Lo & Behold crafter, writer, life-liver - page 2

I’m a writer.

I’ve been diving back into the blogging/writing world these days. As the end of my technical writing certification program draws near I’m trying to turn what I do towards the internet, blogging, writing, and editing. I’ll ALWAYS be a blogger… I like to ramble and emote and post pretty pictures of things too much to give that title away. But as I plan towards my future, and my family’s future, I crave security and flexibility (of the freelance writing career I will hopefully build for myself). THUS, I will now start calling myself a writer.

“Oh, I’m a writer. Technical, editorial, how-to, blogging, marketing and the web. “- Me, somewhere sometime soon telling someone what I do

I’ve always labeled myself as a creative, whether that be in reference to my writing experience, crafting experience or general personality. I’m pushing 30 now and my hankering to organize every life detail into a handy to-do list may have proven otherwise… I’m organized, structured, and detail-oriented. So perhaps I’m not as much a proclaimed creative as I’d like to be, but I’m definitely a fantastically efficient mish-mash of zany + logical.

bi-weekly Farmhouse CSA delivery

What blogging and writing have I done you say? You certainly haven’t seen any here on my blog, I’ve deserted it off and on for quite a while now. I’ve been doing some food writing for The Homegrown Revival, some blogging for Feliz (it’s going to be spectacular!), some DIY writing and some technical writing. I’m widening my breadth of knowledge and technical capability in the HOPES that I will be a bad-ass one woman writerly show.

Shameless self promotion alert (portfolio buildin’): If you know of any opportunities for technical writing (user guides, manuals, proposals, white papers, how-tos etc.), crafty/artsy writing, blogging, newsletter design etc. please hit me up! I need to whip a portfolio into shape.

new succulent from the Mueller Farmer's Market

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Big words

“Whatever you are curious about, whatever delights you and brings you joy is precisely what will take you on the path towards your deepest dreams. You don’t need to connect the dots or even understand it. In fact, it might be better if you don’t. Just do it for the joy of it.

And know that nothing, absolutely nothing you’ve ever done is wasted.” - via SuperheroJournal.com “The Lost Art of the Friendly Letter”

Some words that made a lot of sense to me. Some words I think you should carry around in your pocket today.

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Time to ‘unplug’

My hubby works so hard. He caters to my every need (or a lot of them anyway), he holds down an important job at work, babies our pets and manages to cook a from scratch dinner almost every night. BUT, this guy has a hard time unplugging. He’s strapped to his desk/computer/phone so much that it’s hard for him to ‘unplug’.

A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t give him a choice… I took him to a lake house with no internet connection (gasp!). I invited six of our closest Austin friends and their pups to a lovely lake house on the Llano River that fed right into Lake LBJ. Relaxing doesn’t begin to describe it. Sandy beach, sloping mountains in the backdrop, shallow water for swimming and floating and even a rock cliff to jump off of!

We made tasty meals, drank and DRANK and drank some more, took the dogs down to the water to swim and fetch tennis balls from waaaayy out. It was just great. He unplugged and we all enjoyed each other’s company for two nights. Divine! Sometimes, it really helps to create that awesome place for yourself and yours, if only for a weekend. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absofreakinglutely.

Most pics are from the hubby’s Flickr, but a few are from mine.

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Lazy bones

This weekend I didn’t do much of anything.

Okay, I lied. I did some homework, ate a load of delicious homemade eggplant parmesan and alfredo fusilli, folded a bunch of clothes, did all the dishes, painted my nails, watched a lot of TV, went swim suit shopping, hit some yard sales and walked the dogs. There was NO volunteering, NO freelancing, NO busy work. It was free Shrie time. I was totally and undeniably lazy (for me) and I loved every second of it.

I think I may need more weekends like that, now that you mention it….

the cheesy homemade nemesis

yard sale haul

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Whoa, slow down there

A few things have come to my attention recently that have all led to a realization that maybe my being super busy and productive isn’t the best way to go about life. I’ve always had this feeling (and it’s gotten stronger the older I get) that you should jump into things you do with both feet, hard-charging and ready to kick it’s ass. And I really believe that life rule… but I think a teensy part that I may have overlooked is that being busy may just be an unhealthy mechanism we force upon ourselves.

A couple of Facebook friends posted a link to this NY Times article “The Busy Trap”. I read it all the way through, each paragraph increasingly describing me, my life. This quote kind of hit home for me:

“They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”

And this one:

“Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.”

