Picks of the Patch 2020

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The brightest light shines from the darkest place.

Though 2020 quickly congealed into a steaming dumpster-fire omelette with a side of insanity, for most people it started with joy and hope and promise.

But not for us.

While the world cheered another spin around Sol, my babes was fighting an unwinnable battle against a workplace tyrant, and it had plunged her into darkest despair.

All December of 2019, and on into the early days of 2020, the knife in Handan’s gut was twisted deeper. Every morning during our drive to her office, she threw up in the car, as her body fought and lost its daily battle against her nerves.

By Christmas, she was spent. The woman I’d known the last 10 years with was gone. I was living with a shell, a husk with a terrified child cowering inside.

She’d been wanting to see a Christmas mass, soI took her and Baris to church that Christmas Eve.

It was her first time in a church.

As soon as we crossed the threshold, a weight seemed to lift. She was in a good place.

And once the senior minister stood before us and delivered his Christmas sermon, my babes had tears streaming down her cheeks.

But she was whole again, remade by the words he spoke, and they could not have come at a more crucial time.

I’m not the world’s most devout man, but there was divinity that evening in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

There is no other way to start this 2020 retrospective than with The Miracle in the Mess.

Before we go any further, be sure to follow us on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, and  click here to sign up for our email list so you’ll never miss a post!

And if Handan’s healing isn’t enough to lure you in, this is the post in which you’ll learn how to pronounce Handan’s and Baris’s names!

Now that we had a way forward, and the mess was in our rearview, we had just enough time for a few posts before my babes needed to pack her bags and head south.

The best of those posts was the one in which we shared the secret to making sublimation mugs without the need for a mug press. It was a much bigger hit than expected, and one of our most shared posts of the year. But for me, the best part is that it commemorated 10 years with the woman I love and who, for reasons I’ll never fathom, loves me.

What followed January was a period of epic upheaval for all of us.

Handan was due at her new job in Atlanta in early February, but Baris had a school year to finish, and I had a house to sell.

To top it all off, there was a lot of chatter starting to circulate about some sort of virus…

The drive to Atlanta to deposit my babes in a short-term apartment was one of many last spring. Each trip I took became more and more fraught with uncertainty as the virus completed its stranglehold on our nation and the world.

The full account of those travels and the resulting real estate deals can be read in glorious (and often hilarious) detail in my aptly titled, She Said Yes! post.

By know you’re probably thinking I came here for the crafts and DIYs, but this jerk keeps yapping about his move!

I assure you madam, I’m getting to the crafts, so please just bear with me a little longer, okay?

Because here’s the thing: The Navage Patch died.

But then it was reborn.

Holy crap, we’re Georgians now!

And even holier crap – we bought a beautiful house that promised a lot of projects.

As I worked my way from room-to-room painting the walls, ceiling and trim (a job that is not quite finished, I might add), I also painted our scratched and ugly door handles (without sanding). This little how-to was another of our most-shared of the year.

The first room to get a full, start-to-finish makeover was the dining room, and boy-oh-boy did it need it! What a transformation! Look, in case you haven’t seen that post yet, I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll just drop this before picture here…

Of all the beauty in the new dining room, my babes really loves the chandelier after I gave it a makeover according to her specifications.

I know, I know…sandals on a ladder. You guys already scolded me for that last summer, okay! Yeesh, tough crowd!

After the hellish cauldron of steaming swamp water and mosquitoes the locals call “summer,” I was ready for the sweet, cool embrace of fall.

Oh, right…

This is the South – you don’t get fall until winter.

Instead of crunchy, wind-blown leaves and sweaters, Mother Nature only saw fit to dial it back from Hellish Cauldron to Dripping Misery.

But beggars can’t be choosers, so I took the miserly few-degree relief and was thankful for it.

So while the folks up North started to swaddle themselves in anticipation of the Big Freeze, I made yarn pumpkins while sweat literally leaped from my pores in search of cooler climes.

Fall just wouldn’t be fall at The Navage Patch without at least a couple of pumpkin crafts, and this year was no different. For those who like a little more wood and metal in their decor, my babes came up with these beautiful DIY wood bead pumpkins. They’re perfect in a tablescape and cheap enough to send packing with your guests. Better these than your leftover green Jello mold, Edna!

The highlight of our new home projects is without question the kitchen remodel. The design is 100% Handan, and she did an incredible job. She has more talent in her left kneecap than I’ll ever have head-to-toe!

Though it took months longer than anticipated, and we suffered setbacks and snafus, the end result is nothing short of breathtaking.

