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. 


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.


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.


2015 recap

I really, really had a good 2015.

One of my goals was being less negative, and I worked hard to change things about my life and self to make my attitude better. I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I changed jobs mid-year to find more freedom and time in my life when the commute/job/life got too overwhelming. It was a great change, and I feel really content with my work and career direction.

I did some craft projects. I did the ones that made me happy until they didn’t and then I put them aside.

I read books. More than I thought I would be able to. And while my life doesn’t allow the endless Saturday hours of holing up and getting lost in a book, finding the time for fiction in audio form has made life better.

I was less rigid with myself and the goal-setting. When my clothing budget goal didn’t work anymore because of the new job, I suspended it.

A lot of the year was spent focusing on me and making life better/easier, and yet, I still didn’t have much time for myself. I find myself challenged by knowing just how fleeting the time Thomas will be a toddler is — just how little time I have with him, overall — and needing an hour, an effing hour, with no one talking to me, touching me, climbing on me, holding my hand, needing pet (I’m looking at you, cats). I’m sure that finding that balance will me the struggle of the rest of my adulthood.


December 2015: Goals progress

It’s a few days before the end of the year, but I’m going to go ahead and sum up December.

1. Being less negative. Still about 10% negative.

2. Projects. Two in December.

So far this year:
Play for Thomas
-Felt board
-Playdough (it only worked for a day, then I bought some)
-Cardboard house
Train layouts

Clothes for me
-Mending (three sweaters, a black shirt, a running jacket and slimming a kimono)
-T-shirt upcycle
-Fascinator (hair accessory)
In progress
-Pants (I just need to sew them)
-Skirt for work (I just need to sew it)
-Dress (I just need to sew it)

Christmas decorations

Home decor
-Gallery wall progress (I found free pics online, printed them through Shutterfly, bought frames at Michaels and hung them up.)

-Clay jewelry holders
-Nail polish swatches

3. Track my food on my Fitbit app. Didn’t happen.

4. Back health. Did some yoga, bought new shock pads for my device, which makes it better.

5. Clothing budget. Still suspended.

6. Read 25 books. 37/25. I am constantly not remembering what I’ve read/listened to.

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Giraffe by J. M. Ledgard
Room by Emma Donoghue
Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
The Magicians King by Lev Grossman
The Magicians Land by Lev Grossman
That Summer by Lauren Willig
–Four re-reads–
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson
The Martian by Andy Weir
Armada by Ernest Cline
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Finding Fraser by kc dyer
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

7. Declutter. Sold some clothing items to ThredUp, gave some stuff away, sold some stuff.

Trains and Advent Calendars

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to do an advent calendar with Thomas this year?” I looked at Target, but I didn’t really see any I thought were any good.

On Friday, as we were setting up our Christmas stuff, I had to marvel, because 2014 Stephanie just KNEW that 2015 Stephanie would want to do that. She’d bought me a calendar and put it in the Christmas boxes and it was everything I was looking for.

 Except, we’re going to Florida for Christmas. So we won’t be here to do the whole calendar. Rather than forego it, Josh and I opted to start the calendar early and countdown to leaving for Florida instead of Christmas. While means we’re basically a few days behind.

Because I hadn’t found a calendar, I hadn’t put in much thought to what I’d want to put in it.

My requirements:
-Things that won’t clutter my house
-Things that bring Thomas joy
-Things that are little and not really “presents”

This could be food stuffs, etc., but I also wanted to make little experiences for him. Something he really, really loves are his trains. We bought him the IKEA wooden railway for his 2nd birthday, and it’s been a big hit. We bought more track a few months ago, and it came with a paper of track layouts. T loves pointing at one for us to help him build.

So, I scoured the internet (Pinterest) for more track layouts and made a couple PDFs of just the images. I printed them out, folded the pages and tucked each one into a different day.

Wooden train track layout #1
Wooden train track layout #2

(Sources: This. This. This. and This.)

(Note: Part of the picture is missing on the top of train layout #1. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get that photo to show up right in Photoshop. Sorry, people.)

