Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What Not To Say

Last week I had to attend a training on how to be a better teacher because most of what I do is try to teach people about good nutrition, but more importantly (and much more difficult) how to make changes in their diet to alleviate some of their difficulties, improve their quality of life, try to make them happier, etc. Can I just say that whoever thinks being a dietitian is easy, has NO CLUE. NONE. Sure, it sounds easy yabbering at people and throwing handouts and meal plans at them, all the while trying to counteract the fad diets, insane health claims, and other blasphemous quackery that has taken over. Anyone can do that. But trying to encourage and promote change is the hardest thing ever because I. can't. change. for. them. It's hard

With that said, one thing that this class emphasized, and that I have been pondering about, is active listening. Do you know how hard that is? To listen to someone without judging or assuming? To listen to someone without interrupting? It's REALLY hard. And I'll be the first to admit, I'm not that great at it and it's something I've suddenly become very aware of and I have been working on. Except then patients talk and talk and end up telling me about their erectile dysfunction and those are the moments I wish I had cut them off about 10 minutes ago. Aka-awkward.

But seriously.

I think people just want to be listened to. Genuinely listened to. I mean I sure do. Who doesn't? And I learned that there are some things that we say, myself included, that are really not that helpful. So here's the thing. I try to keep my posts light and funny but this is maybe not so funny. I've had a pretty rough month and in fact, most of 2015 isn't looking so great. I bet you're thinking I'm being a little pessimistic, right? Dramatic? A downer? Hard not to judge right? Right? 

My husband has been gone for almost three weeks and it's been hard. It's harder because even though he comes home soon, I know that in a few months he'll be gone again for a much longer time and, it's hard guys, it's really hard. It's flat out awful. My other half, my best friend, my man, my support isn't here. So I have to do everything by myself. Not only do, as in the dishes, the cleaning, taking out the garbage, and paying the bills, but I have to worry about everything, and some days, it feels like I'm on my own, worrying for 2. And sure, I haven't been married for that long so it can't be that hard and we don't have kids yet, but you know what, it is. It is that hard. It is hard because I have no friends around, my family is thousands of miles away and they have their own lives to deal with and I feel so very alone at times.

And you know what makes me mad, is when people dismiss my feelings, but I think most people don't even realize that their responses seem that way. So it was interesting to learn about the phrases and things that you shouldn't say to someone struggling, and it hit home because I hear these things a lot, attempts to try to make me feel better that actually end up backfiring. I think mostly that means well-intended, off-handed, but not really helpful, words of encouragement. For example: 

Don't tell me to be cheerful, because 90% of time in front of everyone else, I am, and if I'm not, there's probably a reason, but usually I slap on a smile and pretend everything is alright because that's what we are supposed to do, right? I try keep myself busy and entertained and involved so that I don't just mope in the corner like I feel like doing some or most days. I usually start to crack or start to vent to people that I hope and/or feel comfortable enough to let my guard down to. Sometimes it's a mistake and sometimes it's a relief. 

Don't tell me it's going to be ok or it'll all work out. I hate this phrase. I'm guilty of using it but FOR. THE. LOVE. I'm 27 years old. I may be young but I've been through enough hell in my 27 years to know that as bad as things get, they will work out. I know this. I know. Truly. But absolutely generally, that's the last thing I want to hear. 

Misery wants company. No I don't mean I want you to be miserable too. What I mean is that it's nice to know that sometimes there actually IS someone who knows exactly or pretty darn close to what I'm going through. I was talking to a close friend the other day and we were both swapping the latest and greatest including some of our hard times we've had recently and though neither of us wanted or was happy the other was suffering in some form, it was nice to know that someone gets it. And that we could just talk about it. We weren't trying to solve the problems but we were just acknowledging them. 

And you know what, I think most people, on top of being listened to, just want some acknowledgment. I appreciated that someone acknowledged that what I'm going through is hard and that it's ok to be mad and sad and frustrated and to cry. It's ok. I don't have to be happy 24/7. That's insane because life is hard and mean sometimes!! I am allowed to be upset and angry and sad. Maybe not forever, but you know what I mean. It's ok to feel those things and to feel them completely. And I was venting to a friend today, well venting and trying really hard not to crack but failing, and you know what she said that made all the difference, that my situation was hard and it sucked and that I was doing ok. Thank you. Thank you because that really helped. 

So I guess what I'm trying to say is really listen to people and show them that you are listening by having a genuine, thoughtful response. It sure helped me! Or you may become my next victim because lemme tell you, I had to attend a leadership meeting a couple of days ago in place of someone and I made a comment and got interrupted in the middle of my comment and I'm surprised there wasn't steam coming out of my ears. Had the room been any bigger I would have sent this interrupter a withering glare for putting me down like he did and dismissing my suggestion. Punk. I wanted to say "ZIP IT SKIPPY. Let me finish," but I bit my tongue, smiled, and kept quiet. Grrrr.....

