2015 Goals Review

In the beginning of 2015, like many years, I set a list of goals for myself. I find that it's a good way to be mindful of some things that I want to work towards accomplishing. Some of these goals were realized, at least in part, some were thought about, mulled over, but none were completely abandoned. The list isn't made to be a worry or a task, it's really just a way for me to keep in mind things that I would like to do, ways that I would like to improve myself. Here is the original post from 2015.  

Below is the list of my 2015 goals and related blog posts:

Work on Creative Endeavors as Much as Work - I have to make my art and sewing a priority in my life and not let working at my job be the only or most urgent thing that drives me.
Although this goal doesn't have any distinct posts, I did try to work on it. I hope to carry this over to 2016.

Sewing/Blogging - More sewing and more blogging about it! I want to work on my online shop. I must do one market, or fair. 
One could say this entire blog should make it on this list.

Holiday Sale

Take Better Care of My Health and the Health of My Family/Take Better Care of the House - In all the hustle and bustle of work and life this is something I often forget to pay close attention to. I want to always be striving to make a better house for my family and plants and keep us in good health.
I think I made good strives in this direction, especially when the time came to move and adjust to a new environment. There are some areas that are lacking (exercise!!), but hopefully there can be addressed in 2016.
House Plant Goals

Stay in Touch with My Friends - I'm fairly antisocial by nature, but I love my friends and care to make them feel appreciated. 
This goal also doesn't have specific posts, but I felt I made good headway on this, even to the point of sending out holiday cards!

Use Up, Don't Buy
-  I need to reduce all things in my life and and make better use of the things I keep. 
This goal was a great way to keep in mind a lifestyle I aim for. 

Wardrobe Makeover
- One thing I have far too many of are clothes. I must make my wardrobe more manageable and stop buying clothes!
Some Little Things
Who Needs This Many...  

Travel when Possible - Always more exploring to be done.
Sea, Sand, and Snow
3 Days in Cape May

2 Days in Alabama
2 Days in New Orleans

Read More - I can only remember reading three books last year (2014). Pitiful. 
A Walk in the Woods

Saturn's Return to New York
Famous Potatoes
Ash in My Mouth...
Woman in the Dark

Move Out of the City - It's time.
I totally did this! 

And the year isn't quite over yet, there's still room to add more posts here...
Some of these goals will carry over to 2016, some may not. I feel confident that I at least touched on every goal in 2015. I hope to achieve the same mindfulness in 2016. 
Please, please share your 2015 goal recaps, or 2016 goal lists in the comments!! I am always grateful to be inspired by your posts!

Women in the Dark

One of my goals for 2015 is to read more.  Check out the other books I've read this year hereherehere, & here

The fifth book I've read so far is Woman in the Dark by Dashielll Hammett. I borrowed this one from the BPL, one more for the road, as they say!


I'm a fan of mysteries and noir stories, and Hammett is one of the greatest of the genres. 

Luise Fischer is on the run in the cold dark night. When she stumbles in to the home of a taciturn and handsome stranger, her luck might be changing. 

This is a quick and to the point, classic feeling, noir novella. Perfect in its sparsity.  This is a great introduction to this genre if you've never read it. Woman in the Dark is also a perfect read for current fans or fans of short books. 

Do any readers enjoy noir novels? Do you prefer short quick paced books, or long involved stories?


Finish Along Q4 Goals + Q3 "Finishes".

So, while I've technically missed the cut-off to join the 4th quarter of the Finish Along a long time ago, I still plan to follow through until the end. First the Q3 recap! 

Q3 was less productive than Q2. Here's the list:

1. Finish quilting, bind, and label Quilt for Grandma Doris.
2. Finish quilting and making, stuff and use, PIllow #1 for a New Secret Project.
3. Piece, baste, quilt, bind, and label Beach Blanket Quilt.
4. Finish piecing, baste, quilt, and bind and gift Tattoo Trade Quilt.
5. Piece, baste, bind, and label Bright Triangles Quilt.
6.  Start, piece, baste, quilt, bind and label OC/GC Baby Quilt.

