February 2020 Recap

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If there’s one thing I’d rather NOT recap, it’s being sick. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened this February: the whole first half of the month was cough-y and achy. And I was tired; so tired.

Sick in Munchkin Terms

I’m so glad flu shots exist, for this bug was hard enough without having to deal with the full force of a nasty virus.

Despite being wiped out, I was able to return my first tax document of the season. It was a week later than planned, but still very much on time, thank goodness! (And this is exactly why I prefer to start on my paperwork ridiculously early!)

Tax Time Prep

The two-week flu pretty much threw everything off sync. I’d just caught up when I got sick again after Hubby (who was also sick) was well enough to go back to work. Understandably, my sewing was almost non-existent, just a little mending for myself. I certainly wouldn’t want to inadvertently mail this virus (these viruses?) off to anyone else along with my products.

I was able to watch several new-to-me series and movies while sick, so that was a plus. One definitely worth recommending is the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Excellent, excellent acting, writing and filming; such high stakes and drama almost entirely without guns or violence, and certainly completely without the disgustingly thoughtless gunplay so prevalent on U.S. television.

On the wild life front, we had a fox visit our yard one day. We’ve seen one now and then over the years, but always from further away and only in passing. This time, though, Mr. Foxy took a couple of laps around the house, stayed right outside our kitchen window to enjoy a scratch under its chin, then loped off across the road to visit the neighbors.

Grey Fox Visiting

It was fascinating!

We’ve also had turkey visitors come round the latter half of the month.

Two Turkeys Visiting

These two were a part of a flock of three. The next day we had twelve(!) and the day after that six or so. They’ve clearly been somewhere else for the early winter. I wonder whether we’ll be seeing more of them from now on?

Among my minor home organizing projects, I inserted tension rods vertically inside one of our narrow lower kitchen cabinets to make slots for the big cutting board, the baking sheets and the splatter screen et al. not in the picture).

Tension Rod Cabinet Organizer

It’s so fantastic not to have them fall around the cabinet anymore. πŸ™‚

I really hope you have been well this February!

Brexit and PGH

Ahem Ahem!

Brexit is now reality – since 31 January, 2020, at midnight (CET), Great Britain is no longer a member of the European Union and is therefore considered a third country with regard to trade agreements and other regulations.

A transition period due to last until 31 December, 2020, is currently in effect. During that period, Britain will negotiate new contracts with EU (and presumably its other international partners where needed). What shape those contracts will take is anyone’s guess at this point – it is perfectly possible that the export and import procedures may change radically, or they may not.

Flickr Banksy does Brexit detail

Dunk via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sadly, this creates too big of a paperwork burden for me in light of my current commitments. I am truly sorry to have to exclude – and apologize for disappointing – potential Playfully Grownup Home customers in the UK.

If the situation changes, I will reconsider and let you know.

December 2019 and January 2020 Recap

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An early January virus surprise knocked me out for a while and delayed both the shop re-opening and return to blogging. As I didn’t get the December recap posted until now, it makes sense to combine the two months.

It’s getting to be that time of the year again – tax time, that is. I’m prepping already. Even though the federal deadline is in April, I have a property tax deadline for the local authorities in February.

Tax Time Prep

In December, I made a whole slew of recyclable bags as presents, and one of them made me look a more skilled designer than I am: in this cat bag for my niblings, the print matches almost exactly at the French seam.

Xmas Bag Gift Project 2 Closeup

Serendipity for the win!

Reading’s been great:

Reading Pile December 2019

Reading Pile January 2020

Weatherwise, it’s been a ride. We had some beautiful snows in December…

Bright Sunlight Middle of Woods

…then it got surprisingly warm in early January. So warm, in fact, that the first ladybugs came out!

2020 Jan First Ladybug of Year

Then the temperatures swung again. With new snow on the ground and temps well below freezing, I put my brand new mittens to good use.

Kirjoneulelapaset

And speaking of knits, I found the first Christmas stockings that I actually love:

HGTV Magazine Dec 2019 p114

HGTV Magazine, December 2019, p. 114

The image is from the December 2019 issue of HGTV Magazine. Aren’t they gorgeous? As a Finn, I didn’t grow up with stockings, so I find them a bit baffling in general, but these are absolutely lovely.

How was your winter holiday season? What about the beginning of 2020?

February 2019 Recap

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This February had loads of paperwork, as usual. Fortunately for me, Valentine’s Day came right after I finished my taxes. Time for yummy loot!

Discounted Valentines Chocolates

We usually buy Valentine’s Day candy only after it has gone on sale, so, perfect timing.

