Slight but not consistent progress

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I started the week feeling energetic but Wednesday a sudden cold snap set off my sinuses and I spent the last two days of the week lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Under normal circumstances I would have taken some pain killers and dragged my runny nose into work, but my work now has a zero tolerance policy on being snotty, even if you’re 99% sure its not contagious. So I am feeling doubly guilty, for not going to work and for not tackling any of the stuff on my to do list despite being home.

I dragged myself out for a walk yesterday and the fresh air did help so might have to make that a regular part of the routine. At least it contributes to my health and fitness goal, unlike the millionaires shortbread I made last weekend. I stumbled across some coconut condensed milk in the supermarket a few weeks back and as a lactose intolerent person decided it needed to come home with me until I figured out what to do with it. It didn’t set as well as normal sweetened condensed milk so the middle stayed a little runny, but all up was a pretty good dairy free treat.

I did finish reading a book – which was progress on my book a week goal. It was the latest in the Rebus series by Ian Rankin. Figured I would start with some novels and progress to the hard stuff. I didn’t think it was as good as some of the earlier novels in the series but still an enjoyable read. There were some awkward parts were he was talking about some authors being in town and one of the characters wanting to go to a book signing. I did some digging and found out that he auctions off book character names for charity i.e. if you win the auction they’ll be a character in the book with your name, and apparently these two authors won the last auction. I have to say it was a little jarring. I would have been tempted to have them murdered in the first chapter as an accidental by-product of the first death. Stumbled across a stabbing and got stabbed as well?

I have been doing ok on the saving money front, my grocery shop this week was very frugal and haven’t been tempted to spend on much else. Writing not so much progress, though I am going to try and get some in this afternoon.

I have made some pretty good progress on the quilt I have been working on. It’s a fleece backed quilt for my nephew, made almost entirely of scraps. I did have to cut into some proper material as I started to run out of blue scraps. Minor panic when I pulled a pin out and it caused a ladder/tear in one of the fabrics but I covered it with a patch and put nephews initials on it. First time doing letters on the machine so I am pretty impressed with my self though I probably need loads more practice to get sizing and placing right. I’ve finished quilting so now I just need to put on the binding ready for it to be hand sewn down at my quilt group meeting this week.

Goals

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I know we are only one week off March, but I finally sat down and set some goals for the year.

Goal 1: Read a book a week.

This is pretty straight forward I guess. I do like to read, but it is one of those things that I never do as much as I should. At the moment I could read a book a week for the rest of the year just from the ‘to read’ pile and that’s without even touching the unread e-book stash. So the aim of the goal is to tackle the pile, but also to improve my mind and concentration. Like a lot of people I have spent too much time over the last couple of years absorbed by the news and newspapers just to make sure the world wasn’t going to end. The problem is that all of this information is in the form of short sound bites and the more I get used to that, the harder I find it to deal with in-depth complex material that actually gives a greater understanding of what is going on. I think I mentioned in my last post that I have my 45th birthday coming up and I think it is incredibly important as you get older to keep an active mind, keep all the neurons firing. This goal is about taking my brain back.

Goal 2: Get down to a healthy weight for my height and a healthy blood pressure

I know, pretty much everyone starts the new year with a health and fitness goal and if I am going to make inroads this goal is going to have to be accomplished by a kick ass plan to make it happen. I’m going to have to prioritise exercise and healthy food preparation and cut back on the chips and sweets. This goal is about taking my body back and making sure I come out of this year fitter and healthier than I have ever been. But don’t stress, I have no plans to turn into a gym junkie. I work with a couple of those and they are always getting injuries and going on challenges which seem to help for a while but then a week later they are gorging on junk food and putting all the kilos back on. My plan is to aim for gentle and long-term sustainable change, going to have to put my walking shoes on.

Goal 3: Finish writing my novel

This has been on my goal list for the last couple of years and hasn’t really resulted in much progress, so how am I going to do it differently this time? I set myself a weekly target of 2000 words and an agreement that the thing doesn’t have to be any good by the end of the year, just finished. No one has to see it when I am done and if I get to the end of the year and it still isn’t done I take it off the list for next year and accept that novel writing is not for me, at least until I retire.

