Empty Notebook Challenge

I talked for awhile at the DC Pen show with two ladies I know via an online fountain pen group. Part of our conversation was about how much we all love buying new notebooks but have yet to fill more than one or two of them. We either wait until something important/special enough comes to mind (because a notebook is too nice to waste) or fill a few pages, buy a new notebook, and give up on the old one.

As I was driving home, I realized that I should start a challenge to get us all our of our non-notebook-finishing ways. And, as usual, I turned to Natalie Goldberg. In Writing Down the Bones, she encourages readers to fill a notebook a month. Not fill it with artful prose or beautiful poetry, just fill it.

So, that’s the challenge. Thirty days, one notebook, fill it up. My friends and I started this on Sunday, so our last day is the US Labor Day, September 3. But feel free to join us and start whenever. (If you’re really into it, tag social media posts about your progress with #emptynotebookchallenge.)

Not sure what to write? I brainstormed and looked around for others’ recommendations about how to fill a notebook, start a journaling practice, and outline that novel that’s been bouncing around in your head for years.

  • See my posts referencing Ms. Goldberg, as she’s my main source. And read her books, especially Writing Down the Bones. Your local library is bound to have a copy or two.
  • Teach yourself Spencerian handwriting or brush lettering or to draw botanical drawings. You’ll use up lots of pages when you’re learning something new!
  • Every day before you go to sleep write clear your mind by writing about your worries, problems and good things that happened during the day. Not only will it make you sleep better you’ll be surprised how focused you’ll be in the morning! (From 10 Ways to Use a Blank Notebook)
  • Lots of great tips on Creating a Daily Journaling Practice
  • Start a bullet journal (Tiny Ray of Sunshine has a great summary printable and her posts are extremely inspirational)
  • Write your personal history (Text My Journal has a list of 50 questions)
  • Why you should write your novel on paper (Jenny Bravo Books)
  • Keep a commonplace book (See what someone else keeps and theirs here)

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about writing:

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up in your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” — Jack London

Week in Review: 29 July – 4 August, 2018

This week went very quickly, mostly because of how nuts work has been lately. It involved a late evening at work for me and one for Matt, so one dinner out and one lazy dinner. But, we survived!

Life of Lizzie

We finally got the “It’s ok to get out of bed” clock set up after she woke up a 3:30 on Wednesday morning and was downstairs, drinking her milk before we realized. Matt got the honor of putting her very angry self back. Thankfully, she doesn’t remember this at all and the clock has worked well the last few days.

Lizzie had lots of extra energy the other night and asked to be taken to a playground. Well, it had just rained so everything was all wet. She came up with the solution on her own: play area at the mall. So, I took her after dinner and she had a grand time running around and sliding down the watermelon and surfing the orange slice (thanks, Barbie: Life in the Dream House for teaching her about surfing).

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(She does have shorts on, but they’re shorter than her shirt.)

On the Needles

I already wrote about my two FOs, so I won’t blather on about that. As is typically my style, I started about a million things to celebrate, only a few of which worked out.

There’s the hat for Lizzie, being knit in very! bright! green! of her choosing. It’s using the Barley Light pattern from Tin Can Knits. I’m hoping to have enough yarn to make a matching one for her BFF next door. The yarn is Woolen Boon’s Boon Classic in the colorway Summer Vibes.

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I started a very pink shawl for a friend who did not have the best week. She lovessss pink. I’m using one of my favorite patterns ever, Dotted Rays by Stephen West. The yarn is from Periwinkle Sheep, I think. I think the color is named Hot Mama. Finding out would take, you know, effort. I plan to knit this until I use up the remainder of a ball from making another of the same exact pattern plus another half skein or so, maybe more. The recipient is quite tall and I want to make sure the FO is of an appropriate size for her body.

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Third new start is a shawl for another coworker, whose favorite color is purple and has a sort of funky style. I’m making one of the patterns from Hunter Hammerson’s Curls books, Chicanery. The yarn is Socks that Rock Lightweight in Smoke on the Water that I got for 40% off at my LYS. I’m hoping it winds up a decent size, despite the low yardage (405 yards).

