Finishing UP!

Earlier this year – or maybe it was in December, I reflected on the clutter in my life – mental and physical.  There is too much wool in my cupboards and too many projects that need to be finished.

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Happily, I can report that two projects were completed this month.  One was the Morrocan Circles afghan for my dad.  I just got the card today and plan to mail it to him this weekend.  So excited!

 


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These pictures aren’t the greatest, but I have to say that I am so very happy with it.  It speaks to me of the many winter evenings my dad spent plowing snow, and the many flowers he planted to brighten people’s days.  (This afghan is designed by by Kimberly K. McAlindin and you can find it in a book called Unexpected Afghans)

The second project on my UFO (Unfinished objects) list was an afghan that I had made in the past.

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“Canadian Living” calls it ‘Another Colourful Blanket‘ and I’ve provided the link to it.  It’s a pretty easy project, but I had some yarn issues that kept me from finishing it.  Finally I eliminated the last round of each square, giving me enough to finish two each of the green and orange squares.  I learned a new technique for joining the squares which added some size back into the blanket and it’s just waiting to be delivered to the folks at Neighbourlink.

I took this picture to show just how little yarn I had left and how little I had left to do.  It was just a tad stressful to be so close to the finish line, and then run out of yarn.  First I prayed, remembering the story of Elijah and the widow woman whose pot of oil and sack of grain never ran out.  I figured God could make the yarn stretch.  But then I thought – I’m not living in a time of famine like Elijah.  I can just go to my favourite yarn shop and buy another ball of yarn!  I just kept working.

Even as I was contemplating how to rework the border (my plan was to change the double crochets to half doubles – a lot of work but I was sure I would have enough to get completely around) suddenly I was at the end and there was more than enough – almost half a yard or so.   I wonder if God was chuckling when I finished.

As I type this little story, I wonder if there isn’t a bigger lesson for me.  How often do I fail to start something, finish something, or do something, simply because I’m worried that there won’t be enough?  This project was always waiting for me to resolve the issue and even when there wasn’t enough to do it the way the pattern read, there was enough to make a pretty nice blanket to wrap a baby in.

Well, this isn’t the end of the story as I still have some projects that need finishing in my box.  One at a time.  I still have an essay to write this week and that has a due date!

Have a great day and I hope my pictures inspire your creativity!

Marcia

 

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“There’s no Win in Comparison”

My church, Hope for Life, here in Calgary is listening to a series of sermons by Andy Stanley.  The theme of these talks is comparison.  And I have to say that I do a lot ofimages (1) this.  When I think back on thoughts I had as I compared my single, single parenting, under the poverty line, overweight, house-cleaning, home-schooling, “survival-jobbing” life to those of others, I always felt “less than” .

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This is not to say that my life was awful – because it wasn’t.  It was great (for the most part – as most everyone’s life is) and we had lots of fun.  Looking back on it, there’s not much I’d change – except the envy part.  That I do regret.  I know that when envy creeps into my relationships, they don’t thrive.  They falter.  And I’ve been blessed with many special friends,  that have enriched my life in so many ways.

What I’m learning now, and trying to practice daily – is the art of looking in at myself and UP to my heavenly Abba who simply loves me. And has a plan for my life that isn’t the plan He has for anyone else.  Envy and comparsion lead me down the path of discouragement, when I so want to be encouraged and to encourage others.  I also want to move forward in my life, instead of hanging back because I might not be good enough.images

That’s where God is speaking to me just now, and maybe someone else is feeling the same way.  So here’s a link to “The Comparison Trap” and I hope it helps.  (I”ll also need it for future reference when I stumble into old thinking.

His mercies are new every morning, afternoon and evening – every moment of my day.

Marcia

 

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Partying “Inside the Lines”

halvahLast week I wrote about the party tithe and how I was going to take 10% of my net income and use it for whatever would give me pleasure.  As it turned out, there wasn’t much that I wanted to spend my cash on.  Suddenly the muffins I’d been buying quite regularly – with debit, credit or gift cards – lost their appeal.  It was kind of weird.  I’d walk by the Local Roast, look at what was on offer and walk on.  The only thing that I ended up buying all week was a bar of Halvah.

I like halvah and it’s relatively good for you with all those sesame seeds, but I am trying to remember that too much of a good thing is not good.  So I only buy this at my local Planet Organic store – and only when I need to get things there.  (This week Kefir starter was the draw!) .  I have to say that I really enjoyed it – but I know that’s because it’s not something I buy every day.