Goal 4: Save some money.

I do have a target in mind for this one, and while I won’t go into it in detail here, it is going to require substantial stinginess on my part. There are two major drivers. One is that I need to redo my bathroom and laundry. The other is that for a while I’ve had a longer term goal of aiming to retire when I am 55. The problem with this is that under Australian law I can’t access my retirement fund until I am 65. So, if I am going to make this happen, I have 10 years left to save enough money to fund 10 years of living. Which when you put it that way is a bit of a challenge and the goal has two parts with some of the savings in cash (for the bathroom) and some of the savings going into investments for the longer term.

For those of you who follow my blog for the craft, don’t stress, while I don’t have any specific craft related goals like many crafters, I have more craft supplies than hours to use them and the goal is to get as much crafting in as possible without impacting on Goal 4 or sitting still for too long. Expect plenty of creative and crafty ideas relying solely on the contents of my cupboard and much finishing of UFOs.

I think I have enough to keep me busy

It’s almost what already?

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I know, I’m not sure how it happened but it is almost February already. February is only 28 days and then its March and I turn 45. Which is crazy, it feels like 25 was only yesterday and I blinked and wound up here and sometime in that blink I was supposed to get my life sorted out and didn’t quite manage it.

Not that I have a lot to complain about, all things considered I’m doing alright. I have a nice home, a decent paying job and while I could lose some weight and occasionally get crazy hormones I am, aside from that, as healthy as a horse. It’s more that I always assumed there was things that I would do, that would happen, like meeting a partner, that never did. Though I think that latter one might be on me, due to my penchant for never leaving the house.

Recently I have been struggling with the notion of how many of my hobbies do I really enjoy and how many am I just using to fill time and to avoid working on the stuff that would genuinely improve both my life and the world around me. It’s trickier than it sounds because there are somethings that I would say I don’t really enjoy, like knitting in front of the tv, that leave me feeling really rested and rested is a good thing. There are other things, like talking to people and exercise, that I might enjoy more if I was fitter or more confident. If fitness and confidence only comes with practice then there is a sense in which you need to work through the discomfort to get to the joy.

It’s a public holiday here today and it’s been a struggle to get motivated for a day off on Tuesday rather than a long weekend. I did some drawing, which does bring me joy even though I suspect I’m not very good at it. I read some of a book for work, which is definitely in the not enjoy box but until I have enough to retire is a necessary evil. I have also been making a scrappy quilt which I am going to back with fleece for my nephew. That’s a joyful thing, more than I imagined it would be given the simplicity of the pattern but its the bringing of the colours together that seems to be the fun bit.

The other thing I have on the go, probably falls into the restful category. I’m not sure how long I have had this cross stitch cushion in my cupboard, it has to be at least 5 years. I’m not sure I love it anymore, but finally managed to get it half finished. It is symmetrical, so in another 5 years I might finish the other half.

Right now I am off to work through some discomfort and prep some healthy meals and snacks for the rest of the week.

The Quiet Life

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At this point, I feel a little bit like one of those medieval nuns where some crazy series of world events happens but when you read their convent diary for that year its all about the state of their apple trees. Not that I have apple trees. I have a mango tree, a lemon tree and a mandarin tree, none of which ever do well because they never seem to get the right amount of rain and I’m too water conscious to hand water trees. But I digress, this post wasn’t meant to be about trees. I’m not sure what it is meant to be about, because there is absolutely nothing much going on here. Like a lot of people, I think, I have been sticking pretty close to home. I’ve only left the house in the past week to go to work and get groceries.

The plus side of this is that jobs around the house are slowly getting done. I did some painting and gardening today and my pile of scraps is slowing getting smaller. This is all I have left to cut up and sort out, which is a pretty good effort as it was about 4 times that when I started.

