Lately…

Watching… Bedlam Basketball. I couldn’t let back-to-back BEelam wins pass without a mention here. It was a stressful game but my Cowboys pulled out a win over the Sooners! They are on a streak, hopefully it continues into March.

Listening to… Andrew Hallam on Afford Anything podcast. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been listening to Afford Anything. While I was doing some yard work over the weekend, I listened to several episodes. The two-parter (here and here) with Andrew Hallam was very informative, so much so that I broke my spending fast rule and bought his book. If you are interested in investing, I highly recommend these episodes as a beginner/refresher course.

Reading… Millionaire Teacher. Andrew Hallam was a teacher that began investing when he was 19. By following simple investing rules (and with a lot of help from compounding interest), he had a million dollar portfolio by the time he was 38. He lays out his simple research backed methods in this book. This book, a long with other research has me reassessing my portfolio.

Wallking… my 10,000 steps. I am so glad the weather has been so nice. I’m finally able to get back to my 10,000 step goal. I feel so much better when I meet it.

Loving… TP-Link Range Extender. This also broke the spending fast, but it’s going to save me money in the long run. Late last year, I upgraded my DSL to U-Verse internet. I have been running out of data on my mobile phone for the last few months and finally pieced together that it was because my iPhone was constantly disconnecting from the new modem/router. When I saw these range extenders on sale at Amazon the other day I wondered if I could use it to keep that from happening. I set it up with a different Network name and connected my iPhone to it. It hasn’t disconnected since.

What have you been up to lately?

 

 

 

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Happy Weekend!

Feeding the Giraffe at the zoo, circa 1950 via History in Pictures

Hello!!! I’m sorry for the lack of posts this week; I did not plan for posts to be so sparse around here this last couple of weeks. It just seemed like I had a lot of non-routine stuff going on that got in the way of blogging. Hopefully next week will be back to normal. I’m hoping that someday I can get ahead on writing posts so when that stuff happens you don’t even notice here. Do you have big weekend plans? I’m hoping for some outdoor weather so I can get a jump start on spring yardwork. I declare that this is the year that I FINALLY get the back yard in shape (don’t hold your breath, this isn’t the first year I’ve made that declaration).

What do your socks say about you?

If you know anything about me, I bet you can guess what I did with these instructions.

Is this true in your world? It’s not in mine.

I plan on using this next time I’m researching a purchase.

I had no idea!

What does your flight number mean?

Wish I was here.

Is it necessary?

Love this list of advice (as well as the additional piece here)!

Have a great weekend!

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Lately…

Reading… The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress. This book was suggested on a recent episode of “What Should I Read Next?”  I think I added all the books discussed to my to-be-read list. I started with this one because it sounded like it might be the easiest to get into. I have not had a chance to read much of it though, so it hasn’t hooked me yet.

Listening to… In the Dark. I’m not sure where I first heard about this podcast, but I’ve been looking for a good true crime podcast since the first season of Serial. This is less mysterious than Serial because you know who committed the crime from the very beginning (although I believe the arrest did not happen until they’d already begun recording the podcast). Especially since it involves the kidnapping and murder of a child, I don’t recommend binge-listening but it’s a worthwhile listen. They explore a lot of issues with the criminal justice system – something I’ve always found fascinating.

Wanting… embossing tools (heat gun, pens, powder). When you really start to get into lettering, you find that there are all kinds of tools you want. I’ve been especially fascinated with embossing videos lately and would love to get the tools to do it. I’m going to hold out until my skills have improved, but they are definitely on the wish list.

 

Watching… iPad Lettering Tutorials. I have been a bit obsessed with learning about all the techniques and apps used in iPad lettering. Karin at iPad Lettering has some great tutorials (she is also responsible for the great iPad worksheets for the Show Me Your Drills and Letters challenges.

Loving… my new blender base. It’s pretty sad that I’m so excited about this and I hope the purchase doesn’t violate my spending ban. I use my blender daily for my morning smoothie. For the last couple of months it hasn’t been doing a very good job and has been occasionally leaking. I’ve been thinking that replacing the base would probably solve the problem but for some reason I’ve put off doing it. I finally broke down and bought one and am thrilled that my smoothie making experience has improved dramatically.

What have you been up to lately?

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Happy Weekend!

Rainy night on Oxford Street, London, 1960 by Philip Jones Griffiths via History in Pictures

Great food for thought regarding saving money.

I’m in a bit of a reading lull, maybe one of these will get me back on track.

Talking to kittens.

I want to move in to this cottage.

This made me smile.

Something that seems like common sense but probably doesn’t happen.

A Harvard designed paper airplane.

I hope to use this someday.

‘I’ve found Facebook Groups to be a great resource. I need to check out some of these.

Have a great weekend!

