake, I used premade pie crust.

The recipe recommends that you thaw your blueberries before making the pie, but here’s the workaround that I came up with.  I just pour my frozen berries into a casserole dish and pop them into the oven alongside the pie crust, and by the time the pie crust is baked, the ice is off the berries and they are ready to mix into the recipe.

Finally, I wanted to mention a really fun kids’ book that I was asked to review.  It is called Neema’s Reason to Smile. The pictures are bright and lively, the view into another culture is intriguing, and I just loved the focus on hard work, perseverance, and the importance of mentoring in the life of a young person.

Have you read anything good lately?  I’d love to hear about it!

(PS– I was given a copy of Neema’s Reason to Smile in exchange for an honest review, but I found and loved the Katie Parker books all on my own.)


It’s almost spring!

The winter here was not too bad in the snow department, but I’m still ever so glad to have made it through until March.  I really don’t like winter, and I’m very much looking forward to springtime and flowers and warmth. Here’s a gratuitous flower shot — pure eye candy, isn’t it?

I’ve been the worst blogger ever lately, partly because of work, but also, I think, because I have been doing quite a bit more reading in the last few months.  (Latest fave book: 600 Hours of Edward.  Some adult content, but an amazing view into the mind of an adult with Asperger’s.)

The latest from work: the OB building flooded, which put our department completely out of commission for a few weeks. We’ve been keeping a skeleton crew of OB nurses in our ER each shift, just in case a baby decides to be born before a mom can be transported to the nearest open OB department.  The rest of our OB staff has been floated by turns to work at the Boise hospital, which has been quite a stress-inducing adventure.  So far, the shifts I’ve done have gone OK, but it is no small thing to be handed a patient load on a busy floor to which you have not been oriented.  On the bright side:  the Boise hospital is where John works, so a time or two we’ve been able to say hi and chat a minute between shifts.  (I’m still working nights and he works days.)

The latest from home:  Emily and Julianna have been practicing a piano duet and have gotten rather good at it.  I love that they’re enjoying playing together.  In fact, Julianna says she’d rather play duets than play alone.  They’re taking lessons from my mom, which I absolutely love.

Even tho there’s room in the house for the girls to have rooms of their own, I still have them sharing a bedroom.  They are such good buddies that I’m not quite willing to separate them yet, and they actually really do enjoy being together….  I may rethink that at some point– Em is almost 16, after all.  But then again, Julianna still sometimes gets anxious if she’s alone at night.  So who knows….?  Parenting is such a guessing game, isn’t it?

In other news, they now have guinea pigs, and the guinea pigs have a room of their own.  This keeps the girls from having to sleep in the same room as piggy stinkiness, but it does seem to me a bit over the top in terms of pampering your pets.  Ah well.

A reader recently asked me a question about grocery shopping splurges. I do still aim to feed my family affordably as much as I can.  Stirfry is a regular option around here.  We do homemade pizza and homemade enchiladas and fajitas, etc.  And I’ve been delighted at how many tomatoes our tiny yard can produce– enough that I’ve actually still done a bit of canning each fall.

But I have to confess that since I began working away from home three years ago, I’ve gotten worse in the grocery budget department.  Most notably, we eat out more now that I work outside the home. I’ve also been tending toward grocery splurges that are healthier options– things like salmon and blueberries and strawberries and easy salad mixes.  The overall budget difference hasn’t felt like much, because since I started working we also had four grown kids move out.  If anything, our grocery bill has gone down a dab…but not by much thanks to spendier food choices and more eating out.

In more kitchen news, I had fun organizing my pantry last week.  It is embarrassingly huge– in Idaho and Utah this type of pantry is often dubbed a ‘Mormon pantry’ since it is big enough for long term food storage for a very large family.  Yet somehow even with all that space, it still managed to become a total clutter bomb.  Here’s what it looked like before.

After a whole afternoon of rearranging and wiping down and decluttering all the various items, I got it looking a lot better.  This is definitely one of my favorite projects because it is free and very gratifying.

