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Category Archives: UnProfessional Photography & Artwork

Painted Rock Neighborhood

In case you didn’t get the memo (or you never look at your surroundings), we are presently smack-dab in the middle of a painted rock craze. (At least in my  neighborhood we are.)

My son and I didn’t go looking for them. We just happened upon them, a delightful surprise. Actually, when we go searching on purpose we usually cannot find any.

My son found a couple. I hashtagged them and posted them on Facebook, as the rocks instructed. Then I discovered there was an actual fb group for our area. I resisted joining it. But once I made a few rocks, I was really curious if anyone had found them. So I gave in and joined the group.

Then my stress level instantly went through the ceiling. I felt pressure to find rocks. To hide rocks. To make rocks to hide. People were in the group actually complaining because they had made and hidden rocks, but no one had posted them to fb  yet.

DO THEY REALIZE HOW INSANE THEY SOUND?!

1. These are in PUBLIC PLACES. That means anyone can take them. Raccoons could take them.
2. Not everyone has a computer or smart phone.
3. Not everyone uses Facebook.
4. Not everyone knows about this activity.
5. People CAN KEEP THEM. This is an unofficial community game. No one is required to play by your arbitrary rules. The cops are not going to track down the “theft” of a painted rock.

I couldn’t fall asleep that night. This is supposed to be a fun community interaction. But instead I could only feel all the emotions of the people who were mad that they didn’t find any rocks, the ones who hid them and felt they were not being found, and the groundskeeper at a public park who mowed over some. And there are the people who are already freaking out about what to do when winter arrives and it could possibly–God-forbid–snow.

I have not left the group yet, but I probably will very soon. There are so many people doing this now. My newsfeed is filled with rocks. The chances of me actually seeing one of the three rocks I have hidden to date would be like finding a painted rock at bottom of a river. It is fun to paint them once in a while, and to find one when we are out and about already, but I don’t have extra time to dedicate to this hobby.

Or the money. Apparently if the designs are to stand up for any length of time in the harsh elements, they need to be sealed. People keep saying Mod Podge is good for that. I have never used it. My sister-in-law said she saw some at the dollar store, but with this craze it was long gone by the time I got there. It is $3 at my local Meijer store. I already have a large collection of rocks painted and ready to go. Just counting down the days until payday so I can buy some Mod Podge.

The rocks of my son & I, almost ready to be released into the world

Here is a fun fact: If you say “Modge Podge” (because that is what I thought it was called until 10 seconds ago when I Googled it) 10 times in a row really fast in a semi-robotic voice, it will deeply annoy everyone in your house. (Except for the elderly dog who is deaf.)

Go ahead, try it! You can thank me later 😉

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

INSPIRATION HITS: Love Yourself Custom Bicycle

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Inspiration struck me over the 4th of July and I just could not resist giving in to it.

I have probably had my bicycle for roughly 15 years. I love that it doesn’t have multiple gears, that it has coaster brakes, and that it can coast for a very long time. But everything else about it I pretty much have disliked from the beginning.

The colors are to die for. As in, “I have fallen & I can’t get up.”

I waged a battle to attempt to keep air in my tires for a decade. I changed the tubes. I even had to change a tire. All I could find was a dirt bike tire, but then that affected the cruisability. Finally, I put in tubes with Slime in them, and got a replacement tire that was meant for a cruiser bike. That finally remedied the problem for the time being.

For five years, I had a small child that I would chauffeur around on the back of it. I never realized how much weight he added (more each year) and how much his constant movement threw of my balance.

Until I removed the child seat this summer, that is. Yup, I got him off onto his own little ride with training wheels. My bike could be just mine again. (Kind of like after you birth them and your body gets to be only yours again, except not QUITE that drastic.)

In the process of removing the heinous decals.

It kept bothering me how much I had always detested the colors on my bicycle. Beige and burgundy? Come on, old lady colors. And I may be on my way, but I am no old lady yet. And the fact that it had sticker on it that said “Thruster”? Oh, please.

I remembered that my husband had said he had painted his bicycle when he was a kid. The idea wouldn’t leave my mind. I knew I would have to do it on a day when he was home to help disassemble it for me for easy painting. So, the 4th it was.

