May 4, 2016

The End of a Chapter

Ever since I took my summer break, it's been obvious that I've struggled to post regularly on here. I've barely created even one post a month since then. (Let's face it, I completely missed the months of January and April.

The past half a year's worth of blogging have been fraught with apologies for not posting often enough. I used a lot of different excuses.
 
Last October, I realized I had been writing Typing Sunflowers for three years. I started it at a time in my life when so many things were uncertain — where we would live, what trips the Sailor and I would take, whether my brother would ever get better, if children would be in our future.

The blog helped me get through a lot of those uncertainties by giving me something to focus on without any pressure. Nobody was paying me to do a job; the only deadlines I imposed were my own. 

Some people see their life as a movie. I've always seen my own life as a book. A very large book, with multiple chapters, lots of plot-lines, a myriad of characters, conflicts and resolutions and of course numerous travels and places along the way

This blog has seen a lot of chapters in my life. A move across the country, several overseas trips, including a cruise, a few trips to South Africa, and even Singapore, the death of my brother, the arrival of the Peanut, getting published in Artful Blogging magazine, my former editor and mentor passing away, another move, and a whole lot of crafting stuff in between. 

Many things in my life have cycled in stages of three years. The blog is now only a few weeks shy of exactly three and a half years. In retrospect, I should have maybe written this post on Typing Sunflower's third anniversary back in October. Then again, perhaps I needed a few months to gain perspective.

After my break, I realized something. This blog has changed over the years. I've changed.  

I love having a virtual record of the past few years. Unlike my chicken scratch handwriting in the journals that I keep nowadays, I can look through my past blog posts and actually read my writing.

I think though, perhaps it's time for this particular chapter to come to a close. I have been feeling this for some time, but I held on, thinking that I could just keep posting photos and projects. But the reality is, for whatever reason that I'm not yet clear on, I think it's time to simply let it go. (I'm probably the only person on the planet who has yet to see Frozen, but I do know that 'let it go' is a great life theme.)  

My life 'book' isn't finished yet, and there are still lots of chapters to be lived. In the meantime, I will continue to write and create abundantly. Typing Sunflowers may or may not be resurrected in some form along the way. And I'm okay with that uncertainty, but I thought you all should know, in case you wondered where I went.

I won't be deleting this blog like I have previous ones, so feel free to continue to peruse the archives or get in touch with me via the contact tab above. Lastly, a massive thank you to those of you who have been faithful readers, followers and champions of this blog, whether you've been here since the start, or you only stumbled upon Typing Sunflowers recently. I have loved sharing a small glimpse of my life with you. I hope in some small way I've inspired you all to dream big and create your own meaningful life.

March 18, 2016

Spring Reset

The other day someone asked me what I was proud of recently... and I said I was proud of the fact that I managed to clean the bathrooms. HA! That should give you an indication of how much 'extra' stuff I'm managing to (not) get done these days. 

'Write blog post' always seems to get pushed to the bottom of a lengthy to do list, after I've accomplished all of the necessities (like cleaning those bathrooms...) I've been procrastinating with this blog, mainly because, duh, I have a toddler and precious few minutes to myself. But I've also been procrastinating because it feels like I haven't been working on anything 'original'. Instead, I've been redoing a lot of stuff. Stuff that I initially crafted and loved, but as I continue to purge the apartment in an effort to simplify my life, I'm realizing there were a lot of things I made in the past that I don't like now, or never really liked if I'm honest.

You may remember when I organized my recipes into these neat little books, over two years ago? I'm sad to report that it did NOT help my recipe organization or meal planning one iota. The recipes got shoved into the front of the book... the book didn't sit right on my shelf, and let's face it, most of the recipes I pasted into the book were either disasters, or I couldn't remember why I saved them in the first place

The dessert binder, on the other hand, has been great! I managed to keep those pages organized and I easily found any recipe I was looking for. 