It also led to the unearthing of all sorts of odds and ends of food items, some which definitely and quickly got tossed, but others of which found their way into meals over the next couple days. Now I love walking in there because it just looks so much better.  Here’s what it looked like when the great decluttering was complete.

I would still like to do the following label with all the jars where I am storing dry goods. Doesn’t it look like fun?? But for now I am enjoying the fresh and tidy look! What’s new with you?  Thanks for continuing to stop in now and then even tho I have been so irregular in my blogging lately.

And– PS– if you’re planning a family trip to the Oregon coast sometime this year, swing by our beach house website and see what’s open.

What I’ve Read Lately

I’ve been trying to read more fiction lately, as I got out of the habit for awhile. Here are some of the books I’ve read and enjoyed recently.  As I wrote about these books for you, I had to laugh at myself, because most of these ‘fictional’ stories are actually true stories, based on true stories, an exploration of other cultures, or exploring a facet of humans and their relationships that I would like to learn more about. No escapist fiction here, sorry!

Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women— During World War I, radium was  discovered to glow in the dark, and was painted on the dials inside military airplanes.  Since not much was known at the time about the dangers of radium, the girls doing the painting suffered terribly. Though this was a fictionalized account, the women and their challenges were real. This is the story of their fight to hold their employers accountable.

Indigo Girl— A fascinating story of a young girl in the 1700’s who was left in charge of her father’s plantation.  This was based on a true story and the fictionalized story was interspersed with letters that the girl had actually written.  The protagonist is strong and capable and very atypical of (my imaginings of) a woman in that era.  Woven into the story of the plantation was the story of her longing to find a marriage match of her own choosing, and how all of it was a fight against conventional expectations of that day.

The Forgotten Seamstress— This is a story set in two different times.  A modern day woman gets curious about a quilt that has been in her family for generations, and discovers that the quilt maker was doing more than just quilting when she created this heirloom.  She was trying to tell people about her life, while locked up in an insane asylum. Definitely adult themes in this one, but it is a fascinating read.

The Namesake— This one is a multi-generational story of a family who came to America from India.  I am fascinated with the immigrant experience, and found this description of life lived with your heart in two worlds to be both mournful and intriguing.

The Girl with Seven Names– this is the true story of a girl who escaped from North Korea.  I found it to be an interesting view into the country, and into the struggles of the North Korean people, and I cheered with the woman when she finally made it to a place of safety.

Turtles All the Way Down— This one was an interesting view into the mind of a person struggling with extreme anxiety and obsessive thoughts. It did a great job portraying the endless thoughts that hound folks with extreme anxiety, and gave me a new sense of compassion and understanding. Definitely a young adult book– I would have appreciated a little more depth.  But still interesting.

180 Seconds— This story is based on a fascinating experiment where complete strangers are set face to face to look into each other’s eyes for 180 seconds.  The main character in the book is a college age girl who has spent the majority of her life in foster care, and is struggling with issues surrounding attachment and trust.  This is definitely a romance and gets downright steamy at times.  But I found the protagonists believable and the big question in the book very intriguing– what does it take to break down walls in a person who has been very wounded?

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  What have you been reading lately?

Family and Christmas

Christmas is coming!  With the help of our youngest daughters and some of our grandkids, I finished all the wrapping a couple days ago– always an accomplishment with this big crew.  The little ones were sworn to secrecy– we’ll see how well that works!

Way back in September I had the fond idea that I was going to do a lot of the wrapping in cloth gift bags, but that didn’t remotely materialize, tho a few gifts do have cloth bags.  Ah well.  Paper bought on last-January-clearance prices worked nicely too.

We already had a nice early Christmas dinner with John’s family which was lots of fun. We made pulled pork and cheesy potatoes for dinner, along with lots of lovely sides and salads brought by our guests. So that left me time to fuss over the table which was fun.

Above is a photo of the table– all 20 feet of it– before everyone arrived, and another of it full of family.  I think there were 27 of us there.  What a blessing!


I also tried a new fudge recipe that we ended up liking pretty well.  It was much easier than other fudge I’ve made– and sometimes had failures with.  Here’s the website with the recipe.  All I did to get the dark chocolate version was substitute dark chocolate chips instead of white.  I also did a tiny dusting of sea salt for that sweet- salty flavor.

