Tag Archives: nablopomo

Writing Prompts Bite – NaBloPoMo

It’s NaBloPoMo time of year again.  National Blog Posting Month.  That month of November for writing that is so near and dear to my heart.

Yes, that’s right, I’m going to plague you every single day for the month of November – already.

And I have less of an action plan ready than I did last year, but I don’t care.  I’ma doing it.

I didn’t want to use November 1st as the obligatory announcement.  That’s so last year, and the year before and, well you get it.  How interesting is that?  The whole world of NaBloPoMo all writing to let everyone know this is it.  The big month, the time of year we all look forward to.  Just how many posts like that can you read?  And just how much can you tell about a writer from that?

Still, here I am, day two and what. I’ve got nothing.  No ideas.  I’m tired, it’s Friday and I haven’t had an interesting idea all day that doesn’t require a couple of hours of research. (Darn it Julia, you’re doing it again!)

So I head over to check out prompts.  What can I write about that isn’t researched or journalistic but still interesting, or entertaining.

I use NaBloPoMo as a writing exercise to write.  That’s what it is to me.  A chance to push my skills and make the commitment.  A pledge to annual training.  A tribute to my readers.  An exercise in intelligent discussion.  A step into a bolder me, because it ain’t no exercise for sissies.  AND it’s FUN.

And today’s prompt?  “Where would you like to live?”

Seriously…?  O_o

I can’t.  I just can’t.  That’s like my second grade paper.

And so I looked over the other prompts, which were just as boring as the first.  Who wants to read that?  Um, ‘cuz hey, I like NaBloPoMo because it’s fun and creative.  And creativity wasn’t even slightly provoked in those questions.

I want to know more.  I want to know the story behind the story.

I want to know, what’s the first thing you think of when you see the color blue and why?

I want to know, if you sat by the railroad tracks nearest to your home, what birds you might see?

I want to know, what food in your life has had the most impact upon you and how?

I want to know what it was like to hold your first grandchild?

I want to see things not just from a different angle, but from your mind.

Why do you write?  And why should I read?

I want to notice you.

Make me.


Filed under NaBloPoMo

It’s Official – I’ll Carve One Special Crochet Hook Per Week: Happy Fall My Friends

This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  My favorite season, my favorite three months out of the year.  Some would say it’s because my birthday is next month.  And they might be right, but I don’t think so.  I think it’s more likely because down here in Central Texas, the summers are brutal.  And as my husband said the other day when the weather was finally nice enough to throw the windows open: “This.  This is why we live here.  This is why we put up with the heat of summer.  For this.”

Here, fall is a sign of relief, holidays and family gatherings around the corner and in many ways, to me a new beginning.  But then, I guess October is my New Year.

In celebration of my favorite season, and in leaving the safety of 40, I have agreed to take on a challenge handed to me by friends.  Can I do it?

I have pledged to hand-carve and blog about at least one new special crochet hook per week from now until Christmas.

And I better get cracking.  These special hooks will be offered up for sale each week here on my blog.  And through the process, I hope you may learn a bit more about hook anatomy and why the design of your crochet hook is so important.

I have decided to handle the blog sales the same way my carving mentor, Jimbo Price, does with his own hooks – by silent auction.   Opening bids for each hook will begin at $10 ($5 increments there-after), with the respective blog post updated as bids are emailed in (to worx@pixieworx.net).  Bids will run for the week and then end.

Funds from these sales are primarily to benefit our son’s vision.  After writing my previous post about our son’s rare vision issues and the need to be able to finish his treatment, we found out he will need more than we expected.  About twice what we expected and at a cost of $3000 more.   Already, one of my customers has made a generous monetary donation on our son’s behalf that has helped us get started.  You know who you are and from the bottoms of our hearts – again thank you.

When it comes to the challenge itself, I’m not quite sure what will evolve out of it.  But I know it will be intriguing to me.  It takes me 3-5 hours to carve one of my hooks, depending on exactly what shape I am aiming for and the wood I’m working with.  I will have to treat this “hook a week” challenge much the way I have to treat NaBloPoMo coming up in November – with discipline and innovation.  There are plenty of events and life activities to get in the way, but you just do it and stick to it somehow.  And when you think you’re out of ideas, you ask for input, turn yourself upside down and you think of something differently.  (You don’t think I’m going to make the exact same hook each week, do you?)  To make it fair, part of the caveat (straight from the NaBloPoMo playbook) is that even if I make more than one hook in a week, I still can’t work ahead and skip a week.  I have to carve and blog about at least one hook a week.  That’s the challenge.  To have that discipline.

