Wrapping up 2017

Well, to say this year got away from me is an understatement.

I got more and more involved this year with my neighborhood council, running the website, leading and participating in committees and joining the executive committee. I find joy in that, but also frustration because it takes time, which is limited. I’m working on striking a balance.

I did so so many house projects — some paid for, some DIY. Our house is more liveable, but I still have more to do. Our house is gray! We have new lights outside! We’re installing security cameras! I painted the brass fireplace surround! One shower doesn’t leak anymore! I made new pillow covers for our living room! I made Christmas wreaths! I painted our porch floor! I painted our shed! I got rid of a lot of outdoor clutter!

I didn’t roll my 401ks. I spent much of the year stressed out. My garage is still a mess. I barely read any books. 

I saved $600 on car insurance. I saved $340 on my cell phone plan. I found a better pool cleaning company.

I swam in my pool A LOT. I cheered Thomas on while he played on a soccer team for the first time — he even scored goals! I met more neighbors. One of my really good friends moved 10 minutes from me.

It feels like a bad year, but it could have been worse!


2017 goals: January progress

1. Do what I can do to make a difference.
In January, I was sworn in as a resident board representative on my local neighborhood council. In my zone, we have about 100,000 people, including students from our local Cal State University.

I  marched in my local Women’s March on Jan. 21.

I counted homeless in LA on Jan. 24.

I called my representatives multiple times about six issues that are important to me. I wrote 24 postcards. I wrote 10 emails.

I am making people listen to my voice. It feels harder living in California. I agree with my reps; they’re already doing what I want.

But I’ve also started thinking strategically about how to have conversations with people who voted differently than me. I want to win hearts and minds.

Living with the 45th president is scary as shit, though.

2. Consume less. For years, I’ve been eating fewer things that are processed and making more myself and reusing. I buy less. I own less. Everything I want from the world is less.

Clothing: $0/$262.50. I bought no clothes in January.

House: I’m pledging to scour Craigslist/Freecycle/Buy Nothing/ReStore for two weeks before buying items for my house in 2017. I made two benches. I bought paint (matching an existing color in my house). I also used a leftover sample from our kitchen project.

Food: I don’t think I’ve gotten terribly better, but we did do Gobble boxes for a few weeks and that was helpful — we didn’t buy groceries we didn’t use, and it made dinner on the weekends easier.

3. Move my 401(k)s.

I signed up for a rollover account, but I need to call to finalize things and haven’t gotten there. February!

4. Save.

DIY: I need to tackle some home projects myself to save a few thousand dollars.

I painted my entry way.

$3,000: This is actually going to be hard because Josh was off most of January when he normally isn’t. We used savings to cover it, but I want to pay that back AND add $3,000 this year.

$1,000: This is the amount I want to add to Thomas’ savings in 2017. $0/$1,000.

Stock purchase: Holding strong for now. Raises are in June, so no need to change my election yet.

Josh and I discussed budgeting and he’s tentatively on board with YNAB.

5. Find joy.

Benches, Part 2

Procrastination for the win!

Because I was lazy, the hairpin legs I wanted were $20 less per four-pack ($49.99 vs. $69.99) on Amazon.

I bought them and we bought screws at OSH, and now, ta-da!

Benches, complete with green hungry hippo.

I still need to put vanish on them, but at least we have alternate seating for the next chair break. I have varnish in the garage, so I just need to dig it out. I also need to figure out some solution to protect our wood floors. Considering wrapping the bottom of the legs with yarn.

The grand total is (rounded up) $115 for two benches. 


Years ago, I scoured to find dining chairs that worked with our old house and our dining room table. It was such a thing that I ended up stripping paint from my table and restaining the stupid, free thing to make chairs I bought online.

I really don’t know what to say about that behavior.

Those chairs have served us well, but they’ve taken a ton of abuse since Thomas was born. I, personally, have had three of them collapse while sitting in them in the past six months. It’s pretty terrible to be eating your tacos, wondering if your chair is going to fall out from under you.

The expiration date on the table approaches. We got it for free 10 (!!) years ago. We’re ready to pick something that fits our style.

And so, I’m building benches. We don’t like the tables out there. I’m going to build one. But I’m starting with benches to fill our immediate need of somewhere to sit.

My friend’s brother does some amazing DIY furniture, and this one caught my eye.

Everything in our house is white but we didn’t want solid. I mixed water with leftover paint for a kind of whitewash effect. I bought raw steel hairpin legs from Amazon.

I still need to seal my boards and affix my legs.

2017 Goals

We’re going into a very weird year for me.

I feel…. off. Uncertain. I’m not sure what will happen to my rights in the next four years, and it’s the first time in my life I’ve actively worried about it. And that makes me feel empathetic because I know there are many, many others worldwide who feel this every day of their whole lives. I feel lucky to have made it 34 years without this feeling.

Still, I’m in a family that mostly voted against my interests and that’s hard. I’m angry, and I still want to love these people. This election taught me that I’ve been too comfortable and too uninvolved.

