Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

Whew! This past month has been a whirlwind. I just wanted to pop in and say “hi!” because I know I’ve been absent here lately. Work has been super busy and, as per usual, I’ve got my plate full of other fun side projects which haven’t left me with any free minutes to just sit and type. My blog RSS reader is up to over 1000 unread items because I haven’t had time to catch up on my regular reads. First world problems, I know.
The intense work days that start early and end late combined with a lack of sleep have finally caught up to me. Ellis is transitioning into going all night without nursing. She has cried for about 20 minutes somewhere around the hours of 2 or 3am for the past few nights. And Quil is in this terrible phase of only wanting to sleep in our bed and he’s an awful bed mate, forever tossing and turning and kicking. It’s been extra hard since Quil and Ellis share a room and we haven’t yet found a balance of them co-existing in that space without one waking the other. I slept horribly last night and when I did sleep I had nightmares of work projects gone awry. Ugh. So, today I felt rundown and just plain exhausted. 
So, tonight I’ve finally able to just (sort of) relax and write this post and work on a little crafty project: Wood Acorns for our Totoro-themed party this Saturday! Q turned 3-years-old last weekend but this Saturday we’re celebrating all the February/March birthdays in my family – there are five.
I found some little wood eggs at the local craft store that I stained to look like the acorns from Totoro. They still need a few finishing touches, but I’ll post finished pictures when they are done.
If you’ve never seen My Neighbor Totoro, I highly recommend it. Quil loves it, as do Andrew and I.

We got really lucky in this department with Q. He started sleeping through the night around three or four months. I have many friends and relatives with kids so I know this is not always the norm and something to be envied. So much so, that people give you the side-eye when you tell them that your baby sleeps through the night. I totally understand.

During those first few weeks I really understood why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I was dead on my feet much of the time. But after awhile, the human mind and body really shows what it’s made of! By the end of those first four months I was able to sit up in bed at 3am, wide-eyed, and not be tired at all. And not only that, but I could function normally during the day on only four hours of sleep! Take that college days!

Last night, Q had one of his rare bad nights and ended up in our bed around 5 a.m. only to whine, and toss and turn and chew on my shirt, and smear his snot all over my pillow until 7 a.m.! It really made me appreciate that, in general, he is a really good sleeper. However, all those super awake-on-4-hours-of-sleep powers that I gained during those first few months pretty much disappeared after he started to sleep through the night.

So, since we’re on the topic of sleeping, I’m hoping to get better pictures of Q’s crib soon so I can post those. Made with love by his Papa! Here is a sneak peek:

Enticing, isn’t it?

This weekend we finally completed the next step in Project Clean-Up-This-Old-China-Cabinet. In the first phase, we cleaned all the grime only to realize that the top would need to be stripped because the grime had pretty much damaged the finish. Phase 2 consisted of Citri-Strip, which looked like this while it worked its magic:

Followed by removal of the loosened old varnish with plastic scraper and lots of this nastiness:

Disgusting! So after that, we let it hang out for a bit, then the next day we gave it a cleaning with Mineral Spirits, a little sanding with extra fine sandpaper, another wipe, then a couple coats of Teak Oil. Voila! A long ways away from this mess.

Andrew decided that it needs a coat of shellac because as beautiful as the teak finish is, it isn’t as shiny as the rest of the piece so it doesn’t quite match. I trust his judgement. So! One to Phase 3! Hopefully, Phase 4 will be the phase where I fill it with all my junk!


You may remember my post about my early Mother’s Day mid-century modern china cabinet present? That was a really confusing sentence. But come on people, it was just last week. Anyway.

This thing is beautiful but very dirty. I’m sure it’s just an accumlation of years of dust that has congealed into a nasty black grime. But part of me thinks it could be that someone never learned to wash their hands after handling crude oil OR Andrew’s hypothesis: A smoker with a china cabinet next to their stove where they fried fish all day. Whichever way you swing it, this thing has some serious build up issues.

Murphy’s Oil Soap to the rescue! Thanks to Morgan’s post on Refreshing Vintage Wood, we had an idea of how to start dealing with this mess. As you can see from the before and after pictures, we got a lot of the nastiness off but next step is the strip the top of the old finish. Everywhere else on the piece is fine, but the top could use a sand and a finish with some Danish Oil.

I can’t wait to just GET IT DONE so I can start filling it with all my junk!


Ever since we posted about our co-sleeper, over the past year we’ve been receiving emails from readers looking to build something similar. Some people have even asked if we had thought about making them and selling them. We don’t have any plans of selling them for two reasons:

1. It doesn’t feel right. We based our co-sleeper on the Culla Belly design and it doesn’t feel like it’s our idea to sell.

– and –

2. Ideally, every one we make would have to be custom fitted to the bed it’s going to attach to and to the baby it will hold. It’s just not a construction that lends itself to mass production (at least with the materials and methods we are using). Maybe that’s why the Culla Belly has yet to be produced.

With that said, we are in the process of trying to put together a guide of sorts on how to make one yourself. It won’t contain any specific dimensions because everyone’s bed set up is a bit different. But the guide will lay out the things to consider and the options you have when building it yourself. Hopefully we’ll be able to get this together in a timely manner!

One last note. We are happy to share our process and make recommendations, but in the end it will be up to you to make sure it’s safe and secure for your baby.

Stay tuned…


Quil is approaching 8 months-old! I can’t believe how fast these past months have gone. I looked back at the pictures we’ve taken of him and realize there are so many baby projects that we never revisited after Q was born.

