Needles and a Pen » Knitting, Sewing, and Nursing School

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  • Welcome to my blog!

    Hi! I'm Traci. I'm a nursing student and CNA who loves quilting, knitting, cross stitch, Project Life scrapbooking, and the great outdoors. In my pre-scrubs life, I owned Real Photography, and you can still see my old wedding and portrait photography site here .

    I great big puffy heart *love* comments, so please let me know you visited! I try to always reply!

Summer Goals

This summer is a major respite from the otherwise insanity of trying to work and earn my nursing degree.  It will be brief, though, and this fall and spring semesters will likely drop me into the most serious time-juggling challenge of my life.  So I’m trying to do as many of the crafty things on my dream list as I can this summer, and that includes making garments from these 7 patterns:

modern patterns

I have made many skirts for myself, and a handful of dresses for Ellie, but this summer I really wanted to tackle making shirts and dresses for myself.  I’m 1/7th of the way to my goal with the completion of my Linden, and I think The Date Night Dress will be next.  I’m having some second thoughts about the flutter sleeve and the very low cut under the arm, so I hope I’ll be happy with the finished product!  I’m planning on using this lightweight chambray from Fancy Tiger:

the date night dress pattern

Currently on the studio floor is this quilt top.

moda central park quilt

In the interest of finishing abandoned projects, I sewed these strips together and added a border to it, thinking that would be the finished quilt top.  I’m unsure of it like this, though, and will probably add some solid shape appliques to the top of it.  I’m debating between flowers and animal shapes.  I’ll have to see what looks best!


This is why I am a camping brat.


I posted recently that I’m a bit of a campsite snob.  Great campsites are what make my world turn.  I was sorting through pictures for some of these campsite reviews and stumbled upon the reason I am so very ruined for 99% of campsites.  The weekend we turned 30, my sister-in-law and I went backpacking with our husbands on the side of Mt Rainier in the Spray Park area.  I feel like once you’ve camped like this, it’s hard to go back…






mt rainier backpacking

erica - Ugh. These are unbearably gorgeous. PNW would be the only spot in the states that would ever entice me to move and spots like this are the reason why!

Star Trek Pajamas

I made these Star Trek for the pajamas a summer (or two?) ago.  Women’s pajama pants in a different Star Trek print were supposed to immediately follow that project, but, you know…life.

star trek pajamas

They miraculously pushed past their neglected status today and were finished…

star trek pajama pants

Modeling pajamas comes naturally to me.  😛


Fran Cooper - “Modeling pajamas comes naturally to me”. Bwah hah ha!

Mueller State Park Campground Review

Mueller State Park campground is Nic’s favorite place to tent camp in Colorado.  It’s nearby, clean, and has great facilities.  By camping in the tent only campsite loops you get the best of both worlds–all the facilities of a larger RV friendly campground with none of the noise and visual clutter of RVs!  As a park it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of great hikes or activities (compared to somewhere like the Sand Dunes), but if you just want a great weekend camping, this is a wonderful spot.  It’s also not hard to find nearby activities to keep you busy if you want to leave the park.

mueller state park campground review and tips

Pros:  The tent-only sites are great, and a very short walk from the parking area.  The facilities are awesome–although there is a vault toilet at the end of the loop, it’s just a short walk down to real toilets.  I have a decent fear of a poop monster lunging up and eating me while I sit on a vault toilet, so having a rustic tent-only campsite that is a five minute walk from a real flushing toilet is the dream.  You’re completely sheltered from the RV area and won’t hear a single generator.

Cons:  You have to pay for both the campsite and Mueller State Park access, so you’re hit with two fees.

Campsite recommendations:  We like to stay at Prospector’s Ridge, since it is a slightly shorter walk from the car to the campsites (and we lug a lot of stuff when we tent camp) and it’s a perfectly reasonable walk to flushing toilets.  We stay at Site 57, which is a nice large campsite with lots of aspens off the back of it for the kids to play in.  You’re separated by trees from site 59, but see a lot of site 55 (and some of 56).  The downside to staying near the beginning of the loop is that you’ll hear a lot of foot traffic going back and forth to the bathroom, but the upside is that shorter walk in with your stuff.  The other tent only loop, Turkey Meadows, offers more sweeping views, but a longer walk in to the site and it’s not convenient to the flush toilets/shower area.  We think the campsites would be beautiful in the fall–lots of opportunities to spot fall foliage.

Facilities:   Vault toilets and a water spigot at the tent only loop trailheads (when the water works) and a new large ‘shower house’ with showers, flush toilets, sinks, and washing machines/dryers.  It has a large playground next to it that is a big hit with the kids when we wash dishes or get ready in the morning.

Nearby activities:






The nearby Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument with its petrified forest:


The nearby Hornbek Homestead (link to an article about the Hornbeks and the free to the public museum).  We lucked out and managed to tag onto the last 5 minutes of the last tour of the day :


Beccy - So I just checked your blog after a long time and am so excited about all your posts since we just moved here this winter and I want to do a whole lot more hiking/camping/exploring with my brood and have had no idea where ro start. Yay!!!! Thank you. I think we have only done lne of these so far.