Recently, I scored some paper products on sale at a craft store, and they inspired me to redo my recipe book in the same way I've done the dessert one. I ordered a similar binder to the one I have for the desserts, and even though I haven't gotten around to transferring everything yet, I can already tell, I may actually find and more importantly, USE more recipes now. 

In knitting news, remember this cardigan? Yeah, neither do I. I hardly wore it. It really didn't suit me, and the whole thing hung kind of weird. 


So I ripped it apart and kept the yarn, and now I'm making this groovy shawl. (The pattern is actually called, 'groovy'...)  


What's the point of all of this? I'm not exactly being very prudent with my precious spare time if I end up doing a project and then destroying it to start another one with the same materials. 

Or am I? Sometimes I just need to create something, even if it's a disaster. Some nights, I spend an hour knitting or crocheting something, only to rip everything apart right afterwards. 

But you know what? That was an hour where I fed my soul, even if the end product didn't turn out the way I planned. Sometimes I finish the whole project and then I realize a few years down the line that I don't really like it. That doesn't mean I failed. Sometimes the process alone is what I need to feel creative, not the end product. I still had a blast knitting that cardigan, and I still remember sitting at the table sorting out my recipes. I actually LIKE organizing some stuff. It wasn't a chore (unlike cleaning those bathrooms.) 


Spring is a great time to purging, for setting goals, and for just resetting your life sometimes. Even if it just means completely remaking something out of that green yarn purchased on sale, or tossing out recipes you know you'll never make, in order to make room for ones that are now kept in a more organized binder. 

What are you remaking these days? 

February 15, 2016

Airmail

I've said before and I'll say it again, I love snail mail. As a kid I always enjoyed the long walk to the mailbox, hoping for a letter from one of my pen pals. I still get excited to get a real letter in the mail (although these days it's far and few between). It's also the reason I still mail out real Christmas cards. It's now hilarious to me to see the Peanut get super excited when I tell him we're going to get the mail.

Over the weekend, I worked on my Project Life album. I'm way behind, but it was super fun to see how much the Peanut has grown in the past 18 months, and also to see all of the adventures the Sailor and I had over the past year and a half. I took a LOT of photos. I'm sure I wouldn't have nearly as many without having a camera on my phone. 

In fact, it's hard to imagine life these days without modern technology, right? 

While working on the Project Life pages, I came across a pile of letters and postcards I remember purchasing at a flea market a few years ago. I liked the look of the airmail envelopes and I had something crafty in mind when I bought them. I don't remember what, now, but I do remember leaning over that particular table, rifling through the letters and and picking out the ones I wanted. I probably wanted to use the stamps for something. 




Last night, while the Peanut got into every plastic bin I had scattered on the floor, I found the letters and began to read them. 


 

Once I started, I couldn't put them down. I was astounded. 

I'm sure the set is incomplete, but from the few letters I have, I gathered that a couple set off on a trip overseas — one of their letters mentioned 15 countries in all. They were writing to their daughter in the summer of 1955. I just assumed she was older, maybe in college. But the more I read, the more I found out. She must have been a wee toddler — not even in school yet. It seemed like she was staying with her grandparents for the summer while her parents (who often signed off as Daddy and Mamma) were gallivanting the globe for a few weeks to Europe and the Middle East. A few of the letters mentioned that they hadn't yet heard from their daughter and they were pleading for the grandparents to write when the couple arrived in London, where they could receive post. One letter even said, 'Ask Grandpa to get an airmail stamp from the post office.' 


I felt a little like I was invading someone's privacy, but I kept reading. 

Eventually, I found the letter that Grandpa had written and mailed to London, in care of a travel agent and addressed to a 'Reverend'. I can only guess that the couple was perhaps on a mission or pilgrimage of some sort. Grandpa said he hadn't written yet because his eye glasses broke in the meantime. In addition, he didn't have enough ink in his pen and needed to get more. He also mentioned that the little girl couldn't wait to have the letters read to her when they arrived. 





