18 May 2011

Spelling and Financial Role Models

The next post I was planning was going to be an update on my quilt making and some pictures of the teddy bear fabric I found.  In the meantime, I was perusing Facebook and my Google Reader links and found a couple of interesting topics that I feel deserved some thought and conversation.

In the funny category, the sister of a former roommate of mine posted a link to this comic about 10 words you need to stop misspelling.  Misspelt homophones and possessives are a pet peeve of mine and I love the descriptions and examples on this comic!  I would also like to add are/our to their list, as I've seen that one a lot on Facebook lately (proof that people increasingly write/type like they speak).

Otherwise, one of the latest posts on Get Rich Slowly caught my brain today.  It's about frugal role models and surrounding yourself with similarly minded people (financially speaking).  Friends, family, famous millionaires/billionaires... the comments were nearly as interesting as the post.  Many people responded with not only role models but anti-role models, people they're trying to avoid becoming.  I'm intrigued by the idea of actively seeking out support by starting a savings club (sort of like a financial book club) but think it has a lot of potential to backfire.  You'd have to be very clear about rules and expectations from the beginning.  Ever tried it?  What do you think would make such a group work?

In any case, the GRS post makes a good point about having different role models for different areas of your finances, which is definitely true for us.  The post made me think a bit about who I associate with and who I look up to, as well as what I want our children to learn from us.  For instance, our parents are great about planning for retirement.  My friend Jen is an awesome coupon and bargain hunter.  She and my friends LeahAmy, Kari, and Sarah are great about comparison shopping, making things at home, and spending where it counts (something I value highly as a financial attribute).  We have lots of friends at various stages of paying down debt.  It makes it easier to stay on track when you know other people are also working hard, even if their circumstances aren't exactly the same.

Do you have financial role models?  Are you like me, looking for more?

15 May 2011

The Beginnings of Quilt 1.2

I finally uploaded the pictures of the new quilt I'm making to the computer last night... sharing time!

First, I'm using the "orange quilt" pattern on Cluck Cluck Sew as my template.  I love the white and orange look; I originally meant to make a quilt with solid tan blocks (for the teddy bear decor in the future nursery) and different colored patterns.  But, after finding some good deals ($1 fat quarters!) at a local quilting shop, I'm going with something a little different.  Instead, I'm using three different solid colors (red, green, & blue) and tan patterned pieces.  Here are some pictures, including gratuitous shots of my new (50% off!) self-healing cutting mat:
This is the selection of solid colors (the red one has a nice little texture pattern to it).  The teddy bear & ducks design is a cross-stitch pattern that I'm buying soon to stitch and hang in the baby's room.

 Four of the six patterns I picked out.  I wanted to make an 8x12 pattern and counted total squares in the store, not a per pattern amount.  Didn't realize I'd need six till I recounted at home (whoops!).

A close up.  My favorite is the paisley!

 The pieces of future blocks in order and pinned for sewing.  I used the recommended stack 'n' whack method to cut them all out and it was much quicker than measuring and scissors!

A close up.  You can see some of the color combinations here.  This is only 4 of the 6 tan patterns.

The center squares and flaps are sewn and ironed.  The pattern on the right is the missing fifth pattern and has some cute stars and swirls.

And, in this picture, the pattern on the right is #6.  It's darker than the others, but I'm planning on a dark brown backing (I think!  You know how these things go.)

Next step is pinning the strips onto either side of the center strips and sewing and ironing them.  Then they'll be ready to finish piecing!  After cutting out most of the blocks, I discovered that by using the stack 'n' whack page, I had cut blocks that will finish at about 1" too small to make an 8x12 quilt approximately twin size.  So instead, I got to return to the quilt shop and buy not only 2 new brown/tan patterns but border fabric!  The fabric I picked was one a friend pointed out to me on an earlier trip and it is super cute... tan with solid color letters everywhere.  I forgot to take pictures of that but will add them soon.  I also have two new teddy bear fabrics (Hancock Fabrics was running some great deals!) that I will post projects for in the near future.

