If you feel a certain zeal for Zentangle, then follow me along another winding path …

Image by LittleGretchen via Flickr

to the Spirograph!

You might recall this mesmerizing pastime from childhood, complete with little plastic gears and multi-colored pens.

With all of the recent buzz about adult coloring books and Zentangle, it’s no surprise that the Spirograph is finding its way back into fashion.

“The only toy I still have from growing up is a Super Spirograph,” shares Heather Holm of Spirographic Art. “I was already a teenager when I got it, so that would have been in the early 1970s. My sister had a regular Spirograph, and we both loved it, so when the Super Spirograph came out, I had to get one. It has survived many moves and a fire … now my son enjoys playing with it too. One day he observed, ‘Whoever invented this was a genius.’”

Heather is such a passionate proponent of the Spirograph and all of its gorgeous geometric possibility that she dedicated her entire website to the art—tutorials, tips, product reviews, and coloring pages.

A variety of Spirograph kits are available from vendors like Amazon, from travel sized sets to super deluxe versions with a dozen or more discs in different shapes and sizes. To get an idea of how hypnotically creative you can get with circles and spirals (stick with the video to the grand finale), watch:

And, of course, how sweet is this? Cookies with Spirographic icing designs …

Do you remember Spirographing? Do share …

  1. Heather Holm says:

    Thanks for the mention! My SpirographicArt.com website has connected me with people around the world who are intrigued with those crazy curves, from parents to artists to mathematicians and inventors. The user feedback keeps me going and trying new things, like Wild Gears, which is a step up from Spirograph. I’m also fascinated by the art people make with their Spirograph designs. Presently I’m working on more videos and coloring pages!

  2. Cindi says:

    Oh my gosh that is amazing artwork!!! I can’t tell you how many hours I spent playing with a Spirograph – even got my kid brothers hooked on it and that wasn’t always an easy thing to do! I can’t believe I never thought to color the designs in ~ hahaha! Guess you really are not ever too old to learn something new. Thanks so much for the link. New ideas for my grandkids are always good 🙂

  3. Krista says:

    I remember spending hours using my Spirograph kit! I also never thought about coloring in the designs but now I wish I would have. The colored in designs are so visually pleasing. I know I still have my Spirograph kit somewhere, so now I need to go find it and play with them again!

  4. Noi says:

    I just brought one home from the Thrift store in a beat up ole box…my 21-year old daughter was like–what is that thing? jeez! Can’t wait to play with it this winter when it snows!

  5. Darlene Ricotta says:

    Those Spirograph cookies are pretty! I used to do this when I was a kid and I have one of these sets so I think I might try it again soon.


  6. Marie M says:

    My favorite toy growing up was the Spirograph set I got for Christmas. 2 Christmases ago, when I saw that a new version had come out, I put it on my list to “Santa”. Apparently I was a good girl that year because it was under the tree Christmas morning. After watching this video, I think I’m going to pull it back out because (I’m ashamed to admit) I never once thought of coloring the shapes in like Rachel Evans has done. MaryJane, thanks so much for this particular story. It has truly inspired me!

  7. Pingback: Inspirograph | Raising Jane Journal

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Mom, I’m fine!

For all of you moms who’ve found yourselves perched in an empty nest,

Photo by Laura Hartog via Flickr

wondering what your kids are up to today …

(Insert wistful sigh here.)

Meet Jonathan Kubben Quiñonez from Brussels, a 27-year-old traveler who steadfastly keeps his mom in the loop, no matter where in the world he happens to land.

From the top of a pyramid in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula,

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com/momimfine

to the sea floor of Colombia’s San Andrés Island,

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com/momimfine

Jonathan lets his momma know he’s alive and well.

“Quiñonez quit his job, sold his car, and ventured out to see the world. However, after arriving in Cuba, the first stop on his round-the-world trip, he had a hard time getting in touch with his family,” reports Travelweek. “So the intrepid traveler came up with a genius—and heartwarming—way to let his loved ones back home know of his whereabouts: by starting up an Instagram account and posting photos of himself in new locations, holding up a sign that reads ‘MOM, I’M FINE.’”

Share Jonathan’s Instagram adventures with your kiddos and see if they catch the hint!

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com/momimfine

  1. Amy Cloud Chambers says:

    What a sweet guy! His mom must be so proud that he thinks of her so often. We never stop worrying, no matter how grown and independent the kids become!

  2. Karlyne says:

    Awww, what a good kid!

  3. Krista says:

    Heartwarming! It’s so sweet that he goes out of his way to contact his mom to let her know that he is doing okay. The best part is how fun he makes it! Hopefully this can help others remember the importance of letting their mothers know they are doing fine!

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Yarn addicts, this one’s for you!

If you love needlework, most likely, you’ve knitted or crocheted a gift for a loved one. Potholders, shawls, throws, even sweaters.

