Monthly Archives: June 2014

Dragon*Con onesies, part II: Embellishing.

Once I finished dyeing my onesies brown and black, I set about embellishing them.

I bought a pack of iron-on letters (I bought them in-store, but I think they were these ones) for my first two onesies.  After counting how many of each letter I had so I knew what I had to work with, I played around with various quotes/words from different fandoms and settled on “mischief managed” from Harry Potter and my favorite Doctor’s catchphrase from Doctor Who.

From the Marauder's Map, introduced in HP3.

From the Marauder’s Map, introduced in HP3.

I cut out my letters and followed the package’s directions for application.  By the way, lining the letters up in a perfectly straight, perfectly spaced line is about the hardest way to do it….hence me doing it for only one line of the two.  Plus, I felt like it made “mischief” look more mischievous this way…

My "Harry Potter" onesie.

My “Harry Potter” onesie.

Next came my tribute to my favorite Doctor:

"Allons-y!"

“Allons-y!”

My letters did not come with any punctuation, so that hyphen was actually cut out from a “Q” I wasn’t going to use.

My "Doctor Who" onesie.

My “Doctor Who” onesie.

Next came the more labor-intensive designs.  For the next two, I bought a few sheets of felt.

Felt.

Felt.

First came a Captain Hammer onesie, from Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog.  I googled a few pictures to get it right, like this one:

Original here

Original here.

Then I sketched a basic hammer design onto a piece of paper, cut it out, traced it onto the felt, and cut out my pieces.

"Stand back, everyone, nothing here to see--just imminent danger; in the middle of it, me!"

“Stand back, everyone, nothing here to see–just imminent danger; in the middle of it, me!”

I hand-sewed the hammer pieces to the yellow backing…

"Yes, Captain Hammer's here, hair blowing in the breeze--the day needs my saving expertiiiiiise!"

“Yes, Captain Hammer’s here, hair blowing in the breeze–the day needs my saving expertiiiiiise!”

…then hand-sewed the whole thing onto a black onesie.

Captain Hammer onesie.

My Captain Hammer onesie.

Next, I planned a minimalist Chewbacca design.  Here’s Chewie, in case it’s been a while:

"Aaauuurwwch!"

“Aaauuurwwch!” Original here.

Here are the felt pieces, cut out and pinned together:

Chewbacca bandolier pieces.

Chewbacca bandolier pieces.

I pinned them all together, then hand-stitched the sides of each grey piece, and all along both edges of the middle brown piece.

Chewie bandolier.

Chewie bandolier.

Then I sewed the whole bandolier across the onesie, trimming the ends at angles to fit.

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The bandolier ends at the seam.

DCO 12

I decided to stitch the top end under the shoulder flap of the onesie, so it wouldn’t interfere with the mechanics of wrestling a onesie over a wiggling baby’s head.

My "Star Wars" Chewbacca onesie.

My Chewbacca onesie.

That gave me four onesies, for all four days of Dragon*Con.  But I had extra onesies, and babies do occasionally need a change of clothes while out and about (after public spit-up fests and diaper blowouts)…so I made one more.

Using this fabric, I cut out the Firefly “Serenity” symbol, leaving a small border that I could hand-stitch under before sewing it onto the onesie.

Serenity symbol.

Serenity symbol.

It would have been nice to find a version with the English text over it the way it’s painted on the ship, to be more recognizable, but I figure any true fan would know it in a heartbeat anyway. 🙂

My "Firefly"/"Serenity" onesie.

My “Firefly”/”Serenity” onesie.

And that concludes the making of my son’s Dragon*Con onesies!

Here’s the full batch:

My son's homemade Dragon*Con onesies.

My son’s homemade Dragon*Con onesies.

And with the two ribbon tag blankets I made for him (the grey one is Star Wars, with this fabric, and the brown one is Firefly, with this fabric):

My two-month-old son's homemade Dragon*Con gear.

My two-month-old son’s homemade Dragon*Con gear.

