October 14 2017

13 Lessons Learned on Friday the 13th at the Airport

1) Do NOT under any circumstances, show up less than 30 minutes before boarding time begins at the designated gate.
2) ‎Try to avoid making stops to your spouse’s work to pick up the jacket and headphones he forgot to bring home. This delay will cost you more than a new jacket and headphones in airport food prices alone, not to mention the time you can never have back. Plan ahead, make a list or do without.
3) ‎Bring some snacks in your carry on luggage. Preferably healthy ones.
4) ‎Wear comfortable and sensible clothes and shoes.
5) ‎Pack all chargers for cell phones, laptops, tablets etc. In your carry on luggage. Preferably in small zippered bags so they don’t get tangled and you can find them easily.
6) ‎Also, make sure you have all medications with you and not in your checked luggage. Luggage gets lost or sometimes it gets to the final destination 12 hours before you do.
7) ‎If you are traveling with children, especially those under five or six, bring an adult to be assigned to reach infant or toddler because babies require a lot of care, and once they have learned to walk, they tend to run off unexpectedly. Trust me this is a parent’s worst nightmare, so admit you need help and bring it with you.
8) ‎Know where the restrooms are, and wash your hands each time you visit them because anything less is just gross! Hand sanitizer is great AFTER you wash your hands, not instead of!
9) ‎Wear long pants because it may be chilly and you just don’t know what has been touching the seats in the waiting areas or plane. Better to ruin a pair of pants than developing a rash on your lower body.
10) ‎Wear or bring a jacket, preferably with zipping pockets because it may be cold or you may want to wad it up for a pillow and you wouldn’t want anything falling out of your pockets as you rush around the airport.
11) ‎Be patient, polite and thoughtful of your fellow passengers. Nobody enjoys a sourpuss who complains about everything.
12) ‎Get plenty of sleep and do whatever is needed to keep your children from getting fussy. No one wants to hear kids whining, crying or screaming. You, as a parent, don’t need the added stress either. Upset or badly behaved children just add tension to an already stressful situation.
13) ‎When you go through security or leave any seat or area, check carefully to be sure you didn’t leave ANYTHING behind. I can’t tell you how many announcements we heard about keys, Apple watches, or other belongings that were left behind.
We even heard one where a person was asked to call the rental car company because they needed their car key back!That’s it. Thirteen tips to help you as you travel in honor of the Friday the 13th I spent in the local airport waiting over 13 hours for a fight out to start our vacation. It all turned out well enough and it gave me the info to write this post to help others.

Best seatmates: 8-year-old Jake and his mother, Tammy. It was truly a pleasure sharing a flight with both of them.

Best line given by a flight attendant: Bottoms up or give it up!
October 12 2017

4th Update on Office Project

If you haven’t been following along on my office cleanout goal or you are new here, welcome to the huge goal I set for myself to get done during 2017. If you want to see all the before photos of just how badly cluttered my tiny 8′ x 8′ office (formerly known as the breakfast nook) was. I realized as the month of May was ending that I had wasted the first 5 months of the year I had allotted myself for this task and so I got busy and took the before photos and posted them to publicly shame myself into getting busy.

Well, I’m sure if you have been following along, you gave up on me ever finishing by now. I am still not finished but I have done so much that I know I can finish this project this year. I have been much kinder to myself by doing just small chunks at a time that just didn’t seem worthy of reporting to the world here.

Here is the finished China Cabinet all closed up. The doors were not refinished like the rest of the cabinet and we have the drawer front that is missing where the long narrow slot is.

Ok, let’s open it up and show you what it looks like.

I wanted to show you the photo below because I had forgotten how cool the inside of the built in China Cabinet was. My Mother-In-Law is the one responsible for picking out the wallpaper and refinishing the woodwork that got done in this office. That was long before December 2000 when we moved in. Look how she wallpapered and even added a narrow border to the back wall of the shelves! I love it and it will stay that way for as long as it can last.

I need your help. I am looking for clear plastic “C” or “U” shaped trim to put on the edges of the shelves to hold the vinyl flooring edges down smoothly. I cannot seem to locate any. All I could find were 3″ long pieces meant to put to be used in the retail world to put prices on the front edge of shelves. These shelves measure just a hair under 7/8″ thick including the flooring. See how it wants to curl between the staples that are holding it in place? If you know where I can find this trim in 39″ long pieces or longer, please email me (lighthouselifelessons(at)gmail.com).

This is what the slot and bottom looked like before:

Bottom 2 shelves in china cabinet

Below are two photos showing the stuff I store in the drawer slot and the bottom of the cabinet.

This is what the top section of the cabinet looked like before.

Here are some as I was clearing the shelves and reorganizing things.

I decided the effort put in here was so huge, I deserved to splurge a bit, so I ordered these white bins in two sizes off of Amazon. I will post affiliate links at the bottom of this post in case you like the looks of them. They seem much more sturdy than those I found in the stores locally and they are nicer looking too. I was very pleased with the quality and the look they provided. The best part is they only cost about $60 total and came in 6-packs! I have since noticed these same bins in a few YouTube videos and they always look like new, so I feel like they will last.

