Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

A little while back I read, “Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind” put out by 99U and have been trying to implement some of the things I learned. Here are few thoughts and ideas that have resonated with me and the ways I’ve tried to adjust:

1. Routines helps us make time to be creative by “setting expectations about availability, aligning our workflow with our energy levels, and getting our minds into a regular rhythm of creating.”

Now that the kids are getting a little bit older and a little more set into their own routines, it’s getting a tiny bit easier to squeeze in my own projects. It’s pretty much guaranteed that they will be asleep by 9:30pm (except last week when we were all a bit under the weather), but I’m still trying to figure out my own routine after they are in bed. The main issue being that by that point my energy levels and brain power are almost non-existent. On good nights, the most I can usually manage is yoga, which I consider a success!

In regards to my energy levels, I’ve realized that blogging at night just doesn’t work for me the majority of the time. Or doing anything that requires brain power for that matter. It takes me twice as long to formulate sentences at that point in the night than if I would just wake up early to do it, which I’m working on trying to do more often.

2. Frequency makes starting easier, keeps ideas fresh and keeps the pressure off.

This is right on the nose. I don’t know how many times I’ve had ideas that withered because I waited too long to get them down. Also, after a long break in writing, I do find it harder to come up with the right words to communicate my thoughts the way I want. This is why I have a million notebooks. I’ve also started getting my ideas into digital form as soon as I can (I’ve been using Evernote) But I still need to try and set a regular time aside to just DO.

3. “Conditions to produce one’s craft are rarely ideal, and waiting for everything to be perfect is almost always an exercise in procrastination.”

They should have just tacked on “especially when you have kids.” Conditions are never ideal when your family and kids are the sole focus of your free time. So, I try to take advantage of any bit of solo time I have. Driving to and from work is good for thinking through problems – though not very good for documenting those thoughts. (Unless you use voice memos!) A lot of projects get made during the late hours of the evening (if they don’t require too much problem solving) or early morning or squeezed in during naps on the weekends. Usually with me just standing at the kitchen counter or sitting with all my stuff sprawled across the dining room table. Gone are the days of the designated craft area and table with all my supplies readily available within reach of a curious and naughty 3-year-old!

4. Perfectionism hinders productivity.

This one was a big one for me. It also relates to the tip mentioned above. Waiting for the “perfect conditions” or avoiding projects for fear of not doing it “perfect” – this is me to a tee. Sometimes you just need to put things out there and worry less about it being “perfect” and take pride in the fact that it got done. I’ve learned to let go and just go with the flow when it comes to a lot of things but I still struggle with this daily.

All the essays in this book have great suggestions and tips – though some of them are just hard truths that most people know but don’t want to admit to themselves. For example, the fact that social media is a time suck and distraction (you don’t say?) when you are trying to create.

So, here’s to new routines and finding balance.

For more inspiration on managing your time and creativity, check out these links:

&Kathleen is co-founder of Braid Creative and specializes in coaching for creatives

Elizabeth Saunders is a entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “Time Coach”

Leo Babauta is a creator and writer who focuses on “finding simplicity in the chaos of our lives

How do you manage your day-to-day and find the balance between work, family and side-projects?


On Family, Uncategorized

My Loves

We’ve all been hit with a bit of the sniffles this week in our house. Which has resulted in missed work, kids with runny noses, babies that are thrown off their sleep schedules, a Mama who can’t sleep because her nose is so stuffed up (I even tried those breath strips thingies. Didn’t work.) lots of crying and whining and a return of a feeling I had when our little ones were newborns: dread for the nighttime with its unpredictable events. A baby crying, someone waking up thirsty, someone is hot, or cold, or a 3-year-old is in our bed who is like liquid, filling up every space you vacate as you happen to turn onto your side, resulting in not being able to flip back.

But at the same time, have you ever in your life been this comfortable? The kids have taken to making “nests” in the middle of the living room floor.

Days like these remind me of this poem that I saw on a Cup of Jo awhile back:

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” ― poem by Mary Jean Irion


The groundhogs must have been lying in waiting to get into the garden. Today, I left the gate open for 10 minutes while I went inside and in the meantime a little groundhog snuck in. Andrew looked out the window and there it was grazing in our garden like it was nobody’s business.

