2018: Celebrating a New Year


Happy New Year!

Last night we celebrated the way we always do – staying home with food and movies. We had a big taco feast followed by a creme brulee tart for dessert. As a family we watched Captain Underpants, Boss Baby, and a bunch of Netflix countdown videos as we ate popcorn and drank sparkling juice. The boys went to bed around nine and Greg and I finished the evening watching Logan Lucky and half of Battle of the Sexes. He drank a beer, I drank some of the amazing ice wine I found at Costco last week. It was about the least exciting celebration ever, but at least we were together. And hey! I actually made it to midnight. I NEVER make it to midnight.

Anyway, like most of the world, I’ve spent the last week contemplating the ups and downs of the last year and what I would like to do differently in my life and approach to 2018. I re-read my resolutions from last year and realized that I basically feel exactly the same way as I did a year ago. If anything, I’m even more of a slave to my to do lists. The frustrating thing is that I’m completely aware of it and still struggle day after day to just let some things go. I so often link my worth to how many things I accomplished in a day. I set impossible standards for myself and am constantly wracked with guilt and disappointment in what I wasn’t able to check off my list by the end of the night. And quite honestly – I’m sick of living this way.

In the midst of trying to just DO all the time, I’ve really lost sight of what’s truly important in life. Family, love, laughter, joy, contentment, connection, dreams, acceptance, and simple happiness. I somehow want to find my way back to all of that this year. I want to live by my the words of my current favorite book and choose ONLY LOVE TODAY. Again and again and again. That is what matters. I only have this one life and I want to make it count. For me. For my joy. For my acceptance. That will be my focus this year.


  1. Practice Self Care. 
    I want to learn how to love myself this year. I have a lot of self hatred, especially with how I look. And sometimes with aspects of my personality and how I treat other people. I’d like to take a journey this year in finding things that make me happy. Looking for joy in little moments. Being completely in tune to what I actually need to loosen the stress and smile more. Let go of the to do list slavery. Show gratitude for the best parts of myself. Learn to accept and even love the parts of me I sometimes can’t stand. This is all so much easier said than done. But I think it’ll be my highest priority for the year. And also my hardest.
  2. Take Better Care of Myself. 
    My first goal is to take care of myself emotionally and mentally and my second goal is to take care of myself physically. I would love to lose some weight. I need to lose some weight. But I’m not going to give myself a number or even any extreme pressure to do it. I do want to start making better decisions. Remember that the food I put in my mouth not only affects my size, but also my blood and my heart and my ability to live (or not live) a long and healthy life. I want to move more too. If it ever stops being negative temperatures, I need to get back into taking long daily walks. Preferably in the morning, but at night if necessary. I’d also like to find some sort of online exercise program that I’ll actually enjoy and stick with. Especially on these cold winter days when spending long hours outside just isn’t possible.
  3. Be Happy With What I Have.
    I think this became a real problem last year. I always want more. Whenever I found myself stressed out and overwhelmed with life I’d often go to my computer to at least window shop on amazon and other various websites. Shopping shouldn’t be my solution to anything, but especially emotional turmoil. Though I will say that going to thrift stores and antique shops is an active way that I DO give myself self care. But shopping just for the sake of shopping, because I’ve had a bad day? I need to cut myself off. I don’t need more books. I don’t need more clothes. I don’t need more clutter. Whenever the urge to mindlessly shop hits, I want to stop and take stock in what I already have. I think this is a weird habit that maybe only people with the same love language can understand. Gift giving (and receiving) is my love language. And in many circumstances, especially around my birthday and other holidays, I like to shop for myself. I like to give myself gifts because it does fill me up, even if it sounds to people with all other love languages like a ridiculous excuse. That’s how my love tank works, though. I just need to cut back.


