Week of Review: September 2-8, 2018

Labor Day week is always an odd one. You get a day off, which is great, but it means you feel a day off the entire rest of the week. Tuesday, masked as a Monday.

Life of Lizzie

What a week. We got through her growth spurt to find out this was definitely a brain development phase. She’s been talking almost non-stop, making various levels of sense. She gets distracted halfway through a sentence and restarts. Patience is also thin, with everything being very hard to handle when it doesn’t go her way.

We survived, though, and she even made to her very first movie in a theater with her BFF. Lizzie kept jumping into our laps when there was a loud or otherwise scary bit and doing her normal asking of questions through. Lessons learned: 1. Sit her between us and 2. Remove her light-up shoes before the movie starts.

On the Needles

Lots of knitting this week.

I finished two of the same pattern, Dotted Rays by Stephen West. The first was for Lizzie in Kelborne Wools Mojave, in three color-blocked colors. The second is in the Hot Mama colorway of Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors.

I also got some great FO photos of the three hats I finished recently. These were the Sockhead Slouch in Miss Babs, a simple 1×1 ribbing hat (on the right in the second photo) in Socks That Rock Lightweight in Islands in the Stream, and Wurm in the same yarn.

Adventures

Our adventure this week was down to Florida to visit my parents and to celebrate my birthday. We went to the beach and in the pool, ate seafood and key lime pie, played cards, and enjoyed relaxing. I was also able to get together for coffee with an old friend.

Discoveries

  • Household Name podcast on Stitcher
  • Simply Lemonade rediscovery)

Ugh. Sigh. Oye.

It was very hot and humid this week which meant lots of sweating going to meetings or just existing. Happy for cool bubble baths and iced drinks.

Better Me

Very good weekly this week, in terms of symptoms. Very not good week this week, in terms of healthy food choices. But next week is another chance to make good choices.

On Tap

  • Seeing Hamilton at the Kennedy Center
  • Friend from California visiting
  • Finishing up architecture products for project at work (hopefully)
Week of Review: September 2-8, 2018

Weeks in Review: August 19 – September 1, 2018

I thought about writing a weekly post last Sunday, but just wasn’t feeling it. But, I’m back and have a quick summary for ya’ll.

Life of Lizzie

The big excitement for Lizzie was starting Pre-K. She’s at the same school she’s been in since she was just a few weeks old, but she’s now one of the Big Kids. The class is much structured than her preschool class was and she’s all about structure. She wasn’t exactly cooperative with first day pictures, but this one turned out cute and very Lizzie.

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She also had her hair cut the week before last. It’d been since May that she had it cut and her hair grows so fast it meant getting 3″ off.

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She’s also had lots of fun playing outside with her buddy from next door. They’re not longer in the same class at school so we’re making sure they still get to hang out plenty after school or on the weekends.

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On the Needles

There were quite a few days in which I had no ability to knit due to humidity. I did, though, manage to complete two hats and and almostttt done with a shawl. The first hat is a simple 1×1 rib hat in Socks That Rock Lightweight in the Islands in the Stream.

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The second hat was in the same yarn but uses a modified version of the Wurm pattern. I’ll post an FO photo of it later, as I have yet to take one and the light is being weird right now.

I’m very close to finishing Lizzie’s Dotted Rays shawl from Kelborne Woolens Mojave. I decided against the stripes so pulled out the few rows of gray I’d done and re-started in a color blocked fashion. All that’s left is to cast off on this, so FO photo will come later this week.

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Fabric Stabbing

I did quite a lot of cross stitch this week, so much so that I only have a few colors left on my mandala. Of course, I didn’t start in the very center of the fabric so I’ll have to move it multiple times to finish it up. The pattern is called Spectral Mandala from thewordinstitches on Etsy. I, obviously, did not use the colors of the original but whatever I could find on hand. I think I’m going to do a much smaller piece next, though I don’t have any specific plans.

