March Goals

My goals for February were:

  1. Write 10k – including at least two 500 word postsDone!
  2. Sell, donate, etc at least three bags/boxes/equivalent – Done!
  3. Exercise (bike, DDR, or run) 8 times – Calling it Done!
  4. Quilt the mystery quilt – Done!

I’m going to call this month a win. For writing I wrote more than double my goal, although I didn’t write any 500 word posts. For the biking I did 6/8, but I was sick for the last half week of the month when I would have easily done, and had planned to do, the last two workouts.

My goals for March are:

  1. Workout 10 times (bike, swim, or run)
  2. Write 10k
  3. Clear out at least three boxes/big items from the basement
  4. Use my bullet journal all month

Yearly Update:

  1. Piece at least three quilt tops – 0/3
  2. Finish at least three quilts – 1/3
  3. Write 10k a month – 22k/110k (not including Nov)
  4. Submit to critique group eight times – 1/8
  5. Exercise twice a week – 14/96

Declutter Update: I haven’t done as much this month as I would like. I did go through my clothes and get a pile of my son’s old clothes out of the house. I need to move on to paper and the basement next. If I can clear out the basement I have room to put more things in storage down there.

How did you goals for February go? Are you doing anything new in March?

Asian Dramas – Love Stories

I’ve been watching a lot of Asian romance dramas lately. The first one I watched was ‘Good Morning Call’ by netflix. Because I watched it, I started getting recommendations on netflix for other Asian dramas.

Since I’ve been enjoying them so much, and because I’m a writer, I started thinking about why I’m drawn to these stories. First for those who aren’t familiar with Asian Romance Dramas a few common themes:

  1. Kissing (even touching) between couples is kept to a minimum. For high schoolers and in most Korean Dramas a kiss is nothing more than a press of the lips (held for a silly length of time without moving). My understanding is this is in part because of censorship.
  2. The male half of the couple is almost always handsome, rich, very smart, and/or super talented.
  3. The female half of the couple pretty much always has more than one guy vying for her interest. Often for the first half this doesn’t include the male half of the couple.
  4. Fake dating, oops I tripped and my lips landed on your lips, one of the characters ends up in the hospital, rushing to the airport to catch your love before it’s too late, etc are all common occurrences.
  5. Many of the shows are based on manga.

There are a number of reasons I’m enjoying these shows, but I want to focus on why I’m enjoying the stories themselves.

1.)  Friends don’t try and steal each other’s boyfriends. Female friends seem to have more genuine friendships. This makes it easier for me to relate to the characters. They are supportive of each other and don’t tear each other down. They don’t scheme behind each others backs, unless it is to try and get the main couple together.

2.) I like the predictability and over the top story lines. It sometimes feels a bit like watching a fanfic. It is almost always obvious who the main love pair is from the credits of the show. So far I haven’t hit a show that didn’t get a happily ever after ending.

3.) Because every physical touch is a big deal you really pay attention to body language. I struggle with body language in my writing, and while I’m unlikely to write a romance with so little touch, it has made me more aware of other ways people show they like someone.

4.) They are short. They almost always wrap up in a single season of around thirty 45 mins-1 hour episodes.

There are common trends that bug me, but over I can ignore it in favour of the parts I enjoy.

What are your favourite kind of shows to watch? Have any recommendations for Asian Romances I should watch on Netflix?

2017 Resolutions Update – January

My Goals (resolutions) for the year are:

  1. Piece at least three quilt tops
  2. Finish at least three quilts
  3. Write 10k a month
  4. Submit to critique group at least eight times
  5. Exercise twice a week
  6. Continue to get more out of the house than comes in
  7. Set up the crafting corner in the study

Some of these are easy to quantify. I’ve set up the numbers below for those:

  1. Piece at least three quilt tops – 0/3
  2. Finish at least three quilts – 0/3
  3. Write 10k a month – 0/110,000 (I’m not including Nov in this)
  4. Submit to critique group at least eight times – 0/8
  5. Exercise twice a week – 8/96

Can’t say I’m doing too well so far this year. I must strive to do better.

