wonderful things

1. This has been a LONG time coming: I budgeted my final credit card payment this month!

I have been meaning to talk about how epic and life-changing it has been to find a budgeting system that WORKS. (And when I say that, I really mean it’s a system that changed my habits: empowered me to make intentional decisions about my money, and then made it very easy to follow those decisions day to day.) The system I use is You Need A Budget, and even though I can’t use the pitch I depended on before (“It’s life-changing and you only have to pay for the software once!”), I trust that their new annual-fee program is incorporating some fantastic improvements.

2. Related to Thing 1, I’m finally discovering the wonder of saving money! Here’s what’s amazing: when you set aside money for something like, oh, I don’t know, a 3-month cushion (guess what I’m saving money for?), and then you reach that goal? YOU HAVE THE CUSHION AND THEN YOU GET TO START SAVING FOR SOMETHING ELSE! It’s, like, blowing my long-time debt-laden mind that I can have these monthly savings that ACCUMULATE, instead of this monthly payment that I send out into the void, seemingly, which never seems to end.

Saving > Debt (mind blown)

3. I’m going to add another point to this stream because, omg, I can’t stop taking about it.

I love that the process of saving is ALSO a process of dreaming. Do you know how many times, in the past 10 years, I’ve said to myself, “Oh, that sounds like a nice idea, but I can’t even entertain it until I pay off this debt.” THAT WAS A LOT OF DEFERRED DREAMING! I HAVE SO MUCH CATCHING UP TO DO!

And I’m sort of pumped that I get to do it NOW instead of 10 years ago, partially because I am so much smarter and more interesting now. Of course, I’m also more cautious, which is something I’m trying to push against just a bit.

This year is the year of Dreaming Big. I don’t plan on making any big actions (because remember: saving for a 3-month cushion) but I love that I’m finally in a place where I’m allowed to realistically entertain these ideas.

4. I meant for this list to be about more than just budgets. (Whoops!) Here’s a photo of some finished quilts:

HotSpiceStack-2116

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let’s talk about sewing, baby

Recently, a friend introduced to me the concept of friction in projects. Or, more specifically, the idea that a well-designed workshop or workflow helps you to reduce friction. Perhaps the friction of sewing would be setting up a table, or pulling out a sewing machine from the closet, or finding all of your bits and bobs and threading the machine. Honestly, now that this concept is in my head, I find myself noticing friction everywhere!

In my sewing room, I’ve figured out ways to reduce most friction. I have a table dedicated to projects, a machine that is always sitting out, a few boxes nearby that hold all of the notions. During sewing seasons, my ironing board is standing in the middle of the room, and the extension cord for the iron is just barely kicked under a dresser (out of sight enough to spare me from tripping over it or stepping on it, but obvious and accessible). My hand-quilting projects are ALWAYS sitting right next to an armchair, so I will pull them out and stitch a little while watching shows on my computer.

So, I know that friction can be reduced. I’m quite adept at noticing and dealing with it in the physical realm. The friction that I can’t seem to address is right here, in the internet realm, where I have a blog and want to share stories, but always seem to find a million miles of sandpaper between me and the end goal.

Does anyone else feel this? Perhaps not those people who are posting entertaining, inspiring, awesome things on a weekly basis. Or, to be fair, perhaps they DO feel it and have figured out how to reduce their friction. They probably have blog posts about blogging, which I’ve probably read. So then I have to be honest that one of my biggest personal frictions is that I don’t want this blog to be work. I want this blog to sit here, waiting for me to drop things when the mood strikes, asking nothing of me and costing nothing. But then I also want it to be a place filled with deep thoughts about all the things I spend too much time obsessing over. I want to have a coherent summary of how I’ve spent my time. I want to be able to point to one page that explains why I’m a chaos muppet when I sew but an order muppet in every other area of life, because you guys, that’s something I’ve been thinking about this week, and I wonder if other people experience this dichotomy!

So, I don’t know where to start. Or, to be more honest, I don’t know where to finish this conversation. I don’t know where it’s going. I feel like it’s going to shoot off in a million directions, which could lead to a million blog posts, all which I’d like to have linked to each other in an orderly way with interesting images in every post (my own expectations of blogging perfection: FRICTION).

For now, I’m going to do two things:

-I’m going to pay attention to the friction. I’m going to write it down and maybe, at some point, decide if there are ways I can reduce some of it. But more importantly…

-I’m going to ignore the friction. I’m just going to write. It’s going to be incoherent. I’m probably going to ramble, a lot, or reference fully formed thoughts that I haven’t yet shared with you (and possibly never will). I’m going to just let this be the messy jumble of things that fall out of my head, which is what the old header of this blog used to say, because I needed to confront that specter* of blog perfection every time I came to this page.

*FYI if you google that word to make sure you’re spelling/using it correctly, you’ll discover that there is a new Bond movie coming out this year. I’m not sure why you’d do such a thing, or whether or not you’d be excited about such news, but that’s a thing that happened. #blogrealness

5 books finished in 2014: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I’ve come up with a quasi-resolution for 2014 – that I’m going to try to read as many classics as possible, taking advantage of the numerous free ebooks available for my kindle. (Related to that, I’m also attempting to shop our bookshelves, and to finally pick up books I’ve overlooked OR re-reading some old favorites.The goal is to NOT buy any new books this year.)

With that in mind, I’m going to have a lot of unattractive kindle book covers to share with you this year!

5 books finished in 2014

Starting with this one, which, no matter how I tried to rearrange it, wouldn’t put the title and author on one page.

These were my first Sherlock stories! I loved them, which is no real surprise considering my quasi-recent love affair with other classic mysteries. Thankfully, this genre is seemingly endless!

One of the delights of reading these stories is discovering the many, many shout-outs embedded in the new BBC series. It’s an extra level of fun, and I’ll admit that I see Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as Watson and Sherlock while I’m reading.

Best Decision of 2013: Charlottesville SOUP

First Edition: Monday, January 14th at The Bridge

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Second Edition: Monday, May 27th at the Charlottesville Day School

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Third Edition: Tuesday, November 12th at Meade Hall

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All of this happened in 2013? Wow.

Agreeing to photograph the year of SOUP was definitely one of my best decisions of 2013. I don’t even know what to say about it, which is okay since other people are more eloquent or more informative.

I have been consistently blown away by how well-organized, well-supported (by local businesses), well-staffed (all volunteers), and well-curated (all decor made by local artists and volunteers) this event has been. And let’s not overlook how well-fed the attendees were! But what I love most is that this is such a simple, accessible way for a community to come together, share a goal, and support an artist’s vision. The original SOUP (Detroit) website shares tips for creating a SOUP event to fit your own community.

If you’re in the Charlottesville area, you should go to the Charlottesville Soup website and join their mailing list right now.

Best Decisions of 2013: CSA

Joining the Bellair Farm CSA was probably my first best decision of 2013. Our neighbors were members, and encouraged us to jump on board when we moved onto the street.

They went to the farm early on Saturday mornings, to entertain their toddler during the long, unstructured days of summer. I decided to join them on these adventures, and even kept up the Saturday morning ritual when they couldn’t go.

The farm was a great weekly ritual. I loved getting outside early in the morning, and starting my weekend with something productive, and bringing home so much delicious produce! I learned how to cook things I’d always been afraid to cook (more on that later), I always had a unique way to entertain out-of-town visitors, and I was constantly thankful to have access to delicious and abundant local and seasonal food.

upload Entering the farm!

Chicks! Then they brought a COW!!!

Leaving the farm! We found a sandbox!

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The rest of our crew. Strawberries!

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Farm! Flowers!