I did most of the work on the China Cabinet over Labor Day Weekend while I had the entire weekend and house to myself. I just turned on K-LOVE radio on one of the computers and cranked it up to keep me going. also

I made so much progress that I also tackled the left and right sides of hutch.

Left inside of hutch

Right inside of hutch

Then another day, I took on the top right drawer:

Top small drawer on right small file cabinet

Then the next drawer down got the full treatment too:

Middle drawer on right small file cabinet BEFORE

Below is the one photo I forgot to take when I was doing the before shots. Doesn’t every large desk have the under the desk long skinny drawer of shame? This was mine.

No worries. I played Tetris with the boxes and trays I had around the house and did a ton of decluttering to get it to look like this. I don’t mind telling you I was really dreading this one, but it is a relief to know it is finally done.

So, you can see I HAVE been busy. I think I just need to sort thru about 3 more drawers of files and clear the tops of the tall file cabinet and the hutch. Then, hopefully, I will have room to put away the piles of paper still on the desktop that I couldn’t begin to fit into any of the file drawers.

I am thinking maybe one final check in but it may not be until after November, because in November I do this thing called NaNoWriMo and until that is over I will be busy planning and plotting and then, of course, writing at least 50,000 words on a new novel.

Stay tuned!

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience.
Please see this site’s Policy & Disclosure Page for more info.

Here are the links for the bins I used (The price is for a 6 pack of each size so total cost was only about $60!):

Sterilite 16288006 Deep Ultra Basket, White Basket w/ Titanium Inserts, 6-Pack

Sterilite 16268006 Large Ultra Basket, White Basket w/ Titanium Inserts, 6-Pack

You can see previous updates here:

The Elephant in the Room (6/1/17)
1st Update (6/11/17)
2nd Update  (6/15/17)
3rd Update (6/17/17)

October 5 2017

My New Helper is a Keeper

The image and title above may have already clued you in to what I am going to tell you about today. A few weeks ago, I was listening to one of Ann Kroeker’s Podcasts. She mentioned something I hadn’t yet heard of, Google Keep. Since I had no idea what it was, I asked Google, “Ok Google, What is Google Keep?” I got the following answer from Google:

Google Keep is a note-taking service developed by Google. Launched on March 20, 2013, Google Keep is available on the web, and has mobile apps for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems.”

Thank you, Google. I went to YouTube and typed in Google Keep and watched a couple of tutorials and was immediately blown away by how powerful a tool this could be. I had to have it! Now! How had I not known about this? Thank you, Ann Kroeker, writing coach for sharing this tidbit! My life is forever changed because I listened to your podcast!

You can listen to it here in about ten minutes start to finish. If you’d rather read than listen, you can find the blog post here: Ep 112: My Best Writing Tools to Get More Done (at Home and on the Go)

I was very excited about all the possibilities, so I went to the Google Play Store and downloaded the Android version right away. I played with it some on my phone and couldn’t wait to get home and see the desktop version of it. It is very easy to use. The only problem I had was accidentally archiving a post when I didn’t mean to, but even that is easily undone.

In the few weeks since I began using the app on my Android phone and the online version on both my desktop and my Surface Pro 2, I have found it to be the one app I would not give up on my phone. Yes, it is that awesome! Did I mention it is FREE?

I have taken notes at meetings, made lists of things to remember to talk over at my next Dr appointment, made to do lists, taken notes on books I was reading including a photo of the cover. I have taken screenshots of research I was doing on a DIY project then attached the screenshot to the note and had Keep grab the text from the image so that all of it is editable, savable and searchable. I have done research online and taken notes which included several source URL links. I decided I might want to refer to some snippets of info and wanted to create a note about them but was feeling too lazy to type them all in on my phone, so I used the microphone on the keyboard and spoke them into text that was typed before my eyes super accurately. At one point I was dictating a note about being a writer and Keep typed rider, but as I kept talking it figured out I meant writer and went back and changed it before I was finished dictating the note, right before my eyes. How cool is that? Google Keep understands what I am thinking, sometimes better than I do myself.

I have color-coded, labeled, pinned and even archived some of my notes. I can reorder the things on my to-do list so the most important ones are on top. I can add blog ideas to my ongoing list wherever I am because my phone is always with me. There is a Keep shortcut on the main screen because I use it that much. I even added shortcuts to my computer desktops for faster access too.

I love that I can use the checkboxes on my lists and check things off. The checked items go to the bottom of the list where they can be quickly referenced when someone wants to know what you have gotten done today. You can also uncheck all the boxes at once or just the individual ones you need. This is excellent for grocery lists. The list items can be sorted by the department they are in such as vegetables, dairy or meat. I could share the list with a collaborator (Hubby) and then Hubby would be able to access the list on his phone and shop in one department while I shop in another to finish the shopping much faster.