So far the quilt has gone together easily, although I'm slowly remembering why quilting is so expensive both in time and money.  I'm excited to see the finished blocks and to play with the arrangement for the front!  What do you think?

07 May 2011

Dogs and Quilts

Being pregnant has lead to some odder-than-usual observations; for instance, it makes me understand my dogs better.  They're beagles and they're known for a number of traits: their enthusiastic greetings, their loud beagling (beagle literally means "to trumpet"), their insanely sensitive noses, their insatiable appetites, and their willingness to nap on the couch at any time.

I can't compete with the noise they make (or their joy at meeting someone!), but in the first trimester, my hyper sensitive nose revealed all sorts of smells of which I was previously unaware.  For instance, I now know why my dogs run over every time I open the fridge or pull the kitchen garbage bag out.  Even though they never get anything out of either event, it smells like food... all the time.

Now that I'm past that stage, my sense of hunger has returned.  I'm actually supposed to eat every couple of hours because of sugar problems, so I'm also never allowed to over indulge.  This leaves me in a perpetual fix-food/eat-food/hungry-for-food cycle.  I often joke that my dogs will eat anything that will stay still, or occasionally just move slowly (Dog #2 and grasshoppers are great entertainment!).  In any case, I'm beginning to seriously sympathize with their continual drive to eat!

As I write this, both dogs are lounging on the couch "watching" the Yankees game with us.  Even with the increased energy of the second trimester (relatively speaking) I'm spending more time resting these days and can tire myself out in a hurry.  And when I need to sit and rest, it is nice to have two warm dogs to lay next to me on the couch.  :-)

In the mean time, I'm (ambitiously) starting my first quilt this weekend!  Well, let's be honest... my second quilt.  I started one way back when I was... 8?  9?  Anyway, it's a patchwork quilt that never got past the piecing stage (I'm seriously considering seam ripping the squares and using them for other projects).  I've meant to learn some quilting techniques for several months now and, as so often happens, it looks like I'm largely going to teach myself.  Pictures of the pattern and fabrics I've chosen are coming soon!

05 May 2011

Internet Brain Food

If the internet has one overwhelmingly awesome feature, it's definitely the ability to bring me other people's thoughts and research with such ease.  I use Google Reader for this and it continually surprises me with what it reveals.

Take this for instance: a two-part post on Get Rich Slowly about how money does buy happiness.  It sums up a study that discovered that if money isn't buying you happiness, you're spending the wrong way.  Read the posts for tips on better ways to spend; my favorites are "buy experiences not stuff" and "delay consumption" and I was most surprised by "beware comparison shopping".  This falls very neatly in with my personal theory that money is a tool like any other.  The good or bad it does is related to how it's used, not any innate qualities.  (A favorite quote of mine: "Whoever said money can't buy happiness forgot about puppies!")

Does information like that change how you approach your finances?  Over the last year, DH and I have been trying to concentrate more on experiences than Stuff and it has definitely been good for us!  In digging through the last couple of weeks of posts at Get Rich Slowly, I also found a link to an interesting article that lists things we really could do without.  Some I agree strongly with (GPS, tanning beds) and others (microwaves, debit cards) I think provide a greater benefit than cost, especially in regards to time.

In addition to personal finance, I also get blogs and articles about a variety of science topics.  Yesterday, the Freakonomics blog posted about education versus expertise.  While I could use this to rail against the education system, instead it made me wonder about something psychological.  What the blog and the study it references seems to say (to me at least) is that people who spend time introverting a problem progress better than people who extravert it.  Now, there is definitely some personal bias coming through that interpretation, but the study supports the idea that mentally handling a problem (i.e. thinking about it) produces better comprehension than physically handling it (i.e. repeating a procedure over and over).  Coupled with Myers-Briggs typology (especially the I/E and N/S spectrums), there are all sorts of fun implications for that, but I think the salient point is that education should focus more on teaching people how to approach a problem, how to consider, rather than how to do.

What does the internet bring you?