September 18, 2016

Itching for Fall

All around me, people are itching for Fall to begin, in more ways than one. (Heat rash, anyone?!)

This summer has been a crazy hot one... and although I'm usually a little sad to be packing up swimsuits, the reality is that this summer was almost too hot to even go to the pool, so I find myself yearning for cool days constantly. The Peanut and I stayed inside more often than not, and we spent a lot of time at indoor play areas (those outdoor playgrounds get insanely HOT. I still don't know why more playgrounds aren't built in the shade.) 

I can remember walking past mall play areas thinking that even if I had kids, I probably wouldn't ever take them to such a loud crazy place. 

And yet, at least once I week, I find myself smiling as the Peanut clamors to get to the steps and slide, running around like he has a firecracker in his pants. 

I've eaten a lot of my words about motherhood in these past two years. I swore I'd never become a mommy blogger and yet you can read my first official mom blog post over here, where I air my confessions. I will be blogging regularly at Chattanooga City Moms Blog for at least the next six months, so be sure to subscribe to their posts if you don't want to miss out! There are quite a few of us contributors on the site, so it's been neat to read different local mom perspectives. Plus, it will give me a chance to be a mommy voice in the community, without turning Typing Sunflowers into the latest mom blog. 

Besides chaos, I'm still making stuff. Like these adorable vertebrae sweaters for ALL OF THE BABIES friends are having. (Seriously ya'll... is it something in the water?!)

I'm also still breaking stuff. Walter, my dear companion and iMac of the past six years, refuses to show me anything on his screen, and it's a costly repair. I'm pretty sure we're going to have to simply bury him somehow in the recycling bin. Until I can get Walter's second brain (aka, my backup hard drive) picked apart, I don't have many other photos to prove any other craftiness to you at the moment, but I can assure you, I've made more of those cardigans than I can count this summer.   

We are now mere days away from the official start of Fall. It's finally raining outside, there is a slight chill in the air, the Sailor is home watching British football (soccer) and the Peanut is sleeping soundly. I can feel the seasons changing. And that's always a good thing.

August 18, 2016

Welcome back?

A lifetime ago, when I worked for Mercy Ships, I waved goodbye to their flagship from an ice cold dock in Germany. I spent a few weeks in England and then returned to the States to assimilate back into American culture. I slept late, recovered from jet-lag, wrote in my journal and tried to figure out pop culture nuances I had missed over the last few years in Africa.

Then I started job hunting. In the end, I took a land job with Mercy Ships. I worked as a grant writer in their short-lived DC office. When I calculated the time that I officially left Mercy Ships to the time I took the job, it had been exactly three months.

I didn’t need to leave Mercy Ships. I simply need a Leave of Absence. All long-term crew were afforded a three month break every three years. I neglected to take mine. And I should have. I was burnt out and simply needed a break.

Maybe I just needed a Leave of Absence from blogging for the summer (again). Who knows. But I'm back.

I’m a little like those Olympic athletes and coaches who say they’re retiring and then they come back for just one more season. (Okay, that's a stretch. But hey, the summer Olympics ARE on.)

And while I did indeed take the summer off from blogging, I certainly have not had a summer off.

So let’s have a little recap, shall we?

:: The Sailor arrived home in May, after passing his Master’s Unlimited exam! Those of you familiar with sea life will understand what a HUGE and monumental deal this is. The Sailor studied and put hours of hard work into this and had to endure a grueling three and a half hour oral exam. Not for the faint of heart. I’m so proud of my captain! 

:: In May, I attended a fantastic sweater unraveling workshop on an alpaca farm. The workshop was hosted by Reunion Yarn, a great startup focusing on recycling and reusing fiber. It combines my love of thrifting with my love of yarn. Unraveling thrifted or old sweaters? Sign me up! I even hauled my dear mother with me and together we attempted to dismantle a few cardigans I had previously made for both her and myself. The yarn stash is now overflowing. 

:: While the Sailor was home, we took a trip to Legoland in Atlanta. The Peanut has been obsessed with his $2 blocks from Goodwill. We figured it was time to introduce him to Legos. He LOVED it.

:: In June and on a whim, I mentioned to the Sailor that I wanted to start looking seriously into selling my handmade knit and crocheted items. The following week, Co.Starters was starting their summer cohort, a
nine-week course aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to startup a business. The first week I sat there wondering what on earth I got myself into, but this past week we had our pitch night and graduation celebration and I'm pretty proud of myself for taking such a giant leap forward.

While I'm still very much
in the beginning stages and taking it VERY slow, I do feel far more equipped to eventually launch a small business selling hand knit slippers (of course.) Stay tuned for more info on this exciting endeavor! 
Cooling off in the cabin

:: In July, the Peanut and I went camping. It was CRAZY hot. We camped with a dozen moms and 45 kids. You read that right. FORTY-FIVE. I was the only mom with only one kid — most of the gals there had 4-5 each, many with newborns! Props to those mighty women. I of course was missing my summers in Scotland, but this was a good initiation into camping for the Peanut. At least our cabins had an outlet and I had the good sense to bring a giant fan. We spent a lot of time floating on the lake. The Peanut also consumed lots of junk that he's not allowed to have at home, like blue Gatorade and sugary lemonade to avoid dehydration.

:: In August, the Peanut turned two! TWO! I actually felt like a fog lifted that week. I don’t know if it’s a hormonal shift in my life, or the fact that he’s no longer a baby, but I feel a little lighter these days. The first two years with the little Peanut, while filled with immense joy, were also HARD. And tiring. So I don’t know what the reasoning is for my new lighter outlook, but I'll take it.

:: Finally, I have broken a promise I made to myself when I was pregnant. I became a mommy blogger. (GASP!) I am one of the newest contributors on the Chattanooga City Moms Blog site. I had been reading their material for a while (there are City Moms Blogs all over — find one in your area) so when they put out a call for Chattanooga writers, I applied. My first post will be on there in a few short weeks. (Excuse me while I eat my words...)

So there you have it. I'm back and hopefully better than ever. Or else I just have Olympic fever. Or I'm still delirious from lack of sleep (still), two years into this mama business. Whatever the reason, I've missed sharing bits of my life on here. I'm still not sure where Typing Sunflowers is heading, but I know like most things in my life, it's growing organically.  

I hope you'll welcome the blog back! 

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


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.