Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Butterfly Effect

According to Wikipedia, "The concept of the butterfly effect is frequently referred to in popular culture in terms of the novelty of a minor change in circumstances causing a large change in outcome."

My older sister and my grandmother's hands with a butterfly, photo taken by my younger sister.

I'm sitting in an atuobody waiting room. Well, rather, I am camping out in an autobody waiting room. I was in a car accident last month and the trunk is still leaking. They are working on it and I am working on all that I brought with me. I can't just sit. Rather, I can't just sit here and read, or do nothing for 3 hours, the time they quoted it would take. At 2.5 hours now, I think they might be right about that estimate.

I sat, working on various bits of things, a little computer work, a little pinning and cutting of projects. I also brought along some new crochet bags to work on. Likewise, I am listening to an audio book, The Possibly of Everything, by Hope Edelman. It is a memoir of a California writer who chronicles a trip with her toddler and husband to Belize. There is a butterfly on the cover of the audio book case.

As I work, some of the employees are interested in my bag. A woman mentions it looks like a crocheted rug she has, made by a friend's mother, which she says 'is very dear to me'. I nod and tell her that the bags are being made from rag strips that my grandmother, who passed in the fall, had prepared for her own rug making. I explain that I am using them to make bags, rather than rugs. She says they look good and we go back to what we were doing.

On CD player, Edelman details a visit to a butterfly farm, where her family has bright blue South American insects land on them and they gape at the beauty. This, too, reminds me of my grandmother. In August, when she was still able to get out and about, my family took her to a butterfly festival at a local nature center. They set up a mesh tent with a variety of fluttering things. At the festival, my older sister wheeled my grandmother into the tent and tried to get one to land on her hands but they were somewhat spooked, as too many 4 year olds had been clutching them all day.

The crochet bag, the woman's comments, the audio book and, just like that, I am utterly, completely missing my grandmother.

The colors on the bag in front of me blur and mush as I tear up. I can feel them about to spill over and I hear my grandmother's voice asking “What will people think?” Yes, Gram, what *would* people think at me crying over you in an auto body shop? I can barely contain my laugh at her unexpected chiding and the tears slip back into my eyes.

While her love in my life had an undeniable affect, so did her quirks and it was those that just saved me from crying in the waiting room of an auto body shop. And, thus, my butterfly effect is complete for today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"In the Bag" - Making New Accessories from Recycled Fabrics

Still have time to register for the In the Bag Workshop!

All materials are provided!

Fun is guaranteed!

Create a bag from recycled materials, old clothing, your favorite dress, vintage towels and more. Learn about suitable fabrics, patterns, interfacings and other materials.

Friday, March 12, 6 pm -10 pm

Del Ray Artisans Gallery
2704 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301

Registration Fee:
$40 for DRA members / $45 for non-members

Other Details:
Basic sewing skills needed
Suggested supply list will be provided prior to the workshop
Sewing machine usage will be available

Jen Athanas (
571-332-0181 or

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy International Women's Day!

What will you be doing to celebrate International Women's Day?

Well... It is not only IWD but my birthday! So, I always celebrate it by thanking my mom for raising a strong woman (actually, three...) but usually, I let myself go a little on this day. I am a self named workaholic, so I typically give myself the day off from work, no matter what I have going on or what projects I have on my plate... and today will be no different. However, I had a really hard time figuring out what I wanted to do. Normally, I challenge myself to do something more unique, more artistic, more outgoing than I do on a day to day. But, this year...

A museum? Been there, done that...
A day trip? Nah...
Time in the studio, to clean? BLAH!
Rollerskating, ice skating, sky diving, hang gliding, horseback riding, motocross racing?? DONE THEM ALL. Nope ;) Not that last one...

Stay at home in the kitchen, cooking all day? Hm... Now, that *is* different!

See, in my day to day life, I just don't have much time (read no time) to cook and bake and make all those yummy, wholesome things that my body needs to be a big, strong woman. I recently went wheat/gluten free and while it has been somewhat easy, I do miss baked goods and yummy, bad for you things like pizza. We made gluten free pizza last night and it was really good (perhaps it was the bacon *and* ham we put on it??). However, the GF prepared goods are probably just as bad for you as the wheat versions and the mixes are quite pricey... So, I decided to 'stay in' and bake all day, freeze and have on hand all those things I'll then be able to eat for the next few months....

