Overcoming an irrational Bow-making fear

0164a95620fe46e1d528eb07167ee67f7dc68ced4eYes you heard me correctly.  For about 20 years, I’ve had this irrational fear of making bows.  You know, the kind you put on gift packages or baskets or wreaths.  I’m in awe of the people that can make them and I often stroll the craft store aisles drooling over the beautiful designs, colors and widths of ribbon.  Now I’m not easily discouraged by challenging crafts, but I’ve kept bows at a distance for 2 decades.

This fear all began 20 years ago when my mom and I signed up for a bow-making class at our local craft store.  It was a pretty comprehensive class, covering all styles and designs and we were so excited to finally learn and possibly master this elusive craft.  Unfortunately the class was taught by someone who was a master bow-maker, but a horrible teacher.  In retrospect she obviously had some self-esteem issues because she actually criticized our work and made us feel as though we had somehow missed out on the bow-making gene.  If this happened today, I would probably write a letter, but 20 years ago I was more shy and unwilling to make a fuss.  So we both left pretty much knowing that this was an area of the craft world that would elude us.  (A lot of what I’ve just written is tongue in cheek, but the experience was one of those that stays with you and left a real sour taste in our mouth.)

01865a25d80c4b7f8744e6e829523d783e987eed7601f105920881d3d86c20cad3f48a91dc31b7ac5d3d01eba911673ff1fbf6967ed2d07cfe54192fb646a30126cd9a16d07bbeb03b019381928986f8b4db6774Recently a friend of mine showed me the beautiful bows she’d made for some gift baskets.  Once again, I was in awe and remarked that I could never make anything like that.  She responded, “Oh it’s so easy.  All you need is a Bowdabra.”  Intrigued by the name alone and ready to overcome my crafting fear, I and a group of friends went over to her place so she could teach us how to make beautiful bows.  In one afternoon, I conquered my fear, made 3 marvelous, huge bows and am ready to acquire ribbon like it’s going out of style.

01e8794e097d533d1fb0cfa80d4256dce3a12153660195db2b5abca406cf1f7836ff6d4bd6ee41828836This new found ability (with Jolene’s excellent instruction and Bowdabra’s help) couldn’t have come at a better time.  You just know that all my Christmas and birthday gifts are going to be adorned with 01758cefbc6e18c38f3a4adc6fa513cf7aa4567ae7beautiful bows.  I might give bows away as actual gifts (Just kidding!)  In addition to Christmas and birthdays, one of my Quest46 activities will require bows.

Quest46LogoItem #11  —  Send two “thinking of you” gifts each month.I LOVE giving gifts and especially gifts when the recipient has no idea it’s coming.  It’s the best feeling in the whole world and I want to make this a regular part of my life.  I’ll probably do more than two, but with all the other activities, I wanted to be realistic.








I love getting gifts also.  Want to know my favorite???  Can you guess???  It’s yellow, round, you throw it and it’s in my mouth right now???  Come on guess….


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Paws || Walk On – 10.12-10.25

Every now and then when I’m walking dogs, I will just stop, ask them to sit for about 30 seconds and then I will say “walk on”. That is there cue to start walking again. I do this for a couple of reasons: 1. They’re super focused when they’re on the walk and I like to know I can get their attention any time I need it. 2. It’s good to continue to incorporate training into their daily routines. Just as we need to continue to refine our skills, so must dogs.

This always reminds me how important it is for me to pause and reflect on the past week and then think about the next one as I “walk on”.

Paws | Week of 10.12-10.18

• celebrated my brother’s 44th birthday.
• Skyped and knit with a friend in San Diego.  Such a great way to keep in touch.
• designed 3 Christmas cards to make for upcoming Pinterest Party.
010215a6b0f12d60ae8f7bc2b9064eff3132472aeb• took Ellie to the vet to have a broken tooth removed.  Turns out there were 3 broken teeth.  Made mushy kibble meals for her all week. Yum!
01865a25d80c4b7f8744e6e829523d783e987eed76• balanced the checkbook and paid bills.
• learned how to make decorative bows using the Bowdabra.
• returned library books via my computer.
• worked on a book binding class for my friends Girl Scout troop.

015a70237c1c243867edaff45d6c5d233cc83c58f00147d8c3ca5820c8f05e14d7d3df433087adb90575• finished dog beds for Woody and Ellie.
• finished reading book #17 by Monica Ferris, The Drowning Spool
• had dinner with our oldest friends, their parents and our parents.  Such a great evening strolling down memory lane.
• went to my niece’s soccer game and saw her score a goal!

Walk On | Week of 10.19-10.25

• plan and prepare for my Mom’s 70th birthday.
• continue to work on a book binding class for my friends Girl Scout troop.
• call my Grandpa in England.
• make dog beds to sell on Etsy.
• prepare my Pen Pal Kit for my new pen pal in Australia.
• make collars for Woody and Ellie.
• prep and paint exterior lights.
• start laying pavers in the backyard.
• start reading Shattered by Dani Pettrey

My favorite quote from the week:  “Never mistake motion for action.”  Ernest Hemingway.

Have a wonderful week,

Quest46LogoItem #10

Make birthday cards for family and friends.  I used to do this all the time and really love it.  Designing the Christmas cards this week reminded me how much I enjoy the process.





I love my new bed.  It’s so squishy soft; I could just hang out here all day.  Thanks mom.

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Saturday Snippets | October 18, 2014

Welcome to Saturday Snippets.  This is where I share links and odd bits of info from the past week.

1.  As an unabashed dog lover, I have a difficult time watching movies or TV shows where there’s a possibility of a dog getting hurt or dying.  On more than one occasion I’ve had family and friends contact me quickly after the release of a popular dog movie (Marley and Me) to tell me, “you DO NOT want to see this movie”.  So you can imagine my complete amazement when I discovered the website www.doesthedogdie.com.  So far they have DoesTheDogDielisted 734 movies involving dogs.  Just look up the title, check the dog icon and soon you’ll know if it’s one you want to watch.

2.  I subscribe to a blog called “How To of the Day”.  You never really know what they’re going to show you how to do, but it’s always interesting and always something you’d never think you’d need to know how to do.  Like How to Prepare to Fly an Airplane in an Emergency.  I must confess I actually read it all the way through and was cautiously optimistic that I would actually be able to fly an airplane in the event of an emergency.  When I reached the end, I knew without a doubt that any flight that needed me to take the controls would be in trouble.  At least I learned that much ;-).

Frixion Erasable Pen3.  I do love a good pen.  Every now and then I’ll find one that’s my ‘favorite’, use it for a good long while and then find another that’s my new ‘favorite’.  Do you remember erasable pens?  I think Bic came out with the first erasable ball point that I remember, but it always left a bluish residue.  In my estimation, it wasn’t really ‘erasable’.  Well, I’ve found a truly erasable pen.  The Pilot FriXion is a gel pen that uses friction to erase the ink.  It’s TRULY erasable, writes really smoothly and comes in a variety of yummy colors.  This is my new ‘favorite’.

JoeyPouch4.  I love knitting and especially knitting for a cause.  I’m not sure if I’ll do this, but I was intrigued when I found this request for pouches for baby kangaroos from WIRES, Wildlife Rescue in Australia.  Here’s what they have to say, “When juvenile marsupials come into care they need to be kept warm and quiet. WIRES carers are always in need of suitable pouches. Many people who would like to help our wildlife but are unable to commit to rescue or care volunteering, can help by making pouches and linings.”   They even included a pattern.  If you’ve ever wanted to knit a pouch for a kangaroo, here’s your chance.



5.  Ever wanted to learn how to sew in a zipper?  Well today’s your lucky day.  Craftsy is offering a free class to show you how.

Well that’s all the snippets I have for today.  Have a wonderful Saturday,

Quest46LogoQuest 46, item #9

1.  Knit a scarf for Margaret.  Margaret is my grandmother’s cousin and she’s someone we always see when we go to England to see my grandpa.  She is one of the kindest, most generous people I know and I’ve always wanted to make her a gift.  The north of England gets pretty cold in the winter, so I thought a scarf would be nice.  I’m ashamed to say this is something that I’ve wanted to do for years and have never done.  So it made the list.






This is what I look like when I’m watching a movie and something bad happens to the dog.  So happy you found that website.

Posted in Dogs, Education, Knitting, Movies, Quest46, Saturday Snippets, sewing, TV & Movies, Yarn | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving the Library

wishing-chair-1famous-five-4I have always loved to read.  My earliest memories of being transported to another world was in grade school during reading time where the teacher read us “The Wishing Chair” by Enid Blyton. This same author wrote “The Famous Five” and “The Secret Seven” which were made into radio serials that we listened to every week.  I remember devouring books as a kid especially mysteries.  I couldn’t get enough of the Nancy Drew Mysteries and would hide under the covers with a flashlight to sneak in a few more pages.  I was engrossed with the adventures of Encyclopedia Brown and books by Judy Blume were with me through my pre-teen years.

My taste in books hasn’t really changed from when I was a kid.  I still prefer a good mystery and especially a series.  I will read non-fiction every now and then, but most days you’ll find me trying to figure out “who done it”.  My reading has matured, thank goodness, and the authors I enjoy now are Jacqueline Winspear, Laura Childs, Sue Grafton, Monica Ferris, James R. Benn, Spencer Quinn, Dick Francis and Susan Conant.

