My Fall Bucket List

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two wooden benches outside with fall leaves on the ground
image by Pixabay

Although it doesn’t feel like it in Charlotte (we’re supposed to hit 90 again next week), fall is here. This year, for the first time, I’ve decided to make a Fall Bucket List. I’m hoping that if I have a written list of things I want to do, the season won’t get away from me before I manage to do more than drink a couple Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. So here it is, in no particular order:

1. Go to to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. We used to go as a family every year, but it got too expensive, so we stopped. Every year the kids beg for it, and every year I really want to go… and every year I sadly give up on it. This year, I’ve decided we’re going no matter what.

2. Participate in Inktober. I’m going to take 31 pages or half-pages of my sketchbook,date them, and write the prompts on top, so I’ll remember to do it every day and I won’t have to stop and look anything up. I’ll be able to just draw, photograph, and post. Keep an eye on my Instagram if you want to see my Inktober drawings!

3. Go apple-picking. We’re so lucky in Charlotte to have farms and orchards close by. Some are even within city limits. So I’m going to go pick some apples, drink some hot cider, and eat cider doughnuts. If I’m lucky, they’ll also have a corn maze.

three apples hanging from a branch
image by Pixabay

4. Go to a pumpkin patch. I can’t just pick my own apples- I have to pick my own pumpkins, too! Or actually, let the kids pick their own pumpkins while I sip coffee and take pictures.

a field of pumpkins and pumpkin vines
image by Pixabay

5. Bake fall treats. If I’m going to pick apples and pumpkins, I’ll have to bake things with apples and pumpkins. Like apple muffins, apple bread, apple crisp, and apple pie. And then of course, there’s pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie. Since my husband can’t tolerate gluten, I’ll be making gluten-free versions of all these things. I’m looking forward to cozying up in front of the fire and enjoying some home-baked goodies.

a partially sliced loaf of pumpkin bread
image by Pixabay

6. Go hiking. Once the weather is cool enough that I don’t sweat as soon as I walk out the door, I’m going to start walking. With my husband, with the kids, with the dogs, with friends, and alone. Around the neighborhood, along the greenways, in the woods, and hopefully up some mountains. I want to exercise a lot more than I do currently, and I love being out in nature. Except for the bugs. I could do without the bugs.

7. Knit. I really want to knit a pair of socks this year. And maybe a cowl. And hats for the kids. And a couple of coffee cozies to use instead of those cardboard sleeves. And….

a ball of orange yarn
image by Pixabay

8. Make other fall crafts. As a matter of fact, I’m going to post some fall dollar store crafts soon. You might want to join my mailing list so you don’t miss them!

9. Make my home smell like fall. Pumpkin spice. Hot apple cider. Woodsmoke. Pancakes and maple syrup. Fall candles, fall plug-in oil thingies, fall wax melts, you name it, I’m here for it! My house is going to smell like an autumn wonderland.

10. Watch Halloween movies. Can you believe I have never seen Hocus Pocus?!

animated gif of three witches from the movie Hocus Pocus

 

6 Tips For Cutting Your Own Hair

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After months of hating my fried, dry, breaking, over-bleached
hair, I decided to temporarily give up on growing it long, and gave myself a cute, shaggy, modern mullet.

I’ve been cutting my own hair for at least a decade. I have no formal training. What I have is wavy (and thus forgiving) hair and a “fuck it” attitude. You can cut your own hair, too. I’m not going to teach you how to do that, but what I will do is give you some vital tips.

2013 bob

1. Do your research. Read and watch lots of online tutorials. Look at photos, drawings, and videos. Watch videos of people cutting their own hair as well as people cutting other people’s hair. When you think you’ve seen enough, look at more. While you’re still getting your hair professionally cut, watch your hairdresser and study how they cut your hair.

2. Use decent tools. Don’t cut your hair with the scissors from your desk drawer. Buy haircutting scissors from a beauty supply store such as Sally, or online from Amazon and use them only for hair. Proper tools make a difference.

Image by Jo Johnston

3. There are different schools of though about whether your hair should be wet or dry while being cut. Even professionals vary on this. Personally, I favor dry cutting, especially for beginners, because it’s much easier to see what your hair will ultimately look like when you cut it dry. Whichever you choose, remember that wet hair shrinks when it dries. The curlier it is, the more it shrinks. If you cut curly hair when it’s wet, you might see a difference of inches when it dries.

4. Start slow. Cut off less than you think you want, especially if you’re making a drastic change. To state the obvious, you can always cut more, but you can’t put hair back once you cut it off. Even if you decide to cut more two days later, it’s better than lopping off too much and instantly regretting it.

2016 pixie

5. To cut the back of your hair, you need either a trifold mirror or a patient friend who will hold a hand mirror up so you can see the back of your head while you cut.

6. Remember, it’s only hair. If you give yourself a bad cut, it will grow back.

Why Crafting is Good For Your Health

Image from Pixabay

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

If you knit, scrapbook, or do any kind of craft, you know that crafting is a lot of fun and a great way to spend time (and maybe a little too much money). But did you know that crafting also has health benefits? It’s true!

Photo by Kristina Balić on Unsplash

In fact, knitting, basketweaving, and other crafts have been used for their therapeutic effects for at least a century. They were part of the occupational therapy given during and after World War I to servicemen suffering from PTSD, or “shell shock,” as it was called then. In a more contemporary example, craft stores in the US noted an uptick in sales during the weeks after September 11, 2001. What is it about crafting that makes people turn to it in times of stress?

Famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, who studies creativity and happiness, and invented the concept of flow
, believes that crafts enable people to enter a state of total absorption, which he states is the secret to happiness. Proponents of mindfulness also praise the repetitive, almost meditative nature of many crafts, which quiets the mind and helps to relieve anxiety. I’ve definitely felt this sensation when involved in knitting or sewing, and I know that engaging in creative work noticeably lessens my anxiety and depression. When I go too long without this form of self-care, my mental health suffers.

Crafting is something we can do both alone and with other people. We can cozy up and crochet in front of the TV with a cup of cocoa at our side when we need that perfect introvert evening. But if we want to get some tips, learn new skills, or show off our work to people who “get it,” hanging out with other crafters is a must. This provides meaningful social interaction, especially if you want something other than a noisy club or party.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In addition to the relaxation and mood-boosting effects of the crafting process, there is the satisfaction of the product. There’s nothing like eating a home-baked dessert, putting on a home-sewn skirt or hand-knit hat, or looking at a piece of art on the wall, and being able to say “I made that!” Making something beautiful and/or usable is an accomplishment to be proud of, and psychologists say that a feeling of self-efficacy is important to mental health.

You might have heard that crossword puzzles and brain-teasers can slow cognitive decline as people age. Neuroscientists are now studying whether crafting has a similar effect, and the results so far look promising.

Of course, you don’t need to know or care about the health benefits of crafting to enjoy it. So go ahead and learn a new craft, or spend some time on an old favorite, and have fun!

 

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Crafting a Calling

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How do you know who you are, what you’re all about, what your talents are, your passions, your purpose? Some people can answer these questions easily, with barely a moment’s thought. Others, like myself, have a harder time. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. I don’t think we have one single grand Life Purpose, but we do have smaller purposes or callings. Things we feel we are meant to do. Things that just feel right. They don’t have to be huge, world-changing things. They just have to be meaningful to us. They also don’t have to be a lifelong endeavor. We can have multiple callings, multiple passions, throughout our lives.

Maybe your calling is to be a doula, or a school teacher. Maybe it’s to open a coffee bar. If we’re lucky, we can turn our passion into a career, but that’s not the case for many of us. We need to pay the rent, and often that means that we follow our passions outside of working hours. Maybe you volunteer at a non-profit on the weekends, helping a cause you believe in. Maybe you get up early to write fiction, or do yoga, or go for a run before hitting the office. Me, I don’t know what my passion is. I’m finding that after almost eighteen years as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m not even sure what my talents or interests are outside of parenting. I’ve heard the advice to ask myself questions such as “What do people ask me for advice on?” and “What could I give a 30-minute talk on without preparation?” My answers to those questions are all parenting-related. For years, people have asked me about breastfeeding and homeschooling. I could talk about either of those at length. I’m the friend that people tag on Facebook when they post an article about breastfeeding or homeschooling. I’m also often asked about babywearing, discipline, and other things relating to being a mom. For a while, I even ran an online forum for local, non-mainstream parents. That was rewarding and fun at the time, but now I’m trying to get back to who I am as an individual, as myself, not as someone’s mom. I love to read, do crosswords, and drink coffee, but I wouldn’t call any of those a passion for me. They’re definitely not something I want to blog about or turn into a job or career.

I do love to do crafts and DIY projects. I don’t have a whole lot of talent in this area, but I have heaps of interest. I just need to learn, to try new things, to practice. I love being creative. It’s fulfilling and a fantastic stress reliever. Maybe, if I try enough things, I’ll find an area that captivates me, and I’ll want to pursue it more deeply. Maybe I’ll be able to turn it into a career. In any case, I’ll have fun, I’ll learn new skills, I’ll make stuff. And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

Follow along on the blog as I try new things. Right now I’m in the middle of knitting a dishcloth. I’ve been knitting for years, but sporadically, and I’m somewhere between a beginner and an intermediate. I’m committing right now to knitting much more often. I’m also currently taking an online course from Sketchbook Skool called Drawing Without Talent. It’s taught by Danny Gregory, who is disarming and encouraging and makes me believe I can actually become an artist. I’ve also started listening to his new podcast, Art For All, and I’m going to check out some of his books. I have been voraciously consuming books, websites, and podcasts that discuss creativity, especially in terms of how to find and nurture the creativity within you, how to make time for creativity, and how to stop listening to and believing those voices that say “You’re no good! Who the hell do you think you are, calling yourself creative?” So these books seem right up my alley.

I’ve been wanting to learn cross-stitch or embroidery for a while, so I think that will be my next endeavor. There are several Etsy shops that sell kits for beginners. I’m going to buy one of those and get started.