The last two items I can’t track in terms of numbers though. This makes it tough to report in on, but I do want to keep myself accountable. My plan is to include numbers for the first five in each monthly update and then a small paragraph on the last two if appropriate.

Declutter update:
In January we didn’t bring many new items into the house. My husband found a few pieces of clothing and we’ve bought books for my son. We sent out two boxes and a big bag of stuff in January. The setting up of my craft space is still in the get stuff out of the way phase. I need to target the study specifically for decluttering.

Have you made any progress on your New Years Resolutions? Any great decluttering tips that might help me sort out that craft space?

February Goals

In January my goals were:

  1. Write 10k (does not have to be all the same project) – Nope
  2. Exercise 8 times (bike or DDR) – Done!
  3. Quilt the mystery quilt (more on that in an upcoming post) – Nope
  4. Donate three bags/boxes/equivalent – Done!

I got zero writing done, so goal number one was just a solid fail. For the quilt I did get some sewing done, but it was piecing the first two rows of my son’s jungle path quilt not quilting the mystery quilt. Overall score for the month is: 2/4 goals completed. 😦 Better luck next month.

My goals for February are:

  1. Write 10k – including at least two 500 word posts
  2. Sell, donate, etc at least three bags/boxes/equivalent
  3. Exercise (bike, DDR, or run) 8 times
  4. Quilt the mystery quilt

I was going to include an update on the priorities I set at the beginning of the year, but I have more to say than I want to fit in this post.

How did you do on your goals last month? Are you still keeping track of your ‘New Year’s Resolutions’?

 

Planning Ahead

I’m a planner and an organizer. I like to be prepared, and I like to think ahead. Of course I often don’t have time to plan ahead on everything, and sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. Maybe a better statement is that I try to plan ahead.

As I have begun completing my first quilts, I’ve been looking ahead to new ones. Currently I have two quilts that need to be moved through the next stage. The first is the Mystery Quilt that needs to be quilted and bound so it is ready before the baby it is intended for is here. The second is my son’s bed quilt that needs to be pieced into the completed top.

My lap quilt top is finished, but until I have time and space to quilt it, it will stay as is. What this all means is that very soon I’ll have space in my quilting to start a new quilt top. Making the blocks and putting them into a finished top is my favourite part of quilting. The quilt tops I’d love to make at some point are:

  1. Pow Wow type quilt for my Mother. She likes the look, and I like that it has a flying geese type piece that would be new to me.
  2. Carpenter’s Wheel big block quilt. I really want to try Y-seams. This one won’t come until after the first though.
  3. A Moonlight Starts quilt. This would be made as an upgrade to the lap quilt I made for my husband. I’ll probably end up making this one sometime after the pow-wow and before the Carpenter’s Wheel. He really wants a quilt made entirely by me.
  4. A wrapped in Red quilt. I wouldn’t do this with Christmas fabrics. It would probably be red and white though. Since this one would be for my bed and much bigger than anything else I’ve made. I would make the top, but I’ll pay someone to do the quilting on it. Who knows when I will get around to this one!

Most likely the lap quilt for mom will be the first I make. It will be fun to pick the fabrics with her, and then make the top. The quilting on it will be a little ways down the road, but she is always very understanding of how long projects take me.

Do you plan a few quilts in advance? What projects are you working on right now?

Favourite Summer Salad Recipes

For some reason just after our first big blizzard of the year I started craving salads. The type of salads I usually eat in the summer. I figure I’ll go with it. My meals have been getting a little stale lately, and I’m not eating enough vegetables. What better way to get more vegetables than eating more salads?