Like a ton of bricks. REALIZATION! Hello! Doing all of these awesome things that I’m doing may NOT be better for me. Because really, life is so damn short, just so short. Yes, volunteering is good. And doing freelance work to bone up my experience and resume is good too. But I also work full-time, go to school half-time and try to fit in all the home/family/house stuff I can without freaking out.

Am I giving all I have to any one of these things? Is my stress taking a toll on our family life? I’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe these are questions you should ask yourself as well. How present are we? How able to really do ONE thing well are we?

I recently shut my Etsy shop down, maybe not forever but for a while, after years of halfheartedly managing my shop and attempting to sell things. Shutting down the shop felt SOOOOO good, freeing even. It’s not that I don’t LOVE to make and sell things, that’s not it. It’s just that I never really found my focus, I never was able to make any money (and in turn never felt good enough to do it) and I was guilt tripping myself about my inability to succeed. GUILT-TRIPPING myself. People, this is a common theme.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve slowly worked on an embroidery piece for my hubs’ and my house. It took forever and no one paid me to do it, but it was oh so gratifying. I ENJOYED it, and I didn’t have to worry about listing it, trying to sell it and shipping it. In fact, I loved making it just for us. So the point of this overly long and drawn out (I’m totally long-winded when I get to writing) post? I’m re-assessing. I’m QUITTING things, that’s right quitting. But in this case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I’m gonna embrace it.

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Living the dream

Confession: I get stressed (doesn’t everybody?!). I worry A LOT, I hold on to things that don’t mean anything at all. I try to stay so organized, so on top of things, so “with it”. And I’m buuussssyy. I work, go to school, volunteer, write on here sometimes, blog and manage the social media freelance style for a local biz and until recently, sold handmade items on Etsy.

I always thought, when I get that life I’m gonna love it. When I start living my dream, I’m going to dive in and appreciate it 100%. When my life starts resembling what I’ve dreamt about for so long, I’m going to relish it. But I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I have been living my dream for quite a while now.

I remember when I interned at Sub Pop Records, right out of college and a fresh transplant to Seattle from Texas. I thought everyone that worked there was so cool. They had cool tattoos, cool boyfriends/girlfriends, cool bands, cool jobs and cool friends. I wondered if I would ever be that cool. Now that I have an intern at work, I wonder… does he think I’m that cool? AM I that cool? Whoa. Maybe I am!

I stress so much about making things rad, being the best I can be, working hard… even (if you can believe it) having fun, that I lose sight of reality. The glaring awesomeness that is my life somehow has totally slipped under my radar for years. While doing the dishes one morning this weekend I came to this realization. Let me illustrate for you how cool my life is right now (written with total and utter non-sarcasm).

  • I work in the music industry, for a local ticketing company
  • My husband works for Electronic Arts, a video game company (Psstt… I’m married to a guy that loves me!)
  • We just bought a lil Atomic Ranch style house in an up and coming neighborhood in one of the best cities in the US
  • We have four awesome pets (okay, well… they’re pains in the asses but we love the STUFF out of them)
  • We have lovely devoted friends who: screen print for a living, make jewelry, work with autistic kids, do awesome metal-smithing and welding, perform burlesque for fun, invite us to VEGAAAS, move to Thailand without a job purely for the adventure etc
  • We live near my amazing family and have their support in everything we do
  • We lived in Seattle for five years, where I learned so much about myself and about life
  • We have enough expendable income that we can eat fancy dinners on occasion, drink champagne for no reason and donate money to our local no-kill rescue organization
  • I’m going to school to learn to become an amazing technical writer, and I don’t have that much longer left!
  • My husband is a STELLAR cook (and no this is not an understatement) and calls me sweet baby princess almost all the time

There’s more, but I’ll spare you. Pretty cool life right now huh? And to think that I couldn’t even see it from where I was sitting (in the freaked out/over-committed section). File me in the under-appreciative, and lost-in-the-details drawer.

But it’s turning around now, everyday I’m going to work on realizing the lot of all this greatness. I won’t remember everyday, and I’ll probably still stress about tons of stuff and suck at being a friend sometimes and make myself sick with worry sometimes. But I’m going to try… and this realization, this trying, this working is a HUGE step for me.

On to LIFE and living and love and appreciating and working towards a goal and being the person you always wanted to be.

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New curtains and pretty plants

I’ve been meaning to make new curtains for our large front window for some time. The sheer ones that were there previously had been left by the people we bought the house from and just weren’t our style. And of course, I cannot allow myself to ever buy curtains because A) they’re usually not that cute and B) I can make them, so why wouldn’t I?