Not a single one of these projects got finished and many were not even touched. Some new projects were started, so the list for Q4 will look quite different!

Not much time for doodling, with everything going on at home...

Not much time for doodling, with everything going on at home...

1) Finish quilting, bind, and label Quilt for Grandma Doris.


I won't get this one done in time for her Bday on Nov 6 (89!!) but I might be able to get it done for xmas. 

2) Finish quilting and making, stuff and use, PIllow #1 for a New Secret Project.


I'd love to have this secret project moving along by Jan/feb. Finishing this is the first step!

3) Start, piece, baste, quilt, bind and label OC/GC Baby Quilt.


Needs to be done by Feb. No Spoilers. 

4) Piece back, baste, quilt, bind, label Baby quilt commission #1. 

baby 1.jpg

This one HAS to be a Dec finish. So, really, this should be in the number 1 slot. 

5) Finish piecing front and back, baste, quilt, bind, label, baby quilt commission #2.   

baby 2.jpg

This one isn't needed until April. Phew. But I do want to get a jump on it. 

6) Finish piecing front, piece back, baste, quilt, bind Xmas Madallion Quilt. 


This is the last hopeful quilt on the list. Doubt I'll even get it out....

Linking this post up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching .

Alright, time to get to work!

Ash in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes

One of my goals for 2015 is to read more.  Check out the other books I've read this year herehere, and here

The fourth book I've read this year is Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes by Per Petterson. I borrowed this book from the Brooklyn Public Library.  

I found this Ashes in My Mouth... using my favorite book finding method in the library (or book stores)  which is just wondering around the stacks until I see something that looks interesting. The little format and color scheme of this book cover got my attention. Per Petterson is a Norwegian novelist and this short book of ten stories that all string together was his first work. 

Arvid Jansen is a boy who moved out of the city and he's not sure he likes it. He is disillusioned with his father's new job, his own nightmares, and the idea of growing old. Although only seven, he feels he knows as much as adults and should be treated as such. But death and sex are still a mystery to him. 

This book reads like someone remembering what they think childhood was like. Arvid's thoughts are too complex for a seven year old, but exactly how we remember being seven was. Although these stories read as if a memoir, Petterson uses this character in several of his later novels, so it is unclear how autobiographical it is. I liked this book, it was moody and disjointed in an appealing way. I would be interested in trying some of Petterson's longer novels. I would recommend this book to people who like coming of age stories, have daddy issues, or like short books.  

Have you read anything by Per Petterson?


Wardrobe Project: Who Needs This Many T-Shirts?

Or, My Spring Wardrobe. 

When I went to change over my Winter wardrobe over to Spring, I carefully set aside all the Winter clothes I wouldn't need. It was a lot of clothes. Two full clear recycling bags full. (I put them in clear bags, to be boxed up at a later date, and to prevent them becoming cat beds). I also made a pile of giveaway/throw away items. Items that I didn't wear, didn't want, or realized I didn't like during the Winter season. 
Next I went to get out my Spring and Summer clothes that were stored at the top of my closet. 

But I couldn't do it. 

I pulled out the first big storage bin... I couldn't bear to go thru it. SO many clothes. I felt totally overwhelmed with what was already out. Removing my Winter clothes felt like it barely made a dent.

I decided I really only needed to keep what was already out for Spring. There were some pants and jeans, a few skirts and dresses, some tanks I used for layering in the Winter, plenty of clothes for work, and so many t shirts. So. Many.  

Maybe when it gets really hot, I will reassess. I realize that I will have to go thru those Spring/Summer clothes eventually. But for now, even what I have out feels impossibly large. 

Is anyone else struggling with their Spring or Summer wardrobe?


Recently Researching: 2015 Goal House Plant Edition. Part One.