Of course, in the short amount of time it was undetected, it was able to eat 50% of our salad greens. Andrew went out and it got scared and ran under the small space under one of our lettuce beds that is against the side of our porch. Andrew’s Dad always has groundhog traps on hand because they are quite a nuisance around these parts. We set the cage in the path to the garden gate, in hopes that it might be enticed by the watermelon that we set as bait.

We had to wait awhile before it would even come out again. We tried to scare him out of the hole so we could get his into the trap, to no avail. By chance, Andrew and I were standing inside the house by the window and we saw it start making its way out but it walked right past the trap right into our flower bed. It then proceeded to ravenously eat everything in it’s path. I mean, it was going at it like it hadn’t eaten in weeks. Andrew was like “We need a plan and we need to make a move NOW.” I held Quil inside the house because when quietness is of the utmost importance, he’s like a bull in a china shop. Apparently, Andrew had some sort of weird plan because he grabbed these two things: the Bumbo and the Bilibo.

He went onto the front porch and had the wherewithal to at least wait for a car to go by to muffle the sound of his footsteps so as to not scare the little guy back into his hiding spot. But that seems to be the only part that goes according to plan. All the while, I’m inside the house watching the groundhog feast on our garden. I can’t see Andrew because he’s on the front porch and I’m looking out the side window into the garden. All the sudden, I see the Bilibo fly by and the groundhog darts toward his hiding spot behind our lettuce bed. Next thing I see the Bumbo go flying by, narrowly missing the critter before he burrows back into his hiding spot. Andrew comes back in and I’m like “What happened? Did you panic?!” No, he didn’t panic. He just missed.

Needless to say, the groundhog hasn’t come back out since. We finally did the smart thing and cornered him in there with the only opening, going right into the trap. So when he finally gets over the ordeal and decides it’s safe to surface, if all goes according to plan, he will get trapped in the cage with some watermelon to keep him company until we can take him elsewhere.

If anything, we totally blew that groundhog’s mind. A shovel, a broom, a stick, a rock. These things, yes. But a Bumbo and a Bilibo? Probably the very last things it could have ever imagined having to encounter in this situation. And he’s most likely the only groundhog in the world that has ever seen a Bumbo or a Bilibo since I can’t think of any other instance these two things would intersect with its life.

We will see in the morning if our little trap worked. Updates to follow.


Image via

We’re still here – “Still one person,” as my boss likes to say.

This past week has been a swirling mass of craziness. So just an update on the progress of Baby Girl. And by progress, I mean the lack thereof.

Around 37 weeks or so we had an ultrasound (Side Note: I’ve had more than the “normal” amount of ultrasounds due to the fact that I have Graves Disease AND Gestational Diabetes. Sheesh.) and as it happens, during this ultrasound we find that the baby had turned head up after being head down for most of the pregnancy. So, this was bad news for me and major blow to my plans of having a VBAC and trying for a natural childbirth. Though my doctor assured me that there was still plenty of time for the baby to turn, we went ahead and scheduled a c-section for the 22nd (yesterday), just in case.

Fast forward to last Wednesday and all through that night the baby was moving so much I thought that I might be in labor. It was really painful, but I ended up falling asleep and waking up and baby was still chillin’ in utero. So, I called my doctor to be sure that the pain I was feeling was okay. They asked me to come in that afternoon, just to get it checked out and, lo-and-behold, the baby had turned and that’s what I was feeling all night!

I had my 39 week ultrasound on Monday and baby is still head down, so that means no scheduled c-section! And as happy as I am about not having to have a c-section, there was part of me that had already accepted it and was consoling myself with the idea that she would be here sooner than later. So, now I’m an emotional and physical wreck. Having to wait around until whenever the baby decides she is ready to arrive is torturous. Could be tonight… could be my due date (Aug. 27th)… could be a week AFTER my due date, eeek!

So, of course I have to occupy my time. I’m still going into the office – which is difficult, but a good way to keep my mind occupied.

