August 21 2017

Speak (Five Minute Friday)

This week the prompt is speak. I admit that I have had difficulty figuring out what to write on this one. Nothing immediately comes to mind. The thing that kept popping into my mind was Mom saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Yes, that is good advice and it stands the test of time, but it didn’t speak to me, you know?

Yesterday, Sunday, I attended the showing for the husband of a friend. I had never met her husband, but wanted to go to support my friend and be there for her if she needed me. I kept thinking, there, but by the Grace of God, go I. One day it probably will be me. I thought that if you knew your spouse had only a few days left to live or that you yourself had only a very limited time left, what would you say to your loved ones? We don’t always get the chance to speak to our loved ones “one last time” and that can leave us with questions and regret once they have passed on.

So my message today is that only God knows the number of our days and it is up to YOU to speak to those you care about and let them know how much you care. Tell them all the things you have been meaning to tell them. Don’t leave things unsaid assuming they know how you feel. Take the time to speak to them in person, tell them you love them because you never know if today will be their last day or maybe even your own. If you can’t speak to the ones you love for whatever reason, perhaps you could tell them how you feel in a letter instead. Speak your heart. Speak your mind. No matter what, just speak.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Speak
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

August 18 2017

Trash to Treasure #1

Do you ever wonder how so many companies get your address so they can send you all those free labels you didn’t ask for and will never be able to use? I have, but I don’t let it take up too much brain time. Most of the time, with a name like mine, there is at least one word that isn’t quite spelled right. Even if everything is perfect, I could never use all the labels I get. Since we pay most of our bills online, I probably use less than a dozen address labels a year other than those I put on the annual holiday/winter newsletter. To be honest, I keep the nicest labels for those newsletters and the others I plan to throw away.

Before I toss them, I cut the free stickers off of them. What free stickers you ask? Those cute little designs to the left of the address. Sometimes they are puppies and kittens, sometimes birds, often times they are hearts as the ones you will see pictured here. So I cut carefully to disconnect the address from the cute design and sometimes I even save some of the address portions to use to label books before loaning them out, or keep a few in my purse to fill out the contest entry form in a hurry or share my contact info with a friend with minimal effort.

Recently I got the set pictured here in the mail. As you can see, it came with a few sheets of note/list paper, 2 large and at least 8 small stickers in each of four different heart designs. As a bonus, it also had a two-sided sheet to tell me the symptoms/signs of both a heart attack and a stroke. Hey! You never know when you will need those! None of us is getting any younger you know.

If you have been reading my blog for long and specifically the posts about bullet journaling, you might have already guessed how I use some of these stickers. Below are several examples of how I have used these free stickers to set the theme for my weekly bullet journal spreads.

I have also used them on my calendar in the past to track things like workouts. Kind of like gold stars we used to get on our papers in grade school, but much less expensive.

So, what have you been throwing away that could be repurposed into something usable? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

August 17 2017

Crochet on a Plane

When we were getting ready to fly to London in September 2015, I began researching whether or not I could take my crochet hooks with me on the plane. I knew I was a nervous flyer, so I figured that crocheting hats for the homeless would allow me to focus on something, anything but the fact that I was on an airplane for the next few hours and would not be able to move around much. For someone who is claustrophobic, this is a daunting prospect.

The great thing about crocheting hats is that the supplies needed will fit into a quart sized zip top plastic bag. I can carry yarn in my carry-on and have the hat I am currently working on in my purse so I can pull it out when ever I find myself with some extra free time. Unfortunately, the quart sized bag with yarn and hook can be rather round and puffy inside my purse. I looked on the TSA website and the one for the airlines we were going to fly with to make sure they would allow my crochet hooks on the plane. As was reading the guidelines, I was surprised to see that knitting needles were specifically allowed but crochet hooks were not mentioned at all. I figured a knitting needle was much longer and pointier than a little six-inch crochet hook that wasn’t particularly pointy, so I took my chances. I picked one metal hook that I was fairly certain I could easily replace to take on the plane. I also chose to keep my extra hooks and scissors and such along with the set of plastic hooks I bought just in case metal wasn’t allowed in a plastic sliding pencil case. This worked very well. I highly recommend grabbing a few of these in the fall with back to school sales for traveling. They make great cases for headphones and charging cords they are safely stored and easy to find, plus they stay tangle free and won’t break or short out as easily if stored in a sturdy case of some sort.