The goal in part is for me to see if I can do it.  Just like the goal in NaBloPoMo is to blog every single day, without fail, through the month of November.  Only this is carving a hook a week for an entire season plus a week.  It sounds easier than it is.  But in the long run the badge of accomplishment is worth it.

So be watching for an intro into hook anatomy and the first hook offering!  🙂  See you on the flip side.


Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Hooks, Crochet News, handmade

Regulating Your Sleep Cycle

As someone who damaged their immune system in her early 20’s from sacrificing sleep, please take it from me and make this a priority if you have issues with your sleep cycle. Our immune system will successfully deal with many things until we sacrifice sleep, diet and sunlight. My sleep issues got worse after having kids and nursing and it took awhile to get my sleep cycles corrected.

I am not a doctor, and any decision you make is yours and yours alone. You should always consider seeing a doctor or another certified health professional. But these are natural ways that have helped me. (I’m allergic to many medications, so these are avenues my doctors have helped me find to do.)  I put this out there in case it might help others find a direction in solving this problem.

1. Melatonin. It’s an over the counter “vitamin” (synthetic hormone actually). Melatonin does not make you sleep per se, it will improve the quality of your sleep, help you get to that deeper REM and help regulate your internal clock again. If you have not dreamed in a while (as is the case for many exhausted people), the first few nights you will likely have a rush of wild dreams as your psyche downloads.  Some people may not experience this. A lot of people do.  Make sure you have plenty of time to sleep when you first start taking melatonin so there’s proper time to be at that deep level of sleep. Two hours will not work.

Melatonin is created from serotonin, so if you don’t have enough of one, you likely don’t have enough of the other. L-Tryptophan (an amino acid found in food like turkey) can also be found over the counter and is what the body uses to make serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin at night. If at any point you start waking up again in the middle of the night while taking melatonin, take a smaller dose or don’t take it. It does seem to build up in the system. Melatonin is processed through the liver, so keeping your liver healthy is also a good idea. Avoid alcohol for awhile, consider milk-thistle to support liver health. Also, low levels of serotonin are associated with increased carbohydrate cravings, depression, heightened sensitivity to pain, and troubled sleep patterns.

The smaller dosages (mcg) of melatonin did not work for me. But 5mg did. Don’t take it unless you are going to get at least 6 hours of sleep. And take it an hour before you want to go to bed. Today, I don’t need as much or as often (in fact I rarely take it) and I’m much less chronically exhausted.  But it was a life saver when my son started sleeping through the night and I still couldn’t.

I recommend you search some medical sites about melatonin to give you more information as well.

2. Light destroys melatonin in the body, especially the blue spectrum (though serotonin levels do increase during light exposure – sunlight being best). An hour before bed start turning off and dimming your lights. Also, no computer use during this time is also best, as the whole light issue is specific to your eyes. Staring at a computer screen is staring right into a source of light. The last lights you leave on should be yellow tone or even candle-light, avoid blue tone like the daylight bulbs you find. Do not leave a candle burning while you sleep. If you must use night lights, use red bulbs. Completely darken your room.

3. Go camping (tent, not cabin). Seriously, when you do not artificially extend your day with lights and the conveniences of modern life, your body will naturally try to sync up with the sun and other creatures around you. You’ll likely wake with dawn too. A night or two of camping have helped reset my internal clock.

4. Try not to eat a meal within 4 hours of going to bed. That being said, some people benefit from a simple glass of milk before bed. No sugar, caffeine or apples too close to bed. Apples contain a substance better than coffee for keeping you alert.  Whenever I have to drive for a trip, I take a bag of apples to eat while I drive. Works like a charm. Don’t eat them before bed.

5. Probiotics. Some people have trouble sleeping because something’s going on in their digestive track. Probiotics will help iron that out. And oddly, they do have a relationship to correcting in the gut whatever is decreasing proper serotonin/melatonin production.

Good luck, talk to a doctor and hope you get some sleep!


Personal experience
Book: Somer, Elizabeth, M.A., R.D. Food & Mood. Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1999. (Page 144 on serotonin)


Filed under Health, NaBloPoMo

Life Has Taught Me That All Too Often You’re Better Off On Your Own

People let you down.  Teams, bosses and employees let you down.  Friends make promises they don’t keep.  Family members have insane expectations.  Colleagues take advantage of you and your work.  Leaders pretend to be people they aren’t.  Managers abuse their power.  Religious people prove to be hypocrites.  Atheists and politicians too.  Armchair warriors who can’t help but to give out a cyber punch/ jab/ pinch.  Like an abuser, justify it with “They deserved it.”  The people with those handicapped tags that aren’t really disabled and who cut you off in a parking lot so they can swoop quickly into that front row parking space before you pass it.  I’ve been cut off in parking lots by more people with temporary handicap tags lately than ever.  Wtf?

