Thursday, December 27, 2012

Annual Goal Evaluation

The best reason to evaluate goals is to see your progress - or not!  This is simply a guide to help you live your best life :-)  As I look back... I see areas where I have achieved MUCH more than I thought... and areas where I totally BOMBED! 

I see achievements (like my 'mile a day' habit) that had side benefits (my husband now joins me daily so MY goal has helped HIS health)

I see goals (like spiritual reading) that never got off the ground.. and now I need to decide a) if I want to make this a goal for 2013 OR b) choose a method to help me make it happen!

I see goals (like the infamous photo scanning project) that were TOO HUGE to measure well that need to be broken down better

This evaluation is simply a tool.  I encourage you to do your own and see where you are in your happiness - and where you want to be!  How will you get there if you don't know where you are right now?


Evaluation of 2012 Annual Goals

Goals 2012:

1.  HEALTH -
         a) continue on weight loss / exercise balance!
              I recognize that this is not specific enough for a goal. I am still working on action steps that will fit in my life and be sustainable.  I will share that journey with you as I go.
             Weight has remained the same which is also an accomplishment!  Looking back to the beginning of the year, I have made good new habits: I walk a mile outside almost every day and have increased that to 2 miles this December - successfully.  I have doubled or tripled my fruit and veggie intake with salads and green smoothies.  I have also identified supplements that help me physically and mentally and am taking them!

      Still working on consistent all over training - especially strength.

         b)Train for and do my 5th Breast Cancer 3Day Walk in Atlanta Oct 2012..
      Location changed to Philadelphia - but I DID IT!

2.  FINANCIAL -
         a) continue to live on a cash basis and work down debt balances
              Debt balances are reduced a little bit....but we are still living on a cash basis AND have pumped up the savings!  We have made improvements in other areas and have 2 kids in college.... we are doing well!  
Ultimate goal?  No debt except mortgage.... 10% long term savings each year (2.5% this year) and 10% short term savings (3% this year)

         b) find other sources of income to assist in this process.  It is important for me to feel financially independent.
             Little progress here... my best way of helping financially still is reduction of expenses.  I have been able to sell a little of my Children's Liturgy plans this year so that is a start!

         c) continue working with tithing.
            Our income is so variable that it is difficult to keep this one where it needs to be.  That said, I do monitor it monthly and we are aware and working on it.  
Our goal - 5% to our home church and 5% to the world's requests. 

Our achievement - 4% to our home church and 3% to the world....  we might be able to up that a little in the next few days... we'll see.

3. CURRENT HOME project -
        This one scares me but I am ready to take it on!  By the end of 2012, this home will be in a condition to sell.  I am working on a plan of action to deal with each room and all the associated STUFF... I will detail this in weekly action plans as I go.
      Yeah - not so much on my part!....  But we did make some improvements that will aid in the energy efficiency of our home.  The final set of ancient windows have been replaced, window wells have been dug out and re-graveled.... the room with water damage has been repaired and painted and is ready for me to decorate as a guest room... 
I think this goal needs to be re-framed and more specific for 2013
 
          My photo scanning project will continue under this heading.  I will continue to scan and organize photos in folders on my computer in order to share with other family members who are involved in the photos.
        I have made some progress this year but this task is HUGE!  I will need to break this down into more specific and manageable goals in order to feel any sense of accomplishment!
     
There are: 
      the 'tub' of assorted photos (down from a large 18 gallon plastic tote to a small 20 quart plastic tote) **looking at this alone makes me feel I did more than I thought I did :-)
                  the albums - my personal, my mother's, some older historical ones
                  the framed photos
                  the 'official' posed photos

         Also - I love to learn (as you probably know already) so this year, I will learn to refinish furniture and decorate.  Perhaps I can find some inexpensive course in interior design.... or some good DIY projects to attempt.
         Nope - haven't touched it..

4.  Good Maintenance Habits:
         Good maintenance habits means that I don't have to THINK about them - I just do them.  To that end, I will think about them now :-)
    A) health/weight/exercise - I will deal with those under the "health" category
    B) environmental management - (fancy name for housekeeping!)  I will talk about this as I go through the work of re-newing the house.  I will develop some good maintenance habits as I tackle the larger project.
    Other than beginning the year well with great ideas about how to clean and keep up with this house, I haven't accomplished much here.

   C) relationships -
            Family - regular, purposeful dates / activities with husband and family members - separate and together......  Much better with the hubs... okay with the kids

           Friends - make a point of a 'non-business' meeting with as many friends as possible during 2012....  not well at all :-(

           Birthday cards :-)  I like doing them and it felt good to actually get through the year having done them!   Birthday cards to friends and family took a beating this year.  I started a card ministry at church and did great with the church and lousy with my family.... need to fix this

    D) hobbies -
            *Enjoy my crocheting but work down my yarn stash..  Doing this but it is a BIG stash....  I have not bought much yarn this year though - and every bit I DID buy had a designated function and need.  (no yarn for yarn's sake!)
            * Less crochet - more quilting, loom knitting, knitting, and whatever other crafts I can enjoy with my current supplies     I have gotten back to a little bit of quilting and sewing for the girls but very little as yet.  And that mostly because of ongoing shoulder issues that are worse when I crochet!  But, whatever works, right?
 
            * Learning: is learning a hobby?
                  a) Read a minimum of 1 book per week.
                          Start on book lists of classics by Modern Library / continue with favorite authors and Oprah's recommendations     Classic book list was too much work for books I didn't care much for so I quit that pretty quickly.... that said - I still read a LOT.. check out my reading list page..  I set a goal for 100 books and have hit 106 as of this writing!

                  b) Watch more movies - Choose classics from American Film Institute List (as well as fun choices as desired!) The list had a few classics I was interested in but others were just not to my taste and I respect that ability to choose :-)  But I HAVE watched more movies.. mostly current ones I chose to get out of the library instead of purchase.  This will no longer be a goal now that I have the HABIT of ordering and checking out items from my local library.

                   c) will put my spiritual reading here.  I still am not sure about what I want to do here but will make a choice soon (by the 1st :-)     this is another thing that has not exactly gotten off the ground in 2012.....  I HAVE regularly pulled Scripture verses or passages to memorize and ponder but haven't done anything systematic this year.

5.  Writing - Keep on with my daily blogging - Journey & Children's Liturgy
                   Join a writers group to learn more about what I am doing and where I can go with it.
                   Keep up with a written journal

    A BIG fail on the writing!  I have kept up with Children's Liturgy to a point because people are beginning to purchase it  - but other than that, I have not been consistent at all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Where is YOUR Focus??

I can't help but toss a few thoughts in here this morning.....

I have been so OUT OF IT per our culture this year...

Might be my age or stage in life... but I am so TURNED OFF by the obligatory gifting.... and the crass consumerism

It's even ruined Santa a bit for me... though I still love the jolly old elf as a do-gooder... and as an opportunity to both BE and teach my children to BE a "Santa" in the world...  but he is a child's story

But what gets me the most is the constant focus on the Christ Child.  I mean, I love babies....  and remembering baby Jesus is fantastic!

But like Santa, that focus is for the little ones.

We big ones - who are Christian - are TRULY celebrating the second coming of Christ.  So the focus is (or should be) on preparing ourselves to enter the kingdom.

Is THAT any part of the flurry of activity you are involved in this year?  Or are you tied up in paper and bows and "what to buy for whom" and "when is the right time to thaw the turkey?"  Not to mention all the 70% offs and traffic snarls...

Do you remember that it is NOT Santa who is watching.... but God?  Are you ready to meet Jesus if you are called home today?

I'd like to pose a simple question.

Where is YOUR focus?


Friday, December 14, 2012

Bread Adventures Brioche filled with Chocolate Ganache

Baking along with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Using up the leftover brioche dough.... I moved on to the next recipe: Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache

***
What a hoot!  I made ganache!  A veteran wordsmith, I have been able to SPELL it forever... even knew what is was - sort of..   But the thought of little ol' kitchen-challenged me actually making something with that name?  Well... yes, I did....  Nobody ever told me it was just melted chocolate with some added ingredients.  How fun!

Of course this is the first time I had to create a double boiler..  see the photo :-)  Bowl in steamer basket over boiling water.  Microwave is an option but the last time chocolate, the microwave and I got together- it was not pretty... so I figured I had nothing to lose trying this :-)



And it worked just fine :-)

I rolled out the dough, spread half the chocolate on it and rolled it up jelly roll style..... then baked it!



 Obviously messed up somewhere because the dough ended up with a hole and chocolate oozed out!  But that is cosmetic, not taste - so it's all good so far for this adventure!



Poured the rest of the ganache over the top and it looks yummy!!