So, as it turns out, focusing on the stitch counts needed for the beginning part of my hat pattern was very helpful for not stressing out during the take-off and landing times. It also helped me relax while we were flying over that little puddle that some folks call an ocean. I managed to make something like eight hats in the seven days we were gone. I became known as the lady who makes the hats amongst our twenty-nine person tour group. It turns out crocheting works well as an ice breaker and stranger felt perfectly comfortable approaching me to ask what I was making. Some of the men on the trip were surprisingly observant and noticed that the hat I was working in today was different colored than the one I was making yesterday. Many of the ladies expressed regret that they hadn’t brought along their yarn projects. A few went so far as to say they didn’t think it would be allowed but admitted they hadn’t thought to research to find out for sure. I admit I brought the inexpensive plastic hooks along with the idea that I would be willing to give some yarn, a plastic hook and an extra copy of the pattern I was using for my hats away to anyone who seems genuinely interested in learning to make hats. Unfortunately, it never got that far. Most people were just curious what I was making and many thought I was knitting. I can’t believe people don’t understand that knitting requires two long pointy needles and crochet needs only one short hook.

During my research about what I could bring, I learned that the scissors were the thing that you had to be especially careful about. They had to be small and have blades less than four inches long. I found a small folding pair that claimed to be TSA compliant on the package, so I bought those and still carry them in my crochet on the go bag.

So if you are going on a trip anytime soon, consider how much time the traveling will give you to work on your WIPs. I would recommend taking small easy projects that you wouldn’t be terribly broken up about losing or having taken from you. I also read that you should be ready and willing to demonstrate the fact that you can crochet or knit on demand. Leave the intricate sweater or afghan and the hand-carved one-of-a-kind hooks at home, they are too valuable to lose.

Don’t be afraid to be seen knitting or crocheting in public. You never know when it will lead to a lasting friendship.

August 11 2017

Place (Five Minute Friday)

Do you know what or where your place in the world is? Do any of us really know our place? My place used to be at home, raising my kids. But the kids grew up, and it no longer seemed so important that they have a stay-at-home mom. So, where did that leave me? Well, hubby was tired of carrying the load alone so he wanted me to give up most of the unpaid volunteer activities that were filling my time and find something to do that would bring in an income. He wanted me to get a “real” job.

I worked on getting free of my many volunteer obligations and mentioned to the lady who owned the print shop where I took the quarterly journal I had been doing for the past 5 years to be printed, that I was giving it up. The owner of the print shop asked if I was good at computers. I shrugged and said something about how I had been doing the quarterly journal for the last five years, so I guessed I was decent enough. She mentioned that she might need some help doing data entry. She said would keep my number on file and let me know if she needed my help.

Four months later, just moments after getting my then 14-year-old back in school after getting hit by a car and breaking his leg to the point of it requiring a metal plate be surgically implanted, I got the call. She asked when I could start, and knowing I needed the rest of the day to catch my breath, I told her tomorrow, which, as it happened, was a Friday. I hadn’t gone looking for a job, but one found me. I had found a new place in the world, the working world. Nothing has been the same since. I have always felt that the job was God’s will for my life and that I should stay until he presented the next thing he wanted me to do. I’m sure he has put me here for a reason, and I still have yet to figure out what that reason is. I am starting to wonder if I had it all wrong somehow and maybe should have found a different job long ago. How do I know when my place has changed?

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Place
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

August 10 2017

How Do You Know Which Way to Go?

Sometimes in life, you know things are not going well, but you have no idea what to do to make them better. Sometimes what seems like the easiest answer also seems like the worst choice. The best answer is often the most difficult choice.

Sometimes, the signs are unclear or downright confusing. Then what should you do? How do you choose the right path? Well, when I’m not clear on what I should do, I have been told to turn to God and Pray Until Something Happens. (PUSH) Until the path seems so clear that the choice is obvious. The problem is, sometimes, I have no idea what His answer is. Am I missing something obvious? Was I just not listening hard enough? Maybe God didn’t hear me. I mean there are most likely millions of Christians praying at any given time, maybe my prayer got lost in the chaos somewhere. I should pray again and again. Eventually, he will hear my pleas and answer them. Sometimes the answer is simply, No. Not what any child wants to hear when they ask something of their Father, but sometimes the answer is “No”, or “Not Now”.

If no clear answer is presented, I often put off acting in order to avoid making the wrong choice. I’m still waiting to hear that still small voice I’ve heard so much about. Have you actually heard it? Does God answer you in the spoken word? Perhaps you are lucky that way. I am not. I seem to have to go more on instinct and the idea that if it doesn’t open, it is not my door. Maybe it is not my door right now, perhaps if I try again later, it will open. I often ask God to give me a sign and make his answer very clear to this clueless child of his. Sometimes it seems he tells me to wait or be still. That is a hard one because I want to be doing something, anything to move my life along the path he has chosen for me.

Sometimes it isn’t easy turning everything over to God. Sometimes, I just don’t want to give up control, but then, did I really ever have control in the first place? I know I am supposed to “let go and let God” handle it, but that is not an easy thing to really do. I can say the words, but am I really letting go or just going through the motions?

I find it difficult to know if I am making decisions based on God’s will or my own selfish wants and needs. I’m no expert. I’m open to suggestions on how to better do this in my life. How do YOU know if you are following God’s plan for your life? How does He let YOU know which way you should go? Does He give YOU signs to follow?