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Adventures

Only one real adventure this week and it was one I went on alone. I went to the DC Pen Show yesterday. While it was lovely to see a few folks from my online pen pal group and check out the merchandise, I don’t think I’ll attend in the future. It was very crowded and, though I should have expected it, almost all of the pens for sale were out of my budget. And I’m just not *that* into fountain pens. Sure, they’re really nice to write with and all of the different colors of ink are fun but I’m not at all to the level of obsession as most of the other attendees. (I did pick up a cheap Pilot Kakuno, some burnt orange Pilot ink, and a flexible notebook with a rocket on it.)

Discoveries

  • Cookbook Grand Cucina Latina’s recipe for ropa vieja – best recipe we’ve tried for one of my favorite Cuban dishes
  • Re-discovered Chick-fil-a Diet Lemonade
  • Everyone takes their kids to the mall on a rainy Thursday night
  • Kelborne Woolens linen/cotton blend Mojave
  • Work thing: how to add data to the edges of Activities in Rhapsody

 

Oye. Ugh. Sigh.

A few very non-productive work meetings this week. You’d think I’d learn no one wants to actually provide the first version of something. It’s easier to simple criticize what others have drafted. Lesson learned for next week.

One of my wisdom teeth decided it was finally time to start growing in. Now I know why Lizzie was always so testy when she was teething. Advil makes the aggravation tolerable enough.

A Better Me

I didn’t walk nearly as much as I wanted to this week, mostly because of the busy work week. I did wander around the outlets yesterday but that wasn’t even a lot of steps. Down another 1.6 pounds for the week (9 pounds total). Figured out I’m going to start reintroducing foods on the 13th and am already dreaming of cheese.

On Tap

  • Weekend trip to Shenandoah with college friends and their adorable kid
  • Finishing Lizzie’s hat
  • Starting a writing challenge with friends (subject for a later post)

 

Have a great week!

FO Friday: Twofer

I have two finished objects to share today which is pretty remarkable, given my inability to focus on projects lately.

Campside

The first FO is a large shawl I made for a coworker who wears lots of clothing on this color palette and loves scarves.

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The pattern is a free one, Campside by Alicia Plummer. It starts with a stockinette section that’s followed by four sets of eyelet sections, each with fewer stitches between the eyelets than the previous section. It ends with ribbing which I really like the look of on a simple shawl. I blocked it gently and it still wound up huge, 56″ across and 25″ tall. My poor coworker can get eaten by the thing!

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I could not get my phone to take a picture accurately of the color, which is a heathery purple with lots of red in it. Regardless, I really love how it turned out and will certainly be making something using this pattern again.

Vestigial

The second FO is a pair of socks in a pattern I’ve not used before, Vestigial by Beata Jezek. While it’s a simple enough pattern to memorize, I did mess up a few times. I did them toe-up with a short row heel as I didn’t want to have to do any complicated counting.

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As usual, these took a month to knit because I got bored after the first sock. Maybe I should have two pairs of socks in rotation?

I’ll be back on Sunday with a review of the week which will have some other knitting content.

Blogpoloy

I have all sorts of excuses why I haven’t blogged in awhile. Use of Instagram for sharing photos and stories. Trying to connect with people more in person. Lack of desire to get anywhere near a computer after a work day spent on one.

But, really, I just haven’t felt like blogging. And that’s okay, right? Ya’ll haven’t come at me with pitchforks, demanding I post more often. I do this blog for fun and self-expression and, okay, sometimes it’s for the likes and new followers.

2017 Wrap-Up

I would say that 2017 was a year of ups and downs, for me and my work and my family and, well, the nation. (Don’t worry, I won’t elaborate very much on that last one. Let’s just say I see it as more of a downward motion with occasional bright spots.)