I wasn't sure where to put this blog topic... I could put it under 2015 goals bc taking care of my house and plants is a big goal for me this year. Or I could put it under Recently Researching bc, well, it's something I've been researching lately... So I kinda did a mash up of the two! I couldn't think of a super catchy name for it, tho. 

I think every house should strive to have three things: cats, musical instruments, and plants. Luckily, I've got all three covered. 

In effort to take better care of the plants I have (and therefore feel justified in getting more!), I've been researching my house plants. This is something that seems like a no brainer, but I've never actually done it before. I always claim to have no green thumb and maybe this is partly why. 

Here's a rundown of some of the plants I have, as well as some facts, and care for each. 

Aloe - This guy's a succulent, but I often forget that. That means that this soothing medicinal plant should be watered well, then let to dry completely before watering again. Aloe should be kept in bright light and a small pot, as it enjoys being root bound. Aloe's healing properties are well known, but I can never bring myself to break the leaves when I need to treat a burn or scrape. I keep a bottle Aloe Gel in the house for that instead.  Did you know that Aloe actually refers to a whole genus, so the typical plant we see is sometimes called "true" aloe. 
I've had a few different aloe plants, and I think my problem is that I over eater them. I moved my current plant to  the brightest window, and am trying to make it flourish, but at the moment, it's kind of languishing. 

Schefflera/Umbrella Tree - Again we have a plant that is commonly called by it's genus, but the big type we see in pots are usually the Schefflera actinophylla. This plant can grow quite large and full and flower when in the right environment. It can live in medium indirect sun, but prefers bright light. This plant should be watered well, then it's upper soil should be let to dry before watering again. If it's leaves turn yellow and fall off, it's under watered. If they turn black and fall off it's been over watered. (Mine tends to have the former problem). 
When we moved to Park Slope and into a larger apartment, I searched Craigslist for some larger plant and found the schefflera I currently have. We had a harrowing but memorable drive thru the neighborhood with it propped in the back of our truck. I call it our "bedroom tree" (every bedroom should have a tree!) and it's about 7 feet tall. The family we got it from said it was about 8 - 10 years old, then, so now it must be about 12 years old or older! We repotted it once, and it's not living it's best life. Sometimes it grows the cutest little baby new leaves, but mostly it just hangs around looking droopy. I've been trying to water this guy more regularly and I think it'll benefit when we open the windows so it can get fresh air and more light. 

Pothos Epipremnum Aureum - This is the most commonly seen Pothos, which has shiny light green, or variegated light and dark green leaves. The standard pothos grows well in low light, and is super easy to maintain, needing water only when it's soil is about 50% dry, or even dryer. Leave will yellow and fall if left too dry for too long. These plants prefer warm climates and will die if left to get too cold. Pothos prefer to be root bound, sending out long tendrils which can be pruned, or coiled to keep the plant bushy. These easy houseplants keep the air clean, so are good to have on hand, but can be poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep in a safe place!
I have quite a few of these guys, and most do really well. One was left by an open window, got too cold and is on it's last legs. One has some sort of white mildew which my schefflera also gets. I've found that giving it more sun after gently wiping away the white powdery substance usually solves the problem. Sometimes I forget to water them until I see the leaves start to droop. I'm trying to avoid this, but haven't had any dies like this. I've tried to propagate cuttings from some of my Pothos with mixed results. Some start growing roots right away and live long lives, but others fail completely. Growing new plants from cutting is a goal for me with these. My cats don't bother these plants much, so I don't worry about them, but I do try to keep them in higher places, if possible. 

Rubber Plant - This plant (ficus elastica) used to be grown for the rubber that could be made from it's latex which is like sap, but separate. Now it's mostly a decorative plant and it's cousin the Para Rubber Tree is grown to make the rubber we use today. These two trees actually have a different genus and the house plant is more closely related to the fig tree. It likes indirect light and does well in low, medium or bright as long as it's not direct. They don't need too much water and prefer it a little dryer in cooler climates. The leaves can yellow from being over or under watered but usually fall off if overly saturated. Rubber trees can grow quite large and get nice think trunks. This plant prefers warm temperatures and will die in cold weather, but overall I've found them to be quite hardy!
My rubber trees are my longest lived plants and I always have to stop myself from getting more and more of them. They are so easy to care for and lovely to have around. I do need to tie them up better as their branched can start to get wild and out of control. And I need to dust their leaves more often (or ever) bc it's better for them to be dust free. 

