2018 Resolutions/Goals

More important, to me, than the resolutions, is the process of figuring out what I want to focus on for the year. I weed out the things I don’t care about and figure out the things that matter to me.

When I started thinking about my priorities for this year, I found myself drawn to the same things: Crafting, writing, organizing, and fitness. It’s nice that my focus is staying the same. I like that my priorities are shifting in the same range rather than changing wildly. This year I also want to focus a bit more on family and friends. I need to work a little harder at maintaining my relationships.

Crafting
I didn’t get as much quilting done as I wanted last year. This year I am going to try being much more specific in what I want to achieve.

  1. Quilt and bind my son’s bed quilt and my lap quilt
  2. Finish the quilt top for a family friend and for my Mom
  3. Finish at least three cross stitches (holiday DONE! and two family portraits)
  4. Bonus – Two more family cross stitches

Writing
Another area where I didn’t do as much as I wanted.

  1. Finish the rough draft of my MG SciFi
  2. Do basic edits to get a first draft of my MG SciFi
  3. Submit to Critique Group at least six times
  4. Finish a second draft that is ready for a final polish – MG SciFi

Organizing
I think part of why this goal is so hard is because I can’t figure out specifics. I’m going to try though.

  1. Continue to put as much out of the house as we bring in
  2. Sell or donate all unused items in the basement storage room
  3. Move out of season or out of size clothes to basement storage
  4. Deal with paper in the study
  5. Set up my desk in the study

Fitness
I’m still doing gymnastics, but I think the biggest things holding me back are my lack of strength and flexibility. Along with cardio I want to focus on those.

  1. Weight train twice a week
  2. Cardio twice a week
  3. Flexibility two to three times a week

Family

  1. Eat dinner as a family at least twice a week (working up to four times a week)
  2. Facetime with SIL’s family once a month
  3. Boardgames with S and C at least 10 times

That is a lot of goals! I’m feeling worn out just writing them all down. Many are very small though and won’t take much time. I need to remember to plan out what I want to accomplish each month to get things done over the next year.

What are you hoping to accomplish this year? Do you set resolutions?

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Round Up of my 2017 Resolutions

I like making resolutions each year. I don’t always accomplish them, but I enjoy the process. Thinking it through helps me mark the priorities in my life. Even in years when I do not achieve my goals, I find that I have spent more energy and time on the things that matter to me. I will post my resolutions for 2018 tomorrow. Today I’m doing a quick review on my goals from last year.

Organizing the house
This was a big fail. The craft space isn’t set up, and in general the house doesn’t look much different than this time last year. I did manage not to gain any new stuff though. We sent as much stuff out as we brought in. I think I actually sent out more than I brought in, but not enough to make me feel accomplished.

Quilting
The goal was to piece three quilts and finish three quilts. I pieced two and finished one. I helped my friend Cate piece the Grace in Our Stars Quilt and I finished the Jungle Path Quilt top. I quilted and gifted the Mystery Quilt.

Writing
The goal was to write 10k a month. I made this two months I think … I’m back into writing now though so hopefully I will make good progress this year.

Exercise
The goal was to exercise twice per week. I did fairly well at this. I struggled in December, but I was sick and my schedule was off. Going to call this one a win.

How did you do on your 2017 resolutions? Did you achieve all you set out to achieve last year?

2017 in Review

Top five posts by views:
  1. NaNoWriMo – How many Words per Day? (2016 post)
  2. is a tie between NaNoWriMo – How to catch up if you’re behind (2015 post) and
  3. Finished Quilt – The Grace in our Stars
  4. Spring is Here (finally)
  5. Fauxdori – Bullet Journal Update

The top two posts weren’t posted this year. Both are about NaNoWriMo, and I can often tell how far through NaNo we are by which one is getting more views.

A Countdown of my Five Favourite Posts:

5.) My First Handbound Journal – I went to a local library program and learned how to make a journal.

4.) Raising a Reader – Why I think we should talk about making our kids “lovers of books and stories” instead.

3.) Handstands scare me, but I keep doing them – A lot of things scare me, among them are handstands.

2.) The Plot and the Rough Draft – I’ve been working on my MG Sci Fi and really enjoying the process.

1.) NaNo Daily Challenge – I set myself a daily challenge during NaNo, and I learned a lot. I plan to do something similar with many of my writing days this year.

Number of blog posts: 46

Visitors from around the world. I had visitors from 37 countries last year. The top five were: United States, Canada (my home country, so not a big surprise), the United Kingdom, India, and Australia.

Highest Activity Month
For the first time, November was the most active month on my blog, but that is probably because I posted almost daily updates during NaNo until I had finished. It had almost double the views of any other month.

What was your favourite post this year, on your own blog or someone else’s blog? Do you track the views on your blog?