What differs from previous years is that I got my tax stuff figured out by mid-month. I’m very pleased by the achievement and have made copious notes to make the process as fast in the future. (I hope!)

Weatherwise, this February was oddly low-snow. We did get a number snowfalls, but they were relatively few and far between. In the very beginning of the month, we had a load of light, fluffy snow, with sun and high winds the following day. The powdery snow fell off the trees in huge, gorgeous, transparent curtains, almost like mist.

Powder Snow Falling off Trees

My photo doesn’t do it justice at all; it was magnificent!

Towards the mid-month, we had another layer. Afterwards, in the wee hours of the morning, the neighborhood turkeys apparently had places to be:

Turkey Track Central

So many different paths all over! There’s also at least one set of fox tracks there. And speaking of foxes, one Saturday, a bright and glorious morning, one came round to check around the bird feeder in our neighbor’s back yard.

Fox at Bird Feeder

It seems that spring is early this year – and you get no complaints from me. Although I could do with less pollen this early in the year…

Sadly, the latter half of February brought two deaths in Husband’s extended family, which cast a pall on otherwise sunny days.

I hope your year is still off to a good start.

Past Me Made Current Me Laugh – Again

Behind the Scenes

Past me made current me laugh with this random note:

Random Note to Self

“Who’s scruffy-looking!?”

I found it in old paperwork last year when I was reorganizing my tax papers. (I guess I was feeling frustrated and disheveled after checking and re-checking numbers for a long time.) This year, I found the photo I uploaded to Flickr and made myself laugh again! πŸ˜€

January 2019 Recap

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One of the new things I started at the beginning of 2018 is a month-end recap, a sort of newsletter light. Now I’ve completed the cycle with the first recap for 2019. Yay! πŸ™‚

Speaking of cycles, tax time is rolling around again. I’ve been bogged down with tax prep more than usual at this time of the year.

2018 Jan Tax Work

Unfortunately, Etsy changed the way they bill and pay their sellers at the end of last year. The new system has had some glitches which have increased my bookkeeping workload significantly. I can’t wait to be done with the 2018 number crunching and get onto the tax forms themselves because it’ll feel so much easier – something I never, ever, thought I’d say!

Just past mid-January there was a snowstorm, the first snowfall for the year. Then a front of warm weather with rain pushed through and melted almost all of the snow. It was very pretty for all of four days!

One night right after the snow, we had someone scamper across our yard.

Tracks on Snow from Above

There’s a funny gap in the tracks (in the middle of the photo), though, which makes me wonder whether it might be a sign of a fox jumping to try and catch a critter under the snow. Like in the gif below (but probably much less showy).

Giphy BBC Earth Fox Jump

BBC Earth, via Giphy.

I had a small but very satisfying reading pile this month:

Library Reading Pile Jan 2019

From left to right, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by my favorite living author Nora Jemisin, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming. I also read Ariah by R.B. Sanders and Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang. I’m looking forward to the last two Murderbot novellas, too, which I got as Christmas present. Yay, so many great reads!

On the screen, Husband and I were introduced to the tv series Modern Family by a friend. It’s a mocumentary of three generations of a Californian family. We’re bingeing through the seasons and have gotten up to seven, and are still enjoying it.

My goodness, I never would’ve thought that I’d find a mainstream (i.e., non-genre) family drama interesting, but I do. πŸ™‚ Shows you what production values can do – specificially in this case, attention to quality character-writing and episode structure.

Now that I’ve written a full year’s worth of recap posts, it’s time to reassess. Even though it felt difficult at times, I certainly learned a lot and found that I do like an end-of-the-month look back.

I’m inclined to continue these newsletters, but I might dink around with the topics or proportions. Would you like to read more about something or maybe less about something else? Please let me know!

March 2018 Recap

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If February felt a warm and spring-y, March 2018 really came in like a lion: in the first half of the month, we had three major winter storms. There was widespread damage both from flooding and snow-laden trees crashing down all over New England. It was very pretty, though:

A March Snowstorm After

Husband and I got off easy, all in all – apart from copious snow-shoveling, our immediate area didn’t suffer badly. The only blackout in our neighborhood lasted less than 24 hours, and damage on our street was limited to one downed wire (with no street plowing, however, because the truck couldn’t get past it). Plus some fallen trees in the woods, but that’s normal.

In connection with the International Women’s Day, I discovered letterer, illustrator and designerd Risa Rodil. My tinkerer heart absolutely beats for this poster of Shuri from the movie Black Panther:

Tumblr Risa Rodil Poster Shuri Improved

Risa Rodil on Tumblr.

