January 2019 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

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! 🙂

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. 🙂 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!

December 2018 Recap

After Hours, Ahem Ahem!

Now that I’m back to blogging, here’s the December 2018 recap.

Honeycomb Candle

Unusually, the first snow of the winter fell before Thanksgiving. It didn’t quite melt by the end of November, but for the most part the ground was bare and the weather warm for December.

We put my Christmas ornament projects to use. This year we decided on a rainbow-colored tree.

2018 Rainbow Tree Collage

During our break we cooked, ate well and rested, of course…

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

…not forgetting to go outside either.

January Sunset

I really scored at my local public library this Christmas: ALL of the Downton Abbey seasons and ALL of the (so-far released) seasons of Call the Midwife were on the shelf!

Xmas Binge Watching DVDs

Woot! 🙂 And we had a lovely, lovely period-drama-filled break.

Unfortunately, 2018 was a complicated year in terms of health. I won’t go into detail, but the situation is serious enough to have changed doctors, made my first visit to the ER and been introduced to the CT, EEG and MRI procedures. In addition, due to some baffling complications I haven’t been fully perky and/or upright for nine months. (Gosh, such a long time!)

I had hoped that continuing my treatment regimen AND enjoying a thoroughly guilt-free, restful Christmas would enable me to show these complications the door and wish them good riddance, but sadly that hasn’t yet happened. So, I’m going to have to continue with a lighter creative work load while taking care of myself.

What are you wishing most from 2019?

November 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

Both the latter half of October and the first half of November were rainy and felt very dark. I had to wait for good photography weather for a while, but finally I was able to list the three pieces of rainbow-striped wall art I made earlier this fall.

Rainbow Stripe Wall Art 3x
Rainbow Stripe Wall Art 3x on White

There were quite a few brilliantly bright days there, too. Funny how they seemed to get lost among all grey, though.

What a Murder

We got first snow on November 15th this year. What a surprising treat!

Snowy Nov Backyard 2018

I noticed myself yearning for candles, Christmas lights and bright colors very early.

Colorful Inspirational Books

I even accidentally wore red and green at the beginning of the month! 😀

Red Socks Green Pants

I also did some crafts, using up some ribbon ends that are too short for anything else plus other bits and bobs to make tree ornaments. Here’s a test piece I adapted from a hair bow project:

Ribbon Ornament Test Piece Finished

Having made sure I can do it, of course I wanted more colors! I didn’t have enough of colorful ribbons, though, so I cheated and added a few short pieces of fabric. They look quite good, though:

Ribbon Ornaments Finished

Normally we don’t start decorating for Christmas this early, but this year, for many reasons, we wanted to. Especially since the Thanksgiving weekend was the last gloriously sunny stretch in a bit.

Xmas Decor2 2018

How are you getting on with the rest of the year?

October 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

Picking away at the scrap piles and selecting bright colors has been such a relief from the dark, gloomy, rainy October days. Fortunately there haven’t been too many of those.

Another Rainbow Project5 Oct 2018

These pieced and lined rectangles measure roughly 8” x 10” or 26 x 21 cm, and make a rainbow continuum intended as a wall art set. They can, of course, also be hung singly. I should be able to list them on Etsy early November.

In fact, I liked the result so much I’m considering scaling them up for a set of striped rainbow continuum placemats. (A bit like my rainbow placemat prototypes.)

Unfortunately, a chronic condition flare-up and various appointments have significantly slowed me from late spring onwards, but this month was the worst so far. My goal for the remainder of 2018 is to get it under control again and return to normal.

My second priority is to minimize the effects of my ill health for shoppers. I will continue to ship orders and respond to queries as soon as possible. I will also make sure I update my Etsy shop with the latest, most accurate processing times.

Even so, as exigencies are quite possibile, I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

In our corner of Massachusetts, early October can still feel very summery.

October Butterfly

However, the latter half of October is when fall really starts feeling like fall. The leaves turn, nature is settling down for the winter…

View of October Trees over Lake

…except…

Last of Our Zucchini for 2018

…we keep getting zucchini from our garden! 😀

How has your October been?

September 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

Apparently I want to open each month’s recap with “I can’t believe how fast this month has flown by” but even so, September really has gone fast.

