Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

It's a quiet New Years Eve for me this year. My husband is off trying to kill Bambi so I'm home with the kids with nothing much to do. Not that I'm complaining--after a whole day of taking down the Christmas decorations and giving my sewing room a much needed organizational enema I'm perfectly okay with a quiet night. Well, relatively quiet--the neighbors started up the commercial-grade fireworks around seven and it's been going strong since. Ah, hickville.

Anyway. Did I mention my broken sewing machine? This is what I came home to last week. 


I was happily humming a little Christmas tune after a short music practice at church, and I walk in the back door to see my sewing machine in pieces. Aaaaerrgggh!! See, my machine (which is only two years old) had been acting kind funky, making weird stitches, not aligning properly, etc. So my husband, being a very industrious electrical engineer type, took it apart while I was off playing guitar. The prognosis: (other than it being packed full of batting lint--whoops) the motor that moves the needle was kaput. The cost to fix? A measly $700. Sure! No problem! Let me just pull that out of my back pocket!!!

I was bummed. 

But being (as previously mentioned) very industrious, my wonderful husband managed to find a suitable replacement motor online. For sixty dollars. I'll take my 640 dollars in change thank you very much. It came in the mail, he took it to work and fiddled with it, and voila! Fixed sewing machine! Happiness ensues! Queue choir music!

And today I gave it a test drive by making some blocks for January's do. Good Stitches bee. 

January "Comfort" blocks for do. Good Stitches

I have no New Years Resolutions to share with you (mostly because I think they're pointless--my philosophy is carpe diem! Poop or get off the pot! Don't buy a pig in a poke! Uh...wait...) but I will say that I intend to be a lot more mindful of the blessings I have while I have them.

Like a working sewing machine.

Happy New Year friends (and blog stalkers!!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Parties, etc.

Last friday we had our annual Christmas party, and I had a really great time.  It's always so fun to spend a week baking and decorating and then having a houseful of people over. Every time I have a party like this I'm always amused at the assortment of people who coexist within the church--nerds like me get to mingle with conservatives, hippies (yeah, you know who you are! :), and rock stars all because we have Christ in common. It's pretty cool.

For two years now I've been drooling over a Springerle rolling pin from King Arthur Flour, but could never justify buying it because it is super expensive. (And it seems to be out of stock or I'd have a link). Well my awesome husband bought it for me and let me open it early so I could make springerle for the pary. Yay! Although...ahem...these aren't exactly springerle. I read the recipe and it sounded like they would be pretty but sort of inedible, and I'm not a fan of useless food. So I made gingerbread instead. They didn't keep the impression well as a result, but they were still pretty AND they didn't break anyone's teeth off.

So I have a really hard time buying things for myself. It's a curse. But every once in awhile I work up the courage to just GO AHEAD and buy something. Last year I bought these snowflake cookie cutters with some of the aforementioned gumption (I know what you're thinking--why on earth would I have such a hard time buying cookie cutters? It's weird, I know) and I don't know why but I find making pretty snowflakes so satisfying. I mean, they're sugar cookies, right? Nothing special. And yet they're so appealing.

On a side note, if you add a few drops of lemon essential oil to sugar cookie dough it totally MAKES these things. On another side note, do you like the missing sugar pearls? Thank you very much to my knee-high vultures picking at all my baked goods. 

Since I'm not much of a photographer (shocker, I know) and I was in sweaty hostess mode, I got no pictures of the soiree itself. But it was crowded and loud and there were babies everywhere and teens and tweens and tagalong little Grigoryevs running around outside and it seemed like everyone had a great time. 

After all that I sort of feel like all other Christmas related activities are just sort of icing. Ha. 

The next day we were all wiped out so we spent a day chilling, watching re-runs, and eating our own weight in fried green tomatoes.

Back in August I started some fall seedlings, and I have to say the tomatoes did amazing. I had three plants take over an entire bed and I quite literally did nothing to them. I didn't water, pinch, train, nothing. And I had bushels of tomatoes. Unfortunately, none of them had a chance to ripen before our first killing freeze (what is up with this bizarre weather?) so I picked as many as I could for frying.

I ate so many I was green myself and couldn't even look at food the rest of the day. Ha ha. Then my whole family developed a post-party cold that has sort of knocked us out all week. GOOD TIMES. But on the bright side, a broken sewing machine (!!!) and a head full of snot has given me license to lay around watching movies and playing board games with my kids, something I have a hard time allowing myself to do normally.

Speaking of which, I've got a date with some cute guys and a Parcheesi board.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some silliness

Because I'm using an old camera, I had to go through all the old files and organize them and get them off the memory stick to free up space. While I was rooting around in ancient pictures, I found some funny stop motion pictures my husband took  about a year ago. I have no idea where I was when he was doing this, but it just made me laugh to think of him setting this up. I decided to edit them to make a short film. Here it is in all its glory.

Death In the Jungle from Jenn Grigoryev on Vimeo.

Is it wrong that I want to make more of these?

Yay for old cameras!

So okay, I know we live in the age of camera snobbery, where people's blogs are judged by their photos, and people's photos are picked to death by people with photography fetishes. But sometimes it's nice to have pictures of your stuff or your family even if the camera is not awesome and your skillz are not awesome either. 

That being said, I found a way to start using the 8 year old digital camera we gave our oldest son last year (since our two year old camera decided to stop working) which means I can get some pics up here finally. 

Dane's Journal

First of all, another journal. This one is for...somebody. I don't think that somebody reads my blog, but you can't be too careful, right?

Willow's quilt top

My niece's quilt in progress. Forgive the awful picture, the lighting has been wretched lately so I just did my best with icky indoor lighting. At least I didn't use a flash!! Anyway, this brings me to a little poll question for you: are you the type of quilter who likes to use a designer's whole collection for your quilt, or are you a mix and match quilter?