2017 will force me to take stock of what’s really important to me — as a woman and as a mother.

So, goals:

1. Do what I can do to make a difference.

This isn’t about political idealolgy. This election cycle taught me that. I give zero shits about Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals and libertarians. What I care about is patriotism and rights and equality. What I care about is being open minded and hearing all sides and digesting information and having informed opinions. I have a coworker who often says “I haven’t done enough of my own research to talk about that.” Wouldn’t it be great if more of us approached the world that way?

2. Consume less.

For years, I’ve been eating fewer things that are processed and making more myself and reusing. I buy less. I own less. Everything I want from the world is less.

Clothing: Last year, I had $262.50 of my $500 budget left at the end of the year. Some of my favorite clothes are ones I’ve bought at thrift stores for a dollar or five. I find myself trolling internet clothing sales because they are good deals, not because I need anything. I’m not giving myself a new budget this year. I’m going to budget myself $262.50 from last year and see what happens.

House: I’m pledging to scour Craigslist/Freecycle/Buy Nothing/ReStore for two weeks before buying items for my house in 2017. Or to make it myself if the cost/time commitment is right. Namely, I need exterior doors, countertop, backsplash, paint, etc. I got very lucky in 2016: I have one room that needs wood flooring and I was able to get it for free. That’s ~$2,000 saved on the cost of flooring, not to mention diverting items from the landfill.

Food: This is a biggie for me. We waste so much food and it’s awful. There’s probably not much to be done about Thomas at this age, but Josh and I can make improvements.

3. Move my 401(k)s.

This is a carryover from last year, and I’m going to try to tackle it early and get it off my list.

4. Save.

I lost sight of my savings goal in 2016, mostly because of the new house. We spent more cash that I would like to think about remodeling it. It costs 1/3 more than our old house each month. I can’t always put real dollars into my savings account lately, but there are ways I can realize monetary savings. Josh and I also are talking about how to pay off everything and invest better for our future (both for college for Thomas and for retirement for us).

DIY: I need to tackle some home projects myself to save a few thousand dollars. In 2017, I’m going to paint my house myself. But I’m looking for other ways to spend less, so look for blog posts about that.

$3,000: This is the amount I want my savings account to be up at the end of the year (not including any monetary gifts we might receive, but I want to save those monetary gifts, too).

$1,000: This is the amount I want to add to Thomas’ savings in 2017. When I was pregnant, I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to save $500/yr for my child and hand him the account when he graduates college, with $11,000 to his name and the possibility that might bring. In reality, I’ve been saving more.

Stock purchase: I divert 10% of my salary into employee stock of my parent company. My company matches 30% and adds a 20% kicker in years we’re profitable. I need to remember to up my contribution as my salary grows.

This might also involve making a budget. I’ve been looking into using YNAB. But I need to get Josh on board.

5. Find joy.

2016 was about just putting my head down and surviving. In 2011, I did the same thing. Only 2011 was worse. At least I didn’t seriously question my mental health at any point last year. Can’t say the same for 2011. If that’s not a glimmer of a silver lining, I don’t know what is.

Go on a long weekend, just the three of us.
Find peace with a messy house. Or hire someone to clean it.

I might think of others, but I’m ready to share this.


2016 recap

Well, I didn’t do a great job of keeping up with this, huh? Steph and I were talking about how we’ve both fallen off the wagon (I moreso than her), and we think maybe some kind of simplified, more frequent check-in will help. Neither of us wants to let the blog go, so we’ll work on it!

And onto the recap:


  • Knit a pair of socks. Mmm, how about most of one?
  • Knit a pair of mittens. Nope!
  • Get better at calligraphy. I’m fairly certain I didn’t even touch any of my calligraphy supplies. Did I really let a year get away from me?
  • Do something creative for at least 30 min. a week. Some weeks, I did this, and it was great. Other weeks, not so much. Definitely something I want to take into 2017, however.


  • Send 1 card/month. Ha. Hahaha. Nope.
  • Reduce procrastination and time spent on the internet. I’ve gotten better at both of these, but I like to have the reminder. This goal is very tightly coupled with all the others: you don’t get stuff done and you can’t be connected with others if you’re staring at a screen and passively consuming.
  • Go to the Margaret Mitchell house. Nope! I didn’t really want to do this after all.
  • Go to Fernbank Museum. Surprisingly, I couldn’t really find someone to come with me. Some coworkers are participating in a thing there before too long, though, so I might go then.
  • Go take photos in the country. I mostly just stared at the country when I drove out, but I did get some shots! IMG_8949.JPG
  • Save $3,500. Done!
  • Get credit card balances to zero—and keep them there. Weeeeelll, we’re close.


I was reading someone’s 2016 book list on Steph’s recommendation, and came across this blog post. I really like the approach, so I’m ripping it off!


What are your strongest memories of the year?
2016 sucked in so many ways. January kicked off in a terrible way with the loss of my grandma, and that’s still really hard. And that’s what it is: a loss. There’s a hole in my life that wasn’t there before this year.

