Lessons: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

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The Opposite of Loneliness Marina Keegan

I just finished Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness – a collection of essays and short stories written by a Yale graduate whose life was cut tragically short after an automobile accident.

This book was compiled after the author’s death and captures her thoughts at the end of her university career, as well as and many  insightful short stories. The book’s title essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness”, spreads light on the familiar feeling of leaving university – of leaving behind what were most likely the most inspirational years of one’s life and moving into the unknown. The essay reminded me so much of a time that I took for granted… I really wish I’d read it years ago!

This collection of stories took me all over the world – Keegan’s creativity was shocking as she wove intricate tales in a variety of unexpected places. The result is as inspirational as it is heartbreaking – I wish that she could have had a chance to continue writing and explore life after university. Though her life was short, Keegan had an incredible voice and creative spirit. This collection is worth checking out.

DIY Felted Solar System Mobile

I recently shared a post about my baby girl’s space-themed nursery. The final touch for this nursery is a handcrafted, felted mobile featuring the eight planets of the solar system and a cheerful little sun. I had a great time making this piece and look forward to having it in her room for years to come!

To create my felted planets, I followed this absolutely fabulous set of Instructables by kellechu with several modifications to fit my size restrictions.

You’ll need:

  • Roving wool in a variety of colours – I decided to be artistic and incorporate some vivid pinks, purples, and reds to really make my solar system pop!
  • A barbed felting needle
  • Patterns for reference (thank goodness for Google!)
  • Hot water, cold water, and soap
  • A mobile frame (I used this one from Amazon)
  • Fishing line and a thick sewing needle

Since I wanted to create a tiny mobile, I aimed for the following approximate planetary diameters:

  • Mercury: 0.5 inch
  • Venus/Mars: 1 inch
  • Earth: 1.25 inch
  • Neptune/Uranus: 1.5 inch
  • Saturn: 2 inch (before rings)
  • Jupiter: 2.25 inch
  • Sun: 2.5 inch

Overall I met my size approximations (although the Earth did get a little large). I did not use styrofoam balls, as recommended in the Instructables tutorial, but instead used tiny rolls of yarn at the core of the sun and four largest planets. This was probably not a great choice, since my larger planets and sun ended up being slightly lumpy! Oh well :)

I had a really hard time with the wet felting, so I started all of my planets off using my barbed felting needle as illustrated in the following YouTube tutorial from OhSewGeeky. This is a great tutorial if you’re interested in making small planets using just 5 colours of roving wool!

To create distinct lines in my planets, I used a barbed felting needle to apply the specific colours over a previously felted ball, and then wet-felting each ball a second time in my sink. The resulting shapes are far better than what I would have come up with on my own!

The greatest challenge was Saturn’s rings.

I started with the method outlined in the Instructables post – I created  flat disk by laying my wool on a towel, wrapping it in a circle, and stabbing it with my felting needle until relatively firm. I then added rings of pink, orange, and brown using my felting needle. Next, I wet felted the ring on a plate – I pressed it flat between hot and cold water washes.

After the rings dried, I cut around the inside of the circle to create two layers. I slid the rings onto the planet and attached the two layers on either side using my felting needle. I wet felted one more time and FINALLY had the result I was after!

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Saturn with rings – what a challenge!

I attached the planets to the mobile frame using clear, 4 pound fishing line, and a thick sewing needle. After tieing off each planet, I doubled-back through the ball to hide the ends of the line. My planet sizing worked in my favour; the overall balance is just a bit off, but this seems fine for a tiny solar system.

My Goodreads 2016 Challenge

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It’s a little late, but I’ve decided to join the Goodreads 2016 challenge.  If you haven’t heard of Goodreads, it’s a reading social network – you can fill virtual shelves with all of the books you’ve read, or those you intend to read. I haven’t used my account much since 2009/2010, so my lists are SUPER out of date! I’m getting back into the hang of things by tracking my latest readings on the site.

For the challenge, you can assign yourself any number of books. Since the majority of my year will be spent on maternity leave, I expect to have a bit more time than normal to enjoy a good book (fingers crossed – I hear late night feedings deserve a little distraction). I chose to set my bar at 52 books this year. So far I’ve completed 6.

To make my challenge worthwhile, I plan to add blog about the takeaway lesson from each book I complete. I still believe that each and every book, no matter how short, silly, or terrible, has one viable lesson hidden inside. I haven’t done a great job of tracking the lessons thus far, but you can expect a quick peek later this week!