When I cut it open I realized that I hadn't let it bake quite long enough.  I still don't have the hang of timing.... but it was pretty enough to serve :-)

The chocolate itself was more bitter than we like.  If I make this again, I will use a milder chocolate than the bittersweet one suggested.... but we all had fun and enjoyed tasting something new!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Old Town 5K Run/Walk Race Report

This is the second race my husband has done with me - and it is still kind of exciting to think about :-)  He faithfully drives me to them but doesn't generally do them... but is changing about the 5Ks :-)

I wanted to do one on Thanksgiving but was hosting the big dinner at 1pm and really didn't have the driving time to get to a race, do my thing, and get back with an attitude that would suffice my hosting the crew.... so I hunted for another date.... and this was it.....

45 miles away - not too bad for us :-), we left early so that we could pick up our race packet between the times given (7-8am).  Of course, as it turns out, this was a little race and our 7:30am arrival time meant that we had to kill time until the 9am start!  We spent most of that time sitting in the car chatting.  The race started right at the YMCA... so at 8:30 we wandered inside to the gym and did a few laps on the indoor course to warm up.

It was pretty chilly and overcast.... I knew the chill would be in our favor once we started moving - but was a little concerned about rain.

The whole time, my husband was talking about how much he hurt after the last race he walked with me.. and how he was going to take it easy this time.... and how much he didn't care and just wanted to have fun.   Yep..... uh-huh

We lined up and the timer went off... and so did he!  At a good brisk jog.... so I jogged as long as I could and told him to go on :-)  And he did!   I was behind him most of the way... doing a lot of walking and a little jogging here and there.  I caught up at the water station (Mile 2) and when we started again... there he goes!

Seriously I am really proud of him!  I did my best.. and both of us shaved 7 minutes or so off the times we had at the last race.  This was surprising because this time, the course was HILLY!

The only downside for me was that (like the last race) when I jogged down the final stretch, my stomach started heaving.  Like the last time, there was nothing to toss (thank goodness)... just dry heaves.... but I need to figure out what to do about this.  I DO eat breakfast and am hydrated so I'm not sure what the deal is.  I never have tummy issues so it's weird.


The fun thing for both of us is going inside to get food and water.. and watching the board.  No one on the board in my age group - and only one fleet of foot guy in my husband's.  We ended up with place medals in our age group -he took second his his age group with 39:39 and I took first with 40:22.  Kind of cool!






I would encourage anyone to try out these little 5K races...... it's only 3 miles.... and there might not be many people in your age group :-)  In which case.. you kind of get a participation medal for doing it.... which for some of us is pretty important!  I know for me, it takes more energy to get to the start line - than it does to finish the course.

I ALWAYS give myself grief on race morning - like - why on earth would I get up so early for THIS?   AND - from about the middle until 3/4 through... it's like.... What were you thinking???   And from that point on, it's always.... You are almost there, Katy.... you can do this!

And at the end - I am always SO glad I came and put myself out there!  ONE time I remember it being awful all the way through.... but usually races are a good thing for me!

After our eventful morning, it was a quick lunch at Wendy's (we didn't plan on eating out but Don was a little shaky by this point).  He is having to learn how his body reacts to racing.... and I think we BOTH need to have more regular cardio in our lives (which might, in fact be my tummy problem)

Back home and get ready for my youngest son's Black Belt Tea Ceremony.  He was awarded the black belt he earned a month or so ago at this beautiful ceremony.  It was a lot of fun but I have to say I am bushed!  A busy day!


***********************
Miles progress:

Week 1 14.5 mi  2 Body Pump class
Dec 8 - 4 miles

total December miles  18.5 miles / 66.75 to go

Other progress..... better left alone....  this was not an achieving day for new habits!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Catch-up day? not so much...

Who would have thought

   that my work email would drop the password?

I thought all was quiet on the work front.... and I was pleased because life is really busy right now!  I was all set today to do some personal financial stuff and work on the quilted placemat project form my class yesterday.... and walk to town... and cut out the dresses I promised the grandgirls for Christmas.. and.. and....

My husband asked me about some things that he knew had been sent to me (work) and when I checked on it....  I had no emails since 11/28!  Needless to say, I spent the entire morning on paperwork :-( 

I need to be grateful that I found my glitch today - when I had a day free.... it could be much worse.. but I have to admit that I am a bit grumpy that I have not gotten the catching up done that I had anticipated!

BUT - by the end of the day... about HALF of the laundry (changed 2 sets of sheets and did the dog rugs)... the work stuff (of course), I did the cutting and sewing on the placemat project (need one more day to finish 12 placemats)... mixed up dough for some bread (for potlucks over the weekend).. still need to put together a fruit crisp to bake for tomorrow night..  planned to cut out the girls' dresses but I'm not sure I will get there

Tomorrow will be a busy day out and about... tonight now will be all about relaxing and preparing for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend!  Probably a movie, some quilt mending and crocheting on a sweater I am making for my grandboy for Christmas!


*****************
Miles progress:

12/1 3.5 mi
12/2 1 mile
12/3 2.5 miles & Body Pump class
12/4 4.5 mile
12/5 Body Pump class
12/6 1 mile
12/7 2 miles

total December miles  14.5 miles / 70.75 to go

Other progress:
Mega-project: photo scanning... yep - put in about 30 minutes today
strength training - nope
desk clear - yes!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lost in the shuffle...

I have had a couple of days where my head is spinning.. and I am worrying that I will not be able to manage this self-discipline mega-project idea.  Wednesday was my usual Wednesday with tons of errands plus the serendipity of spending time with one of my grandgirls.  Today I was blessed with the opportunity to take a quilting class about making placemats.  I LOVED learning a new technique!

Thing is....  my original project was FINISHING a quilt.. and I haven't done anything on THAT for a couple of days.  I haven't mended any either.  And now, I've moved forward and (yesterday) bought fabric to make dresses for the grandgirls for Christmas (3 weeks away) and now have a placemat project that will take at least another day to finish (which will probably translate to a couple of parts of days).  All that aside - renewing my relationship with the folks at the quilt shop probably means that WHEN I finish the quilt, I will do a better job..

I have let my mega-project snowball into NEW projects!  And at a time when the deadlines are arriving fast an furious...

I haven't finished Christmas decorating... not a huge deal since we usually get the tree up in mid-December (and we aren't there yet)..  LOTS of Christmas things to do...

Tonight I will work on an afghan I need to finish up (by Saturday night) - so that will take priority.

But I'm a little bummed because I am behind on miles... the good part is that I DID do my class twice this week, am planning more miles tomorrow (because I am planning to be HOME) and I have a 5K with my hubby this weekend.


No photos scanned today either :-(

I guess my take-away for the day today is two-fold....
   A) Don't let your mega-project get lost in the shuffle of new excitement and projects
    B) Some days are very busy!  You have to keep living... but you also have to keep coming back to center.  The self-discipline habits and projects have a purpose - to build a better life for YOU!  So you have to keep coming back to center... and gathering your thoughts and beginning again.

Thank you, God!  For a tomorrow to work with :-)

*******************************
Miles progress:

12/1 3.5 mi
12/2 1 mile
12/3 2.5 miles & Body Pump class
12/4 4.5 mile
12/5 Body Pump class
12/6 1 mile

total December miles  12.5 miles / 72.75 to go

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just a Tuesday

... I love the days where I get to stay home and work on my 'To Do's :-)  So much of my life is spent in the car taking people here or there... it's a blessing to stay home!  So - there is the story of today :-)

Today I had several things I wanted to focus on.  I was looking in the freezer the other day - remember all that stuff I put up over the summer?  Especially apples and pears!  Or was that before I got back to blogging?  Welll.. let's just say I learned a lot and my freezers are full! 

Full of single ingredients!

One of the things I want to work on this month as I continue to work on reducing our expenses.. is changing the 'single ingredients' into meals to make our lives a little easier.  So 2 containers of assorted beans.... a baggie of corn kernels.... some marinara.... some chopped peppers.. and a turkey sausage.. became a yummy bean stew that served as lunch, 2 2-cup containers for the freezer.. and a 3-cup portion to bless a friend with.  And I made lasagna with some no-cook noodles that have been languishing in my pantry... enough for us and 3 2-cup containers for the freezer!

I have 2 potlucks this weekend and will use some of my bumper crop of apples and pears to make fruit crisps to take with me... easy to pull together and always gets eaten!

Still need to get to the bills today.... and I have an afghan to finish this week (needs 3 more border rows).. along with whatever else I can come up with!


Personal progress (discipline projects!):

Current mega-project -  Photo scanning:  I scanned more today.  I am still at the stage where it looks like I will NEVER get it all done.  And the jury is out as to whether I will finish in 21 days... but I will be MUCH further ahead if I keep scanning some every day!