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Create Space

As I’ve mentioned before, over the last year, much of my time has been devoted to minimizing/creating space. I think different people have a different interpretation of what minimalism means. For me, it has nothing to do with living in a house completely devoid of furniture with nothing on the walls. I’m a design nerd, so I’m always going to want to have beautiful things. My definition of minimalism is the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This is the goal.

I made significant progress last year, but I still feel like I have a ways to go. I am always surprised when I hear about people completing the process in less than a month. I wonder if they are able to maintain that lifestyle. For me, the process has been like peeling back the layers of an onion. I began with the easy stuff: clothes I don’t wear and things that weren’t being used. Clearing out that first layer helped give me space to dig deeper. I did a few more passes through what was left, diving deeper and deeper into the stuff that I wasn’t using but was holding onto because I might. With each layer, I have been able to be more objective.

Now I’m mostly left with the hard stuff. I have to decide whether that stuff, in the words of Marie Kondo, “sparks joy” or is something my fantasy self (think Martha Stewart without the prison time) thinks she needs. I’ve been noticing a similar theme in a lot of minimalism & personal finance articles lately. This one by Trent Hamm is probably the best. If we spread ourselves too wide, we become shallow. I’m finally awakening to the fact that I can do anything, but I can’t (nor do I want to) do everything. Ultimately, I’m left with determining what I want from life and what’s just noise that’s getting in the way.

In Joshua Becker’s Uncluttered Course, the first step is to declare your “Why.” My why is Freedom: primarily freedom to create and freedom to travel. I think my biggest struggle is that I’m able to cram a lot into the “create” category. Sometimes buying great stuff (mostly clothes) can feel like creativity. In actuality, I am finding that creating cute outfits from a limited number of clothes makes me feel more creative than buying something pretty. And the materials I use to create things are encouraging creativity, while the ones that I’m not using are just an obstacle. I recently read this article which contained a passage that jumped out at me, “Objects should be used, or their energy becomes unnecessary weight on your energy.” It’s time to throw out the dead weight.

There are two rooms, my studio and a small bedroom where most of my craft supplies reside, that need the most attention. It’s time to get real and move on from all the unfinished projects my past self began, so I can make room for the things my current self wants to do. Over the course of this week, I commit to spending four hours (it might be a few minutes at a time) in each of those rooms. I’m not sure if that will be enough to finish the job, I’ll reevaluate when I’ve put in the time.

What will you do this week to make progress toward your goals?

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Lately…

Reading… stack of magazines and new (to me) blogs. I’m between books right now – looking for just the right book to begin. I spent my reading time this weekend catching up on magazines (did you know many libraries have a wide selection of digital magazines?). I also discovered a couple of new blogs that I binge read old posts. I highly recommend The Lazy Genius Collective and Four Pillar Freedom.

Listening to… Afford Anything Podcast. I enjoyed Paula on the Masters of Money podcast so much that I have been binge listening to her podcast. The guests and tyopics are very relatable and help get me in the frame of mind for my No Spend February.

Experimenting with… making mug cake. I like the idea of these personal sized cakes. It helps keep me from binging on more sweets than I should eat. I’ve been expirimenting with this recipe. Two tablespoons of maple syrup is a little too much, so I’m playing around with using less and getting it to turn out ok.

Using… Instagram. I have had an Instagram account for a long time, but never posted any photos. The Show Me Your Drills Challenge has a very active group on Instagram so I took the plunge and created an account specifically for lettering. I have since posted a few pics on my regular account and hope to keep doing so. They will most likely be some of the same photos I post here but if you’d like to check them out you can find me @thesusannajane and @lettersbysus.

Wanting… Sensu Digital Artist Brush. Karin @ipadlettering has been showcasing this brush in her Instagram. She uses it to do watercolor paintings on her iPad. I have done a few watercolors on Adobe Sketch but suspect a brush might make for better paintings – at least it would feel more like I was really painting.

What have you been up to lately?

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Happy Weekend!

Loggers in Early 1900’s via History in Pictures

Big weekend plans? I think at least part of the weekend here is supposed to be pretty cold and dreary. I’m looking forward to curling up with my iPad and doing some serious lettering practice.

I want one!

This is disturbing.

Two of my favorite things.

Some minimalism inspiration.

I wish this had been around when I was a kid.

Oh no! I better stock up.

I should test this at the law office and see if it really works.

This is me.

These are pretty cool.

Have a great weekend!