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Discoveries

  • Starbucks inside our local Target is very quiet on a Saturday morning
  • Mission BBQ is pretty decent, even eaten cold
  • The steamed crabs place near my in-law’s has some of the best crabs I’ve ever had and were quite easy to eat

Better Me

I’ve gotten my appetite back and have had to work really hard to not eat every single thing I see. I blame the Prednisone, though I’ve stepped down my dose quite a bit. I’ve felt mostly good, with a few meh days here and there. No pain, though!

On the mental health side, I’ve decided to get back into daily journaling, in sort of a bullet journaling style. I feel like I have so much I want to remember, both things I need to accomplish and things I don’t want to forget happening. I may show off some of my prettier pages in the near future.

On Tap

  • Celebrating my birthday with my family
  • Lots of work-related expectations/due dates to meet (though we’re really winning people over to our approach, which is a win to me!)
  • Finishing Lizzie’s shawl
  • New shawl project, maybe? Or socks?
  • Potentially finishing the cross stitch
Weeks in Review: August 19 – September 1, 2018

Week in Review: August 5-11, 2018

Before we get into the normal topics, I want to share a few special things that happened this week.

New Blog Name, New Site Location

After lots of thought the last few months, I decided to change the name of the blog and it’s address. The WordPress link remains the same, but the domain has moved to thatangelaleese.com. I wanted to stop pretending I’m a brand. I’m just me. I’m Angela Leese. That Angela Leese. That one who sat next to you in engineering classes or who you saw spill an entire iced coffee down her top or who gets bit by spiders anytime it’s possible. I may not be the only one with my name, but I am a pretty awesome Angela Leese.

Health Update

It’s been a horrible week, I’m not going to lie. I was basically useless most of the week when I was at home and maybe got two-thirds of my hours in at work. Everyone has had to cover for me and did so before I could even ask. Matt. Bob and AJ at work. I also got some amazing support my countless medical office staff members who squeezed me in and let me move things when needed. Answered my many stupid questions. Don’t know what I would have done without all of them.

I may have mentioned last week that I hadn’t been feeling well, maybe about a weird cramp in my abdomen. It got worse, so I went and saw my primary care doctor as soon as I could get in on Monday. His thought was gallbladder issues, as I nearly punched him when we pressed where my gallbladder is. Ultrasound and blood tests came back normal. Saw a GI specialist who guessed stomach ulcers but wanted me to get the CT scan my doctor had already ordered. And, after what seemed like an eternity of intense pain, a diagnosis: Crohn’s Disease. I’m on steroids and start working on figuring out long-term treatment tomorrow.

Okay…back to our normally scheduled programming…

Life of Lizzie

Lizzie was, of course, impacted by my health issues. I was too sore for hugs or snuggles and often couldn’t help her do things. Matt also had to do work at home each evening, unfortunately about the time my pain was at its height for the day. She got ignored a lot. But, she was a trooper.

She very excitedly helped Matt make cupcakes on Thursday night. I got zero photos, but they were yellow cake with chocolate ganache covered in as many large sprinkles as she could fit on each one.

Our neighbors got a new trampoline so she had a blast jumping on it a couple evenings.

We went out to Shenandoah National Park for the weekend with some old friends. She had a blast blowing bubbles, getting her face painted, hiking, and having a dance party with one of our friends.

On the Needles

I finished the hats for Lizzie and her BFF, at least the knitting part. She insisted that they have pom poms which I need to make and attach. Hats are using the Barley Light in the child’s size, knit in a yarn I cannot recall right now. Ha!

I also started and completed a hat for her BFF’s sister. Pattern is the Sockhead Hat and yarn is Miss Babs 2-Ply Toes in a colorway I can’t remember at all. I made the adult size, despite her only being 8, per her mom’s recommendation. No FO photo, so here’s one of me with the hat 80% of the way done.

I also started, just yesterday, on a shawl in Kelborne Wollens Mojave, a lovely cotton and linen blend. I was going to make a hat with it but it’s got too much drape to it, even at a fairly tight gauge. I’ll offer the FO to the person I was going to make the hat for, with the option to decline in exchange for a hat in the same color but a different yarn. Pattern is Dotted Rays.