New small habit: I still haven't chosen one!  I've been stewing on it and just decided that I am working too hard on such a small thing... so in the interest of moving forward.. I admit.. every time I sit down to my computer I say... Gee I wish my surface wasn't so cluttered!  So... without any further ado.... I grabbed a small container and have swept the paper pile into it.  I'll move further into this later but want to make a decision and get on with it!

So there you go:  clear desk surface daily!

New Life improvement habit: strength training... I went to a Body Pump class at the gym yesterday - now there is a story for you - I will have to remember to tell about this!  But suffice it to say that I finally got to a class and had a blast!  I will go back tomorrow.. and then do basic home strength training later in the week (Friday)

Discipline Projects Round 1:

Quilting:  finished sewing the strips together for the border.. and cut some of them.  Now THESE need to be sewn together and attached to the quilt.  Am working on that step - AND trying to figure out where the muslin backing got cleaned up to!  My beloved helped me clean for Thanksgiving - and, well you know the rest.  I am still looking!  In the meantime, I signed up for a class teaching how to make placemats and got my fabrics ready for Thursday.
This project will not be complete until THE QUILT is completed but I can honestly say that I am using my quilting time most days and am on track to do more and enjoy it!

Bathroom mirror still looks good :-)  That sounds like such a small thing but it makes SUCH a difference in the way the room looks!

Daily biking didn't happen today - but it is because I CHOSE not to do it.  My thighs are really sore from the gym class yesterday and I plan to go again tomorrow.  AND I have done 11.5 miles of my December commitment... actually .5 miles ahead of schedule :-)  So it's all good - and not aggravating my thighs more is a good thing!



**************************

Miles progress:

12/1 3.5 mi
12/2 1 mile
12/3 2.5 miles & Body Pump class
12/4 4.5 mile

total December miles  11.5 miles / 73.75 to go

Crochet Post #343-346 & 347-350

Finishing up a few afghans that I have been working on for a long time!

Each afghan used 10 of the Breast Cancer Ribbon filet crochet squares and 10 plain squares in a coordinating variegated yarn.

and


I've been working on these for a couple of years so was glad to see them finished.  I will use one of them myself and am not sure about the other.  I am trying to decide whether to give it to someone or to auction it off to raise money for my annual 3Day walk sponsorship.

But anyway - below I will share the next 8 dishcloths in my 365 challenge series!

#343 Winter Greeting - pictured below on the upper left.  I LOVED doing this one... the directions were clear and simple and it worked up quickly.  The results you can see for yourself!

#344 Solar Eclipse Dishcloth - pictured on the upper right... again, simple clear instructions and worked up quickly.  Choice of colors is not a favorite for me - but I would definitely do this one again.


#345 Friendship Pineapple Greeting - Cute!!  Fun to do and easy - but I'm not sure I'd do it again.... unless I needed a quick gift at a luau-themed party?

#346 Sunburst Dishcloth - above on the bottom left.  I like this one but I couldn't get it to lie flat and that annoyed me.

The next four dishcloths are pictured below:

#347 Granny's Path Dishcloth - pictured below on the lower left.  As much as I lover granny squares, I don't usually like them as dishcloths.  Somehow the rectangular shape of this one feels more useful to me.  This cloth turned out absolutely lovely - my photos don't do it justice.  This pattern is a keeper!

#348 Penguin Dishcloth...... totally adorable!  This cloth just makes me smile :-)  It worked up well with a little extra stitching for the eyes and beak.  What a fantastic cloth for a child's bathtime!




#349  Snowman Dishcloth - on the upper left.  Another one that the photo doesn't show well enough.  The basic circle is quick and easy... the features are not too hard to figure out and then just a bit of stitching.  But he is so cute, he makes a great gift!

#350  Winter Sunrise Dishcloth - another round favorite for me!  I have truly enjoyed working up so many simple patterns.  This one is lovely.  I could see it done well in several color combinations.


All of these patterns are available free at Maggie Weldon's site www.bestfreecrochet.com in the dishcloth archives.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saving the Day..

waking with a colossal headache!  YUK!

My plans to leave by 8:30 to walk into town have been slightly derailed because I feel so rocky.  It's hard sometimes because my allergies are so strong I can't tell what is a cold and what is allergies!  But we've been keeping a stray dog (in addition to our other pets) and I think I've been struggling with some extra dander overload lately.

But all is not lost - hopefully just delayed.  I have been nursing breakfast and scanning photos - and writing here.  Took my herbal supplements and am waiting for it to kick in.  I DO need to move this body though and soon :-)

It will be a good day - I just need to get a handle on it!

***********************

I did go out and do 3.5 miles... so only 81.25 more to go in December :-)  I have a bridal shower this evening so need to spend some time this afternoon primping (so not a usual occurrence!) and getting ready to go.  We will leave mid-afternoon to catch the Saturday evening church service (to make tomorrow morning a little easier... I still have to go in but can go later if I attend Mass tonight) and my husband is driving to give us a little "us" time.

After Mass, he'll take me to the shower and make himself scarce for a couple of hours.  (He will probably go out to eat - I will have healthy snacks, etc packed for me in the car).  Since I don't feel well, it's pretty important that I stay nourished - also that way, I can sample the goodies tonight knowing that my body has been FED well already - so it's a tasting fiesta, NOT a meal.

So - I will be ready!  I am getting ready to get off here and go do my biking... and then my strength stuff... then on to the primping for tonight!



I think what's important to note here is that advance preparations and some routines/ plans & habits can save the day!  My headache is still with me - I hope it will go away as the day goes on.... but I have still completed the things on my list!  My good habits and my plans have not been completely derailed because I woke up with a bad headache.... and this feels pretty good!

Friday, November 30, 2012

21 Days again...

I am so enamored of the concept of tackling new projects and creating new habits!

21 Days - is enough that you can have some obstacles and use the MONTH to get your stuff handled.  My husband and I are talking about attempting 12 projects next year...... doesn't sound like enough but I don't know - I sure do feel pretty good about the quilt :-)  And, it is true .. discipline begets discipline!  For instance, when I hit the quilt roadblock, I naturally turned to the quilt mending which carries the theme through and kept me moving.  As the biking has become habit (it's an attachment to my total gym), I have set the machine up so I can flip over and do as many pull-ups as I can.  EASY!

So.... tomorrow is new stuff :-)
    new mega-project:  photo scanning.  I am not sure how much I will get done or how to break it down into 21 parts.... but I CAN spend 10-15 minutes a day scanning hard copy photos and categorizing them by year / month on my computer.  So THIS is the project that I will be accountable for during the next month (21 days anyway!)  [The side project for obstacle / roadblock / extra time/ extra energy... is creating online albums so we can order books]

    new small habit:  NOT chosen yet :-)  It will be household maintenance-related and I will think on that today and choose

    new life improvement habit:  strength-training 3X/week.... basic no-equipment exercises.. default routine= 50 various crunches, 10 pushups, 30 squats, 40 calf raise.  (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday fits my schedule)

**I have also committed to 3 miles a day to see if I can do it :-)

*****

  My personal progress:

QUILT:  I did sit down to work on it yesterday and promptly stitched something backwards and had to rip it out.  At that moment, I set the ripping aside to work on later last night during a movie my husband wanted to watch... and moved on!  I went ahead and pinned 5 more patches on to the major quilt mending problem....  and added that quilt to the two with hemming issues that were also waiting for tv time!  (I accomplished the ripping and the two that needed hem mending.. and also worked on a crocheted afghan that needs to be finished by the end of next week)

Still on target with the exercise bike and bathroom spritzing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Start from Behind....

What a morning!!

The dogs started their ruckus around 3am... I THINK.. I didn't look at the clock.  What I KNOW is that they were restless for a really long time (in groggy sleep time) before we had enough and got up to walk them.  And THAT was around 4am.

My husband stayed up - like I usually do - and I went back to lie down for a while.  And I napped.

BUT when I got up at 6... it was awful - so very groggy!

I've been sitting here for an hour trying to go through emails and get a few business paperwork things accomplished.... but it seems to be getting worse and worse....  Not that I haven't gotten anything done - but staring at the computer or checking FB is not getting my morning handled!

so - here's the way I plan to get cracking!

Start a list of what must be done!

1. Errands - I will be leaving in an hour and a half (one son to Algebra, then to the men's store to meet up with another son to make sure his suit fits for an upcoming wedding, then to the mall (yuk) for a shower gift I need Saturday - these are the errands that MUST be done - there are others I may be able to fit in around there)

2. One mile & exercise bike. (We walked the dogs but did not get the mile at a frosty 4am!)

3. The usual rounds... a load of laundry, bathroom policing, pack cooler for the day's outing

4.  Pack bag of work to do during Algebra lesson

5.  Pull out quilt supplies and make sure sewing machine is set up.

If I can get this much done.. my morning can be salvaged...  the trick is GETTING UP OUT OF MY CHAIR!

      so..... do you have your list ready?

