Maybe. I’m here writing a blog post at least and just realised it’s been more than a month since my last one. My house and garden are both still in need of a mammoth spring clean though. I should be outside this morning pulling weeds but I had my first covid vaccine shot yesterday and my weed pulling arm is still a bit achy where I got the jab. Starting the spring clean might need to wait until next weekend.
I am trying to keep up with the reading though and I finally went for a visit to the new library building in town yesterday. It’s a nice building, but really hard to find. I got lost getting there and while trying to get out of the car park when I was done. At least I know where it is now, I have a bunch of books which should keep me out of trouble for a while and hopefully it will be an easier visit next time.
I’ve also been trying to keep moving on clearing out some of my ufos and managed to put together some abandoned blocks into a quilt which I have started quilting.
Still just straight stitching with the walking foot but a lot less densely than the last top I quilted so should hopefully have it finished in no time. Made myself a promise though that my next project has to involve giving free motion quilting a try.
I started a new job just after Easter, so in the interests of sanity and minimising my overall life stress I have been trying to take it easy in other areas of my life, so the goal achievement has kind of been on the backburner. I am still making progress, I managed to fit in 45 minutes of reading on the train to work yesterday, even if I haven’t finished a book. I have been improving the healthiness of the lunches I take to work. I even managed to open the novel and write a few words. Still spending too much money, but I’m doing ok.
In the interests of frugality, I am trying to finish some UFOs instead of buying and starting new projects. At the moment I am working on quilting a top I finished about a year ago.
For some reason, I decided it would look awesome to quilt it this densely. It does look awesome, but it’s taking a while.
I really do need to check the weather forecast when I start planning my long weekends. The plan was Friday clean the house, Saturday visit family, Sunday paint the house and Monday do the garden. Of course Saturday afternoon the heavens unleashed and it has been gloomy and drizzling ever since. This makes painting a bad idea, because even with the lights on its still not light enough to see if you have a nice even coat of paint. I could garden but I would be drenched in no time and what passes for a lawn at my house would be trampled to mud rather than improved.
So, what have I been doing the last day and a bit? Besides feeling grateful for the daylight lamps I have which provide, a small square at least, of good light for working and improving one’s mood; I have been catching up on reading, which I was a little behind on. To be honest I am a little behind on all my goals for the year and realised I needed a) something to keep track of things and b) plans for how I am going to achieve some of my other goals. It’s fair enough to say you are going to get down to a healthy weight but without a plan it will be another year and nothing is changed. I’m not sure I have a plan yet but I have used the extra time to design a way of keeping track. A bit old fashioned but I just used a couple of pages in a notebook and for all of my goals added some intermediate targets to cross off as I get there, plus a list for adding in the details for 52 books read. Next step, developing a workable plan or routine for achieving all this stuff.
Here’s a part of my rather low tech tracker. Maybe at some point I’ll move it to Microsoft Excel and do some graphs.
The other thing I have been working on is my black, white and grey scrappy quilt. I managed to finish the top, pin it and get it quilted yesterday.
It’s interesting, the difference between looking at something in real life and a photograph. In the photograph those few blue/green greys really pop out. In real life they blend a lot more. Though that could just be the bad light I mentioned above.
Now I just need to get the binding on, but am tossing up between doing the binding entirely by machine or half by machine and saving the hand sewing bit for my sewing group meeting Wednesday night. Usually I don’t mind hand sewing down binding, it’s a bit meditative in a way, but I backed the quilt with a fake fur kind of fleece instead of the normal wadding and backing and feel that it might be a bit tricky to slip stitch down onto all the fluffy stuff.
Progress has been a little slow since I last posted. I have managed to finish the required two books. One a decent mystery by an Irish Australian author and the second a book on slow stitching. There were no patterns in the stitching book just lots of lovely pictures and an approach. There was also the idea of specifically growing plants for fabric dyeing which I may explore a bit later when I have time.
Progress has been slow on the rest of my goals because I had a long weekend and spent it at the beach. While I did do a fair bit of walking around exercise, far too much money was spent as I stopped off at a bunch of never before visited patchwork stores and it would have been rude not to buy something. Don’t get me started on the food.
We had our first case of community transmission of Covid in months on Friday, the day before I was supposed to set off. I almost cancelled the whole trip in a panic. Not so much because of the worry of catching it, as the odds of that would be pretty low, it was more the risk that there would be another lockdown and I wouldn’t be able to get home.
All up, I’m glad I decided to go though. The hotel was on a point between the sea and where a river met the ocean so lots of spectacular views, magnificent mangroves and native flowers in bloom everywhere. The saving can start again tomorrow. Here are some pics of the trip.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.