Monthly Archives: May 2015

Hiking and Remembering

Yesterday was a day to be gotten through. It was a day that I wanted to not think about and just keep busy and have it tick by. It was three years ago that my dad died.  Making dinner last night was when I opened my mind to the memories of him, not just remembering the sadness and the terribly difficult year of his illness.  As I put together a casserole that was a combination of several recipes, I thought about how much my dad liked to cook and more importantly how much he loved to feed people.

Today I felt relieved to be past that anniversary. I went to Fernwood to visit my dad’s gravesite and then to take a hike. I don’t feel the urge to go as frequently as I did, especially the first year.  But I do miss it if I haven’t gone for a few months. As usual I sang a bit and cried a bit and talked to my dad a bit. It was cold and foggy and fairly windy.

Leaving Fernwood I drove a short distance to the Tennessee Valley trail-head, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I’ve always enjoyed the 1.7 mile walk to Tennessee Cove with it’s little beach, named for the wreck of the S.S. Tennessee. Looking at a map of the trails in the area, I decided to do something more challenging instead and take a trail I’d never hiked before.

The map showed a 5-mile loop that included a gain of 920 feet of elevation: the Miwok Trail to Coyote Ridge to Fox Trail which led back to the Tennessee Valley trail and back to the parking lot at the trail-head.

In spite of the drought, these coastal hills still have plenty of green vegetation. The fog was heavy enough that eucalyptus and pine trees were dripping. Amidst the low scrubby brush there were bright spots of colorful wildflowers. I saw flowers in deep purple, bright red-orange, yellow, and several shades of bright pink.

Certain colors make me think of my dad, and I smiled when I noticed the vivid magenta and fuschia blossoms because I can hear him saying “my-yhenta” in his “Spanglish” accent.

As I hiked uphill, I was hiking into fog. It was cold, windy and damp but I was warm from the exertion. Going upwards into the fog made me think of climbing into clouds.  The sky had come down to meet the hills I was climbing and it made me feel closer to my dad. I haven’t really worked out all my feelings about heaven but today with the low visibility and wet air, fragrant with salt and sage, for a brief time it felt like I could be near the very outer-most fringes of heaven.

I had to stop and catch my breath as other hikers walked past me.  I thought about my idea. I knew that the low hills were really not that close to the heavens and I also knew that a cold, wet, foggy trail wasn’t really my idea of heaven. I reached the highest point of my hike.  Veils of fog revealed very little view of the trial looking ahead or looking back; at times only 75 or 100 feet could be seen.

Suddenly, I had a picture in my mind of my father’s back, hiking ahead.  It was an image from when we were younger as he was wearing the straw hat decorated with a feather that he used to wear on picnic excursions and camping trips, not the hiking hat or baseball cap of more recent years.

Papa Straw Hat

With this hat and this feather.

Papa Straw Hat

Hiking ahead, as usual (though this is Molly, not Henry).

He was hiking along with one of the walking sticks he carved with his pocket knife. He was walking Henry, my parents’ Tibetan Terrier that they had before Molly, and I found the picture very comforting. It also made me cry a little bit, but mostly I felt solace. I looked ahead on the foggy trail and thought to myself, “Yup, he’s up ahead.”

Thank you for your visit.


Filed under Crafts

Jamberry Nail Wraps


Have you seen Jamberry Nail Wraps? I’m not sure where I first saw them, but it was probably on Facebook. They are thin plastic stickers that are applied to your nail after briefly heating (either with a hair dryer or small heater that Jamberry sells) and then pressing on the nail and trimming and/or filing off the edges of the wraps.

I love how a manicure looks but since it is usually smeared or chipped before I get home (and even worse if I try and do it myself) and ruined within a day, I rarely bother with one.  As a crafter, my fingers usually have ink or paint on them.  I wore acrylic nails for about a year, usually opting for a “natural French” polish (off white tips with pale pink), but the time and money spent on upkeep was a drag, not to mention how terrible it was if I caught a nail on something. Growing out my nails after that was tedious.


I saw a photo caption that mentioned Jamberry’s and it mentioned how the wraps covered split nails and allowed them to grow them out a bit. Since both my thumbnails split, this caught my attention and I decided to give them a look.


I went to their website and watched the How to Apply video and looked at all the different colors and designs and decided to jump in and order some.  I bought an application kit that includes alcohol wipes, nail scissors, nail clippers, orange sticks, nail file, cuticle pusher and buffer block.  I could have managed with what I had at home and bought some nail scissors but I just got the set.

The wraps come on a clear plastic sheet ($15 per sheet, and I’ve gotten three manicures from one sheet with some trimming), and are different sizes so you can hold the sheet over each nail to decide which size to use. You bend the sheet and roll one wrap part way off using an orange stick and cut it in half, so each sticker will do two nails.  The first time I did it, I was trying to completely custom fit each nail but I’ve learned (and they suggest) it is easiest to go for a slightly smaller wrap rather than trim a wider one.


