19 Sep

Hyrule Light World Project Progress: September

Oh, hey guys! Remember when I said in January that my goal was to blog more this year? Hahahahahaha! That was really funny. Oops.

Well, now that it’s September, I guess it’s a great time to do a little update! I could pretend to say that the reason I haven’t blogged was because I’m so busy. It’s not. Those of you that talk to me regularly know that I’m on a crusade to be one of the un-busiest people in the world.

April Ludgate-Dwyer, my hero.

In all of my un-busyness, I’ve carved out quite a bit of time to plug away at my never-ending Legend of Zelda cross-stitch that I’ve had for about two years. I tend to get frustrated with it and want to throw it across the room every few days, so I’ve tried to pace myself. At this rate, Fernando will be lucky to have it done by his 50th birthday.

The finished corner!


Current working area- I’m pretty sure these are mountains. One of the most amusing parts of this project is that because I’ve never played this game, I have no idea what I’m even stitching. I can make some educated guesses, but I would estimate my accuracy at about 70%.

Big picture… oh brother, look at all that white space. And, oh brother, look at how badly it needs to be ironed.

All the colors of this project! 40 colors! Sheesh!

Out of twelve pages, I’m currently on page 3. Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll have more to update. Oh, who are we kidding?! See you next year!

02 Jan

Hyrule Light World Project Progress

Oh, hey! Welcome to 2016! (I just typed 2015! Yikes!)

One of my goals for this bright and shiny new year is to blog more often, especially about my cross-stitch projects. They take up enough of my time to merit a mention here and there! I mostly like to stitch these little cityscapes from Satsuma Street on Etsy, but am currently tackling a bigger project.

I thought it would be funny to print off a cross-stitch pattern for Fernando on our first wedding anniversary, as paper is apparently the ‘traditional’ gift for a first anniversary (who made that up?!). He loves the video game Legend of Zelda, so I found this ginormous Hyrule Light World map used in the game.

Hyrule Light World map

It’s a good thing that he loves it, because the pattern is TWELVE PAGES!!!!!!!!!!! TWELVE!!!! What was I thinking?!?!?!

I gave it to him a little over a year ago, and finished a small section. Then, I stained the fabric in a horrible way and decided to start over with new fabric just in case. I restarted the same small section and promptly threw the project into my I Don’t Want to Deal with This bin for about eight months. I recently pulled it out to work on when meeting friends at the coffee shop for a crafternoon, and started to seriously chip away, and I’ve finished the first page!! Awwwwww, yeah!!! Only eleven more to go. Sigh.

Progress shot #1- Christmas Day

Progress shot #1- Christmas Day. I should have taken a progress shot sooner to show where I left off eight months ago. Only the gray section and dark green at the top were previously completed.

Big picture- see how much is left?

Big picture- see how much is left?

Progress shot #2- New Year's Day

Progress shot #2- New Year’s Day

Hopefully next month I’ll have even more progress to show off!

24 Dec

Annual Family Newsletter


I didn’t get as many Christmas cards out this year as I had hoped, so here’s the newsletter that went out in case anyone wants to hear my ramblings. 🙂


Hello, friends and family! After getting plenty of flak from various friends for not sending out a newsletter last year, I decided I’d better whip myself into shape and send one out for 2015! Fernando and I have had a pretty exciting year- and by exciting, I mean we were able to travel on some great trips, see some fantastic live shows, and watch an embarrassing amount of TV (thanks, Netflix)!

As you may know, Fernando works as the IT Wizard for a small co-op in [name redacted in this post so it isn’t floating around the Internet 😉 ]. Every year, everyone in the co-op meets to catch up- this year, we met in Puerto Rico. Rather than fly straight there, Fernando and I left a few days early and headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. It. Was. Phenomenal. I’m a huge Potterhead (Fernando attempts to keep up), and this trip did not disappoint. I sincerely felt like I was walking around the fictional Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You can even take the Hogwarts Express train between the two parks! Eventually, we had to depart and head to Puerto Rico. I had five whole days to do nothing but laze about, watch TV, cross-stitch, and walk along the beach while Fernando worked!

