dia de los muertos


My oldest son is an awesome musician and his high school puts on a Halloween show every year called Spooktacular. It has a different theme each year and this one was one of the best I’ve ever seen–Dia de los Meuertos, or Day of the Dead.


The show ran for two days, so he had different make-up each day. I can’t take any credit for the make-up job, but it was awesome. I confess to not really knowing anything about the history of Dia de los Meuertos, but it’s kind of interesting, and I think I prefer it to Halloween, which is not my favorite holiday.IMG_7652

This boy of mine played guitar with the Jazz Band, double-bass with the orchestra and a trash can with the Trash Can Band (which may have been my favorite). He sure didn’t get his musical talent from me, but I am thrilled that he got it from somewhere, so that I can enjoy it.


yarn along


I cast on a new lap blanket for the Prayer Shawl ministry at church. This is the Ted’s pattern from Alice’s Embrace. I’m really a quilter, so the patchwork design appeals to me. I’m hoping it will be a nice project as we read through Hatchet in the evenings as a family. I just got Big Magic from the library. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this one yet. I love the encouraging tone, but it’s a little “out there” for me in some parts. (see: Ann Patchett story). It’s early days yet, but I’m interested in how it will unfold.

meal plan monday

17 stirfry

When I sat down with the calendar on Sunday to create a meal plan for the week, I realized that this is a very busy week: soccer, music, play rehearsals and performances. Still, we need to get dinner on the table every night, busy or not. Here is what I came up with for the week, which is built around a single theme: EASY

Monday: Rotisserie chicken (Costco), roasted vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes), Harvest Grain Blend (Trader Joe’s)

Tuesday: Crockpot chicken tacos, rice, beans, corn

Wednesday: Tri tip, baked potatoes, green beans

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (from the leftover taco chicken) , quesadillas

Friday: Stirfry (flank steak, veggies, and rice)

I love that crockpot chicken taco recipe–mostly because it makes absolutely delicious chicken tortilla soup later in the week. Total win in my book. I also bought the rotisserie chicken on Sunday and will just reheat it on Monday.

I also spent a bit of time in the kitchen on Sunday and made up a batch of chai concentrate, hard boiled eggs, and chocolate chip cookies. That should give us a good headstart on the week. I’d like to experiment with a big Meal Prep Sunday, but so far I’m a bit intimidated. I just discovered a YouTube channel called Mind Over Munch, and she does a big meal prep. I need to do a little more research.

What are you cooking this week?

Linking up with I’m an Organizing Junkie.

teapot mini

A few fun little finishes this week. Ever since Erin’s book Sweet Tweets came out a month or so ago, I’ve been itching to dig into these adorable projects. I’m a sucker for patchwork + linen, so there are so many adorable choices. I landed on the patchwork tablerunner (though I’ll use it as a mini quilt). I pieced the patchwork border with a mini charm pack of Hello Darling from Bonnie and Camille. I need more of this line, I adore it.


Creating the little birds had me a little nervous, since Erin’s technique is to use a darning foot and free-motion the outlines. This is a technique that is very similar to my good friend Minki, only she uses an applique foot for more control. I tried it both ways on some practice pieces (both turned into coasters) and personally found I like the applique foot method best, though I had a lot of fun creating that tree!

Ultimately, Minki drew some teapots for me for the center of the mini, and I can never resist a teapot. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, though I admit to debating whether or not to quilt the linen around the teapots. I decided not to, but I’m still not sure. I can always go back and add it in later, but I’m always afraid I won’t like my quilting in such a visible area (read: chicken).


Check out both Minki’s and Erin’s websites if you haven’t already–they are full of gorgeous projects!

meal plan monday


I’m not sure how everyone else gets dinner on the table every night, but for me it wouldn’t happen without meal planning. I would be a wreck at 4pm every day if I didn’t know in advance what we were eating and that we had the ingredients to make it.

To make this happen every week, I sit down for an hour (or less) on Saturday or Sunday and make a plan. I get down the binder of recipes , maybe a cookbook or two for inspiration and the calendar. Some weeks are built on easy favorites because our schedule is full. Other weeks have a bit more space and time to try something new, or something that takes a bit more prep. But having the calendar in front of me to make sure that the ambition of the meal matches the activity level for the day is key.

I don’t have formula for the week, as I’ve heard others do: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. But I do sketch out a rough idea this way:

  • beef
  • chicken
  • main dish salad /soup (depending on the season)
  • pasta
  • vegetarian

Then I feel like I have some kind of framework to build on. I also call out to anyone who is around and ask, “Give me one thing you’d to have for dinner this week.” That usually gets me started. It’s important to me that at least one day a week no one is unhappy about dinner, so I aim to please on Friday. One other consideration is to not have too many meals in a row that one child doesn’t like. I’ve got one kid who hates rice and anything Asian (the rest of us love it) and another who despises anything involving cheese. So, dinner can be somewhat of a diplomatic endeavor.