The Firefly crew background, by the way, is the minky-backed blanket I made for him.  It came in very handy in the air-conditioned hotels during the con!

These were really fun to make, and Wil got lots of “awww”s and a few pictures taken, but I do want to note that these were not the most durable after the con.  The felt began pilling after the first washing, and a few of the letters began to peel a little at the edges, so if you’re thinking about making anything like this for regular wear, you may want to consider using a different type of fabric for the sewn on bits and maybe a fabric pen or fabric paint and stencils for lettering.  Whatever.  Since I made them specifially for a one-time event, it wasn’t a problem that they didn’t hold up as well after.  They served their purpose–letting me “dress up” for Dragon*Con even though, at two months post-partem, I didn’t want to spend much on dressing up myself (got by with a couple oversized Star Wars t-shirts).  It was worth it!


Dragon*Con onesies, part I: Dyeing.

I was just a couple months pregnant when we moved to Atlanta in late 2012.  Nevertheless, I was absolutely determined to make it to Dragon*Con the following fall.  I bought my membership early (after calling their helpline with questions about bringing a two-month-old) and eagerly anticipated attending my very first con.

Of course, I would only be two or three months post-partem by then, so that meant no costumes (1. no way to know what size I’d be then; 2. wouldn’t have time to make one after giving birth; and 3. not investing money in something that would only fit that one year).  But, I’d be bringing Wil with me, so I could dress him up…

I wanted him to be comfortable, so it was an easy choice to keep it low-key with simple embellished onesies instead of true costumes.  I brainstormed quite a few ideas across multiple fandoms.  In the end, I picked ideas from five different fandoms that could be done in just two colors, so I wouldn’t need to buy more than two dyes.

I’d never dyed anything before this project.  I pinned several tutorials (this one and this one have some helpful tips), and researched RIT versus Dylon (and settled on Dylon powder for my project).  Then I bought my materials and got started!

Materials and supplies.

Materials and supplies.

I bought two five-packs of white Gerber onesies (everything I read online about dyeing said to prepare for a few failed tries, so I overbought) and Dylon powder dye in brown and black.

Supposedly you can dye things in your washing machine or in a stainless steel sink, but I didn’t want to risk leftover dye in my washer and I didn’t want to ruin the kitchen sink in our apartment, so I used a plastic bucket that I didn’t mind getting stained (it survived with only a faintly dark line where the water line was highest).  I used a wooden spoon to stir everything and wore rubber gloves.  You’ll also need a glass measuring cup (to initially dissolve the powder dye in) and salt.

My first batch was actually the brown one.  They turned out more…tan.  I did the black ones next, and this time, I used VERY hot tap water, dyed only four of the five onesies, and rinsed them in cold water much more thoroughly, and they turned out just fine.  Redid the brown ones, using only three onesies, and they turned much better than they had the first time.

Instructions.

Instructions.

I followed the instructions on the back of the dye packet pretty closely, but used hotter water and left them in they dye a good bit longer.

Stirring onesies in the dye.

Stirring onesies in the dye.

After prewashing the onesies and leaving them damp, I followed the instructions to dissolve the dye, filled my bucket with hot water, added the salt and dye, and tossed in the onesies.  I stirred them regularly for a good two hours or so.

IMG_6828

The stitching stayed white, but I like the contrast, so I was fine with that.  I rinsed each onesie out in cold tap water (cold helps the dye set) and put them in a glass bowl while I dumped the dye from the bucket.

Rinsing.

Rinsing.

I put the bucket in the sink and filled it partway with cold tap water, resubmerged the onesies, and squeezed and stirred them around.  I left the tap water running, and every time the water filled the bucket about halfway, I dumped it out and refilled it, working the excess dye out of the onesies the whole time.  It took forever for the water to stay clear, but as long as I saw little clouds of bluish black puffing out under the water when I squeezed the onesies, I kept at it.

Black onesies!

Black onesies!

They faded a little after washing, but chalk that up to me being new at this and not really knowing what I’m doing! 😛  They turned out well enough for me!