Here’s the family photo we got this fall.  Last year two of our clan were working and couldn’t make it.  This year we were only missing one.  Maybe next year we’ll get everyone!  In any case, here are some of the most precious faces in the world to me– love seeing so many of us together.

John and the girls and I have been watching a Christmas movie or two a week during this month.  Our perennial favorites are ones probably very familiar to you as well: White Christmas, Eloise at Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Nativity, Muppet Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street and The Santa Claus  (1 and 3 are our favorites.)  Though I know lots of people love it, Elf gets mixed reviews at our house — 15 year old Emily can’t get over a grown man acting like a little boy.  Home Alone is not a hit either– 13 year old Julianna still finds it horrifying that the poor little kid got left.  🙂

We’ve also watched a few newer movies on Netflix that I thought might be fun to mention.

Last night we watched Back to Christmas, which gets 1 star for the acting, but there was a bit of funny dialog that brought it up to MAYBE 2 stars for me.  Not a total loss.

Last week we watched A Christmas Prince, which we gave a good solid 3 stars.  This one kinda reminded me of the Princess Diaries, but it was cute and the ending was not as predictable as we expected.  We enjoyed this one.

Last year a new favorite was The Spirit of Christmas. We enjoyed this one a lot and rated this one 4 stars.  It would be a little scary for younger kids, as it is also kind of a murder mystery, but we liked this one enough to watch it twice.

Have you watched anything on Netflix that you’ve enjoyed recently?

Here’s hoping that your Christmas is warm and enjoyable and family-filled!

Pine cones on Pinterest

I found a couple of fun Pinterest ideas for fall/Thanksgiving. First off, this bleached pine cone idea caught my eye. I thought they’d be a great way to add a little seasonal decor to the beach house, ocean-style. Basically you plunk a bunch of pine cones into a half and half mix of water and bleach. The pine cones will close up and some will look like they’re not even changing color at all.

After 24 hours in the bleach solution, you take them out, rinse them off, and let them dry in the sun. They will take awhile to open up and look normal again, but once they’re dry, lo and behold, you’ve got these pale weathered-looking pine cones.


Here’s a photo of my pine cones after they were bleached.  Aren’t they pretty?  The little ceramic pumpkin that they are sitting with came from the Family Dollar and cost just a dollar.



Another idea I’m thinking about trying — again with the pine cones– is a fall/winter wreath.  You paint the pine cones a variety of different shades in the same color family, then attach them to a wreath.  I have a few grape vine wreaths that need a new look, so I will be experimenting.







And finally, doesn’t this dessert look absolutely yummy?  They’re Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.  Honestly, how could you go wrong?  These are definitely on my list to try, maybe even today.  We are having our big kids over for dinner this evening, and I am thinking they would happily be my recipe testers.

I hope your fall is going well and that you are enjoying the season thoroughly!



Fall fun

Hi everyone!  Can you believe we’re more than half way through September?

We are back into homeschool full swing, which was a mite painful to the girls this year because we never completely quit school over the summer.  For good reason– last school year we took a week off almost every month, to go to the beach house as it was being built.  So we really needed to keep going with school over the summer to get things accomplished.

After the very first full day of fall school, Julianna declared that we needed donuts as a reward.  I told her we needed to survive at least a week of school before we deserved donuts.  And so that Friday morning on the way home from work,  I stopped at WinCo and grabbed a dozen, much to their delight.  We might survive.

Last week I got a dab of canning done– just some peaches and tomatoes.  I will probably do more tomatoes in the next week too, as our tomatoes are producing really well.

In years past, I canned SO much that I got really burned out.  But doing half a dozen jars at a time is pretty painless.  And I like the idea that when Emily and Julianna help me, they are learning the same skills that our other kids did in our mega-garden days.
Another project I had fun doing was painting and stenciling a little old dresser that we have had ever since Amanda, our oldest, was a baby. Here’s a photo of it a few years back in a different color.

