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So this happened…

 

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I opened the closet in my sewing room Saturday morning and was greeted by the sight of a storage container avalanche. A jumble of small plastic tubs and caved-in cardboard boxes. Would you like that in paper or plastic? ‘Cause I had sacks of both persuasions falling over, dripping down the mountains of stuff like they were Dali’s clocks. In that moment, I completely forgot whatever it was I had gone looking for. In that moment… I transformed into my alter ego Purge-n-Organize Girl! Ok, that’s a terrible super hero name. But if you could have seen the blaze of outraged perfectionist fury chucking things out of that closet into the (not so ) vast expanse of my sewing room… you would have been awed by my powers. No longer would I stand for having painting supplies in three different places! No more would I have crochet hooks scattered about in some kind of haystackian needle hide and seek! But, it’s always darkest before the dawn and it’s always messiest before any discernible progress is made. The above photos document the mid-point of the process; you should have seen it when I started! Too bad I couldn’t find my camera then… As of this writing, I’m about 75% done and it’s already feeling better in there. All paintbrushes and paints are happily homed together; fabric bins are stacked together rather than on opposite sides of the room.

So why am I telling you all about my cleaning binge? Because there was no time for creating whilst I was destroying.

Wednesday should be better!

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UFO —> FO #2: Little bunny’s dress

Is this really only the second UFO I’ve completed? Dang.

Not much to say about this one. Other than I wonder why I subject myself to making teeny tiny clothes because I hates it, precious! I hates it! Although I did feel some personal satisfaction for having saved miniscule cuts of elastic. Are all crafters hoarders?

Anyways, here’s pretty little Mai in her pretty little dress. Rana was so happy to see the dress finished and has had all kinds of fun dressing Mai and an assortment of other stuffed bunnies in the dress. Yes, in just the few hours since I completed it yesterday afternoon.

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To keep the ball rolling, I pulled my next UFO project.

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Evidently, somebody has been messing with my camera and has set the time stamp. I have my suspicions as to who it was…

It looks like I’ll be working on a gingerbread house just in time for Halloween! Er, I mean, well in advance of Christmas. That’s a good thing! Maybe I’ll actually be able to display it this year. Y’know, 3 years after I started it.

More beaded jar covers

I need to offer my apologies to German-speaking Jewish people of the world.

One of my most-clicked posts as a result of one of the most-frequent search terms that lead people to my blog has probably turned out to be pretty disappointing. See, when Mr. Gren and I thought that my beaded jar covers looked like tricked-out yarmulkes, I thought I was being all clever combining the words “jar” and “yarmulke” to get “jarmulke.” Turns out, that’s just the German spelling for the same thing. I suppose it’s still a sort of fun play-on-words, but it undoubtedly made no sense at all to all the people who landed on my blog shopping for actual Jewish head-coverings. Sorry ’bout that. Goyim gonna goy.

So this time, no funny stuff. I made jar covers with crocheted edgings and beads. White crochet thread, an assortment of pretty beads of various substances, and white flour sack towels from Pakistan which are actually somewhere in between cheesecloth and an actual flour sack towel in terms of the weave. For my purposes of fermenting, that actually works better because it allows more air in, while still keeping dust and bugs out.

 

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The tap is open and the kombucha is flowin’

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These made nice portable projects for our trip to Idaho this summer. I only finished two while I was there; I’ve got a couple more circles of cloth left still.

Sourdough starter

Sourdough starter

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These are fairly simple to do, but I love how pretty they turn out. Classing up my kitchen! I did learn a few things from last time which made this go ’round easier. I machine-stitched a line 1/4″ from the edge of the cloth, then poked my crochet hook inside that stitching line when I started the crochet edging. The machine stitching gives it a little more stability so close to the edge of the cloth. Also, I didn’t bother with beads that didn’t easily fit on my crochet thread. Life’s too short. I tried to do a different edging on each cover, for my own amusement. And that’s all there really is to say about that.

Since that was short and only marginally interesting, I’m going to tack on a bit more here at the end.

Remember this thing?