First I had to remove the remaining parts of the child seat, the remainder of a broken water bottle holder, and the dog walking apparatus.

How many people have a bike that matches their hair? C’mon, you gotta admit that is some cool shit.

My husband asked me how I settled on the colors of pink and black.

Um, my cell phone case, my hair colors, my key lanyard, the nail polish bottles sitting on top of the television, my shoes, my Utopia dress. How could he miss that these two colors have been taking over my life lately?

After I got the paint on, I decided it really did need a saying on it, but most definitely not “Thruster”. So, I went with my new life motto and cause: Love Yourself.

I used a Sharpie marker to color the white stitching and logo on the seat to pink.

It serves as a reminder to myself, and maybe someone will ask me about it and I can explain it to them. (If you want to read more about it, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/love-yourself/) Mostly I am worried teenagers will make fun of it. Because I have never gotten over the good ol’ days of getting bullied by my peers. (A rant for another day.)

New black handlebar grips are on order from eBay as we speak.

I did learn a few things from this crafting experience:

1. If your fenders don’t rub on your tires, you probably shouldn’t mess with them because that kind of harmony takes a long time to establish.

2. If you are going to spray paint, do at least two coats. This never, ever occurred to me until my husband had the bike pieced back together again. It would have given it a little more durability against scratches.

3. Consider a clear coat to protect your creation. I love the matte/satin finish of my paints. But the original paint job had a durable clear coat that was very good at protecting the original ugly paint from scratches. (FYI–I did sand that a bit with a fine grit sandpaper, followed by a wash before I proceeded with my repaint job.) I spent a whole day creating a masterpiece, and now I constantly worry that one tip over will scratch off all that I have done.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Artsy Fartsy Photos: Nashville Edition

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I am still dealing with a Utopia hangover, so I will leave these photos here for you to enjoy.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the full update on my events, before AND after they happen.

And also a reminder that I have a Goodreads giveaway going for Miley’s story, Be Careful What You Wish For. You don’t want to miss out on that, and it ends on Wednesday!

Without further ado, photos for you…

They don’t call the Ryman the mother church of country music for nothing.

The back alley of the Ryman that leads to Tootsie’s. Apparently Hank Williams used to use this path all the time to go get crocked. So much history…

Looking out from history to the modern day hustle and bustle.

Me touching Minnie’s hat. They don’t open the glass display case for just anyone…

Selfie with Little Jimmy Dickens. Boy, was he hot.

OMG, is that the CMT building??? Do I REALLY have to drive 9 hours back to Michigan now?

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Pinterest Fail

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I tried to make a homemade bird feeder.

It sounds easy, right? You need a container to hold the food, a perch for them to stand on, and a hole to get to the food. I thought the hardest part would be waiting for payday to buy some dang bird seed.

My son watches a PBS show called Nature Cat. Which, if you look it up, has the most awesome voice cast ever. (Well, I guess aside from maybe Futurama.)

Nature Cat was all like, “Ya, it’s easy. If you build it, they will come.”

Except, well, mine didn’t work out that well.

My Pinterest Fail

At first glance, everyone says it is because of the cats. You see, I put one set of holes too high, so I lowered it. But then I had to cover the top holes with something. I knew bacon duct tape would be more appropriate, but I of course I could not find it at that juncture. So I had to use Hello Kitty duct tape.

Everyone finds this amusing, but I am pretty sure the birds don’t care about pictures of a cartoon cat.

Then, well, I didn’t have a pop bottle as the original image showed. The only plastic bottle I had handy was for vinegar, so I emptied and rinsed it out and used that.

But, apparently, the birds like to actually SEE their food before they eat it? And maybe they don’t like the smell of vinegar.

Then I was worried that the food would fall out of the feeding holes, so I made them small. But then I was afraid the birds weren’t using it because they were too small, so I made them bigger.

But then it rained all week and I could tell the food was getting wet, so I poked some holes in the bottom so that it could drain.

But the wind kicked up and the screw holder I originally put in the top came out, so I had to hang it from the handle.

