Hooking for Good: Make Your Presents Known

Crochet Ornaments

It’s the time of year when all crafters start to really stress: Oh my goodness, I forgot about so-and-so, and I will totally need to make them a present because they’ll be making one for me.  Oy vey, I forgot about that nephew, who I promised a crocheted blanket back in July.  Holy guacamole, how am I ever going to finish 12 pairs of fingerless gloves for the cousins on top of everything else?

My secret is to just buy things from Etsy: same great homemade feel, none of the work.  Or, I give most people nothing.  I know, it’s terrible – but I have a huge extended family, and I’d rather rotate my focus to a few people annually, so I can make them something special, rather than make one throw-away gift per person.  This year I’m so focused on making things for strangers that I’m pretty sure I won’t be making any presents for my family and friends.  Think I can get away with saying “My presence is your present?”

No matter what your gift-giving strategy is this year, here are a few projects from the HiJB archives that would make fun and quick presents.

hello banner from crochet bannerama - Hi Jenny Brown, Banner Beach Photos251

Quick Crochet Cowl – I wore the one from this tutorial during our Crochet Bannerama photoshoot.  So cozy!

lego necklace - hijennybrown.com

Lego Necklace – we made these for Liam’s birthday party, but they’d be great holiday gifts for a crowd.

Crochet Ornament - hijennybrown.com

Crochet Personalized Ornaments – Who doesn’t love a personalized gift?  Some glue, a little crochet thread, a cheap store-bought frame, and you’re all done.

And if you need a gift for your favorite crafters – why not send them some crochet-inspired postcards?

holiday postcards - hijennybrown.com

Or this unique banner pattern?

Crochet Bannerama - Hi, Jenny Brown

Or visit the shops who donated for our giveaways this season!  Thanks to Creatively Happy One, Moon Star Adri, and Opportuknits, Kari Chapin!

winner - hijennybrown.com

Today’s winner gets a present today, too!  Melissa W. was our randomly selected winner and will receive a pair of adult and a pair of child armwarmers.  Ann Espo donated this amazing prize – thanks Ann!  Her goal is to grow her business so she can begin to hire women transitioning back to their families and communities after incarceration.  If you’d like to support her or see more of her wonderful designs, visit opportuknits.etsy.com.

See you Friday where I admit I’m cheating on my crochet with….KNITTING!

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Introducing: 2014 Crochet Holiday Postcards

holiday postcards - hijennybrown.com

Woo-hoo!  It’s that time of year again – the day I remember (and am constantly reminded) that I’m not getting any younger.  At least they soften the blow with cake. (Little Liam has been talking about “buttercream” all morning – who knew he was a frosting connoisseur?)

Won’t you help me take my mind off sinking deep into my late-30s by talking about something else?  Something I like just a wee bit more?

Ah, yes: Crochet!

holiday postcards - hijennybrown.comEverything’s better with yarn – right? The top-left design is new for this year – I kept dreaming of something woodsy and cozy, and this is what came off the hook:

Hi, Jenny Brown -Merry Christmas Post CardThe original crochet piece was photographed by Erin, my awesome partner in crime.  Doesn’t it make you want to sip hot chocolate by a cozy fire?

11-24-2014, Hi Jenny Brown Post Cards31 Hi, Jenny Brown-Postcards

I also brought back the “peace on earth” and “have yourself a merry little christmas” themes that sold out last year because they are just too cute to ignore. They’re a little larger (4 x 6) and thicker (130-lb glossy cardstock, baby) this year.

Oops – almost forgot about the back.  It has a traditional postcard layout with a crochet twist:

Hi, Jenny Brown - Crochet Postcards backIf you’re as excited about these as I am, head over to Etsy and use the coupon code “officially” for 10% off.  (And if you were wondering, yep – I’ll be giving $1 from each pack to Action Against Hunger).

