Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

On Being, On Family

Merry & Bright

Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season!

So far, our holiday has been a bit out of the ordinary. A wrench was thrown in our plans to celebrate with my side of the family when Quil broke out in chicken pox (on the heels of Ellis just getting over it) so instead of spending this past weekend with family, we spent most of the time being holed up. But I’m a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason” and the past few weeks have been go, go, go, between making gifts for everyone all the while trying to focus on myself and the path that I’m on. There’s a been a lot of slate cleaning that comes with the end of one year and the start of another. Lots of gears turning and check boxes being checked and lists to keep track of my lists. I think this little wrench in our plans was actually the Universe’s way of telling me to slow my roll and enjoy the scenery because it’s the best at this time of the year and it always seems to go by so fast. If you blink you’ll might miss something good.  (more…)


We love encouraging our kids to be creative, especially when it comes to gifts. They are still so young so many of these gifts are collaborations between parents and kids, which I love! One day, they won’t need my help. But I’m hoping they will still want it!

Quil draws or paints almost every day, so we always have a ton of paper with drawing and marks on them. So, I decided to take it up a notch and create something special together by helping him turn a drawing into an embroidered piece of art. The picture above is what we made for Quil’s Grammy last Christmas. Excuse the terrible embroidered text on there that is supposed to say “Q 2012” but looks more like “2022” ha!

Mind you, this is not a completely novel idea. Just search “Embroidered Kid Art” on Google and you will come up with endless posts. A lot of them involve transferring from paper to fabric, but I just had Quil draw directly onto the fabric. Maybe if your kid is older and makes really detailed and clearly representational images, it would be best to start with paper so they have more control, but Quil is still in the scribble phase, so directly on the fabric works for us. Or if you have an image they already created and love and think is worthy of saving in embroidered form, transfer is obviously the way to go.

Color, line and shape were the things I followed when embroidering over his marks. It’s a simple concept, but we learned a thing or two after our first try. (more…)

If you have lots of little humans in your life, legwarmers are great gifts that work up quick, and are fun and unique. When I first started knitting and crocheting, like most beginners, I didn’t work much outside the realm of scarves. They are simple and easy, but there are only so many winter scarves a person needs. However, legwarmers are a little out of the ordinary unless you are a dancer. And there are so many different ways styles and patterns you can make, but they still look cool and work well when they are really simple.


On Being, On Family

Giving Thanks

I hope everyone had a great holiday break! For me, it was a nice to just hang out with the family (immediate and extended), crochet, eat, fall asleep in front of the fireplace, and not think about anything else. I’m still easing back into reality with emails and other things to catch up on, but my mind is still in break mode. I thought this would be a good chance to talk about the things I’m thankful for, since that’s what one is supposed to do during this month of November.  (more…)

Above: An unfinished project that Andrew started for Q a couple years ago, that didn’t turn out as planned.



Today I intend to focus on the things Andrew and I discussed this morning in regards to what we wanted to do today, which includes finishing the yard clean up in preparation for winter. This includes gathering the rest of the leaves, putting the pizza oven away (sad!), filling the raised beds with leaf mulch, and putting away any garden supplies and structures. I also have to finish updates to a website project I’m working on and also go to the craft store for supplies to finish a craft project for a friend who’s expecting. There are other mundane items on my list, but my main intention other than focusing on these items, is to be happy with what I can get done and not stress about things that I can’t. Also, I intend to continue trying to be agile in my approach to projects knowing that things aren’t always going to work out how I plan. Especially when kids are involved. I can already anticipate that the yard project will end with the kids and I back inside the house before the work is done, because that’s just how it goes sometimes. I also intend to spend a little time researching future education possibilities for the kiddos. More on that later as well!

Above: Q + E doing their thing in the garden.
Above: Andrew preparing the leafmould.
Above: Little E laying in a leaf pile. Luckily, we don’t have an issue with ticks.
Above: Mushrooms growing in our garden. Dad coming over tomorrow to take a look, since I know nothing about mushrooms.
Above: All bedded down for winter. The only thing we’re still harvesting is the tall kale in the middle on the left.

Above: Showing Q how to jack up a pizza oven. Moving it to the barn for the winter.

Above: E being a huge help.