I've learned a lot about how to care for the house plants I currently have. And this is only the first installment. By my count, I have 9 or 10 more varieties to learn about! I feel that when I am better able to take care of my plants, I will be ready to get more. Hopefully by that time, we will be living in a more light soaked home and one where my plants can spend some summer days outside. Even house plants like a field trip!

Do you have an tricks or tips for these house plants? If so, I'd love to hear them in the comments! 

Check out my pinterest page for more on these and previous Recently Researching topics. 




Saturn's Return to New York

One of my goals for 2015 is to read more.  Check out the first book I read this year here

The second book I've read this year is Sara Gran's Saturn's Return to New York. I picked this one up bc I read two of her books last year and wanted to try her first novel. 

I liked the other novels that I have read by Gran, both of which were mysteries from her Claire Dewitt series. And I enjoyed her first novel as well. Saturn's Return to New York was not a mystery, but a slice-of-life about a thirty something New Yorker dealing with her bubbling emotions concerning her family and friends as she navigates the drug addled and angst drenched city. Gran's writing is comfortable and quick for all her dark topics. She whisks you along like a well informed but apathetic tour guide in your favorite city. And you want to see where the tour will lead you. 

Mary's an underachieving book lover writing reviews for an online seller and living comfortably, ambiguously but a little annoyedly under her mother's cold literary shadow. But when her mother falls ill, Mary must face her true feelings about their relationship, as well as the one with her long dead father. Soon all Mary's relationships come under scrutiny and it seems the planets are malaligned over her New York. 

I'd recommend Saturn's Return to New York to anyone who likes books about New York City, especially mildly gritty, angry ones. Or who like female authors who write about sex and drugs and rock & roll. Gran's writing reminds me of a more cynical, less mystical, old person version of the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block. Even dealing with serious themes of loss and death, this is a pretty light an easy read. It would make a great plane book, I'm sure! You could bring it to the beach, but all the New York talk will make you feel like you should be dressed in chic head to toe black.

Have you read this book? Leave a comment!

2015 Goal - Wardrobe

In January, I wrote down some goals I have for the year. I only marked down my general goals. I didn't want to get overwhelmed! I think it would be good to expand on each of the main topics. There are very specific things I want to accomplish within each goal section. 
I'll be breaking down what I want to get done for each goal over the year and posting updates. See the first goals I tackled here and here.

The goal we are looking at today is Wardrobe Makeover. 

I think people are surprised when they find out how much I love clothes and shopping. They are surprised that for much of my young life I wanted to be a fashion designer, took classes at FIT, and learned fashion illustration. My dreams of working in the industry died, but my love of clothes never did and that lead me to having way too many. 

At the end of 2014 I started realizing how much of a pain my over-flowing closet had become. There were piles of clothes all over, clean and dirty, making it hard to keep them sorted. Closet, hangers, drawers were flowing out all over. But with all these clothes, I could never find anything to wear. I guess this is a common problem. I started researching, started reading blogs about minimal wardrobes, and started realizing that I really wanted to change this chaotic aspect of my life. 

My first step was to read a lot! Some blogs I highly recommend are Unfancy and Reading My Tea Leaves and Rowdy Kittens. All of these ladies live very different lives and all those lifestyles are different than my own. They all have really interesting takes on the reasons and practices of minimal wardrobes. 

This cheapy sweater has been one of my favorite pieces this winter. I got it at  Mandees  by my house for like $16!

This cheapy sweater has been one of my favorite pieces this winter. I got it at Mandees by my house for like $16!