  1. Get My Family Back.
    I feel like I’ve lost them this last year. Or…they’ve left me behind? You know how in most families the mom is the glue that holds everyone together? That’s not really the dynamic in our household. Yes, I do all the organizing and shopping and cooking and school things- all the behind the scenes stuff that makes a household run relatively smoothly. But I’m not there. I’m not actively present for so many little life moments. Part of the reason is because I just don’t feel like I fit in with them. They love video games. They love Legos. They love complicated board games that always end in screaming and tears. I don’t want to sit in a room with them and watch them play video games all night when there is ALWAYS a huge running list in my head of other things I want to do. Another reason I’ve lost them is that I’ve honestly just stopped trying. The truth, which I should stop using as an excuse, is that Caden never wants to do ANYTHING. I love getting out of the house with my kids and even the tiniest request is always, always, always met with extreme outrage from him. I got really sick of fighting it. If he doesn’t want to do things with me, then what’s the point of fighting it out? It’s SO MUCH EASIER to just drop it. Walk away. Go live on my side of the house where I can at least spend my time doing something productive, even if it’s not the connecting activity I was hoping for. But it finally occurred to me the other day that I’m still the mom. I’m not allowed to give up on my kids. I try so hard to almost never push him into doing things he doesn’t want to do. But it’s come at the cost of me feeling emotionally empty with my own family. Empty and a more than a little resentful because it feels like they’re not letting me live the life I really want to live. They don’t need me anymore. They certainly don’t want me. Daddy is their everything. But it’s time to do a little fighting back and not give up.
  2. Prioritize Marriage.
    I was looking through all my instagram pictures last night trying to pick out the best memories of the year. One of those was a picture of Greg and I when we cut out of someplace we were supposed to be to do something for ourselves. It was definitely met with a little outrage, but for once we didn’t care. We have to stop letting our need to please other people always make our own relationship slide to the back burner. We also need to stop letting our kids rule the roost. I just want to approach our relationship as being one of my highest priorities this year. Because it’s not, for either of us.
  3. Make Friendships Important.
    It’s so easy to let this slide in the craziness of family life. You begin falling into the trap thinking that you don’t actually need friends because your life is so full and busy with your family. And the reality is that making time for friends is HARD WORK. No matter how much fun you had the last time you were together, it’s still so hard to get out the door the next time something comes up. But it’s important. It really, really is. And even though I know it’s going to require ME to make the effort, I’m not going to give up this year. I need my friends. And I’d like to hope that they might need me a little too.


  1. Set Work Hours – It’s just a job!
    This is a really hard for one for me. Without the clearly defined boundary of leaving my house to go to an office, I am surrounded by and often consumed by work all the time. I often think of it and act like it’s my entire life. Especially when I’m in the middle of a big batch of dolls. Setting it aside for anything feels like a huge loss to my productivity. But working from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed does NOTHING for my personal happiness. It burns me out, stresses me out, and makes me feel extremely resentful of everything I’m missing out on. The ridiculous thing is that I put all of this on myself! I have no clock to punch and no boss to demand more of me. It’s just me. I have the freedom and because of that I feel like I owe it to everyone to put in my absolute best effort every waking minute. But I don’t want to live like that anymore! So set work hours it is. Preferably – just when my kids are at school! I’d really like to end at 3pm when I go to pick them up every day. And maybe a little bit more until dinnertime if they’re busy doing other things. But I really want to limit myself to only working one evening per week and one weekend per month – and only if I absolutely feel like it’s completely necessary. It’s just a job. And I’ll have a much richer life and a lot more joy if I start treating it like it’s not the be all and end all of my existence.
  2. Give Myself Grace.
    Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m just one person in an actively creative and artistic career. If I want to do my best and maintain a level of care and precision in my dollmaking, I can’t produce hundreds of dolls a month. Yes, the income from a hundred dolls a month would be incredible! But it’s just not going to happen. I also need to remember that there are a few months of the year (May, September, December) that are just SO busy with actual life events, it’s really hard to keep up with sewing. I want my life to be my priority. And I want to give myself the grace to let up a little in those months. Take breaks when I need them. I DO have this freedom and I should let it GIVE me freedom to do what I need instead of letting it restrict me to feeling like I’m never doing enough, the way it has this last year.
  3. Work in Smaller Batches.
    I also need to remember that this is actually a business and I’d like it to continue being successful! And while I can’t produce hundreds of dolls a month, I can do my best to continually produce my best work. And my best work is often done when I only make a couple of dolls at a time. I get excited about all the details and really make my most precious dolls when I’m not struggling to get through a never ending pile of arms and legs. It’s also a lot better for business to be releasing new dolls every few days instead of every few weeks. When people are always watching for something new they get a lot more excited and immediately purchase those new dolls. It often feels counterproductive to make three dolls vs. twelve, but it’s worth it in the long run. For business and for my own wellbeing!