January

I started the year with a giant plate of cinnamon rolls at a favorite brunch spot and spent the rest of the day clearing out and organizing our closets. We also went to Rose’s Luxury for the first time in a little bit. (Yes, Lizzie spent the first few days of the year at her grandparents’.) Lizzie got really into painting, taking advantage of her new easel. I took another ballet class – the only session I actually completed for the year, though I did start too others. We all went to the Women’s March on Washington – even Lizzie was a happy camper, despite the crazy crowds. I made a lot of envelopes and pom-poms. Maybe hundreds of each. We helped with robotics again, though I mostly stayed home to watch Lizzie.

February

We went to the National Zoo with the family of one of Matt’s high school friends on a drizzly day. Spent a long weekend in Florida with my parents, including lots of playground time and a trip to the Everglades (my first, can you believe it??). I visited the new MGM resort for a friend’s birthday. We started a fun activity of hallway bowling.

March

Lizzie started her second round of swim lessons, still with us on the pool with her. She did really well, though didn’t end the class being unwilling to be in the pool without us. Her second haircut was just as easy as her first. We got a good amount of snow. Well, enough snow for Lizzie to “help” make a snowman.

April

Matt went to South Africa for work – the cards were brought back for me. Lizzie attempted a soccer class – this accurately shows her feelings towards it. We went with some friends to a DC United game. We spent a lot of time our new hammock. Lizzie participated in an Easter egg hunt with church. Matt celebrated his favorite time of year -strawberry season! My parents came for a weekend and we spent a day in Annapolis.

May

I had a major sinus infection but it was over by the time we had our annual Cinco de Mayo party. Neighbor Sara joined me at Maryland Sheep and Wool. We spent an evening at Great Falls and a weekend in Shenandoah. We had dinner and played board games with old friends. Lizzie ate the first of many, many popsicles for the summer.

June

Lizzie spent lots of time outside or in our porch with E from next door. I made some fun creatures. We spent 10 days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We re-did our basement (finally!).

July

We spent as much time outside as possible, including fireworks with neighbors, trip to Shenandoah with friends, and a visit to Florida (where Uncle Rob took us all the zoo).

August

Lots of time with the neighborhood families. Matt and I spent the last half of the month in England and Wales. (For more info on the trip, see my Instagram from August.)

September

Going through my photos, it’s all about Lizzie’s friends’ birthday parties and a random Saturday afternoon spent painting in the porch. I’m sure other stuff happened, too, but that’s certainly what kept weekends super busy.

October

Birthday party next door and TWO Shenandoah trips – one for our usual fall weekend and another, as a day trip, when my parents came to visit.

November

Another birthday party, Lizzie’s first college football game (Maryland vs Michigan). We had Thanksgiving with Matt’s parents and aunt and one of his coworkers. Everyone who had Thanksgiving next door came over for dessert. Of course, zero pictures of that but here’s our leftover turkey ramen from the next day.

December

Lizzie had a great Prince and Princess birthday party, where she and her buddies decorated foam crowns. We took her on her first Santa Train. She’s still scared of Santa but loved being on a real (non-Metro) train for the first time. We got a little bit of snow.  The girls – Lizzie and neighbor’s – attempted to make gingerbread houses with non-structural components. Celebrated Christmas with my in-laws and without my parents (long story). Lizzie fell in love with Legos.

Looking Forward to 2018

Let’s just leave this for another post, okay?

Rainbow Days

Do you craft projects tend to grab onto a particular color palate and not let go? For me, lately, my colors have gone to rainbows.

It started when Neighborhood Fiber Company started offering their Marriage Equality colorway (for the third? fourth? time). I bought two kits of the gradient (DK and Sock), happy to both support the benefiting LGBTQA orgnization and have some of the wonderful, vibrant colors. I’ve now used them for a handful of projects – and still have a good 1/3 of the DK left!

(These photos are all of me wearing the items versus my usual slightly nicer shots but I’ve been feeling lazy.)