Next, I formulated some loose goals: I want to decrease my overall wardrobe. I want it to be easy to pick out what I'm going to wear each day. I want to only have clothes that fit well and feel good. And I want to spend less money and less time shopping. 

With those goals in mind, I decided to drastically reduce what was in my closet and set about sorting thru all of my clothes. But I love my clothes, I couldn't just give them all up! I knew I would have to go in baby steps. The first baby step was to get rid of anything that was emotionally easy for me to get rid of. Items I never wore, had out grown, or just didn't fit well went into a giveaway pile, a donate pile, or the trash (if they were really no good to anyone). I only got rid of things that were easy to get rid of. 
For the next baby step I used some advice from the blogs I had read: I thought about "my style". People often joke that I dress as if it's still the 90s, and why not? T-shirts, jeans, vans, hoodies and flannels, layered dresses, and funky sweaters are what I like to wear and what I feel comfortable in!
Next I went thru all the clothes that remained with "my style" in mind. I kept everything that I loved, that fit the season, that fit the description of my style, and put everything else into plastic bins. I have to wear black or white to work, so I also kept (almost) all of my work clothes. I put the bins away to be reculled at the end of the season. 
OK! I had drastically reduced my closet. I felt good about the progress I made and decided that it was a great start. 

I knew that a very important goal for me was to cut down on shopping. But I decided that I really needed to do more than cut down. I needed to stop. So I decided that besides a few items I needed I wouldn't clothes shop at all in 2015! Scary! But I knew that there were some items I would have to buy, so I hoped that would hold off my cravings. 

I started this goal for myself in January, and now 3 months later, I feel really good about what I've accomplished so far:
It's easier to find items to wear each day, I don't feel like I'm scrambling to find work clothes as much.
Almost everything I grab from my closet this season fits well and I feel comfortable in it. If I end up having something that does't feel good, it's easier for me to put it in the discard pile than it has been in the past.  
I end up wearing items that I enjoy, but got little wear out of, bc it's easier to find things as my closet isn't as full. 
I've only bought 2 items since Jan 1 2015. 

But all these accomplishments have also made it clear that I have a long way to go:
I still have way too many clothes. 
I still have items that don't fit well, or feel good. 
I have huge piles of laundry, left over from years of hording clothes, that hasn't even had the first cull yet. 
I have a whole new season and it's weight worth in clothes, to go thru!
My closet is still very messy and disorganized. 
I have a bunch of stuff in a "maybe" pile that I haven't tried wearing yet. 
I still have the urge to shop. 
I haven't donated any of the items I put aside, or sent any of my giveaway bundles. So all those clothes aren't in my closet but they're still in the house. 

Another Mandee find, cheap and versatile. I wear both these tops to work and for day to day! This flannel will be good for spring, too!

Another Mandee find, cheap and versatile. I wear both these tops to work and for day to day! This flannel will be good for spring, too!

I have some ideas about what to do next. I want need to go thru all my clothes again, then swap out the Winter clothes for more weather appropriate ones. Going thru all my clothes will be a seasonal activity but it will happen several times during the season as well. I plan on doing this, among other things, until I have my clothes at a more manageable number. Who knows how long that will take? But this as well as other things are good steps towards my overall goal!
 In upcoming months, I plan to keep working on this wardrobe project and posting about it. Just like the minimal wardrobe blogs I love reading, I hope my own trials and errors might help readers who might be struggling with the same issues. 

2015 Goal - Reading

In January, I wrote down some goals I have for the year. I only marked down my general goals. I didn't want to get overwhelmed! I think it would be good to expand on each of the main topics. There are very specific things I want to accomplish within each goal section. 
I'll be breaking down what I want to get done for each goal over the year and posting updates. See the first goal I tackled here.

The second goal I want to address is Reading. 

Here's what I originally wrote:
Read More - I can only remember reading three books last year. Pitiful. 

The three books I remember finishing are Sara Gran's Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead and Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway, and Mark Mills' House of the Hunted.  It's possible I read one or maaaaybe two more, but these are the only ones I remember reading. 

