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Lyra Turns Two | Birthdays on Land

Our youngest munchkin turned two.

Cora had been eagerly awaiting Lyra's birthday for months. She was ecstatic when I announced that it was officially time to decorate. 

We hung signs to direct our guests to our new home.

And unfurled a Feliz Cumpleaños banner as well.

Thank you, Veronica, for sending us the banner!

Mele brought the all-important piñata, and Lyra fell in love.

There was still more decorating to do. Mele helped hang the banner you see behind Ella and Renée here:

Ella, Renée, and Mele. I'm lucky to have all of these women in my life.

See those colored paper skulls on the tops of those shelves?

The skulls are a free printable by New Zealand artist Lorna Love. You can snag the pdf here. A huge thanks to Amanda and Corinne for helping me cut and assemble them over dinner one night.

Oh, and that little fabric bunting? You can get one at my Etsy shop, Blue Cora.

My brother Rich came before the festivities; he made two of the most exquisite trifles for Lyra's party.

The girls "helping."

Soon the guests started to arrive. The piñata signaled they had found the right place.

We put the chips and salsa bar inside and the drinks bar outside. The chips, beans, and salsa were a clear success:

Lyra soon discovered that there was endless access to ice chips out by the drinks. She spent the rest of the party occupied with the ice.

Many of the children were excited about the ice and lemonade. Here Daisy multi-tasks by coloring while sipping. Genius:

Daisy's sister, Millie, liked our Women in Science collage, not surprising since her own mother is a world-famous glaciologist.

Women in Science, Minimalist Posters, by the artist Hydrogene.

Millie also pointed out that refraction in the picture below looked like Saturn.

Rock on, little scientist, rock on.

And while we are on this trio of fabulous sisters, the eldest sister, Zoë, volunteered to help serve the trifle.

Wonderful sisters, those girls. Psssst, that is their mom, Helen, in the background, left.

Their dad, Glyn, is on the right. He just launched New Flag, a company selling a new wide-body, rigid, inflatable catamaran. It looks awesome, too.

This is Melvin, baby Estella, and Alexis. Melvin is a postdoctoral fellow at UCSD. Alexis has a doctorate in music, is a professional musician, and is the co-host of The Dig Podcast.

One of the wonderful things about getting older is that you start to know some truly interesting people.

I wasn't able to take photos of all the guests, but here are some action shots:

Eric and Gray. Glyn in the background.

Me, Kristine, and that gorgeous baby.

Joseph and Marci, hamming it up.

Veronica, me, Lyra, Cora, Krister, baby Kai, and Amanda.

Me and the consistently fabulous, Kaye!

Left to right: Sacha, Zoë, Millie, Ella, Miles, Helen, Amanda, Krister, Kai, and Monique.

Mele helped me roll up the carpet in the living room and push the table to the wall. This gave us a spot for kids to color and chill, room for grown ups to chat, and babies to play.

Baby Estella holds court beside her mama, Alexis.

Left to right: Maya, Frankie, Tuti, Cora, and Sandee

We had truly perfect weather that day. While the rest of the country was freezing, our friends came in shorts and sun dresses.

Goddamn, I love this city.

Dan and Renée play with their boys Leo and Xavier.

It's the middle of February and we're all putting on sunscreen.

No big deal.

Cora and Lyra playing chase and showing their boundless love for Mele.

The guys talking about the Ruckus.

Baby Miles in awe of how close the airplanes get.

We didn't serve cake. No, our dessert was a trifle more awesome.

(YouSeeWhatIDidThere, RIGHT?)

My sweet, sweet, crazy little Lyra.

In that moment, she was serenaded by dozens of friends.

Friends who sang to her with love. I'm so grateful for their friendship. These are our friends. Friends who have been our friends for a long, long time. I think even little two year old Lyra could feel how special that moment was.

I won't forget the Happy Birthday song that day.

Lyra's party dress is handmade by Veronica of Alexa Idolina on Etsy.

After the cake, Lyra went directly back to walking around with a 'big-kid' cup and chewing on ice.

And then we busted out the piñata.

I would love to tell you that all of these kids got a chance to whack that thing.

But it isn't true.

Lyra got a try.

And Cora had a go.

The wee Daisy had a turn.

And then, noob-piñata-parents that we are, an older kid skipped ahead of the smaller kids still waiting.

And he tore that puppy apart.

It took Sacha exactly two swings to knock that donkey to kingdom-come. I think the kids who didn't get a turn were sad for about one millisecond.

Like zombies digging in for BRAINS, the kids forgot their tears and dug deep for a taste of that candy.

As the party wound down I tried to get one, JUST ONE, photo of our whole family.

....These are the results:

Okay, nope.