And now this exhausted emotional train wreck is off to bed. My husband comes home soon...my husband comes home soon...my husband comes home soon. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pop-up Shop 2014

I've had a lot of people asking me about this popup shop I've been Instagramming and mentioning on Facebook. So, here's the story.

It started out a few months ago. To keep myself from going insane waiting for the VA to give me a final job offer (it took 3 months...), I decided to work on my knitting. I learned to knit in high school. I had a fabulous AP Eng/Lit teacher (Mrs. Miles!!) who told me I needed to learn to knit because I was too stressed out (true statement). I learned the basic knit stitch and made scarves galore. I tried to learn to purl but for whatever reason, just couldn't get it.

Fast forward 9 years and one day I opened the knitting book Mrs. Miles gave me and one my mom had bought me for Christmas years ago. I read through them, because yes, I read instruction manuals and books; you'd be surprised just how handy they are (and usually I was the one who would crack them open when trying to assemble something because my mom hates to read them)! I decided I would learn to purl because once you get the knit stitch and purl stitch, you can do anything. So reading the knitting books and watching a few YouTube videos later, I got it! Then I practiced a few different stitches and after a couple of days, decided I needed a real challenge. I was over scarves and wanted to make hats because it was starting to get chilly outside and who doesn't love a cute knitted hat? Well a few more knitting books later (first time knitting in the round!), many, many circular knitting needle purchases later, and the discovery of both Ravelry and a local yarn shop, and exploring Michael's and Jo-Anne's, I found a simple pattern, some yarn to match the gauge and made my first hat. And then another, and then decided to try cables. 

I was hooked. Delighted! 

Shortly after we moved to Spokane I met a new friend at church who conveniently lived only a couple of blocks down the street and who also had just moved to the area. We became fast friends. Tilly is very talented with graphic arts and design. One day she told me about a pop up shop she did with a friend in Utah last year and said we should do one. I think we were both joking when we said we should. But then we kept talking about it and then one day decided to just do it. Actually, I believe the original motivation for the shop was for my "schnauzer fund" because I was telling her how much I wanted a schnauzer puppy and maybe if I could earn some money, Mark would let me get one. We decided I would sell hats, Tilly would sells cards, and we would also sell some fun holiday gourmet cookies. We set a date, set up a timeline, discussed our products/decorations/location/time/prices and off we went. For two months I knit my fingers off (I have a callus on my left pointer finger) and we had weekly "business meetings" to discuss our progress, how we would advertise, packaging, quantity, etc. It was fun. I don't consider myself business-minded, in fact that kind of stuff always bored the tar out of me during college, but I was having a blast. Plus it gave me something to do and something to look forward to. 

Well the day, Friday, Dec 5th, finally arrived. We made all of our deadlines and were pretty impressed with ourselves. It was a lot of work. I did business projects in high school and college but had forgotten all of the small things that come up. But I am pleased to give a little shout out to all my dietetic foodservice classes and rotations because doing the prices, correctly increasing recipes, and making shopping lists all on a budget was a piece of cake. I ended making about 28 adult hats and 4 baby/toddler hats (threw those in for fun) and Tilly had a really cool selection of holiday cards and recipe cards. We made 5 different kinds of cookies: giant chocolate peanut butter cookies, chocolate peppermint wafers, raspberry almond thumbprints, gingersnaps, and black and white cookies. 

Homemade Christmas bags!

Overall, it was really fun. Our biggest challenge was advertising it. We're both new to the area so our network of friends isn't very large. We did advertise with flyers and such but there are so many stipulations these days: is it a fundraiser? For profit? Donation? Religiously affiliated? Politically affiliated? We couldn't hang a flyer at the local library! Seriously? If we do it again next year, hopefully we'll know more people and we agreed that we need to improve our advertising. Our next challenge was predicting how much to make of everything since we weren't sure how many people would come. We had TONS of left over cookies so we'll be giving those away, thank goodness for the holiday season! Would I do it again? Absolutely. Plus, if we did it next year, we'd have a whole year to plan instead of a couple of months. 

Now, I have quite a few hats left. If you are interested in any, send me an e-mail at frecklesknits at gmail. They are $25 each for an adult hat (includes $5 shipping) and $10 each for a baby hat (includes $5 shipping). If you buy more than one hat, you will only have one $5 shipping charge!

First come, first serve basis! I can add pom poms to any of the hats that do not have one. The adult hats are generally made for one size fits all.
I do accept personalized orders! I'm working on some headbands, baby hats, and personalized hat orders now. 


Made to fit a toddler (1yr+) and does stretch

Made for a newborn or premie

Etsy shop in the works! (Eeeek!)

P.S. Check out Tilly's online shop NOW OPEN!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The latest: leaf hunting and FAQ

Happy October!!!! My favorite month! 