But maybe you really, REALLY love needlework and have always longed for an even bigger project. Well, sisters, I’ve got one for you … dare we call them car cozies?

photo, blooger.com

photo, carmagzonline.biz


photo, blogger.com

photo, yarndoodler.com

or how about a bike cozy?

photo, mentalfloss.com

or even a bus cozy?


  1. Mary Frances Rauch says:

    Wow, I have to say that MY mind never went this far when it comes to knitting/crocheting.

  2. Krista says:

    How cute! I am in love! The second picture is my favorite. Whoever made these has some serious talent and a wild imagination! I would love to make one of these, but for a toy car of course!

  3. Bobbie calgaro says:

    My hometown of Pittsburgh Pa knit a bridge cozy in 2013, called Knit the Bridge. It covered the Andy Warhol bridge in knitted afghans to bring together the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. It was something to see. If you google knit the bridge, you can bring it up.

  4. Darlene Ricotta says:

    Those are so adorable, what a creative design for all those. I would never have thought to do something like that.
    How fun!


  5. Yarn bombing is the “bomb”! lol.

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Project Sunroof

Have you volleyed around the idea of going solar?

Photo by Unsplash by via Pixabay

If the venture seems a little too “out there” or overwhelming to pursue, you might be interested in a free online Google tool called Project Sunroof.

The tool “helps homeowners explore whether they should go solar or not” by offering a birds-eye view (aka high-resolution aerial maps) to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential “without having to climb up any ladders.”

Photo by Joan Sykes via Geograph

(I couldn’t resist that photo!)

Anyhow …

Currently available in 42 states, the tool searches your address and, if it’s available, comes up with a basic analysis of how much sun your roof gets and what sort of solar installation might work as well as prospective costs and savings. You can also tweak the estimates based on your actual electricity usage and other parameters. If you’re interested in exploring more, Project Sunroof will help you find local installers who could give you a more accurate quote.

If your address isn’t accessible yet, fear not—Google plans to reach all 50 states this year.

Try Project Sunroof here.

  1. Amy Cloud Chambers says:

    I tried it out, but unfortunately my address wasn’t there yet. Quite a few folks have gone solar around here, so I think it must be a pretty good location for it. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot, thanks for this resource, I’m sure my address will pop up eventually!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    We have enjoyed the benefits of solar panels on our roof since we purchased the house in 1984. Essentially we have free hot water and the system has only required updates and maintenance twice during all those years. I am not sure I would want goats on my roof!LOL!!

  3. Krista says:

    Solar panels have really started to boom. Within the last 2 months I have had about 7 different salesman visit my house trying to sell solar panels. I can’t believe there are so many different solar panel companies around here. I checked out Project Sunroof and found my house. My roof doesn’t receive much sun and I would be saving an average of $100 annually. This is a really cool resource!

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Are you a sheddie?

Are you a sheddie?

If the image below strikes your fancy, then you are, dear, you are

Photo by Mira (on the wall) via Flickr

“Sheddie” is one of those catchy British terms that means, loosely translated, shed enthusiast.

If you are, indeed, a sheddie, then you might also identify as an outpostie, shackie, coopie (I’m just making those up as I go, in case you were wondering).

In England, it seems that there’s a sizeable population of sheddies—enough to support a site called Readersheds, which celebrates every conceivable style, shape, and size of shed from the traditional to the unconventional.

Photo by RobArmstrong2 via Pixabay

Readersheds showcases sheds a-plenty, but its crowning achievement is its annual Shed of the Year competition, which kicks off each year in May.

The man behind Readersheds, known simply as Uncle Wilco, is the head judge and founder of Shed of the Year. A passionate sheddie since his youth, he claims to have made it his mission “to open the eyes of the world to the importance of the shed.”

Photo by Antranias via Pixabay

This year, a panel of judges has selected a shortlist of public shed submissions for each category:

  • Unexpected
  • Eco Cabin
  • Summerhouse Workshops
  • Studios Pub/Entertainment
  • Budget
  • Historic
  • Unique

“Now it is up to you to decide on the winners from each one,” they invite. “Take a look at the sheds our panel of experts have selected to represent each category before voting for your favourite. A final judging panel will then pick an overall winner, whose creation will be crowned Shed of the Year 2016, later this Summer on the Channel 4 show Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year.”

Here’s a clip from the 2015 show:

Voting (which can be done here) closes on June 8, but if you miss it this year, keep up with Readersheds on Facebook so that you’ll be ready for next year’s contest.

Photo by Efes via Pixabay


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Yes, I am a Sheddie and I take it as a badge of honor!! It all started when I was growing up and my Dad had this little house built in the back corner of the yard to keep the tools, lawnmower, my bicycle in Winter etc. It was painted white with a green roof and I claimed it as my place space too. I always wanted a horse so I pretended that this was my barn. Some how I inherited an old bridle and martingale which I kept oiled and hanging up inside. Who knew if possibly that dream of a pony appearing in the backyard would materialize? One had to be ready! Realistically, it was the stall and shed for my stick horse which I would ride about the yard and jump over lawn chairs on their sides . Then I could pretend tie up my little horse, pull of grass and place in a bucket for his dinner and pretend to groom him.