Books all around

I’m on track for my reading goal this year only because of audiobooks I’ve been checking out from the Los Angeles Public Library.

BUT. But. Do you know how many children’s books I’ve read this year? I’ve read about Pete the Cat and his cool, blue magic sunglasses upwards of 25 times. I can recite half the books in Thomas’ library because he latches onto a book for a week or more and insists on reading it three, four, five times in a row. His favorite this second is about Otis, a little tractor with a calf friend.

This has got to count for something, right? RIGHT?

Does Pete worry about book goals? Goodness, no. Reading comes and reading goes.

February 2015: Goals progress

1. Being less negative. February was hard for this one. My gmail account shows eight days of talking negative about a particular coworker. I actually thought it was more than that, so I’m pleasantly surprised. While I still need work, I am acknowledging it and trying, so that’s progress. I could do better, though!

2. Projects. I am doing a lot of projects this year already. So I’m at 4.

In case you forget, I’m aiming for at least one project from the following groups:

  • Play for Thomas: I made a felt board for Thomas.
  • Clothes for me: I finished my kimono. I also am in the process of making these pants. (My progress is hampered by the fact that I have to trace the pattern from my Burda magazine, add a seam allowance to my pattern and THEN cut it out. That’s quite a few naps to get to the sewing part… I’ll hopefully finish in March.)
  • Christmas decorations
  • Home decor

I also made these clay jewelry holders. And I made swatches of all my nail polish.

3. Track my food on my Fitbit app. I started to track my food one day in February. I know, I know.

4. Back health. Still haven’t found a chiro, did yoga 2/28 days in January. I’m still using my electro device for pain — I do it right before bed and it’s SO GOOD. My back feels so much better.

5. Clothing budget. $139.07/$534. I bought two shirts at H&M ($19.98) and two shirts at the Gap ($21.24) and two pairs of pants and a pair of leggings at Ross ($31.97).

Dilemma: I also bought a pair of Toms on Zulily ($34), but they don’t fit and I can’t return them, so I have to try to sell them. I don’t know how/if to count them? (Super pissed about this. My size 9 Toms are too tight, so I got 9.5, but they’re a good half size too big….)

6. Read 25 books. 6/25. Five in February. Audiobooks. It’s the only way I read anymore, apparently. Four of these were audiobooks.

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Giraffe by J. M. Ledgard
Room by Emma Donoghue
Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

7. Declutter. This would help me so much in life. I do a little every month, but not enough. It just feels so overwhelming.

Project 1: Nail polish swatches


Tasha inspired me to do this project. Her nail polish swatches made me go, “Oh, that would be an easier way to keep track of what I’ve got and make decisions.”

I had to throw one very clumped polish away, and I was able to thin out quite a few others that were 10+ years old and disgusting.

Tasha separated hers into winter and summer hues, but I just did mine by color/glitter/effects. I copied her by writing the brand/color name on each swatch. And I bought binder rings (like Tasha) to hold my swatches together.

Bad news: I found two nail polishes while cleaning out a purse recently. So I have a couple more swatches to do.

Project 2: Felt Board


For Christmas, I made Thomas a felt Christmas tree that we stuck to the wall and it had some “ornaments” and “presents” that T could use to decorate his own tree. It immediately was a big hit. And so, when it was pulled off the wall and wrapped up to be stored in the garage until next year, I decided to make him a felt board he could play with year-round.

Some items I scoured the likes of Pinterest for ideas. I used this felt board as my base idea.

Thomas is really into cars and trucks, so those were an obvious addition:


Animals are also a favorite, but I started with a place for them to live:


What’s a playscape without trees?


And airplanes and helicopters are also an interest. T was making the sign for helicopter for more than a month before we figured out what he was saying. (He’d make the sign and say “dadoo!” Gibberish.)


I first used felt glue to make my items, but they didn’t hold up. T ate an apple off the apple tree. A window fell off a car. I could just see it becoming a trend, so I sewed everything securely on.