This is one of the only two photos Fernando let me take of both of us this year, and my eyes are shut in the other one. Now you see why I didn't send out a family photo. ;)

This is one of the only two photos Fernando let me take of both of us this year, and my eyes are shut in the other one. Now you see why I didn’t send out a family photo. 😉

Fernando and I have been having lots of fun following America’s Test Kitchen, a PBS show that prides itself on finding the best way to make just about any recipe through experimentation (and is one of the only ways that I can have meals that turn out the way they should). We were able to go see their live tour when they came through Minneapolis- I think we were the only people under the age of 50 in the audience! Nevertheless, the live show was entertaining and educational!

In addition to spending our free time learning how to be smarter cooks, we’ve also fallen deeper down the craft beer rabbit hole. We’ve visited just about every brewery in the Twin Cities and we’ve joined a beer club! Once a month, we get together and bring a few beers to share. Then, we taste them all and vote on our favorites!

We made a whirlwind trip to Chicago for my 30th birthday (how did that happen?), mostly to attend the Legend of Zelda symphony orchestra. Fernando is an avid video gamer, and Legend of Zelda has always been his favorite game. It has a beautiful soundtrack, and it was magical to hear it played live! It was especially funny to hear a college choir making video game beeping sounds while the orchestra played. In addition to the concert, we visited a Nutella bar and ate some of the most delicious donuts I’ve ever tasted! If you’re ever in the area, give Firecakes a try! (Do I get some kind of free donut deal for inadvertent product placement in a holiday newsletter?)

Earlier this year, my friend Sole asked if I’d accompany her to the UK on a nerdy pilgrimage of sorts. She and I are both avid Harry Potter fans, so it was only fitting that most of our trip involved the series. We built a solid itinerary (almost to the hour) of some very nerdy activities, including visiting the sets where the movies were filmed in and around London, going on a whirlwind tour of the Scottish Highlands, and a quick trip to Wales to visit the sets of one of the longest-running British TV shows, Doctor Who.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting the Central Library in Edinburgh, Scotland: we happened upon it almost by accident when looking for a restroom. It’s easily the most gorgeous library I’ve ever been in- very reminiscent of the library seen in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

I’m very happy to announce that Fernando has officially received his final grades for his master’s program, which officially means he has completed his MBA! I’m thrilled, and hope this means he’ll stop being so cranky and stressed out all the time- and because he wouldn’t help me write this, he’ll never know how I called him cranky! Muahahahaha! Cranky or not, I’m very proud of him. When asked the biggest lesson he learned through the program, he answered, “I still don’t like group projects.”

It’s been a pretty good year for us. Here’s hoping 2016 brings just as many adventures (and no homework) for all of us!

19 Oct


If you haven’t already heard me blabbing about it to everyone and their mothers, I’m going on the nerdiest trip of my life in a few weeks! Early this year, a dear nerdly friend asked me if I’d be interested in accompanying her to the UK to visit some Harry Potter and Doctor Who sights (and sites). 🙂

While I find traveling thrilling, I almost enjoy the art of planning it even more: who wants to return home only to realize that there may have been something super cool that you missed?! A bunch of people have asked about our itinerary, so I’m plunking some of the major pieces here in this blog post for my fellow travelers, Potterheads, and Whovians in case you’ll find it helpful.


We’re swinging up north to Scotland for a few days to:

  1. visit the birthplace of Harry Potter (ok, so it’s one of the cafés in which J.K. Rowling first started to pen the series, but I’ll still take it),
  2. hopefully meet one of my favorite bloggers that loves the Potter journey as much as I do,
  3. take a bus tour through the Scottish highlands (mostly so we can pretend we’re on the Hogwarts Express). I generally don’t like bus tours, but I’ll make an exception for one that will take me through the Highlands! (Plus, this one is FREE!!!)
I don't care if it's 'just' a tea room. There's something very magical about knowing this is one of the places where Harry was written into existence.

I don’t care if it’s ‘just’ a tea room. There’s something very magical about knowing this is one of the places where Harry was written into existence.


I would describe myself as a casual Doctor Who and Torchwood fan. My friend Sole definitely has me beat in this category. In fact, she has a TARDIS in her front lawn! However, I’ve taken on the very difficult task of watching most episodes of Doctor Who in order to have a better understanding of the characters and storylines.