  1. Read, read, read!
    Reading is my favorite thing ever. But lately when I’m stressed I find myself reaching for my phone to mindlessly scroll instead of picking up my kindle which is also always within reach. Books are going to enrich my life a whole lot more than my phone. I mostly read for entertainment and escape, but this year I’d like to put a little more emphasis on the nonfiction books that could uplift and change my heart. I have so many of them already in my possession, it’s time to crack them open!
  2. Write, write, write!
    I’m really loving having this blog as an outlet for a different form of creativity. For awhile I was hoping that it might grow into something more. But I’m realizing that’s probably a whole lot harder than I expected. And that’s okay. I’m making a small, but valuable income making dolls. And I love doing that. I don’t need to make money writing. It’s worth it for me to just have the availability to pour out my words on a page. Even though I’m pretty sure the only people that read this are my mom, my mother-in-law, my neighbor, and my best friend. (Hello, and thank you!) But that’s okay. It’s more about what writing can do for ME. I love it and I’m not going to stop.
  3. Bullet Journal!
    Because I apparently don’t have enough creative outlets in my life already, I decided to try out bullet journaling again this year. And I’m super excited about it! I’ve found ways to integrate actual journaling, habit tracking, and lists galore so it’s more than just writing down my daily to dos. I don’t want to get ahead of myself the way I did last time I tried this out a few years ago. But I’ve invested in some fun stencils and washi tape to really make the book more of a fun and artistic expression that I guess I can’t find in sewing or writing!

Well, I think that’s it! Longest New Year’s resolution list ever. You’ll be happy to know that in the middle of writing, Caden came up and asked me to play a board game with him. I immediately stopped and we played. Progress already, on day one!

My New Sewing Room!

A couple of weeks ago, Greg and I decided that it was time to rearrange the apartment so I could have my own sewing room. I was starting to go a little bit crazy constantly stepping on the legos surrounding my desk and always needing to move things around every time I wanted to have a little workspace. Scissors and needles could never be left out, for obvious reasons, but it was really frustrating having to get out and clean up a huge pile of supplies every time I wanted to work for even half an hour. Greg has offered in the past to change places with me, giving up his very poorly utilized office space. I just wasn’t able to get past the fact that moving all of my things in here would mean moving all of his very ugly things (multiple computers, hundreds of cables and wires and any other weird techy things he needs) into the very public and open living room. My space in the living room was crowded, but at least it was pretty!

At any rate, I finally weighed my limited options and this was the way to go. We’ve lived in our apartment for three and a half years now and plan to live here for probably another year or two. I often feel like I have to apologize for that fact because living in an apartment with a family of four in a very small town is definitely not the norm. But it works for us. In many ways I think it works a lot better for us than living in a house. So I decided it was worth the time and effort to make the switch so I could have a space that was entirely my own as I continue to grow Heartstring Annie and just plain need an escape from all the mass chaos my kids are forever creating. I think I can be happy here for a long time. 🙂


So back to the room! This is my newest addition – a beautiful handmade table from my favorite store to buy random furniture, Twisted Sister. One of the things I was most excited about when I got this room was realizing I could actually fit in a cutting table! I hate cutting fabric on the floor or at the kitchen table, but just assumed having a cutting table in the apartment would never work out. But it did!! I saw this table a couple of months ago at Twisted Sister and fell in love with it. I’ve been back to visit it multiple times since then and finally decided after a profitable craft fair that I could just go ahead and buy it. It makes me happy! And my cats, who think they just got a brand new bed.

Not that pretty, but now I’m able to get all my embroidery supplies (top bin) and mohair out in the open where I can use them more often. There’s a closet next to the shelf that’s mostly filled with all my shipping supplies, rarely used craft equipment, and my giant box of polyfil.