The co-sleeper is still attached to our bed and now that Q is sleeping in his crib (another project we never posted about!) I’ve gone back to using the co-sleeper as my nightstand. He slept in the co-sleeper for about two months before he grew out of it. One thing we learned—the wool side extenders weren’t necessary. They looked nice, but we ended up taking them out. He moved so little at that age and the co-sleeper was so close to the wall, there really wasn’t any possibility of him rolling out.

Here he is being cute! He slept on a Sassy Vented Sleeper Wedge (which I hear now is a no-no!) because he had reflux and having him on a incline helped.


A while back the screen door on our front porch broke. It slammed against the house and cracked. The wind was angry that day, my friends. I swear, it was the wind. Crystal and I aren’t angry people.

Aside from the crack, the door was in serious need of repair so I fixed it up. For whatever reason the first thought that popped into my head when I thought of screen doors was Tetris. So:

The goal was to not have to buy any wood for this project so I spent many minutes cutting little strips of wood from random 2×4’s and fashioning the molding that frames the opening from other odds and ends. The screened part can be removed so in the future I’m going to make a more “normal” insert. I’ll probably make other non-traditional ones as well. And by non-traditional I mean BurgerTime!


As Crystal mentioned in the previous post, the basic idea was adapted from the “Culla Belly” design. The main difference is the overall height of the co-sleeper. If you notice in the picture of the “Culla Belly” co-sleeper, the mattress it’s designed for is exceptionally thin. Ours is a “normal” mattress and is much thicker so the sides of the co-sleeper had to be a lot taller.

In essence, it’s a three-sided box with a “shelf” halfway up where the baby lies. The whole thing is attached to a frame underneath that extends far under the mattress keeping it in place. It’s quite secure but just for added strength we bolted it to the pallets that our bed sits on.

I did a lot of research on the toxicity of different types of wood and decided to use Poplar. Pretty much all of the basic wood types you would find at a lumber yard are perfectly safe, with the most common irritant being the dust produced from cutting and sanding. I’m also using Poplar for the crib, which is currently under construction. It’s a nice, easy to find, and not too expensive hardwood.

A lot of cribs these days are made out of different types of plywood and even MDF, which contain all sorts of industrial glues and even formaldehyde, so I knew I wanted to avoid those at all cost.

The next consideration was how to finish the co-sleeper. I decided to make my own finish instead of worrying about paints and stains and any kind of hard finish. To make the finish I heated up mineral oil – which is used on cutting boards and wooden utensils and is essentially unscented baby oil – and added some fragrance-free beeswax until it melted. (I bought the beeswax at A.I. Root here in town. Did you know that Medina, OH is The Bee Capital of the World? Well, you do now.) Then you let it cool and you rub on the paste that results (below). It’s completely food-safe and non-toxic.

My only worry in all of this is that Crystal’s not going to want to give up her new bedside space. (She’s currently using the co-sleeper as a side table and keeps her contacts, alarm clock, books, glasses, yarn, water bottle, tissues, hair ties, crocheting/knitting needles, and whatever else she manages to take to bed with her.)




A lot of the projects that we post on here are either made by myself or by Andrew but this project was a cooperative effort between the two of us: a co-sleeper for the baby.

We decided to go the co-sleeper route for the first few months while I’m on maternity leave. If you’re unfamiliar with what a co-sleeper is, you can learn more here. It is basically a 3-sided bassinet that attaches to the side of the bed. They come in all different types and sizes. Since I will be nursing, we figured it would be easier to have the baby there next to me rather than me getting out of bed every two hours to go into the other room. BUT at the same time, not have the baby IN the bed with us.

Most co-sleepers on the market are big bulky things that involve many parts and can convert into other things like a free standing crib or a playpen. We wanted something really simple made from basic materials. With inspiration from this “Culla Belly” prototype we saw on swissmiss we made our own version.

I’ll let Andrew embellish more on the actual construction since he was responsible for that part. The parts I was responsible for were the wool felted sides, the mattress, and the mattress cover. Remember way back when I posted about making big pieces of felted alpaca wool? Well, this is what those were for. We knew we wanted felt sides but didn’t want to throw down the cash for industrial wool that would hold its shape on its own. So we improvised.

Here are the sides: They are made from are felt sewn around pieces of heavy cardboard and then sewn together.

The mattress: I sewed together remnants from the sides and layered them between two pieces of the alpaca felt.

The mattress cover: I crocheted a wool mattress cover just in case the baby springs a leak. I doubled the yarn while crocheting to make sure it was nice and dense (I used Lion’s Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Nature’s Brown) then felted it in the washing machine. If baby has an accident I can just throw the cover in the wash and not worry about washing the whole mattress.

Currently, I’m working on making little sheets but right now we just used a pillow case that fits surprisingly well. Check back soon for a post from Andrew on the construction.


My parent’s Lazy Susan got real lazy and stopped turning so I made them a new one for Christmas. I actually remembered to take pictures of the process too, which is rare for me. As any rational person would do, I’m going to post the pictures in chronological order.

*I used cedar. Why? No particular reason. I’ve just never used it before.

*The tongue and groove joint is a bit annoying to make but worked well here.

*This is after it was glued and clamped.

*I made my own jig to cut the circle. You can buy them but that tends to cost money so I just improvised.

*A nice 24″ circle.

*This groove is for when you spill the gravy. It becomes a gravy moat.

*I used a combination of dye and stain, then four coats of satin polyurethane so it can withstand the rigors of the Lazy Susan life.

For the bottom I cut out another circle of MDF and painted it white. I purchased the hardware (the metal/ball bearing/rotational part) at a local woodworking store called Cleveland Tool & Cutter, which is my new favorite store, and store name. And no, they don’t sell T-shirts, I looked.

Overall I’m happy with how it turned out. I’ve never made a Lazy Susan before, let alone cut a circle out of wood. Let’s hope it keeps on turnin’.