I made zero progress on the two shawls I started last week, as I got on this hat kick. Really should have grabbed one of those for the Shenandoah trip but it didn’t cross my mind. I’ll probably work on the purple one next, for a break from this pattern.

Adventures

Our big adventure was to Shenandoah. I’m all out of words to describe one of my favorite places on the planet.

Discoveries

    My diagnosis, obviously
    Iced slightly-sweet tea
    Cotton and linen yarn doesn’t make a good hat but is heavenly as a shawl

Oye. Ugh. Sigh.

Enough of my whining for one week.

A Better Me

Zero progress on this, as I’m just trying to get back to normal. May have lost weight, but I don’t really care. I stopped keeping away from gluten, dairy, and soy after my doctor told me forget about it. I may start it again but, again, I need to get back to normal.

On Tap

  • Treatment plan development
  • Finishing the three-color shawl and picking up the purple shawl
  • Mailing off a few things that have been sitting for weeks
  • Weekend with no plans! (I think.)
Week in Review: August 5-11, 2018

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

Empty Notebook Challenge

Pen Pal Tips and Tricks

I love writing letters. For two or so years now, I’ve been writing to several serious pen pals and many others on a more infrequent basis (like some which were only for a single swap match). I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks for making and keeping pen pals.

Finding a Pen Pal

  • People you already know – a friend from high school or an aunt you wish you were closer to. Ask a mutual friend or your mom for addresses. I bug people for addresses via FB messenger or by posting a generic link to my Postables page, asking for addresses if people want a holiday card or a random happy mail.
  • A website for something you’re interesting in. For example, Ravelry has two different groups for finding pen pals. If the site you use doesn’t have groups, you can probably start a forum thread, asking if people are looking for pen pals. When you find a pen pal with a common interest, you automatically have something to talk to them about.
  • Postcrossing – Designed for one-time pen pal interactions using postcards and assigned totally at random, but you can use it for extended pen pal relationships. The site allows you to message the person who sent you a given postcard and you can use that space, should you wish, to request a longer pen pal experience.
  • Swapbot – I’ve not used this site myself, but many of my friends highly recommend it. Most swaps follow a theme which can get you started towards an ongoing pen pal relationship.
  • Geek Girl Pen Pals – Just what it sounds like. Really into Harry Potter or Dr. Who or something similar? The site organizes pen pal matches each month and the forums are always a good place to find someone looking for a pen pal.

Writing Your First Letter

First letters, let’s face it, are awkward. You may know nothing about your new pal, short of their name and where they live. It’s like having to introduce yourself to someone at a cocktail party, but with the added benefits of being able to take as long as you want and not having to do it verbally. Here’s a few things to try, if you’re stuck.

  • Basic introduction – Where you’re from, where you live, if you’re in a relationship and/or have kids, what you do for a paycheck or for fun
  • Currently – List what you’re currently…watching, listening to, reading, feeling, making, planning, loving, and enjoying (a really large list is over here on Digi.Shop.Talk). This will reveal more about your daily life than you’d think and gives you an interesting framework for writing about yourself without, you know, writing about yourself.
  • Take advice from Natalie Goldberg – Start with “right now…” or “At this moment.”

Later Letters

  • Ask questions – Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so asking a question is a great way to get someone to do so. I’ve been asked all sorts of things from pen pals. If you need ideas, here’s 100 Questions No One Ever Asks (from Amiyrah of 4 Hats and Frugal) and 50 Things to Tell Your Penpal (from Mary of Uncustomary)
  • Don’t only talk about yourself. Yes, I am really going there. Your pen pal has written you a lovely letter and you should respond in such a way to show that you read their letter and that you care about what they wrote.

Next Time

In my next post about snail mail, I’ll share creative ideas for making your mail stand out. You can probably expect this post next week, as I have a bit more research to do for it.

