Reflecting on a year of blogging
So, it hasn't quite been a year yet. But it is December, and it is time to think about and plan next year (as well as time to do christmas shopping haha).
I started this blog with the intention to write weekly and do projects from the Book of Doing. That lasted about the first quarter of the year. I also did several DIY posts during that time. Then came summer, and I only posted 2 or 3 times all summer. Fall brought a new focus and weekly positing again. I started the letters from the basement series and did many home projects.
In the midst of all this I also began an Etsy store.
I am finding the purpose of this blog changes with what I use my free time for. I am also finding that writing about my projects takes time away from the projects themselves.
I enjoy having a record of what I've been doing. But I'm not sure how much value my stories are to others.
I want to keep blogging, but I'm not sure it is the best use of my time or if its getting in the way of my other projects. To do this blog well I'd need to devote even more time to it.
It is nice to have consistently blogged this year. I'll continue to reflect and decide what this space will look like next year.
What are you reflecting on this month?
The last two years we have made it a tradition to go Black Friday shopping with a group of friends and family. We have gotten some good presents (mostly movies and clothes), and it has definitely been fun to spend a few hours shopping all together (while we buy presents for everyone who is with us). However I also feel repulsed by the amount of money I dropped both of those Fridays.
Black Friday in general has been reaching a peak lately. The earlier earlier earlier trend finally pushed shopping all the way onto Thursday afternoon. There has been much debate about this, and much frowning. This year one retailer is breaking the chain. Know who I'm talking about?
REI. In a perfect move for it's brand is are encouraging outdoors-ing in stead of shopping. I highly approve. We will shop for Christmas (or spend time making presents), but not at the expense of precious holiday time.
As it happens Nate and I will be outside on Black Friday this year. Not entirely on purpose and certainly not all day. It was an coincidental family decision that I am quite glad of. I don't want to do Christmas as commercially and as high spending as we have the last two years.
I'm not sure what my approach to Black Friday will be in the future. I don't know if I will stay away entirely, or if I will make a list and make sure not to deviate. But I am glad that I have a year to reflect and think on it, as well as a year to do without it all together. High five REI, we got this.
How are you doing holidays this year?
Wool Dryer Ball Review
You may remember in the fall post a few weeks ago I mentioned I made some wool dryer balls.
I am all about simplification, and lately trying to throw away less. Wool dryer balls fit in both those categories, and I had all the materials at home, so of course I jumped right on board.
After using them however. I have retreated to the fence. The first load I washed with them was shockingly un-soft. I can't say I noticed much of a difference when wearing, but I noticed during folding. I was too scared to wash my pajamas without a regular dryer sheet. And I discovered Nathan has been cheating. So I will put an update on this post if I manage to suffer through many repeated uses. However here are my initial reactions.
Supposed Effects of Dryer Balls
Experienced Effects of Dryer Balls
The benefits are marginal.
I can't say dryer balls don't make clothes softer, but I can say my clothes are nowhere near as soft as with regular dryer sheets.
I never really expected drying time to be effected, but it would have been nice bonus.
The dryer sounds don't effect me, since the dryer is in the basement, but depending on the location of your dryer, I could see it being irritating.
Overall, I'm thinking dryer balls might not be worth it. I haven't given up yet, but I'm not as committed as I started out. I'm not sure I really care enough to eliminate dryer sheets. Especially since I also use them for dusting.
What to Consider
Have you used dryer balls? What was your experience?
Beginning to Reduce my Waste
Back when I told you guys about my first attempt at a capsule wardrobe, I mentioned that Bea Johnson inspired me to do more than just clean out my closet (if you've listened to this podcast interview with her, you know what I mean).
The last few weeks I have been thinking about and taking tiny steps towards reducing my waste. Portland (where I live) only picks up trash every two weeks in efforts to force residents to reduce waste. It also has a compost collection (which is great). So my city is doing what it can to help facilitate my waste reduction. My husband and I currently share a house with another couple, so for the last 2 weeks we added another trash can under the sink to see how much waste each couple is contributing to our overflowing garbage bin. We also miniaturized the bathroom trash can to a lined mason jar, and removed the garbage bin in the craft/office room.
