Tiny Tweaks: Fringeless (+ New Earrings Listed on Etsy)

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I’m doing a series of posts called “Tiny Tweaks” – simple changes that make a difference – in hopes of crossing things off my to-do list or simply making things a little bit better. 

In anticipation of fall, I’ve been searching for a lightweight, drapey cardigan, something to grab on those days when chilly mornings turn into warm afternoons.

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I found this one at a thrift store.

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I love the color and knit pattern, but I didn’t like the fringe. I thought I could easily remove it to make it just right – still cozy, less boho. My plan was to just chop off the fringe with scissors.

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I realized once I started cutting that the fringe was just the loose ends of knit at the bottom of the sweater, so if I cut them off, it would fray in to a big old frizzy mess.

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Luckily, the fringe was a separate piece of knitting that had been attached with a serger. I have LOTS of experience removing serger threads.

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The serger thread was a different color and texture than the knitted yarn, so I could easily see which threads to cut with my seam ripper.

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Once I made a few cuts, the fringed piece began to separate from the body of the sweater. But it wasn’t quick work. I took my time to make sure I didn’t pull any yarn loose. It took about an hour to remove everything.

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I texted this photo to my friend, Christy, and said, “I’m removing fringe from a sweater. Why do I do these things? And why did both kids immediately say, ‘Can I use this for an invention? Or for my Halloween costume?'” (So far, the costume ideas are a ninja and a black kitty. No fringe needed.)

“Kids are pack rats,” she responded. So true.

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Perfect. Exactly as I imagined, paired with a vintage sleeveless blouse and cut-off shorts.

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And some new earrings! I’ve been playing around with earrings this summer, trying out different shapes and sizes.

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The new circle earrings are listed in my Etsy shop. (Currently available in silver and bronze – more colors coming soon!)

On Cinnamon Rolls and Broken Washing Machines

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I got married when I was almost 19. (For those doing math at home, yes, I was 18. EIGHTEEN! Husband was 20. Were we crazy or what?) Husband grew up knowing how to do all his own laundry by the time he was in 5th grade. I did not. Husband (who was still Boyfriend at the time) taught me how to do laundry at the laundromat my freshman year. On more than one occasion, he came over to my dorm and ironed pants for me. And he has always been a better cleaner than me.

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So it won’t surprise you that Husband did most of the cooking early on in our marriage. I called him The Chef – he could always take whatever we had on hand and turn it into something fabulous. And he’s never been afraid to try something challenging. He is still the go-to for roasting a whole bird (cooking chicken has always freaked me out), and his Osso Bucco is fantastic.

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But a few years ago, something switched. Kids, his job changing a little bit, or the change in the way we eat when I went gluten free – I’m not sure what it was – but I am now Head Chef. Husband still enjoys cooking, and Sunday night dinners tend to be his time to shine, but for the day-to-day meals, I’m your gal. And I LOVE it. I love cooking now. I love the sound and feel and even the smell of chopping onions on the cutting board. I love experimenting with different oils to make the flavors just right (rice bran oil was the latest) . I love trying variations of recipes to find the best. I will often make all three meals in a day from scratch. And I’m not even afraid to cook chicken anymore!

There is something so satisfying about starting with ingredients I selected myself at the store or farmers market, prepping them and combining them in just the right way to make something delicious to feed family and friends. Cooking is now one of my favorite things to do, but if you had told me that 10 years ago – or even 5 – I would have laughed. (Did I mention I really hated cooking?)

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I think the biggest thing that has changed is my confidence. Whereas in the past, I would eat something at a restaurant or see something in a cookbook and feel completely intimidated, I now think about how I could make it at home, how I could recreate it, how I could make it work for our family. It’s a puzzle, a project, a work of creativity all in one.

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So this week, when the kids talked about how we used to have cinnamon rolls (the Pillsbury kind you buy in cans), I went in search of a recipe to make them from scratch. ME! Someone who would NEVER call herself a baker, someone who would always second guess every step in every recipe for years. And I did it!