Fauxdori and Bullet Journal Update

It’s been about six months since I posted an update on my bullet journal. I’ve made a few changes, but they’re all small. I love that I’ve hit the point with my bullet journal that I’m only making small tweaks as needed.

My Fauxdori
These days I carry three notebooks in my fauxdori. First is my current story notebook, next my bullet journal, and finally a scrap notebook. I’ve switch my bullet journal to be on the second elastic with the scrap notebook. I don’t care about being neat in the scrap notebook, so I never remove it to write in it. I pull out my story notebook frequently to keep it legible. Giving the story notebook its own elastic was a very small change, but  seems to have made a big difference in my willingness to pull it out as needed.

The rest of my fauxdori is the same, I have my picture insert around my BuJo and my plastic pocket around my scrap notebook.

My Bullet Journal
I’ve just switched to a large squared moleskine cahier. I’ve wanted one for a few months, but I had to wait to be ready for a new BuJo. I started a new one December 1st, and I LOVE the squared format. The lines are a bit smaller, so I have almost ten extra lines on each page. This is great for my monthly layout where I couldn’t fit on two pages. Now I can easily fit on two pages. One side for my days of the month and goals, the other for my fitness tracker and legend. The squares also make it easy to switch a page to be landscape instead of portrait. Love it!

BuJo Monthly fitness tracker page

Speaking of the fitness track, that was one big change I made a few months ago. I now have a monthly fitness tracker. I’ve kept it very simple. This month I’ve included each day of the month on the left, a column for the types of exercise I normally do, and a column for notes. Hopefully having all days of the month will allow me to track times when I stop working out. Last month I did very well until the end of the month when I took an unplanned week off. In my previous BuJo I didn’t have room to track each day. I could only include days I’d done something. (loving those extra ten lines).

Future log with calendar in bullet journal

The last change I made was to my future log. In my newest BuJo I’ve include a mini calendar next to each month. Sometimes when I’m trying to schedule something in an upcoming month, I run into trouble because I have no idea what days are weekends etc. This should help when my critique group needs to set the next meeting or when my Mom wants to know what day we should book a family dinner.

Everything else is pretty much the same. Daily logging, but I only migrate when I move to a new page instead of every day. I keep my collections few and far between. I index each month from the first to last page used for the month so I don’t have weird number sets because of collections. Instead of 1-2, 4-6, 8, 11-12, I just have 1-12.

Do you use a Bullet Journal? What little changes have you made that made a big difference?

 

Time to Prep for NaNoWriMo ’17

Three weeks to NaNoWriMo. It’s time to get ready!

Getting Ready
I’ve already signed up on the NaNoWriMo site with my novel for this year. Have you? This year, I’m going somewhat down the middle between pantser and plotter. I want to have a very simple plot, so I am not floundering, but not so much I feel guilty if I want to go in a different direction. Now I need to start filling up my story notebook with ideas, plot points, and some character outlines. I’ll add to my notebook as I go.

Story Idea
This year I came up with my story idea without any real work. The basic plot and main character just sort of dropped into my lap one day and I made a few notes in my bits and pieces scrivener file. That folder is the first place I look for inspiration for NaNo novel ideas. If I hadn’t had an idea ready and waiting, I would have done some brainstorming work to find something to write about.

How many words per day?
I’m thinking about trying something a little different with my daily word goal this year. I’ve written before about how many words I like to write per day during November, but I came across something called the reverse NaNo, and I think I’ll try it this year. Basically with a reverse NaNo you write 3,346 words on Day 1, and then write a little less each day until on the 30th you only need 1 word to finish. Currently I’m sticking with a tradition word goal of 50,000, but who knows. If I’m having a good year, maybe I’ll up it.

Other NaNo Posts
I did my first NaNo in 2007. Since then I haven’t missed a November. With ten wins under my belt, NaNo is something I post about fairly frequently. In 2015 I even did a series of NaNo posts.

Are you doing NaNo this year? What are you doing to get ready?

Fun with Writing – Character Swap

When I start to lose motivation to write, or when writing has lost the spark that makes it enjoyable, I often look for a new writing exercise to get me going again. Lately, I haven’t been writing as much as I should. Life has been busy, I mean really busy, but I also just haven’t been interested in writing. Nothing has grabbed me to the point of needing to write. So, to get myself going again, I set up a new writing exercise with a friend.

With NaNoWriMo ’17 prep in full swing, it is the perfect time to shake things up a bit. I’ve had a concept and a main character for a few months. My friend, after some group brain storming, has a world and a basic concept. The main area we are both lacking … characters. Hence our Character Swap idea.

We each wrote out a very short paragraph about our story, and filled out a questionnaire about our main character. The usual stuff: name, age, what they look like, skills, job, family, weaknesses, annoying habits, etc. Then came the fun part. We each got to make a character for the other’s story.

