November 2019 Recap

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First, here’s the obligatory seasonal self-promo tidbit:

This year I tried a different approach to the holidays sales: the earlier you shop, the bigger your discount. Shoppers have just today and tomorrow left to save 25% on orders of $29 value!

Starting the day after tomorrow, December 01, shoppers can receive 15 % off their orders (same $29 minimum).

Click here to shop: Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy!

2019 Nov Dec Green Blue Collage

Remember, the December sale runs only through December 10, and I’ll close the shop for the season at 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

That’s so soon, yikes!

In my personal life, too, things are a bit busy, so the Thanksgiving break was very welcome. Each year, never mind how early I try to start my Christmas prep, December always sneaks up on me. πŸ™‚

Xmas Cards

Although perhaps I shouldn’t say β€œalways”, for I do have a rather respectable start already. It’s just that the staff at the Finnish post office threw everyone a curveball this November and went on strike. Even having my cards and packages wrapped and ready doesn’t guarantee that they’ll make it there this year; they might arrive as late as early January 2020.

Simple Gift Wrapping

Fortunately almost everyone is now online or has a phone with texting, so I can at least send holiday wishes electronically, although the packages cannot be helped.

For Thanksgiving – which for us this year was a delightful friendsgiving – I refreshed my rose hip bouquet and added red apples into the bowl as well. Husband made spiced, mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potato this year, and it was good. We might adopt it as a staple.

Thx Rose Hip Bouquet

And even if there’s less light, November definitely has its share of natural beauty, especially around sunset.

Red November Sunset

Blue November Evening

I just love the moment when everything looks blue (sininen hetki in Finnish, literally ‘blue moment’).

How was your November?

October 2019 Recap

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This October, I’ve continued the gift bag project I started last month. In addition to roughly book-sized baggies I’ve tried a larger size for sweaters or other clothes. My thinking is that they could also be used as off-season storage bags or organizers for travel wear, for instance, and not just gift bags.

Personally I’ve really come to like stuffing my underwear and socks into small fabric bags when packing for a trip; they’re so much easier to handle in a larger bunch. Confinement into a baggie also prevents them from being scattered all over in the luggage should the ride be bumpy.

Here are three of the small prototypes:

Gift Bag Prototypes 3 Small Ones

October is undeniably a fall month here in New England. It’s time to start putting the garden to bed, although every year I am re-astonished of how long the growing season continues. Husband and I’ve enjoyed the season. We visited a farmstand to get some bulk supplies…

Farmstand Fall Pumpkin Display

Farmstand Apple Selection

…and pickled our own cukes:

Pickles Done

Although early October was cloudy, we have also had sunny days. The bees are still out, but chipmunks seem to have retired for their winter hibernation.

October Wild Flowers

And Thursday is Halloween! Are you ready for trick-or-treaters?

September 2019 Recap

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The biggest work-related news, perhaps, this month is that I was able to start blogging again. Also, this summer I rolled out a trial of free U.S. shipping on Etsy purchases of $35 or more. Let me know your thoughts on either!

Thanks to a huge, completely unrelated project, I didn’t do much sewing at all this summer. At the beginning of September I got back to it, and it felt really good! Among other things, I made two fabric mousepads and a large zippered document pouch as potential prototypes:

Fabric Mouse Pad Floral2

Fabric Mouse Pad Green1

Large Zippered Document Pouch Finished

Husband and I will be strenuously testing the mouse pads in the coming months. So far so good! I’ve also continued to churn out fabric gift bags in various sizes and types. I’m increasingly leaning towards using and re-using them instead of spending money on wrapping paper.

Gift Bags Wrapped

Reading was especially good this month, including this Earthsea omnibus illustrated by Charles Vess:

Current Reading The Books of Earthsea Complete Illustrated

At some point when I wasn’t looking, fall got here:

Red Maple Leaf on Grass

I hope you’ll enjoy the season! I know I will: we have candles and firewood stocked up and ready to go. πŸ™‚

P.S. Happy Rosh Hashanah!