Personally I find myself to be the latter. Even though I know things will be more perfectly coordinated if I use fabrics from one designer, that takes some of the fun away for me. I love the process of picking out colors and patterns and putting them together, and using one line is (for me anyway) the quilting equivalent of paint by numbers. 

So anyway, this quilt started off with FFA2 as the color inspiration, and grew from there. There's Michael Miller, Denyse Schmidt, Amy Butler, Kaffe Fasset, Heather Ross' Mendocino, Riley Blake...the list goes on. I pretty much just saved any scrap of gray or orange and then threw them all together. I knew I wanted to fussy cut the Sleeping Beauty and Owl and Pussycat prints to be the focal points for each block, which meant doing a square/log cabin-esque layout. I'm a little tired of log cabins personally, so I tried to liven things up a bit by throwing the tiny patchwork squares in the mix. I really liked the effect.

Also, I loved the texture and color of the "Roses" fabric in natural, and thought this might just be the perfect opportunity to try quilting with linen, something I've been wanting to try for a year now but haven't had a project I felt would go well with it. I absolutely LOVE the result. I think linen is my new favorite fabric. Anyway, I like how this is coming together. Sorry for all the chatter. I know I don't usually go on and on about my process but I'm feeling wordy today.


Here are the snowmen I'm embroidering for our family's stockings. I was never really happy with last year's stockings, so this year I decided to take a little more time and make something I really liked, something that reflected our family's personality. And nothing reflects our family personality like the slightly twisted and ironic humor of Calvin and Hobbes. These are so much fun to sew, mostly because I'm laughing while I'm doing it. These are for our boys, I haven't started mine and Art's yet. 

And now for some random Christmas decor:
Christmas tableau1 of 128Perch little birdieCan you have too many garlands?Christmas card garlandFelt ogee garland

Can you tell I like garlands? This year I made one out of old Christmas cards, one out of felt a la Betz White's Felt Ogee Ornament post (though I have to admit I did it way easier: I just folded and cut the lines in a very non-precise way, then hot glued instead of stitched. It took me like an hour to make forty of these things), a colorful dot garland out of dot stickers I painted, and my requisite paper chain garlands. Ha ha.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not having a camera sucks

That pretty much sums it up for me right now. All the things I've made, all the cute kid moments I've missed...not to mention that Christmas is coming up in a hurry and so far it looks like being the first Christmas in ten years with no pictures. 

I wanted to post a tutorial (finally!) for the journal cover, but how can I do that without a camera? I can't. It's frustrating how much of blogging is dependent upon having the ability to take pictures. 


Other than that I'm totally enjoying the nice break from schoolwork and such. I can sew without frustration because I don't have to stop every five seconds to check homework or answer questions. The kids can watch nerdy sci-fi marathons to their hearts content or run around in the cold weather and I don't have to feel bad about it. It totally rules. Next up for me: my annual extended Lord of the Rings viewing while embroidering snowmen for new stockings. Don't hold your breath for pictures. :)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's December 1st and I'm already done

Not with Christmas, of course. What I'm done with is making stuff. Yay!

Okay well that's not exactly true. I still have to sew my niece's quilt, and to quilt my son's quilt, but I'm not counting quilting stuff. I'm counting all the little fiddly things I've been working on for the last few weeks. I've decided to post a few of them here--mostly anonymously of course. :)

Xander's Echino apron

An apron for my middle son, Xander. A few months ago my oldest son got a Star Wars apron from my mom in the mail, which left Xander feeling a little left out. They both like helping me bake, so I figured I would make him one. At first I was frustrated with fabric choices--it seems like all "boy" fabric is geared toward babyish stuff. I mean okay, zoo prints are cute but no self-respecting kindergartner is going to sashay around the kitchen wearing hedgies or elephants. So then I thought, A HA! The perfect opportunity to buy some Echino fabric, which is prohibitively expensive and something I would normally not buy. But I couldn't pass up this chance. I was so happy when I got it and realized it was sort of a linen-like canvas, perfect for holding up to kitchen messiness.

Ilya's Rainbow Marker Holder

My oldest LOVES to draw, particularly with markers. He's pretty fastidious about keeping his markers all together, too--he's had this set since April and he still has all the colors except black. Anyway, he also loves rainbows so I thought it would be cool to make him a holder for his markers using fabrics from my scrap bin to match the colors. It worked out really well, I was pretty proud. I only had to buy a few pieces of purple fabric since that seems to be the only color I never quilt with.

Sketchbook Cover

A sketchbook cover I sewed for...somebody. I actually started with another one which was a disaster. Does anyone else do this when coming up with a pattern yourself? The first one is like this giant pain in the butt that takes forever and turns out very "iffy", and that helps you figure out exactly how NOT to do it the second time around? Yeah. This one took me like a half hour. The first one (not picture here for prides sake) took almost three hours. Ugh. Anyway, this one came out good. Here's the back:

Sketchbook cover, back

I also made several of these gathered clutches from Noodlehead's Tutorial. I love the way they came out! I made two more for some friend's birthdays. They are pretty easy to make and perfect for carrying a few things around in. I think next time I'll sew a little loop handle on one end for convenience. 

Sketchbook and Clutch

I made some homemade mulling spices. I love me some mulled cider. I figured I could give a few jars away to like-minded mulled cider lovers. I used a combination of allspice berries, cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange rinds, and vanilla beans. Mmmmmm.

Kitchen goods

Well the other things I made would be dead giveaways for who they're for, so I'm calling it a day. Hope you're all as excited for Christmas as I am!