Part II: Embellishing coming next!  (That’s the fun part!!)


The battle of breastfeeding.

It occurred to me last night, as I wrangled my almost-one-year-old into nursing for all of two minutes, that I think I’m done.  I think I’m ending my breastfeeding journey as of last night.  For many moms, the decision to stop nursing her last baby would probably be a fairly bittersweet moment; for me, it’s mostly just sweet.  I’m proud to say that I breastfed both my kids past eleven and a half months, but it is a relief to be over with it.  And in light of this being something of a milestone in my life as a mom, I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you.

BF Title

1. Breastfeeding is hard.  Yes, it’s “the most natural thing in the world”, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  I figure every kid is a trade-off: no one baby is perfect at everything, so if they’re good in one area, there’s bound to be another that is a constant struggle.  For both my kids, it was breastfeeding/eating.  Kaylie was a fantastic sleeper–she was sleeping in her own room by one month, and sleeping through the night as soon as I would let her (I had to wake her up to feed her from the beginning), but she hated eating.  It wasn’t just breastfeeding–we tried giving her pumped milk from a bottle, a spoon, and even a little medicine cup, and later from sippy and straw cups, and she just did not want it.  Ever.  I had to force feed her at every feeding, and by nine months, our supportive, pro-breastfeeding pediatrician strongly recommended supplementing with formula because she was on the verge of becoming a “failure to thrive” baby.  And Wil, though he started off a little better, was a very distracted, feisty, wiggly eater–but he was the happiest, most low-maintenance baby, who never cried unless something was actually wrong, the rest of the time.  Nursing Kaylie under a cover (I won’t nurse without one in public–personal preference) was difficult, but impossible with Wil, who would refuse to eat until he’d pulled it off of me.  From early on, in the evening, Wil wanted more milk than I was producing, and after a few months of pumping for half an hour every morning to make up for it (usually with a screaming baby and a whining toddler in the background), I ended up supplementing his evening breastfeeding session with a few ounces of formula so I could spend my morning with my kids.  And I decided not long after that (around eight months, I think) to replace two breastfeeding sessions a day with bottlefeeding instead, because he kept biting me (OW!) (he did quit biting me after that–I think he was just bored).  And now, we’re pretty sure he has FPIES (we’re seeing a specialist next month), because he spends the rest of the day vomiting any time he eats anything with grain (rice, oat, or otherwise), so feeding him in general is just an enormous struggle.  So, yeah, breastfeeding is hard sometimes.

Yes, breastfeeding is the most natural and best way to feed your baby, and you should absolutely try to do it.  But if it isn’t easy, you aren’t alone.  Keep trying!  And read #2 below.

2. You need support.  Parenting in general is hard.  But you know what makes it easier?  Finding people to keep in your life that you can go to with questions and for advice–and I feel like this holds doubly true for breastfeeding.  In a culture where formula-feeding is the norm, giving up on breastfeeding when it’s hard can seem like the most logical option.  Surrounding yourself with other mothers, especially mothers currently breastfeeding and likely going through many of the same struggles as you are, is reassuring and encouraging.  Adding in a lactation consultant or two sure helps, too.  The hospital where I had Kaylie had a fantastic nursing moms group that met once a week at the hospital, hosted by at least one lactation consultant every week.  We all sat and chatted and asked questions (of the consultant and of each other, about breastfeeding and everything else) and nursed our babies if they were hungry (and there was a scale to weigh our babies on, if weight gain was a concern).  Being able to sit with a lactation consultant once a week and talk about Kaylie’s issues, and hear from other moms that they were struggling, too, made a huge difference.  It gave me what I needed to keep going another week, and another, and another.  (And it also facilitated finding baby friends for playdates!)

You can ask at your local hospital about a nursing moms group, or find one through La Leche League.  If you’re breastfeeding (or planning t0), I strongly recommend that you try connecting with one of these groups!