I realize that I grew up in an era without cell phones, without Facebook and without so much technology. The Internet only really came about when I went to college. I remember going off to Africa as a 20-something and not talking on the phone to my mom for five months. I did however, at least email her. 

And I have never lacked for a pen. 

There's something incredible though about thinking about this couple, who only wrote snail mail letters home to their daughter. And even though they were airmail, I'd imagine the post wasn't as fast as it is today. 

If the little girl was still alive, she'd be in her 60s. I'm guessing though, that the people mentioned in the letter are all deceased. It's probably how the letters ended up in a flea market basket at a bargain price. Someone probably had an estate sale, and they ended up getting shuffled around until I eventually found them. 

I had a huge clear out of my letters recently (read Marie Kondo's 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' for tips on purging!) But there are a number that I still kept, letters my mom wrote me through the years, all of my written correspondence from the Sailor, and letters from my traveling 'sisters' from our years scattered around the globe. 

Some days I wonder if someone will end up reading through my own letters, trying to piece together a piece of the past. I find it hard to believe that people will really remember the little snippets of technology that we engage in day to day and minute by minute. After all, so many things like Facebook status updates, Instagram pics, and tweets are all so temporary. Even though nothing is really ever 'gone' from the Internet, are people really going to remember that we posted something about the weather? 

It's funny how a written letter changes that perspective. The Reverend wrote about the weather in his letters, and the Grandpa wrote in return about their weather (apparently 1955 had the hottest summer on record in Maryland). Some things, like talking about the weather, never change. But those letters have at least endured.

Maybe that's why I'm still into snail mail. It's like leaving a little glimpse of another life, for another generation.

February 1, 2016

February!

Yes, I know it's been forever. It's February already. 

FEBRUARY!! 

I promise you, I haven't forgotten this blog. But you know the days run into other days, and there's a constant flow of meal prep, dishes, playtime, laundry, errands... and occasionally sleep. The Sailor arrived home for the holidays and has been home for all of January, so it seemed like our days were even fuller and busier. Every time I contemplated writing a blog post, the Peanut would bring me a book, hand outstretched, wanting me to read it to him. 

And really, who can deny such a cute kid a little reading session? 

So here I am, in the middle of his nap time, wondering where all of January went besides a blur of food, laundry and library books. 

Nevertheless, I did manage to accomplish a few crafty things. I also realized that even if I'm not posting every little detail, I'm still living life and making things. And that's what really makes me happy.

I threw my friend Tianna a baby shower! 





She hosted my book shower a little over a year and a half ago. Now, she's having twins! We ate lots of yummy food on vintage wares, and showered her with gifts galore. I made her yellow and grey baby cardigans like this one (I was so busy hosting that I forgot to get photos of my own gifts.)  

I'm also in the middle of making both myself and the Peanut new slippers. (I've finally gotten around to using the wool I bought in Idaho a year ago.) They are both these felt clogs. I remembered this week that I had the pattern for the children's version as well! Perfect timing since the Peanut rips his socks off and needs a pair of these for around the house. They knit up fast and I'm looking forward to throwing these in the laundry and watching them shrink to the right size.


I also finally finished this Through the Woods hat and cowl. I purchased a kit on Craftsy forever ago and then realized it never really gets cold enough here to wear such a thing, so I kept it in the 'to do' pile. Over the holidays, I worked on it and decided it's a perfect belated birthday gift for my pal in Idaho (where it gets cold enough to wear it!)  


It looks much better on, but since we are all recovering from nasty colds and constant nose blowing, I'll refrain from posting a photo of myself in it. (I've looked better... let's just leave it at that!



And once again, my local yarn store had the perfect wooden buttons to go with it. 

I also feel like I should report that we have the windows open and it's positively balmy outside. THIS is the reason we moved south. 

December 13, 2015

'Tis the Season...