The actual sewing area. FYI, I also got my sewing table and desk from Twisted Sister. I’d buy all their furniture if I had room for it! I plan on painting that big shelf with some chalk paint one of these days. I just haven’t had a chance yet.


My happy place!


Just another view of the beautiful wood on top of my table. I’m hoping to buy a shelf or two for this open wall space. Ideally I’d love a way to get my fabric in this room too, but I’m not sure it’s possible. It’s currently taking up a full dresser in the bathroom, four boxes in my closet, and a bunch of more rarely used fabrics are boxed up in my garage. I have a small white bookshelf in mind that I saw a few weeks ago at a store that is only open every few months. If my mom doesn’t beat me to it, I’m thinking of getting it for right next to the sewing desk to put my most used fabrics on. Maybe.


One more picture.


And finally, this guy. 🙂 For quite awhile now I’ve been greatly admiring a few people who create artist bears and other animals. I never understood how they made them so tiny until it finally clicked in my head that obviously they just sew everything by hand! So in between doll making I’ve been experimenting with some little animals myself. I made a tiny teddy for my mom’s birthday which was pretty cute. Then I found a place to import mohair to make them even cuter and sewed a tiny elephant for my friend Dianne’s birthday. And finally, over the weekend while I was doing a craft fair, I made this bunny for myself! I love him so much. I want to make him a friend, but it’s been a very busy week! Anyway, I’m not sure I’ll ever sell these, but they’re fun to make for myself and family and friends when I need a break from business stuff.

So that’s my new sewing room! And a bunch of ramblings. 🙂


365 Day Photo Project – May

I’m late again! It’s been another super busy week with very little computer time. Which is good, for many reasons, but I’m also extremely behind in all photo related things, which is very frustrating! But here it is – my photos for May!

That’s it for May! Such a busy and event filled month. I kind of feel like I should put a little disclaimer in here that not every single picture in this project is taken by me. Like the ones that I’m in. 🙂 But I feel like this project is more a personal reflection on what my year has held, so even if I didn’t take the picture myself, it’s still important to the overall story. Just to make that clear. I felt like I was cheating by posting some pictures that I didn’t actually shoot. 🙂

And in other news…

So I’ve decided that I’m not above begging. I started Heartstring Annie last month and have yet to make a single sale. It’s starting to feel a little discouraging. How do you build a customer base without putting a lot of money into advertising? I know everything takes time, but I feel like I’ve already run out of ways to reach new people. So since I seem to be getting a lot more traffic on this blog I thought I’d post this little blurb to ask (beg) some new people to at least look into what I’ve been making lately. I’m pretty proud of this last batch! Thank you. 🙂

Heartstring Annie on Facebook

Heartstring Annie on Etsy

Just Launched: Heartstring Annie!

I have some exciting news! After a few weeks of working madly, I am officially opening my very own etsy shop Heartstring Annie! Most of you probably didn’t realize quite how serious I was about making Annies, but I’ve begun and now I can’t stop! I finished up my first one less than a month ago and have made twenty-eight more since then. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many, many more to come!

In this first month I’ve realized that I most enjoy making Annies with specific people in mind. I like fitting the fabric and theme of the dolls to what a certain recipient might like. For example, I made Annie and grandson sets for my mom and mother-in-law for Mother’s Day. I also made a set for Caden and Shepard’s godmothers. My friend Liz, who loves Alice in Wonderland, got a mom and son set with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Now that I finished up enough to stock the shop a little I’m going to make alphabet and number themed Annies to give to Caden’s teachers as end of the year thank you presents. I also plan on making dolls to go along with each upcoming holiday and season. In the next few weeks I’d like to start some patriotic and 4th of July Annies. I’ve been busier than ever in the last few weeks, but I love it and I’m really excited to see what becomes of this little business.

You can find Hearstring Annie at:


You can find my Heartstring Annie facebook page at:


And you can find a new blog at:


Check it out!

And thank you for supporting this new little dream of mine by caring enough to read this. 🙂 

My First Annie!