For banned books week this year, I read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Current Reading The Hate U Give

This month’s other reads were thought-provoking and absorbing, too.

I made a canvas hanger cover prototype. Choosing the fabric took a little doing – I initially wanted a tightly woven medium-weight cotton, but most that I got my hands on were a little transparent. A cotton duck to the rescue, then.

Canvas Hanger Cover HC015a

The placemat prototypes I started in February and finished earlier this summer are in use, being tested. (And I finally remembered to upload the photos!) Some of the details work, but others don’t, so at least as is they cannot be produced. (Yet.)

Quilting Both1 Purple Blues Greens Yellows Reds

The weather in the beginning of the month was very summery still, including some extremely muggy days. Approaching the end, we got fall temps with plenty of rain – very welcome both. I was worried for the water table during the dry summer months.

Husband and I carved time for a mini-getaway to visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As I grew up on a flood plain (VERY flat!) I found the mountains absolutely ah-mazing!

Mt Willard Crawford Notch Valley

On the gaming front, we broke in a new-to-us board game, Pandemic. It’s a collaborative game where players race against time to cure and, if possible, eradicate four diseases. It can be very unforgiving if the luck of the draw is against you, but a lot of fun!

Pandemic Breaking Out New Boardgame

We played WoW, too (although not quite as often as I would’ve liked), and got our first characters leveled to 120. Yay! 🙂 I’m leveling a human first for strategic reasons (gaining rep faster for allied races).

I also broke out some tastes of home: tar-flavored liquorice candy.

Tervaleijona

Now we’re enjoying seasonal weather and starting to plan the end of the year in detail. I can’t believe it’s almost October!

August 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

With August, the work year returns to normal for those of us with connections to schools and the academia. As usual, there was a flurry of activity.

Printing More Thank You Cards

To top it off, Husband and I did some home improvement projects, so my sewing time was extremely limited. I did manage to sew some headbands for myself and as gifts.

First Try Headbands

I used Cat’s tutorial as a starting point, and made a few alterations. Luckily I had large enough Marimekko unikko (poppy) fabric pieces to kill two birds with one stone: reduce my remnants pile and make gifts. Two of them are scarf-style which I figured out myself, only to discover patterns online. Ohwell. 🙂

In addition, the newest World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, was released. I took my druid out first.

WoW BfA Heart of Azeroth Aug 2018

Juggling everything on my schedue AND adding new gaming content, even if I couldn’t play as much as I would’ve wanted to, meant I barely had time or the brain power to read. (Apparently I tend to put all of my media consumption, regardless of the shape the media comes in, into the same time slot. Hm. I’ll have to consider changing the tendency.)

Provenance by Ann Leckie turned out the most enjoyable: family, inheritance, culture and politics with a little action sprinkled in. I’m so looking forward to September; things should calm down and I hope to get more time to read again.

Did you read or watch anything worth recommending?

July 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

Traffic at my Etsy shop typically slows down almost to a halt in the summer months. This year was no exception.

Beach Feet Up

Rather than putting my feet up, though, it it allows me to do more time-consuming tasks like brainstorming and planning. I can also spend time experimenting with techniques and ideas plus make prototypes, or concentrate on home projects.

For example, I got back to the pieced placemat prototypes I started in February and worked on in March. I was a little too optimistic then; instead of being able to finish them, I got bogged down by tax prep and sundry spring paperwork.

I’m still very pleased with the pouches I made to use up some canvas leftovers, though. 🙂

Canvas Pouches Collage

On the personal side of life, we had Finnish and Canadian friends visit for a few days early in July. There was much rejoicing, and oh, so much good food. We celebrated Canada Day with HUGE lobsters!

Canada Day Dinner Jul 02 2018

It was incredibly warm and sunny – the raspberries ripened early.

I also started the very last of my Legion-related questing in WoW before Battle for Azeroth.

WoW Legion Silithus Warlock Crucibles Promise Jul 2018

I’m glad I took the time to play this month, for I have some scheduled busy waiting for me in August.

What’s your best July memory this year?

June 2018 Recap

After Hours, Ahem Ahem!

This month, I tested a bucket bag pattern to make two canvas pouches. They have a round bottom, which allows them to stand upright when empty.