I also bought their mini heater. They suggest a hair dryer will also work to heat the wraps but I thought that would be complicated; having to pick up the dryer, turn it on, heat the wrap, turn the dryer off,  put it down, apply the warm wrap to my finger.  I’m glad I got the heater because it is small, quiet and I can just leave it on the whole time I’m doing my mani.


So, you figure out which wrap is the best fit, cut it in half, and warm the wrap for about 3 to 5 seconds.


Put the wrap on your nail and press and rub it down, first with your opposite thumb, then with the rubber cuticle pusher to really get it firmly pressed around all the edges.


Then warm the fingertip in front of the heater to complete the application. Finally, trim off the excess wrap.  The directions suggest using the nail scissors to trim and then file off any little bits, using the file perpendicular to your nail.  I’ve found I usually trim off the last bits with nail clippers, though I sometimes need the file to finish.

As you know, I do a lot of crafting.  I use my fingers to open, pry, press, spread, pick, and scrape any number of items and materials when I cook and craft. I’m kind of hard on my nails and the Jamberry Nail Wraps aren’t perfect.  I’ve found they will lift a bit, coming unstuck at the tips.

I looked around on YouTube and there are loads of videos with all different methods for applying, fixing and removing these wraps.  What works best for me is very, very carefully, using my flatiron on the tips. I turn it on, count to 10, turn it off and wait a few more seconds than being super careful press the warm iron only on the tips of my nails to really get a good seal. Let me emphasize again that I do this with great caution and care, heating the flatiron only briefly and turning it OFF before using it.

If this just sounds crazy and/or you don’t have a flatiron (I think a curling iron would also work), I’ve also used a metal implement (spoon cuticle pusher) that I heat in front of the heater and press on the tip of my nail, but the flatiron method works best for me.

The tips do get worn and of course my nails grow out.  This is almost two weeks of wear and growth on a manicure.


Removing the wraps is pretty simple and again there are several options.  What you don’t want to do is just pull them off because the adhesive is strong and you can damage your nails. Lift the edge of the wrap with an orange stick then soak the nail in nail polish remover (I use the cap of the remover bottle) for 15 to 20 seconds and gently rub off with a cotton ball or pad.  Sometimes I have to soak again to get a stubborn wrap off or to remove adhesive residue. I tried a warm coconut oil method I saw on YouTube and though I love the scent, I didn’t find it as effective.

Another method involves heating the nail with a hair-dryer for 15 seconds and gently peeling off from side to side and yet another uses dental floss on a sword to slip under the wrap with some cuticle oil or warm coconut oil.  I haven’t tried these methods as I’m happy with the nail polish remover.



Wraps shown in this post: First photo: Grapefruit. Last photo: Rose Gold (I think it looks like a new copper penny, also comes in a sparkle version). Blue wrap: Seascape. Pink wrap: Haute Pink (tint – a somewhat more sheer wrap).

I bought all the wraps and supplies and I’m not selling Jamberry.  I like the product and wanted to share my experience with you. They offer a Buy 3 get 1 free special, so if you like them, you can stock up on wraps and save a little.  I found a consultant, Jess Chambers, after finding her Enjoying Jams blog.  If you know someone who sells Jamberry Nail Wraps, you might want to get some from her and check them out, but if you don’t, I’m sure Jess would be happy to help you out.

Thanks for stopping by.








Filed under Life

Happy Mother’s Day! Mom/Wow Card


Happy Mother’s Day! I read the post I wrote last year with my Mother’s Day Chalkboard Card and was amused to see I wrote I had several ideas for a card. Too bad I didn’t write them down because I was coming up blank this year.

Happily, I was once again inspired by Pinterest. I found Loreen Leedy’s Mom Wow card as well as a die-cut card using washi tape. It’s ok that I find inspiration in art projects for grade-school kids, isn’t it?


I don’t have a die-cutting machine but I do have an Exacto knife. After cutting and folding heavy white watercolor paper, I carefully wrote “MOM” and then even more carefully cut out the letters.  I almost forgot to leave little lines in the “o” so the center wouldn’t get lost.

Strips of washi tape decorate the white card front.  I put them right over the cut-out letters then flipped the card over and cut the washi tape out of the letters.

When you flip the front of the card up, the word MOM becomes WOW.


More washi tape on the back of the card form a background for the WOW. Here is the card from above.


And here is the WOW with the back showing through.


That says it all for me…Mom. Wow.

I folded a piece of teal card stock into a smaller card to line the white outer card so it would show through the letters..  This also means my sentiment on the inside of the card doesn’t show when the card is closed.


I’m grateful for the strong, loving relationship I share with my mom.


Thanks for stopping by.

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Filed under Crafts

My Little Haircut, Accessories Sold Separately


I was playing with my new haircut and decided to share the photos.

I’ve had it for about a month now, in fact I’m getting a trim next week.  I’m still delighted with it and have gotten really lovely compliments on it.