Above: Lunchtime. I never thought I’d see the day. Two kids, feeding themselves.

Above: Harira over brown rice. Recipe here.



Project Yard Clean Up for Winter was a success! The kids were amazingly well-behaved and in good spirits most of the time. I imagine it was because the weather was so nice and they were able to run around outside comfortably. We got everything and more done from our yard project list, all before noon. So I’d call that a double success. I got a lot of stuff done, but not everything I had hoped. But I’m okay. I still feel good about what I got done, so that fulfills one of the main intentions for today, to not stress about what I didn’t get done and just be happy with what I did. I was thinking this morning, that when I think of these intentions and reflections and just a lot of my inward looking from a different perspective, it looks like a whole lot of hoopla for relatively ordinary things. You know? Like, why does it have to be such a big deal to just get ordinary stuff done? But one of the things I realized really early on in this process is that it’s all about awareness. Being aware of how I spend my time. Am I spending a lot of my time just spinning my wheels and doing busy work or stressing or avoiding? Or am I actually doing constructive work that is moving me forward towards my goals? I feel like I’ve been spending these first two weeks just finding time. Literally, like it’s something that is lost or misplaced. I remember having it at one point, but don’t remember when it went missing. By analyzing everything I do, I feel like I’m retracing my steps. Finding my way back to being motivated and inspired to do the things Andrew and I have always imagined we’d do.

Past Posts
Week 2 Mantra: I Have a Plan – Day 1
Mantra: Reflections on Week 1
Introduction to Creative/Life Coaching


Since the little ones came along, we’ve really been putting effort into creating family traditions for them to look forward to every year. With Ellis being so young, we decided to start with something fun and simple this year – making fingerprint ornaments for us and the Grandparents.

This idea actually came from an ornament that my younger sister, Flora, made at school when she was little. One of my other sisters found it amongst my parents decorations and thought it be fun to make with our own kids. They turned out super cute!

However, these weren’t as easy as we’d hope. I think it mainly had to do with their age. As the kids get older, I imagine it will get easier but it was actually quite difficult to get fingerprints from a 4 month old! Less so from Q, who is rounding on 3 years pretty soon. But still not quite as easy as I’d hoped. Ellis’ hands just kept grasping my fingers and the ink would get everywhere and smear. Quil would just push super hard on the paper so his fingerprints were just blobs! Plus, both their prints are soooo tiny. It was hard to get a clearly defined print. I also think we didn’t use the best ink pad, so the actual pattern from their fingerprints weren’t really distinct.

Next year, we’ll experiment more to find what ink and paper combo works best. But if you want to give it a try, these are the supplies you’ll need:

  • ink pad (washable, non-toxic, child-safe ink) – preferably in a light enough color that you’ll be able to see the lines when you draw on top of the fingerprint. We used a grey.
  • multiple sheets of cardstock – a patterned background sheet is optional
  • wooden drapery rings – you can get these usually at a craft store like Joann Fabrics or Michaels or Hobby Lobby
  • ribbon – thin enough to fit through the eyelets of the drapery rings
  • archival ink pens – I used a Micron .05 pen for the black details, and felt tip pens for the holly
  • glue

We started off by just doing a bunch of fingerprints of each kid all over the sheets of the cardstock. We figured it would just be easier to center them after the fact, rather than try to get the kids to place their fingers perfectly in the center of a small circle. I used Ellis’ thumb since her fingers are microscopic. And Quil used his index finger.

Be sure that you leave enough space around each fingerprint so that it can be mounted onto the drapery ring. This is why I had to use the patterned paper on Ellis’ portrait. I accidentally had the particular fingerprint I wanted to use too close to one of the others. This resulted in a paper circle not big enough to mount on the drapery ring. To remedy this, I cut out around the fingerprint I wanted to use and, with a mounting square, affixed it to a larger circle cut from the decorative paper. I then mounted that larger circle onto the drapery ring.

After the fingerprints were dry, we chose the best ones and used this book as inspiration for drawing creatures. I chose the snail for Ellis and an owl for Quil. I also did simple portraits of each of the kids with their respective prints.

Cut around your drawing making sure it’s big enough to glue onto the drapery ring. We then wrote the kids’ names on the back with the year, applied glue around the front edge of your circle, then attached it to the drapery ring. Add your ribbon and you’re done! Here are all of ours:

We hope to do this with them every year and eventually have them do the drawings themselves. I probably will look forward to this tradition more than they will!