Everyday Shawl

(Rav project)

This was a really meditative knit. I worked on it during conference calls at work and occasionally at home in July. The recipient was complaining that she’s always cold – hopefully this has kept her warm!

Lizzie’s Rainbow Scarf

I really just sort of made this up as I went along, roughly following the Tale as Old as Time pattern. My project page for it (here) has all the details. Made using the NFC DK weight.

Rainbow Hat

I think I may be almost over my inability to do colorwork. This was made in DK and I just sort of made up the pattern (and the crown shaping, hence the wonkiness of it!).

Yellowstone, Part IV

Our final days were spent in the area everyone goes to – by Old Faithful. I won’t lie, this was my absolute least favorite part of our trip. It was crowded and you had to really work to get away from people. That said, it was really neat to be able to see the world’s most famous geological feature.

One tip – if you climb to the second floor of the Old Faithful Inn and walk to the newer area, you’ll eventually get to a covered porch. From there, you have an excellent, likely totally private, view of Old Faithful. We discovered it by staying just on the other side of that porch and went back multiple times to watch eruptions.

Prismatic Spring

The Prismatic Springs are a series of, well, springs located just down the road from Old Faithful. They’re famous for the large, multi-colored springs. Yes, it’s crowded and unless you go after the new overlook opens, you can’t get very close. I’d say this is skippable if you’re able to walk the entire 4 mile round-trip to the Morning Glory spring in the Back Basin. Think carefully before visiting.

Prismatic Spring

Prismatic Spring

Back Basin

No more words from me, just lots and lots of photos of gysers from the back-basin, home of Old Faithful.

Back Basin

Back Basin

Mammouth Spring

Just before you exit the park into the town of West Yellowstone is Mammouth Spring. I don’t even know how to describe it, other than out-of-this-world strange.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this little view into this most famous of US National Parks!

Yellowstone, Part II

The second segment of our Yellowtsone visit was based out of the Teddy Roosevelt Lodge area. Much less populated with tourists than other parts of the park, this was the sight of the very first National Park lodge. We stayed in the cabins – you can’t actually stay in the lodge itself, it’s just a restaurant and small gift shop – and enjoyed the less populated area.

From the porch of Roosevelt Lodge

Best Picnic Spot

Just a few miles down the main road from the lodge was this great picnic area. With a very clean composting toilet and plentiful picnic tables, we had our breakfast there eavery morning we were in the area.

Lamar Valley

I’ll admit half the reason I remember the name of this part of the park is I kept thinking of Lavar Burton. I know, not the same name, but it did make the Reading Rainbow theme song get stuck in my head for a few days.

The valley is known for its excellent chances of sighting animals, particularly bison and pronghorn, but occasionally wild swans (yes, really), moose, or other critters.

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley (Pronghorn)

Lamar Valley

Tower Fall

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember Tower Falls at all, just that we went there. But, hey, look, a photo I thought to label right after we got back!

Tower Falls

Norris Basin

Matt’s dad and Lizzie walked with us on the short part of the basin train (about 1/2 mile) but left Matt and I do to do the 2 or so mile loop ourselves. It was crowded on the first part of the trail but very quickly thinned out to almost no one after that.

Tower Falls

Norris Basin

One Old Tree

Not far from where we were staying was this petrified tree. It’s not a great thing to see, but certainly worth the short drive.

Chuck Wagon Dinner

Somehow, Lizzie managed to figure out what it meant that we were going on a chuck wagon dinner our last night in the Roosevelt area. It’s what it sounds like – you take horse-drawn carriages (with 40 of your closest friends with you in said carriage) to a remote area where “cowboys” cook you a chuck wagon-style feast of steak and the fixins’. They sing cowboy songs and tell corny stories. She was excited about the experience and even more excited when it was happening.


(Really, she loved it. This was taken when the temperature had dropped and we hadn’t yet convinced her to put her hoodie on.)


(The wagons)

(Meeting one of the horses, wearing my hat)

(Cowboy songs)

Next time – we wrap things up by Old Faithful