So, what happens to the leftovers of the party tithe?  In the Bible, the party tithe was used only once a year.  I’ve opted to keep the change in my wallet and I put the bills in my suitcase.  That way I’ll have some “party money” for my next trip, which is coming up in April!

Part Two: (January 17, 2013)

I wrote this post last week, just before a huge paycheck which included a great many holiday hours.  Let me tell you, its been a while since I had a paycheque over a $1000.  Because I have two jobs, I do have the luxury of  getting something in my bank account every week.  This week that second paycheque was very small because I didn’t work over the Christmas break.  Still, I am able to give, save and celebrate!  For example, this week I matched the amount I put into my “Savings Game” account.  The “party money”  is only $24 this week, but since I haven’t been spending most of it anyways, this is not a big deal.  It’s nice to be saving some of it to enjoy later when I visit my family!

All I can say just now is that I am enjoying this financial discipline.  And I’m enjoying the benefits of being debt-free and able to do the things I really want to do.

If  you have debt issues, here’s the system that helped me: Dave Ramsey’s Snowball  I’ve also read and re-read his book, The Total Money Makeover which helped me create an emergency fund and continues to encourage me day to day.

What I’m learning now is to “party inside the lines” – using the 10% figure in cash to help me.  It’s easy to go way outside the lines with lattes, smoothies from Jugo Juice and snacks here and there when they go on a debit card or plastic.  This way I know where I am and what I want to spend it on!

Have a great day!

Marcia

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Rethinking Things!

I talk a lot about savings – so much so, that my daughter tells me to stop.  I talk to my friends about it – and they do me the courtesy of NOT rolling their eyes.  This is how daughters differ from friends!

Anyways, last Sunday – the 28th I was visiting my dear friend (I’m blessed with two of them!) in Irricana and talking a bit about being debt free and lamenting about my lack of savings.  What I wasn’t really lamenting about was my lack of giving – and that too had suffered while I was so focused on the debt repayment plan.  That realization just thunked me on the head like a hammer. MB900336372 So, over the last few days I’ve been pondering my behaviour – and my savings plan.  Because while they sound good on paper and on Facebook – there’s a dimension of my life that’s lacking and I was too blind to see it.

So, why not go back to the beginning of things – and the Bible is a pretty early document, readily available online, at the library, in a hotel room. or if  you’re close by, you can even ask me for one.

God has a lot to say about how we manage our wealth.  In days gone by it might have been stuff rather than money, but since that’s how I’m paid, that’s how we’ll look at this.

The giving part is what churches call a “tithe” – 10 percent of your wages – gross or net, you pick.  But since this feels a little like stepping on thin ice for me, I’m going to start with net and work towards tithing on my gross.   That in itself could be an interesting journey.

The next part is the “party” part.  Tony Campolo introduced me to this idea, found in the middle of that long drawn out book of do’s and don’ts called Deuteronomy (chapter 14:22-26).  The idea here, is that once a year, you take another 10 percent and blow it – rejoicing before God – and enjoying it with Him.  How about that?  Fine champagne? a haircut in Paris? A one inch thick triple A dry aged steak from the Co-op?

And then, another 10 percent for savings.  Because, I’m me and I’m Canadian, and really, saving for the future is good stuff.  I might get old – and a bit of money might make it easier in the long haul.

 

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Now that it’s Friday, I’ve got an opportunity to put this into action.

The net deposit from the YMCA was $302.14.  This means that $31 goes to the party tithe (Which I will take out in cash).  $53 went to that crazy savings plan.  And $53 is going to giving.  I already made one donation to a program I like to listen to.  The rest will be given at church on Sunday.  Actually, when I actually did it, the amount came out a bit higher.  Not to worry – God has never rounded down on me!

Today was a kind of different paycheck.  I didn’t have a credit card balance to deal with.  Usually I use my credit card and then pay it off once a week.  Not having that made a huge difference in my ability to move money where I wanted it to go.  It was very freeing actually and I think I will keep on keeping my credit card at home!

 

 

 

To make this long story a bit shorter:

  • Party tithe:  Keep it in cash and see how I use it.
  • Giving tithe:  Keep it at the same amount as that savings game I’m playing (at least)
  • Credit card:  Don’t use it, or pay it before I use it so I don’t have a balance!
  • Use the rest wisely, setting aside funds for rent, bills, and upcoming expenses (tuition for my course, flights to Toronto in April and August)

I don’t know if this is helpful to anyone else, but it’s been helpful to me!

Enjoy the fruits of your labours!

Marcia

 

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2013 in review – In case you are interested!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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A Toast to Payday!