Now that I'm in full fall decorating mode, I've been collecting pumpkins and gourds, candles, anything apple or pumpkin or pumpkin spice. I am thoroughly enjoying decorating our house! 

^^the house so far but truuuust me there are a few more pumpkins to come^^

A couple of days ago, I decided I needed some leaves to decorate and went leaf hunting through our neighborhood. Unfortunately about 1 tree every 5 blocks has kind of (but not really) changed colors so my search was mostly in vain, but I did find one tree that was bright red so I collected a lot of red leaves, 1 or 2 yellow ones, but no orange ones. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I hope some of the trees here turn orange too! (But I have a back up plan so we'll see how this goes, thank goodness for having family and friends in the Land of Fall Foliage). 

^^decorated mantel sans leaves as they are currently being pressed and dried^^

After I got back from my leaf hunting, I decided to do some exploring around our backyard and get some more ideas of what I want to do next spring. These are two of my favorite things about our back yard:
^^we have a rock wall!!^^

^^and little stone steps that lead to a little ledge (where flowers or something will be next year)^^

And now for the FAQ portion of my blog today. The two most common questions I have gotten since moving here are:

1. When do you start your job? (Or have you started? Or how is it? Or variations very similar to those)

No I have not started my job, yet. Yes it's annoying and a bit frustrating because being semi-employed but technically unemployed is a tad stressful. It's a government job so it TAKES FOREVER TO START. That's what Mark said, that's what one of his friends said, that's what my interviewers said, that's what everyone has said. Yes I have called and yes they are still doing background checks or whatever else they have left to do. No they didn't give me a time frame. I don't know. That's just how it goes. 


I am enjoying my time off. I have been going a million miles an hour since high school and to be honest, I am grateful for this break. And to be completely honest, a little part of me will be sad when I have to go back to work. So far now, I bask in my break. 

2. What do you do all day?

Interesting question and since being in my current situation, I now have a better understanding of why some people may find this question a bit annoying, and I feel bad for asking it once or twice before. I can assure you that while I do not have children, I keep myself quite busy and entertained. No I do not sleep in until 11 and then watch Netflix until Mark gets home. Actually, most days I don't watch TV or Netflix. Most days I wake up a little before 6:30 and go running with Tilly OR on the weekends Mark and I sleep in until...7:30. Occasionally I do sleep in until 8 and then stay in bed for a little while reading, checking social media, or Pinteresting. But I get restless easily so that doesn't last terribly long.

So, I wake up early and either run with Tilly, run solo, or do yoga. 

Then I get ready for the day and eat breakfast. Lately it's been (seasonal) a Pumpkin Spice bagel with whipped cream cheese. To. Die. For. I have leisurely mornings and it's grand. I read the paper or a book while I eat. I take my time doing my hair, sometimes I try new styles. I take my time picking out my outfits. In a society that sadly glorifies being brutally busy, it's nice not to be rushed. 

Then I usually run some errands. Fortunately, we live close to the library, post office, and grocery store so I either walk or ride my bike places. It's glorious! 

Often Tilly and I will do something before her girls nap or plan to do something while they nap. This is one of my favorite parts of my day!!! Earlier this week we went to Hobby Lobby. It was Tilly's first time!! 

^^Annie and I were in cart #2 playing with owls and dogs and yarn^^

^^She makes me giggle! No joke, she would not put that branch down^^

^^One WIDE awake and one out just in time for nap time^^

If my afternoons aren't spent hanging with Tilly and her girls, I find things to do and usually have a post-it note or mental list of things I need or want to do or places I want to see. That's how I discovered The Scoop, the awesome neighborhood ice cream shop, or the Rockwood Bakery down the street. Sometimes I go for walks to explore the neighborhoods. In fact that's how I discovered another cute little park a few blocks down and over with 2 stone bridges and a quaint pond with weeping willow trees. Sometimes I go to the bookstore, more often than not, the library. I have about 7 books out right now that I'm plugging through. One day I went to the bakery down the street, ordered a croissant, and read for an hour. It was wonderful! Last week I spent a couple of days learning new knitting patterns so I can finally graduate from the garter stitch and scarves to bigger and better things. I researched books and patterns for a couple of hours and then went to a couple of knitting shops, bought some supplies, and am preparing to knit a hat. And yes the idea of successfully knitting a hat on circular needles excites me since it'll be a first for both of those things! I've only been putting it off for 9 years. I can't wait! Then I'll move on to mittens, and socks, and cardigans, and sweaters, and big blankets, and bags; I'm thrilled!!! Mostly I like to stay in our neighborhood because driving down Division (one of the main streets) drives me nuts. Congested and way too many lights. 