The results were that it took us 2 weeks to fill (stuff) our trash bags. combined that makes 1 trash bag a week. The separate trash can challenge caused us to recycle more (not throw any recyclables away because it was "easier") and it caused me to think about what it was I was throwing away. We did reduce the volume of our trash, whether by recycling or stuffing I'm not sure.
Most of our garbage is thrown away in the kitchen, and is often related to food. Which is convenient since the other project Bea inspired me to begin is to change the way I buy food. I want to buy as little food packaging as possible. I am not ready to completely remove all packaging, but I think we can greatly reduce the things we buy in packages. Especially non-recyclable plastic packaging.
Bea's approach to shopping is to buy bulk (the bins you scoop from and label bags with PLU twist ties) and from farmers markets. Currently it is our habit to shop at Fred Meyer, the moderately priced Kroger chain near us. We may not give up shopping there entirely, however we also have a WinCo within reasonable distance. WinCo has a greater bulk selection, and is even more cost effective (win win win!), we have "intended" to start shopping there for quite a while just to save money, but without extra motivation, we stayed with our Fred Meyer habit.
I already buy a handful of things from the bulk bins, and therefore have a nice pile of food stored in those thin plastic bags. To reduce my waste I needed to replace those plastic nuisances with a reusable solution. I also needed to find new storage containers for my purchases.
Last week I searched Fred Meyer, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond for reusable mesh produce bags with no luck. I was close to placing an order on Amazon, when I thought to look at Natural Grocers. Of course, amidst the grow your own sprouts items I found the bags I was looking for (and I got 6 instead of 5 for same price as Amazon). Pro Tip: check the natural stores first for items like these.
While searching the afore mentioned stores for bags I also looked at their storage jars. Target and Fred Meyer had a few options I might consider in the future, but over all new canisters cost more than I want to spend right now. So I raided my ever helpful saved jars shelf. I soaked the various jars over night with water and vinegar to deodorize them, scrubbed the labels off and filled them with my current bulk selection. [this justifies the months I've been saving jars "just in case" ;) ]
I also cleaned out our pantry shelves in this process, threw away everything stale, and reorganized, total bonus.
Because I used jars I already owned this change has currently cost me $12 for 6 reusable bags. This shift does take effort, and I am establishing different habits, however I think it is very doable. I encourage you to try it if it interests you. I'll keep you updated on how this impacts our trash can.
Letters From The Basement #3
I am crashing a little bit.
My Instagram game is totally gone. I have posted only a few pictures all month. That directly stems from the fact that I have only been in the stained glass studio 3 times this month. About once a week. That dogged pursuit I described in the first letter has run into a hill.
I am not giving up. But this is not shiny and fun. I am a little sick of creative business podcasts, I think I just feel a little information overload. I have done tons of research, and now I need to stop and just get to work.
Ironically I intend to be blogging about my work, but working on the blog is taking time away from my stained glass work. -eyeroll- Also, I'm not really sure how to blog about my work. How do I mix it up, and not just write the same thing? How do I do more than just show pictures? So, I mostly don't write about my side hustles except for in this casual letter format.
I am still figuring things out. I have goals that I want to reach, but my weekly rhythms and other commitments make it difficult to properly allocate my time.
I struggle with focus, and that defiantly holds me back. It is not hard for me to work, but it is hard for me to work consistently on one project. Which makes progress a little flickering light just out of reach.
There are wins though. This week I designed a flyer for a local event, and got paid for it. No I am not avidly trying to start a graphic design job, but it is fun, something I enjoy and makes me feel like I am really doing something. BUT that is time not spent putting pendants together.
I heard a summary of the creative process recently (of which there many graphics for and versions of) that goes something like this:
1. This is awesome
2. This is hard
3. This sucks
4. I suck
5. This is O.K.
6. This is awesome
I am somewhere in that hard and sucky part. I think I'll be in this rocky winter for a while. But I am holding onto the faith that the awesome will come back into view if I just keep going.
52 IG followers (6 more than last letter)
10 Etsy Items
1 Flyer sold
P.S. Yes my desk is that messy.
I'm Sara. I live in Portland, Oregon. I have chickens. I love coffee AND tea, I make stained glass pendants in my basement, and I love adventures and new ways to live. I have an Etsy store as well.
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