Then... let's go!

****ps I FORGOT a good breakfast......   but got it in while I was running around!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One of those Days...

What a day I have had!

Do you ever have those days where all your time is sucked up somehow - yet you have very little to show for it??

That was today!

The kind of day where you wonder what God had in mind and you hope you lived up to it...

I went into town early to take my son to class.... and had the sewing machine appointment at 10:15.  I had an hour and a half to kill.. and only had one small errand I could do in that time period.   But it turns out my daughter and grandson were out and about too... so I joined them for a quiet treat cup of coffee.  Serendipity and nice... but "nothing done"

I got to the quilt shop a little early - and the ladies were running late.  It was okay - I had gotten myself so nervous.... so I spoke with the helper and found out about upcoming classes and decided to take one (making placemats).  I will get to learn how to use some of the special features on my machine - so that is good.  So I picked out fabrics for the class (next Thursday).  This was all done by the time the owner got there.

And she was perfectly nice - and checked out my machine... which was in pretty good shape... I really only needed a new needle and good thread - and I was using the wrong bobbin.  Who knew?  Well, now I do.  And she was a bit snarky - but it was the snarky where they do it because they LIKE you?  Where they have to put you down so they can get pumped back up?  Weird behavior.... and I can see that I don't want to be around it a lot.... but I can STILL use their knowledge and LEARN.

It occurred to me that perhaps God's plan has more to do with bringing sunshine into THEIR lives than to eliminating FEAR in mine....  I don't know about that - but my machine will work and I can get back on THE QUILT...  AND I will be in a class next week to make some winter placemats..

So.. by the time I got out of there... I had an hour to get to my next place (10 minutes away).  I went there.... and got a phone call.  I was kind of tickled that I got out of the car and took a walk during the call... I got a half hour of sunshine and walking.. SCORE!!  Also had a texting time with one of my sons..

And by the end of that time, I remembered I hadn't eaten at all today... so I pulled out my cooler and ate.  I was supposed to meet my child to delver something and the child was late - so I left the stuff.   Usually I fret and give my kid grief for being late.

Headed out for the next kid who needed me.. how can you pass up a plea for a mommy hug?  No matter how old they are.... there is nothing that can replace that - nor is there anyone else who can do it?

So.... so far today that is it... a day where I 'accomplished nothing'.. but seem to have been available to help or enjoy 4 of my 5 children in some way...  a day of blessings!

 *******************************

I am home now and need to go do my bike and set up my sewing machine.  Tomorrow is more errands.... and it make take a day or so to get back on the quilt stuff.. but I am still on track to finish this year!

I will keep you updated!

Oh yeah - I also figured out my next 21 Day project... I am going to tackle the photo scanning again.  I do love to pull together photos for the end of the year and this will get me immersed in them for 3 weeks in December.  I may get more accomplished than I know!

How about you?  Have you chosen a project for next month?









Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 22... good day for review....

After today, there are 3 more days in the month - and then one month left in the year.  It's a good time to set some FINISH LINE goals and see what I can accomplish

1.  Catch up on Bread blog posts
2. Write missing Children's Liturgy plans and prepare second half of year for sale
3.  Finish quilt :-) [assuming the sewing machine is a quick fix!]
4.  Complete quilt mending project
5. Update tithe and pay extra on credit cards (goal 5% reduction in principal)
6. Choose 2 habits and a project for the next month
7. Walk / run 84 miles  (average 2.75 mi / day)

..and live my life while I am at it :-)

Not too many goals - some catching up and some 'getting ready for new goals'.  The run/walk goal is due to a friend of mine who wanted to log 1000 miles in 2012.  She has a month to finish... and I had to play with the math... and decided that IF one could cover 2.75 miles per day, 1000 miles would be in the bag.  Well..  why not?  If a fit person has 5 miles of steps per day... then it would be no problem.  So.... I want to give it a try for a month before I make a goal for the year!

Today was a good day of thinking about what to finish up this year.... took the cats to the vet for shots....  wrangling out some financial bugs before tax season sets in.... and... making some yummy bread!

Tomorrow is errands.....

What did you do today?

Monday, November 26, 2012

21 Days,..... Day 21... Now what?

Many thanks to Crystal Paine for her inspirational book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

and to Crystal at http://www.servingjoyfully.com/
and laurajane at http://confessionsofarecoveringchocoholic.com/
and Erin at http://homewiththeboys.net/
for hosting this challenge!

The theme of today's reading is that "Discipline begets discipline."  That when you work for discipline in one area of your life, you really begin to find it in other areas too.

21 days ago, I set out to finish a craft project.  One I had been putting off for lots of reasons.  And I still haven't finished... but I did work on it most days along the way.  I learned to take a systematic approach to working on it.  (Okay, I am already good at systematic approaches - but I am NOT good at FOLLOWING THROUGH with them!)

While I am not finished.... I DID meet obstacles and work around them...  I DID get aggravated with it (and worked with that)... I DID plow my way through until I hit a major roadblock.. and, in addressing the major roadblock, I have uncovered some of the underlying reasons that I put the quilt away in the first place.  AND that is helping me grow.

****
Progress:
  I DID stop by the quilt shop... and, OF COURSE, I was an interference in their day.  Actually I truly was - the lady who works on the machines was heading out the door.  I was polite but firm and will go back Wednesday at 10:15 to see what they can do to help me :-)

I don't mean to be unkind.... it is a grumpy old lady and her unmarried daughter who takes care of her.  I think the world is a burden to them.  Neither one is in good health.  The daughter teaches the classes and is quite knowledgeable.  She is a good teacher.  My quilt is pretty because of her advice and help.  That said... they snark about other people... I have always felt like I am an unwelcome interruption.  And I've gotten more assertive about NOT staying in places where I feel that way! 

The truth is though - that THEIR attitude and demeanor should NOT affect MINE.  I don't like to be fussed at for things I do not know - but in honesty - it is their demeanor - not their intention.  And I should not avoid them because of that.  I will go back in another day and then have more to write about - but hopefully I will also have a functioning sewing machine and a plan for how to take care of it in the future :-)

I apologize for whining about this - I am seeing a side of me that AVOIDS unpleasantness!   This can be a healthy thing, protecting my mind and heart - but it can also interfere with my life.  I need to be able to see the difference!

Is there something in YOUR life that you have been avoiding dealing with - that might actually be a place for you to grow?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bread Adventures - Almond Brioche

I know it's been forever since I've shared my bread adventures....  I have 'catching up' on my To Do List but I think that today I will jump in and share where I am!

As some of those who've been keeping up with me for a while know, I have been slowly and methodically baking my way through Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francoise.  (See their website www.artisanbreadinfive.com)

It has definitely been an adventure for someone as kitchen- challenged as I am....  or should I say USED TO BE :-)  I have spent the last year or so working on different kinds of bread - using the simple methods in this book!  And I have become a bread maker.  At least I have been creating breads that people are actually eating.... and today I made something called Almond Brioche.


It uses make-ahead Brioche dough........ is rolled out in a flat rectangle.  I made a filling using almond paste (an item I went to my favorite go-to place on the internet for - www.nuts.com).    I spread the filling on the dough and rolled it up like a jelly roll.  Then cut in 8 pieces and put into a prepared cake pan to rise.

Before baking, it is topped with sugar, orange zest & almonds... and voila!

How does it taste?  Like a french pastry.... oh my goodness.... I never would have thought I could do this :-)

And my beloved husband... who neither complains nor praises food.... well, he said, matter-of-factly.... "I would pay money for this.  I would pull off the highway to buy one of these"

You'd have to know my husband to appreciate the high praise in that statement...

Unbelievable pastry!  Get the book... if I can create this, anybody can :-)

I'll leave it at that.

21 Days... Day 20 Do It Now

It always amazes me how much time tasks REALLY take.... you know - the ones you put off..... and put off BECAUSE they take so much time? 

But when you really break them down - the task itself only takes a few minutes...

but you have hours - and sometimes days invested into DREADing doing themand putting them off.

"Most of the time, it only takes a few minutes (or less!) and suddenly the task is no longer nagging you. You’ve freed up brain space and energy."

This statement from today's reading is a fantastic NUGGET to take away with me.  Just like Nike's ad slogan - Do It Now! - this little mantra can save a whole lot of stress and worry.