As we crept like spiders towards October 31, Handan exhumed an idea from 2019 that everyone loved and gave it a Halloween twist. Our Christmas Gnomes of 2019 were a big hit this year, but we found a way to make them for Halloween entirely from Dollar Tree materials.

Dollar Tree has so many great crafting materials these days, but the trick can be figuring out what to do with them. My babes came up with an awesome project that made great use of DT’s wood letters. It was the first of three projects this year in which we used them, but I think this one is my favorite. Our DIY Halloween Candy Shop sign is one we’ll be putting out front for years to come.

One of the projects I was most leery of was our fireplace makeover, because what Handan was suggesting seemed so outlandish to me. Look, I spend half my days thinking my babes is a Loon from the Moon, but this time I thought she’d spilled her very last bean.

But, as usual, she was right, and my fears were misplaced. Our fireplace makeover turned out better than I could have ever imagined.

And to think it started out looking like this:

As Christmas season approached, we kicked our Dollar Tree game up a notch or two. I should probably just go and franchise a store so I can feed my babes’ habit. She’ll get the DTs without her DT!

Our DIY Dollar Tree Christmas Signs just might be her favorite of the season, and it’s not hard to see why! I know I’ll be making more of these for her next year.

For beautiful simplicity, it’s hard to beat our DIY Tassel Angels. It’s a craft equally suited for kids and codgers alike. Sometimes Handan shows me a craft, and I immediately shove her aside and take over. This was one of those crafts. These little angels are so fun to make!

But for pure elegant simplicity through-and-through, nothing compares to our DIY Dollar Tree Snow-White Nutcrackers. This may be one of the simplest but most transformative Dollar Tree crafts ever! I never thought I’d like this project as much as I do.

And as we roll past the holidays and look forward to a saner and less confined 2021, let’s not forget that these things may stick around for a while longer.

So you may as well have a little fun with them, amirite?

Okay, that’s a wrap on our 2020 wrap-up! Handan and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’ll be bugging you a few more times before the door hits 2020 in the ass on its way out, so stay tuned and stay safe!


Greg & Handan

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  1. Your year has certainly been filled with challenges. As always your projects are fantastic !! Your home projects look great.
    Thank you for sharing all your ideas and projects. May your holiday season be blessed and wonderful in your new home.

  2. Greg
    I enjoy every single post in your blog. It sure was a crazy year, & you guys had a lot to deal with on top of it. I hope you, Handan & Barish have a very Merry Christmas and a happy healthy new year!

  3. Dear Greg & Handan,
    May your hearts be filled with laughter,
    Your souls with joy,
    And your home with love this holiday season.
    Wishing you a happy “socially distant” holiday season and much happiness in the New Year.
    Thank you for your blog and sharing your journey with us. Looking forward to more in 2021!

  4. Best wishes to you, your wife and son Greg. Have a happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and happy New Year.
    Suzanne (Australia)

  5. Welcome (belatedly) to the south! I’m from TN, born and bred. If you think this past year was hot, you’re in for a BIG surprise. You ain’t seen nothing yet! It gets even hotter. Just wait until we get some record breaking days! But really, I hope y’all enjoy the south. (We are known for our hospitality) I love your site, the DIYs, the crafts, and even the long stories. And I’m glad things are looking up. Hopefully 2021 will be better for everyone. Wishing y’all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

    1. Thank you for the welcome, Charity! Oh, don’t say that about the heat, lol! I thought I’d already endured the worst! Oh, well, I’ll adapt! :Merry Christmas to you and your family! 🙂

  6. Merry Christmas to you both. This was an amazing blog post. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading so much more.

  7. Whew, this has been the year that felt like a decade! But we survived it and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… And your blog and sense of humor was a bright spot in the hot mess that was 2020? Wishing you all a happy, stress free and most definitely a healthy 2021!

  8. Thanks for the great post! I went back to read The Miracle in the Mess. Tears in my eyes too! Merry Christmas y’all and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

  9. A very Merry Christmas to you guys and a great 2021. You might even see a few flakes this Christmas. I am about 180 miles south of you so we just get rain. Love you guys!

  10. Thank you for sharing…
    I found this quote online to make ornaments for my adult children.
    Thinking it applies to almost everyone this past year. Apologies for not remembering the author.
    “How many lessons of faith and beauty we would lose, if there were no winter in our year.”
    May God continue to bless you and those you love…
    Your posts have brought much light and levity to what has been a long “winter” in our lives.

    1. Thank you, Marcy – it is a perfect quote for this year. Thank you for sharing it with us! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Have a blessed 2021!

  11. Merry Christmas and hopefully a happier New Year!
    Love reading your blog and the wonderful crafts and home improvements that you share!