I love to read, I should be reading more. Reading should be a priority. So that's my goal this year. 

And I'm off to a good start. Or a start at least! Because I finished my first book in 2015:
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I started this book way back in September 2014. My mom was reading when we went on vacation to Cape May. She was almost done, but she forgot her copy at home. She decided to buy another bc she was eager to finish. I encouraged her to, so that I could have it when she was done. Two of my good friends had been recommending Bryson's books to me for a while so I was happy for the opportunity. As my mom was finishing it, reading at night or before a leisurely vacation nap, I would here her laughing to her self and I became even more interested. It's true that this book is funny, but it's also very informational, and somber in parts, too. 

A Walk in the Woods tells the real life tale of Bryson's attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail from beginning to end. Through the series of his misadventures, he skillfully weaves the interesting and sometimes bizarre history of one of America's longest and oldest trails, with the relevance it still holds today. He imparts facts and knowledge about the trail and about hiking in America as seen through his own, at times pessimistic, world view and humor.  

More and more as I grow older, I love books with facts. I love histories, especially about the American East Coast where I'm from. A Walk in the Woods was exactly the kind of book I've come to love. It's engaging and interesting, chock full of facts about the Appalachian Trail, it's history and geography, but moves along in an easy narrative. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, nature and hiking, or buddy stories. 

Have you read this book? Leave a comment!

2015 Finish Along

This year, I want to blog more, I want to sew more, I want to finish more!

So I'm participating in Adrianne's (On The Windy Side) 2015 Finish Along.
For those of you haven't heard of this before, every year a lovely blogger runs a Finish Along (FAL) where sewists can make quarterly goals to finish for the year. The projects can be quilts, clothes, knits, etc... But they must be a semi started project when you link up at the beginning of each Quarter. As you finish a project, you make a blog entry, and at the end of each Quarter you link up again with all that you have completed. There's no punishment or negativity if you don't finish, but there are potential prizes if you do! More than anything, it's a way to keep a list for yourself, and also to have support from the sewing community as you go!

I'm a big fan of to do lists. I make one everyday for myself at work. Although I have included quilting on some of my lists, I have never made a list just for sewing. 

Here is my First Quarter List!
Since this is the first time I'm joining in, I'm gonna go easy for my Q1. I've picked 5 projects to get done in 3 months. 

1. Repair, Label and Gift the Friendship Star Mini.

This quilt is pretty much done (so much so, that I already blogged about it once). Although I consider it a 2014 finish, it needs repair where the binding didn't catch. It needs a label and to given to whom it belongs. I think this is a good goal to start the year and Q1.

2. Finish hand-quilting, binding and labeling All Gingham, All The Time quilt. 

This project was started way back in Jan 2014. I set it aside when I wasn't happy with how the hand quilting was going. After some months of space, we have reunited. I want to finish this one up completely for Q1.  

3. Finish Nest Block Jacket. 

I have an old red wool jacket that my mom gave me quite a few years ago. It's really red. I started a wee star block to add to it. I'm hoping it breaks up the red a bit. I have the block, but I have to figure out how to best affix it to the jacket. This seems like a simple Q1 Project, but it may go sideways if the jacket needs more work. 

4. Baste, bind, quilt and label Stormy Friendship Mini Quilt. 

I made the top for this at the same time as the yet to be named Friendship Mini. Now I've got a back made. I want to have this one finished this Q1. This should be a straight forward project.  I just have to keep on task .

5. Finish piecing, baste, quilt, bind, and label Quilt for Grandma Doris. 

This is the biggest project on the list bc it is the least done. I started this quilt Nov 2014 with very high hopes it would be done by xmas. Not to be. I'd love to have this one done Q1 with the idea to gift it for Mother's Day, maybe? But there doesn't really need to be a special occasion to gift someone a quilt, right?

OK! I'm feeling good about this list! Let's get going!
Linking up with Adrianne, of course!