While I haven't posted on here in a month (!) I can assure you, I haven't forgotten about the blog. But after the hectic month of November, and writing an entire novel, I promised myself a few weeks of calm in December. 

My fingers also cramped up at the thought of hitting the keyboard again after NaNoWriMo

Years ago, when I worked onboard a Mercy Ship off the coast of West Africa, crew members got off an entire week for Christmas break. Now, of course, we didn't all have off 24/7, as the ship still needed to function. So we took turns helping out in reception, or the galley (the kitchen) or even gangway watch. But it was still a more relaxed pace than the usual frantic Decembers we often think about with the holidays. 

I still like to have a calm December, so I try not to go crazy (ie, I avoid the mall). Around the apartment, I've decorated with a few white twinkle lights, a tiny tree, some Christmas music, gingerbread cookies and a few minutes of knitting when the Peanut finally goes to sleep, or sits quietly 'reading' all of his books. 

That's my kind of holiday.

In between writing 50,000 words, I did a knitting and crochet photo-a-day challenge on Instagram in November, which helped me at least keep up the visual creativity. My camera is still kaput, but I have a plan to get it fixed in the next month.

In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the past month via my phone: 

Amazing weather when it's not raining: totally conducive to playing on the porch and knitting outside. 








Chickens! This kid is totally into chickens at the moment. And I'm loving Susan B. Anderson's Spud and Chloƫ at the Farm book. Let's face it, I love all of her designs and I have almost most of her books. Super cute kid stuff and I'm excited that the Peanut has so much fun playing with the things I've made for him.

This pattern is the Mother Hen and Chicks. Every night the Peanut and I put the chicks to sleep, and then in the morning, he finds them under the Mother Hen. (The little bluebird is also one of Susan's patterns: Egg to Bluebird. I told you I love her stuff.)



More chickens! I also found this cute crochet pattern on Ravelry for a chicken and egg coaster set, and I sent it to a good friend who has her own flock of birds. 




Sunrise/Sunset: Shorter days mean less daylight, but I have still been working on this sunrise sunset blanket, one square at a time. I finally finished it and it's en route to a friend now for her birthday. 




Cardigans: It is December after all, so a cardigan is occasionally in order. The Peanut can now wear this, which makes me thrilled and a little sad all at the same time. I remember finishing this over a year ago, wondering when the Peanut would be able to fit into it and he's already rapidly outgrowing it. 

I'm going to need to knit him some new cardigans soon, which is an excellent excuse to go yarn shopping. The Peanut is a wonderful helper in the shopping cart... he loves to hold the yarn and basically anything else I'm trying to purchase.


Christmas cards: Apparently some of my Christmas cards didn't make it to their destination until FEBRUARY of last year. I'm on the ball this year (well, at least more than last year!) and I've been working on getting my cards in the mail. Our family photo, however, is still goofy. I'm using the broken camera as an excuse. One of these days we'll either invest in a professional photographer or a selfie stick. Recipients, enjoy the laugh when you see how hilarious our 'selfies' are. 

Finally, I managed to 'win' NaNoWriMo

(Now, for you novel novices, that simply means I made it to the 50,000 word count within the month of November.)

The novel itself needs a TON of work, but I mainly did it to simply challenge myself creatively for the month of November and to get out of my writing rut. 

The whole experience was far more fun than I thought it would be! I got a mini thrill watching my word count increase throughout the month and I felt like I had an entire virtual team cheering me on. 

I have been writing non-fiction for so long, that it truly was freeing and fabulous to simply make stuff up and write it down. I'm thinking that I should keep writing fiction for fun. 

I hope I can write a bit more on here before Christmas. With the energy level of the Peanut these days, it might not happen (although he has miraculously been napping the entire time I've worked on this post!) 

Just in case I don't get around to posting more this month though, for more non-fiction holiday writing, see 2013's Christmas post here, and 2014, here


Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, wherever and however you celebrate!