    I loved that shed and when I went back to my home two years ago, it was still standing in the backyard and looking just as cute as it did 40+ years ago. There are two elementary aged children living in my old home now and I wonder if they have ever explored the possibilities that this little building might hold?

    Today, I sure wish I had enough space in our yard for me to have my own Shed again. This time, it would be a sewing and craft space and all fixed up with vintage stuff. Once a Sheddie, always a Sheddie!

  2. Oh Winnie -what fun memories!
    the shed here at my farmette in Amishland, is a recycled tractor trailer ( well the trailer part) the original roll down door is up and stowed curled up in the ceiling. The previous owner put on more traditional doors with the standard black iron hardware. It has a nice sturdy ramp if you want to put your riding mower inside.000000000000000 alas I don’hbbbbbbbblb( oops my new 7 week old kitten, BB king, typing) have one.
    I love how the british are so very “twee ” ( british for ever so sweet but slightly kitshty ) about their sheds. On their allotments (small pieces of rented land usually in urban areas, where they plant their gardens), you will see amazingly funky sheds. People virtually live in them as an escape, having tea ( or something stronger) and so forth.

  3. Debbie Jackson says:

    I too am a sheddie, also a coopie as I with the help of my husband built a 12 x 12 pallet building that houses our chickens and ducks but phase 2 will be for me. I want a place of my own to use for my sewing, crafting, and whatever else my heart desires to put in it. I see a rocker and a table for tea. I’ve been lucky enough to find a property (a rental) with acreage and the permission to have at it out in the yard! You meet wonderful people away from the city and they love to share trash which I turn into treasures. Also they are the first people to come to your aide and help you get started with new ideas, farm animals and gardening plans. This is the best part of my life!

  4. Krista says:

    I can’t say that I am a sheddie, but I do enjoy looking at others! I never had a shed growing up and still don’t have one to this day. Some of these sheds are absolutely stunning and I would love to have one of them in my yard. I will have to head over and check out the nominations for this year and cast my vote. I love hearing your stories about your sheds and childhood memories!

  5. Amy Cloud Chambers says:

    I don’t have a shed now, since I have a detached garage (could count as a big shed, though, cause it’s full of stuff and the car never goes in it). Growing up I loved hanging out in the shed with my Dad, it’s a sweet memory.

  6. heres a pic of my antique apple tree in bloom and my trailer shed behind, its bigger than it looks in the pic. Oh and i forgot to mention the previous owner did put up nice wooden siding so it doesnt look like a trailer.


    • MaryJane says:

      Gorgeous! Another little glimpse into your wondrous lifestyle.

      • Thanks MaryJane! As soon as I can figure out how to do the pics from my camera to email I will send you photos of my new little 7 week old kitten, BB King, who I got to keep Earl happy since he was soooo lonely after we lost dear Duke back in March.
        Yeah my ” wondrous country lifestyle “- haha- replete with the world’s largest ,most destructive GROUND HOG (or as the locals say in PA German dialect, Grundsau = ground pig)
        He has eaten nearly all of my super rare skirret :


        and all my about- to -blossom ( ie give seeds) rare PA German Lettuce.:
        see for more history on htese reage veggies:

        I am beside myself as I have a small seed business that is taking a direct hit . Any suggestions ,fellow farmgirls, will be most welcome. All the common tips are doing zip ! I have tried ” Deer Off “, bowls of ammonia ( which supposedly smells like predeter urine) , the commercial fox urine ( who knew? and how the heck do they get it from those foxes anyway ?) and hot pepper sauce and cayenne pepper powder, all to no avail. Tonight I built some Rube Goldberg style cages over the plants in true desperation.
        Yes, life here in wondrous Amishland sometimes comes with its trials and tribulations.

        • MaryJane says:

          It’s always something. I have days when condo living calls my name:) I recently lost a bunch of chickens and my favorite ever rooster to an early morning coyote that I saw sulking around–first time I’ve had that kind of predator pressure in 20 years. How cool about the lettuce you grow. Damn ground hog. My father was an extraordinary gardener. He didn’t mess around with competitors. He would have tried to trap it, put it down inside a garbage can inside it’s cage next to his truck and then run a hose from his exhaust down into the can. You can either run a wildlife preserve or be a grower of food but rarely both.

          • thank you MaryJane ! I needed that touch of humor about “dispatching” groundhogs your dad’s way. Oh my ,coyotes ! akkkk! !I am so sorry you lost your chickens and favorite rooster- that hurts.
            Oh I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot Phil the groundhog (you know- from the movie ” groundhog Day”?) but I sold my custom shotgun ( an engagement gift from my ex-hubbie- how romantic ) I hired a ” critter control” guy for an unseemly amount today in desperation . I have my wonderful fix it guy Bill coming tomorrow to build more Rube Goldberg style defenses also. see Bill:
            thanks again MaryJane for your understanding. Hopefully now my gardens can get back to normal.

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