I often find myself falling into the trap of fitting a character to a story, instead of letting the character be an individual who happens to be a part of this story. The joy of this swap was that I couldn’t do that. I didn’t have enough information on what she is writing about to tailor the character to the story. I did consider why this person and the main character would be friends, but also tried to think about my own friendships – why we fit, and how much do we really have in common? It was fun to make a character without worrying about the story they would be put into, or what they could give the main character. Maybe I need to focus on my characters earlier in my planning/plotting phases.

What are some writing exercises you have enjoyed? Have you started planning for NaNoWriMo?

My First Handbound Journal

Floral covered handbound journal.Last night I went to a program about bookbinding at my local library. The two hour session started with a brief introduction, and then we got to make our own journal/notebook. You can see mine on the left. I’m really happy with how well it turned out, especially for a first attempt!

First we had to select the pieces that would become our journals. We needed cardboard for the cover, 36 pages for the inside, thread for the binding, and decorative paper to wrap around the cover.

Next up were the supplies to put everything together. Scissors, glue, needle, pencil, a thimbles, and an awl. In the end I didn’t find the thimble overly useful, and while the awl was great for putting the holes in the cover, I preferred a large needle to make the holes in the paper. The needle I used for threading the binding was curved, and it made the whole process nice and quick.
bound edge of journal

I decided to use one coloured sheet for the outside of each section (in this case six sheets stacked and folded in half). This meant, as you can see on the right, each section of the binding was bright and colourful. In the green sections I used dotted paper, and in the rest plain paper. We assembled the journals using a kettle stitch. It was easy to learn, and once I got the hand motions down, surprisingly fast.

I really enjoyed making this journal, and can definitely see myself making more. I think I’m going to use the plain sheets in this one for some smaller writing projects that don’t need an entire notebook. The dotted pages are going to be used for quilting sketches.

Have you done any bookbinding? Do you know of any great online resources for learning more about book binding?

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?

Plotter vs. Panster

I’ve talked before about how I don’t have the usual skills for writing. I’m logical and love math, numbers, and statistics. I have a computer science degree, and pick up computer programs quickly. I like quilting in squares and triangles with straight lines and perfect points. Free motion quilting is about as crazy as I get with my sewing machine. And even then I keep it organized and logical in execution. It should come as no surprise that I considered myself a plotter for years.

In 2012 I took a risk and wrote NaNo without a plot. To be honest when I started writing I didn’t even have an idea. I had a single image in my head of a hidden square wooden door in a dark basement. So, I named a character and let her lead the way through her own story.

Since that time I’ve gone back to my plotting ways, or at least that is what I told myself. Then I started really thinking about my story writing style in the context of plotting vs pantsing. Was I ever REALLY a plotter?

My very first NaNo I started writing with a general concept. It was a sort of alternate world to our own. The only real different between the world of this novel and our own world was that women in my world could only have one child before becoming infertile. When I started writing that story I didn’t have much more than the world, main characters, and a vague idea of where I wanted that story to end.

Most years I plot out the first half or so of my novel, decide where I think it should end, and let the middle kind of take on a life of its own to get to that end. I know I’m not (usually) a pantser, not completely. But as I look back at my writing attempts I realize I’m not really a plotter either. I guess like most things there is a grey area and that is where I fall. I’m part panters and part plotter. It feels kind of good to get that out, to sent the record straight.

Are you a plotter or a panster? Do you fall somewhere in between?

Fueling my Creativity

Saturday night I went out with some of my favourite writers for some writing, dinner, and then dessert. When all was said and done, I had a leftover samosa, some curry and rice, and half a piece of cheesecake. Sunday I had the samosa for breakfast before dashing out for errands. I ate the curry and rice as a late lunch while I made cupcakes (my son has to bring his own cake to parties). Then after the birthday party I made myself risotto. I of course followed the risotto with the leftover cheesecake.

I haven’t been eating as well as I should lately. It’s been a busy year, with a few big changes. Having a kid also means I worry about what I’m feeding him first, and me second. Which can mean I remember to pack him a lunch, but forget to pack one for myself. I make sure he eats his breakfast, but am running too late to eat one myself. Getting three good meals yesterday reminded me of how much better I function with good fuel.

When I’m active I remember to eat. You have to fuel your body to be able to run, climb, skip, or hula hoop. My ankle has been bothering me, so I haven’t been doing as much as usual. I guess without the activity my brain forgot that good fuel doesn’t just help with active pursuits, it helps creative ones as well. My thought process is better when I eat at good intervals, and I get more done when I eat a more balanced diet.

Hopefully this reminder reminds me to feed myself and my creativity over the summer. I have so many things I want to accomplish, and I can’t do any of them without fuel.