OK, now off to get some of that cake.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Hooking for Good – Giving and Getting

hello yarnbomb mystery - hijennybrown.com

I’m amazed that this project is just getting started, and already I’m seeing so many great things happening.  Before I started my “Hooking for Good” season, I shared my idea in a Facebook group started by Kari Chapin.  I was so excited to get some feedback, but I was shocked when some of the artists and crafters, including Kari herself, offered to donate items to my weekly giveaways.  You can’t believe how much that warmed my heart (although it’s still two sizes too small).

Artist Heather Saulsbury also mentioned the project on her new podcast, Creatively Happy, where she shares the mic with her mom to discuss animals, photography, art, family, and other awesomeness.  Please give it a listen, at least for the opportunity to pretend you and your mom could have a civil, informative conversation for 20 minutes (or is that just me?)

I also wanted to say how thankful I am for everyone who shared the last nice thing they did for someone on the HiJB Facebook Page as part of this week’s giveaway- there was such a great mix of super sweet and ultra crazy good deeds going on there.  Be sure to check Facebook and Instagram next Tuesday, when I’ll be giving away a beautiful piece by jewelry artist Adri of Moon Star Adri.

But I’d have to say that the best, best, best thing that happened this week was an unexpected tag from Richelle of Red Scorpio Handmade.  While she was in San Francisco for a Creative Live taping, she snapped a picture of this old girl:

repost of redscorpios photo on hijennybrown.com

Remember her?  She’s my “hello” yarnbomb from when I was in San Francisco 2 months ago.

hello yarnbomb mystery - hijennybrown.com

OK, now here’s the weird part – how did it get there?  As you can see from the pic above, I placed it pretty low – someone must have unlaced  her and relaced her high on this sign (otherwise, how would they get it around the metal fasteners?) It’s a mystery that I’d really love an answer to, so if you have information leading to the thanking of this kind, tall do-gooder, please comment below.

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One last thing that rocked this week – piles of crunchy, sweet-smelling leaves and this co-conspirator.

11-11-2014, Leaf Jumping-hijennybrown.comCan you believe we didn’t plan the matching shirts?

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Project Idea: Teacher Gift – Crochet Cup Cuff

When I look back on all the hilarious, fun times I had in elementary, middle, and high school, one awesome person comes to mind – my best friend & buddyboy (sorry for the inside joke), Ms. Myers.  She taught me all the important things in life – how great a perm can look, how delicious takeout tacos can be, and how long you can listen to Electric Youth before you get tired of it (Answer: infinity).  She also provided a herd of My Little Pony’s that were fun to play with and/or crochet on (tiny yarn berets, anyone?) Ms. Myers, is now an amazing teacher and overall cool adult.  When I started thinking about this crochet cup cuff, which uses my Lowercase/Uppercase Motif Set (psst: on sale until midnight, Aug. 23 for only $3), I knew she would be the worthy, crochet-loving recipient.  If you don’t have a teacher best friend, please feel free to use this as bribery for your kid’s new teacher – you can fill the cup with markers, candy, or dollar bills (depending on the volume of your child’s “indoor voice”).  If the teacher you’re making this for doesn’t have a short last name,  you still have options.  What about “#1” (you’ll need the Numbers & Punctuation set for this one), or “Super”, “Great”, or initials?  Maybe a grade like “A+”? (and then make a new one that says “D-” at Winter Break? Maybe not.) Now, let’s get to work.

Teacher Gift Crochet Cup Cuff Project Pattern

TEACHER GIFT – CROCHET CUP CUFF

Abbreviations: ch: chain sc: single crochet Supplies:

  • 50 yards White Worsted Weight Yarn (100% cotton yarn shown here but not required – yarn and thread quantities are estimated and will depend on your tension and material)
  • Crochet Thread in:
    • Gray: yardage will depend on word used
    • Blue: 2 yds
    • Red: 1 yd
  • Crochet Hooks – G/4.0mm (when using yarn) and 7/1.65mm (when using thread)
  • Yarn Needle
  • Scissors
  • Straight Pins or Safety Pins
  • 2 white Elastic Hair Ties (the smallest ones work best)
  • 2 Buttons (I used star buttons) and Matching Thread.
  • Plastic Straw Cup (this one is about 11.5 inches around at its widest.  If your cup is larger or smaller, you can add or subtract from your foundation chain and each subsequent row to achieve the perfect fit).