Eric and Cora were incahoots for the NOPE factor.

Dammit, Eric.

Still a NOPE. Little Vincent has now joined to officially photobomb us too <3

Still a NOPE.

I think this is our least amount of NOPE. 

So it goes.

It was a wonderful day. I was thoroughly exhausted when it was all said and done. Exhausted, happy, and grateful. 

Thanks, friends for making it a wonderful day.

Party over. Clean up done. Only six more months until the next one!


This Moment ~ Eating at the "Restaurant" 

{This Moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see. 

Happy Weekend!

I'm so in love with our back yard. It's big, shaded, safe & secure. The girls can play for hours outside.


The 'This Moment' movement is via SouleMama. You can view all my 'This Moments' here.


Picture Gallery Wall: COMPLETE! | Landlubber Life

{ Part one of this project can be found here. }

Ta da!!!! Lyra loves showing off the final product. 

Jumping right in from where my last post left off:

Once I had all the frames up on the wall, and remember, each frame was marked with blue tape and a number, I took careful pictures again. This time my goal was to be able to remember where the frames would go once they were all spray painted. I had to be very exact with my my numbering so I'd know which frame was which.

Next: I took all the frames down and did several things as part of this step. 

  1. Cleaned both the frames and the glass.
  2. Made sure that there was a piece of blue painter's tape on the glass of each frame and on the back of the frame too (numbers corresponding.) That way I could re-unite the correct glass with the correct frame once I had spray painted them.
  3. Measured each frame and made a list of sizes so I'd know how many pictures of which size to order.

This process was long and tedious.

It was made better by listening to multiple episodes of my friend Alexis' podcast called The Dig, and also lots of coffee. TONS of coffee.

^^Note my blood on the bottom left. That's right, baby, blood, sweat, and tears on this project.

Okay. No tears. Well, sorta. And blood only because I got inattentive while cleaning all the glass and sliced my thumb. Weeeeeeee!

But the notes above do show that I had to count not only the various sizes of frames I had, but whether or not I would need to find a picture that was oriented for the portrait or landscape position.

While I initially thought that I'd paint the frames an assortment of colors, I'll be the first to admit that this project was time consuming and I was ready to cut corners where able. I knew that all my chosen photos would be appropriately colorful enough, so I decided to just paint all the frames white and save time and money. 

I've never spray painted before. Holy addicting, Batman! The tutorials I read suggested spray painting frame by frame in a box like this but I disagree, total pain in the ass.

I ditched the box and just laid all the frames out on butcher paper and went to town.

I ended up doing about four coats of paint, or more correctly, I spray painted them twice, doing two coats in each session. For all the frames on both walls I used two cans of spray paint.

Total project cost so far? $8.00.

Crafty McCrafterson!

I put all the finished frames back up on the wall while I took a few days to sort through our digital photos and decide which ones to display. I say this casually, "sort through all our digital photos."  

It was a total mind-fuck.

I asked Eric to send me photos that he wanted up on the wall too, and we both went through our albums on the same night. It was hard. It is constantly hard to re-live last year in any way, and it's bittersweet to see the years that built up to last April too.

When Eric had finished and emailed me his choices, he came up to the office, hugged me, and asked me if I was okay. I poured another glass of wine and we both unplugged from pictures, computers, and the internet after that.

It took me awhile to go back to the project, but I did, and it was worth it.

With Eric's photo list and mine in hand, I started trying to figure out which photos would be best suited to fit the 8"x10", 5"x7", 4"x6", or 3"x5" frames, and of course, how to balance that with the landscape versus portrait orientation of the already planned gallery wall design.

Using coupons for both sites, I spent $30 total at Snapfish for the majority of my prints, and $5.30 at Nation's Photo to order a few 3"x5" ones, which apparently, are not that fashionable to print anymore (a ton of online places don't offer the option to print that size now).

That put the final cost for this project at: $43.70. NICE.

It was time for the final push. All assembled I had:

  1. A flat-head screwdriver for reassembling the backs of picture frames.
  2. Blue painter's tape (for the random frames with no backing.)
  3. A paper cutter (for cutting my own DIY matting).
  4. Scotch tape to really press things down.
  5. Spare white paper for impromptu matting.
  6. Coffee.
  7. Podcasts.
  8. A sugar-high's worth of meringues. (Trust me, I ate more than pictured).

It was on.

I laid out the largest photos first, the 8"x10"s. Once I had sorted where those went on each wall I laid out the remaining 5"x7"s, 4"x6"s, and the teeny-tiny 3"x5"s.

It took awhile but a theme of one wall being devoted to just our nuclear family and one wall with mixed photos of family and friends emerged.