  1. The Doctor Who Experience without walking around in a confused state. This will give us the chance to see the sets, props, and costumes used when filming the series. In addition, there’s a chance some of the cast may be there!
  2. Torchwood is a spin-off series from Doctor Who filmed primarily in and around Cardiff. The Hub, or headquarters, is ‘secretly’ located just under the Millennium Centre in the heart of downtown. There’s not an actual exhibit to go see, but we’re going to run around town seeing a bunch of filming locations. And, um, that’s about all I know about that… Better go watch some more TV.

On a non-TV note, also in Cardiff is Roald Dahls Plass, a plaza named in honor of my favorite children’s author (and who just happened to be born in Cardiff). My Matilda tattoo will feel so at home!


By some kind of Muggle magic, we happen to be in town while the first-ever Doctor Who Festival is taking place, so we’re going there!

No trip to London would be complete without a stop at Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross station, where all the young witches and wizards hop on the Hogwarts Express!

Happy to go back for a third visit!

Also on the London docket is the Muggle Tour. Unlike the Studio Tour, this tour covers the real life ‘Muggle London’ locations that inspired certain set designs and were even included in certain scenes. I’m most looking forward to seeing the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic and the pub that inspired the fictional Leaky Cauldron!

A new addition to the Potterhead dream is the Wizard Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel. Ever wanted to sleep in a Hogwarts dormitory? This is the next best thing! We’re staying in hostels every other night on this trip, but splurged for one night on this beauty. Rumor has it that it’s haunted- I will be spooning Sole all night in fear, just in case!!

Staying in a Gryffindor dormitory? Yes, please! Hold the ghosts, though.

The impetus of this trip is the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, where much of the eight Harry Potter films were made. While I admittedly prefer the books to the movies, I cannot resist the ability to step into the Potter ‘verse and live it, touch it, breathe it. I was lucky to be here in 2012 and nearly broke down in tears from excitement when entering the Great Hall- and that was just the first stop on the tour! You get to walk around and see a ginormous number of sets, props, costumes, and more! Bonus: this time around, we’re going while everything is decorated for Christmas!!! It’s fitting that this will be the last stop on our trip, as I’m not sure anything could possibly beat this.

The Great Hall set at Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

And there you have it! Nerd-cation, here we come!!!

05 Oct

Three Decades.

I’m 30! I’m 30?? I can’t wait until Taylor Swift turns 30 and writes a song about how this is supposed to feel. What will she rhyme with thirty? Dirty? Flirty? Qwerty?

I don’t really know how this is supposed to feel. I’m definitely not devastated, but I’m also not exactly ecstatic. I mean, how can I be allowed to be 30? I swear, I’m only 15! (And my face currently has the zits to prove it!) Some days I feel like a mature adult, and other days I feel like Rachel Green receiving her very first paycheck:


Being an adult is really hard sometimes- and I’m not just talking about having to make my own dentist appointments! There’s all this stuff I have to do ALL THE TIME: pay bills, buy relatively healthy groceries, prepare relatively healthy meals with a husband that has oddly high standards, ensure that I not blow my entire paycheck before I get paid, work a full-time job when sometimes I just want to stay in bed reading all day…  Not to mention all the dumb medical crud that’s swirling around my life these days- doctor appointments and specialists and physical therapy to stave off the knee replacement I may need within the next few years. UGH!



But you know what? There’s a lot of really great stuff, too! In the last year, in the last decade, in the last three decades, for that matter, I’ve been very lucky. I feel like writing about 468 pages right now detailing all the experiences that have shaped me over the last ten years, but I’ll spare you the snooze-fest and save the long version for another day and for the memoir that I’ll never actually write.

If you’ll humor me, I’m going to list a few of them- not necessarily the most significant and not in any kind of order, but there are a quite a few things that deserve to be revisited.