What a great way to celebrate International Women's Day than throw the windows open and breathe in the spring fresh air, with the scent of fresh baked bread?

Wait, what did you say? "HOW does this give homage to millions of persecuted, enslaved, undernourished women all over the world?"

It comes down to choice.

While there are millions of women (and men and children) all over the world and throughout history that do not have the choice of lifestyle, career, home life and a multitude of other things. I am so fortunate to live in a place and time that I CAN choose my lifestyle and career, where I want to live and what I want to spend my time doing. The mere fact I am sitting in a beautiful apartment and writing this on a Monday morning is proof enough that I have greatly benefited from the sacrifices of others.

So, as I measure the rice flour and blend the xanthan gum, as I bite into the first GF muffin I'll have made from scratch, I will think about all the women forced into the kitchen and give tribute to them. And, be glad I was able to choose to be there today.

'I'm one of those girls that *likes* to eat!' ~ Sarah Jessica Parker, Failure to Launch

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 2010 Artist of the Month~Jetsy

Jenny Hoffman is a woman divided, by passions, by interests, by a desire to do it all. Artist, mother, Arbonne saleswomen and health nut. While not hanging out with her adorable little girl and husband, she's networking and running her business. In her downtime, she creates cutie little pieces of jewelry and upcycled spice tins. I personally wonder, when does she sleep? ;)

Read on for more about this amazing multi-tasker!

Q~How did you get started?

A~My good friend Jen ( taught me the basics of jewelry-making, from how to use a bead board for designing to how to attach bead tips. I craved a creative outlet, and I wanted something productive to keep my hands busy while I watched t.v. to unwind. (Kind of oxymoronic, I know!)

Q~Why do you continue?

A~I keep finding pendants that just cry out to me to be made into a unique necklace.

Q~What is a great(or greatest) success story?

A~I also like to take those old metal spice tins and upcycle them into something useful. I made a couple of these and put them up in my Etsy shop. A woman in Ohio, who was opening her own brick-and-mortar store, contacted me and wanted to buy a dozen of them! I really had to scramble to find that many spice tins, but I was so proud of the results.

Q~What is one of your greatest failures?

A~I have the hardest time with knots. Consequently, I have wasted lots of jewelry wire because I've put a kink in it somewhere conspicuous trying to tie a knot. Sometimes, I have to re-string the entire necklace, but I want to get it right. Because if your knot isn't done well, the necklace could fall apart on my customer!

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?

A~My inspiration comes from my goth and punk rock roots, as well as motherhood, books, songs, friends, and family. Influences include The Cure, Mary Englebreit, Ani Difranco, Ansel Adams, Monet, Eric Carle, Naomi Wolf, The X Files, Ska, Yoga Asanas, Led Zeppelin, Twin Peaks, mother nature, Anthropologie, and Mother Nature.

Q~Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?

A~My favorite place to sell is Etsy, because their fees are very reasonable, and because I feel good about the caliber of work represented there.

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?

A~I love it when I get positive feedback from my buyers. It feels good to know that my mind created something that is out there making someone else happy.

Q~What is one thing you loathe?

A~There is one thing I don't like about Etsy, and that is the shear volume of artists on the site. It's practically impossible for someone to stumble upon your shop by accident. So you really have to drive traffic to your shop yourself.

Q~Where are you based?

A~I am based in Odenton, Maryland, in the center of the Annapolis, DC, and Baltimore triangle.

Q~Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~I live exactly where I want to be. I'm originally from Texas, but these are my people here.

Q~What would you be doing if not this?

A~I also have a growing business with Arbonne International (, so I spend the majority of my time networking. My art is taking a back seat for now, but someday I will be able to retire off my Arbonne riches and let the creativity flow!

Q~What is your favorite quote?

A~"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anaïs Nin

What a talented fish! Happy Birthday to Jenny~ a Piscean celebrating her birthday this week!