Here are a few of my favourite summer salad recipes that have or will find their way to my table this month:

Picnic Potato Salad
One of my best friends introduced me to this salad. They aren’t lying when they say it is the perfect potato salad. A great side dish for a BBQ. I usually use two or three green onions instead of what is called for. For a long time I avoided this salad because peeling and boiling potatoes felt like such a chore. Every time I make it though, I’m reminded that boiling potatoes is far faster and simpler than I remember. Go figure.

Tortellini Pasta Salad
I love the dressing on this one. I use the Dijon mustard as I don’t mind the after taste and don’t find it too strong. Before I put in the red onions I soak them in cold water with a bit of vinegar. I find them far too powerful otherwise. I also use an English cucumber so I don’t have to worry about seeds.

Tuna, Chickpeas and Broccoli Salad
I originally came across this salad because of a blog I read a few years ago. I like this salad, because it’s easy to make, but is different from what I usually eat. I’m also not a big fish fan, but doing tuna like this makes it edible for me. The dressing is fairly light, and as stated in the salad keeps well for lunch the next day.

Mango Quinoa Salad
Adding this one so people don’t think I only eat salads with Dijon in the dressing. I like this one as a main course all on its own. It also stores nicely for lunch leftovers the next day. My son used to love this one and we had it all the time. Lately he hasn’t been in the mood, so I haven’t made it in a while.

What are your favourite salads? Do you prefer salads with lettuce or without?

January Quilting Update

Once a month I post an update on my quilting/sewing projects. You can find all my quilting/sewing updates here.

Star Quilt
Finished on December 22nd, 2016!

Red, blue, and grey star sampler quilt

The big thing holding this quilt up was that I had quilted the first half then let it sit. This gave everything a little too much time to settle and I ended up with some puckering between the part I had quilted and the part I hadn’t. In December I helped a friend pin a quilt for her husband. Then she returned the favour and helped me unpin the half of this quilt that wasn’t finished, so we could repin it. I was nervous about repinning, but in the end it was the right decision. This was the first quilt I ever quilted (I quilted the first half before the digger quilt), so it has a few foldovers on the back. Luckily it is for my husband who doesn’t mind at all.

Back of star quilt. Pieced modern cross back

I did the last of the quilting in December, and then finished the binding over several days of TV watching before we headed out for our holiday. It now lives in my living room and is frequently snuggled by both my husband and son.

This quilt was started as a Bee quilt in January of 2013. Each of the members of the bee made one of the blocks (I actually didn’t make a single block for this quilt). When I made the label, I included the names of everyone who contributed a block.

Mystery Quilt
This quilt is for a very good friend of mine who is having a child. Until the quilt has been given this one remains a mystery! I don’t even want to include the quilt name, because it would be a bit of a hint as to what to expect. I will say it has a few fun fabrics, and it very bright. The top is finished and I know what fabric I’m using for the backing. I just need to pin baste it and decide on the thread colour I’ll use for the quilting.

Jungle Path Quilt
I’ve cut the short sashing pieces that go between the blocks for each row. I have a sewing date on the 21st where I hope to get each of the rows sewn together. Should have a few pictures of the progress for next month’s update.

Shoo Fly Quilt
No progress since I finished the top. This will be the status of this quilt for a few months, so I won’t include it on monthly updates until I prep it to quilt.

How I use my Bullet Journal

I started bullet journaling in October and it has been several months of figuring out what I like about the system and what doesn’t work for me.

A Weekly Spread
In October I started with the system as described plus I added a weekly spread and skipped daily logging. This meant that at the beginning of the month I had a month calendar page, a month to do list, and a weekly spread. I quickly figured out the weekly spread wasn’t going to work for me. I ran out of space on a few days, and had a few days that I didn’t use all of the space I had allocated. I did really like that I could put to do items onto future days though instead of into the general monthly to do list.