Crochet Background With white yarn, ch 43 Row 1:  Sc in second ch from hook, sc in each ch, ch 1, turn Row 2:  41 sc, sc over hair tie, ch 1, turn (now is a great time to wrap your piece around your cup and see if it fits) IMG_20140819_171659 Hair tie pictures shown with smaller sample & bright colored hair tie for contrast.  IMG_20140819_171705 Row 3:  sc in each sc, ch 1, turn Row 4:  41 sc, sc over hair tie, ch 1, turn IMG_20140819_171705IMG_20140819_171717 IMG_20140819_171744 Row 5 – 13:   sc in each sc, ch 1, turn Row 14:  41 sc, sc over hair tie, ch 1, turn Row 15:  sc in each sc, ch 1, turn Row 16:  41 sc, sc over hair tie, ch 1, rotate Sc around piece, working in side of rows, foundation row, other side of rows, and last row.  Place 3 sc in each corner. Weave in ends. Add Lines

  1. Add line between rows 4 & 5 (not counting border row worked into foundation chain) using blue crochet thread and backstitch.  (To start: pull needle up through first space, insert needle into second space, pull needle up through third space, insert needle back into second space.  Continue by pulling yarn up through next empty space and inserting needle back into the previous space to create a “solid” line.)
  2. Repeat step 1 between rows 12 & 13 (not counting border row worked into foundation chain).
  3. Add line between rows 10 & 11 (not counting border row worked into foundation chain) using running stitch and red crochet thread. (To start: pull yarn up through first space, insert needle into second space. Continue by pulling yarn up through next empty space and inserting needle into the following empty space to create a “dashed” line)
  4. Weave in ends.

Crochet Letters

  1. Using the Uppercase/Lowercase Crochet Motif Pattern and gray crochet thread, crochet your word/name/grade.  Weave in ends.
  2. Pin letters to background (I use straight pins, but if you’re prone to pricking yourself, you can use safety pins.)
  3. Sew letters to background using grey crochet thread and backstitch.
  4. Weave in ends.

Putting It All Together Sew buttons on opposite side of hair ties using matching thread. Weave in ends. Teacher Gift Crochet Cup Cuff Buttons Place cuff around cup- hair ties may need to be folded over or knotted depending on how much space is between the two sides. IMG_20140819_171828 If you would like, you can add a backing to hide your stitches, but I think the back looks kind of cute (minus the few ends that became loose during the photo shoot). 8-20-2014, Hi, Jenny Brown, Ms. Myers Koozie135 These cuffs are totally irresistible – and if you don’t believe me… Teacher Gift - Hi Jenny Brown Crochet Cup Cuff kids running back and forth to cup Bye, Jenny Brown Project pictures by Erin Markan of Folks Collected.  Thanks, E!

Crochet a Photo Prop, Help a Kid, and Prove Your Middle School Art Teacher Wrong

I recently listened to an episode of “After the Jump” where Grace talked about the positive side of jealousy – how it can be a force to show you what you want and who you want to be like.  It’s in that light I say: I am jealous of my far-away friend, and fellow FH alum, Megan.  Gosh, she juggles volunteering, family, and work like it ain’t no thing and still has time to be a gentle scold of the super complainy, negative facebook set (e.g.: me).  How she has time for it all, I’ll never know (I just spent an hour & a half rearranging my Pinterest boards), but when she said she needed volunteers for her latest project, I of course raised my hand.