Seven Great Things That Happened in my Twenties (In No Particular Order)

  1. I spent three exceptional months living in Segovia, Spain. We spent little to no time (on purpose) doing homework and instead had time to simply live. Prior to that semester, I was very much a homebody that was too nervous to explore much on my own- and some of my high school friends loved to point it out. Because of that semester, traveling no longer scares me; in fact, traveling is now the #1 reason my bank account isn’t so happy with Adult Holly.
  2. I became an auntie. I quite enjoy it. I don’t want my own kids (blah blah blah, you’ve all heard me say that enough), but it’s remarkable to watch these two boys grow up and grow into their own quirky but delightful personalities. I love their enthusiasm for Hot Wheels, good books, and Scooby Snacks- and the fact that my apartment is their Happy Netflix Zone. My heart grows three sizes every time they draw me a new picture.
  3. I went to grad school. While graduate school for librarianship is not exactly as strenuous as getting a medical or law degree, it has its own challenges- and yes, you do have to have a master’s to do it! I met some rad people and learned a lot about my craft. Talking information literacy makes me feel alive like few things can. Mostly, I’m happy that I found something that helps me feel more me. 
  4. I moved to a new state for a good, long while. Most of you that see me on a regular basis know that I still love to dream about the years in which I lived in Colorado. AmeriCorps changes you, just like having 13 roommates in a should-probably-be-condemned house changes you. I did a lot of growing up in those years, and not just because I had to make my own doctor appointments and schedule my own oil changes. I also learned that I better figure out some hobbies, because living in a new state where you know no one is kind of lonely.
  5. I made stellar new friends. Throughout my strange college experience and beyond, I’ve made a number of strong, life-giving friendships- the kind in which you can simply look at your friend and you’ll both burst out laughing because you’re both thinking the same thing without even having to say it. No matter their age or how we met, my friends are the best.
    • Case in point: one of my BFFs and I bonded over the fact that we seem to be the only humans on this Earth that read books by Lurlene McDaniel, which feature a protagonist with some kind of chronic or terminal illness (often leukemia), thus leading us both down a life path of hypochondria and fear of inexplicable bruises. It’s so weird, and yet so wholly good to know that I’ve got a friend that gets it. (Also? Don’t read those books.)
  6. I discovered cross-stitching. I’m not a super crafty person. If you’re looking for crafty, please kindly introduce yourself to my BFF, Senja, because she can devise just about anything you could ever possibly need. I was not born with that level of skill. One day while perusing the Internet (my favorite hobby), I found a silly little cross-stitch pattern that made me loudly cackle for approximately 18 minutes. I’ll never quite know why this particular pattern caught my attention, but I’m so grateful. A few days after finding that pattern, I embarked on a stitching journey and have not looked back. There’s something about seeing the pattern take shape over time- I love being able to see progress. Plus, the beauty of cross stitch is that you mostly only have to know how to move a needle up and down while following directions!
  7. I traveled with my dad. My dad and I haven’t always been super close: he likes cars, sports, and hunting, and I like none of those things. A few years ago I made a flippant comment that he and I should travel together because we at least share the same interest in travel locations, and a few months later we found ourselves boarding a flight. It’s not always perfect (he wouldn’t let me leave the hotel after dark [6:00 pm] because it made him ‘too anxious’), but it sure makes for some good laughs and wonderful memories. Also, I will never stop laughing about the way he can’t understand Scottish English.

After that fond trip down memory lane, I think it’s time I get started working on some plans for what the next decade will bring- maybe a 40 By 40 list?

30 Jun

On Anxiety.

Oh hey. My name is Holly, and I have anxiety.




You probably all know that I do, and you probably aren’t that surprised. I appreciate that.

I think I’ve always had anxiety, but I think it manifests itself most strongly in two ways:

  1. Sweating. I’m not talking a few sweaty, sticky palms once in a while.  I’m talking uncontrollable, outrageously embarrassing sweat. I sweat so profusely it looks like I’m currently showering in my own sweat. (Want proof? Here’s a pic of me sweating on commencement day. Nothing was even going wrong at that moment.) And it’s not limited to commencement. I sweat when driving (even on back roads), going to meetings, going out for lunch for friends, even when trying on clothes! My life is lived like a woman going through menopause- I have to wear clothes that will hide as much sweat as possible, and I carry a towel in my purse to wipe off my face. I have to drive to work in a tank top (and pants, of course) and then finish getting dressed before I get out of the car. It’s not fun living life through one continuous hot flash.
  2. Sleeping (or rather, not sleeping). I toss and turn all night, thinking of everything that could and will go wrong. I often punch Fernando (lovingly) because he’s one of those people that can take a deep breath as soon as they hit the hay and BOOM! One-way ticket to Sleepytown. He has since started letting me fall asleep before he even comes to bed, poor guy. I didn’t sleep more than two hours a night for three weeks when I coordinated commencement for the very first time. I was sick, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