Well, our little pitty Iris made the decision for me last week. We came home to one of the curtains hanging in shreds. She had grabbed a corner of the curtain and shredded it… while still in her dog crate. She’s an industrious one. So I hoofed it to my fave local fabric store, Stitchlab, and nabbed some slightly mid-century style geometric fabric for the curtains. It literally took me one whole Sunday to make those damn things. Working with 11 yards of fabric that needs to be cut, ironed, pinned and sewn is no easy task. Pardon the iPhone photo… but aren’t they cute?!

During that uber-productive weekend we also repotted some plants and got a few new ones. Hoping they all survive. Our crazy big tomato plants aren’t looking so good :(…

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Pegboard jewelry organization

I FINALLY got the DIY pegboard jewelry organizer up in the house. Brett helped me construct it weeks ago and it’s been sitting in the laundry room collected dust ever since. Our weekends are bananas!

Last weekend I finally had time to paint the bad boy, and yesterday after a quick family trip for Memorial Day Weekend Brett helped me mount it up. I spent about an hour arranging everything on the board and making sure it was in good usable shape… I think it’s a DIY success!

My inspiration was Martha Stewart’s pegboard DIY. First, we attached four 2″x2″ boards to all four sides of the pegboard in the back. Then I lightly sanded the whole front surface and painted it with *two coats on the front and on the sides (don’t want the wood color to be visible from the side!). Then we measured and mounted the board via two long screws on the wall, simple placing the pegboard frame on the back onto the two protruding screws.

*I painted it the same color as our wall, a light gray color. I wanted the jewelry to stand out, not the pegboard.

Voila! An easy and super-organized jewelry organizer. I now realize how much room I have left to fill… I think I need some more jewelry.

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Denver, ho

I love Denver. The affair started in college when five friends and I decided to rent a van and gallivant across the Texas desert panhandle and up into the mountainous state for a bit of vacation. We camped, ate, drank, adventured. We all slept in the same bed, and played dominoes at nightfall.

Fast forward a few years… my best friend Jamie and her wee family live there. Through the course of moving from Denton to Seattle and then back to Texas in Austin I’ve visited Denver probably eight or so times. Sometimes accompanied by a friend, or with my Mom like this time, and sometimes alone. The focus is always on my seeing my best friend, and now spending time with her almost two year old. Even though we may be far and wide, spread apart by miles of geography, I have always longed to be a part of her little family circle. So, I attempt to make it so.

There is just something about that cool air, the evergreen scent, climbing rocks and ascending roads that burrow through tunnels. The city is laidback and lovely, bursting at the seams with creativity and culture and bounded by a wild nature I was excited to show my Mom. My weekend in (short) review:

Shopping with my non-niece, Jasmine Ruth

Fell in love with a shop, SEWN

Watched Jasmine cringe in fear as goats, a donkey, an Alpaca and a mini pig bombarded her at the Cinco De Mayo Fest petting zoo

Played a little frisbee

Posed for portraits

Hunted for smooth river rocks with Mom

Soaked up a little peace

Breathed deep

Made Mom take pictures with me

Took in the view from Lookout Mountain

Smiled...

See the whole photo set on my Flickr page.

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Bluebonnets and Blue Bell

I REALLY get into bluebonnet hunting. Here in Texas, the arrival of the bluebonnets along our highways and country roads are much anticipated. They signal wonderful weather (for about a month) and showcase the rolling prairie hills and rocky cacti-speckled landscape. Last year the bluebonnets were less than spectacular, largely due to the insane drought we’ve been experiencing, but this year… OH THIS year… they have been just stunning.

A couple of weeks ago the hubs, the dogs and I set out on a driving day trip from Austin to Brenham, on the hunt for those elusive bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. We found them! And took gads of ridiculous pictures of the dogs posing in the roadside flowers. The scenery was wonderful, the air smelled grassy and flowery like a typical Texas spring day. With windows down and dog tongues slobbering half way out of mouths, we made our way in the ole FJ up to…

… the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory! I love ice cream, and as a kid growing up in the lone star state you eat a LOT of Blue Bell. I taste tested some cookies ‘n cream and rocky road, we took a couple of pics and then we were off on the road back home.

We don’t have kids, we have dogs. And the whole bluebonnet-picture-taking thing reminds me of when I was a kid. My mom might spot an especially good bluebonnet patch on the side of the road and before you know it, the car was careening towards the shoulder for a quick park and photo shoot.

Aahhh. Texas in the spring.