A Weekly to do list
Later in October I tried removing the weekly spread, adding a weekly to do, and adding daily logging. I liked the daily log a lot more than I thought I would. Having the weekly to do list also allowed me to write in things I had to remember for later in the week. After a few days I also decided not to migrate tasks daily. This took up too much time and left me repeating a few tasks for days at a time. Instead I switched to migrating daily tasks when I moved to a new page and could no longer see them at a glance.

Figuring out the right To Do list
In November I tried removing the monthly to do list. I found I was using the weekly one instead of the monthly, so why not toss the monthly! Instead I did a monthly calendar, and used the opposite side to hold goals etc. Then I had a new weekly page spread for each week of the month. It turned out that didn’t work for me either. The weekly and monthly pages all had too much space. It felt very inefficient.

In December I figured out what works for me

  • the six month future calendar.
  • the monthly calendar.
  • on the facing page I put my monthly goals and then start my weekly logs. If the logs run off this page I just move to the next blank page the way I would with daily logging.
  • daily logging, but I only migrate unfinished tasks when I move off that two page spread.
  • I do have a few lists on the go including – books I’ve read, funny things my son says, etc.

In the end the only real change I needed to make was to break the monthly to do list into weekly segments. Who knew such a small change would make such a big difference for me?

In an effort to keep my journal simple and uncluttered I’ve been sure not to include the following:

  • grocery lists. I keep a blank scrap notebook in my midori for this and other notes I don’t want/need to keep.
  • writing notes, ideas, and plotting stuff. I keep a notebook for each novel length project, with the current project’s notebook in my midori.
  • I was very careful in the beginning about what collections I started. I still have fewer than five list pages. Any more and I would struggle to keep track of them.

Do you use a bullet journal or other logging system? Have you ever tried a midori notebook to keep yourself organized?

Stretching my Skills

I recently stumbled across an old post by Piecemeal Quilts discussing the ‘dumbing down of quilting’. For me the important part of the post wasn’t the discussion on what counts as intermediate, but the idea that we should challenge ourselves instead of relying on the same basic skill set.

I’m pretty good at applying this strategy to my writing. I try and write deeper characters, more relaistic dialogue, or to not give the ending away in the first scene. It doesn’t come easily or naturally and it’s often unsuccessful, but I keep trying.

After reading Piecemeal’s post, I realized I couldn’t say the same for my quilting. I haven’t moved beyond squares, half square triangles, and a few rectangles. Those are all important skills. Those skills are all you need to make beautiful quilts, but there are other things I could be working on. I don’t need to expand my skills. I could continue to make beautiful quilts with those shapes. The more I think about it though, the more I want to expand my skills. I want to stretch my quilting self.

This year I’ve set a goal of finishing three quilt tops, and three quilts. I want at least one of those quilts to include a new to me skill. I’m planning on a quilt for my mother that includes (kind of) flying geese. I have also bookmarked a quilt that includes diamonds and y-seams. My plan is to tackle the flying geese, which should be fairly straight forward, then move on to the diamonds and y-seams.

At this point I don’t plan to ever move onto curved seams, but I won’t rule it out completely. I want to quilt for many years to come, and over those years I’d like to think my skills will improve and maybe I’ll be ready to jump into something that seems crazy to me today. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I said I wanted to make quilt tops, but not quilt them.

Do you have any skills you’re planning to stretch this year? What writing or quilting projects are you working on?

January Goals

I didn’t really set December goals, so I have nothing to recap this month. I don’t mind. I like the idea of starting fresh for the new year anyway!

My goals for January are:

  1. Write 10k (does not have to be all the same project)
  2. Exercise 8 times (bike or DDR)
  3. Quilt the mystery quilt (more on that in an upcoming post)
  4. Donate three bags/boxes/equivalent

Since I’m trying to stick to my ‘resolutions’ this year, all four of my goals relate to the priorities I set. I really need to refresh my writing spreadsheet for the year, so I’m ready to track my progress each month.

Have you set any goals for this month? Are you sticking to any resolutions you set this year?