People who pretend to be experts at something they are not.  Receivers with no sense of gratitude or conscience.  And the guilty who take their guilt out on others when they fail.

And it generally boils down to a selfishness at heart.  A general disregard for a fellow human being.  The one right next to you, not the stranger from another culture you’re trying to impress.

It’s kind of like how family all too often treat each other worse than they would a stranger.  Biting the hands that feed and nurture them. Devolving into a vicious cycle of dysfunctional relationship and communication to rule the rest.  And now days, a couple of conversations online makes you familiar enough to take a punch, familiar enough to receive judgement and be devoid of rights to safety. Familiar enough to be disliked or hated, never having met face to face. And based solely on a paragraph or two.  I feel like a bit of my soul bruises every time I hear someone talk about how they hate someone else.

Have people disappointed me lately?  You bet.  People with enough life and professional experience to know better.  People who’ve received enough kindness too.  People who should know the value of a team, of a cause, of a single person or an act of selflessness.  How a betrayal of trust ruins it for all.  And how gratitude always wins.

Has it been everyone?  No. Not by a long shot.  But enough repeats to get to me.  I know better than most how tough life can be, so as patient and laid back as I can be, it takes a while to build up.  I wrote the emotionally charged title on purpose.  Because I know it speaks to the feelings of a lot of people lately.

This Thanksgiving, of all times, let’s think about this.  And not just football.  Take accounting, of ourselves, of the relationships we allow in our lives, of the examples we allow our children to see.  Recognize reality for what it is.  Take responsibility for ourselves, because others are not as invested.  Demonstrate patience and tenderness with others, because we know what pain is.  And savor the gems in our lives, rarer today than ever.


Filed under Artist Information & Notes, NaBloPoMo, Random Thoughts

Are You Blogging About Crochet?

Because if you are, I want to hear from you.

How about Tweeting about crochet?  Likewise.  Oh and don’t forget to use the #crochet hashtag when you do.

Though I should clarify, if you’re a linker on Twitter, I probably won’t follow you back.  You gotta interact with your followers.  Sorry, that’s just what it’s all about.  (I know, if you’re new to twitter, it can be confusing. I’ll write an article on that later.)

What am I up to?  It’s developing rather organically and not clearly defined yet, but you can call it crochet conniving.  Refer back to my post Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet.  It was written tongue in cheek, but I am also somewhat serious.

Crochet suffers a deficit online, as least in the US.   Obey Crochet has also written about this.  She is not the only crocheter who thought she was alone in the world.

And more than that, there’s the average public ideas of what crochet actually is to enlighten.  Sure, doilies and granny squares are awesome.  But there’s so much more than that!  Tapestry Crochet, Tunisian Crochet, Broomstick Lace, Miniature Crochet, and Freeform Crochet, just to name a few of the many, many variations out there.

There’s just so much more.  And overall crochet is an incredibly portable craft, not to mention relaxing (ok, once you’ve got the hang of it).  AND its the only fiber art left that cannot yet be truly replicated by a machine.  Even that mass-produced stuff you see at the store, is hand created, often by children.  It behooves us to preserve this distinguishable art.

If you like crochet, join the quest to celebrate it!  😀

Did you know these are also crochet?

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.” You know you want to! : )


Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, NaBloPoMo

It’s NaBloPoMo Time Again!

It’s that time of year! 

Starting November 1st, I shall be stepping up my game and madly striving to write 30 posts in 30 days for the annual NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) November Challenge. 

This year, I didn’t prep.  I didn’t plan.  No thumbnail sketches.  I don’t have any idea how I’m going to get started.  Or any idea how I will end.  But I am committed to trying and that’s all that matters. I’m not even entering my usual blog into this contest.  It’s Aberrant Crochet all the way this year baby!  (And this month, crochet as a subject is definitely optional.)  I’m registered, got my badge up, I’m ready to go.

The first week is easy enough, the second week not too bad, come Thanksgiving and we’re all scrambling.  “Excuse me dear child of mine… you volunteered me for what at the school Thanksgiving Feast??”

Cheer me on?  Please? 😀

Good content, bad content, doesn’t matter.  It’s all about making the commitment to sit down, to write and to publish every day, minimum one blog post a day, pushing our writing skills to the max and without exception! Even when all our ideas are dried up!  Even though we have jobs. Even though we have kids.  Even though we get sick.  Even though our Thanksgiving turkey blows up.  Whatever!  Can ya do it?

Think it’s easy?  Let’s see you try.  Join us over at NaBloPoMo.

Anyone else?

Leave a comment in this post along with a link to your blog (and brief description) if you’re participating so we can support each other and even non-participators can cheer us on! (We’ll need it closer we get to the end of the month, trust me!)

