Megan of Penny Carnival

Big Blog Family

Name: Megan Cooley
Location: Spokane, Wash.
Family: Husband (“J”), 4-year-old daughter (“Bo”) and 2-year-old daughter (“Magpie”)
Web site: Penny Carnival

On her Web site, Penny Carnival, Megan modestly tells us, "When it comes to crafting, sometimes I know what I'm doing. Sometimes I figure it out as I go. Sometimes a project fails horribly. All I know is if I don't occasionally make stuff with my hands, I start to lose my mind."

Interview and more photos, below the jump.

From looking at her terrific projects and photos, all we can say is Megan is definitely sane and we have yet to see a failure. From charming aprons to snazzy recipes and plenty of great tutorials, Penny Carnival covers everything from sewing to gardening to living life simply and shares it all with us in an entertaining way.

Why did you start blogging?
In 2006, I was working for a local magazine when a promotional postcard came in the mail advertising Denyse Schmidt quilts. The idea that someone was making modern-style quilts floored me. I’d always loved making things by hand but had given up on sewing because the fabrics and patterns available (as far as I knew) were hokey and outdated. Denyse Schmidt’s quilts opened up a whole new world to me. I started to discover one modern craft blog after another.

By the spring of 2008, I’d brushed up my sewing skills enough to feel like I might have a little something to contribute to the blogosphere, so I started Penny Carnival. I love coming up with ways to solve problems around the house, like with my book sling, and I figure if that helps a few other people in some small way, super.

My background is in journalism, so it was weird at first to write in the first person and about personal things. But I got over it.

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How do you find time to make all of your projects?
I don’t watch T.V. That doesn't mean that my kids don't watch some -- I’m not anti-T.V. -- but you’ll rarely find me parked in front of the tube. (And if I am, I’m usually pinning something together that’s about to be stitched up.) I used to watch HGTV and the Food Network, etc., but I found myself watching shows about other people living creative lives rather than living my own creative life. So I stopped. Now, if I could just get myself off the dang Internet.

Sometimes I work on my own crafts alongside the kids, as they’re doing their own creating. We go through phases when that’s easy and phases when that’s impossible, though. We’re in an impossible phase right now, so most of my projects these days get done late at night.

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What has been your favorite creation? What's your family's?
• Well, the book sling has definitely been my most popular. Thanks again to Ohdeedoh for featuring that last winter and to the readers for choosing it in the small projects contest!
• I could spend the rest of my life making clothes for my kids and never get tired of it.
• I also love embroidering their drawings, like I did for the cover of this daily planner.
• And, since our family is always trying to be greener, it’s fun to find new uses for old junk, like these covered cans I make (originally inspired by the blog Elsie Marley).

FYI: I write about earth-friendly home and lifestyle topics for a green-themed Web site and magazine my local newspaper publishes.

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• My youngest daughter would say her favorite project was the apron I made for her second birthday. She loves to “help” cook and goes straight for the apron drawer when she hears the pots and pans clang.
• My oldest daughter would probably say her rainbow birthday party.

I write about kids’ parties and love to throw handmade birthdays for my kids (not over-the-top birthdays—just ones that feel more personal than a Sponge Bob piñata can deliver).

• My husband said he likes the activities I create for the kids, like the Story Starters (which Ohdeedoh was kind enough to feature recently).

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Finally, what is one great piece of parenting advice someone has shared with you?
From my dad: “Lighten up.” (He said it in a nice way.) Sometimes I need to remind myself to do that, to just relax.

From a gentleman I know here in Spokane: “Sparkle.” He was talking about life in general—smile at the woman who rings up your groceries, say hello to strangers on the street, look people in the eye. You never know what kind of day they’re having. But it also applies to parenting—brighten up your face when your kids come in the room and they’ll reflect that back. Greet your partner with a hug and a kiss when they get home. The more love you give, the more you get back.

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Thank you for sharing, Megan. For more, visit Penny Carnival.

Since our inception, we have loved hearing from all of our readers as well as reaching out to several in the blog community. You are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands all writing about your families, style and what makes you tick. To continue fostering this great blogging community, we'll now begin featuring close-ups of our favorite family and design blogs as part of our "Big Blog Family".