I made the decision a while ago to try taking medication to see if it would help; I would love to live a less sweaty life full of regular sleep cycles and the ability to merge onto the freeway without feeling like this. Friends of mine that also struggle with anxiety have had positively life-altering results when going on medication, so I figured I’d see if it would do the same for me. It didn’t.

  • Medication #1 made me so tired all the time I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work almost every day. My mom witnessed an unfortunate incident in which I attempted to talk to her on the phone while out of it and I slurred as if I had been drinking all day. (I hadn’t.) I switched to a new kind.
  • Medication #2 made me so nauseous that I could only eat saltine crackers for six weeks, leaving some of my coworkers to jokingly ask if I was pregnant. (No.) I switched to a new kind after two months.
  • Medication #3 created similar effects to #1, making it nearly impossible for me to stay awake at work. I lost interest in doing most of my activities and ended up hanging out on the couch mindlessly watching TV and snoozing for hours instead of crafting, reading, exercising and cooking. When I’m too tired to cross-stitch, I know something is off.

A few weeks ago, I was so fed up with living this frustrating life, watching my life pass me by, that I decided to stop taking it. While all three medications solved my sleeping issue, none of them did a thing to curb the nasty sweating; if anything, it worsened. Yesterday I took my last dose- huzzah! I’m bummed that I can’t just magically drive on the freeway, and gutted that I still sweat like there’s no tomorrow. But I’d rather live with those issues than spend my life on the couch watching Netflix for lack of energy to do anything else! (Though Netflix is a wonderful thing.)

I’ve made it a goal to try to get 10,000 steps in every day (thanks to my handy step tracker on my dorky smartwatch), because I know exercise is 1) good for everyone and 2) especially good at reducing anxiety. I’m also (gulp) considering trying yoga, even though I’m pretty terrible at it (how in the world does anyone do downward dog?!?!?!). I’m also trying to cut down on sugar (especially chocolate 🙁 ) and trying to turn off my computer and phone well before I turn in to reduce screen time (I even installed f.lux to mimic outside light and reduce blue light when it’s late).

Does anyone else have any great remedies for anxiety they’d like to share? 

03 May

The Story of My Ink

Hey there, friends! A few of you know that I’ve started the process of getting a half sleeve tattoo on my arm. One session down, one or two to go, depending on how I decide to finish it! I’m gritting my teeth just thinking of the pain remaining. Hoo boy… But, oh man, it is sooooo worth it. I keep looking down at my arm and giggling.

Many of you know that I was born with a physical disability (cerebral palsy) that left the right side of my body significantly weaker than my left. Because of it, my right arm can’t do a whole lot. It kind of just… hangs there and tries to avoid giving handshakes whenever possible. Well, no more! Now I’ve got an art gallery on it! Awwww yeah!

Here are some progress pics.





For those of you that want to know the meaning behind it all, read on for some very wordy descriptions!

Card Catalog – If you know me even a little bit, you’ll know that I own a beautiful sixty-drawer card catalog, formerly owned by my alma mater and current employer. I love it for its history. I like to think of card catalogs as a precursor to the Internet; harnessed properly, you had the potential to find information on just about any subject in the entire world.

Grape Soda Pin  – Have you seen the movie Up? Also known as the most realistic, heartwarming and gut wrenching love story told in fewer than eleven minutes? Ellie gives Carl a grape soda pin as a badge when they first meet, telling him, “You and me, we’re in a club now.” That night after Carl breaks his arm on a daring balloon rescue, Ellie comes to keep him company and show him her Adventure Book, filled with pictures she ripped out of a library book (!!!!!) and stuff she’s going to do in her future, which now includes him whether he likes it or not. She bids him goodnight with a simple, “You know, you don’t talk very much. I like you!!” In ten words, she sums up everything I love about my own husband.

  • Later, Carl ends up bestowing the pin, now called the Ellie Badge, upon his new little friend Russell, and they go and eat ice cream and count red and blue cars while finishing their cones. Russell once said, “That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.” That quote reverberated in my soul the first time I heard it, and I’ve never been able to forget it.

Balloons – In the same vein as the grape soda pin, the balloons symbolizes that adventure is out there! Sometimes I get dragged along unwillingly, and sometimes I seek it out myself.

Cross-Stitch Heart – This is an ode to my somewhat recently discovered passion. The light coming out of that drawer (which will be colored in at some point) symbolizes how much my life started to make sense when I started cross-stitching. As cheesy as it sounds (and it is reeeeeeeally cheesy, I know), when I started cross-stitching, I felt like I finally found what I had been looking for all this time. Around the same time I started cross-stitching, I felt like I finally settled into who I am and stopped trying to be someone that I’m not.

Minnesota and the Loon – I love my state. Plain and simple. Loons are our state bird, and they remind me of summer weekends spent at my maternal grandparents’ cabin in northern Minnesota; weekends full of exploring, playing in the water, eating Oreos from the Oreo jar, and giggling about the outhouse.

Nine and Three-Quarters – This is likely very obvious to anyone that has read the Harry Potter series or seen even just one of the earlier movies. Platform 9 ¾ is the platform from which the Hogwarts Express train picks up young wizards and witches at the beginning of every school year and delivers them safely to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It also happens to be the location in which Harry meets one of his future best friends and chosen family, the Weasleys. The concept of chosen family has meant an especially lot to me over the last few years. Don’t get me wrong; I have the absolute BEST biological family in the entire world. But I also have an exquisite chosen family that’s taken me quite a few years to build. In my late teens and early 20s, I struggled a lot with figuring out where I fit in this giant world and couldn’t seem to find the right niche. I’m there now; I look around at the people beside me and know that I’m home.

  • Coming out of that drawer are two ominous eyes, a throwback to when Harry first unknowingly sees Sirius Black in his Animagus form in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. A reminder that sometimes the scariest moments in life end up being some of the most profound.

Interrobang (also known as a quexclamation) – This is a nonstandard punctuation mark that’s usually written as ?!, which symbolizes my life better than words can: a cycle of excitement and confusion, often at the same time.

Mountains and Sun – Rarely a week goes by without me using the phrase, “When I used to live in Denver…” I lived there for just under two years, and those two years changed my perspective on life more than I thought would be possible.


And there you have it. 🙂 More to come in a few weeks…

26 Apr

New Look!

Hi friends! Is anyone still out there? Maybe you could leave a comment if you are. 🙂

Thanks to my forever boyfriend, my blog has a new look. It’s also much easier for this lazy girl to use, which means I’ll be blogging more often! (Hi Mom! Hope you still have this in your Feedly. 🙂 )

If anyone besides my mom is still reading this blog, you may have noticed that I’ve kind of disappeared off social media radar. Like many times before, I just needed a break. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information thrown at me by the constant stream of Instagram pictures, Facebook status updates, new Tumblr posts and pins that I can’t handle it.  No matter how much I try to cull my Facebook friends list, I’m still overwhelmed. This introvert can only handle so much in one day- and I don’t want to spend my entire life on the Internet! (And, yes, I get the silliness of wanting a break from the Internet at the same time I’m resurrecting my blog. I guess I’m an enigma.)

Instead, I’ve been focusing my time on cleaning and organizing the apartment, getting to projects I meant to start months ago (today I found $20 behind my dresser! Score!); I’ve developed an insatiable urge to clean almost 24/7. I’d almost say that I’ve reached a nesting period, except without all that baby gobbledygook. 😉 Actually, I’d credit it to the fact that we finally are having nice weather again, and it feels good to have a fresh start. I’ve also started reading the Outlander series, slowly but surely, and gotten lost in watching, erm, LOST. Also, the Great British Bake Off. I’ve tried out new crafts! I got new glasses! I’m practically a new woman! 😉

New glasses

Here’s to new adventures with this new woman! 😉 Stay tuned…