Supporters, post your cheers and websites liberally in the comments as well!

BlogHer recently took over the management of this challenge/contest (yes, there are even prizes), so the entry process is a little different this year. Be sure to read the links below if you want to get involved. It’s free!

FAQ’s here: http://nablopomo.blogher.com/faq

Details here:

Badge Here: http://www.blogher.com/nablopomo-november-2011-badge

Here’s a list of fellow blogging crocheters from the Crochet Liberation Front who are also joining in the challenge
You might check them out and cheer them on too!  I’ll update this list with more if any others step up to the plate in time for the deadline.

Crocheting Bloggers Participating in NaBloPoMo From The CLF:

(Karen Whooley): http://www.krwknitwear.com/blog

: slackermomof4.blogspot.com

: http://www.freshstitches.com/wordpress

: http://treeinthetitle.blogspot.com

jadesfire: http://madeinoxford.wordpress.com

AkuaLezliHope: http://zencrochet.blogspot.com

crochetcollection: http://crochetcollection.blogspot.com  – This one will have a twist – crocheting a motif and blogging about it every day for 30 days!

Good luck everyone!


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )


Filed under Editorial, NaBloPoMo

When Someone Goes Beyond Courtesy to Kindness….

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Yesterday was a busy day. I had a customer to meet to deliver two custom hats for. It was actually a bit of a drive for me. He was a return customer, though, and for that thanks, I was happy to meet him closer to his home. And I knew he was studying for finals all day as well, so it’d be hard for him to take off a lot of time just to pick up his order. Dear hubby kept the kids so I could take care of business. And besides, it gave me an excuse to go by Central Market.

When I got to the Starbucks we were to meet at, my customer was nowhere to be found and I hadn’t realized my cell phone was dead. To make matters worse, the cigarette lighter in my car is broken. (And I mean broken.) So there’s no way to charge my phone on the run.

So I talked to an employee at Starbucks to see if there was a phone I could borrow. He said they didn’t have a public phone, but to check out the AT&T store.

When I walked in to AT&T Mobility, down on the corner of 45th and Lamar, a sales support rep named Sajid Sanchez was there to greet me immediately. I explained that the folks at the coffee shop had sent me over to see if I could borrow a phone. He immediately said, “Sure! Use any demo phone on the walls.” I was grateful. Especially since I’d just realized that my customer’s number was actually a long distance number. Never matters on my cell phone, but would have mattered had I borrow a land line.

I managed to make my call. My customer was so busy studying that he forgot the time and said he’d be right over in a few minutes. I hung up relieved that I hadn’t driven 30 minutes just to turn around and go back home.

I thanked Mr. Sanchez for the loan of the phone and explained that I really did appreciate it since I was due to meet a customer and my own cell phone was dead. “Well,” he said, “What kind of phone is it? Perhaps we can charge it up for you here.”

I hesitated, wondering if this would turn into a hard sell to buy an AT&T phone. “Well,” I said, “It’s a Sprint phone….”

And that’s where Mr. Sanchez surprised me. “No matter, let’s see if we can try charging it anyway,” he said.

Mr. Sanchez proceeded to try several jacks around the store. Then he even raided through a box of oddball chargers they had stored away in a closet, trying out each one, looking to see if one of them might help charge up my phone a bit so I’d have a little juice at least for a little while. He was very polite and professional and not once did he say anything about buying a phone or switching my service.

In the end, there wasn’t a charger he could find to help me, and I needed to get back to the coffee shop to meet my customer. But I appreciated, none-the-less, that he went above and beyond. And I really don’t think it had anything to do with the season either.

I wasn’t even an AT&T customer. I’ve never had any cell service other than Sprint. But here was someone, even in a sales environment where time really can be money, who stopped and offered the time to see if he could help me out. With no strings attached. That to me really stands out. That’s the way business is supposed to be. When you focus on helping others, the rest just falls into place. And as a small business owner who knows a little something about sales, I really appreciate it too. So I went back over, after making my delivery, and asked Sajid for his business card so I could blog about his customer service and share this story with you.

So folks, if you might be in the need for a new phone or service, perhaps you might want to talk to Sajid Sanchez over at AT&T Mobility on the corner of 45th and Lamar in Austin, TX. I was very impressed with his professionalism and I’m sure you will be too. The main number there is: 512.879.8156.

Oh and hey, if you do decide to call or come by and check them out, please tell them that you read my blog post about Mr. Sanchez. I think his superiors ought to know they have a valuable employee. It would be a wonderful gift to him if you said a kind word on his behalf too.

So thanks again Mr. Sanchez – and Merry Christmas!


Filed under 'Tis the Season, Community, Inspiration, Random Thoughts