β€œJust because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”

Speaking of hearts, I’ve been making prototypes of small heart ornaments. So far I’ve only made singletons, but I’m hoping to find a handy way to string them up as a banner.

Prototype Hearts Hung up

I was really exited about our spring break trip to visit family in Virginia. For a while I was worried we might not be able to make it – our flight left the morning after one of the major snowstorms. Luckily, the airport was running more or less normally by then. (The crews must’ve pulled an all-nighter – thank you!) It was fantastic to be able to enjoy the warmer weather plus first leaf buds and blossoms in the valleys.

VA March Break Crocus

Up in the Blue Ridge Mountains nature was, understandably, not as far along, but the views were still very beautiful. We happened to visit on a clear, bright, sunny day – the vista went on and on!

VA Blue Ridge Mountains1

And while stopping for lunch in Charlottesville, I saw this sticker on a post near the Downtown Mall:

Charlottesville VA Sticker on Post

β€œWarning! Fascism free zone.

β€œThis is a no go area for all fascists, racists, sexists and homophobes.

β€œYou have been warned!”

It wasn’t even the only anti-bigotry expression we saw. Clearly the city was deeply affected by the death of Heather Heyer in August 2017.

Instead of designing and sewing, most of my mental capacity this month has been derailed into dealing with taxes. I belatedly found an error in my 2016 return, and had of course to check all previous ones to see whether it tracked further than that. The end is in sight, though – almost done with the amendment and the 2017 return!

February 2018 Recap

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This month started with finalizing and submitting the first tax-related return of the year. And there was much rejoicing!

And there was much rejoicing (yaaaaaaaay) – Monty Python & the Holy Grail via Malarsk on YouTube

I also had the (ahem) joy of hanging on the phone with my bank to try and solve a month-long issue. Fortunately their team did eventually solve the mystery glitch. I am so thankful – YAAAAY for tech support!

I’ve been working on small piecing / quilting prototypes (think placemats or table cloths) made from two different sizes of squares.

Piecing2 Ready Purple Blues Greens Yellows Reds

Unfortunately, a third type of paperwork issue slowed me down – I haven’t been able to proceed as fast as I’d like. That’s part of the creative life, though.

We only had two significant snowfalls in February. The morning after the first one, the yard looked like cotton batting or wadding. (Boy, I do indeed have a quilting brain on!)

Latest Snowfall Looks Lumpy

While sewing, I’ve been enjoying vocal folk hop by Tuuletar in my native Finnish. Blog posts on the group here and here.

Tuuletar Debut Album Tules maas vedes taivaal

And we saw Black Panther, and it was glorious!

January 2018 Recap

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This year, one of the new things I’m trying is a month-end recap for my activities. It’s not meant as a newsletter as such, but maybe a newsletter light. I aim to list some of the highlights for each month with plenty of photos, as mine is a visual job. πŸ™‚

Here are the more significant things from January 2018.

Preparing my tax returns is always an involved process, so I start as early as possible in the beginning of January.

Inventorying Green Fabrics

As part of tax prep, I check my inventory. That is a year-end task that takes quite a bit of effort, energy and elbow grease. On the other hand, every time I go through my stash I’m reminded of a fabulous fabric or another and get inspired.

I also need to submit documentation for assigning property taxes for my business. This is the first tax-related return of the year.

2018 Jan Tax Work

Work was slowed down by snow storms in late December and early January. The 2018 winter storm Grayson brought some 13″-15″ / 33-38 cm of snow for us. And this on top of the first two snowfalls of the season, about 10″ / 25 cm total, that didn’t have time to melt.

2017 Dec End After Snowfall

I was afraid we’d end up with snow up to our nostrils (like a few winters ago). Fortunately it doesn’t look likely anymore, although February might yet surprise us.

I also got a Jane Austen 10 GBP note of my own! Fansquee!

And, heartbreakingly, while I was reading her Tales from Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin passed.

Current Reading Tales from Earthsea

Her passing was such a bittersweet moment, bitter because she won’t be producing any more work. However, the many tributes serve to remind us of her intellect, inner fire and vision. I’m most fond of Le Guin’s Earthsea stories, some of which I’ve read and re-read in Finnish and in English over the years. I’ve only managed one of her science fiction books so far, though. Time to rectify that.

Taxes: Done!

Behind the Scenes

I’m done with both my business property and income taxes. And there was much rejoicing.

Akire Bubar bestfilingpractices

Best filing practices by Akire Bubar.

Seriously though, I’m really proud of having gotten my property taxes done almost a month before the deadline, and income taxes a month and a half. It’s been a lot of work, but the peace of mind is worth every moment.

The brilliant illustration is by Akire Bubar.