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Impromptu BBQ

On the weekends the Spangler household can usually be found filled to the brim with yummy home-cooked food, scads of close friends and a bevy of potluck dishes sitting all lined up in a row on our long kitchen bar. We are the potluck household, and more often than not our weekends are spent in preparation of/enjoying/cleaning up a BBQ, themed potluck or snacky get-together.

awaiting BBQ friends

Brett loves to cook, and to entertain, and I… well, I just like to eat and hang out. So when Wednesday rolls around and we start contemplating our weekend plans, inviting friends over for food, merriment and booze is usually in the cards. Last Friday we had some dear friends of ours and their two adorable littles over for an evening of pot pie and wine (they brought dessert!). If you only make one pot pie in your life, use this Ad Hoc recipe. You can thank me later.

Ad Hoc pot pies

This past weekend, since Brett just got his new Weber Smokey Mountain smoker (the super expensive smoker he bought has never worked right and has caused him a whole lotta grief, but that’s another story…) he was itching to try it out. Our maiden smoker voyage was a might tasty brisket! Brett also made deviled duck eggs, vegetarian baked beans and a pink lemonade icebox pie. YUM. About eight of our amigos came over with their potluck goodness, including: roasted cauliflower, vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, fresh corn and zucchinni salad, sliced watermelon and German potato salad.

Weber Smokey Mountain

smoke rings in the brisket

After the BBQ madness, on Sunday I took Clem for a long walk along the lake on a sunny mid-80s day here in Austin. It was gorgeous, and a great mother-son field trip away from the house. We let Dad stay home and mow the front yard (with Iris enthusiastically looking on from the front porch). And then I promptly tripped and fell taking the trash out when I got home and sprained my ankle. </weekendfun> At least I ate good food and drank nice booze eh?

Clem dog

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Asos Curve

I am loving the Asos Curve selection at Asos.com. Curvy girls just get the shaft when it comes to clothing. We can’t shop at most stores, and sure you can scour the web for cute finds… but what happens more often than not (unless you really know your measurements that correlate with that brand’s sizing) is that you get something in the mail and it doesn’t fit. Then you have to pay to ship it back, and start the process all over again. I hate the waiting, the uncertainty and ESPECIALLY getting excited to receive a new package in the mail only to put it on and be disappointed. Girls, do you know where I’m coming from? I can’t be the only one.

The lovely inspirational Frocks & Frou has been a big kickstarter for me. She’s a practical fashionista and always posts the most amazing fashion updates on what she wears (and I normally HATE those posts… perhaps because I feel subpar?). But really, it’s time to get dressed each day and love what I’m looking at. And that doesn’t mean spending a ton OR not feeling like myself.

Lately I’ve been doing a bit more exploring in the online realm of curvy (or plus size) clothing. A few sites that I’ve been frequenting as of late include Dorothy Perkins, eShakti and Asos. Poke around, let me know what you think. Part of what lit this clothing fire underneath my arse was when I stepped into my closet and realized that all my clothing was either drab, ill-fitting or cheap. I didn’t feel good in much of anything that was in there… and even though I’m self-conscious about my body image I STILL want to feel like I look pretty sometimes.

OH THE WOES OF A FAT GIRL.

So the hunt is on… I want to bulk up my wardrobe without spending too much, likely one piece at a time. I usually check these sites for sales pretty regularly (and always look for coupon codes to boot), and can sometimes find some decent deals. Some Asos looks I’m loving:

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the shift

SXSW is over. HURRAH! Wait, is that how I’m supposed to feel?

This year I just couldn’t get into it. I ended up not being able to take off work, and like an idiot (read: responsible, helpful, born leader) I volunteered to help plan my company’s SXSW party. In summary, I had virtually no time or energy to enjoy traipsing around town, sweating through my clothes, watching 18 year old hipsters learn how to smoke cigarettes and see bands that I initially was stoked over only to find out that their live show sucks balls.

fave band of the day: J Roddy Walston & the Business

So yeah. I’m glad SXSW is over. Did I mention I work in the music industry?

I’m thinking that I may be getting old, that AGAIN my priorities are starting to change. The constant shifting is sometimes uncomfortable. Since I met my husband (then boyfriend) at the age of 20, I feel like my life/goals/ideas/life trajectory have been in constant flux. We move around, I end school and then start school, I intern and get new jobs, we buy a house and make new friends/lose old ones… it goes on. I guess this is what real life is like? Is it weird that it’s taken me this long to figure that out?

me, and my quasi-boss Courtney

School is still a pest, our pit Iris keeps splitting her tail on her crate wires in excitement when the lunch-time dog sitter comes over (and then spraying blood all over the walls), I still feel cash-strapped at times and I still guilt-trip myself when I don’t feel like I’ve been doing enough crafting/Etsy-selling/volunteering. So none of that has changed… but somehow I’m feeling good about stuff. I’m feeling positive.

