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.

June 17 2017

3rd Update on Office Project

On Wednesday, 6/14, I spent a total of about 3-1/2 hours working in the office. I didn’t intend to work so long, but I had pulled up a video on NetFlix to watch that didn’t really require much actual watching, just listening. It was a two-hour video and I told myself I would just putz around a bit while I watched so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about not doing anything constructive. I started out by moving the boxes of paper that were so overfilled they had become piles. I decided to disconnect my desktop computer and pull out all the wires. I wiped everything down to get rid of the thick coating of dust that had accumulated. I found I had tons of things connected to my computer. A few were disconnected but never reconnected because I want to reevaluate whether I even use them. I figure I will reconnect them if and when I need them.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I could see some real progress. As the saying goes, things had to get much worse before they could get better. I felt like I was making a huge mess when I moved things out of the way to wipe the desktop and get rid of all dust bunnies hiding everywhere. Apparently, I don’t have a dust allergy. I tried arranging things a little differently but discovered they wouldn’t work in the new places I thought I would put them, so things went mostly back the way they were but without the piles of paper and clutter. Here are the before and after photos.

Right side under hutch (Before)

 

Scanner area of desktop (Before)

Desktop (After)

Continue reading

June 15 2017

2nd Update on Office Project

On Monday, 6/12/17, I put in another 3 hours of sorting and tough decision making to get a lot more accomplished in my office.

One problem I am coming up against is that until I am done going through everything, I really have no way of knowing how I want to store the things I keep.

I started by telling myself I was just going to clean out one easy drawer to put my bullet journal supplies in so they were easy to get to and off the top of the desk.

Top drawer on left file cabinet (Before)

Top drawer on left file cabinet (After)

After that, I decided I needed the other small drawer under this one for additional supplies, so I kept going.

Middle drawer on left file cabinet (Before)
Middle drawer on left file cabinet (After)

Now you might be asking yourself what I did with the weights and such from the top drawer, and that was one of those tricky things I mentioned. I put them on the bottom shelf I had already cleaned. In theory, I am telling myself I will use them more if I see them. They were after all, out of sight and thus out of mind. So here is what that looks like now.

Glass & Metal Shelf (After Phase 1)
Glass & Metal Shelf (After Phase 2)

By this time I was getting excited about the amount of progress I was making and I was enjoying listening to an audio book while I worked. So, I told myself I was just going to try to make a little bit of progress on the left side of my desk because the height of the piles was beginning to make me nervous and they really bothered me. Here is how it looked when I started, and while I made some progress, it will still need another pass or two before I am finished.

Left desktop (Before)

Things go a lot worse as I covered the entire desktop with various piles as I sorted. I wanted to stop a few times but I told myself just another inch of the pile, then I would stack it all back there neatly. It is difficult to know what to do with things once they are sorted because until I do something about the file cabinets and the china cabinet there is no place to put papers I am keeping. I persisted and peeled a few layers off this particular onion and finally got to what I considered to be an acceptable stopping point for the night. After pitching some and recycling some and putting a few things away where they belong, for now, it looks like this.

Left desktop (After)

Now, finally, I am getting somewhere! Now I wish I had tackled this back in January when the piles were smaller. I moved everything that was on that section of desktop and washed the surface and let it dry before putting everything back. Now, I can look and see real progress. It feels good. I have reached the point where I know it can happen and I know I won’t give up before it is finished. Do I have a long way to go before I am done? You betcha! But I can do it. I can see that now. I think my confidence in my ability to finish the project was buried deep under all those piles of paperwork and such on the desk. No worries, I found it. Stay tuned. Now I am wondering how quickly I can finish the whole office. End of June? Fourth of July? End of July maybe? We shall see.

June 11 2017

1st Update on Office Project

I know you are all wondering if I am actually working on the office clean out. Posting my photos of shame for all the world to see is extremely motivating to me. It is just the accountability I needed to spur me into action.

I tackled the little library shelf first. All I had to do was return a few library books so it was under control again. That got done Friday 6/2 since I was going to the library on Saturday for a meeting and could easily return them without a special trip.

Library Book Shelf (Before)
Library Book Shelf (After)

Then I finally got around to doing a little more on 6/10. I worked on going through 2 of the file drawers and while I didn’t completely clean either one out, I did find lots of things I could throw away. Many of these articles and printouts were from the late 1990s! Not worthy of update photos yet but here are the 2 I worked on.

Large file cabinet drawer 1 of 4
File drawer on right small file cabinet

There is at least a little wiggle room in them now and several empty file folders. These drawers may be like peeling an onion…it may take getting rid of a layer or two at a time.

Sorted through the magazines stacked on the saddle stool. These are possible ideas for submitting freelance articles, so not ready to get rid of all of them yet. Eventually, they will be given a new home when the room is made somewhere else in the office to store them.

Saddle Stool (Before)
Saddle Stool (After)

Probably the most noticeable thing I accomplished was cleaning and wiping the dust off the glass and metal shelf in the corner between the doors. Not much actually came off the shelves, but they look so much better now. I even moved it and swept the dust bunny out from under it.

Glass & Metal Shelf (Before)
Glass & Metal Shelf (After)

It still feels overwhelming but begun truly feels like half done right now. I am excited by the small amount of progress I have made and want to keep the forward motion going. Will check in again when there is more to report. Stay tuned!