I left it up for 1-2 weeks. In that time, I never saw a bird eat from it. (My husband saw one small bird.)

Realizing that the birds hated my creation, I gave up and chucked it and got an inexpensive store bought one. Because, of course, now I have 10 lbs of bird feed I need to use up.

That was less than a week ago, and I have already seen several birds (or maybe it is just one bird who overeats) partake from the new one. I even have photographic evidence.

A bird actually eating from my store-bought feeder!

The same bird still eating at my feeder.

Hey, just a cotton-picking minute there. What is that I see? The food is not intended for HIM.

Unwanted guest

*Sigh*

This is so totally against my anti-squirrel propaganda agenda. I want to selectively feed the wildlife.

Don’t forget, if you sign up for my newsletter during the month of April you will have a chance to win TWO ROCK STAR PASSES to the Great Lakes Books Bash, October 27 & 28th! The two passes cover admission to the signing & panels Friday as well as early admission to the signing on Saturday and panels on Saturday.

Click here to sign up.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

The Fifteen-Year Quilt

Before I had a kid and before I devoted all my free time to creating physical manifestations of my colorful imagination on pulverized trees (i.e. books), I used to have this crazy thing called free time. Ya, it didn’t seem like it then, but I did. I tried my hand at many crafts during that time: wood-burning, cross-stitch, hot glue creations, latch-hook. One of my more daring projects was when I decided to make a quilt.

I had never made one before, didn’t know anyone who had, didn’t know how to do it. Like most everything, I researched the right way to do it…

…And then threw that out the window and made up my own way.

I started with some old clothes I cut up into squares. But I needed more material. So I went to JoAnn’s and bought all the cheap scraps of material I could find. I would probably pick different ones today. The overall theme of my quilt?

“Making a quilt.”

That’s it. There are tractors and stars and chefs and flowers, all sharing the same space. At some point, my future husband and I knew that we were going to buy a queen size bed. I decided to make it big enough to fit the bed.

What!?

I must have been crazy, you say?

Annnd you would be correct.

First time quilters out there–> do not make your first one queen-sized. (You will NEVER want to ever attempt another ever again.)

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

I don’t remember what kind of batting I bought, but I know it is fairly thick. Many of the top squares are flannel or sweatshirt material. I decided the back should be fleece. I know, not a traditional quilt backing. Just the other day I found the original receipt for it in the scraps. $72.23. $72.23! JUST FOR THE FLEECE ALONE! I could buy a quilt made by children in China cheaper. Oh, the date on the receipt? September 24,2002.

You see, I put all the layers together, basting and safety pinning them. Then I threw it in a garbage bag (to keep the dust off) and neglected it for 15 years. It had been so long since I worked on it that my husband said he didn’t even remember me starting it. That is, until I reminded him about when I had it spread out across our entire living room floor in my apartment and he walked on it, getting a needle in his foot in the process. That he does remember.

A close-up of the borders.

A close-up of the borders.

All those intervening years, I had anxiety over it. I kept adding it to To-Do lists, but it never got To-Done. We moved into our house. I designated a whole bedroom as a craft room with a vision of finishing that project. But we changed it into a railroad station bedroom for my son before the quilt was ever completed.

So, after finishing Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom, then getting through Christmas, New Year’s, and birthdays, I told myself I would not work on another book until I finished that quilt. It took about a month to quilt the layers together and sew the edge. Bear in mind, I own a sewing machine. but I have a mental block where I cannot for the life of me remember how to thread the blasted thing. So, a majority of the quilt was done by hand. Using the machine makes it a stressful experience, where as sewing it by hand is relaxing. A big bonus? You can binge Netflix while sewing, unlike when writing. Hello, Nikita & Birkhoff.

It is bigger than my couch!

It is bigger than my couch!

So, I did it. I finished it just this week. I’ve included pictures of the final product . I see why it took so long–>it is ginormous! I am afraid to wash it, because I am afraid it will fall apart. We slept under it. It may not have exactly the right dimensions, but it is totally warm.

I guess now I can add “quilter” to my resume of achievements. Not that I will be starting another one anytime soon.

Completed quilt on the bed.

Completed quilt on the bed.

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From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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