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This is the UFO jar that is, perhaps, partially responsible for my long hiatus. How can that be? Well, the last project that I pulled from the jar was the Rainbow Afghan. My goal was to finish one project per month. I didn’t finish it the first month. Nor the second month. I ran out of yarn. And then I ran out of gumption. This afghan was supposed to have been a stash-buster. You don’t buy new yarn for stash busters! So I was caught in this crafter’s quandary: Do I buy yarn and finish the project (and then have new leftover yarn)? Or do I accept that the afghan will be smaller than originally planned? I chose Option C, which was “Do nothing.”

While the afghan continues to simmer on the back burner, I thought it was high time to pull a new project. After all, my goal was to empty this thing out by the end of the year!

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{sigh} Oh boy. You don’t know how badly I wanted to put this right back in the jar and pull something else. “They’ll never know! They’re just internet people!” But integrity won out in the end and now I’ve published it for all the world to see. “Mai” is Rana’s favorite stuffed bunny rabbit. Originally, this project was conceived as a little mother-daughter teaching time, but, well, let’s just say that Rana and I didn’t have the best summer together and the thought of any more “quality time” together right now makes me want to run screaming for the hills. So here’s the deal: I’m just going to bust this out on my own. Leave it on her bed for her to find after school one day and then she and Mai can have a lovely time playing dress-up and I’ll move on to a new UFO.  Fair enough?

Sometimes I’m inspiring

I know, I find it a little shocking myself, but occasionally people tell me this. And to you people I say, “Thank you.” Specifically this time to my blogger friend, Elle of Erratic Project Junkie, who nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Not only did she nominate me, but she did it in the midst of my blogging slothdom. I hardly felt inspiring at that moment, but it was a good catalyst for getting back in the game. So I owe you two thank yous, Elle — one for the award and one for the kick in the pants. If you like my blog, there’s a pretty high likelihood that you’ll like hers as well. She is also eclectic in her craftiness, plus, she and her stepson are voracious readers and post some entertaining book reviews. Go check her out!

And now on to the award stuff. Here’s how it goes:

Rules

  1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Alrighty, so let’s see what we’ve got here. Thanked and linked, check. Rules listed, check. Award displayed:

The internet said it, so it must be true

The internet said it, so it must be true

Now is the part of the program where you get to learn seven (7) facts about me. I asked Mr. Gren for help in choosing these fascinating tidbits (this is hard!). These are listed in no particular order in terms of importance or interest.

  1. Without ever having studied Italian, I once walked into the train station at Venice, looked at a couple travel posters on the wall, then walked up to the counter and held a conversation in Italian and ordered two tickets to Florence. Mr. Gren continues to be impressed at this, ten years hence.
  2. Also filed under “Self-taught skills”: When I went to college in Tennessee, I didn’t get to watch my beloved Seattle Mariners (baseball team). The Commons at the dorm got a copy of USA Today, though, so I taught myself to read the box scores so that I could mentally recreate the game. That’s why Mr. Gren married me.
  3. I have an elaborate protocol for spider disposal all hinged on my completely rational philosophy on spiders, their habits and evil powers. Mr. Gren didn’t laugh at me when I explained it all to him. That’s why I married him.
  4. There is an extra bone in my left arm just above the elbow. It’s not really that special. It doesn’t do party tricks. Most of the time I forget it’s there until I bang my arm on something. But when I was a kid, my dad said it was magic and rubbed it for good luck.
  5. Although I have traveled all over Europe, I have never been to Canada. It’s a 3 hour drive from my house. Someday when I do go (dream big, Jennifer), I will be sure to wear my red shirt with the white maple leaf that says, “Eh?” It’s da best. canada_large
  6. I don’t use a cell phone. I have one because Mr. Gren forces me to carry it. And I do. Grudgingly. On the extremely rare occasion that I even turn it on (maybe once a month), 99.98% of the time, it’s to call Mr. Gren. My dad learned the hard way that texting me is an exercise in futility.
  7. Last summer, I sat next to Zachary Quinto in the Pittsburgh airport. Ok, not right next to him. Since the waiting area was mostly empty, it would have been way creepers to just plunk down next to him. So I chose a seat four chairs away. I would have taken a picture with my cell phone as proof, but I don’t know how to use it.