I also only need to plan out five dinners because the Husband cooks on Saturday and the kids cook on Sunday–and they don’t plan ahead. And though I plan and shop for them, the Husband actually cooks dinner on Monday and Wednesday as well, since Boy #2 and I don’t get back from soccer practice until 6:45 pm. I’m sounding a little spoiled, don’t you think? Still, the plan is key to making it all happen.

I thought I’d start to share some of our meal plans here, since I love getting a glimpse into other people’s ordinary days.

Monday: Panko-crusted pork chops, rice with gravy, green beans and salad. We don’t have a “recipe” for this, but here is a similar one.

Tuesday: Apple chicken sausages with rolls, tater tots, broccoli

Wednesday: Heuvos Rancheros

Thursday: We will be at a school performance, so dinner will be from a Taco Truck

Friday: Spaghetti Carbonara and salad

In addition to those dinners I’ve got apple crisp and some pumpkin muffins on the list to make as well.

What are you making for dinner this week? Check out I’m an Organizing Junkie for some more inspiration.

7 ways to enjoy autumn even if the weather isn’t cooperating



The rest of the country seems to be well into autumn, but those of us in southern California seem to be stuck in an eternal summer. I can only dream about layering clothes, wearing sweaters and boots, and cozying up by the fire in the evening. But I adore fall (in theory), so I’ve been thinking about some ways to embrace the season, even if the weather isn’t cooperating.

  1. Change up the decor. I’ve pulled out my fall tablerunners. That might be all the fall decor I have. OK, maybe there are a few Halloween decorations, but I change up the table runners on the kitchen table for every season.
  2. Light up the candles. I don’t usually light candles in the heat and bright lights of summer. Since it feels like summer, I hadn’t thought to start lighting candles yet. But this blog post inspired me to buy a new candle and we are all enjoying the pumpkin spice scent.
  3. Change the flower arrangements. Out with the sunflowers and in with the mums! For $6 at Trader Joe’s I can instantly bring a fall feel to the kitchen table.
  4. Cook like it’s fall. We are still eating main dish salads every week, so that I don’t have to turn the oven on, but a few fall favorites are starting to work their way into the menu rotation. Soup and sandwiches, chili, and roasted vegetables, just to name a few.
  5. Break out the mixer and start baking. Nothing makes it seem like autumn more than pumpkin muffins. I’ve already made them twice and some banana bread will make an appearance this week. Coffee and muffins feel pretty cozy to me.
  6. Bring fall colors into my wardrobe. I have not yet had the opportunity to actually wear long sleeves or a jacket yet, but I have been putting aside the pastels and other spring and summer colors of clothing and reaching for the deeper tones of fall clothes. I’m more likely to reach for orange, brown, and burgundy tops these days instead of the white and pink t-shirts of summer. I can’t wait to wear a scarf and boots!
  7. Take a walk. Even if it’s 90 degrees outside, the leaves on the ground tell the true tale. So I get outside and enjoy that the seasons are going to change no matter what.

What autumn traditions are you enjoying?

family service hour

sewing area before
sewing corner before
sewing area after
sewing area after
fabric storage
nicely sorted fabrics


I’ve got that fall decluttering bug. It seems to hit me in the fall rather than the spring. I think it’s that fall seems like a new beginning to me–in a way that spring just doesn’t. We have mild winters here in southern California, so the transition to spring is subtle. But the fall! Back to school, sports, theatre–a complete routine change. (I wish there was a complete weather change too, sigh.)

I just don’t have the time and energy to tear apart the house top to bottom for a KonMari style decluttering.Not that it doesn’t need it. Weekends are full of soccer, fencing, band performances, and chores, not to mention a cute little dog that needs some attention However, I have trouble with small steps. I’m a recovering an all-or-nothing kind of girl. Intellectually I know that small steps  can add up to big change, but I’m a bit impatient with it in real life. But small steps are all I’ve got for now. So, I started with some things that were bothering me: the refrigerator, a couple of shelves by my desk, the filing drawer of my desk that I could not squeeze another paper into, and my sewing area (aka dining room).

I tackled these one at a time, over a couple of weekends, and those areas make me smile every time I walk by them. It’s given me the momentum to keep it up, a little every weekend. And it’s adding up to spaces that make me smile instead shake my head in frustration.

This inspiration to create freshly-cleaned, curated environment has led to my next Big Idea. Actually, I have to give credit to the Husband for this one. Each Sunday we are going to start Family Service Hour. A few months ago we got the entire family to pitch in to wash all the windows in the house–something that usually takes a huge amount of time for me to do. As a family, we knocked that project out in about an hour. Clean windows inside and out. It was like a little miracle. Why not apply this to other areas of the house and yard? An hour is not a lot of time to give up, but with five of us, adds up to some serious manpower. It teaches the kids some good deep cleaning skills and an attitude of service (hopefully).

So, first up, the kitchen. Clean out every shelf and cabinet, getting rid of anything we wouldn’t take with us if we were moving. We’re not moving, but it’s a little game I like to play when I declutter. Would I pack this if I had to pay to move it across the country?

I’m going to try to get Family Service Hour going next weekend. I’ll take some pictures and let you know how it goes.