[Instagram photo I took of things that inspire me]

With the zombie apocalypse forever on the horizon, my sister, Maria, and I have already decided on our rendezvous point if such a thing should ever occur. Obviously, we say this all in good fun. But it actually got me thinking about things… 

At night, laying in bed, I’ve been thinking: What if some sort of catastrophic event were to happen near us? What would we grab before we made our mad dash to our “rendezvous point? I’ve thought about this multiple nights in a row, always considering things like, “maybe we should grab all our shoes, because those things will wear out quick when you’re constantly on the move.” or “I should probably grab my supply of frozen breast milk just in case something were to happen to me, Andrew would be able to feed Ellis.” Finally, one night I turned to Andrew and asked him what he thought. And his answer was simply: “the kids.” Which then got me thinking more…

So with this new year upon us, and everyone high on the prospects of new beginnings and resolutions for the year to come, I’ve decided to jump on this ol’ bandwagon and make a couple of my own.

My first “resolution” is based on Andrew’s simple, honest, and sensible answer to my nonsensical question. This is the year that I really start taking a hard look at the things that matter and only accumulate/consume/surround myself with things that are useful and inspirational. I hesitate to use the term “minimal” because it doesn’t really fit me, rather I’m going to lean towards the term “meaningful.” I’m tired of thinking about things and stuff and where it goes. Or where it will go in the future. I give up on meaningless stuff!

Which leads me to my next resolution: To be more present and, ultimately, more patient. With myself, with Andrew, with the kids, with the pace of our lives, and with all those things I see on the horizon but can’t quite make out clearly. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to Andrew in the past, “I feel like we’re always waiting. When do we get to start our lives?” – to which Andrew always replies, “We already have!” And he’s right. So this year, I resolve to stop waiting.

Oh and to blog more :)

What are you resolving to do this year?

I totally forgot that I never posted about this! Most likely because it happened during the worst drought of blogging that we’ve had yet. Slowly, things from that period are coming back to me that I wanted to post about but never got to.

Around Thanksgiving of last year my family decided that we wanted to start taking yearly photos of all the Grandkids. We figured Thanksgiving is really the most reliable time to take the portraits since we are all together. My brother, Tom, was the one who had the idea of taking the portraits and how they should be shot (he also handled the color correcting of the pictures.) Between my brother and I we tag teamed taking the photos and making sure the lighting was sufficient. With the help of sisters and husbands and grandparents we were able to wrangle this gang long enough to get decent shots.

I think they turned out really beautiful (though I am bias) and really show the personality of each kid. Falcon with his boyish, yet silly attitude (top row, far right). Arwen with a bruise on her chin (middle row, far left). Q looking like a deer in headlights with a cut on his nose. This year we’ll be adding another portrait of my sister’s new baby, Sofie, who was born in April.

Hooray for growing!


I’m movie making crazy! Just try to stop me. I was feeling inspired and decided to go ahead and make a Q’s Christmas video AND a Q’s First Birthday video. I’m only going to post the Christmas video today since I need something to post about tomorrow (ha!) so I’ll save the Birthday video for then. See how I keep you coming back for more? Bwuahahaha… sorry. I’m tired.

So, in the meantime, enjoy!

Music: “Ghost” by Gregory and the Hawk


I figured I’d post about a couple Christmas gifts I made this past year. This weather is crazy. But I guess I shouldn’t expect anything different since it’s Ohio and we go through this every year.

I realize Christmas is long over. Maybe next year I will post in a more timely manner. But I won’t hold my breath. Anyways! On to gifts!

Many many years ago, a friend and I started crocheting together and we went through a phase of making granny squares. Our grand plan was to make a ton of squares, and through our combined effort, a blanket of granny squares for each of us. Long story short, this didn’t happen and all these years I’ve been holding onto these squares. Until this past Christmas when I found the perfect use! Little ponchos!!!

Those little ladies are two of my nieces. They are both around 2 years old and the ponchos fit great! Basically, I took 4 granny squares and sewed them edge to edge. They were super simple to make. Look for a tutorial to this little poncho in the near future!