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What’s Saving Your Life Right Now…

It’s Groundhog Day. We are officially halfway through winter. Last week Anne, at Modern Mrs. Darcy, challenged everyone to make a list of what’s saving your life right now. I’m not gonna lie, winter is a rough time for me – January especially. Historically, January in my family has not brought the best moments. Add to that, less daylight and cold yucky weather. By the end of January, I keep telling myself that I’ve just got to push through to spring. I’m happiest when I can soak up sunshine and play in the dirt. Here’s my list:

  • Watching my baby succulents take root and grow.
  • A change of scenery: leaving town for the day or an extended period of time, or even checking out a new (to me) restaurant or store.
  • Planning a trip. It seems like lately I’ve been planning trips that I don’t end up taking, but sometimes the planning is enough.
  • Good Coffee. Coffee has become my main vice and I’ve turned into a bit of a coffee snob. My current favorite is Jim’s Sweet Love.
  • My happy light. I have this set up next to my computer on my desk at home. It’s not the same as real sunshine but it helps during those especially dreary weeks.
  • Seeking out things that make me laugh: mostly long conversations with a funny friend or watching my favorite sitcoms. I often find myself rewatching my favorites this time of year: Better Off Ted (especially Racial Sensitivity & Jabberwocky); Designing Women; As Time Goes By; and most recently Life in Pieces.
  • Grabbing sunshine and fresh air when I can. The good thing about living in Oklahoma is that the weather is always changing. We can have beautiful 75° days in the middle of the winter. When we do, I try to spend as much time outside as possible.
  • Exercise. I prefer to do my exercise outside so when the weather doesn’t cooperate it can be a little difficult. Sometimes I just have to settle for long walks in the Underground. I have heard a rumor that the Boathouse offers free memberships to people with Blue Cross insurance. Now that I finally have my insurance card, I’m going to have to look into that.
  • Eating healthy with the occasional treat. My body and mind feel best when I’m eating healthy, but I can’t turn down a piece of pie from Pie Junkie. I’ve found the occasional treat doesn’t hurt me and because I indulge infrequently, it’s a serious treat.
  • Podcasts and Audiobooks. Currently my favorite podcasts are: 99% Invisible; Happier; Criminal; and Masters of Money. I always feel like I learned something when I listen. I love knowledge, in fact I yearn for it (a little Designing Women reference for you).
  • Mastering a skill. I’ve been doing a lot of lettering practice over the last few weeks. It’s my meditation, plus I’m improving which always feels good.
  • Staying curious. I think it can be really easy to just hole up and not do much in the winter. I have to remind myself to stay curious. In this day and age you don’t even have to leave your house. You can surf the internet to search for the answers to questions that have been plaguing you, buy a kindle book, or even take a class online. I’ve been doing a lot of Skillshare this winter.

What’s saving your life this winter?

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No Spend February

Can you believe it’s already February? It will be 2018 before we know it. Over the years I’ve observed several people taking part in “no spend” months (and even years). I did a similar challenge for Lent a few years ago. My mindset on spending has changed quite a bit since I really began to minimize. I want to keep up the momentum and really dive into changing my spending habits, so I’ve decided to challenge myself to not purchase any non-essentials for the entire month of February. And yes, selecting the shortest month of the year is part of my plan for success. So groceries are allowed, clothing, books, and all those extras I tend to come home with from Target are not. I do plan on purchasing a couple of gifts this month, and no, those gifts can’t be for myself. I’m also allowing experience spending because I don’t tend to overspend in that area. In addition to this challenge, I plan to focus on bringing my other bills down. I plan to do an audit of all my expenses and see where I can make some changes. Let’s do this! Are you in?

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Lately…

Watching… The Intern. I don’t watch a lot of movies; I tend to be more of a TV fan. I got a free trial of HBO over the weekend. I wanted to make full use of it, so I surveyed everything I could stream and was excited to see this movie. I’d always wanted to see it but never had. I really enjoyed it!

Reading… The Sun is Also a Star. I’ve actually been listening to the audiobook of this one. I would describe it as a young adult cross of Before Sunrise and Sliding Doors. I’m almost to the end and anxious to see how it finishes. If you like YA, I recommend it.

Listening to… Creative Empire Podcast. I spent quite a bit of time the other day on the road between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. I took the opportunity to binge listen to some podcasts. I hadn’t heard of this one until an episode was recommended on a list of episodes every creative should listen to. I enjoyed it; I plan to check out more episodes.

Eating… Trader Joe’s Just a Handful of Olives. I have loved olives since I was little. I remember when I was a kid, adults being fascinated that I would like them. I think their surprise solidified my love for them. I’m always up for trying a variety I’ve never had. I was excited to come across this snack package at Trader Joe’s. They are a bit pricey for everyday but would definitely pick up a few bags if I were traveling.

Wanting… Odean Small Glass Cabinet. I came across this cabinet when perusing the CB2 catalog. There is absolutely no storage in my bathroom; something like this might be perfect. I’ve measured and it would fit but I think I might try a trial run with a large box to see if it would feel crowded.

What have you been up to lately?

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