And those shifting priorities I mentioned? I’m not sure what they’re shifting TOWARDS, but I can feel the movement. The wind that shears off it hits me straight in the face.

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And they teach us about ourselves

I had a harried day. This morning I had to call and raise hell with the utilities company here in Austin. They can’t seem to comprehend an address change to the house next door. Then I got some bad news from my work regarding taking time off for SXSW (the music event of the year, mind you). And to top it all of, the new pair of pants I got in the mail, after returning them once because the sizing was wonky, stretched into huge pants while I was at work and I felt uncomfortable and icky all day.

It’s just been one of those days. It happens… and sometimes these days are the hardest to get past for me. They put me in a funk, a mood. And then my neighbor knocked on the door. She had just seen a car hit a cat in the street and drive away. The cat had hobbled up into a side yard and collapsed. My husband ended up taking it to the emergency vet, where the cat passed way.

It wasn’t my cat. It wasn’t my fault. In fact, we did everything we could to help it. But it just feels heart-wrenching. We put so much into taking care of our three pets. They’re our family, our pack, our loves. Sure, they’re animals… housepets. But they’ve taught me so much about myself, about other people and about love. I feel sorrowful for this tabby cat that died today, but I feel lucky to be around my little family, human and pet alike.

And I think we’re going to rescue another cat.

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A wee taste

So you want to know what’s up in the world of Spangler? We’ve slowly been hanging art and such in our house. The process is slow… we got burnt out after our painting marathon. Want a wee taste via really grainy Instagram (follow me @shrielenee) photos? Sure you do!










Hang tight for a real deal house tour… you know, when we get everything set up just right. So FOREVER from now.

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Paint fumes

So we’re painting. And taping. I swear, I probably spent six hours JUST taping everything off. I mean, we may be newbies to this homeowner/DIY home project stuff but I don’t want it to look sloppy!

But the painting… painting one or two rooms turned into painting every room but one. Once we patched some holes and got matching paint to fix it up, we realized our “matched” paint doesn’t really match. So we had to paint that whole room again.

It’s going to look good (at least I’m clinging to that idea), so we’re trudging forward. Word to the wise though:

If you have a 1400 sq. ft. house to paint + one week in the evenings to accomplish it + one other relative newbie to painting = you should GET HELP. And I don’t mean your friends. No one wants to help you paint your house. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing to at least lend a hand and speed the process along.

That being said, we now know how to paint an entire house now. And I’m riding high (and almost throwing up) on those glorious paint fumes…

the whole set of BEFORE pics of the interior of the house

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I can see our new house from next door

So we’ve closed on our house and are in the process of acquiring the multitudes of “house stuff” that we need. Since we didn’t use all of our downpayment money for the downpayment, we have a little bit of wiggle room. Instead of getting sparkly new countertops (we’ll do that in the summer with our work bonuses) we opted for brand spanking new appliances! Stainless. Fancy. Brett’s going to be doing a LOT of cooking with our new doo dads. And hey look! Our new stove comes with both a chicken nugget AND a pizza button. Neat. (guffaw)

We’re also going to do a little painting, some storm door installs, more attic insulation and some house weatherizing. For the attic insulation and the weatherization we’ll get a bit back from the city energy company to help compensate for the cost. Plus, our utility bills shouldn’t be quite as high as they normally would. Which is good… have you lived in Texas in the summer? Yeah.

We bought this cute buffet hutch thing from Modern Salvage here in Austin, and we think it will be just DARLING in our open kitchen/dining area. I want to put our vintage mugs, antique percolator and other fun kitcheny items in the top glass shelf area. I’ve been on the search for the perfect, affordable vintage dining table but so far have come up empty. In lieu of vintage we may purchase one these expensive (I’m kinda cheap, okay!?) Industrial Dining Tables from West Elm, though I wanted this angled leg table because it was expandable AND cheaper. But now it’s discontinued. BOOO.

True to my crafty inclinations, I’m also slowly working on a larger-scale embroidery of the front of our house. I wanted to commemorate our first house purchase! I’m excited to get it finished, though I’m in the very beginning stages of making it. I can’t wait to hang it up on the wall of the very first house we have ever owned!

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