Now with so many kids moved out, the dresser didn’t have a purpose at our house. But we were in need of one more dresser at the beach house,  So once again I pulled out my favorite color of teal paint, which I’ve used as a signature touch of color at the beach house on several other pieces of furniture.

This time, I also incorporated a bit of stenciling, along with some new black pulls on the drawers. Here’s the stencil I chose for the drawers.

The dresser is a very simple one, and I like the way the little black embellishments jazz it up and play off the new pulls.  I hadn’t really stenciled before, but once I figured out that it only takes a TINY bit of pain on the dabber, it all went well.

A final fun touch was a roll of black and white contact paper added to the outsides of the drawers:  just cut, peel, and stick.  Easy and adorable!

(Oh, and the owl stencil down near the floor!  I almost forgot about that.)



I ended up really pleased with the makeover, and I love the idea of more life for this sweet little dresser that spent years in so many of my kids’ bedrooms.

This week we are at the beach, and my daughter Erika and I have been talking about her possibly doing a bit of blogging her.   She is just embarking on the homeschooling adventure with her three little ones ages 2-5, and is interested in an ‘unschooling’ approach.  I am hoping she might find time to write here every now and then, to share more about this twist on homeschooling.  More on this later as we get the details figured out.

I am hoping to write here a bit more myself, as I have missed writing, and would like to do it a little more regularly.  I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing lately also.  Fall projects?  Crafts?  Activities?




Just squeaking in with a July update

playing frisbee at the beach

Grandkids helping me peel carrots

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so very long since I’ve been here. We’ve been busy with all things summer-related including time at the beach, setting up a little pool here in Idaho, attending graduations, weddings and other family gatherings, going to camp, having the grandkids over, gardening, and painting the living room.

Garden ingredients prepped to go on a light summer pizza

Here are a few pictures of some of the happenings.




We decided to paint our Idaho living room Sea Salt since we liked it so much at the beach house. Love it here too!


Napping with auntie


Trying out the new pool




At a family wedding with some of our kids



And hey, I even have a couple of recommendations for you!  One of the things that I’m trying to do more this year is read fiction.  It’s not something I’ve done much in recent years and I decided I have been missing it.  Here are a few of the books I’ve read lately.

~ The Winter Sea  I’m only halfway through, but really enjoying it so far.  It is a story within a story, and is set in Scotland in two different time periods.

~I Am David  I read this in three days flat as I found the story very interesting, about a boy who escaped the concentration camps during World War II.

~A Quiet Life in the Country  This one is a detective story and has clever insights into characters and a delightfully surprising humor.  I borrowed it for free on my Kindle.

Then finally I have a bit of cleaning advice to share, compliments of the ladies in charge of cleaning our beach house between guests.  They lined our oven with this Non Stick Oven Liner   I never even knew these things existed, but I wish I’d known about them MUCH sooner!  Just set one on the floor of an electric oven or on the bottom rack of a gas oven, and it will catch all the spills and be incredibly easy to wipe clean as needed. Have you heard of them?  Do you use them?

Enjoy your last month of summer!!


Perfect for us

Recently I was wandering World Market all on my own, enjoying the peace, when I became aware of a young family also shopping.  Three preschool boys energetically spun around the axis of their slowly walking parents.  My first thought was of how much easier my shopping venture was than this mother’s.  And then I heard the voice of one of her little sons.

Enthusiastically stroking the length of a dining table, he said to his mother, “This table would be perfect for us!”

My heart clutched up, just from that one simple word: us.  Back in the hazy-crazy days of young motherhood, that’s how it was with our family too.  A solid cohesive ‘us’ was the center of our children’s lives.  Their happy place.  The place where they felt most secure.

Things change when kids grow.  Our married kids have their own ‘us’ now, created anew with the people they love and chose, and with their own children.  Our not-married young adults have a different version of ‘us’ these days too, more commonly encompassing friends and coworkers and roommates.

The day our oldest daughter headed off as a newlywed

Since our youngest two are still at home, they still use the word ‘us’ in that sweet way, asking what we’ll eat for dinner or when we’ll next go to the beach.  But even with them, things are beginning to change.  Their lives are more outward focused.