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I think it comes down to practice. To trying and failing and trying again and knowing it’s going to be okay. To having lots of experiences with the raw materials (here, almond flour and pecans and coconut oil and honey) to sort of know what’s going to happen. And to know that even if it doesn’t happen that way, it’s not the end of the world. I learn something even when it doesn’t work.

And maybe it also comes down to age. I am turning 37 this month, and I think as I get older, I realize more that things that look “impossible” or “amazing” from the outside are often the result of lots of practice and trial and error. I realize more that most things in life are “figureoutable” – there are ways to make it work.

Husband did this over the weekend, too. For a couple of months, our washing machine has sounded like a goat. I am not even kidding. Multiple times during every load, the washer would emit an extremely loud grinding noise with an uncanny resemblance to bleating. I even googled “My washer sounds like a goat” once. Nothing. But then Husband decided to get to the bottom of it. He watched some YouTube videos until he found the exact sound (this one if you’re curious) and read up on how to fix it (basically tightening up a screw on a pulley underneath the washer). Within ten minutes, our washing machine was running with nary a goat sound to be heard. He figured it out!

Granted, there are lots of things that we won’t be able to do. Open-heart surgery comes to mind. Most automobile repairs. Root canals. But a lot of times, if it’s something that SOMEONE has figured out how to do, we might be able to figure it out, too.

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Which is why if you can buy a cinnamon roll, then you can probably make a cinnamon roll. And the process of making it will probably be a whole lot of fun, too.

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These cinnamon rolls were awesome, if I do say so myself. The recipe is from The Urban Poser. I topped ours with a frosting loosely based on this Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting from Elena’s Pantry. (I tweaked it to make it a little softer by adding lots more whipping cream than called for. Another trial-and-error that I was PRETTY sure would work out, and it did.)

Tell me: What’s something you figured out how to do recently? Or what’s something you can do now that the younger you would never have believed you could do? I’d love to hear.

 

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

Thanks for all the compliments on BB’s bed makeover. I was so happy with how it turned out – I am all about taking things that are broken and discarded and making them new again. (I’ve got a few more makeovers lined up in the coming weeks that I’m excited to share with you.) While I’m busy painting away, here are five things on my mind this week:

pumpkin1. Fall. It’s not really here yet (it was 97 degrees on Wednesday), but I can smell it in the air and feel it in the breeze. (Plus, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back.) Fall is my most favorite time of year (and not just because it’s my birthday season). Candles, blankets, boots, pumpkins, cardigans, apple crisp, bonfires, falling leaves – all of it fills me with joy. This week, I caved and bought my first pumpkin of the year (from the dollar bin at Target), and it made me so happy. (Also, this made me laugh.)

Life is art.

2. This quote. It reminds me a lot of this Dani Shapiro quote I came across earlier in the year, and it made me think about life and art and practice and how they all overlap. I keep pondering how to bring the idea of practice more and more into my life and into the things I make.

3. Old-Fashioned Niceties That Deserve a Comeback. I think a lot of these fall under Helena Bonham Carter’s definition of art (#2 above) – helping people, writing a letter, thanking people. And I’ve really been trying to “Pretend There’s a Phone Cord” when I make a call – not checking email, not scrolling Facebook, not walking from room to room, picking up books or folding the laundry. It’s hard when you are used to multi-tasking on the phone, but it is so, so good to really listen.

4. Yoga. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a regular yoga practice, but I came across 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene this week. Confession: I have only done Day 1, but it was great, and she is completely adorable. I’m all about small ways to make changes, and doing videos at home is a simple, small change. (Also, I’m curious – do you have other suggestions for at-home workouts? Most days, I rotate between weights in my den, the elliptical in my garage, and walking in our neighborhood, but I’m always up for something new. I’d love to hear if you have something you love!)

5. This made me laugh (and was also kind of sweet).

What are you up to this weekend? We are looking forward to an outdoor movie night, a Cub Scout event, and lots of play time. I’m also hoping to finish this book that I mentioned a few weeks ago. (Remember how I was hoping it would be a good read aloud for the kiddos? Yeah, NO. It’s pretty scary. It gave me crazy dreams after the first couple of chapters. But I still can’t put it down.) Hope you have an awesome weekend. Thanks for reading!