hijennybrown creative crochet frame photo prop

Her idea was inspired by the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles and a mentoring project she did last year with a group of girls from different backgrounds.  As Megan told us: “I asked them to write on a piece of paper a positive word that defined them. Surprisingly, many of them struggled to do so, and it took a lot of talking and working with them to find words they were comfortable saying about themselves. Sadly they were more quickly able to point out their weaknesses than their strengths, and what I learned in talking to many is that they are afraid to say positive, strong statements about themselves. They don’t seem to have a voice.”

yelling creative photo prop frame crochet hijennybrown

The plan: get a group of grown-ups to each write a positive word that describes them on a piece of paper, take a selfie with it, and then Megan would incorporate them all into a video that she would show to the girls she mentors.  Cool idea, and one I thought could have benefitted middle-school Jenny Brown, who, after another “D” in Art class, lost all confidence in her creativity.  What a series of (I’m sure well-meaning) Art teachers took as “laziness,” and “sloppiness” was actually a lack of self-confidence and know-how.  I still struggle with presenting something creative without apologizing for it first.

hijennybrown photo prop creative bench crochet

And so I wasn’t surprised when some of the women who volunteered for this project also had a difficult time finding a positive descriptor.  Something that really helped me was Jennifer Lee’s “Right-Brain Business Plan” class, where she gave a simple solution: take a poll.  Just ask friends/ family/customers/whoever to describe you in three words.  You don’t have to limit them to positive words, but I guarantee you’ll get some because you’re awesome.  Duh.  My beautiful, intelligent, hilarious sister gave me “creative.”  That was a year ago, but I knew it was the right word for this project.  Oh, and I knew it had to be crocheted.

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FRAMED CROCHET PHOTO PROP

Supplies:

  • yarn (I used worsted-weight cotton, but you can use anything from bulky yarn to crochet thread to get larger or smaller letters)
  • crochet letter pattern (might I suggest mine?)
  • crochet hook (The size will depend on your yarn, but I used my 2nd favorite hook – yes, there’s a hierarchy – my 4.0 Addi Turbo)
  • small, sharp scissors
  • yarn needle
  • washi or masking tape (optional)
  • photo frame (The size will depend on your yarn & word)
  • double-stick or single-stick tape (I used a combo because I ran out of double-stick, which is way easier to use)
  • backing paper, fabric, or photo to fit your frame (I turned over the dummy photo already in the frame)

Putting it all together:

1. Crochet your letters, then weave in the ends with your yarn needle. Clip any stray strings.

2. If you want to be sure your word is super straight (obviously not a concern of mine), add a guide line to the back of the glass/plastic with washi or masking tape.

3. Add tape to the back of each letter.  Place letters on front of glass: I always place the first letter first, then the last letter second, and so on, to get the spacing as even as possible. Check the front of the letters to see if any tape is showing and clip any excess.  As you can see from this side shot, there is a little curling and a few visible tape doughnuts.  However, the front-on shots show neither of these.  The lesson: be generous with the tape, but don’t drive yourself insane.
tape crochet frame photo prop diy

4. Remove tape from back of glass/plastic and clean if necessary.  Insert glass/plastic, background, and backing.

5. Smile and say “Cheese!”

Even if you don’t crochet, please don’t let that stop you from writing (or stitching, or knitting, or drawing, or whatevering) a positive word for yourself.  I’d love for you to share it with me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter, or in the comments below.  I promise not to be *too* jealous.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

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*P.S. for the sticklers out there, these aren’t technically “selfies.” My frame was too big or my arm was too short, depending on your outlook.  My amazing, talented, (also) hilarious friend, Erin, took them for me.  Thanks, Erin! 

Yo, VIP – Let’s Hook It

Stop Collaborate & Listen yarnbomb

I am always amazed at the beautiful hats, blankets, and banners y’all make with my patterns.  It is some seriously cute stuff, and I am so wowed by each of you!

But say you’re addicted to putting your crochet outside…  Will they work for that too?