Nostalgia has me longing some days for those years when all of my chicks were in easy range, where they wanted nothing more than to be orbiting around me.  When ‘us’ meant they were all tucked into bed at night under the same roof. It was a precious time, in all its crazy chaotic busyness.

It is good and normal and right for our children to move outward and onward. To broaden their support system and welcome others into their closest circle.

Yet still connection also exists with us, and for that I am grateful.  Sometime it’s a skype chat with a son far away.  A late night call from a young adult needing a bit of advice. A Mother’s Day cake made with love.  A sweet note tucked into my lunch box. Texts back and forth about things monumental or mundane.  A visit from the grandkids with their mommas in tow.  A coffee date. Dinner together. A quick drop-by visit that ends up lasting an hour.

Though the moments are more scattered now, they are perhaps even more precious.  Each one represents the choice of a busy young person.  They have so many things to do, so many ways to spend their time.  And yet at these moments they are still choosing and affirming the ‘us’ begun so long ago.

The ‘us’ of years ago was perfect when our kids were small. But you know what? The ‘us’ right now (aside from my occasional momma-heart-twinges) is good and right and timely– maybe even perfect for us — now, in this new stage. We are counting our blessings.


Latest Stitch Fix

I haven’t done Stitch Fix lately, but when I saw I had some credit AND they waived the styling fee for one fix, I decided it was time to see what they had for summer. Wow, am I glad! They sent me such fun things!

Since summer is coming, and I’m not feeling especially svelte right now, I requested cool loose summer styles and they did a great job finding things that I like and that feel like thin I would really wear.

Item # 1 is the Janet Bermuda Short by Liverpool.  It is a stretchy pair of denim shorts (shown in all three photos) that I could picture myself wearing tons this summer.The denim has Lycra, and the shorts have a soft wide waistband. Super, super comfy. And of course denim is as versatile and practical as you can get. I am strongly leaning toward keeping these. Actually, I’m wearing them right this second.

Item #2 is the Fun2Fun Clybourn Scoop Neck Top, on the left in the photo collage below.  Loose and comfy, I really liked this top.  The armholes are a little deep.  But Stitch Fix now has a deal where you can exchange clothing for different sizes (when available) and I am considering requesting a smaller size to see if it addresses the armhole problem.  I also wouldn’t mind if it were just a bit less big in the tummy area.




Item #3 is the LeLis Yeaton Cowl Neck Knit Top. It is one of my favorite colors and is I think reasonably flattering. It is also made is a very soft silky knit. The cowl makes the neckline just a little fiddly, and there is also a fairly large vee in the back that I am not super sure about. But I think this top would be nice for summer, and for fall and winter layered under a jacket or cardigan.  It is definitely classy looking enough that you could really dress it up if you wanted to.

Item #4 is the Jella C Lace Bib Top.  It is possibly my favorite top in the batch, as is is feminine and (again) a favorite color for me, and feels more dressed up than a tee while still being very comfy. It does again have some armhole issues, and is NOT available in any other size. But I think I could do 10 minutes of tweaking/tailoring on the sewing machine and make it absolutely perfect.

The fifth item was the Shiraleah Porter Tote, a soft leather bag in taupe. I don’t truly feel like I need another bag, so I am leaning toward returning it. But as usual, there’s a 25% discount if you buy all five items. So if I do decide to keep the other four things it makes zero money sense to return the bag.

What do you think I should keep?  If I kept only two things it would probably be #4 and #1 …but I honestly like #2 and #3 quite well also.

Stitch Fix is a personal shopping service that picks clothing for you based on a questionnaire that you fill out.  You can also share your Pinterest clothing board to give your stylist more ideas of what you like. You can order a fix as often or as infrequently as you like.  Each fix consists of five items for which you pay a styling fee of $20. That $20 styling fee applies toward any item you keep.  Keep what you want, and send whatever you don’t want back in the prepaid envelope that comes right along with your fix. Easy peasy. Click on my referral link to order a ‘fix’ of your own. For extra fun, when you sign up and refer someone else, you’ll get a credit that applies toward your NEXT fix.  What fun!