Right now - at my computer is a handful of messy looking receipts - waiting for me to enter into my financial program.... I will sit here off and on for hours today - and usually will say "I need to enter those" each time I sit down.  Each time I sit down to my computer, they will bother me.  Yet I have the capacity to let this go on for a week or more (as more receipts are added to the mess).  Until ultimately I get really irritated and have to spend even more time with all the sorting and entering.

By employing the 'Do It Now' mantra.... I spend 2 minutes doing the job and spend NO MORE TIME thinking about it.  (btw, I took about a minute and a half to get them entered while I was writing this!)

As you go through your day today, what can YOU use the 'Do It Now' principle to free up your brainspace and energy?


***Update on progress

Well - one bit of good news - 21 Days later - my bathroom mirror is sparkling every day and making me smile!
And I am still spending 15 minutes on the exercise bike most days.  I've added 20 crunches 3X per week to this and am building a strength routine around them.

As for my quilt project roadblock:  The sewing machine is packed and in the car - IF time permits tomorrow, I will stop by the quilt shop to see f they can take a look at it..  If not it will be later in the week.   It is crazy how much I am dreading dealing with these women in this shop! 

In the meantime, I mended one quilt and put a few patches on another.  The second one will take a while.  Unfortunately it was tied rather than quilted and the fabric has torn where the ties were tied.  SO there are any number of small places that need a patch.  It will be a weird looking quilt when I am finished - but my mother-in-law's gift of love will be preserved in some fashion!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

21 Days... Day 19 Get it Done EARLY!

reading along with 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine

following the challenge lead by Crystal at www.servingjoyfully.com

The nugget I got from the reading today is: Get your work done early!

This one reminds me of the other day when we talked about getting the task you are DREADing done first!

But this one is a little different.... getting tasks done early leaves you more time to play.... to dream.... to be available for others... in essence.. to DO WHAT YOU WANT.

Getting work done early relieves stress and guilt about things left undone... whether they be part of your WORK or part of another obligation.

Personally I have a hard time with this one - Early means COMPUTER and how much time do I spend on that?   Even with all the rationalizations about writing and listing and financial paperwork.... it is TOO EASY to let the input on this box suck up my morning!

How about you?  What could you be doing RIGHT NOW that would add to your feelings of success about the day?  (I bet it's not Facebook :-)

******************

Update on my progress:
  ROADBLOCK!!  I spent an hour trying to figure out the sewing machine today and pretty much got nowhere.  EXCEPT that I did get it all nice and cleaned out and am fairly certain that this is a simple issue.  AND I did go ahead and pack up the machine and parts into a bag to put in my car.  I will go SOMEwhere as yet undetermined NEXT week and get this figured out.
  Where to go?
      Two choices:
         1) Find a place that fixes sewing machines
         2) go back to where I bought it (the more obvious logical choice)  But here is where I wrangle with myself.  Remember I started this quilt when I took a quilt class in 2008?  Well.... the ladies were not exactly warm and fuzzy people.  Not mean, exactly..... but you know the feeling when you are on the outside looking in?  I mean, even though I was one of the few who actually got the pieces done for class.... I felt like I wasn't QUITE in the 'cool kids club'.  I KNOW you know what I mean....  When the class was over, I did take another ONE DAY class to make a rag quilt and just recently finished THAT one up.  I TRIED to get involved... I really LIKE playing with fabric and wanted (WANT) to learn to quilt.  I even wanted it so bad I bought that quilt frame that I don't use.  And, of course, this nice sewing machine!
    They are not local to me and not on my regular route so I really did make the time to go there.  They were running a class in the summer with some specific fabrics and I had asked them to call me and let me know when that was.  I never heard a word....
   To be fair, I also never went back to them either.  They do not have an online presence (okay - I had to go check and see if that has changed in the last 3 years - it hasn't but I found another 2 shops to check out :-)

    Maybe that is why I didn't get this thing finished in the first place.   I LOVE the project - and maybe if I had felt more comfortable with the people I would have been more inclined to visit them and learn more.

  So that is the decision now - to go back to them (where I will probably get my problem looked at and diagnosed for free - but at what cost?) or to go somewhere else and pay a fortune to get this handled.

Don't you hate it when you feel DUMB about something?  The machine is in my car and I will decide next week as I am driving around.  Hmm.... I think I will pack up the quilt, too.... and maybe I will feel like sharing my progress...  IF I go there....  which I probably will because AVOIDING these people is not an answer either.  I'll let you know what I end up doing!

In any case, I will definitely schedule visits to the other quilt shops within the next week or so!

In the meantime..... quilt RELATED to finish out my 21 days.... I have several quilts made by my mother-in-law that need to be mended.  Some of them just need a little hemming... some need major surgery - but ALL can be done by hand.  I started this process a month ago and stopped when I started working on THE QUILT.  I have pulled out 2 of them - one quick mend and one to work on little by little.... and will start tomorrow!

Friday, November 23, 2012

21 Days... Day 18 Embrace Your Uniqueness

"You can spend all of your life trying to measure up to someone else."

This line from today's article is what hit me really hard this year.


Sometimes I think about how hard and long I tried to be the brilliant lawyer or businesswoman like my parents worked so hard for me to be.

Sometimes I think about how long I tried to keep a house as nice as my mom did.

Sometimes I think about how long I tried to cook as good as my first mother-in-law did.

Sometimes still I think about how hard I try to fit in with others.

But then I remember that I am ME.

I have my own journey.... and while I may be talented enough to be what my parents wanted me to be....  it has not been my nature or calling.  I can take classes all day long but that will not make me excel in a bureaucratic environment.

As for keeping house, that is dependent on so many factors!  And one of those is household help - which my mom had.  And one of those is early training - which - because of household help and older siblings - I did not have much of.  Except dusting.... I SEE the dust bunnies :-)  I can and will keep working on habits and will have a happy life anyway.

Cooking?  Has always been an issue!  As the younger daughter I had salad duty.  My sister was the cook.  Not my mom... she never liked it.   So I identified with  a mother who did NOT like to cook and I married a man who used his mother's good cooking as a weapon.  Not my fault!  But I am learning to have fun in the kitchen..... and when I removed the comparison factor... I am becoming a pretty good cook.

And fitting in with others is over-rated.  I can fit in where I want to.

But I LIKE my tendencies to question the status quo.  It makes me adaptable and able to learn and grow.  (It also makes me an uncomfortable, though capable person to have around)

I LIKE my ability to see the many sides of an issue.. positive and negative.  (This definitely hampers my decision-making, but makes me relatively non-judgmental and compassionate.)

And I LIKE my ability to focus on the end-game.  (It makes me very resilient to what happens today... but many people lose patience with my apathy towards minor (IMO) crises.)

The point here is that the qualities that make you YOU are important!  Just as the ways that others excel make THEM important.

It is critical that you keep learning and growing.... IN YOUR OWN WAY!

Assignment for today:

  Start thinking about your NEXT mega-project.  How can you use your strengths?

******************

Update on my progress:

   Yesterday, as expected, I did not have the time to focus on THE QUILT.
Today I will have a little extra time to play so I will work on the sewing machine FIRST (because I like it the LEAST) and will go on from there depending on my success (or lack of it)

How are things going for you?  Do you have ideas for another (or a first mega-project?)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Just a quick note of thanks to you, my readers!

For your limitless support and kindness in allowing me to use this venue to move forward along the journey!

I hope this day brings you great joy and is a beautiful place to stop along YOUR journey :-)

...I am certain that I will not be working on my mega-project today....  so let me show you where I am on it....





All that is left is the border....

21 Days... Day 17 Don't Compare Yourself to Others

using the book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine

following the challenge set by Crystal at www.servingjoyfully.com

I mentioned yesterday that I have been a little disgruntled with my quilt lately.  I figured out in the last few days that I don't like the way I quilted the long strips.  Someone else would have done it differently - heck, I would have done it differently if I had done it when I was supposed to and was comfortable going back to the teacher and asking the question.

AND I am not happy with the stitches.  They should be neater.

But the reality is that it is MY quilt.  My FIRST hand-quilted quilt.

It should not be compared with projects by experienced quilters.  It should  not be compared with my NEXT quilt.  It is beautiful the way it is.

The message in today's reading is 'Don't Compare Yourself to Others'.

How appropriate when I am at a point of thinking that what I do is not good enough!

Why would it not be good enough?  This is My LIFE to live - no one else's.  My mega-project will be different from yours....  and your needs, goals and desires are different from mine.  Not better or more important.... not worse or less important... DIFFERENT!  And we need to wind our lives around our own paths and appreciate our own progress!

It's time to look at the lists of goals and projects we have been working on and make sure that we are truly working on our OWN PATH and not trying to become someone we are not.