(Side note: I’ve been reading a lot of parenting-humour books… no judgement! I can’t resist them at this point. My favourite so far: Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures).

Ready and Waiting with My Hospital Bags

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My bags are packed – hospital go-bags, that is – for baby and me. We’re anticipating her arrival any day now.

And yes, the bags are coordinated Lug bags. My mother-in-law gifted them to me over two Christmases and I absolutely love them! They have so many pockets, some lined with soft ‘tech’ fabric, and such comfortable straps!

I’d share the contents of my go-bags, but as a first-time Mom I’ve had no experience to know whether I’ve nailed it or not. Time will tell!

In terms of the ever-popular ‘going home’ outfit for baby, we’ve chosen a couple sleepers, one of three hats, and many blankets. I want our February girl to be warm rather than fashionable! With a big storm on the horizon for tomorrow, we’re ready for anything these days!

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38 weeks!

Our Baby Girl’s Space-Themed Nursery

It’s finally ready – our nursery is stocked and ready for our new family member! I’m so pleased with the results, which were inspired, of course, by countless Pinterest posts and Google searches.

I wanted to create a whimsical space for a modern girl – something that would capture the imagination. I took inspiration from my husband’s interest in space – his newsfeed is filled with Space X and the International Space Station. I’ve long marveled at the idea of astronomy, and enjoyed a particularly spectacular star-gazing session on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, so a space theme felt right. Maybe some day we’ll turn star-gazing into a family activity.

I wanted to create a fun room on a budget since I am not really a fan of superfluous decoration.

We started with white vinyl stars from Fluke Decor – these can be ordered in over a dozen colours and arrived quickly! We decided to apply our favourite constellations to two of the purple-blue painted walls before filling in the rest with a random smattering of stars.

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We selected two prints for the nursery. The sweet ‘Dreamland’ print comes from Charlottetown artist Kim Roach features the lyrics from my favourite the Mamas and the Papas song. The Twinkle Twinkle Little Star print is available as a free download from Lost Bumblebee – our printer’s black ink supply failed, which left us with a much lighter version of the print that matched the walls perfectly!

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To save on space, we chose a changing pad to the top the dresser – I expect diaper changes will be done here for the first few months at least. We intend to add some shelving, but for now I’ve decorated with a Stay Asleep Hedgehog and a Le Toy Van Rocketship. I have a basic glider set up for cuddles and a lamp for soft lighting.

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What nursery would be complete without a laundry basket? We found this Star-themed basket at Homesense – it should be full in no time!

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And – best for last – I’ve added in one special DIY: a felted solar system mobile! I handcrafted each of the 8 planets to rotate around a cheerful little sun. The mobile plays “You are my sunshine” and can be easily transferred to a ceiling hook once our little one develops her reach. I’ll be including DIY instructions for this in the days to come – please stay tuned!

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So there you have it – our nursery decor! I can’t wait to add the final touch… :)

Reflecting on Blogging and Photos

Time is passing quickly – it’s already February!

Suddenly the days pass by in a flash and I miss all of the good lighting opportunities to take photos for the blog! That’s my excuse for having nothing to blog lately. Photos. Once again, they are a trouble-spot for me.

Come to think of it, I should make a list of the areas where I struggle in terms of blogging. Then I could start to think of solutions for each of these instances…

My blogging areas of weakness would likely be fresh ideas and photos. Once I have an idea in my mind, I can write for hours! And once I have something written, it’s pretty rare that I won’t post it.  I just need to keep churning out ideas. And coming up with some kind of companion image. UGH.

I wonder if other bloggers find posting photos to be as challenging as I do. Are there tricks? I could use Author Media’s advice and post free stock photos, but this approach doesn’t feel right to me. I think that a blog should feature the blogger’s own photos or nothing at all.

How do I keep blogging when my photo library has run dry?

The Nursery is Ready!

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Today was quite the day!

Scott and I had a plan to finish the nursery – and it went off without a hitch!  We bought the last few items, including a crib mattress and monitor, and finished almost all of the decoration. I have one final project to complete tomorrow before I’ll post the big reveal!

I’m so relieved to have everything in its place. It’s funny because the baby will actually sleep in our bedroom for the first few months… but there was no way that we’d ever finish the nursery with a newborn in tow. I can rest easy more knowing that we have everything in place. Bring on February!