The Crags Trail – Divide, Colorado

The Crags Trail is a fantastic hike for while you’re camping at nearby Mueller Park.  It follows the Four Mile Creek valley to the Crag formations on the ‘back side’ of Pikes Peak.

the crags trail hike review

Pros:  This is a great hike with lots of variability in the scenery.  It’s a nice length for elementary school aged children and the Crag formations at the top are a good pay-off for your efforts.

Cons:  The distance from Colorado Springs is the only thing that keeps us from enjoying this hike more often.

Distance/Difficulty:  4 miles, approximately 800 ft elevation gain.  The majority of the hike is flat-ish, with the major push to the top at the end.  This is a moderate difficulty hike for little legs, though Ellie made it to the top without being carried at 3.  (She was carried on the way home…and she promptly fell Floppy Level Asleep in Nic’s arms.)

Directions:  From Colorado Springs Trails:  “Take US-24 west and turn left at traffic light in Divide. Drive south on US-67 for about 4 miles. Turn left to CR-62 right after you pass the entrance to Mueller State park on the right. Drive 3 miles on the dirt road and you will see the new trailhead parking lot on the right side. Crags campground located 1/4 of a mile further down the road is no longer used as the official trailhead.”

Trail Teaching:

  • The first part of the trail is part of a route to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Pikes Peak Granite is molten rock created approximately 1 billion years ago by volcanoes.  The magma cooled into the Precambrian Pikes Peak Granite igneous intrusion known as the Pikes Peak Batholith.  The magma was buried about 2 miles underground, so it took thousands of years to cool.  The Crags are parts of this formation that have been exposed as the sedimentary rock above the Pikes Peak Batholith have eroded away.  The formations were created by vertical fractures in the granite caused by stresses like the initial uplift of the Front Range (called the Laramide Orogeny).  (This type of mountain building is responsible for the initially horizontal layers of rock being tilted upward and exposed in vertical layers.)  Fractures allow water to seep in, freeze and expand, widen the fracture, and eventually break the granite apart in vertical slabs.






Four mile creek hidden under ice and snow:



Further reading:  Colorado Springs Trails and Every Trail have a good summary and Colorado Photo Hikes has a great number of photos.

Kelsey Campground Review, Deckers, CO

We went to Kelsey Campground with our cub scout den last summer.  This campground was chosen for its ability to accommodate one of the family’s large RVs as well as the fact that we made our reservations relatively late.  The fact that they still had spots open  was an accurate indication of the quality of the campground.  It was one of several trips we made last year that solidified for me that when I go camping, the beauty of the campsite and its feel of relative isolation are huge factors in my enjoyment.  So, my caveat with my campsite reviews is that I’m very much a campsite snob.  I like them with beautiful views, remote in feel, and with preferably nothing but fellow tent campers for neighbors.

kelsey campground review

Pros:  Open spots available for reservation relatively late.  There is a nice hike up Little Scraggy Peak right from the campground.  If you could get over the lack of anything remotely like a tent pad, our spot was well separated from other campers (though noise from other campers would be preferable to the highway noise)!  The campground was small and family friendly–there were a lot of kids riding bikes around the paved loop of the campground.  If you are an RV camper, I’m sure this would suit you just fine.

Cons:  This campground is right near the busy highway and the traffic noise makes it feel like you are camping alongside a highway (which you really are).  Some of the sites listed as tent only sites aren’t actually appropriate for tents.  As Nic put so well to the campground host, “Just because it’s not suitable for a trailer or RV doesn’t make it appropriate for a tent.”  We stayed in site #17 and there was no flat area for putting a tent.  We had to walk into the brush to find a flatish spot for the tent (and therefore trampled the vegetation we pitched our tent on).

Campsite Recommendations:  If I were going to camp here again, site 14 or 15 would be my choice.  (But I’d have a pretty bad attitude about it.)  ;P

Facilities:  Particularly potent vault toilets, a water spigot (the website said there was no on site water, but we did find the water spigot to be functional when we visited in July 2014), and a fire pit and picnic table at every campsite.

Nearby activities:  The short hike up Little Scraggey Peak from the campground was great.  It featured a lot of interesting plant and bug life, including dandelions the size of Ellie’s head.  The area offers much in the way of hiking.  Our group wasn’t big on hiking, so we didn’t get to delve much into that area.  We did visit  Cheesman Lake, which was a short drive away and offered a short (or long) walk along its shores.   Nearby Deckers offered a place for ice cream after our visit for the reservoir, which was delightful until a group of bikers showed up and chose to use the kind of language I reserve for sewing, frosting birthday cakes, and any time I have to clean the children’s bathroom.  No one is allowed to drop that many f-bombs in front of my children but me, people!

Photos:  (I didn’t take these photos with a review in mind so I’m punting a bit for photos that reveal the nature of the campground.)




little scraggey peak

Two photos from the side trip to Cheesman Reservoir: