Wrapping up February.

Fairy tale animals frolic.

Goals for 2019 – February Progress

Send one real letter a month.
I only managed to send a postcard, but at least I did that.

Sew at least one garment a month.
I didn’t finish any sewing projects, but I did baste together a pair of trousers to check the fit and cut out two knit tops — so I have plenty to work on right now. I also taped together and traced off two other patterns, one of which I hope to get to this month, too.

Send newsletter at least once a month.
Yes. Squeaked it in by sending on the 28th, but it still counts!

Make one apartment improvement a month. In February: Replace a duvet cover.
Not quite. Our oldest fitted sheet developed a rip in it last month, so I replaced that sheet set instead. I’ve decided not to replace the worn out duvet cover. We still have one perfectly good cover, and I’ve already spent all winter washing it and putting it right back on the bed. We no longer use a duvet year-round (we switch to lighter blankets when it gets hot), so I don’t think I need to store an additional cover anymore. I plan to purchase a couple of very simple hanging lights from IKEA for our dining and office areas this month.

Go on one outing with Lennox a month.
We went to see “Isn’t It Romantic.” It really cracked me up; I recommend it to anyone who secretly loves romantic comedies. It’s a send-up, but it’s not mean.

Read one physical book I already own a month.
I read Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas, which — true story — was a used paperback I bought while whacked out on dental sedatives. My dentist’s office is only two blocks from my favorite Half Price Books, and I often browse through the store when I’m waiting to be picked up after an appointment. As you may imagine, I do occasionally walk out with a head-scratcher after those visits. In my drug-addled state, I thought this book was the first one of a series, but it was the third. I had to track down the first two before I could read this one, so it stayed on the shelf for a while. I enjoyed it, though I admit it was fairly standard for a slightly naughty historical romance. It started out with a really difficult-to-like hero — a character trope I often have little patience with — but he loosened up nicely by the end. I would recommend it for Kleypas fans and fans of the genre, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point for historical romance.

Track budget for books, clothing, and sewing.
I did okay on books last month, with only a slight overage: $62.65  out of $60.00. Not bad. I also spent $28.14 out of $60.00 on sewing patterns and fabric — a vast improvement over last month. I’ll carry forward the balance there. I spent $110.93 on clothing, shoes, and accessories in February, though.  I need to analyze last year’s numbers more closely because my 2018 average seems too low. I expect a good number of 2018 PayPal purchases were miscategorized, so my projected budget average was wrong. I’m just going to tally this category instead of tracking against a budget goal for the next couple of months as I reassess this. I will almost certainly spend over $100 in March again, as I have both birthday coupons and gift certificates that I use every year. I also need to replace both my ankle boots and one pair of summer sandals, so this spending category is likely to be inflated for a while.

Track daily writing habit.
I wrote on 12 out of 28 days. That’s dismal. I will try my best to do better in March.

Post weekly IG photo.
I think I only posted 2 photos in February, so 2 out of 4 weeks.

Run robot sweeper, vacuum bedroom, tidy, and clean bathroom weekly.
I did 3 out of 4 weeks again in February, which is fine with me. Sometimes I just can’t get to it or don’t feel well enough to clean. I may have a cleaning service in for a deep cleaning later this month or in early April, too.

Longer Term Goals

Reduce fabric stockpile to less than 100 yards (plus scraps) by the end of 2019.
I ended the month with 129 yards in storage, which is admittedly only one yard less than in January. Although I cut out three things in February, I also added the flat sheet from the set with the worn out fitted sheet (approximately 4 yards fabric). It’s really soft organic cotton with a nice drape that is likely to become a summer dress. I’ll probably add some yardage in March (especially if I get a gift card for my birthday), but I do a lot of my summer sewing in April and May, so I’m not too concerned about the number growing temporarily.

Finish cross stitch and frame it.
Not yet.

Finish Baktus scarf. 
Not even sure I touched this at all in February. Oops!

Have four tea parties.
I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of people, but we have a tentative date set in late March. I’d better plan my menu!

Find a way to keep performing.
Not yet.

Combine websites, transfer blog, forward other domains, purchase an SSL certificate.
I transferred hosting of my primary site, though I need to correct a few settings and get the SSL certificate up to date. I’ll keep working on this, but may not get to anything else until after the tax deadline.

My February Frugal List

I made good progress in trimming down my personal spending in February, and we cooked at home more than we did the previous month.

In detail, I:

  • Reduced or eliminated most of my Patreon pledges. I felt bad about doing this, as I like to support creators, but I will be losing one of my long-term clients after April and needed to cut back in anticipation of that reduced income.
  • Put Creativebug subscription on hold until May. I will decide whether to restart or cancel the membership then. It will depend on whether or not I finish the classes I already have in my library.
  • Canceled YouTube Premium. I found that I wasn’t really using most of the benefits of the membership — I was only paying to avoid commercials.
  • Downloaded another free book with Amazon First Reads.
  • Had a free drink on my Starbucks card.
  • Used free graphics (including the one above) from the Graphics Fairy.
  • Read 19 ebooks and 3 physical books from the library. I also read a book I already had (as listed above), and re-read 3 Kindle books. Not bad, considering I read 34 books in 28 days this time around!

I’ve already started getting my birthday freebies and discounts and will include a full list next time. I’m also trying to figure out what I’m going to do to replace that soon-to-be eliminated income. It’s not a large amount of money, but it was a really easy gig — and I’m not sure what I’d like to do. We’ll see.

January progress.

Illustration of Victorian children walking through the snow.