I finally did it! I completed my first handmade Raggedy Annie doll! I’ve been extremely obsessed with these dolls since last summer and really wanted to try my hand at making one by myself. I made it one of my new year’s resolutions for 2013 and really wanted to be able to say I did it by the time this year came to a close. I’m thrilled that I was able to complete it now!

My in-law’s gave me a sewing machine for Christmas. I wanted one with this specific purpose in mind. I was terrified of learning to use it, though. Week after week went by and I was too scared to even take it out of the box. Scared that I would fail before I barely began. I’ve used a sewing machine in the past, but it’s been at least ten years and I’ve never had to set up the thread or deal with the problems on my own. My sister-in-law, who has the same machine, was going to help me set things up on Easter, but then I got sick and wasn’t able to see her before she flew back home to California. So I was once again on my own and too scared to begin.

On Saturday I was super bored, it was raining and cold outside, and Greg decided IT WAS TIME. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the prospect, but he forced me to do it (for which I am glad). He got the machine out, read the manual, and then told me everything he learned. Together we spent about an hour figuring out how to begin and then I was off!

I did a few practice stitches and then decided maybe I’d make a pillow or something easy to begin with. But…all my Annie supplies, which I purchased months ago, were just sitting there and I couldn’t stop myself. I started on my first doll!

I was actually pretty surprised at how easy the first part was. I mean, I HAVE used a sewing machine before and this wasn’t terribly complicated. I had all my body parts ready in a matter of minutes!

Stuffing my Annie seemed to be the most time consuming. I was so glad I purchased a hemostats, which my favorite doll maker Raggedy Old Annie recommended in the instructions that came with her pattern (this is her pattern, by the way). I was confused about how to stitch on the face, so I did it before I stuffed, which resulted in being able to see the thread underneath the material a little bit. I figured out later how to do this correctly. By this time it was pretty late at night and as much as I wanted to keep going I had to call it a night.

Early Sunday morning I was ready to continue! The next step was painting the legs and shoes. After I started I realized I forgot to hang up some sort of line for them to dry. So Caden was my temporary drying rack.

Then I had to get creative since it was time to go to church and the shoes were still wet.

Her face is complete! I painted on the eyes since I couldn’t figure out the button thing. Most of the Annie’s I own have button eyes, but I thought the painted eyes turned out pretty cute!

The biggest problem I had with this entire process was trying to sew lace on to the edge of the dress. For whatever reason I could not get the sewing machine to sew them together. Maybe somebody who knows a lot more about sewing various materials could help me with this problem. I eventually just gave up. It still looks cute. I also had a really hard time figuring out how to make the bloomers. I’ve never sewn any type of clothes before and my mind couldn’t get around how to do it. The dress was easier because it’s really just a skirt. I need to figure out how to make a true dress next.

Time for the coffee staining! I was shocked at how dark it looked when I started painting it on, but I went with it. I love the coffee stained look. The dolls just look more treasured to me this way.

While I was staining (very late at night!) I realized I still hadn’t hung up a type of drying rack. So I yelled for Greg to rig something up for me. I meant a clothes line. Instead he hung strings straight down from the ceiling. I couldn’t stop laughing over it. Jack thought we hung up a toy for him.

Funny, but it worked!

I pretty much spent all of Sunday night thinking about how to make the bloomers. I realized it really wasn’t that hard. So the minute I woke up on Monday I was back at it! The only problem I had was making the leg holes too small. I really had to force the feet through them.

And finally, after tying on the clothes and sewing on the hair I had a completed Annie!! It only took me a couple of hours over the course of two days and that thing I wanted so badly, but thought nearly impossible, was suddenly right in front of me! I learned so much doing this and I’m so incredibly proud of myself. And now that I’ve learned how to do this, I don’t want to stop! I may or may not have made two more dolls in the last two days, but can’t show any pictures because they’re for a certain holiday coming up next month. 😉 I’ve pretty much been sewing nonstop the last four days, ignoring all my other duties and responsibilities. I’m trying to spend today catching up on laundry and cleaning, but all I can think about is what kind of doll I want to make next! This is so much fun!