Green and White Canvas Pouches Done

The canvas has a really great, understated floral pattern outlined in white. I added a coordinating green and white polka dot accent (a better view here). I just need to finish the documentation and take more pictures, then I can list them in the shop.

I use similar baggies to organize my socks, undies and bras when traveling, and find them very handy. These ended up really cute, even if I say so myself. 🙂 I’m also finishing another, slightly taller pair from teal floral canvas.

Otherwise, I spent most of my sewing time adapting patterns and making clothes for myself. Last year, I made a bunch of tops mostly out of linen…

Top Pattern Fabric Cut

Clothing for Myself Tops 2017

I already picked apart the grey top’s neckline to re-do. 🙂

So, this year, to go with the tops, I adjusted a pajama pants pattern into two (day) shorts variants, one without and the other with a side seam.

Apart from creating a pattern that fits me well, it was great to use some of my leftover fabric with the first few test pairs. Some were highly experimental, others used up bits and pieces that by themselves were too small to make anything. At times I had to be very creative to make a whole pair of shorts!

Then I wanted to add pockets to the shorts without a side seam. That lead to more experiments…

Experimental Pocket Done

I may have gone a little overboard – I now have five new pairs of shorts! Also, I want to make a pattern for a pantskirt (with pockets, naturally) and add pockets to a dress pattern I like. Good grief, I may have unleashed a pocket monster! 😀

Speaking of pantskirts – is that the English word commonly used? The Finnish term I grew up with is the same word for word (housuhame). I did also find the translation ‘coulottes’, but I don’t have a good enough of a grasp of that or pantskirt. Coulottes does ping my medieval or Renaissance-era brain, but that may just be the ex-SCAdian in me talking.

As usual, I took a few days off to enjoy the midsummer, and it was glorious. For one, wild roses in our neighborhood were absolutely loaded with blossoms this year.

White Roses Blooming

The only interference came from the trees:

Washed-out Pollen

A-choo!

On the other hand, blossoming allergies meant I had a great excuse to stay inside and play more WoW. 🙂 I set the game aside last month, but now I wanted to get back to mop up last quests and achievements before the Battle for Azeroth expansion is released in August.

WoW Legion Warlock Weapon Imbued Jun 2018

Both spring and summer were late this year, but we finally have pleasant summer weather. I hope it is enjoyable wherever you are!

May 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

Whoa, another month has come and gone. Here are some of my May highlights.

At the beginning of the month, I listed a bunch of heart banners in Playfully Grownup Home at Etsy.

Heart Banners Done

Otherwise my sewing time was spent adapting patterns and making clothes for myself. I’ll try to remember to post a pic in June.

Sewing Ideas for Myself

There was also quite a bit of bureaucretese to slog through, among them the new EU GDPR. Basically it doesn’t change any of my business practices since I don’t use or store any user information beyond what’s needed to operate my Etsy shop and this website, nor do I spam my customers or blog followers with newsletters. It did, however, give me the chance to put my practices into clear terms, which is a positive.

Spring in our corner of Massachusetts seemed very condensed this year, but beautiful nevertheless.

Wild White Violets

I’m looking forward to June!

April 2018 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

I started the month with a bang by finishing my tax returns two weeks ahead of time. It was great to be done (especially since I discovered a mistake in a previous return and had to do extra work to correct it).

In fact, I was so overjoyed that I decided to run a sale for my shop. As one does. 🙂

WX003b 2017-01

My work schedule was disrupted by multiple doctor’s appointments. I did, however, donate a heart banner in rainbow colors for the annual Con or Bust, Inc., auction.

Rainbow Banner on Door Frame

I also made similar heart banners to sell. I aim to list them on Etsy at the beginning of May, as soon as I finish calculating prices and documenting plus photographing them.

Spring this year has been a little shy. We got snow not only on April 15…

Apr 15 Snow

…but also on the 19th – good grief! This past week, the temperatures finally, finally seem to have risen to seasonal AND stayed there in our corner of Massachusetts.

We have a bunch of early wild flowers that blanket our lawn. Last year, the tiny, tiny white ones were all out before mid-April…

Tiny White Wild Flowers en Masse

…but this year we had to wait till well past mid-month. Phew! I’m so looking forward to many more warm days in May!