I had to keep in mind what Eric had asked for and what I wanted. And within that I contemplated what I wanted to show on the wall. I wanted an equal amount of photos of the girls. I wanted to have photos of me with the girls and Eric with the girls. I wanted photos of our wedding and photos of the girls as tiny babies too. We both had photos from our time in Mexico and our years sailing.

My brother, Rich, escorting me down the aisle. Catalina Island, November 2008.

I remember as a girl looking at my own parents' wedding photos and thinking what a beautiful bride my mother was and how strangely young both my mom and dad were. They were people I didn't know. And the girls won't "know "us either at this age, at least not with a grown-up mind set. I want them to see that our wedding and our marriage are important and that we value them, as we value our children. I hope the photos I selected show them that.


Step by step, here's how it turned out:

The girls are thrilled and are constantly pointing at and talking about all the photos.

Two final steps and these are important.

Remember that earthquakes happen (and so do determined children who want to knock frames off of the wall out of curiosity.) I needed to secure all the frames so they wouldn't fall during an earthquake. The stairs are our primary egress for an emergency. I didn't want our path to be strewn with broken glass.

Instead, I used small squares of Command strips on the back corners of the frames and pushed each frame against the wall while I simultaneously used a level to make sure each frame was even. (<----that's the second step.)

Ba da BOOM. It feels so good. So incredibly good, to have one project completely done.

And it looks great too!

Happy crafting, thrifting, and DIY-ing within your budget! Whoohooo! 


Picture Gallery Wall in a rental, on a budget | Landlubber Life

{ The final part of this project can be found here. }

There are about eight billion pins on Pinterest that can inspire you to create your own picture gallery wall. 

The beautiful, spray-painted frames on this map gallery wall inspired me to get started on my own for our new apartment. (Pic via Running From the Law).

We are operating on exactly ZERO for a decorating budget in the new apartment, so I must get crafty and thrifty to achieve my goals.


I scored this box of old picture frames from a wonderful woman in my local Buy Nothing Group. I didn't know if I would use ALL of them, so I promised the rest of the group that I would re-offer those I didn't use back to the Buy Nothing Group to keep the giving going (and I just recently passed on about 10 I had left. Yay for the circle of giving!)

All told, I had that large box of assorted, vintage frames and a handful of my own frames that my brother had stored away, albeit unbeknownst to me, but I can't tell you how happy I was to have them back. I got to see oldie-but-goodie photos I had framed from yesteryear like these:

First step? Look at the eight billion aforementioned pins on Pinterest for some idea of how I'd do my own gallery wall.

First flight of stairs.

Second flight of stairs.

I wanted the frames to go up both flights of stairs and to follow the angle of the stair handle to keep things nice and flowing.

The girls helped me take measurements.

I had to keep in mind that I didn't want any frame to be so low that my youngest (just turned two) could reach up and poke at the glass, and also not forget to put frames too high (there was no way I was going to try to get a ladder onto the stairs for those hard-to-reach heights.)

The handsome, helpful man who is my husband made a rudimentary compass for me and then determined the angle of each stairway handrail. I then translated that angle onto the floors in the living room with some blue painters tape.

Representation of first flight of stairs.

Representation of second flight of stairs.

The blue tape length represents the length of the hand rail I was following, and the marks of blue tape above and below on each side represent the section of area I would fill with frames.

I spent time arranging and re-arranging each "wall". The end results for each flight of stairs are above and below.


Next step? Put blue tape on each frame and number them one by one.

Then I needed to take pictures of the numbered frames in place on the floor so I could translate their positions upon the wall. 

Moving on. Time to recreate the blue line of tape, and the same angle of the stair rails onto each wall. Once both lines were up, I brought my laptop with the pictures onto the stairwell and started hanging. 

NOTE: There are a lot of "how-to's" on doing gallery walls. Find a method that works for you. I have a pretty keen sense of space and knew I could more or less recreate the way I had arranged the frames on the floor in the living room and kitchen if I could just see the photos I had taken earlier.

And I was right:


Now I had all of the frames up on the wall and numbered. I had the photographs for when I took the frames down to carefully clean them and spray paint them and I felt like a bad ass for getting halfway through a project that I knew would turn out beautifully if I just persevered.

Onward and upward!!

Part two coming soon, and will include:

- Cleaning all the frames and glass

- Spray painting all the frames

- Ordering prints

- Re-hanging frames so they are level and secured to wall 


This Moment ~ Tea with Sisters

{This Moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see. 

Happy Weekend!

My last 'This Moment' post was on May 29, 2013. Time to remedy that. And yes, today is Saturday and these normally post on Friday, but I'm a rebel like that. Welcome back, This Moment.

The 'This Moment' movement is via SouleMama.