April 2019 Recap

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Like last month, I’ve done some prototype work this April. For a while I’ve wondered about using felt as interfacing in various projects. We’ve already been using my two placemat prototypes for over six months; they seem to be holding well.

This time I started a purse. Here are the fabrics during the color test / fabric selection phase:

Purse Prototype Fabrics

I had two golden ribbons to choose between; if you look carefully, the one on the right has tone-on-tone striping. In the end, I decided on the plainer ribbon. I may have regrets, though…

A major roadblock for this project has been an 8-point applique star. I started that already in March by making a pattern. As this was to be a prototype, I wanted to use up some scraps from my remnants bin. In hindsight that wasn’t a very good decision; I had an inordinate amount of trouble with the star, since I foolishly selected two very slippery, knit-based fabrics: crushed velvet and faux chamois.

I did finish the star eventually, after much cursing and procrastination.

Applique Star WiP Pieced

Now I just can’t decide whether it’s good enough to apply on the purse. I guess that means not.

Well. You win some, you lose some. That’s just the nature of the creative process.

But: Having finished my taxes earlier than usual, I also had ample time to rearrange my workroom. That invariably meant flinging the smaller bookcases around. In addition, I took the opportunity to death clean some of my possessions, and all that lead to restyling my shelves. I made a curtain to hide some of the less than handsome binders and folders:

Bookcase Curtain Finished

The rest of the shelves aren’t quite there yet, but the curtain is looking great, don’t you think? πŸ™‚

Since I moved my desk, my office phone handset was displaced. I made it a tiny end table out of two upcycled oatmeal containers, posterboard and a round tablecloth:

DIY Phone Table Finished

Here’s a secret: the tablecloth is actually one of my SCA veils, naturally well-washed and pressed. (SCA here means Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., i.e., a group of medieval re-enactors.)

In early April, we finally lost the last of the snow and got to enjoy the first leaf buds and flowers, albeit a little late. Spring is my favorite time of the year! πŸ™‚

2019 First Dandelions2

Flowering Pear First Flower

We continue to experiment with new foods due to dietary restrictions. Here’s a dessert that happened to be all vegan: poached pears, roasted & salted cashews and almondmilk vanilla ice cream.

Poached Pears w Pecans

Will I sound too childish if I say OM NOM NOM!?! πŸ™‚

And, of course, at the end of the month we saw Avengers: Endgame. I’m still mulling it over, but it definitely is a one-of-a-kind ending to a one-of-a-kind series of independent but interlinked movies.

March 2019 Recap

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Since finishing my tax paperwork early (yay!) I’ve spent a lot of March working on various prototypes.

For one, after searching for an 8-point star pattern in vain, I tried making one myself. Getting the proportions how I wanted while retaining the symmetry turned out to be more challenging than I thought.

8-Point Star5

While this particular project is still ongoing, I also started on a storage bag one. I’ve got one potentially usable detail down and am still working on the rest. In contrast to previous years when I was still doing battle with paperwork at this time, it’s been lovely to be able to sew!

Inspired by Nikki’s tutorial at Tikkido, I made two bookmarks as gifts: a unicorn and a lobster. The images I found with an online search. The unicorn’s tail is made from cotton yarn and floss, the lobster’s antennae from wool yarn.

DIY Bookmark Unicorn

DIY Bookmark Lobster in Book

I don’t own a laminating machine, so I used a couple of layers of clear packing tape.

March started with an odd stop in the progress of spring. February had seemed to bring us an early spring with fine weather, but then we got several dumps of snow in succession. The last big one came on March 10th, and seems indeed to have been the last one.

Hopefully Last Snowfall

Husband and I took a short spring break trip to southern Ohio to see friends. I loved how much further along spring was there!

Spring Flowers in S Ohio

Unfortunately, I also got sick during the trip and have spent ten days (and counting) nursing a very stubborn cold.