It’s not all that cold here right now (despite the Polar Vortex in other regions), but I chose a snowy graphic anyway. Maybe it’s snowy where you are. It’s definitely icy in my soul. January is extra rough when you work in accounting. All of my clients’ 1099s and W2s were completed before 4:00 p.m. today, so now I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I did decently on my goals in January, despite the amount of extra work I had.

Goals for 2019 – January Progress

Send one real letter a month.
I sent a thank you card with a personal note and a postcard, so I’d say both things count.

Sew at least one garment a month.
I didn’t manage any sewing this month, besides repairing a ready-to-wear nightgown. Too much client work, as I mentioned.

Send newsletter at least once a month.
Yep! I bet almost everyone who received it had forgotten that it ever existed, though.

Make one apartment improvement a month. In January: Better organize our walk-in closet.
Our closet isn’t perfect, but it is much improved. I spent two afternoons rearranging it and pulled several items to donate. In February I plan to replace our older (and very shabby) duvet cover.

Go on one outing with Lennox a month.
We went to see the British royal portraits exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. I enjoyed it (though I was beyond saturation point with photos of Princess Di by the time we left), and was tickled to run into Misfit Marjorie (my BFF Forevs) there — who by sheer coincidence was visiting the exhibit that afternoon with his dad and brother.

Read one physical book I already own a month.
I read Glimpses of the Devil by M. Scott Peck, which I’d had on my shelf for at least a year. (I do recommend it if you have any interest in demonic possession and exorcism. It was an unusual glimpse into the psychological side of what many consider paranormal nonsense, but without a skeptical position. Fascinating stuff.)

Track budget for books, clothing, and sewing.
Good news first? I spent $0 out of $35.00 on clothing and accessories this month, and $52.36 out of $50.00 on books, which isn’t too terrible with my track record. However, I spent an embarrassing $96.67 on sewing patterns and fabric — more than double the $45.00 I’d budgeted. Most of that was on sewing patterns, which I haven’t tracked carefully before. I definitely purchased more patterns that I normally do in a month, but it may be that the budget number will need to be adjusted as time goes on. I expect that both my books budget and my sewing budget need to be closer to $60.00 a month. I’ll carry forward the unspent clothing amount (since it’s based on a yearly average).

Track daily writing habit.
I managed 11 out of 31 days…which is worse than a normal month. I really was crazy-busy with work in January.

Post weekly IG photo.
I managed 3 out of 4 weeks and posted six photos total.

Run robot sweeper, vacuum bedroom, tidy, and clean bathroom weekly.
I did 3 out of 4 weeks on this one, too. I’ll never like this apartment very much, but I like it a lot better when it’s clean.

Longer Term Goals

Reduce fabric stockpile to less than 100 yards (plus scraps) by the end of 2019.
As I mentioned, I didn’t get any sewing done, but I did donate 10+ yards to Goodwill this month as part of the closet clean up. I ordered a single length of knit fabric but returned it, so I didn’t add any yardage and ended the month with 130 yards in storage. I think I started the year with 144 yards, so this feels like a good start.

Finish cross stitch and frame it.
Not yet.

Finish Baktus scarf.
Knitted a couple of inches while watching TV.

Have four tea parties.
I’m planning one for March, but haven’t settled on a date yet.

Find a way to keep performing.
Not yet.

Combine websites, transfer blog, forward other domains, purchase an SSL certificate.
Not yet.

My January Frugal List

  • Bought next year’s holiday cards on clearance for 50% off. (Maybe I’ll manage to mail them before the holiday next time.)
  • Bought two packages of fancy pumpkin spice granola on clearance for $0.79 each. I definitely couldn’t make my regular granola for that price! (It was good, too.)
  • Took advantage of free printable calendars, goals sheets, and habit trackers.
  • Downloaded two Kindle First titles for free this month. I rarely bother to download books from that program (they generally don’t appeal), but this month they allowed two downloads — and I actually wanted to read two of them! Nice how that worked out.
  • Used a coupon code to get 40% photo prints at Walgreens.
  • Had a free drink on my Starbucks card.
  • Bought some make-up with a loyalty card voucher at The Body Shop. The make-up was already on sale, so I paid only half price.
  • Bought three Audible books on “daily deal” super sale — and paid less for all three than I normally would for a single audiobook. I find I’m listening to audiobooks more than podcasts these days, and though I get some through the library, this is another entertainment expense that has started to creep up on me. (Podcasts are generally free! What is wrong with me?)
  • Got a notice that our Hulu subscription will be $2 LESS in the future. I don’t think that’s ever happened with any other streaming service! I will be delighted to watch old episodes of “SG-1” and “Archer” for two bucks less a month.
  • Enrolled in a free writing course on Udemy. I have taken several other courses on the platform (that I’ve paid for — although all were purchased on sale, of course), and was pleased to see such a highly rated course available for free. It’s shorter than the average, but as it often takes me several weeks to work through one of the regular courses, I’m looking forward to taking one that I can finish in an afternoon.
  • Read 16 ebooks and four physical library books (including one interlibrary loan), and one free Kindle book.

Not too shabby. We spent too much on takeout (ugh, January) and there are several areas where I need to get my personal spending under better control, but we’re already building our household savings back up to our pre-car-purchase comfort zone.

On a random blogging note, I’m much happier now that I’ve found a way to ditch the new block-based WordPress editor! It is ghastly, and the opposite of an improvement. (You can install a plugin called “Classic Editor” which gives you the — you guessed it — classic editor back. I highly recommend it!)

Here’s to a productive February!