3. It’s okay to kind of hate it.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s a hassle.  It sucks (and bites, figuratively and literally).

A lot of moms rave about how breastfeeding is this profound bonding experience for them and their babies.  I didn’t ever get that.  For me, it was always a fight with my babies, which isn’t exactly conducive to “bonding”.  I found my bonding moments elsewhere, and that’s fine.  It’s okay if breastfeeding is something less enjoyable and profound for you than it is for someone else, because every baby and every mom is different.  You aren’t a bad mom if you don’t like breastfeeding.

Also, I couldn’t lose weight past a certain point while breastfeeding.  And with Wil, I can’t eat broccoli and cauliflower (two of my favorite vegetables) or Pizza Hut pizza (my second favorite food of all time).  Well, couldn’t–I know what I’m adding to next week’s dinner menu now that I’m done!!  Bottom line, for some of us, breastfeeding entails more cons than pros, and it’s okay to recognize that and not really like it.

4. Parenting is about sacrifice.  It’s okay that it’s hard, and it’s okay to kind of hate it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try your damnedest to do it.  Parenting is about sacrificing what’s convenient and comfortable for you, in favor of what’s best for your kids.  So, no matter how many cons breastfeeding has, the one pro that matters is that breastmilk is what is healthiest for your baby.  I am proud that I can say that I successfully breastfed both of my kids past eleven and a half months (even if it did include supplemented formula).  It was hard, but I did it.

But you know what else your baby needs?  Sane parents.  So while I strongly encourage all moms to try their hardest to breastfeed, I also know that it isn’t always an option.  I have had friends whose milk never came in (despite weeks of pumping, herbs, and working with a lactation consultant), who have had severe mastitis, or whose babies would only take bottles (so they spent hours every day pumping).  Sometimes, it just doesn’t work, or making it work is just so stressful that your baby isn’t getting what else he needs from you.  Yes, try to breastfeed; but recognize that there is a point (and it’s different for everyone) at which the sacrifice that you need to make is the hope of breastfeeding.  What your baby needs most is not breastmilk; it’s you.  You need to be available to love on your baby, and you can’t do that if you are too stressed or tired or too busy pumping.  You aren’t a bad mom for giving your baby formula when you need to; if the struggle of breastfeeding is taking pieces of you away from your baby, then giving that up is the best thing you can do, and you are a fantastic mom.

5. Products I like.  I’m gonna wrap this up with a few thoughts on what you need (or don’t) to facilitate breastfeeding, because if you’re new at this (or about to start), then you probably have no idea what’s what (I sure didn’t). 🙂

Get a  pump.  Even if you don’t expect to use it.  I have the Medela Swing, and I love it.  It’s perfect for moms who expect to get moderate use from their pumps: it pumps one side at a time, and you can plug it in or run it on batteries.  If you are planning to pump regularly or even exclusively, it’s worth looking into one of the double models (like the Pump in Style, for daily use, or the Freestyle, for mobile use).  If you plan to stay at home and breastfeed exclusively, I’d still recommend getting a manual pump (like this one), because 1) you will be shocked at how huge and uncomfortable and leaky your breasts get when your milk first comes in, and you may need to pump for comfort; 2) you may one day find yourself in a situation where you have to skip a feeding (like when I was re-hospitalized a week after delivery with preeclampsia and had to spend the night away from my baby–or, you know, date nights and such), and you will need to pump for your own comfort and/or to keep your milk supply up; and 3) it never hurts to pump a little extra (especially when your milk first comes in) to freeze in case of emergency (or baby-sitter).  I used my Medela Swing only occasionally when I was nursing Kaylie, but it saw a lot more use with Wil (I used it all weekend of Dragon*Con when he tagged along with me at two months old, where he did much better drinking pumped milk from a bottle than breastfeeding under a cover, and then I used it daily for a few months when I was pumping in the morning because he was drinking more than I was producing in the evening), and it has held up quite well.  I have no complaints with it whatsoever, and would highly recommend it.