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YEP!

Oh, and by the way: If you weren’t a child of the 90s, or you just want to relive the magic – enjoy! Thanks to youtube user emimusic for this flashback.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rog8ou-ZepE?rel=0]

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Wool you be mine?

Wool you be mine crochet - hijennybrown.com

Oh my goodness, friendos: where has this month gone?  I mean, I know I’ve spent a lot of time holed up with nothing but a crochet hook and a bag of Willy Wonka Heartbreakers, but I didn’t realize so much time had passed.

Maybe, like me, you’ve been in a bit of a vortex.  Maybe you forgot Valentine’s day is coming…and maybe you’re afraid you’ll have to be some super sappy, overly sentimental cards at the drug store on the way to your knit/crochet meet-up.

But fear not!  Have I got the valentines for you:

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Whaddaya think?  Craft Husband and I were feeling a little punny, and we thought these craft-inspired phrases would be perfect for some valentines for grownups that had the flavor of the small, cardboard Valentines of our youth.  All the letters were crocheted using my upper and lowercase patterns, then sewn to this pladish (new word) black & white fleece and accented with some cute crochet hearts.

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I was planning to use grey corduroy for the background, but Erin (who did all the photography – thanks!) forced me to dig in my stash for this jem.  I think she was totally right, but so much for the pillows I was planning… oh well.  Who needs pillows when you can have Valentines!

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We also made cute little seals after we scanned a crochet heart placed on a fabric swatch.  Have you ever tried scanning anything you’ve crocheted?  I was sort of amazed at how great it turned out.

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Craft Husband made all the envelopes using a folding board he bought on sale at the local crafts store.  They’re a thin, light grey paper that just screams “shove me into a heart-covered shoebox with a tiny slit cut in the top.”

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So, if you’re hoping to hand out some precious valentines this year, head over to Etsy(Go now, and you can use the coupon code “heartshapedbox” to save 10%.  But hurry – it expires Sunday at midnight!)

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Let’s Make Some Ornaments!

Personalized Crochet Ornament - hijennybrown.com

Are you in that pre-Christmas crazytown where you realize you will never get everything that needs to be done in the way you want it to be done before the shipping cut-off/ boarding last call / in-law visit / Christmas morning?

Take a deep breath.  It’s going to be OK.  And if it’s not, there will be candy.

Crochet ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Maybe what you need is to cut out a little time to make a few cute ornaments for the folks you really love the most.  You know how crochet makes you feel so much better!

But first, you’re going to need some stuff:

  • Wooden or Porcelain frame ornaments (I used porcelain because it was on sale)
  • Crochet thread  – at least two colors
  • Craft paint (optional)
  • Craft Glue
  • Glitter
  • Size B crochet hook and size 7 crochet hook
  • E6000 or hot glue & glue gun
  • toothpick
  • scissors

Please read all the direction before starting (I sound like such a boring teacher) because there are a few caveats. 

Step 1 – Adorn your frame: Remove the ribbon and tag from your ornament.  If you would like your ornament to be painted, here’s your chance, but I was OK with keeping it white because I had some pretty white glitter.  Let paint dry before applying a thin, even layer of craft glue and a ton of glitter.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Step 2 – Make a background: While the frames dry, crochet a back for them.  I used a B hook and rows of HDC (half-double crochet) to make a piece just about two stitches larger than the opening on each side.  How many rows and stitches you need to do will depend on your ornament, thread, and tension, so just have fun with it.  Remember that all your edges will be hidden on the back, so no one will see it except your snoop of a brother-in-law.  For the oval, you’ll have to be a little more creative by using increases and decreases, so go with the rectangle opening if you’re not used to winging it.  And if you’re not up for any of that, just cut a piece of fabric or burlap a bit larger than the opening.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Step 3 – Crochet a little cuteness: You will need a character to be the center of your ornament.  Might I suggest a letter, number, or punctuation mark from the Hi, Jenny Brown motif patterns available on Etsy or Ravelry?  But don’t feel like you have to use those.  You could use a tiny granny square, or a heart, or a star, or a squiggly chain.  Whatever you choose, pin it to your background and then place the (hopefully dry) frame on top – is it going to fit?  (If you are using the letter and number motifs, wide letters like “M” and “W” will probably not fit, and others will be a tight squeeze – so crochet tightly with the 7 hook.)   If it doesn’t fit, you may have to re-crochet using a smaller hook or thinner yarn, or go with something different all together.  But don’t throw the one that doesn’t fit away – we’ll have a project for that in a later post.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Step 4 – Sew your character to the background: Use any stitch you like to firmly adhere your character to the background.  I use the chain stitch because it reminds me of crochet, but it takes longer than using a normal straight stitch.  I would avoid using fabric glue on something so delicate, because it could gunk up and show.