Assignment:

Do Step 17 on your mega-project!

*******************************

Update on my progress:

   Yay!!  I did get the hand quilting done and am giving myself a pass for the day!  It did occur to me though - that my daughter might want to take a look at my sewing machine while she is here today.. simply because sometimes she likes to mess with things.  I will ask.  If that problem is resolved... then I am one step closer though I really don't think I will finish in the 21 Days allotted, even with my flexible definition :-)

But I am kind of tickled that I haven't thrown in the towel on this project yet.  The reason it has sat so long unfinished is because I have packed it away when the going got a little tough and I didn't prioritize finishing it... and THIS time, it will be a priority until I DO finish it!

I haven't mentioned it but I am still managing the 15 minutes daily on the exercise bike and am just about ready to commit to 50 crunches 3X per week.  ALMOST!

How about you?  Do you have a mega-project going?  How is the process working for you?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

21 Days... Day 16.... Worst First, Best Last


Using the book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine

following the challenge set by Crystal at www.servingjoyfully.com

The reading today points out that you get more done... and your day runs more smoothly.... if you do what you like least.. FIRST!

I remember doing this with my food when I was a kid.... save the best for last :-)

With tasks that lie before me, I find the same process is more effective.  If I hem and haw and wander around avoiding doing something I dislike..... it takes days (or more!) to get it done.  No wonder I think it takes FOREVER to get some things done.... I have to consider my WHINE factor!

If I leave the things I don't want to do until LATER, I often can wiggle my way out of it altogether for that day - and this usually does not serve me or my family.  And this also makes ME feel like I am a procrastinator - a NEGATIVE term that I don't need in my head!

So - today's nugget is: Next time you make your list of things to do - take the one you want to do the least - and tackle it FIRST!

Assignment:
  How does this apply to your mega-project?  Is there something about this that you are avoiding?
  *TODAY is the day to DO IT!

******************************

Update on my progress:
  
       Yes - I managed to do some of the hand quilting yesterday as I putzed around getting my thoughts and house ready for the big day.  Hooray for me!

My goal is to get the hand quilting on the long strip completed before Thanksgiving Day.  I will not be working on the quilt that day (I don't think!)

As for things I am putting off with the quilt?  Right now it is working with the sewing machine since that is a road block - but seriously this is a timing issue and there is no time for it with the holiday coming up.  I will give myself time on Friday to play with the sewing machine and see if I can sort it out.

I am finding it really annoying at this point to keep working on the quilt.  This is a good exercise for me - and I can certainly see value in keeping ONE big project going.  I feel a little bit behind in my life (because of THE QUILT) but I am also more focused and getting more accomplished overall.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

21 Days.... Day 15 Just Say NO!

You do so much for so many people.

Are any of your other commitments affecting the goals you set for YOURSELF and your family?

You can't do it all.

It is so hard to say NO to people when they ask you to do something.

I mean, first of all... aren't you flattered?  That you are THE ONE chosen to do this thing... this oh so important thing....

But, consider....  could your pleasure at the flattery be THE OBSTACLE that keeps another person from shining in a new spot?  Could you actually be preventing someone else from learning to serve?

Saying NO is not a bad thing.

And, how about those outside commitments?

Are any of those responsibilities dragging you down?  Is there something that your heart is not involved in any more?  That is important to know - AND it is valid.  God lays things on your heart for a reason... and sometimes when you are no longer excited and happy - maybe it's because the task is not for YOU any more.

Are any of those commitments keeping you from your ultimate goals?  I know that one of my goals is to serve my family.  Any outside commitment that does not make me a better family person.... will not serve my goals.  It is difficult to sift through the many worthwhile things you are doing and decide what needs to go - but it is absolutely essential to your ultimate success!

AND one more consideration raised up by the author......

Saying NO to many spread-out jobs or responsibilities...

allows you,

FREES you...

to say YES to doing really well at a few things....... things that will lead you to being the person you are meant to be!


Assignment for the day:

Finish Step 15 of your mega-project  and don't get overwhelmed!
**  I found it interesting that the author discusses major events right now in this '21 Days'.  She encourages us to take care of ourselves and not to get overwhelmed with our projects.  She reminds us that the project will still be here.  I agree - but want to MAKE SURE that I keep the project at the forefront of my mind so I don't let it slip back into the ozone for months of waiting again

I totally agree that keeping a 'mega-project' going in your life helps you focus in better on all the other responsibilities.  EG for me specifically....  making sure I get something done on the quilt is ensuring that I make good preparations for the Thanksgiving festivities.

*****************************

How are things going for you?

Are you ready to throw in the towel yet??

Hang in there.....  the end is coming (even if not in sight yet!)


Crochet Post Dishcloths #327 -330 and # 331 - 334 and more!


I really love finishing up projects!  The afghan below is a free sampler pattern from Red Heart Yarns that was published on Maggie Weldon's site www..bestfreecrochet.com  

LOVED making it but then I am a sucker for sampler patterns :-)   I just wish it were bigger.  It's a great size for a THROW but I personally like a bigger afghan.

Anyway - I loved using colors from my stash and think it turned out pretty!  I just may make another one in a completely different palette just for fun... [SOMEDAY]




and a hat!  Another from Maggie Weldon's www.bestfreecrochet.com   Just the right size for a little one!   (and NOW I can give it to my grandson!)


I have actually been doing a lot of crocheting lately - and have loved finishing up projects and using up my stash as I go...  At this writing, I still have ONE more dishcloth I am stuck on.... but have been spending time crocheting cowls and hats for winter gifts!   More next week!


Dishcloths for this week are below:

#327 Whirligig Dishcloth  Pictured below on the upper left - This pretty cloth is done in Christmas colors.... quick to work up with easy stitches and clear instruction, this is a great beginner piece.  I enjoyed making it and could see making them in different color combinations for different holidays!

#328  Camo Print Dishcloth - pictured on the lower right.  Not quite camo - but a variegated similar colors, this is a pretty circular cloth.  I would be tempted to try it in a more floral color.  The pattern is lacy and would look striking in a solid.



#329  Simple Cro-Hook Dishcloth  Pictured above on the lower left.  I had fun doing this one but it took me WAY too long :-)  New technique with the hook on both ends... fun to LEARN!  Obviously I got messed up somewhere along the way because the pattern switched up in the middle.... still works fine as a dishcloth and not worth tearing out and starting over.  I did discover that this is probably not a hook / technique that will work well for me!

#330 Mini Pineapples Dishcloth If you look closely at the yellow variegated cloth, you can see little pineapples in the pattern.  I do enjoy trying new patterns and would definitely encourage new crocheters to test out these pattens! This particular pattern would make super afghan squares!


The next 4 dishcloths are pictured below:

# 331 Sock Dishcloth.. I bet you can pick this one out of the photo below! Easy to make and cute to look at.. but I have to ask WHY?  Yes, it is  dishcloth or washcloth... a strange shape but functional.... but seriously I don't know who I would give it to!  I did learn how to make a flat sock shape, though, in case I ever need to :-)

#332  Flower Scrubbie Dishcloth  pictured below on the lower right.  I have found making this type interesting.  This particular one was done by actually crocheting onto the scrubbie....  a serious PAIN.  Once that part was done, the pattern was pretty simple.  I like the concept of cloth and scrubbie but will have to test-drive it to see how it goes..... (certainly I won't have the ease of tossing it in the dryer after I wash it!)



#333 Tea Pot Dishcloth  Above on the upper left.... actually, I think it is a creamer!
    paired with
#334 Sugar Bowl Dishcloth
   These two are whimsical and fun and made me smile.  I enjoyed making these and think they would be super for tea or coffee drinkers.  I know I would smile when I used them to clean my kitchen!

Monday, November 19, 2012

21 Days ... Day 14 Set Yourself Up for Success!

day by day with Crystal Paine's book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

following along with a challenge set by Crystal at www.servingjoyfully.com


The quote that hit me the hardest out of this reading is:

"It’s easy to make excuses for a lack of discipline, but excuses don’t get you anywhere.  Instead, choose to invest the time you usually would devote to formulating an excuse to considering what you can do to set yourself up for success in achieving your goals."

Wow!

It does take a certain amount of creativity to come up with the wide range of excuses that I can find....  but I think the trick is to know when your obstacle is an excuse or a reason.

Reason = valid obstacle or obstruction
Excuse = something that is standing between you and your goal that you can FIX with self-discipline

Here is MY thing right now....

In my mega-project, I have hit an obstacle. 

There is something wrong with the tension on my sewing machine.