Tilly and I have plans to watch all three of the Anne of Green Gables DVDs. We started the first one yesterday. Holy catscans I had forgotten how much I LOVE Anne, Gilbert, Marilla and Matthew, Diana, and the scenery of Price Edward Island! 

Plus, Tilly's never been to World Market so that is also on the list. As well as another trip (or two) to Greenbluff! 

I still like to keep up with the dietetics world, so I watch webinars or actually read the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (or skim it...). And since now I have the time, I plan weekly menus and actually cook so we aren't eating at 8 or 9 like we did living in Texas! And I bake. Not a ton or perhaps as much as I'd like because I'll eat it all, or Mark and I will eat it all, or I'll bring it to Tilly's house and she'll scold me for bringing more treats over (heehee!). Lately I've been into crisps because they are easy and tasty.  
^^apple crisp and strawberry crisp^^

I have time to do laundry, clean, cook, and have some Gabe time. It's so nice because then when Mark gets home, it's all Mark and Gabe time, instead of spending most of our time trying to get some chores done and then being too exhausted to do much else but go to bed. 

And now to fold that laundry before Mark gets home...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Adventures

Today was great!

But this morning I thought I was going to die. 

Mark and I were lazily lying in bed when all of the sudden I saw Mark's expression change as we heard a weird noise on the roof. Mark whispered, "someone's on the roof!", jumped out of bed, grabbed a weapon and went downstairs to check it out. What a way to really wake up. I stayed in bed, paralyzed with fear, heart hammering in my chest, waiting to hear Mark shout or attack someone, while trying to convince myself no idiot would try to scale our house in broad daylight when I HEARD footsteps running on the roof and thinking I could at least glimpse at the culprit from my room (and slam and lock the windows so he or she wouldn't get in) I jumped out of bed and peered out to see this:

TURKEYS!!!! STUPID WILD TURKEYS!!!!!!!! A turkey was running on our roof and then flew down to meet his buddies just as I looked out our window. I had seen this rafter (yes we looked up what a group of turkeys is) of turkeys a few weeks ago in someone's yard while running and our neighbor had warned us about them but I didn't actually think they'd get on our roof!!! And we live on a busy street too! Mark offered to shoot one (joking, kind of) for a nice dinner tonight but I said no. But after I saw that one of those punks had broken one of my flower pots, I may have reconsidered. Fortunately for them by that time they have moved on to other yards. Jerks. 

I have been looking forward to this Saturday for weeks. When we moved (and even before) here, I scouted out and made a list of places to go and check out, plus people at church recommended a few places and one of them was Green Bluff Growers. It's incredible. If you've never been and you live in, near, or are visiting Spokane, definitely check it out. It's a huge association (~40-50) of local farmers that sell their produce year round or in season; that is a terrible description and doesn't do it justice. And I don't mean an on-the-corner-pop-up stand; I'm talking ACRES of  produce: apples (several different kinds I mean come on, we're in Washington here), pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, huckleberries, lavender fields, pumpkins, squash, Christmas trees, etc., etc., etc. Now through October is the big fall festival so every weekend some of the bigger farms have corn mazes, pumpkin, apple, and pear picking, apple cider, hay rides, petting zoos, live music, food; it's amazing! Now I'll admit, my motive was to find a grower that sells legit, delicious Macintosh apples because this New England girl is feeling a little left out and deprived in the Land of Apples. Well, I scouted out the website and a brochure I got at the library and I found a few that sell my beauties! Mark and I invited our new friends and neighbors to come and it was the best day ever. We had a blast! 

We temporarily adopt this kiddos as our own when we are with them.

First stop: Harvest House

So many cool pumpkins! Round, flat, white, orange, "warty"

Annie is a beast and an adorable one at that! She was picking up and pumping pumpkins like dumbbells. 

Pumpkin donuts made right in front of us and this one was still warm
Oh heaven.

Now we know how Tilly and Justin feel. 
Everyone kept looking at us and the girls so we pretended that Tilly was "Aunt Tilly"-ha! It was fun!

We love them!!!!

Next up: Forgot the name but they had a petting zoo, teepees, and I FOUND MACINTOSH APPLES!!!

Annie was not so sure about this ram.

The biggest sunflowers I do believe I have ever seen 

I adore this picture because I adore these three ladies, and, we are in a teepee.

Next: We were now on the hunt to find the cheapest cider and pumpkins. No go at this place BUT we found Tilly and Justin's future dog. 

Then we went back to Harvest House and bought our treats: apple cider, pumpkin donuts, and pumpkins!
And then a few of these guys rolled in:

Annie being a monkey. I just couldn't resist since the girls are still a little shy and won't do their tricks, as Tilly calls them, around us quite yet so when they do, I get very excited! 

Our goods from the day (ooooooh my lantus that kettle corn was so good! Well everything was!)

Opened the apple cider and we are pleased that it is tasty both cold and hot. 

Oh fall. How I love you.