There was lots of drama at work, with people leaving (whether they wanted to or not), but there were also some big accomplishments. I did a lot of really solid work and am starting to get some of the recognition I deserve.

But there are other things: the election (for better and for worse), seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in years (twice!), tons of patio and pool time, doing a ton of work on my apartment to make it a space I love being in. Seriously, I walk in and sigh with happiness when I unlock the door. It’s such a nice feeling.

What did you do that you’d never done before?
I took my first vacation by myself, and it was amazing. I was nervous about whether I’d get bored, so I kept the beach visit short, but by the end, I was having such a good time that I tried to extend it. I should totally go ahead and book another trip now, actually…

I also picked peaches for the first time, went camping in the Upper Peninsula and went to Atlanta’s Bacon Fest, which is awesome and hilarious. I brought personal stuff into my office for the first time. About time, I guess—I’ve been there more than four years.

I also got myself flowers every week, which is the only resolution I’ve kept. I highly recommend it. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s important to have a little spot of beauty in your day.

What did you want and get?
Personally: a lot of growth in terms of trusting myself and believing in who I am.

Professionally: a 23% raise—not too shabby.

What did you want and not get?
Personally: my way, in a lot of cases. Probably for the best, though. I’d get spoiled quickly.

Professionally: Um, a 37% raise. It’s totally justified, I swear. I work my ass off.

What would you like to have in the new year that you didn’t in this one?
Peace, more time off (these might be related).

Quote a song lyric that sums up the year.
I am gonna make it through this year
If it kills me.
– The Mountain Goats, This Year

What was your most enjoyable purchase?
This is so vain, but my best purchase really was getting my hair straightened. It makes life so much easier if you aren’t forced to spend an hour drying and straightening your hair, only for it to poof up when you step outside.

Did you travel? If so, where?
PCB for beach trips
North GA mountains
The UP

Wow, is that really it? Next year I hope to use my SkyMiles to go somewhere awesome, plus either Mexico or Cuba.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Relaxed! Like, actually relaxed, doing the things I love with the people I love.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting things: time, money, energy on things that weren’t worth it.

Compared to last year, how are you the same? How are you different?
I don’t think my personality has really changed, I and I guess I don’t expect it to at this stage in the game. I do think I’ve come to trust myself, my beliefs and abilities more, as I said earlier. I’m also really trying to give myself and others more grace. We could all use a little more of that.


2016 collage.jpg


Starting 2017 With a Project

I haven’t set my goals for this year. But I made a thing already. Priorities, people.

I saw the pattern for a reversible fleece hat on Pinterest. T has outgrown his winter hats and I have some fleece in my stash.

I followed the tutorial exactly except I used pinking shears to remove the bulk on the inside. Also makes it better on the curves.

Finished! And it’s not even 10 a.m.


October-December 2016: Goals Progress/Year-end roundup

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Didn’t accomplish this. 

2. Lose 20 pounds. I’ve lost 10. I was within 1 pound at one point, and within 3-4 in September. But, I had the flu and November was a shitshow, and then holidays. I’ve gained 8 pounds since Nov. 1. So, next year.

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. $237.50/$500. I bought blanket scarves, several dresses, a skirt. Will I carry over my excess? Yes. But it’s pretty obvious that I won’t spend it.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. Pretty proud of myself on this one. We still have lots of work to do, but I love our house and our neighborhood.

5. Read 35 books. 6/35. Big fail on this one. Lowest reading year of my life.

6. KonMari my house. This might be too involved for me. But I could use a major purge in 2017.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. I’m better than when the year started, but I could do better.

Goal wise, it was a pretty productive year. I did a lot that wasn’t in my list. I didn’t do things I would have liked to do. But selling and buying a house are major accomplishments, so 2016 would have been a win if that was the only thing I did.

I accomplished quite a bit, and set myself up for more projects and such next year.


Book Bins

Thomas has a lot of books. But it was hard to keep them neat because he had to pull them off the bookshelf to see what they are.

So, I made two rolling bins for him in October. I used crates from Michaels (similar) and caster wheels (similar). I sanded the bins and used deck finish I had in my garage. Any stain or paint would work.

This would work well for a toy bin or a storage basket in a living room, etc.

I used a coupon at Michaels, so each bin cost me $8. I bought my wheels at OSH, in a pack that was about $5 each.

I think it was a successful project because he’s able to find books and put them away.

Blackout Shades v.2

  Years ago, I made blackout shades/curtains for the master bedroom in our old house. We were going to buy roller shades for this house, but when I went to put the order in for Blinds.com, the two shades cost $600. I just can’t justify that. So I bought the supplies and made two shades for our master bedroom here. It took me time on three weekends.

Blackout fabric – $36

Decor fabric – $80 (with leftovers)

Tension rod – $50

Dowel rod – already had it

Holders – $2

Total – $168

I got all my fabric at Joann’s on sale and with extra coupons, so that helped immensely on cost. I feel so much happier with something “done” at the house. And I’m sleeping better since it’s dark!