Pen Pal Tips and Tricks

Where I Blog

In the show Dead Again, the main character talks about she always loved Halloween as a kid because it let you look into other people’s homes, even briefly. I love getting peaks into peoples lives like that – it’s part of the reason I read personal blogs, follow strangers on Instagram who post photos of their usual life/surroundings, and look into windows as I drive by houses (which sounds really, really creepy).

Turn-about is fair play so I thought I’d give you all a peak into my actual life, by showing you where I blog. Usually, I actually sit on the couch with the TV in front of me, so it’s more like where I blog on the weekend and I don’t have to worry about where Lizzie is (and she’s currently napping).

I’m siting at our dinning room table and looking back into the main part of our kitchen. You’ll recognize our blue and white tablecloth from many of my photos of stuff. It was cheap, washes well, and I think it’s not too awfully distracting for photos. I’m probably wrote on the distraction part, but I’m lazy.

The table, as you’ll see, is often covered in stuff, some of which is only here because I’m in creative mode. The two fabric bags have scrap fingering-weight yarn and my yellow hat progress in them. The striped thing is a cowl I made awhile back that I’m actually going to continue as a long leftovers scarf. There’s also my three notebooks – Midori for daily notes about what happened, red Lechtrum (however you spell it) for to do lists, and a Staedler lined one that is currently empty but may become a journal for Morning Pages. And a box and a zipped case of pens and that box of stationary. Oh, right, my Caffeine Free Diet Coke and today’s snack, cinnamon sugar-free applesauce.

The other stuff here is much more common, fresh flowers, the bread bowl Matt’s mom brought us back from Tanzania, E’s coloring notebook and two things of crayons – that’s what in the Ariel bag and the plastic container you can sort of see. Cookbook pile that has yet to find a home (thanks to recent library book sales and a splurge at a local DC bookstore over a month ago).

The kitchen is much neater than usual, I’ll note. Looking at the photo, I realized I missed two cans that will go to church for the annual canned goods drive and the Vitamix canister is one incidence of E running through the kitchen away from falling.

So, yeah, there’s where I blog on a quiet weekend afternoon. I wear comfy clothes (stretchy pants, tshirt, hoodie), drink too much soda and snack, and listen to music Matt despises as I sit here and write.

What does your writing space look like? Show me it, or describe it to me. Messy? Clean? Just for writing or a stolen space like mine?

Where I Blog

NaBloPoMo 2016

Each year, I make my best attempt to blog every day of November. Usually I only make it until about day ten then attempt to stretch it by responding to writing prompts or pulling random photos from the Internet.

…and I’m not necessarily planning to do better this year, though I do have a plan. I came up with a quick list as I was eating my breakfast this morning:

  1. Intro post
  2. Lizzie update (lots o’photos)
  3. WIP update
  4. Fall in VA (photo heavy post)
  5. Dishcloth FOs
  6. Harper’s Ferry
  7. Mail stats
  8. Wreath FOs (yes, I added wreath making to my craftiness)
  9. WIP update
  10. Uhhhh…
  11. Return to sock knitting
  12. Shenandoah trips of 2016
  13. Uhhh…
  14. New hair color – 2 weeks later (just dyed it last night, all by myself)
  15. Uhhh…
  16. WIP update
  17. Lizzie update (’cause she’ll have done something cute by then)
  18. Coworker knits
  19. Knife skills class / return to cooking
  20. Recipe sharing
  21. What I’m thankful for
  22. Germany Pt 1
  23. Germany Pt 2
  24. Germany Pt 3
  25. Germany Pt 4
  26. Germany Pt 5
  27. Germany Pt 6
  28. Germany Pt 7 (what? we were there for nearly 3 weeks)
  29. Uhhh….
  30. Wrap-up post

See? Much more of a plan. Only “what the heck do I write about?” days in there, versus my usual handful of ideas and lots of blanks.

Anyone else out there participating? Anyone else out there, period?

NaBloPoMo 2016