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Alright, facts have been shared, so it is my great honor and pleasure to nominate more bloggers as inspiring. Here is where I am lame: I don’t even read 15 blogs regularly. And THEN, as I was going through the list of blogs in my blogroll over there on the right, I discovered that a few of them are defunct and/or “taking a hiatus” like somebody else we know. Hmph. So this will be a short list. Let’s see how many I can get. Drumroll, please…

  1. A Dress A Day It’s a little funny nominating Erin for this award because she’s all blog-famous and has written books and a dictionary and stuff. But she really was an inspiration to me when I started reading her years upon years ago. Thanks to Erin, I realized that vintage sewing patterns were a thing, so I can credit her with that addiction. Stemming from that, she inspired me to start sewing for myself in earnest.
  2. LLADYBIRD Lauren is just flat-out awesome. She’s a salty little Southern sailor (ye have been warned), but her sense of humor and style make her blog worth checking out. She has a bit of the same sewing/crafting philosophy as I do — she’s not afraid of trying anything. She taught herself how to knit, you guys, and her very first project was gorgeous little cardigan that was most definitely not a beginner’s project. Mad props, woman. Thanks to her, I was inspired to teach my own self to knit. I’ve still got a ways to go to catch up.
  3. Down to Earth Rhonda has had a major influence on my life, without her even knowing it. She writes of simple living from her home in Australia. I’ve learned so much about gardening, raising chickens, and home arts from her. She has such a gentle, soothing manner of writing, too. Every time I stop by her blog I feel inspired.
  4. YarnChick40 I’ve mentioned Lisa on here before, so naturally she should get a nom. Why? Well, I feel like she and I make each other better. Better crocheters, better bloggers. Not in a competitive kind of way, just totally encouraging and… inspiring.
  5. Did You Make That? Karen has only been sewing for about 4 years, but you would never know it by looking at her blog! She started it as a documentation of her learning process. She has thrown herself into learning everything she possibly can to make herself a better seamstress (sewist).
  6. Mister G Kids Mr. G is a substitute elementary school teacher who hand-draws a little comic based on the funny things he hears kids say in the course of a day. Always a pick-me-up!
  7. Dan Frugalberg features nature photography accompanied by heartfelt poetry, often delving into his faith in Jesus Christ.
  8. Another faith-based blog is my friend Rebekah’s Three Bees in a Blue Bonnet which she uses to examine the motives of her heart as she journeys through life and invites us to do the same.
  9. Now, this next blog I’m about to list is definitely not a fun blog, but I feel like it is an important and necessary one. Clara shares her heartbreaking story in Finding a Healing Place where she urges us to keep our eyes open for the sake of our children so that no more have to suffer the horror of molestation. (Clara has already played an important role in my life by creating the website Silent Grief which helped me through the loss of our first child).
  10. Pfft. I’m petering out here, folks. I think that’s about what I’ve got!

So there you go! I hope you’ll check out some of the above blogs and I hope I can continue to be inspiring in some way. Thanks, Elle!

I’m back, from outer space

So, I’ve been gone a little while. You may have noticed. Rather than get into all the how and why, suffice it to say, it’s been a doozy of a summer with plenty of ups and downs.

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A little sampling of the past few months.

But I think the hiatus (as abrupt as it was) has been good for me. Rana and Granota started school today; I’ve got lots of things to write about; I’ve got an Inspiring Blogger award (thanks, Elle!) to take care of; Sprinkaan doesn’t need to be held 24/7… I have a good feeling about this fall.

Also: New look! Am I sold on it? Not necessarily, but fiddling around with it occasionally kept me connected. Tell me what you think!

Thanks for sticking with me!

Ready, set, craft!

We’ve been in this house for five months and 14 days and today, I got my sewing room put together in a way that I can use it. It’s not perfect and my storage “solutions” are not Pinterest-worthy paragons of organization, but it’s functional. It started with a new cutting board. My kids have wreaked untold havoc on my old one. It’s dingy, torn up, bent up, adorned with marker drawings and globs of glue. In short, it’s hideous.

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I had been all excited to start sewing on my peasant blouse (aka UFO #2), but when I spread out the cutting board on my table, I couldn’t bring myself to lay any fabric on it. It really was that gross. But for an almost 8 year old sheet of cardboard that survived two moves, I’d say I got my money’s worth out of it. All ten bucks and then some. Today, I bought a new one.