And of course, just like when I was pregnant with Q, I have multiple projects in the works that I hope to post about soon!


Stuff like this makes my blood boil. I just have to vent here for a second because sometimes something happens that just makes you think “what is wrong with people?”

A few days ago, Andrew’s Mom took Q on a ride out to their pond (which is one of Q’s absolute favorite things to do) only to find the scene pictured below. Beer/alcohol cans littered everywhere, AND beach/lawn chairs, AND a boat!!!! Whaaat?!!! Someone had themselves a party. And it wasn’t anyone we know. The pictures really don’t do it justice.

As the title of this post implies, I’m going to assume that this was the work of some hooligan teenagers. But it’s also quite possible that they were adults that were acting like children.

Not only was there just a complete disregard for the fact that they were trespassing on someones property, but complete disrespect for said property as well as the environment and natural habitat of a lot of wildlife including fish, frogs, ducks (there were cans and bottles thrown into the lake), blue heron, and deer. Even despite my loathing of the deer, they don’t need to deal with Four Loko cans. That’s just rude!

Joking aside though, come ON people! Andrew’s parents have plenty of land. And in the past, they’ve let neighborhood kids play paintball in the woods just as long as they didn’t leave trash strewn about. They are very laid back, nice people and are always welcoming to guests in their home or people who want to come see their alpacas, etc. So it’s just sad that there are people who do things like this.

Also, lakes and excessive drinking in the middle of the night are just a bad combo. (I’m assuming this took place during the night because they would have to have some serious balls to pull a stunt like this in the daytime, right?) Not smart. Not smart at all.

And until someone comes to fess up, we at least got a boat and some lawn chairs out of it.


I’ve never seen this happen but every time I approach an intersection with a 4-way stop I hope for one of the following scenarios to play out:

1.) At the exact same time, all four vehicles turn right.

2.) At the exact same time, two vehicles turn right while the other two pass each other and turn left. (This scenario is more unlikely as the physical size of the intersection needs to be quite large. But, it is possible.)

Rest assured, I’ll keep everyone posted and if either of these happen you’ll be the first to know.


The below picture was on Yahoo!’s homepage a few days ago. Michael ‘s face and the word “Bad” both seem to be brightened a bit as compared to the original album cover so some photo retoucher was hard at work, it’s just unfortunate that they forgot to clean up that crackhead’s thumb nail.

And yes, it is ironic that even after all of Michael’s real life facial “touch-ups” the media still feels the need to do their own tinkering. The lesson here? “You’re gonna be the only you that there is or was, so be you, please oh please, be yourself.” -TG


I’m 28 years old and Crystal’s brother is about to be 23. Five years doesn’t seem like that much, but there’s a definite generation gap.

For example, one time he asked Crystal what websites she used to go to when she was little. Websites? Our computer use was limited to heavily pixelated games, banners that we’d print out on a dot matrix printer and then color in, or maybe if we were feeling studious, some Mavis Beacon typing exercises. We didn’t have this Internet thing.

Another example: One time we were watching TV and a Ford commercial came on with Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” featured in it. He turned to me and said, “Can you imagine these studio musicians totally getting into this song when they were recording it for this commercial.” I said, “What! This is f*#@ing Journey, man!” He simply didn’t know. The name Steve Perry means nothing to him. It’s a shame.

And lastly, his generation loves sour candy.


In response to my post on the adaptiveness, hilarity and absurdity of the “There are two types of people in the world” sayings we received the following contributions from readers:

There are two types of people in the world, those who think the world is simplistic enough to subdivide into two kinds of people, and those who don’t. (I feel like this may be true. There are sad, stupid people in group one.)

There are three types of people in the world, those who can count, and those who can’t. (Hilarious)

There are two types of people in the world, us, and the terrorists. (Hilarious II)


If you haven’t heard of Swoops, you should check out this site.
This Bird is Pissed.

My brother TJ took the above screengrab from a video of an attack. The dude in the foreground is laughing at another dude that just got dive bombed. Little does he know, he’s next.

Watch the video below.

oh! p.s. in response to Andrew’s last post, I must not be civilized. Someone must have eaten my yogurt yesterday :P