Obviously, you’ll need nursing bras.  But here’s the problem: when you’re pregnant and have time to shop, you have literally no idea what size you’re going to need.  Your boobs are going to get HUGE when your milk comes in, and that’s going to last for at least two or three days.  After that, your girls are going to be fluctuating in size every month, week, day, and, sometimes, hour.  It’s ridiculous.  So my two cents is to avoid nursing bras that go by cup sizes, and go for one like this one.  At the very least, get one without cups and that stretches for that first week (or month).  Beyond that, if you have the money to spend on multiple bras in multiple sizes, go for it, but I’m too cheap for that–I have three of the ones I linked, and that’s all I’ve used while nursing both my kids.  It’s comfortable, it’s easy to unclasp and re-clasp at feedings, and it works for me.

There are, like, a million kinds of  nursing pads.  I like these ones.  Unlike some of the flimsier options, these ones absorb a lot and I’ve never once had a problem with leakage through the pad.  Each pad also has an adhesive strip to hold it in place inside your bra, but they stay in place fairly well even without using it (I never used it, because I reuse the pads all day if I’m not leaking, and it seemed annoying to adhere it to the bra only to take it out for feedings and put it back multiple times a day).

You may need nipple cream in the beginning.  A friend recommended Lansinoh before I had Kaylie, but I hated it–it was thick and didn’t spread easily; when you’re dealing with the sore and bleeding aftermath of a bad latch (which can take weeks to recover from), the last thing you want is something that you have to really work to rub in.  I got a sample of this Motherlove stuff in the hospital, and loved it–and I had to use quite a bit in Kaylie’s early nursing days (she was not good at breastfeeding, guys).  I bought more when I had Wil, but he at least figured out his latch a little better, and I didn’t use it as often.  I also tried a Medela sample that the hospital here sent me home with after Wil, and it was almost as good as the Motherlove, but I never needed to buy more, so my experience with the Medela was very limited.

While it’s becoming more culturally acceptable to nurse in public, I was personally uncomfortable with the idea of flashing the world (especially since nursing Kaylie was such a battle–she spent more time off the breast than on at every feeding), so a nursing cover was a necessity for me.  (Some moms can get away with throwing a blanket over their shoulder, but every time I’ve tried it, that thing comes down within seconds; those moms must have babies who are better, calmer eaters than mine ever were.)  I stumbled upon a promo code for a free nursing cover from Udder Covers, and for the price of shipping ($11.95–which was less than the nursing covers I’d been looking at in stores), I got a very functional cover that I used quite often with Kaylie.  The biggest pro is that it had a wire insert along the top so that it arced away from my collarbone, which meant that I could look down at Kaylie while she nursed and it wasn’t as claustrophobic for her.  The biggest con was that it, like most nursing covers, leaves your back exposed if you hike up your shirt to nurse (yeah, I’m too cheap to buy “nursing shirts”).  As I faced the prospect of nursing/pumping at Dragon*Con last year, I wanted something that would cover my back, too, since I anticipated needing it while waiting in line for panels, so I bought a yard of brown knit fabric and used this tutorial to make my own nursing shawl.  Wil hated eating under either cover equally, but the shawl was great to pump under.  I’d recommend either option to anyone, with the word of warning that some babies just won’t nurse under a cover (like Wil).  Udder Covers regularly offers the deal I got; you can usually find the promo code in several of the baby magazines you end up getting mailed constantly after you register for baby stuff (or check online).

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you rock.  Even if it’s hard.  Especially if it’s hard.  You’re not alone, and it does end.  And when it does, you can look back at the battle you’ve fought with pride, knowing that you did the best you could for your baby.  And then you can celebrate with a drink or two, and all the foods that gave him gas. 🙂

 


Corn Flake Chicken.

This is my very favorite chicken recipe.

Corn flake chicken.

Corn flake chicken.

I’m a picky eater.  I don’t actually like meat (of any kind).  But this chicken dish is all crunch and garlic powder, which overtakes the chicken taste, and I love it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients.