I just figured out another cool way to use this on my phone hands-free. I said, “Ok Google, add a note to Google Keep to finish blog article.” See the results below.

When I clicked Open Keep as shown above, it took me to the Keep app where I found the little gem shown below waiting for me. You can see it is super fast by the times shown in the screenshots.

Notice the little play button below the little, dotted line in the screenshot above? If I click on it, I hear my voice telling Google what I want the note to say. When I am finished with this task, I can either archive or just delete the note to keep the Keep notepad from getting cluttered.

So many uses! Did I mention you could dictate portions of your novel into this and save the notes in Keep and Google Docs or that from Google Docs you can pull up your Google Keep notepad and drag and drop parts of any of your Keep notes into an open Google Doc? Story notes, plot ideas, character details, bits of dialog, all able to be easily added to a Scrivener file when you get back to your computer, all searchable and editable.

See what I mean? This is exciting! There are so many possible uses for it. A boss using Google Keep could create and share daily to do lists with several employees, and any and all could make changes to the list throughout the day checking off the things that were finished. Each checkbox could begin with the name of the person being assigned to do the task.

Here are some of the excellent Tutorials I found that explain all the wonders of Google Keep much better than I could because seeing is believing. There are loads of videos to tell you how various people use Google Keep.

Google Keep Awesomeness:

Google Keep 2017 Tutorial – Online Notes:

How to use Google Keep – Full Tutorial:

Using Google Keep to Track Projects:

Google Keep – The Most Beautiful To Do List Ever!:

There are so many more uses I have yet to explore but I am using Google Keep on a daily basis for all the thoughts in my brain that might otherwise leak out through the cracks and be lost forever.

August 24 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.

July 13 2017

2nd Quarter Goal Check-in

Way back in January, I shared my 2017 SMART Goals. Half the year is gone and it is time to see how I am doing on those goals. In the past, I have made goals, written them down, shared them with a group, and then forgotten all about them until the end of the year when it was time to make new goals for the coming year.

That system wasn’t working for me at all. Then only goals I got done were the ones that were accidental, never because I planned to get them done. Usually, when I found the list again, I was pleasantly surprised if I managed to get any of my goals accomplished. This year, I am trying something different and if you are reading this, I could really use your help. I need you to ask me about my goals and check in with me from time to time to see if I am getting them done. This is the piece that was missing in the past.

Here are the goals I set at the beginning of the year:

FAMILY FUN GOALS: (2/3)
1) Do a cabin weekend DONE!
2) April trip DONE!
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays (not scheduled yet)

FITNESS GOALS: (meh, but ongoing)
1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night (85/181 = 47%)
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day (142/181 = 78%)
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app (180 day streak!)

HOUSE GOALS: (1/3)
1) Clean out my home office (Real progress on the parts that show)
2) Declutter the landing DONE!
3) Declutter my clothes (1st pass done)

PERSONAL GOALS: (1/3)
1) Do some genealogy (Does tidying up the paper files count?)
2) Take three writing classes DONE! (6 so far)
3) Read for thirty minutes a day (Consistent)  (47 books so far)

SPIRITUAL/CHARITY GOALS: (1/3)
1) Pray daily (Consistent & Constant)
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books (9/15)
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity DONE as of 7/8! Do you want to see photos?

WRITING GOALS: (ongoing)
1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels (working on edits and revisions again during July)
2) Publish something (see writing goal #1 above)
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

OK, I know I am making progress. I have finished 5 out of the 18 goals I set! Two of those not done are not able to be done until a future date. Five goals are ongoing and cannot really be considered done as long as there are still days left in the year.

Editing and revisions to my 2016 NaNo Novel continue to be more difficult than I expected. The writing goals have proven to be much more difficult for me to feel like I am making progress on. I should have made a writing goal to write at least one blog post a week or 52 posts in the year would have been better. Becoming a year-round writer was one of my goals for 2014, 2015 and 2016. It took a long time and a concerted effort, but I am finally considering myself a year-round writer thanks to this blog. It gives me a reason to write and a place to post and the feeling of accountability and accomplishment.

I think the crochet goals was easily accomplished because it was reasonable. I think I made 30 hats last year and knew my carpel tunnel is getting worse, so I thought I would back off what I knew I had done last year. I chose 26 because making a hat every other week seemed completely doable. The reason for the early success is because we took driving trips over new years weekend and the trip in April, both of these gave me hours of riding in a car with hubby driving. I have discovered that keeping myself occupied while hubby drives keeps me from gasping in fear while he drives so I get a lot of crocheting done and even some reading. The reading goal is helped along because I take my nook with me to work each day and read for the 30-minute lunch break. It also comes along when we go to restaurants and on all trips. The best part about reading on my nook is that every book can be read with a large font if my eyes are tired and I can even read in the dark.

How are you doing on your goals for 2017? What have you learned about goal setting? I learned that I need to set more measurable goals and goals that are not ongoing. Those ongoing goals are nice enough, but unless you do them every day for the whole year you feel like you failed at least a little.