Sick in Munchkin Terms

I hope that’ll be it for the rest of the year. At least it gave me the chance to read.

How was your March?

February 2019 Recap

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This February had loads of paperwork, as usual. Fortunately for me, Valentine’s Day came right after I finished my taxes. Time for yummy loot!

Discounted Valentines Chocolates

We usually buy Valentine’s Day candy only after it has gone on sale, so, perfect timing.

What differs from previous years is that I got my tax stuff figured out by mid-month. I’m very pleased by the achievement and have made copious notes to make the process as fast in the future. (I hope!)

Weatherwise, this February was oddly low-snow. We did get a number snowfalls, but they were relatively few and far between. In the very beginning of the month, we had a load of light, fluffy snow, with sun and high winds the following day. The powdery snow fell off the trees in huge, gorgeous, transparent curtains, almost like mist.

Powder Snow Falling off Trees

My photo doesn’t do it justice at all; it was magnificent!

Towards the mid-month, we had another layer. Afterwards, in the wee hours of the morning, the neighborhood turkeys apparently had places to be:

Turkey Track Central

So many different paths all over! There’s also at least one set of fox tracks there. And speaking of foxes, one Saturday, a bright and glorious morning, one came round to check around the bird feeder in our neighbor’s back yard.

Fox at Bird Feeder

It seems that spring is early this year – and you get no complaints from me. Although I could do with less pollen this early in the year…

Sadly, the latter half of February brought two deaths in Husband’s extended family, which cast a pall on otherwise sunny days.

I hope your year is still off to a good start.

January 2019 Recap

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One of the new things I started at the beginning of 2018 is a month-end recap, a sort of newsletter light. Now I’ve completed the cycle with the first recap for 2019. Yay! πŸ™‚

Speaking of cycles, tax time is rolling around again. I’ve been bogged down with tax prep more than usual at this time of the year.

2018 Jan Tax Work

Unfortunately, Etsy changed the way they bill and pay their sellers at the end of last year. The new system has had some glitches which have increased my bookkeeping workload significantly. I can’t wait to be done with the 2018 number crunching and get onto the tax forms themselves because it’ll feel so much easier – something I never, ever, thought I’d say!

Just past mid-January there was a snowstorm, the first snowfall for the year. Then a front of warm weather with rain pushed through and melted almost all of the snow. It was very pretty for all of four days!

One night right after the snow, we had someone scamper across our yard.

Tracks on Snow from Above

There’s a funny gap in the tracks (in the middle of the photo), though, which makes me wonder whether it might be a sign of a fox jumping to try and catch a critter under the snow. Like in the gif below (but probably much less showy).

Giphy BBC Earth Fox Jump

BBC Earth, via Giphy.

I had a small but very satisfying reading pile this month:

Library Reading Pile Jan 2019

From left to right, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by my favorite living author Nora Jemisin, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming. I also read Ariah by R.B. Sanders and Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang. I’m looking forward to the last two Murderbot novellas, too, which I got as Christmas present. Yay, so many great reads!

On the screen, Husband and I were introduced to the tv series Modern Family by a friend. It’s a mocumentary of three generations of a Californian family. We’re bingeing through the seasons and have gotten up to seven, and are still enjoying it.

My goodness, I never would’ve thought that I’d find a mainstream (i.e., non-genre) family drama interesting, but I do. πŸ™‚ Shows you what production values can do – specificially in this case, attention to quality character-writing and episode structure.

Now that I’ve written a full year’s worth of recap posts, it’s time to reassess. Even though it felt difficult at times, I certainly learned a lot and found that I do like an end-of-the-month look back.

I’m inclined to continue these newsletters, but I might dink around with the topics or proportions. Would you like to read more about something or maybe less about something else? Please let me know!

December 2018 Recap

After Hours, Newsletters

Now that I’m back to blogging, here’s the December 2018 recap.