Step 5 – Get your glue on: I use E600, but I know there are some hot glue devotees out there, and I don’t want to keep you from your third-degree burns.  Put a thin layer of glue around the opening on the back of your ornament.  Lay your piece onto the glue backside up, and use a toothpick to press the edges into the glue.  If you are using hot glue, you’re going to have to be precise and quick about this.  If you are using E6 (as Craft Husband and I like to call it), you will have a little bit more time to arrange it nicely, but remember that is not supposed to come in contact with your skin.  The toothpick is your friend.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Step 6 – Chain a hanger: While your glue is drying, crochet a chain – I did 75 stitches using a size 7 hook because I like how tight it looks, but you can use your 1 hook and fewer stitches.  Tie the two ends together to form a loop. Once your glue is dry, use your smallest hook to pull the hanger, knot side first, from the back through to the front of ornament, leaving about half of the hanger at the back.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Grab the other end with your hook and pull it through the loop in the front to tighten. Gently adjust so your knot is in the back.  You can weave that end in, secure it with a drop of glue, or just be cool with the fact that it’s at the back.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Once everything is dry, you’re all done.  Great job! You deserve a cookie.

Crochet Ornaments - Hi, Jenny Brown

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Helpers 2: Now it’s personal

crochet helpers - hijennybrown.com

My favorite helpers are back in full force to assist me in finishing my Black Friday roll-out. Their constant sweetness (and love of alternating screaming and singing) make these project too much fun.

Although my new project is still under wraps, here’s a sneak peek thanks to Babes and his in-the-way booty.

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Mr. A also gave his input, when he wasn’t covering my house in every tiny toy known to man.  And Craft Husband says pins on the floor are dangerous.

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How are those Angry Bird cheese crackers?  Never let it be said that I can’t properly feed a child…

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The helpers have done their work – now we’re just waiting for things to come back from the printers.  Cross your fingers!

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Top two photos by Erin Markan – thanks, Erin!

Worst Model Ever

Hi, Jenny Brown reject photos

You may have noticed some new photos here, in my Etsy shop, on my FB page and elsewhere on the internets thanks to my friend Erin. I really can’t stress enough the importance of making a photographer friend (college kids – get thee to the school newspaper and befriend everyone! These are the folks who will be taking your pictures and writing your press releases/resumes for years to come).

Poor Erin took around 800 pictures and was awesome at picking locations and concepts.  Unfortunately, she has been saddled with a terrible model for over 10 years, and I’m not getting any better.  Don’t believe me?  Let the pics speak for themselves.

Here, the poor woman asks me to change my facial expression.

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I think I’m catching on…

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Of course, at any point where she might get shot, I dissolve into ridiculous laughter…

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…or come up with the best ideas ever.

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Worth it, right?

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And would it kill me to stay in the frame?

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Lucky for her, there were plenty of opportunities to exclude my face entirely.

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Despite my bad behavior, Erin captured a ton of great pictures I’ll be using all around these here internets.  Thanks, E!

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Bye,
Jenny Brown