About a year ago I had almost $3800 in debt.  Of course it was in my line of credit – which has a lower interest rate than a credit card.  None the less, it was a debt and I owed it.   Mom, if you are reading this – no comments.  I know that’s hard to do because I have a daughter too, and I make too many comments to her.  Just saying that I know what’s on the tip of your tongue.

To be honest, I’ve been working on the debt issue for several years – especially motivated by Dave Ramsey and his Debt Snowball and the blog, Get Rich Slowly - and I finally managed to get rid of the whole kit and kaboodle this summer.  I’d been steadily whittling away at the sum, paying a chunk every pay cheque, observing the total diminishing, as did the amount of interest I was paying on the debt.  It felt good.  Finally, this summer I had to make another work adjustment at Co-op and they paid out my vacation pay!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was a huge chunk of change and enough to bring the figure under $400.  By September it was done.

Now in theory the amount of money I was no longer feeding to my debt account should have gone into a savings account.  I mean, after all, the next savings step is 3 – 6 months of expenses, right?  Well, let me tell you that it didn’t and probably for many people doesn’t go quite as planned.  There’s a sense of freedom and release when everything is in the black – and somehow saving gets forgotten – or at least it did by me.   And then this picture started making the rounds on Facebook:

52-week-savings-planIt’s pretty basic and it’s been shared by several blogs, but I got this image from Survival Mom.  Several of my friends posted it, and I sure hope they follow through.  There is a lot less stress when you have savings – even when you are in debt.  However, I wanted to crank up my savings rate just a little, so about two weeks ago I opened another savings account.  (I bank with President’s Choice so this is pretty easy to set up online).  And because I am fortunate not to have any debts at the moment, no young children at home, and no major expenses in the future, I am starting at the top of the chart and staying there.  $52 per paycheque gets transferred to my “pay yourself first” fund and because I usually have a payday every Friday, I can do this every week.

I am sure that many people want to save more money than they are currently saving.  Starting small and working your way up is a great way to start.  Maybe I should even start adding a dollar a week in the new year.  Just thinking of saving $100 per week is a little scary for me at the moment- I need to think about that.  On the other hand we could just keep increasing that dollar a week or paycheque until it was just too hard and stay at that number for a while.

I’ve set a goal of saving $5000 this year – and flying to Toronto twice.  I’ll keep  you posted.

I wonder if I could add a savings thermometer to this blog!

Have a wonderful day!  And a Happy New Year!

Marcia

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Too Many Irons in the Fire!

I think this saying comes from branding season – when cowboys brand the calves and they have more branding irons in the fire than they need.  Thinks get messy and people can trip over things.

Back a few years ago, I decided that my parachute  had 5 colours.  Sometimes I think that in itself may be “too many irons” but it continues to serve me well as I keep life organzied.  The danger, however, is that within each colour I have too many things going on.

In my “Blue bag”, well actually there are a lot of blue bags in my life right now – yarn projects in various stages of completion.  Some are just balls of yarn, others are half finished projects that need to be done.  Here’s a partial list – and a few pictures:

1.  The Babette blanket I was working on several years ago when I travelled to Michigan.  It’s been blue-bagged ever since.  Someone commented on the colours and that did me in.  (I have finished three other Babette blankets, just not this one.)

2.  My dad’s 80th birthday present.  He’s now 81, its two days before Christmas and I’m still putting it together.  And making the edging parts.

3.  The Toe-up socks I wanted to give my mom for her 75th birthday.  I ran into problems with the heel and left them to languish.

4.  The Kaleidescope blanket that I want to finish for Neighbour Link.  I keep trying to make them boyish and it’s not working, even if I leave the pink out.  It too is almost done, sidelined by a lack of white to finish them off, and indecision about the colours.

I think you get the drift.  I won’t go into the balls of yarn that don’t even have a project to go with them, although some of them do.  And just in case you think I don’t finish anything, here’s evidence that I do!

Crocheted Advent Shawl, 2013

T Crocheted Advent Shawl, 2013

Two lovely designers from Greece  Mania and Maria   shared a pattern a day until it was done.  I jumped the gun yesterday with the edging and was able to block it in two pieces.  I’m done and so excited.  But this yarn, bought eight or nine years ago in Belleville, Ontario at the Knitting Nimrod, had been waiting patiently for a project.

So where’s the wisdom in all of this?  For me it’s this – get rid of those works in progress.  Finish them.  Move forward.  Don’t start another new project until these old chestnuts are done.

Even though they are not in my face, they take up space in my home, in my mind and in my daily life.  Once they are complete, I will have room for other things.

Here’s to taking a few irons out of the fire and being more careful about the ones I put in.

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Becoming wiser, one iron at a time,

Marcia

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