I’m hoping to get it finished this week, so next weekend I can get started on a new scrappy quilt top – design yet to be determined.

Second bag finished

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After procrastinating a bit I have finally finished the second Sew Sweetness craft bag. I needed a bit of a distraction after our state declared a 3 day lockdown while they assessed the damage from the more contagious UK variant of covid-19 escaping from a quarantine hotel. Fingers crossed they won’t find any more cases and we can all be back to semi-normal after Monday.

Unlike last time, this time I got the handles on right and I included a clasp in the lining of the bag so the opening could be pulled together. I also used the foam suggested in the pattern instead of bag wadding and it does make a much softer bag.

Next job is to deal with the mammoth scrap pile that I have been avoiding for the last few months. I’ve told myself I have to sort it out before I start on anything else.

First bag done and new glasses

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After my last eye check I needed a new prescription and rather than buy glasses on the spot, even though I love my optometrist, it was just before Christmas so I decided to try and save some money and buy them online. Managed to get two pairs for less than what I would have spent on one pair in store which is a bonus because now I can have a home pair and a work pair rather than carting glasses around. I collected them from the post office this morning. Have to say, while it took a while for them to get here, it was a relatively straight forward process and they seem to be well made. Though only time will tell I suppose on the quality front. I can definitely see better than with my last pair so I am looking forward to seeing how they hold up to a reading binge.

Finally got some sewing done over the last couple of days and made one version of the bag I was planning on making (the Sew Sweetness Oslo Craft Bag). I made it with bag wadding, instead of the foam recommended and have to say I really struggled with getting it through and under the sewing machine in parts. I am about to start cutting out for a second one and will use the foam for that. Hopefully, it will be a bit more manageable.

It’s a great craft tote and pretty enough that I could sit it in my lounge for my tv projects, but looking at the photos I just realised that I put the bag handles on wrong. I put each handle going across the bag instead of between tabs on the same side. Thought it was kind of funny when I finished it last night. Never mind, easy enough to unpick, or maybe I could just leave it and do the next one right.

Merry Christmas

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I hope everyone had as nice a Christmas as possible given their local circumstances. I am fortunate to live in a place where I could still safely get together with some family for a traditional Christmas lunch, but know not everyone else is so lucky.

I’m making some progress on my holiday to do list. Only have to do the binding on my couch quilt and have some fabric picked out for the bags I want to make next but have also started painting the dining room and getting my garden tidied up, though it is still too hot to get much done outside.

On Holidays

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I am officially on holiday for the next three weeks and boy, am I looking forward to it. It’s been a stressful year for both work and world reasons and I am looking forward to some down time and some sewing room time. I did think about taking a trip somewhere but in the end decided it was too stressful and risky and then our state borders got shut down again so home it is.

Have plenty to do though. I am working on finishing a new throw for my lounge and want to make a nappy bag for a work colleague who is going on maternity leave early next year. And… I have 20 litres of paint and a house that needs it, not to mention a garden that is looking very wild after we finally got some rain. Which reminds me I need to go out and sow some more grass seed before it rains again.

Still in bed

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It’s 6.35 am and I’m still in bed. Which is unusual for me because I live in an area with no daylight savings. Usually about 4.30 am when the birds start chirping and the light starts filtering through the curtains I’m awake so I get up and start doing stuff. I’d like to say its industriousness but it’s more just resignation to the fact that there is no other time. The early wakeup means I’ll be in bed by 9.00 pm to avoid exhaustion. So if I want stuff done, morning is the time.

Not that a lot is getting done. Not on the craft front anyway. I did finish painting the lounge room, which was epic because it needed three coats on everything. Hopefully this works, because this is my first time uploading a video, but here it is.

Still waiting on the new couch to be delivered but the bookshelves are all in, and yesterday I moved all the books from my sewing space into the lounge and all the no longer needed in the lounge stuff into my sewing space. Which kind of explains why I am still in bed. My one and only job for today is to tidy up my sewing room. There may be a little procrastinating going on.