Honeycomb Candle

Unusually, the first snow of the winter fell before Thanksgiving. It didn’t quite melt by the end of November, but for the most part the ground was bare and the weather warm for December.

We put my Christmas ornament projects to use. This year we decided on a rainbow-colored tree.

2018 Rainbow Tree Collage

During our break we cooked, ate well and rested, of course…

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

…not forgetting to go outside either.

January Sunset

I really scored at my local public library this Christmas: ALL of the Downton Abbey seasons and ALL of the (so-far released) seasons of Call the Midwife were on the shelf!

Xmas Binge Watching DVDs

Woot! πŸ™‚ And we had a lovely, lovely period-drama-filled break.

Unfortunately, 2018 was a complicated year in terms of health. I won’t go into detail, but the situation is serious enough to have changed doctors, made my first visit to the ER and been introduced to the CT, EEG and MRI procedures. In addition, due to some baffling complications I haven’t been fully perky and/or upright for nine months. (Gosh, such a long time!)

I had hoped that continuing my treatment regimen AND enjoying a thoroughly guilt-free, restful Christmas would enable me to show these complications the door and wish them good riddance, but sadly that hasn’t yet happened. So, I’m going to have to continue with a lighter creative work load while taking care of myself.

What are you wishing most from 2019?

November 2018 Recap

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Both the latter half of October and the first half of November were rainy and felt very dark. I had to wait for good photography weather for a while, but finally I was able to list the three pieces of rainbow-striped wall art I made earlier this fall.

Rainbow Stripe Wall Art 3x
Rainbow Stripe Wall Art 3x on White

There were quite a few brilliantly bright days there, too. Funny how they seemed to get lost among all grey, though.

What a Murder

We got first snow on November 15th this year. What a surprising treat!

Snowy Nov Backyard 2018

I noticed myself yearning for candles, Christmas lights and bright colors very early.

Colorful Inspirational Books

I even accidentally wore red and green at the beginning of the month! πŸ˜€

Red Socks Green Pants

I also did some crafts, using up some ribbon ends that are too short for anything else plus other bits and bobs to make tree ornaments. Here’s a test piece I adapted from a hair bow project:

Ribbon Ornament Test Piece Finished

Having made sure I can do it, of course I wanted more colors! I didn’t have enough of colorful ribbons, though, so I cheated and added a few short pieces of fabric. They look quite good, though:

Ribbon Ornaments Finished

Normally we don’t start decorating for Christmas this early, but this year, for many reasons, we wanted to. Especially since the Thanksgiving weekend was the last gloriously sunny stretch in a bit.

Xmas Decor2 2018

How are you getting on with the rest of the year?

October 2018 Recap

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Picking away at the scrap piles and selecting bright colors has been such a relief from the dark, gloomy, rainy October days. Fortunately there haven’t been too many of those.

Another Rainbow Project5 Oct 2018

These pieced and lined rectangles measure roughly 8” x 10” or 26 x 21 cm, and make a rainbow continuum intended as a wall art set. They can, of course, also be hung singly. I should be able to list them on Etsy early November.

In fact, I liked the result so much I’m considering scaling them up for a set of striped rainbow continuum placemats. (A bit like my rainbow placemat prototypes.)

Unfortunately, a chronic condition flare-up and various appointments have significantly slowed me from late spring onwards, but this month was the worst so far. My goal for the remainder of 2018 is to get it under control again and return to normal.

My second priority is to minimize the effects of my ill health for shoppers. I will continue to ship orders and respond to queries as soon as possible. I will also make sure I update my Etsy shop with the latest, most accurate processing times.

Even so, as exigencies are quite possibile, I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

In our corner of Massachusetts, early October can still feel very summery.

October Butterfly

However, the latter half of October is when fall really starts feeling like fall. The leaves turn, nature is settling down for the winter…

View of October Trees over Lake

…except…

Last of Our Zucchini for 2018

…we keep getting zucchini from our garden! πŸ˜€

How has your October been?