I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what that might be - but I HAVE noticed some trouble with the bobbin winding mechanism.  So..  additional steps in my quilt project need to be:

a) cleaning the machine well
b) winding new bobbins and trying again
and possibly c) taking the machine to be serviced

My first reaction?
  Put the thing away!  I am too busy right now to deal with a QUILT project!  I mean Thanksgiving is THIS week and I need to cook and clean - and I have a TON of unresolved angst about the holiday anyway...

reason or excuse?

BOTH!!

But I WANT to succeed!  I have chosen this project and it is the vehicle which will help me LEARN.  So, putting it away will ensure failure OR, at a minimum, it will be a few months before I pull it out yet again to finish!).  Certainly it won't see the light of day again until after Christmas.

So.... what to do?

Part of it I did above.... I laid out steps for succeeding.  Part of it I did the other day.... I laid out other steps that do not require the machine
a) putting the quilt on the bed and deciding the width of the border
b) locating the backing
c) cutting the border pieces that are ready and the backing to go with them
d) deciding how to treat the corners and cutting those pieces
....and I STILL have a couple of days worth of hand quilting the last strip (and the lighting/vision issues that go with that)

AND ONE other little adjustment I have made to set myself up for SUCCESS....  I have re-defined my 21 Day Project.  In the scheme of life (or my mega-project), what does it matter if MY 21 Days is actually 28 days? 

Assignment:
  What time of day works best for your project?

  The purpose for this assignment is all in planning.  Typically it is easier to handle a new project earlier in the day... when you are fresher and more energetic.  AND you can check the work off your list and that always feels good!
  I have already discovered some of the timing issues with MY project!  On days where I must drive into town, it is harder to fit the project work in.  Because of lighting and vision.... sometimes I have to wait.  The hand sewing on the dark fabric is not something I can do at night - but I often do it to the television.  But if I turn on the tv early in the day, that is another problem :-)

For this project - I generally do the hand sewing after lunch... early afternoon.  Other parts have been fit in different days as possible.  I will try to find a better schedule to handle this.

How are you handling the scheduling for YOUR mega-project?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life... Day 13 READ!!!

following along with Crystal Paine's book.... 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

this challenge is being led by Crystal at www.servingjoyfully.com  
Crystal, at the moment, is working on HER mega-project of finishing up her masters degree... so I am hopping over to her co-host, Laura at http://supersweetlife.com/


So this is my favorite!  I am a read-a-holic!  But Crystal cautions that we need to read INSPIRATIONAL books and books that will help us reach our goals.  In today's reading, she has several suggestions for self-discipline and motivation... some of which I have read.  Actually a friend and I have a joke that between us, we have all the organizational and weight loss books that have been printed.... and WE need to actually implement the things we now know...

So there is the problem for some of us.... I read and read and read... and it is time for me to DO and DO and DO :-)

If reading is a problem for you, tackle it the same way you are tackling your mega-project... lay out small achievable tasks for yourself.  Set a goal of finishing the book and break it down into manageable chunks.  I have a couple of books on my reading list that have been there most of the year.... one I am baking my way through and one is a money management course.   I will lay out a plan of action for those two books and make sure I finish them in 2013.

Today's Assignment:
     Step 13 of your mega-project
     Find a book to read that correlates to your project.

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My progress.....
     Today is a family day!  My grandson is being dedicated today and then we are eating lunch out.  With the 2 hours of travel time involved, I am not sure how much I will accomplish.

  Since lighting is an issue for me, I really should have done some hand-quilting yesterday while I had the opportunity to be home in the morning... BUT I didn't - so that is past :-)  I will think about what I can do today.

I CAN machine stitch the border pieces
I CAN locate the muslin backing and quilt batting that I will need
I CAN lay the quilt out on the bed and make a decision about the width of the border
I CAN make a decision about how I want to make the border corner pieces


I will come back later in the day and update you as to what I DID do :-)

How about you?? Do you have a plan for the day?

*****

Wow - things did not turn out as planned....  My sewing machine started acting up and I ended up leaving it... frustrated!  I worked on crocheting cowls last night.. and also have 2 afghans that I am closing in on finishing (I have a Dec 8 deadline on those).

I think the sewing machine is a bobbin winding issue.. but will try again when my attitude is a little better.  I am struggling now with the upcoming holiday and all the preparation and (more like) anxiety that comes with it.  Since I am working on my BRAIN and ATTITUDE this year... I think I need to journal some of the unhappy negative feelings that are surfacing underneath this aggravated behavior.  I don't know how much I will share here .. but I feel the UPSET rising already and it may impact the progress on the quilt.... and probably should take precedence though I am not quitting!



Saturday, November 17, 2012

21 Days... Day 12... FOCUS!!

oh boy
distracted much?

This was actually a really good reading for me yesterday!  I knew I needed to work on the quilt because I have not gotten to it all week.  Yet I have been away from home every day so....  I am just now getting to thinking about all the things I need to handle before next week's holiday.  I wandered around today - trying to focus on different rooms.... but I found something in the living room that belongs in the laundry room... which led me to folding laundry and putting away clothes in my bedroom, where I noticed something that needed to go to the laundry room.... where the freezer is and I pulled something out for dinner.. which I brought to the kitchen to thaw.. where I noticed that....  well, you get the picture!  All the while, stewing about the quilt and then the dogs needed walking again, where I noticed that the bok choy needs to be picked and used (file away stir fry for next week's menu)...  Today my brain seems to be a sieve!

But I did keep coming back to center.... and balanced several bank statements... gathered mailing envelopes and addresses for packages to be mailed, finished up a skein of yarn, and got that strip of quilt marked and stitched.

I got a LOT done.. but I felt out of focus - like I was being pulled in several directions.  I find it extremely difficult to put my head down and stick to just one thing!

Crystal Paine writes "Multi-tasking is the  death of FOCUS"

AMEN!

Her suggestion is one we've heard before but always works.... use the timer.  It works for me too!  I get derailed by trying to decide what I am doing - AND making myself do what I don't wanna.   I have to get that inner child under control :-)

What I can see happening here is that I am starting to worry about the holiday meal and company next Thursday - and I am losing focus on what I need to do TODAY.  (EVEN what I need to do today FOR next Thursday!)  Will have to think about this one!

Assignment:

  Do Step 12 of your mega-project and begin to visualize the finished project and how you will feel.

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My progress.......

Goal for today:
    Focus on today's plans (some household catch-up, a 2 mile walk + bike, review pantry/freezer and plan menu for week, make bread dough for fridge, QUILT - work on hand quilting AND machine stitch some of the strips for the final border AND review process for making the border so that when I can work on that I will now what I am doing).

      AND - find time to WRITE down Thursday's meal plan, prepare ahead list AND housework preparation list


Will be back later to share how I did -

    what are YOU doing today?


****** In many areas, today was a big fail... I spent most of the day watching holiday movies and crocheting cowls for friends  (using up my yarn stash!). 
* I did the bike, half the walking (my knee hurts today)
* I started to do the bread but forgot that I used up the eggs making breakfast for my husband and me
*I started to stitch some of the border stripping but the bobbin ran out of thread...

It was one of THOSE days!  I did review the process for finishing the quilt and have an idea what happens next... I DID refill the bobbins eventually... I DID mop the living room floor and do some neatening when I got up for commercials.... and I DID write down my holiday meal plan.    So it wasn't a total waste... I just didn't necessarily accomplish what was on my list!


Friday, November 16, 2012

21 Days.... Day 11.... How to..

... find an accountability partner...

Yesterday we talked about how hard it is to find someone to be accountable with.  This is something I so struggle with!

Who can you find that is good with the TOUGH LOVE part of support?

I will need to think about this reading a lot.

My family are softies!  They love me and will support anything I want to do.... but not one would be the taskmaster / reminder / NAG I probably need.  In honesty, though - that is not what I need.  I do not respond well to people telling me what to do - and my family knows it!  That plus there is always a tendency to rely on someone else's reminders.  Some days you need a gentle nudge.... but I am wary of creating a scenario where it becomes someone else's responsibility to remind ME of my goal.

So then what??

Friends who are successful at what you want to accomplish.... friends who want to accomplish what you are working on...  somehow if someone else is waiting on you, you tend to get things done!  And then I start to get bogged down with WHO for WHAT?

I mean..... will my potential health & fitness partner also be a good 'finish the quilt' partner?  Will that person be at all willing to help me account for the housekeeping goals I have?  I am not sure.....

Online communities are golden for support...   as long as (the author warns) they are not so large that you can escape unnoticed.  And I see this is true!  When you are in a large group, you don't have to be accountable because no one notices when you don't post.  I really KNOW this one because that is ME!

I think this blog is one way that I try to stay accountable.  I do know that I don't want to write something here - and not do what I say I am going to do..... even if NO ONE were to read it :-)

Ultimately - I think it still comes down to me.... but I DO need to find help on those days I can't focus.  Especially because I need to re-gain focus quickly and not sink into the mud....