Here is my “Before” picture at the salon before getting it cut:


And “After.”  So you can see how it looked just cut and styled.  (Thanks, Chaz, by the way, for a fantastic cut!)


The floor after the cut.


However, almost every morning, halfway through styling it I think “Oh, no.  I can’t do it! It looks dreadful.” Or something similar.

Here it is, clean and just dried with no product in it.  I’ve used a blow dryer on low while finger-combing it forward.


Hair that I’ve thought of as straight turns out having many more little curves and curls than I ever knew. There are places that go flat while others stick out.

Today I decided to see what else I could do with it.  The photo quality isn’t great – I’m just snapping pics in front of the bathroom mirror.

Parted, combed back and slicked down.


Brushed back and out with my fingers  with some product, plus a hairband.


A friend at work has been encouraging me to “hawk” it up.  With some more product, flat iron, teasing and hairspray, (lots of hairspray), and I managed this!




I don’t think I’m really carrying this one off. But it was kind of fun to try it out.

My favorite style is the one I do every day.  After it’s mostly dry (and I’m thinking it isn’t going to work), I tweak it a bit with a flat iron. The magic really happens when I rub a little Got2B In Play Sculpt Paste between my hands and then rub it into my hair.  Not too much, but I usually use a bit more on my fingertips and play with some strands across the front, and the pieces around my ears.

The styling stuff is lightweight, smells kind of citrus-y and makes my hair look thick, healthy and not too fussy.  Maybe even a little bit edgy.


Not too flat or too fluffy.

Thanks for your visit.



Filed under Life

Mini Piñata


At Craft Gym last week we made sweet Mini Piñatas. Today is May the Fourth and it is my sister Kathleen’s birthday.  Happy Birthday! I’m sure the piñatas were to honor Cinco de Mayo but I thought it would be a just the thing to celebrate Kathleen’s birthday and make it an even more festive fiesta.

Unfortunately, the link for the mini piñatas on the Once Around site isn’t working, so I’ll walk you through the steps.

Mini Piñatas

You’ll need:

  • A Template (lots of online options) or draw your own
  • Pencil to trace template
  • Lightweight Cardboard such as cereal box or poster-board
  • Scissors (if you have multi-blade fringing scissors, now is the time to use them!)
  • Masking Tape
  • Colorful Crepe or Tissue Paper
  • Glue Stick or Glue such as Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
  • String (if you want to hang it and/or to attach to trap door)
  • A large needle (to put the string through the cardboard)
  • Optional: Washi Tape to close the trap door for accessing the treats inside
  • Small Candies or other tiny treats to fill the piñata


I used some hand-cut confetti, sequins, paper hearts, felted balls and a variety of small candies to fill the piñata.

I saw several patterns online that had tabs for putting together the pieces of your piñata but in our Crafty Gym we didn’t cut any tabs, and they worked fine.

Cut two matching shapes of cardboard, (I thought the donkey was really cute, but it was a little tricky putting it together – a big heart would also be cute and much easier!) and one long strip of cardboard, about 1.5 inches wide.

Use masking tape to assemble the piñata. I started at the bottom of one leg and taped the strip to it for a few inches.  I creased the strip whenever I reached a sharp corner, then lined up the matching shape and starting taping it on the other side of the cardboard strip to form a 3-D shape.

If you want to hang the piñata up, use a large needle to poke a hole through the cardboard at the top of your shape and thread the string through the hole. I did this after I’d completely covered the piñata with paper fringe and it was pretty tricky.


I used super-cute yellow pom-pom cord that came on a birthday gift and I saved for just such an occasion. One piece is for hanging it up, one piece connects to the little trap door underneath.

Most directions suggested cutting a flap or trap door for candy removal after you’re finished assembling the piñata but I cut the trap door on the inside of one leg before I’d started adding fringe.


(Above) here is the candy door open, it is on the inside of the leg to the right) and you can just see two yellow pom poms attached to the door.

Cut tissue or crepe paper into strips about 1.5 inches wide and fold several strips together, folding in half and then in quarters, keeping the paper aligned.

Cut the tissue or crepe paper into a fringe, then unfold.

Using glue stick or tacky glue, glue two rows of each color of fringe to the piñata, starting from the bottom and working upwards.

Once you’ve completely covered your piñata, you might want to trim the fringe  so as to keep the shape of the piñata from become obscured.

Let glue dry.  Fluff the fringe a bit to give it more texture.

Fill your piñata with treats, tipping and tilting to fill every little corner.  Attach cord to trap door.


I added a small “happy birthday” tag on the cord for pulling open the candy door.

Close door and use some washi tape, if desired, to keep it closed.


Two strips of polka dot washi tape are keeping the treats inside until the recipient opens the piñata.  You might want to provide a plastic bag when you give your piñata so they don’t lose any goodies.


Thanks for stopping by.









Filed under Crafts