Ingredients.

  • 1 lb thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • 2 cups corn flakes
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 stick butter

Preheat the oven to 350.

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Start by grinding up two cups of corn flakes.  My method is to dump them into a pie plate…

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…and use a bowl (like a mortar and pestle) to grind them.

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How finely you want to grind them is up to you; I try to avoid too much powder, but don’t leave any flakes whole.

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Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper, to taste.  I like a lot of garlic powder.  (Like, a lot.  Picture clouds of pale powder puffing up as I toss the flakes to mix it all up.  So. Good.)

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Mix the spices thoroughly into the corn flakes.

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Melt the stick of butter in a bowl or shallow dish.  (I melt it in the bowl I used as a pestle for the corn flakes; I’m all about fewer dirty dishes!)

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Next, set up your assembly line!

I intentionally use thin-sliced chicken for this recipe because I like the corn flake-to-chicken ratio to be as high as possible.  I’ve tried it with larger chicken breasts, and it just isn’t as good!  I’ve stopped buying thin-sliced for everything else, to save money, but this one is worth the higher price.

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Dip (and submerge) each piece of chicken into the butter.

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Coat it with the corn flake mixture.  (I roll it around a few times, then pile corn flakes on top of each side and press them into the chicken to get as much as possible to stick!)

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Arrange the coated chicken in the baking dish.

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Once they’re arranged, I sprinkle any remaining corn flakes over the whole dish, and pour a little bit of the leftover butter in for good measure (I love butter…).

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Pop it in the oven, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

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Done!

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Delicious golden goodness…

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Corn Flake Chicken

  • 1 lb thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • 2 cups corn flakes, ground
  • ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix corn flakes, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in shallow dish.
  3. Dip chicken in butter, then coat in corn flake mixture.
  4. Arrange coated chicken in baking dish.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

 


Library remodel.

Sorry for the lull in posts lately–Kaylie had VBS every day last week, which threw our usual schedule through a loop, and my brother moved in with us, so our lives got flipped upside-down a little bit.  We’re adjusting. 🙂

I think we’re long overdue for some pictures of my favorite remodeling project in our new house: my library!

I have quite a few books.  We had three cheap bookshelves–two tall, one short–back in Indiana, and my books had long ago overflowed their allotted space by the time we decided to move to Atlanta.  So after I packed up my books, I sold my itty-bitty cheap-o bookshelves at a garage sale so we’d have to buy nicer, bigger bookshelves in Atlanta.  Once we bought our house, we decided to hire someone to build us custom shelves in the basement bedroom.

So here are a couple of before pictures:

From the listing, before we bought the house.

From the listing, before we bought the house.

Before we built our shelves.

And before we built our shelves.

We hit a small snag in our plans when we had a pipe burst in our laundry room…we had water damage all the way into the bedroom closet.  We had to deal with that before we could install the shelves, but they were worth the wait!

Empty shelves.

Empty shelves.

The shelves on the wall with the window extend all the way to the corners of the room for extra space (which I’ve already begun to fill).  And we asked for lights over the bench under the window, for a reading nook!  I have yet to make a cushion for the bench, but that will happen eventually.

Sorting the first eleven boxes.

Sorting the first eleven boxes.

I had eleven boxes of books, plus about another boxful distributed randomly among other boxes as I either found books out of place or bought more after packing the ones on/near the shelves.  And then my dad passed along another three boxes of books I’d offered to take when they pared down to move into their RV (I think I have more on the way, too!).

Organized!

Organized!

We also installed new blinds, since the old ones wouldn’t close all the way and were about to fall off of the wall.  We figured my brother would appreciate working blinds in “his” room, since this is where he’ll be living while he’s with us.

Sometimes I come down here and stare at them.  So. Pretty.

Sometimes I come down here and just stare at them. So. Pretty.

I’d love to bore you with my organizational system, but I’ll spare you.  I’m quite proud of it, and very happy with my new library! 🙂