Assignment:

Find an accountability partner for your goal & make a specific plan for accountability and checking in.   (I see the assignment, I understand it.. but am not sure YET how to go about implementing it)  I am grateful that LIFE is a JOURNEY and a PROCESS and I can FUTZ this assignment and keep moving.....

***********************

Update on progress?

WEEELLLLLLL.... in theory I am halfway done with the mega-project but for lots of reasons, I am pretty much where I was a couple of days ago.  I am home today and tomorrow with no running around so we will see where I get!  The project is on my mind and ready to work on but life hasn't been too cooperative.  Excuses?  maybe.... I will pop in again later today with updates.

Okay - Quilt strip marked and ready for hand quilting.
   and..... 2 loads of laundry.... race pictures posted from last weekend.... photos taken to update event photo album.... and some bank balancing done.  One long and one short walk taken outside... and a good breakfast.

Time for lunch and round 2!

****  In the final analysis, I did get about 1/3 of the hand quilting done on this last long strip!****

How is it for you??  Do you have accountability partners for your goals?  How did you find them?






Thursday, November 15, 2012

21 Days.. Day 10 - Support Team!


Using the book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine

Following the challenge led by Crystal at www.servingjoyfully.com

I invite you to come play along!  Start where you are... you can go back and read my blog from Day 1... or go to www.servingjoyfully.com to read there and/or find many other fine bloggers who have joined the challenge!

****************************************

    Today's reading is about the importance of gathering accountability partners to help you reach your goals.  In the book, they are referred to as cheerleaders.  I find this (locating accountability partners) extremely difficult!

Not asking for help.... that is not a problem.  Even accepting help is not a real issue for me.

I think it comes down to 2 things for me: In MY life, I am the accountability partner.  I am the cheerleader!  I am the one who gets invested in other people's goals and helps them to achieve!  And, I admit, I love doing it!

I have not yet gotten to the place where I can figure out how to turn that part around to help ME.

If I lived where I had a local friend who was interested in the same things I am, we could meet and I would have a real life partner who be disappointed when I don't show up.  And I wouldn't do that to them.

A case in point - this morning as my husband and I walked the dogs....  it is COLD this morning!   We reached the 1/4 mile mark (where we turn a corner into a wind tunnel :-)... and my husband turned around to go home.  I forged ahead telling him I was going to finish.  But I thought of all the times I simply followed...  The reality is that I NEED that full mile - even the COLD - to be a healthy person.   And I need to be the one of the two of us who is diet and exercise-minded.  In a sense, MY focus on diet and exercise is what will keep HIM alive longer because I know in my heart that he wouldn't have done the quarter-mile if I didn't routinely go that way.  

I will need to give this some thought today as the day goes on!

Assignment for the day:

Complete Step 10 of the mega-project.  (Yikes, I need to work on this one!)

Write down the names of 3 people who might be willing to help me be accountable with my personal goals.  (I think this is where it is really useful to know what those goals are :-).... The suggestion is to find people who are successful in what YOU want to achieve!

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Will be back later with the day's recap of events and progress!





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

21 Days... Day 9.. Create Success!

Break the goal down into mini-goals!

Sounds like it is watering down your achievement when, in reality, doing this allows you to create and achieve even more.  By creating 'do-able' min-goals... you create an environment that will allow you to BELIEVE in yourself and your goal.

Difficult goals are fantastic - but you need to be careful not to sabotage your success!  If you don't have mid-range, achievable benchmarks, you set yourself up for failure.  It is important to ensure your own success - and you do that by your own definition of success.

When you can't see (and celebrate) each individual step towards your goal, you allow yourself the possibility of failure.  You create a sense of doubt and disbelief.  If you really plan to reach that goal, doubt and disbelief are not something you can afford to indulge in.

For instance, if you need to lose 100 pounds.... that sounds impossible! (Which often drives you right back to the ice cream!).  If you don't set (and allow yourself to REACH) mini-goals, you will continue to focus on the pounds you have not yet lost!  (like you successfully take off 5 of those pounds, you can't feel good about it because you are focused on the 95 still to go)

Set up manageable mini-goals.....  like 'lose 5 pounds'.

Maybe pounds isn't it....  Maybe YOU need to simply focus on 'work out today' or ' don't eat candy today'.

Everything that you do that moves you toward your goal counts!  Find out which mini-goals feel do-able and worthwhile.

And don't be afraid to change or re-define your goals!  If you are not making progress, change it up... be your own coach and create a way for you to succeed!

Your assignment for today is:

Step #9 of your mega-project!

**********************************
My personal progress.....

Not so much!  Today I realized that Thanksgiving is NEXT Thursday.... and, of course, Christmas is right around the corner..... AND the end of the year after that.  YIKES!!

So..... preparation for the family dinner next week.... what on earth am I giving for gifts this year?.... am I doing cards?....  how did I do on annual goals?  Where am I and what can I reasonable complete?

... and this in the midst of an upcoming wedding, teenage angst, a potential flea issue with the pets.. and, oh yeah, our regular schedule...

Quilt?  what quilt??

Nope!  Halt right here and stop freaking out!

So what did I DO?

I bought the frozen turkey and fresh cranberries, bathed the 3 dogs and dosed 2 of the 3 cats (will grab the other one tonight!), washed the rugs and towels that belong to them (and will spray the couches when I go to bed), I paid bills and am starting to think about the foods I need to prepare in advance for next week.

Breathe......

As for the quilt, the next thing to do is use the chalk pencil to mark the quilting pattern.  I am afraid that I don't have the lighting to do that so will probably continue to work on the winter cowls I am crocheting for gifts...  BUT I WILL lay out the quilt and see if I am able to do it tonight...

more tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crochet Post #335-338 and #339 - 342 and more :-)

As I started to get back to my sewing projects - I found this pre-shirred fabric on clearance and decided to do up a couple of dresses for my girls!  Easy, cheap and quick success - my favorite way to do things :-)



I also completed another gift - one of my favorite baby girl projects... easy to do with beautiful results.... I really need to do a few of these to keep on hand for new babies :-)



Dishcloths for this week are pictured below:

#335 Tea Cup Dishcloth Pictured below on the upper right.  A companion to the sugar bowl and creamer in the last Crochet Post, this is adorable and easy to make!  A fun addition to a tea or coffee gift basket!

#336 Pink Pansy Dishcloth on the bottom right.  This one is really simple to make.. the base is double crochet with a nice edging and a flower that was intriguing to figure out.  This was a nice project to learn to make flowers with.  I think I would choose different colors if I did it again...

#337 Treble Textured Dishcloth pictured above on the bottom left.  I liked making this one because it is a little different from the ones I have been doing.  It has a nice texture for cleaning and the pattern would be good in many different colors.  I could also see this as an afghan square!

#338  Poinsettia In A Square Dishcloth Above on the upper left.  LOVE this one - a huge THUMBS UP from me :-)  The flower was a little challenging to figure out but once I did - it was totally worth it.  The results are stunning!  The pattern is also generic enough to use other colors to create a floral collection.  Definitely a FAVE!

The next 4 dishcloths are pictured below:

#339 Red & White Pinwheel Dishcloth  Pictured below on the upper left.  Wow!  This one drove me crazy!  It took a while to figure out the pattern and get in the groove... and then the rows with the red knots came along and were really challenging.  I'm still not sure I did it right.  Anyway... try it and see if you agree!  Not only will I not do it again, I need to give it away because it makes me aggravated to look at it!

#340 Little Black Purse Dishcloth  Cute and easy to make.... designed to go along with the black tie of a previous post Crochet  (and quilt) Post # 311-314 & 315-318   I am not sure how much I would like actually cleaning with either cloth but they DO make me smile... which would be a bonus while doing dishes!  Might be a good holiday hostess gift with a bottle of bubbly :-)


#341 Spider Lily Dishcloth  Pictured above on the upper right.  Unique and fun to figure out!  The spider lily is worked in the center in a raised stitch.  This one looks like it would be very functional - the raised flower would work well as a scrubber!  Definitely would do this one again :-)

#342  Indian Summer Dishcloth  Above on the bottom right.  This is another of the circular patterns that I enjoy doing.  The only thing I did not like - which might be me - is that I didn't quite get it to lie flat.  This indicates that I most likely did not follow the instructions and count properly!  It's pretty nonetheless and I will enjoy using this one in the summer / fall.

All of these patterns are available free from Maggie Weldon's site www.bestfreecrochet.com in the Nov and Dec 2011 archives as part of the 2011 Dishcloth challenge!  Thanks again to Maggie for a fantastic challenge and a lot of fun!