A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty

Now, to be fair, I shouldn’t say that the cutting board started this process. Really, it’s more that the cutting board ended it. Ever since we moved in, my table has been covered in mounds of stuff, most of which had no business being in my sewing room in the first place. Slowly, but surely, I was able to get the table cleared off. All except for my computer. And so, the table morphed into a desk, which was really handy, but didn’t help me accomplish any sewing. So today, with a new cutting board, I vowed to keep my table clear so that it will be project-ready at a moment’s notice. I tried various configurations of boxes and bins to use as a makeshift desk for my computer and moved it around to three different places in my room to find the best location. If Goldilocks had a laptop, this would have been her story. This stack of bins was too high; that stack was too low. Where was that elusive sweet spot?

Mr. Gren came in to observe my progress and suggested, “Why don’t you just use the ironing board? It’s adjustable.”
“But what do I do when I need to iron? It will be just like the table was before.”
“Just set your computer on that stack of bins right next to it.”

Heeeey…

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Frog is looking at you

This just might work.

Eventually, I’d like to get my fabric and yarn out of bins and into some kind of dresser or cabinet, but I can be patient until a good deal comes along. I can get to everything I need, I can see most of it, and I have plenty of room to move around.

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Lots of natural light with South and West-facing windows

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See that little mound on the table? That’s the peasant blouse, waiting to be sewn.

The closet, however, is a different story. But, as Mr. Gren pointed out, “At least you have a closet.”

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I still need to write about that cape that’s hanging up in there!

Action packed!

In this episode of Two Frogs, the Grens find a new pad, add a new grasshopper, and even get back some creative spunk! It has been a busy month in Frogland and I’m excited to get to share it with you!

First, ze bebe! (Well, chronologically, he’s second, but he deserves top billing). Our newest little person is one week old today! And I hereby dub him Sprinkaan as his blog name, which is “grasshopper” in Afrikaans (Rana is “frog” in Italian; Granota is “frog” in Catalan; Konik is “grasshopper” in Czech. For all of you have never bothered to read the “About Me” page. 😉 Which I need to update now…). Sprinkaan was 8 lbs 11.7 oz and 20 inches long at birth — my biggest baby by nearly a pound! Whew! No wonder I felt so tired and heavy all the time. And for as rough as the delivery was, we’re all very happy to have our sweet little Sprinkaan on the outside now.

So happy to have the baby at home!

So happy to have the baby at home!

Second (but first), we’re in a real live house now! We got a lot of help during that hectic week from generous friends packing, cleaning, bringing us meals, loading up the truck, unloading, and unpacking! If not for them, we’d still be living amongst towers of boxes because — in case you haven’t heard — women who are 9 months pregnant are pretty much worthless at all of that, especially since I had a lot of additional pain which caused me to have to walk with a crutch or a cane, even just to get across the room. So a big shout-out to all of our helpers! And the house is great; all of us are loving it so much. And while I haven’t gotten everything set up exactly how I like it, I already love having a dedicated sewing/craft room. I actually have done a few crafts with the kids, but they are for Christmas, so I can’t go blabbing about those just yet. Hush hush. At least we know I’ll have something to show come January.

Home sweet home. The big window in the front is my sewing room!

Home sweet home. The big window in the front is my sewing room!

But! So it’s not all frost-covered tumbleweeds around here, I decided to do something a little different. Over at The Idea Room, blogger Amy is hosting a Photo-a-Day challenge for the month of December (she does it every month). I thought it sounded like fun and it’s something creative yet fairly stress-free as I’m juggling an armful of new-baby responsibilities on top of, y’know, regular life. (It’s a good thing that Rana and Granota’s teachers are understanding because it may be awhile before they see any of the girls’ homework). Each day has a theme and the goal is to capture the essence of that theme in a picture. Right now I will acknowledge that I make no claims to being a great photographer. Nor do I have a fancy camera that makes everything look all light and bright and airy. But I will do my best and hopefully it will be fun for all of us. If you have a blog, you might want to join, too, and we can all look at each other’s pictures!

Today’s theme is: Stripes.

Stripes

Stripes