In the past few years, I’ve borrowed most of the books that I’ve read from the library.  Our library, like most, has a website where I can search the card catalog for titles, reserve books and pick them up when they’ve arrived at my local branch.  Books are available in paper form as well as digital and the digital copies, if available, are delivered in the blink of an eye to my Kindle.  I can check out a paper book for 3 weeks and then renew it for 3 more weeks up to two times.  Digital copies can only be checked out for 3 weeks then I have to request it again if I run out of time and didn’t finish.  I keep a spreadsheet that lists all my favorite authors and their books.  When I read a book, I check it off my list.  I started this practice after I bought, not one but two books, that I had actually already read.

With the many distractions in our world today (tv, movies, internet) it’s easy to forgo reading all together.  What I need to know, I can Google.  If I want to educate myself on a particular topic, I’m sure there’s a documentary producer that’s done all the work for me.  Don’t get me wrong – I love movies, engaging tv series and documentaries as much as the next guy, but there’s nothing like reading a good book.

Something happens to my brain when I read that doesn’t happen when I watch a screen or monitor.   It’s almost as if my brain cells are getting a workout.  I most certainly read for enjoyment, but I also know that I’m better off physically when I read than when I don’t.  (I’m not a neuroscientist, so this is all my own personal account)

I wanted reading to be a significant part of my Quest46 year.  So Item #8 is to read 24 books, basically 2 books a month.  I think that’s do-able especially since I’ve been choosing reading over tv watching much more in the past few months.

What are your favorite authors?  I’m always on the hunt for a good read.  Grace






We were wondering if you’ll be reading any books that have yummy, tasty dog treat recipes in them?  Just a suggestion.


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Quest 46 | Journal52 – a year long Art Journal workshop

01b7ce664dfb2bf938af8047d56a78560163fbb9f5I was introduced to Art Journaling a few years ago when I discovered Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, a mixed media painter, collage maker, and avid memory keeper.  She keeps a daily art journal and regularly shares her work on her blog.  She also has Youtube videos called “Art Journaling Fast Forward” where she shows you her process in fast forward.  I find them fascinating and entertaining at the same time.  It didn’t take long for me to get the itch to try art journaling.  Now let me be clear – I can’t draw to save my life, but I can paint, collage, stamp and glue.  The best part about art journaling, though, is that there are no rules.  Your art journal is yours to craft however you please.

Soon after discovering Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, I came across a website called Journal52.com.  This is how they describe themselves, Journal52 is a FREE year-long art journal workshop hosted by Chelle Stein that will inspire you to create all year long with 52 weekly prompts to help you tell your story artfully.”  To put it mildly, I was smitten.

011c3a2a9bd14f9967cfb81978910fe5c129c5e4b801c42d0a0afdf181596d67f1176b90957f55b7b23cI bought a Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbook (5″X8.25″) and plan to fill it each week based on the prompts from Journal 52.  There are just enough 2-page spread layouts to fill 52 weeks, in fact, there was an extra page, so I started with a collage using a decorative napkin.  I tore the napkin apart and decoupaged it over the pages that I first primed with gesso.  I’m not finished yet (that’s the beauty of an art journal) with the page – I’m waiting for inspiration :-).









Item #7:  Journal52

Create an art journal page each week for 52 weeks.  Being a unapologetic rule follower, I like the idea that there is no wrong or right with this project.  It gives me the freedom to experiment and play with different art mediums without worrying about those pesty perfectionist tendencies.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more art journalers that I watch regularly.

France Papillon
Vicky PapaioannouClaudia Rossi
Christy Tomlinson
Dyan Reaveley






All I know is if you’re going to paint a picture of me, you’ll only need black, white and a smidge of blue.  I’m really not that complicated.

Posted in Art Journal, Education, Goals, Homemade, Journal 52, Paper Crafting, Quest46 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planners, Organizing and Projects Oh My! Part 2

01aa494ad74e95b55e97a1297ba0ab39562f0b8de7At the end of August, I wrote a post about my current planner system but not much about organizing or projects.  So I wanted to give you a planner update (because I’ve made changes) and talk about organizing and projects.

The changes I made to my planner were to the daily section.  I was just using a simple “to do” list system, but I found myself wanting to see the week at a glance.  While reading one of my paper crafting bloggers, Jennifer McGuire, I watched a video she posted explaining her organizing system.  She uses an Erin Condren Life Planner, but made some modifications to fit her needs.  It was what I was looking for!

0107cf6c1d3570e7d606e9e9961db4b28b88adca97I went to my computer and created a week-at-a-glance page divided into three sections, work, home and to-do.  By organizing my week in this way, I’m able to see where I need to focus my time.  If I have a lot of products to prepare for my Etsy shop then I’m able to spread the work throughout the week and if I have lots of home and personal situations to focus on, I can plug those in and fill activities around them.  The To-Do section at the bottom is where I list the top 5 items I NEED to get done that day.  That feature really helps me to keep on track and not let important jobs fall by the wayside.  So far this is helping me to be pretty productive.

In her video, Jennifer also shared a tip about using stickers to mark appointments or events that I want to highlight.  She recommended using white Avery Removable labels and coloring them with markers or highlighters to color code activities.  You don’t need to tell me twice to color code!!!   The week pictured above isn’t completely filled yet, but I think you get the idea.

Onto organizing and projects.  My method for organizing and specifically organizing my projects is pretty straightforward.  I have a section in my planner devoted to projects where I have lined paper.  On each sheet I write the project name and the first very thing I do is write a purpose statement about the project.  If I don’t know why I’m doing something, then maybe I shouldn’t be doing it.  Then I start to list all the tasks involved.  This does a couple of things: 1.  It allows me to see the full scope of what I’m trying to accomplish and 2.  It breaks the huge idea into smaller, manageable tasks.  If a task is something I can delegate then I write the person’s name next to it.  If the task has a deadline then I put the date next to it.  As I plan out my weeks, I’m careful to go to my project section and pull tasks into my week of activities.  It’s nice having all this information in one place.

Since announcing my Quest46 idea, I’ve had a few people ask how I plan to accomplish 46 items in a year on top of everything else.  The people who’ve asked are individuals who know me and my propensity to over-plan and over-commit.  Before I decided to do this, I printed 12 1-month calendars and mapped out each item over the course of the year.  I attached the calendars to a big piece of cardboard (front and back) so I could see the whole year.  Some months are going to be very full, but if I work my project tasks, I should be able to keep up.  I know I’ll be making adjustments as the year goes along, but all in all I think I was pretty conservative with how I allotted time for each item.

01fab3c54089258252662119c59f0ee749bee6b88eIn Manage Your Day-To-Day, Gretchen Rubin writes, “Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth century novelist while revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, ‘A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.'”  Some of the projects on my Quest46 list are things I’ve wanted to do for years.  I’m tired of being a spasmodic Hercules; I’m ready for the committed small daily task.  And the accountability to go along with it.   Grace


Quest46LogoItem #6:  Plant a vegetable garden.

As our diets have changed over the past 11 months, we eat A LOT of vegetables.  I’d love to have a small vegetable garden where all I have to do is step outside to get the homegrown fixings for our meals.


Picture 561


Hey Woody – Mom’s going to plant a vegetable garden.  All the carrots we can eat, man.  Good thing Mindy doesn’t like veges, huh?

Posted in Accountability, Gardening, Goals, Lists, Organization, Quest46, Saving Money | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quest 46 | Crochet a Ripple Blanket

Quest46LogoItem #5:  A Ripple Blanket??? What’s that????

As you know, creating and making stuff brings me a lot of joy.  I can trace this compulsion back to when I was 4 and my mom gave me a set of sewing cards and some yarn.  From there I tried crochet, knitting, painting, sewing, needlework, glass etching, took metal and wood shop in Jr. High, stamping, papercrafting, beading, jewelry making, soap making and I’m sure a few more things I’ve forgotten about.

Attic24 Ripple Blanket2So when I sat down to put together my Quest46 list, I had to include a crafts category.  I’m constantly finding projects on Pinterest and through blogs that I add to my “To Do” list.  I’m well aware that my “To Do” list will outlive me, but that’s okay, I keep adding ideas every day.

Attic24 Ripple BlanketOne of the bloggers I follow is Lucy from Attic24.  She’s an incredibly talented crocheter who creates beautiful blankets, bags, flowers, birds, leaves, you name it-if you can crochet it, she has a tutorial for it.  Her patterns and tutorials are very easy to understand (and I believe they’re all free) and her use of color in her work is inspiring.  And I’ve wanted to make one of her Ripple Blankets for a few years now.  Isn’t that breathtaking????


IMG_0690So in the 365 days following my 46th birthday (in November), I will crochet a Ripple Blanket using this collection of yarn.  I keep out living room furniture covered with blankets and quilts because of the dogs and I’m ready for a change.  I’m not sure how long it will take me to make this, but crochet tends to be quick so I might make two – one for the couch and one for our bed.  We’ll see.




Just want you to know – we love blankets because we LOVE sleeping on the couch especially when our friends stay over.IMG_4096

Posted in Accountability, Crochet, Decorating, Goals, Homemade, Quest46, Yarn | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment